Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Flat-backed Wise Men and Hope

A wise man or two have been flat-backed in the bustle of the advent season, but the nativity remains intact under the tree. The center white candle on the advent wreath was lit today. The Christmas goodies were fair game at breakfast, which for us this year came closer to lunch time. I know it's a different season in life when I have to wake up my children so I can still say, "It's Christmas morning!" I love it.

This year is even more unusual -we are holding off our usual Christmas morning for two extra days until our oldest son, Trevor, gets home. It has really changed my focus this year.

I find myself thanking God for my family, for my loyal, hard-working husband. For each of my sons, and the wonderful young ladies they have brought into my life. For my daughter who I'll see in eternity. For my good friends, and my family members. The Thank-You-God list goes on for pages.

Of course, intermingled with the blessings of life are the hardships and challenges, a list that feels much longer sometimes than the thank you one. And here is where my focus shifted this year. Along with turning worries into prayers more than I have previously, I realize as solid as ever, that without Hope I have nothing.
Hope that God has a plan for every baffling thing (of which there is no shortage...I think I mentioned that).

Hope that eternity will be beyond my wildest imaginations and dreams.

Hope that my life here will make an eternal difference for others.

Hope for ongoing personal growth, and authentic, rich relationships.

This Hope, the eternal kind, is what I celebrate at Christmastime. Eternal life and redemption right now, are only possible through the Savior Christ who came as a babe for the likes of you and I.

That's it. Hope. Without it I shrivel and die.

Merry Christmas. Truly.
With Hope Eternal,

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Spy

Fall and Christmas are colliding at my house this weekend like an I Spy page.

I look forward to this time each year - it feels good to cast off the rotting pumpkins and bring on the lights that brighten up my shorter days.

This year though as I reflected on this scene on my counter top and the melding of the seasons it was a sobering metaphor. Fallen, decaying things are layered in with the redeemed and twinkling. Somehow this is beautiful. I made a nice photo of it (if I do say so myself), and God, well, He really shows off in this department.

This Christmas season I am going to make a point of looking for it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Homemade Cat Door

So this kitty, Jak Jak's his name, found a quarter sized tear in the screen and made his own cat door that worked really nicely for him (it's shaped a lot like a large hole...right there). It turns out that his ingenious handiwork only got him part way in this case. He needed someone bigger to open the door, preferably someone with thumbs, to get him out from between the doors.

It hit me (sort of hard) that no matter how much I work, how hard I try, and even finish a project (that may or may not be as innovative as the cat's door) there are so many things that I cannot accomplish all alone. I need help.

Mitch and Endo on flooring day one.

We spent the month of September tearing out a wall between two rooms, painting, tiling, and putting down wood flooring on most of the first floor. The wall part required a professional who knew how to remove a load bearing wall and put it all back together nicely (thanks John Light!). The paint required patience and input from paint pros and Home Depot. The tile required my husband's help with cutting (Thanks Dave!). But the biggest part of the project was the flooring which ended up being a 12 day adventure that a good friend (thanks Endo!!)  and our sons helped us with. We could not have done it alone.

I got to thinking how many ways this is like life.  We weren't meant to do this life alone. I can only get so far by myself. In my job. In my family. In my relationships. Even in my faith. To get past my efforts, my hole in the screen, and through the door requires the hands of others. Sometimes the hand of God.
Most of the time, both.

I'm thankful for the help and this space!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dizzying Spin of Life

Somewhere in this northwestern sky the Big Dipper
will be close to pouring out.

Almost there. Almost to the time of year when the Big Dipper sets at the perfect angle in the sky, as if it's pouring out deliciousness.

Another summer season passes by, faster than the last as always. Life, I've noticed, does not stop its urgent and tiring demands, the world does not stop spinning for me to get caught up.

It is dizzying.

But tonight I sit and watch my view of the miracle of galaxies and get my balance back.

God spins it all in perfect timing, beyond even the beginning of my comprehension. Why do I struggle to accept that He will do the same in my own whirling world too?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sideways Rain and Sleep-in Saturday after Half Dome Crazy Climb

 Thunder boomed suddenly and skies opened up this morning at roughly...5:21 a.m. I know this mostly because the dogs were freaking out and banging on my door to be let in for comfort to their panicked selves.
   No efforts to calm them were fruitful. They wanted to try nearly every room in the house and whined in every location. Even the cat was crying for our attention.
   Somewhere around 6 a.m. when my husband had the dogs and cat calmed in the guest room I heard the water alarm in the basement. Barely conscious I plodded down to find the corner of the basement beginning to flood. Rain continued in sheets, and at 7 a.m. the sump pumps were starting to catch up, keeping the flood out in the yard. Dave babysat the pumps while I dropped back to bed only to be awaken again at 8 a.m. by the dogs who had been left outside and had something to say about it. I looked outside, bleary eyed. Sideways rain greeted me at the front window, wet dogs at the back door.
   Thank God this all gave way to the dogs being as exhausted as me and I got a much needed sleep-in Saturday. Good thing too, as this week was a busy back to work week which followed a crazy fun vacation week out west to see our oldest son, Trevor, who works at Yosemite National Park.
Me on top of the Half Dome, Yosemite Valley below.
   As is the norm, my kids get me into some things I wouldn't necessarily choose myself. This time: hiking the half dome! This is the mile high hunk of granite that the North Face brand logo is in the shape of. We hiked the rounded part (which puts us in the saner category theoretically). The top 800 foot ascent is nothing but cables to pull your self up on at over a 60 degree angle. What an accomplishment this was, mentally even more than physically. In the end it was about a 20 mile day, one which water and pizza have never tasted so good. It was great to spend this day with Trevor's friends Tim and Sydney too.
   Dave and I were reminded of that big day with each step in the proceeding days of our California stay. Dave, Trevor, and I also saw Tuolumne Meadows in our rental convertible, we floated down the Merced River until Trevor's raft blew a hole, and we ate at the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel. Dave and I rode mules on rocky trails with our new friend, Sydney, as one of our guides. It was awesome!
   Our flight home was out of Las Vegas, but before the flight we managed to eat dinner at the 107 story revolving Stratosphere, see the famous Bellagio fountains, and Hoover Dam. When we returned home we had our 6th wedding of 8 this summer, and Cedar Point with the kids last Sunday. What a great and full week of vacation!
   I guess today's sideways rain and Saturday sleep-in was just what I needed. Thank God the dogs are still sleeping.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Brokeness and Light


    All the stuff in my life is broken or in the process of breaking.  I know this theoretically means that these things were at one time whole.  I'm not sure. All I know is that I feel like I'm always on the fixing end. Maybe it's because I try to be frugal and own a lot of old things, but I get discouraged trying to keep up in this broken world.  Or maybe it's because kittens are rescued at my house and then they reproduce.  OK, that's just a side issue that's compounding things.

    I bought a hot tub from a friend that I can't get running. I was about to replace the plug when my husband pulled in with a replacement outdoor heater that had stopped working after two uses, and now needed assembled...again. Meanwhile, my hot tub fix didn't work. In discouragement I set down my screwdriver and walked to the river toward the sunset.

    Somehow when little things like this bother me I am reminded of the bigger things that are broken.  Relationships, and hearts, trust, and dreams, and I have to guard against self implosion. 

    But thank God, the beauty of the sun, a light that we cannot extinguish reminded me that not everything is completely broken.  There is hope and warmth, literal light in the darkness. And of course this too is a small thing that reminds me of a bigger thing - God's eternal hope, redemption, and love that absolutely cannot be extinguished. I can lay my head on my pillow and welcome sweet dreams on this note.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Place for You

About a month ago we realized that our 'kitten' Eva’s belly was getting unusually large. She either had a massive tumor that kicked and squirmed or she was pregnant. This past Monday Eva, not quite a year old herself, had a load of kittens.

Eva in the linen closet
When I realized she was in labor I went out of my way to see this happen, I mean it's not every day that you can see kittens born. I was also concerned for her safety.  She was afraid and had disappeared when I left the room briefly.  I finally found her inside a stack of blankets in the linen closet. Her water had broken by now. I threw the blankets in the wash and put her on a towel in a laundry basket next to me while I worked on my laptop all morning (pretty slowly).

Sitting beside her I fended off Bruce, the 19.4-pound ruler of Lee cats, who was way too curious and making Eva angry. At one point in labor she jumped out of the basket and went after him. He got smacked a couple times.

Eva had six kittens that day and was completely exhausted. I was in awe (and put it on YouTube).

I had been thinking a few days earlier just how many cats there are in the world (that's overwhelming...), millions and millions I'm sure, and many of them unwanted. And to think that every one of these kittens is God's handiwork.  And even though cats are not valued highly by most, God knows every one.  Every cat  hiding in my woods waiting to pounce on the little ladies (and did).  Every cat in the world.  I know, this sounds a little silly, but  that’s just the cats.  He knows every other species too.  That’s how big He is. 

That's pretty big.

Recently I began reading Charles Martin books (fiction) and love his work.  So much so, that the first book I read, Thunder and Rain, I thought, “That’s the sort of thing I’d like to write. But he already did it.”  Who needs my writing?  There are thousands and thousands of writers better than me. I felt really small and inadequate regarding my writing for many weeks.

The other morning God brought both of the above thoughts back to my mind while I sat and admired His spring work outside.  If God has purpose for each of his creatures, tiny and unwanted, and all, He certainly has a place for my writing.  It was like God was saying, “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.” 

I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else, but I'm hoping it does.  At least to maybe the one person I was supposed to write it for.  God has a purpose for each of our abilities and places in life.  No one can be the influence that you can. No one but you.

Tasteful cat birth video:
Also note: I am currently accepting adoption applications : ) and one kitten from another cat is ready now!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hope Resurrected

     Nothing sounds the trumpet of spring more than new life.  And I know it's early, but Zelda, the roadside stray I picked up while running last year, had four sweet babies. Zelda, you may have heard, has kangaroo hopping skills and is seriously the friendliest cat I've ever known (so...if you you need a furry Easter gift I can hook you up!). This one (pictured at left) comes with a bold M on her forehead.
    In other pet news from the zoo, my good friend Tracey was taking care of our crew last weekend while we were away.  She texted me with concern over our 5 year old dog who acts 10.  Zoey would not get off the couch at 1pm to go outside, Tracey reported.  My response:  Zoey likes to lounge all day, no worries there.  Zoey also knows that she's not allowed on the couch, additionally, she knows that you don't know!
    What a dog! Zoey is smarter than she lets on.
    Yesterday, the animals followed me around  outside while I put the chairs around the fire ring on my beach.  If that isn't exciting!  I don't even care if I sit out there in a snow flurry at this point I tell ya, spring is coming!
    There are birds that I haven't heard since the fall, and the ground is getting softer.  The sun has come over to the other side of the house and it doesn't set until a whopping 6:30 these days.
    I know each of these things are small but when I up-righted my rickety wind blow pathway arch, all I could think is that hope is resurrected!  Hope for spring, a time we traditionally celebrate the resurrection that changed everything.
    In so many ways, I am thankful.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Listen to the Sign

    The sign said STOP, so I did.
    This is not usually my habit when I'm out for a run.  However, when I took a stretch break I was taking a photo and accidentally switched to video mode.  This shut off my music (I recently discovered that these two things cannot run at the same time).  It was suddenly and beautifully quiet on this mild winter day of blue skies.
    A few cars were coming, which usually means I start running again.  I'm not sure why exactly I do this, I guess I feel stupid just standing there concerned about people's wonderings about me.  But, I looked up and saw the stop sign and felt I should obey it.
    I just stood there on the side of the road listening to a few distant birds chirping, a gentle breeze, and the gentle hum of the highway traffic half a mile away.  I waved at passersby and let them wonder.
    I realized how few times in life that I actually just stop.  Stop and think.  Stop and listen to what's around me.  Stop and be still.  Just stop.
    These were good moments today.  I think God was reminding me to slow down and enjoy life more, experience it rather than rush through it.  It was refreshing to focus on what is good, true, and beautiful around me, to calm my anxiety over the things that are not. It's so freeing to just stop and breathe.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Me during the Thanksgiving family photo shoot on the roof.
    On Thanksgiving day my son Trevor had this great idea to get a family photo on the roof. I've been game for many an adventure when my boys invite me along - after all, one's children have unparalleled persuasive powers.
    So while the extended Lee family finished the holiday meal preparations in the kitchen our crew headed to the peak of the house.  Getting up the ladder was no issue, nor was the slight porch roof.  It was the 10/12 pitch on the front side that was  surprisingly a little scary with asphalt granules rolling around under the tread of my shoes...and hands (excellent to excessive exfoliator).
     Not everyone opted for the roof.  Mitch and Liz are in the open window and I don't blame them!  Getting the photo (seen in my Christmas blog just prior to this one) was the easy part (thanks to Wes' girlfriend Chelsey who did the clicking).  Getting down from the roof was the really scary part.  I chose to take my time with three sons and my husband surrounding me (and suggesting my every next move).  I tried backwards walking which the boys make look easy.  No go.  I tried on my belly.  Truly a flop. Sitting and taking small crab steps worked best.  This process took so much effort that by the time I reached the easy ladder descent I got a cramp in the arch of my foot!  We all had to laugh.  Oh my gosh, it was an adventure!
    There was healthy fear (the kind that saves your life), and associated fear -like when Trevor got too close to the edge I feared losing another child (not really irrational but a little displaced).  Thankfully I didn't have panicky fear, but it all got me thinking about the role of fear in my life.  So, I've been looking up a lot of verses on fear, and a healthy fear of God. I have a feeling that some upcoming blog posts will address this topic.
    In the meantime, I'm afraid I'm going to miss out on a 75% off post Christmas sale so I better get going. Let's talk about retail fears some other time.