Tag Archives: Friendship

Effie’s first Christmas garment

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My and Effie’s very dear friend Jane made a marvelous little kerchief/cape for Effie. Even the envelope delighted us, addressed to “Miss Effie” in my care.   Effie now has a special Christmas garment, and she looks like Cat Supergirl. Thanks from our hearts, Jane!

 

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Effie and Hormisdas: Are They Courting?

I sensed Effie’s need for a friend, and approached Heidi with the idea that perhaps her Hormisdas and Effie could be friends. The time-space issues would probably mean little to them. Heidi and I live 1,843.2 miles apart. We have sustained an abiding bond for 10 years. We have never met in person, and neither of us has the gumption to travel.

Effie is very lively, while Hormisdas is actually quite stuffy. He lives with an equally stuffy snow leopard named R. Aloysius. Heidi and I believe that kinetic Effie and stuffy Hormisdas–and perhaps R. Aloysius as well–might develop long-distance amity toward one another. Heidi and I and our husbands have all been very good friends for a decade. Of course we would be thrilled if “the kids” reached across space as well.

P1010957Effie is an explorer of everything in her world.

 

IMG_20160203_114736Hormisdas surveys his world from the vantage of his majestic living room.

P1010958Effie likes jungle environments.

IMG_20160526_102749_956 (3) RAlyHormisdas likes beds. Here he helps R. Aloysius find his lost tie tack.

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Oases

The word “revive” occurs 10 times in the 119th Psalm; reading the 176-verse Psalm, I thought the Psalmist would have used it more. In any case, God’s promises of reviving us from dispiritedness, upheaval, low times, and ultimately, from death, are sure.

As I read through Isaiah, it is reviving for me to review how much worse everything that I think needs reviving could actually be. The first time I read through Isaiah, about 14 years ago, I was enthralled with the take-down by the Angel of the Lord of 185,000 Assyrians (37:36). I scrawled “Dude!” in the margin of my Bible.

I daily check off new side effects that beset my systems in response to a new medication. But hey–none of them is in the “call your doctor if” column!

Our vacuum cleaner sounds like it has a dying elephant in its motor. I’m not sure yet how the upside of this will pan out. . . but my very dear friend honored me with the epithet “oasis” today, in reference to our near-daily correspondence, improving my perspective immeasurably. We have our faith perspective in common, as well as time of life, health concerns, and anxiety; and we are both blessed with having devoted, level-headed husbands. Mere weak mortal women that we are, we revive one another by our Lord’s grace.

Palm oasis

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Another unlike another

I think of it as “death creep,” the point in life at which I lose one to two friends in my age cohort a year. I learned this morning that the Lord harvested one of my friends last night, by means of a heart attack, quite unexpectedly. I think she had the most perfect heart I’ve ever known.

I say “unexpectedly” because I think most of us are too stupid to expect death. We fear it superstitiously, thinking somehow the fear will repel its advance. It’s only by the mercy of memory that we are able to forget about death for any time at all.

But my deceased friend knows more than I, because she sees, first hand, the reign of grace through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21, ESV). What happiness! And providentially, another friend, Heidi, remarked just the other day that a view of a cemetery reminds one to think with some constancy of the resurrection. How sad for someone who would instead find the view “creepy.”

I find the loss of each friend unlike any other. But very slowly, I am beginning to find more joy in loss. The joy does not lessen the sense of loss, or not very much; nor does it fully displace the shock and sorrow. But joy comes alongside these other sensibilities, like the dawn, that so inevitably displaces the darkness.

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Collateral fomentations

I “sleep” like a hostage rigged to a loaded spring-gun aimed at my head. Combing my hair is excruciating; speaking and noise often cause scalp pain that quickly or later escalates to migraine. My heart is torn out, dragging, tethered by a cord of familial passion, behind a spirit trying to be brave. How am I to enjoy my active grandchild, toddler of wonder, when she comes—the wonderchild I have not yet touched—in this condition? How am I to be unable to? Why are simple things suddenly impossible? Why do people assume these things are simple and joyful, plaguing me with questions: when is my family’s visit? How excited I must be!—wonderful things I cannot imagine being up to? Lord, You know.

There have been offsets since I jotted this yesterday, which I did in order to have an honest chronicle of the peaks and troughs of probably my most abysmal health sequence in seven years. God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness (Lam. 3:23).

I read Romans 5-8. A few hours later, my daughter e-mailed some pictures and a video of my grandaughter triumphantly articulating her first word (“Baby!”), and checked in for a Skype time for today–and she knew nothing of my ER jaunt, had no idea my migraines were worsening–it was simpy the providence of God’s merciful love beaming through my daughter, whose own daughter is clueing her in on things outside herself.

The cheer this brought didn’t reduce the gnawing in my scalp, but it did reduce my terror of the gnawing. Having God’s abiding mercy brought so imminently to mind must necessarily reduce our terror; if He is for us, who or what could possibly prevail against us?

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flax reflection

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the killer dignity cult

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Love Wadaho style

We have good friends, a family, who live about two hours away. Wadaho is my name for the Washington-Idaho border country. We live on the Washington side, and we can be in Idaho in about 10 minutes; but our friends live in a very rural area further beyond the border, along a rocky mountain road often littered with low-flying boulders.

I wanted to hire their son to help us paint our house, but the dad came up with a counter- proposal. The whole family would come down, and he and his son would help my husband paint the house, and his wife and daughter and I could do whatever else we liked. I protested that that wasn’t the deal, but he protested back that his offer would make them happier and provide an opportunity for them to serve the Lord together while helping us.

I don’t know how many Christians are like me, who encounter the sacrificial love of their brethren and are humbled to the point of wondering whether they themselves are even indeed converted. How easily I put my pragmatic self-interest into a tit-for-tat format, and place it above seeking a far more needful thing, fellowship with the brethren. Paying someone to help paint our house would, in my worldly-reasoning mind, conserve my husband’s time and energy; hanging out with friends can make me weak and fatigued for a few days afterward. So what? Look at all the fatigue I’ve survived all these years. What have I lost, what have I not done because of it? What is it that the God in whose hand my breath is commands me to do — hire a brother, or love my brethren?

The temperature this evening on my north-facing deck is 89°: good bonding weather for paint. But there won’t be a house in this Valley or in all of Wadaho with its paint bonded by more love than the paint on this house.

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The eleventh virgin

Our Lord’s parable of the ten virgins at Matthew 25:1-13 instructs us that preparation to meet our Lord is necessary; we may not simply sleep through life inattentive to God and expect to receive His salvation and blessings if we have made no effort to know who our Lord is and what He requires of us. The five foolish virgins of the parable lacked oil for their lamps — the anointing of the Spirit — to meet their bridegroom, and their five prudent counterparts brought oil for their lamps, and entered into the wedding feast with their bridegroom before he closed the door on the foolish virgins.

I just had a brush with the mortality of one of my closest friends. By God’s preserving grace, she pulled through, and the problem has been diagnosed and brought under control. But my initial response was to join the ranks of the foolish virgins, stubbornly determining to refuse to prepare for something God could conceivably require of me. I intended to refuse to prepare myself to be able to say, “…and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job could say such a thing, but I cannot, because I refuse to prepare myself to say such a thing, and I could never say such a thing without being prepared.

I know obstinance is very sinful, but I prefer to think that I am simply deficient. But of course I am not deficient at all. Christ’s sacrifice has healed my chronic deficiency and brought about everlasting sufficiency on my behalf. And because I have been given the gift of the oil for my lamp, and prudence comes with that oil, I will be prepared to say what I must say and do what I must do: a promise I easily forget I have received, when my thoughts turn to my own capacities.

There is no question that I have no desire ever to join in Job’s righteous resignation. I hate death — death is an outrage, and I look forward to seeing it cast into hell at the end of time. I hate pain, hospitals, and medical help gone bad. I despise my own insecurity at the very thought of such things impacting me or anyone I care about. But the illusion that I can do anything about any of it doesn’t stick, either.

Nobody wants to recite Job 1:21 in a moment of sorrowful loss because no one wants that moment ever to come; and no one theologically competent wants to recite anything else when the time does inevitably come. I have already experienced too recently how death exposes my own failure, my failure at being a sufficient friend. Not again, not now, please.

Jesus laid down His life for His friends. I couldn’t even lay down my routine for my friends. Lord have mercy on me, the sinner.

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