Be Still

A couple weeks ago, I stopped at a local park to take a few pictures and just wander around the pond area. It’s funny how you can not notice things, even though you’ve seen them numerous times. For whatever reason, I was quite aware of this No Fishing sign that day. I wondered about it, because I didn’t recall having ever seen fish in the pond in the first place.

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A nearby rock beckoned me to sit. I enjoyed the view, breathing in fresh air, and taking a moment to quiet myself. Life had been so busy and crazy for the previous couple of months. It was a nice respite.

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I glanced down and realized that there really were fish in the pond. Little, tiny fish. They’re not really visible until you stop moving around and just sit quietly. I moved just a little and they all darted away. So I sat still again and they returned. It reminded me of God. Oftentimes, I go through my day, not really thinking about Him or having any awareness of His presence. Yet when I slow down, sit still, and just BE, there He is. Loud announcements and neon banners aren’t His thing. He’s found in the stillness and the quiet.

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…and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11-12

In the midst of life – crazy, boring, busy, or mundane – I have to remember that He’s never the one to leave or not think about me. It’s me who needs to be still and listen for His still small voice.

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Celebrating Life

Today is a celebration of life. One well-lived for over 69 years and another to begin within the next 8 weeks.

My Aunt Fay left her broken, failing, physical body just over a month ago. My mom and I were there when she breathed her last. Along with nearly 20 other family members and very close friends – although with Fay, everyone was really her family – crammed into a hospital room in Modesto. Fay was my dad’s youngest sister. Their middle sister passed away over 40 years ago.

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Fay clowning around with Dad last July

People were encouraged to share a story at Fay’s Celebration of Life Service today. Even for those of us who couldn’t attend, we were welcome to send stories to be shared. She was my aunt for 52 years, and I know there are a lot of wonderful and humorous stories, though I couldn’t think of anything specific. Instead, I wrote this:

I’ve been trying to come up with a story, but nothing really jumps out. However, as I began to think about the way Aunt Fay lived her life, I realized that the word LOVE encompassed everything for her. She loved her family and friends. She loved the Lord. She loved life. She was a busy woman and she probably did as much as three of me in a day. But all of her activity, all of her busyness was because of love – for someone. I doubt that there’s anyone who knew Fay who wasn’t a recipient of her tremendous love.

LOVE

It’s one word that could summarize her life. Second to that would probably be fun. Life was always fun with Aunt Fay around. She lit up the room just by being there. She welcomed EVERYONE into her life and home. I cannot even begin to imagine the incredible number of people she impacted.

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Susan (my sister) and Fay last summer

Mom and I drove to California the first wek of June to see Aunt Fay, as her condition had worsened and no one knew how long she’d be here. On the first day out, we got as far as Salt Lake City and slept for a few hours in a Microtel near the airport. The next morning, we sat beneath a TV broadcasting the latest news, at the only available table in the tiny lobby, enjoying our free breakfast with nearly two dozen Asian travelers who all seemed to know each other. As I sipped my orange juice, it occurred to me that Aunt Fay was the glue in our family. She’s the one who was always connected to everyone, always knew what was going on in the lives of the extended family, as well as where they lived. She held us all together. She planned the trips and even the two family reunions we had over 20 years ago.

“I’ll bet a lot of people don’t even know Fay’s been in the hospital,” I mentioned to Mom. After all, Fay would’ve been the one to let people know that someone was ill and had never returned home after going to the hospital nearly eight months earlier, as she had. That was a rather sobering thought. The last time we saw Fay (July 2013), she was as active as ever. Who could’ve imagined that in less than a year, she’d be gone?

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Fay’s next to me, second from the right

Our family isn’t all that large, but there are some cousins of my dad’s and Fay’s, as well as a great uncle (we visited him last year when Fay came out to Colorado; he’s in the red), who probably had no idea she was sick. We made a call to one of the cousins and his wife as we got back on the road to head west and they were going to contact whoever else they could.

It is so strange to realize that our family glue is gone. She has all the old photos, all the genealogy information, knows the stories and shares them with people. I am grateful, however, that during a couple of her visits here, I made copies of a lot of pictures, wrote down the stories and information we had time for me to write, and last year, transcribed ten cassette tapes’ worth of conversation she had with her and dad’s Uncle Howard, back while he was still alive. I enjoy genealogy and plan to pick up the baton and continue the family history as best I can. I think she always expected that I would. I hope I do her justice in this.

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This afternoon, we attended a baby shower for a dear family friend, Nikki and her husband Mike. I photographed their wedding two and a half years ago. It was gorgeous! Nikki has been a part of John’s family for pretty much her entire life.

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Diane, her mom, was a single mother and John’s mom took them in (she and Fay are a lot alike in that way – helping people out). John’s sisters babysat for Nikki and his family helped the two of them out as Diane worked to get on her feet. I’m so excited for them and this beautiful baby girl we’re all awaiting. It will be fun to see her as a newborn, watch her (via social media most likely) learn to crawl, toddle, walk, and grow up. I’m sure she’ll be a wonderful blessing for Nikki, Mike, and Diane.

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I have no real profound thoughts with which to wrap this up. I just found the juxtaposition of life celebrations worth pondering.

 

While I can’t say I developed my love of photography from Fay, it’s interesting that she’s the one who always took the family snapshots, especially when the six of us cousins were together. It would seem that I’m carrying that on, as well.

Creaky Eye

I was in the bathroom, washing off my eye makeup. While rinsing it off with a wet cotton round (makes me want to say “round what?”), my eye started creaking. Sort of like an old wooden rocking chair. Or floor in a house built in 1898. I stopped, looked at my eye, and did it again. It still creaked.

my eyesSo I promptly interrupted Zach’s online video gaming, making him remove his headphones and turn off his monitor, lest I see his highly secret game, and ask him to listen. I put my face down near his ear and rub my eye with the cotton again. It creaks again and yes, he can definitely hear it. He asked what it was and I said, “It’s my eye. It sounds like an old rocking chair.”

Then I said, “You’re welcome,” as I left his room.

This might have something to do with why my son thinks I’m weird.

Reading Habit

Yes, I still have this one. Always love a good tongue twister.

Yes, I still have this one. Always love a good tongue twister.

Before I ever attended school, I started my journey to becoming an avid reader. My mom ordered Dr. Seuss books, expecting to read to them to me. I quickly turned the tables as I began reading them to her. Ever since, I’ve been an avid reader. It’s not uncommon for me to be in the midst of reading 4-5 books (maybe more…on rare occasions) at one time. I know, some people just can’t begin to grasp that, but my fellow readers will understand completely.

When I was in either late elementary school or junior high, I voraciously read Nancy Drew books. I would read while eating breakfast, walk through the house with an open book in hand, and read before going to sleep. I once read two of her books in a day. I also read Ellery Queen collections, Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie (I had a thing for mysteries), and many others through the years.

Thanks to technology advances and my propensity for distraction, I’ve discovered that I don’t read as often throughout the day as I once did. In fact, most of the time, I just read at bedtime. I also noticed that since I tend to eat lunch by myself much of the time, I would do so in front of the computer, checking email, Facebook, and the like.

In my efforts to cut back a little bit on the electronic intrusions, I have begun to read while having lunch (when I’m dining alone, anyway). I still get a couple of magazines via subscription and I always have a few books which I’m actively reading, so it makes for a much more relaxing and enjoyable lunch.

My current series is the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews. Yes, they’re mysteries (big surprise there, right?). Fun, light reading – perfect for summer. In addition, I’m also reading Runaway Saint by Lisa Samson, am mid-way through Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and always am somewhere in the Bible (1 Thessalonians right now). Good stuff.

What are you reading now? Do you read just one book at a time or multiples?

Lassie, Come Home

Somehow my sister had the misfortune of being called Lassie when she was younger. Only by Mom and me. I think. It was her lovely, blonde, Farrah Fawcett hair, I suppose, which prompted thoughts of Lassie’s lovely, blonde, flowing hair, er… fur. It was all in fun, anyway. Not like we thought of my sister as a brave, brilliant dog, or anything. Cause we didn’t. And she’s not. A dog, that is.

In the fourth season, after the Millers acted as a foster family for a seven-year-old named Timmy for the summer, Gramps passed away. Ellen needed to be in the city where she could give music lessons and Jeff could attend high school. Knowing the city was no place for a big dog who was used to running free, Jeff left Lassie with Timmy. Courtesy of lassieweb.org

In the fourth season, after the Millers acted as a foster family for a seven-year-old named Timmy for the summer, Gramps passed away. Ellen needed to be in the city where she could give music lessons and Jeff could attend high school. Knowing the city was no place for a big dog who was used to running free, Jeff left Lassie with Timmy. Courtesy of lassieweb.org

One day she was at a friend’s house (we’ll call her Betsy*) and it would seem her friend knew about the Lassie moniker, because I called  Betsy’s house and a female voice answered. The female voice sounded like Betsy, so the following conversation ensued:

Me: Is Lassie there?

Allegedly Betsy: Who?

Me: Lassie

Supposedly Betsy: Cassie?

Me: No. Lassie.

Maybe Betsy: Who?

Me (realizing that perhaps this is NOT Betsy after all): Um, is Susan** there?

Not Betsy: Uh, yes, just a moment.

Fortunately for me we did not have Skype or FaceTime or any other such video phone devices since it was back in the dark ages and all. How incredibly embarrassing and ridiculous I sounded while speaking to Betsy’s mother who did not know that my sister was nicknamed after a dog.

 

* name changed to protect the innocent.

** name not changed as that’s my actual sister’s actual name, not her dog name.