A Flash Back Memory…

Last night while I was browsing You Tube, I came across a video for the Navy Lodge in Yokosuka, Japan.   This caught my eye as this is where we lived for the first couple of weeks after arriving in Japan.  I clicked on the link and smiled to myself.

This lodge is definitely not the classier place to stay when looking at first class hotels around the world.  It is by no means a four star resort to most.   It is a good, functional place to stay when you are being relocated to a foreign country and you don’t have your own home to move right in to.  It is a great place to drop your bags when you have arrived after a long and hard flight across the ocean.

I remember well the relief I felt when we first arrived to the Navy Lodge in June of 1976.  It was a dark and dreary night, no lie! It was a rainy night and the drive from Tokyo to Yokosuka was both invigorating and strange.   The signs were flashing neon, beckoning people to come into the pachinko parlors and restaurants and bars.  Each was fascinating to see, but overwhelming after a long flight from San Francisco.

We had a sponsor from the base meet us, which meant someone who my husband would be working with met us at the  airport and arranged for our lodging and getting us settled in for the first few weeks.  He drove a work van to the airport and talked most of the way from the airport.  Hubby carried on a conversation with him while I stared out the windows wondering how this was ever going to feel like home.

When we were dropped off at the Navy Lodge that night we checked in and were shown our room.   It was down a dark hallway.  On the way to the room we were shown where the bathrooms were and where the showers were.  Women on one side, men on the other.  Sort of like when you had gym class, those types of showers.   The only t.v. was in the lounge at the end of the hall.  Our room had a sink in it, a double bed and a small window, but it was quiet and it was ours.   We sunk into bed and slept like you can only sleep after a trans-Pacific flight.

After a good night’s sleep, a shower, and fresh clothes we met our sponsor for breakfast.  I can’t remember what that was, or where it was, all I know was the new day brought new energy and an excitement.

It did not take long for Japan to feel like home to us.  The signs that were so strange on our arrival soon became friendly to us.  The noise of the traffic and  the crowds of people became the melody of our lives.  We learned to move and flow with it.  Trains were second nature to me as I did not drive while living there.  I became familiar with the bus schedules, the bus stops, the train stations.  There were very few boring days while living there.

I often wonder what it is like now.  After watching the video last night of the Lodge, I smiled to myself.   A kitchenette in each room, that was unheard of!   A bathroom in each room, how wonderful!  A television in the room, amazing!  Plus, right before we left Japan, the Armed Forces Radio network brought us American television!  So, there is no more watching American shows dubbed in Japanese!

Time changes so much.  Things advance and improve and improve some more.   I would surmise, though, the people of Japan are still like they were.  They welcomed us and spoke with us and shared what they had with us.  They are a part of my history, my story, my heart.

Thanks for stopping by today,   I appreciate you.   Cathi (DAF)

 

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And another year has passed…

Children make you old.  Not a complaint, just an observation.   When my Dad would call me on my birthday (the years he remembered it was my birthday), he would always ask how old I was.   I always thought it was strange, he may have been joking, but it was the age of rotary or push button phones, and there was no way to actually see his face, so I continued to think this man who was responsible for bringing me into the world actually did forget how old I was.   When I would tell him, he would go, “No, you can’t be that old!   When did you get to be that old?”   Each year, the same conversation.

Today, my first-born is 40.  I have morphed into my father and sit wondering how she could be that age.  It’s impossible,  I think to myself.  Must be a mistake in calculations,  I try to convince myself.   But, it’s not.   1979 subtracted from 2019 is 40.   Ouch!

I remember my 40th birthday.  I think it was yesterday.  Actually, that took place in 1995.   My oldest was a sophomore in high school, she was learning how to drive.  Life was exciting for both of us.  Her learning to drive and me learning how to not scream when she was behind the wheel!  Ahh, sweet (?) memories!

Anyhow, fast (and by fast, I mean hyper-speed) forward 24 years and we arrive at this moment.  She is now 40 and I am officially old.   The years between have seen lots of laughter, even more tears, late night fears (more on my part than hers), and continual prayers.  She is a lovely woman, full of grace and beauty.  A loving wife, a caring mother and devoted to her family.   She has grown into a woman who I aspire to be.   She made me who I am today and for that, I am thankful.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” (NLT)

Thanks for stopping by today…  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

Broken Bones, Broken Hearts and Broken Promises…

After a bit of encouragement today from a lovely group of bloggers, my mind started to once more formulate something to write. It has been three months since my last post. I broke a promise to myself to be more consistent in writing. I was determined and I did not see it through. I realized today that for years I have been playing at writing. It is a life long goal of mine to be a writer. A serious one. Each new year I think to myself, “This is THE year. I am going to start that novel I have carried in my heart and mind for the past twenty plus years. ” And then, by the end of January those thoughts fade and I think to myself, “Well, maybe someday I will get to it.” This year was no different, I thought maybe this year I will do it. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t ruled it out.

The past three months have been eventful. They have flown by actually. The end of October I was blessed in being able to speak to a group of women whom I love dearly. It was a long weekend retreat at a beach house in Myrtle Beach, SC. The talk centered around forgiveness and a hard lesson I learned about forgiveness and faith several years ago. It was a cathartic experience in writing this. But, with experiences like this, I felt drained after sharing my thoughts and words and emotions.

During the time of the retreat I had to miss the memorial service for my dear cousin who had passed away. It broke my heart to not be there for him or for my extended family. We each have that one cousin (if we are blessed) that brings your heart joy with each thought. He was that cousin for me. My heart smiles with each memory of him, but, I feel his absence daily with each thought also.

After the retreat, hubby and I traveled to our hometown in Northwest Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful time, it is always fun to be with friends and see family. We had a wedding to attend and that made the time even more enjoyable. Our niece made a beautiful bride and her new husband is a wonderful addition to our family.

As we were celebrating in our niece’s joy we received word that a dear friend passed away suddenly after a fall. It made the cracks in our heart deeper as we realized once more that we would not be there for the memorial service. The separation of death hurts in ways you do not expect. We have the assurance that we will see one another again, both my cousin and our friend, when we pass through this life, but, it does not ease the desire for one more conversation, one more round of laughter, one more time to pray for one another.

On our last night in our hometown, my dear hubby decided to do a tap dance with a cat, at the top of a staircase. Guess who won the dance contest? Yep, the cat! Fortunately, no fall down the stairs, but there was a trip to the emergency room for a broken ankle. It fortunately healed quickly and he is back to normal and on the mend.

Yes, it’s been a hectic three months. But, worth it. In between all the chaos were the holidays and a trip to see Mickey and Minnie at Disney World. I have found that usually in life there is chaos and confusion at times, but in the day to day things there is always a place where peace and joy reside. It is in the little things. The memories of loved ones that make your heart smile. The laughter as you explain to doctors how an ankle was broken. The victory of being able to share things from your life you never thought you would be able to speak aloud. The sparkle of tree lights and the sparkle of grandchildren as they look and marvel at gifts under the tree. The gleeful laughter of grands as they play and chase one another around the house, dogs in pursuit and mothers yelling to slow down. Life, sometimes it needs encouragement, sometimes it needs quiet, sometimes a simple nudge to just write helps immensely.

Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate you! Cathi (DAF)

Faith…

blonde hair blur daylight environment

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

I have attempted many things in my life that I never would have thought of doing when I was growing up in my small hometown of Oil City, PA.   I married my high school sweetheart which at the time was a pretty normal thing for people to do.  However, he was a career Navy man and the day after our wedding he drove me away from the security of our hometown, and we have been on an adventure since then.

I have seen the Atlantic ocean, the Pacific ocean, Tokyo Bay, Sagami Bay, and the finger lakes around Mt Fuji,  the Gulf of California off San Felipe, the Gulf of Mexico .  I have been to Tokyo several times, been on an aircraft carrier for a day, been mountain climbing in Maine with our five month old daughter, passing her between one another while we climbed to the top (not our most prepared moment).  I have run across the Golden Gate Bridge for fun, fallen off a bike into a rice paddy, eaten some strange foods not knowing what they were.     I have felt adventurous, bold, brave.  I have had fun.  I know in comparison to others, these are all small things to accomplish, but, for this small town girl who never thought she would see anything except the Allegheny River and Oil Creek, these are big things.

I said all of the above because yesterday as I was preparing for some decorating for our upcoming Ladies Retreat, I came across a clip art that showed a woman leaping from one mountain top to another.  This piece of clip art stopped me.  I literally stopped what I was doing and just stared at the image for several moments.  It wasn’t necessarily a striking image, it was just a woman in mid-air between two outcropping peaks of a mountain.   I have jumped across mountain outcroppings like this before without a thought as to what I was doing, and normally I would just smile and continue to look for what I originally was searching for.

However, I stopped.  I studied this image.  My heart joined in the study.  This clip art spoke of faith.  This person photographed an act of faith.  This woman left a piece of ground she was certain of.  She knew what she was standing on.  It was firm land, safe land.  She left that security and leapt not knowing what the ground across from her would be like.  Would that ground be as firm as what she just left?  When she landed again would the ground be firm or would it be slick?  Would there be rocks covered in moss or gravel?  Would she stumble or slip?  These questions flooded my mind as I stared at the clip art.

Then, a question came to my mind, “When was the last time you took a leap of faith?”  The answer to myself was not positive.  I once thought myself adventuresome.  There was a part of me that smiled because I had done so many things that a girl from Oil City never thought of doing, and yet, here I am, now an older woman from South Carolina who leads a pretty ordinary, quiet life.

Have I settled?  Have I told myself it’s time that I shouldn’t expect that rush of excitement and adventure?  All these questions and thoughts flooded my mind and heart in a five-minute time frame, and then kept rattling around my brain since.   In getting older, those leaps of faith come with a bit of wisdom and experience, memories of skinned knees, aching limbs, racing hearts and disappointments jump up in the front of my mind.   I don’t want to miss out though.

While in Japan, hubby and I went to the mountains for a weekend retreat.  Our car’s battery had been blown so the car wouldn’t start on its own, we had to push it to start it.  We drove that beat up old car into the mountains, each time we stopped I would get out and push it as I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift then, and popping a clutch was an unnatural feat for me.   But, it was during that memorable trip that Psalm 121 became a part of my life.   To me, it speaks of faith, leaping faith, and I close sharing it here with you.

Psalm 121 (New Living Translation)

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

I am now challenged to look for places to leap out in faith.  Will I succeed?  I really don’t know, all I know is I am going to look for places to leap, it may only be jumping across a puddle for now, but maybe, just maybe I have a mountain top or two to leap over.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

Six years out…

Six years ago on the 28th of July, I wrote this blog post:

This will be short. I am busy watching my baby’s baby. He is absolutely gorgeous, all 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long.

He coos, he squeals, he cries, and he is the proud owner of my heart. It no longer belongs to me, it is his. His little fingers have wrapped their way around my heart and there they will stay.

That’s it for now, I am busy reveling in the glory of our God in giving our family such a gift.

Yes, it was a short post, and it seems like yesterday that I wrote it.  But, it’s not.  It was six years ago.

Tomorrow Little Man turns six.  Can you believe that?  I know I can’t!  So many little stories I have written about him and when I re-read each one, it seems like it just happened.

It has been a while since I wrote anything about this precious little guy.  My heart is still his, like my heart is also his cousin’s.  Those little ones grab your heart with that first look and they do not let go of it, nor, would I want them to.

Little Man is now heading into the first grade.  He is an avid reader, reading much more above his grade level.  He is into dinosaurs currently, he still loves his legos, and his taste in music is incredible.  He can rock out with the best of us.

He makes me smile just with a glance and when it has been a while since I last saw him, my arms ache for a hug.

So much of what I took for granted while raising my daughters, like birthdays and interests, loose teeth, and advancing in school, is now of great interest to me.  I love hearing him tell me of his adventures, those  big and small.  These little things are so important to him, and to me.   He continues to teach me things I have long forgotten.  The joy of discovering a new trick on a scooter, the fun of wriggling a loose tooth, the information on dinosaurs and how they looked or what they ate.   These are important lessons to focus on.

I am still amazed at this Little Man.  He makes my heart smile. IMG_1760Happy Birthday six-year-old!  Grammy loves you.

 

 

For Everything there is a Season…

I usually do any deep reflecting at the end of the year, after Christmas and right around the New Year’s celebrations.   That is when I think of the past year and ponder what the new year will bring.  That is the way I have done it for years and years (and if I was truthful, I would add another ‘and years’ to that statement).

So, it has been unusual for me to begin to reflect this early in the year.  This time of year is when I complain about the heat and the mosquitoes, if nothing else, I am a creature of habit. Specific things for specific times.

I have a great-niece (actually, I have six nieces that are great) but this is actually a great-niece as in my niece’s daughter,  hopefully that made sense.  She is a wonderful young woman, (as is her sister), and she recently graduated from high school.  Her Facebook posts reflect those of a recent graduate.  They are filled with emotion and excitement, determination, anticipation and mixed in with all of that, is a measure of uncertainty and if I am being truthful, fear.    This is an exciting time for her.  Her whole life is before her.  A vast hallway filled with open doors and adventures.  She is standing in the doorway, ready to embark on the rest of her life.

Yesterday hubby and I were having a conversation with some friends.  We were talking about our age and how quickly we came to the point we are.  We talked how we felt on the inside versus how we ‘looked’ on the outside.  It’s a conversation I have had several times in the past few years.  In fact, I find myself saying the same things while having these conversations.

This morning I woke up in a pondering mood.  I lay in bed as I thought of my life.  I really could see many opportunities that I passed on.  I realized that my vast hallway filled with open doors had many doors still open or halfway closed, all covered in cobwebs for not being used.  I wondered if I regretted not exploring them.  As I dressed for the day listening to my creaking joints and looking at my gray hair, it occurred to me that, yes, I am as old as I look, no matter how young I may think I am.

I know these were deep thoughts for a Monday morning, but, when my mind starts a journey of thought, I determine that I will see it through, with or without my first cup of coffee.

A couple of songs went through my mind.  The first, by the Byrd’s , “Turn, Turn, Turn”  and then just a snippet of Frank Sinatra’s classic, “I did it my way”  But, for the latter, the only phrase that stuck in my mind was “regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”.

There were two things I took away from my morning musing which, obviously I am going to share with you.   The first, I did not explore all that was available to me, but, I would not travel back down that vast hallway just to see what I missed.

Secondly, each part of our life is a new season.  Each part of our life finds us at the doorway of a hallway.  That hallway may not be as long as what it was when we were freshly out of school, but, nevertheless, it is a hallway filled with open doors.  We each have new things to discover and explore.  New adventures await.  So, by this afternoon, this white-haired, creaky lady, who still feels like she is eighteen, albeit a very slow-moving eighteen year old is about to take a step from the doorway into her hall.

I also leave you with a quote from Ecclesiastes, which is where the song mentioned above came from.  This is Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 from the New Living Translation.   It sort of sums up how I am feeling on this Monday afternoon.   11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

Thank you for stopping by today, hope you are having a good day.   Cathi (DAF)

 

I Blame It On the Food Network…

I am married to a visionary.  He can see things and implement them, and I stand amazed at what he can do.  When we moved three years ago he mentioned that he wanted to start a community garden.  I dismissed that.  He mentioned it several more times, each time I would think, “he can’t actually be serious”.  He was.

The garden was started in March, and he is doing the garden in a unique way, but that is another story for another time.  We had a month of rain and through a series of  uncontrollable things, our garden got overtaken by weeds, lots and lots of weeds.  But, we were not discouraged, hubby and I along with another dear couple have worked hard at combating these prolific green monsters.  We have spent evenings swatting mosquitoes, no see-ums, and black flies while sweating in the humidity.  It has not been pretty, and I confess neither has my attitude.

Last Thursday I felt bad for my attitude and for my hubby.  I decided to fix a nice meal for him to treat him.  I made a cake for dessert, made a couple of salads and then, following the idea of a cooking show, I made pork chops.  We love those cooking shows, they have such wonderful ideas and make you hungry while sitting watching them and munching on anything edible while doing so.

I coated the pork chops with seasonings and then I browned them in my fancy Emeril cookware.  I carefully covered the pan with foil and put the pan in the oven so they would continue to cook.  When they were done, I carefully pulled out the pan and plated my hubby’s plate.  I was so excited for this meal!  Next, without giving it a second thought, I grabbed hold of the handle of the pan, without a pot-holder and quickly seared my hand.  It only took a few seconds to realize something was amiss!

My hand was a mess, to say the least.  Several blisters and yes, I do blame the Food Network, if I wasn’t inspired by them, we would have had plain old tough pork chops and my hand would still have all its calloused skin on it!

Actually, I should thank them also, for I got out of weed patrol for the next few days!  Thanks for stopping by!  I appreciate you.   Cathi (DAF)

Grammy’s purse…

My daughter is married to a Navy man, which makes our Little Miss a Navy brat.  A couple of weeks ago my daughter and son-in-law had a weekend military commitment, and hubby and I went to Florida to watch our Little Miss for them.

We arrived on a Wednesday and spent the next couple of days in a resort condo that belongs to a friend of theirs.  We loved the view of the Gulf of Mexico, the white sand, the boardwalk, and most of all, we loved being with our kids.  IMG_1914IMG_1911.JPG

Each time we went to eat, Little Miss would gravitate to my purse.  She would start with the line,”I really like your purse Grammy.”  It is a bright pink wristlet bag that is small but somehow holds a lot!  Little Miss would hold on to my bag, and then shake it.  Of course she would hear the mints inside.

My purse is a treasure trove for a three-year old girl.   Inside is a container of mints, some cute sticky notes, pens, and lips losps (lip gloss).  What more could a girl ask for?  Each meal the purse would come out, the contents rummaged through, mints eaten and lip gloss applied.  The sticky notes and pen entertained her for at least a minute, it was just pure heaven for her.

Friday of that week, we took Little Miss back to her house for the weekend, while Mom and Dad stayed at the resort for their event.  We got to the house, unloaded the car, unloaded Little Miss and got settled in.  A few minutes after getting to the house, Little Miss went down for her nap and Grammy decided it was time to head to the store to pick up a few things.

I am very particular in where I put my purse since it has all my id’s and cards, and basically my life.  I grabbed the keys, the shopping list and went to grab my purse.  It was nowhere in sight.  I looked in the car, nothing.  I looked in the laundry room, nothing.  Looked in our room, again, nothing.  I retraced my steps several times.  I asked hubby if he had seen it.  He told me he brought it in and where he put it.  It wasn’t there.  I questioned him over and over, doubting more each time and putting a sudden onset of dementia on him, thinking he just didn’t remember right.

I gave up and just headed to the store, praying that I would not get in an accident or pulled over with no license on my person.  I have never (up to this point in my life) lost a wallet or purse.  I was sick at the thought of having to replace cards and identification.

I made it home without meeting any of the local law enforcement and decided to pull a Scarlett O’Hara, putting my hand to my forehead and saying, “I will think about that tomorrow.”   Replacing the wallet was going to take a back seat to preparing dinner, although I was truly sick thinking about the lost purse.

After putting groceries away, I started to fix dinner, wanting to get it done while Little Miss was sleeping.   I went to get a pan out and there sitting on top of the pans was my pink purse.  Hubby had said that he had placed my purse on the kitchen counter and sure enough he had, within an arm’s reach of a certain three-year old who decided to put the purse up for safe keeping.    I stared at the purse perched on top of the pans and just started to laugh.  Never would I have thought to look there, but, it was there for safe keeping.  I picked up the purse and put it up, out of the reach of a certain Little Miss.   It was a wonderful time and I haven’t laughed that much in a while.IMG_1950

Thanks for stopping by,  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

Kindred Spirits…

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.   

I Samuel 18:1 NKJV (New King James Version)

In life we all have our best friends, our long time friends, our fair weathered friends.  But, if we are truly lucky or blessed, we have a kindred spirit.  These are those friends we meet unexpectedly and bond immediately.

I have a picture of my kindred spirit.   She is sitting on a chair in her living room in Nagai Housing area in Japan.  She is in her flannel nightgown and one hand has a telephone receiver up to her ear and with the other hand, she is talking.  I look at the picture and am immediately transported back in time when I took this.  It captured Debbie.  Expressive, bubbly, full of life.

I can’t remember where we met; it must have been at the chapel in the housing area.  All I know is that we clicked in a way I never had before.  Time did not matter; it was like we had known each other all our lives.  The bond was instant.

We spent hours and hours and hours talking to one another.  I walked over to her house daily, after work, before work or instead of work.

We left Japan before they did.  When we said good-bye our husbands had to pull us apart as we did not want to leave each other.

We wrote for a while and then, as often happen, life got in the way and we lost track of one another.  I never forgot her.  My heart missed her.

Again, with the dawn of Facebook, we found one another.  We continued our conversations.  We didn’t start new, for we didn’t have to.  We caught up with each other.

Her life had not been easy; she is a cancer survivor, the wife of a dear man who has MS.  She works tirelessly for her family and grandchildren.  We are older, wiser, but, her zest for life is ever-present.  Her zeal for the Lord is still contagious.  She still talks with her hands, I haven’t seen it, but I can tell.

She is the David for my Jonathan’s heart.  David, for she loves the Lord and follows closely after Him.  She is musical as was David, and her words, like the Psalms bring comfort to me.

We don’t get to visit as often as we would like, but, when we do, we are still those young women who could raise the noise level in a room easily. (It is rumored that one of us once blew a whistle in a store to get someone to wait on us…  Of course the whistle was around Debbie’s neck.  Fortunately I was quick enough to blow the whistle and leave it hanging there so it did look like she had done it…)

Her friendship is a gift.  When I was homesick and feeling so alone in a foreign country, the Lord brought us together.  Knowing Debbie is like seeing that first daffodil of the season, it brings hope and brightness to a tired landscape.

Lord, may I be able to bring hope and brightness to someone today.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

“True friends are always together in spirit.“

Implementing an Idea…

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to write.  I have always loved the idea of putting thoughts together to somehow have an impact on another’s life.  I don’t know if I have ever succeeded in doing so, but, as you know, it has not stopped me.

As we were leaving Japan to return to living in the states, I had an idea for a book.  Obviously, that has not happened.    The book was to be a devotional of the lessons I had learned from the people in my life.  I have tried a few times to start it and each time, I reread what I had written and either tore it up (before computers) and threw it away, or, I have hit the delete button and it disappeared.

After my last post, I realized that lately I have had a theme in several of my posts that talk about people in my life and what they have meant to me.  I have suggested that you tell those you love, or who are in your life how important they are to you.    As I finished my last post, it occurred to me that this might be the time for me to at least blog about the lessons and truths I have learned along the way with those precious people who have been in my life.  So, I am going to begin sharing some things from people who have been placed in my life.  This will be my (hopefully) gift to those close to me.

So, my blog will be my observations, lessons, and love I have gathered along the way.  Life is fleeting, and I want to take the time to share my love.  That is, of course, unless something really exciting happens and I have to write about that!

Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate your visit.  Cathi (DAF)