We have the same name…

I went to kindergarten in the morning.  I had a friend who lived across the street somewhat, it’s an intersection where there are actually a couple of streets merging off of one.  Anyhow, I really liked this girl and her name also was Kathy.   I remember one day another girl came to play with my friend Kathy.  She had red hair.  She went to afternoon kindergarten.  She was playing with my friend Kathy.  I immediately did not like her.  She was crowding in on my friend territory.  Her name?  Kathy.

Fast  forward through eight years of elementary school and this red-headed Kathy was at all of my birthday parties and I was at hers.  We were friends.  The other Kathy? I really have lost touch with her and don’t actually know where she is…

But, this third Kathy, this red-headed girl has become my forever friend.  We grew closer during high school.  I was at her house all the time.  We spent nights together, talking until three or four in the morning.  She introduced me to my husband, I was there when she tripped and actually fell into the lap of her future husband, smashing an ice cream cone into his face.  Yes, I was that friend who sat and laughed uncontrollably while that happened.   It was classic!

I just went online to read the definition of forever friend.  I read articles of how you know when you find a forever friend.  I didn’t need to read any of it.  The definition of a forever friend?  Kathy.

C.S. Lewis (one of my favorite writers) once said, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. ”   This is my friend.

We have gone long times when we haven’t spoken.  We have had a distance between us.  We have been like sisters at times when we have argued and stayed mad at one another.  But, then, that melody drifts into our hearts and we know that we need to reach out to one another. We need to have that time of restoration.  To hear one another, and to listen to each other.  Those words that remind us of who we are.   That melody in our hearts that were sung as children and teens, and kept us sane as young mothers.  That harmony that now eases us into our ‘senior years’.  The song that started out as a light melody has now become an orchestral piece, rich with all the sounds of the instruments.  The deep bass of the hard and difficult times we have seen one another through, the piccolo of the happy times, the weddings and the births of grandchildren.  Those calming woodwinds that  echo with memories of times spent together.  Each movement conveying notes we carry in our hearts for one another.

Friends are truly a gift from our God.  I have been blessed with many friends.  I am honored when someone befriends me and I often wonder why they would.  The friendship with Kathy has been grown over time.  I often see a reflection of God in her.  Her faith, her giving heart, her determination, her drive, challenges me and at the same time amazes me.  There are very few people who I can be truly and honestly myself with.  I am grateful that Kathy allows me to be me, bumps, bruises, frustration, anger, tears, laughter, all of who I am, I can be.   She will listen and then, with ever so much grace she will point me the Lord and the direction I need to go.

In the Message Bible, Proverbs 17:17 says, Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”  

I am so grateful to God for the gift of that red-headed girl I met so many, many, many years ago.   I hope you have had the blessing of a forever friend.  Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

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A Warm Piece of Toast…

Years ago while in Japan, a dear friend and I had babies within weeks of one another.   Both were little girls.  We would talk daily on the phone and we loved our talks.

One day, mid morning ,the phone rang,  I answered in tears.  It was my friend Cindy, the one who had a baby girl weeks after we had ours.   Hearing my tears, she promptly asked what was going on.  Through my tears I told her that all I really wanted was a warm piece of toast, and I hadn’t had one in weeks and I was just about to take a bite of a warm piece of toast when the phone rang.  Hiding her laughter, she told me to hang up, have my toast and call when I was done.

I know I have a weird relationship with my toast.  I just love to eat it when it is warm out of the toaster, the butter melted and the topping of choice (mostly peanut butter for me) is soft and warm also.

For the past couple of weeks I have been trying to get hold of Cindy.  Her health has not been good and I have just needed to hear her voice.  To hear her laughter and know in my heart that she is okay.    She is a friend who is  one of those that we can go months and years without talking and when we hear one another’s voice it is just a continuation of where we left off.   The last time we talked we promised that we would talk more often, like we used to in Japan.  That was at least three years ago.   So, no, we did not keep our promise to one another.

This morning I had texted her husband and tried once to call and left a voice mail.  After that I made hubby some toast and then made myself a piece.  Again, it was warm, butter melted and peanut butter gooey.  It was a great piece of toast.  Since I had been thinking of Cindy, I thought of that conversation so long ago and laughed to myself.

Then the phone rang.  I answered and we had a great visit on the phone.  As typical of when I talk with her, tears streamed down my face.  Tears of happiness in hearing her voice, tears of sorrow that we do not live closer to one another, tears of memories that cover so many years and the knowledge that I need to cherish each conversation, each echo of laughter.

Once more we hung up promising each other that we would talk more often.  I am hoping to hold up my end of the deal this time.   As I walked back into the living room to continue my day, I looked at the end table.  There on my plate was a cold, hard piece of toast.  I smiled to myself as I ate it.  How times have changed for me, a cold piece of toast tastes so much better after a warm conversation.

Proverbs 25:25 says, “Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary is a letter from a long-lost friend.”     This wasn’t a letter, but even better, a conversation.

Thank you my friend for blessing my day.  You are loved.

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.“

The Comfort of a Worn Quilt…

Psalm 91:4 New Living Translation (NLT)

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

 

This verse in Psalms reminds me of sitting under an old soft quilt.  You know those quilts made up of many squares from different pieces of cloth.  Each cloth has a story of its own and a different “feel” to it.  Some are more worn than others and some silky, some with a faded texture, some more vibrant in color and some that are just worn from time.  Each square is sewn together with threads of love, prayer and hope.

You sit under this quilt for comfort, warmth and security.  This quilt has been used to wipe your tears and your nose.  It is a well-loved quilt.  You cannot describe this quilt because it encompasses too many thoughts and emotions. There are too many stories that, like the squares that are sewn together, each has a history.

Bruce is married to my forever friend.  I was there when they first met (classic story for another time), I went on their first date (double date to a Billy Graham movie), interrupted their first kiss (oops!!), he was in our wedding and we were in theirs.  He is our oldest daughter’s  Godfather.

He is not a brother, not a friend; he is like an old worn quilt.  Our lives (the four of us) are sewn together with threads of faith, love, hope, disappointment, fear, trust, laughter, memories.

Spending time with Bruce reminds me of my quiet times with my Lord.  I can sit and talk, honestly and openly.  I can sit and say nothing at all.  There is no judgment.  No condemnation.  Just a peace.

Lord, help me to run to the shelter of Your wings.  There I can be safe.  There I can learn from You.  Cover me in Your perfect peace.   Amen.

Thank you for visiting today,  Cathi (DAF)

My Brother…

1 Corinthians 10:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.

I never had a brother.  I always wanted one.  Growing up with my sisters was wonderful and I cherish them, but, I saw my cousins who were, or had brothers and I envied them.  There is just something about having a brother.  I actually wanted a big brother.  That was just not possible.

Not possible, until we went to Japan.  When we first went to Japan we moved into a small apartment on the “economy”, which meant we moved into a Japanese neighborhood and lived like they did.   We were put on a waiting list for government housing, which is an American style home.  (Well, American as what the Occupation housing was like).

Several months after arriving in Japan we were contacted that we had worked our way through the housing list.  We drove from our little place in Kikoba, Hayama to Yokohama, Japan.  There we met up with two other couples, one a little older than us and the other, a couple our age with their baby girl in a little carrier.   There were three couples and three homes.  There was a ranking order and so we knew that when the older couple said which house they wanted, it was theirs.   We ended up with the houses we all wanted, so there was no strife in the decisions.

We moved in and a few months later while I was grocery shopping I ran into the couple with the baby.  They invited hubby and I to dinner that night and thus began a life long friendship.

But, this post is not just about them, it is about my desire for a brother.  The Lord heard my cry for one and He provided a brother for me in this young man.  After we all left Japan, they moved to San Diego and eventually we were there also.

It was during our time in San Diego that Mike truly became my big brother.  With hubby deployed so often, Mike stepped in and did the heavy stuff around our home.  Without asking, he was there faithfully to mow our lawn, build fences, move dirt, anything I might need.    His family is our family, we love each other and they are Aunt and Uncle and cousins to my girls and we are that to their girls.

Michael is not just a brother in a sense of taking care of things for me, he is the one I can argue with and disagree with.  He will challenge me when I am wrong, he will correct me.  He has words that are encouraging and words that make me spit out drinks from my nose in laughter.  As they say now, he truly is my brother from another mother.  I cherish his presence in my life.

Michael has taught me many things.  His life reflects his determination to be available for others.  He looks for the good in others, he brings it out in people.  He strives to expose in people things they do not see themselves.  He has done this for me.  I have grudgingly listened to him and mentally fought what he has said to me, eventually realizing he was right all along, thus giving me a firmer foundation.

Sometimes the desires of our hearts are not what we thought they were.  As a child, I saw an older brother as a mere protector, someone to guard against bullies, or to wrestle with, or to just hang out with.  The brother I received could be all of that, but, he is a voice that will beckon me to better things.  He will show by example consistency in his family.  He can be annoying in disagreements, and he will just smile when I realize he was right.    But, even though I do not see him much now, I know that he is a phone call away and if it is possible he would be at our side as soon as humanly possible.

Our Lord places us in families, those we are born with and those that just ‘happen’ to come to us.  My family was blessed to be placed together with theirs.  I am grateful for my brother.

Lord, thank you for Michael.  Thank You for the lessons You have taught me through him.  Help me to follow his example of You.  Those examples of seeing people as You see them, being consistent in my life.  Let my life be a reflection of You this day.

Thank you for stopping by…  Cathi (DAF)

Steadfast…

1 Thessalonians 5:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Marlene has been my friend since the fourth grade.  Over the years our friendship has changed many times and in many ways.  We go months sometimes, without talking, but it does not hinder either of us when we pick up the phone and begin a conversation.

This past week I was able to spend time with Marlene.  She came to visit and it was refreshing for me.  We greeted each other with hugs and the usual catching up of families.

We spent our days talking nonstop.  We laughed often and loudly.  We revisited our memories from elementary school, junior high and high school.  We cried for those we have lost along the way.  We talked about hard things that neither of us wanted to think about.  We cried, we laughed, and we relaxed in the comfort of our friendship.

Marlene has always been a steadfast person in my life.  Her faithfulness in being a friend to me is a gift.  She has shown me what it means to be steadfast.  She is unwavering in her friendship.  She has given me strength at times when I have lost focus.  She stands firm, pointing to things in my life and redirecting me to remember.

A quiet person, for the most part, this friend has gently entreated me to see myself as she sees me.  Her encouragement is softly spoken but echoes in my spirit.  I leave her presence feeling refreshed, renewed.

She points to the direction of my heart.  She encourages me in my walk with the Lord.  She reminds me that our Lord is that gentle touch in the center of my back, holding me steady, giving me courage and urging me onward towards Him.

Whether spending time with a friend or with the Lord, it is good to be encouraged, to be built up.  To be reminded that I have done well in areas where I have doubted, areas where I feel like the Lord has been silent (or I haven’t heard what He is saying to me) is a treasure.   Marlene, thank you for the gift of your steadfast friendship.  Thank you also for building me up with your quiet grace.  Most of all, thank you for redirecting and steadying me in my walk.

Lord, keep my eyes steadfast on You.  Do not allow me to waver in my walk with You.  Steady me when I start to drift to the sides.  Thank You for Your guiding hands keeping me safe.  

Thank you for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

 

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)

Navy Family…

Military families are a unique group of people.  Separated from biological families, they have to make and become part of a new family with each duty station.  Their children have very little access to their real cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents.  So, in the absence of having blood relations around, family units are formed and the bond is as strong as it would be if you had grown up in your hometown.

As is common in some families, though, there are times where there is little communication and days of not talking can turn into weeks, months and eventually years.  You think of them, you pray for them, but life continues and soon you realize that you have lost touch with them.  Their names are no longer on your Christmas card list, and their birthdays are no longer marked on the calendar.  You have the memories of them, you smile to yourself as you remember the duty station and the things you had in common, but, for the most part, you smile and once more tuck the memories away in the file in your heart labeled (for me) Norfolk, Yokosuka, Nagai, Bangor, Winter Harbor, San Diego.

And then…   your text notification goes off at 2:00 a.m..  My first thought was to ignore it.  My second thought, it may be one of the girls and you panic trying to figure out what happened and if the grand-babies are okay.  The third thought is, ‘Put on your glasses dummy and see who it was” .  So, at 2:05 a.m., I fumble for my glasses, and stumble into the bathroom, turn on the light and bleary-eyed read the text.  It was urgent sounding.  Prayer needed.  No name, just a phone number.    My next thought was, “poor thing.  must be a wrong number since there was no name attached to the text.”   I pray for this person and then the area code sinks into my brain.  I recognize the area code, I used to have this area code.  By now I am mentally awake.  I scroll down and realize it is a different number than the Maine numbers I have.  I pray a bit harder.

I get back to sleep after feeling like I had prayed enough.   It was a group text and honestly, I think people get up way too early on Sundays.  My notifications started to go off at 5:30 a.m..   One after another.  I finally put my phone under my pillow so it wasn’t so annoying, after all, I had my alarm set for 7 a.m.  and I didn’t want to over sleep!

In a nutshell, all of the texts and commotion through the night was for a ‘family’ member from Winter Harbor.  She is ill, and in the hospital.  She was one that had been lost for me.  It was her number that showed up on my phone.  Today I talked with her for the first time in I can’t remember how long.  We laughed and shared memories and prayed together.  It brought a smile to my face.

Then an hour ago, another unidentified phone number showed up on my phone.  I answered and figured it was a sales call.  It was not.  It was someone else that I had lost touch with.  She was part of that family in Winter Harbor.  I recognized her voice, as with family, you do not have to identify yourself when calling.  You know the voice.  Your heart recognizes the voice.  We visited for a short time and the call ended.

In hanging up from that call, I realized that our adopted families are just like our biological families.  We know we are there.  We can call, or choose not to.  We can message, text, write a letter, share a post, or we can decide not to.  But, when there is an event, or an emergency,  family comes together.  We may not be as close as we once were, and we may no longer see eye to eye on everything, but, we will come together to pray, to support, to hold one another up.

I am grateful for my adopted families.  My life has been shaped and formed through knowing them.  My mind and heart are filled with memories shared with them.  When I think of them, I am transported to the housing area that had a perfect view of Mt. Fuji, rice paddies, and yakitori stands.  Or, I am immediately put on the rock-bound coast of Maine, with the sea smell and lobster traps.  Images and smells and sounds of my life.  Littered with snippets of people who have encouraged me, challenged me, supported me and laughed with me.  So, to my siblings that have been on my mind and heart today, Mike, Cindy, Debbie, Dick, Maggie, Jackie, Bob, Susie, Vance, Ruthie, Neil, Rosalee, and so many more, thank you for making me me.  My life has been so blessed by you all.  I love you.  And, to my nieces and nephews,  Janna, Wendy, Cathy, Beth, Dawn, Paige, Kelly, Kevin,  and Aimee, I love you.  You are missed and your young lives made me smile in so many ways, thank you for the blessing of being you.    (Disclaimer: I failed to mention another Vance, who started as an adopted part of family, but became family, as did his mom, dad and sister and he became Little Man’s daddy)

Thanks for dropping by today and for reading my stroll down memory lane.  Cathi (DAF)

Heroes…

A few years ago we watched a movie that made a huge impact on me.  I actually think of it often and am still moved by it.  The movie was “Taking Chance”, starring Kevin Bacon.  It is about a fallen soldier being taken home and the military officer who accompanied him.  I cried through the entire movie, I really wanted to just sit and sob, but retained my composure and just let the tears fall.

All too often in recent years, we have seen videos of our military personnel who are being loaded onto aircraft.  We see the honor guard and the spouses and family standing soberly by the casket.   It is heart wrenching to say the least.  But, it truly is what these heroes deserve.

A couple of nights ago, a gentleman from our church passed away.  I confess, I did not know him well.  I knew him to see him and I loved when he would stand to pray.  His prayers were bold, and strong and elegant.  His prayers would make my heart soar.   Hubby, though, did know this man.  He had visited him frequently the past month as his health was declining.  So, the other night when we received a call that he had passed, hubby went to the hospital to be with the family.

I got a text from him an hour or so later and he said that he would be staying with this man until he was taken to the morgue.  I didn’t think much of it, it just sounds like something my husband would do.    He came home later that night and I could tell the passing of this man had touched my husband’s heart.   We knew he was now out of pain and was peaceful.  Hubby said there was almost a smile on his face in death, and we both agreed that he most likely saw the glory of heaven in his last moments and that is enough to make anyone smile.

As I started to drift off to sleep that night, it occurred to me what my husband had done that evening.  He had said when he came in that his feet were a bit tired from standing and I didn’t connect the dots until I was trying to go to sleep.   He was standing watch for his friend, who not only was his friend, but, a brother in arms.  This man who died was a combat veteran who had served in the Air Force for 20 years.  He served in Viet Nam and the military when it wasn’t fashionable to do so.  He served his country when most people ridiculed our military.  He never received  accolades given for his service like they are given today.  No one stopped him on the street to thank him for his service.  He quietly did his duty.  He was a hero.

And, my husband, who recognized this hero stood watch beside him.  To the staff at the hospital, he was a cancer patient who had most likely lived a full life.  He was older and he lost his battle to cancer.   Hubby, though, knew the rest of the story.  He knew he was a veteran.  They had shared stories of their time in the service, they bonded as only brothers in arms can.

So, at the end of his life, he received the honor he deserved.  He was not left alone.  He had a brother standing guard, watching and making certain he was taken care of.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and ages.  I am proud I have my own hero.  A man who respects the tenants and traditions of the military.  A man who will honor the heroes that have served and gone on before him.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)

Thank you…

When we were away over the holidays, we had our mail put on hold.  It just makes it easier.  Monday of this week our mail was delivered, and it’s always fun to go to the mail box and see it crammed full of built up mail.  Of course, there is also the side that makes you wonder just how many bills are in the mix.  (There were none, which gave us a happy dance!)

As I opened the mailbox, I saw the envelopes and magazines and then I saw a mailing envelope.  I figured it was for hubby, who often gets things like that in the mail.  I pulled it all out and saw my name on the envelope.  I looked at the return address and smiled.  It was from Texas.    I actually found myself rushing into the house so I could rip open the package.  I could not help but smile.

The package was from a friend of mine who I met years ago, although it just seems like yesterday.  We had an unusual introduction, via e-mail.  I was part of a ministry in San Diego and was asked to write this woman, who at the time needed just a bit of encouragement.  I had done this often and had enjoyed the times I had written these women.  Most of them I wrote a couple of times and never heard from them again.  This time, a bond was formed.  We went from writing about the need at the time to sharing things like our youth, our dreams, our thoughts on various subjects.  We talked about Southern CA and how there was a lack of song birds.  Somehow, that part of our conversations has always been a part of our friendship.   I believed we wrote one another for several months before actually meeting each other.  I bought a new outfit the day I met her, so that I knew I would look okay upon meeting her.  I smile at that thought now, as she is so accepting and loving, she never would have been concerned at how I looked.

Anyhow, I opened the package and there was a beautiful journal for me.  I had just thought about getting a new one the day before and there it was, sitting on my kitchen table.  I looked inside and there was a note from her.   As I read the note through tear filled eyes, I thanked the Lord for her presence in my life.  She is a precious gift to me and one I am always grateful for.

So, Diane, thank you.  Thank you for being you most of all.  You have blessed my life over and over in so many ways.   Your thoughtfulness amazes me.  I am so glad that we met, and as we have said often, it truly was God’s design to have our lives intertwined.    I know this is an unusual thank you note, but, it was one I felt I had to share.

Too often in our lives we mean to say things to important people in our lives and we neglect to.  We put it off, we postpone writing a note or sending a text or even picking up a phone to call.  We think of people daily and never let them know they are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.  Time passes too quickly and I am so guilty of not calling, writing, or letting those people, my family, my friends know how much I love and appreciate them.

Thank you again for the lovely journal, but thank you most of all for the kind words you wrote in the journal.  The words I write in it will never mean as much as what you shared.

Cathi (DAF)