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)


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)

And time marches on….

It’s been two months since I last wrote on my blog.  Truthfully, it doesn’t seem like it has been that long, and I had to check my stats to actually prove to myself that it has been.

Two months, eight weeks, sixty some days, more hours than I care to figure out.  It is time and it has passed by.

In this time I have spent time with friends.  Had meals out with friends.  Cleaned my house several times.  Done a ton of laundry (well, not really, it just seems that way).  Ironed for several hours (which I really do not mind).   I have gone on a women’s retreat at the beach.  I have written and taught a Bible Study.  I have made holiday plans for both Thanksgiving, and Christmas and New Year’s.   I have even addressed most of my Christmas cards and started to plan our neighborhood party.

Time passes.  Seasons fly by.  Our area has been hit with two tornadoes.  The green leaves have changed to bright colors and have started to fade and fall all over.  The last of our tomatoes have been brought indoors and we watch them wondering if they will ripen any more.

The holly berries have appeared and the camellia’s are budding, waiting for the holidays to come so they can start to bloom.  Soon the birds will perch on the holly trees ridding them of the bright red berries.

And time marches on.  Seasons continue to pass.  The sky gets dark earlier and the cold sets in then.  It is the beginning of winter and I am happy for that.  I have started to decorate for Christmas already.  I have never done this this early before and have found myself enjoying it more than I imagined.  Somehow, it brings a sense of settling in.  A sense of preparation for Christmas.  A feeling of not rushing to do it all and trying to grasp the joy of it all.  A feeling of looking forward to not only the gift giving, surge of activity, but of actually thinking of what Christmas is.   I can look at the angels and think of the host of angels that appeared over that manger.  I can look at the trees that are up and decorated and think of the people who will gather around them and be grateful and so thankful for them.

Yes, time is marching on and there is a peace to all of it.  Thanks for stopping by.  I do appreciate it.  Cathi (DAF)

Grace and Mercy VS Control

One of the definitions of control is to have power over.  I once heard control described as a reasonable response to unreasonable pain.  I have lived with control before.  It is a hard life to live with, it brings out the very worst in me.  I react strongly when faced with control issues.

We each have issues with wanting to control areas of our lives.  I know I have controlled and have tried to be controlled.  When I am trying to control something the result is I am angry all the time over everything.  I try to recognize that quickly and ask forgiveness for it as soon as I can.  When I am trying to be controlled, I react strongly.  I stand my ground and I won’t budge.  I set my jaw and I look at the person who is trying to control me and I verbally resist.  It is not unlike a temper tantrum.

I have been pondering the subject of control.  I know it is something that has run its course in our family.  But, issues get dealt with and circumstances get resolved and life goes on.

The thing is, though, when control rears its ugly head, the only positive response is to act with grace and/or mercy.

Grace, as I have learned through years in church and in reading my Bible is unmerited favor from God.  Grace is new every morning, which is a wonderful gift that I am grateful for.    Another definition of grace is this, a temporary exception .

Hand in hand with grace is another concept, mercy.  Mercy is also mentioned often in the Bible and again, for God’s mercy, I am very grateful.  Mercy has this definition, a compassionate treatment of those in distress.

My thoughts today have had a ringside seat to the battle of grace and mercy versus control.  It has gone many rounds in my mind and I have seen so many views of this battle.  Arguments have been made for every side.  Reason can be made for each side.   But, personally, I think control should be ousted from the ring altogether.  Control can only bring harm and anger and disappointment.

It may not be easy to do, but, again, my opinion, is that we need to give grace and mercy a chance in our individual lives.  We need to show grace and mercy to everyone.  We need to give favor in little things, show grace in times that we want to control.

I have heard so much this past week that life is fleeting.  Things happen and life changes or you begin to see the end of your life as you know it.  How much more important is it to give reasons for joy in others.  To give someone a reason to smile, a reason to laugh, a reason to celebrate little things.    As I have grown older, I realize that too many of my memories are of the hard things.  The tears, the disappointments, the what could have been if only I had done things differently.

I now see that grace and mercy are the things I should always carry in my hands.  They are the things I need to reach out with.  They are the things I should lead with.  They are the foundation for wonderful memories.

These are my mind ramblings today.  It may be the result of a cloudy day, or a week with not as much sleep as needed, but here you have it.   I close with Proverbs 17:22 (Amplified Bible)  A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Thank you for stopping by today.  Cathi

It’s a New Year…

Yes, it’s the third day of this new year.  No, I haven’t been celebrating for the past four days.   I am just now getting around to reading blog entries and deciding to write.

I have read blogs talking of new starts, new hope, blank slates.  All of them poignant and encouraging.  To be honest, this year, I haven’t done my usual inventory of the past year and I haven’t thought about this new year.  As cynical as it sounds, my thoughts have been wondering what all will happen this year.

Each year I have tried to look ahead.  I try to plan things I would like to do.  I don’t call them resolutions because I know by February I will have forgotten what I resolved to do.  I just like to make mental plans of what I could do during the year.

Except this year.  I haven’t a clue as to what this year holds.   I know whatever happens, with the grace of God, I will get through it.  The grace of God is what has gotten me through several years.  It is only by His grace, His care and His love that I am where I am.

A year ago today, if someone were to have told me that my hubby was going to be laid up throughout the summer and I would have to do the things I had to do this summer, I would have run screaming through our woods hoping to get lost and never found.  I would not have had the courage to go through this year.    I would have quit.  I wouldn’t have gone forward.

That’s the thing about not knowing the future.  We may not have the courage to proceed if we know what is in store for us.

So, as this year starts, I am sitting here wondering what this year will be like.  I wonder what I will be like this year.  I wonder what changes will happen.  How they will affect me.

Last night I made popcorn.  Not a remarkable event.  But, it was the first time I had made popcorn without our puppy underfoot.  As usual, I dropped some popcorn pieces as I was pouring it into the bowls.  I looked down and realized that for the first time in 16 years I had to pick that popcorn up.  There was no Shugo to scarf it down and beg for more.

This is just one example of how things have changed this past year.  Last year the thought of losing Shugo was a possibility, but by the end of the year, it was reality.

I am grateful for my faith in our Creator.  For, without that faith, that assurance of His care and protection of me, I could not face a new year that is unknown.  I know this is a different tone than my usual post, but, this is what is on my heart.  I face this new year, now, 362 days left in it.  I know I will write about it, cry over it, fight it, enjoy it and this time next year, Lord willing, I will look back and once more know who it was who actually got me through it.  Thank you Lord, in advance.     Happy New Year.

Once Upon A Time at Christmas…

A week ago, my daughter (Little Miss’ mom) and her family arrived for Christmas.  It was the first time in a decade that we were able to spend Christmas together.  I was so thrilled!  Her sister, obviously my other daughter,  was supposed to join us, but, at the last moment, couldn’t.  We were disappointed, but, understood.

The days leading up to Christmas were full.  We had fun, visiting, playing with our Little Miss, who is two and filled with giggles and two-year old conversations.   We went shopping for last-minute gifts, for groceries, for nothing in particular.  It was a lovely few days leading up to the 25th.

Christmas Eve we set out gifts and made plans for the following morning.  My daughter made a breakfast casserole in the crock pot and we planned to get up and head to church.  We each had our outfits ready to go, and it was all planned out.  Get up, have a nice breakfast, go to church, come home and open gifts and have a nice dinner.

Christmas Eve we went to bed.  All was quiet…   Hubby and I got up, showered, got ready for church.  Our daughter was getting up and Little Miss’ daddy was kind enough to discover that our guest room bath had standing water in it.  Such a wonderful Christmas gift for us!  We went to the basement and lo!  there was more standing water.

That lovely Christmas breakfast casserole stayed in the crock pot just a bit longer.  Hubby and I changed from our church clothes into work clothes.  So, for the next two hours the guys worked.  Pumping and vacuuming water from the floor.  Turning off water certain places to make certain it didn’t leak. Moving a toilet to make certain it wasn’t the cause of the water.  Discovering that our septic tank decided to be full.  Full on Christmas Day.  Not Christmas Eve…. no…. Christmas Day.  It could not wait another day… no… full on Christmas Day.

So, we called and got an appointment for the next morning to have the tank pumped.  That was good.  It was going to happen soon.  We had water to drink that did not need to be run through the sink.  So, that was great.  But… cooking.  I just could not think about doing that in my kitchen.   This will be in part 2…

We ate some breakfast, although the guys did not have much appetite after clearing the rooms.  I had the fumes of disinfectant lingering in my nose as I scrubbed the floors where the water had been and where the men had walked.  We ate, not truly enjoying the casserole that was delicious.

We read the Christmas story.  Little Miss was a bit distracted, but hubby was trying to salvage something of the day.  The story ended.  I went to the kitchen and decided that mimosas were in order.   And then we opened gifts.  Christmas, as it is spoken of in  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”  did come.  “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… He thought …means a little bit more.”   Christmas came even though the tank overflowed…

Christmas came.  We laughed with one another as we sat in our stinky work clothes.  We hugged and thanked each other even though only half of us managed to shower that morning.  We had each other and the cares and weight of the messy morning did not ruin what happens when family sit around a tree on Christmas morning and share with one another.

Christmas came as it did centuries ago.  Christmas came quietly that day long ago.  That day when our Savior was born.  Christmas came without ribbons, it came without tags.  It continues to come even when the morning is filled with shop vacs and buckets and scrubbing.    I hope your Christmas was special like ours, but, not as eventful as ours turned out.   Cathi