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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In Her Own Words…

I have often talked about and shared my niece’s blog.  Today she posted a rewrite of her autobiography.  I hope you will take the time to read her words.  They will encourage you and lift you up.  Please stop by her blog to share your thoughts on her words.   I am so very proud to be her aunt.

via In my own words

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)

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)

Snow…

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Yesterday we woke up to this.  Beautiful, isn’t it?  I love snow.  I smile when I see snow.  I turn into that child that wants to run outside all bundled up and play.  We had heard we may get snow, but, we have heard that a couple of times this winter.  Each time has been a disappointment to hubby and I.   We read accuweather and saw that the snow was supposed to come at 3:00 a.m.  We actually stayed up until 3:30 a.m. hoping to at least see some flurries.  Every few minutes one of us would go out to the front porch and look.  Each time one of us would report that although we could smell the coming of snow, it was not snowing.

Finally, saner minds took control and we went to bed, knowing that we would be disappointed once more, but resigning ourselves to the fact that we once again, may not have snow.

You can only imagine our excitement to wake up and see our beautiful property covered in glorious snow yesterday.   We watched as the snow kept falling throughout the morning.  We had a late breakfast and went out to explore our property.  We walked through our woods, loving each snow covered branch, each tree laden down with the weight of the snow.  We were out until our feet were cold and our hands cold.  It was a day I will always remember.

Snow is important to me.  It is part of who I am.  I know that sounds strange, but there is a part of me that comes alive in snow.  I don’t tire of it.  It is a part of my childhood and it is a part of our young married life living in Maine.  It makes my heart glad.

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Snow especially means a lot to me on this day.  Forty three years ago today, I woke up to a blinding snow storm.  I gasped as I looked out the window.  I wasn’t expecting snow on that day, it hadn’t really crossed my mind.  But, there it was and still falling.  I got dressed, curled my hair, put on my make up and then posed with my family for my wedding pictures.

It was a day I will always remember, as you do whenever you get married.  But, this day had so many unexpected laughs and memories that I hold dear.  So, as I look out our back windows today at the snow covered woods behind our home, I remember seeing my dashing young groom come sliding into a parking place in front of the church, bounding over the snow drifts and heading into the church.

I will remember my forever friend’s father making snow balls and throwing them at us as we were getting our pictures taken inside the church.  I will remember walking through knee deep snow in the parking lot of our reception hall and being caught by my groom as I went sliding into the hall almost losing my balance.  I will always remember the look on my Aunt Dot’s face when she saw me almost fall.    I will remember the band walking in late for the reception since they were in three snow related accidents trying to get to the reception.  None of those memories would have happened had there not been snow.  So, yes, I do love snow as it makes the best memories to hold.

Outside of living in Maine some thirty nine years ago, we have not had snow on our anniversary.  It was a special gift to me this year.  One that I will always remember.  Happy Anniversary to my dear hubby.  I may not have written anything lovely on Facebook today, but, this is for you.  It has been an adventure, hasn’t it?  IMG_1869

Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)

Looking Back…

In November, I had great plans for writing about our Thanksgiving visit with Little Man and his folks.  I took pictures and I may still use them and write about them, but, somehow, time flew by and nothing was written.

I had a wonderful holiday season.  I was so busy making memories that I did not take time to write about them.  I would not change a thing.  Sometimes it is so much more important to live in the moment and catalog each giggle, each smile, each sigh in your heart than to think of how to express those deep feelings with words.

We spent Thanksgiving with Little Man, like I mentioned.  We stayed with some dear friends and we celebrated Hubby’s birthday all in the same week.  It was a week filled with hugs, kisses, old movies, mini golf, lots of food and the comfort of being with friends who are family and family .  It couldn’t have been better.

We drove home from Thanksgiving and I dove into decorating.  I took my time and I have to say that this year’s decorations were surprisingly beautiful.  My ideas of what I would like to see actually worked!  I was amazed.

We had a couple of parties at the house and the house echoed with laughter and conversations and of course, there was plenty of food.

Christmas saw Little Man and his family here.  From the greeting with my obnoxious ugly Christmas sweater (which Little Man loved) to the tearful parting and good-bye the day after Christmas, our home and hearts were filled to the brim.  Laughter rang out and there was music and old movies and new movies, legos, games, puzzles and old stories filling our home.  These all outshined the decorations.  When your home is filled with loved ones they are the perfect decoration and make the gifts and ribbons and bows pale in comparison.

Shortly after Christmas, Hubby and I traveled to Florida to see Little Miss and her folks.  We spent ten glorious days with them.  Again, the time spent with them was time that we will cherish.  Seeing Little Miss be herself, complete with singing, dancing around, playing with her dolls and her legos, made our hearts glad.  She is full of life and she reminds us how fun it is to be three…  we laughed for ten days straight.

Looking back on this holiday season fills me with such a peace.  I was hugged and kissed by two of the most important people in my life.  Their obvious love for hubby and I melt our hearts.  Being hugged by sometimes sticky hands is the absolute best feeling in the world.  I was spoiled this year with gifts, but the two gifts I cherish most are my grandchildren.  Their smiles, their laughter, their stories, they are the things that make anytime special.

So, Happy New Year!  I hope 2018 holds the best for you all.  My year ended and started in the best possible way,  I look forward to the coming months.

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

Markers…

This week is Thanksgiving.  A time when we remember.  A time to point out things in our lives that we are grateful for.  A time to give thanks.

Many of the things we give thanks for are situations with family, friends, people.  Activities we may have had or shared experiences that have touched us somehow.  This time of year prompts us to think back, to reflect, and in reflection we respond with gratitude.

Each of us have certain things in our life that we hold on to.  Things become markers in our lives.  We keep them to remind ourselves.

Today I came in from church.  I came in through the garage and as I headed into the kitchen from the mud room I saw a blue leash hanging from one of the coat hooks.  I smiled to myself and took a breath, somehow arguing that is was now time to take that leash down.  It has sat idle for a year now.  Hanging there as a reminder.  I won the argument with myself and the leash still hangs in its spot.  It belongs there.

The leash is not the only marker I have in my home.  For most of the year I have a little ornament that hangs on my pie server in my dining room.  It’s a simple little ornament that says, “Friends are Forever”.  Most of the time I don’t even see it, it has just become a part of my dining room decor.  But, like the leash, it belongs there.

I have a mini Christmas stocking that looks like it has been through the wars.  It hasn’t, it is just old.  I got it the Christmas I was pregnant for the second time.  It hung beside the stocking belonging to my daughter.  It was full of hopes and dreams as I hung it in 1981.  It was the stocking for the child we lost just a few short days after Christmas.  A miscarriage, but somehow it was Tim’s stocking, the name we had picked out for that baby.  It now hangs each year on our tree, another marker of mine.

I have photos on my refrigerator.  They often times drive me to distraction because of the cluttered look they give my fridge, but each are markers for me.  People dear to me and reminders to pray for those in the pictures.

The markers in our life are important.  They become a landmark for the journey of our lives.  Most of the time we don’t see them.  They are there like stop signs and street signs.  We see them, but they do not stop the activities of our daily routine.  They do not cause us to cease our schedules to ponder them.  They are just there.

Until, that is, we do stop to look at them or touch them, or consciously think about them.  Today I thought about the leash.  A melancholy smile came to my face.  The leash that gave excitement to our Shugo.  The leash that held him at stay whenever another dog was walking in the other direction.  The leash that jingled when we went to the door and he would come running, tail wagging, and we waited for his house bark to go out for his walk.  It will remain there, because it belongs there.

The ornament on my pie holder will remain there, because, it reminds me of my friend Dawn.  My walking companion for years.  I will keep it there to remind me of the times we spent circling Chollas Lake, laughing , talking, crying and making certain the squirrels did not get her.  The strength we got from each other to get through her divorce, to get through my moving, to get through a rough day when walking was just not enough, but a piece of pie did help it just a bit more.

The mini stocking that makes me wonder who that child would be as an adult.  But, also knowing that the child born after the miscarriage has given me so many wonderful gifts that I can’t begin to write that all down.  A reminder that plans don’t always go the way you think, but our God is bigger and His way will give healing to broken hearts and bring us unexpected joys.

The pictures on the fridge, are a testament  of a life surrounded by people who have touched your life, some family, some neighbors, but all loved.

Markers are things we hold onto.  As I head into this Thanksgiving week I am grateful for much, but, I think that in this moment, right now, I am thankful for the markers in my life, for they anchor me to where I have been.  They are a foundation in my memory.  They stir my heart with recognition of a happy, full, and rewarding life.

What are some of the markers in your life?  I’d like to hear about them if you would like to share them.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all,  thank you for stopping by.  Cathi (DAF)

 

Dredging up the past…

Today was a fall day.  The sky was bright blue, but the air was crisp and there was just a general feeling of needing to be wrapped up in something comfy and staying on the couch all day long.

But, that was not the plan for today.  Instead, hubby and I drove an hour and half to Columbia to visit the VA hospital for an appointment of his.

The morning started out wonderfully, we loved our drive down and spent the time munching on some fruit and sipping our coffee and tea and chatting about upcoming events.

And then…  we arrived at the VA.  We were an hour early and were thrilled, hoping we could get in sooner and leave sooner.  We drove into the facility and immediately stopped, vehicles everywhere.  We entered the first parking lot and immediately I was transported back in time.  The years were 1982- 1985….  The time was the same, fall, bright blue skies and a nip in the air.  The kind of cool that cuts through your sweater and settles into your bones.  It only comes in sharp gusts and takes you by surprise each time it happens.   During that time frame I was a mother of two young children.  We were living in San Diego and I was in a parking lot like the one I was in today.  I circled the parking lot several times, praying each time I entered into a new row, ‘please let there be an open space!’.    None were ever available, and I would finally go into a pay parking area and fork out the $2.00 that was needed for my vehicle.    The parking lot would be a quarter to a half mile from my destination…  the pediatric care clinic of the Naval Hospital.   Pushing my car into park, I would then unload my girls and proceed to carry them, sometimes both of them at a time to the clinic.  I was usually exhausted by time I reached the clinic and it always made the bright days seem cloudy.

I haven’t thought of those times in years.  I haven’t had to, they were neatly tucked away in my stored memory file.   But, somehow, today, circling those parking lots, it all came flooding back to me.  And, in that moment I was feeling the same weight I felt all those years ago.

Again, hubby and I did not find a parking place.  A half hour after arriving, we finally found the overflow lot and proceeded to circle that lot, an unpaved, pot-hole strewn lot where a semi could get lost in a pot hole. Not one place was available.  Finally, we backed into a grassy area and parked our car.  We walked the quarter mile to the building we needed to be in while I tried my best not to find a place for my soap box which, unfortunately is always with me.

Why a soapbox?  I find it reprehensible that our veterans have to spend a half hour trying to find a place to park in order to been seen by their physicians.  These people who have pledged their allegiance to our country.  These people who have given their youth, their energy, their best cannot easily use the facilities that are there for them.

So, as we walked to the clinic, I mentioned that I knew there was a blog post in all of this.  I will now put away my soap box and sit and try to shove those memories back into storage.  Those memories make a part of me want to sit and cry.  Although so many of my memories of our time in the Navy are wonderful, there are some that just make me ache.   The feelings that were resurrected today are some of the worst.  Feeling helpless with sick children and knowing that the only way for them to be seen was to jump through the hoops that were present during that time.  After being seen we then had to go to pick up prescriptions, which, at that time meant sitting on a group of metal bleachers outside in the elements with your sick children while your prescription was filled.  That always added an hour to the ordeal.

Yes, I know things have greatly improved for military families, but, just one question remains for me… why can’t they pave a stupid parking lot for our veterans?

Thanks for reading my rant…  Cathi (DAF)