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)

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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.“

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)

Taking a Trip Back in Time…

We transferred back to the states in spring of 1979 from Japan.  We had lived there three years and it was one of the best places we had lived.  We met friends, we started our family, we became Christians there, and we grew up there.  I call those years my ‘college years’ as I never went to college and I spent the years in Japan at the age where I could have been studying in school.

We moved to Maine in early June of 1979.  Hubby worked sixty miles from where we lived.  He got up early (and I did too),  and after cleaning the house and doing chores, I felt lonely.  I knew people, but, it was early in our tour there so I had not discovered the joy these ‘new’ people would bring to my life.

One morning I was moping around the house missing my friends from Japan.  I was lonely and miserable and was crying off and on.  I was in the United States, people spoke my language, but I felt out-of-place.  I wanted to go back to Japan.

That morning, as I cried and prayed, I felt like I learned a lesson from God.  It was like He showed me a scrapbook.  This scrapbook was filled with pictures and mementos.  The lesson learned was this, the people and experiences I had in Japan would always live in my heart and mind.  They were like a scrapbook I could open.  I could remember and enjoy the memories, but, I could not live there, I needed to focus on the present and where I was.

From that time on, I have often thought of that lesson.  I have tried to live my life, focused on the present.

Today I have opened that scrapbook often.  My sister posted a picture of the first house she lived in after getting married.  It was the home where she started her family.  I looked at the picture and thought of the laughter we had when we visited there.  I remembered my oldest daughter taking her afternoon nap on the hammock that used to hang on the front porch.  I smiled and thought of several other memories of that time.  She had found the picture of the house on the web and that got me thinking of finding some of the places we have lived.

My first thought was to go to Japan.  I ended up finding a blog with pictures of the area we lived in Japan, Nagai, or Admiralty Heights.  It was wonderful!  Immediately, I was transported back in time.  Seeing the wide roads in the housing area that were actually airstrips for the Japanese airforce  in World War II.  We could see Mt. Fuji from our living room windows and our bedroom window.  That was our view each day, seeing the sun rise and the sun set with that magnificent mountain always in view.  Seeing the pictures brought back the memories of the people there.  Thanks to Facebook, we have been able to be in touch with one another again.

Finally, I realized that a year ago today we moved our furniture into this house.  I posted that picture and then said, I never want to move again.

As I thought about that, I chided myself, for being so adamant.  We do not know what the future holds and saying things so definitive puts a box around your life.  If I had not had a spirit of adventure 41 years ago, my life would have been so different.  I could not have written anything in this post.  For, my world view would have been vastly opposite of what it is now.  Each of our lives is an adventure and journey.   We all have scrapbooks in our minds filled with moments that our memories are made of.  The adhesive may be yellowing and lifting off of photos that are fading, but those memories are still clinging there.

I have been so blessed in this life.  Starting out from a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I have traveled and met some incredible people along the way.  I have smelled things I could never had imagined.  I have seen sights I didn’t know existed.  I have been so blessed.

There is a quote from the movie Hook that is a conversation between the old Wendy and Peter that goes like this:

Granny Wendy: So… your adventures are over.

Peter Banning: Oh, no. To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.

I have had an awfully big adventure and I am waiting to see what is next…  Thanks for stopping by today,  DAF (Cathi)

 

A Blustery Day…

I love winter.  I really do.  I love the cold, the wind and whatever is thrown at us in precipitation.  Snow, rain, ice, it’s all wonderful.

Today is a blustery day.  Yes, I know, I live in the south.  It can’t be that blustery.  But, yes, it is a blustery day today.

I just came in from walking our dog.  The moon is bright in the clear sky.  The flags on the porches are all blowing straight out, like they have been starched stiff.  The wind is whipping around the cul-de-sac and down the hill (well, as much of a hill that can be found here in the Lowcountry).

As I walked up the hill, I thought how blustery it is.  I chuckled because I know there were times in my life that I would consider this weather a hot spell.  So, as I walked our little Shugo, I thought of the different places I have lived and the blustery days I have experienced.

Being born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I know what cold is.  I know what snow is.  I have fallen on ice walking to and from school, uphill, downhill, two miles along.

From there I went to Norfolk, VA.  We lived in a small cheap beach apartment the winter before we were transferred to Japan.  We would turn on the wall heating unit before heading to bed and wake up in the morning to see a mound of sand gathered on the floor around the heating unit, which was stone cold….  Youth and young love made me think this was wonderful!

In Japan we lived on a converted WWII Japanese airstrip.  We lived in occupation era Navy houses.  The view was incredible, Mt. Fuji and Sagami Wan (bay), but our house was one all by itself at the end of the runway and we had nothing in front of our house except open field.  The wind would whip up and buffet that little house and it would almost knock me over every time we left the house in the winter.  Of course, now it most likely wouldn’t move me at all, since I was young and skinny back then.

From Japan, we went to Maine.  Need I say more about knowing what cold is like?  When the temperature rose to  O degrees we thought it was spring!  I loved the winter in Maine and the other two seasons, July and August.  It is heaven on earth and I would move back there in a minute.  Snow, ice, wind chill and all.  It is truly God’s country.

From Maine we thawed out in San Diego.  I know you are thinking, no bluster there.  You are right for the most part, but, living there as long as I did, I saw some frost, and even a hint of snow.   And, we went for a 40 minute ride to the mountains to experience our wind and cold.  The last Valentine’s Day in California, hubby and I actually took a ride in the mountains and got snowed in up there.  It was cold and windy and very snowy outside the beautifully warm bed and breakfast we landed in.

So, I have decided blustery days happen everywhere.  Those days that chill you to the bone.  Where you come inside and think of warm drinks and warm jammies.  Tonight is like that and I am very content and happy that my hands got cold as did my cheeks while I walked our dog.   Who knows, I may decide he needs to go back out again, just so I can enjoy this winter feeling.

~ DAF

Wishes…

When I had my first child, we didn’t have much to spend in the way of nursery items.  We bought a crib on the base and someone gave us an old changing table that only lasted until we moved back to the states where some friends bought us a new one.

The nursery  was part of the dining room, with the room dividers being the china hutch right beside the changing table.  The crib was up against one wall and the dining room table against the other.

I made a wall hanging above the crib out of burlap and then for the door of the pantry, which was half pantry, half baby closet, I wrote out lyrics to a song I had heard by Bill and Gloria Gaither.

I had long forgotten about the song until I was holding Little Miss one day while we were there.  I was looking at her and thinking about her and her life.  I had prayed over her, but it didn’t seem like enough to do.  Suddenly the words to this song came to mind.

So, today, I would like to share the words to this song on this blog.  They are lovely words that speak how I have really prayed for my daughters, their spouses, and now for my grandchildren.

I wish a strong and good conclusion to my daughter’s lives and I wish each word for my Little Man and Little Miss.  Enjoy.

“I Wish You”
I wish you some springtime,
Some “bird on the wing” time
For blooming and sending out shoots;
I wish you some test time,
Some winter and rest time
For growing and putting down roots.
I wish you some summer,
For you’re a becomer,
With blue skies and flowers and dew;
For there is a reason
God sends ev’ry season:
He’s planted His image in you.

I wish you some laughter,
Some “happy thereafter”
To give you a frame for your dreams;
But I wish you some sorrow,
Some rainy tomorrows,
Some clouds with some sun in between.
I wish you some crosses,
I wish you some losses,
For only in losing you win.
I wish you some growing,
I wish you some knowing,
There’s always a place to begin.

We’d like to collect you
And shield and protect you
And save you from hurts if we could;
But we must let you grow tall
To learn and to know all
That God has in mind for your good.
We never could own you,
For God only loaned you
To widen our world and our hearts.
So we wish you His freedom,
Knowing where He is leading;
There is nothing can tear us apart.

Lyrics by Gloria Gaither / Music by Bill Gaither / Copyright © 1977

Thanks for stopping by, DAF

 

Sammy, Max and Sparky…

I am not a cat person.  When I was younger, I thought that maybe I was.  I worked for the Army Veterinary Corps for a few years while we were living in Japan.  It was a great job, I would do the office work typing up certificates during clinic hours and on off hours I worked as a scrub nurse, helping out during surgeries.  It was a job I just fell into and I loved it.  I got bit by a dog once.   It wasn’t bad, and it was a one time experience.  However, I received at least four cat bites a day.  After the first couple of weeks, I decided I may not be a cat person.  By the time I left that job, I knew I was not a cat person.  There is nothing wrong with cat people, most of my dearest friends are cat people.  I’m not though.

The friends we are staying with have cats.  Three of them.  Sammy, Max and Sparky.  I remind myself daily that I am not a cat person.  They are bothersome, I have memories of cat bites.

These three cats are all rescue cats.  Max was the last one to join the brood.  We heard that our friend’s son found him and brought him home until his friend came to pick him up.  Their son has been married for seven years now.  His friend still hasn’t shown up.  Max still has all his claws.  Max is vocal.  Max is weaseling his way into my heart.  He makes me smile.  But, I am not a cat person.

Sammy was found half starving.  He was brought in to get a good meal and when our friend’s daughter moved into her own place, Sammy was going to go with her.  She has been married for almost six years now.  She has two dogs and two cats, and yes, Sammy is not one of them.

Sparky I have known for seven years.  The friends we are staying with are a firefighting family.  One winter day their son was inspecting the fire engine.  He heard a faint cry.  He looked all over to see where the cry was coming from.  He found Sparky half-frozen into the wheel well of the fire engine.  It took several hours to free him and warm him up.  Thus his name, Sparky.    Sparky and I became friends several years ago.  I like his personality and his tenacity.  I tell him often that I am not a cat person.  He understands.

The cats live in the family rooms downstairs, they sometimes venture up to the main floor and have a stand-off with our Shugo.  The cats are leery of this dog.   Our dog would just like to play with them.  That’s why I am a dog person, they like to play.  The cats have nothing to do with him.  They arch their backs and growl at Shugo.  Shugo just whimpers and tries to get to them.  It can turn into a circus if we let it.  We don’t, and the cats are smart enough to retreat back downstairs.

So, this has been my life the past few weeks.  I talk with the cats, tell them I do not like cats and pet them to make certain they understand that although Sparky and I can be friends, I don’t have to like him.   I will feed and water them and care for them.  But, I am not a cat person.

Belated Birthday Wishes…

Two days ago marked the 35th year of being a mother.  I cannot believe I have been a mother for that long.

Thirty seven years ago, I was told that I had a very slim chance of having children.  This news did not disturb me as I knew that I serve a God who can do the impossible.   I knew that He was able to give me children even if modern medicine did not think it possible.

Thirty five years ago I received the impossible from God.  Our sweet girl came into this world and the world has never been the same.  I am thankful it has never been the same.

She is a mixture of both her dad and me, but, I think she favors her dad more.  She has his wonderful brown eyes and her grandmother’s cheekbones.  She is tall and graceful.  Her hair is a mass of natural curls that have tangled all her life.  They used to be a cause of great frustration for me, but now, I think they are beautiful.

She has some of me in her also.  She snort laughs.  She has a temper. She trips over imaginary objects that suddenly appear in her path.   She is tenacious (yes, that also means stubborn).

Mostly, she is herself.  She has faced obstacles and has moved on.  She doesn’t know the definition of quit.  I am proud of her.

This week I have often paused and thought of the past thirty-five years.   I have seen much growth, in her and in me.  I have seen her grow from needing constant care, to growing up and away from me.  I have dried tears as an infant, a toddler, over skinned knees and skinned hearts.  We have cried together, in anger and in joy and just because.

So, happy birthday Sweetie.  You were an answer to prayer all those years ago, and today, you are still an answer to my prayers.    May this year hold all the blessings your heart can hold, and may the only tears that fall be tears of joy.

 

Winters in the Past…

I have lived with many types of winter.  Each one is wonderful in itself, but my favorites have been the ones with snow and ice and gray skies.  I miss those winters.

Growing up in northwestern Pennsylvania, we had good winters.  Sometimes they would arrive early and stay late.  I can remember wearing winter coats under Halloween costumes and wearing snow boots with the costumes also.  We had snow and if we were lucky we had snow days where we could miss school and stay home and play outdoors.

When I married we moved to Norfolk, VA.  The winters there were a shock to my system.  First off, there was the smell of the sea air that attacked my senses. It was cold in a different way.  The gray skies were not the comforting skies that I grew up with .  The snow was more like a heavy frost and yet the city would come to a halt when there was snow.  I really did not like the experience of winter in Norfolk.

We moved overseas after living in Norfolk.  Mostly we did not see snow while living in Japan.  Although, there was one year where we did get a decent snowfall.  It was exciting.  I remember leaving the store after getting groceries and seeing snow flurries.  I was thrilled.  It continued to fall and accumulate.  We got about five inches and I was in heaven.  My best memory of that snowfall was having a friend who grew up in Hawaii call to ask me how to make a snowman.  She had two small children and wanted to take them out to play in the snow and she wasn’t certain how to make a snowman.  I stifled my laughter and asked if she knew how to make a snowball.  She replied that she did know how to do that.  I told her to make a snowball and roll it around until it was large enough to be the bottom, then to repeat the process two more times, making each ball a bit smaller.  She succeeded and was thrilled with her success.  Her children thought she was a genius and I still laugh at that.

From the land of not much snow we moved to Maine.   Maine was the perfect place for someone who loves winter.  I love Maine.  I loved the cold, the snow, the ice, the wind chill.  It was all wonderful.  I would move back in a minute.  But, alas, hubby is not as keen on snow as I am, so that’s not going to happen.

After Maine we lived in southern California for almost 27 years.  I learned to appreciate the winters there.  The winters appeared with a nuance.  There was a certain feel in the air and you knew winter had arrived.  Coats would appear and sweaters.  Sometimes we would actually need to put the coats on, most of the time we didn’t.   The mountains were a half hour from where we lived.  In the winter, we would get up, look outside towards the mountains.  Often hubby would say to me, “It looks like snow in the mountains.”   This would be followed by his taking a personal day off.  We would take our girls to school and head to the mountains to play.  We would drive around the snow,  have a late breakfast or early lunch up in the mountains and get back in time to pick the girls up from school with the tell-tale signs of leftover snow on the car.

Moving to the south we have had snow a couple of times.  The first year we were here we had three inches fall.  I was so excited!  The dog experienced it first hand and he fell in love with the white stuff also.  It didn’t last long, but, each year since I hold out hope for snow.  I look at the clouds and sniff the air.  The past week or so, it could have snowed, it smelled like it could and looked like it could, but, no snow for us.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons.  It is a time where you can dress warmly and snuggle under blankets.  It is a time that is refreshing and brisk.  I am enjoying this cold weather we are having.  I think on the winters of my life and am grateful for all the different types I have lived in.   What is your favorite winter memory?  DAF

Winter Walking…

My mom died in 1966 in the fall.  That winter, walking to school was a chore.  My older sister at the time was a sophomore in high school, my younger sister was in fourth grade and I was in the sixth.

The three of us would walk together until my younger sister and I headed up a hill to our school and my older sister would continue to walk down to the high school.

I remember the walks to school, the early cold mornings, gray, icy, snowy.  I remember some of the conversations along the way.

It wasn’t until recently that I had a conversation with my older sister about those walks.  She mentioned that they were hard times for her.  She wanted to cheer us up as we walked.  She did a good job, since obviously, I don’t remember them being hard except for the cold weather.

One of the things she would do is sing.  The song that reminds me most of those times is ‘California Dreamin’ by the Mammas and the Pappas.  I hear that song today and I am transported to walking to school.  I can picture a bend in the road and I can remember every detail.

It’s amazing to me how music can transport you to times and seasons.  You feel, smell, think and remember with clarity where you were and what you were doing.  How you were feeling and what you were thinking.  I love that!

California Dreamin’ made me want to go to California.  I remember at that young age determining that I would make it one day across the country to that magical state.  I always pictured myself as a single girl in Los Angeles.  Living a glamor filled life and meeting one celebrity after another.

I did make it to California.  My first encounter to the state was San Francisco, where hubby and I spent four days before heading to Japan to live.  I fell in love with that city.  The hills, the water, the food.  I could still eat my way through San Francisco, enjoying each hill and view.

What I didn’t realize in my young dreaming days was that I would live in that magical state for almost 27 years.  It wouldn’t be a glamorous life as a single, but a loving life with children and a husband.  I saw some celebrities through the years and I met a baseball player who struck me dumb and all I could do was nod my head and smile.

While I had many adventures living there, I spend this winter day thankful for being where I am today.  I am thankful for my sister who kept her siblings going forward.  I am thankful for the memories that song gives me, how it ties my youthful past into my recent past.   I am thankful to be once more on the east coast of this great nation.

Music ties you to many things.   Thank you for talking a winter walk through my memories.  DAF