The Last Day


This morning is my cry time. It just hit me hard that this time I looked forward to so much is ending already. One daughter has left already, in the dark, on the trip to the airport three hours away. The other one leaves this afternoon. We have spent a week together, wearing ourselves out with talk, food, and as much activity as we could pack into a week of weird winter weather.

I am not put off by stillness or being alone, but the contrast is so vivid right now that I can’t not think about it. I’m looking at the special things they bought to eat and drink, but didn’t finish. I’m putting away the last puzzle we agonized over before we found out that one piece was missing. I’m trying desperately to think of what adventure I can plan next to mask this feeling of missing people I love.

I want to hug my kids again and tell them how much they are loved, and how much I hope they will always love each other. I want them to see how beautiful they are, how unique, how disarming and precious in those moments when they struggle.

There are always a few struggles even in the coming together. This winter gathering seemed characterized by the words “awkward” and “ bizarre” which we heard a lot, and said a lot in our conversations. Even in our commonness we are awkward and bizarre, and memorable because of it.

We are family, with the chance to display a special kind of love to the world. God help us to do do that.

I Call It Love


They were friends.  She didn’t know why it happened and she hadn’t really asked for it.  They had moved in to the house where her new friend apparently had lived sometime in the past.  Let’s call the new friend… call her Kitty.

She knew Kitty hung around, a lot.  Most of the others ignored her or actually shunned her.  But she hung around outside a lot too and that’s why she and Kitty got used to each other to the point of toleration.  She didn’t look for Kitty, ever, but Kitty evidently kept an eye out for her and came running  whenever she came out the door.  As she walked around the grounds she had a companion at her side.  When she sat on the deck at the top of the stair, Kitty sat with her.

Although they didn’t have a lot in common, except the time they spent together, that was enough.  They became a pair, a pair of friends.

It looked almost like love.

Yeah, love comes in crazy forms.

It was love. She didn’t mind at all.

This Is Where I Start

“And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things.”

From “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth

This is where I start to find a God I can love with my heart, my soul, my mind. A good place to start…



A Lesson Through Family

family blog postAnd by “through family” I mean through the experience of having children and to some extent by being a child.  I can hardly begin to name or number the  “aha!” moments when something going on between me and my children has caused me to stop and wonder if I am being taught a lesson.  I have so come to believe that the family was intended to be God’s school of life, teaching us how he wanted us to view him in his role as father, teaching us how to grow strong, smart, productive and fulfilled as children.

So lately, I am alongside a few family members who are struggling with feeling significant, cared about and noticed.  They are on my mind daily, sometimes hourly and sometimes for every minute of the hour.  I want them to know I love them.  I’m not a person who routinely stalks others or obsessively calls or texts (well, maybe a little too free with the texting…) but I do get desperate at times – wanting them to know how I value them for just being themselves.  I love them.  I want a word better than love to describe how I feel.

For these reasons, something in my reading today just leaped off the page for me.  Here it is: “Love always wants to be known.”  Have you felt the truth of this?  It’s also true that I want to be loved but this is talking about the giving side of the equation, not the receiving.  I somehow feel that if I could communicate love to someone, it would help them.  They would not view their circumstances in the same way.  They would not feel alone. They would have their “I AM LOVED” armor on and it would protect them.

And then I get it, suddenly, a richer, wider view of God.  This is what he wants me to know, really know.

 He loves me.  That’s where my experience of him is supposed to start. 

Okay, there is Jesus giving up a previous position, going through the human thing and dying for my sin.  That’s big, but honestly, I sometimes have trouble relating to it.  I sometimes miss the “why” behind it all.

 He loves me and wants me to know it.

In his book “The Divine Conspiracy” Dallas Willard quotes another writer, Julian Norwich, “…for God wishes to be seen, and he wishes to be sought, and he wishes to be expected, and he wishes to be trusted.”  In my frustrating, doubting times,  I’ve wondered how I could become convinced of this.  More often, I’ve wondered how I could convince others of this.  I think I know how it’s happening with me.  Again, Dallas Willard explains it in a way I totally understand.

“Persons rarely become present where they are not heartily wanted. Certainly that is true for you and me.  We prefer to be wanted, warmly wanted, before we reveal our souls — or even come to a party.  The ability to see and the practice of seeing God and God’s world comes through a process of seeking and growing in intimacy with him.”

I have to want God, want to be loved by him and to know him. And maybe that is the question for many.  Who is God that I should want to know him?  Is that your question?







Leaving Kep: The Cambodia Saga

Last Day in Cambodia – Thoughts in the Car

We had another gigantic breakfast buffet at the Secret Restaurant this morning before leaving Veranda Natural Resort. We are now in a rented van driving to Phnom Penh where we will spend a few hours before boarding our flight home. It is still raining.

Moody, persistent, wet weather...
Moody, persistent, wet weather…
The sky is crying and just won't quit
The sky is crying and just won’t quit

We were told that there has been no rain and the land was in drought condition until last week when this new weather pattern started. The countryside we are driving through is sodden, flooded, covered in mist. Periodically, I take out my camera and get some shots out the side window. There are rice paddies with lots of water in them and rice in various stages of growth. Sometimes a person will be visible planting rice or working with a cow or two pulling a plow through the water, but most people must be inside somewhere. The people on the road are wearing raincoats or they are wet.

I am sitting in back with the luggage. Julie, Trish and Bora are sitting ahead of me where Bora is entertaining them with tales of her life in Cambodia. The Hamilton family is in the next row. MacKenzie is not feeling well and they have put her in the middle where she can look out at the horizon in front to offset any car sickness. Mike is up front with the driver. In Cambodia you don’t jut rent a van. You rent a van and a driver, which ensures the van gets returned to its home and you get to your destination in one piece, I guess.

I’m feeling a bit “out of it” today. In spite of my aromatherapy massage yesterday, I don’t feel well groomed or like I’ve been taking care of myself. I’m all out of clean clothes. I can stand it but don’t know how it will affect those around me during the long flight home. I’m not used to seeing myself in as many pictures as I’ve been in lately, and frankly it’s alarming me to see how I look. I’m older than I thought I was. I need to go home and lose some weight.

Did I say the kids are affectionate... yes.
Did I say the kids are affectionate… yes.

The children I’ve been with are affectionate kids – lots of hugging, hand holding, arms around my shoulders or waist – but they are also very curious. They always find the mole on my upper arm and can amuse themselves touching it for minutes at a time. They also run their hands over the bulges around my waist, or what used to be my waist, and find that very interesting (???). It’s not that all Cambodians are skinny because I have seen some that aren’t, but most of the Asia Hope people are slim. Add to this the fact that my feet and legs swell in this heat and you have me feeling very puffy and large when I’m around them. Even though I’ve come here four times now, I never seem to have the clothing thing right either. I need some more quick dry things that I can keep clean. I need to bring a little laundry soap with me.

Emotionally, I feel a little isolated. There is no one on the trip who identifies with me in age or has need of me in any way. It would be a lot worse if I didn’t have Julie with me here because we have done a lot of things together, but she has also made a lot of friends closer to her age. Does everyone have these attacks of pity where they feel absolutely no one is interested in them? Probably. I’m used to them and am just working on giving it to God and asking him to change me.

There is love that is bigger than feelings or circumstances.
There is love that is bigger than feelings or circumstances.

For Gwendolyn with no middle name… on Mother’s Day

Mom, I am so blessed to have you as my parent. Thank you so much for:

  • my family unit of which you are the hub, the one around which we gather
  • your style, the objects you surround yourself with and hold dear, even though they sometimes come from garage sales
  • your availability, our early morning talks
  • your love of coffee and willingness to share it with everyone
  • well, hey, your love of food in general, and the way you make it a part of every good gathering of people (cinnamon roll queen…)
  • your total lack of complaining. I don’t know how you do it.
  • for not giving up on people or things too easily.
  • for helping Dad when he needs it.
  • for continuing to be curious about relationships, about technology, about faith
  • for making me feel special by sharing things with me that you probably don’t tell anyone else
  • for taking responsibility for your own feelings and not putting guilt trips on other people
  • for taking independent action when it’s needed, for being brave and willing to offend the right people at the right time
  • for loving books and being a reader
  • for your devotion to solitaire challenges and keeping your mind sharp
  • for faithfully reading my blog and liking my posts. I write for you most of the time.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I will always love you.

Not about to win any contests but we are beautiful to each other, and that's not a small thing.
Not about to win any contests but we are beautiful to each other, and that’s not a small thing.