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Saturday, January 29, 2011


She was probably the best friend I ever had, not because of what she did for me, but how she allowed the Lord to use her in my life.

She told me once she was afraid to reach out to me because shortly before we met, there was someone else she dared to try to help and they told her to leave them alone because they were fine and didn't need any help… I knew better, I needed help, and told her often how much I appreciated her love and guidance.

Our friendship started because a quiet whisper told me to watch her. I don't really remember how the friendship grew from a "hi" at church to near daily phone calls…

I know it was a year of simple "hi." with a smile and maybe a handshake (neither of us are big on hugging everybody/anybody), before I learned her name. Oh, I am sure I'd heard it before, but it never stuck. When they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, they renewed their vows. I wasn't going to go. I was certain I had no idea who they were. My mother insisted I did, and I liked them. "Well, who are they?".
"You know", she said," he's tall and she's short. She has grey hair and glasses…"
"Well, that helps, you just described half the church." was my response.
Well my mother talked me into going to the anniversary celebration. We were the last ones to arrive. We came in after the ceremony started (I HATE to be late!), then somehow (they told me later), at the reception, the video camera was pointed right at me! Just what they needed to remember their anniversary… a video of me eating. LOL

But then I knew her name! Still I don't know how long it was before I found out her first name, but it probably wasn't too much longer…

Not long after their anniversary, there was an announcement made that she needed a helper in her SS class. my mother encouraged me to offer to help. I was out of the youth group and was going to the 55+ class because the other adult class at the time was 18-55, and I didn't want to be in the same class as my mother…

So I offered to help. That was the beginning of a new direction for my life.
She took advantage of our working together to encourage me on the path I was meant to follow.

She started by inviting me back for Sunday evening service. Then Wednesday nights. Then Women's Missionary Fellowship (I couldn't sew, but I could thread needles. LOL), and then the choir. I didn't do anything but watch TV, so it's not like I had anything "better" to do…

The first visit to their home, was when I was selling Rainbow cleaning systems. I had just started and was going door-to-door… and one door I knocked on was answered by BK! I was surprised!! Much to my further surprise they allowed me to demonstrate the vacuum system in their home, and even bought one!!

Shortly after that I was offered an opportunity to help at the school at the church. I was hesitant, but she encouraged me to go for it. By the following School year, the deacons/school board offered me a paid position as a teacher's aide…

During the summer of 1996, my mother worked a strange shift at a preschool near the Ks, so since the one part of her shift was only an hour or two long, I'd go over to visit with BK, instead of going all the way home, just to turn right around and go back. I learned SO much by watching… how to wash dishes and iron. The fact that there is no such thing as too many dishes! We had adventures in rearranging furniture while her husband was in town. I learned how to help her when her hypoglycemia showed itself and her sugar levels dropped (and they both panicked)… I learned what a clean, peaceful, quiet home was like and that I wanted it! When her mother died, I asked if we could bring them dinner and amazingly enough, my parents went for the idea! And my stepfather even gave the OK for my mother and I to go to the memorial "down the hill" (I don't remember where it was… everywhere was down the hill!).

Somewhere in that time, my stepfather got furious with my mother for doing nothing, bit going to work, fixing dinner and watching TV (and laundry on the weekend)-nevermind he was home all day everyday and never did anything, but watch TV (I didn't do much either, I refused to clean the whole house when neither would lift a finger to help, unless they paid me… when they quit paying, o quit working, I kept after me, but I may have been trapped, but I wasn't going to be their slave… and I really hadn't been taught to do anything)

Anyway. I went in to take a shower, and my stepfather started to rage about the dishes from one end of the kitchen to the other, and the food from dinner still sitting out (about five hours after dinner). I heard her respond something about after her show was over. I had taken off my shoes, as I was stepping to the bathroom, I saw him grab a hammer and head into their bedroom. I don't know what I thought, but I panicked. I grabbed my keys and ran. Got in the car and drove. I was half way across town before I even considers where I would go. I had to think… by now there really was only one place to go… my safest place… the people he feared. So I showed up at their door… it was 11:00 at night. I was "fine" until she opened the door and our eyes met… I fell apart. (I think the only other time I ever cried like that was at her memorial.)

They got me calmed sown, and called my parents to let them know where I was. I don't drive well at night going from the dark outskirts of town to the bright lights of downtown (even in YV), so these wonderful people drove me back home (should've seen 6' tall Mr. K in my little Dodge Colt lol).

They were my lifeline, my comfort, my security. My crutch. The ones I depended on more than God…

When her mother died she assured me they were not moving for at least five years. Just a matter of weeks after that I heard from someone else (I think 2 or 3 others, really) that they were moving. I was hurt and angry. I was certain she had lied to me, and I wrote her a nasty letter saying so. Immediately after reading the letter, she confronted me. I could see the hurt and anger on her face! I fell to my knees apologizing and asking forgiveness. She forgave me and explained what had happened and apologized for not telling me before I heard it somewhere else.

A painful "moment", but it showed me that I had placed her on a pedestal, that "moment" knocked her off of that pedestal, and reminded me she was just a person. It also was a great lesson in unconditional love and forgiveness-beautiful!

I already told about when they left and what a great blessing and help and influence they were in my life from this point on. But I never forgot that she was imperfect. That's NOT a negative when I say that… it's the truth. I admire nobody, like I do her, but God is so much more than she ever could have been… I just needed to learn that, too.

We had another great misunderstanding after we were all here and I was moved out and married to Brad. Thankfully, we were able to resolve it, too. And she even told me later she knew I was telling the truth and hadn't done/said what I had been accused of. God is good!

There is so much about me that wouldn't be if she hadn't taken interest… I can never run out of words of thankfulness and gratitude for her love and influence. I would have done ANYTHING for her… she was my hero!! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

An example…

I am so amazed by my four-year-old son. Tonight when he heard his cousins' grandpa was very sick and his dad had to take his cousins to see their grandpa… my boy cried. He loves his cousins, and understood their pain, he was sad because they were sad.

I love that he is tender-hearted… almost jealous of it. Moments like tonight put me on an "auto-pilot" mode. That frantically looks for the things that need to be done, rather than a comfort/care mode…

I would love (I think), to one day be comfortable enough with my emotions to hug a hurting friend, or maybe even be able to sincerely share their sorrow.

I generally understand how someone hurts, but I look for things to do (not big things, but the stuff that gets dropped or forgotten in the moment), so that my lack of ability to show my sympathy is missed and I at least come across thoughtful and helpful…

Sunday, January 23, 2011


RM was/is the daughter of AM, and the closest to a sister of anyone I knew…

She and I loved each other, but really got on one another's nerves. We would fight and argue, but if someone offended one of us the other was the first to defend, usually with a comment like ," don't talk to her like that! Only I can be mean to her!!". The logic of little kids :)

If I went to her house, everything I wanted to do, she didn't. And when she was at my house, I never wanted to do what she wanted. But our mothers always made us do what the visitor wanted… good teaching on manners!

Our biggest threat to each other was," I'm gonna tell my mom to not babysit you any more!" and it was usually met with," well, I'm gonna tell my mom to not let your mom babysit me anymore!!" like we had the authority to tell our mothers what to do. LOL.

Truth is, I always wanted R to come over when she wasn't around. We had good fun and got into little bits of trouble… and sometimes the "fighting like sisters" was even fun.

We did everything together: Tap & Ballet, Girl Scouts, trips to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knott's, the beach. I went to church sometimes with them and R went with us. I think pretty much the only thing we didn't do together was go to school, until Jr. High. I was a year ahead of her in school (probably shouldn't have been, but oh well!), she had a whole set of "cool" friends by then, and my life had plummeted, and our mothers had ended their friendship, so I watched her climb socially as I fell…

In some ways she was the little sister I always wanted, and in others, the one I never wanted. She did EVERYTHING first. From tap & ballet to sports to boyfriends and dating… she even got married just a few months before me, and her children came years before mine. I can laugh about it now. It really isn't a big deal, but sometimes I did feel like that older sibling that just can't measure up to the smarter, prettier, more loved younger sib.

She was smarter and prettier and more talented, etc…(still is!), but I've learned to be jealous is unnecessary. All things come in their time. God's timing is right and perfect and I have learned to be content in that truth.


We had fun playing and fighting :). One fight in particular, I have never forgotten. We were with her mom at Vons. Waiting in the checkout line… we started talking about what we were going to do at her house that evening. And as usual we couldn't agree on what to do. As we were arguing the old lady in front of us scolded us for fighting,"You shouldn't fight with your sister like that."
We were insulted (or at least reacted that way), "SHE's not MY sister!", "tsha! I wouldn't want to be HER sister!" followed by a united, yet rude "HAHAHAHA…" until the lady left the store. I don't remember A getting after us for our behavior. I don't know if I just don't remember it , or if she maybe missed part of the moment, or if she was just thankful we were getting along for the moment and our argument had been interrupted. lol.

We also discovered the pop caps from a cap gun can burst into flame if you hit the whole roll at one time, with a hammer instead of hitting one cap at a time. The brilliance of that moment was we ran into the building we thought we'd set on fire to tell her mom what we'd done…

I am sure we did a thousand other things that I can't remember… she always was the one who "broke the bank" all three times, every year when my grandpa H would come for my birthday slumber parties and be the dealer for blackjack (we used candy, and it wasn't for keeps…).

She was my best friend. She was the sister I never wanted. She is a part of almost every (not church and not school) memory I have. Remembering her always brings a smile to my face and I am so thankful that God has blessed her life like He has…

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cafeteria work

The bright spot in my day in Junior high was lunch. The Cafeteria manager had been our neighbor when I was in elementary school and she had babysat me for one of my mothers semesters of school. She told me that they allowed kids to help serve food at lunch time. I forget how, but I was able to be one of those student helpers for eighth and ninth grades. It was a wonderful escape from the teasing and the watching my former friends enjoying themselves while refusing to include me. I felt privileged. And I didn't need my lunch tickets (free lunch program) because I got free meals for working in the cafeteria, so (even though I don't think I was supposed to), I gave my ticket to someone almost everyday (different people), even though I knew it wouldn't change anything. These people who begged me for food, still were not interested in being my friends. But I couldn't let someone go hungry, even if they didn't like me… guess I am weird. Maybe that was enabling them to continue to be mean, or rude, but I wasn't so concerned about that… I figured there was food available and people who would eat it.
MD the manager (different than the MD mentioned earlier), was a sweet lady. She let me have soup from the teachers cafeteria when my newly tightened braces made my teeth too sore to eat the food the kids were being served. She never made me go out to the main eating area after we were done working. I was allowed to stay and help, or watch the ladies clean up after lunch. It was an oasis in the midst of a miserable time of life.
The school had an "adopt a student" day every year. Where a faculty member adopted a child or two and stayed after school to play games and stuff. Every year MD adopted me and one other girl…
That was so cool that she would stay after school with us, even if it was only one day a year…
I am not really sure how I was able to stay working in the cafeteria even though my grades were not passing… in anything (except for Office TA, in 9th grade where I did manage to get an 'A'). But I am thankful for it. I had a safe place to be, a friendly place where I was liked and accepted.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back to a moment in the dark.

I don't know if you are familiar with Aerosmith and their music. Can't say I'd recommend them now, but back in those dark days of my teen years I spent plenty of time listening to them, OMD, Depeche Mode and other similar groups.
I am not sure what brought it to mind a few days ago, but I was reminded of Aerosmith's song "Janie's got a gun". If you've not heard the song, I'd encourage you to NOT put it's lyrics into your head or mind. If you have heard it, you might understand my connection to the song.
I totally understood "Janie's" mind, and even wished I could get a gun… I praise God that never was possible. I did hide a knife under my pillow one evening while I ate dinner alone in my room, watching TV (meals together, in the same room were unusual, and at the same table only happened IF we ate out and on Thanksgiving). I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the knife, but I had it. My stepfather discovered it before I had a chance to get hold of it. He asked me if I had intended to use it on him. I calmly lied to him and said "No. It just must have ended up still here from dinner.". He took it out to the kitchen and invaded my room a while later.

When I think now about where I was then… whoa. I can't imagine being that desperate, though I know I was. I am so thankful the Lord prevented me from the obvious desires of my heart. I can't imagine the state my life might be in if I had done those things… yes, the things he did are worthy of death (biblically speaking), but vengeance belongs to God. I have done what is right, and all I can do is let God take care of it.

I am amazed and thankful He has given me the ability to forgive. I honestly do not wish Hell on my Stepfather. I hope one day he recognizes his need for The Savior. And accepts the free gift that Christ has given to all mankind.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Back to the story…

Brad had a very broken finger and we had a very new baby girl and an 18 month old boy…. More than I would have believed I could handle, but we had some extra blessings to get us through.

The ladies that gave us a month worth of meals when T was born did it again with B.(They had promised to do it again if we had another, so that was how I told the one lady :) I went to her and whispered in her ear "Better start cooking again." She understood the message immediately). So I didn't have to cook much during those first few weeks.
I ended up not being "stuck" at home the first two weeks of B's life like we had intended. After spending a day at the hospital, for Brad's surgery, we figured she'd already been exposed to way more than she would have been anywhere else. Plus I had to do a lot of running around for Brad, and she was nursed exclusively and Brad wasn't able to pick her up or change a diaper if needed, so she had to go whenever and wherever I did.

Brad had physical therapy for his hand, an hour away, several times a week that slowly tapered off over nine months (Brad ended up with carpel tunnel in his hand from therapy. So he had to have surgery a second time…) The upside of that was the kids and I were able to go with him most of the time, so we got some extra family time. God is good… the finger is not perfect and will never work like it used to… it works well enough for him to still play the piano and do what ever he needs to do.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

To feel or not to feel…

Somewhere along life's path I managed to shut off most emotion. I don't "feel" much. I remember working at it. I remember, I think, the start of it…
My stepfather only hit me the one time. I truly believe it scared him more than it did me. Not sure why, but there was a look on his face… I knew he had scared himself by his actions. I think that scared me more than the fact that he had hit me. He had already assured me he had no intention of going back to jail for me, so what would he do next??
After the black eye. My stepfather found more… creative ways to hurt me. He would keep mental stock of what was important to me and "hurt" or destroy those things. I didn't have much in the way of nice things. I had an antique porcelain piggy bank, given to me by a lady in our church (DL, I think @ TCC), a Pegasus lamp, given to me by my grandmother and a few dolls, given to me by my mother's co-worker (I was told they "were not the kind you play with"), that I had displayed on a high shelf in my room. Somehow those dolls, though out of reach for anyone, but an adult on a stool, managed to be chewed to bits by our dog… the lamp and the piggy bank met similar fates because I have never had a decent memory. When he moved in with us I got a TV and a VCR in my room (later I found out that was in trade for my entire savings account…). With that came the responsibility of recording sports for him. I had to program the VCR and remember to be sure the TV was on the right channel. Well, I am sure part of the problem was I couldn't care less about his sports, and so I didn't bother to remember or double check the channel and times. Well if it didn't record the right thing he got more than a little miffed. So to get back at me for missing a game he'd break something. The first was the lamp. I was heartbroken. And he later apologized. The second was the bank… when he picked it up, I remember yelling "NOOooo", like I never have ever before or since. He said something like "this means something to you?" and it went sailing across the room and my heart shattered with it. It was my most prized possession, I'd had it for as long as I could remember, and it was the nicest thing I owned, I remember thinking it was beautiful. He destroyed it. When he tried to apologize for that one, I couldn't quite believe that he was really sorry.
But. When he shattered my bank, I remember locking myself in the bathroom watching myself cry, trying to stop the tears, and promising myself "He will not ever make me cry again!". He did, of course, but every time was less and within a few years only physical pain could bring a tear to my eyes.
I still have a hard time feeling. Part of me wants to. It would make relationships better, give me better ability to minister to hurting hearts, but a part of me finds security in the lack of emotion. If I don't invest my emotions, then I don't have as great a risk of being hurt or used. Protection.
But when I really care, I don't know how to show it, I don't feel (much) sorrow or loss, and to say I do feels like a lie.
I don't cry at weddings or funerals or at the birth of a baby… no tears of joy or loss… I am the last one you'll ever catch crying when watching a movie.
I have noticed over the years I have gotten a little "softer", but when I notice it it scares me.
It's fine with me (most of the time) that death doesn't make me cry. I try to make sure people know I appreciate them, so I don't have any regret when they are gone. And I believe God won't remove a person from my life (by moving away or death or simply growing apart) until their job is done. Sometimes I don't like His timing, but His ways are nor my ways…
But sometimes I wonder what positives I am missing. Perhaps what are my kids missing? Are they going to be matter of fact and tend toward apathetic because of me? I want better than that for them! But I don't know how, and it is scary to think of being so vulnerable…
To trust…people.
To love…people.
To believe…people.
God is good, I know I can love, trust, believe, depend, rely… have faith in Him. He wants what is best for my good AND His glory. But people… people are different. They hurt each other, they break promises, and lie and deceive. A friend can become a foe in a heartbeat.
And then there's the vulnerability, the showing of your tender spots, that comes with emotion. If someone knows how much you care, they know how much they can hurt you…
Obviously, I need some prayer for grace here :). I have walls of protection around my heart. Very few have made it through the barriers, most who are "in" were there before the walls went up… I know they need to come down, but the Lord must do it because I am too afraid to…

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Having a fond moment of remembrance of my first Christmas here… away from home. I hear of how hard it is for young people to spend their first Christmas away from home… I truly cannot relate.
My first Christmas away from family was great, I didn't long for home at all… probably not too surprising for those who have read this whole thing, but they say people tend to long for the familiar even if it's not good/healthy for them, but I was completely enjoying the freedom to enjoy myself that Christmas (well, the whole season from Thanksgiving through New Years).
I know there is a lot I have forgotten, but I remember being conscious of the truth that I was not family, yet the family I was with continually included me as if I were… amazing.
On Thanksgiving, I got away with hiding in the kitchen doing dishes allowing the family to spend all their time together visiting with less work, but at Christmas they wouldn't let me wash a single one. lol.
During "The Season" we did a bunch of baking… even I had a chance to make a batch or two of my fudge. We went shopping, there were Christmas parties (seemed like more than I'd ever been to…), and on Christmas I was spoiled beyond what I deserved by the whole family (they still treat us better than we deserve!)
It kind of reminds me of Lucy in "While You Were Sleeping". So accepted, welcomed, loved…accepted… included without expectation. Overwhelming love. Genuine friendship and care. None of these dear people had to do anything for me at Christmas, yet they chose to include me in their celebration of the birth of our Lord.
In the movie Lucy so loved that family so quickly she couldn't imagine life without them. Though my real life adopted family is worlds apart different from the Callihanns (sp?), I am as equally as endeared to them as Lucy was to the Cs… I can not imagine who or what I might be if I had never known them and I can't imagine a season of my life without them.
They told me this year it wouldn't be Christmas without my fudge :), but for me it wouldn't be Christmas without time with them… the bear gift that can be given is time that makes memories worth treasuring…


Though we lived in the same town for only (I think) about three and a half years… she managed to become a large part of my world.
She was sort of the mother figure during the preparation for our wedding and getting settled in our first house.
This was one friendship started because of my birthday card ministry… I am not really sure how or why we connected so quickly…God's plan I suppose :).
She taught me how to shop! Never pay full price, if you're meant to have it… it will be on the clearance rack in your size and color. lol. And super discounted!
She helped me learn how to put things together to decorate my house to make it feel like home. She showed me it is possible to have nice things and not have paid a fortune for them. Have a nice house without a lot of expense… we honor the Lord in all we do and how we care for things and present ourselves. Even the presentation of our home to others… We are to be good stewards of our money and possessions, that doesn't mean we need to have things that look like they came from the thrift store or a yard sale-even if that is where they came from. Frugal and thrifty doesn't mean we wear rags and own junk… it means choosing wisely and getting only what we need and being willing to go without if we must. I never looked at "nice" things before I learned where MD had gotten some of her things and where she found some of the things she did for us. Wow! I always thought nice things were too good for me, because I'd never have the money to afford them…

We spent many evenings over at their house playing dominoes and eating ice cream… and theirs was the TV Brad watched for his "fix" until our agreement of no TV for a year ended on our first anniversary. Even then, we still spent many hours visiting and playing dominoes and watching the news. (we still have no cable or satellite subscription).

She cared for her husband, though she had almost become his mother. When your spouse gets dementia, and you are their primary caregiver… words can't describe how hard it is to watch, I can't imagine how much more difficult, heartbreaking it must be to live it.

Even though watching and caring for her husband was a 24-hour job, she still had the time to help at the church. Attend services regularly. And even make it to Prime Timers meetings every other week.

Though she wasn't excited about the idea, she moved away to have her husband closer to his siblings and mother during his last few years. They didn't have any desire to travel here and she wanted them to have as much opportunity to see him as possible, so she took him where they were. Many of them were unsaved when she moved, but through her testimony to them during most of that time, she saw (I think) three or four (maybe more?) of her in-laws come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ before they died. God is good!

The sacrifice she made for her husband and his family… is opposite of the "me first" mentality I was taught (mostly by my grandmother)… what a beautiful thing. What amazing grace… and the way God blessed through the ups and downs of the experience.