Kinda like Heaven

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My brother and I with Thunder, circa 1965 or so……

There used to be a row of houses on the next block over from where I lived. We knew every family that lived there very well. The houses were owned by the adjacent hospital but I never knew that.  About 10 or 15 years ago now, one by one all the current occupants moved out and the houses themselves were physically moved to a neighboring town.

Growing up, I spent hours inside every one of those houses. Some of them many, many hours. Starting from left to right, there were the Meier’s, then the Matsumoto’s, (whose kids were almost part of the family since my Mom watched Rhonda and Jeff when their Mom went to work.) Next to them were the Merry’s, then the Dillon’s. It was quite a spectacle to watch those houses be readied for a move.

I was reminded of all this yesterday when I took Mom to the store and saw Harriet and Sam Matsumoto. Sam has cancer now, on chemo. I can remember when he used to drive Rhonda and I to school sometimes, he would turn on the vents and stuff would fly out.

I was thinking of those houses, those people, this morning at 3:00 AM when I couldn’t sleep. In my memory I see every house, every family. I remember the night our dog got hit by a car and we mourned the loss sitting in Rhonda’s room. I remember the day I was swimming in the back yard of the Meier’s when the Dollinger boy came with a boa wrapped around his neck. I remember Todd Dillon running home when he cracked his chin in our driveway. So many memories.

I was thinking that in those days I could have knocked on any one of those doors and would have been welcomed. Offered a cooky or ice-cream bar. I would have listened and respected those parents like my own.

It struck me that must be a little of what Heaven is like. Being able to knock on any door and be welcomed. Now it seems few neighbors know each other. My folks just about have to flag the younger people down to talk to them before the garage swallows them up in the evenings. It’s sad.

I am not in John Lennon’s camp, even though I loved the Beatles back in the day.  I love to imagine Heaven because for me it’s just as real as this world, more real in fact. The Bible says in Heaven we will be fully known.

No worries about money, no mortgage, no war, no death, no homelessness, no crime, no pain or sadness. No loneliness or heartache for what might have been. No disease or any kind.

And God will wipe every tear. That sounds pretty darn good to me right now. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of good still left in this world, and much to celebrate. But I don’t think anyone would argue that it needs some redeeming right about now.

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him…….1 Corinthians 2:9

Rediscovering an old friend

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Elaine, my BFF bought me this Raleigh (I think maybe for my Birthday) around 27 years ago and its served me well. I remember the day I wheeled it off the lot shiny new and sparkling, gears clicking promise of miles to come. I loved it then and I love it still. The bike shop where it was purchased is still there, in fact. I’ve had offers to sell it, but I wouldn’t dream of it. We’ve been through too much together.

When I lived up in Payson, Arizona I put some fatter mountain-bikey tires on it for the decomposed granite that was everywhere there. That was years ago now. I think of all the ground that was covered since, and I can hardly believe it.

Just about a year ago, we wrestled the bikes onto the back of the Motorhome when we moved back here. How well I remember that day. It was beastly hot and we were physically and emotionally exhausted. E was in a boot for her plantar fasciitis.

Leaving home and people and things we loved and then a terrible moving experience all fed into it. But as the last cable was lashed on and they were secure we breathed a sigh of relief. After we got here they each received a tune-up and were rested in their new temporary home in my Aunt’s garage. To me they looked relieved if such a thing is possible.

And my bike and I, we have gotten reacquainted this year. Now I can bike places again and I am loving it. I am recovering ground I went over years ago as a kid, then as a teen, and later a twenty-something. Then, I rode my bike everywhere.  I still remember the time my friend and I were riding to school and she dropped her purse  in the middle of the street and a car ran over it. She had a jar of Vaseline which broke all over everything.

I still get a little thrill when I ride across the railroad tracks, like I am crossing over another side of the world. I rode downtown yesterday morning. I felt the kind of freedom biking gives that you just can’t get in a car. Perfect weather………a perfect slice of a cool early fall day and the trees are just thinking of maybe dropping a few leaves here and there. I made a dog friend and saw my baby kitties in the pet grooming place. And I saw my co-worker and his girlfriend at the coffee shop.

Later I rode to the lake to meet family for a picnic. The only thing I had to worry about was not hitting the telephone poles spaced just so on the sidewalk between the yards. Funny how you know you have room but tuck your elbows in and wobble a bit just the same. I only had to touch down once or twice. Afterwards I rode home and parked her in her spot.

I added a new accessory this year, a white basket which I can carry stuff in. Not too big, just enough room for my phone and a book or lunch. Bikes are a little bit magic I think. Each time I get on and ride, I think of Christmas long ago when I was ten and my big present that year was a blue Schwinn. Somewhere there is a picture of me in my faux fur white coat with the silver buttons and my teeth sticking out (before braces) smiling big with the wind in my hair.

Magic then, and a little bit of magic still.

Chess, old cars and a reunion

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Two things I don’t know much about: Classic car engines and chess. But yesterday I learned a little about both. I learned that it’s a common thing for chess players to set up a board and wait for an opponent to show up. I had no idea. That’s so cool.

I learned about these types of engines…..

 

A friend’s husband and son had a couple corvettes at the local Car Show downtown so we decided to go see what was what. I was staggered at the amount of classic cars buffed and polished, lining the street like artwork. I snapped way too many pictures. It was hard not to, they don’t make these beauties anymore. As we passed by the different engines, Elaine was explaining how they worked. (She inherited her Dad’s talent for engineering and making anything run.)

The one on the left in her words:

“Three two barrel carburetors which in the car world is called a six-pack (more power, hence more fuel to the engine) The 442 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a Dynaglide transmission which was patented by Oldsmobile.”

And the one on the right:

“A 496 cubic inch twelve-hundred horse power turbo charged engine.” Very fast. (Most cars today maybe push 200 horse power tops.)

We looked at cars in between ducking into some local antique shops for about two hours when we saw the little Cellar with tables that looked very inviting right on the street. It was a perfect place to rest awhile and another excuse celebrate my Birthday early. We sat there enjoying Champagne like rich people who don’t have a care in the world. (Is that ever not true!) I wondered out loud about the Cheese Shop next door, but they didn’t have anything ready-made, so Elaine ventured further down and brought back a wonderful appetizer plate with meats, cheese and crackers which was perfect. She was like an explorer coming back from an expedition.

So now for the story about the Chess guy. He was an older gentleman who came walking up to the table adjacent to ours with his duffel bag in tow. He proceeded to set up his chess board in preparation for a game, as if waiting for some competition.

While we were sipping and talking I asked Elaine if that was something chess people did and she said yes. Sometimes whole mini worlds open up to me that I never knew existed. I love when that happens.

We noticed a young couple walk by and make a comment to the elderly man, it sounded like a throw-down to me. I kinda thought it was all in jest, but by and by they came back and the young man sat down facing the elderly man on the “white” side of the chess board. He said with a smile, “Do you remember me?” Turns out, years ago the kid’s father thought it would be a good thing for him to get his hands dirty harvesting potatoes on this farmer’s land and this elderly gentlemen was that farmer!

Well, then he said his name and his eyes lit up in disbelief and ours did too. I was thinking that we were witnessing something really special. They commenced to play, but not before I snapped this photo. I will treasure it and the memory of that day.

When we had champagne and cheese in the middle of the afternoon. And for a little while, all was right with the world. We had witnessed a Divine connection, what can really happen when people choose to reconnect and remember a simpler time and bring it all back to the present.

Restoration…….(kind of like what God does with us.)

Behold, I show you a new thing……..Isaiah 43:19

Just a very partial showing of Elaine’s restoration projects I thought I would showcase today……..My Prayer Closet out of her Mom’s old beat up dresser, a window covering you can open and close, a candy scale that was sad, corroded and forgotten, and a new table for my Aunt’s wash area! It is amazing living with a restorer and creator.

And her latest, the iron was weathered and tarnished and the wood just about gone…….we were about to throw out until I said (as we were dragging it to the scrap heap)……..”Wow, this iron frame is heavy, it’s a shame to not save it!”

And the newest Lubester……..

I love how she sees things. A piece of wood is never tossed out……she has a vision for what it could be made into. And the old rusty and forgotten is seen for what it once was and what it can be again.

This is the beauty of what God longs to do in each of our lives, my friends.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

And now she is outside building a cat house for the neighbor’s cats. They have the whole acreage here to run around in but they have decided home base is the Motorhome. Well, they were neglected and the neighbor is hardly ever home so a handful of food here and there become a twice daily regular feeding time.

Like I said, this is just a sampling of what she’s done over the years and for many recipients other than myself over the years, given away as labors of love. God has blessed the work of her hands as she blesses others. She amazes me.

I am so glad God has chosen not to leave me on the scrap heap. He is the Creator and Restorer of all times and all seasons, and that includes me and you.

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Always just a little bit of mystery isn’t there? God has the right to keep some things under wraps, but someday all will be perfectly explained and understood.

Enjoy the beauty of His creation this weekend. I leave you peace…….

 

 

Holiday Speed Bumps

“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’ Jeremiah 2:25

Every year it happens. Either I am driving on the freeway or in a store and there will be a moment when I make a conscious decision not to join in the madness that seems to be picking up tempo all around me.

My heart beat slows…. I take a step back. It happened this past weekend when I was driving on the freeway and I had to slam on my brakes because people were driving even crazier than usual. I realized the fever pitch had started. Speed bump number one.

Then at the Mall, it happened again when I saw Santa’s Village already set up taking pictures of the kids. I don’t remember them starting that early last year. I saw Santa sprawled spread eagle in the chair looking bored to tears while the “elves” were like circus barkers trolling for customers. Really? I asked the same question I ask myself each year.

This is Christmas?  Speed bump number two.

And last night I had the mute button all ready for when the decibel level went through the roof on the commercials.

Don’t get me wrong, nobody loves Christmas more than I do. I totally get into decorating the house and doing the baking, and I do love to buy gifts, but I don’t go crazy.  And I will deck the halls and love every minute of it. There will be a tree in every room. In my bedroom, the tabletop Victorian, and in the office, the Southwestern tree. And Elaine has an ocean tree, decorated with while lights, mermaids, and shells. 

And in the kitchen, a tiny tree with plastic snowmen and snowflakes and other Christmasey type things. Have to be careful with that one, the lights are old and very hot and if it fell next to something flammable it would be a tiki torch in no time.

And then there is the main tree, which is a pre-lit 8 foot we found in a Costco return line one year….I am always amazed when the lights come back on each year. One year I threw my back out trying to stuff it back in the storage container. The first two sections were no problem, it was the last (fat) section that did it.

Never again will I try to do that alone.

Advent is coming…..I feel it in my heart. I am slowing down. I will make peace with whatever doesn’t get done. I will not succumb to the alien gods of commercialism run rampant. I will however, enjoy every little moment God gives me before the calendar turns over yet again.

It will be over all too soon.

What makes a home

 
I never thought I would live in a “retirement” community. I had many preconceived notions, some of which were true. The high point of the day for some is getting the mail. When you walk at night the motion detector lights salute you all the way down the street. And if you leave the water running, there are always those who act as if they personally had to pay for that extra water running down the street.
 
And I complain because every time I want to use the treadmill someone has gotten to it first. I gave up and started running on the pavement, and that is probably why my back feels like it does now.
 
A plus side, if you could call it that, is that you are reminded of your mortality at least once a week when the firetruck or ambulance comes through. You learn who gets a regular visit….who is on oxygen, who is taking care of a terminally ill husband or wife.
 
You know Larry by the loud burst of song as he walks out the door to walk his dog Annie. Rosalee walks with sticks. And I hold the distinction of being the only “runner” in the park, though I use that term loosely. Now I am the crippled runner until I can find a spot on the treadmill.
 
There are plus sides to this life. Many times I don’t lock the door and I never lock the car. People watch your stuff. They let you know when someone has been there when your not at home. When I moved into this place, the motive was to get out of debt……..It is the best thing I ever did.
 
I had a beautiful custom home up in Payson, and I was in a very nice home before, and the two previously. But honestly, this manufactured home feels more like home than all the others.
 
Some people were downright upset at this decision. They thought we were “taking a step down.”
 
But I have felt closer to the Lord in this place than I have felt anywhere else. That is what makes me feel more at home here than any of those others. I am proud of what we’ve done to make it a place of warmth and invitation. A place that makes you want to stay awhile.
 
 
 
Home is where you feel at peace, wherever that is. Home tugs at your heart.
And if you don’t feel a warmth when you look through the windows at night? You are not home yet.
 
And for me, home always holds a bit of sorrow right along with the joy. The walls hold the good times but also the hard times. The times of sacrifice. But always, home is a refuge from the world outside. I never leave without carrying a bit of it with me.
 
And you see those stacks of wood I purposefully left against the side of the house? Those represent making a place even better than when you found it.
 
I think that makes God happy. After all, it’s what He is trying to do with me. And when I get to my permanent home? I will be much better off than when He found me.
 
I will finally be complete.
 
“……..being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Car Dreams

Everyone who knows me well, knows about my funky car dreams. I have had them for years. Sometimes I am driving in a very small car with no bottom and I can see the road speeding along under my feet. One night I actually lost a shoe and had to go back for it. In that same dream I was able to pick the car up and turn it around and go get my shoe. What is great about the small car dreams is that you can park them anywhere.
Other times I am driving in half-light. It is almost light enough to see but not quite. It’s like I am driving without my glasses on in the dark.
Many times I am riding in a speeding car in the back seat and I realize no one is at the wheel steering or controlling the car. I hastily try to get behind the wheel, but I can never seem to get there. Sometimes I see a stop sign or an intersection where the light is red and I am powerless to stop the car. I usually wake up before I hit anything.
Other times I am going somewhere with no clue as to how to get there and yet I keep going anyway. Many times I am driving over a very high overpass with water on all sides. The view is breathtaking and it’s almost as if I am flying but there is an acute sense of fear as well. (Oh, I have flying dreams too but that’s another topic)
One thing I notice in all these dreams is that the car seems to be driving itself and turning itself but I realize that I have to get control before disaster strikes. I always wake up before it does.
Last night was something new. I dreamed I was driving backwards. I was driving my Dad’s old van and going from Lodi to Stockton (around a 15 minute drive) I was driving around 55 mph, all the time looking behind me and in the rear view mirror.
I woke up exhausted.
Dr. Freud would have a field day with me. But I actually think its pretty simple. God is telling me that it’s safe to let go of the wheel as long as He is in control.
I will save the “teeth falling out” dreams for another time.