Things I learned in 2015

Here we are again at the end of another month and I am asking myself, "What lessons can I take with me?". And since it is also the end of the year 2015, I am looking back over the last twelve months and asking,

"What can I take with me into the new and beautiful year 2016?"

Maybe you want to ask yourself that same question. Take a look back into 2015 and see what God gave you. Even if you lost things or almost lost things, there are gifts from His good hand.

You may remember my word for both 2014 and 2015 was "cull". You can read more about that in the beautiful cull.

Looking back, I can see that precious gifts were added in the cull. Take a look.

I learned that . . .

Life is fragile. Take gratefulness.

Mike went to see Ryan in Seattle for the weekend. You can see they enjoyed time together around town sending me selfies along the way.

He drove home after the weekend, went to work one day, stayed home one day and the next day I drove him to the hospital. It was a white-knuckled drive with him gasping for breath and no capacity to tell me what was wrong. I'm not sure he knew.

After ruling out a heart attack, he was admitted with high blood pressure, fever and high white blood cell count. By the time they finally figured out what it was, he would spend eight long days in the hospital.

They called it complicated hospital-acquired pneumonia. I called it kick-ass. His lungs were filling with fluid and rising every day. They put him on intravenous antibiotics and tried to drain it. It didn't budge. They told me it was loculated. You can't find it in the dictionary. You have to look up locular to get the idea, Latin for little boxes of scary.

When you're in the middle of it, you do the next thing in front of you; sit with the one you love, bring him pillows and jammies from home, talk to the doctors, call the family, feed the dog, make a pot of soup for the kids at home, pray, feed the dog again. On the teetering edge, the world divides, part of it comes to a screeching halt and another part just keeps whizzing by in the sunshine, both in slow motion time.

I think later you can be scared, face how close you came to losing love. But in the thick of it all, the waiting and sweating prayer for Mike who was in a world of hurt, you do the next thing. Here are a few small things kept me together.

*A fresh pot of dark roast coffee swirled in my cup with real cream.

*Walks in God's good earth everyday, especially when there's not enough time, always with Jesus.

*Early morning writing & wrestling out of my Bible readings. I had to know better the God who holds the stars.

*Reading stacks of books by my favorite authors who also took deep dives into God's hidden waters.

The drumbeats of doom in your head
will be replaced by a song in your heart
which could lead to a twinkle in your eye.
Only God in His fury knows the whole of it.

Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God

Life is resurrection. Take hope.

This is Crosby.

Our first grandchild was born in the last hours of Clean and Bright Thursday. We all waited and wondered about this boy while Monica and Sean labored just beyond the large double doors. I felt the weight of Good Friday approaching knowing that while we were saying our first hellos, Jesus was saying his goodbyes.

I wrote a poem about his birth in Oh Crosby.

Here's a taste . . .

You were a child born in the night
Just before the moon slipped away
He drew back heaven’s curtain
And we saw worlds collide
To the music of northern lights
Dancing on your heels
Shining in your eyes
We were flying white paper kites
With long ribbon tails
In electric fields

I have since nicknamed him The Blueberry due to the perfect match of his eyes to a fresh blueberry. He is sturdy and easy going. He is indeed new life in our family.

His birth brought me a new name, Jojo. We'll see if it sticks. It won't be for lack of me whispering it in his little ears. He gets quiet and leans in when I whisper, "Jojo loves Crosby".

Life is full. Take space to tend your soul.

I took my first ever Write31Days Challenge and loved every minute of it!

I explored this idea that kept calling me and calls me still: white space: create space for soul keeping. I wrote and posted every day for the 31 days of October in a community of online writers. I write everyday, but posting what I write everyday was a joy and a discipline.

It was beautiful, challenging, gritty and inspiring. I read, I listened, I prayed. I asked lots of questions. I practiced having a keen eye and a high resolve to notice and be grateful for all the small things in life. I searched out the silence and dug deep for insights from my Savior.

I gathered these posts into their own little tab on the blog. Take a look at write31days

Life is surprising. Take wonder.

Meet Eliza.

Our second grand baby born this year, a little September surprise. She arrived right on her due date, just when Kate finished her Masters and thought she'd be starting her first teaching job.
S U R P R I S E !

Mike and I always told our own little caboose Ryan that we may've been surprised by her, but of course God her maker was not. We can tell little engine Eliza the very same thing. God is always up to weaving wonder, hidden and bright.

I call her Sweet Pea. She's delicate with a bubbling fountain sound to her voice. You can read more about her in Eliza Don't You Know. Here's a memory from that day.

There was something about the smell of a new season on the wind and how the Big Dipper was low in the dark morning sky. I felt as though something were aloft.

More little ears for Jojo whispers.

Life will knock you down. Take resilience.

We call him Piggie Pie or Poopy, but his given name is Luke. He is our beloved family dog, a jet black lab with a smooth coat of fur.

One day we had a perfectly healthy, although knuckle-headed, dog. Or so we thought. He was knuckle-headed, that much is true.

He was just wagging his tail meeting a new friend of our family and getting a new nickname, The Big Galoot. He circled the coffee table in our Gathering Room as he often does when all of a sudden he coughed and stumbled. He drooled and foamed at the mouth and fell to the ground rigid and shaking, among other things.

He was having the first of what would become four full-blown seizures. Mike headed for the doggie ER while I stayed home with our out of town guests. After 3 days and many, many tests, the vet never did find any real cause for sudden seizures, no brain tumor or infection. Just a big lovable Galoot.

Luke had a rocky start back home. We wondered if he'd make it. Ninety-five pounds of discombobulated paws on the staircase makes for slapstick comedy if it weren't so heartbreaking. It took him a couple of weeks of crazy walking on the tops of his paws and into walls and furniture, but as I write this to you, he has finally adjusted to the anti-seizure meds. It was touch and go on the twice daily pill delivery system for awhile. Apples, no. Greenies, no. Peanut butter, no. Hot dogs, no. Cheddar cheese, yes!

He might be a dog and a Big Galoot at that, but Luke has displayed resilience. He has almost worked his way back to our long walks in the woods. Indeed, we all know Tillamook cheddar cheese is the bomb and pads are made for walking.

These are the gifts I was given in 2015 through
Mike, Crosby, Writing, Eliza and Luke,


  • hope * white space * wonder * resilience *

Now I take these strengths into 2016 and hope to have them handy for real-time use.

Though I will probably forget I packed them for the New Year. So I will need you to remind me. Will you do that? And if you need to borrow any, just let me know.

What gifts are you bringing along? Since we live and grow together in community, I'm sure I will need to borrow from you.

Happy New Year y'all!