Friday, August 31, 2018

Kathy Camping?

We went camping last weekend. Sort of.

We rented an RV/trailer on a camp ground a bit more than an hour from home.

People who camp in tents or out in the open will say I’m a wimp, and I am. But even in this RV, with a microwave and air conditioning and TV and WIFI (part of the time,) this is not what I call fun.

Our son Ping-Hwei has talked for years about either buying or renting an RV. My husband Murray and I put it off as long as we could.

Then a friend told us about renting these campers already set up. So, for Ping-Hwei, Murray scheduled one for last weekend.

Then Murray said to me, “I’d like you to go too.”

Hadn’t seen that coming. But off we went.

Once we finally figured out how to make the toilet work, I decided I’d survive. My phone rarely worked in the camper, and Murray’s only did on one end of the room, but, like I said, the internet worked part of the time, so I kept busy with knitting and working on my computer.

Murray sat out on the steps to read his bible, but when it started raining, I was excited we really had an excuse for staying in.

Any time someone took a step, the little camper shook rigorously. I asked Murray if he thought it might tip over on its side. He said, “I can’t guarantee it won’t, but I doubt it.”

We knew this wasn’t going to be a hotel, so we brought a lot of things—food, a few dishes, toilet paper, towels. Never occurred to us to bring pillows or sheets. But hey, we’ were camping after all. The water in the shower was even nice and warm. For a minute.

The area touched some of my rural upbringing senses. The smell of flowers and hay or cut grass as we drove along the road. A couple people with fun country accents.

The sound of crickets. And maybe cicadas? Tree frogs? Okay, so I don’t know which. It’s been a long time since I spent much time on the farm, after all.

No, I didn’t get to stay in the camper. We’d promised Ping-Hwei we’d go to a restaurant for omelets on Saturday. Yummy.

Afterward, Murray wanted to drive to see a ferry boat. On the way, we stopped to check out the Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie. Murray was excited to be able to see some islands.

Of course I’ve heard of lighthouses, read about them in books. But I really didn’t have any idea what they looked like.

Murray said, “It’s a cylinder.” “You mean like a silo?” (My farm girl background coming out again.) Murray said, “Yeah. Let’s say a silo.”

He described about how big it probably was on the bottom, then going up to a smaller top, maybe seventy feet tall, he said. He was thrilled when he read that it was sixty-five feet tall.

Murray read a couple historical signs to me about the Lake and the Lighthouse, then he realized we could go in and climb the steps to the top. I was willing. That would be something different to do.

But then he saw another sign that said it was closed because of weather. It was windy an raining a little, and it said they couldn’t have people in there in case of lightning or too much wind.

I walked along the outside of the lighthouse a little, so I could feel how it curved around. And as we walked away I was amazed to hear these words come out of my mouth. “If we come back next year, maybe we could climb the stairs in the Lighthouse then.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

Anxious For Nothing


Mr. Lucado bases this book on Philippians 4:4-8, and uses the word C-A-L-M: Celebrate, Ask, Leave, Meditate.

Philippians 4:4-8:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Celebrate; rejoice in the Lord always. This is not a feeling but a decision to depend on God.

The author said anxiety is not a sin; it’s an emotion. Like anger, anxiety is not the sin. Sin comes with how we handle the emotions.

Be anxious about nothing does not mean to never be anxious, but not to allow ourselves to remain in a constant state of anxiety.

Mr. Lucado said some people will need counseling and/or medication to deal with their anxiety, and he said we should not let that make us feel like a person of less worth. As someone who has dealt with chronic depression and anxiety for years, this was a comfort for me to hear from a well-respected Christian leader.

Rejoice always, because of God’s Sovereignty, because he’s always in control. Rejoice always because of god’s mercy and forgiveness. Because God is always near, we don’t need to be anxious about anything. “Anxiety is needless because Jesus is near.”

Ask. Pray. Pray specifically, in detail, a child honoring their father with what they need. Sprinkle our requests with “thank yous,” thanking God for what we already have when we’re asking for more.

Leave our anxieties with God. He is our Father, who, when we gave our lives to him, took control and responsibility for us. We are his children and are free to call on all of his promises. His peace, which transcends understanding, will guard our minds.

When I was going through one of the hardest times in my life with anxiety, a man from my church first introduced the meaning of verse 7 to me. Many of my worries were irrational, and most of the time, I knew they were, but they still crushed me. He told me God could give me peace, even if I didn’t know why.

I haven’t found all the answers to all the things I fear and worry about, but God has given me peace still. Many times over the years, I have found such comfort from this verse.

Meditate on good things. The author said we don’t have to run every thought through the list in verse 8. We just need to keep our mind focused on Jesus, like abiding in the vine in John 15. Jesus holds up to all these qualities, so work to have our thoughts match up to Jesus.

We need to take action for these verses to work for us. We actively need to think about good things, the bible, hymns, God’s promises. Determine to learn more of god’s promises. We have to choose to put these things into our minds to get rid of the bad thoughts and anxieties the devil shoves at us.

I have enjoyed reading Max Lucado’s books for years, and I thank God for this Christian brother who is an encouragement for me.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Slipping Through My Fingers

Sarah left home this morning. I got up at 1:15 to say good-by. She said, “It doesn’t feel like I’m moving out. It feels like I’m going on a little trip.”

“To me, it feels like you’re moving out,” I said.

I’ve known for months that Sarah was moving this August for graduate school. But the last week, I still sometimes had a shock, and my heart pinched a little sharper every day, when I thought about her not being in my home any more.

Her last day of work was two weeks ago, so especially for the last couple weeks, she’s been working like crazy. She’s gone shopping for school clothes and supplies and the growing number of things she needs for her apartment.

She’s been making phone calls and filling out paperwork—mostly on the computer—to get everything set up for the apartment, insurance, school fees, medical insurance. She’s gone through most of her possessions in the house here, dividing things between throw-away, give-away, keep stored here, and take with her. And then there’s laundry, packing, and...

She ran around the house, moving from one job to another, and I enjoyed when she stop to talk to me about what she was doing.

For the last four years, at least three of my five children have still lived at home, though they are adults and have jobs. But now Sarah is moving away to attend graduate school in Library and Information Science.

I know I will survive this. Rebecca moved away four years ago to another state. Benjamin moved into his own apartment a year ago. And although I miss them, I’m not sad about not seeing them every day.

But I tell Sarah god gave me an extra gift since she moved back here after college. I love the memories of my children when they were little. But for the last four years, I have been able to have her close to me as an adult.

So many fun and wonderful things to remember.

There is a heater vent on the wall between the stairs and Sarah’s room. Often, as I climbed the stairs, I’d talk to her through it, and she was kind enough to answer me.

One July afternoon, Sarah spent several hours in the attic, separating clothes and books and such to take with her when she moved to Wisconsin. When she came downstairs she asked me if I wanted to touch her face. I said sure. I figured she’d found a mask or some other silly thing she’d put on her face. But she laid my hand on her forehead, covered thick with sweat. She said, “I have to take a shower.” As she was going upstairs, she stopped and said to me, “And if you ever put my hand on your sweaty face, I’ll kill you.”

I loved when she’d just sit and talk to me—about work, about her journey to start graduate school, about books she read, about the current season of “the Voice.”

When Sarah first moved home, she read several long books to me. We’ve attended movies. She’s helped me order surprise gifts for Murray.

When Benjamin moved into his own apartment last year, wanting to be a part of his new experience, I made a list of everything I could think of he’d need to buy. From disinfectant wipes to a toilet plunger; from a table and chairs to nail clippers; from a spatula and can opener to scissors and pillow cases; from toilet paper to adapted equipment like labeling dots and a liquid level indicator.

When Sarah saw the list she said, “I like this. I’m going to use it when I get my own apartment.” I believe she did look at it again now as she’s been shopping, and I’ve made her show me almost everything she bought.

As the days drew close, I was amazed by the idea of her not being a part of our home anymore. We have Caleb and Ping-Hwei for now. Ping-Hwei, who constantly makes us laugh. And Caleb, who often sits and chats with me before he leaves for work or when he gets home. For whatever time God gives me with them, I am thankful.

A couple months ago, I asked Sarah if we could go to one more movie together before she left. She asked if I’d ever seen “Mamma Mia.” I hadn’t

She said the second one, “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again,” was coming out this summer, and before we went to see it, we should watch the first one together.

We did, as part of a lovely Fourth of July celebration.

Both movies were truly a good mother-daughter story. In the first, I found an Abba song I’d never heard before, “Slipping through My Fingers,” about a mother watching her little girl grow up, moving further from her as the mother tried to hang on. Of the two movies, this song most touched my heart.

Loading the truck last night was quite an adventure. At the end, they were happy to count only four things Sarah had to leave behind. Before Sarah and Murray drove away this morning, she gave me a couple of long hugs. “I’ll probably call you a lot with cooking questions,” she said.

Oh, please do.

Slipping through my fingers. I won’t try to hang on. I want her to find new dreams. But it will take a while to get used to not hearing this young woman’s voice in my home every day.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Grace and Truth, John 6:16-21, Matthew 14:22-33

I love this story about Jesus, and Peter, walking on the water. Read both accounts in Matthew and John to view the whole picture.

Jesus was always training the disciples. I’m guessing he could just have shown up on the boat with them, but he chose to stretch their faith and belief by walking on the water.

They were afraid. They thought he was a ghost. But when he came on the boat and safely brought them to the other side, they worshiped him.

This is a comfort to me. When I’m buffeted and weak in faith, Jesus will still help me.

And my friend Peter. Yes, he became afraid, and Jesus had to ask why he had doubted, but Peter had the guts to step out on the water in the first place. And he didn’t hesitate to ask for help when he needed it.

Matthew 14:33: Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Gift I Had to Learn to Love

This article is scheduled to be published in the Summer, 2018 issue of Dialogue Magazine. I posted the first part of the story on my birthday back in February.


My 57th birthday was on February 23, but my husband Murray couldn’t wait and gave me my gift a week early. Our phone company had a great deal on an IPhone. Murray was so excited when he handed me the box to open.

I think my first words were, “I wanted an IPad.”

My mother taught me better manners than that.

I said an IPad would be good, to help me to read e-books. But for now, I could do everything I needed to do with my cheap flip-phone, even text.

Not a very grateful response to an expensive gift.

For weeks I had trouble learning to use the IPhone. People told me to give it time; I would learn. “I doubt it.” Grumble, grumble.

At first I could, usually, answer calls, as well as make calls and send texts by using the speech feature. But reading texts, listening to voice mails, using any function listed on the screen? Those attempts made me want to cry.

And sure, I could make a call, but what about when the recording on the other end said to push one or six or two, or to press the star or pound key? Grumble, grumble.

My sons Benjamin and Caleb, both blind, use an IPhone. Caleb said almost every blind person he knows has one.

Well, that stiffened my spine a little. I refused to let myself be one of the only blind people who couldn’t use something, a former rehab teacher, who liked to feel capable of learning new technology.

Of course, the people Caleb knows are younger than I am, with far more flexible brains and fingers. Caleb worked with me from the beginning. He is an encouraging and patient teacher. Yet we must remember the rough, raw student-material he has to work with.

On one web site I found while looking for IPhone manuals, it said that people who’d never used an Apple product, or even a smart phone, would find learning to use an IPhone a difficult and frustrating process. It might take them several months.

That made me feel a little better. I wasn’t the only dunce.

And it’s true. I’m used to using computers and devices with definite, clear buttons to push. Here we had flicks and slides and drags, and finding the correct place on the screen. How was that supposed to be more accessible to blind people?

And not only did I not show Murray the proper thanks for his gift, but I was constantly irritable about it. Sometimes I wanted to yell, “If you didn’t give me this dumb thing, I wouldn’t be having all this trouble!”

My mother definitely taught me better manners than that.

I was complaining and asking Benjamin a question about the phone one day, and he asked if I’d like him to sit with me sometime and work on it. As we did that, and he was showing me which gestures to do for what, he figured out that I wasn’t positioning my fingers correctly. He explained how I should be doing it, using the whole first pad of the finger, not just the nail tip. I said, “You mean the part I read braille with?”

It started working so much better for me. I was able to use the number keypad on the screen. Most of the time. I found some functions on the screen and was able to do the actions.

I was bubbly. I had successes. I wanted to share how excited I was with Murray.

And I felt so silly about how I’d been acting.

For a time, I discovered so many things I could do—listen to voicemails; read texts; hear the news; listen to YouTube; read books; check the weather.

I’ve slowed down some now, no new things in a while. I can’t do emails or use the internet. But I’m satisfied, and I believe I can learn to do more if I work at it.

When I think back on how I said the IPhone was too hard because it wasn’t like my easy, push-button keyboard, I laugh at myself. Was I referring to my computer that shuts itself down in the middle of my work? The one where just hovering my hand above the mousepad changes what window I’m working in? The internet which skitters all over the place, and I can’t figure out what to do. The desk-top that adds new programs I never asked for, or deletes the ones I use every day without asking me. Right. That simple keyboard.

Do I still have trouble with my IPhone? Sure, and I still complain about it sometimes. Caleb is so lucky. He lives with me, so he gets to help me with problems every time he’s around and a new difficulty arises.

But I laugh more often than I want to cry. When a problem comes up, I believe we’ll figure it out. And yes, I love my IPhone. Who would ever want a silly flip-phone?