Thursday, June 19, 2008

becoming a mother

I remember someone once wrote a Christmas letter that he never sent; in that letter he explained that he didn't know what to say. Christmas letters contain updates about little Johnny growing up, promotions at work, family vacations, and, as a bachelor, he had nothing to say about anything like that. Yet, here I am, well over a year later (from my last post), a wife, a mother, a teacher. There are more kids and family news to write about than I can keep up with. I've been so busy that I have not written. It is a lot like the current country song, "You're Gonna' Miss This." There is something to be said and enjoyed about every season in life. I do miss selling olive oil, dreaming of great food, of walking Ann Arbor streets in the summer time, of wine tasting every weekend in Fruita, indulging in the simplest of American deserts, the Rice Krispy Treat, in Barnes and Noble every Thursday evening and despairing over the people of Grand Junction, of my quaint, downtown apartment with the ancient plumbing and strange floor plan. Those were simpler days. But I love laughing with my husband and the squeals of delight from my daughter. I love how she will collapse with exhaustion and trust on my shoulder--it is the most peaceful time of the day.
I will try to write more often and keep in touch.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

thoughts from february

At night I dream about my wedding day. It makes me feel like a little girl—isn’t that what little girls dream of while my imagination went in wildly different directions at that age? I remember how I felt at 8th grade graduation when everyone turned to look at Scott and me with all their cameras. How bashful I became! Surely it won’t be as bad holding on to Dad’s supportive arm, the arms I could always turn to for strength and security and comfort, and knowing that another strong, tender arm awaits me at the end.

When I took Stephanie to show her the church this weekend, I sat in one of the chairs as she looked around. Sitting there I could hear Aunty Barbie’s voice when I called with my announcement. I felt very young, she sounded so loving, proud, happy, and aunty. I guess she always does, but it took me back to the years when we lived nearby.

I’m going to walk down that aisle, I thought to myself, and everyone will rise and turn around and see a bride. These days I’ve been looking at the world from more of a parental perspective than from a child’s, so I tried to imagine what it would be like for those who have loved me from the day you brought me home. It must be hard. For several who will be there, it will be awfully symbolic of how they feel. Before they knew it, before they had time to turn around, Catie Did had become a woman, no longer swinging her feet in the back seat singing “Home, home on the range…” My feet touch the floor now, I live where the skies are mostly blue and very close to the range Lorna and I used to sing about.

Some day that will be me in your shoes, turning around, wondering where the time went, and seeing my little girl grown into a woman. The anticipation of it, and we’re talking a good twenty-some years before I have to worry about it, grabs my heart hard. I wonder if I can bear the upcoming joys, concerns, and sorrows that marriage and children will bring? Did you ever wonder about that, or did you want a child too much to wonder? Did you ever imagine this day for me?

testimony 1

I joke that I learned how to be a Christian from a renegade Jew and a practicing Buddhist. For years I had hidden, distorted, masked, and repressed my emotions, and these characteristics were never given a chance to mature. So I was truly a toddler in Christ. As the Holy Spirit worked in my heart, I was still trapped within.

My first job was unusual in its training. The customer service training I received was based on biblical principles—but the owners and trainers would never admit it, if they knew. We were trained to think and go the extra mile with every customer. I was so excited to receive the tools to express my heart that I started talking to strangers on the street, and applying the same tools with my friends around the country. It became a lifestyle.

The company was also the first to impress the idea of giving to me. As I considered owning my own business, the 10% giving was always a guiding principle in the business plans, long before I was convicted of this biblically.

Not long after I wondered how I needed to share the gospel with those around me—I knew maybe five Christians in the small city of Ann Arbor—it was time for me to return West. I was tempted to doubt my faith because I had pretty much never evangelized, though everyone seemed well aware of my faith. (I used to laugh at this because sometimes they would mistake my nervous, reserved habits for upholding Christian values). So I was worrying that I had not upheld my obligation to share what I had learned, and packing to leave, when my co-workers started taking me aside to thank me for my faith, and recognizing that it must give me peace during the trials of my life.

It was a sad time because I knew that those who did not believe did not think them any closer to Christ, but I remembered the way God planted seeds in my life, long before I was ready to receive Him, and I smiled as I drove away. I couldn’t rely on Him using me this quietly for the rest of my Christian life, but He had answered a prayer that I be used in ways that others were used in my life. I always thought of that prayer in terms of the amazing hospitality friends and the family of my friends had heaped on me over the years, but God reminded me of other means to share His heart.

The next few months were empty months. I went some broken place in my heart from where I refused to beckon God. I walked a lot on the Colorado National Monument behind my parents’ home in Grand Junction. I was sitting on a small boulder one afternoon when I started meditating on the rock. I was impressed with the solidity of it, and started praying for God to convict and teach me about His foundation so I might have courage, faith, and the experience of Him and never look back. It took time, but the relationship He cultivated with me after that was….sweet.

I moved to Colorado Springs, was led to a church within a month, started making friends, and at the encouragement of my close friends started to dream again. What do you want to do? They asked me relentlessly. And I gave them several answers, but more than anything I wanted a family. I couldn’t make that my goal—it could lead to poor decisions or misery. That was out of my control, so I prayed with God for a month about the kind of man I hoped for, and if it wasn’t too much trouble I would appreciate it if his family were close (geographically and relationally) but in this broken world I knew that was a tough order to fill. Many, many people over the course of my life predicted that I would find my special someone. I can show you letters, Valentine cards, my autograph books where mere acquaintances pronounced my destiny, and each time I would scoff—there is no guarantee, no way to count on finding someone you would want to marry. So, having laid out my heart; asking that God not distract me with anyone except the man He wanted me to marry, I then asked Him to prepare me for His plans, fully expecting to be single for several more years. That’s when Mark started to talking to me, three months after we had been in the same church community

It was known among Bible study that I was not in the market for a boyfriend, so it surprised everyone when I responded in kind to someone’s interest, and then was smitten. And a year later God answered the desires of my heart to work in ministry and in planning to have a family.


I used to laugh when you brought home “presents” for me during the summer months, presents in the shapes of push brooms, shiny rakes, sharp shovels, the weird-looking gravel rake, and more hose to snake across our property. I laughed because I couldn’t appreciate the gift as a gift. Without those tools my work would have been harder. What we accomplished in those years might not have been possible.

When Mark came back from another trip to Lowes, and said, “I have a present for you,” I laughed with appreciation and a heart full of memories. There was a pair of new leather gloves. Giving up on the idea of sharing all those memories, for the moment, I reveled in the feeling that this is what I’ve been missing.

Home is not just the place we come to rest. In the leisurely drives I used to take in the country-side of Ann Arbor, Grand Junction, and the Black Forest, I would admire the large homes. One home stands out among all others because there was a black dog prancing the edge of his property, a man trimming his hedges, and his wife rolling a wheel barrow down to him in the evening sun. To me, that looked like home.

Sometimes the extent of our project, and the un-ending problems of under-taking those projects, are plain laughable. Sometimes, for the sake of satisfaction, I will clean a window before calling it a day. When the last glow of the evening fades from Pikes Peak, and I am tired in a way I haven’t felt tired in years.


My favorite times growing up were with my aunts and cousins. They would take turns watching us four Amy, the oldest, Jeremy, her brother and the only boy, Lorna, and myself. I remember expressing my sense of the age difference between Amy and I by saying I hated her. It must have hurt to hear that, but she laughed it off.

We spent Halloween at my house. The only house I remember visiting was my next door neighbor’s. To reach the door you had to walk through a big blue tent. Teenagers, friends of their kids, hid in sleeping bags and grabbed at your ankles as you walked by. After a couple years of this, the suspense was more than I could bear. When the first person grabbed my ankles I turned around screaming and didn’t get any candy from them that year.

My cousins laughed. They laughed when I wanted to learn how to chew gum. I remember there were leaves on the garage floor, and I would spit the gum out as hard as I could to make a bubble. No luck, I would plop the pink blob in my mouth and try again. No matter how much they tried to explain how to expand the gum with my tongue and work it around my lips to create a bubble, I didn’t understand.

They laughed again when one grasped my hands, another my feet, and they swung me into the hedge at Gido’s house.

They laughed at my fear of deep water and alligators. Every time we visited the old San Francisco Zoo Lorna would threaten to throw me in with the alligators. This explains why I was scared to death the time I fell into the Lafayette Reservoir. It was an annual Summer School field trip to visit the Reservoir. The only thing I remember about those trips is feeding the ducks, which is what were doing when two older girls brushed past and I fell with a loud splash into the water. Some say they saw the girls push me, but I also remember moving out of politeness. Between the two of them I ended up going head first into the water. My first thought was, “Oh no! If my feet touch the ground I will be alligator lunch.” Somehow my 3 foot body managed to pull away from the 4 foot shallow floor without touching, burst from the water and yell for help. Scared me to death when the teachers decided that one had to jump in after me. That meant someone would step on the alligator’s nose. To my relief we all ended up alive and wet. No one could ever understand my wild behavior and words, so no one ever explained alligators don’t hide in the mud of California alligators.

Another time we were going across the Bay Bridge I worked my imagination into a tizzy. The school used a short bus to transport us on field trips. On this occasion I found myself beside the bugger-nosed reject of an upper-grade. Behind me, my friends were talking about sharks. The boy noticed that I was cowering further and further into the wall of the bus and boldly asked what was the matter. By that time I was so frightened about the thought of a shark jumping into the bus window, I was no longer afraid of him told him. He kindly told my friends to stop talking about sharks and offered to sit by the window for me. I admired him after that.

My cousins laughed yet again when I pulled a knob off the Buick and made it buzz. Mom and my aunts were beginning to catch on by that time, that I was not entirely responsible for all my actions. If my cousins were laughing while I stood looking on dumbly they would ask, “What did you guys do?” It was too fun to exploit my naiveté and youth to bother teaching me how to survive the world. How I ever has, is anyone’s guess, or the hand of God.

I doted on my cousins. In a picture you see me imitating Lorna. A picture taken a little later shows that pose was significant to me for a few months after that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Each week I have one night that I can not quiet my thoughts enough to sleep. Last night was that night.

To cure myself of these endless hours I have been reading Louis L'amour--much against my sensibilities. Honoring my husband's prayers for me, however, I put all the mindless books aside and again started reading books on theology. Problem is, they don't put me all the way to sleep, they just make me sleepy enough my brain no longer engages. I remain awake.

Following the guidelines to cope with insomnia, I got up to do something. Earlier in the afternoon I had picked up an old, but free, changing table that coordinated almost to the point of matching the crib. The nursery went through one more rearrangement.

The changing table made the room feel almost complete. One addition to the closet, and all that remains to complete the room are decorations, a layette, diaper supplies and linens. These things add character to a room, but the furniture make it take shape.

With the nursery nearly complete, my house is truly beginning to feel like home. Lying in bed I began to fill in the details. Finally, I got up. I heard Mark get out of the shower and prepare for an emergency before looking for me. He found me in the nursery admiring my handiwork. Tucked conveniently and cozily between the bed and tiny dresser was a box of childrens books. On the other side was the home made green nursery rhyme box on which I had placed Anna Bear Lee to hide the mess of cords behind the dresser. "Before putting Baby to bed, we can snuggle on the bed and read a book. Afterward, we walk two steps and tuck Baby into the crib. Two more steps, put the book away, and everyone is happy." He just smiled, assured me I wasn't crazy to be nesting at that late hour, and led me back to bed. Since Baby won't be sleeping in the crib at night until he is six months old, I was planning a year ahead of myself.

Back in bed, Mark was reading his own thoughtful book and tried to engage me in conversation. Unfortunately, he started to put me to sleep--not intentionally. He let me drift off after I shared, "I wish I had believed in nothing before I became a Christian."

"It would have been easier," he agreed. Grace, depravity of man, God's sovereignty--I believe all of it. Even now, four years later, something in me wants to fight that belief that we are so separate from our God. So I wish I had no idea, no concept of relationship with God before becoming a Christian. Until now, I have joyfully ignored the problem, but now, I must let transformation occur so I can weep next Easter.

Four hours after going to bed, I went to sleep.

Friday, July 20, 2007

smile, you have a bear

I like to encourage people, but today it is I who have been encouraged.

This has, in ways I can not write of, been a dark month. It is also the month that marks my first anniversary at work. First Emily wrote the nicest announcement about me; then I had an unexpected e-card to celebrate the day; and now, a co-worker stopped by with Mr. Smiley Bear.

She is task-oriented. Most of the time she walks at a dead run. You know she accomplishes in one day what the rest of us accomplish in a week. So she came rushing toward my cubicle and handed me something with the words, "Here, you can have this for awhile." Have what?

In my hands was a purple bear stuffed inside a bag with smiley faces. "Hello," reads the paper paper-clipped to the side, "I'm the 'make your day' bear! Enjoy me for a while, then pass me along to someone who you'd like to make their day! Mr. Smiley Bear". Like I was supposed to do, I smiled.

I didn't know if the giving of the bear was thought-out or if she just needed it off her desk. Either way, the bear came at the right time.

What a creative idea to quietly share encouragement in the office. I hope you can use it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Paint me a picture, she said. Tell me what a day in the life of our marriage would look like. So he told her.

I imagine he spoke of beginning the work mornings together. They would plan their showers around each other, grab a breakfast, and drive their separate ways. If the day allowed, they could meet for lunch when they could share a success story or how the copier broke at his office before a critical meeting, and how she spilled coffee on her new white suit minutes before meeting with an important donor. It would all be over too soon to enjoy each other or the expensive salad she hardly noticed. Part way through the afternoon, they would remind each other that she had to go here, and he had to there before they would see each other that night. And don't forget to get your cocktail dress cleaned for the banquet tomorrow.

Monotonous. That was the word she used to describe the marriage lifestyle. I laughed outright at the thought of her life ever being monotonous--maybe for a week. With your interests, I asked? What with the hiking excursions, a new book every week, trips to Europe, monthly visits with family, and dozens of friends? But I could see what she was saying.

My life could be described as monotonous, with my weekly, almost daily, schedule of housework. The work week seems unending and sometimes futile as I repeat the actions of yesterday--sweep, make dinner, wash dishes, make the bed, throw in a load of laundry, tug-of-war with the persistent dog in between chores. I do it this way so I have time to play or work with Mark on the weekends. That's what keeps it interesting.

"Play or work" doesn't sound exciting either, but every weekend is so different. We have put on a roof, loaded the two tons of shingles into a dumpster, camped, visited my parents, terraced the hill in our yard, planted, grown a lawn, repaired the sprinkler system, watched movies, hosted several guests, and a number of other activities. Simple. We have a simple life, but it is not monotonous. The interesting, significant parts are in the details.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

god is in the details

The voice mail said I had to reschedule my doctor's appointment. Since I expected Mark would miss this one, and I was eager to talk to the doc, I rescheduled for a day earlier. The incident, without there being anything out of the ordinary, niggled at me.

The next morning we were given the time and location of Kesha's memorial service. If the doctor's office hadn't called and rescheduled, I would have missed the service. It brought a huge smile to my face. Despite my doubts, God declared He truly is in the details.

A couple months ago a panel was asked to share about prayer. One lady said to pray for the details.

I shy from praying for details. Rather, I should say, I avoid praying for particular outcomes. If you are praying for details, the easier it is to pray for a particular outcome. God has shown, too many times, that His outcomes are better, so I don't like to tell Him what to do. I don't like praying for details.

Then something like this happens. It is important to me to attend Kesha's memorial service. I was concerned it would take place over the weekend while I was out of town. God knew that, even though I did not address Him with my concern. I had decided to wait and not be anxious about the time and date of the service. Before I could get anxious about my conflict of interests--important doctor's visit v. memorial service--He resolved the conflict. That was huge, and causes me to trust Him with all the details.

Friday, June 29, 2007

it could have been me

My first thought was: "I am so insensitive; I am not going to cry. How awful of me." Next thing I knew, I was crying.

The fear and shock kept me rooted to the chair before tip-toeing upstairs for a supply of kleenex. Once there, I knew I needed to hear Mark's voice before he went to work. Risking the chance he could be in the shower, yet he answered the phone, and I couldn't speak.

Relief flooded through my eyes at having him at the other end of the phone. "Sorry..." was all I could say for a few minutes as he waited quietly, and perhaps a little upset at the other end. Finally I muttered through my weeping, "My co-worker was stabbed to death. I am so scared: IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME." Finally, he pulled enough of the details out of me to understand.

I have had trouble sleeping past six o'clock in the morning. That morning, I chose to respond to my natural clock, which meant I had time to spare before going to work. Instead of settling down to tea and a book in the sunroom that morning, I decided to treat myself to a small latte and lemon loaf from Starbuck's. I really wanted steamed milk with something sweet. Heading to the car, I felt I forgot something. Maybe it was just because I threw my routine off by twenty minutes, but then I remembered my book. Still, something was not right.

I drove by my office about the time the murder would have taken place. I thought about just grabbing a cup of coffee from the coffee pot and adding cold milk to it. But I continued a block further to Starbuck's.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I retraced my drive twenty minutes later and saw the two cop cars blocking our back entrance, the sheriff doing a u-turn past me to join them, and then seeing all the yellow tape at the far end of our parking lot. Surely, this was just a burglary? There are other businesses that line that part of the parking lot...

Susan greeted me at the door. "Go to the chapel. It's not good news." I knew I wanted my hands free, so I dropped my purse at my desk on the way. Bad news could mean a lot of things. No one is dead, I told myself, because I didn't want it to be so.

"Did you hear what happened?"

I shook my head.

"Kesha was stabbed to death."

After talking to Mark, I had enough sense about me to realize this was probably personal and nothing to be afraid of. A stabbing, a single woman, outside of her work building--it suggested someone familiar with her footsteps, hers alone. This turned out to be true.

So, that morning, it probably would not have been me. At some point, though, I could have become someone's target. It could have been me. In an instant, I was my mother receiving the news that I was gruesomely killed; I was me, at college, with my dad telling me Mom had been the victim of a murder, not the victim of her health; I was Kesha, in terror, confronting the man with one last hope he was a good man. I never, ever, want to be in the shoes of any one of those women; I never, ever, want the women in my family to be in those shoes either. So I tried to pray against that between my choking fear.

I almost felt hopeless as I imagined her daughters and mother taking the news. They know Christ though. They have hope, and rejoice beyond their own grief.

you are the branches

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." JESUS

Last week, the president of our mission shared that grape vines require significant pruning to produce good fruit. Vines produce branches in three stages. The final stage is worthless, so the branch must be cut back to nothing that it might begin the fruit-producing cycle again.

I understood how I could apply this gardening technique to my own spiritual growth. If nothing else, it could give me patience the next time God is improving upon my character. But this…

I knew the Bible said somewhere that all things are worked for His good; I had been working on resting God’s sovereignty in all things; and I wanted to see this immediately following Kesha’s murder. What good could possibly come from this?

The analogy of the vines returned to my mind. Did He mean to prune this branch to the point of death that others might produce good fruit for His glory? How? She was such a solid, private, behind-the-curtain character of our show. How could we respond, or what are we waiting for, that would glorify Him?

Monday, June 25, 2007

becoming big

I’ve reached that dreaded stage of the pregnancy. You raised the concern that there would be a point where I looked fat, not pregnant. You were right. That’s what I look like now.

Because of this, I hesitated to put on the outfit that I did. It was mixed feelings that I grinned and winced interchangeably at my co-worker’s enthusiasm. She is genuine as she exclaims, “You’re cute. You’re so cute!”

Her attitude is such a contrast from mine, and she reminds me that I should change my attitude. My internal monologue should echo hers. Instead, I tell myself, “Resist the urge to diet. Resist the urge to diet.” All the books say I should steadily gain wait, a pound a week, for the next three months.

Tomorrow morning I’ll try her approach! “How cute. How exciting. Mark, bring your stethoscope and let’s see what we can hear. Isn’t it beautiful?” It seems awkward to me, but it will be better than what I am doing now.