Friday, August 30, 2013

You Can Sponsor a Widow!

Today, August 30, 2013, the Prayer and Praise Guide for Sister Connection lists the following request:
Pray for more sponsors for those widows and orphans who wait. Although we have 622 households sponsored, SC has over 500 widows and orphans in its fellowship organization waiting to be sponsored.  
Sister Connection provides sponsors for widows in Burundi, people who give $30 a month to help them with food, schooling, clothing, and medical expenses. It is a wonderful ministry, with 100% of contributions going directly to the designated widow.

You may know that Sister Connection also builds homes for widows and their families. It costs just $600 (US) to build a home and it is, without doubt, a great blessing to each of the 1117 families that have received a home or are waiting for their home to be built or repaired. But even if a widow has received a home, where her family is safe and comfortable, unless she has regular income, she will still struggle to feed, clothe, and educate her children.

As the prayer request above states, there are 622 widows sponsored by Sister Connection, but 500 more are awaiting sponsorship. Today I want to introduce you to three of these women. They are all older women who have been widowed for many years. A couple of them struggle with sickness, making it more difficult to care for the daily needs of their families. Each of them lives in a house built for them through gifts from Sister Connection, but they do not have sponsors to help them with their daily needs or to pray for them personally.

Anesiya was born in 1958 and lost her husband in 1986. She has one son.

Viola was bor in 1945. In 1969 her husband abandoned her. She is the mother of two grown children and the guardian of two other children, ages 6 and 11.

Monique, born in 1949, lost her husband in 2004. She has six children, one of whom is in 5th grade.

The following is a quote from a Sister Connection document:
Because widows are traditionally considered to be worth next to nothing in Burundian culture, they find themselves unwanted, and disregarded by their neighbors, and find it difficult to provide themselves with even the basic needs: food, clothing, shelter. Children without a father are considered to be orphans in Burundian society and they are commonly rejected and struggle to continue an education because of responsibilities within the home. Your gift of sponsorship would help provide [a widow] protection for her family within the community as well as basic needs.
Today, August 30, hundreds of Sister Connection prayer partners are praying for the many widows who are still waiting for sponsorship. Perhaps the Lord would like to answer that prayer, in part,  through you.

If you would like to become a Sister Connection sponsor, click here. And if one of these three women grabbed your heart, please request her as your sister.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I Learned From Sarah Horn

Sarah Horn (l) with Kristin Chenoweth
I don't know Sarah Horn, but on Sunday afternoon a Facebook friend said that Sarah had sung a duet with Kristin Chenoweth at a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and he posted a video of it.

I clicked on the video. Here was a young woman, chosen randomly from the audience by her musical hero, Kristin Chenoweth, to sing a duet with her -- the song "For Good" from the musical Wicked. She was totally enjoying herself on stage, singing her heart out, and bringing down the house. I don't know Sarah, but the video -- recorded on the cell phone of her friend Mike Kestler -- brought me to tears.

I've watched it several times, helping skyrocket the number of YouTube views to over 2,645,000. And I've watched the closer view video a couple of times. And I've read articles online about Sarah, including her own story written when she got home that evening.

So even though I don't know Sarah Horn personally, I feel like I have gotten to know her a bit these past few days. And I have learned a thing or two from Sarah.

1. Put your heart into what you do. Sarah loves music and began voice lessons at age 6. She sang "For Good" 100 times in her bedroom, she told someone, singing Gilda's part the first time through then singing the part of Elphaba. Music is her life, whether she is teaching voice at California Baptist University, directing music at Riverside Youth Theatre, or leading worship at her church. God gave Sarah a strong and beautiful voice, but she has done a lot to train it.

2. Be ready; you never know when you will be called into action. The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to be ready in season and out of season, in this case to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others (2 Timothy 4:2). We should be ready to use our gifts and callings whenever there is opportunity.

3. Shine. It wasn't just Sarah's bubbly personality or her musical prowess that was shining through her performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Her spirit shone through too. She enjoyed every minute of this dream-come-true, and she was completely winsome. When you get called into action, enjoy yourself, thank God for the opportunity, and bring him glory!

Wishing you all the best, Sarah!
* * * * *
Here's a fun song that Sarah sang at her Graduate Voice Recital in 2012.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Car Wash!

Photo Credit: Adam Christopherson

We are sitting in the front seat of the car, engine running, watching the flurry ahead of us. A dozen kids and a few adults lift sopping sponges from soapy buckets and attack the car in front of us. A boy with a fresh mohawk takes a long handled brush to the tires. His recently shaved head is pale compared to his neck. A youngster sporting a soap beard looks up at me and grins.

Just feet away from my side of the car stands a man holding a hose. We quickly roll up our windows and he begins to spray until the car is thoroughly doused. As he steps forward to hose down the car ahead of us, those dozen kids and more descend on us, their rags and sponges and brushes finding plenty of dust to demolish.

I feel claustrophobic, children's faces peering through every window of the car. I think for a moment that I am in a drive-through car wash and all those scrubbers oscillating from the ceiling have turned into little people.

One girl, barely tall enough to see over the hood, will surely rub a hole in the car with her rapt attention to a single spot on the front left side.

Someone gives the signal for us to move forward and the children peel off to blitz the car behind us. We're moved into a bay for a spray-down, and, just like that, one more car has made it through the gauntlet of the Stanwood Youth Football car wash.

As we pull away, a jeep covered with an inch of mud arrives. Everybody cheers!

With the kind of teamwork we witnessed on the car wash field, I predict these football players will have a winning year!

Photo Credit: Adam Christopherson
(Photos courtesy of Stanwood Youth Football. To see more, check out this link.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Go North, Young Man! (Old Man, Middle-Aged Woman, Family with Small Children...)

When you are heading north to Bellingham to buy a nice cut of meat from Carne Bellingham, why not make a day of it? You will be driving through some of the most stunning scenery the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Surely you'd do yourself a huge favor to take the trip at a leisurely pace!

Here are a few ideas of some stops you might like to make along the way.

Depending upon where you begin the trip, you may be ready for a rest stop. (The last northbound rest stop along I-5 would have been 67 miles earlier near SeaTac Airport.) Pull in to the Smokey Point Rest Area (milepost 207) and take a look at the giant cedar stump! It used to be along a wide spot in the old Pacific Highway, and we'd beg our parents to "drive through the stump" every time we traveled north. It was great fun. The last time I remember checking out the stump was when our son, now 23, was in kindergarten and we took Tom's parents to see it. If you look really closely at the second photo, you might see the stump behind us. This picture sits on my kitchen windowsill, and was taken in 1995.

1940s Postcard

It's 17 miles on up the road to the honey stand where they've been selling pure, raw honey since 1952. It's an honor system stand, with honey in various sizes and a slot to drop in your payment. But if you need help, Jim has left his number and you can give him a call!

Swing into downtown Mt Vernon for a stop at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op for a bite to eat. (You might like to know that they make their own ice cream.)

Drive on up to Bellingham. Besides Carne Bellingham you'll want to stop in Fairhaven. If it's a Saturday you'll find all kinds of wonderful things at the Farmer's Market. It's one of the largest markets in Washington State and offers far more than fresh produce.

One of many charming Fairhaven shops

Bellingham Farmers Market

Why not drive down Chuckanut Drive on your way home? Whether enjoying the scenic forrest or water views, the drive is absolutely beautiful. And it take you through some of Skagit Valley's lush farmlands as you head back to I-5.

Berries growing at Sakuma Brothers Farm and Market

Is there time for one more stop?   Take a drive to the top of Little Mountain, just south of Mt Vernon. It was quite hazy when we were there, but can't you just imagine how beautiful it must be to look down from Little Mountain on a sunny day in April and see the tulips all in bloom during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival!

The summer weather has been amazing, with long, warm days and breathtaking vistas. It won't always be as gorgeous as these last couple of months, but even in foul weather the drive is enough to invigorate the soul. In case you're not convinced, here's a sample of what you'll see along I-5 through Skagit and Whatcom counties on any random day.

Mt Baker -- Photo Credit: Marilee Drew

Carne Bellingham

There has been no butcher shop in Bellingham, Washington, for over 30 years -- until now! In July, Carne Bellingham opened its doors to folks who want to buy locally grown, grass fed, sustainably raised meat from a local butcher. What can you expect to find at Carne Bellingham? All things "Bovine, Poultry, Swine," as the sign on the door says.

For years Chad Johnson worked the meat department in area supermarkets, but he found that there wasn't a way to satisfy the customers' personal requests. Chad says people would come to him and say, "'Well the man/woman on that food show told me to go to my local butcher and say...' and they wondered why the mega-chain super mart doesn't look or act like a friendly neighborhood butcher shop." So he began to dream about Carne Bellingham.

After a short and very successful fundraising project brought in far more money than his original goal, Chad, his wife Anna, and his business partner, Shaun Almassy, jumped through the hoops to get the store open in July.

It's a small shop, but large enough to display many beautiful cuts of meat. We were there last Saturday, and the place was hopping! I'd read on Facebook about the 2-day special on chicken and by early that afternoon (Day 2) the supply of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $4 a pound was nearly gone. Chad and Shaun are hoping that the presence of the Bellingham Farmers Market, just a 6-minute walk away, will bring in lots of customers who want high quality, affordable meat. That and word of mouth and the Carne Bellingham Facebook page and t-shirts seem to be drawing folks in.

The service is friendly and the guys are always ready to answer your questions. I was surprised to see them in white shirts with little evidence of their profession noticeable on their clothing. "Where are your white plastic aprons with the red stains?" I asked Shaun. "We just have those black and white striped ones," he told me, as he pointed to the aprons hanging on a hook. "Some day I'll make my own apron, with big random stripes on it, like they wore in colonial American butcher shops!"

As for quality of the meat, I've already had a bit of the bovine, poultry and swine -- each one delicious! We'll try the sausage, made fresh in the store, for breakfast tomorrow!

Is your mouth watering? Have a look at these photos. If it isn't watering after that, maybe you should consider becoming vegetarian!

Last night's dinner, purchased yesterday afternoon!
There were 9 for dinner and we ate just a bit more than half of the pork butt. Yummy!

An order ready to be picked up

Chad. left, and Shaun

If you go to Carne Bellingham, tell them Ginger sent you!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Apostles Creed -- The Third Day He Rose Again From the Dead

For our 2013 Hymn of the Month we will be exploring the Apostles Creed.
With each post we'll look at one of the statements in the creed,
consider its significance, and share an appropriate hymn.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth: 
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirt, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hades; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. 
The third day He rose again from the dead! This is the core of the Christian gospel. It is the truth upon which our faith is built. Without this, the immense love of God the Father, the sinless example of Jesus the Son, and the ministering presence of the Holy Spirit would be hollow. Indeed, they would be void! This is the culmination of God's plan to redeem a fallen world. "God's redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia! Christ has opened Paradise, Alleluia!" (Christ the Lord is Risen Today,verse 3)

In Matthew 28:6 the angel told the women at the tomb, "He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." They were not the only ones who had misunderstood Jesus' promise that he would rise from the dead. "Destroy this temple," Jesus is quoted in John 2:19, "and I will raise it again in three days." "I am the resurrection and the life," he told Martha (John 11:25). Mark is direct in his narrative: "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this..." (8:31-32). Yet despite Jesus' openness in talking about his death and resurrection, his followers did not understand and were not prepared when they met the risen Lord in person.

In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter told the astonished Jews that they were the ones, who "with the help of wicked men" put Christ to death. "But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him (Acts 2:23-24). The power of God is stronger than the power of death. In Christ, death, the last enemy, has been defeated!

We see further that this was God's eternal plan. As early as Genesis 3 God promises redemption (3:15) Paul tells us that "this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:9). In Revelation 13:8 we read that Jesus is "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."

It has been said that in all other religions, the emphasis is on "DO." In Christianity alone, the emphasis is on "DONE!" Through his suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has DONE what we can never do on our own; he has bought us with his own blood and has presented us to God, made us righteous by his righteousness!

As the Gettys remind us in their hymn, In Christ Alone, "this is the power of Christ in me!"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

North of Hope

This one is for you, Deanne. Last night at dinner you asked someone what she'd been reading this summer, but before you got your answer the conversation was diverted off in another direction. So I'll answer the question for you.

Earlier this summer I read North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey by Shannon Huffman Polson. When I read about Shannon's book in Response, Seattle Pacific University's alumni magazine, I learned that her parents had been killed by a grizzly bear in the Alaska wilderness, and this was her journey to retrace their steps. "The book deftly weaves strands of her journey down the Hulahula River to the campsite where her parents were killed, together with memories of her family, and with memories of rehearsing and performing Mozart's Requiem as a way to mourn their death." (Response)

Why would I want to read a book about such a serious, heart-wrenching experience? I don't know, I just knew I wanted to read it.

Shannon's braiding of the many story lines drew me in from the start. She moved me in and out of the past, the present, Alaska, Seattle, music, books, travel, pain and joy like a canoe on an unpredictable river. Sometimes I had to pull the canoe to shore, to spend a bit of time camped on the river bank, pondering where the river had taken me. Rapids, I knew, could be just around the next bend.

She sometimes spoke of feelings beyond my own experience; she grappled with relationships and meaning  and, of course, deep grief. Sometimes I was with her in her boat. Other times I was above her, looking down from the small plane that dropped her off at the Hulahula River. I watched her pack up her parents' house and sat with her as she finally sang the Requiem. And when at last I finished the book, I could not put it down.

From one of Tim's Alaska camping trips
I talked to Tim, my brother in Anchorage, after reading North of Hope. "I wonder if you knew Richard Huffman," I asked him. "I think he went to your church. He and his wife were killed by a grizzly bear in 2005." "Yes," Tim replied. "I sang in the church choir with him. And I sang a solo at his memorial service."

It turns out that at the very same time I was reading Shannon's book, Tim was on a road trip to the Arctic as well, due west of the Hulahula River. His route was much more traveled, taking him to Prudhoe Bay. Still he was in the wilds, and I began to appreciate that the many road trips he has taken during his years in Alaska always put him closer to danger than I had understood before.

North of Hope gave insight into the geography and the history of the Arctic. For example, did you know that, from the air, you can look down on tundra polygons, actual designs in the ice? They are formed "when the freezing earth cracks, contracting from extreme cold." There's more to the description, you'll find it on page 145 when you read the book. I should have kept a file on all the interesting information I gained from the book.

Mostly North of Hope stirred my soul. I know you'd like it, Deanne. Your love of adventure would be greatly satisfied in the reading, as well as your willingness to deal with the deeper issues of life. Let me know what you think of it.

Do you have any recommendations for me?

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Gift of Music

Shirley and Jerry Piger
I got the following e-mail from my friend Jerry Piger on Friday evening: "I asked our worship pastor one day if he agreed that all the great truths of the Bible could be found in the Hymns of the Church. He said he did. Based on that statement we put together a service that...will have hymn arrangements, narration and one verse of each hymn on the overhead so the congregation can meditate and pray during the music..."

Jerry is a pianist who has spent much of his life composing and arranging sacred music. I've known him for years but only recently have our lives really intersected. He loves the hymns, and has been a great resource for me as I have sought to share hymns on this blog. It was because of Jerry sharing his gift of music with me that I got up my courage and sent him some songs I had written. They were songs that I could play but had no wherewithal to get down on paper. Jerry graciously created sheet music for them and even arranged one for choir! His kindness to me was one of the most overwhelming gifts I have ever received.

So when he wrote to tell me that their Sunday service would feature a 30-minute program of hymn arrangements, played by piano, violin, and string bass, laced with narration, we knew we wanted to attend.

We drove to Newport Covenant Church in Belleuve for a service we will not soon forget. When it was time for the message, Jerry sat down at the piano, the narrator took her seat, and two lovely sisters, both college students, moved into position with their instruments. We were invited to enter into a time of worship as the theme of prayer was interwoven through spoken word and instrumental music. "Why are we so touched by music?" the narrator asked. "It is the Holy Spirit who calls to us through song."

For the next half-hour we were blessed by beautiful arrangements of songs like Sweet Hour of Prayer, There is a Fountain, Somebody's Knocking at Your Door, and What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Piano, violin, bass -- they fit together so well, lifting us to a higher plane, ushering us into quietness and grace. The words to the first verse of each hymn were projected on the screen but we did not sing. We just sat and soaked in the presence of Christ in the service.

Jerry told me later, "For years I have played hymns to myself while concentrating on the lyrics. It has been very meaningful to me but only to me. Today...the congregation was able to concentrate on a verse while the music was reinforcing the meaning. The mechanics of singing never got in the way of the words."

He told me that for 20 minutes after the service was over people came to him with tears in their eyes and gratitude on their lips. "The comments were all very similar," he said. "They felt the full impact of these hymns and it touched their souls. It was a precious time for me to see this reaction."

The church is a body, and each of us has our part to play. Yesterday's service was a demonstration of what happens when we do our part. We honor God and we bless each other.

We even bless the visitors among us!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I See Jesus

The "I See Jesus" box.

There's a box in the staff room of Chinook Village called the I See Jesus Box. If a staff member of Special Friends Camp does something that resembles Christ, demonstrating his love and compassion, you can drop a note into the box to let them know you appreciate it.

For you, the staff and volunteers this week at Warm Beach Camp's Special Friends Camp, this post is my contribution to the I See Jesus Box.

There are just a few of us older workers this week (a handful of staff and a few volunteers). In our conversations, the topic that comes up most among us is YOU -- you college kids who are on summer staff at Warm Beach, earning a little money toward your school expenses, and you teens who are too young to get paid but who have given your week (or perhaps even your summer) to serve as buddies at Special Friends Camp. When we speak of you, there is awe in our voices, and a sense of privilege for being able to work alongside you.

You get up early and start your day. It's 7:00 as I write this and you are already gathered together for staff devotions. You will stay intensely busy till the last camper has gone home at 5:00, when you'll go into a staff meeting. Then there's chapel tonight at 9. You must be so tired. Yet not once this week have I seen one of you respond out of your tiredness. No harsh words. No disrespect.

Some of you had never before worked with people who live with special needs. But you came anyway.
Others of you came with experience. Your sister or your cousin or your friend -- or maybe even you -- have special needs and that has prepared your heart to serve others. You want to do something with your life that will involve caring for people who are vulnerable, and after watching you this week I know you will do it with great respect. You are getting lots of practice at Special Friends Camp.

At chapel in the trees at Chinook.

 You have wiped noses and bottoms, have pulled wet swim suits off wet bodies, have walked with your arm through your buddy's to keep him or her from falling over. You've pushed wheel chairs and walkers and gently lifted your friend onto the toilet. You've listened to music, tapped out the song's beat on a balloon (for hours on end), and kept the "runners" from dashing away. And every time I've watched one of you do that, I've seen Jesus.

You chose names for yourself like Butterfly, Bro, Joyful, Outburst, Rainbow, Mermaid, Lyric, Sweet Pea, Ninja, Strider, Beats, and Treble, names that match your personality or your interests. As the week has unfolded I have learned some of your real names and discovered that I have known your family members for years. I look at you again and see those loved ones in your faces and in your hearts of service. And I am blessed to have met you.

I have watched as the nap crowd goes to the meeting room of the longhouse after lunch and you gently help them lie down on the floor and cover them with a blanket. You turn off the lights and make them comfortable, keeping vigil over them until they are ready for the afternoon program. Your tenderness astounds me.

There was always a buddy holding an umbrella for this camper when we were in the sun.

You are quick to volunteer. When I need to use the restroom it is easy to find someone who will keep an eye on my camper for me. And when I get back I find that another of you has gladly filled her water bottle for her and someone else has transferred her beading project to a longer piece of cord so that her bracelet will fit her better. I was just gone a few minutes, yet she wasn't alone.

I marvel at you, Impact, ready in a heartbeat to sign into the hands of the two deaf-blind women. "How did you learn sign language?" I asked. You told me that you took it as your language credit. "At the last camp, when they needed someone to communicate with a deaf-blind camper I called my mom to ask her how to do it. She told me to just make the signs into the person's hand. So I did. I love doing this!" And you, just starting your junior year in high school.

A little boost and a word of encouragement as the camper scaled the climbing tower.

You do whatever you are asked. You love on these campers as if that is the only thing that matters in your life. You adapt to their needs. You teach me how to pay attention, how to give, how to love.

This mama heart, and the hearts of the other -- what shall I say? "older?" "more mature?" -- staff are blown away by the beauty we have witnessed this week as we have watched you just doing what was placed before you. I do not worry about the future of the church when I see young people like you and know that, by God's grace, one day you will be the leaders.

I have seen Jesus in you this week. I couldn't have been more blessed.

You guys are great!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

As I washed my hands at Fred Meyer last Saturday evening, I turned to the woman at the sink beside me and said, "Have you had a good day?" Her response, instant and filled with conviction, was, "Yes! I have so much to praise the Lord for!"

That is the attitude that I would like to cultivate in my own life. How about you?

We are told in Psalm 103 to "praise the Lord...and forget not all his benefits." Why don't you make a list today of some of the benefits God has bestowed on you. Here are a just few of mine.

- fresh greens from the garden for my lunch today
- a quiet, warm house to wake up in
- sunshine, but not too hot
- beautiful new friends at Special Friends Camp
- grace to cover all my sins
- a God who understands us
- a husband who brings me great joy
- electricity
- Special Friends Camp staff who love what they are doing
- a car that runs, and gas to get where I need to go

Monday, August 5, 2013

Repairing Unraveling Relationships

Are you struggling in a relationship, sensing it unravel but not sure what to do about it? It might be with your spouse or co-worker -- someone who is very much a part of your everyday life -- or with someone in a casual friendship that is having trouble really progressing.

Chances are good that communication is at the heart of the problem.

Here are three things to consider that will help you restore a healthy relationship. They are not difficult -- but neither are they easy. They will require something of you, but then that is an essential ingredient in a strong relationship. Are you up to it? If so, read on.

Stop -- Stop needing to be right all the time. Sometimes our need to be right overrides our ability to let something go. There are many things in life that are important to be right about: what time the school bus comes in the morning; the location of the concert you plan to attend; the cell number of the babysitter; the name of the cross streets of the hospital where your parent has been rushed! But there are far more things in life that don't much matter whether or not you are the one with the right answer. If you know the war between the those guys and the other ones started in 1931 and your friend insists it started in 1929, let it go. You don't have to be right. Even if it is something of greater consequence, it still may not be important for you to have the last word. Give your friend a chance to be right once in a while!

If there's tension in a relationship, perhaps it is because pride has insisted that it matters who is right. It's time to stop worrying about it.

Look -- Look at the other person and really see him or her. Look at the situation from his/her point of view. Think about the person's background, life experiences, and unique qualities.  Get to really know your friend (or spouse!); chances are you will find that person to be much more interesting than you thought. It will be easier for you to identify the source of the conflict if you are really seeing and accepting the other person and giving him or her the freedom to be open and real with you. This creates a healthier environment for the relationship to flourish, and both parties will be enriched because of it.

Listen -- Pay attention. Don't interrupt. Let your friend complete a thought before you devise your retort! If you focus on the other person and listen with your ears, mind, and eyes; if you listen with your body relaxed; if you listen without being threatened; if you listen with the desire of one friend truly wanting to know the other -- I am pretty sure you will develop strong relationships.

The apostle Paul gets the final word here: Be friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (Romans 12:10, The Message)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Arboretum Outing

Tom's cousin, Kristine, and her husband, Daniel, were in town a few days ago. We hadn't seen Kristine since she was 13, so we were delighted when she contacted us and asked if we could get together on Friday afternoon. We settled on an outing to the Washington Park Arboretum, an amazing botanical garden on the shores of Lake Washington. Its 230 acres feature a wide variety of plants, hiking trails, waterways for canoeing, a ball field, and a Japanese Garden, along with the Graham Visitor Center, which houses an information desk, a gift shop and an auditorium. While we were there the patio of the visitor center was being set up for a wedding.
Tom at Visitor Center
We walked through the park, along trails through old native plants, stands of tall, stately trees, through areas of families of trees (such as magnolia, larches, and walnut) and through the woodland garden. The hydrangea were just beginning to bloom.

View of Seattle from the park
In the middle of the park we had stopped to look around when someone pointed out an owl in a tree. His mouth was opening and closing and his head bobbed as he ate. He saw us, even looked us in the eyes, but he seemed undisturbed by our presence. We watched him for quite a while, then, suddenly, he stretched out his wings and drifted to the ground landing perhaps ten feet from us! He landed on his belly, as if he was pouncing on a mouse,  his wings still outstretched, and lay flat. Sometimes he'd turn his head around or stretch it way back, so that you could see only feathers and not his face. He sunned himself for perhaps five minutes. As quickly as he had touched down, he flew back to his branch.

When we arrived at the Japanese Garden at the far end of the park -- our destination -- we found that it had closed early for a fundraiser dinner!  So we continued on to a lovely pond and sat beside it to rest a while.

We said our good-byes at QFC at University Village where we had gone to purchase -- what else? -- chocolate! Every good trip deserves chocolate!

* * * * *
Here is a map of the Arboretum. Why not check out this gem of a park. Wear good walking shoes!