Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Scones! Day 19: Countdown from Malmo to Idaho

Alas!  There are no photos to demonstrate what a hot, sunny, muggy day it was in Malmo.  But the seashore, the promenade, and the huge park near where we live filled up with people wearing as little as possible to stay cool and soak up the sun.  It was a nightmare to drive a car through carefree bicyclists, hand holding walkers, mother's with prams (huge sleeping strollers) and groups of children on field trips just to pick my son up from school.

At one point, after my laundry and housework was finished, I joined the throngs for a 15 minute walk.  Every tiny daisy in the vast grassy area poised for the sun, dogs rollicked in and out of the sea, people sunned themselves, read books, ate a picnic, or made out.  There was plenty of room for everyone.  The sea sparkled nearby and the Oresund Bridge fuzzed like a mirage in the distance. This is not (yet) like one of those beaches packed like seals with sunbathers.  They tell me it gets like that, but I've never been around during the heat of summer.

Just before picking my son up from school, I met a friend for a little while.  We viewed an area across town recently built up with new apartments and a new spa.  I had not eaten lunch, except for a banana, but after awhile, she opened up a bag to reveal that she brought her freshly homemade scones, lusciously lathered in butter and cheese, along with homemade juice from the elderberry flower.  They hit the spot on this beautiful, warm day.

You can probably guess that having a friend who brings fresh scones and juice is one of those things that makes a sunny day even brighter!

"The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
   the world, and all who live in it;
 for he founded it upon the seas
   and established it upon the waters."
Psalm 24:1-2

Monday, May 30, 2011

Color and Coffee! 20 Days: Countdown from Malmo to Idaho

  I hate going grocery shopping so much that when I discovered we were out of sugar, I opted to scrape sugar cubes together to get the effect I wanted on the top of another rhubarb pie.  See the crumby mess I made?  Oh, but I digress.  This is not about my hates!

See this cup and saucer?  This is the very thing that got me started wanting to share with you what makes me happy.   It is an old IKEA design, but I bought two of these at a thrift store and they have been making me happy since.  The rest of my mugs are plain white.  My fancy china cups (which also make me happy and were purchased at a thrift store) are white with gold rims.  So when I want to brighten my day or invite someone over for tea, I use these cups.  Inevitably, they are enjoyed by the other person, too.  They are big enough for a cup and a half of tea or coffee, which is just long enough to share stories about the day. Combine drinking something warm out of these cups and Bible Study or prayer and it's an even happier event!

It is common to meet someone for coffee at a konditori (sweet bakery) or cafe' in Sweden. But coffee or tea with someone in their own home is most special.  Most women have special cups to share for one-on-one fika (tea time).  During the art round, one of the homes I stopped to look at art also offered fika at the kitchen table.  There were quite a few of us around that table and it made us enjoy time with such a generous artist that much more!

Here's to what brightens your life, warms your heart and makes you happy in simple ways.  (Clink)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Daughters and True Friends! Day 21: Countdown Malmo to Idaho

My countdown is messed up because I accidentally skipped Saturday.  Saturday was the birthday of my beautiful second daughter.  She is definitely someone I am happy to know and love.  We sang to her just minutes into her birthday.

Saturday I was extremely weary from the day before and Phil had me packing things up for moving out of this apartment near the sea (the owners come back in August).  The longer I packed, the sadder I became.  I realized I kind of liked it here, that I haven't yet done everything there is to do here so that my work went slower and slower the bluer I got.

After packing and delivering the boxes to some kindly friends' house, we watched "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks.  It felt all too possible for those of us who have spent layovers in the airport. I wasn't sure if it lightened my mood or not.

Oh, and it was pouring rain outside (as it is now, on Sunday).

We decided to go for a walk in the rain.  We weren't prepared for how soaked and cold we would get, walking in the rain along the sea.  But we walked, anyway.

Hunter collected rocks from the sand that reminded him of gold so that he proceeded to ask every question about recognizing, mining, selling and finding gold he could think of until we were weary of the whole subject.  We told him he needed to check out a book on the subject if he was so interested in it.

We tried entering one restaurant for a quick dessert only to discover everyone was dressed as if for a wedding surrounding a table piled with gifts.  We looked like drenched monks in our rain coats, so we turned back down a long pier toward shore where we found another restaurant.  By the time we entered, Phil had accepted the prospect of having to pay for a shared dessert, but was surprised when I said I wanted a steak.

Mind you, this was nearly nine in the evening (not dark yet except for the rain).

We shared a steak, dessert and some deep conversation, paid the bill then walked a different route home than along the sea shore.  This tree-lined path was full of the perfume from said flowering trees.  We wound our way around goose-poop mines.  By the time we got home, we were all tired enough to sleep, so I neglected to write.

Today started sunny but cool turning to rain.  We had a great service with Pastor Terry preaching, then came home to prepare for dinner with our friends and their baby boy.

We never ran out of things to talk about.  We ate until we were stuffed. Time with true friends in Sweden makes me very happy, because it reminds us we are not alone in this world--or stuck in an airport!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rich Mullins and the Zoo, Day 23: Countdown from Malmo to Idaho

A bus load of 2nd Graders on the way to the Skane Djurpark (Zoo), my kiddo included.

Momma Bear and three nursing cubs

Wind turbines in a field of "Raps"

Hmmm.  Today I have to pick between a bus-load of 2nd Graders, bears (and other northern animals), fields of yellow "Raps," and the devotional book I've been reading.

But I would have to say that the book I picked up for my smartphone kindle application, "Rich Mullins:  A Devotional Biography: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven," makes me happiest.  That I was on the bus with 2nd Graders on the way to see a zoo-full of northern animals with raps fields passing along the way adds to the joy of reading such a book.

Favorite quote from the book:
God has called us to be lovers and we frequently think that He meant us to be saviors.  Se we "love" as long as we see "results."  We give of ourselves as long as our investments pay off, but if the ones we love do not respond, we tend to despair and blame ourselves and even resent those we pretend to love.   Because we love someone, we want them to be free of addictions, of sin, of self--and that is as it should be.  But it might be that our love for them and our desire for their well-being will not make them well.  And, if that is the case, their lack of response no more negates the reality of love than their quickness to respond would confirm it.
 The song Rich Mullins wrote to demonstrate this was "Brother's Keeper."

Now the plumber's got a drip in his spigot
The mechanic's got a clank in his car
And the preacher's thinking thoughts that are wicked
And the lover's got a lonely heart
My friends aint' the way I wish they were
They are just the way they are
I will be my brother's keeper/ Not the one who judges him/I won't depise him for his weakness
I won't regard him for his strength/ I won't take away his freedom/ I will help him learn to stand
And I will, I will be my brother's keeper
 Now this roof has got a few missing shingles
But at least we got ourselves a roof
And they say that she's a fallen angel
I wonder if she recalls when she last flew
There's no point in pointing fingers
Unless you're pointing to the truth

Got me thinking.  Puts me in an uncomfortable place--because I haven't been so loving always, if ever.  Lord have mercy on me!  But knowing I've got a ways to go, the Lord to help me, and good books to make me thoughtful makes me very happy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

RHUBARB PIE Day 24: Countdown from Malmo to Idaho

It has been a busy day.  I'm a class representative for my son's class and tomorrow is the big Spring Family Festival.  Each class must host a game booth for children to play complete with prizes.  I've been staying up too late and bombarded with e-mails and people approaching me in the school yard trying to organize our booth.  It's coming together nicely, however!

Then there was tea with a friend at the coffee shop across from the school.  She asked, "Why did God suddenly want to kill Moses?  I don't get it."  She found one of those "troubling passages," as my husband calls them.

I made a yummy lunch for my friends who are sisters from Hollviken.  We liked the berries and yogurt for dessert.

In the evening, our little family looked at houses for sale in the country.  It is fun to see how houses are built and decorated in Sweden.

All these things make me happy.

But today, what makes me happiest is having two huge rhubarb pies finished for the festival after ALL THAT, and it's only 11:30 pm!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dad and Family: 25 Days Left in Malmo, Sweden Before Summer in Idaho, USA

Consider this a little like a journal of gratitude, only it's a blog and I'm so many days from my last post and only 25 days before I'll be too busy to post.  The next 25 days, I want to tell you something that makes me happy.  You never know what it will be.

I might as well start with my family.  Above is a photo of my family at my Grandparents' most recent anniversary--70 years.  You can see them in the front with me, my son and my cousin.  A few important family members are missing (including my husband and oldest daughter), but my family is a blessing to me.  It would take me hours to tell you about each one and what he or she means to me--what special moments we have shared--so I won't attempt it for now.

It is a blessing to have grandparents who consider the covenant of marriage so valuable that they are still married, even though Grandmother has suffered severe memory loss for quite a few years, now.

I'm grateful my parents value marriage, too.  They will be married 48 years next month!

Today, I would like to highlight my Dad.

Last week, my Father got older (catching up with my mother).  It used to be that I had to keep track of my dad's age for him because he could never remember.  But I've caught the disease of forgetfulness such that he got older than I expected while I have been exploring Northern Europe.  It hit me just today how much I value him and how much more I hope to learn from him before he gets too old to teach me (or I become too forgetful to be taught!).

Dad is the one in the center above my grandmother.  People know him as a faithful pastor, teacher and counselor, committed to Jesus Christ, the Bible and the Church of the Nazarene. He stands in the picture next to his brother and wife, my mother, and his parents, who have all supported him, kept him in check, teased him, and even worked with him in the church.  I can't imagine life without the Hunter family as well as my mother's family, the Browns!

Dad makes me happy (most times--he can make me really angry, too).  I cut my teeth on his preaching, learning a great deal from his insights and love of Scripture. As a young girl, I learned to read, standing beside him during morning devotions, while he pointed out the words he read from the Bible.  Call me spoiled, because such training taught me to love words and great literature--to seek out the truth in what is read.

Dad was the one to help me learn to ride a bike, his old vespa, built my brother a lawn-mower-engine go cart, and make sure we had the best sled run for Christmas (as long as it wasn't where he needed to drive).  He worked my brother and I hard, expected us to work beside him at home and at church, then played hard with us when he was "on vacation."

Some may know Dad to be the tinker he is.  That is not a typo,--though he is also a great thinker--he loves to tinker with mechanical things, especially old Ford's and Chevy's.  When I was a senior in high school, he helped me tear apart and put back together a beautiful old Chevy truck.  In the end, I couldn't reach the pedals to double clutch and see out the windshield at the same time, but it sure was an education and a bonding between my dad, my brother and me!  Almost as long as I can remember, Dad has used his day off--the day after Sunday--to work on cars or some other mechanical thing.

Some others may know my dad is a small aircraft pilot (I'm aware that my Grandfather and Uncle have been all or most of these things, too, but I'm highlighting my dad). We spent many hours back and forth between Grand Coulee and Spokane, Washington, so I could get adjustments on my braces and he could attend meetings.  I had motion sickness so badly that I memorized or quoted scripture for quizzing just to keep my mind off of the turbulance.  We also had our birds and bees conversation up there.  Not sure I heard everything perfectly over the roar of the propeller and the noise of the radio, but I was proud of Dad for attempting the conversation even if he needed it to be couched in so much noise.

One of my favorite things to do is get my dad all to myself so we can talk about our lives, our work, our faults, our ideas and insights.  I love how he sometimes opens up to me about himself and becomes a person just like me.  Sometimes he is so insightful, so intelligent and so belligerent (Wait! Did I say that?), that I tend to put him in a different category than human like me.  But when we get some one on one time, he shares his heart with me and I feel honored all the more to be his daughter and friend.

We asked Dad to come visit us in Sweden, along with my brother, last year about this time.  We wore him out walking him around some of our favorite sights, had him busy repairing things around the house, and made him teach a seminar and do a radio program.  It was fun to share my dad with my friends overseas.

Just the other day, Dad told me he was putting a different engine in our old lawn mower so it would be usable when we got back home.  Good ol' dad.  That really is the way to put it.  He still has so many things to do that I feel it a privilege that he shows me he loves me the ways he does.

When I was younger, I asked Dad why he didn't say, "I love you."  He still doesn't.  He said, "I put a roof over your head, pay the dentist bill, pay for groceries and you'll just have to accept the way I say 'I love you.'"  It kind of bugged me that he said it that way, but it doesn't take a psychologist to see that he sure does show it to us kids and our children.  His 'I love you's' happen most often in the garage, under the hood of one of our limping vehicles.  If you stand out there and watch, he'll hand you a wrench or a flashlight and some great learning and conversation happens out there.

Then the phone will ring and he'll be counseling, or hurrying off to see someone at the hospital, or he'll need to read several papers from the on-line classes he teaches.  Then Mom gets to visit us in the house without any interruptions or competition.  (smile)

So, Happy Birthday, Dad.  Have many more birthdays.  Happy Father's Day while I'm at it.  You taught me well--no use wasting all those sentimental words all over the calendar!

Mom, you'll be featured, too, but you never know when!