BakerĀ 

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This is my sweet friend Melanie.  She and her husband Matt joined Andy and I on a Mt. Baker climb over the weekend and we had a blast.  They had us in stitches all weekend and kept us from taking ourselves too seriously.

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Favorite moments included the snow “love-seat” they dug out, the freeze-dried chocolate cheesecake and the back-seat DJ’ing in the car.

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At one point Melanie asked,  “Do you feel like you learn life lessons when you climb?”

It was hour ten of our Mt. Baker climb and I was doing all I could to make it back to the car without biting someone’s head off.

She continued in her sing-song voice, “I feel like climbing teaches me perseverance.”

If I would have said that it would be obvious.  From Melanie, who was climbing with a torn ACL it was encouraging and challenging.  Always the optimist, she had pushed through the climb without complaining once.  Slow and steady, she had made it to the summit and back without injury.

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Way to go Mel!  Here’s to many more summits ahead!

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khushi lagyo

 

grandmas

We have been back from Nepal for a couple of weeks now and the stories behind the faces on my pictures are starting to fade. But there is one story that I think will stick with me for the rest of my life, the story of the two grandmas I met working on their farm.

As I walked up with my interpreter, they were bent over grinding up pumpkin seeds for pickles.  We chatted a bit and a younger woman brought over some stools for us to sit on before wandering off to finish some work.  We sat chatting with the women, learning about their lives.  Soon they asked:

The Sisters: “Why have you come?”

Me: “I have come to tell you about a man who has changed my life.  His name is Jesus.  Have you heard of Him?”

“We have some family who are Christians but we do not know much.”

“Would you mind if I told you His story?”

“That would be okay.”

“In order to give the full story, I have to start in the beginning when God created the world.  In it He placed a man and a woman.  He walked with them in the earth and talked with them every day.  They were friends.  One day they disobeyed God’s instructions not to eat of the tree in the center of the garden.  Because of this God told them that they must be separated from Him forever.”

“When you think of God, do you think of Him as a friend?  Or does He seem far away?”

“Our lives are hell and when we die we are going to hell but if there is another way, we would love to hear it.”

Their response blew my mind.  They were starving for a relationship with God and had lived over eighty years without knowing how much He loves them.

Over the next few minutes, I was able to tell them how God loved them so much that He sent His own Son Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.  They understood this well since animal sacrifice is still practiced in Nepal.  I explained how God wants to have a close relationship with them and that through Jesus they could know God.

They spent some time thinking on this new information before responding. Then quietly one sister answered for them both.

“This is great news and we would like to accept what you are saying.  But we are very old and if we become Christians our family will reject us. Who will take care of us?”

They were not exaggerating.  Many Christians face rejection from their families and friends when they start following Jesus.  Here in America that means emotional pain.  In Nepal, it can mean being cut off from your water supply, the community bank and work force, medicine, and in the case of the vulnerable members of society, food, shelter and care.

With the help of my Nepali brother, I explained to them that Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd and He would not call them into His fold just to abandon them.  I further explained that Jesus commanded His followers to take care of those who are not able to care for Himself so we would ensure that the members of the local church would come and check on them.

We talked through a few more concerns together and then they finally said that they too wanted to follow Jesus.  We prayed together, thanking God for His love, sacrifice and His promise of eternity with Him.  Afterward they each gave me a hug with huge smiles on their faces.

I walked away, still working through my roller-coaster of emotions.  Saddened that they had each experienced over eighty years of life and hardship without knowing the God of love.  Humbled that I had the privilege of being a messenger of love to them. Concerned that they might be abandoned by their family.

And happy.  Happy because their happiness was contagious, so clearly evident in their eyes.  Eyes that had just been clouded with heaviness.

I used one of my Nepali phrases to express this to them before I left:  “Khushi lagyo”, which means, I am happy.

“Khushi lagyo.”

 

{Laura}

{goodbye Amber}

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I lost a friend today.

I met Amber just over a year ago when I was assigned to train her at work but our relationship was more than just coworkers.  She often called me her sister, though she couldn’t decide who was the older sister:  “I feel like you are my big sister because you are teaching me everything but then we start talking  and its like you are my little sister!”  After we had exhausted all the training she could handle for one night, we would spend the quiet hours of graveyard talking about everything from politics to our love stories.

She had a fierce love for her husband Ryan, somehow being both proud and protective of him at the same time.  She had seen him through cancer treatment and he was her everything.  And she was crazy about her kids–her horses Attitude, Tucker, Pony and Baron, and her dog Pebbles.  They were the lights of her  life and the hardest part of getting sick for her was being away from them.

Amber reminded me to live, to laugh and to take life less seriously.  I am so honored that she allowed me into her life.  I felt like I was just getting to know her when she got sick, like our friendship was cut off by tragedy.  I will always remember the day we sat on her porch swing watching the horses graze and she told me, “Laura I am afraid.  I don’t want to leave Ryan alone.”

Somehow she knew that I have a hard time talking about my emotions but she could figure me out anyway.  If she were here she would ask me about it then make me laugh.  “It’s okay–we don’t have to talk about it–I’ll get some chocolate.”  Somehow I would know she understood and that would be enough.

Goodbye Amber, my sweet friend and big sister.  I will miss you.

 

{Laura}

happy mom’s day

If you have not met my mom, you are missing out.   She is an incredible woman and I would not be the person I am today without her.  Why?

My mom is incredibly real and she would be the first person to tell you that she is not perfect.  Over the years I saw her struggle with the social expectations around her–longing to be desired but hating the duplicity they required.  But its this quality that I appreciate most about my mom because it means I can come to her with any problem and know she will respond with patience and wisdom.  No judgement, just love and truth.

She gave up her career to raise and educate eight crazy kids. She traded in a profitable profession for cloth diapers, endless loads of laundry, lesson planning, late-night tears and pinching every penny.  I still remember the day she cried because her toddler put all five pairs of brand new shoes into the garbage.

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She has stood by my Dad for over 30 years in better and worse.  Through all the crazy health issues and work transitions, the good days and the bad, she made it clear that her marriage was a priority.  It has been awesome to see how God has changed their relationship and their hearts over the years.

Again, she doesn’t pretend to be a super-mom who figured it out magically on her own.  If you see her sometime, ask her about her it about it.  I know she will tell you great stories of God’s grace.

 

{Laura}

this week’s adventures

 

An afternoon barbecue that included friends new and old, good food and a little backyard z-pulley review

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A hike with a beautiful detour…

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…and a few waterfalls

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Relaxing with my beautiful friend and her sweet babies, sweet talks with the hubs and a dinner filled with laughter and camaraderie around how hard it is to live with a lack of sleep.  God spoils me with His kindness friends.

{Laura}

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working on nepali time

Me: “How far do we have to hike today?”

My Nepali friend/guide:  “Not too far.”

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“The car has broken down.  We must wait here.”

“How long do you think it will take?”

“Who knows?  We will just relax.”

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“Sister you take a rest here and then we will go.”

“How long?”

“Not so long.”

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Life in Nepal is slower–power, running water, maps and tow trucks were all luxuries I did not often encounter outside the city.  Add a culture and language barrier and it became clear to me that I would have to do away with the notion of controlling my time in Nepal.  Instead of using my skills (or smart phone) to find solutions to problems, I was forced to slow down and trust the friends guiding me.DSC02724

While this lack of control frustrated me at first, I grew to like it.  I found that the lack of information forced me back into the moment and deepened my friendships.  News, media and social media were all set aside and I was free to enjoy the sights and people around me.

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Me: “Hi, do you have a minute to talk?”

Nepali family working around their farm: “Please sit down!  Can we get you some tea?

 

I have learned to appreciate our information society and the gifts it brings.  But I hope I do not forget to put away the smart phone and appreciate the people in front of me.

 

{Laura}