Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy Anniversary!

The picture on the left was taken May 24, 1975. I won't make you do math in public. That's 40 years ago. Wow!! It seems like it was only yesterday--until I look in the mirror.  :)  A few more gray hairs and wrinkles remind me it's been a long ride. And what an adventure it's been.

We left our home town of Texas City (we met in high school) a week after we married, and we have not lived any closer than an eight hour drive since then. We've lived in Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and Germany. We've visited almost 30 of the states and 6 countries together. Tommy's been to a few I missed, and I've been to a few he's missed. What wonderful memories. I am so thankful for the opportunities we've had to see the world. And for the friends we've made along the way. Our Christmas card list includes addresses from 11 states.

We've both had jobs we loved. Tommy reported for active duty with the Air Force June 1, 1975. He served 13 years active duty, then left the Air Force to take a job with Delta. A year later he entered the Air Force Reserves. For the next nine years he worked for Delta and the Reserves. He retired from the Reserves in 1998. We loved living a military life. He will retire from Delta in two years. I worked clerical jobs until 1991 when I became the Director of Business Services for the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. Full-time Christian ministry was a blessing. I down-sized to a part time position 14 years later with the Salt Lake Baptist Association. Same job responsibilites on a smaller scale. Three years ago I retired and am living a "life of leisure."  :)

Family changed. Lindsay arrived in 1981 followed by Matt in 1984. Life was busy! Balancing career and family, sleepless nights, chasing toddlers, school, homework, ball games, band concerts, cheer competitions, driving lessons, college applications, graduations.....and the nest was empty. Quiet times with just the two of us again. Matt's beautiful wife, Amber, became a Ward in 2008. And we earned the titles of Nana and Papa when Carter and Charlie came long in 2011 and 2014. There's been sadness along the way as well. All of our parents and grandparents are gone now along with many aunts and uncles and a very special nephew.

The best thing about our marriage is that it has been Christ-centered. Both of us came into the marriage with the mindset that worshipping and serving God is crucial to a relationship. That does not mean there haven't been ups and downs. Or challenges. Or stressful days. Or hurt. Or regret. But, in those times, we looked back at our Ebenezer's--those times God had helped us. 1 Samuel 7:12, "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'"  Our God is faithful. He never changes. If He has carried us through difficult times in the past, He will do so again. And we draw strength and comfort from God's promises to the Philippians in chapter 1. "...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ..." (6, 9-10) Looking back over our lives or forward to what will be, we have confidence that we can handle anything with God as our center.

I am so grateful for these 40 years with Tommy.  Here's to many more!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No Regrets--But a Question

Last week marked two years since I became a Grandma (aka GaGa). What a  blessing! Friends tell you how much fun it is, but you really don't understand until you experience it firsthand. Carter makes me laugh so much. And, at two, the new things he says and does come fast and furious. And, I'm pretty sure he's the cutest baby in the world!

The downside is Carter doesn't live nearby. He's a 12-hour drive or a ninety minute flight away. (As are his mom and dad--my son and daughter-in-law.) His Auntie Lindsay lives the same distance away but in the opposite direction.

Thank goodness for today's technology! FaceTime (or Skype for non-Apple people) allows me to see and talk with the kids and grandkids (number 2 is due in February) any time I want at no cost. Last year, we even opened Christmas presents with one family member participating via FaceTime. More than likely, we'll all be in different states this year but we'll be "together" to watch everyone open gifts. Text messages fly back and forth almost daily with photos of the latest antics. And don't forget the blessing of digital photos. No need to wait and wonder if the picture you just took looks decent. Just snap as many as you'd like and delete the ones with the blurry faces.

Free long distance via cell phones means there is no need to watch the clock while talking or forgetting something you wanted to say because you were rushing through the call. Just last night, Tommy and I spent an hour and twenty minutes talking with Lindsay about her recent trip to Florida to run a half marathon followed by six days of visiting amusement parks. She had a blast and knocked 30 minutes off her January run time.

I say all that to say this. We moved away from home a week after we married to begin Tommy's military career and have never lived closer than eight hours to home since then. When Lindsay was four and Matt was almost one, we moved to Germany for three years. This was in 1985 when not everyone had computers, there was no email, international phone calls were super expensive, and coming home was not an option. Our life has been blessed and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Even though it was hard to be away from home for birthday parties or holidays or just stopping by for dinner, I have no regrets about moving away. There have been many other blessings--friends all over the country, opportunities to see the world, and an opening of minds to other cultures to name a few.

But, now the roles are reversed. My kids are the ones who have moved away. And, it gives me a new perspective on how my mother felt when my kids were little and we lived so far away. She missed those first words and steps, seeing the excitement when a grandchild opened a present, the opportunity for us to chat, etc. And, one question haunts me. Did I do enough to keep her (and my dad and siblings) connected with our family? There's nothing I can do to change anything about it now and won't beat myself up over it. But my guess is probably not.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cricket Calls

My dad used to tease me about being a 20th century girl.  He asked me once if I would have had children without all the modern conveniences like disposable diapers and canned formula.  If feeding my family depended on my gardening/canning skills, we would starve.  A farm girl I am not!  God knew exactly what He was doing (imagine that) having me born in 1954.

But there is one thing related to farming that I enjoy.  The changing of the seasons.  There's something about prepping for the coming season--especially fall--that makes me feel like a pioneer.  Though obviously on a much smaller level.  Moving the patio furniture into the shed and the barbecue pit into the garage, raking leaves, pulling the last of the petunias and tilling the flower bed, raking leaves, cutting back the clematis vine, raking leaves.  We have a LOT of trees at our house.  Getting theses tasks done helps me feel prepared for the coming winter.  Self-actualization at it's best.

Watching the changing seasons also reminds me of what an awesome God we serve.  The preciseness of how things happen is amazing and makes me wonder how someone can see such things and not believe there is a God.  (I'm finally getting to the crickets of the title.)  Every year during the last week of July, crickets begin to sing my backyard.  At least we believe it's crickets.  We've never seen a single cricket, but that is what it sounds like.  My neighbor told me once they were tree frogs, but it's awfully dry in Utah for an amphibian.  Whatever it is, they start at dusk and sing all night long.  I wish there was a way to record it for you to hear.  They are really loud!  But, it is such a pleasant sound.  A sound associated with the end of summer.  They will be here singing until early September.  And, just as suddenly as they came, they're gone.  We won't hear them until the last week of July next year.  You can set your clock by it.

Isn't God good?  Just like He promised Noah in Genesis 8:22 after the flood, "as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Speaking Starbucks

I don't like coffee. Never have unless you count my mammaw's, which was as sweet as southern sweet tea and about 75% milk. Ironically, growing up it was my job to make the coffee in the morning. Pretty simple task really. I used a percolator. Put water in the pot, coffee in the basket, and plug it in. Folger's was the brand of choice in the Pope household.

In the "olden days" people made their coffee at home. Picking up coffee on the way to work didn't happen often. When it did, it meant stopping in at the 7-Eleven and buying a cup that probably had been sitting there for a while. Strong stuff to be sure.

Knowing all this means you can understand how overwhelmed I feel in a Starbucks. What's a barista? (Italian for bartender) What size is venti, small...medium...large? Caramel, vanilla, mocha; dark roast, medium roast; Jamaica Blue Mountain, Panama Paso Ancho? Do I want a shot of something in my beverage? Do I want nonfat, whipped cream, an espresso, a latte? Evidently, you can even order hot drinks by temperature. All of this comes at you in rapid staccato at full volume with lots of impatient people waiting in line behind you. It makes me want to run screaming from the place.

Why go to Starbucks you ask. My daughter lives in Seattle and has bought into the local trend that you must go into a Starbucks at least once a day, so we go there often when I visit. Ironically, she also doesn't like coffee. But evidently you can still be a true Seattleite if you have tea or raspberry hot chocolate in your Starbucks cup. She is so patient to walk me through everything each time we go in. Last week, I did it all by myself--a tall, nonfat hot chocolate with a shot of raspberry, hold the whipped cream! She was so proud.

Wait! Wasn't it just yesterday that I heard, "my do it, mommy," and was so proud when she got the hang of drinking from a sippy cup?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Metaphorically Speaking...

You might be surprised to learn that I am a bit of a "Trekkie." Mostly for self-preservation. It was either learn to enjoy the episodes or watch television by myself, since Tommy has been a huge fan since college. He actually used to schedule classes so that he could be home in time to watch the original Star Trek episodes. After all, you never knew what alien creature Captain James T. Kirk was going to battle in order to save the Federation.

Dathon and Picard
One of his favorite episodes is actually from Star Trek, The Next Generation. "Darmok" aired September 30, 1991 (Stardate 45047.2). In that episode, Captain Jean Luc Picard and his crew meet with an alien race known as the Children of Tama. Although the ship's translators could make their words comprehensible, their speech wasn't, because it was entirely structured around metaphor and allusions to their myths. Noting this, the Tamarian Captain Dathon kidnapped Picard and marooned them both on a world where they could face a common enemy. Over the course of their struggles, Picard was able to learn and understand the Tamarian language, paving the way towards greater understanding between the Tamarians and the Federation.

I, however, thought it was dumb. Nobody speaks that way was my argument. Then I thought about phrases our family uses that no one else would understand and realized the premise isn't as dumb as I originally thought. Yes, I was wrong. If I said to you, "don't do a McDonald's job," or "let's eat at 'ney's," or "the drum room," or "wake up; do math" you probably wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about. But, Lindsay or Matt or Tommy or I would know exactly what I meant.

We do bring our experiences, history, personalities, and culture into our communication. And, that's a good thing.  It brings us closer when we remember how those metaphors came to be.  What about you?  Any metaphors your family uses?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"For I know the plans I have for you...

In my last post, I mentioned my March 31 retirement and promised a bit more on that. Four months isn't too long to wait to fulfill a promise, is it? Both retirement and this summer's 40-year high school reunion offered me opportunity for reflection. How in the world did I get from leaving Texas City High School in 1972 to retiring in Utah in 2012?

When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to attend college. But, I really didn't have a particular field of study in mind. Business? Education? Nursing? I'd like to say that I spent much time in prayer over what to do. However, I don't remember doing that. Just sort of filled out college applications and decided on business as a major. Then I changed schools and majors. Still not much prayer involved. This time it was journalism. That decision was driven primarily by Tommy, my then boyfriend and now husband. He was attending the University of Texas, so I transferred there. And he thought business wasn't the best major, so I switched to journalism. I was editor of my high school newspaper, so this wasn't completely ridiculous. I graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1975, two weeks before I married Tommy and we reported for his first Air Force assignment to Del Rio, Texas. And the journalism degree got put on the back burner. No newspaper or TV station there.

We moved to Utah in 1980, and I went to work as a secretary in a local college. The Air Force took us to Germany for three years and back to Utah in 1988, where I returned to the same college as a secretary in a different department. I loved both those jobs and was content. Then, out of the blue, I was offered a job with the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention in September of 1990. My pastor and good friend had taken a job there earlier in the year, and he mentioned my journalism degree to the Executive Director of the convention. Turns out, the convention was in need of someone to edit the newspaper. I agonized over what to do. Made a pros and cons list. And turned down the job. I loved the job at the college and the people I worked for. But, the minute I hung up the phone, I knew saying no was a mistake. So, I called back and accepted the position.

For 19 years, I was blessed to work in Christian ministry, 12 years full-time with the state convention; and; after a short break, 7 years part-time with the Salt Lake Baptist Association. I did the same job in both places, Business Services Director and Editor of the paper. Fancy titles for paying the bills and putting together a newsletter.  All because of a journalism degree I thought I'd never use.

UISBC and SLBA coworkers

God knew how to get me from high school to retirement. Even when I was too self-absorbed to ask, God directed every step to bring me to exactly where He wanted me to be. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for us. I am so thankful that He guided me to mine. And grew my faith. And blessed me beyond measure.

I can't wait to see what He has in store for me in retirement!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Sweet Husband

March was a CRAZY, BUSY month.  I retired March 31 (more on that in later blogs).  My replacement started March 12 so she could have some one-on-one training before I left.  Being the OCD person I am, I wanted everything to be perfect for her. And, yes I realize that is impossible; but I still wanted her to have the best experience possible in the start of her new job.  So, I put together a handbook of instructions.  Being the procrastinator I am, I didn't start this until late February.  Get the picture?  Working in the office six hours a day--then coming home and spending four to five hours creating pages for this handbook.  That didn't leave much time for anything else.

Here's where my sweet husband comes in.  He never uttered a word of complaint about having to eat dinner out most nights or having to eat leftovers.  He ignored the ever growing stack of laundry and even washed a few loads for me.  He endured an unkempt home.  And spent nights watching TV alone while I was in my basement office typing away.  All this was plenty to earn him kudos in my book, but it gets better.

I came home one day to discover that he had put out all my Easter decorations and even set the table with an Easter theme.  I was so touched.  (But I did also have a moment of "who are you and what did you do with Tommy.")

A couple of days later I came home and he had gone to Pottery Barn and purchased spring covers for our throw pillows, gone to Pier One and purchased forsythia branches and a beautiful vase to showcase them, and decorated the living room for spring.  I think I'll keep this guy around.

The following week he went to the grocery store (partially for self-preservation).  He bought cheese for himself.  I don't like cheese, so it doesn't bother me if we run out. But he also bought fresh fruit, which I love, and things to make sandwiches and drinks and chocolate.  I'll DEFINITELY keep him around.

I'm bragging to my friends and coworkers about how sweet he is and how much I appreciate what he's doing for me.  Here's the kicker.  The last special sweet thing.

The morning of my party, Tommy told me he was going to the shooting range with a friend from church.  I stayed home and did a bit of cleaning.  A little while later, the doorbell rang.  As I came downstairs to answer it, I could hear a baby crying and wondered who was at my door with a baby.  I opened the door--and there was my grandson, Carter, sitting on the step in his car seat!  Tommy had gone to the airport to get the kids.  He and they were sitting in the car at the street filming my reaction to finding Carter at my door.  Of course, it was tears of joy.

Unbeknownst to me, my boss had arranged for my kids to fly in and attend my retirement party.  Tommy knew I would want the house to be nice for company coming.  All my friends and coworkers knew this and understood why he'd been so sweet all month.  And no one spilled the beans!  Not to imply he isn't sweet all the time.  But this was really special.  I love this man.