Tuesday, August 31, 2010

i am a week away from my 41st wedding anniversary, and a few more days away from my 60th birthday.

mixed emotions. but i can tell you there will be no black color schemes.

excitement at being 60! what a landmark year this shall be! i decree it.

on the outside, i am a slightly overweight, slightly graying little short woman, with a bit of a hunch, lots of wrinkles creeping creeping, and a wardrobe that needs help.

on the inside, i am a fiery, passionate person who loves books, music, writing, and my family. i have a sense of adventure- there are so many things i still want to do- but i know realistically most of them are never going to happen.

a conflict there.

i can no longer do what i want to do.

my body just won't cooperate.

i can no longer travel easily due to back problems...i'm so much better than i was, but i need my OWN BED and my OWN PILLOW.

i can't sail anymore- used to be able to hold the tiller and wrestle that boat against the waves...elbows and wrists and shoulders no longer tolerate that kind of abuse.

i can't even play piano as i used to, although i'm improving...wore wrist braces for 2 years due to tendonitis from OVERPLAYING for so many years. but i am beginning tentatively to play again, during my little one's "music class" of our homeschooling program.

the good news is: there are many things i can still do.

i can cook. i can bake. i can create food out of weird things and almost nothing.

i can homeschool my little 4-year-old with much more patience and wisdom and creativity than i had 20 years ago.

i can wait more patiently for life to unfold and for things to resolve, rather than fretting and rushing in like the proverbial fool where angels fear to tread.

i can hold my tongue. sometimes. (what i mean is- to not say anything when i really WANT to)

i can dream in color- of what the future holds and above all, what ETERNITY holds. i've asked God for so many things in eternity- more chances to do some of the things i've never accomplished.

i can love my dear husband with grace and forgiveness and generosity . i'm not the impatient, demanding control freak i used to be. WELL OK, I'M BETTER.

i can love myself- i can look in the mirror and love the face and the body that have served me so well over the past 3/5ths of a century.

life at 60 is full of options. i probably have another 30 years to live, given the fantastic medical help available now and the fact that most of my family is long-lived.

in that 30 years, give or take, i have plans to do a lot of stuff. i'm grateful for the many blessings of this stage of life, these autumn years.

i'm excited about the future. i am me, and i am entering autumn, and it is good.

autumn is a glowing, bountiful, fruitful season...and as one prepares for the quiet stillness of winter, the peace and beauty of the fall season brings with it a ripeness, a gentleness, a glory that i look forward to.

here's to 60!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

thinking today of my friend lengh, who is alone now. her husband is in the other world- the better world!

I think that God is proud of those who bear
A sorrow bravely -- proud indeed of them
Who walk straight through the dark to find Him there,
And kneel in faith to touch His garment's hem.

Oh, proud of them who lift their heads to shake
Away the tears from eyes that have grown dim,
Who tighten quivering lips and turn to take
The only road they know that leads to Him.

How proud of them He must be -- He who knows
All sorrow, and how hard grief is to bear!
I think He sees them coming, and He goes
With outstretched arms and hands to meet them there,
And with a look, a touch on hand or head,
Each finds his hurt heart strangely comforted.

Grace Noll Crowell

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If thou couldst empty all thyself
of self,

Like to a shell dishabited,

Then might He find thee
on the Ocean shelf,

And say — "This is not dead," —

And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete
with very thou,

And hast such shrewd activity,

That, when He comes, He says —
"This is enow

Unto itself — 'Twere better let it be:

It is so small and full,

there is no room for Me."

Friday, August 27, 2010

a story from years ago during my counseling career...seems like a lifetime ago...

"Matt’s teddybear bulk sidled into my office and he whispered, “Haydee needs you…she’s freaking out.” I interrupted my conversation with my doctora friend and asked with an edge in my voice, “What happened?”

Haydee is a bipolar counselee of mine with whom I have been working for about 6 months. She’s had unstable periods before but I’ve never seen Matt with this kind of look on his face- he was the one who brought her to me when he realized his counseling skills were not up to dealing with this girl.

The story came out…she had left the house in her nightgown and slippers and was standing in the foyer of a church many kilometers from her house. She was wild, angry, screaming at him on the cell phone. He didn’t know what to do. Curiously enough, in a classic God-incidence, my doctora friend was right there and was willing to go with her son and daughter-in-law and fetch her and bring her to the church. Off they went, Matt’s face pale and his eyes filled with guarded trepidation…

An hour or so later they were back, Haydee in tow. Sweaty, disheveled, angry, ashamed, but her eyes flashing that manic look I had learned to recognize. We shepherded her into my pink office where she had spent so many hours praying, weeping, receiving healing, and being encouraged. This time was different. “I have faith! “ she declared. “The demons in my house are out to kill me, my family wants to kill me, I just need a place to sleep for a while and then I will declare that I am a new Haydee, no longer bipolar, but healed!” Doctora and I confronted her faulty logic little by little and gradually she agreed that I could call her father to come and get her. I left her in Dra.’s arms weeping as I went out to call her dad.

Poor man…he was distraught. With shaking voice he told me of the altercation earlier in the day. How his wife, also bipolar, was in bed and wouldn’t get up…how he was jobless and had no money to buy their needed medications. I encouraged him and said that we would make sure Haydee got home safely and we were available for any help they might need in the future. He was so grateful.

I wrapped one of my blankets around Haydee’s shoulders and tucked a snuggly teddybear into her arms for the ride home, again courtesy of Drs’s “ambulance”. Matt went along and promised to talk to her dad and pray in the house to fill it with the presence of Jesus.

Matt called later and said with relief in his voice, “Package delivered!” We laughed and cried with relief and agreed that Jesus had guided us this day and that we had done a good thing. Haydee is just one of the many wounded and broken ones who drift up on our shores. Abused, rejected, sick, hurting…like so many others. Jesus’ love constrains us to put our arms around them and in practical ways minister to them on their healing journey. Jesus’ love is unconditional…

“Can I come back? Will you still love me?” Haydee asked me in a shaky little-girl voice as I led her downstairs to the waiting car.
“Always” was my reply. “Always”.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

it can't be right to die and never be remembered.

to never be known for who you really were.

to have lived, loved, had sons and daughters, and yet your grandchildren have no idea where that family is.

this past summer, my sister margie and i were going through some of the old things left from my dad's farmhouse after he moved to a retirement center. everyone else in the family, pretty much, had gone through the stuff so there wasn't a whole lot left. i found some treasures, but we stumbled on the key to someone who's been lost for 60 years.

my grandfather, Bill Chase.

we know nothing about him, except that he was a WWI veteran, and he died the year i was born.

i've been on his trail, and my grandmother's (his wife) trail, for years. but the trail had gone cold.

yet, this summer, in a tiny candy box wrapped with a rubber band, margie found the key to our past, in amongst the antique skeleton keys and old coins.

a service badge from the first World War.

from that one little clue, we have been able to trace some information and his military records, which are on order from Ottowa, Canada.

soon, i hope, we will be able to find some family.

to meet those who share our story.

to know who this man was, this brave soldier who was gassed in the trenches and spoke in a whisper for the rest of his life.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

i'm thinking back over the summer,
and all the memories we made...
i'll share some of them another time, but
this poem of mine came to mind tonight
as i pondered.

i dedicate this to my sisters, my brothers, my dad,
my old friends, extended family, neighbors,
and anyone from my past who has become
part of my mosaic of memories.

Fragments of family
Forgotten bits of my past
Floating in moments
Of meeting

Memories of who we were
Of who I was
Of where we used to be
Strange how different
But how much the same



Shattered shards
Of us

Come together
Like a quilt with a pattern

Or a stained glass window
That catches
The yellow sun
And prisms it
Into a rainbow

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships - so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people - so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war - so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world - so that you can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Monday, August 23, 2010

thoughts on turning 60...

turning slowly to

gentle wrinkles
creeping creeping

vision narrowing
on the peripheral

stomach choosing

furtive marking
of stations of comfort
rest room
eating places

the familiar safe things
more necessary

welcome the enclosing
of life

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oatsvall Team: It Is All Real

Oatsvall Team: It Is All Real
what happened to me so many long years ago, in another life. never forgotten, never the same.

November, 1995

The stars twinkled in the dark sky above me as I turned my face up to escape the scratchy horse blanket wrapped around the bamboo poles that created a stretcher for me. Then all was black again as the nausea, pain, and exhaustion swept me away into oblivion. My last conscious thought was of absolute peace and trust... “God is watching over me, they won’t drop me, somehow I will survive this...”

It had started out as another outreach into the province, this time to a tribe called the Dumagat up in the mountains of Bulacan just north of Metro Manila. So many unknowns, but we were excited to go. What was described to us as a one-hour walk we later found out was, for us, three and a half hours tough hiking over 5 mountains full of wild jungle, rice paddies, waterfalls, rivers, and muddy carabao trails. We had got a late start so the hardest part of the trek was at high noon. Ate Elizabeth, Cathee, Edelyn, and our team of dentists, plus our contact person, Pastor Popie, finally arrived at the village of this tribe at about 1:30 in the afternoon. Ate and I were the first foreigners they had ever seen, and I don’t think they were too impressed with me because I stumbled in barely conscious, collapsed on the bench, and began to vomit. It was my fourth episode of sunstroke, brought on by the hot sun on my red hair, lack of water, and exhaustion.

Cathee mixed me up a rehydrating solution and I drank it down and after about an hour was able to sit up and eat and then help with the medical check-ups. But I told worried Pastor Popie, “I cannot walk back out of here. Either we’ll have to stay overnight or get us a carabao sled to ride or something!” Well, the “something” turned out to be a mountain stallion for me and a mild-tempered gelding for Ate Elizabeth. Neither of us had been on horseback since childhood. But we were willing to try out of desperation. She at the age of 58 was doing much better than I, much to my dismay.

As we clung bareback to our little horses, going straight up and then straight down the mountains, it should have been a beautiful experience with the scarlet sunset fading into the west and stars beginning to twinkle in the dark sky. The quiet evening sounds, the fireflies twinkling about us, and the clean stark beauty of the mountains by twilight would have been exquisite had I not felt so ill. But my pounding headache began to return and as the darkness settled in and I realized the stony cliffs we were clambering up and down were getting steeper and steeper, and my legs wouldn’t hold out much longer, I began to contemplate just falling off the horse and lying on the ground. Clinging to vines as we lurched and slid down a rocky, muddy canyon, and my poor little horse panted and groaned, my little gold ring slid off my finger and was lost forever. That did it. Sucking on my bleeding palms, I slid off the horse and said, “I can’t do it any more.” Ate couldn’t get off, so I hauled her off, straight-legged, and she staggered away from her horse and we joined the others who were walking.

We were still an hour by foot from where we had left the van. The flashlights used to light our path were setting off huge fireballs of pain inside my head. I began to vomit again every few minutes. In desperation I chewed down a Paracetamol, knowing it wouoldn’t do any good- I had left my special medication at home. We slithered over the jungle trails, sometimes falling, sometimes kneedeep in mud. Clutching the bamboo and the vines, sliding, collapsing over and over again. It was like a nightmare. Pastor Popie pleaded with me, “Hold my hand, Ate Denie,” and I gripped his muddy brown arm with desperation until he was dragging me along.

We were at the end of the line...I vomited again...finally I couldn’t take another step, stopped, clung to a bamboo pole, gasping for breath, slid to the ground, laid down on the wet jungle floor and realized I couldn’t go on. Dimly I heard Popie calling after the others to bring two bamboo poles and a blanket. I thought, “How can Ate Elizabeth keep on walking? I’m so embarrassed.” But I could not move.

The very worst moment came when I realized they were carrying me across the rice paddy, sinking knee-deep in the mud so that the water was up to their waists. The frantic tone in their voices as one of them balanced me on his back (I think) gave me momentary worry, then I thought, “No, I have watched these men run up mountainsides today carrying hundreds of pounds of clothing and flour, so I don’t think they are going to drop me.” I had perfect confidence in those strong, wiry brown arms and backs and legs.

Lying in the back of the van, shaking with chill and vomiting again, yet so thirsty, I wondered if we would ever get home. Cathee bent over me to ask if I wanted to go straight home or rest first at Doctora Karen’s (one of the dentists). I whispered, “Go straight home”. I don’t remember the ride home or who drove. The next thing I knew was Dennis calling me to get out of the van. “I can’t move,” I whispered. So he and Popie carried me up the stairs, and placed me on my bed, covered with mud as I was. I couldn’t even uncurl my body from the fetal position or unclench my fists because of the spasms in my muscles.

The pain and nausea swept over me in waves. Dennis asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I don’t remember what I answered. Next thing I knew, a jabbing pain in my hand and Bernadette, our senior midwife, was there trying to start an IV. She was successful on her second try. I begged for a Mersyndol pill, my usual migraine medication which I had forgotten to take along on the trip, and chewed one down, fighting the nausea. About 20 minutes later, blessed relief from the excruciating headache and I fell asleep. I wakened about 3 hours later feeling much better, able to move a little, the headache gone. Bernadette, Janine and Dennis stayed with me all night. By morning I could get up to go to the CR but was still sore and stiff. I couldn’t walk for about three days.

That is the story of my trip to the Dumagat tribe. I have the mountain men to thank for carrying me out of there. My life was in their hands and I am eternally grateful. I dimly remember one of the pastors of the tribe kneeling beside me and praying earnestly with tears as I lay on the grass. “Oh Lord, touch Sister Denie,” he prayed. My heart was full of peace even then. I love these Filipinos even more now for having been dependent on them in my hour of desperation. Their compassion, generosity, and strength carried me out of the mountains and will always remain a treasure in my heart.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

yellow is actually my favorite color.

most people think it's pink (my favorite, not the color yellow), but i only like pink in specific places, like t-shirts, flowers, office walls, purses, shoes, lipstick, teddybears, etc.

although pink is a happy color, and makes me feel just wonderful when i see it, i love yellow better.

i'm not sure why. my mom's favorite color was yellow. lots of my family's favorite color is yellow. perhaps it's genetic?

perhaps because i have such vivid childhood memories of bright yellow mustard on sandwiches...of the winnie-the-pooh yellow of our kitchen walls...of the golden winged child i saw myself as in my mind's eye...

not sure.


the other day i was thinking of all the yellow things i love.

my yellow blanket. it's just the right shade of yellow, warm and bright and cosy.

i love my yellow nightshirt. a cross between mustard and lemon, and Mickey on the front. and a hole in it. so comfy and simple.

i love my yellow lampshade on my desk. bought for me by my sweetie...it's the color of lemon-meringue pie and is just delicious.

speaking of lemon-meringue pie, i just know that heaven is going to be full of that delectable food. tables of it. acres of it. mmmmm.

and lemonade. crystal clear and sweet, but not too sweet.

turmeric. an earthy pungent piquance, that stains your fingers and tastes divine in almost everything.

yellow roses. daffodils. marigolds. buttercups. orchids. poppies. tulips. all in a wild variety of shades of that one scrumptious color- yellow.

my favorite poet emily dickenson wrote:

NATURE rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,—
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words.

small things are so lovely in yellow.

a teapot- i've been searching for years for a yellow teapot.

a lemon. the shape of it. the texture of the skin. the smell. a yellow smell.

sunshine is yellow. what could be happier than that?

and above all...yellow is the color of the polkadots my mom painted on her brown linoleum floor one long bitter winter when she was sad and longing for spring...and there they stayed for decades!

i love the color yellow.

the end.

Friday, August 20, 2010


today during our playground time at the park, emma met a little boy whom she befriended, as she always does, with dramatic gestures and invitations to play and explanations of her name and where she lives. i observed, smiling at her extreme friendliness.

at the end of our play time, we walked home together with little "andrew" and his yaya...emma chattering to him all the way and waving goodbye to him as we parted ways. andrew said not one word to my little miss chatterbox. that didn't stop her, but it struck me that he was an unusually silent child. however, when we crossed the street and he and his yaya went straight on, he pitched a silent tantrum and she was forced to carry him in her arms, restraining his kicking feet and arms.

after we were inside our apartment, my maid Rose informed me that this was the son of Ivan Padilla who died last week. having never heard of him, i researched who he is and why he died.

turns out, ivan padilla was the head of a carnapping gang and was killed under suspicious circumstances in a shoot-out with police a week or two ago.


here is the little quiet boy.




he is our neighbor. emma is his friend. he is not yet her friend, for he did not respond, in any way, to her overtures.

but i pray, with all my heart, that somehow- like the good Samaritan- we can be a true neighbor to that child. if nothing else, we can pray for him.

and i hope we meet again at the playground, and i hope emma can draw him out of his shell and truly be his friend.


life goes on around us and some of it is just so sad.

little andrew, i pray that somehow you would feel the love of Jesus and know that you are not fatherless- that your Heavenly Father is right there with you.

you are not alone.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

i hate taxis

an ode to manila taxis.


rattletrap cockroach havens-
smokey, dusty, dangerous.
i take you only when i must.

your drivers are often rude or half-asleep.
i actually got out of a taxi in QC once
when the driver did fall asleep.

he woke up enough to chase after me for the fare-
which i did not pay him. LOUDLY.

filthy seats full of unknown stains
windows and doors that don't work
trunks full of propane tanks that
would explode like a bomb
should we encounter a "bump"...

my little girl begs for a peppermint
the moment we enter a taxi-
just to keep her tummy settled.

harbinger of doom
how i arrive safely anywhere in one of these things
is simply the mercy of God...

clutch the back of the seat, hold on tight,
if necessary.

taxis, i loathe you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I found today, in a fellow blogger's writings, a poem from one of my favorite authors/missionaries, Amy Carmichael.

Her autobiography is aptly titled "A Chance to Die". A young girl who was considering missions asked her what it meant to be a missionary, and this was Amy's response..."To be a missionary is a chance to die."

Oh Miss Amy. your long-ago life has changed me - and so many others. there is one place on earth i would love to go and that would be to the spot where your body long ago dissolved back into the gentle earth in Tamil Nadu, at the "Donavhur" home for children. the home you created for lost little ones, and where you gave your life to save them. Your prayer is my prayer too.

Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children.
Keep them from the powers of evil
From the secret, hidden peril,
From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand pluck them,
Holy Father, save our children.
From the worldling's hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Through life's troubled waters steer them,
Through life's bitter battle cheer them,
Father, Father, be Thou near them.
Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.
And wherever they may bide,
Lead them Home at eventide.

Amy Carmichael

..."eventide", a lovely old word for nightfall, is coming. my heart's cry too is "lead them home, Lord." home where they belong.

Monday, August 16, 2010

i've done it before, homeschooling.

for various reasons...firstly because my joshie quit kindergarten- yep, just came home one day and refused to ever go again (not that i blame him, the teacher wouldn't let him go to the bathroom, ever, when he needed to, so he had a couple of accidents which were absolutely humiliating for a little 5-year-old boy)...and i never made him go back.

then we moved overseas, and when i discovered that to attend the MK school nearest us they'd have to get up at 5 am and travel an hour back and forth, josh and his sister were released from all compunction to go to school anywhere except at our diningroom table until they were older.

so for a year i homeschooled them.

then again on our furlough year when we traveled all over North America in a huge rig (truck/trailer) and they both had tiny little desks in the tiny back room of the trailer, and i would sometimes let them ride back there illegally while we were on the road and do their assignments.

fun times.

then about 3 years ago i homeschooled my grandson jason and his friend while they lived with us- for about 8 months. now that i wouldn't want to do again. i did my best, but j is hearing impaired and his friend is learning impaired and i had a hard time all around, especially with baby emma demanding much of my attention at the time.

i don't know how the homeschooling moms with MSC do it. i really don't. (many small children.)

i have, however, bravely begun homeschooling emma. yay for me. and yay for her. we have various reasons for this that i won't go into (well, ok, the school is sooo far away, and we are moving house, and she is so little, and i want to keep her home one more year at least, and ...and...and...see?)

i had forgotten the thrill of little eyes opening wide with delight as the mind absorbs new thoughts and exciting ideas. at 4, emma is so eager to learn. we shall take it slowly, this first few weeks, so as not to burn out (mostly mommy, of course) but i think...i think....it's gonna be a good year.

the best reason for living is to change the life of one child.

ABC's, here we come! ;)))))

oh, and i did forget to say that in 3 weeks i'll be 60.

so there.

never too old to begin again!

Friday, August 13, 2010

hello, dear little blogspot. how i've missed you!

but i must say, the break from daily writing was refreshing.

now i'm back.

to tell the story of my very long vacation, and the memories i made.


today i'm still recovering from jet lag.

welcome home to me!