Sunday, June 25, 2006


Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" (I have no idea who originally penned that).

At church this morning the pastor said something that reminded me of this story: When I was pregnant with Deborah, I developed allergies. My sinus area would sting for days. Instead of taking medication, I implemented my own home remedy. I stuffed my nose with toilet paper wads that stuck out my nose like walrus teeth. It was an effective remedy, albeit one that made me very thirsty (breathing through one's mouth all the time does that) and less than attractive.

Being somewhat self conscious when I look like a walrus, I only wore my toilet paper when I was home alone with my children. They thought it was really funny. One day Gordon arrived home from work and I met him at the door, totally forgetting I had in my walrus teeth. He looked at me and said, "Wooooe, Sexxxxy."

I chuckled when I remembered it. Unfortunately, I don't remember the connection with the pastor's sermon.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sheila and Jim

Gordon's baby sister got married yesterday. Hubby is an American so now there are 2 of us in the family. I'm happy for them both.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gordon Says Hi

Today Gordon had a meeting with City Management. When he came home for lunch, I asked him if he shocked and awed them. Modestly he said, "Well, I said hi, in my own sort of way."

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Brief Hello

I'm tired. Very tired. My house is falling down around me, or so it seems. I love a tidy house, but confess my house is anything but tidy today. I've tons of laundry, dishes, mopping, etc. However, tomorrow I don't work or have any field trips, so by tomorrow afternoon this house will be in ship-shape. At least that is the goal.

Today I received a phone call requesting my permission for one of my articles to go into an anthology. I got off the phone and went into my messy kitchen and told Gordon about it. He looked around at the disordered kitchen and said, "You'd never know an anthologist lives here."

About those field trips, yesterday was the last one for the school year. I am so glad to be off the hook for a few months. I'm ready for the summer break.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Comforting Imaginings

We had a tough weekend, mostly Hannah and me. Every time I sliced cheese I looked down at my feet expecting to see little Frodo waiting patiently for his treat, his tail swishing excitedly on the floor. He had such a gentlemanly way of waiting for his treats.

When I walked through the backdoor, I was painfully jarred with reality when he wasn't there to greet me with his two-step forward, two-step backward gig.

He hadn't yet outgrown dribbling when excited. It was a source of annoyance to me. But yesterday I saw a dribble stain on the sofa throw and I smiled. I called Hannah to show her and we said in unison, "that's so sweet."

Today I've not cried. My source of comfort is imagining Frodo in heaven. I've even been rationalizing my thoughts: The wolf and the lamb live in peace, but where do these animals come from? Did God make "heavenly animals" and earthly animals"? Are they, the animals in heaven, animals that have lived on earth?

I know that animals don't have souls, but I think of heaven as a place for animals too. Not for a second do I equate animals with humans, but I think animals will be there.

I was comforted this weekend imagining Frodo running secure and carefree through heavenly meadows, looking over his shoulders seeing if his playmates are gaining on him - just like he played with Lucy.

I also imagined arriving in heaven and embracing all the special people there; family, friends, people who played a spiritual role in my life, people who may have been influenced by me. I pictured myself making my way through a throng of people and when I hugged the last person, looking down and seeing my Frodo doing his bashful two-step forward, two-step backward gig. I smile, comforted, even as I write this.

I know my thoughts aren't backed by scripture, but please play along, at least temporarily. If I'm wrong, God will correct soon enough. So for now, I'll just keep imaging our little guy having the time of his life romping with Booper, Bumpie, Dakota, Buford, and every other dog I ever loved.

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Friday, June 16, 2006


Frodo Dykstra
August 15, 2005 - June 16, 2006

Today tragedy struck our family. Frodo got out the fence and went straight to the street. Hannah and I immediately went after him, but we weren't as fast as him. He got hit by a car right in front of Hannah.

He died instantly.

We brought him home, wrapped him in a towel and mourned. Oh how we mourned! Gordon built him a fine little coffin while we took turns holding him. When the coffin was built and the grave was dug, we laid him in his final resting place. He got a prime burial spot in the garden next to the bluebells where he always whizzed.

We each wrote him a note or colored a picture to put with him. Each of us threw a mound of dirt on his box as we told things that Frodo taught us. He taught us to love more, laugh more, smile more. He taught Gordon that sometimes you have to tolerate things for the people you love. He taught me how to love little dogs. Hannah said he taught her how to be more responsible.

I'm thankful for his little life. He was one of those little doses of grace that God gives. We didn't "need" Frodo, but God let us have him to experience more joy.

Revelation 13:7 For God's pleasure Frodo was created.

Frodo gave God pleasure before he gave us pleasure.

Goodbye Senor Frodo. We love you very much.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Welcome Home Rachael and Gordon

My sweet Rachael and sweet husband returned safely from a trip to Vancouver. I sure missed them. They were on a school trip and Gordon was a chaperone. He' s wired better than me for long trips on a touring bus with 42 students. I'm very happy he and Rachael had that time together. They had a great trip.

This picture was taken on the bus.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Stephanie and Christopher

I got this picture off Stephanie's site. I think it ws made this weekend. I love it. It reminds me of years gone by.

Aren't they beautiful?

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cynthia Fern Smith Gramer

My cousin Cindy just passed away. She was welcomed into heaven by her Savior whom she loved and lived to glorify. Her battle with breast cancer could not have been more nobly or valiantly fought. She was torn between wanting the battle to be over and leaving her children, Jaylyn and Jacob, and her husband, Jay, who has been steady like a rock. (incidentally, his mother also died of breast cancer.)

Cindy's greatest concern was the hole her leaving would leave in the lives of her children. Yesterday, as she was slipping farther and farther away, my aunt read this verse over and over to her from the book of Isaiah. "My children will be taught of the Lord and great will be my children's peace," adding, "Cindy it's ok to go. God will take care of the kids."

The timing of her death couldn't be better, yet who would have ever thought of it happening like it did? Only 8 days ago, her daddy passed away and she was strengthened enough to make her way to Arkansas to be with her family. She said his death would make her's easier because she worried how he would respond to her's. The whole family shared that sentiment. My aunt said that so many people are assuming that Paul's death doubled the sorrows, but she said, in reality, their burden had been halved. It's truly amazing how God works.

Several months ago my aunt told me about a dream she had. She saw Cindy in a coffin then she saw Cindy walk through a thin veil of gauze. What struck her was how thin the gauze was between this life and the next. In the next scene, she saw Cindy and Jesus looking at each other and their eyes were so full of love for each other and Cindy's face was happier than any face on earth. I wonder if that dream was a gift. I believe it was. I think my aunt needed to see it to have peace.

So today, Cindy is more whole, healthy, joyful, and complete than she has ever been before. I am so thankful to have the same hope Cindy had. This life is just the miniscule beginning of true life.

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

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Medical Advances

There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2020, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections, but absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Christopher's Prom Night

This is Christopher on Prom Night. Please, no jokes about the dog being his date. I could have cropped to little doggie out, but I thought he was cute.

Isn't Christopher handsome? I love him so much.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Stacie

Today is my sister Stacie's birthday. As with all my siblings, Stacie is years and years and years older than me. She was born in 1964 and I in 1966.

Stacie and I are very close and kindred spirits. Billions of miles apart, (Edmonton and North Carolina), we talk on the phone several times a week. (Before she went back to work a couple years ago, we talked on the phone nearly everyday). My telephone plan is better than her's so when she wants to talk, she phones me, lets it ring twice, then hangs up. Like an obedient sister, I phone back immediately. She is the only person in the world I could talk to that often on the telephone. I'm not a telephone person. Dead space doesn't make me nervous with her and it does with everyone else.

A couple years ago the little girls and I spent February with Stacie and her family. Wheweee! Was that ever a learning experience. What I learned is this: There is a big difference between 26 days and 28 days. At 26 days her family was coping with 4 extra people pretty well. At 28 days, they were packing our suitcases and bag lunches for our trip home - eventhough we still had one day to go. But all in all, I think we did amazingly well the first 26 days.

While with her, we drove down to Florida to our other sister Diane's. On the drive down, we nearly split our guts laughing on more than one occasion. We reminisced about some of the quirky ways we were brought up and gave a generous amount of time talking about our childhood church. We told stories and were finishing each other's sentences. As silence came, we would both at the same time remember another song and belt out singing like we did in our long ago church. We laughed so hard we cried.

Stacie and I were inseparable (well nearly) in my preschool years. My first depression was when Stacie started school. I would have been 4. Of course I never knew that was what was wrong with me then, but every morning when I watched the school bus get out of sight, a terrible heaviness would envelope me. I didn't realize it was because Stacie was gone, I only knew that the bus pulling away was a terribly sad time. (Kind of pitiful, don't you agree?) Mama said I also started sleeping more and she recognized then that I was depressed. What I'm trying to say is, Stacie is at the root of many of my problems and dysfunctions.

I am at the root of a few of Stacie's issues too. We grew up in a pretty straight laced home. We didn't do lots of things that were ok in other homes. One year when the Montgomery Ward catalogue came, we sat on the blue vinyl sofa each of us holding our half of the catalogue. No page was left un-looked at. We dreamed about everything in it. We chose the prettiest garment on each page; the bedroom suites we would have in our grown-up houses; and in secret, we even scrutinized the underwear pages.

As we slobbered and coveted for so many things, we took time to even look at the men's clothes. We chose which man we wanted to marry, and we picked out the clothes he would wear. Stacie has always been more risque and edgy than me. As we looked at the men's pages, Stacie pointed at one man and whispered, "He looks like he has boobs." I turned both my lips inside my mouth and disdainfully said, "Uuummm." She was in trouble. Not only was she looking at men's chests, but she said "boobs."

Terrified of getting in trouble, she begged, "Oh Valerie, please don't tell. Please don't tell." I was such a brat and I'm so sorry for how I acted. I didn't tell her I would or wouldn't tell. I let her squirm and worry. That night as it was my turn to do some kind of chore, I turned to Stacie and raised my eyebrow to warn silently, "if you don't do it for me, I'll tell Mama you said boob." Stacie jumped to do my bidding. For days Stacie was my servant. I would be told to something and I would look at Stacie and give her the look and she would jump up and do my chore. Wasn't I awful?

I don't know how long this went on. Stacie would say weeks, but I figure it was only days. Finally, it was Mama who ruined our new working agreement. She asked Stacie why she was doing all my work for me. Stacie told her she just wanted to, but Mama knew better and pressed harder. The truth came out and Stacie got in trouble for letting me treat her like that. Mama was much more concerned that Stacie had let me bribe her than she was with what I'd done. I got off really easy, but poor Stacie got chewed on for quite a while. But she didn't get in trouble for saying "boobs".

Stacie and I miss each other a great deal. I wish we lived closer. We would go out to eat, we would go to each other's kids' performances, we would probably do stuff we never did before, maybe concerts, ballets, live theatre. We lived near each other for so many years and never knew how amazing that was. Now we would know just how special it is and it wouldn't be taken for granted.

Stacie is smart, classy, profressional (that misspelling is on purpose and Stacie knows why), funny, a great cook and entertainer, a talented decorator, and a wonderful devoted mother and wife. I hope she has a wonderful wonderful birthday and a great year. Happy Birthday Stacie. I love you!

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Uncle Paul

My uncle Paul was killed in an automobile accident this week. It is a tragedy, but it's a strange kind of tragedy. It seems like a merciful tragedy. My uncle's oldest daughter, Cindy, is in the last stages of cancer. Over the past several weeks, they thought she would die on several occasions. Their family is very close. Everyone wondered how Paul would cope with Cindy's death. He seemed to be in a form of denial, denying that she was really at the point of death. People spoke openly about his not accepting the truth and those who knew him best worried that he was terribly unprepared for it.

This week he died. Cindy rallied in strength enough to make her way home for the family "reunion." Even Cindy smiled to tell how happy she was that her dad wouldn't have to deal with her death. I am 2000 miles from all of this, but my mom says the whole family is wrapped in grace. Very close as a family, they are of course mourning the loss of their dad. But they also are well aware of the grace extended to them, and especially Paul.

Paul was a committed Christian. I smile that he is with God and that he will be waiting for Cindy, leading her welcoming.

Last year Cindy was struggling and a number of her cousins and siblings sent funny family stories to her to help cheer her. At least two of the stories were about Paul. I want to share them.

My cousin Lisa wrote this about her dad, Paul:

"One story I do remember is that of my very thoughtful father. He would always try to help someone when they needed it, whether he knew them or not. One Sunday on the way home from church we came up on a car on the side of the road with a flat. A slim person with beautiful long hair was attempting to change the tire. Daddy got out and walked up to the car. "Excuse me. Looks like you could use some help." As the man turned around Daddy said "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were a woman." He turned around, got back in the car, and we went on home."

The other story I posted on a blog a year ago, but it bears repeating:

"My Uncle Paul played the role of Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years. He always gave a small devotional at the beginning of his Superintendent ritual. One particular morning he said something that he has yet to live down. His family continues to pass the story on.

"As he spoke briefly of the Apostle Paul, he asked the congregation, "Does anyone here know the meaning of the name Paul?" He waited patiently for a congregant to reply, but no one did. With a kind smile that defines him, he said, "Well I didn't either, but my wife told me." Slowly, precisely, and with his hallmark kind face, he continued, "Paul means 'small'. My wife says I'm small." My aunt gasped in shock at his faux pas and quickly looked around to see if others heard what she'd just heard. She saw a sea of teeth. Yes, everyone had just heard him say, "My wife says I'm small." He tried to recover, but the smiles did not fade."

Although sad for my aunt and cousins' loss, I find it really helpful to remember the pain he is now spared, to remember a few good stories, and especially to remember that now he walks with God.

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Today we visited an Adventist Church where Rachael's Fine Arts Group was performing. Deborah (age 6) sat quietly beside me filling out the offering envelope. I assumed she was just passing time by writing her name, address, etc... Occasionally she'd lean over and ask a question like, "what's the date?"

When she got to the part of the offering envelope that read, "Offering Designations," she wanted me to explain all the choices. I leaned over to explain. Condescendingly, I said, "that is just for the people who are giving money." She countered, "I brought my offering."

I watched her struggle to complete her envelope. Under the prayer request section she wrote, "Moms cuzzin Cindy." (My cousin Cindy has cancer.)

She completed her envelope information and reached for her pink purse. She took out her little wallet and shook out the dime she had brought for the offering.

Surely God thought that was as sweet as the woman and her two mites. I know I did.

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