Story Wonders: What You Can Learn from Rummage

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I’ve learned priceless lessons from the transformation of a worship space into a gigantic place for trash that becomes treasures.

  1. Resist the ridiculous.We all have mountains of things like odd plastic mittens and pots that might be warmers but are not. The next time I see full price boot mitts for my Halloween costume, I will picture the teetering pile they will eventually perch upon.
  2. Hold out for the right amount. Full price is a crazy price. Most of what we buy will end up costing between 25 cents and ten dollars.
  3. It’s okay to give in to the sparkle now and then. Even though I have plenty already, a great bargain on a sparkly lamp has the power to tempt me. I reassure myself with the youth missions and women’s shelters my splurge will support.
  4. Hard work makes for time well spent. The monetary gifts from what might otherwise end up in a landfill make every moment with that roll of blue painter’s tape and a black sharpie worthwhile.
  5. Friends and family are better than the best deal. The true treasures I find at rummage sales come in the shape of smiles on the faces of workers who transmogrify chaos into a wonderland of bargains.

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Twice a year Puyallup United Methodist Church runs this sale, and here’s the basic blurb written by my friend and tireless neighbor, Donna McDonnell:

Huge rummage sale. Puyallup United Methodist Church at 1919 W Pioneer
in Puyallup, WA. Furniture, kitchen, bedding, clothing and lots more on Saturday March 26, 2017. 8am to 5pm. Great stuff. Reasonable prices.

Come by! You never know what you might find or learn.

Wednesday Wonders: What Would You Say to the Past of Yesterday and Today?

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I’ve struggled with what to write this week. Much has happened.

A double funeral with dear friends who lost a mother and a father in two days.

The kindness of neighbors who could have hurt us but didn’t.

Neither of these are my stories to tell, though. So I won’t.

I did see something that grabbed my eye from another friend on Facebook, however.

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I posted these words:

Stay in Germany longer. 

I wish I had.

But then I had another thought. I even braved the process of making a meme to put it together here.

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I saw many post things to their 17-year-old selves that imagine I might later say to my today self.

Listen to yourself always. 

Know who you are.

Shut up and listen.

Be kind to yourself.

Do less, love more.

It will be okay.

Chill the (heck) out.

I think I might say all of this to myself. I might also say:

Keep writing. It matters.

At least I hope I’ll say that.

Wherever you are in the world,  I’d love to know what you would say to your 17-year-old self. (Especially you in Brazil. I see you on my stats page and have always wondered how you found me in the wide web.)

I’d also love to know what you think your future wisdom for yourself might be.

May you know love past, present, and future-

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Wednesday Wonders: Why a Closing Japanese American Church Matters Today

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Bulletin with a photo of the stained glass from the Tacoma Japanese American Episcopal Methodist Church on Fawcett Street in Tacoma complete with my prayer doodles

Last Sunday, I went to the closing ceremony of the Whitney Memorial United Methodist Church, a congregation of Japanese Americans who voted to shut their doors this spring.

I sat in the back of Puyallup United Methodist Church in a different pew from where I sit most Sundays.

Here I saw Shirley DeLarme and Ann Berney, two former pastors of PUMC, and many of my church friends. The origami cranes hung from the ceiling in gold, red, blue, and primary colors that danced and twirled.

The company filled my heart and the decorations reminded me of countless hours I spent with Japanese students in my younger years as a teacher. The futomaki I ate afterwards reminded me of them even more with the rolled nori and stuffing probably designed to suit the tastes of the American-born.

Running through my nostalgia, however, was a stinging thread of sorrow. 

I saw the pain in the faces of those who had lost their church community that opened on September 22, 1907. I heard the anguish in the voice of their Pastor Karen Yokota Love as she reassured them that they had not let their ancestors down. Even as Whitney Memorial presented generous gifts of the cottage they owned, stained glass and the original bell from their church, I ached.

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The church bell Mr. Mizukami said once came from a train

I could not escape the loss the closing of this church represents to our community.

Those cranes hung from the ceiling came from the 2014 United Methodist conference held at the Puyallup Fair Grounds. Here the ancestors of those remaining members, including then church pastor Seichi Niwa, found themselves interned in 1942.

After the war, member Greg Mizukami told us, only ten percent of the population retuned to the once thriving church community then located on Fawcett Street in hilltop Tacoma. In spite of this they continued to do the work of Christians everywhere, helping the poor and the immigrant communities, even though many of the congregation never returned and the church never fully recovered.

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The Fawcett building still stands and is now owned by the University of Washington.

Over one hundred years later, we still face the effects of the anger and fear from World War II.

When I asked him, my father once told me how terrifying it was to live with the fear of a Japanese invasion. He spoke of black outs and air raid sirens, of forts built to guard Puget Sound, and of fear of spies both rational and irrational.

I get that. I feel it now when the news brings stories of American citizens pledging themselves to foreign powers and then viciously killing innocents. I feel it when I wait hours in line for security checks even for our college’s graduation ceremonies. I feel it whenever I think  on September 11, 2001 or San Bernardino this last year.

But I also know that locking up people who have done nothing wrong is never the answer to keeping ourselves safe. It wasn’t the answer then, and it isn’t the answer today.

The effects of unjust incarceration devastate individuals and communities.

The effects last for generations.

I saw those effects Sunday.

I do not want my grandchildren to see a ceremony one hundred years from now like the one I saw Sunday.

I pray we all know grace and peace even in times of fear. May we know this for our own tranquility, for those we might otherwise hurt, and for the generations that will follow us.

I don’t believe Whitney Memorial United Methodist Church let their ancestors down.

And I intend to work like my hair is on fire to be sure I don’t let my descendants down.

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Foster Kitty Adventures: One End and Three Beginnings

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Yes, I said three beginnings.

The Glitter who first stole my heart refused to love our dog or even to acknowledge his right to coexist in our home. She hissed, spit and charged at him even when he was cowering three floors away from her kittens and quaking in his doggie boots.

Yesterday, I scrunched down to pet her goodbye in her cage at the shelter. She purred and pushed her face into my hand while my eyes hurt from holding in tears. She seemed to enjoy the moment of peace away from her rowdy babies.

It may take a few weeks to get her a home, the staff told me, but they are confident she will find a place to finally call her own.

We had originally thought to keep Ash and Sissy and let Jack get adopted by another family along with (or separate from) his mom. It was agonizing to choose, but Jack had never seemed much attached to us so I hoped it would be easiest to let him find new people.

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Then the shelter lady said a snide ‘of course’ when I told her that we would bring back the black cat.

I knew black cats lingered in shelters, and her words sat with me until I had to call her back to ask for more information.

She said they have over ten black kittens. People too often adopt those little ones last and our Jack might sit at the shelter for two months before getting a home.

His slight grey highlights really come out here.

Jack’s slight grey highlights really come out here.

None of the humans in our house could handle that.

This is the color he normally looks.

This is the color our black cat normally looks.

This is how I came to have three kittens racing at my feet when I originally intended to keep the mama cat and Ash.

As soon as we got home, Jack snuggled into my lap for the first time and purred the best purr I’ve heard in a good long while.

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I knitted the fuzzy blanket years ago for our last cat. She says it still works.

I knitted the fuzzy blanket years ago for our last cat. Sissy says it still works.

Life is indeed what happens to me when I am making other plans. 

May you have the courage to face your own life as it comes at you-

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Note: This officially ends the foster series since we’ve adopted the three amigos. You may, however, still see cat tales here now and again. They are still running around my writing office every morning.

My Water Birthday: Overflowing with Our Abundance

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(A short break from the Kitty Channel)

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I listen to the Rob Cast every week without fail and this past week gave me some way to pay back the deep joy I’ve gotten from his words.

In his podcasts, Rob speaks of how to move from a false shallow happy light, to a place of crushing darkness, and then back out the other side to a deep soul shining light.

He speaks of the spirit that is here all around us in magic and miracles in every precious moment.

He speaks Truth to me.

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Recently, Rob interviewed Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity Water, an organization with a mission to get water to the people in the world who so desperately need it.

In the interview, Harrison spoke of women and girls who walked for miles to get the life giving liquid for their families. One girl committed suicide because she accidentally spilled her supply on the trip back after walking all day. The shame of facing her thirsty family without water was too much.

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When the communities that Charity Water helps get a well, they flourish. Many of the problems with disease, lack of opportunity and employment dissolve. Women and girls in particular prosper when they can do more than trudge from their homes to a water source and back again all day every day.

In the end of the interview, Harrison describes a woman who feels beautiful for the first time because she has enough water to wash her face.

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Here’s more on the Charity Water project if you like photos and audio by Rob to go with your stories.

One hundred percent of any money we give to Charity Water goes directly to digging a well because they have separate funding source for their overhead. (Rob Bell and his wife Kristin and several other well-known people give to keep the lights on. )

Plus, we get to see the well our money helps to dig with GPS. How cool is that?

Rob Bell has started a water campaign for his 45th birthday on August 23rd. The idea is to ask for donations instead of birthday gifts.

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I gave money to dig a well for women who can’t turn on a faucet and are now carrying water on their heads. It’s the best way I know to pay Rob back for what he’s given me this year.

I considered starting my own campaign since I am so close in age to Rob and our birthdays are nearby. (This sometimes makes me feel inadequate. I mean, sheesh, look what he’s done with his one big life. I need to up my game here.)

But I think I’ll keep my numbers quieter in the Internet space and ask you to give to Rob’s campaign for my coming up birthday. 

To give to Rob’s campaign please click hereIf you have ever enjoyed what I’ve written, I’d love for you to give.

He’s asking for 45 dollars or whatever you can manage because he’ll be 45. I’ll soon be 44 so you save a dollar if you give my birthday number. (I couldn’t swing that much myself, so I understand if you need to give less). 

Heck, you could even start your own water campaign for your birthday or some other holiday.

The people who desperately need water win and, I believe, so do we when we give.

I wish you the water that comes from wells and that other kind, too – the kind that quenches that thirst you have to love and be loved.

May you always have enough to drink-

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P.S. Please tell me if you decide to give. It would mean much to me.

Foster Kitty Adventures: Double Syrup Whammy

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The only thing slightly more syrupy than kitten stories has to be a story with kids and kittens.

Brace yourself for syrup.

This week Quinton started helping me to change the blanket in the kittens’ basket by holding the tiny ones in his lap on a blanket.

We had thought Glitter might want to roam a bit to get some time to herself but when she saw the kitties on Q’s lap she curled up in his lap to nurse them there.

My five year old was born with dimples. His indented smile was so deep when he looked at the cat family in his lap that I thought his cheeks might not recover.

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Meanwhile, the babies are growing and starting to look at our faces like they know we exist even as they begin to scootch around on their bellies.

Life in this house is grand.

May you know great small joys in your own place.

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Foster Kitty Adventures: Part One

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My friend Lynn won with the most original way of saying it: “You are taking in a teenaged mom!”

I am.

Here is Glitter.

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I fell in love with this very young mama cat at a local animal shelter but couldn’t take her home because she had just had kittens who needed to grow up before they could find homes of their own.

It occurred to me that I once fostered kittens back in the day when I worked for an animal shelter. Why not foster this mom and baby crew and have the added joy of watching her little ones get big?

That’s how we came have them with us for now, and I foresee more cat-related posts in my future. I suppose if you don’t care for felines you can consider yourself warned. Cat pictures like these will be here often.

If you do like tiny ones, though, then by all means stay tuned.

They have all gained about an ounce in the past 3 days which is more than 10 percent of their body weight. The big guy tips the scale at 10.5 ounces today.

May you know the joy of squeaking kittens and dimpled kids like my Q giggling over miniature claws as they tickle his legs.

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