Wednesday, September 17, 2008


When Jess was just a wee one of about 9 months, Bellingham opened its very first Greek restaurant. It was a tiny place, tucked back in a strip mall with the unassuming name of "Eleni's". We had to try it! After seating us, owner Eleni took one look at Jess and broke into a big grin and asked if she could take her into the kitchen. I was a bit taken aback, but I recognized "love" when I saw it, so I let her go. Jess is to this day the only one who's ever seen Eleni's kitchen...not that she remembers! What she does remember is that for some reason, Eleni took to her and treated her as one of her own. Every time we stopped there for a meal, she brought Jess a huge bowl of Greek olives, which to this day are Jess' favorite. We still consider Eleni "part of the family", she even came to Jess' high school graduation party.

So it's no surprise that when the Greek festival occurs every September, we're front and center. Every year there are booths featuring the traditional favorites: souvlaki, tzatziki, gyro, domalthes, and of course.....the desserts...
Tours of the Greek Orthodox church are always part of the festivities as well as traditional Greek dancing. This year there was a problem that prevented the dancing, but that didn't stop these two young ladies who spent at least an hour dancing with their shadows!
A good time was had by all! Urp....

Please excuse these "fuzzy" photos. The wonderful digital camera that I had use of all summer had to go "home" and I'm using my old tech camera, which has obviously developed some focus issues!

Monday, September 15, 2008


I'm a "critter" person, always have been. In my ideal world, I would have been born on a farm and heavily involved in 4H. Alas, I was born into a family that was allergic to most all of the animal kingdom. Hence, there were no pets in my childhood, excepting the occasional unfortunate turtle or lizard that happened to wander into our yard. These treasures were lovingly placed in cardboard boxes with dishes of water and whatever delicacies I thought they might enjoy, none of which were included in their proper diets! Eventually, I would realize they were not terribly happy with their circumstances and I would return them to their natural environment.

I read every book Albert Payson Terhune ever wrote and dreamed of my own Sunnybrook Farm. Although I couldn't have a dog of my own, God in His infinite kindness provided me with an "almost" dog of my own. One day when I was about 9, a beautiful golden Cocker Spaniel wandered into my yard. This was in the days when dogs were allowed the run of neighborhoods. When I called, he wandered over and we made friends and a long, intense love affair was begun. Sambo would be at my door every morning before my car pool picked me up for school and was at the end of my driveway every afternoon when I got home. He wasn't allowed in the house, but I spent most every waking minute outside, so that was no problem. We were inseparable. Over time we learned that Sambo belonged to the Linthicums, our neighbors about a block away. He was actually their son's dog, but the son had just left for his freshman year in college and Sambo was lonely. We were a match made in heaven. He spent his days with me and his nights with his "real" Mom and Dad.
On one very special occasion, his owners took a weekend trip and asked if I would like to take care of Sambo while they were gone. Would I!!!!! My parents gave me one of the best presents of my childhood when they agreed to this arrangement and even allowed Sambo to stay in my room. Here's a picture of him sleeping on my bed!

It was one very brokenhearted girl several years later who had to move with her family from our home in Maryland to a new home in New Jersey--without Sambo. The Linthicums told us Sambo sat at the end of our driveway all day for several weeks before he realized I wasn't coming back.

I hope there are dogs in heaven!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"I Sing A Song Of The Saints Of God"

In the early 1920's a young, fervent couple purposed to use all that they had to serve the Lord. They didn't have much in the way of worldly goods, but they did have a small cottage where they had honeymooned in Bellingham, WA. It had been abandoned for many years, but they decided to commit it to His service and through circumstances only He can accomplish, it became a retreat for weary missionaries home on furlough. Bible studies began to be held there which grew in number and lives were changed in dramatic ways.

As the years passed, the ministries of The Firs expanded and increased and eventually it became a conference center providing biblical retreats and camps for adults, teens and young children. During the past 20 or so years our family has participated in the family camps during the summer at the conference center. We were privileged to sit under the extraordinary teaching of such gifted people as Walter Kaiser, Paul Brand, John Stott, Ron Allen, Phillip Keller and Calvin Miller.
In addition to great teaching, we have met exemplary saints through the years and have enjoyed enduring friendships, we we renewed each summer when we would all meet up again at one of the retreats. We fondly remember Canadians Leroy and Mary Gauger and the delightful sisters, Anne and Sue Neufeld, who are now enjoying sweet fellowship with their Savior. We met out very dear friend Mauri Macy at one of the earliest conferences. Mauri was leading the worship music for the week. His dulcet voice, his command of a multitude of musical instruments and his insightful lyrics would instantly transport us out of ourselves and into the presence of the Lord. It was Mauri who reintroduced me to the song noted in the title of this post. It was a song I grew up with and hadn't heard in years and years. One night Mauri sat with us at dinner and told us he was from Newberg, OR. "Where is that?", we asked. Little did we know how that connection would develop as years later Jess chose to attend George Fox University in Newberg. We always looked forward to the week Mauri and his family would attend the conference center so we could catch up on their lives. Several years later we had the joy of meeting Sherry, his then new bride, and the circle grew bigger and richer. When we visit with Jess in Newberg, Mauri and Sherry graciously host us!

Sadly, there are no longer family camps during the summer, but the senior conference still takes place each fall and is always full to the brim with dear old saints who have faithfully followed the Lord throughout their lives and into their twilight years. There isn't much they have not experienced and weathered in their walks with God and their stories are precious to us and always leave us in awe and a bit appreshensive about our ability to fill their shoes once they are gone!

We were delighted this year to see Ralph Hunziker again! We had lost touch with him over the past 8 years or so, so it was heartwarming to see his smiling face and to catch up.
And over the past few years we have become acquainted with Don and Josie Vanderlaan. Don's lungs were badly damaged in an industrial accident many years ago. His every move requires great exertion as he must carry his oxygen with him everywhere. His spirit is undamaged, however, and his irrepressible optimism, gracious manner and thankful heart never cease to amaze me. He always has a word of cheer and a smile for anyone who crosses his path.
How blessed we are to stand on such mighty shoulders. With the Lord's help, may we rise to the challenge!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I've Got The Blues.... my garden, that is! The morning glories have finally bloomed and the hydrangeas are just about finished. Blue in nature is such a rare and glorious thing!