4 months old

Emily! How is it possible that you are 27 years old?! You are a game-changer, mother-maker, jazz singer. worship leader. big sister, art lover. shoe painter. talented, Disney lover, Christ follower, daddy’s girl, kind friend, and my only daughter. There are not enough words to express who you are and how much I love you. You are beautiful, inside and out. You are creative and fun, godly and I am so proud of you.

I pray that this next year is your best yet. I pray that you grow in your faith and confidence and cleaning skills! I thank God for deciding I needed to . be your mom. You are gift. I am blessed.

So many years ago I bought several rose bushes. I loved them so much that I moved them to California. Some of the roses struggled when they had to face the tough winter and once we got here they thrived with the constant sunshine and nice weather. Some of the bushes are hardier than the others. One of the bushes has always needed more TLC than others. It is one of the most fragrant and beautiful roses I have, but it is really temperamental no matter how much pruning and feeding I give it. The name of that rose is Emily. Just like my sweet daughter, there is no comparison and it is worth the extra attention to reap the beautiful blooms.

My peach – Emily!

So the musical version of Cinderella has a song called “Impossible” –

Impossible, for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage.
Impossible, for a plain country bumpkin and a prince to join in
And four white mice will never be four white hosrses!
Such fol-der-ol and fid-dle-dy dee of course, is— Impossible!
But the world is full of zanies and fools
Who don’t believe in sensible rules
And won’t believe what sensible people say.
And because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible
Impossible things are happening every day.

Impossible things are happening every day! So today the impossible happened! Happy Birthday Em! I love you!

39 Years

For the past 9 years I have tried to have some creative angle on how to celebrate our wedding anniversary without Jim. It might seem a weird thing to honor and yet remembering Jim is what I do anyway. Marriage is a big deal and I am grateful for the one I had. So I continue to remember the day I changed my name. I don’t make it a big deal; I don’t go out to a fancy meal alone or anything similarly ridiculous. Just the following!

  • 31 went to Baskin Robbins with my kids
  • 32 attended a Dodger Game for Sandy Koufax #32 bobblehead night
  • 33 made a Picture Frame out of a record album
  • 34 Went to  34th street Newport beach where He asked me to be his wife and ate choc. covered strawberries
  • 35 Sorted all the 35 mm pictures and scanned them from
    slides – finally!
  • 36  The year of Bone China so I bought a teapot
  • 37 This is a prime number so I bought something on Amazon Prime. Then I rode the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland
  • 38 wanted to go to the 38th parallel (Northern CA) but it was on fire so went with the kids to AZ instead

So this year I tried to think of something clever and the only thing I could think of for 39 is the length of a meter! That seemed too much of a stretch to do anything about, as did any reference to Meter in music or the perpetual age of Jack Benny. So, instead, I went to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan. While it may seem random, there are reasons! First of all, Jim was a magician. Also, he knew it was there and always wanted to visit it when we lived in the midwest but we never made it. So on my trip to Michigan I employed the car and the companionship of my BFF and off we went! We both thought it would be “lame” and wondered more than once on the way, in a summer thunderstorm, if it was really going to be worth it, but we were doing it for Jim! Well, it was worth it!

It was very interesting. We both learned a lot and we spent much longer than we had anticipated wandering through the museum. Jim would have loved it! And, on a side note: This is the last year I can say I was married for more than half my life!

So an extraordinary day, the day I changed my name and a whole lot more, that I celebrated for 30 years with Jim has become an ordinary day. Even though I cannot stop thinking about Jim, even though I carry him forever in my heart, I hold my memories in and thank the Lord quietly for the man He gave me. I do celebrate in some small way every day and our kids reflect his heart.

It was a good day today. I went to work and wore the T-shirt I bought at the museum. I ate junk food and cried a little.  I got greetings and love from many friends. I was blessed to be married to my best friend, to do ministry side by side and create 2 amazing kids. Pretty magical. Thank you Lord.

Parenting Parents

Let me start by saying that my amazing parents are living in their own home and are very intelligent and capable people. They are, however, definitely technologically challenged as many 80somethings are. Further, I can see how what many of my friends have experienced with their older parents is becoming a possibility with my folks too. This is on my radar as I drive down to their house to teach them how to use a smart phone and plan a trip to Alabama.

What I mean is that I can see how they need more from their kids, just as we needed them when we were growing up. It is the mundane things that they were able to handle themselves back in the day that now takes them twice as long because they do not understand the internet and life without “paper”. It is looking up information without going to the library, making reservations without using a landline or travel agent, and banking without a printed statement!

My parents were my caregivers for the first 20 years of my life. Did they always do a good job? Of course not! Did I always feel supported and understood? No. Was I provided for? Most of the time. What they did best was pray for me, lead me to Jesus, create a “family” of friends and others who mentored, trained and extended their reach. They did their best.

I know there are differences between my parenting styles and theirs. I am very much aware that there are realities that come into play because they are consenting adults and they are not my kids! And yet, there are parts of parenting that impact our relationship moving forward. They have never been this age before and parts of it may be scary or frustrating. Many of their friends have already made it safely home and are no longer available to lean on for advice or friendship. They can’t do all the things they used to do as independently as they used to do them.

It is my prayer to never need my kids when I get old (I am a 5 on the enneagram) but I probably will. I pray that they will notice the ways that I have cared for their grandparents with kindness, patience and generosity. May we all have courage to walk together in love all the way home.

Goodbye to Earl Gray

So the Toyota is done. After 230000 miles, many trips and oil changes, moves and soccer tournaments, it can no longer pass smog. It has served our family well. I prayed that it would get Clayton through college and it did! I will miss it but I am so glad to not have to worry about kids breaking down anymore. Since I really do not like cars and the expense, I go for cars that last “forever” and this one sure did!

Thanks Earl Gray! RIP

Like Father Like Son

Hey Jim! … So yesterday our son told me he is interested in vocational ministry. I must admit that I find that daunting and I am not sure why. Perhaps it is because I can see how things have changed or because I have become a bit jaded. Maybe it is because I have seen so much “hurt” caused by churches to those in ministry and such a poor work ethic among those I work with. Mostly I think it because you are not here to mentor him. I wish you were, because you were so good at that.

Clayton is like you in so many ways and yet so different too. Like you, he is introverted, talented and smart. You would be so proud of him, and of Emily too. I am so humbled to be their mom. It is reasonable logic to say that long life and children are a blessing, but Proverbs 17:6 is surprising when it says that the glory of children is their father! Our kids have taken great pride, and rightly so, in the blessing of you as a dad!

I need a new word

Sometimes I miss you because you made me laugh

Sometimes I miss you because I have a question that I know you would be able to answer

I miss someone else helping me with chores and responsibilities; making goals, plans and sharing plans and my day at the end of it.

I miss cooking and family routines. I miss your wisdom and your smile.

Of course, I miss you every day and I can get by missing those things and millions of other fading memories.  

The one thing I miss most is something deeper and bigger that aches all the time. It feels indescribable because it is so complex and special. I think there is no word for it, but intimacy is close. I don’t mean physical intimacy (although that is sometimes true). It is the oneness of us that I cannot erase and I can’t seem to remove from the very core of my being and go back to the me that existed before us.

Intimacy means “in-to-me-see”; it is the sense of union and mixing of life on life. Connection. Since you went away no one has looked into my heart to see who I really am. No one knows me the way that you did. I miss hearing your heartbeat. I am lonesome for the aliveness that came when we found each other. I miss knowing you so completely that I could see myself better. Thank you for making the load of walking the earth a little lighter for a while.

Walking the rest of the way would be unbearable without the One who knows me even more intimately than you. God makes me feel known in a way that no one on earth is able now that you are gone.

So I was asked to share about John.  That is really difficult because most of you know him better and longer than I and are much more capable. I thought about just “winging it” or starting 10 minutes late, in “John fashion” but I am not that good! I met John when we moved back to California 13 years ago.  Jim was teaching in BYKOTA and the 2 of them realized they both were youth pastors, trombonists and had the same sense of humor. I am thankful for your ministry to me and my family, especially as you walked a very dark valley with us as you helped me walk Jim home to heaven 8 years ago.

If I were to look in a dictionary and find the word pastor, I wouldn’t be surprised to find your picture there. John you are the very definition of a pastor!  And in true ministry style I came up with this acronym/acrostic for the word Pastor:

Pursuit of Godliness – John, your ministry has shown me the connection between faithfulness and fervor. You are always calling us to apply and put into practice what we have encountered in the Word. Your own pursuit of the Lord as a long obedience in the same direction is more powerful than all the words you have ever said put together (and that is a lot of words)! You have persevered and your time in God’s  Word and prayer is evident…

Available –Hopefully everyone is aware that the Bible does not really give a theological basis for retirement.  But that’s okay, because John is not going to retire anyway. Can you imagine him shuffling around in slippers and a robe waiting for God to take him home?  No! He will remain restfully available! John is going to retire from work as our culture deems it, but he will continue to listen and respond to the Spirit and minister as only John can!

Steward – John will continue pastoring and stewarding the gifts God has given him We are told in Scripture to be stewards of all God has given us all the way to the end. So now John will continue to steward your resources and your time in new ways. Even though there is no retirement from service to God, there are seasons of life that affect the kind of service we do! Thank you for modeling a strong work ethic, John.

Teacher – You can’t teach people what you do not know. And you know Jesus! John, your Joy and enthusiasm are contagious. I have learned so much from you! No matter what anyone says about your humor and your stories, I personally cannot get enough!

Ordained – John, there is No question that you are called to full time vocational ministry. You have strong moral integrity and character that is above reproach. We could talk about the fact that you are a character but everyone knows that too! A pastor is a servant leader who never stops leading and serving.

When  in 2 Kings 13, Elisha and King Jehoash have an exchange where the prophet instructs the King to shoot an arrow out the window as a symbol of victory over Syria. The king shoots 3 arrows and quits. Elisha said that if he had shot every arrow he had he would not see a limit to God’s intervention on his behalf against Israel’s enemies. John you are shooting all your arrows courageously all the way to the finish line, never settling for less and I for one am watching…thank you!

Renaissance Man – Do you know what a Polymath is? Well it is the technical term for Renaissance man. P didn’t fit into the acrostic anyway so we will go with Renaissance! In the western society  we usually reward people who capitalize on the determined pursuit of something with singular focus. We call them specialists and seek them out. A polymath is different. They manage to achieve mastery across multiple industries, arts and fields of studies. They are always willing and driven to learn new things. John, You are a polymath, better known as a renaissance man. We often hear jack-of-all-trades, master of none; and yet during the Renaissance, a man who could do whatever he put his mind to was the ideal of perfection, making him a master-of-all.   Your music, your love of youth, your intergenerational approach to life and ministry has given you a breadth of experience and expertise that flows like a flood, encompassing and saturating any field it comes across! Multidisciplinary polymathy is the sign of a true pastor according to Paul, who wanted to be all things to all people that he might win some! And John, you are winsome!

In closing, I am reminded of the story of Elijah and Elisha in the Bible. It is often used when someone retires, as the older pastor places the “mantle” on the younger disciple and passes on His responsibilities and calling onto the younger. The current challenge is often in the every day life at church the change of leadership is not so easy. People have a tough time transitioning –it is messy and disruptive and heart wrenching, even if it is inevitable.  The modern Elijahs are still around and called to do all the weddings and funerals! And besides some of the members are still stuck playing the comparison game; it seems that the new and younger prophets can’t begin to fill the old Elijah’s shoes. John does have size 15 shoes!  John’s mantle is heavy and his shoes are too big to fill and yet my prayer continues to be “Oh Lord, thank you for this mentor and may I inherit a double portion of this man’s heart and humor and ministry. Amen.

John and Jacque – I love and admire you both!


Forty Years of Thomsens

I remember the day you got married. It was so fun and an honor to be there! There are not many who make it to 40 years; but even more there are not many who make it so well, so strong, so beautifully as you have.

Here are some of my memories (narrowed down to 40…) – your wedding – my wedding – our babies – Brittany – Chad – Emily – Clayton – picking berries – smashed pennies – Arizona trips – hikes – prayer – visits – making furniture – making games – playing games – sharing meals – Best.Custard.Ever. – “special” days and dates starting 7.7.77 – Disneyland – church – cancer – beach – bikes – making memories and sharing stories – weddings of our kids – grandbabies – Burney Falls – Alaska Cruise – Ketchican boat fiasco – Diet Dr. Pepper – Jesus – missions – Santiago canyon – sharing heartaches and loss – mexican food (without onions) – parenting our kids – Bible – late nights – heart treasures – stolen monitor in Chicago – sharing our friends – overalls – nativities – history – family – many more to come…

It is dangerous to make an analogy to an expert, especially when one does not understand all the details, but I am going to take the risk. (I am trusting that what I say will make sense and that you can see my simple perspective) I am not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say there are different styles and levels of quality pieces of furniture. There are the cheap, functional pieces made of pressboard or worse that don’t last but get the job done and there are well-crafted, solid pieces that are works of art and can be passed down and enjoyed for generations. Both serve a similar purpose; yet I don’t know many that would choose the cheaper if they can have the better. Most of us want the furniture that lasts and is passed down to the next generation.

I think marriage is like that. Think about what it takes to create a classic piece of furniture, choosing the design, choosing the wood, maintaining the tools, learning techniques, working backward and patiently. You two have created a beautiful godly marriage and family that is like a well crafted piece of furniture. You have made and used the right tools, cared for, dusted and polished it, buffed out the scratches and more to create a legacy that will last. Your relationship is a great example of the process: tacking the hard tasks first, working patiently, designing something useful and beautiful together that is pleasing, long lasting and a work of art. I love you both and I treasure you. I thank God for such a stunning work of art in your marriage. It is a gem of great value – a RUBY!

With admiration and joy – Miriam

Long Lost Friend

So in the seventies I met this amazing woman who would become the wife of Jim’s best friend and then she became my best friend! The 4 of us became family, in the best way possible, as we have traveled together, shared meals, raised kids, cried and laughed in a million ways. And I hope you know that you have impacted my life in more ways than you can imagine.

First let me start by saying Happy Birthday Janis Ruth Terry!

I would like to add that sometimes life gets ahead of me and our days apart turn to months apart and I am left wondering how time flies so fast. I miss you and I think about you all the time. One of the good things about social media is the way that it keeps people connected. One of the bad things about social media is the way people who should be connected in real time are only in touch virtually. I know we haven’t talked in awhile but I know that if we did, it would be like no time had passed and we were picking up in mid-sentence from our last conversation.

I know you are doing amazing things and loving your kids and grandkids well because I see glimpses on social media and it makes me so happy. I will always cherish our years of adventures, endless laughter, and the intentionality with which we have cared for each other. I look forward to making more memories in the future. But for today, in the midst of busy lives and work, our friendship remains an unbroken circle, a tale as old as time, and one of the best things in my life. And I cannot wait until we get our rhythm back and move “in sync” again! Until then, I hold you in my heart. I love you! With joy and hope, Miriam

Paris in the Spring

A place does not matter any more than the value we give it. There are many amazing places around the world, but the ones I love best are the ones with memories and relationships attached. Similarly, we can worship anywhere and we are called to worship the Lord daily (Rom. 12:2); and yet the places that I have worshipped in the past hold those powerful, reflective memories that continue to move me.  I have been to Notre Dame Cathedral. Jim and I went for our 20th wedding anniversary almost 20 years ago! I still remember the conversation we had and the prayer we prayed there.

Additionally, I know that God’s best plan was to live in us; we are the temple of the Lord.  We house the Lord Almighty and He is the portable God who goes with us wherever we go. But that does not mean that sacred places don’t exist. Of course they do. Some are famous and some are personal and obscure. Nonetheless, they are special for a variety of reasons.

There is something about a church building set aside for worship of God that occupies a clear space at the center of our lives (as well as the cities and towns they are in). I know the building is not where God exists and I have played my fair share of games in the meeting spaces where I have also worshipped. But there is a common recognition that there is holiness and beauty in the world when we see a holy site.  This week the world watched in horror as Notre Dame, an historic icon and a global treasure, burned.

Even in the midst of such an unnerving scene the glimpses of true beauty are there if we notice. People who have not worshipped the Lord in years were drawn in and grieved for the loss of a sacred space. People stood stunned. They wept and prayed. They sang. They stepped up to the “proverbial offering plate” and volunteered to help salvage and restore this monument that stands tall for God. The divine image that humanity bears revealed itself and will continue to do so. I am reminded of the stories of 9/11 that shined through the darkness, even though the twin towers were not places of worship, Or the worshipful moments at the town square in Disneyland, of all places.

I am reminded of a few things. First, anything can change at a moment’s notice so make the most of every day. Live gratefully and learn to not take things for granted.

Next, many buildings burn every day. People die. Most are not noticed except by those who love them, which is the point! Crying over a loved one’s death does not mean that the stranger at the back of the newspaper obituary’s life does not matter. Of course it does, but the personal, emotional connection we have with someone we know leaves us broken hearted. Similarly the familiarity of a cathedral in the middle of Paris is like an old friend.

Buildings, souvenirs and photo albums represent the deep connections we have for things and people in our lives. We are supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Perhaps someone does not have any kind of attachment to a 1000 year old church in France, but someone else does, whether it is for the wrong reason or not. Notre Dame, though it does not house God, houses people who do. It points to God and reminds people that He is near, even to those who have not paid attention or forgotten or lost hope.

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