Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Look Back on 2017

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,

the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46 has been on my mind a lot in 2017. I remember years ago at a Bible study some of the older women in our church spoke about what a comfort the Psalms were to them. At that time I was not really even trying to have a regular time of devotions, and I felt ashamed that I could not even remember more than Psalm 23, and maybe part of Psalm 100. I still can't recite anything more, but I do read more, and I better understand the importance of the Psalms.

At the beginning of the year both my father and my mother passed away. My dad was days away from being 88, and my mom had recently turned 85. Although as I get older, the 80's don't sound as old as they used to, I am thankful my parents had a good, long life. Mom was in hospice with Parkinson's symptoms that made her need a lot of care. Dad was in assisted living and doing all right but with health issues, too.

At the end of January Dad got sick and things kind of spiraled downward. He was able to spend his last days at the nursing home where Mom was, so he got to say good-bye to her. I flew out to Lynden and took turns at his bedside with my sister and sister-in-law. The whole family was there around Christmas, so we are grateful we all got to see Mom and Dad one last time. Mom died a few months after Dad, for which we are grateful, too. She would often forget he was gone and it was heart-wrenching. I sometimes say that if their deaths had to happen -- which they did, of course -- they were good deaths.
Mom, Kathy, Dad - Christmas 2016
During that time, I often thought about not being afraid, and knowing that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Many of you sent cards with beautiful, loving words of sympathy. I did not formally send out notes of thanks, but I thank you now for all of them. Your words and prayers were a wellspring of comfort. Our relationships are everything, aren't they?

I was able to go to two different retreats at a nearby Jesuit retreat center. What a blessing it is to "be still and know that [he is] God." Silence has always been a source of peace for me. One of the retreats was a silent retreat, and that gave me a taste of what it is to be silent for an extended period of time. It was a bit more difficult than I'd anticipated, but it was good.
Jesuit Retreat Center
Speaking of silence, Randy and I took a 2 week road trip through the Northwest, including a visit to Olympic National Park. According to a scientist I heard on a radio interviewer, Olympic National Park is one of the few places in the world that still has areas of silence -- where you hear no man-made sounds. We had never been there and it is truly awesome, in the "awesomest" sense of the word.

As far as the family, I still feel like the luckiest mom and grandma in the world -- all the kids and grandkids are in the Bay Area. It's wonderful that they are close enough to see often. Our youngest granddaughter, Zach and Ashlee's baby, Violet, just turned one on December 1st. Zach just got a new job at a large audio-visual company. He's working in a warehouse in Pleasanton and he and his family plan to move in the near future, to be nearer his work, and also, they hope, to find housing that is less costly.

Luke and Des' daughters, Delaney and Lydia, are 9 and 4, respectively. Luke recently got promoted to a supervisor position at Safeway Distribution so both the "boys" are advancing in their careers. Des is working part time at a furniture dealer. Both their jobs and Delaney's school are quite close to their apartment in Pleasanton.

Cori continues to work as an ER Nurse at Stanford Hospital. She enjoys the work and has gotten to be good friends with several of her co-workers. Recently they took a trip to Mexico and had a great time. Cori loves to travel. She lives in an apartment in downtown San Jose with her cousin (my niece) Rachel. They've been roommates a few years now and it works out well. Cori likes it that her apartment is within walking distance of the "Shark Tank" (where the hockey team plays). Our family are big fans of the Sharks. (Except me, I just don't get into watching sports.)

Randy is working at Labcyte still and that is going well. I still work at Pivot Interiors and it's going well, too.
All of us. Front row: Cori, Des. Second row: Zach, Ashlee, Violet, Randy, me, Luke. Third row: Delaney, Lydia.
Our church is another big part of our lives. I finished my term as elder and president of the Council. We went through some tough times during my tenure, but with God's help we are through it. Our church is small, but beloved.

Besides wonderful family times, there have been great times with friends, weekend trips, and much more. If you are interested in seeing photos from our various adventures, click here. I also blog at

Two times, like a chorus, Psalm 46 says
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
"Fortress." Not a word we use much. I looked it up, and one meaning is "a person or thing not susceptible to outside influence or disturbance." That seems to me like a good definition for its context in the Psalm. There are all kinds of influences and disturbances out there, but "the Lord Almighty is with us," and
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall...
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts...
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear...
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear.

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