days like this - part 2

I came across the blog post I wrote three years ago this week. It was just recounting the beautiful day I had lived on that July 27th, 2014. You can read it here. Today had uncanny, beautiful similarities. I'm so grateful that I recorded that day three years ago, so I wanted to simply record today in light of it.

By the time I got up, Grandpa Jerry was already working on installing baseboards on our newly laid flooring. I made breakfast, Grammy volunteered to take Jasmine to the church where she went to school last year, and she was so excited to see all her friends. Destiny and I headed out early for a "sister date" at a new bakery in town. It's wonderful how just a few years of growing up means that I'm not out to entertain my little sister anymore; instead I bought her a cup of coffee for the first time and we just sat and talked until it was time to head to church. We walked into that same school cafeteria where we met three years ago with most of the same dear people. Tim, the pastor, kept teaching through Ephesians, and while he was talking about the concept of respect, he told a story about Dad showing him respect like very few people ever had. It was so special.

As we pulled out of the school parking lot, the field full of Queen Anne's Lace was too tempting, and I'm too aware of the frailty of time, so I pulled over and got Destiny out of the car to snap a few pictures. She's beautiful, and I just want her to know it. This one was her favorite.

We got home and heated up leftover Mexican food for lunch and ate on the deck outside with Grandpa Jerry and Mom. I came inside and wrote thank you letters for the additional scholarships that Trinity Western University gave me for school this year. It was my Sabbath, and honestly this week has been a bit more difficult emotionally, even though most of that still happens on the inside. So I wanted to get some alone time, which can be a bit hard to come by with this house full (of wonderful people). I grabbed my Greek New Testament, thinking maybe I could pre-read the text for church later that evening. I poured a cup of iced coffee and went into Dad's darkroom.

Dad dreamed of having his own darkroom for years, and he finally completed it not long ago. He installed all the plumbing, lights, and equipment, and loved to go experiment in this last year with developing, dodge and burn, and other terms I heard and didn't understand. Some of the stuff he developed was old, and some were new ones he took on the cool old cameras he has stashed all over the property.

Back in 2014, Dad and I spent this afternoon together, him reading a book about a photographer and me trying to read the Greek New Testament even though I'd never taken Greek. This year, I've studied Greek, and I was going to read my New Testament, but I saw a stack of his books by the enlarger in the darkroom. I pulled one off about Edward Weston, a name I've heard Dad drop quite frequently, and started flipping through pages of black-and-white images, many of which I've heard Dad tell me about or seen him imitate. One of Weston's famous images is on the wall above Dad's desk, right next to me at the moment. I remember him quizzing us to see how many of the famous photographer we could name; the only one I got consistently was Ansel Adams, of course. Usually I just look at the pictures and then move on to my own projects or readings, but today I started reading the text describing the photos, their context, their meaning, and Weston's vision when taking them. It was enthralling. Dad was good at capturing images, but he was never much of a writer. Reading Weston felt like someone was explaining this passion Dad had for photography. It was more than just taking pictures, it was a whole new way of seeing the world, one where nothing is more valuable than life itself.

It was time to head off to church downtown; I went with my neighbor and met two more friends at church. The teaching series is going through the Sermon on the Mount, and today was about Jesus' teaching regarding taking oaths. The heart of Jesus' command not to take oaths is that we always tell the truth, that we be people of such integrity that no one would question our "yes" or "no."

Walking out of church, I realized that I had forgotten to bring the sweater I promised to Michelle, the homeless woman outside the church. She was there, trying to sell a painting that she had done with the old art supplies I brought a few weeks ago. I would rather not have written here that I forgot to bring her the sweater she asked for last week, but since the sermon talked about telling the whole truth, that had better be part of it. She was distraught with the problems of the week and her failing health, and I told her I was so sorry and I'll try to bring the clothes next week. It's so hard to see her life falling apart and feeling like there's nothing else I can do. She was on that corner three years ago too, and the only difference is that she has lost some much weight and has gained a wheelchair. Emily got our usual fries and a small frosty on the way home and talked about what it means to be truthful, honest, people of integrity.

I came home to find friends on the porch, one in the pool, the first swim of the year. It has taken so much work to get this pool up and running; we're so grateful for the many people who have helped do what Dad always did for us. I made myself a drink and came in to write this post, but was pulled away as Mom turned on some home videos. A friend from church came over this afternoon and fixed the I.T. problems we were having with our TV, and we had enough time before bed to watch a disc of videos; mom picked one from 2001, and we watched Macaela's 5th birthday and Dad teaching us to ride bikes.

And so here the day ends, in many ways similar to three years ago, and in many ways so vastly different. I'm grateful for the things that have not changed: our church in the cafeteria, iced coffee, a love for Greek, photographer books, that I'm writing this post on the same laptop he and I bought that day, deep conversations, bridgetown church, stopping at Wendy's, hugs before the girls headed to bed. I'm grateful for many of the changes: beautifully maturing sisters, the fulfilled dream of studying Greek, the installed darkroom, the closer relationship and intimacy with Jesus. But of course I miss the biggest things that have changed, Dad most of all. I still can't believe I'm even writing about Dad in past tense; it feels like my past self will read this post and think, "No, that can't be." But there was beauty today, and there is more to come. There is hope in this life, and in the resurrection that Jesus began.

He is constant. He is faithful. He does not change. He is with us.


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