I have a mentor that lives half the year near Phoenix, Arizona and half the year in Seaside, on the Oregon coast. He invited me to coffee 10 or 11 years ago and I went along, just to humor him ( and hear some cool biker stories cause he rides a Harley ).
Its turned out that I needed a lot of wisdom to make life better…and he’s not afraid to give it to me. Besides that, he prays for me every day.
Every summer I try to make it out to see Al and acquire my yearly vaccination against aggravated stupidity. Some years are more successful than others. This past June we arranged to meet at Bagels by the Sea, a local Seaside Bank turned bakery, literally, now rolling in the dough. We spent a couple of hours in dialogue over reflections on life and at the end, I realized I had a couple of hours to kill since I wanted to miss rush hour in Portland. Down the road from Seaside, at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, is the beautiful seaside port of Astoria. And here, my amazing friend, Tamee, is raising her four children. I decided it was time to pay a visit.
The thing to know about Tamee is that she makes life work, despite overwhelming odds…and that her fans are fiercely loyal. And of course, I’m a fan. So I started driving from Seaside to Astoria and made the call. She picks up and I find out the kids are gone, but she has room for a little chat time, which totally makes my day. I love meaningful conversation. Come to find out, the Amazon Tam is having a rough day and could use a little emotional support so I ask the silly question, ” What can I do to serve you?” She takes me outside and shows me her yard and, eyebrows raised, says, “Help?”
So on August 23, the bus pulled out of the Bridge House parking lot and fifteen friends headed for Tamee’s house. Tools took over the back of the bus…shovels, rakes, hedge trimmers, etc. in preparation for the razing. Up the 5 to a lovely Starbucks gave the adults enough time to realize we were under caffeinated and the children and pup enough time to realize that it was time for a bodily fluid release. Every one made the appropriate adjustments and we moseyed on.
About 45 minutes later we hit the first light in Astoria, take a left, and it’s all uphill from there. Our 25 passenger bus took the hills in stride and a drive by with a u-turn landed us directly in line with the war zone. Our kids ran out to meet their kids and the adults started perusing the opportunity.
Tamee had two jobs. Tell us what she wanted done and make lunch. Turns out she’s masterful at both. Soon the Krause’s and Arco’s hit the backyard with a vengeance, the Schelske’s took on the hedge and flower beds and the Brusett’s and Tom Crozier took on the front yard slope. Meanwhile, the kids took on freeing the mailbox from it’s lavish mooring in ivy. They did a spectacular job!
I’m not sure why it’s so much fun to do someone else’s yard. Maybe it’s the company. Tom Crozier, a friend from Heartlife Imagineering and Faith by the Fire, hung out with Caeden and Tienna and I. We talked about our kids ( Tom and I ), about the weather, about the work…and pretty soon we noticed that we had done a bit of work. I asked Tamee to make lunch later, rather than earlier, cause I was afraid that if we sat down at 11:30 we’d never get back up to finish the job. She pulled out the spread around 12:30 and we were grateful for the break. Thirty minutes of rest and delicious nourishment and we settled back into finishing the task. A couple of pickup truck loads and some 20 odd garbage bags later, it was looking pretty good. Sometime around 4, we loaded up the bus, said our farewells and headed back home. Funny, but the ride home sure had some quiet going on.
Sometimes it all seems a bit magical to me. A random phone call, or stop on by, leads to a chance to take a day and change somebodies life, for the better. Reminds me of what I thought God’s kingdom would be like when I was growing up. People serving and loving each other to make the passage of time here just a reminder of the days to come. It makes me grateful to get those moments now, little reflections, that today is not all I have nor will it ever be.