Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy birthday, dear Catherine!

Catherine holding Baby Nicholas
Today is my dear friend Catherine's birthday. Catherine was one year behind me at Beaverton High School, but we didn't know each other. I've always thought that is a shame, because we would have been fast friends as teenagers. We were both active in our church youth groups (hers Catholic and mine Lutheran), fairly straight laced ("good girls"!), and into rainbows. Catherine's husband Brad played drums in the band with my sister, but that was about the only connection we had. When it came time for college, I went north to PLU and she went south to the U of O. She had to go through a lot of tough times during those early years of being a wife and mom (the advantage of having kids earlier like they did was that they'll have an empty nest while they are younger...but the disadvantage is the lack of financial resources and the challenges of getting through school while working and raising a baby!). I admire how Catherine and Brad created a wonderful life for themselves and their family in spite of starting off with some tough times. Fast forward several years later, and Catherine, Brad, and their family began attending our church.
Uncle Henry, Aunty Em, Dorothy,
and the Wicked Witch (the birthday boy)
It took a few years to get to know each other, but soon we realized how much we had in common. First and foremost, the way we view the world and our places in it. Second, how important other people are. And third, how we should spend the precious time we have here on earth. We asked Catherine and Brad to be one of Kieran's set of godparents, and they have been ever present and active in his life (and all of our children's!). We knew how serious they were when they came in "Wizard of Oz" costume to Kieran's fourth birthday party! And they gave him precious, rare Wizard of Oz dolls dressed up as the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. He fits so well into their family culture.
Catherine and Brad have been wonderful parenting models for us, as they've been traversing the journey several years ahead. They've loved their children unconditionally while providing emotional support and guidance and encouraging their independence. And they are a family who loves to spend time together. They've created amazing family traditions for holidays and share their hospitality and creativity openly with their friends and family. They share our belief that it's more important to spend time together as a family than to acquire an enormous house, the newest cars, and the latest gizmos. What's important is soaking up life's great pleasures, such as seeing the world, tasting the food, and listening to the music. And they love to celebrate life with great parties and time hanging out with each other and their friends.

At Catherine's 45th birthday party
(dressing as a 90-year-old)
Catherine is one of the kindest, most generous and loving people I know. She rarely says an unkind word about anyone and she hates to hurt people's feelings. She epitomizes the saying "It's better to be kind than to be right," because people are important to her.

At the baby shower
With her wonderful daughter Julia
When a friend who used to go to our church got pregnant, Catherine asked me if I wanted to help put together a baby shower for her. She has such phenomenal party ideas (such as having the guests paint onesies for the baby) and is such a creative party host that I felt I didn't do much to help! 
At Julia's graduation party
When our beloved pastor and friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, Catherine had the idea that we should go shopping together and find bracelets we could wear each day of her treatment and say a prayer for her...which we did. I think I will wear my bracelet until it falls apart...I've become quite attached to wearing it every day.

For my birthday last October, Catherine treated me to lunch downtown (with champagne) and gave me a bag full of wonderful goodies she knew I would love. Before my surgery in December, she presented me with a bag full of "12 Days Before Your Surgery" gifts. Each day up to my surgery, I had a beautiful card and fun little gift to open. Ranging from worry dolls and finger puppets to chocolate, they cheered me up and distracted me from my worry...just her intention. It was one of the most wonderful and thoughtful gifts anyone has ever given me...I was truly overwhelmed!

In addition to being kind, loving, and generous, Catherine is my hippest friend! :) She and her family always know the best Portland restaurants, the latest music, and the most happening movies or TV shows. When I need a good restaurant recommendation, she's the first person I contact.

Our community of Mission of the Atonement has given us so many gifts--first and foremost have been the incredible friendships we have made. I feel so blessed to have Catherine in my life and be able to call her my friend! Happy birthday, sweet Catherine!! She's a great example of how my friendships are stronger and more valuable to me than ever. I love you, friend!

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