Hearts Sewn Together

Libby and Pat's Home
Libby and Pat’s Home

Libby and I met fifty years ago, when we were both children. I was a sophomore in college, dating her sister Alice. Libby was a sophomore in high school.  Since leaving Pennsylvania, I may have seen her three times: once in 1986, twelve years later in 1998; then another nineteen years brings us to last Friday.  Nineteen years ago, Libby told me about her husband Pat, who I had yearned to meet ever since.  Today I feel blessed to know them both.

Libby and Pat invited me into their home. They live in a modified A-Frame, in the woods, near the top of a mountain, surrounded by many other mountains in Western Maryland. Stock flowers, Impatiens, Lantana and vegetables grow in their gardens, which are  visited by deer, bears and turkeys. Inside, knotty pine walls adorned with pictures slant inward and upward to create a cozy living room, dining room and kitchen.

We began talking while sitting on the deck, and never stopped.  We continued sharing and listening as we gathered in the kitchen and Libby prepared supper.  Pat said grace because he claimed supper would get cold if he allowed Libby to pray.  After supper we retired to the living room, with two soft couches and fluffy pillows, to enjoy some strawberry shortcake.  Libby and Pat cuddled on the couch and we continued our conversations until all were sleepy-eyed. I slept soundly in a soft bed upstairs.

We talked of family, of common friends.  Old friends.  We talked about our lives, what we have been doing, our joys and tribulations. We talked about Martha, whom Libby has never met.  We talked about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit. Libby and Pat pray often, and hear God speaking to them.  They ask God for help and directions before making decisions.

Pat is a Pastor.  He started a nearby church many years ago.  Beginning with three people, it grew and flourished.  A few years ago, he left the church behind, and now Libby and Pat meet with small groups in peoples’ homes.  They call them Gatherings.  They say the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts.  I believe that too.

Friday night I told them the story of when I was saved.  I had never before shared that event with anyone.  I told them because Libby asked. It’s not a pretty story and it’s also an amazing story, that happened 36 years ago.  I didn’t deserve to get saved, but I asked and I received.

I remember going to Tonj with the Evangelicals in 1998. We fed starving people, treated the sick, and vaccinated children. At night we showed the Jesus film and Sunday morning pastors baptized people in the river. I remember how they counted the number of people who were saved.  They divided the world into two groups – the saved and un-saved.  I never wanted to tell anyone which group I was in.  However people judge me is their business.  I believe the relationship between each person and God is between the two of them, not for others to judge.  Matthew 7:1.

Libby asked because she cared – not to decide if I was one of the flock or one of the others. Still, I hesitated. Libby said I didn’t have to share.  A voice told me to speak.  I felt safe and I felt loved.  I knew if ever I was going to tell the story, it was then and it was to them.  I believe God brought me to their home to share my story and I feel blessed.

Pat, Libby, and Karl
Pat, Libby, and Karl

Although we seldom see each other, Libby says our hearts are stitched together by the Holy Spirit.  I believe that to be true.  Wow!


I have a new job, a contract job working for Earth Networks, actually working for my son Mike. (He’s a physicist.)   My current assignment is to create a contour map showing detector error from a stream of data. After writing javascript for five years, I now need to learn to write C#, use the .NET framework, create sql queries, and serve web pages.  Although my past experience allows me to learn quickly, I feel barely competent doing this work.  That got me to thinking about competence as it relates to my past jobs.

Edgenuity c. 2010 – 2015

Rating: Extremely competent –  Every day I was sure of two things: 1) I knew what I was doing and how to do it;  2) No one could do it better.  I loved this job.  Looked forward to working every new day.  I was sure the people with whom I worked valued my contributions.  Until they deleted me.

Teaching Jobs c. 1998 – 2015

Rating: Shitso, as in schizomaniac –  On any given day, I was as good I did that day; no, as good as I did with my last student of that day.  Some days I came home depressed, thinking I had no clue how to reach the kiddos.  Other days I came home at the top of the world, thinking I was great and powerful.

Microsoft c. 1981 – 1994

Rating: Shitso – . Most days I felt utterly unqualified.  Worse, I was terrified that others would realize I was a complete idiot.  Some days, not many, I thought I was a god.  Actually, I still remember the day one of my bosses told me he thought I was a god.  Steve Ballmer didn’t think I was a god, but he thought I was good enough that he gave me an award one year,  a 10K bonus another year, and two leaves of absence when I could do whatever I wanted and then come back.

Oh, also, I met an old friend at a reunion a couple years ago.  Good friend.  He said – he was so glad I was there, he wanted to tell me that everything he ever learned about management he learned from me.  That was 20 years ago.  Since then he became a vice president. I became a teacher.

Wang c. 1979 – 1981

Rating: Competent –  My first computer job, first day, my boss Geoff said nice things to me.  Maybe a half year later, I overheard him grumbling to some other dude that I was underdressed for some occasion.  About six months later, he thought I was, well not a god, but maybe a godsend.  I thought I was hot shit until I got to Microsoft and everyone else was smarter.

Facebook No, Strava Yes

descentofmanToday Facebook has 1.7 billion worldwide users.  I’m not one of them.  Several times this year I found myself asking why not, maybe I should join up.  I miss seeing my son’s posts from Japan, I miss seeing posts about Saturday bike rides, and I don’t know what else I’m missing by not seeing posts from my old friends at Microsoft.

Every time I was on the verge of signing up, I found a new reason to say no to Facebook.  Strava provides all the social media I want.

Facebook No
  • I hate Advertising.  The real purpose of Facebook is to provide a vehicle for advertising.   You cannot read a person’s posts without seeing ads.  Even if people claim they don’t buy stuff that’s promoted, I believe advertising influences our lives in more subtle, and more insidious ways by manipulating our values.
  • People post a lot of stuff I don’t want to read.  My daughter described how I would be inundated with a myriad of trivial details. From what I’ve read, most people don’t care about what other people write anyway.
  • Or people do care about other people write and they get depressed. People post what they want the world to see, not a true view of their lives, not the blemishes.
  • I don’t want any part of the Friend – Unfriend drama.  I don’t want people to feel hurt because I unfriend them, or because I don’t accept their friend requests.  I don’t want to feel hurt because someone declines my request.
  • I don’t want to connect with people I knew in high school, or old girlfriends.
  • I watch people waiting in line at Starbucks, glued to their smartphones, thinking we should invest more time talking to each other.
  • My friend Bob recently told me about re-posts.  I’m not sure I understand them, but they sound awful.  Apparently a lot of what people post is not original, rather a proliferation of advertising.
  • I’m not sure I understand Like’s, but apparently they resemble kudos on Strava. Push a button to show you like other peoples’ posts – even if you didn’t read them, or they didn’t write them. Collect a lot of likes, and you’re cool.
Stava Yes
  • Strava allows me to stay connected to people I know.  I get to see stuff they did, activities that I might want to do.
  • People have to actually do something to post it on Strava.
  • We can post pictures on Strava.
  • Any activity on Strava is worthy of a kudo – hard ride, easy ride, long run, short run, walk, swim, who cares? Someone I know did something fun.  Give a kudo.