Saturday, December 25, 2010

HHIEGT? (How Have I Encountered God Today?)

Oh my. Last night was definitely another encounter with you, Lord! You seem to abide in music just as much as anywhere else - or at least You reach out to touch my spirit through that medium just as often as You use other ways.

The children's chorus began the joy at last night's Downtown Christmas Eve service - sweet voices blending in praise and flowing from the balcony over those of us who listened below. Then we, the audience, had the privilege of lifting our voices to herald the moment when God chose to descend from heaven and enter the world through the womb of a teenage Jewish girl. What a thought!! What an event!

I thought my skin would not successfully hold in my heart when Kelly Neill sang "O Holy Night," looking down on newlyweds Beverly and Jonathan as they portrayed the little holy family. His pure voice, like liquid gold or silver, made my eyes wet and my soul explode as he reminded us again of the world pining in sin and darkness, until HE appeared and the soul felt its worth!

The darkened auditorium, glowing from myriads of tiny candles held by the worshipers, caused me to think of it as a sanctuary (a term our church doesn't use) rather than simply a sterile room for worship assemblies. The sheer warmth, love and reverence so palpable in that gathering reminded me that our God is our Sanctuary: our refuge, our shelter, our safe haven, our harbor - our Savior and Lord.

Glory be to God and on earth, peace among us all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

HHIEGT? (How Have I Encountered God Today?)

I met You, Father, at a holiday luncheon. Since a Christmas get-together with 20 plus excited women isn't usually the venue for serious conversations, I wasn't expecting for You to shiver my spirit, Lord.

I had refilled my tiny plate and wandered down into a sun-filled room where three or four sisters sat in a tight circle, perched on ottomans and chairs as they munched goodies. (Thank You for drawing me there.) How we landed on such a darkly complex subject I can't recall - but I'm so glad we veered in that direction! As we grieved together over the loss of a young woman from our church family, we collectively voiced our struggle to understand, to comprehend why, when illness strikes, that some are healed and other precious ones are not. I could see the confusion in the eyes of those in the circle as we silently pondered, and I knew I mirrored that bewilderment from my eyes. We continued to mull over the knotty subject; then someone recalled this scripture: "He himself bore our sins in his body ... By his wounds you have been healed" (1Pe 2:24). Someone proposed the idea that perhaps, as servants of Jesus and each other, God may call us to suffer for the sake of another's spiritual healing.

At that moment, one of the ladies thoughtfully said, "That happened with me." She then shared something of her long journey with cancer, which had begun many years previously. This was not a bleak and bitter recitation of an unjust difficulty she had endured; this lovely sister used each stage of her struggle to overflow with praises of the Lord! As she unfolded her passage through the valley, she punctuated her story over and over with thankfulness for the goodness of God even as she experienced apalling pain and sickness. It seemed that even when her body labored just to remain alive, her spirit remained alertly focused on her Master, and took note of and applauded each time God reached down in love.

Of all the amazing gifts the Lord gave during those weeks and months, even years, of calamity, certainly the most wonderful, awesome gift to this sister was the return of her prodigal brother to the Savior as a result of her battle with cancer! We raised our own heartfelt thanksgivings to Him as she concluded her testimony.

A worship assembly with hundreds of lovers of God could not have been more inspiring and uplifting as that little round assembly on that sunny porch. My spirit shivered as we encountered You, Lord.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dishonest Words

"Healing words give life, but dishonest words crush the spirit" (Prov. 15:4).

Dishonest words crush not only the spirit of another person, but also crush relationships - those between people, and those between a person and his or her God. Dishonesty is a poison. It makes for a toxic situation because fear, resentment and uncertainty are introduced into the relationship. Trust begins to wither, or even dies.

Intimacy cannot exist between two people when one or both refuse to be open and truthful with each other. Their relationship remains above ground; they are unable to send down strong roots to stabilize and grow their bond. The ground of their choices is too hard.

Dishonesty can be passive and silent also. Letting another think I believe something when I do not is deceptive. To entertain negative thoughts about or disagree with another's words or actions, then pretend the disagreement doesn't exist is deceptive also, is it not?

"You want me to be completely truthful, so teach me wisdom" (Psa 51:6).

"Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. You have begun to live the new life ... and are beginning to be like the One who made you" (Col 3:9, 10).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Encounter with God

I had an encounter with God last night.

A couple of days ago I decided to begin a new journal entitled: How Have I Encountered God Today? I felt I was drifting through some days, tending to trivia and not really watching for the working of the Lord. I want to be excited and enthralled by my Savior rather than yawning my way home!

However, my first entry was less than exciting; I finally, after several moments of tapping the pencil to my head, wrote down "shelter" and "food." Oh well, I thought, maybe some days I will yawn a little.

Later that evening we traveled to Conway to a Candlelight Carol Service by the Hendrix College Choir, of which our granddaughter, Meredith, is a member. (Invaluable member, I might add.) We've attended many Christmas concerts over the years, all good, usually presented in a regulation school auditorium. This one was different.

Arriving on campus we piled out of the car, tugging on coats, gloves and scarves before walking quickly through the chill wind and rustling dry leaves to a beautiful small chapel, snuggled among larger, stately red-brick buildings.

Greene Chapel, with its warmly intimate sanctuary, set the mood for the service. Dimly lit, the foyer seemed to beckon us in, greeting all with red poinsettias placed in nooks and on tables. Tall, slender black candle "posts" dotted the chapel, awaiting lighting.

As we settled in I admired the diminutive sanctuary. The polished wood ceiling soared upward to a peak, the various pieces forming a beautiful pattern. To the left and right of the front, massive bronze and silver-toned organ pipes stood straight and high, ready to perform. I began to feel as though I had flown back in time, to a scene right out of a Charles Dickens' novel. Perhaps this was a Christmas Eve service on a frigid night in a tiny village far away. Were those snow flurries the people were brushing off their cloaks? Were those really fur-trimmed bonnets the genteel ladies wore? Did I hear the jingle of bells from the sleighs outside, and did some of the gentlemen wear top hats and sport sideburns and mustaches?

I shook loose from my wild imagination and returned to the present.

As the strains of the hymn, Once in Royal David's City, drifted to our ears, the white-robed choir entered, walking single-file down the aisles, each holding a glowing candle. They looked and sounded like angels as they moved to their places, lighting the candle posts along the way.

And I commenced to Have an Encounter with God.

Nine of the choir presented nine different lessons at intervals during the service. All these lessons were pure scripture - no ad-libbing, no comments - just readings of the Word. The first concerned the fall of Adam and Eve, then several read from Isaiah's messianic prophecies, and the last few fed us with the story of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. The final reader proclaimed the mind-bending truth from John 1 which says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." After each reading, the young man or woman lit a candle in the stand behind them, then turned, looked straight at the worshipers and said, "The Word of the LORD." We in the audience responded, "Thanks be to God!"

In and around the lessons flowed the magnificent music and words that lifted us to the throne. My heart overflowed with joy in God my Savior!

Later as I pondered over the evening I concluded that I had gotten a good dose of reverence for Almighty God in that place. Whether it came from the serene setting, the God-honoring carols and hymns, the prayers, the orderliness, the powerful, spoken Word - or all of these - I knew I had caught a glimpse of the Lord God eternal, all-powerful, immortal and glorious.

I had encountered my God.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Leafing through a current women’s magazine this morning, an article caught my eye. On a bright red background white letters proclaimed: 10 Things You Really Need. I couldn't wait to see what they were! Oh. The headline may have been a little shy of the truth and nothing but the truth a wee little bit.

I like make-up as well as the next female, but I don’t need lipstick to live. Eye shadow isn’t essential to keep me breathing. Nor do I have to possess eyeliner, blush or lip gloss to function. Concealer has never saved me from anything – brow pencil, foundation, mascara, and powder will not lengthen my days, my stamina, or broaden my intellect.

That ad is a good example of an attempt to focus us on froth. I know, it’s the business of a publication to major in the things their readers are interested in. And make-up is neither good nor bad – well, wait a minute; it’s good when it makes me look less like a ghoul some days. And I’ve seen some instances (sometimes in young girls with little supervision) when it oughta be against the law. But maybe a more accurate title would be: 10 Things You Might Like to Use, or even, 10 Things That Could Bankrupt You If You Buy Them at the Same Time. (The cost of these cute little things would be around $180 bucks.)

What if we came up with our own list of Some Things You Really Need?

One thing our lips really need is to have the truth on them. Truth looks good on every woman’s mouth; you don’t even have to decide on color – truth makes its own beautiful hue.

A mirror is essential (maybe one that magnifies?!) to examine the inner woman. Only as we honestly look into the Word and agree with God about our sins can we turn to him in repentance and confession and be healed. Don’t ignore the looking-glass because it reveals the truth.

Blush? Yeah, we should blush. But not by working pink powder into our cheekbones – rather, blushing when hearing or seeing ungodly words or actions, or if, God forbid, we ourselves behave as someone who does not know Jesus Christ.

Hiding our hurts, disappointments and sins from fellow believers will only result in hypocrisy and, contrary to what we think, will never convince anybody we’re perfect. We all need support and encouragement; covering up our struggles prevents others from giving that love to us. This is one time when patting concealer over blemishes is not a good idea. If you hide your sins you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy. Pro 28:13

The foundation we choose will determine whether we live eternally! No, not some tinted base we smear on our nose, but the Foundation we truly cannot live without - the Rock on Whom we take our stand – Jesus Christ!

Nothing brightens eyes like a joyful heart! All the shadow and liner in the world can’t manufacture sparkle in the “windows of the soul” if the heart is bitter or sorely grieved. Remembering that we are beloved women of God is a wondrous way to make those eyes light up!!!

Tweezers will tame wild, scraggly eyebrows (which misbehave as we get older), so they can properly frame our eyes. However, only the Lord can tame and subdue a haughty brow and spirit, which are abominations to him. Pride will destroy a person; a proud attitude leads to ruin. Pro 16:18

Every make-up session supposedly must include puffing on translucent powder for a sheer finish. It’s not for everyone, though; some look as though they dabbed themselves with a loaded chalkboard eraser (me). I think I’d rather depend on the holy Lord to finish me: God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.Phil 1:6

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pain in my body blocks my creativity; it shorts out my circuits. It makes me feel as though I suffer from ADHD. I can't concentrate, and feel edgy and tense. I can't be still, but it's impossible to get away from that discomfort. I certainly have a hard time being pleasant.

A sore, throbbing conscience affects my spirit in much the same way. It's almost as though my spirit shrivels, shrinks into itself, trying to recoil from the pain. Doesn't matter how busy I try to be - my suffering conscience is in the middle of every project. Doesn't matter where I go to try and escape; it tags along right beside me.

Just as the problem causing pain in my body has to be treated with the right medication, so my afflicted conscience needs the right (only) prescription: the ointment of repentance and confession. Salve compounded by God into a miraculous healing and freeing balm that completely relieves and soothes that raw conscience and frees my spirit to unfold its wings and fly.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

San Francisco post 11

The wait was worth it - baby Eden Grace is a beautiful bundle!! She looks very much like Nomi did as a newborn, even to the l-o-n-g feet. Airiel says she's a laid-back little girl, not a lot of wah-h-hing at all. They're scheduled to come home around noon today (Sunday).

We visited mommy and Eden yesterday - when asked about his sister, Conrad would invariably say with a grin: "That's Baby Sister, she's out of mommy's tummy!" He studied her for a minute (tickled her nose), then the mobile bed curtains caught his eye and he had a swing on them. Then he discovered that the charts hanging on the end of the bed made a good sound when swatted, then the telephone and call buttons proved to be very interesting - then he was sitting right beside daddy for awhile. Reminded me of when one of Wes's teachers, Evalee Morris, created a spot for busy Wesley right up against her desk.

Nomi hung over Eden, more quietly taking things in. Soon, however, the telly cartoons captured her attention and she propped up on the extra bed to enjoy them. We ended the outing with a drive-by visit to "Donald's." They're rather bossy at this one: a sign ordering you to "Have your order ready "; then another, "Have your money ready" as you approach the window. Jim would not please them: he delights in carefully picking out change as the person in the window stares at him.

Baby and entourage just arrived - all was chaos as the two other short people cavorted and squealed like excited puppies! Eden looks like a fashion diva in her green polka-dot hat and sleeper. Naomi softly oohed and ahhed; Conrad roared in her face. Welcome home, Eden!

God is so good!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

San Francisco post 10

Airiel says, "Now this is the San Francisco I know!" as we walk out into foggy mornings when roofs and trees are obscured by the hazy stuff. I'm reminded of a poem by Carl Sandburg:

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Yesterday's doctor visit proved A. to be dilated to four centimeters (we were hoping for six or seven!) with no other encouraging signs. Oh well, I didn't want to have to make Thanksgiving dinner anyway. Airiel, if you're reading this, I'm just kidding.

Cooked up homemade french fries for the kiddos last night. How many years has it been since I did that?!!! Nomi ate two platesful, with plenty of ketchup of course. These children are great salad eaters too - they stuff lettuce, broccoli, and carrots down the hatch with glee. Their father, on the other hand, recently brought home a 24 oz. bag of chocolate chips; according to Airiel, he "thought maybe somebody would make something with them!"

Wes and Airiel voted last night in the comfort of their living room - talking through and mulling over each section. How convenient to then simply let the postman take care of them! Beats standing in line any day.

Oh I'm missing being in Beth Moore's Breaking Free study in Tues morning Bible class!!! Hopefully, I'll be able to go through the series again later - perhaps with the sisters at Olyphant. I am benefiting from the workbook, tho seems pretty one-dimensional w/ no discussion with others.

Nomi, Conrad and I were strolling in the sunshine this week when a well-endowed young woman, dressed in a rather low-cut knit blouse("rather" being in this case a conservative adjective) bounced and bobbled past us. In a matter-of-fact tone, Naomi said, "That lady was moving her body." "Yes," I replied, as we strolled on.

God bless you all.

Monday, October 11, 2010

San Francisco post 9

This is the week!! Airiel's b-day is Wed, and the official due date for Eden is Thur. I cannot believe that this tiny baby will continue to party in her mommy's tummy past the 14th!!!

Ginger and family's vacation ended on a jarring note: Tim and Stephen set out early Sat morning to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge - which they did. A few minutes later, though, while biking down an almost perpendicular part of a highway, Stephen's mount went berserk and threw him off onto a rock-littered side. He rolled and rolled, gathering multiple abrasions on his back and arms. His helmet was also cracked. His right leg, however, suffered worse trauma: the smaller bone broken near his ankle. One car stopped to see about him. Stephen said later, "That was really cool; they were French!" Two other vehicles slowed but didn't stop. Ginger had a few comments about them, but actually, it's a wonder the French family was able to stop b/c of zero shoulders on that road.

Another passer-by fetched Tim (he was ahead of Stephen, already around the curve) who promptly called an ambulance, which transported Stephen to a near-by hospital's ER. Oh yes, those cars that didn't stop? One of the guys showed up at the ER entrance, piercings adorning much of his person. "Hey, dude, I saw you roll," he offered.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Wes and Ginger jumped into the car and ... crawled to join them. Took them about two hours to go six miles - the air show traffic was thick as molasses. Anyway, Stephen eventually returned home, leg in a splint, cheerful and pain-free (pretty much).

After we'd time to meditate, we praised God that: 1. Nobody ran over him 2. He did NOT plunge over the opposite side of the hwy which dropped off into nothingness 3. His neck wasn't broken, or 4. He went to the ER, and not someplace else if you know what I mean. Thank You, gracious and merciful Father. They flew out early Sun for Memphis.

As they are wont to do, Wes and Airiel invited several people over for lunch yesterday. Our crockpot of chili looked mighty puny to feed seven adults and two kids. Airiel, however, was serene - "The Lord will provide." We did dump more beans into the chili, chop up carrot sticks, put out Fritos, sour cream, Ritz and Wheat Thins and - satisfied everyone. No 12 baskets of leftovers, but we sure didn't complain. One couple, new to SF, hailed from two different Russia-speaking countries, and tried chili for the first time. They liked it! Another guy, Spencer Hemphill, is the son of the author of a book on heaven - sorry can't think of the title. His dad recently spoke at the HU lectureship. Spencer is a great young man!

My granddaughter is up and anxious for granmama to start the day right by making her breakfast. I hope the next time I post I'll have news of the birthing sort.

God bless

Friday, October 8, 2010

San Francisco post 8

Ginger and bunch left early to soak up more of San Francisco – I think Tim would move out here tomorrow if he somehow could swing it.

We took in downtown SF last night; drove through narrow streets to the “Little Italy” section and dined at Provolone’s. Sounds like we got there in just a minute or two – oh, no. By the time we circled round and round (one-way streets), darted past buses and stopped for pedestrians, I could have traveled from Searcy to Little Rock. Loved the restaurant! Tiny tables for two with multicolored mosaic tops hugged the outside front wall with overhead radiant heaters warming the patrons. Each couple carried on lively conversations as they sipped wine, all the while gesturing excitedly – just like I've seen in the movies!! I hope they didn’t mind my staring as we walked by. Our table for the 13 of us was upstairs in a narrow balcony. The waiters had to flatten themselves against the walls as they slid by to deliver our food. Ah, the food: our server spilled out little loaves of bread across our table wrapped in individual paper sleeves. We tore the chewy, crusty bread into pieces and sopped them in salted and peppered olive oil pooled in saucer-sized, white plates (triangles, as Conrad point out). Later, personal pizzas arrived on long, snow-white, stoneware platters, as well as the freshest greens in elongated, white oval bowls, toasty scallops, tender pot stickers – hungry yet?! My crab melt sandwich was luscious, topped with avocado slices. Our server looked remarkably like he ought to: round as a ball in a long white apron, taking orders with a wonderful Italian accent. Perfect!

Prior to eating we drove to a strip of beach near the Golden Gate Bridge to watch a blazing orange ball sink into the ocean. As it dipped lower and lower, a pair of dolphins played leap-frog in the incoming tide and surfers straggled out of the water, done for the day. The kids (and kids-at-heart) delighted themselves in the sand – Conrad said later, “That snow was cold!”

We really tried to walk Airiel into labor, but that baby is set on staying in there awhile longer. We meandered around the Golden Gate Park, then the beach, then walked quite a few blocks to the restaurant. As Tim said to A., “We’re just trying to help you out – and the key word is ‘out!’”

Wes is back full-swing at Fuller – he commutes to Menlo Park each week to a Fuller satellite school housed at Vallombrosa, a Catholic retreat and conference center halfway between SF and San Jose. Absolutely beautiful place!

I just want to know: Do I sound like a Californian yet?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

San Francisco post 7

The sun is beaming through the blinds, Nomi and Conrad are playing pretend games with pieces of foam, and Eden is sitting exactly where she's been for nine months, except that now she's pushing her mommy's belly button out magnificently.

Ginger arrived Monday and played with the kids almost non-stop until she left Tues - they're convinced she's their very own personal entertainer. Hide 'n seek upstairs, tag in the courtyard at dusk, crayoning, "helping" her knit - all in an afternoon and evening. We decided she's another granmama instead of an aunt; she is, after all, 16 years older than Wes.

Tim and Stephen arrived about 1 p.m. Tuesday in a rented YELLOW car, re-made the children’s acquaintance, then the three of them left for Yosemite. They'll be back Thursday; Ginger is hopeful she can be with Airiel for Eden's delivery.

As with all bonafide Churches of Christ, Lake Merced has a monthly potluck. In keeping with the eclectic membership, we feasted on burritos, Mexican chicken, chow mien, spaghetti, KFC original and crispy (which made me feel at home) and even a cake for those whose birthdays falls in Oct. Someone dared to ask one of the honorees, Lydia, if she would do such a thing as reveal her age. She replied, "No, but I will tell you the year I was born. You take it from there." Took a while, but I counted on my fingers and figured it out. She's 97. She reigned supreme - nobody else even came close to that accomplishment!

I felt like a gen-u-ine San Franciscan when I walked to Wal-greens yesterday. I joined many others making their way up and down the hills, stopping the never-ending traffic at the crosswalks by simply poking a button. That actually makes one feel pretty powerful. Alas, this Wal-greens is almost identical to the one in Searcy - except for the stacks of beer and shelves of wine; I could have shopped blind-folded. Only the people kept me from thinking I had been magically transported back to the corner of Main and Race: no blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned clerks or customers to be found. Instead, darkly attractive men and women milled in and around me, speaking not a word I understood.

Later, the kids and I made yeast rolls. I'm telling you, it was just like someone let the three stooges loose. While I was helping Naomi knead her dough, Conrad emptied the salt from the shaker into a white heap on the counter and was busily stuffing his piece of dough into said shaker with his fat little fingers. A minute later I rescued the bag of flour from his grasp before we all looked ready for Halloween a bit early. Naomi and I made cloverleaf rolls and popped them in a muffin pan while the boy finger-painted with both hands in the leftover flour on the counter. Wonder of wonders! They turned out pretty decent. I used Julie Cameron's recipe in Downtown's cookbook.

Could someone send me a picture of my husband? I'm having trouble remembering what he looks like.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

San Francisco post 6

Tomorrow will be two weeks since I landed at the airport - time moves as quickly here as it does in Arkansas, apparently. I've stayed long enough I decided to wash the sheets on my bed -

Shopped at one of the many malls yesterday - Target is competing with Wally World, evidently, by expanding into super stores - after a fashion. Seemed to me the original departments were scaled back to make room for the new grocery section. Still, I managed to find a few things! As I meandered through my first visit to Macy's, I concluded I'm a Penney's kind of gal. The price tags blistered my eyes - $98 for a purse marked 40% off?!!! I was wishing I'd brought sunglasses and Visine. Conrad wasn't with me to render his verdict on the purses' signature scent.

Wes, Airiel and the kiddos went to a different mall, only to happen upon a great sale day at Old Navy - 50% off the already reduced prices. God's grace for a tight budget. Thank You, Lord.

Airiel, Naomi, Conrad and I made the monthly pilgrimage to the giant Costco store this week. Getting there near 10 a.m. probably saved us from insanity. By the time we left 45 minutes later, it was similar to a stirred-up nest of wasps. Thankfully, Airiel is like a guided missile with blinders; she zeroed in on each item on her mental list and chunked it into the cart without slowing down. The kids and I just hung on for dear life. Conrad did sing a lot. Reminded me of Wes singing "Elvira" lustily all through Wal-Mart when he was a toddler.

Our hearts are sad this morning also - a relative in our extended family has received a very discouraging report from the latest doctor visit. I'm not trying to be mysterious, but I don't feel free to reveal the name b/c I don't have permission to do so. Please pray for healing!!!

Please pray also for Satan's power to be bound in the lives of all of our teens and young adults - the deceiver is so set on capturing our precious ones at this vulnerable time in their lives. Let's pray God's wings will gather them in and guard them from eternal harm!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

San Francisco post 5

Up early, dunking a peanut sandwich into my very strong coffee. Conrad just protested about something in his dream, but sunk back down into slumber after I patted him a little.

Naomi was hanging over the side of the couch yesterday talking to her mother. She asked, Mommy you know what? Granmama is my best friend!! Just one of my favorite moments of the day.

Wes's sermon yesterday was excellent. He examined and analyzed Christian love from many different angles and perspectives which made for a very motivating and encouraging lesson. I'm sure he'll post it on his website, if you'd like to access it. Good crowd for worship service, several visitors. Two very distinguished older couples sat near the front; both white-haired men stood straight and tall and wore suits (very noticeable among the mostly casually-dressed group). They seemed to be well acquainted with some of the older Lk Merced members. Turns out one of the gentlemen and the wife of the other were twins, and they had chosen to celebrate their birthday by returning to the church of their childhood. Actually, Lk Merced church began on 17th St. in downtown SF, then relocated at their present location years ago.

Wes and Airiel meet with their college kids every Sun night, so the little ones and I had the house to ourselves. We frolicked - well, if you call fishing frolicking. The pole is a long Lincoln log, the line a piece of string we found, the hook a frig magnet hot-glued to the string, the fish made of paper with a tiny paper clip attached to each. The pond is Conrad's Easter basket. Hey, it works for us!

Blessings to all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

San Francisco post 4

Last night at around 8 o'clock Naomi and I were finger painting. Both of them had good naps that afternoon, so guess which little kids were full of boundless energy and enthusiasm when mom and dad wanted wind-down?!! So to give us wilted adults a little respite from two short whirlwinds we dug out the watercolors, bowls of water and sponges to happily slosh around for awhile.

Airiel was overcome with a craving for soda pop yesterday afternoon, so we walked over to a grocery store a few blocks away. Passing another young pregnant lady on the sidewalk, Airiel said, "Any day." The passer-by replied, "Not until November." Well, maybe it didn't happen exactly that way, but that's close. Conrad spotted a car that was mad - the rest of us, however, were unable to pick it out.

I'm eating a fresh date with my morning coffee, both of which we bought at the Asian grocery. The coffee can has a Samurai on it poised to kill - I think that's a warning about the contents. Boy, is it powerful stuff! No wonder the Chinese have so much energy and talk so fast.

I am keeping up with my Beth Moore study in the new Breaking Free series. Here's good food for thought from today's lesson: A crucial part of liberation in Christ means allowing Him to fill our empty places ... I want everyone to know how complete He can make us feel. I'm not talking about a life full of activities. I'm talking about a soul full of Jesus. Amen!!!

Wes is preaching Sunday - I can't wait to hear him. He works so hard on his lessons - much, MUCH harder than he ever did on math or English in school! I'm glad. You can see the Lake Merced church bldg from our communal back yard. The apartment complex is built on a bluff which looks down on Brotherhood Way - wa-a-ay below - (the street the church bldg is on). It's nestled in between two Armenian church buildings, one liberal, the other conservative. One allows booze at their festivals, the other doesn't. There you go. Also available are Catholic and Jewish houses of worship, and another group who believes God is a woman. There you go.

I hope yall are enjoying the same type weather we're having here! Indian summer with the slightest little bite in the air. Perfect! God be praised for every good thing, and every little thing He does is good.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

San Francisco post 3

I've been here almost a week - cannot believe it! Not quite feeling like home yet, though.

Last night was a time to sing at Lake Merced church. The group was small, but fellowship was great. Nathanial, a young single guy, taught the group several new songs. Some of us knew them already, so the rest learned them quickly. I think it speaks well that everyone hung around for a while to visit some more, laughing together a lot. The lone visitor seemed to very much enjoy the service. She hasn't been connected to a church for some time, but wants to begin again with her teen daughter. The brothers and sisters made her feel very wanted. I think she's found her home.

Airiel got her hair done yesterday, so she thought today would be a good time for the baby to arrive - made sense to her, but not, apparently, to Eden. She's still a no-show. Seeing that her toe nails needing trimming, Airiel thought to do it herself. And she did accomplish it, eventually. First she had to call on her past gymnastics training and the various positions thereof because for some strange reason she couldn't simply bend over and clip, clip, clip. Not only did she have difficulty reaching those toes; she couldn't even see 'em! I think at point she resembled a pretzel but by George, she did it!! Neat toe nails.

Airiel, the children and I got out early to shop today. Well, 10 o'clock is fairly early. After finding several items at T. J. Maxx we stopped for lunch at Daphne's, a Greek cafe. The hummus and pita bread, Greek salad, veggie pita melt, and good ole french fries were wonderful!

Conrad and I were checking out the purses later in Ross's (remarkably like our Marshall's), when he remarked loudly, "These purses smell bad." Then He added in a very small, quiet voice, "They smell like poop." His large, round brown eyes were a mite apprehensive, but I ignored his use in public of a private word. Since my nose was useless because of a cold, I trusted his verdict, and scooted right on by.

It's completely delightful to hear the kids asking when getting up from a nap, "Is Granmama still here?" Then upon seeing me, running toward me and shouting, "Granmama! Granmama!" Or, "I want Granmama to ... pull up my pants, fix my oatmeal, sit by me, etc." Nectar for the soul.

Monday, September 20, 2010

San Francisco post 2

The weather is absolutely gorgeous - sunny, perfect temp, gentle breeze - think I'll take Nomi and Conrad outside after they get up from their fake naps.

Airiel just returned from her doctor visit; she's dilated one whole centimeter! Baby Eden is apparently ready to have some more wiggle room - she's head down and ready to go.

The kids and I went walking in the neighborhood yesterday afternoon while Airiel was napping. Nomi worried out loud that when mommy woke up she would be so sad because she wouldn't know where we were. She must have thought we were going for a l-o-o-n-g stroll. Actually I cut it short when this seemingly disoriented young guy who was talking to himself came our way. He probably was very nice but I didn't wait to see.

Wes's car had a close meeting with another car Sunday evening. The family wasn't with him. It was the other driver's fault (yes!) and, come to find out, their insurance policies are with the same company, so the mishap is being resolved quickly. The repair shop towed the Woodell Durango off last night and brought a rental car over this morning. Airiel informed us after her doctor visit that her bb touched the steering wheel.

Hey, my hubby told me he actually washed a load of clothes all by himself today! Let's hope they turned out okay - I don't want him looking "pretty in pink."

Would yall see if you can do something about getting rid of the hot sticky weather before I head back that way in a few weeks? I'd be indebted.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

San Francisco!

Finally! Time to board my flight to San Francisco! My wonderful husband had managed to schedule my place in line as A 01 - first in line (behind the pre-boards) As the boarding agent verified my ticket, he handed it back and asked, "Do you know what to do with this?” I’d already heard him joking with several, so I shrugged and replied, “Throw it away?”

“No-o-o-o!!!” he howled, as the lady behind me exploded in delighted laughter. “Give it to the flight attendant as you enter the plane so she'll know we've started boarding the regular passengers!!” At 1:30 p.m. the Southwest plane lifted off the runway. I felt the familiar awe that anything that huge could get itself up into the air, but thank goodness, I no longer experience the craven fear of flying that ruined every trip. Now the only stirrings in my tummy were growls of hunger. That bowl of cereal was long gone.

As the attendant began handing out snacks the guy in the aisle seat pulled the top off a round container that looked suspiciously un-airline-ish. The heavenly smell of grilled chicken wafted under my nose. I looked at the miserable peanuts I was munching on, then leaned across and said to the guy drooling on his salad, “You could get attacked for that, you know.” He looked at me and mouthed, “What?” I repeated my warning, but he didn’t seem to take me seriously and shoved a huge bite of that cluck-cluck in his mouth right in front of me.

A white-haired man next to me was going home to Sacramento, repacking, then continuing on to his daughter’s wedding in Oregon. “It’s just a formality, really; they’ve been together for quite a while.” Then with a sigh of resignation, “Things sure are different nowadays. Times have changed.”

Three hours later we set down at the Las Vegas airport – very large because of all those slot machines in every nook and cranny, as well as many of the aisles. I traipsed at least a mile through a maze of corridors and blinking lights to B 9 (sounds like bingo) gateway. Ah! Just right. Few minutes to quit huffing and puffing, then settle down to pretend to read as I watch all the, well, interesting people before boarding for San Francisco. Wasn’t to be. A guy in the adjacent gateway brought us up to date on our flight – delayed two hours. But … if we’d like to hop on one leaving in 20 minutes, just come see him. Some people who can make up their minds quickly jumped up and hurried over. I tried to organize my gray matter. What should I do? A woman next to me moved in that direction, then a couple joined her. My competitive nature kicked in – I wasn’t going to be left behind!!

The airline guy told me my checked luggage might not get transferred to this flight in time to go with me. Or maybe it would. He added that when he glanced at my face. He issued me the necessary paperwork, plus a blue flimsy rectangle. “You can pre-board with this – IF you get there in time.” I thought, get there in time? From this desk to the boarding line six feet away? Then he enlightened me: “You’ll be leaving from C 12.” C 12?!! At least two miles back the way I’d come! And the plane leaving right away!

I speed-walked around corners, in and out around people enjoying their stroll through the airport, and hoped my heart would hold out. Finally I saw that beautiful sign: C 12. The pre-boarders were long gone and regulars were on their way in. I gently pushed my way up to the boarding agent and said “Am I too late to use this?” With a sweet smile she assured me I could go right on down that ramp. White hair and wrinkles come in handy sometime. It was a short flight on to Frisco. I’d hardly eaten all my peanuts when the captain ordered us to lock everything up and tighten those seat belts.

A litte later as I watched for my stuff, I noticed that a lovely family, also luggage-less, were speaking to each other in a beautiful language I couldn’t identify. Finally I just asked where they hailed from – “Norway,” was the answer. They were tall, handsome people, the daughter a striking blond almost the height of her father. I urged them to read Lauraine Snelling’s books about Norwegian immigrants who pioneered in North Dakota. Lauraine ought to give me a commission.

My luggage elected not to travel with me from Vegas, but would, I was assured, show up in an hour. So my "with-child" daughter-in-law picked me up curbside (more gorgeous brown eyes also welcoming me from the back seat), and we headed for the nearest Old MacDonald’s to while away the time.

Inside, several Hispanic teen boys were snacking on piles of burgers and fries trying to make it to supper, and an Asian gentleman with a very long goatee was chilling at a table. Just then a tall, thin older fellow stalked in, commanding the spotlight. His long flowing mane was topped by a black cowboy hat, and chains of all lengths dangled here and there. His ankle-length black leather coat smacked of the OK Corral and bunkhouses. But his tiny sidekick, who pushed past him, ruined his entrance. She made some uncomplimentary remarks about his person, which motivated him to tell her to watch her tongue (fairly quietly). She then told the teen boys clustered together not to be so loud. They apologized to her. She told them some more things and they apologized some more. The cowboy strode back and forth, alert to any problems he could deal with – other than his whip-cracking wife. She got the food and ushered him way to the back. “Well,” I said to Airiel, “this isn’t the crowd you see in the Searcy MacDonald’s.”

I still don’t know if I ate my chicken nuggets.

We returned to the airport through the heavy traffic and misting rain. When I exited the car, Naomi and Conrad protested, thinking I was leaving – mighty short visit, they thought. I claimed my suitcases, heaved them into the vehicle, and finally, we could go home. Yes!!

Naomi wanted to sleep with me; after all, her brother’s little bed was next to mine, while she was all the way across the hall. After careful consideration, I weaseled out of having a bed partner, hoping my name wouldn’t be mud forever. I’d bunked with Naomi before (although she was much younger) and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle her bountiful energy since I was absolutely wiped out by that time. Thankfully, she graciously and sweetly conceded, armed with the promise she could wake me up come morning. Nite, all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Trip

Well, we finally did it: Jim and I took off for that road trip/vacation we've been mentioning to each other for awhile. Wow! If I'd known just what a wonderful 11 days we were going to experience, I would have nagged Jim more often about it over the years.

First of all, the weather graciously blessed us every single day. Moderate temps, cool breezes (okay, sometimes they’d lift your hair straight up), and no downpours obliterating the highway. Just lazy cotton-ball clouds moving slowly across an incredibly blue canopy stretched over us as far as we could see. And speaking of those endless horizons, I had been afraid that Kansas would be boring from the comments of others. Not! Some of the most beautiful skies we enjoyed during our trip were in this state. It's a wonder we didn't wreck, craning our necks so as not to miss one single bit of it. Things at ground level were just as eye-easy: circular fields (hadn’t seen round ones before), some planted in sun-hued wheat, others in green milo (or barley?) with trees in semi-circles around the plantings, seeming to stand guard. Here and there cattle dotted meadows and ponds played with the wind. We couldn’t believe the highway was so vacant; we had it all to ourselves much of the time, producing the narcissistic feeling that this beauty was solely ours!

And then it began. Mountains rising majestically high, silently being, reminded us of the newness of everything else, including ourselves. Why do mountains look wise? Maybe they don’t to anyone else – just to me, with the fanciful imagination. The incredible mounds took center stage at first sight and did not relinquish that position for the next several days. They ringed us ever so long, seeming to move farther away as we drove. Would we never get to them?! Finally, the black, gray, and brown rocky crags and peaks leaned down upon us, taking our breath with their hugeness. We felt diminished, awe-struck, breathless, and humbled before their Maker. In fact that feeling was so strong at one point during our trip that I wrote this in my travel journal:
The mountains … look like old men's faces, leathery and brown, leaning over to gaze at us as we pass by. Do they wonder who we are? Do they wonder if we know the One who made them? Yes, majestic ones, we do.

This article would never end if I told about everything, so here are some snippets and fragments of our journey west: ghostly white, other-worldly windmills clustered together on Kansas prairies – seemingly so out of place; the older lady cashier in financially–depressed Limon, CO, who told us a Readers Digest version of her and her husband’s struggle to raise eight children; the Easter-egg-colored little houses in Idaho Spring, CO, each short street layered higher than the one below, as if on bleachers because of the mountainous terrain. Hair standing on end as the GPS stupidly routed us up a steep, twisty, one-lane logging road –Jim’s hair didn’t recover for the rest of the day.

The names we saw here and there: Gold Diggers High School, Gamble Gulch Rd., Old Stagecoach Trail, Lump Gulch Rd., Phantom Lake, (nothing there!), Wolf Crossing, Knife River, Yellow Bird’s Cafe. A loud-mouthed, lippy crow caught our camera, demanding food from us. A bison ambled inches from our car window, never letting on that he knew we existed. Seeing people and cars clustered on the side of the highway, we stopped and caught the back of a black bear as he or she gobbled berries from a tree. Slipping and sliding down the nearly vertical path to Crawfish Creek to watch kids splashing at the base of the pounding, sparkling waterfall, wishing I could jump in too. Old Faithful burping, sputtering, then spraying; a fat, sleek mama elk munching grass on a church’s lawn (in the middle of town!), stopping for a potty break at a roadside rest stop and reading this sign on the door: Please close the door behind you – snow gets in the restroom.

Open-range cows – loose stock – which we figured might be lunch or supper for a grizzly; presidents’ faces released from the mountain, perpetually staring across rocky terrain (did I hear George ask, Where’s Cary?). Wounded Knee, SD. - desolate, wind-swept grave yard, with two teen boys, a mother and her little girl hopefully displaying trinkets for sale, but then the young men proudly showing us the sign of a warrior with upraised fists as the camera clicked. We drove away with sad hearts.

The trip began to wind down as we crossed into Missouri, sans mountains, and wondered at a sign proclaiming, The St. Joseph Skeptic Society. I decided it had been erected because the members had experienced the local Days Inn and their promise of a pleasant night.

I will carry this trip in my heart forever. Thank You, Lord, for intensifying my wonder and amazement of You, and Your marvelous, marvelous creation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Me, Me, Me

Why do we spend so much time thinking about ourselves? Maybe you don’t have that problem, but I’m here to tell you I do. I get so frustrated when my thoughts continually slide back into the familiar groove labeled, “Geraldine.” I don’t want to do that! I long to instead busy my mind with the same considerations as the Lord. And before somebody protests, I know it’s impossible and not even healthy to never reflect on ourselves. We have to, at times, make decisions regarding our persons, etc. I’m referring to too much energy and time spent on oneself – revolving my world around me.

I even avoid reading after any author dedicated to exploring himself in nauseous detail. It seems a waste of time to read how someone adores movies and hates the smell of pine sol, or that only certain kinds of sheets are allowed to grace the bed, or that he or she loves squid, but only with the proper type of sauce. I strongly suspect those titillating revelations don’t make much of a difference in my attitudes or behavior. (Actually, I have to repent of a very bad attitude when I do slip up and read such an article.) It isn’t that they’re inadequate writers; the problem is their subject matter. Remember the old saying: if you’re all wrapped up in yourself, you make a mighty small package?

However, one doesn’t have to be a writer to qualify as a little parcel. Constantly focusing on ourselves – for any reason - is a habit that imprisons us in bands of steel. But, wait, if we dwell on our shortcomings and deficiencies (meekly putting ourselves down?), isn’t that humility? The following definition pretty much blows away that reasoning: “Being humble is not thinking lowly of ourselves; it’s simply not thinking of ourselves.” Which, by the way, is easier written than accomplished.

What’s the solution for being the center of our own undivided attention?

The consistent message of Scripture is that we’re not ourselves anymore - not the old self anyway – “Your old sinful self has died” (Col 3:3). Rom. 6:2 says that “We died to our old sinful lives, so how can we continue living with sin?” Chapter 12:2 admonishes that we “be changed within by a new way of thinking.” It’s not enough to merely try and ban sinful thoughts – we must purposefully replace ME with the fullness of God himself!! How?

Eph 3:16-19 has been calling me back to its wisdom often in the past few months. I keep reading it, trying to grasp what the Spirit is saying to me.
I pray that you … will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. (NCV)

Did you notice that Paul prays we’ll be able to know Christ’s love – even though he just said it’s greater than anyone can ever know? He has to mean knowledge that is more than mere head knowledge – we need that rich and vast knowledge quickened only by experiencing God. Walking with God, proving his love trustworthy in the valley of the shadow, or in the fire, or by stepping out into the unknown on faith. And what will be our reward if we grasp the wonder of the love of Jesus?

“You will be filled with the fullness of God” (verse 19). No room left for that parcel.