Friday, February 24, 2017

Today, We Walk!

Here is Renee, ambivalently looking longingly out the window at the beautiful day, both glad for me that my book has arrived, yet also earnestly hoping that I don't get so caught up in reading that I neglect to take her out for a walk. If she could read, though, she'd know that this book is encouraging Christians (like me) to get out of their houses and get to know their neighbors by taking their cute little dogs out for walks.
Also, on a different note, would anyone be interested in a Superbowl-style Shepherd's Conference viewing party, complete with chips and guacamole?

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Plan

To be honest, I feel somewhat in a funk right now.  I feel stuck in a situation I can't control, and I am close to being overwhelmed with these out-of-control circumstances.  In reading this book, though, and in praying and reflecting on God's control over all things, I have come to see that while I have no control over some things in my life, I do have control over other things-like being nice.  I can choose to be friendly to my neighbors when I go for a walk around the 'hood.  I can choose to invite some neighbors over and make a nice meal so that we can all enjoy a nice evening together.  As I go through hard times with circumstances I can't control, I've found it very helpful to find something I can control, and invest my time and effort in that.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Our Big Sunday.

 My mind was full of visions of plates, and I couldn't think about anything else. Suddenly, a vision of Ikea came into my head, along with the thought. "I wonder if those crazy Swedes sell good plates?" I simultaneously remembered that our closest Ikea was moving into a new building that would make it THE HUGEST IKEA IN THE UNIVERSE . . . or at least in this country. So Mr. M and I planned to go after church Sunday. (Those crazy Swedes sure know their way around a meatball and ligonberries.) We met a Brazilian girl at church and invited her to lunch . . . and to go shopping for plates. She didn't know she'd be stuck with us for the entire day. We drove to Ikea, which had just opened two days earlier, and cars were lined up for several blocks just waiting to get in the parking lot. We found parking on the street and walked. We headed straight for the restaurant, which seats 600, and waited in a zig-zag line like the lines at Disneyland. We ate our food and browsed our way through the mile-long showroom. We finally came to the marketplace, where I found some Swedish plates made in Thailand. We bought the plates and limped back to the car. I had blisters on my feet. But I got plates, and we got to spend good time with our new friend from Brazil, and we ended the day at church, listening to a sermon on Ruth.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Home Plate Hospitality

It's hard to believe that I took this picture just a few hours ago, under a bright, cloudy sky with no hint of rain, and now as I write this, there is a super-strong storm out, with thunderous thunderclaps and streaks of lightening and flooding streets.
Anyway, I went to the store looking for another set of these plates . . . the ones we bought twenty years ago.  The store doesn't carry them anymore.  (I was as shocked as you are.)  I think we have all heard some version of the motivational advice, "Dress for the position you want, not for the position you have."  (Along the same lines is the advice that if you want to work out at the gym, dress like you're going to work out at the gym, and it's more likely that you will.)  I want to be more hospitable-which is quite a feat, since I haven't cooked since 2009-, so I thought getting some extra plates would be a good first step.
I would continue my search today, but, you know, it's raining out and those of us who live in California are afraid of the rain.  Plus, I don't have time because Mr. M and I are having several college students over for pizza and home-made cast iron skillet cookies.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Stuck in the Middle

Stuck.  Neither here nor there.  That's how I feel. My adventurous life has suddenly become very adventurous, and I don't like it.  If my life were a book, I'd want to skip to the end.  I want to cross the finish line, but I don't want to actually have to run.  For someone who delights and rejoices in having an adventurous life, this is preposterous.  By wanting to skip the middle, I am missing out on so much!  Yes, it's a bit frustrating, but there are good parts, too.  It's my perspective that needs to change, not my circumstances.  I need to embrace the middle.  I don't need to be here or there to be in a good place, a place where I am challenged to learn new things.  I'm finding that being stuck is only as bad as you make it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Blessing Through Family

Last night at church, we began a series on Ruth.  It is a story of blessings (and sorrow) through family.  It is a story of a great redemption after a great loss.  It is a story full of hope.  In the story, Naomi loses first her husband and then both of her sons.  She is left in a strange land with only her two daughters-in-law.  She leaves for her homeland, and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, insists on going with her.  The two go back, and are barely making it, when a distant relative makes sure Ruth and Naomi have enough food.  He then marries Ruth, and she gives him a son.  Naomi at first thinks her life is over.  She has lost her husband and sons.  Her only relative is related only by law, and is liable to run off and marry again and forget her.  She feels so empty and bitter that she tells her friends to call her "Bitterness."  Ruth is a widow in a foreign land, scraping by to take care of her mother-in-law.  Boaz is a rich, yet lonely guy, with no wife and no children.  Soon, all that changes.  Ruth is a blessing to Naomi by staying around and taking care of her.  She doesn't go running after men, looking out for a husband to take care of her.  Naomi is a blessing to Ruth, giving her a home and giving her the really good idea to ask this rich, older relative to marry her and take care of her.  Boaz is a blessing to both, marrying Ruth, and making sure Naomi is taken care of.  The son of Ruth and Boaz is a blessing to his parents, as children always are, and he is also a blessing to Naomi, who is now full of joy on account of this baby, and now has a bright future to look forward to.
The encouragement for us here is that things change.  Storms pass.  No matter how bleak things may look today, there is always hope for tomorrow.  Family can be a great challenge and heartache, but family can also be a great blessing; and we can be a great blessing to our families.  It is good to ask ourselves how God might bless our families through us.  It is good, too, to reflect on how God has blessed us through our families, and to thank Him for the storms He's brought us through.  If you are currently in a storm and a time of bleakness, as I am, it is good to focus on the bright future God has planned for us.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Interrupting Our Regularly Scheduled Lives . . .

This is my best visual depiction of our unexpected trial . . . actually, it is a depiction of any unexpected trial.  Mr. M and I were living happily along in the sun, when suddenly, a huge boulder fell from the sky, completely changing our days and interrupting our routine of happily living along in the sun.  We don't know how long our lives will be affected by the boulder, or to what extent we will be affected by the boulder, and we don't know how our lives will be changed after the boulder.  I guess it just goes to show, it's true what they say . . . "Into every life, a little boulder must fall."  More importantly, it proves the truth of what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:12, that all who desire to live a Godly life in Christ will face troubles.  So, Mr. M and I go on living, not quite as happily or carefree anymore, but we enjoy what we can when we can, and we do what we need to do, trusting in God and depending on Him, asking for advice from friends who've experienced this same type of boulder, and hoping for a good outcome . . . eventually.  For now, we are in good company, as we wait on God.  Many, many others do that same thing daily, and God's people have been waiting on Him and trusting in His promises since the days of Abraham.