Monday, March 31

Contribution or Total Commitment?

The sermon on Sunday is still in my head - using Judges 4 text about Deborah, it outlined four points for victorious living which are key to escaping a dull spiritual existence. He gave us the history of the text of a people drifting back to old ways.

The speaker told a joke of a pig and a chicken opening a food business together. The chicken suggested they mainline their menu with ham and eggs to which the pig responded 'that only requires a contribution on your part, but on my part a total commitment'. He reminded us what the Lord gave for us in the resurrection, leaving the question of what do we give the Lord in return.

The four items were repentance (v1-3; Acts 3:19), how we deal with our rulers (v4-5; Heb 13:7-17), God's requirements (v.6-7; Mk. 7:6-8; Jms. 1:22), and our responsibilities (v8-10; 1Cor 12; Ro. 12). Then he read a poem of commitment which drove home the attitude of some. It was a humbling reminder of our appropriate response to the Lord, for which I was very grateful. I don't have that poem at the moment, but you might enjoy the following one I encountered today.

After feeding upon that Word, we had our monthly fellowship - good food for body and soul all around!

When I Became a Christian, by Adrian Plass

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, Your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – I think.

But , Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good Book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true, he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me,
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit.
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said, Amen! – I quit.
I’m very sorry, Lord, I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said, forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done?

Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in lonliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry,
When the nails break your body – are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again.
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

Posted by Paul Mayers on 19 April 2007 at 03:13 PM in Reflections

fun and games

March is waning, as the foolishness of April makes way. Before it departed I wanted to couple of items.

The youngest was off track the entire month and after kicking it off with out Texas travels, it was post scripted in Palm Springs. P.S. He and I had a wonderful time there.I am not sure, though, why in all that wonderfully warm, breezy, fresh air, someone had to irritate my asthma with the chain-smoke of Benson & Hedges while having a deathly cough themselves - they ocassionally sip on I would presume a bottle of prescription cough medicine. *sigh* Making the best of things, I used those moments to be in the pool.

The Ark of the Covenant game arrived and the husband and I finally got the hang of it. We love playing it, even more than the Settlers of Catan. It employs strategy in a different way and widens the means by which you can score points to win. You're usually not quite sure who won until the points are tallied after the last tile is played.

I love spring and warm weather - I love greenness! The hills that surround our house (that not being our house in particular in the photo) are green this time of year, providing a lovely sense of, while most assuredly seemingly absurd, 'exurbia'! ;-)

Wednesday, March 26

truly a blessing in a basket ...

Sorrowfully, the husband of one of my fellow-commuters passed away just last week; they were only recently married. Keep her lifted up in your prayers; it was so sudden - I can't even imagine what she is going through. In the effort of finding a suitable expression of our sorrow - I came across a wonderful site - Blessing in a Basket. Others offer a similar item of comfort, but this one offers an array of very special sentiments. I was very touched by their offerings and found the perfect one for our friend. The service was kind and thoughtful. Do check them out - they even have free shipping. What a blessing it was to find them!

Friday, March 21

'Choosing the Good' Friday

Caught up in the preparations for Resurrection Sunday Service, I lost sight of Who I was serving. So today, I am doing what is needful; I am at the feet of Jesus, putting away Martha and putting on Mary. I'm opening my Alabaster box. I want to hear you Lord; I'm sorry for what I made it.
Luke 10:38-42, Php 4:4-10

Sunday, March 16

TX trippin' - the final stint

Heading out of San Antonio, a week ago Saturday, we stopped for breakfast at the eldest's highly recommended Cracker Barrel - it was a restaurant and store - quaint and folksy. The husband didn't like 100% maple syrup - go figure ;-). I really liked the spicy sausage.

Then we seriously hit the road. We made our way much better than the trip south as we had very nice weather. The eldest pointed out for me in Dallas where the grassy knoll was from the freeway and other sights along the way like where athletes play ball. All and all, however, we were quite tired by the time we reached Denton.

The original plan was to take them home and then start on our way back to California until we made a stop for the night - at one point and time we had hoped to stop at the Grand Canyon the following day. But by this time that hope had faded in fatigue. Instead our stop for the night was once more their home, which was nice and cozy and familiar. It was a good decision.

Before we got there we had dinner at 'Raising Cane' - they have a entirely different spin on Chicken fingers - and were delicious. They had their own sauce which I liked - it was on a peppery bent from other finger sauces. The eldest however always takes her own barbeque sauce, as this is one sauce they don't offer. We really enjoyed the food and we saw the apartments they had lived in before they had bought their house. Then to their house we went with the setting sun. The snow that had chased us away was still upon rooftops and all around.

We awoke with a teary youngest in the pre-dawn of the morning to get on our way. With the earliest glimpses of sunlight, we packed the car and slipped out. Already we had lost an hour - it was daylight savings time Sunday. And so we headed home.

Despite all of our calculations, we didn't complete that trip until 3:30 the following a.m. Still, it was a good trip. I have to apologize to New Mexico - the landscape is b-utte'iful. I really enjoyed the countryside especially after the long flatlands of the Purple Heart Trail in Texas. I had hoped to get pictures of Arizona's landscape but it was becoming dark as we came upon it.

The greatest trooper of them all was the husband - he drove an endless amount of hours during the whole vacation - especially in all directions the drag of the final hours to each destination. He took us, by the grace of God, to and from safely. Thank you dear for a wonderful vacation. At 3:30 in the morning, man our bed looked great! House, we're home!

TX trippin' highlights

As I bring the end of the saga nigh, a few things come to mind ...

Do you watch the Discovery Channel? One evening we got caught up in the soap opera lives of hippopatamus' and the lemur. It was crazy! The dramatic narration holding us spellbound, we anxiously watched the television to see what happened to the lives of these creatures, laughing at ourselves all the while.

The youngest was a great travel companion and a trooper - he never complained - he rolled with the punches. He was enjoyable and amusing. We are assured Cali is now going through withdrawals from the lack of the youngest's presence. The youngest had the couch - and Cali would lick him awake from there. What a kid - can't help but love him!

The last night before we left, we had a final game of Catan. It was tense and at the end anybody's game - but the important part is that I WON! Whew what a relief - the game got so close! times like these are priceless! HA HA

We had a very enjoyable and memorable time at the home of eldest and SIM. I had brought and bought books that even with long car rides, I never had time to read. My only regret was to have done more huggin' - seriously, times like these ARE priceless! Love those two and, oh well, Cali too!

With those things said, I will move ahead with the northwestern journey home.

TX trippin' Giant wise

Well as I continue the Texas saga, we finally connect with the Giant. As the husband kept saying tell me again, why did we make this trip? - all together at last!

He called when he was ready, and the eldest and I set out to get him. Well, did you know there were two AF bases in Lackland - we ended up, of course, at the wrong one. Through some sibling cellphone discussion in which while driving I referreed :-), we finally arrived where he was stationed that Friday evening. Today he is on his way to our direction, before continuing on to new orders in Washington state.

That Friday, he showed us around, introduced us to some of the people he knew, and we took some pictures and then headed with him back to our home away from home so that all of us could go out to dinner. Another sibling conversation insued about what is the best steakhouse in Texas. After picking up the rest of our passengers we went looking for the eldest's recommendation - 1.5 hour wait. So we drove around the area - there were a lot of eaterys - checking time. We left the Giant at the Outback, because they had a .75 hour wait, to check out some more only to find that was our best bet. Outback - it was! We enjoyed ourselves and each other, and the food was delicious. By now it was late and we were all very tired and the giant had a curfew. The men (strange referring to the kids as adults even still) took him back against the odds of extreme traffic and delivered him there on time.

A week ago Saturday morning, as we had arranged, we set out early, after checking out of the hotel, for the base to have breakfast. As it was, we were too late - by a minute or so. Our second plan was to go to the PX to experience military shopping - so we waited for the bus. And on that icy wind morning, we waited and waited and waited. The every half hour bus hadn't shown up in over an hour. It was on that note we had to say our 'goodbyes' as we had to get back to Denton, and then back home before the end of Sunday night. Military life had its effect on the Giant in ways difficult to deliniate, beyond the fact that we needed a dictionary for all the acronyms he spoke. He had worn his military 'dress' that day so we could take pictures. I guess all mothers want to say of their son, he looks a little thin. I'm so glad we made the trip and at least a little time with the oldest son. Love that boy!

So we departed from him and headed north due Denton.

TX trippin' on the Riverwalk - remember the Alamo!

River walking is highly recommended. We found our way to downtown SA area after a bit of wifi banking and breakfast at McDonald's - the Texans had the no where yet to be found in Dallas El Pollo Loco. It was a beautiful Friday. Thanks to the navigational skills of my Beloved and SIM, we undertook and surfaced from the riverwalk right by the Alamo where there was a bevy of activity.
There were advertisers of the Circus Soleil walking around on stilts with tiny, tiny shoes and a Mary Poppins I believe. The clowns talked with the youngest, one bestowing upon him a 'special' small clear stone. Miss Mary chatted with him and gave something to brighten his face - a clown nose! We initially found public parking near the Greyhound station and entered the subterranean world of the Riverwalk by Convent Street near St. Mary's, traipsing along the meandering pathways at a leisurely pace taking in all the sights and sounds. It was also possible to traverse the river by water. It was rare eye candy - simultaneously colorful and bustling while sumptuously serene.

At one point, SIM broke out in a round of The stars at night are big and bright(clap, clap, clap, clap), - pausing for response or effect - Deep in the heart of Texas, which had us all laughing.

Learned 2 things in particular at the Alamo
  • One of the men who died there - John J. Baugh of Virginia - might have been a distant relative.
  • Texas was called 'God's garden' (hmmm...).
    I must say as to what I have seen of Texas, it is the garden spot of the world, the best land and the best prospects for health I ever saw, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here - Alamo hero Davey Crockett
The giant wasn't going to be free until after late, so afterward we weary walkers found our way back along the riverwalk to where we parked and headed back to our revised accommodations.

Wednesday, March 12

TX trippin' Incidentals

Before I go on ...

let me take a moment to say I love my Garmin Nuvi GPS - it made navigation virtually painfree. It found our destinations; where we wanted to eat, stop, fuel; revealed our errors and directed us back on track; and kept us apprised of our progress.

Let me also say SIM is so kewl - he is generally low key and easygoing. He took time with the youngest on a project to write a story. They worked it out on a laptop over the roadtrip and the last couple of days of the vacation, ironing out the plot and discussing plagerism. He is sending him the final edit in a few days.

Let me confess I broke the husband's phone. Really, it was an accident. Holding off going to the restroom while everyone else went, in order to check us in Thursday, I waited until we got to our room. Getting in the car to ride to it from the check-in circle, I noticed my zipper of my opened windbreaker was preventing the car door from closing, so I pulled it closed again before I realized I needed to pull the jacket out of the way. When, he found his phone inoperative, I probably shouldn't have said it wasn't me! so quickly. Shortly thereafter I realized it was his phone that had been in my jacket and had been the doorblocking culprit. I felt so bad. Thank God for insurance. Thank God for a forgiving husband.

Sunday, March 9

TX trippin' - not so sweet Suites (loathesome travelodging)

As stated we arrived in SA when it was dark on Thursday. It was about a half past six. We were all spent from our journey and ready for the spaghetti the eldest had made the night before.

The two bedroom with kitchen turned out to be a sad excuse for accommodations, we discovered. Over time we came across numerous issues with the room and were sorely disappointed.
  • pull out couch poorly supported mattress
  • no glass tray in microwave
  • stove burners didn't work because gas was off; when on, only two of four worked, but then it emitted gas fumes
  • no light in closet
  • no iron where it was supposed to go
  • no carafe for coffeepot which had old coffee bag still in it (nasty!); no cream, sugar
  • kitchenette void of pots, pans, utensils, dishes, etc.
  • 5 person room with 3 towel sets
But we made the best of sub-par circumstances and enjoyed a delicious meal after a run to Walmart on the other side of the highway turnaround for supplies.

In the morning, we found that the popping sound we had heard in the early hours was a transformer - there was no electricity sporadically throughout the complex including our unit. The free breakfast offerings became extremely limited for the same reason.

Sharing our overall displeasure with the Travelodge Suites front desk gained us an upgraded room soon to be operational - we had another whole night yet to get through. This took a lot of the morning to accomplish, but we were indeed much more comfortable. However there was no making their ice machines work.

Putting this trauma behind us, with the knowledge we couldn't connect with the giant until 16:00 hours, we set out to experience finer aspects of San Antonio.

TX trippin' San Antonio bound

On this daylight savings Sunday, we are headed home which is only the final chapter of this saga still in progress.

Our San Antonio roadtrip started Thursday mid-morning after we dropped by the eldest's school. We found ourselves chased out of town by impending snow. Of course it initially disguised itself as rain but soon fluffy stuff was falling onto the windshield. It didn't seem to lose pace until we were outside the Dallas Fort Worth area, leaving us - after lightning to contend with - decreasing rainfall. Our weather forecaster was fired!

The Thursday afternoon weather slowed our drive down to a crawl; it was dark before we arrived at our destination. But as before when we crossed countryside with the Rodriguezes, it was a delightful trip. The husband who was the constant driver distorted a quote from Die Hard, saying "Come out to Texas, we'll get together, have a few laughs..." We laughed, yammered on with quips and silliness about things, and lapsed into a delirium of singing to the tune of mp3s playing. At the end of the day, before losing our sanity loomed too near, we arrived.

Wednesday, March 5

TX trippin' two-step

You know you're on vacation when you have nary a worry. The husband and I are relaxed and loving it; we walked into town to Blockbuster and used his Christmas coupon to buy 4/$20 DVDs - we got The Last Mimsy, Facing the Giants, plus two others. We racked up 10,000 steps in that trip. We saw two snowmen, a horse grazing, a voting area surrounded by democratic candidate signs - mostly Barak, and one republican one with mostly McCain. Here, the caucuses were called the 'Texas Two-Step! At the end of the day, HRC won TX, OH, not Vermont but also RI (the difference between them remains about the same) and McCain clinched his party's nomination. And the battles rage on.

The husband and I familiarized ourselves more with Catan, but the eldest and SIM gave Canaan to the youngest for his February birthday. We played that today - it has nuances that are quite enjoyable, but that version can end rather quickly. I received the Jane Austen collection and an ornament that identifies the eldest as my favorite! She's been holding our gifts hostage until we got here ;-)

She and I went over to Mardel Christian - a very comprehensive and inexpensive store. I spent $11 on 4 books. The husband barbequed ribs and chicken at the end of the day; now every one has retired (except me) in preparation for tomorrow's trek to Lackland AFB in San Antonio to visit the giant. He probably won't have time for us until Friday evening - so, there'll be sights to see. Although it was a nice sunny day; tomorrow is expected to threaten snow once again. Since we are traveling south, I am not sure what we will encounter. But God is in charge and we are excited. We have reservations for the Travelodge Suites with a kitchenette. The eldest has made spaghetti and we have snacks for the road - can you say Roadtrip!

She's been playing Scrabulous on Facebook. I haven't looked at Scrabble online in ages; I was immediately re-hooked. Signed myself up outside of Facebook so I can enjoy in the future. This vacation 4 days in has been filled with fullness of family and fun = what a blessing. Going to get some shut-eye myself. C'ya!

Tuesday, March 4

TX trippin' climate

What's left after fog, wind, rain, and sun - can you believe it snowed! For the sake of packing, I obtained from the SIM (son-in-marriage) a weather forecast for the week, which not surprisingly did not include flaky white stuff. Where we come from the temperature doesn't drastically drop during the day. We stayed in, caught up on our rest, and watched the weather pattern develop - which really just meant it became colder and colder outside while the hearthside of the fireplace became more and more inviting.
When the eldest returned from coursework and SIM from the office, they barbequed and the snow fell - steaks, links, ears of corn, and snow on the bar-b! We closed off the evening with a game of 'The Settlers of Catan'. The husband and I hadn't played before although the eldest had been telling me about it for some time. No wonder - by the time we caught on, she won the game! It was a nice end to a snovely day and we woke up to sunny snowfall on Election Tuesday. Meanwhile, The youngest played with Cali the yellow (white) labrador, who I am sure was thankful the youngest finally became engaged with his electronic games too! We also watched 'Beowulf'.

Sunday, March 2

TX trippin'

Well the time came when we could kill two birds, the two eldest, with one trip. The youngest is off-track for March, so off we went to Dallas and San Antonio for a visit - coincidentally in time for the crucial OH and TX primaries. The eldest did the early voting, but will be participating in the caucuses on Tuesday. She said democratic presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama called their house.

Anyway to get back on subject, its a cold Sunday 9:27 am on highway 40 east outside of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. We just left Denny's for breakfast after catching some shuteye Motel 76 from 1-6 am. The innkeeper was very accommodating even though the only room available was a king-size/smoking - felt like we slept in an ashtray. But we are all refreshed and its a beautiful day.
So...we left in the foggy mist of noon yesterday north on highway 15 into the sunshine of the 40. We've seen where Cars took place and interestingly a lot of race car carriers like the one in the movie. We've also seen very long freight trains moving about the countryside - on one we counted 99 including the three engines, another with 133.

The youngest has finished the last episode of The Spiderwick Chronicles. He's recording all the state license plates he's seen (even Alaska). We've gone through Barstow, Bullhead City, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon area and Gallup.

Comparing to the majestic moutain ranges in Oahu, I was equally enthralled with meticulous sculpting of the Arizona mountains we saw - the Lord put forth an intricate display!

Can't say too much about New Mexico - what we are seeing is wide-openness with buttes on the horizon. Fernando, found your town though :-) - Villanueva NM! We approach Amarillo now.

So now I am getting back to our time of worship and praise and prayer. We are having an awesome time with mp3s. We are overcomers...order my steps...hold me Holy Spirit...He's taken my heart and shown me the right way...I will open my heart to everyone I see and say Jesus Christ is the Way!

Will get back to this later. If pictures aren't here, will insert later.
Texas here we are! Now we are leaving warm and windy Childress heading toward Wichita Falls; its 1:36 pm Cali time. We love Sonic commercials, but have never been to a establishment, not having near us. Very enjoyable - the youngest had chicken strips kids meal, the husband who has done all but 8 hours driving on this trip had a huge cheeseburger, and I had the bacon cheeseburger on toast which included an onion ring. I got a 'brain freeze' in the throat with my strawberry drink, then the husband got one over his eye with his green apple drink, and then the yougest who thought he had escaped was attacked causing him to hold the side of his head by his ear by his lime drink. No wonder they ask "how many have you had"?
Now we are on the road again encountering a little rain with distant lightning strikes, hoping to arrive around 5 pm Cali time. Saw my sister's block, Laurie St. Indeed, we did arrive the corresponding Texas time 7 pm.

Fitness Footnote

'the highs and lows of' my Weight Loss Journey