Thursday, January 18, 2018

Morning Plea

This song has been on replay. It echoes something of my heart and morning prayers, my simple, honest plea.

Jon was up and out earlier than usual this morning, but I have no idea if it was the 5- or 6 o'clock hour. I snuggled down deeper after he kissed me good-bye and I watched as the foggy westward sky reflected the sunrise.

Morning prayers.

Mine are not very coherent if they were to be spoken out loud, but I'm thankful the Lord hears the words of my heart and delights in honesty more than he desires proper form and function. Maybe my prayers are not very reverent; probably they are not. I would never address royalty in a curled position, under bedsheets and with disheveled hair, with words that are often times interrupted by moments of sleep. And God is so much more than mere royalty.

These are the moments I think of God as my Abba Father, tender and compassionate to my frail human state, and setting his love and affection on me despite my condition. And despite a lack of reverence.

I want to know Him. Yes, I want to know his word, too; knowing him will come by way of knowing the Bible, for in it he reveals himself to mankind. I don't want to settle for my own creation of who God is, only the very truth he proclaims about himself. But knowing the Bible is different from knowing God, and many know the Bible without knowing God. I want to know Him.

More than that, even, is that I simply want Him. Just knowing him and wanting him. Because the knowing of a person is a far cry from relationship with that person.

I want you, God.
Cover me,
Hedge me,
Lead me,
Carry me,
Dwell with me, in me.

I love you, God; help me to love you more. Walk with me today... go before me and direct me.

I can't do it alone...

Before the fog lifts and my Bible opens, it is there I know the presence of God.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Travel Update

Welp, we made it home. We pulled in somewhere around 1:00 am PST, but it felt much later since we were coming from EST. Once on the drive home, we had to stop at a self storage place to sleep for a few minutes before continuing on. The kids were all sleeping, Jon was driving, and I was forcing my eyes to stay open lest Jon accidentally dozed off. Eventually, we switched places and I drove us home. I stayed awake by holding my abs in as hard as I could, or by squeezing my shoulder blades inward and pressing my shoulders down and holding. That may be a weird tactic, but it worked. Sometimes I'd just keep my eyes open by maintaining a shocked look on my face.

They couldn't locate our luggage, though. This is a big problem if you are a woman. Not only are some of my favorite things packed in there, but so are my hair dryer and iron, my makeup and brushes, and toiletries! I don't have backup "essentials" so my hair was huge and gnarly today and my tired, broken-out face couldn't be concealed. I was, um, glad Andrew is still feeling under the weather because that was my "excuse" for not making it to church this morning! Plus, we needed food purchased. {We recently received word our bags have been located and are en route.}

Jon preached and Olivia made it to the service as well. In my option, Jon is a rockstar. He's a committed worker and doesn't ever take an excuse. He has filled the pulpit when very sick (such as fever and nausea), or with bandaged hands following surgery and broken feet bones, and many times on the heels of international trips and little sleep.

We are glad to be back. It is always so fun to see what the kids are most eager to do following a time away, and the chatter around the kitchen proves we've been refreshed.


Scenes from the Ontario side of our visit~

The temperatures were exceptionally cold. Somehow the kids still enjoyed much outdoor play, but I couldn't tolerate my bare fingers manipulating the dials and buttons on my camera for very long. Here, Olivia experimented with bubbles. They would freeze and tear open, resembling pieces of plastic wrap.

Cousins on the Rourke side of the family, plus Captain.

A few shots around Ottawa~

I had hoped for more winter pictures overall, but I think I've become more of a Southern California girl than a hardy winter girl. Plus, they called this weather episode a Bomb Cyclone, so tromping around outside wasn't as charming in reality as it was in my expectations.

Because I have a love affair with all things white...

Winter is just beginning, so it won't be long and these bikes will be buried.

The sun sets so early. I won't lie... we all missed the sun.

Our families are precious to us, and it was a pleasure to see everyone, but I have discovered I no longer ache to live here anymore. This has been a freedom I am so thankful for.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Travel in a Bomb Cyclone

Happy New Year to you! I hope your year is off to a beautiful start. I was blessed to be in a winter wonderland to commence 2018...


We had a great time in Canada with family. We're presently in transit back to warm weather and I'm killing time on a hard seat at the airport...

It's been four years since we've travelled to see our families during the winter season. Four years ago we were delayed returning home by several days due to the so-called Polar Vortex; this year we've managed to visit during a Bomb Cyclone. We're experiencing another nightmare adventure returning home. 

We left Ottawa yesterday, but were fortunate to board the only flight to Toronto that was only delayed and not canceled. After boarding our delayed flight, we sat on the airplane for nearly two hours while a mechanical issue was resolved. Once we arrived in Toronto, we waited on the jet way some more while the majority of the continent sorted out airport delays and terminal backlog. Of course this also meant we'd missed our flight to Los Angeles. We joined the lines of weary travelers inside, and were eventually informed we'd need to spend the night; there would be no direct flights to L.A. for a group of six passengers for another two days. 

This scenario has happened to us in some way or another many times. We don't get too frazzled, but it's mighty inconvenient. No luggage, no winter coats (all were borrowed for our stay and left in Ottawa), only a dinky courtesy bag containing laundry detergent, gooey deodorant, a razor, toothbrush and paste, and a comb. I would have traded mascara for the detergent. We waited outside the terminal for the hotel shuttle during a January cold snap, and I don't remember ever feeling so cold in my life.

It's not the airlines fault the weather is so bitter. By midnight, we were thankful for our club sandwiches and burgers, and to cozy down in comfy hotel beds till seven am. We slept as long as possible... no need to get up for anything except for a quick comb through my hair and a brushing of my teeth. I wondered if giving up my usual hair and makeup routine might be a good idea and time saver, but I've felt hideous all day. Glimpses in the airport bathrooms have confirmed it's not just a feeling...

Rather than staying two nights in Toronto, Jon was able to work out a better option. We traveled to Phoenix (after another two hour delay on the tarmac), landed in San Fran during the sunset golden hour, and we're currently holed up in the airport waiting for a flight to LAX. Then it will be a shuttle to the hotel where we will retrieve our car and travel home. Hopefully it won't be too much past midnight when we get back... Jon is preaching in the morning! Also, I'm hoping we'll be reunited with our luggage.

So it goes. Real life.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Creating Space

The month of December has been just as full for us as for anyone, and it's so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle. We've had birthdays and events, groups of people in our home, final exams and extra work... Honestly, it's easy to let the important things of life to get crowded out. My mental space is at a premium, too, but in the moments between busyness I am reminded of what is most valuable.

It all comes down to two very simple things: Loving God and loving others. Without the coming of God in the flesh, both would not truly be possible for anyone. True relationship becomes possible. It becomes our greatest goal.

I am endeavoring to create space for those two things. Yes, it is possible to love God and to love others no matter how busy, but I find it important to back away from certain things at certain times just to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually aware to focus on God and others. It's about prioritizing relationship over mere service.

I am finding a need to wrap up a busy season of ministry-minded service to intentionally serve and love on my family, and to spend extra time in meditation with the Lord. I need to do all these things at all time, but some times ministry should serve only my family. They shouldn't get lost in the shuffle.

This week we took a breather and created space just to be together...

I regularly catch Andrew admiring Olivia's creativity..
My creativity comes out at Christmas in reusing and repurposing materials and resources that cost little to nothing...

My audio book-listening guy making his gift tags

Because life is more interesting from different perspectives, and because upside-down is a fun way to start the day...

Andrew prepared small gifts for his neighborhood clients.

He travels to and from his jobs by unicycle, so naturally he would distribute his gifts that way too.
Although he was pleased by all the bonus cash he was given this week, I still have to remind him that his wages are earned and not the result of generous people.

In sort of a spur of the moment decision, I have decided to host a scavenger hunt Christmas party tonight. Several families are coming, but I think we will also end up with a pile of teenagers, some I have never met. This is just the scenario I desire... a place where people can just come and be accepted. In a spirit of keeping it low-key, I am simply pulling out all the gifted chocolates and the cheese and crackers I had purchased for unexpected guest that never came; some of my friends are doing the same. We could easily end up with 40+ people. We have a crazy scavenger list and I feel slightly sorry for our town as we will soon be descending upon them!


Friday, December 15, 2017

A Fleeting Moment

If my life is a mere breath, here today and gone tomorrow, then what are these few, short, fleeting years I have with my kids?

Tomorrow we celebrate Michael's 15th birthday. Those 15 years have past far too quickly. On a day like today, it is hard not to look back and think about those years that are gone.

Psalm 90 made a huge impression on me as a young married in my early 20's. I was just beginning to search and pray for understanding regarding motherhood, almost desperately trying to understand God's design in comparison to cultural norms, and untangling all my misunderstanding and courageously face selfish desires. Babies were already in the picture, and the struggle for understanding and acceptance of truth was daily. "Who am I, and what am I doing with my life?" was my persistent question.

There is a real struggle in death, especially when we are called daily to the death of self. In the dying, though, I found the desire to live for something greater than my own present happiness. I saw that in the daily dying there was taking root a greater purpose for life than me, and I began to see the work of my life as something greater than the culmination of my days on earth. Through passages like Psalm 90, I began to see I can choose to live with eternity in daily view, knowing that life is a momentary breath while eternity stands, well, forever. It's not something we can afford to gloss over.

As a new mother, I began to understand that my life has eternal implications, and the work of my days will influence the eternal soul of my children. The Spirit used Ps. 90:12 in a particularly affecting way:

"So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom."

If I am to be wise, then, I must look to the Lord for instruction rather than to the ways of the world. I must ask God to show me life as it is, not as it appears. These days are like a breath, a vapor, a dream. They are numbered. But they will count forever.


Several months ago, Michael and I spent some time at the botanic gardens. It was a rare time for just the two of us. A special time, really. I'm not sure where his interest began, but Michael has a peculiar fascination with plants. It was a pleasure for me to peruse the gardens with him. His knowledge regarding plants is fascinating and surprising; he is endlessly experimenting with new varieties and arranging/growing displays in terrariums. 

He is not as interested in being photographed, though! I do respect that, but hope he will let me take just a few for his birthday nonetheless. Here was the sole picture I took of him all day, with permission.

I don't remember the name of the plant pictured below, but this is some kind of death flower. Its putrid smell is designed to attract flies, which are then trapped and digested in the center.

(If I'm not careful, I will be taking you down a trail of thoughts with this flower of death... because life is not always as it appears. Be careful about where your affections lead you!)

A forest of cork...

I wanted to climb this tree, and a boy looking over my shoulder just now voiced the same desire.

Being a boy mom makes me enjoy taking pictures of bugs. I enjoy the challenge of inching up close as well.


The years of motherhood are wonderful to be sure, but they are not always easy. In fact, the best things in life almost never are. 

Because of the impression Psalm 90 made on me early in my mothering days, it is difficult for me to think of it outside the context of motherhood. It is such a special passage to me. These words have long been my prayer and plea to my God, the compassionate giver of good~

"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
 Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!"


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Morning Haze

Southern California is on fire. Again. I'm not trying to trivialize a situation that is grave for some; I'm only expressing life as it is for me...

The morning sky was hazy, ashes wafted in the hot, dry air, and the smell of burning wood seemed far too pleasant for the reality of danger and devastation. Occasionally life is deceptive like that: Destruction smells wonderful, and beauty rises from the ashes. I am reminded never to look at life without discernment or without hope. Life would be dangerous and dark without discernment and hope. "Truth and Grace" come to mind right now, and I wonder how to find that beautiful intermingling of hard and fast truth and tender, hopeful grace.

But JOY came to the world and we sing of Him who rules with truth and grace. Oh, the wonders of His love!

How this has anything to do with morning smoke heavy in the air may not make sense. Maybe it doesn't make sense, really, but when I sit to write I somehow make associations that go beneath mere observation. I'd like to think it's alright for me to explore meaning and depth to life by letting my eyes see, my mind think, and my heart hold. Truth and grace, discernment and hope, smoke and light: They make beauty together.

Making beauty together... isn't that a noble endeavor within any relationship? Beauty comes in so many forms. Maybe it's through forgiveness, or compassion; maybe it's by way of simple pleasure, understanding, memories, knowledge; perhaps by acts of service, making art, food, adventure; maybe beauty is found in healing and restoration. There are countless ways to make and experience loveliness, even in the midst of the difficulty of life. It wouldn't be a noble endeavor if it came easily and without intentionality.

In the smoky morning light (which, by the way, was more as a result of my burned French toast), Olivia let me blend her movement with golden haze. We captured beauty in a frame, made a memory for our remembrance, and pursued living beyond the boundaries of obligation and routine.