Thursday, September 29, 2011

God Dreams & Dish Towels

May he grant you your heart’s desire 
and fulfill all your plans!
Psalm 20:4

I have a dear friend who has been in the valley this past year along with me.  Our valleys have resulted from completely different circumstances, but so many of the accompanying feelings of pain have been so similar.  There has been comfort in sharing our stories, praying for one another and looking for God's light in the midst of the darkness that we often found ourselves in.

Last week, I was at Marshalls making a return, and God put it on my heart to buy something for my friend's new condo.  I kept coming back to dish towels for some reason... but those are so utilitarian, I thought.  Then I saw a little stack of 5 towels all bundled up in little squares.  They were in pretty fall colors, but the stripes on them reminded me of Guatemala.  

It was then that God put another little thought on my heart.  My friend had been on a missions trip to Guatemala many years ago, and I felt like God was putting it on my heart to tell her to start dreaming again... to dream God dreams.  He has plans for her beyond this past year.

So I bought the towels... and I went to her condo.

I got you some towels for your new place, I said, handing her the neat little stack.

Yay! I was just thinking that I wanted new towels.  My towels are looking so sad, she said, as she pulled an old towel out of the drawer and pointed to its faded, shredded border.  I didn't think I should spend money on something like that, but I really wanted some, she added.

There's more, I replied, smiling.  This is kind of weird, but they reminded me of Guatemala, and I think God wants me to tell you to start dreaming big God dreams again.

She looked at the tag... but they are from India, she noticed.

I know.  But they reminded me of Guatemala.

But I was praying the other day, and God put India on my heart.  I was asking Him if He wanted me to go there someday, she grinned.

Wow, I had no idea what God was going to do with a set of kitchen towels!  My friend texted me the other day and told me how she smiles every time she sees them.

I can't wait to see what the future holds for her as she climbs out of the valley and up to the mountain top with Jesus by her side.

Has God nudged you to do anything in His still small voice lately?  
Are you dreaming any big God dreams?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall's Rushing In

WIWW #12
pleated poppy

Tank: Ross; Dress: Old Navy Sale ($6!!); Cardigan: Tommy Hilfiger Outlet; 
Belt: F21; Shoes: Clarks

So I mixed black, white, brown, gold, and gray.  Highly illegal, I'm sure!
I saw a necklace on Etsy with a beautiful gold ring on a leather chord, and  I thought I'd copy using my great-grandmother's wedding band.  Simple and pretty.  
What do you think?

 Cardigan: Marshalls; Blouse: Liz Claiborne, thrifted; Belt & Jeans: Goodwill;
Shoes: Nine West Outlet

I got some new fall shoes on a Buy One, Get One sale.  They are such a great color.
I know I'll get lots of use out of them.  Oxfords are so fun and classic.

 Sweater: Ross; Top: Banana Republic, thrifted: Jeans: Gap, thrifted; Belt: ?;
Shoes: Same; Glasses: Costco 

Yep, wearing the shoes again already!  And it's definitely fall... 
 I'm breaking out the pumpkin colors. 
But my flip flops are still sitting there in the background wishing for some Indian summer days.
Are you starting to have fun with sweaters and earthy fall colors?
What's the weather like where you are?  Actually having some hot days again here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

AG Harvest Festival 2011

The longer I live in my little town, the more I fall in love with it.  It's cute and historic, quirky and fun.  We even have a suspension bridge and roosters that roam freely around our creekside area.  It's a regular "Stars Hollow" of the West Coast.

Every year we have a harvest festival with a parade and events for all ages.  Here's a glimpse of Saturday's activities.

Colorful Characters...

Who ordered more cowbell?  We can always use more cowbell!

There are always festive floats...

I know this one had a message... just not sure what it was.

There were all kinds of activities in the park.

Derby races...

Dancers in the gazebo...

And the amazing Weiner Dog Race...

Josh and Jason braved the Boy Scouts' rope bridge...

Simple. Fun. Good times.  I love it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Friday Favorite

Today is, indeed, Saturday, but yesterday was Friday.  Something happened that made it a Friday Favorite for sure.

My beautiful, artistic, and amazing friend Gwen runs a quilting business.  Her front room is set up with a huge quilting machine and colorful fabrics.  She and some of her quilting buddies also started a little quilters' club, and unbeknownst to me, they have been making me a quilt!  They have prayed for me while I've been on my road to recovery, and making me this gorgeous covering for tangible love and comfort.

Isn't it wonderful??

I was so blessed... I couldn't help but cry.  To think that they labored over this piece of artwork for me was just more than I could take in.

Gwen said she remembered that I like "Lord of the Rings" colors, so they used the reds, greens, tans, and mustards of Middle Earth.  It's like Rohan became a blanket.  (Yes, I am very nerdy... it's useless to try and hide that.)

So thank you  so very much to Gwen and her group for showing God's love in such a lovely way.  It's a treasure I will enjoy for many years to come.  My heart is full.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Can't Say No

This post has nothing to do with tree-ripened apricots,
other than the fact that I can't say no to them either.
Lessons along the way

About three months ago, I was sitting in my doctor's office, and he recommended that I see a therapist.

A therapist, huh?  I looked at him, and in my mind I thought, no, I will be fine without a therapist.  And then I reconsidered. Well, maybe that's not such a bad idea.  I could at least give it a try. After three more seconds of very deep thought, I made the conclusion that I would be fine without one.

My doctor looked back at me and said in his mind... no, you really should go, I think it would help.  And in addition, the therapist is trained to handle your crying.  (I know this because I have the super power ability to read most doctors' minds.)

I silently reexamined my arguments one last time and told him out loud that I would go.  Then he said out loud that he was relieved glad.

So I went to see the therapist whose office was located in an old forgotten town in a pink building formerly known as a bordello, of all places.  I discovered rather quickly that she is, indeed, very well trained to handle crying.  She can also translate me like a book, which I think is one of her most prominent super powers.

During one session I told her that I have a hard time with expectations, and I don't like to feel as though I have let someone down.  She translated that as "people pleasing."  No, I didn't think that was it.  Her super powers must have shorted out.

Well, what would you call it? she inquired.

I just don't like to disappoint people.  Much different from people pleasing, I'm sure, I told her, with a big question mark in my voice.  She gave me an interesting look and told me to think about it for homework.   Furthermore, she gave me another assignment... to buy a non-feminist book on being assertive.  So I did.

It turns out that maybe I AM a bona fide people pleaser, and I need to make some resolutions about how I make decisions, what I make commitments to, and more importantly... why.

I had my first test a couple of days ago.  I went to a school meeting and was clear in my mind about what I could commit to and follow through with.  Later that evening, I found myself sitting in my sweet van feeling no sense of peace, as I had agreed to plan a monumental overnight outing in a very short amount of time.  Where had my resolution gone?  I didn't stop and let my sweet friend know that I would pray about it.  I didn't let her know that I would discuss it with Patrick to see if this is something I could commit to doing, knowing full well that it would affect our family.

Fail... epic fail, I told Patrick when I got home.  You know you have to say "no" to this, don't you, he kindly asked.   It is not something you are well enough to do right now.

I know.  And now I will have to un-yes my "yes," which is even harder than "no-ing" in the first place.  Sigh.

At least I am learning who I really am, and what God expects of me.  I know that His yoke is easy.  It will just take time and fails to learn new habits and gain His freedom in this area... I'm on my way.

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 
Matthew 11:29-30

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer Outtakes

WIWW #11
pleated poppy

Recently I have been wearing a lot of PJ's, cause I caught a nasty cold.

So I thought I'd share some summer outtakes... outfits I gave the old college try, 
but never quite made the grade. 

 Tee: Marshalls; Necklace & Belt: F21; Former Maxi Dress: Ross; Shoes: Naturalizers

It was the summer of 2010, and the temps got into the 90's which is unusual for my coastal town.  I went insane and had a Pedro moment, and I cut off the bottom of this maxi dress.  (If you haven't seen Napoleon Dynamite, I'm sure that reference makes absolutely no sense... sorry.)  I tried to redeem it and make it a skirt, but I'm not thinking it really works.  And now I want my maxi back!  Boo.

 Fedora: F21, Ralph Lauren Tee: Marshalls; Belt: ?; Capris: old Old Navy; Shoes: Sperrys

This was the day I decided that a fedora, a cowboy belt with a large buckle, and topsiders would look good together.  Maybe I just thought the colors would work, I'm not sure.  This would probably be a good example of how not to dress eclectically.  If I switched out the belt, it might have worked.  Otherwise, we can call it "Cowboys & Aliens."

Tee & Shorts: Marshalls; Belt: ?; Scarf: New Frontiers; Shoes: Clarks

This is probably the least offensive of the three.  I just couldn't decide whether scarves are acceptable in the summer.  It also may or may not be acceptable that I bought the scarf at a grocery store.  Anyhow, it made me hot which is why I had to put my hair in a ponytail.  I will be 40 in two months... am I even allowed to wear ponytails anymore?  Who knows... I'm sure 'they' have rules on that, too.  Whoever 'they' are.

So what are your thoughts on these fashion fumbles?  
Do you ever look through your photos and say 'what was I thinking'?
Do you wear scarves in the summer or impulsively cut your clothes?
Am I asking too many questions?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Ten years.  It's hard to believe, isn't it?

I'll always remember the morning, but some of the details have now faded.  

Patrick must have heard first and turned on the television.  I remember still being groggy.  And then we witnessed the second tower being hit.  I felt sick to my stomach.  Once could have been an accident, but twice was clearly a premeditated act.

Dad, our country is under attack, I relayed over the phone.  The incredulous words had left my mouth, and I wished there were some way to make them just a bad dream.

Today I'm reading Laura Bush's biography, seeing the events from her perspective... the fear that had hung in the White House air and the uncertain future she had faced as the President's wife.  The victims' relatives she comforted and the anxious school children to whom she offered words of hope. 

I'm glad our country is in another place now, but I do miss the sense of unity Americans felt during that brief period of history.  Political parties and agendas didn't seem to matter.  Tragedy seemed to draw us closer together, we hugged a little more tightly, and words of kindness came more freely.  We were simply Americans.

So that is what I'm remembering today, along with stories of heroes and recollections of the fallen.

What do you remember?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


About thirteen years ago I moved from an L.A. suburb to the coast.  I went to a temp agency, because it was the end of a school year, so I couldn't get a teaching job.   The interviewer hired me, and proceeded to tell me that I didn't have to dress up quite so much... things are much more laid back on the coast.

What?  You don't like my creamy blouse, black pencil skirt, pumps, and pearls?  We aren't in Boston, and I can't dress like Sharon McKendrick? 

Fine then, I'll learn to dress more like Susan there on the left, but I am not cutting off my hair!

So I bought a couple Roxy T-Shirts, flip flops, and capris and tried to look more coastal.  I get it.  I had to adjust a little to the culture around me so I didn't look like a complete freak. The Sharon in me is still very much there, but I try to at least tame her a bit.  Maybe I should be a librarian so I'd have an excuse.

Titles, however, have still really bugged me after all these years. Kids around here, for the most part, call their elders by their first names.  When I had kids I just went with the flow, trying to adapt to the culture again, but it makes my skin crawl a little bit.  It just seems so wrong.  Maybe I have a Southern Belle deep down inside me... I just don't remember ever calling adults by their first name when I was a kid.  Heck, I can't even bring myself to call my doctor by his first name, even when we are in a non-clinical setting... and he is my peer.

I guess it's just an issue of respect.  Or maybe I'm being too picky.  Or maybe I just want to hear my last name being said more often, because it is awesome and it starts with a "Z."

What do you think about the whole Mr. and Mrs. thing?  Is it different in different parts of the country?  Is everyone going casual?

Monday, September 5, 2011

I listen to Christian talk radio.

I read biographies about interesting public figures.

I eat broccoli for breakfast.

I teach my kids about safety issues.

I laugh uncontrollably while my husband looks on, stupefied.

There can only be one explanation...

I think I'm turning into my mom.

Now if only I can be...

As faithful as she is in prayer

As beautiful as she is in wisdom

As generous as she is in sacrificial love

I love you, Mom.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Borrowed Faith

Lessons along the way

It was over twenty years ago, but I remember the day clearly.  I was a young teenager in high school, and I sang a solo for my congregation during a church service.  After the pastor finished his sermon, a couple found me, and with tears in their eyes, they told me how the song had ministered to them during a very difficult time in their lives.  I never knew what they were going through, but I knew that God had spoken to them in a very specific way, and for that I was thankful.  I don't remember the title of the song, or many of the lyrics, but I distinctly remember one of the melodic phrases...

"When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart..."

This weekend marks the anniversary of the beginning of my Journey to Charis.  The weekend when my health would fail me, and depression and anxiety would become my constant shadows.  While I am in a much healthier place now, physically and mentally, my spiritual struggles remain the most profound.

There was a time not so long ago when I knew that God was not only my Father and Creator, but my Close Companion as well.  I loved our talks in prayer. I marveled at His beauty and wonder.  I poured over His Word, dissecting the intricate meanings behind simple words and phrases.  I joyfully sang His praise and served Him with gladness.

I felt His presence.

And His love.

In a very real way.

But during this past year, I feel as though a switch has been turned off... as though something has been severed.

It hurts.

Because at the time when I need Him most desperately, it seems as though He removed His presence from my life.

Deep down, I know these are my feelings and not what is true.

So I have been borrowing my faith. 

From King David as he teaches me about my good Shepherd who won't leave my side as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  Who praises His God even when he feels he has been abandoned.

From Job who shows me that God's ways are higher than my own... who eventually finds answers to all his "whys."

From other saints of old who didn't hear from God for years, but persisted in their faith,  knowing He would keep His promises.  And even those like Sarah and Abraham who balked at God's promise, only to be amazingly blessed anyway.

From a friend who shares with me "The Dark Night of the Soul." She shows me that perhaps this crisis is a step toward spiritual maturity, where I cannot trust in my feelings anymore.  Maybe this is an opportunity for my faith to take a deeper journey, beyond the realm of the experiential.

From Christ Himself, who knew what it was like to dwell in human form and feel forsaken.  And yet He surrendered His life anyway.

So I am working on surrender.

Even when I can't feel His presence.

Even when I don't know the answers to all my why's.

Even when I have to borrow my faith from days gone by.

When I can't trace His hand, I will choose to trust His heart.

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