Monday, September 28, 2009


I sat wedged in the corner of the sofa, sputtering out words and wondering how I could possibly be so distracted. I was speaking to the most attention-commanding, fear-inducing, jaw-dropping Being in the universe, and I was distracted by little thoughts flitting by. I imagined myself approaching the most magnificent castle in the world, its spires stretching toward the heavens and its gates sparkling in the sun. I had been invited to spend the day with the king. Just before I stepped through the gate, a pink flower caught my eye and I left the path to take a closer look. It was a pretty flower, so I sat down in the grass and picked it so I could breathe in the fragrance. Completely taken with it, I forgot all about my appointment with the king and ran all the way back to my little hut to put it in a vase.

How ridiculous. A worthless sacrifice. The flower will be gone tomorrow, and when I remember the king I will feel quite foolish explaining why I didn't come to see him.

Is it because I don't understand who I'm meeting with when I come before the Lord in prayer?

Listen to the offer we've been given: "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near." (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6)

Annie Dillard was rather frank when she said this about church, "Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the absolute? On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, making up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies hats and straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return."

Ouch. I think I would do good to think long and hard about who I'm approaching when I pray, and who it is that sees my every move, my every thought, and knows my every word. Every thought, every word, known perfectly by the One who has the power to kill, to breathe life, to save, and to destroy. Yikes. He listens to the humble and righteous and offers forgiveness for their souls. That's motivation. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mountain People

Embracing the culture you live in is part of what makes living there fun. When I lived in southern California, I loved going to the beach, renting cruisers and riding up and down the boardwalk, and was forced into everyone's favorite activity: shopping. 

Colorado has a little something different to offer. Expecting the beach in a landlocked state and oodles of shopping where everyone would rather be hiking, naturally, I would be disappointed. I was ready to leave the glam behind in L.A. and welcome the comfortable, no-pressure Colorado lifestyle.  

Most of Colorado's best is still untouched by me, but last weekend I had a small taste. My high school friends who are now married like to shoot when they're not mountain biking or horseback riding. And when I say shoot, I mean shoot. Guns. The entire back of the Land Cruiser was filled with guns of all shapes and sizes. I happily accepted the invitation, and we drove up to Woodland Park and set up the targets.

Travis was the expert, so he assembled everything (I didn't know assembly was required...) and showed me where the safety was, how to cock, how to aim, how to stand, but not how to not freak out after I pulled the trigger. I started with child's play -- a little .22 something (maybe) -- and eventually graduated to a shotgun and a rifle of some sort.

here's travis, assembling

notice the two holes awfully close to the bull's eye

i was nervous. this is a big gun. heidi helped me brace for impact.
and i'm standing like a girl.

this is how it's supposed to look.

We finished everything off with dinner and a banana split at The Hungry Bear. That's where the mountain people eat. I think I need to invest in a flannel shirt and a good pair of boots...cowboy boots.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Last Pedals

Here is a glimpse of some of the last glorious flowers of summer. My mom's flower pots are her gardening joy, with everything from faded hydrangea to brilliant morning glories. I snapped these yesterday, in my bare feet, while it was snowing just a few miles away on Pikes Peak. If you've never been to Colorado, please visit.

Summer is hanging on. Autumn is creeping in. I'm afraid the colder one will win out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Paris Tribute

Paris has singlehandedly enchanted more people than any other city in the world. I have permanently joined those who have fallen head over heels for Paris, and it came out of nowhere. I used to think it was overrated and cliche, but no more.

I recently finished reading Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon, where he shares life in Paris through the eyes of an American writer, husband and father. He explores French cuisine, fashion, culture, and observations on the differences between American and Parisian culture. Let me share with you the description of his favorite restaurant, the Balzar.

"The Balzar is a brasserie, which means that it is Alsatian in origin, serves beer, and stays open late. Over the years it has added a full dinner menu, so that it has become indistinguishable from a restaurant. For more than a hundred years the Balzar has been a family business, and each of the families has managed to keep it constant without making it stale. It's a one-story, one-room spot, small by brasserie standards---with only ninety or so covers---and has a glass front that looks out onto the street; you can see with one eye people boarding the number 63 bus in the twilight, and with the other a pretty little park dedicated to Montaigne, with plane trees and pink-flowering chestnuts."

Can't you picture yourself sitting there? Are you charmed just thinking about it? This book alone made me want to at least visit Paris, if not move there. Then, one of my favorite bloggers took a trip to Paris and is now posting pictures and describing its magic. Another of my favorite bloggers recently published a book on Paris -- she lives there when she's not living on her houseboat in Amsterdam. Seriously? I've also watched Julie & Julia (the new movie about Julia Child's adventure in French cooking) and French Kiss ('90s Meg Ryan movie). It's all too much. I simply can't help myself.

AND I wake up to this on my wall every morning:

I'm convinced it's the most romantic place. Parisians live life beautifully. The everyday bits of life are beautiful. I don't know how they do it, but they do, and effortlessly. *sigh*
I hope you find some inspiration to add some charm to your day. If you need a little more help, browse Haven in Paris and start planning your visit. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pancakes: Morning, Noon, or Night

Last night, the weekly Pancake Night was reinstated after the summer break, and everybody's excited about it. Here's an idea for you: try cinnamon-apple pancakes. You must. Even if you don't eat pancakes, try it.

What you need to do:
Grate a granny-smith apple.
Mix cinnamon with sugar.
Sprinkle grated apple and cinnamon/sugar onto the pancake while it's cooking on the griddle.
Top with syrup.
Enjoy your new life post cinnamon-apple pancake.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


This week I've been struck by love. The power and the reality of it, really. Some of you will laugh at this, but so did I, so laugh away. I mentioned that Jonny is gone. Monday, we moved him in and said goodbye. It didn't hit me until I drove home from work late that night...and then it really hit me. Men probably aren't so much like this, but I think women react more strongly to the fear of losing a close relationship, even if it's not lost. This was me -- worried that the close friendship I enjoyed with him would change forever. He was moving on, I wasn't. Devastating, right? Although this isn't reality, it's still a fear. So my tears were not of grief, but of excitement for him, pressing through necessary change, a little bit of loss and a little bit of fear.

I'm not even his mother (just his sister), and there's a major lump in my throat. I don't understand how all mothers don't just plop on the floor in sackcloth and ashes for weeks after their children leave. Not to belabor the point, but I have been amazed at how deeply I feel concern and hope for him since he left. I want to know he will be okay, that God will shield and guide him, that he will not grow discouraged. Psalm 71:3, "Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress." And God will be that.

When you feel deeply about one thing, it usually spills over. As I've thought about the relationship with my brother, I've thought about all my relationships. It's funny how a little bit of pain seems to resurrect past pain you didn't fully deal with but buried anyway.

Back to my topic: love. In the past couple weeks, God has allowed me to reconcile two very important relationships that were damaged a while ago and never mended. My understanding of love is so limited: I thought I had lost them, or at least permanently cramped their ability to forgive and love me fully, again. The abundance and readiness of their forgiveness overwhelmed me. And it led me to one place -- the Cross -- that sacred place where Jesus answers every cry for forgiveness and love with a shocking answer: it is completely, wholly, forever, Finished. There is no hesitation to pour out all love and to spread his welcoming arms wide to forgive his Beloved.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7. Full, unlimited forgiveness and love.

Life is incredible and rich. And all because of love.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bye Bye Jonny

Little Jonny is leaving. He's going to college on Monday, and I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do. This guy is sunshine. He's hilarious, a wonderful friend, and allergic to gluten. You all want to know him, don't deny it. I would invite you for dinner so you could meet him, but he's leaving.

Before your eyes get too misty, I should tell you he's going to the University of Denver. It's an hour away. So what that means is I'll be waiting outside his classrooms to walk him to the next.

I was trying to remember my thoughts on the days just before I went to college. Everything was rosy. The world was full of uncontaminated opportunity. New things to learn, new people to meet, independence. Starting out my "adult" life on the right foot, with bright hope for the future. Aah, those were the days.

Now he has new things to learn, new people to meet, and independence. He's starting out on the right foot and has bright hope for the future. And he'll be just fine. His best will get better, and every bump in the road will be good for him.

p.s. You may now officially consider me a Pioneers fan. Go Denver!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Synthetic or Sustainable?

This post is entirely opinion, but it's also a sincere question.

Sustainability is a HUGE project worldwide. It's like a wildfire -- everybody's catching the craze. Sustainability promotes smarter financial, social, personal, and philanthropic decisions. It encourages responsibility and awareness of our actions and our surroundings. What's not to like about that?

If I'm not mistaken, this entire movement was initiated by left-wingers and their hope to save the environment. Here's what's funny: we've begun creating synthetic products in order to avoid damaging too much of the earth's plant and animal life (dead or alive), but doesn't that defeat the purpose of sustainability? It seems to me that the most sustainable way of life -- and the way it's been done for centuries -- is to use the earth and the natural life cycle as a valuable resource.

Synthetic bone china, for instance, is what is mostly being used to produce the best quality china: bone china. It used to be made from the ground-up bone of oxen and mixed with clay, but vegetarians wouldn't eat off the plate and revolted. It was cruelty to animals and, after all, vegetarians are herbivores! I don't think it made much difference to the ox (unless, of course, he was inhumanely treated). My question is, wouldn't it be most sustainable to use real bone instead of creating new processes and possibly building new machines to make this synthetic bone?

Where do we draw the line? It seems like this has gone full circle...