Archives for March 2012

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary – Day THIRTY-FOUR

Mark 10:46-52, The Kingdom New Testament,
                                a contemporary translation by N.T. Wright

They came to Jericho. As Jesus, his disciples, and a substantial crowd were leaving the town, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the side of the road. When he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out, “Son of David! Jesus! Take pity on me!”

Lots of people told him crossly to be quiet. But he shouted out all the louder, “Son of David – take pity on me.” 

Jesus came to a stop. “Call him,” he said. 

So they called the blind man. 

“Cheer up,” they said, “and get up. He’s calling you.” 

He flung his cloak aside, jumped up and came to Jesus. 

Jesus saw him coming. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 

“Teacher,” the blind man said, “let me see again.” 

“Off you go,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved you.” And immediately he saw again, and he followed him on the way. 


It is a motley crew making its way up the road to Jericho. Very soon, they will be on the very outskirts of Jerusalem.

And we will, too.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, the last week of our journey through Lent. 

And I can’t think of a better story to mark this important transition time than the one we’ve got right here, the one about Bartimaeus. 

Who is kind of a hero of mine. I really like this dude. He is bold to the point of pushiness and he definitely knows what he wants and goes for it.

And he wants Jesus. 

He wants Jesus to see him so that he can see Jesus. 

That’s how deep and real his faith is, his belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the one who can rescue him from darkness. 

Even Jesus acknowledges this truth, declaring him ‘saved,’ or healed, without so much as a touch. No mud. No saliva. No special word. Just a declaration, a fait accompli.

Maybe that’s why the early church adapted this man’s prayer and offered it as a balm, an ever-ready invitation into the very presence of God: the Jesus Prayer. 

It is my go-to prayer every single day, usually several times a day. The words are so true, so calming, so immediate. 

And it goes like this:
    Big breath in:    “Lord Jesus Christ”
    Big breath out:  “Son of God”
    Big breath in:     “Have mercy on me”
    Big breath out:   “a sinner.”

Or it can be shortened to the simple words, “Lord, have mercy.” There is something calming and centering about these words, this intentional focus on the Savior and our overwhelming need for mercy. 

Bartimaeus received that and more. His answered prayer changed his life forever; he picked up his beggar’s bowl and threw in his lot with the carpenter-teacher from the north. For he followed him on the way, the scripture tells us. 

He followed him on the way.


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. That says it all, Lord, all that I want and need to say today. You are the Lord, I am the sinner, and mercy is what brings us together. Touch my eyes today, and walk with me that I might offer the mercy I have received to all those I meet, in Jesus’ name and for Jesus’ sake. Amen. 

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary – Day THIRTY-THREE

The storm is comin’, can you see it?

Exodus 9:13-35, The Message

God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh. Tell him, ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, says: Release my people so they can worship me. This time I am going to strike you and your servants and your people with the full force of my power so you’ll get it into your head that there’s no one like me anywhere in all the Earth. You know that by now I could have struck you and your people with deadly disease and there would be nothing left of you, not a trace. But for one reason only I’ve kept you on your feet: To make you recognize my power so that my reputation spreads in all the Earth. You are still building yourself up at my people’s expense. You are not letting them go. So here’s what’s going to happen: At this time tomorrow I’m sending a terrific hailstorm—there’s never been a storm like this in Egypt from the day of its founding until now. So get your livestock under roof—everything exposed in the open fields, people and animals, will die when the hail comes down.'”
All of Pharaoh’s servants who had respect for God‘s word got their workers and animals under cover as fast as they could, but those who didn’t take God‘s word seriously left their workers and animals out in the field.
God said to Moses: “Stretch your hands to the skies. Signal the hail to fall all over Egypt on people and animals and crops exposed in the fields of Egypt.”
Moses lifted his staff to the skies and God sent peals of thunder and hail shot through with lightning strikes. God rained hail down on the land of Egypt. The hail came, hail and lightning—a fierce hailstorm. There had been nothing like it in Egypt in its entire history. The hail hit hard all over Egypt. Everything exposed out in the fields, people and animals and crops, was smashed. Even the trees in the fields were shattered. Except for Goshen where the Israelites lived; there was no hail in Goshen.
Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. He said, “I’ve sinned for sure this time—God is in the right and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to God. We’ve had enough of God‘s thunder and hail. I’ll let you go. The sooner you’re out of here the better.”
Moses said, “As soon as I’m out of the city, I’ll stretch out my arms to God. The thunder will stop and the hail end so you’ll know that the land is God‘s land. Still, I know that you and your servants have no respect for God.”
(The flax and the barley were ruined, for they were just ripening, but the wheat and spelt weren’t hurt—they ripen later.)

Moses left Pharaoh and the city and stretched out his arms to God. The thunder and hail stopped; the storm cleared.

But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he kept right on sinning, stubborn as ever, both he and his servants. Pharaoh’s heart turned rock-hard. He refused to release the Israelites, as God had ordered through Moses. 

The battle of wills between God and Pharaoh is positively epic. 

And we know who wins.

But, man alive – that Egyptian big shot is one tough cookie. With his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the God of Moses, he has already brought down sorrows untold for his own people:
     water turned to blood,
          frogs up the yin-yang,
               gnats in every crevice,
                    flies beyond belief,
               livestock laid waste by disease,
          boils by the bucketload on the skin of humans and animals,
     and now…a ginormous hail storm is promised/threatened.

Will he never learn?

… You know, I’d like to go on and on, railing against the stupidity and stubbornness of the guy, but I just can’t get there today.

Because I am too often a pharaoh (small ‘p’) all on my own, too often resisting the word of the Lord – even when I know it might get me in a heap of trouble.

     I too often say one thing – and do the opposite.

     I too often nod my head in agreement and at the same time determine in my spirit not to agree, not at all.

     I too often put my need to be the one in charge, the one ‘to whom attention must be paid’ ahead of my stated belief that God is God and not me myself.

     I can only imagine the amount of thunder/lightening/hail I’ve brought down on myself and innocent bystanders because I have gotten in the way of my own best interests and defied the call of God.

Not that I believe God sends all of that as particular punishment for my lack of faith and shortsightedness. But I do believe (and know) that the consequences of my own thoughtlessness and selfishness do rain down on me, all on their own. Oh my, yes.

So, I see myself in this reading today, brought up short and made painfully aware of my penchant for willfulness. 

And all I can do is fall on the mercy of God and cry out for forgiveness. 

And beg for a serious course correction!

How about you? Need a little time for confession as this day begins?


Mighty God, Author of Life and Redeemer of our souls, I confess to you my own pharaoh-like willful streak. I acknowledge my bent for choosing too often to go my own way rather than to seek the way of grace and freedom. As a result, I deal with storms of all kinds, storms that could have been avoided. I rely on your forgiveness, on your kindness and the work of your transformational Spirit to become a softer,  more pliable child of yours, willing to submit, willing to admit dependence. In my own strength, I’m going nowhere fast. But centered in your goodness – there is freedom, there is release, there is a way through the messes I create. Thank you, thank you.

Burnished Through the Years

What can I say to help you see the man I know? 

That he is funny and smart and loving? 

Yes, that’s all true. 

That he is opinionated and sometimes volatile, gestures wildly while watching sporting events and has been known to yell at the screen (and also at passing drivers when they cut him off)? 

Yes, that’s all true, too. 

But how do I find words to describe how tender he can be? How deeply he adores his children and grandchildren – and me, too? 

How do I tell you how goofy he can be? Wearing silly hats and too-small-butterfly-wings just to make a 2-year-old giggle?

How can I describe his thoughtful wondering about the future, his careful allocation of resources so that we and our kids and our church and our missionary friends and the worthy people and projects that God sends our way can all be tended to, with love and care? 

How can I possibly describe to you what a privilege it has been for me to mother his children, fold his laundry (most of the time!), admire his handiwork in the yard and at the kitchen sink and to see how kind he is, how very, very kind?

Is there any way to put into words how grateful I am to God for each and every day – even the horrible, terrible, very-bad ones – we’ve had together? Is there any way for me to describe to you the inexpressible joy it gives me to wish him a happy birthday this week? This marks number 49 that I’ve shared with him, 47 of those as his wife. 

And this one? 

Well, this one is number 70. 

He has survived pleurisy, a kidney stone that had to be surgically removed, a major blood clot in his lung and prostate cancer. And he plays tennis – singles tennis! – once or twice a week with our son. 

And there is no way that any one of you would ever guess his age without my putting it out here in black and white for you to marvel at. 

No, there is just no way to tell you. There are no words. 

Well.. maybe just one: 


He is a gift to this world, a gift to our family and most especially a gift to me. Easily the best earthly one I’ve ever been given. 

And I thank God for this gift every day that I breathe.
Joining Lisa-Jo for the first time in several weeks. (This daily devotional posting has been so much fun for me – but wow! It’s tough sledding trying to add anything to that.) This, however, was one I just could not pass up. Join the ever-increasing crew over there and check out what others are saying in 5 minutes flat. I will gladly admit that this one took a few extra minutes.

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary – Day THIRTY-TWO

Some places, moments and people in my life where I see the glory of God.
What about you?

2 Corinthians 3:7-18, New Living Translation

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! 

Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. 

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 


“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.”
We can SEE it.
And we can REFLECT it.

The glory of the Lord is all around us, and it shines out of us – if we open our hearts to see, to receive, and to release it. 
My goodness gracious sakes alive.
That is fantastic. 
And just the teensiest bit overwhelming on some days. 
Usually on the days when I’ve closed my eyes,
     when I cannot see the glory,
          when I’ve forgotten about the glory,
               when I try to make it on my own steam,
          forgetting to stop.look.listen.rejoice.
So, look through some old photos of your own.
Walk in your neighborhood.
Look at your family, especially those older saints you know.
Or the tiny ones.
And celebrate the glory around you.
And in you, too.
The veil is gone because of you, Jesus. Thank you. Remind us, even before our feet hit the floor each day, to use the ‘eyes of our eyes’ to see your glory, the ‘ears of our ears’ to hear your glory. And then empower us to live it, from one minute to the next, one task to the next, one person to the next. Because you’re there – waiting for us to notice.   

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross – Day THIRTY-ONE

Watching for the morning on the island of Kauai, July 2008

Psalm 130 – A Psalm of Ascents – 
Today’s New International Version 
Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; 
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
   to my cry for mercy. 
If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
   Lord, who could stand? 
 But with you there is forgiveness,
   so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
   and in his word I put my hope. 
 I wait for the Lord
   more than watchmen wait for the morning,
   more than watchmen wait for the morning. 
Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
   for with the LORD is unfailing love
   and with him is full redemption. 
 He himself will redeem Israel
   from all their sins. 


That’s my word for this year.


I don’t wait very well. That’s a fact. I am a restless person by nature and learning to be still, to live in patience –
    this is extraordinarily difficult for me.

Which is probably why this is the word that came when I asked God about it near the end of 2011.


But what I don’t think I’ve thought about very much is that this song about waiting…
     waiting for God,
          waiting for mercy,
               waiting for forgiveness,

…is also a song about moving.

This is a pilgrimage song, not a sitting under the palm tree song. 

This is a song of hope, not resignation.

This is a song of long-term relationship, 
     of hope borne of history, 
          of promises fulfilled over time.

“For with the Lord is unfailing love,
     and with him is full redemption.”
     So…follower of Jesus…

Can I do that today? Can you?
Just for today.

And then we can sing this song again tomorrow.


God of the morning, I am thankful beyond words for signs of your mercy, your forgiveness, your faithfulness over time. Help me to stand with confidence on the foundation of your loving-kindness, to trust that today will be okay because you are in it with me. Thank you for all my yesterdays in which this has been so very true, even when I couldn’t quite see you ‘in the moment.’ Thank you for all my tomorrows, in which this will continue to be true. But most of all, thank you for today, in which this IS true. Help me to wait for you all day through, to wait while I follow this road to Calvary. Just for today. Amen.

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross – Day THIRTY

Psalm 126 – A Song of Ascents – Today’s New International Version
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
   we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
   our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
   “The LORD has done great things for them.” 
 The LORD has done great things for us,
   and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
   like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
   will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
   carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
   carrying sheaves with them. 

I love this song.

And I think it’s a perfect song for climbing.

That’s what it is, you know. It’s a song to be sung while climbing the steep hill road to Jerusalem.

One of fifteen psalms sung at the time of each festival celebration, sung as the pilgrims returned to Zion for feasting and worshiping and remembering.

So this is a perfect song for us, at day thirty on our climb to Calvary. We’re heading into the home stretch, nearer and nearer to the heart of the city and to the heart of our story.

And it’s feeling like a climb about now, isn’t it?

Walking along with Jesus as he takes his friends to the end of the road, as he prepares for his own exodus – we can get weary in this walking. Unsure as to whether or not we really want to make that last steep ascent up the hill.

But take heart!

We do not go alone. 

We join with hundreds and thousands and millions of others – around the world and across time. 

And we go with Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, the divine/human one who bent low that we might be brought high. 

But it’s true that there is weeping along the way, isn’t it? The journey we take is fraught with danger, toil and tears – no doubt about that.

But always – always – amidst the tears and the struggle, there are these kernels,  these seeds of hope. 
And we know that as those seeds are planted – we will return singing songs of joy. Yes, we will.

Yes. We. Will.


Lord of the Road – this road of life, and this road to Calvary and the empty tomb – we join our voices to the throng, to the voices of the faithful over the centuries and all around this world. And we sing of hope, of promise, of dreams, of committed connection to our story and to you, the Author of that story. Give us courage to make this final stretch; steady our feet on the rocky road and lead us into life.

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary – Day TWENTY-NINE

Mark 9:30-37, New Living Translation

Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know he was there, for he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead. They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” 


They are NOT getting it…

…these disciples, these friends of Jesus, the ones who’ve left home and livelihood to join him on the road.  

They’re moving ever closer to Jerusalem and Jesus is intent on teaching them the true meaning of the Kingdom of God. 

But…they’re clueless.

For example: when they’re out there on the road walking and talking and missing the point… 

…they seem to be spending the bulk of their time pushing and shoving and jostling, getting themselves into a heated discussion about who among them will be ‘the greatest.’

Ahem. NOTHING whatever to do with the message that Jesus is preaching here. Nothing.
Which is precisely when Jesus pulls a small child into the circle – into his arms, to be exact – and says, “THIS is what you’re supposed to look like, friends. This is whom you are to welcome as if you are welcoming me.” 
It seems you don’t get to be the greatest by pushing your way there. 

                  You get to be first by…being last. 

And in that time and place, there was no one more ‘last’ than
…a child. 
Bottom of the heap, 
     no legal standing, 
          no status, 
               no authority, 
                    no ‘leadership skills,’ 
               no priority seating, 
          no head-of-the-line,
     no pick-of-the-litter,
no nothin’. 
there is this – 
     a small child who is welcomed, 
          received with love, 
               hosted graciously, 
                    cared for, fed and sheltered – 
     such a one is exactly where Jesus can be found.

Not just ‘angels unaware,’ 
     but Jesus himself  
just might show up on our doorstep,  
     grimy and mischievous, 
     laughing or sobbing, 
     looking up at us with those eyes. 
Oh, those eyes. 

So, my friends, here is the big, BIG takeaway for today:

Any investment we make into the lives of small children is the single most important work we can do on this planet. 

So all you parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers – oh, please – welcome the child.  
Welcome the child. 
For this is the work of the kingdom – to see Jesus in the least of these. 

Give us eyes to see you, Gentle Shepherd. To see you in the little ones we meet, the little ones we read about, the little ones we worry about, the little ones who still live and breathe inside of us, the little ones everywhere. For to such belong the kingdom of God. Oh, my.

Linking up with Michelle and Jen for this one – I think this is the first time I’ve linked up one of these daily posts – not sure why. But hey, there’s always a first time, right?


A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross – FIFTH Sunday

Hebrews 5:5-10, The Message

No one elects himself to this honored position. He’s called to it by God, as Aaron was. Neither did Christ presume to set himself up as high priest, but was set apart by the One who said to him, “You’re my Son; today I celebrate you!” In another place God declares, “You’re a priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek.” 
While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him. 

When you read the word ‘obedience’ in this passage, what picture comes to your mind? What kind of freight does obedience – the idea, the word, the process – what weight does it carry in your spirit? 

I’m guessing that you’re a lot like me, that the word ‘obedience’ connotes a list of do’s and don’t’s with some pretty hefty legalistic overtones. 
     Do this – or else. 
          Shape up or ship out. 
               Do the ‘right’ thing. 
                    Don’t disappoint anyone’s expectations.
                         Be good, now! 

And then couple those ideas with the idea of learning-through-suffering – and the whole concept becomes positively frightening.

But take a deep breath and think about this with me for a minute. Jesus came to be one of us, right? And we believe that he was exactly that – one of us…with one major difference: Jesus did not sin.

Yet these six verses describe something quite different than a moralistic list of things to do or things to avoid doing. These verses describe both a developmental process and a relationship of mutuality. 

First – Jesus learned obedience – over time and through suffering – ‘just as we do.’ And Jesus ‘arrived at the full stature of his maturity,’ in perfect time to become the source of ‘eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him.’ 
And second, Jesus lived his life in a relationship of mutual care and concern shared with God the Father –
     Christ ‘did not presume,’
          God ‘set him apart,’
               God celebrated Jesus,
                    Jesus cried out to God, openly and honestly,
               Jesus honored God and was answered. 

All of that in six short verses.

What it reminds me of, just the teensiest bit, is Adam and Eve before the apple and the snake. Complete openness between Creator and creature and a natural inclination toward both being and doing what we were designed to be and do.

In fact, I would argue that Jesus did successfully what Adam and Eve did not do, what we cannot do on our own. He remained in completely open communion with God. So much so that obedience was a natural and comfortable outpouring of that communion.

Jesus did not succumb to the lie, Jesus did not desire to usurp God’s role in his life, Jesus did what came naturally to him and no longer comes naturally to us: he lived in obedience, with no sense of coercion, legalism, overbearing moral coaching, or anything else that might carry negative valence. Like the birds of the air, Jesus did what he was designed to do.
And because he did, we can, too. Not perfectly. Not always. But often. And increasingly often as we learn to walk with God – minute by minute, day by day.

It’s a developmental process – and it happens in a relationship of mutuality. Thanks be to God!


Sometimes, Lord, we really distort things, you know? If we can learn, over time and with lots of grace, to live in you, with you, open to you – then obedience is no longer burdensome. It just happens. We learn to want what you want, we learn to see with your eyes, we learn to live with joy – in the middle of good times and tough times. Teach us to listen, teach us to still ourselves regularly so that we can truly hear your voice of love, singing over us. Such a sweet song! Thank you.

Quiet for the Weekend

“You are to shine among them like
lights in the world,
clinging to the word of life.”
Philippians 2:15b – The Kingdom New Testament, 
a contemporary translation by N.T. Wright
Firefly lights are the most efficient lights in the world— 
100% of the energy is emitted as light. 
I’d say that’s a worthy goal.
To live like a firefly.
Blessed weekend to you, friends.
Joining with Sandy King and Deidra Riggs and Katie Lloyd for their weekly invitations to be quiet, to find a photo that illustrates a biblical truth and to share it with the community.

Leaving LaLaLand – a Photo Essay on Re-Entry

 Getaways are wonderful.
Fresh air for body and spirit,
time to re-connect with spouse and with self.
But it’s not real life – at least not regular real life.
 The week began with beautiful blue skies,
moderately warm sun,
clear mountain views,
and an invitation to slow down.
 Our last night, we went to dinner at Roy’s – one of our favorite restaurants. Pacific rim food, beautifully cooked, elegantly prepared.
 We skipped lunch, got an early dinner reservation and enjoyed 
an almost empty restaurant.
Both of us felt rested and grateful.
 Braised pear and spicy walnut salad,
perfectly grilled salmon with polenta and braised spinach,
 and their trademark Molten Chocolate Cake with
Haagan-Daaz vanilla.
 We don’t eat this way very often, 
so when we do – we make the most of it!
By the next morning, a big storm system was moving in rapidly. The mountains had disappeared from view, 
 and the wind was swirling as we loaded the car.
 The desert reappeared, brown and sere, as we headed back to the freeway, just a tiny square of blue remaining in the sky.
 There is a strange beauty to a desert landscape.
It’s not one I would choose to look at all the time,
but it is one I appreciate when I’m there.
The desert palette is subdued, drawing attention to the shape and contour of the land itself.
The play of shadow and light is always shifting,
changing, soft and subtle.
 Driving through the pass between Joshua Tree and San Bernardino, there are windmill farms by the acre,
tall spikes reaching into the air,
huge blades spinning, spinning, spinning.
 I never know quite how I feel about these large areas of wind farming. I like the alternative harvesting of power 
for our ravenous and technologically dependent culture. 
Yet I rebel against the invasive nature of these foreign objects across the landscape.
We don’t live in a perfect world and these enormous 
turbines are reminders of that truth.
 Yet the orderliness of their rows appeals to the (now almost entirely latent!) organizer in me and they do make a striking silhouette on the hillsides around the highway.
 Like the rest of our desert experience, 
the drive home is filled with interesting contrasts:
dry desert edges met by 
green grass and expansive landscaping all through the cities;
geography that would naturally repel large numbers of people met by 
wide roadways, crowded with cars and trucks;
sagebrush, cactus and joshua trees met by 
golf course after golf course after golf course.
 By the time we got to Redlands, it was raining quite hard, much-needed water falling on every surface – from high desert to mountain top, where elevation changed the drops to flakes of snow. At last, a bit of snow pack for our dry state.
We joined my mother for lunch in her dining room.
It was St. Patrick’s day and all the waiters and waitresses were dressed accordingly.
Corned beef and cabbage,
green macaroni salad,
shamrock-shaped sugar cookies.
She was glad to see us – we were glad to see her.
She seems to be settling into assisted living better each week.
 The rain was stopping as we neared Santa Barbara, but the wind was fierce. A brief stop at Butterfly Beach told us walking the beach would not be possible that day.
 But even in the bluster, something rang and sang inside me.
This is the view that nourishes me most.
This is home.
 We dove right back into life almost as soon as the car was unloaded. 
Sunday worship, Connections Dinner with new people from church, several directees to see for me,
flight arrangements to be made for board meetings for Dick.
 It is so good to get away from the regular sometimes.
To look at different landscapes,
to enjoy quieter, more solitary experiences.
But it is also good to come back to the regular,
to re-enter the maelstrom, to engage with the people and the work that God has called us to. 
My husband will celebrate an important birthday this next week, a birthday that we are so happy he is reaching – alive and well, using his gifts to serve his family and the church, loving his grandchildren, helping many to make wise investment decisions, enjoying the somewhat slower pace that retirement has brought.
As I write this, it is very early on a Saturday morning and we have been home for one week.
He will rise in a few hours and play tennis with our son.
We will both work around the house, doing things that need to be done – but also doing things that will remind us of our time away – reading, writing, conversing.
And we will do them with contentment and purpose,
glad for the restful getaway, but also glad and grateful to be ‘working out our salvation’ in this time, in this place.
Glad and grateful to be at home.
Joining this one (and Part 1) with the Lauras – Barkat & Boggess with thanks for their weekly invitation:

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