31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Thirty-One — REST

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We have arrived at the end, my friends! My deepest thanks to those of you who have stuck with me through this long journey. And my sad good-byes to the 8 or so who unsubscribed over the course of this daily invasion of your inbox. It happens every.dang.time.

And now it’s time for me to take a break from the daily and rest these fingers for a while. This view will help! It’s a corner of our longer one, our peek at the water. And for a while this summer, it was barely visible. The rains from last spring had fostered a lot of growth in our neighbors’ back yards and until I mustered up my courage and offered our kind gardener’s services in their yards, we could barely find the water. They said, “Of course,” and now I feel as though I’ve been given an adrenalin shot. I love it so much.

How do you find rest? Being near water is restful, restorative, rejuvenating, re-creational for me. How about you? Almost any part of nature does that same thing. I also like resting in a comfortable place, reading a good book, watching a well-crafted film or television show, talking quietly with friends, having someone else prepare the meal. 

Rest is an important and life-giving part of what it means to be human, don’t you think?

 

I’ll be back with a daily Advent devotional at the end of November. And maybe a book review or two in the meantime . . .

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Thirty — REFINE

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This valley is where I spent about 8 of the early years of my life. In some ways, it was a refining place. Although I loved living near to my cousins and my grandparents, I never really felt at home in the San Fernando Valley. When I was twelve, we moved to Glendale, which was in a neighboring valley, this one named San Gabriel. THAT place felt like home to me.

The houses were older, the trees were bigger, the stores more classic. There were building regulations in the San Gabriel Valley, almost none in the San Fernando. So strip malls proliferated, sidewalks were scattered, housing was usually tract upon tract. Maybe you could say that living in the San Fernando Valley refined some of my values? Now, at this point in my life, I am living in a tract! But it’s a more interesting one than those that surrounded me as I grew up. Built about 1950, the houses vary widely and offer stunning views over city and shore.

In the valley of my younger years, the views were non-existent, as most often the sky was shrouded with smog. That got better with time. And the building regulators got to work so things are easier to look at now than they were in the early 50s, when we lived there. And the newer valleys, the ones further west? Like Simi, Santa Clarita and Westlake? They are LOVELY — and tract housing has taken on a whole new meaning. 

I still love old homes, however. And value the long growth of trees.

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Nine — FOLLOW

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“Just follow the coastline north.”

That’s what I tell people when they ask me where I live. Drive up the 101 until you find the Pacific Ocean, then keep going for about 35 miles. We’re right there!

I love to follow this particular road. This view shows you a corner of Highway One, down and to the left. The vantage point is taken from Hwy 101, which is much ‘straighter’ than the Hwy 1. Also? It’s a freeway most of the way and the other is notoriously NOT a speed route. 

We’ve driven a lot of beautiful highways in this world, including along the coasts of South Africa, Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland and France. But nothing beats this route in California.

Right in this small, blurry snapshot, you can see a few of the reasons why — the mountains, which are always nearby the coast in CA. And the green fields of agriculture just below the roadway. More produce is grown in the state of CA than any other state in the union. Did you know that? This particular field is full of strawberries this year. We’ve seen green beans, and several varieties of flowers grown in this field. But strawberries seem to be the long haul staple.

And, of course, the ocean itself. You can’t see the coast all the way along the 101, but you see it regularly. And each time, it’s like a breath of fresh air, a beckoning to somewhere new and bigger than life. Oceans do that to a person!

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Eight — CONNECT

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Like a watercolor painting, this view is the first sighting of our town as we drive back to it from southern CA. Just a small point in the water, with a few trees, a house barely visible. But as soon as I see it, the connection is there. This is HOME.  And I am always so glad to be here.

When we moved here, almost 21 years ago, it was so that I could start a job as associate pastor. My husband commuted to work in the middle of each week for the next ten years, took one retirement for a year, then went back to work for another two before retiring in 2010, as did I. So Santa Barbara has been home for as long as any other place we have ever lived together. Our connection is solid, but it is very different from the connection we feel to points south.

That’s where we raised our family, where both my husband and I grew up, where our middle daughter still lives. It’s ‘home’ in a very different way, and the connections are strong and deep. And even though it’s now been over 50 years since we spent our two years in Zambia, we still have connections to that place and some of those people, too. I wish those connections were with African students, but sadly, the AIDS epidemic took the lives of many, many of those fine young people and we seldom hear from anyone who actually lives in country anymore. Our connections now are with those who lived and taught with us, and a couple of those are enduring and deep.

Where do you feel connected — geographically and emotionally? To a place? A group of people? A particular house? A school? Tell me a little in the comments . . .

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Seven — OVERCOME

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This photo was taken last Friday night, as I was leaving my friend Tonia’s home after setting out catered food to feed about 50 out-of-town guests following her daughter’s memorial service earlier in the afternoon. I was exhausted, ready for bed. She was grieving her girl AND still in recovery mode herself after a horrendous fall seven weeks earlier that caused her right leg to explode into a bazillion pieces.

She had a large plate, about 20 screws and six weeks of no weight-bearing behind her at this point. We are three months apart in age and were neighbors for 13 years, members of the same congregation for 21 years and Birthday Club sisters for about 35 years. When she sent me this picture on Sunday evening, I wrote her back and said, “Hey, we look okay for a coupla old broads, don’t we?” She wrote back immediately and said, “We do! Love you!”

We are very different in many ways, but I consider her to be a heart friend, someone who has known me through thick and thin (quite literally, for me!), someone I can rely on and someone she can rely on, too. Together, we have overcome a lot of crap that life can throw our way and have lived to tell about it. And to testify to the power of grace, companionship and faith along the way. 

To tell you the truth, I don’t think it’s possible for human beings to overcome much without a good friend or two, do you?

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Six — CHANGE

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We drove south this past weekend and on the day we left, I woke up feeling heavy and sad. The reason for our trip was the funeral of the daughter of a dear friend, a daughter who died way too young and for all the wrong reasons. Before the health crisis I referenced in an earlier post, I had agreed to organize a supper at their home following the memorial service. Now I was in need of extra help. Change in plans.

As we drove on Friday, I was fascinated by the sky. There were huge, billowy clouds along our 100+ mile route, a sign of fall in southern CA. The temperature, however, has not quite gotten the message as it remains in the high 90s as I write these words. I took the top picture about 40 miles down the road and the one below it, about 30 miles later. There was a definite change in the composition of those big things in the sky! They went from white to light gray to dark gray and finally, at one bend in the road, to an ominous black. Change in the weather.

This particular change, however, did not signify very much. It did, however, make for a fascinating skyline as we drove. Some changes are tiny and end up being quite big. Some seem huge and end up meaning very little. What kind of change is going on in your life right now, friend? And what are you learning about yourself and this world and our God as you walk through it? 

Some changes are wonderful, life-giving, affirming and grand. Some are exactly the opposite of all of that. The only thing that is certain is this . . .change will come. To every single one of us. The only way to be ready for it is to live a life of trust, confident that no matter what, we won’t have to walk through whatever change may come on our own. Thanks be to God.

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31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Five — BECAUSE

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“Well . . . just because, that’s why.”

How many times did I utter those words in my years as an impatient mommy of three little ones. Oh, my, I got so tired of the “why” questions! Most particularly when it came time for me to give instructions (or orders!) of one kind or another. “But why, Mommy? Why do I have to do . . . ?”

Yeah, I wasn’t the best of moms. I tried. I really did. I loved my kids inordinately — they were fascinating, adorable, smart, funny and good company. Except when they weren’t. Or when I wasn’t. Then things could get a little dicey. I have asked their forgiveness numerous times across the intervening decades. They assure me all is well — but I often wonder about that. Why? Well . . . just because.

I think I got some things right– but I got a whole lotta things wrong. However, I do take heart when I interact with them now, as adults. They are all such interesting, committed, caring and kind people. And they are GREAT parents. I watch with admiration and a tinge of envy, to tell you the truth. Maybe it’s because they spaced their kids more widely apart than we did. But maybe it’s because they are simply smarter and gentler than I am. 

I do notice that my kids all decorate their homes seasonally, which is something I always did — kinda over the top — when they were little. I still do some, on a much smaller scale, and I still enjoy it. Maybe that decorative stuff helped to make up for some of the less attractive features of my parenting? One can only hope!

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Four — REVISE

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Well, the best laid plans and all that. About 3 weeks ago, I stumbled while heading out my bedroom door, tripping over the wheel of a chaise lounge and landing hard on my left knee and side. This doozy of a bruise complicated my life two weeks later when it was discovered that I had — once again — multiple small blood clots in both of my lungs.

Talk about revising things.

Sheesh.

This was so not on my calendar, friends. SO NOT. We spent one entire Saturday in two different emergency clinics to receive this explanation for the searing back pain that had kept me wakeful most of the previous night. Some of you may remember that another series of falls two years ago took me off of the blood thinning medicine I was taking at the time – coumadin. Now I’m on a newer version called Xarelto, twice a day for three weeks to help break up these clots (and hopefully, the small, tender hemotoma or two that still remain from this yucky bruise) and then once a day thereafter, probably for however much longer I live. I will actually be visiting my blood specialist at about the time this will arrive in your inboxes today — hopefully, I’ll learn more then.

Our bodies are marvelous things, able to accomplish so many different things, holding us upright for decades, birthing babies, handling late hours and too many burdens. And then, one day, they’re proven to be fragile, difficult, complex and limiting. Yes, there are limits. And I’m re-learning mine these days. Not thrilled about this kind of revision, but hopefully, open to learning what it may teach me.

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Three — WORK

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This small arrangement sits on the corner of my cooktop island, the place where I do the work I don’t really like very much. Cooking.

Baking, I enjoy. Cooking? Not so much. But I do it almost every night of the week. 

My husband has learned to handle his own breakfast and lunch. But he does not do dinner. So . . .almost 52 years later, I do it. We have a repertoire we go through with some regularity, most of it easy to fix. And I frequently incorporate new recipes I’ve discovered on the internet — one of my favorite plusses of the electronic age, I must admit!

Because I’ve had a bit of a health crisis over this last weekend, I’m not up to doing much right now, so tonight we’ll have leftovers. Actually, there are several to choose from — a problem when you’re cooking for just two people. Our kids brought us pad thai last night — so yummy. Maybe we’ll try that. Or there’s the taco salad fixings still waiting to be heated.

Yeah, that’ll be the extent of my work right now!

Well, that and writing all these posts. And my columns. And prepping confirmation lessons. And helping plan a memorial dinner for a friend who lost her daughter. Plus getting myself up, dressed, face washed, teeth brushed . . .you, know the regular stuff. Yeah, it’s all work of some kind or another, isn’t it?

Fortunately, I really enjoy a lot of it. And that makes it feel a whole lot less like work, doesn’t it??

31 Days of 5 Minute Prompts: Day Twenty-Two — LIGHT

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I stood amazed on this hot, hot evening. It was deathly still, not a breath of a breeze and still over 80 at almost 7:00 p.m. But there was a lovely array of clouds in the evening sky and the sun was having fun playing peek-a-boo as it set. This is not a direct picture of the sky, but a shot of the water in the marina, reflecting that sky.

And it took my breath away. Light is amazing — it opens our eyes to see things we could not otherwise see, both positive and negative. It showcases dust in the corners as often as it points us toward hidden beauty in the shadows. Yet both functions are important, are they not? We need to see the beauties all around us. And we need to see the stuff that needs cleaning up, too.

There’s been a lot of both heat and light in the news of late — sexual predation, political braggadocio, intrigue, mistruths, half-truths . . . the spotlight is a good and necessary thing when it helps us to see things as they are and maybe even hints at what they might be. Hopefully, as we learn more and more about the things-that-happen-in-the-dark, we’ll commit ourselves to be people who choose the light, the truth. Maybe we can use a little of that light to show us where to clean house. And where to sing out loud praises for goodness ongoing.

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