Time Out… Archive-Diving, 2008

Written originally in the fall of 2008, right after the death of our son-in-law, I am once again diving into the draft archives as I prepare to move my blog after Christmas. This is a travel post and I’m saving it primarily for us, as a record of a fun getaway we put together during a particularly difficult time.

Both Dick and I have realized an ever-increasing sense of urgency about taking time out for a few days. A need to leave all things familiar and nest somewhere else together. It’s been quite a year. Enough trauma for a few lifetimes, it sometimes seems.

So after Sunday’s sermon (which was a sermon I needed to hear, and apparently a few others did as well), we went online and found a great deal at a Pismo motel we had never visited before. An ocean-front, two room, 2 bath suite for a great price.

Yes, it’s foggy in Pismo this time of year.
Yes, we already live in a beach community.

But we don’t live on the water and this place isn’t home, with its telephones, messes needing attention, and other assorted distractions – and that, for a little while at least, makes a huge difference.

So we drove up Sunday afternoon, had dinner at a quaint place where, if you like, they’ll throw an entire pot of 3 different kinds of shellfish, corn on the cob and roasted red potatoes all over your table for dinner. That was a little too much for us our first night away, so we settled for some fabulous homemade soups and seafood louie salads. Perfect.

The next day, after sleeping in a bit and enjoying what is euphemistically called a ‘continental’ breakfast at this lovely resort (it actually consists of a great deal more than that, including two waffle makers into which you pour a cup of batter, set the timer and enjoy), we got in the car for a little exploration.

I love to explore new places! Get in the car and drive, then get out of the car and walk. First we drove to the Pismo Pier, which we walked. (The top photo was taken from the pier, looking back toward our motel.)

Next, we went to Arroyo Grande – a charming member of the Five Cities here on the northern central coast. This is their ‘famous’ swinging bridge, which like everything else in the downtown area and environs, is exquisitely well-maintained and fun to see. After you cross the bridge, there is a small historical building site – with a schoolhouse, a Victorian home and a barn (all, only open on weekends, so no tours) plus a lovely town park with a regular River City bandstand in the middle.

They are currently tidying up their town for this weekend’s ‘world famous’ strawberry festival and we had a wonderful conversation with a woman, about my age, who was very happily painting pictures of strawberries on the store windows of the downtown area.

“How’d you get into this business?” I asked. “Well, 35 years ago, I was working for a bank and they knew I had an art degree. So they asked me to do some windows at the bank. I hadn’t a clue, but began to make friends in the sign industry and gradually, just built up my own little business. I’ve been doing it ever sense. It’s a great job – allowed me flexibility to raise my kids, takes me to all the surrounding little towns and I love being in the outdoors!”

The flowers in this small berg are beautiful, as you can see from these floribunda roses which were screaming out at us in front of the one-room schoolhouse. And soon, there will be new trees all down Branch Street, which is the main drag.

All in all, a very fun outing. We had a flyer for something called “Doc Bernstein’s Ice Cream Laboratory” which we found and entered with enthusiasm. They invent their own flavors and we each enjoyed two scoops as a finishing treat to our walkabout. As you can see, Dick LOVES ice cream.

Next, we decided to follow the road out to Lopez Lake, a spot we had often wondered about, but never visited. Lovely drive, but probably no return trip planned anytime soon. It’s another of California’s large reservoirs that are labeled lakes and allow boating and fishing but no swimming. A few nice campsites out there and this small deer, chomping away.

We ended the afternoon at the 10-plex movie theater, watching “The Soloist.” I had read such mixed reviews on this film that I was hesitant, at first. It is a bit too long and sometimes confusing to listen to – but I think in many ways, that was intentional. I love the director – Joe Wright (of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement” fame) and I enjoy both Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, so it was absolutely worthwhile just to see some of the interesting directorial choices and the acting chops of these two fine performers.

And it was deeply troubling, too. The condition of the homeless mentally ill in the city of Los Angeles, indeed, in all cities in our country, is simply devastating.

And there was a voice-over line at the end that just tore at my heart, especially in light of the sermon I had worked on last week. It went something like this. “Nathaniel is still sleeping indoors and he is still mentally ill. Some experts have told me that the simple act of having a friend for a year may actually change his brain chemistry enough to help him stabilize a little.”

Having a friend can change brain chemistry??? Who knew? I think perhaps Jesus understood this powerful truth when he told his disciples, “I have called you friends.”

I’m so glad I am enjoying the gift of a few days alone with my very best friend.

31 Days in which I Am Saved by Beauty – Day 30

A Note of Thanks for a Beautiful Friend

Dear Rachel,

Here’s a scary thought: 

          you are young enough to be my granddaughter! 
(If I’d started having kids really, really young 
and my kids had started having kids really, really young – 
but still!!)

And yet I call you friend. Through these cyber waves only, of course, but friend. That’s what you do, you know. You make friends — everywhere. 

Across all kinds of so-called ‘barriers’ in this world of ours – age/gender/sexual orientation/race/political persuasion/denominations/theological differences. 

Now that last one has proven problematic at points, I know that. You’ve taken a few too many brickbats for my taste. But you’ve handled every single one with grace, honesty, openness. And that is a very rare thing in this world. Very rare indeed. 

You consistently choose to take the high road and you do it with intelligent humility, which is a killer combo in my book. You do your homework, you write with skill and good humor, you listen to criticism, if it’s offered with good will and has merit. 

But you refuse to be cowed by hate-mongers, fear-based misinformation, sideswipes, even outright lies. I salute you, I admire you, I respect you and your work. 

More than that, I am deeply, deeply grateful for your presence out here in this ever-growing world of technological conversation and community. Yes, community. And you have built a wild and wacky one over there at RHE, yes you have! Lots of voices, most of them filled with grace and intelligence, even when they don’t agree with you. 

And then, of course, there are those others, who are not graceful. At all. Sigh. 

But you see what you’ve done, don’t you? You’ve made room –even for those more difficult voices. AND you’ve built a team – to speak right back to them. Your commenting community is among the most articulate and well-spoken I’ve seen anywhere out here. And there are a lot of really fine friends (and far better writers than I) who are writing notes like this to you today. We write because we believe in you. And we believe in what God has called and gifted you to do — on your blog and through your books.

Because we want you to be encouraged today. To know that what you do and what you say and who you are — all of it, all of YOU is valuable to us and to the building of the Kingdom of God in this time, in this place. You are a great gift to the church, Rachel. A great gift. 

So thank you for being brave. Thank you for using that good, good mind God gave you. Thank you for taking on the tough topics, for facing into your fear, for speaking truth and love with well-chosen and wise words. 

Your publisher didn’t choose me as a team member, but I am one anyhow. I have ordered the book and I look forward to reading it, reviewing it, sharing it. 

May you be blessed this day – and every day – by the steady and steadying presence of our Savior. And may you always stand ready to, “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…with gentleness and respect.”  

Because that is exactly what you are doing. And you do it so very, very well.



Joining with a long list of other bloggers in a secret synchroblog to honor Rachel Held Evans on the day of her book launch. You can read all the others over at Jessica Goudeau’s great blog, “Love Is What You Do.” (Isn’t that the greatest blog name ever??) Just click on these sentences and you’re there.