Monday, October 03, 2011

Rain, for heaven's sake!

Friday afternoon around 2:30pm it started getting cloudy and then…thunder! Thunder, glorious thunder. Then…raindrops! Praise Jesus, it rains in Los Angeles, I thought, giddily. (I think the last time we had rain was in March?)

I ran outside and let the drops make big spots on my T-shirt.

I did a little rain dance. More, please! More!

I texted mom, "It’s raining here!!!!" She texted back, "you’re a weirdo."

I texted B, "It’s thundering, sprinkling! What about where you are?" He texted back, “I hope God washes away the dirty, dirty sins of L.A.”

And then, as quickly as they came, they went. The sprinkles were gone, and I could see the sun, and the spots on my T-shirt were already drying.

The end of the rain.

And L.A. is still sinful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Doin' up some fall

It is fall. It is fall. It is fall.

I'm trying. B and I have taken to eating fall-ish dinners--stews and soups--despite 80-degree temps.

I brought a small pumpkin over to some friends' house Saturday night as a hostess gift. It didn't really seem to go with the bright yellow and pink flowers decorating her table (mums, people, where are the mums?!), but whatever. I liked it.

Yesterday afternoon I made a batch of pumpkin scones, and the smell of warm cinnamon and nutmeg was amazing. I just tried a random recipe I found online and would recommend. I made them slightly healthier by reducing the butter from 1 stick to 3/4 of a stick. And I'm enjoying one right now--no problemo. 3/4 is just fine. Maybe you could even go a little less!

Guess what was for dinner? Pumpkin pasta. Following another recipe found online, I made penne with mushrooms and arugula in a pumpkin cheese sauce. Nummy!

And I start a fall class tomorrow. I'm thinking of wearing a sweater, even though school's in Pasadena--inland about 40 minutes--which means hot. But the air conditioner will be cranked, so a sweater or scarf will probably work! I'll take first-day-of-school picture for you, mama!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Worthy Headline

I spent a lot of time with grandpa at the nursing home center on my recent trip to Arkansas. We’d sit in grandma’s room and talk while she slept. Or we’d walk the halls and he’d introduce me to all the nurses, who adore him and actually already knew that his granddaughter was coming out to visit. He’d already told them all about me.

The center is depressing though, in my opinion. It’s everything a nursing home always is. The smell of urine and poop waft through the hallway every now and then. Processed food is being rolled on carts under blue plastic domes. TVs are turned up super-duper loud and play the news or some out-of-season ice-skating competition. Random outbursts from alzheimered patients sometimes break the monotony. Loud beeps alert nurses that someone needs help. Healthy spouses push sick spouses around in wheelchairs. One husband pushing his wife came up by me and said he had some advice: never get old. (Thanks. Very helpful.) On the bulletin board in the “activity room” are old black and white photographs of the current residents from when they were in high school, the military, college. Old John Wayne VHS movies line one whole shelf. Board games from a long time ago are stacked up on another one, dusty. For nursing homes, I have to admit, this one is very nice, but I had a difficult time seeing the people behind the age. I couldn’t reconcile the high school photos on the wall with the hurting, broken people lining the hallways. For everyone except my grandma, I saw the age, and I felt bad. As I watched three nurses take grandma to the bathroom and get her dressed, I was overcome with gratitude for those who take good care of the sick and elderly in a way I can’t.

On a break to step outside and check in with B, I ran into Nurse Karen. She likes my grandparents a lot. She asked how long they’d been married because the love they demonstrate—mainly the love my grandpa demonstrates with his vigilance—is pretty amazing. She said she knew grandma was in good hands and being taken care of, but she asked how grandpa was doing at home alone. Did I think he was taking good care of himself? During this conversation, she shared that she’s actually left the nursing home center a few times, gotten into her car, and driven over to my grandparents’ house (about a mile and a half away) to check on my grandpa when he hasn’t arrived at the center at his usual time in the morning—6:45am—with donuts for grandma. Each time it turned out he had merely overslept. But her kindness took my breath away. To go so far out of her way, to leave work, to check on my grandpa… I came to three quick conclusions. It takes a special person to be a caregiver—a good one who sees the person first, not the age—in a nursing home center. Second, we should all question how we can show that kind of kindness and go that far out of our way for others. And third, Karen deserves a headline. Sometimes the work B is involved with makes headlines in the newspapers. My friends and I joke about what the headlines would say about our jobs. For me perhaps “Female Editor Discovers Misplaced Comma” or “Split Infinitives Reunite.” Karen’s? Maybe “Nurse Leaves Work To Do Her Job Well” or “Caregivers’ Hearts Determined to be Huge!”

“Editor Greatly Appreciates Nurse”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fly much?

“Do our suitcases come on a different plane?”
This was the question the 23-year-old girl next to me on the flight from L.A. to Bentonville, Arkansas, asked me as we landed.
“Mmmm, nope. They’re on this plane,” I answered, trying to keep my eyebrows from going up.
Next question: “Do we have to go through customs?”
“Mmmm, nope. I mean Arkansas does feel like another country, but no.”
“Can they see us?”
"Who’s they?"
"Oh, the people picking us up."
"Can they see us right now?" (I don't understand.)
"No, I mean, when we’re getting off the plane can they see us?"
"No."
"Is it dark here right now? Should I wear my sunglasses?"

It was an interesting flight to be sure. The open, free-for-all seating Allegiant provides for the cheap-os who won’t pay for an assigned seat rendered me in the middle seat, aisle 40, between a 19-year-old girl who had never flown before and a 23-year-old girl who had flown before and still asked me if her suitcase was on a separate plane.

When I sat down the 19-year-old by the window was visibly anxious. She reeked of cigarette smoke. She had short, short cut-offs on and her mid-section showed below a short, short, loose-fitting tank top revealing her zebra-print bra. She asked me if I had flown before. I said yes and asked "you?" "Nope," she told me. She’d only driven between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. My first thought was…NIGHTMARE. L.A. and Vegas? Could it be any worse? And then my myriad, global travels began playing through my mind, and I couldn’t imagine having never been on a plane before. What would that feel like? I suddenly felt really lucky and caught myself taking for granted the opportunity to fly! On the aisle seat on the other side of me was a 23-year-old girl who resembled the deceased Amy Winehouse. She wore black, heeled boots that went above her knees to mid thigh (Julia-Roberts-pretty-woman style!) and she kept her cell phone between her boot and thigh. Her eyelids were rainbows…five perfectly drawn stripes of different-colored eye shadows. Her carry-on? One large Louis Vuitton bag containing all makeup. In fact, there was even a separate trifold wallet of sorts containing just makeup brushes!

Upon reaching the desired altitude and making sure the virgin flier next to me was OK, I put my iPod on and began to doze, until the girls struck up a conversation with me in the middle. Come to find out…the 19-year-old virgin flier was heading to Oklahoma to visit her friend indefinitely. She had bought a one-way ticket and only knew she was going to get drunk the second she got off the plane. Her mom is in prison. She doesn’t know where her dad is. She’s been on her own since she was 13. She goes to raves all the time and does hair for money. The 23-year-old is Mexican, going to school to become a nurse and told her parents she was going to a nursing conference (in Arkansas?) when in reality she was going to visit a guy she recently started dating from a distance. It was the guy who she was concerned may see her as she was getting off the plane.

They turned to me and asked me what I was doing—me in my comfy travel outfit of leggings and flip flops (all body parts covered), my iPod in a little ankle sock because I’m too cheap to buy a fancy case for it, and chapstick and a little mascara for makeup (the eye shadow I do have comes in one small case and has two options, beige and a darker beige). "I’m visiting my grandparents," I say. "And no, no. I've never really frequented the L.A. rave scene, nor the reggae bars in Hollywood, but thanks for the heads up on the big rave taking place on New Year’s behind the coliseum."

The contrasts of our lives seemed to create expansive divides between the seats of aisle 40. But apparently I was still cool—cool-ass to be more precise. Upon landing, the 19-year-old called her boyfriend to tell him she had survived her first flight. That she was nervous but thankfully she had some pretty cool-ass people sitting next to her.

I got off the plane, walked to baggage claim, and began descending the escalator and there…standing at the bottom, both arms outstretched and waving was my grandpa, beaming.

I turned and waved goodbye to my cool-ass flight buddies and went to hug grandpa. He asked how the plane ride was; I just answered "fine."

Friday, September 09, 2011

Chasin' waterfalls

With friends who were in town over Labor Day weekend, B and I went hiking up in Topanga Canyon—L.A. County guidebook in hand. We chose the Santa Ynez Waterfall trail. When it's pushing 90 degrees and dry and deserty, who wouldn’t choose the option featuring water? We got started and slowly made our way down.

Odd. I questioned how we’d hit a waterfall if we were going down…don’t you normally go up for that?

About 25 minutes in, we pass a young family towing a two or three year old. They’re sweaty and squinting into the sun. We asked how the waterfall was. The dad doesn’t make eye contact, only grumbles, shakes his hand and rolls his eyes, mumbles there’s no water. Committed, we continue on anyways. Another 20 minutes in, it seems like we should be there by now. We pass two more hikers. We ask how much further to the waterfall. The guy actually laughs. "Uh, there’s no waterfall." (Like duh! Why would you think there’s a waterfall?!) He continued that there’s no water, but the fall is just up and around the corner and if it were raining we may be able to see something.

I’m thinking ok, when does it ever rain in L.A., and when it does, why would I be hiking in Topanga Canyon?

We continue on, now fully convinced we’re searching after a make-believe waterfall, and I’m wondering why our guidebook says "waterfall!" We go up and around the corner and…nothing. Just more dry creekbed. No hint of a place where water may fall if there was water to fall. B, the ultimate Eagle Scout, is floored. We cannot go on a hike without a destination! There must be a point at which we say "We’ve arrived… And now we go back." The trail we're on seems to stop and start in fits now, but B presses on. Trailing behind our friend says, "anyone else find it ironic that we’re in search of a waterfall that has no water in the first place?" I start singing TLC: “Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…”

We never found a waterfall or anything that resembled the site of a waterfall, and ultimately turned around sweaty and squinting into the sun. That’s so life though. You always think you’ll hit a point of arrival. Once that happens… When we get this or that… After we’ve accomplished that… But the trail never ends. It may turn, but then you’re just in search of yet another point of arrival.

Even though we didn’t find a waterfall, we had a great time in each other’s company and enjoying a break from the oppressive L.A. congestion. We smelled warm eucalyptus and wildflowers, saw quick lizards zigzagging in front of us, and watched birds soar high above us…

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.”
Matthew 5:5 (The Message)


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Where the fall has no leaves...

It’s September 1, and I’ve been throwing an internal tantrum the past week or so. Facebook posts from friends and family (who don’t live in Cali) talk about the onslaught of all things fall—cinnamon, leaves changing, cooler temps for sweaters, pumpkins, fresh pens and pencils for school. Oh, they’re so excited for the change of seasons. I want to cry. Food blogs are now apple ciders, soups, hearty stews, breads—“autumn delights.” I want to cry some more.

I look outside and see pavement. The sun glares 85 degrees. People are in their swimsuits and flip flops. And southern Californians will try to tell you that we do get fall out here. But don’t believe them. I’ve been through this before. People walk to the beach barefoot to surf on Thanksgiving day. It ain’t right! Temps that are 10 degrees cooler don’t cut it. And just because you wear your scarf doesn’t mean the weather requires it! In some places it’s a necessity, not an accessory.

I’m not joking when I say I’m crabby about it. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, but living in California renders it a sad, homesick time of year (experience has told me this!). I’ve tried to think of creative ways B and I can round up some fall around these here parts, but everything seems a bit superficial against the backdrop of palm trees and blinking L.A. billboards.

Last fall though B and I had to send pics to each other of our respective falls—Virginia and Minnesota. Newly married and miles and a timezone apart, the autumn months passed by in a lonely blur as we spent hours on Skype and mailed each other endless packages. So, despite this whining post, I must tell you that a fall-less autumn with B brings more color to the season than an autumn without B. And to help us weather our lack of fall this month—dear friends arrive this evening for a visit over Labor Day weekend, and our three sibs fly in together in a couple of weeks for what will most assuredly be a raucous, laugh-filled weekend. And with these thoughts…my internal tantrum subsides as the colors of love and comfort outshine the colors of changing leaves.

Sigh. I suppose I’ll pull out my scarves anyways.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Probably Jesus

What can be sickening is that we never get sick of each other. B and I are together all the time, and we haven’t tired of each other’s company yet. At the end of a great weekend in which we never separated—I mean we even went into the same fitting room to try clothes on—I crawled into bed wondering how someone could not get sick of me and my idiosyncrasies. And I was sad that the weekend was over because that’d mean, sigh…we’d have to go our separate ways for work on Monday…
Sickening, I tell you!

So, I turned the light off and asked B as I rolled next to him: “how is it that we never get sick of each other?” Without a moment’s pause he said—in a simple, no-duh way—“Jesus.” Ha! The Sunday School answer, indeed, but I think probably the right one in this case.

And completely unrelated…
At LAX, a woman headed to China tried to get through security with live yellow birds stuffed in socks and taped to her body. Say wha?!! Read. I have to ask, why is this on the front page of LA Times right now, and how exactly did she think her avian friends were going to make it China?
Jesus maybe.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Take your much and do something little

I’m working on a catalog of success stories for a Christian non-profit that feeds starving children around the world, and I’ve spent the past four hours reading up on and writing about these children. Children so hungry and so malnourished that when they finally get food, they actually can’t eat it. They vomit—their body rejecting it, having forgotten how to digest. With time, if they can fight through the vomiting, their bodies will eventually readjust and begin taking in the nourishment again. A 13-year-old girl in Liberia wrote a thank you for the food that she received. She’s so happy now to be getting three meals a week. Three meals a week!?!

Meanwhile, my kitchen timer goes off, and the lemon blueberry muffins I made this morning are done…
I don’t want one anymore.
The injustice brings nausea.

These children’s stories make another timer go off. They alert us. They snap us out of our grocery-shopping, restaurant-going bubble. We have much; many have little. We should take our much and do something little—sponsor a child, volunteer to pack food, drop off canned goods at nearby pantry. Or do what my momma does well…bake cookies and deliver them to someone who could use the compassionate attention.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Love, deep and long

Last November, I sat in the corner of the hospital room watching my grandpa stroke my grandma’s cheek, softly, shakily combing her hair back with his hand. Grandma suffered the first of what has now been many little strokes. And thankfully, mom and I happened to be visiting when it happened. But what came to mind as I sat there watching my grandparents was the photograph of my grandma on their honeymoon. Stunning, absolutely stunning, in her swimsuit. The first time I saw that picture, my grandparents became real people, not just my grandparents. They became lovers. They became 20-somethings. New parents having their first baby--my dad. People who had struggled through the very things I’ve struggled with.

Grandma’s lower lip quivered and my grandpa bravely smiled, patted her hand, and the doctor came in…

The hospital released my grandma a day later, so we took her back to the care facility where she was staying. Grandma clutched the rocky road ice cream that grandpa had stopped to get for her at the grocery store. It was her favorite, so he wanted to make sure she had some when she returned to the facility—where she did not want to go. She just wanted to go home, she said. She wanted to go home and eat her ice cream. She just wanted to go home. Why wouldn’t we just take her home?! I so desperately wanted to fulfill her wishes. I wanted her to go home with grandpa and eat her ice cream! I wanted her to make beef stroganoff for dinner. I wanted her to roll her eyes and say "Oh, Bob" when my grandpa would get sentimental and tell a story about them. I wanted to go home too. Instead, holding back tears, I tried to explain why we weren’t heading home.

After we got her situated back in her room, I plopped down on a chair while grandma dozed off, ice cream completely forgotten about in the hubbub of getting her back into her room. Mom and grandpa went to talk to nurses. I was left to beeping of machines and grandma’s uneven breathing. On the armoire in the room was a note alerting the nurses not to take my grandma’s clothes because “patient’s family” did them. In the armoire was a plastic bag containing some of my grandma’s clothes and underwear. It then registered that grandpa was taking grandma's things home on a regular basis, washing them, and bringing them back, even though they could do it at the facility. Even though he battles his own physical disabilities.

A few months later I returned to visit with my dad. Grandma had declined more. Grandpa, dad, and me went to visit grandma, and as we walked down the hallway to her door, we could hear her crying out for help. Grandpa tried to quicken his pace with his walker. Once to her, she clutched my grandpa’s arm and cried that she had had more nightmares. Grandpa stroked her face, calmed her down. Said he was there now. Not to worry.

But what about when he’s not there?! When she’s not there?! Their love is so so deep and so so long. But with that comes pain, loss, deep and long. I lose my breath sometimes looking at B, wanting the longevity and depth of grandma and grandpa’s love, but so afraid, too...

Grandma is headed to her real home soon. And if you ask grandpa, he’ll smile with watery eyes, and tell you that he and his bride--that stunning woman in her swimsuit on their honeymoon--have had an amazing life. What shines through is not the pain, but the love.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

--1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Friday, August 19, 2011

Come hang and...

Happy Friday, friends.
Whatcha up to this weekend?
If you came over to hang with us, you’d:

Hear Josh Garrels. Our current music obsession.


Download his new album for free here.

Eat peanut butter oatmeal sammich cookies.
I made ’em for B as he cannot get enough peanut butter. And now he can’t get enough of me either. I guess he’s the envy of all his squad mates too. Their wives have never made peanut butter oatmeal sammiches! Check out the recipe.


Sit against our newly covered throw pillows. Just sewed some crazy-easy envelope covers using this site for help. Jill, you could do these too! I promise.


Hear me saying “fuhgeddaboutbit” because I’ve suddenly turned into a mobster. We recently watched the movie Donnie Brasco (with Johnny Depp and Al Pacino) about real FBI agent Joe Pistone who went undercover for six years in the mob. His work led to hundreds of convictions. After watching the movie, I read the book. Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business: Shocking Declassified Details from the FBI's Greatest Undercover Operation and a Bloody Timeline of the Fall of the Mafia. Just finished the Unfinished Business. Fuhgeddaboutit.

Pray with us for little Levi, who is still recovering.
http://lovinglevidaniel.blogspot.com/

Wonder who Shelby is because we’ll be talking about our friend. She is entering the Minnesota State Fair baking competition this weekend, on top of selling her sweet goodies at the New Hope Farmer’s Market and a food/wine event called The Homegrown Experience.

Brew a Petite Saison with us. B ordered the kit from Northern Brewer in St. Paul and has been checking its FedEx status religiously. It should arrive this afternoon. We should brew this evening. Wanna know what a Petite Saison is? Check it out.

Maybe help us put together a photo album for our 1-year anniversary. I ordered the pics and hope they arrive today. I love B. Madly.


Wanna hang?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Things to do in L.A. ...

Great news! After a longer-than-expected surgery, doctors were able to remove all of the tumor from Levi without damaging any of the optic nerves. An MRI confirmed that it appears they got it all!! WOOOO!!!! So, he is now crazy swollen, but recovering well, only on tylenol for the pain, and drinking chocolate milk. For more: lovinglevidaniel.blogspot.com

For fun, I thought I'd share the suggestions that the L.A. Times gives in their Calendar section for things to do this week around town. Lord, help us...

National Go Topless Day
"A rally and march for women's topless equal rights. March proceeds along OceanFront Walk from Navy Street to Windward Circle. Venice Beach Pavilion..."

World Gyoza Eating Championship
"The L.A. Nisei Week Japanese Festival welcomes Major League Eating's top superstars for its 5th Annual eating competition. Competitors will have 10 minutes to eat as many Japanese potstickers as possible..."

Fight Club OC
"An innovative series featuring boxing and mixed martial arts competitive fights with ringside luxury suites. VIP access for season ticketholders..."

Annual Watermelon Festival
"Free watermelon slices, carving demonstrations, eating contests, greased watermelon relay races, seed spitting contests, growing contests, wearable art contests and nightly prize drawings..."

So...this week you can find B and me hiding in our house...

Friday, August 12, 2011

More on Levi

It's Friday afternoon, 1:35 Cali time, and I can't stop thinking of little Levi currently in surgery. Because so many of you have emailed and texted wondering more about him...THANK YOU!...I wanted to share a bit more...

A number of years ago while living in San Diego, I went on a mission trip to South Africa with my church. Dan and Kara were on my team. For 10 days we planted gardens together throughout small villages in South Africa while simultaneously trying to teach locals to be self-sustaining. Needless to say in prepping and praying for the trip, sitting next to each other on a couple red-eye flights, hours spent down on our hands and knees together in dirt ...we all got to know each other very well. In fact, my team, affectionately called TEAM 2, got so close that we decided to do it again, going to Tijuana, Mexico, a year or so later to help build houses together. Additionally TEAM 2 would get together regularly for dinner and hang outs, and despite people moving, getting married, moving again, we've kept in relatively good contact. Shortly before I moved back to Minnesota, Dan and Kara had their first little boy Kaden. And then came Levi, now two years old.

If you've spent a little time on their blog, you'll see that they found out Sunday Levi has a brain tumor. Now, just six days later, he is in surgery which I guess could last 6+ hours. It started at 11am Cali time, I believe. I haven't heard anything yet. Kara did post on Facebook this morning that Levi just wanted some FOOD! Poor guy couldn't eat because of the surgery. But not understanding, he just kept rattling of food! Hot dog? Waffles? Chocolate milk? Hot dog? Waffles? Chocolate milk? And then his big eyes in the pictures on their blog today...my own eyes filled with tears. Life just isn't fair.

I have to admit...last night when B got home from work, I said, "Do you think the more people who pray for Levi makes a difference?" The second the words came out of my mouth, I cringed because I knew I was getting caught up in the things of THIS world. B said "yes, yes I do, because we cannot put God in a box or in our worldly concepts." He's right. I'm thinking about the number of hands folded and the outcome of Levi's surgery in a very transactional sense. 5,000 hands will maybe = positive outcome? 500 = not-so-positive? I want the black and white of it. Tell me, God, how many hands you need to heal Levi because I'll go out and get that?! This way of thinking gives me the control and diminishes God's power. B's point was less about the numbers and more about God's power.

Later last night I read Dan's most-recent post in which he said that they were choosing to hope and to trust in God. He said:
As I have wrestled with God trying to comprehend all that has passed this last week I have come to realize that even my own child is not my own. Each of us is created with a purpose. A purpose that is so much greater then ourselves. Because of that I cannot choose how God will use my child for his purposes. I do believe that God has a purpose in what is happening right now. This is no accident, this did not take the Creator by surprise. While in our limited scope this floored us, in God's grand view of things this is all part of the process of showing Himself to the world. If God's whole purpose in this is to show off His church and his miraculous power, then I am okay with that.

I was reminded of what I already knew. God hears our prayers--whether there are 500 or 5,000. He knows. And in praying to God, we acknowledge His power and give up our own. This world is messed out, so the outcome may not always be what we want in earthly terms, but God is there. He is here. And Dan and Kara have testified that in the midst of their horror, God has held their hands.

Will post again when I hear something.
Pray.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's your currency?

At Target the other day I saved us $15 between the coupons I cut out from the Sunday paper, 5% off thanks to Target RedCard, and an additional 5% off for reaching so many points through our Target Pharmacy rewards. $15! I was stoked. When I told B of my awesome savings, he says, “wow, that’s like almost 3 six-packs of beers.”

The next day I suddenly heard the street cleaners. I jumped up from the couch in my pjs, running outside and up to the street in my bare feet to move the car before... BLASTED! We forgot to move one of our cars. I was too late. The ticket was already there, smiling on our windshield. Here in Hermosa Beach you can’t park on one side of the street Mondays from 8-noon. You can’t park on the other side of the street on Tuesdays 10-2pm. C’mon! Remember this 52 weeks of the year? I called B to tell him of our $38 mistake. We commiserated later that we had to have lost about eight trips to fro-yo (frozen yogurt, for those of you just tuning in) in that $38.

And now that freelancing has picked up for me, I see the cost of everything in terms of how many words, articles, I’d have to write to cover the cost. My camera’s screen went dark…the “screen of death,” I guess. Fixing it will cost about $100. I immediately calculated the necessary word count to cover that.

Our currency? Beer, fro-yo, and words.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1 point for FB, endless prayers for Levi

I recently helped mom get on "the" Facebook. I have to admit, her concerns and hesitations reminded me of the weirdness of it. Having been on for a few years now, I guess I've become immune to the lack of privacy, which is creepy in and of itself. But recently I've become more and more annoyed with others' statuses and have even taken to de-friending a few oh-so-distant people. Interestingly, for one of my classes right now, I'm working on a group project in which we're researching the intricacies of Facebook...what it says about our culture (scary!), what it doesn't say about our culture, and what it can and can't offer in terms of ministry application. All this to say, I've been shaking my head and rolling my eyes at Facebook over the past few weeks until a couple days ago...

A post from a dear friend alerted us: doctors had just found a brain tumor in their little 2-year-old Levi. Connected to the post were 20-some comments, friends and family saying they were praying and asking how they could help. A short while later, my friend posted that they really needed someone to pick up a signed insurance document at the hospital and take it somewhere to overnight it. Was anyone available? Two seconds later, someone said, "I'm on it." My friends have since set up a blog that they update regularly...I've been glued it. And they let people know via Facebook when there's a new post. Recently my friend wrote that she literally feels lifted up and carried by all the people praying for her Levi. Alright. I give. Kudos to Facebook on this one!

Anyways, little Levi goes in for some pretty major surgery Friday morning. Doctors will try to remove the tumor that is wrapped around both optic nerves and his pituitary gland. Ugh. Pray.

Find out more: lovinglevidaniel.blogspot.com.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Embrace the yeast

I guess it’s a common fear—the fear of yeast. Two friends have now said it scares them…It’s needy and finicky and…well…scary. It’s ALIVE!, they say. They’re not alone. I’ve come across a few food blogs recently in which the blogger is bragging about his or her recent act of overcoming a yeast fear with the miracle of an amazing bread or cake. But they were afraid of yeast.

Well, we are not afraid of yeast in our house. This morning I helped B transfer a homebrew from one glass carboy (think massive jug) to another. We mixed a batch of beer a week ago with some friends—a dark, sweet Porter—and since then it’s been ALIVE in our guest bedroom, bubbling and active with yeast. In fact, in the first 48 hours, the yeast was so active it sounded like coffee was brewing and dripping in a coffee pot. Really it was just our brew, which we’re calling the “Icebath Porter” because we had to initially cool it in a bath of ice in the tub. When we picked up the ingredients from the brewing store, the guys there asked B if he had a chiller. B said no—We’re from Minnesota. We could just throw the thing outside half the time! But in the absence of a Minnesota winter, an icebath in the tub did just fine.

After helping B, I got my own yeast going this morning. I’m now obsessed with five-minute artisan bread. Apparently it's a revolution. Check it out! In a big Tupperware, I mix yeast, warm water, flour, salt. Let it rise (go yeast, go!) for two hours at room temp, then cover and throw it in the fridge. It’s good for the next two weeks! I can make bread, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, and more bread…all out of one batch.

So, anyways, the two hours is up. I need to go throw my dough in the fridge. But dear friends, for some seriously good beer and bread, please embrace the yeast. Or, just come visit. We'll share.

Friday, August 05, 2011

For the freshman haze

B and I hit the beach Wednesday night to catch the sunset. Armed with blankets, a Nalgene of beer, a travel mug of wine (that sounds bad—they were less than half full!), and beach chairs, we walked a mere 5 minutes before our toes found themselves wiggling in sand. I know I rip on Los Angeles a lot, but this is definitely a huge plus of our location! We can catch sunsets over the ocean on a regular basis. Anyways, that night everything was crystal clear. We could see for miles. In fact we could almost make out trees on top of the Malibu mountains, and the horizon line was so sharp.

This morning, still in my pjs and bed hair, I walked three blocks to the nearest mailbox to drop off a few letters. The same sky today is a heavy gray, and I couldn’t make out where the sky stops and the ocean begins. There's just a wall of gray at the end of our street. The Malibu mountains are nonexistent.

Life’s like that. So clear sometimes. So gray and hazy sometimes. I recently edited a devotional booklet for college freshmen—specifically devotions for each day of their first week on their new campus. A crazy time to be sure. The devotions were actually written by older students who knew all-too-well the fears and excitement their underclass men and women were feeling: Where the heck is my classroom? My roommate seems weird—what if we don’t get along? I suddenly miss my mom. What is my major going to be because that’s going to determine MY WHOLE LIFE? One of the upperclass students referenced Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul basically says, look, I’m not an expert in all of this stuff, but I’ve got my eye on the most important goal. “I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Phil. 3:14).

The student told incoming freshman to keep their eyes on the one thing that never turns gray or hazy. The one thing that is always crystal clear amidst life’s lack of clarity.

Good advice for this cloudy Friday morning if you're feeling like a freshman.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to be happy?

It’s a Sunday night. I am fighting the residual effects of a nasty cold that has over the past few days left me wanting to yell rather stuffed-uppedly—“man down!” I haven’t spent this much time horizontal in I don’t know how long. But I lay here on the couch blogging, Bon Iver singing in the background, and my hot husband checking his email, drinking a beer at the kitchen table. Despite my clogged head and raw nose, I look at him, I feel the cool Cali night breeze coming in through the door, and I am happy.

This morning we rummaged through the LA Times (horizontally, mind you!). A two-page spread in PARADE magazine stopped me. It was a quiz: "Do you know how to be happy?" Question #1 asked if cheerful people A. only do the things they like, B. try to boost their mood each day, or C. generally don’t give happiness much thought. The answer? C. People who place a high emphasis on happiness and actually pursue it on a regular basis can do more harm than good. You can actually become more depressed in your pursuit of happiness! Those who aren’t caught up with being happy are actually happier.

B and I got to talking about how it’s a mindset. It’s an internal mindset. Not based on external factors. A friend recently shared something another friend asks her frequently…”Does life suck? Or do you suck at life?” It’s a little harsh, but the sentiment rings true. If you think life sucks, perhaps you need to take a step back and ask if it’s your perception of life that sucks instead! Place your happiness barometer in the bags of material goods, the relationships with others, or even on the scale in the bathroom and chances are you’re not going to get the reading you want. Another friend who has battled obesity was recently sharing with B and I that he had an epiphany…he can no longer base his sense of accomplishment in the numbers of weight loss—the number of pounds he’s lost or the calories he hasn’t taken in. Inevitably that disappoints and drives him crazy! Instead, he needs to choose to focus on how he’s living a much healthier lifestyle overall. And if the scale happens to show two extra pounds one day? Who cares because he’s eating healthy now, working out, living actively. For him, the pursuit of weight loss had actually started working against him!

The quiz went on to say, among other things, that people who return from vacations are no happier than those who haven’t been on vacation. Point? Things of this life are not happiness-bringing. And I think it’s because this life is ever-changing. One day you’re healthy. The next day you’re not. One day you have a spouse. The next day you don’t. One day you have a job. The next day you don’t. It's never the same. The second you buy something, the new version of that something has hit the shelves (or the web), so now you need the latest version to be happy. It doesn't stop.

Do I know how to be happy? Probably not. I mean, who does in L.A. really?! (sarcasm) But I think a pursuit to know a God who doesn’t change brings some serious peace—no matter what the news, the scale, or bank account says.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Possums, raccoons, and crows. Oh my.

"Why must our yard be Jumanji?” B asked me the other night. As I stepped over some blood and a large crow’s black feather on my way to the get the mail yesterday, I wondered this too, especially because we have not one blade of grass to call our own. What is so attractive to creatures about our cemented patio?

1. There’s Hoover. A busy, bustling hummingbird that B and I named—I thought vacuums and B thought J. Edgar. Hoover built a nest that held her (I just realized she has a man’s name) three eggs before they hatched into mini chirping hummingbirds who recently learned to fly...or hum.

2. There’s a very, very large squirrel that ate my first tomato, chomps on the berries in our tree and spits them out on us while we sit outside, and basically thinks he owns the joint. He laughs in our faces as we spray the hose at him. B put out these sticky, gooey traps. When we returned from vacation last week, one trap was peculiarly hairy, and we haven’t seen him around lately.

3. While chillin' with some company late at night on our patio, we heard what we thought were footsteps on the front walkway. Turns out it was four raccoons, bug-eyed in B’s flashlight, but again…nonchalantly turning away as if they had every right to be there. B grabbed the hose again.

4. Two raccoons attacked a big black crow on our patio. We heard the most agonizing cah-caws coming from the crow. By the time we got out there, two proud raccoons were strutting away and the crow was laying belly up, blood splattered, feathers everywhere. To put it out of its misery and to save our ears from the cah-cawing, B grabbed the shovel. Suffice it to say, the thing would not die, and I’m pretty sure B scared the neighbors with his antics. But I think the crow who seemed to keep coming back to life was scaring him too.

5. I was up early Monday morning to take a friend to the airport. "Watch out," B said, as he returned from loading the car with luggage. "Why?" I asked. "There’s a big possum out there."

Jumanji I tell you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So many things wrong...



with this ridiculously contradictory sign!

It was guarding one lone parking spot in a completely open parking lot. Does Jack in the Box really draw such a crowd, more specifically a crowd that likes to DRIVE THRU and then PARK? Is this sign necessary? I don't think so.

But if it truly is necessary, at least put a hyphen between "drive" and "thru"!

And for the record, no, we were not at Jack in the Box. We were at Starbucks next to Jack in the Box when we spotted this sign. We parked and walked in--Starbucks didn't have any designated drive-thru parking spots.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A God-breathed Genealogy

In class yesterday, we considered the differences between the beginnings of Matthew and Luke, specifically the differences in their genealogies. Matthew starts with his genealogy, and Luke does his at the end of the third chapter because they had very different agendas. Additionally, Matthew starts his genealogy with Abraham and works his way through 14 generations back to Jesus. Luke, starts with Jesus and goes all the way back to Adam who he calls “son of God.” (Luke 3:38)

And then just a few short verses later, Luke calls Jesus the “son of God.” My prof stopped and asked us how the heck Luke thought he could make such a huge comparison between Jesus and Adam. Good question, I guess. I didn’t really know the answer he was looking for and last time I checked, Adam was pretty different from Jesus.

The answer? The Holy Spirit.

Luke knew God had breathed His Spirit into man and woman—Adam and Eve—at the very beginning, back in Genesis. He also believed that Jesus, too, was filled with God's spirit. The next verse after calling Adam a “son of God,” Luke says, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit” (4:1). They’re both sons of God because God has breathed His Spirit into both.

I was reminded in a unique way that we’re all made in the image of God. We're all God-breathed, all part of the genealogy. At some point that genealogy would say HJ, the daughter of God. I like that. I like Luke.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why the tan?

Someone at B's work asked him what he'd been up to over the weekend because B was a little tanner than he had been on Friday.

Seems to me like asking a Minnesotan in January why he or she is so pale!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Somewhere in the middle

L.A. is not fond of the middle.

It does water without end. Oceans that stretch into nothing but more ocean leaving you feeling lonely and uneasy. Turn the other direction, and it does pavement and concrete without end. 16-lane freeways, houses upon houses upon retail stores upon office buildings upon more houses, leaving you feeling claustrophobic and gasping for anything green and real (not just the green turf many put in their 2-feet-by-10-feet front “yards”).

It does obscene wealth. People who wear jewelry that costs more money than B and I could make in five years. Outfits that cost more money than B and I will probably ever make. Cars so sleek. Houses so huge, so cold and expansive. And then it does obscene poverty right next to its obscene wealth. Homeless people whose faces are a shade of deep red verging on purple because they have nowhere to go to get out of the blaring sun, except maybe the shade created by one of the sleek cars. They smell in front of the expansive homes. They talk to themselves. And they carry empty, holey plastic bags as people pass them by with full Neiman Marcus, Lululemon, and Chanel bags.

Even L.A.’s trees aren’t fond of the middle. Tall, skinny, smooth, empty palm tree trunks reaching for the sky. Reaching just so high they almost tip over and then poof…green, lush, spiky branches (or are they the leaves?). Such stark contrasts.

For those in the middle, those wanting a little natural beauty, but some of the comforts and fun of city living, those who have more than enough to get by, but never want life to be money, those who want a good ole' maple or evergreen every now and then…L.A. leaves you wondering where to go.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

One year ago...



"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us."

Ephesians 3:14-21

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Holy Schmoly

Yesterday I started a two-week intensive course at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. After eight hours' worth of lecture, I’ve decided that my prof is definitely one of my favorites, and he is most decidedly the funniest with a serious dry sense of humor. I chuckle at least every five minutes, and I started keeping track…my chuckles most often occur with his use of the following phrases (and note, he is usually deadpan as he says these things):

Good golly
As he points out a picture on his PowerPoint of a rather funny-looking scholar who studied papyri back in the day
“Look at this papyrologist…good golly, he’d scare my grandson. I’ll wait a few years before I show him this PowerPoint, I guess…”

Holy schmoly
As he jokes about some of the mistakes that have occurred in the printing of various Bibles throughout the ages, like “Go and sin on more” instead of “Go and sin no more”
“I mean, holy schmoly. Go on! Sin some more! What are people to do?! Ay yay yay. holy schmoly.”

Goood night
As he talks about the stuttering emperor Claudius
“Gooooood night! This guy liked food so much they had to poison him twice. I’m not kidding. I’m not making this stuff up. He ate the food his wife poisoned. But then visited the vomitorium and came back ready for more. So, gooood night, the wife had to run in back and make more poison!”

And my favorite...
Shazam!
Like, "Where was Jesus? Shazam! Vanished, disappeared from the grave. Risen from the dead. Shazam!"

Good golly, it's gonna be a fun two weeks.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

God's country?

The F bomb and alcohol flowed freely yesterday in our beach community. I mean, not for B and me. At one point in the evening, I realized that B was playing the banjo and I was reading an Introduction to the New Testament for class today. I told you—we are cool! But earlier in the day we hit the beach, and it was filled with debauchery of all sorts. I physically cringed as I saw moms and dads building sandcastles with their kids as their beach neighbor two feet away swore up a storm and drunkenly dropped their red cup of rum and Coke into the sand. I also cringed at some of the swimsuits (or lack thereof!).

From our blanket on the beach, we could look back at the row of beach houses and see numerous parties going on—vulgar dancing, loud music that didn’t speak too highly of women, and at one point, guys getting into a fight. (Yes, my prudishness is growing.)

Woo! Happy Independence day! I found myself wondering what Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and the like, would think of us celebrating the 4th of July in such fashion.

In church on Sunday (a new one B and I checked out), pastor made a startling comment for some. He said, “This is not God’s country.” Wear your red, white, and blue, but know that the United States is not God’s chosen. (And neither is northern Minnesota, even though they screenprint those T-shirts for certain areas: The North Shore, God’s Country). I mean, if anything, God’s country would likely be the area of modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria, perhaps? But even those areas are not just God’s country.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am proud to be an American and very, very grateful to have the liberties I have. I feel bad sometimes that I was lucky enough to be born here and not elsewhere. But after seeing what our good ole’ U.S.A. country looked like yesterday, am glad that God’s true country is yet to come! In John 18:36, Jesus tells Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Friday, July 01, 2011

My spider hunter

If B had woken up between 7:50am and 8:30 yesterday morning, he would have found a pair of big blue eyes two inches away, expectantly staring at him. By placing my head mere inches away from him and staring, staring, staring, I willed him to wake up and come play with me, drink coffee with me, start our day. It didn’t work. And finally the longing for coffee pulled me out of bed. Knowing B was tired, I just didn’t have the heart to wake him.

So, I made coffee, plopped on the couch in my usual spot and flipped open the computer…do do do do, just reading the paper, checking my email…and all of a sudden, from somewhere underneath the blanket crawled a nasty, fat, black spider. He headed up the back cushion. I gasped, jumped up, and fought the urge to yell for B all at once. Having lived alone for a long time, I do kill my own spiders, thank you very much. I lunged for a sandal and came back to the couch, pulled up the cushion, and of course the thing is gone. Just as quickly as it came. Gone.

No sirree was I going to return to the couch; I moved to the chair across the room. A few minutes later, B comes into the living room, yawning. He looks around, slightly confused. Where was I? Not in my usual spot?

“Uh, what’s going on?” he asked when he saw me.

“Well…there’s a nasty spider over there somewhere in the couch.”

“So you’re never going to sit there again?”

“No, maybe not!”

Without skipping a beat, he went to the couch and pulled out all the cushions. There was B in his underwear digging through the nooks and crannies of our sofa sleeper. Next thing I know he’s got a flashlight. “Really, babe, it’s OK. I’ll get you some coffee.” He’s silent. Rubs his eyes. Keeps looking. Nothing.

Leaving everything amiss (sofa sleeper pulled out), we eventually left to go for a walk. When we returned I intended to put the couch back, but B said he had an idea for finding the spider and that he’d be back. He walked outside and up to his car. Huh?! What the heck? Is he going somewhere? Spider bait of some sort? What could he possibly have in his car to help in this situation? He comes back with a long, skinny metal tool that my dad gave the boys for Christmas last year. At the end of this tool is a little circular mirror. When the boys pulled this out of their stockings, they acted as though this was the greatest thing ever. Like at some point in the near future, they were going to be hiding in a sewer and would need to extend this metal thing up above their heads with the mirror above ground to see if it was safe to come out. I didn’t get it. But now here B was with his special tool, suddenly using it to find a spider in our sofa sleeper. “Ok, babe, really, it’s OK, you need to get going to work. I promise I’ll sit there again.” Silence. He keeps looking. Mirror here. Mirror there. I go to start some laundry.

“Babe?” he yells.

“Yes?”

“Was it hairy?”

“I don’t know and what does it matter?"

“I see something but can’t tell if it’s a thread or a hairy leg, but…it’s not moving.”

“Yeah, I don’t think it was hairy. Forget the stupid spider. It’s OK. Really.”

At this point, I’ve lost all hope of finding the spider and am fully prepared to wake up the next morning with a sick spider bite somewhere on my body.

And suddenly I hear a loud “AH HA!” I round the hallway corner, and there’s my grinning knight with his shining metal mirror tool slowly standing up with a wadded-up paper towel. I smiled; his persistence and patience paid off again. I gave up hours ago. I went to kiss him.

But then he says, “I thought we were talking like tarantula.”

“No,” I said, thinking maybe I should take the kiss back. And maybe if it was the size of a tarantula he would have found it sooner. “Tarantulas are hairy. I said it wasn’t hairy! And I also told you that you could stop looking a long time ago!!”

:) I love my spider hunter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cake bars for the brudder

I just pulled out a pan of “cake bars.” My brother and I love these. We used to make them all the time as kids and eat like ¾ of the pan in one sitting. They’re ridiculously easy, and we prefer them a little doughy. Sometimes we sprinkle powdered sugar on top. I generally only eat them when I’m with my brother now, and guess what? I’m gonna be with my brudder tonight! He’s coming out to hang with me and B for a long weekend, and there’s a fresh batch of “cake bars” ready to go (and maybe his favorite homemade mac and cheese too)!

1 yellow cake mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter

chocolate chips as you wish

Mix it all in a 9x13. Bake at 400 degrees for about 17 minutes. Voila.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Learn how to die

A dear friend faces death today. Not her own, but the death of someone so close to her that surely the flowers, the happiness, the sun, of her own heart will die for awhile.

The church I went to in Minnesota held a service each year dedicated to recognizing the pain and loss that comes with the death of loved ones and then also remembering them. One year they played “Learning How to Die” by Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot). I already owned the EP (Winter) with this song on it and knew the words, but as I heard it that night among people who were hurting and remembering, it took on new meaning.

I actually played that EP a few weeks ago and remembered how good it was. B and I have been listening to it over and over again. Thus, as I think about my friend today, the words of “Learning How to Die” run through my mind.

We tend to distance life from death. In our minds they oppose each other. In fact, we arrange our lives to avoid death at all costs. Actually though they’re intricately linked. Shouldn’t we live today—say the words, do the deeds, ask for forgiveness—as though we’ll die tomorrow? Then, at death, like the person in my friend’s life, we can look back and say it’s been good…it’s been real good. You do life well, you do death well.

Learning how to die. I don’t presume to know exactly what Jon means with his words, but for me, learning how to die means fumbling along this faith journey on this earth...learning how to grow closer to God because I know dying means living with Him. In that way, I need to learn how to die.

So, anyways, a hug and a song to my friend.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

With a side of avocado, please

We’ve maybe become a little more Californian over the past few weeks.

1. We hit up a guy in Westchester who was selling a few boogie boards on Craigslist. We got two for $15. One pink. One blue.

2. B went surfing Sunday morning for the first time ever. He joined the myriad of others who thinks its great fun to get up early on a weekend, put on a wetsuit, and then jump into the freezing cold water. I stayed nice and warm cuddled under the covers. B did catch a few waves though and now has the itch to go again. He saw sea lions and thought this was cool, but was told...not so cool because sharks love sea lions.

3. Don Johnson passed us on the road, driving a pretty darn expensive vintage white convertible of some sort. I slowly turned to B and asked, "Um, was that…Don…" And B finished, "Johnson? Yes, yes, I think it was."

4. We also saw (on the same day) Isaiah Washington of Gray’s Anatomy in Barnes & Noble looking much blacker and much more distinguished with glasses and a little gray in his beard than he ever looked in scrubs on TV.

5. B and I watched Sideways and got all excited that we’ve now (after doing some tastings up north of Santa Barbara with mom and dad recently) been to the wineries in the movie! Although I suppose if you're true Californian, you don’t get super excited to see a place you’ve been to on TV…it’s just normal.

6. We seem to be eating a lot of avocados. I’ve discovered that at restaurants if any dish is made California-style, it's got avocados in it. A California omelette will have avocado. Cali eggs benedict, avocados. A Cali grilled cheese, avocados.

7. We had an earthquake. A small one, but an earthquake nonetheless. My brother who’s coming to visit on Thursday asked if we are still connected to the mainland. "Nope," I told him. "Once you land at LAX, you now have to take a ferry to get to our house."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Zeal to play

Last night as I waited for B to get home—he was stuck in nasty South Bay traffic, ugh—I turned on the lamp sitting atop the piano. I pulled out the bench, which I can’t even get shiny with a serious coat of Pledge, thanks to so much use. It is matte-finished while the rest of the piano is still shiny. I opened the bench and pulled out four books, my favorite ole’ standbys of classical music. They are scuffed and marked up in pencil from my piano teacher in Tennessee. I plopped down and turned to Beethoven’s "Six Ecossaises."

I winced. I was so out of practice it wasn’t even funny. I sighed and continued. I found myself focusing hard and long on the notes…was that the right note? I’d pause to look at the fingering that was circled on the pages. And then I’d stop to make sure I had the beat. My teacher had penciled…"1, 2, 1, 2 with gusto"…was I doing that right? After about 10 minutes of frustration and switching songs every 15 measures to see if I’d be better at the next one, I realized something somewhat hesitantly. If I gave in a little bit…if I stopped thinking so hard, I played better! The music came back to me, if I didn’t get lost in the details. And suddenly, it was more enjoyable. Now, don’t get me wrong. I was still disappointedly rusty, but it had turned fun. I could close my eyes for seconds at a time and get lost in the music and remember why I liked to play.

This morning I talked to a pastor of a massive church in Florida for about 45 minutes for a magazine feature I’m freelancing. At one point, as we talked about churches getting lost in the minors (music, buildings, names, how we do communion, etc.) instead of the majors (Jesus! His love for us! Our responsibility to share this!), he said we’re all like musicians standing over a piano…

“Asking , ‘Is that really an A? Who determined that was an A? Why is that an A?’ When really we should just use our zeal to play! Stop questioning the notes. Analysis leads to paralysis.”