Friday, May 27, 2011

Carry the bake sale!

Here’s why I think I have the absolute coolest friends ever…

One very dear one turns 30 tomorrow, and what is she doing? She’s hosting a bake sale fundraiser at her local VFW and all the proceeds will go toward vets…you know, because it’s Memorial Day Weekend and all!

She is a fantastic baker, so if you’re in the Twin Cities, I strongly urge you to hit up the New Hope VFW Saturday! If you do, please give her a huge hug for me as I’m incredibly sad to not be there to enjoy the event and to tell her in person that I’m happy she was born.

And if you can’t go Saturday, check her out in the upcoming weeks on Saturdays at the New Hope Farmer’s Community Market. She and her scrumptious cake pops will be there throughout the summer.

She has helped carry many things for me in the past, including my heart during sad times, and everything from hairspray and ibuprofen to my purse and nerves on my wedding day. Because I can’t be there to help carry things for her on her special day, I made and sent her a farmer’s market tote. HJ will be there to carry in spirit! Happy birthday, friend! Love you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I got moves

I was talking to a friend a few weeks back on the phone. I asked about a situation in her life. She hesitated and said there really wasn’t much new. She hadn’t done anything yet about said situation. I corrected her with what I believed to be true. Just because she hadn’t taken external, visible steps didn’t mean there was nothing new or a lack of movement. Rather, I truly believed that since the last time we had talked, a lot had probably happened inside—in her heart—thanks to God. I knew she and many others had been praying about the situation and God was probably readying her in ways others couldn’t see and maybe understand. And that kind of readying is perhaps the most serious kind of movement there is. Often though, it doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not externally visible, which is what we like to base everything on.

Certain emotions must shift. Particular experiences need to happen. Confidence must be gained. Insights need to be had. Assurance must be provided. And all of these things require some prayer, time, and patience. Then you might be ready to make a visible move.

This morning I felt overwhelmed, lost in the pressures I place on myself, wondering what my next move is and why that move isn’t happening faster! I should be moving faster! But then I remembered what I believed to be true for my friend and realized I needed to recognize its truth for me. The next move for me might not be mine. It might be God’s. He might have my next few moves covered, and they may not be visible. He might be moving within me through emotions, experiences, confidence building, insight, and assurance. I just need some time and patience.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Obscure Murphy Ranch

B and I kicked off this past weekend with a hike—an obscure one that was featured in a recent L.A. Magazine feature “10 Great Walks.” To get there we wound up through swanky Pacific Palisades neighborhoods, parked, and the article gave careful directions on where to walk to get to the Rustic Canyon entrance of the Topanga State Park—Don’t take the wood steps, those are private property. Walk up the paved path about 15 minutes and be on the look out for the break in a chain link fence on the left...

As we began, we smiled. Finally, at long last, we weren’t in the middle of traffic, and we couldn’t see any other people! The view from the top of the canyon was incredible. We could see the city, Santa Monica, the beach all the way south to where we live.

We smelled honeysuckle, heard the soft gurgling of a stream at the bottom of the canyon, saw lizards zig zag in front of us, and saw some beautiful, strange flowers that they don't have in Minnesota. It felt good to be off pavement and quiet. But we also learned why this hike is obscure...

Turns out we were hiking on what used to be Murphy Ranch, owned by Jesse Murphy in the 1930s, but not really. Jesse Murphy was made up by Winona and Ramona Stephens who bought the land under that name to create a home, a compound, for the Fourth Reich, which was sure (they thought) to begin in America once WWII was over. The mastermind behind this, and the one who persuaded the Stephens to buy the land was a guy named Herr Schmidt. Ironically, Schmidt was arrested by the FBI the day after the U.S. joined WWII. So, he started work on Murphy Ranch with a greenhouse, a water tank, and power plant (now super creepy with lots of graffiti), but his big dreams never came to fruition. Rumor has it the FBI caught him transmitting short-wave radio messages to the Germans.

As the sun began to set, I started wondering if we maybe should have done the not-so-obscure Hollywood Pub Walk instead? We did make our way out of the scary iron-gated Murphy Ranch entrance though and continued on our merry weekend way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fighting Noise with Noise

L.A. has some serious noise pollution. There are sirens—ambulances, police cars, fire trucks. The Good Year blimp motors slowly, high above us at least every other day (sometimes at night, one whole side of the blimp is lit up with moving advertisements). We are 15 minutes south of LAX, so we hear jets. We are two minutes to the beach, so we hear the Coast Guard helicopters as they patrol the shore.

We have an alley that happens to go downhill, so we hear skateboarders rolling by. There is also a big metal drain in the alley directly behind our place. Every time a car drives by, we hear the metal drain go up and down, unevenly, as the tires run over it.
We can basically touch our neighbors’ house on either side, which means, we can hear when they’re playing Lenny Kravitz. We can hear when they get home, leave, or simply are home.

And we are fortunate to live across from the one guy on the street who is remodeling—rebuilding—his house (and will be for the next eight months we’re told). So, every morning at 8am sharp, the pounding begins, mixed in with some cement trucks churning, lumber being dropped, drills ZZZzzzzzing, and Mexican music blaring over the lunch hour.

So, when my neighbor asked if I wouldn’t mind keeping an eye out for the air horn he ordered, I thought, really? You want more noise around here?

Our neighbor on the east side has taken kindly to us. First to B, now to me. He helps himself into our alley gate without knocking and comes right up to our open, sliding glass doors with his L.A. Lakers hat on and yells into the house… “hello?” I’ll come out from the kitchen, he’ll take a step inside, and ask if it’s OK to have a seat as he’s taking a seat at the kitchen table. Ok, I think…I guess I’ll take a seat at the kitchen table too. It’s such a departure from the oh-so-proper Minnesota way of doing things that you can’t help but smile a little. It’s slightly endearing. One of the recent times he did this, he asked if I wouldn’t mind moving his paper each morning from the front sidewalk to his front doorstep. Needing to help his girlfriend who is sick, he will be gone Monday through Thursday for the next six weeks. Sure thing, I said. No problem. I asked if there was anything else I could do? He said, well, actually yes. He just ordered an air horn because…

The neighbors on his east side have three dogs and did I know that Hermosa Beach has a city ordinance that you’re only allowed to have two dogs so he’s considering filing a complaint but he’s a nice guy and doesn’t want to do that so he’s already warned the neighbor that if she doesn’t get her three dogs to stop yipping practically in his windows he will do just that, call the city, but right now his next step is to try a air horn which he will kindly blow in the yippy dogs’ faces when they bark. That should stop them.

So, would I mind keeping an eye out for it and if it happens to be delivered while he’s away, bring the box in and protect it until he returns.

Are you tracking this? One neighbor’s dog starts barking probably because it heard the metal drain, the blimp, the Coast Guard, a siren, a skaterboarder, or a hammer, and then another neighbor blows his air horn at the barking, so then, I wonder, what do we do to combat the air horn? What should we order to add to the linked cacophony? …actually B can do a pretty mean loon call.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Doing Church v. Going to Church

In my class right now (Acts and the Pauline letters), we’ve spent a lot of time considering the early Christian church—what it looked like, what it didn’t look like, and what it means, or might mean, for our church today.

The early Christian church was a departure from what people had known. Everyone was used to going to the temple (one central location), and suddenly Jesus is telling his disciples to go into peoples’ homes wherever they are welcomed? And while they’re there, teach! No longer was everyone just going to Jerusalem; they were to go to the ends of the world to proclaim the news about Jesus—that he had come to fulfill the laws by which they had been living. Church was not just done where 100 or 1,000 people met, but “where two or three gathered” (Matthew 18:20). And it wasn’t at the temple. It was in peoples’ kitchens, living rooms, hallways.

Many argue that Paul saw little difference between priests and laity (or pastors and congregants). Basically all hands were on deck to spread God’s word. I mean, if three people were meeting in a kitchen, who was going to be the pastor, really?

I believe the early church challenges us today. I’m not arguing that we do away with pastors or church leadership. But in a paper I’m about to begin for class, I’m going to argue that pastors, perhaps, need to put more emphasis on equipping others to do church. And Paul’s letter to Christians living in Rome acts a study guide.

In Romans Ch. 12: 3-8, he says:
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Everyone should do church. Church cannot just be something done—conducted—by one person while everyone sits and listens and then leaves only to hold what they just heard in their heart, but not show it in their actions. Sure, this might mean pastors have to relinquish some control, but I think it also means pastors gain a lot of responsibility! They have some serious project management in their job description because people need to be equipped with knowledge, encouraged to use their gifts, and nudged to the ends of the world!

Monday, May 16, 2011

KISS our neighbors

Our new neighbors? They’re KISS. As in the hard rock band known for their scary obnoxious face paint and even more scary, obnoxious outfits.

It was a Thursday night, and B and I—normal, ordinary, Midwestern B and I—were returning from a run on The Strand, which you’re sure to hear more about. The Strand—German for “the beach” or “seaside”—is a wide sidewalk between the sand and stunning ocean homes located in what we now like to call “our neighborhood” with our noses just tilted slightly upward. The Strand has also become our favorite jogging route.

On this particular night, sweaty and a little out of breath, we were making our way down 29th Street to our much more modest abode, the bottom of a rather small duplex with no ocean view. I could see that our neighbors were having a gathering. Actually, with the sun going down, I could just hear them and make out a few images sitting on the front patio as we neared. Oh, I thought, it’s the house that I think is uber cute. They always have their big French doors wide open onto the front patio, and they have the thick, white, wide wooden blinds, and the guy who lives there—I’ve seen him working on his sleek new Mac. He must be about our age. Probably hip like us. Probably likes coffee and beer. Maybe his wife likes wine like me. Maybe we could get to know them and maybe hang out with them. Drink a few beers and a glass of wine with the….

And as I looked up contemplating this pleasant possibility, there they were. Four people. Sitting at the table on the front patio that I think is so cute. And they were KISS. Like full-on wigs, makeup, costumes, shoes.

“Uh…hi,” B and I both stammer. And to our surprise and confusion, they said hi back normally. As if sitting outside on a random Thursday evening socializing, dressed like KISS as neighbors pass by is the most normal thing ever. I mean, couldn’t we even get a chuckle and a I-know-this-probably-looks-silly nod? Nope. Just a normal “hi.”

B and I had three more houses to go before we got home, but I could hardly contain myself. Once we were safe inside our patio area, I just stared at B with wide eyes. Did you just see that? Did you SEE OUR NEIGHBORS?! This is where we've moved?! This is what it’s come to!

For the record, I did check KISS’s website for their tour dates. I mean, perhaps, maybe, it would be somewhat acceptable if there had been a KISS concert in L.A. that night (although, my friend and I decided even that is a little like wearing the band T-shirt to the band’s show…not so cool). No luck though. Their last concert was March 17, and we were well into April.

And B and I are well on our way to learning more about life in L.A. ... like the real KISS could just live a few houses down from us!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thoughts, Rays, and Time

I just finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (highly recommend). She tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner and a WWII pilot. His plane goes down, and he’s stuck in a raft with two other guys for something like 47 days. To pass the time, he would describe some of his mom’s famous recipes…how much of this, how much of that, what to do, what not to do, how long to bake. Having run out of recipes and repeated them so many times, he began testing his audience of two (they had no choice but to play his game!). He’d leave ingredients out or switch up amounts and see if they’d notice. Even with his mom’s many recipes, he could not pass all the hours of 47 days. Louie was left to his own thoughts, the sun’s rays, and time. He actually began to conjure up memories he never had before—experiences he had as a little boy, conversations he suddenly remembered for the first time. Supposedly, his mind, finally free of so much other stuff, was able to tap into these.

Last time I blogged, I was in Minnesota. Alone. Working (and quitting) a fulltime job while taking two grad school classes and trying to sell our house and trying to keep the driveway shoveled because the snow Would. Not. Stop. And trying to spend every second of extra time with family and friends before I moved across the country.

Stop…deep breath.

Now, I write from California. Not alone. Finally with my amazing man of a husband. And I have time. Time to breathe. Time I’ve not had in years. Time to read for fun. Time to sew. Time to cook. Time to journal!

It’s not until some things leave your mind that you realize how full it really was. I haven’t had room in my mind for awhile to blog. I’m rusty and a little hesitant. But slowly as some things have seeped out of my mind, I’ve been able to recall glimpses of creativity and inspiration. And thus , you should start hearing from me more often. Please, bear with me for a bit as I consider how to give my blog a little facelift. I’m fully aware that the colors, font, and photos are currently out of whack.

Nevertheless, I am here with my own thoughts, the sun’s rays and, finally, some time.