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.

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:

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 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.

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:

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.