Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy All the Time?

Amber came home from church today singing:
I'm inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.
I’m inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.
Since Jesus Christ came in and saved my life from sin.
I’m inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.

It's a catchy tune, and I vividly remember it from my childhood Sunday School days. But there's something wrong with the theology in the song.

How about this old hymn:
At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light
And the burdens of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day.

Okay, I'm not sure which Bible those songwriters were reading, but it's not the one I have in my home, and it's not the Word we studied today in church. In Community, the little church I attend, we concluded our in-depth study of the book of Colossians this morning. Paul was writing this letter from prison (where he probably wasn't inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.) He talks about suffering, laboring, struggling and dying to self. He ends with "Remember my chains." (that doesn't sound like he was happy all the day, now does it?)

Don't get me wrong, there is no better place to be than where you can say that Jesus Christ came in and saved my life from sin, but being a Christian is not all fun and games. When my brother died, I was not happy. I was, however, filled with unexplainable peace and comfort beyond measure. Still, I was not happy. Would I exchange this sometimes painful life in Christ for a life of ease? No way! Is there joy along the way, also? Yes, there is much joy! But I also won't go around singing about being happy all the time. Now if I could just get my daughter to sing a different tune, because I know she is NOT happy all the time!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Sunday

On Sunday, our little church went to three nursing/care homes in Ojai to sing Easter hymns to the seniors. We did this at Christmas-time, and decided we'd like to do it more than just once a year. So, a handful of us gathered in the dining halls or individual rooms at the care homes, and sang four songs: Amazing Grace, Christ Arose, Old Rugged Cross & Because He Lives. The seniors loved to hear the old familiar hymns, and as I sang lines like "I'll fight life's final war with pain," and "He'll call me someday to my home far away," I couldn't help but think about how close to home those words must be for those to whom we were singing.

It was fun watching the children (Amber, Autumn, Sage & Aspen) interact with the residents. The kids had no inhibitions. They had no fears. They had no problem just walking up to an elderly person and giving them a hug and a flower and saying, "Happy Easter." They were perhaps far-more outgoing than the rest of us! One particular scene will stay in my mind forever: Amber letting a dear old lady hold her hand through two or three songs. The lady just stroked Amber's hand and Amber didn't try to wiggle herself away. I learned a lot from those children Sunday... a lot about compassion, freedom and selflessness.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday?

What’s so good about Friday? I was challenged with this thought recently. I know that the good part about what happened more than 2,000 years ago "today" is that Jesus died for our sins. That is good. But it does seem strange that we call today Good Friday. I mean, after all, Jesus was struck, slapped, spit upon, scourged and ultimately put to a most gruesome death on a cross for our sins...

"He is worthy of death," they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" Matthew 26:66-67

Now I know that being spit upon is not painful, but I’ve been told it’s rather humiliating. When I was a reporter in Arizona, I was assigned to cover the Peoria Police Department and so I had a few occasions to ride along with the officers. As we drove through the city one day, I asked the officer I was with what was the worst thing that had happened to him on the job. His answer surprised me. He said he’s been shot at, hit, kicked, had every swear word in the book spewed out at him, and he’d been thrown up on. But he said the thing he hated the most, the thing that was so disgusting and degrading, was being spit upon by a perpetrator whom he is trying to handcuff.

Being spit upon is nothing compared to hanging to death on a cross, but every time I read those words in the Bible, I think about the humiliation Christ suffered, along with the pain. Just something to ponder.

Our Wedding

Amber has been wanting to watch our wedding video, so I got it out a few days ago and we watched it together. Talk about a tear-jerker. I was crying during the candle-lighting. And talk about a long wedding! Here in Southern California, we have extremely short weddings. In Arizona, we have (or at least used to have) extremely long, almost Catholic-style weddings that drag on and on. At least ours did. We (I) wanted everything in our wedding...candle-lighting, communion, unity candle, hand-written vows, ring vows, songs. Oh yes, THREE songs, to be exact. Two of my favorite love songs and one song I wrote for Eric...he had never heard it until that day during the ceremony. (I did not sing the song, though, because by then I had come to grips with my failed singing career.) To top it all off, we asked our pastor to give the gospel presentation because none of my co-workers at the newspaper were Christians. We thought our pastor would just say a few sentences. He spoke for 30 minutes on the subject, starting at Genesis and going to Revelation. No kidding...and it all happened while I was standing at the altar with my dad...he hadn't even given me away yet! I felt so bad for my bridesmaids. The ceremony was more than an hour long! (Michele, I am so sorry you had to stand there for so long!) Anyway, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing. It was the best day of my life!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our New Toy

Last week, Eric bought a used scooter for $75 and fixed it up. We are having so much fun cruising around our neighborhood. Eric takes Amber on short rides around the block, and she loves it! Autumn got on it once but she's afraid of it, probably because of the noise. She hates loud noises, and this thing is noisy! I can't wait to take it to Rite Aid to buy a pack of diapers next time we run out! The little trunk will just about hold a pack of diapers and no more. We're just not sure of the laws concerning a scooter this small. I know we need helmets, but is it legal to take on the main streets? Anyone have a clue? If not, we'll just have fun taking around the block. The other day Eric took it to help a neighbor; he lives across the street and two doors down! I just had to give him a hard time about it when he returned. He said, "I just had to have an excuse to use it!" Next thing you know, we'll be fighting over it! Ha Ha!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Green Day

Green Eggs (no ham) and Green Milk for breakfast!

The Green Girls (Young Life Leaders Maria, Christine, Lindsey & Danielle)

We hosted a Young Life St. Patrick's Day bash at our home...about 25 teens came!

Friday, March 14, 2008

My Favorite Place in Ojai in the Spring

Autumn's Favorite Word

Our 2-year-old, Autumn, has a new favorite word:


She also has a second favorite word:


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On killing chickens

Tonight we were eating Chinese Chicken Salad for dinner and Amber started the lively conversation...

Amber: Do you know what kind of chicken I like the best?

Mommy: What kind?

Amber: The kind you kill and eat.

(At this point I'm thinking, "Where did that come from?")

Daddy: Do you want to kill a chicken and pluck out all of the feathers?

Amber: No.

Daddy: Why?

Amber: Because I'm too little and I'm not allowed to use a knife.

Daddy: When you're older do you want to kill a chicken?

Amber: Yes.

Then she thought about it and said, "No" and continued the conversation.

Amber: When Papa in Santa Barbara was a teen-ager he killed a chicken and ate it.

(Okay, now I get where she came up with the idea!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stuff Mart

The new Target in the mall just opened.

I went there today.

I feel woozy!

As I was driving to the mall, turning right and then let and then right and then left until I found the Target parking lot in the back, I was giddy. I felt like I was a kid on my way to Disneyland. When I finally walked inside, I could almost see a big banner hanging above the entrance, "The happiest place on earth." And then when I put my shopping cart on the shopping cart escalator, and stepped onto the people escalator to go upstairs, I felt like I was on a ride at Disneyland. Oh, but there's more...Target is my all-time favorite store. Starbucks is one of my favorite beverage places. There's a Starbucks inside the new Target! What more could a girl want!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Going Green

If my extended family knew how "green" I've gotten lately, they would laugh. My brother-in-law, Rich, laughingly says that I live in the capital city of the "Land of the Fruit and Nuts" (Calif.). Good thing he doesn't read my blogs. I have a new product and a new idea to share with you on going green. But first...

I am so happy to report that I have finally gotten into the groove of using my reusable shopping bags everywhere I go. I have five from TJs, one from Rite Aid, one from a walk-a-thon and my "God is green" one that is always attached to my purse. Once I started using them, I got into the habit of taking them out of my car at the store and then putting them back into my car at home after after putting the goods away. Some of the clerks at Target aren't happy with my use of the TJs bags in their store, but I've decided to bag my own goods at stores like that where the clerks are less than happy to use my bags. I want to be a good witness and not a burden to them because they're already over-worked and stressed out. Most places I go, though, I get a warm reception as I unfold my bags and hand them over...
So, I am excited to share a few not-so-new "green" products (but new to me):

1.) Laundry Helpers: I bought these last month in the dollar bins at our Ojai Rite Aid. They were $2. If I had known they were going to work, I would have bought a bunch for my "green" friends. Hopefully they're still there. I'm sure you can pick them up at other stores, too. The clerk at Rite Aid said she's had hers for 10 years and they still work. I've used them a few times on clothes, towels and sheets, and they work fine. You don't get that April fresh smell, but you also don't put chemicals into your clothes, and you save lots and lots of money, even if they cost more than $2.
2.) Hogwash: This is for real, despite the name. It's a bar of soap used to remove stains from clothes. But the soap is made from all-natural ingredients, and yes, parts of a pig (I forget which part). It works better than spray stain remover, and again, there's no chemicals. I bought mine at a plant nursery in Cambria, so I'm sure they're sold at other nurseries.
3.) Natural Recipe for Household Cleaner: I found, and modified, a recipe that works great on counters and mirrors and windows.
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
10 to 20 drops of essential oil(s) of your choice. (The more oil you put in, the more streaks you're going to get on your mirrors/windows. So you might want to mix a separate bottle with no oil for mirrors/windows.)
* I figured out by trial and error that adding lemon juice to a household cleaner mixture causes the mix to leave streaks on mirrors/windows.
Have fun "going green!"

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Little Orange Wagon

Last week my little orange wagon that I used when I was a toddler finally bit the dust! Now before I go on with my little tale, some of you who know me and my distaste (okay, hatred) for the color orange, must be thinking, "How in the world did she end up with an ORANGE wagon?" Well, believe it or not, I had an all-orange bedroom as a child. Yes, ALL ORANGE. The bedspread, the dresser, the toy box, the desk. The whole room! (You should see the pictures.) By the time I reached my pre-teen years, my color tastes had changed and I had a room full of mostly yellow furniture with bright blue and green accents. (Just like my bright yellow house!) So, there you have it.

Back to the orange wagon. I used it as a child and so did all of my nieces and nephews and my own two daughters, along with their friends. When Heidi saw these pictures that I sent her, she said, "So sorry about your wagon. I remember many happy kids playing with that thing!!!" My mom asked me why I threw it away (actually recycled it), and I told her that it was falling apart and the wheels were broken. She said, "You could have put new wheels on it!" But it was time for it to go to that big recycling compound in...(where does our recycling go?) My mom said that every one of her grandchildren played with that wagon, and since I am her youngest and we are done having kids, the wagon came full circle and was used to its potential.

I remember being pulled around in that orange wagon, and later pulling my baby dolls around in it. I tried numerous times to get my Scottie dog (a real one) to sit still in the wagon so we could go for a walk. When I learned how to write I took a permanent marker and drew a licence plate on the back and side of my wagon so I'd be an official "driver." At the Hodge Lodge, my kids and their friends mostly used it in the back yard to haul rocks from one place to another. What memories! What fun! Don't worry about me, I'm not sad to see it go. Autumn wasn't sad, either. But I did have to toss it out while Amber was inside the house reading. She's been to counseling over it and she's okay now. (JUST KIDDING!)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I have two little princesses who sometimes forget they are girls. Autumn LOVES to wear the Bob the Tomato shirt her Nana Gow gave her. Whenever she sees it in the clean or dirty laundry, she runs over, points to it and says, "Bob, Bob, Bob" with more emphasis each time she says it until I give in and put it on her! Amber LOVES to wear the Spiderman costume that her friend Wences gave her! The first night Amber wore it, I put my grey jacket around my neck for a cape (I was Batman) and we "flew" around the house saving everyone. We rescued Eric up from many falls, got Autumn out of tight spots behind the recliner and saved Barbie and Strawberry Shortcake and Pinkie Pie Pony from eminent danger. Each time we shouted, "Superheroes save the day!" and gave each other a high-five. The funny thing is that Amber has never seen a superhero cartoon! Autumn, on the other hand, has seen numerous Veggie Tales!