Wednesday, August 31, 2005


.....a picture's worth a thousand words....
(our vacation to San Diego)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The end of the vacation

God is good, isn't he? I've had the most blessed week! I spent Monday through Friday with the kids in San Diego at my sister's house. SD is my type of living. Beaches with actual warm weather and water you can stick more than a toe in, a laid back community that's way of life includes a guitar and a surfboard, and just the whole essence of what SoCal stands for. It was pretty awesome. I have been thirsting for a night beach party, and apparently that is a requirement out there. Once the sun sets, the fires are lit in the pits on the beach. People bring out their guitars and sing to anyone who will listen, and smiles are passed around like the world is family. The kids and I fell in love with San Diego this visit. Pictures will come soon, as soon as they develop. I forgot the digital camera, so we went the Kodak way.

Friday I came back, and after unpacking and getting the kids cleaned up and settled in their beds, I headed out for Gina's house. Apparently with her worship night, her house was the place to be! I felt so fortunate to have been able to experience the meditations that she put together, and it just blessed me. I can't believe this was the first one I went to, that I missed all the others. Well, now that they are on Fridays, I am excited that I will be able to attend more.

Saturday was busy with soccer and work. After Summer's game, I had to drag my poor kids all over Sonoma County to take pictures of houses. 18 houses to be exact, from Fountaingrove to Sebastopol. I took them out for ice cream first to butter them up, and then spent the next 2 1/2 hours taking pictures of mansions. I love it, but the kids hate it. Oh, but they were troopers. My last house was about 2 miles away from the Bodega Bay Arts and Wine festival, so on a whim we decided to head over there and check it out. It ended up being $10 to enter, when I was under the impression that it was free. But a nice couple handed me free tickets to get in. I let the kids go on the jumpy slide once in there, then I bored them by going booth to booth checking out all the interesting crafts and knick knacks. After that, we grabbed some McD's, rushed home and wolfed it down, and then headed back out for church. I don't even think I need to describe what a blessing church is in itself, especially now that I'm going to Saturday night services when a lot of my friends are going. Let's just say that it's like a drink of water when I am parched. I can feel a lot of restoration taking place inside of me, and it feels wonderful.

Today I spent the day at the Rennaisance Faire. The weather was perfect (this particular one was held in SF), the kids were perfect, the food and company were perfect. Everything was like clockwork. I especially can't get over how well the kids minded today! It was the perfect end to summer.

Tomorrow the kids start school again. Summertime's lazy days are now over, confined to only Saturday's with the kids. But this summer has been an absolute blast, I dare to say the best ever. I've dared to get out there, experience new things, get off my duff and show the kids and myself a good time. I've even discovered the most fun is had when it's spontaneous and unplanned. Life is good, and getting better everyday. Praise the Lord!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Jerusalem Marketplace

I received a comment today on my "Single Girl" post, and it made me read the whole post again. Since that post, and since opening up to several people about these feelings, I've come to see quickly how the Lord might be using me in this. We all feel discoutraged in our walks, and our walks at times become fragile. I'm glad to be able to be of encouragement to others who feel alone in not being so strong at times. No one is alone in feeling this way, And it's encouraging to me, and I don't feel so unworthy, to know that there are others who need some boosting from time to time.

Speaking of boosts in faith, what a week! I helped out in our VBS program, "Jerusalem Marketplace", as one of the tribe leaders. There were 12 tribes of Israel, and we were Joseph. This week we learned what it was like to live in Jerusalem times, and at the time of Jesus' last week. My tribe was just so precious, all girls (except for an occasional appearance by my son, and by the little brother of one of the girls). We were to be a family for the week, and by the end of the week, we definitely were.

12 Tibes of Israel

3 of my girls

Singing praise

The marketplace was a place where we could buy things, and learn new crafts. We had a playyard where we learned Jewish games. And we also had synagogue where we learned religious rituals.

Rabbi Sam ;-)

Learning at Synagogue

Making bread at the marketplace bakery

But during all of this, we were hearing about Jesus. The first day we learned about the Messiah, how he was has come to Jerusalem to heal us and save us. The second day we hear about how he washed the feet of his disciples, teaching them about servitude. The third day he was arrested while praying. The fourth day he was crucified. And today, the fifth day, he rose from the dead.

By the time yesterday hit, it actually hit me hard to hear that Jesus had been crucified. One of the ladies ran up to us, and asked us if we had heard that her Lord had been crucified. And when I turned to my girls to ask if they had heard her, that Jesus had died, I felt like I wanted to cry! That's how real it felt. But it is real. He died for me, for us, so that we can join again. And today, "Jesus" made a special appearance at the very end. You should have seen the children! The little brother in my group, Drew, who is 3 years old, looked up at me with his big innocent eyes, and said, "Jesus is here!" He was so genuinely excited. And then Jesus came up and kissed him, and Drew had stars in his eyes, it took all I had not to burst out crying. But it felt like Jesus really was there, like we were witnessing a miracle. Sure it was a re-enactment, but it was wonderful feeling a fraction of what it must have felt like in those days, to see the Lord, and hear Him tell us how much he loves us.

This whole week was a lot of work. I am exhausted! But it was worth every second of it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Grandma Estelle

When I was younger, my paternal grandmother was my sisters', my cousins' and my regular babysitter. Grandma Estelle's house was always fun. Her house became our regular meeting place. She had a candy dish that was always full on arrival, which we would always make sure was empty before we left. She'd allow us to walk to the ice cream parlor or the corner market by ourselves (as long as we stuck together). She's allow us all her clothes, smocks, and assorted colors of handkerchiefs to play dress-up in. She even bought us matching hats and purses for Easter, which is a big deal for a 7 year old. At grandma's house, we learned that a little burned crust on a pie does not ruin it. We learned that Velveeta cheese makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches. We learned that if you leave an old fashioned curling iron (that was heated on the stove) too long in your hair, the curl would come OFF your head (meaning you'd burnt your hair off!). Grandma would let us use up all her Jean Nat'e, roller skate in the house, and paint with oil paints. Grandma would encourage us to balance on the top post of the playground, the one that would give our mother's heart attacks if they saw us. Grandma would let us know we went too far with her generosity by yelling at us or giving us a swat, but was always quick to give us moist kisses and lots of "I love you's". When we got a little older, Grandma let us practice driving her car with her as passenger, even when we were nowhere old enough to even have a permit. It was only around the block, but it still felt dangerous and exciting. Us kids would give her a hell of a time! She wondered why all the music we listened to was so angry. She said it sounded like they were all screaming, not at all like the music she listened to. She'd constantly be humming songs like "Moon River" or "Pennies From Heaven". She also had tons of rhymes that she would repeat. If we told her to tell us a story, she'd sing:

Tell me a story, tell me a story,
tell me a story, before I go to bed.
Tell me about the birds and bees,
and how you make the chicken sneeze (achoo!).
Tell me a story, before I go to bed.
(Ouch, my seats all red!)

And another rhyme she had sounded like an old advertisement, and I always pictured a baby popping out of a tea canister. To this day, I think of it whenever I see that Anne Geddes picture of a rose and a baby in it.

This is the day we give babies away
With a half a pound of tea
You just open the lid, and out pops the kid
With a twelve month guarantee.

My grandma's not doing so well now. She is in the emergency room right now having tests run on her to see if she had a stroke. She isn't opening her eyes, won't respond to anyone, she won't wake up. Her health has been declining rapidly for months, and she's gone really downhill this past month. I expect this is her last week here on earth, and I don't think I'm going to be able to see her before she passes. She lives about 4 hours away in Sonora. I'm greatful that I got to see her last month, and was able to kiss her goodbye. She told me she loved me, even though I don't think she knew who I was. I'm going to miss her, but I have some very wonderful memories of my Grandma Estelle.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Journey

I am on a journey. This journey is long and confusing, and sometimes I am unsure if I have really started it, or am backtracking. My journey is where I am going, and how I'm going to get there.

This journey has many stops along the way. Some are stops to check my supplies, make sure everything is there. Sometimes things get dropped and I have to go back to find them, whether that was originally my intention or not. Sometimes my stops are to help those along the way. And while it feels like aiding others in their journey is slowing me up, I am often amazed that I am actually miles farther ahead than I was when I looked away from the path I was traveling on.

There are also times I get lost. The path is there, bright as can be, but sometimes I take that for granted. "It will be there when I get back. I'll only be gone for a little bit." And sometimes I have doubts that I am even on the right path. Dark whispers surround me, coaxing me away. "You don't know where you're going. The journey is pointless. You are a fool to believe this is the path to take. Everyone else is taking the other path because it's more fun and exciting. Why exactly do you want to take this path when you have the freedom to have more fun on that other path?"

That last question tears at me all the time. Why? And I stare with longing at the world passing me by, laughing and carefree. And I hum along with their songs, edging closer and closer to the edge of my path until I soon find myself skipping, laughing, and singing their songs on their path. But I still see my path in the distance. And after a while I see that I do not matter on this path, only the songs and games matter. And through the laughter and the joy, I see hints of pain and confusion. I see demons laughing at me, playing hide and seek through the illusion of innocence. And I run back at my path with them clawing at my heels. "Come back! Be one of us!"

And once back on my path, I know I am safe. But I am also fragile. I know the pain of leaving, but I still feel the tempatations. And that scares me. I start sprinting on my path, wanting to make up for lost time, wanting to outrun my demons. And I am afraid that I will become winded and be forced to stop and rest....




And I do become winded. And I stop and sit at a tree. And I watch the other path, the laughing and singing. And I cry as I feel it is just hopeless.

But I am not alone. I feel Him approach me and sit beside me. I do not look up at Him, ashamed that I am not obedient to the One that created me, and suffered for me.

"I love you," he says. Hot tears spill down my face.
"But why? Why would you care for someone who couldn't possibly care for you?" I ask, still not looking at Him.
"Crissi, why are you here? Why did you come back?" He asks, ignoring my question.
"Because it was required of me," I say indignantly. "You expected it of me."
"No, my little one. You have the freedom to choose your path. I don't expect you here. I want you here because I love you."
"But how could you love me when I keep choosing to leave you?"
"Crissi, when you were away, you looked back over here. You knew where you wanted to go, and you knew that there was only one way to get there. But it took you leaving the path to realize that you really wanted to be here."
"But the other path is still there. I can still see it."
"Oh, my precious one, the other path will always be there. And you will always be able to choose if you stay here or go over there. But know this: I will always love you, and I will always welcome you back with open arms."
"But why do you love me?" I whisper.
"Look at me." I burst into tears.
"I can't."
"Look at me." I wipe my eyes and lift them to meet his. His face was of comfort and grace, his smile warm and compassionate. But his eyes....his eyes were my own. "My precious child, I created you. I held you in my hands and breathed my life into you. And no one could ever love you more than I love you." And as He fades from my sight, I feel him wrapped around me in the safest of embraces. And I know that I am where I belong, and that I was and always will be His child forever.

Monday, August 01, 2005

You Gotta Have Friends

Today, Gina and I went on a morning walk. I'm not sure she knows how meaningful it was for me that she even asked me, but I'm just so glad she did. I feel myself turning a corner in my walk, and am feeling pretty vulnerable because of it. But I am also feeling more inspired and more hopeful. My life has become so much less stressful, and could become even less stressful if I live it right. So for friends to be coming out of the woodwork and letting me know they care, well, it just makes me feel better about this journey, that I won't be alone.

And of course, our walk and talk had meaning. I've been feeling a bit like a freak in my faith, like I'm the only one who struggles, who has fears and walls being put up. But the more I admit my shortcomings, the more I realize that I am definitely not alone in feeling this way. And I realize even more that we all need hand holding during this time, friends who are there to encourage us when we are flailing, and let us know that we are not failures or feel ashamed for having these feelings. I've seen how easy it is to fall back on the world, become more like "them" when spirituality becomes too hard. I became ashamed, and decided it was easier to turn away than to be redeemed. But when friends aren't judgmental, when they accept you as you are, then it suddenly becomes easier to shed your former life day by day.


Yes, it's cliche now, but I need to engrave it in my heart. Jesus does not hate me, he loves me. He does not hold my wrongs against me. He wants me to rid myself of my wrongs, but he accepts me as his daughter even with them. And I've realized this, but many have not.

And this is where it all comes together. TRIBE is starting up again this Friday, and Gina got me really excited about it. TRIBE itself is at a crossroads, and I can't wait for us to make it what it's supposed to be. TRIBE is an ever-growing group of us at that after college stage, and our purpose is not only to fellowship about the Lord, but to support each other in our walks and to reach out to the community. And in our beginning plans, we are preparing to make it just that. We are already talking about community services we could perform, and new ideas on how to make this group more inspirational than ever. And I can't wait to be a part of this and see how it turns out. And on a personal note, I know that this is exactly the boost I needed, to get me excited again in my faith and feel like I have some purpose here. And that to keep going in the direction you're going, you gotta have friends.