Sunday, May 29, 2011


today we tried a new church in catalina. catalina! the people were VERY friendly, but not weird friendly. we were greeted by many people and engaged in conversation but not gawked at or made to feel awkward. everyone beamed at our children and made positive comments about family, which is also refreshing. we got there like a half hour early! yeah! it is 10 minutes away from our house! and besides, the service time was posted as 9:15 on the website but was actually at 9:30.  the worship was lively. the ambiance was good. i missed most of the sermon because silas was shrieking at the poor nursery ladies.  ...he is birthing a tooth, or two, and besides, it was his nap time and he had been too busy doing important baby work that morning to give any attention to nursing.

i wish...i wish it had gone just that one step further. i miss that rawness about california churches; that real, up front, hard-hitting, bible-digging, revolutionary rawness. that is what the soul needs. it needs spiritual reality. so, at first glance, the church seemed main stream, some of the books on the shelves i would not necessarily endorse, but OBVIOUSLY there is room for different tastes and differences of opinion. the most promising thing i saw up there, seriously, was randy alcorn's safely home. i really, really, really want to read it. it has been recommended by several people and the reason i am interested in that author is because he wrote a challenging expose booklet on the facts of birth control, including the little-known fact that birth control, besides preventing conception, also acts as an abortifacent if that function fails. nobody wants to know these things, they would rather go on doing the thing that everyone does, the thing that is comfortable for them and their plans. so i was actually surprised to see randy alcorn on that shelf alongside ecumenical rick warren and semi-liberal erickson.

a lively church in catalina is such a needed thing. catalina has been known for its drugs, drinking, and other moral sludge that goes along with all that. it is good to see people who had the courage not only to come and start a contemporary church in the heart of it, but to move out here and live in this dirty ramshackle ghost of a town as well.

they, too, operate on the "membership" system which is a little disappointing, but as i told thomas at lunch, most churches do. reality is actually the exception in soooooo many areas, and we should probably stop trying to find a reality here and just go somewhere where we can agree with the general doctrine and manner of "doing church."  i loved how the people embraced us, the pastor and his wife spent a lot of time talking to us and listening. a girl i went to elementary school with us knew me right away by name...ah, small towns!

(but more on the "church membership" issue, as if we weren't already uncomfortable with it, tonight we read 2 samuel 24, when david takes a census and thereby shows his trust is in man's power rather than God's alone.  vv. 1-3 completely struck me. the children's Bible says, when Joab was warning David,  "you have no right to rejoice in their strength." so when the pastor today was comparing church membership to a football team where he was the coach and the coach looked out not to the fans, but to his team  for help, it made sense at the time... but when i read the story mentioned above, i got a very eerie feeling that this is what church census is for as well. trusting in man's strength, not in God's alone?)

this. place. needs. a. revival. we are still praying for spirit fire. people need to know how to appropriate the power of the holy spirit for their lives and others! that is what the soul craves! power! it makes me sad to see churches that are too focused on being seeker-friendly or churches that have their membership so fossilized that everything takes on a musty tinge of insincere routine, the choir is a show for the pew sitters. help me, lord, i am so critical, and yet i have no skills to change any of it. all i have is knees. let me use them well and my tongue less. i praise God for showing us a good community that is near our home. the power of the Spirit can work there too! I love His ways.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

full heart

yesterday we watched a movie as a family, something we rarely do because i don't like to get my children too inundated with movie images in the first place, and secondly because there is so little of quality out there that my children can also handle suspense-wise. they are innocent, and that is cool. i don't want to rush too fast to desensitize them through movies. so yes, they are finnicky (seriously? did i spell that wrong, or are you telling me that word is not in the dictionary yet?) about suspense. but one of the things that i have noticed that they can stomach well is victorian-era mini dramas! i love these kinds of movies. they move slowly. they are not nasty or gory (usually). lots for me to enjoy, and the girls are just happy to watch something. i am so grateful for that. they may prefer to watch go diego go, but when it comes down to it they like just getting to watch any movie at all. and my husband--have i told you about my husband? he can sit and enjoy them too! as much as he likes getting dirty in the yard and working on motorcycles, i love that he will watch a british mini series with me. so Cranford it was last night, and if you have never seen it, do make a point of doing so. it is very funny and touching. and it has a sequel!

my heart has been so full with all the blessings in my life. this is such a good season, i am excited  for every day. my three little ones are thriving and i get to be with them all the time. i am learning more and more about how to be a good parent. and we are standing at the brink of a summer in which we have no idea what we are going to do for income. it is the hugest opportunity we have had yet, to jump off the diving board and start something amazing!

yesterday i realized once again, that i need to write more often, just about the little things we are doing. i started this blog as a journal for my children and that is what it must remain. we have this amazing life! we live in the middle of the neighborhood where i grew up, which makes for a lot of crazy nostalgia/deja vu every time i go outside. i am more aware of the shifting of the tides of life than i ever was before. every time we pass certain houses in the neighborhood i am flooded with memories, mixed with a little longing for the people and times that used to be found there. some of the people are still there, like lighthouses, havens from the time march that is overtaking us all. my children are the ones who are young now. they are the ones making memories they will look back on just like this. having them here is such a comfort and such a serious jolt at the same time.

today we had a "memorial day" bbq (2 days early) with grahams, tuckers, and schmidt's at emi and jonathan's. lauren came too! the children ran and played outside (safe, enclosed yard... maybe i should take them to india to get some recklessness into them...) with their friends. it was nice for sparrow to have some bonding time with bekah. and elizabeth (age 12) is such a delight, to help them in their games and be a general care taker. she truly delights in the younger children; it is so refreshing to watch. i made panna cotta! and then we had to conceal it from the children so the adults could savor it. =) the children can have a bit of cheap ice cream. ice cream on a cone is about the pinnacle of happiness for them right now.

i have been feeling that our life is lacking in ministry/service to the outside world. i want to teach my children to serve. i know this begins at home, but i will keep looking out for opportunities to get them out of the comfort zone of safe american christianity. i want them to live the childhood i had in mexico in a way. but that is just not going to be. another realization i have to come to terms with. their life is just going to be a different story. but that doesn't mean it won't be adventuresome and good. aspects of it will be better. i would like to start a study on nancy campbell's "the power of motherhood" in my home for women in catalina. that would be a good place to start. a prayer meeting in our home would also be a good place. Lord, help me to be a bold, real, lady filled with the power of God! abandoned to Him. tomorrow we are trying a new church--in catalina! i am sooooo excited, the website looks good. we have been here for a year and have not found a home church. tucson is spiritually really hard ground. i pray that God has something for us soon, and nearby. i don't think we ourselves are meant to be church planters. least not yet.

goodnight--i am supposed to go to bed at ten nowadays! a new resolution i made in order to be a better mother. it really does help me to be so much more focused and patient. it's been a hard road for me in that regard. but God always gives fresh ideas.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunny Rose Faces, Miles of Blue

(Originally written Monday, April 25, 2011)
Santa Barbara is the perfect place to visit. I have gotten to see it with all fresh eyes on this amazing trip--reddened, tired, craziness fresh eyes that is! Rest has been a bit elusive... but oh, I am in love with the sea! (I might remind you that my name means 'the sea.') Believe it or not, though, we didn't actually GO to the beach until 6 days after we had arrived in California! But once we did, we got sunburned straight away and have been getting redder ever since. Now there are five days left, and i am in awe of how God worked it out, and just in deep thankfulness for friends, trips, and beautiful, sea-kissed coast. A few anecdotes from the road...

The Daring Journey
When Thomas said he was taking the car to San Francisco, I got a wild, crazy idea--if you are going to take the can also take US! Except we are going to stay in Santa Barbara! "OK," he says. He was so supportive of the idea! Soon after, I was introduced to "the trailer." He wanted to sell the motorcycle in San Francisco, so the plan was to tow it there on a trailer. Indeed, he bought a trailer kit from home depot (which he had been wanting for a long time anyway) and built the thing  together. You should see these things! They are just skeleton--no floor, and no walls! But instead of a floor, Thomas put down a board. Then he drove the motorcycle up onto the board. In the rain. And asked me to "steady" it if it slipped, which it almost did--what was I going to do against the weight of a 400-lb. motorcycle? It seems that God sent an angel to steady it at that point, because it did not in fact slip off of the narrow board. Those 1st few minutes of driving were some of the most nerve-wracking of my 15 million on this side of the womb! In case you didn't know, we live on a hill. A very. Steep. Hill. So we had to go up. Then we had to go down. At an angle. I was having visions of the motorcycle crashing off the trailer, into the car, and ending our trip 40 feet after it began. But by some miracle of physics it actually stayed on the trailer. I could not understand how just a few tie-downs were keeping that thing upright. But Thomas got out and adjusted it a few times, and eventually I had to sit back and trust that if he trusted the trailer with his machine, then it must be somewhat stable. That was a happy realization. The trip took only eleven and a half hours! I had predicted twelve. (Can't drive over 55, 60 with the trailer!) And, oh yes, were you...praying for us? I had been asking people to pray for COLD weather on the day we left, and not only was it overcast and raining, it was SNOWING!!  Er... and as for Arizona roads...they are AWESOME! Not til you drive the horrors of pitty, bumpy, uneven LA freeways towing a vertical motorcycle on a narrow board with a volvo do you fully appreciate the beauty of the smooth and well-maintained AZ roads. Thank you, Jan Brewer, or whoever you are, Secretary of Arizona Roadways!

Victory Over the Enemy
We stayed at my former boss Rod's detached guest suite for a week. The first day, we saw a huge, hairy, scary bug scuttle into the door and disappear before we could get it, in the crack between the carpet and the door. Some kind of centipede? After it absconded, I eventually gave up looking for it and decided, well, we'd just have to forget about it and trust that it wouldn't try to mess with us while we were sleeping. The next day, Golden spit out some medicine I was trying to give her, so I had to take her clothes off and soak them in the bathtub. The morning after that, when I went to take the clothes out, what should I find but the evil, heebie-jeebie centipede--drowned in the tub! Self-destruct! That's what I call spiritual power right there.
Yes, it was that gross.

(continued on May 10, 2011)
Who Thought This was a Good Idea?
Sparrow got sick on the day before she turned 5, and thus we had to postpone her birthday party with friends…indefinitely. Instead, on her birthday, we tried to rest in the morning and around lunch time we headed out to have a picnic at the rose gardens. That was her wish for the day; she LOVES the rose gardens, and I figured as long as she was outside, her hacking and coughing couldn’t bother too many people. The sun even came out as we were driving around! I had to go to lassens and get her some elderberry stuff and colloidal silver. Then, passing by the hospital where she had been born on this very day exactly five years previous, we had to get out and take pictures! At last we did make it to the rose gardens, and the flowers were all in bloom and happy to see the sun! it was a great time until we had to leave again. Then it seemed the whining  faucet got turned on and nobody wanted to listen. And I still had to figure out dinner! Rod and his guest room were great, but it had no kitchen, so every day we kind of had to go shopping for picnic food, or eat out.  Anyhow, we went to whole foods, where I figured we could all find something to our tastes, and get a vegan, sugar-free dessert for my girl. And while we were there, of course sparrow had to poop, so…more time in the bathroom.  My favorite! I think I spent more time in the public bathrooms of Santa Barbara on that vacation than in any other single location! Finally we got "home" and I tried to convince them that eating cold beans on a tortilla was a yummy idea. Golden had completely skipped her nap and was so not listening! There were times that week--quite a few times--when I thought I must be insane for attempting this adventure...

The following day, of course, we went out again. Glutton for punishment, I know, but am I going to just sit in a room all day with three children and no kitchen?? Of course not!! I had figured out that going out two times was the expedient thing to do. Once in the morning, to tire them out. Then back for a rest, then out again after nap time. This particular afternoon we were going to the clock tower, one of sparrow's other favorite places in Santa Barbara. It's a lot of fun until someone runs into the corner of a metal sign with their head and begins to dispense blood and high-pitched shrieks. Sparrow. Yes, Sparrow. I quickly grabbed my nursing cover for her to hold over the wound, and we gathered ourselves and left. Back down the stairs. Back up to the parking garage. Back to my car to get the band-aid kit. Then down and over a few blocks to peet's coffee and see if we can use the bathroom. I stood there with my bleeding child and my behemoth of a stroller (borrowed from a friend) for five minutes right in front of the counter, being totally ignored by the employees! finally they turned around and addressed the man who had come in behind me, and he ordered! Where is the love?! at that point i got completely flustered and just asked for the bathroom key, which it turned out, had been sitting on the drink counter the whole time. I went outside to the bathrooms in the complex, only to find that the key did not work. Over and over I tried it, then had no choice but to go back into Peet's. And what did I find there inside? A bathroom! What? That was certainly new since I had been there last! A bathroom inside now?! I felt like a dork! Nonetheless, it was a happy find, and I lunged for the door, only to be cut off by an employee saying that the bathroom was temporarily out of order. But someone had just come out of there! "But my daughter is bleeding!" I said incredulously. "Sorry," was the response. "Someone dumped a whole bunch of toilet paper and paper towels in the toilet so I have to unclog it." I could not believe this verdict! Discouraged, I ordered some coffee and we sat down outside. It was then that I remembered that everything  I needed to clean and dress the wound was right in my hand! my car "1st aid kit" which normally only contains band-aids, had been beefed up with hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls, and Neosporin just for the road trip! Hehe, SCORE! The Peet's patio will do for an infirmary, thank you.

Rainbow of Grace
On Good Friday, Thomas was driving down from San Francisco to spend Easter weekend with us. We had been picnicking at the park, and hopped in the car around 6:40 to go to church. Traffic was hoooooooorrible. It took us over 45 minutes in traffic to get there! We were grossly late. But the amazing thing is that while we were sitting around on the freeway, we experienced the most awesome, vibrant double rainbow, stretching from Montecito, right over us, to the ocean. It was a little bit rainy, a little bit sunny, and all the way magical. Even when we don't get to church on time, His grace is everywhere.

Beauty in the Breakdown
Sunday noon,we all piled into the Volvo to drive back to my brother's from our last invigorating California church service.When we started the engine, we heard a strange sound. An ugly sound. An in-our-engine sound. Thomas was extremely alarmed. Sounds in the engine just don't mean that much to me. "It's just a noise; let's get home." Yeah, I've lived with sounds in the engine before. We did start for "home," but just as we were about to turn into the freeway, the engine died. Just cut out. ooooookaaaaaayyy... Thank God there was a little side street right off the turnstile so instead of going onto the freeway as planned, we coasted onto Ogan street and into a nice, shady parking spot off the side of the road. Wow. Now what? We ended up calling my brother, who was still at church. He got Chris Atkinson to drive over with him; we transferred all our car seats into his car and drove home, and Chris gave him a ride in his car. We took a nap. We woke up and had a leisurely family afternoon at Alice Keck Park. The next day we had the car towed to Swedemasters Auto Shop and later that day they gave us the verdict: $4000. I almost spit out my lunch! I thought that it would be $400, or so, not $4000!!! Apparently the timing belt had broken, and messed up a bunch of stuff in the engine. Yeah. No one had ever told me THAT could happen! Long story short, that is more than we paid for that car, so... now we were looking at our other options for getting home. and thomas was supposed to be at work the next day. We decided to rent a car, donate the volvo to charity, and leave the trailer with friends in California for now. Thomas would have to ride his motorcycle all the way to Tucson... and he did! There are many, MANY indicators of God's grace on this whole situation; some of them are listed below. It was a bit of a shock never seeing my car again, you know? One day we got out, and I thought, "We'll get it back running again tomorrow," and the next day it was lost to me forever. Whew! But before I get too sentimental about Tozer, my faithful Volvo, let me dwell on the beauty in the breakdown:

-Ogan Street--the fact that that turnstile in Carpinteria HAS a side street going off of it, a side street that had plenty of parking, was sloping downhill, and had a shady tree for us to stop under, was miraculous. I feel like God had put that street into the heads of the Carpinteria city planners a long time ago, JUST for us on that fateful day.

-the Timing of the broken Timing belt--the fact that it was right after church when we hadn't even packed yet, and not not as we were leaving to go back to Tucson--or worse yet, in the middle of the desert--was such providence.

-the taco fundraiser--my brother and I had both bought tacos after church. this proved to be God's will in two ways: 1) I had eaten some and was not mad with hunger when we had the breakdown and had to sit and wait for awhile for it all to work out, and to get home for some lunch 2) my bro eats slowly, so he was actually still at church eating when we called him, and able to get a friend to help him right then and there.

-my headache--ok, that wasn't the blessing part, but the fact is that i was getting a really gnarly headache around the time that all this occurred, and was beginning to DREAD having to make that 12-hour drive on a hot day in such a state. Instead, I got to have a nap and a restful afternoon in a park in Santa Barbara.

-Air Conditioning--Since we had had such amazing cold and overcast weather on the trip out, I was confidently praying for the same thing on the way home. When Sunday was proving to be a cloudless, hott-ish day, I was a little disheartened, but God knew what He was doing. He never did send clouds that day, nor on Tuesday, the day we did drive home. Instead, he let us drive home in the comforts of air conditioning! (AND the car had a working radio, which helped me to stay awake on that drive, since I had to do the driving all by myself!)

-Thomas' work--He was supposed to be teaching classes by Monday afternoon. But God had orchestrated it in advance, that the studio had already covered his afternoon classes. So he didn't miss too much work in the end!

-Two extra days in SB--yup, that place is somewhere in the center of my blurry little universe!

To further let it sink in, enjoy the song.

Friday, May 6, 2011

april's amusing quotes

Sp. "I figured out how to spell 'twice!' T-Y-S-S!" -apr. 2

Sp: "I wanna be a gymnastics teacher when i grow, i wanna teach, i wanna be one of those people that cooks the food at McDonald's!" -apr. 5

Sp: "are we going to california on the day after two days, or on the two-th day?" -apr. 7

Sp: "one day, when we were in california, and you were getting ready for the day, and you were polishing your eyes, we were listening to this cd with you." -apr. 7

G: "I saw a polm tree at california!" -apr. 10

Sp: "It's so amazing that God put Santa Barbara so close to Oxnard! He should do that with every country." -apr. 12

G: "Mom! i found ALL of the flowers in the world!" (when we were driving past a hill with a bunch of yellow flowers on it)  -apr. 12

G: "the rain was dripping down my sadness." -apr. 12

G: "I don't wanna get bloody fingers on my hands." -apr. 12

Sp: "tomorrow, the first thing i'm gonna do is something that pleases God. I'm gonna pray." -apr. 18

Sp: "Since I said that last night, i'm gonna do a serious prayer. dear God, i pray for the slubs in india, that they would have food, and clothes, and a house, and money. and thank you that we have food, and clothes, and a house, and money. and thank you for this sweet little baby. and thank you that i don't have to live all by myself. amen." -apr. 19

Sp: "We were pretending like this man-statue is our daddy!" -apr. 19

G: "last time it was raining, i fell in the waterproof." - apr. 22

G: "oh, i think i felt some sprinkles on my stickers." -apr. 22

G. making up a song in the car: "bright and shiny as the moon, go to sleep in my dreams..." -apr. 24

Silas learned to crawl on Easter! (apr. 24)

G: "Hey, Auntie Easter! i'm going really high!" (auntie Esther) -apr. 26

G: "Goodnight! see you in a half!" -apr. 28

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reflections on a magical vacation

yes. yes. yes. i am going to detail our vacation chronologically--of course! can i ever get away from the chronological format without feeling that some meaningful detail of *the way things were* will be lost? but tonight, as i sit in this very quiet house in this very quiet. large, oceanless desert, i have--sentiments. i strangely am feeling a lot about my car. almost as if it had been a faithful dog. and i say "had been" because... it is dead. yes, that's all part of the story. you don't get to hear that til the end. so tozer (the car) is fried, sitting in some auto mechanic's shop in santa barbara, never to be seen again, and here i am. visions of the sea, lingering memories of jasmine scented days are my companions. i. miss. california. i *know* it's just a passing thing, that one generally gets a hollow feeling upon returning home from a fun sleepover or exciting travel, but... for tonight, i'm just gonna let myself feel that, be ok with missing it.

i am overwhelmed with gratitude about how the whole trip unfolded--i felt God's grace strong upon us through the whole journey--from the day that we left under cool cloud cover, to even the day the engine died and we coasted straight into a perfect, shady little parking spot! the whole trip, God provided. I felt "sent" and was soooooooo excited to participate in church on the coastlands!!! i knew right off the bat that the trip was a good idea, that it did not have to be expensive, and that it wasn't just going to be a "sitting around" vacation. it was a purposeful one, and i was happy to jump in. but when God sends you to the most beautiful place on earth, well... i guess it's ok to feel a little forlorn when the whirlwind has dropped you back in tucson.

next day--God's goodness is so overwhelming. thomas was perfectly fine on his antibiotics and is now scheduled for minor surgery to remove all traces of the cyst. even now we already have a prospective new used VAN that is available to us for free--we only need to fix it up. i had told mike and dia when we said goodbye to them on tuesday in oxnard--"i guess the car breaking down was God's way of telling us to spend the tax return money on a van!"

truly, this kind of situation is the only time we could ever take any semblance of a "vacation," so it is amazing that it was so refreshing and everything clicked. even in unimportant things: i had really been thinking about taking sparrow to disneyland, but in the end i wrote in my journal. "i have decided not to go to disneyland unless someone gives me money specifically for that." i could not justify spending the money, especially cause my children are still so young and can't go on a lot of the rides. and also because people had been helping us out during thomas' loss of work due to his illness, i could bring myself to go to disneyland and basically say--"thanks! here's how we spent your money!" so, you ask, did anyone give me money specifically for DL? no. we skipped the middle man and just got free tickets! thanks, holly tuggy! what a blast. that was the icing on the cake, and my children LOVED it, even silas.

there were a few times when  thought, "yes, i'll be ready to go home. mostly when i noticed my children were getting untrained and out of control. and was i ready? i could have stayed. but here is the word that the Lord gave me this morning!

"...having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. for those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. and indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. but as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." Heb. 11:13b-14