Tag Archive | California

Home, Sweet Home

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for 10 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “cross country.”

I have a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on my Discover Card, so I get to see it often.In 1991, my husband, David, and I moved from California to Florida. We were working as missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ (known as Cru in the U.S.) and the leadership had decided to move our headquarters.

I wasn’t in favor of the idea.

IMG_8307I’m a Californian born and raised. All of my family lived no further east than Colorado. I was leaving everything familiar to relocate across the country. Even my husband wasn’t yet all that familiar. We’d only been married for 6 months.

But move cross country we did. The organization provided a moving company that packed up what we wouldn’t need in the immediate, we had both our cars loaded on to transports, and we headed to the airport in Los Angeles with my kitty in a carrier, drugs at the ready to keep her calm.

Only, we missed our flight, so the drugs wore off halfway through the trip. The stress finally got to me, and I cried there at the gate of the airport.

IMG_5453But, we made it to Orlando and found our way to our new apartment sometime in the wee hours of the night. We were starving, but this was in the days before there were so many restaurants on the road from the airport, so we couldn’t find anywhere to eat.

When we got to our apartment, we noticed that it was not the one the complex had promised us. The teal carpet gave it away the minute we walked in the door. So, we somehow camped out on the floor (the details are fuzzy after 27 years), my cat hiding behind the washer and dryer, and tried to get some sleep.

The next morning, we visited the office and notified them that they had given us the wrong apartment. After asking whether we could live with the teal carpet (no, it would clash with every piece of furniture we owned), we were relocated to a slightly bigger apartment with a lake view at the same price because it was their error.

Everything worked out and we lived that first year plus a few months in that apartment with the grey carpet and the lake view. And we have now been in Orlando for 27+ years. My parents have passed away, my brother is my only family left in California, and our 3 kids call themselves Floridians, though each one of them seems to think they were born for a colder clime.

Go figure.

I love my house, I love my church, I love my friends. I still long for California.

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If I could pick up everything that I have here (minus the humidity) and move it back to the hills of Oakland, I would do it in a minute. But that’s not where I’m supposed to be. Everything that matters is here in hot, humid, flat Orlando. I can allow myself to be discontent, or I can embrace my space and trust that I am exactly where God wants me.

After 27 years, I’ve lived in Florida almost as long as I lived in California. My heart would be very cold and hard if I allowed my yearning for a state to overshadow my joy at being “home.”

I can always pretend the cloud formation in the distance are mountains if I squint long enough.

 

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Faith in an Ocean

I’ve been in the fiction writing mode for the month of October, so I set aside my regular Tuesday and Friday posts for the month, but I’m back! Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday post prompt is “Ocean.”

IMG_1856I grew up in Oakland, Calif. The Pacific Ocean was always a part of my life. Our house had a view of the San Francisco Bay, but just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, on a clear day, we could just see the ocean.

Some of my favorite sites are the craggy shores of Northern California. I loved the tide pools and the jagged rocks. The ocean was a peaceful, powerful place to see.

Then I moved to Florida. Bleh. The beaches just didn’t have the same appeal. The waves still ebbed and flowed, but the water was way warmer and the landscape was much less dramatic.

I used to say that I was more a beach person than a mountain person, but I came to realize that it wasn’t the beach itself that drew me—here in Florida I get way too hot and sunburned and sandy—but it was the power and the peace of the waves. I like watching them and hearing them. I know of their danger, and I am fascinated by the creatures the oceans hold.102_1116

I don’t get to spend much time at the beach. We live about 45 minutes away from the nearest shore, but we just don’t make the trip out there very often. I miss it. I miss being able to look out my window and see the vastness in the distance.

There is a popular Christian song called “Oceans” by Hillsong United that I like, even if it is overplayed. The idea is that we can rely on God even if the oceans rise. These words soothe me:

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.

Through every trial and hard season, God is there. My soul can rest in His embrace. He is my anchor. He won’t let go.

Rest in Him as you listen.

You’ve Got Style

I’m about to complete my 51st year on planet Earth, and I’m still trying to figure out my style, clothing-wise. When I picture myself in my head, what do I see? I don’t even know what I want others to see, let alone how I want to picture myself.

I’m a California beach girl–although I was raised in Northern Cal, where the beaches are actually rocky coasts. I love being barefoot, wearing jeans and T-shirts, being casual. Growing up, I loved playing baseball and volleyball. Had I continued competitively through high school and college, I probably wouldn’t be having such a hard time now trying to get into some sort of physical shape. (Well, I am in some sort of shape, but “pear” isn’t exactly what I was looking for.) I’ve been looking through the myriad sales fliers that have filled my mailbox since before Thanksgiving, trying to figure out how to update my wardrobe on my limited budget.

I’m not a cute little petite princess. I towered over all the boys in school, I wasn’t graceful, I can’t really dance, so flowing and girly was never a look I could achieve.

Sophisticated? Running with the up and comers? Artsy? Confident?

The writer-me wants to fit in the Greenwich Village crowd. Not exactly the grunge look, but kind of wrinkled and slouchy.

The young-me wants to fit in with all the 20-somethings by which I’m surrounded lately. But this 50+ body is certainly not gong to pull off their thin-as-rails looks.

The teacher-me wants to be sophisticated and confident. But as soon as I get home from school, I put on my jeans or shorts–depending on the weather.

I’m not exactly LL Bean, but I’m not Ann Taylor either. House Beautiful? That’s a joke. Horse Illustrated? I wish. I live in the ‘burbs, surrounded by houses that are just like mine. Boring, boring, boring.

Ah, but on the inside is laughter, conflict, dog hair everywhere, bird song, baseballs, kid art, books, a constant mess, and a whole lot of love.

I guess that’s what I want my style to be: lived in and well loved.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (Colossians 3:12-14 The Message.)

Thankful today for
659. A weekend still ahead
670. A smart husband
671. Good ideas
672. Clever friends
673. My beautiful mess
674. Deals
675. Variety
676. My Christmas village
677. Gifts

Saying Goodbye

Day 17 of our trip finds us in one of our main destinations: Kirkland, Washington. It’s here that my niece Hannah will be getting married in two days. We stayed overnight with friends in Medford, Ore., and saw another old friend the next morning. Whereas seeing friends and family has been fun, fact is, I may not ever see some of these people again. My 94-year-old aunt; my 92-year-old prayer warrior friend. The fleetness of life has hit me more in the past couple of weeks than it has in a long time.

When my mom died 5 years ago, and we sold the house where we had grown up (my dad had preceded her in death 16 months before), I

I keep this close to me as it is the image on my Discover card.

knew going back to the Bay Area would never be the same. But when we drove through the other night without stopping to see the place, I felt sad. I really can’t go home again; my home is no longer there. My home was with me in the car that night in the form of my husband and my three kids. The place doesn’t matter. As we drove on, I said goodbye. I won’t refer to California as my home anymore.

Driving up to the Pacific Northwest is a joy. As we drove through lush green valleys in Oregon, I thought to myself, I could live here. Horse farms, flowing rivers, mountains on every side. It was so peaceful. If it was 78 degrees year round, I’d seriously consider a move.

We’ve passed the halfway point mileage-wise and time-wise. After the big wedding on Saturday, we will relax on Sunday and then have fun rooting against the Yankees at Safeco Field on Monday. Then, we hit the road again, this time to Idaho to visit more friends. After that, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.

We are blessed.

Thankful today for:

471. open doors on a summer day

472. safe travels

473. the smell of coffee

474. the ability to help

475. hot tubs

476. varying terrain

477. birthday celebrations

478. wedding preparations

479. technology that allows far-away people to stay in touch

This Land is My Land

Day 14 of our travels–almost the halfway point–finds us in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is where I grew up. I’m listening to my Oakland A’s on an audio broadcast, because I get blacked out on MLB.com when I’m in the place where the team plays. Happens at home whenever they’re playing the Tampa Bay Rays. But it’s better than nothing. We’re staying with my college roommate and her husband–whom I’ve actually known longer than her–while we visit our ministry partners in the area.

We arrived yesterday from our 3-day stay in Bakersfield. What a great time that was, visiting with my aunt and uncle. We enjoyed introducing them to our kids and getting to know them better. My great aunt, whom I mentioned last time lives on the same property, is 94 years old, and we don’t know when we’ll see her again. Having grown up with her often at our house for holidays, I felt a little sad that this is probably the last time we’ll see her. But if my aunt’s predictions are right, she’ll outlive us all!

From the heat and humidity of the south, to the dry, arid desert, we have experienced temperatures in the 100s down to the 50s. We’ve driven hours in the flat, flat lands of Texas and climbed our first mountains as we headed into the Grand Canyon. Rivers, oceans, bays and bayous have escorted us on our way.

Today, perhaps we’ll take a trip over to San Francisco. Morgan really wants to see sea lions. But since it’s going to be in the low 50s and windy, maybe we’ll just stay on this side of the bay. We’ll see what comes.

Tomorrow we hit the road again to start our northward journey to Washington. The big wedding is just 5 days away!

Thankful today for:

459. a chance to see my brother and his family

460. God’s creative animals

461. my sweet friend Sabrina

462. the view of the bay with the fog rolling in

463. time spent in my home city

464. people who know my history

465. our kids doing well so far

466. the friends who support our ministry

467. rest stop restrooms

468. generosity

469. faithfulness

470. longevity

My Journey to Jesus

I remember the day clearly. A group of us junior-highers were in the beautiful redwood forest of California, not too far from where we lived, for a weekend spring retreat at a Young Life camp. The year was 1975. The day: April 19.

Maybe my memory is not so clear, because I don’t remember the name of the man who spoke to us that weekend, and I don’t remember all of the fun activities we enjoyed, but I do remember this: God met me there that weekend.

I had been a church-goer all my life. I knew who Jesus was. I knew He had died on a cross and been raised from the dead. What I didn’t realize, though, is that He had done those things for me.

The speaker that weekend, at the end of one of his talks, challenged us to go out by ourselves around the camp and talk to God about what we had heard. I think it was the first time in my life that I truly, from my heart, talked to God. I finally realized that, good as I was, I was still a sinner. That evening, sitting on a big rock out in the middle of God’s glorious creation, I finally surrendered my life to Jesus. I no longer wanted to be in control. I wanted to be made clean and accept that gift of salvation that He offered. I was reborn. And it was glorious.

Did I see fireworks and feel a dramatic difference that night? No, the process of transformation is life long. In fact, not entirely sure about what I had just done, over the course of the next several months, I doubted my sincerity and asked Jesus to come into my heart many more times. I have a feeling He just smiled at me and said, “Child, I’m already here.”

What a relief to not be in control. Though I must say I do try to wrest that control back every once in a while (OK, more like all the time). Love, joy, peace, patience; all of these are fruit of the Spirit now living within me. Where would I be today if not for His grace?

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Thankful today for:

210. hdtv

211. working internet

212. an approaching weekend