Monday, February 23, 2009

I learned something new today...

...about Coquina (pronounced "Koh-kee-nah") rocks. They're found by the sea, comprised of shells that have been broken down and mashed together over time. So, essentially, it's a type of petrification, except that they're already composed of hard, rock-like materials.

Oh, I suppose that Wikepedia could do a better job.

So, just enjoy the pictures:)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Deja Vu?


Two years ago, while on a respite from my volunteer work in Israel, I took a temporary job at a Panera Bread (a.k.a. "St. Louis Bread Company") in Columbus, Ohio. It was a great job with the pay that I needed, at the time, and an opportunity to meet some friends that I still know, to this day. I enjoyed and valued their in-depth training process and their seeming willingness to remain flexible with my travel schedule.

So, when my husband and I realized, three weeks ago, that I would need to go back to work, for a season, I headed for the nearest Bread Co. Housed within a little plaza, just 15 minutes walk from our apartment, I thought that it would be the perfect fit.

I started training this last week and it's been a bit surreal. I continue to sit through and read through materials that are all too familiar. Some things have changed, since 2006, but for the most part, it's just a different state and a bit more of a busy store.

It's been a blast from the past that somehow holds my future. I am thankful for people and an opportunity to be character stretched, as it's been quite a "trying" week. This is where I presently find myself planted and I want to blossom here.

G-d is good and I can do nothing but thank Him for, once again, giving us the provision we need for this time.

My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches and glory, in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Monday, February 16, 2009

VALENTINE BLISS - A Tribute to the LOVES of my life...

This weekend has been amazing: full of life and love and memory-making. And, it was all made possible by, not one, but three people. They are the three men in my life: T-LOMS, Avi, and My Darling One.


The first, and most prominent, is actually not man at all, but the shaper of men: ADONAI, The Lover of my Soul. I know and experience love, everyday, because HE exudes it and teaches it to my heart and the hearts of other. He embodies love, referred to in I John as BEING love, Himself. He therefore is the SOURCE for love’s distribution: the Great Warehouse from which we all acquire the level of love we each need and give (if we are willing to recognize Him). He plays the greatest role of love, because I know that without Him, I am not capable of accurately giving OR receiving love. Why? Because, as scripture states: We love because He first loved us... While I realize that passage specifically makes reference to the exchange of love between me and TOTWIC, it also implies further ripples of love’s affects, such as our relationship to those around us. I know my SOURCE as Father, Lover, and Faithful Friend. From HIS absolutely unconditional love, I have learned the value in its generous and humble expression and how to appreciate the way I am embraced by others. He is THE standard and has formed my identity and my opinion of what REAL LOVE should be.

Thank you, LORD, for BEING LOVE and teaching me it’s true form.

In Hebrew, it means “my father,” and it is the term I have come to use when making reference to, or addressing, the earthly embodiment of this role. My father is one of the most amazing men I have ever encountered: intelligent, humble, loving, and true. He is consistent in character, only changing when it means GROWTH. I admire him among my heroes and love him dearly, because, second to T-LOMS, he has taught me how to give and receive love. Shadowing the attributes of his HEAVENLY example, my father has shared his life and love, with his family: asking nothing in return, sincerely satisfied in our delight. He has tangibly shown his feelings and commitment with words and gestures of affection and intention. One such gesture - tradition for nearly 18 years - is the bestowing of a heart-shaped box of chocolate truffles on each of his girls. Though only made of sugar and bean (and known for fading with time), these cocoa-based delights have thrilled our hearts and spirits for almost two decades. Because, the value lies not in the gesture alone, but in the meaning behind the action: in the symbol behind the deed. For it speaks of his interest in our lives and his knowledge of past and future input. For many year, he WAS our only Valentine. We are both married now, having found our forever loves, but even with these shifts of directed dedication, Avi is unchanged.

When I received my box, this year, I was surprised and emotional to discover that he would still impart such a gift to one who no longer falls under his covering. Through teary words, I thanked him and communicated the value of this annual treasure. He said that his track-record has been “too good” and though we have grown, and roles have shifted, he has no plans to cease this habit in the future. My heart was warmed. What a gift I have, not in a mere box of chocolates, but in the man that taught me life’s real sweetness is found in love, not inside a candy shell!

Thank you, Avi, for giving form to the love ADONAI has shown...

My Darling One
The most recent addition to my line-up of cherished men is my beloved husband. He is the culmination of the roles and lessons played and given by T-LOMS and Avi. And, I am able to exchange love with him, because of the way they each faithfully taught me. With reception of Stevie’s love, my cup is full. I waited for his love the longest, for his role to come and complete my life. Not that completion can be found in man alone, but rather that I knew a promise, from T-LOMS, was yet to be fulfilled in the person of my husband. He is now my daily link to the flesh of ADONAI’s love and the continuation of the covering love my father has always given. He was approved and blessed by both, so I know that his love can be trusted, because I trust their love explicitly. I am grateful to know a man who is both lover yet friend, leader yet partner. He is my joy and my delight. He is my forever valentine, the one whom G-d has called to finish life’s lesson of love. And, while many classes still lie ahead, I am confident that his life will prove to be the greatest journey I have yet encountered. To love him is to know happiness and to be loved by him is to understand sincerity.

Thank you, My Darling One, for the love you freely give everyday, without expectation...

I am blessed among women! For, I have the love of THREE incredible men. I have a foundation, a structure, and a breathing reality of what LOVE truly is. My heart is full, my spirit rejoices, and my life knows no boundary of satisfaction, because I have been loved in the truest way and it has shaped my very being. And everyday, therefore, is my Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Na-nu Na-nu

the strangest ideas pop into my head, just after waking each morning. usually, i just let them wash over my brain until i have fully surfaced into conscious reality, but this morning, i began allowing each random thought to protrude from my mouth, attempting to let my husband in on all my "secrets." right or wrong, i think that i discovered one truth that has been hidden from all of us, until my discovery, today. (you may want to fasten your mental seat belts for this one)

we all know that sleep helps our bodies recover and rebuild. we know that we need rest and that we function better when our nights are complete. yet, even with all that is known about R&R, there are still many questions left unanswered, including: What ACTUALLY happens to our bodies while we are asleep? and, as of this morning, my answer is:

We are temporarily transformed into aliens.

yes, i DID just state that as though it were truth.

i mean, who can know for sure if i am wrong? is anyone truly prepared to argue that we do NOT become aliens?

my reasons for this seemingly absurd comment are as follows:

1) when we sleep, our bodies are relatively "useless" to the human world, as we just lie around until we are awakened. however, as many aliens utilize the power of the mind to accomplish tasks, our value in that realm is absolutely intensified by our full submission to the world of the subconscious.

2) dreams are similar to reality, but just different enough to appear as an alternate state of life as we commonly know it. i believe this is the wrestle between our human and alien forms. the human part of us reveals things as they are (circumstances, people, places, memories), but the alien part changes them (your friend suddenly has a different face, you find yourself with HERO powers/abilities, etc.)

3) waking up takes time. it is a process to fully change back from alien to human form, and thus the process of waking up can often be frustrating and slow. the snooze button is actual an ingenious invention of those who recognize the tug between realms.

4) "morning breath" is actually a remnant of having been altered. while aliens may be able to access more of their brain power than humans, they do belong to other worlds and their concept of hygiene is vastly different than ours, similar to that of amphibians and reptiles. when we awake, we are not dirty, as we may think. we have simply arrived back in human form with "alien" left on our tongues.

after perusing my thoughts, i realize that i sound like a crazy person and NO, i don't actually believe that we experience nightly body snatching. but, it is fun to think about these types of things and the child in me will always be willing to explore my thoughts and visions, no matter how bizarre they may appear to those around me.

and to all of my readers from the planets beyond...LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Raindrops on roses...

- the smell after rain
- eating fresh baked bread (sweet cream butter or nutella make this even better!)
- opening a delightful bottle of red
- dark chocolate (70% preferred)
- lounging at home with a good read
- pondering destiny
- knowing that I am known (by TOTWIC)
- lying in the arms of my Beloved Husband
- hearing the sound of children's laughter
- watching videos of nieces and nephews
- chewing on some good WORD
- worshiping in total abandon
- being "clarified" by my sweet, patient earthly father
- speaking words of encouragement
- bonding with a close group of friends or family
- listening to someone share "their heart"
- walking through the Magic Kingdom
- going out for sushi
- stepping naked toes into wet sand
- surprising or being surprised

these are a few of my favorite things...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tokens and Time-Warp

This evening, I entered the world of Disney Quest. For those that are unfamiliar with this Disney-owned venue - located in Downtown Disney - it is a 5-story building, home to dozens of arcade and virtual reality games.

It was a very rewarding experience, hanging out and D.D.R.-ing with my husband and bro-in-law. Still, I could not get over the reality that would have been, had we not had the gift of this free venture. My precious mother-in-law is a Disney Cast Member (The Dis' way of saying "staff") and therefore has regular (and greatly appreciated!) perks like park entrances and discounts. One of the many seasonal blessings is a set of tickets to DQ (don't get confused now...I know you're all suddenly dreaming of Oreo Blizzards!). And, don't get me wrong, it's a great place. A clever twist on normal Disney attractions, it is a brilliant way to rein in those, not typically wowed by giant, cartoon-like, costumed characters. the end of the day, it doesn't seem that original. Loaded with classic video games (free with ticket for endless place) and outdated VR experiences, it is not really more than a glorified Chuck E. Cheese's (hoorah for Suh-wheet 80's birthday
know you had one). I for one would not be willing to dish out the $40 per person, due this establishment, on a "normal" visit. Had we catered our own day out, we'd have reached a grand total of $120, plus tax, for our little trio. And while I reveled in being able to relive childhood favorites like Ski-Ball and Pac-Man (though I missed the ever-popular "Wack-A-Mole"), I'm not sure I could have justified the investment beyond typical arcade admission.

So, thank you Betsy: it was a blast to be treated. Thank you Danny for being a fun big brother and being will to DDR with me. Thank you, Beloved, for being such a wonderful husband and preferring me today.

But Disney...please help the middle class and consider lowering your prices, at least in this locality.

(And for those reading...know that this comes with all the love in my heart..I am a Disney Fanatic, after all!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shout Outs to Heaven

Last night, I had the great privilege of reconnecting, with my little sister, after a nearly two-week lull in correspondence.  Between babies, sickness, bad phone connections, and altered work schedules, we've simply not be able to find common time and space.  But, being that we're as close as twins are usually thought to be, the silence between us felt painfully longer than it really was.

Needless to say, we made the most of the gifted hour and exchanged words regarding the faithfulness of G-d in our lives over the past couple of weeks.

And, I realized something...



Because it is ALWAYS rooted in G-d and always provokes the sharer(s) and receiver(s) to fix their gaze on universe's Great King.  

The path of testimony, therefore, begins and ends with He who IS the beginning and the end.  Thus, it is the highest form of worship, because no other being has option to take credit; no person or situation can receive glory for whatever breakthrough has occurred.  

In so many expressions of worship, we find room for err, either due to distraction (time, focus, energy, etc.) or displaced recognition (taking credit for something NOT our own).  Yet, the very nature of testimony defies these weaknesses by its initiation in the SPECIFIC DESIRE to give account of what G-d has done.  And, because of His great love for us, it edifies us in the process.  We become encouraged and strengthened as we are reminded that G-d is Good!  And, it causes us to keep trusting, to abide in Him, no matter our present set of circumstances.  Essentially, testimony is a Heavenly Pep Rally, where believers find themselves pumping adrenaline and cheer leading for the LORD.  

Testimony starts with G-d moving, causes us to recognize we can do nothing apart from Him (thereby initiating perseverance in our faith), and leads us to further testimony.  It is a successful cycle that has proved itself for generations, beginning with those who penned our very scriptures...which is why reading the WORD is so refreshing, so challenging to our daily walk.  It stirs our spirit and reminds us that G-d truly is the same "yesterday, today, and forever."

So, the next time your needing a little "tune-up," give it up for G-d: walk to the closest relational "open-mic," and shout out.  I guarantee you'll be refreshed for the next step.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

it's a new dawn, it's a new day

it’s “shelf time” again. not that i am forgotten, nor is he. we are merely getting ripe for the next harvest. every time i find myself waiting for the next use by the Master, i realize that, though familiar, it is always a new experience. while i can certainly learn from time past, i cannot use former strength to ease the weight of new challenges. i have to “re-learn,” die to self, and desire and recall that without death, true life cannot spring forth.

does He do this to punish? certainly not!

proverbs mentions that “the Lord disciplines those He loves; as a Father, the son He delights in...” (Prov. 3: 12). though i do not consider myself a spiritual masochist, i have learned to understand that the chastening of the Lord is one attribute that can always be trusted. for, i know that we serve a G-d who literally IS LOVE; therefore, any action He performs must be born out of love’s definition. it cannot be motivated from anything else, because G-d will never contradict Himself. so, i can trust ALL things that He initiates, whether they are comfortable or not, in the present. for, a G-d who sees and knows ALL things for ALL TIME can certainly discern the outcome of my present circumstances better than I, who have limited input into that which is yet to come.

and so, once again, we are waiting...but not in vain. for, we do not wait on man, who errs, but we actively lean on, trust, and place hope in the one who gave us breath. if he can spur life from NOTHING, He can re-birth that which he fashioned in the first place. roles may change, tasks may require different attention, but the heartbeat will always echo that which was first established in the DESTINY of our lives.

(and so we) WAIT on you LORD, that you may give us our food in due season.
- Psalm 104:27