Category Archives: Personal Observations

7 Things I Don’t Miss and 6 I Do


We just got back from our week-long vacation. Did we go to an exotic location? Why yes we did! The wilds of Northeast Missouri. It was wonderful to catch up with our many friends and be part of an amazing wedding. Here are some of my parting thoughts as we flew back to the Central Valley.


I don’t miss:

1. Driving painfully slow behind some kind of large farm equipment.

2. Watching local news story about reporter driving large farm equipment for the first time. (It was on last night’s news)

3. Winter although this winter has pretty much been a piece of cake.

4. Ice skating on sidewalks.

5. Only having 3 grocery stores to choose from. There were 5 when we moved here 20 years ago.

6. Lack of dining options, especially when it comes to ethnic foods.

7. Dodging deer on the road.

Things I Do Miss

1. The lack of traffic at rush hour or any hour really. Except during fair week.

2. Experiencing the true four seasons in a year. As much as I hated the cold and the humidity, the change of seasons was always been amazing.

3. Catching up with friends at Wal-Mart. There’s been lots of great impromptu conversations in those aisles.

4. The bunny family that lived under our deck for a dozen years or so. It was always so much fun to see the new batch of babies as they learned how to fend in their bunny world.

5. Having the UPS guy ask if I wanted the package he has for me dropped off at home or work.

6. Discounted medical care from my many doctor friends who made being uninsured much more manageable.



Running Around In Circles In My Mind


REO Speedwagon certainly understood how I feel right now. So many things to do, to think about, to ponder, to decide. Right now there are to-do lists in several different categories which makes it a bit hard when trying to pick which one to tackle first. Today we are going to excavate Evan’s room which should be interesting. He is so much like his dad when it comes to keeping or tossing things. Me, I’m a pitch it kind of girl. I am sure there is some kind of happy medium but not in this family. Maybe we should have someone come over just to say “Are you sure you want to keep/toss that?”

We have 5 weeks to get the house ready to put on the market. Harold observed yesterday that in January it seemed like we had plenty of time yet now at the END OF MARCH (how did that happen?) it’s turning into a sprint! There are three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms to paint. Fortunately we will have help from our small group and my 11th/12th graders who offered, before I ever asked, to paint.

I feel like when we put that For Sale sign out front it will be a point of no return, a “this is it moment” in time. In a few weeks we will fly to Fresno to look for jobs, a place to live, and to get Evan signed up for insurance and a job. I have never been someone who can wait patiently, it’s just not in my DNA. When we return home it is quite certain that I will want to move immediately.

Several years ago a preacher named Kevin Leal spoke to our church about how transition feels like water being poured from one glass to another and you’re in the middle, free-falling. He was so right! I feel pushed in all directions, surrounded by things that must be done. I am grateful to God that I don’t feel horribly stressed just every day stressed.

Friday night I went to a Republican fundraiser, something I’ve never done before. My political history is Democrat>Republican> Independent. (I’d be nothing if they’d let me.) My best friend Patty invited me, so I went to hang out with her and a couple of other friends. So I got to find out who is running for what and why. I also got to see a real auction which was a blast and made me want to have one just because of the excitement.There are not many social invitations that I’m turning down. Soon it will be time for good-bye’s.

I will admit to being in a lot of Fibro pain so prayers are appreciated for that. In fact, I am home from church today which I do not like. So I dream and hope for a time when my pain will lessen or vanish for good.

Here’s the song that gave me today’s title. It’s also a song that Harold & I consider one of our songs.

Fixer Upper


Starting today we are in full swing getting the house ready to put on the market. We’ve gotten estimates and the workmen are at the house. Our first news of the day was that it will take $200 to fix the ice maker on the fridge, the fridge we will leave behind. The good news is that it is going to be in the fifties today so hooray for global warming. Our good friend Derek will start on replacing the eaves this afternoon, a miracle in February for sure!

All of this inspection and repair got me thinking this morning about my spirit. I realize that I need to take the light of the Word and look around. Are there cracks in my foundation? Do I have any old boxes in my head that have bad ideas in them that I need to get rid of? (I certainly know there are cobwebs up there!) I am sure my outlook could use a washing down.

Moving to a new place is a spiritual as well as a physical process, even if you are just moving around town. There are decision to be made, new people to meet, different routes to work or school which require a change in routine. It can certainly be overwhelming and stressful if we let it. So while I am inspecting my main focus will not be the details of the move, but the details of God and his peace.

Now if you will excuse me I have some work to do!

The Birth of the Christ Child


Christmas is my favorite holiday, as I’m sure it is with most people. It is rich with symbolism so what writer wouldn’t like that? There is wonderful music, lots of sneaking around (love doing that!) and presents. And then there is the chance to celebrate the birth of the King of kings, Jesus, who was and is the most precious gift of all.

Eleven years ago on Dec. 22nd, Harold’s dad passed away. We buried him on Christmas Eve. The fun part of Christmas was gone for our family, not only that year, but for a few years after. He was such an amazing man of God. The knowledge that he was in heaven was a comfort but we missed him.

This year on Dec. 21st, Harold’s wonderful Aunt Erma passed away unexpectedly after falling and hitting her head on a concrete step. Her funeral will be on the 27th. She was my mother-in-love’s sister and best friend. Erma never married so her family was her sister’s family. She will be buried in the plot next to my father-in-love. Once again Christmas joy is dampened for us.

Yesterday I was thinking about Aunt Erma and how grateful I am that she is in Heaven now, celebrating the real Christmas with the best choir possible. It came to me that with the promised birth of Jesus came the promise of His death. He took on the earthly form of a baby for one purpose: to become our substitution and die to free us from an eternal sentence of existence without God.

Birth guarantees death. We are all dying in slow or fast increments. It hovers in the background usually, waiting its appointed time. As Christians we are straining at the bonds of our flesh, wanting to be in eternity with our King, Jesus. Meanwhile we live, celebrating births and looking for comfort in the deaths of those we love.

Mary knew that Jesus would one day die. We all know our children will die, hopefully after we do. I wonder when exactly did Mary know how her son would die? When did she realize what a wonderful gift to humankind his death would bring? But before all of that Jesus was a baby, born in difficult circumstances to a mother who had trusted her womb to God.

So I trust Aunt Erma’s soul to God, knowing that the pain of her death is eased by the joy of knowing where she is for eternity, and where Harold’s dad is for eternity, and all those whom have believed in the birth and death of Christ Jesus which makes it all possible.

“Death where is thy sting, grave where is thy victory?”* indeed.

*I Corinthians 15:55 KJV

No Pain No Gain


Last  week from Wednesday through Sunday, I was part of a Leadership Conference sponsored by C2C, a group of churches my church is affiliated with. It was an amazing time. Great music, teaching, panels and, best of all, visits with friends from all over the U.S, the U.K, & Sweden. After each evening session there were afterglows, basically a late night snack with more visiting time with people. That meant getting home sometime after midnight. I also did registration & tracking income/expenses so this was a working conference for me.

I have fibromyalgia, which a lot of people know just from the commercials for Lyrica, a drug I am very thankful for.  People have different ranges of symptoms with this disease. I tend to be in pain 95% of the time but the intensity can vary. Lack of rest is one thing that makes my pain levels rise. Needless to say, my levels rose with each passing day. I tried to get a nap each day & skipped Saturday morning’s panel. By Sunday I was in fairly intense pain. I’ve been chucking down pain meds ever since and finally tonight I am feeling much better. Getting 11 hours of sleep last night & not working today helped.

So the question you are probably wanting to ask me is was it worth it? It entirely was! I came away from the conference wiser because of the wonderful speakers. I came away happier because I got to see friends I have seen in years. I came away more peaceful because of the wonderful worship that brought the presence of God to all of us. It will take several more days for me to get back on track physically but that’s okay. You know the saying…

*For more info on fibromyalgia go here.

The Bigger They Are

The Bigger They Are

Before her retirement, my mom worked in a male dominated job. She was Chief Technician of Nuclear Medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She started in what is now known as the “Mad Men” era. I have pictures of her with a bouffant hair-do, wearing a cinched waist dress, white lab coat and 3 inch spiked heels.

She was surrounded by doctors. These weren’t just regular nice doctors who you go see when you have a cough, but Big Name, World Famous, Huge Ego Doctors. My mom, who was raised with four brothers, knew how to hold her own when those docs would try to push her around. Mom’s saying was, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” She didn’t let herself be intimidated but held her ground when she needed to.

When I was in grade school our “big name” was a physically imposing bully named Fred. We all played dodge ball in those days. It was the 60s, we never thought of things like dangerous games or having cushy padding under the jungle gyms. Oh, and we had jungle gyms with sharp edges too! When Fred was playing dodge ball you took your life into your hands if you entered the game. He could make the 2nd toughest kid in school cry like a baby. I tried to stay away from him but sometimes I went home with a nice big bruise from our rock hard dodge balls. Or spit balls in my hair.

Now this is the part where you are wanting me to tell you I creamed Fred one day in dodge ball and he never hurt anyone again. If you think that way you watch way too many sappy movies. It took years to exact my revenge. I had to wait until my junior year of high school. Fred really wanted to go out with me. He even tried to get my grandma, who house sat for Fred’s parents, to fix us up.

“He’s a nice boy!” said Grandma. “Why are you so picky?” So I would tell her the horror stories from elementary school. “That’s ridiculous. He’s such a handsome and polite young man. Go out with him.” Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. No matter how hard Fred tried to persuade me, I just wouldn’t go out with him. I didn’t trust him. I knew his temper. Sorry, dude, you should have though about how gorgeous I would be in future before you held me to the ground and aimed a magnifying glass on my face at high noon in 6th grade. I felt like I had finally beaten my grade school bully. And, no, I don’t regret it.

I watched a bully get defeated today. His name is Satan & he was out for destruction (as usual). His plan got crushed by a brave person who had the guts to do the right thing and because they did, he took a dodge ball to the head. Game over. Forever. Like Mom says.

*Inspiration for today’s post came from here.