Check out my other blog: Arugula Addict! I'll be writing about my journey to becoming a healthier person.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Thoughtful Chain Letter

GROCERY LIST (inspirational fiction)

Louise Redden, a poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store. She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries. She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food.

John Longhouse, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store at once. Visualizing the family needs, she said: 'Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can.'

John told her he could not give her credit, since she did not have a charge account at his store. Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family. The grocer said in a very reluctant voice, 'Do you have a grocery list?'

Louise replied, 'Yes sir.' 'O.K' he said, 'put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries.'

Louise hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed. The eyes of the grocer and the customer showed amazement when the scales went down and stayed down.

The grocer, staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly, 'I can't believe it.' The customer smiled and the grocer started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales. The scale did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them until the scales would hold no more. The grocer stood there in utter disgust. Finally, he grabbed the piece of paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement.

It was not a grocery list, it was a prayer, which said: 'Dear Lord, you know my needs and I am leaving this in your hands.' The grocer gave her the groceries that he had gathered and stood in stunned silence.

Louise thanked him and left the store. The other customer handed a fifty-dollar bill to the grocer and said; 'It was worth every penny of it. Only God knows how much a prayer weighs.'

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just a Jot

Drove to the Camino church today, thought it would take about 45 minutes but it actually took over an hour, but it was a beautiful drive. Rock quarry, the Foresthill bridge, vivid autumn colours, and tiny roads winding around in the Sierra Foothills. Daniel was speaking, one of Rachel's classmates and now a pilot with GMI, so Michael was quite keen on hearing him share some stories and chatting a bit. Church starts near 10 there, and it was just after 3 by the time we got home. My stomach is still kinda queasy from those roads!!!

I'm not sure I like these early sunsets. Not enough time on Friday to get stuff done and then by the time you've finished lunch and gone for a couple of loops, Sabbath is already over!

Dreading for Sunday to be over, I think I need a month of vacations. . .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fluorescent Green Friday

So today, about 2 hours before sundown, is when my mom and Rachel suddenly decide they want to switch rooms, right now!!! Actually, they had been planning it for some time, but it wasn't till this afternoon that they decided it was the day to put their plan into action. Which, of course, meant that Michael and I were conscripted into service to help carry dressers, desks, and drawers, along with various asundry baskets of items back and forth between the two rooms as they figured out exactly which furniture belonged where.

Last night I stayed up till 2:30 am looking at all the good deals online for Black Friday but did not dare venture in to town today. I know some people have been camping out in front of stores since Wednesday, but I have different priorities in life. I work hard for my money and don't mind paying full price for an item, rather than try to beat through crowds of greedy people all grabbing for the same thing I am reaching for. Just about all my Christmas shopping is done, too :)

Had a great game night tonight. We've gotten into a tradition, Friday night after the sun sets, where we gather around the kitchen table and play endless games of Boggle, Skip-bo, and Rummikub. Okay, so it's not very "religious" and we're not reading lengthy passages aloud from Testimonies Volume 6, but those hours are some of the times I treasure most from my week.

A passerby might be startled to hear the volume at which conversation is carried out, but if they were sitting at the table with us, they too would be enthusiastically participating in the evening's entertainment, both through games and with each other. We'll spontaneously burst into song, harmonizing instantly, laugh till our sides ache, and revel in expressing our emotions.

Friday game night isn't just about connecting letters to create a word, strategy and luck with your cards, or the ability to see groupings of numbers that as yet have not been created. It is about connecting through laughter, learning new words, enjoying friendly competition, encouraging and coaching, and building relationships with family.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some Crowns Are Made Of Thorns

So it's Thanksgiving and everyone is happy and full of pumpkin pie and other such things. Not really in the mood for holidays this year. Probably because it's been one of the hardest years of my life, yup, it ranks right up there with coming to America in '98 and getting the green card in '04.

But I'm thankful I have my family, I'm thankful for my good friends who, though scattered around the world, are still close to my heart, and I'm thankful for a God Who continues to love me through my struggle to know Him despite the junk I encounter every single day. I'm thankful that my parents brought me up to know how to have a relationship with God and that I will always belong to Him and He to me. I'm thankful that the God I knew is not the "god" that people try to shove on to me, that He is not obsessed with my outward behaviour and constantly attempting to control my inward thoughts. The God I continue to learn about is strong, filled with justice, caring, loving, compassionate, merciful, gracious, long-suffering, understanding, and He will never change.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good Friends and a Glass of. . .Martinelli's

It's late. 10:32 to be precise and I really should be heading to bed, but I just thought I'd scribble a little.

Today was an awesome day. Katie and Laura came up for the day and we went to the mall, hung out, tried on cute clothes, they all bought really cool sunglasses, rented a movie, and ate at India Oven where they have the best buffet with tons of vegetarian options. Better and cheaper than the one in Auburn, even! Then we came back to my place (which I'd spent a week cleaning and tidying up, haha!) and watched the movie and drank hot drinks.

Everytime I get to spend time with good friends like Katie, Laura, LaVonne, Shiloh, and Eva, I enjoy and appreciate every moment and realize how blessed I am to have such good girlfriends. And I also realize that is one of the reasons why I'm struggling so much right now, because I don't have an active social group to be a sanguine in! But I'm grateful for my sister (sniff!) and friends who do keep in touch and grateful that at least I live in a country where I can speak the language and get around :)

Okay, I seriously have to go now :P Absolutely dreading tomorrow, but maybe I can look at it as a job and try to focus on that, instead of people giving me guilt trips "in the name of the Lord" about how I should live my life. Hah, dream on!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better Than Perfect

Know how you have those perfect days when nothing seems to go wrong? The scales say you've dropped a pound, you wash your hair and it dries just right, and your outfit for the day makes you look slim and goes together exactly right?

Well I'm having a better-than-perfect day today :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A $2.60 22 oz Peanut Butter Smoothie, Anyone?

Feeling super tired tonight. Probably because it was one of those "lunch meeting" days. I really notice the difference between taking an hour off in the middle of the day to get away and relax a little while I eat my lunch and the days when I don't get that opportunity.

So I'm trying to get some exercise in every day, but that didn't happen this evening because Rachel and I "flew" in to the Meadow Vista library to see what they had on the DVD shelves. It was slim pickings this time, but we still managed to cull at least 15 DVDs in the ten minutes we had before closing time. Somehow we've started to make a habit of it, rushing in the doors just as the anxious librarian is beginning their closing-up procedures, prompting them to remind us 30 seconds after we've come that there are "ten minutes left before closing time!"

Sitting in my place feeling happy that I've finally gotten around to vacuuming and listening to Boyz II Men on their Legacy CD sing "Down on Bended Knee," one of my all-time favourite songs.

The class schedule looked good to the staff today at college council, phew! I know there'll probably be tweaking between now and January, but at least we now have something I can give people, because they are definitely starting to ask!!!

Oooooh, Costco, at least the one down here, is having Jamba Juice cards, buy $50 worth for $39.99 (and no tax on that). Absolutely marvelous! I bought the cards on Sunday, then this evening we popped in to Auburn and I ordered my favourite vegan Peanut Butter Moo'd (no yogurt, no chocolate moo'd base, substitute sorbet and soymilk). I had one of those $1 off specials ( and I paid with my JJ card, so my 16 oz was only $3 (and if you factor in the savings on my card, I actually paid $2.60 in cold cash for it). Then I lucked out and they made the smoothie too large for a 16 oz so I got it in an original size cup which I didn't mind at all! That usually happens when it's someone new doing it :)

Ran across a poem I wrote one summer :) Wishing it was this hot right now!

I wade
Thick layers of heat
Swimming against the current
Of beating sun
My hand firmly clutching
A pink soda can of
Cherry vanilla
All my energies centered
On a small 12 ounce
Cylindrical container, as
Its chill begins to
Through the palm of
My hand
Soon an icy feeling
Begins to spread from
The tip of my spine
To my toes, radiating throughout
My body
In a hundred
And six
Degree weather,
Begin to
Despite the sun’s rays
Mercilessly pounding
As I keep my eyes
Cement passing under my sandaled feet
Relief is near
Behind closed doors
An air-conditioned office awaits
Where twenty degrees cooler
I shall
And I shall
My cherry vanilla crème soda
(c) maria L.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All By Myself

Afternoons are both my favourite and least favourite part of the day during my work week. Afternoons are when everyone disappears, most of them up to the farm, and I am left alone in the silent halls that are reminiscent of the time we had 10 students in the college and they rattled around the building.

I like this time of the day because I can focus on big projects, difficult tasks, challenging issues, or simply file for hours on end or tackle a part of the office that needs tidying up and sorting out. Mornings seem to be taken up with "putting out fires," answering phone calls, and being available for those who need to talk. I am bemused and also irritated when interested applicants call, convinced that God has "called them" to come to school here when they have no money and are thousands of dollars in debt from other schools. Personally, I think God is a little more responsible than that.

Then there's the downside to working alone, which is exactly that, being all alone for four and a half hours straight. I often head over to the administration building to hang out, when I go for hours on end without seeing a single soul. Or I find myself talking to myself, which doesn't bother me, but it may startle the solitary visitor or two!

Tomorrow is going to be a full and busy day. Wish it was Friday :P

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Endorphin Highs

Just came back from a brisk invigorating absolutely marvelous walk on the trails with Dr. Jensen, a Newstart guest from Poland, and Michael. It was great!!!

I was trying to figure out how to get in my walk this afternoon, and when Michael mentioned he was going to go on the nature walk with Dr. Jensen and the Newstart guests, I thought that would be a brilliant idea. For the first hour we wandered around the Loop (can you imagine, a whole hour walking half a mile!) and learned about Japanese maple, sugar pine, ponderosa pine, gingko biloba, dogwood, redwood, magnolia and liquid amber trees. I found out that a certain spot by the cafeteria always smells like an open sewer line, especially when it's been raining, because of the fruit of the female ginkgo biloba tree.

After our leisurely stroll, Dr. Jensen asked who would be interested in going on a longer walk and only one guest took her up on the offer, nevertheless we hurried out onto the trails and hit Coyote Creek and several other bits and pieces of trail, ending up at the swing. We stayed there about 15 minutes as she swung peacefully back and forth, I pushed her, and we all listened to her instruct from the swing! We got to see three Canadian geese fly over the sewer ponds, but they changed their mind about landing, so we carried on home.

I'm feeling good after that brisk walk :) And slightly irritated (okay, a lot irritated) because it sounds like someone is training for the trampoline Olympics upstairs in the Inn and I can't figure out if it is the dryer going or someone running around up there. Most of the time it doesn't bother me, but there are days when I get extremely frustrated and seriously question my living down here, whether it's worth the trouble. The light streams in from the Inn so it's never properly dark, even with blinds fully shut, there is always someone upstairs either running the washing machine or dryer or bouncing up and down like they're on a sugar high, I can't open my window at night because I'm on the ground floor and don't feel safe doing that, parts of my place "mold" real quickly so I have to constantly keep wiping down things (probably because the air doesn't circulate as well since I don't have my windows open all the time), and I can't play music unless my window is closed. Oh well, I shall plug in my headphones and watch some Top Chef now!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky Friday

You know how you have those days when everything seems to go right? Well, my day wasn't quite like that all day, but most of it!!!

The morning was pretty tough, work stuff and the usual politics and other messed up aspects of it, but then my afternoon went really well. I went in to Auburn and had my tires rotated (now my car drives much smoother!), then popped across to Trendcuts and got a trim and bangs, with my favourite hairdresser who is really good and knows what she's doing, and when I stopped in at Grocery Outlet to see what good deals they have, I found Artichoke Tapenade (the huge glass jars they used to have in Costco) for $3.99 a jar so I bought six! And I also found my favourite cookies for just $1.99 each, so I got a bunch of those too!!! Then I came home and played board games for 3 hours with Rachel and Mommy and won most of the games, tehehe.

It's Friday the 13th today, but it's my lucky Friday :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deliverance Is Not Yet Complete. . .

I just finished watching "Deliver Us From Evil," a gripping documentary about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and what is being done to keep justice from being served. I agree that it "should be seen by people of all faiths and by anyone concerned about the well-being of children" and put it right up there along with Hotel Rwanda, Not Without My Daughter, and God Grew Tired of Us, each well-done presentations that deal with the awful realities of life.

Two things really struck home to me. One was that the perpetrator, who appears on the documentary and constantly narrates his part in person, appeared to have no conscience. I've seen people like that before, no remorse is in their eyes, and no emotions are apparent. They are somehow capable of creating their own fantasy that reality cannot touch and are all too quick to place the blame elsewhere, not accepting their role in the crime.

The second part, and I don't normally get emotional when I watch documentaries but this really struck home, was to see the father of one of the female victims react so strongly as he was recounting the events. The father was choked up and at times he expressed strong anger that something like this could have happened to his own daughter. You could tell that he truly cared about his daughter and felt deep regret that he was unable to protect her when she needed it the most. The father's conclusion was that there is no God, and I cannot fault him for coming to that conclusion when it was the church that cloaked in secrecy the sins of their own.

Father Thomas Doyle, ironically also a Catholic priest, was a strong advocate for the abuse victims who told their story in this documentary, and it was encouraging to see how much he too, cared, and wanted justice to be served. So few men today have the courage to stand up and protect the children.

This is not the end, and the Catholic Church does not hold a monopoly on religious pedophiles. I think the words of Jesus say it best, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." ~Matthew 18:6 NIV

Friday, November 6, 2009

A New Sound

Okay, it's 9:28 pm and I might actually go to bed early tonight! I can't believe it!!! I was listening to an audio book this afternoon while cleaning my bathroom (that is the only way I'll clean, is if I distract myself with music or. . .my latest discovery. . .an interesting audio book!) and realized I really need to change my priorities in life. I need to get into a program where I'm getting to bed early, getting enough sleep, exercising daily, eating healthy, and then I'll have more energy and won't come home zonked at the end of the day and sit in front of my laptop for five hours straight, watching some movie or playing Freecell because I feel drained. My favourite book on tape right now is Wuthering Heights, read by Patrician Routledge who makes it sound so realistic. The Exhaustion Cure, by Laura Stack, is the one I was listening to this afternoon. I used to not be very into audio tapes because I'm not as much of an audio listener as I am kinesthetic and visual, but somehow I've gotten on a streak where it makes time fly by.

So my bathroom is clean and dishes done (in cold water, the boiler burst in the Inn so we haven't had hot water for a week now, kinda depressing) but I still have a thousand things just lying around making me nervous. I mean, I'm not going to use them anytime soon, so why do I have them???

Two whole days of nothing to do, what bliss!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just a Few Thoughts

Wow, so it's November already and before we know it, Thanksgiving and Christmas and then 2010 will be here and we'll wonder where time went. And I still remember 10 years ago, the excitement of Y2K and here we are. . .just another year passing into eternity. I'm not even 30 and already I feel old! Some friends I still keep in touch with I've known for nearly 20 years. Can you imagine that???

Seem to have gotten in a bad habit of going to bed after 11 these days. This week at least, I could sleep in a bit since I clocked in a bunch of hours over the past weekend driving back and forth from Southern Cali, so I've been going in to work around 9 or later, quite luxurious! Next week I'll have to buckle down, though, and get in to work by 8, bleugh!!! Went in to the public library this evening @ Applegate and walked out with a stack of audio books and DVDs, despite the fact that I'd walked out with a similar amount of material Tuesday night of this week!!! I think I'm OCD about borrowing something from the library. Oh well, at least I can renew it online and it isn't a far drive to return stuff either.

I was rather depressed this evening when I looked in my little fridge and found that the onion/poppyseed bagels I bought at Trader Joe's had gone mouldy. Both of my fridges seem to "sweat" a lot and everything gets soggy real quick, which is quite depressing. I guess I just need to buckle down and buy a proper fridge, especially now that I know I'm going to be here for another fifty bazillion years!!!

The weekend is almost here (yaaaay!) and I actually don't have anything planned!!! It's absolutely amazing and I shall relish in every single moment of freedom (not like I don't already have tons of free time every evening!). I have been wanting to go to the Auburn church for several weeks now, too, so hopefully that will work out as well.

Got my Leslie Sansone DVDs in the mail today, so I'm super stoked! I tried out the warm up, 1 out of 5 miles, and the cool down on one DVD this evening and I absolutely loved it! It's so easy and time just flies by, which makes it fun. Which reminds me, I need to get into some sort of a routine so I can get in exercise every day. Which would require going to bed early enough to wake up early enough. . .probably not going to happen tonight as it is already 11:18 pm!!!

Time to sign off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hoping to Fly on Through

Shall be short, been going to bed waaaay too late recently, and yesterday and now today I've had a bit of a tight chest, kind of strange, really, it feels sort of like when you inhale menthol rub or eucalyptus, when it burns your throat, that's what it feels like. I did hot and cold this evening, and I really have to go to bed early so I can get some good rest. I DO NOT want to come down with the flu, porcine or otherwise, and I hope that this is as bad as it will get!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Epiphanies of the Moment

Kind of frustrated with the system, as I tend to get on certain days (okay, most days!) I was sitting at home working through it with my mom and sister. I reasoned, "When you reach adulthood, you realize you can now do whatever you want, but you know it won't make you happy. On the other hand, doing the right thing and following all the rules doesn't make you any happier either." It's the old "_____ if you do, and ______ if you don't, Catch-22," I exclaimed in exasperation. Then my eyes fell on the Colfax Yellow Pages, lying on the kitchen table. The front cover boldly proclaimed, "The answer's in the BOOK."

While naturally the Yellow Pages was thinking of their newspaper-print gray and yellow leaves being where one's attention should be drawn, mine went immediately to an old familiar red NIV Bible I keep by my bedside. Most would call me a heretic, labeled simply by the version of Bible I read, but it is the one version that I turn to for comfort and hope. "Maybe the answer is in the Book," I thought, pondering my recent epiphany. My thoughts continued to wander. . .

I think we try to make it too hard, sometimes. We get caught up in the rules, regulations, laws, and traditions of men, attempting to explain Truth through our narrow convoluted thinking and interpretations, and forget entirely about grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. Joy and happiness seem to be on their way out, being replaced by a subtle perverse form of control that seeps into every aspect of life. We're so afraid of being saved by grace that we cling to the phylacteries of the Pharisees for salvation.

I think there's more to life than that, though. That is my constant struggle, because I believe there is more to life than what I am finding and I believe God's plan includes reaching the world in amazing ways. It often feels like we are battling against the tide of a solid mind-set that refuses to be open to miracles in its truest sense. It can be easy to get bogged down in platitudes, cliches, and "tithing the mint and cumin" when the heart issues are ignored. At times it seems as if petty issues become the "le special du jour" while real-life struggles and the harsh reality of sin in this sick world we live in, hover just beneath the surface.

There has to be something more. . .

If a person can leave Weimar knowing who they are and with their relationship to God still intact—they will have won one of the hardest battles of their lives.