Archive | February, 2012

No Luck, Only Grace

26 Feb

Today Brian and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  Last night, in preparation for the surprise I wanted to give him, I went “driving” on Google maps.  The reason being is I couldn’t remember the name of the Alpine Lodge-like restaurant that Brian always says he wants to visit when we pass by it on the freeway.  I had a vague memory of it being after the 22 freeway and before the 605, so I got my map set to the 5 freeway just after the 22 and moved the little “man” icon to street level.  I admit, it was challenging because sometimes the map would jump me to an off ramp and I would find myself lost…then I would have to start over again.  I also questioned my memory of which freeway it was off of, and perused the 405 for about 20 minutes…excessive, I know!  Even as I was considering my method to be madness, I continued on.  After all, I convinced myself it was for an anniversary and so the extra pains to find my destination would be worth it.

Well I am happy to say I finally found the faux, snow covered alpine and thanks to the camera work of Google, and its 360 degree panning option, I found the name.  Clearman’s North Woods Inn, La Mirada California.  With the name in my possession I was able to check on its hours of operation, and even check its status on “Yelp”.  Let me offer a bit of advice…when you are planning something for a loved one, and are considering their interests, tastes, or desires, skip out on reading reviews and looking at pictures and reading the menu with prices.  Because even though I had found my prize, I also found my prize was an over priced dump which serves the type of food that, yes, Brian would love, but I would be compelled to picket due to the high amounts of injurious food and portions.  Which is why before I shut my accomplice down for the night (my computer), I avowed to not only surprise Brian with a lunch at the 1950’s should-be-thrown-back chalet, but to pretend I shared the same enjoyment with the entire experience as well…gloppy cheese bread, mayonnaise salad, and all.  And with my resolve, a good feeling fell upon me.  It does feel nice to have my “self” sit on the bench and let Brian take the play…it just took some coaching to get me-self agreeable to the idea!

Well today my lovely daughter asked us where we were headed for our lunch date.  I told her, her father didn’t know and it was a surprise–but it is about a half hour away from our home.  Upon hearing my words, Brian said, “I know where we’re going!  Is it to the snow?”  “WHAT?”, I questioned, “how did you know?”  Turns out that after 20+ years together, Brian and I are one…go figure.  I often know his thoughts, he often knows mine; even my hidden and surprise thoughts.  And lucky for me, he did know because he told me he wasn’t really feeling for driving as far as we would have to drive to get there.  HIP HIP HOORAY!!!  “No skin off of my nose”, I said, “I am happy to withdrawal the plan and redirect!”  Now that is what I call “grace”.  And off we went to Laguna Beach to one of our favorite and quaint little restaurants.  And being I didn’t have to swallow down bread dipped in grease, or potatoes lathered with “cheese butter” (which actually sounds intriguing in all the wrong ways), I enjoyed dessert because I could.

Then, as is customary for me after eating a meal out, I retrieved my little lipstick holder from my purse to refresh my, dried out and pale, lips.  And to my wonderful surprise, thanks to my ever conniving children, I found my little “King’s cake” baby lying in my lipstick holder.  I called them and they said, “you got Baby-D!”, and they laughed and laughed, as did Brian and I.  Since the oven is still on the fritz, the baby keeps “popping” up in the most notorious of locations.  In fact, he’s awaiting the next victim as we speak…I can’t wait to see who it will be!


Cole’s VA 100% service-connected rating coming in the mail on the very day our health insurance benefits ended–the same day of my grandmother’s passing, such good news on one heck of a hard day; more grace.  Not having to drive, eat, nor lounge anywhere near the Clearman’s North Woods Inn; grace, grace, grace!  Truly the Lord’s grace is washing over my weary soul…thank you Jesus!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Baby Fat

22 Feb

Since I give you insight into my sorrow, I also want to share with you my moments of joy.  One such moment came to me today, which multiplied to moments, which multiplied to hysteria.  But wait, I’m putting the cart before the horse…

If you don’t know already, I have an affinity for “King’s Cake”.  I was first introduced to the cake (and the story behind it) many years ago through a friend of my mom’s.  I can’t even remember the friend because the gift of the cake took precedence over any other memory associated with it.  The cake is connected with Mardi gras, Lent, and the celebration of the Epiphany (three kings visiting baby Jesus).  Choose one and then call it yours…for my part, I don’t need an holiday, I love the concept of the cake so much I could easily create a “King’s Cake” holiday without batting an eye.  Anyway, I’ll go with Mardi gras to keep my explanation concise.

With the help of Wikipedia,  “Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.”  The King’s cake is essentially a round (ring) cake with a small, plastic baby (representing baby Jesus) baked right inside.  The idea is that whoever ends up with the piece of cake with the baby in it, has the “blessing” of hosting the celebratory event the following year, as well as the obligation to make the King’s cake (thus continuing the cycle of the adventurous infant).  Isn’t that just pure fun?!

Now since I was a little girl I have loved small inanimate objects.  They just intrigue me, that is all.  So today, while walking our two dogs–one leash in my right hand and one leash in my left–I briskly passed by something small on the ground.  All of a sudden my brain switched gears from drive to reverse (I didn’t lie when I wrote that last time).  My mind said, “Rivka, that was a little baby.  You know what that little baby could be used for?  A King’s cake!”  But I continued walking, trying to convince myself I didn’t need to go back and look at the small thing discarded on the sidewalk.  So my mind went at it a little harder, “Rivka–WAKE UP–it’s a baby Jesus!”  Well sure enough, and against the forward will of the two dogs, I went back and picked up the little doll.  It is the perfect size baby to make the perfect cake.  The weird part of it is that I didn’t even realize, until I shared my new found treasure with a neighbor who informed me, that today is, officially, Fat Tuesday.  Now that is perfect timing!  However, keeping in line with my previous post and the theme of my current life, wouldn’t you know it but my oven is on the fritz.  Our repairman has been alerted to its inoperable state for over a week now.  And I know he will show eventually.

Being my sense of humor is often twisted and rearing to go, and since I couldn’t fulfill my wish of baking the cake today, I decided the baby could fulfill its destiny via another method.  So when Cole was quietly eating his dessert bowl of Coco Krispies, guess who decided to go for a swim?!

And all the people said, “Amen”, all the people minus Cole that is.  😉

The Sweet Infant Sitting on a Quarter


22 Feb

We are home from northern cal, safe and sound.  As is customary for my life, or so it seems, I tend to only have two gears with which to choose from in my world of motion.  The two gears being, drive and reverse.  Opposites, of course.  It is not the first time I mention it in my writing.  I have, in past posts, used words such as paradoxical, simultaneous, coincide, ironic, etc. to express the place in which I dwell.  That place being, where blessing and curse/rain and sunshine/happiness and sadness/love and hate coexist and keep me in a suspended balance.  Weird; or at least I think so.

So it was driving up north that I knew my mournful sorrow would turn to joyful glee once we arrived to Sacramento.  I knew this, in advance, because of who my grandmother was.  We weren’t going to have a large mournful affair, no we were going to have a large family gathering and that gathering would turn to celebration, which in fact it did.  So with this knowledge, I took advantage of the six to eight hour window I was stuck in a vehicle with nowhere to go, and allowed myself to mourn, hurt, and cry for the loss of my grandma Ella and my neighbor Fernie.  I sat behind Brian because he was, thankfully, the driver of the van.  And he kept looking at me in the review mirror and seeing my continuous sorrow show itself…I (for once) did not hold back.  At one point in the drive, through the grapevine I believe, we were surrounded by tall, green, grassy hills.  And I could have sworn I saw my grandmother and Fern standing atop one of the hills–beautifully bedecked in white, flowing dresses and waving goodbye to me.  Both of them were extremely happy.  They were smiling, and through their joyful adieu were in essence telling me, “It is ok to say goodbye.  We are happy, and we love you, don’t be sad for us.”  And though I know they weren’t really up on that hill waving to me, the very idea of them doing so soothed my heart, for I wasn’t able to say goodbye to either of them before their departure.  Don’t worry, I continued to cry and cry some more.  But that imagery has stayed with me, and I am thankful for it.

One of the songs I heard while encapsulated in the van was a song called, “Smile”, by Kirk Franklin.  I would put it up for you to see but I don’t really like any of the videos associated with it…it is better listened to without a visual aid.  Essentially the ministering lyrics go something like this:

“Today’s a new day, and there is no sunshine. Nothing but clouds, and it’s dark in my heart and it feels like a cold night. Today’s a new day, where are my blue skies, where is the love and the joy that you promised me you tell me it’s alright.
(I’ll be honest with you) I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain, fell from heaven like a shower.
(When I think how much better I’m gonna be when this is over) I smile, even though I’m hurt see I smile, I know God is working so I smile, Even though I’ve been here for a while I smile, smile…”

The truth of these lyrics are reminiscent of my intro paragraph and the running at drive and reverse simultaneously.  My grandma is gone, but wow what a celebration!  My Fernie is gone, but her grandson (whom we adore) and his expectant wife will be moving into the home of their beloved Fern.  Blessings and sorrow–simultaneously.  Elims=Smile!

Tengo una sombra de tristeza sobre mi alma.
tengo el resplendor de una

lleno con el difunto y
lleno con el amor.

El amor trae la alegria
La fe trae la esperanza
estoy vivo porque Dios es mi razón.

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