Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rethinking Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness

Talking about faith is never easy, at least not for me. Yet, sometimes the opposite is true: it's easy to talk the talk but not walk the walk. Either way, putting that faith into action can be difficult especially when we are influenced by so many things, like our surrounding culture. 

Americans say, "Life".
Jesus said, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." Matthew 16:24

Americans say, "Liberty".
Jesus said, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

Americans say, "Pursuit of happiness".
Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:25

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Daytripping: Stinson Beach

The boys
My family loves the beach. It's one of the few places we can go where everybody has a good time and everyone is able to relax. Over the weekend we went to Stinson Beach. Stinson Beach is known for sharks and sand dollars, although strangely enough we didn't see either during this trip.

We like this beach for a number of reasons, first and foremost being it has facilities. Yes, folks, it has actual flushing toilets. Granted there are no seats on these toilets, but there is plenty of toilet paper and they are easy to get to. We always find a spot close to the facilities so we don't have to walk two miles over hot sand to reach them.

Beach bum rat dog
We also like this beach because we can bring our rat dog with us. Let me clarify. Dogs are allowed on the county-run section of the beach, in this case, Marin County. Dogs are NOT allowed on the National Recreation Area side. (Stinson Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.) The beach is clearly marked which side is which, so there is no confusion. If you are like me and not really a dog person - although I have no choice since we have a dog - you can go to the no dogs allowed section of the beach.

I wouldn't exactly say that there is adequate parking, but there is a parking lot. We always get there early, between 9:30 - 10:00. The one time we got there close to noon, parking was a nightmare. Going forward, we made a point of getting there well before noon. In my opinion, getting there in the afternoon is a crap shoot as far as parking is concerned. Once you park and get settled and watch the fog burn off, you're in for a lovely day at the beach.

Bourgeois Pig? Oink
This year, we decided to be Mr. and Mrs. Suburban Bourgeois-Pig and purchase a beach tent. Honestly, every beach umbrella we've had just didn't slice the gravy. You see, when we go to the beach we stay all day. Stinson Beach is a couple of hours away from us, so it doesn't make alot of sense to pack up the car and the kids and go to the beach for an hour or two. Screw that. We got there at 10:00am and we didn't leave until 5:00pm. Having the tent gave everyone a chance to take a nap without getting completely fried.

If you've never been to Stinson Beach, then I highly recommend going. The drive is beautiful albeit windy (long i not short i). Muir Woods is on the way so you could make it an all day trip or make a weekend out of it. The beach tent is optional.

Friday, July 20, 2012

All That We Have

Some years ago I underwent an attitude adjustment. I can't even pinpoint the exact moment; let's just say it was a process. It was when I began to realize that all that I have are gifts from God that I was able to have some compassion on people and to prevent myself from getting angry. Let me explain.

When I say 'all that I have', I mean that literally. I have been blessed in numerous ways: I have a husband who loves me; two kids who are relatively innocent and not jaded; a home of my own; food in my fridge; two cars; assorted animals; family and friends. I also have average intelligence (no comments) and my health. I have eyes that see - 20/20 vision in my mid-40's - ears that hear, legs that walk and hands that work. Which in turn gives me the ability to: feed myself, dress myself, wipe my own butt, decide what I want to do, and go just about anywhere when I want to...except maybe uphill; I do drive a 1969 VW after all. These are gifts from God. Some people are born without some of these gifts, some experience a tragedy that takes away these gifts, and some people squander these gifts. Whatever the case, they are gifts and they are things that should not be taken for granted.

My youngest son, for example, does not have the gift of sight, the ability to speak, or the ability to reason...he is legally blind, nonverbal and cognitively delayed. He needs help with eating, dressing, and yes, wiping his butt. He does have other gifts: hearing, a joyful laugh, a gentle (sometimes stubborn) spirit. When I realized that not everyone has average+ intelligence, not everyone has their health, not everyone was born into a loving family, not everyone has enough food/clothing/shelter, it gave me insight as to why people are the way they are. It's not meant to be an excuse, but it did teach me to have compassion and to use my gifts and blessings to help other people the way others have helped me.

The words "entitlement" and "entitled" are being tossed around in American politics more than ever. It is my opinion, that anything we take for granted is viewed as an entitlement. This includes what we consider "the basic things" like the gift of life. We think very highly of ourselves and our accomplishments and we often don't have any patience or compassion on those whom we deem fools. We also fail to acknowledge the blessings we have been given either from God or from others. We can talk all we want to about the grace of God, but we live and act in a very self-centered, works-based world. I firmly believe that in order to understand, to accept, and to give grace you have to have a grateful and humble heart. That begins with acknowledging that all you have is a gift, even those things that you seemingly worked for.

Lord, thank you for two legs that walk, two hands that work, two eyes that see, two ears that hear, and a spirit that longs for You.

"The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" Exodus 4:11

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fiesta Time!

I am by no means a fanatic, but I've always loved Fiesta® dinnerware - dare I say love at first sight. I was first introduced to Fiestaware (which BTW, it's not really "Fiestaware"; it's just "Fiesta") when I worked at a housewares store in Berkeley, CA in the early 90s. All of the bright and cheery colors made a fabulous display. I ended up buying a service for 16: four in rose, four in white, four in yellow, and four in turquoise. Although I wanted a place setting in every color, the store where I worked sold Fiesta in either boxes of four, 5-piece place settings, or all open stock. Purchasing place settings via open stock was expensive...even back then. And since this was the pre-Internet stone age I couldn't exactly shop around. So, I settled on four colors that I liked.

Fast forward about 10 years later. When we moved from Seattle back to California, I opted not to take my Fiesta dinnerware with me. I reasoned that I could always buy it again. I know, it was a hard decision, but it was alot of dinnerware to pack and considering what what going on in my life at the time, it wasn't something I wanted to be bothered with. However, I did keep my serveware pieces because at the time those were harder to come by.

Fast forward another 9 years later. Today, I am looking at ten beautiful colors of Fiesta in my cupboards. I purchased ten place settings in ten different colors directly from the Homer Laughlin Company. Each place setting was boxed and sold individually. This time around I purchased the 4-piece place setting instead of the 5-piece place setting as I prefer the mug to the cup and saucer. They were running a special where you purchase four place settings and got the fifth one for free. How could I not? I got one place setting each of: tangerine, lemongrass, turquoise, plum, white, marigold, scarlet, chocolate, peacock, and the newest color, flamingo. Finally, I have my cupboard full of fiesta colors. As an added bonus, Fiesta dinnerware is made in the USA. The only snag - and in fairness it is always a possibility when shipping dinnerware or glassware - is that two of the mugs were damaged. I called the Homer Laughlin Company and they are sending replacement mugs at no charge.

I don't know if I'll be adding any more colors to my set or not. Collecting Fiesta dinnerware can be very addicting. I do need to replace my sugar and creamer set as well as my salt and pepper set. Maybe a new butter dish as the one I had broke years ago. And since I did purchase a 9x13 pan in scarlet, then maybe I need a 9x9 baking dish in lemongrass to go with it. ☺


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