Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
My husband, G, was in a wedding this weekend for 2 of our old friends who married each other. Ryan (the groom) and his groomsmen all went to the Astros game on Thursday night. Somewhere along the way in the planning, they decided to all go dressed as super heroes. I honestly thought they would chicken out and end up just wearing a Superman t-shirt or something. Boy was I wrong! They were all decked out head to toe. G went as Super Mario from the Nintendo game. I took this picture in our front yard as our 3 year old across the street neighbor watched with a VERY stunned look on his face. Ryan is in the purple wig and hadn't put on his body paint yet. He painted himself head to toe in green and went as the hulk. They were on the jumbotron and on t.v. A LOT! The announcers were even commenting. After the game, it took them an hour to get to their cars because of everyone wanting to take their picture.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
There is a little chapel on the grounds of the retreat center where four services are held each day:
Matins (the morning service to greet God in the new day), Mass (a service at noontime where they “celebrate the Eucarist”, aka "The Lord’s Supper" or "Communion"), Vespers (a service just before dinner to meet with God at evening), and Compline (a service to close the day with Him).
When I made arrangements to come on this retreat, I didn’t think I would attend many (if any) of these chapel services. They are optional for those here on retreat, and frankly, I thought I might find them boring. Interestingly, though, I have attended all of them, so far! They are not boring at all, but quite meaningful.
This surprised me because I was raised in the Episcopal church until I was 16 years old, and I generally found the order of the Episcopal church service very boring and ritualistic. It seemed that in the liturgy of the service, all of the meaning leaked out. I found it devoid of true passion for God, and an unnatural way to worship Him.
However, this retreat has changed my view. The services are only a half hour or less, so they don’t seem overly long to me. The responsive readings of the Psalms and of the liturgy now appeal to the actress in me. I no longer see them as just words on a page, but as words of life to speak to one another, ripe with meaning and even love.
Part of the Mass included “The Prayers of the People”, which is a chance to pray for different people in the world and in your life—from government leaders to your own family members. They came to the part when you can offer prayers for the sick. During this part of the prayer, you can say out loud the names of people who are ill and need healing. “My Dad,” I said out loud, tears filling my eyes.
Soon the prayer was ended with an “Amen,” and the priest said, “The peace of the Lord be always with you,” to which we all responded, “And also with you.” Then came the part that I often dreaded growing up. That uncomfortable part where you have to turn to the strangers around you and “exchange the peace”, which means shaking their hands and saying “Peace be with you.” Today, though, I just felt so full of gratitude for having a place to pray for my Dad. A place to lay down my burdens. A place to remember the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by taking Communion. I turned to those around me and realized that I only needed to give that uncomfortable feeling a small nudge to get out of the way. Then we hugged each other with heartfelt gratitude for each other’s sheer presence, and mostly for the presence of God. Our very own Prince of Peace.
This is my first time to come to this retreat center, but Hubs has been here once before. When I told him that we would be coming here for our retreat, he mentioned several times how good the food would be. In fact, he mentioned it so many times that it became a running joke.
Now that I have had breakfast here, I understand what all the fuss was about. If this retreat is about opening my heart to God, breakfast was a completely religious experience:
-Cheese stuffed crepes drizzled with strawberries and strawberry sauce.
-Fresh fruit—pineapple, banana, and pear
-A ginormous cup of freshly brewed coffee with heavy whipping cream and splenda (Let’s just be honest and call that dessert.)
It is a gloriously sunny and clear day. I’m off to enjoy some time in the great outdoors (with sunscreen on, of course!).
Have mercy! I just had lunch, and it was another spiritual experience. The food at this place is divinely inspired. Today’s lunch:
-Granny Smith Apple Cobbler with whipped cream
Friday, May 16, 2008
Hubs and I are on a weekend retreat. We’re staying at an Episcopalian retreat house in Santa Barbara, which is run by an spunky nun. After a simple yet tasty dinner, the Sister led about six of us in a Compline service, which is sort of a service to say goodbye to the day with God before heading off to bed.
At one point, it was time to sing a hymn. Since there was no organ player there, the sister stuck some kind of a key into the organ and it started playing the hymn. Oh my stars! It’s like a player piano, only an organ! The hymn sounded like a lullabye, which is appropriate for a Compline service. As we sang the last verse, which was asking God to grant us a peaceful night’s sleep—I kid you not—Hubs let out a nice big yawn! It wasn’t loud or anything. It was just a totally organic peaceful yawn. I don’t even think he was aware of it. It just tickled me so! It reminded me of the scene in Mary Poppins where she is singing “Stay Awake” to the kids and they start relaxing and then yawning before falling into restful slumber.
Sweet dreams, sweetie pie!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Monday, May 05, 2008
My friend Janet is going to Kenya in July for two weeks to do relief work with refugees. Tribal conflict in Kenya has left over 150,000 people without food, water and shelter.