Thursday, June 30, 2011

Loving this City

Last weekend was Pride Week here in the city. It's one of those weekends were you should probably just stay home since the traffic is so bad and it's crowded everywhere. I remembered this from last year when my family had come to visit. (that was interesting!)

This year one of the main events was happening just a block from our church--and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to serve. We opened the doors to our church and offered our bathrooms to the crowds as well as water and snacks for free.

I was amazed at the number of people that we were able to meet. Hundreds of people used the restrooms within hours and we ran out of supplies multiple times! It was great to be able to serve in such a simple -- but meaningful way.

As we took a moment to walk through the crowd we couldn't help but question how Christians should live among the lost. We don't have any answers yet, but we know that our tendencies to judge and condemn are wrong. Christ loved. (there's the answer!)

 The next day during my quiet time I read Hebrews 4 and the words washed over me and I realized that not one person in that huge crowd of people is forgotten or lost by God. He knows each and every single one of them. And He loves them. He desires them to be in His kingdom. 

   "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

I don't have to judge or condemn. God's word will penetrate deeper than anything I have to say or preach. God knows their hearts and their intentions. I don't have to worry about any of that. I can just love and let God do His thing. It's so freeing to trust Him with all that goes on around us in this city. He can do anything!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Motivation in the Kitchen

We don't have cable TV so I can't get hooked on the Food Network or anything like that. But even network television has several cooking programs. I like a show called "America's Test Kitchen." It's really the only cooking show on public television that I can stand watching. I actually really enjoy this one, so if I'm home while it's on, I'm watching it!

They do exactly what their title suggests: they test. They test recipes, ingredients and kitchen appliances so that the final recipe they end up with is the best! Granted, sometimes that means it might be harder to make (more steps or harder to find ingredients) and it usually isn't the healthiest option . . . they test for taste.

They also publish cookbooks! They have tons. I want one. My problem is that I don't know which one I want. They have books from the show . . . they even have one that includes recipes from all eleven years they've been on the air. I found out that they have a "healthy family" cookbook too. They did all the same testing but took calorie and fat into account and substitute healthier ingredients for the not-so-healthy ones and tell you how to do it so it won't affect the taste.

So, rather than buying one or more without knowing which one I really wanted, I decided to check one out at the library first (brilliant, I know!). The Healthy Family Cookbook was the first one I checked out. I've had it for two weeks and I love it. I've only tried a handful of recipes so far and most of them were a success.  My favorite part is that the book is so educational and includes some of their appliance test results.

I've tried two different ways of cooking salmon: oven-poaching and frying. I've roasted a whole chicken for the first time ever, made pork chops with an apple-ginger chutney, creamy mashed potatoes, turkey tacos, and homemade pizza (that was amazing!). Tonight I will make chicken fajitas. It has been a busy and somewhat adventurous couple of weeks!

I am a hard-core recipe follower. I don't stray far at all from what I'm told. Maybe someday I'll be that kind of cook. But for now, playing with a new cookbook is really fun. It's a change in my routine and I'm learning new things. When you do something everyday, like cooking, making even a small change (like getting new mixing bowls, a broiler pan, or a cookbook) can be refreshing enough that you are excited about meal preparation again!

I have to give the cookbook back next week. The Test Kitchen does have a website where you can access most of the recipes from their recent shows. But it's not the same. I will probably be investing in this cookbook or one like it . . . or I might just keep borrowing them from the library (I love the library). We'll see.

Almost 325 miles . . . almost half way there

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Visits continued . . .

We recently had Chris's eldest sister stay with us. It was absolutely wonderful to be able to spend some extended time together and meet our newest niece, Samantha.

Yes, my baby photography needs some work! (I don't get a lot of face time with babies)

We had a wonderful time spending our evenings with Sharon and Samantha. Unfortunately, neither Chris nor I were able to take off much time from work during their visit. We ate in, we ate out, Sharon and Chris went out one night to hear live music and we even had dinner with a few other relatives that live in the bay area. It was a full week!

I really enjoyed their visit. I especially enjoyed getting to know Sharon better. Even though we've known each other for a few years now, we rarely have had time to talk! By the end of the week, it felt like I had an older sister! I loved to watch her interact with her baby and listen to her share about parenting, traveling, and living life. There is much to be admired in this woman. I will cherish this visit for a long time—especially since it will be awhile before we see each other again.

An Adventurous Friend

Please note this was originally written on June 11 but was not posted until the 19th -- sorry to keep you waiting!

If you ever need to cross the Pacific Ocean, I hope you take a day to visit us first. Our good friend Cara did last weekend! Before she started her year-long adventure backpacking overseas she planned a layover in San Francisco. It was just a day, but it was a great day!

I know you have experienced saying goodbye to a good friend before. Chris and I left our very close-knit community when we moved from Colorado -- Cara was part of that group. We aren't always very good at keeping in touch, but when we do have a chance to connect, it's GOOD. It satisfies my soul. I felt that same way when I spent the weekend with friends in Colorado in May. I was blessed to have that experience again so soon with Cara's visit. We picked up right where we left off--as good friends often do.

We spent the day seeing a few sights and driving around different parts of the city. Most of our discussion was about her upcoming trip.  I love seeing our friends and family take steps of faith, risk comfort, and go on an adventure. It reminds me of the step we took when we moved to California and inspires me to take more risks and trust Him more.

It has been a year since we moved into the city. I can't believe how the time has gone by so fast. And how quickly we can settle in and become comfortable with our new life. Which is good in one sense--we feel at home, we can get around, we have what we need etc. But in another sense, we don't feel the urgency to depend on our Father for our next meal, our home, or job like we did a year ago.

Cara had shared with me that she was hoping to experience God in deeper ways through this trip. I doubt she will have to wait very long before she feels an urgency to have more faith, know God more, and pray more. The unknown can be a scary thing -- but God often does incredible things when you walk by faith through the unknown.

Listening to Cara share her uncertainties and hopes for the next year really spurred me on to live with more faith! Who can't use a little push in that direction? I look forward to hearing the lessons she's learned and the experiences she's had! Have an amazing adventure Cara!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

We had been looking forward to Memorial day weekend for about a month. Finally a day off! Finally an opportunity to do something/go somewhere together . . . have a mini-vacation . . . aah(relaxing sigh)! We had come up with several options, some were just the two of us, others included old friends, and another new friends. 

Two weeks ago, Chris found out he had to work on Monday . . . and then we ended up both needing to help out at church on Sunday. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I felt like I really needed a break from my normal day-to-day stuff. But it is what it is and I still wanted to make the best of my long weekend. We came up with a plan . . . I would keep ALL my chores until Monday so that Chris and I would have two whole days together (minus our church activities).

We drove to Stinson Beach on Saturday in an attempt to get out of the city and relax for the day. Unfortunately, the weather was its normal "moody" self and we ended up getting rained out and having to leave early. We did get to sit on the beach for a solid 45 minutes of sunshine and had a great lunch at a little cafe in the town. 

Can you see the fog behind us? You definitely can't see the hills that should be there!
These next two pictures were taken from the same point just in opposite directions. Hard to believe the sky can look so different at the same time!

This was a sign we read as we had walked on the beach . . . for those of you who saw the trailer
to the movie Chris has been working on, this didn't sit well with me!
The main street in Stinson Beach was really cute; all the little shops had adorable signs -- I had to take pictures!

This was the cafe where we had lunch. Earlier in the day when we had
first arrived we grabbed coffee and tea here -- we sat down in cozy leather chairs
and found a backgammon game to keep us occupied during the rain. (So relaxing!)
Sorry I didn't think to take photos before we started eating!
This is Chris's burrito 

and my soup

Rained out -- on our way back home.
Even though we got rained out, I still had a really great time. It was peaceful, beautiful, and I was spending quality time with Chris. That was all I needed!

After church on Sunday we decided to hike through Glen Canyon Park which is another park we are blessed have within walking distance.

Afterwards we walked around the neighborhood checking out a book store with live music, a frozen yogurt place and a few other cute shops. It was another really great day (with much better weather).

And as planned, I got most of my chores done on Monday while Chris had to work. I also had lunch and took a long walk with a friend. Having that extra day was really nice and our weekend did feel more like a mini-vacation that I would have expected. Hope you were able to enjoy your weekend too!

We hiked quite a bit this weekend -- much more than I have been recently. 
And now, as of June 1, I've walked 300 miles this year!