About sowhatsthepoint

I'm San Francisco born, Berkeley raised and I call Texas home. I'm in my 3rd decade of marriage to my college crush and I still not only love him, but like him. We laugh together a lot. We have 4 progeny, (they are too old to call kids), 7 grandchildren and I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up. I am curious about so much and time is so limited.

Learning

10492593_10204059349074359_3071932254639968053_n

There’s a new twist in my Texas Education. It’s formal now. Official. I’m an undergrad … again … at 60. As I peruse my first class syllabus I’m transported back in time, back not as far as many will think. For my first degree I took the long way round … 17 years long. Graduation day for me was right after my oldest graduated 8th grade. I remember doing homework, at the kitchen table in our house on Selma Ave in Fremont, California. Jesse and Andrew were often studying at the same table, sharing chips and guacamole. Brain food.  Without my boys, my hubby and absolutely amazing in-laws, I wouldn’t have a degree in psychology.

Why am I starting again, now, at my age? Because I’m in Texas; because it’s a benefit of Steve’s place of employment; because God plucked us out of the Rockies and planted us in the Piney Woods.

Never, ever, did I think I’d go back to school for another bachelor’s degree, but I’m so thrilled to be an undergrad again. As my first course begins, I’m overwhelmed, scared and excited.

I’m not too old! I can do this! This is AMAZING!

My heart’s cry … Oh God! Please help me do this well!

IMG_0593

Advertisements

I used to speak Mandarin. I was never as fluent as I wanted to be, but I did have a good accent. Liau Lau Shir , my teacher at Taiwan National Normal University, told me so. She tended to be graciously tough on us. She’s in the front row to the left of Steve.11046207_10205929415784858_1940497909372411939_n 

Since returning to the States in 1988, I haven’t needed Mandarin much, so I’ve lost most of my ability to understand, and my ability to speak is about on the level of a toddler. Still, it makes me smile when I hear it, and I try.

I tried this week. A call came through at work, from a gentleman who asked if anyone in the office spoke Cantonese. I’m in East Texas. The odds aren’t great. So, I asked, in my very best Mandarin, if he spoke Mandarin. He said, not so well, but a little. His was infinitely better than mine.26571_1380409600619_247849_nTogether we accomplished his goal. At the end of the call I turned around to see that there was an amazed group of coworkers behind me. They heard my feeble attempts to communicate with a very patient caller and they were impressed. Frankly, I was too. It’s been 30 years.

Probably the least impressed was the very kind man on the other end of the line who stuck with me and graciously thanked me.

26571_1380406040530_2266191_n

Liau Lau Shir, thank you. My time in your classroom was a blessing in so many ways.

Living where I do, I really should take Spanish, but I’d rather find a conversational Mandarin class in town.

26571_1380406000529_3093284_n

Texas Spring

Texas Spring

IMG_0388

Or should I say, East Texas spring. Local folks differentiate between Texas and East Texas. I haven’t seen much outside of East Texas, so I don’t really understand the different qualities, but what I see of East Texas is truly lovely. With one exception, okay … maybe two.

For the past 21 years, bugs haven’t been a problem; another blessing of living in Colorado Springs. The occasional fly might get in the house, or maybe I’d get a mosquito bite or two during the summer, and even the spiders in the basement were nothing compared to the ones that live here in East Texas. (Forgive me Tricia). Here, amidst the beauty of my garden, there are swarms of winged pests in greater variety than I’ve experienced since coming back to the States from Taiwan. These bugs are comparable in size to the Asian varieties. That translates to generally LARGE, IMPRESSIVE critters.

Then, there are the wiggling, wriggling, slithering creatures I manage to disturb every time I attempt to sooth my soul with an afternoon of gardening. I’ve seen more snakes in the past three months than in the past 21 years. I’m not a fan.

In years past, I’ve relished the feel of rich, dark soil in my hands, now I wear gloves, and use the spade rather than delightfully digging in, getting dirt under my nails. (One reason I rarely do my nails),

Bare feet are also now covered. My toes are the same level as the average snake’s head and I’d rather not traumatize the toes any more than needed. They’ve been through enough in the past two years.IMG_0381

That said, I do love gardening here. It’s not yet Mother’s Day, (the traditionally safe day for beginning a garden in Colorado), and my garden is looking beautiful. There are still tweaks to be made, but blue and purple blossoms are appearing already.

IMG_0387Being awakened by the myriad variety of birds calling to each other, strolling through the yard, watching the branches sway with the breeze, (and leaping squirrels), listening to the soothing sounds of the waterfalls all make for a grateful heart.

All In

Our church has an odd Sunday morning schedule. You can hear the sermon early or late then, in between, there’s worship and what I call directed fellowship. This way everyone is together for part of the time, and the odds of people attending the same church for years and never knowing it, are reduced. The directed fellowship time is when we grab a cup of coffee and a snack, (or not), and ask each other the questions for the day, related to the sermon. This method of doing church was way to abstract, even for my brain, when we began. Now I love it. It works. It makes the sermon stick. It encourages relationship. It promotes depth.

Recently, during one of our directed fellowship times the questions were about being whole hearted or all in. I got together with a couple I’d met once before and we began talking about what those sayings mean to us. Our thoughts about being whole hearted were different in many ways. While all three of us recently moved to East Texas, I’m nearing 60 and a grandma, they are 20something and expecting their first baby.

When we asked each other about being all in, I was hit with one, big, head smacking revelation, to which the three of us related; Am I all in emotionally where God has placed me? Will I embrace Texas with my whole heart?

Ironically, since that revelation East Texas has felt like Colorado. It’s been cold, snowy, icy, filled with snow days, kids out of school, snow-man-front-yard-statuary, (the only kind not frowned upon by our HOA), with “delay and closure” crawls on the local channels, all things so familiar during winter for the past 21 years. When I drive down the road and see snow on the tops of cars and every area normally green, blanketed in white, I wondered I’m living in a dream. But no, this isn’t Colorado. I’m not dreaming and I have a Texas driver’s license to prove it.

I have determined to be all in mentally, emotionally and spiritually in my new home. It’s a process.

While I love the grandeur of the Rockies, the beauty that is Colorado, I also love the San Francisco Bay Area, and Bavaria, and Wales, and Hawaii, and Taiwan. Every place God has gifted me as a home has been beautiful. It’s not leaving the place that causes an ache in my heart. It’s leaving the people.

Already, I would be so sad if God were to tell us it’s time to move on from Texas. Wrapping my heart around East Texas is easier each week because the people here grow more precious to me each day.

The best part of the new heaven and new earth to come, (aside from being with Jesus of course), is that all those I love will be in the same place. I won’t have to miss one single, beautiful, kissable face.

Steve and I love this artist and this song. If you like to listen to great guitar, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy,

New – Forever

I’m easily distracted. With predictable regularity my mind goes off on a bunny trail of fascination triggered by a word, a phrase, the shoes the lady teacher’s wearing, big hair, or a bad comb over.

Sunday morning Pastor Brian talked a lot about new. When I heard him ask, “How long does it take for new to become old,” I was off down a bunny trail.

I love that question. This year I’ll be 59. It’s not scary, or sad, but it’s on my mind. In my head I’m still 30 something even though I enjoy aging. Each decade gets better. Like fine wine, I’m mellowing. Life is more and more interesting. People are increasingly precious. Life is amazing.

When viewed through normal eyes, for anything still around after 59 years, new is in the rear view mirror and antique is just down the road … unless it’s a woman (or man) who loves the Lord.

Pastor Brian got my full attention, momentarily, when I heard, “A new life begins and continues with prayer.” Say that out loud. Did you catch it? He didn’t say, “begins and ends”, but “begins and continues”.

Hmmm. More than a bunny trail now; fodder for long term meditation.

I know his mercies are new every morning. In fact, as I begin a study on new I’m newly aware of how much God is all about new.

Isaiah 40:31 is one of my favorite verses. “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.” I probably mixed my Bible versions, but it makes me think of what Pastor Brian said, “A new life begins and continues with prayer.”

Colossians 3:10 will keep me thinking for a while, “… and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him ….” If you have time, look it up for context.

New is not temporary in God’s world, it’s a continuous thing. I can’t find a word to express this new. It’s more than a process, much more than a gift opened in the morning that grows old with the sunset. Like a perfectly facetted diamond it dazzles us, it’s a prism displaying a fresh rainbow with each flash of light, fascinating every time, it never grows old, the diamond ages yet it’s beauty remains new. Impossible reality. That’s me – That’s you – In prayer – In Christ – Aging – New.

Two things need to happen for me to be being renewed. First, I have to put off the old with determination. Second I must become a student of Jesus, pursuing the true knowledge. This is one pursuit when being obsessive is a virtue. The song, One Pure And Holy Passion is playing in the background as I finish. I hope like me, you’ll become obsessed with Him.

Rock-n-Roll and other Spiritual Things

I loved to sing to my kids when they were little. Some of the songs were Christian while others were old time rock-n-roll. Rock-n-roll has a history of provocation, rebellion, protest, the sexual revolution, and so much more. It could also be said, and I do, that wisdom can be found in that melodious mix.

Although I wouldn’t call the Rolling Stones music wholesome, “You can’t always get what you want” is true, so when my kiddos had a case of the “… but I want …,” I sang the Stones with gusto. In my mental time machine I’m looking in the rear view mirror to see three kids rolling their eye balls as I croon another favorite, (of mine, not so much theirs,) “Dre-e-e-am, dream, dream, dream, dre-e-eam ….”

Music is a quality of God’s character that reaches deep into our core. He created us with a need for nourishment – body, mind and soul.

Variety makes every meal better. I like rock-n-roll, classical, folk, (I loved the mockumentory, A Mighty Wind), jazz, blues, and even some country. I also like church music. Liturgy and hymns can move me to tears.

Relevance. Truth. Rhythm. What is it that grips your soul, lifts you to your feet and makes dance irresistible? Pink? The Beatles? Switchfoot? Johnny Cash?

Recently I’ve been chewing on some teachings posted on facebook by my friend Beth. Last night those words came to mind while Steve and I watched a documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. A clip of a Biblical truth sung by someone who may or may not be Christian filled our home while Steve and I sang along.  I Won’t Back Down. That was my theme song in 2014. There were hymns, choruses and songs by Christian bands that moved me, but the one that made me shout was sung by Tom Petty. http://youtu.be/JMzW42zZVN0.

I’m a fighter. Like a pit bull, I hang on. 2014 was rough. Steve and I got hit from every side. “Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out. Hey, I will stand my ground and I won’t back down.” Those lyrics resonate with my inner fighter.

It’s Biblical to stand strong. I stand in faith, (I Corin. 13:16.) I stand in grace, (Rom. 5:2.) I stand in the Lord, (Phil. 4:1.) Standing arm in arm with a fabulously faithful group of loved ones, (Phil. 1:27), You can stand me up at the gates of hell, But I won’t back down.

It’s 2015 and I’m singing another Tom Petty song. Pastor Brian, here’s shift#1, Runnin’ Down a Dream. http://youtu.be/Qv4-m-cIZf4. I’m workin’ on a mystery; my calling for life in Texas.

Colossians 2:2-3, “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Another Lesson in My Texas Education

They build houses on a slab. No basements. I didn’t think much about that when we bought our pre-owned home. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

Pre-owned means that we bought the truly lovely home with the problems that have built up through the years, AND with the problems I wasn’t there to address with the builders.

For instance, we all learned in school that heat rises, so why, in a home with cathedral ceilings, would you put the heater vents, (intended to heat the room), 8 feet and higher, up the wall? In the rooms with standard 8 foot ceilings the vents are actually in the ceiling, which leaves the upstairs quite cozy. Downstairs however, we dress in layers and occasionally sit on our hands to warm them. I refuse to wear gloves inside.

I understand that on a slab there’s no crawl space, but if the intent is to provide heat to the room, shouldn’t you place the vents in the wall at say, the same level as the electrical outlets? I’m not a builder, but that makes sense to me.

Then, there’s the question of the heater. I couldn’t find it for a while. It’s in the attic. Hmmm. I think there may be a trend here. I called the heater people to come out and see if there’s a problem, other than poorly places heating vents, with our heater. While making the appointment I was asked questions to which I had no answer. I don’t know whether it’s forced air, pulled air, pushed air, or pumped air … I just don’t know.

After wandering the house trying to find the heater, (which I just discovered have multiplied) so I could check the filters, I found the first unit in the attic. It turns out I missed two others, in the other two attic access points. The filters was not found. As I continued to try to be a responsible home owner, I finally discovered the filters, in the ceiling, no where near the heating unit. I’m so confused.

I’m beginning to miss that cold Colorado basement I used to curse, where my heater lived. I could find it easily. I could change the filter with no trouble. And there was only one. And oh, by the by, it was gas.

Today I paid $60.00 for this bit of Texas education. All to be told I have the least effective, most expensive heating system there is, and I should expect a bill to cause palpitations. To all my Baptist friends, please forgive me, but this Lutheran girl may need a single malt before opening that one. Actually, make it a double.