Monday, March 31, 2008

New Things

Saturday I had the opportunity to be a judge evaluator at the Arts and Music Festival for our denomination's youth. It was a statewide competition, so there were young people from churches across the state. I had been asked to evaluate several instrumental categories, but I only did three, since I didn't feel capable enough for the rest. I listened to several bass guitar solos, a couple of guitar solos, two cello solos, and two instrumental ensembles.

This was the first time I've ever done something like this, and I had a difficult time getting up to speed, learning to rate a performance with a score and helpful comments. I got gently scolded for not writing more and better comments. But by the last two performances I finally got the hang of it, and I was sorry it was over. (NOW let's start the day, now that I know what I'm doing!)

It was a good day, but I went home with a roaring headache, and went to bed earlier than usual.

I was up very early Sunday morning to get the family moving so we could get to church for worship team sound check and warm-up.

After church I met a young man who is new to church and he told me he has an electric violin, which was an interesting coincidence, because I just spent my free time last week researching electric violins, 'cause I think I want one.

Anyway, he offered to bring it in the evening for our church's monthly worship celebration service, so I got to play THIS:


Very exciting and fun, especially since there are no music stores within driving distance that carry electric violins in stock, so I can't go try one. This was very cool, and I'm seriously considering getting one. Unless I get one of these:

That is a five-string violin, which is sort of a cross between a violin and a viola, and I really, really want one. Even if I get an electric one, I want it to have five strings, instead of the normal four, like this:
Group Shot

Or this, if we're feeling rich:

When we got home last night, Swede was asleep on our futon, on his way home from visiting his son and daughter-in-law, and he ended up staying till two in the morning. No-- scratch that. He actually left about 6:30 this morning, after staying up till two with Hubby and a couple of our kids. (I had to crash much earlier.)

This morning I woke with a raging headache, which I have been fighting all day. I slept for a couple of hours this afternoon, and tonight I think I have a fever. Bleh. I think an early bedtime is in order tonight.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not Again

We are watching the destruction of yet another piece of scenery today. About a quarter mile south of here there is big equipment tearing out a long row of trees where LovelyDaughter enjoyed walking. Another pivot is going in.

To the north of us, next door, so to speak, two more pivot sprinklers are going in, destroying what we always called "The Corn Road," a dirt driveway encircling the field, where we often take took walks.

Last fall, across the section east, the farmer tore out a huge section of woods where the boys had permission to ride their motorcycles. We grieved then, and we're grieving now.

This morning in my prayer book I didn't get past the first reading, Psalm 95, where it says

In his hand are all the corners of the earth;
and the strength of the hills is his also.

If God owns it all, isn't there a piece of scenery for us? Can't he give us a piece of our own out out of his great stockpile? We are so dependent on other people's land for our beauty and our recreation. When they decide they need corn fields and pivots, we are left bereft.

I am sorrowful and frustrated as I watch from the picture windows. I can't help but see, I can't help but lament.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I guess we shouldn't be surprised...?

LovelyDaughter has been working since last June at a local fast food joint, earning money for her trip to Scotland this summer. Lately she began to feel that her time there was about up. She's been very tired, and had cold symptoms for a month that won't go away; and she wondered if she could earn money some other way between now and next June.

So a few weeks ago she put in her notice and said she'd like March 24 to be her last day. The manager begged her to stay on till they found a replacement, so LovelyDaughter compromised, and agreed to stay till April 1.

Last week, she learned they had found a new employee who would begin in April and take her place, which was wonderful.

And then, last Monday, as she's getting ready for work, the phone rings, and it's the manager, who tells LovelyDaughter not to bother coming in any more.

That created mixed feelings. Relief-- to not have to go back to work. Letdown-- at the thought of not going to work. Whiplash-- at the sudden change in plans.

But now we don't know: did she quit or was she fired? Hmm.

The good news is that now she can work with the family tree work, earning better pay, and still have time to rest up and plan for her trip. AND, I get the option of staying home and keeping the household running. It's a great thing all the way around.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Living in Community

I have just finished reading the book The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris. Normally I chug through books like Gatorade on hot day, but this one forced me to sip.

Ms. Norris, now a Benedictine oblate, fills a book with her thoughts about Benedictine religion and spirituality, most of it in the context of her time spent in the monastery as a guest. It's loosely themed around the liturgical seasons as she encounters them in the monastery, and the thoughts she finds herself thinking, and the issues she finds herself contemplating.

Much of the time the author seems to make things too hard, thinking deeply and convolutedly about life. For example, her discussion of the Virgin Martyrs, and whether or not a woman is better dead than raped, was more confusing than enlightening, although her final conclusion-- that some things are worth dying for-- was good.

One chapter that intrigued me was the one about learning to live with the Psalms. In the Benedictine monastery the Psalms are an important part of monastic life. The monks chant the Psalms often, day after day, hoping to absorb them in such a way that the words of the Psalms come to mind in odd and sundry moments, applying themselves to daily life. Ms. Norris found it difficult at first to chant psalms of praise when she felt depressed, and, conversely, to chant psalms of contrition or discouragement when she felt good. But --and this is what interested me-- she found something satisfying in submitting to the discipline of the Psalms, no matter what mood she was in. There was a meatiness, a learning of humility, to put one's self wholeheartedly into the Psalm of the day, even if it was far removed at that moment from her own life.

In my submitting myself to the Book of Common Prayer for the last three or so weeks, I have found the same thing. If I don't feel this way today, I probably will sometime-- and maybe very soon-- and if not I, then there is probably someone else who is experiencing this emotion right now that I can pray this Psalm for, in their stead.

In fact, I can give you an example. When I first began using the BCP, one of the Psalms I found myself reading over and over (I'm not sure why it was repeated over the course of the days. I don't know my way around the book that well yet) was Psalm 69:

Save me, O God;
for the waters are come in unto my soul.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing:
I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
I am weary of my crying:
My throat is dried:
mine eyes fail while I wait for my God...
Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink...
Hear me, O Lord; for thy lovingkindness is good...
Hide not thy face from thy servant;
for I am in trouble;
Hear me speedily...
Reproach hath broken my heart;
And I am full of heaviness...

I remember the first time I read this I thought of my husband. It seemed to describe so well the pit of depression he's been in for the last year. Especially the part about the eyes failing, because recently he's been showing signs of macular degeneration, probably caused by ocular histoplasmosis, which activates under stress.

I made a connection: Hubby's depression, stress, and beginning eyesight failure are related to his sense that God is not near, that He is not listening; that his prayers are not being heard or answered. He feels like he's drowning, and crying out, and there is no help or hope, and the feelings are showing themselves in the physical manifestion. The Psalmist cried out "mine eyes fail while I wait for God!" And Hubby could say the same thing.

So I prayed the Psalm in his stead, crying out for God to reach down and break through. I prayed it several days and nights.

And then, to finish the story, we went to a conference in Topeka, where one of the speakers began announcing and proclaiming healings, and suddenly Hubby turned to me and said, "It's gone!" He meant, the vision distortion in his eye was completely gone, and so was the headache. You can imagine our rejoicing, not only for the healing of the eye, but for the sudden certainty that the latter portion of Psalm 69 was coming to pass:

I will praise the name of the God with a song
and will magnify him with thanksgiving...
For the Lord heareth the poor,
and despiseth not his prisoners.

Another fascinating part of Kathleen Norris's experiences was her time living in "community." She had a lot of things to say about "real" life in a monastery. I admit, after reading, that I too, like many others, had a romantic notion of monastic life. I thought it must be so holy, so reverent, so meaningful, so restful.

It IS those things, but not without context. Life in a monastery is also: work, relationships, bad moods, good moods, sickness; even death. In fact, it is all of life in a micro-habitat, punctuated by scheduled prayer and scripture reading.

Part of what makes a monastic life different is the fact that the people there have made a conscious choice of how to live. They are living intentionally, and have made vows to that end. They make a life commitment to seeking God and living in the monastery.

The longer I read, the more I realized that in my family here, I am living in community. Instead of making vows to a cloistered life, I have made marriage vows. My marriage is my cloister; I have forsaken all other lifestyle options: other possible spouses, a career. I have submitted to this place to live, this particular home, this family, this level of income, this relationship.

As I write that, I realize someone may think I'm complaining. I'm not. I'm rejoicing, because comprehending the similarities between monastic life and married life gives depth of meaning to my ordinary life.

I have wrestled for many years with "doing something for God." I listened to many preachers who said that we were ALL called to GO INTO THE WORLD, and I felt I would never "be" somebody unless I became a missionary, or entered some form of full-time Christian service.

When my kids were young, I knew that being a mother was a ministry in itself, and I was reasonably content. But now.... now my kids are nearly all grown. Now what? Without going into details, I will just say that missionary work or full-time Christian service as I imagined is probably not going to happen. How will I ever be or do anything of worth for God?

Then I discovered the discipline of "fixed-hour prayer" --praying three, or four, or seven times a day, using helps such as the Book of Common Prayer, or any of a number of Celtic prayer books. When I take time throughout the day to pray, and wash my mind with the Word of God, I find something happening to me.

I feel part of a great community of saints throughout the world, and throughout the ages. Other believers, whether Catholic, or Celtic, or Anglican (the most common denominations that practice the liturgy of the hours) are praying the same prayers, or have prayed them in the past. I feel the "great cloud of witnesses" and suddenly when I pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven," I realize I am joining my voice with hundreds and thousands of other prayers and pray-ers, and our joined voices are rising up to heaven and filling the golden bowls of intercession.

Something else happens, too. It changes the way I look at my own ordinary life. I can live a contemplative lifestyle. All day, every day, I can take time to pray, envisioning myself with a company of monks, or early Christians, or Celtic contemplatives and be part of that vision. I can be like Brother Lawrence, practicing the presence of God in everything I do. I can begin to flavor the atmosphere around me, as I soak up scripture, and, hopefully, the fragrance of God himself.

Then I begin to see my grown children as fellow community members. This is important, because sometimes in our family we feel an invisible criticism from society. People are inordinately surprised, and sometimes disapproving, when they find that all four of our children are "still" living at home, even though they are 25, 23, 19, and 17. We have to rush to explain that the oldest has been fighting sickness, and the next oldest is preparing for a missions trip, and the other two work in our family business....hurry, hurry, explain that it's all reasonable, and that we're not somehow stifling our children, and they're not somehow irresponsible.

I begin to see that, if we go about it in the right mindset, we are actually being given a precious opportunity to live "in community." To work, and grow, and build relationships, and seek God together. And I am becoming convinced that it is a good place for a family to be, until God begins sending them out, like seeds on the wind, to plant their own homes and families.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I wonder if they wear sunglasses and carry concealed weapons

Quite a few of the Psalms in my Daily Prayers lately have been cries for help and protection. Psalm after Psalm, and verse after verse, of "Lord, hear my cry" and "Be my fortress and stronghold" and "Hide me in your shadow." I began to think odd thoughts. What am I-- weak and helpless and whiney?

I was thinking these unhelpful things while I was raking yesterday, and in the middle of raking I suddenly had a new thought, a picture, if you will.

The weak and helpless are not the only ones who need protection. There is another class of people who are guarded, and it's not because they are weak, but because they are important, and even powerful.

Presidents. Diplomats. Celebrities. They all have bodyguards, to protect them from people trying to get to them, sometimes with evil intent.

Suddenly I saw that as Christians it's not a bad thing to need protection. Maybe it's because we are ambassadors with an important mission, and we have spiritual enemies. And that's when I saw the picture of us walking around with a contingent of Bodyguard Angels.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

I never thought of it that way...

Today we were out taking down a tree-- it's the beginning of the tree work season. Hard work, but now we'll have money!

In odd moments between running the chipper MB3 and I were talking. I had talked in the truck on the way to the job about today's morning reading in the Book of Common Prayer. Somehow we went from there to discussing the trappings of more orthodox Christianity, such as the vestments the clergy wear, and the decorations and stained glass windows. We talked about the huge cathedrals and how on the one hand they can fill us with awe and make us remember how majestic and powerful God is, and on the other hand, how they can also just make us think of how great the builders were, and "Wow, we must be a great church!"

So while MB3 and I were talking about it all, he came up with a great insight. He said, "Think how great God must be, that he could make a creature that can make something like a cathedral. Man can build incredible buildings, super fast cars and planes, and other things. That's pretty cool. We can even build robots that can do things. But we can't build a robot that can build something on its own."

I thought that was a pretty interesting insight. Man is as creative as he is, because of how creative God is.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Where Have I Been?

Last weekend Hubby and I went with Swede to a conference in Topeka. We learned and saw so many great things I just don't know what, or how, to share. All I can say is, if you are interested in the things God is doing, Go to the next one!

The next conference is in June, and there is another one in October that we are definitely interested in. If you decide to go, let me know so we can meet up!

(Find out more at The website right now still has up the information from this recent conference, but they will be updating it for registrations for the next conference soon.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

To Dye For

Well, as usual it was a busy weekend. As you may remember, Friday was my birthday. Hubby took me out to eat Friday night. Will it estrange you forever to know we went to Runza, and I had the Sweet Berry Chicken salad?

Of course, the original plan was Applebee's, but the waiting line, being as it was Friday night, was very long, and we didn't feel like joining it.

Saturday was a beautiful day, and LovelyDaughter offered to do the grocery shopping, so she took me along and dropped me off at a park, where I walked, all by myself, for a couple of hours. Nice.

Sunday-- GuitarGeek and I were substituting on the worship team, so we were up early (extra early, since it was Spring Forward weekend.) I get really hungry on those Sundays, because we eat breakfast extra early, and then don't eat again till two o'clock.

I don't remember Monday. We always have jet lag or something when the time changes. Plus, it's a little known fact that changing the clocks--whether forward or backward-- adversely affects memory.

But anyway. I want to tell you that yesterday I dyed my pink pants. I have had a pair of bright pink corduroy jeans. I loved them, not exactly for the color, but for the fit and comfort. But after two years, I realized I still have very little to wear with them. I get tired of black and white. And anything else pink is either the wrong shade, or makes me feel ALL pink.

Fortunately, the cut and style are still in style, and they still fit the best of any of my jeans. Unfortunately, they were PINK.

So. I took the plunge, and I dyed them dark brown. A bee-yoo-tiful shade of chocolate which will be useful with many of my shirts and sweaters. And the cool thing is, the pink stitching did not change, so now I have chocolate brown pants with hot pink stitching. It looks VERY cool. And the white decorative stitching on the pockets turned tan, which also looks very cool.

That was so much fun, that I also dyed a Shade shirt I have. It was a strange salmon pink that did not look good on me, or match anything I have. (I think it was called "fuschia", but it was not fuschia.) Anyway, I dyed it too; and it turned a very pretty dark plum color with hot pink binding around the neck and arms. It looks cute with my "new" brown pants, so now I have new outfit to wear to the conference we are going to this weekend.

AND. Then I decided to throw some white socks in the pot. (There was still perfectly good dye in there...) THAT was fun. Now I have half a dozen pair of two-tone brown socks-- the feet are heathered pinky brown, and the ankles are hot chocolate.

Then LovelyDaughter decided to dye a few things, but the dye pot was getting tired, and her results were not so great.

But I have new brown corduroys!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For You: A Blessing

From Celtic Daily Prayers, morning prayer:


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Hi y'all. Welcome to my virtual birthday party!

See my balloons?

See my flowers?

Have a party favor:

And a piece of cake:

Sit down and enjoy the concert:

Thanks for coming. Y'all come back now!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

TT#25: Thirteen Birthday Cakes I Have Made

Since tomorrow is my birthday, I thought it would be fun to make a list of thirteen birthday cakes I have made for my kids over the years. Up until they hit thirteen years old, I made them a "fancy" cake, and when they were old enough to choose, I let them pick out of two different books I had.

Of course, these are not MY cakes. To show you the actual cakes I made would have required digging out the scrapbooks, finding the birthday pictures, and trying to figure out how to scan pictures in a scrapbook on to the computer. Just way too much work a bit too technological for me. Instead, I have found pictures of similar cakes to give you an idea. (These are in not in chronological order.)

1. A Turtle cake. This is the exact cake, out of the exact book I have! I made this probably once for each of my four kids.

2. Ladybug cake. This was for LovelyDaughter.

3. "Bob the Tomato". This was for MB3, when he was younger, of course. Mine was nicer than this, I think, but I never thought of adding the Peas!

4. Castle Cake, for LovelyDaughter. This looks very much like the picture out of the book I used.

5. Spider Web cake, for DrummerDude. And I think I did use chocolate frosting.

6. Computer cake. For MB3. This is almost exactly like the one I made.

7. Hobby Horse. Again, this is the exact book I used. I made this cake for MB3's first birthday.

8. Princess Doll, for LovelyDaughter. We used miniature marshmallows to decorate the skirt.
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9. Cat cake. Or, as my kids called it, a Kitty Cake. I don't know how many times I made a cake like this. Probably twice for each of the kids. It was their favorite when they were little.

10. Smiley Face. For LovelyDaughter.

11. Pick up truck. This looks pretty close to the one I made for DrummerDude, except for the side boards. His was even blue. The frosting I made was sort of a marshmallow frosting, and it was sort of a flop. It ran and oozed, but when it set up, it actually looked really cool, like a smooth, shiny paint job. We filled the bed of the truck with crushed oreos, and it looked just like a load of dirt.

12. Train cake. I made this cake more than once. One time, I made it in conjunction with another cake that I decorated to look (sort of) like a train station. This was because DrummerDude and GuitarGeek have birthdays one day apart, and that year we wanted to have one party, but yet let them each have their own cake. I also made this for MB3.

13. Pumpkin/Jack 0'lantern cake. This was another double-duty cake. It's actually two bundt cakes, one right side up on top of one upside down. So I let DrummerDude and GuitarGeek pick their own flavor of cake, and then made two bundt cakes, and made a pumpkin out of it. If I remember right, one was chocolate, and one was yellow. Unlike this picture, I used a flat bottom ice cream cone for the stem. I thought the whole thing turned out really impressive.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thirty Questions Meme, aka The Cop- Out Post

I borrowed this from some un-remembered somebody somewhere, and as I have a weakness for answering stupid questions on meaningless questionnaires, it looked like fun.

If your doctor told you TODAY that you were pregnant, what would you say?

Do you trust all of your friends?

Would you move to another state or country to be with the one you love?
Absolutely. And he would never go without me.

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?

Can you make a dollar in change right now?
Oh yes. We have a dish of change where all the miscellaneous coins go, and it's full.

Which one of your friends do you think would make the best doctor?
Hm. I don't think any of my friends are doctor material.

What naughty word do you use too often?
Doggone it. Rats.

Is there someone who pops into your mind at random times?
No one in particular. But if someone I never think of DOES pop into my mind, I figure it's because I'm supposed to pray for them, or call them.

What's your most favorite scar?
Favorite SCAR? If I had a C-section scar, that would probably be it. You know, sentimental value, and all that. But since I don't have one of those, I don't have a favorite scar.

When was the last time you flew in a plane?
Last May. We flew to Las Vegas to pick up a car we bought on Ebay.

What features do you find most attractive in the preferred sex?

Fill in the blank.I love __________.
My family: my husband, my kids. I love them as individuals, and I also love them as the organism we call US.

What is a goal you would like to accomplish in the near future?
Re-decorate the bedroom.

If you were to wake up from being in a coma for an extended time who would you call?
My husband, if he wasn't there already.

Where was your favorite picture taken?
I love the picture I have of my four kids standing on a huge rock in South Dakota.

Honestly, what's on your mind right now?
How tired and ache-y I am, and if the chocolate chip cookies I just baked are cool enough to eat yet. 'Cause if they are, then I can eat one (or three) and then go to bed....

If you could go back in time and change something, what would it be?
I'd make my mother a better housekeeper.

Who was or will be the maid of honor/best man in your wedding?
Twenty-six years ago my maid of honor was a woman named Linda. She was my next door neighbor, and a few years older than I was; in fact, I was her babysitter for her brand new baby, clear until the baby was four, who then became the flower girl in my wedding. Not too many years after the wedding, Linda died unexpectedly.

What are you wearing right now?
Jeans, dark green zip sweater, brown long sleeve Shade shirt, black socks, brown suede shoes.

Ever had a bar fight?
A what?

Who knows you the best?

Did you buy something today?
No, but I wanted to. I wanted to order a book from Amazon, but I couldn't make up my mind on which other book to get to make the order eligible for free shipping.

Did you get in a fight with someone today?

When was the last time you had a massage?
This morning Hubby rubbed my back for me. Oh, do you mean a professional massage? Let's see. That would be, oh, two years ago. Hubby and I both went once to a massage therapist, just to see what it was like. (I decided I like Hubby's massages better.)

Last person to see you cry?

Who made you cry?
No one. I just felt weepy.

What was the last TV show you watched?
The Beverly Hillbillies, on DVD.

Who was the last person you hung out with?
LovelyDaughter and Meggan, last weekend.

Have you ever taken a peek at someone else's diary?
No. Not without permission.

What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
Bake a bunch of bread and cookies, and then sit by the fire and read.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Quirky? Interesting? Boring? Weird? None of the Above?

I was tagged a couple of weeks ago by Cricket for this meme, and I'm finally getting around to it.

If you've been around a little while, you know I have a terrible time thinking up random, quirky, interesting things about myself. That's one reason it's taken me so long. But at long last, here it is.

First, the rules:

1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post THE RULES on your blog.
3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

Then, the list:

1. I have to brush my teeth before I leave the house. I just don't feel dressed if I haven't brushed my teeth within ten minutes of leaving. If I get delayed, I have to do it again.

2. I get hungry for things my body needs. If I haven't eaten enough vegetables lately, I start drooling over thoughts of broccoli, or lambsquarter, or spinach, or eggplant. If I haven't had a lot of milk products, I start craving cottage cheese, or toast with LOTS of butter, or chocolate milk.

3. I don't wear my wedding rings around the house, and if I forget to put them on when I go out, I will drive back and get them.

4. I love to pet my husband's beard and run my fingers through his hair.

5. I love having big windows-- if I can't see outside I feel trapped.

6. I like music, but I can't leave it playing all day. My nerves get frazzled when there's nonstop sound.

7. My daughter and I decided we are low-maintenance women. We're pretty easy going. We don't spend tons of money on clothes and jewelry (operative word being tons.) We can pack light, dress fast, and keep our bathroom stays short --and Hubby and sons rise up and call us blessed!

And now I'm going to break the rules, and not tag anyone else. But if you're reading this, I would love for you to write a list of seven random things about yourself and leave it in the comments.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Weekend Update

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted since last Wednesday, and here it is Monday. I've been busy.

You see, all my guys went to a church Men's Retreat for the weekend. They were asked to be musicians on the worship team, and even MB3 went, to run the sound. They all left Thursday afternoon, so my Wednesday and Thursday were hectic: making sure the guys all had clean laundry, helping them pack, and getting them fed and out the door.

After they were gone, on Friday, LovelyDaughter and I and a friend took off for our own girls' getaway. We drove to BigCity and spent the day shopping at thrift stores, which was fun. (I got myself a nice, name brand, leather coat for ten bucks!)

The most fun was eating out. We went to a tiny hole-in-the-wall vegetarian cafe where you can get a big bowl of soup and your choice of a homemade scone or a hunk of french bread for under five dollars. That's all they sell: three or four kinds of "soup of the day", scones, french bread, three kinds of cookies, and brownies. That's it. All homemade. All organic, fresh, etc, etc, with the ingredient lists posted. And the decor and furnishings are an odd, eclectic, unmatched, mishmash of chinese, buddhist, new age, vintage, hippie, and garage sale. It was a great experience.

I had the Sweet Potato Corn Chowder (good). LovelyDaughter had the Tibetan Noodle (spicy). Our friend had Moroccan Tomato (strange: think "tomato soup", "hot pepper", and "peanut butter.") We all had scones, and then our friend got an oatmeal raisin cookie, which was the size of a dessert plate, and she insisted it was the best oatmeal cookie she'd ever had. I thought myself that it tasted just like homemade.

In the evening we drove to a state park that has a lodge open year round, and we rented a nice room with a view of the river. In the morning we ate an enormous buffet breakfast at the lodge restaurant, and then we hiked it all off on the trails.

Later we went back to BigCity and did a little fact-finding mission. LovelyDaughter is planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland this summer and she is shopping for a backpack in which to carry all her luggage, so we looked at packs and other trip necessities.

Then we found another hole-in-the-wall eatery. It was called something like "Holyland Cuisine" and had a fenced area on the sidewalk in front with tables and chairs. It was such a beautiful day that of course we elected to eat outside, even though we were only a few feet from the non-stop traffic of the busy road. Not what these country girls would want on a regular basis, but incredibly fun for an Adventure.

The menu there was all homemade, organic, Arab food; most of which I can't pronounce. I had eggplant soup (very fresh; tasted like I could have made it myself from the garden) that came with warm flat bread (yum) and Iraqi tea (strong.) LovelyDaughter had something made of bread dough with meat and onion inside it (good). Our friend had a huge plateful of something made of rice and wild rice and peas and carrots and who knows what else, and it was seasoned with, among other things, cinnamon. She let us both taste it, and it was surprisingly good.

Eventually it was time to say the adventure was over. We got home about an hour after the guys got home from their trip and we compared notes over a quick pancake supper.

I won't bore you with an account of the guys weekend, except for two little things. One: The speaker for the weekend was a preacher from downtown LA, and his preaching and interacting styles were very foreign to us midwesterners. He insisted that everyone clap, and shout "Amen", and be very vocal at every turn in the message. At one point he said, "What? Are you all Germans out here?" And every one of our guys had been tempted to jump up or raise their hand and say "YUP!" (Because, of course, Hubby's family is German Mennonite...)

The guy had a tendency to call out people in the audience and scold them, as in, "Brother, look up here!" or "Pay attention!" or "Don't be reading ahead in your bible; you should be all read up before you get here!" --(which to me is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard). Well, MB3 was not happy with that, and he was the sound guy, so he started muting the mic whenever the preacher started to single someone out to berate them. Hubby wasn't sure whether to commend MB3 or rebuke him-- but it was funny.

The other thing is this: I've been using the Book of Common Prayer for about a week, and Friday night, in the middle of the night, I had trouble sleeping, so I got out the prayer book. The prayer I read that night was this:

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I prayed that prayer specifically for each of the guys on their retreat, and God answered. He protected them from the things that could have hurt their souls and their spirits through that insensitive preacher, and they are all none the worse for the wear. Woohoo!