Just a Trip to the Store

We only needed a few things. Just some ice-cream, a gift bag, some milk and maybe a movie... I grabbed my handy-dandy insulated bag for the market covered with cute Hawaiian flowers from Trader Joe's and JJ asked, "Can't we just go to Vons? Right next door to the movie store?" "Sure," I said. "Well, will they let you use a Trader Joe's bag?" "Sure, it's just a bag."

We happily agreed on a movie in record time. I had a coupon so that always lifts one's spirit. I put the DVD in the large insulated Trader Joe's bag for convenience. We're going green, you know, so we didn't need the plastic bag for the movie.

We sauntered down the sidewalk and entered the grocery store --- Where we were greeted by an armed security guard!!! Is milk really that high now? Maybe there's a rush on the green beans on aisle three on Monday nights now. No, it must be the maple syrup. That was on our list but the teeny-tiny bottles started at $9.56. Ridiculous! DJ will just have to suffer with another brand until I can make it into the large box store later in the week.

So we were ready to find our dessert. I showed JJ the name brand cartons of ice-cream and pointed out they were buy-one-get-one-free. How can you pass up buy-one-get-one-free! That just wouldn't be American and we are approaching the fourth of July. (Happy Canada Day to our friends up north, by the way....)

Thankfully, the time had come to check out. Although we were in the express lane, there was an "issue" --- I often end up behind those customers. Curious. We loaded up our stuff and I couldn't find my discount card. Oh, dear. Well, the oh-so-convenient credit card swiper asked for my phone number if I'd rather use that than my frequent shopper coupon card. "How easy!" I thought. "Your number is invalid Ma'am," she said. "No, it's not! I've had this card for twenty years." She asked for the number again. "Your number is invalid ma'am." Before I could say another word, she'd pushed some button and was handing me cash back and had circled a number for me to call to straighten out my "issue."

Walking out, I saw JJ carrying the two plastic bags loaded with the two frozen ice-cream cartons, a half-gallon of milk, butter pecan syrup and a gift bag. And I still had the large insulated Hawaiian themed shopping bag from Trader Joe's with the one DVD inside. We laughed all the way to the car. I, of course, was laughing at my silly bag and JJ was just laughing at me. Somehow these things always happen when we go to the store together. As the commercial says, "Priceless."



On a bright Sunday morning a few weeks ago, we sat down in the mega church nearby. We're talking mega-mega... JJ was just back from the university out west and we were visiting a church just for fun. We were settled into the highest balcony and feeling those good vibrations from the massive sound system and we weren't quite sure what we should set our eyes upon. There were the small screens right above our seats, then the larger ones a few rows down, then there was the minister live - right there in the front of the stage and behind him were the two-story-tall screens full of the graphics to accompany everything planned for the service.

We'd just sat down following the worship when it happened: JJ handed me the bulletin. And he grinned.

I spent the next thirty five minutes listening (get it) ever so closely for the minister to refer to "lestening," but to no avail. Then at the close of the service, I realized the larger than life-sized graphic on the wall had been changed and all the "listenings" were identical.




June 27th, 1943 was a sunny Sunday in Long Beach, California. I'm not sure if the people attending the Four Square church knew the plans or not.... but right after church this young couple had their wedding. The congregation all stayed to participate.

I've heard that Jack Hayford attended this same church when he was growing up, so maybe he helped throw rice on them... But I've never asked him. If you know Jack, please find out for us.

I do know that the minister who married them, Howard Rusthoi, was married to the talented hymn writer, Esther Kerr Rusthoi. She was there and Mom and Dad loved them dearly. Her well known hymn, "When We See Christ" was very special to my parents.

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God's eternal day.


It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We're tossed and driven on , no human help in sight;
But there is One in heav'n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem - just go to Him in pray'r.

Life's day will soon be o'er, all storms forever past,
We'll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We'll share the joys of heav'n - a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we'll lay our burden down.

Somehow, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mom & Dad may have invited Howard & Esther over for cake tonight. Of course, I can't really base that on biblical knowledge, but we do know that after the resurrection, Jesus ate with the disciples and discussed earthly matters. He didn't just sit on a cloud nearby and show them cool heavenly tricks. He was and is real. Experiencing the reality of heaven is something that my folks and oh so many of their dear friends are experiencing today. Although life in Sunny is pretty fabulous.... I want to be sure I'm set to join the party one day.


Word-Filled Wednesday

But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25


Oddly Similar

We've started preparing for the Olympics here in our house. For our family, that involves hours of watching gymnastics mostly. That's the only sport we'll watch before the actual games begin. Those girls are amazing. The guys are too, but the girls are so tiny!

As we were watching and picking our favorites, we began to notice Bela Karolyi more closely as he was interviewed. He's been part of our US gymnastics scene for so long. I say "Our" in the broadest sense.... (I am not of the gymnastically-capable persuasion by any manner.) I began to notice a familiarness about him and then it hit me.
Could he be closely related to Captain Kangaroo????


Loadin' Up

Summertime, Summertime, Summ, Summ, Summertime..... In case you haven't heard we're having a heat wave around these parts. So Sunny is blazin' this weekend! My goodness it's too hot to do much of anything. We attended a beautiful wedding on Saturday. At noon. In the sun. Oh boy. The bride and groom looked so happy; they probably didn't even realize it was melt-your-mascara hot out...

This morning I was on my way into church pretty early (to make sure our new cave was still together) and had one of those 'theology' moments. Well, that would be Grace's theology, so bear with me... I passed the luxury liner cruise bus loaded up with happy folks on their way to our local Harrah's for the day. (Harrah's is a local casino on a nearby Indian reservation. The law says it's o.k. to have gambling on Indian property.) Most of the local casinos have buses now. They've had them going a while, but with the gas prices they're just buzzing with new riders. It's a way to spend the day having oh so much fun and now you don't even have to pay for your own gas to use your money gambling...

So back to my theology moment:
When I was a little girl, we had this lady in our church named Sister Knizek. (I think I've got that right.) "Kuh-neez-ick" She had a big clunky car and every Sunday morning, she would load it up with all sorts of kids from her neighborhood and drive them into church. We never really got to know those kids, because she found different kids each week. I was too little to know if any of them actually became part of our church, but chances are some of them did. She did this for at least thirty years.

When I was away at college, Dad told me that Sister Knizek had passed away. He went to her funeral and it was well attended. The casket was the poorest quality casket he had ever seen and he said he felt horrible that no one knew these were the plans in place. It broke his heart. He always loved Sister Knizek.

You know where I'm going; I can tell. Sister Knizek invested her time, effort and every ounce of her energy in her love for God and children. Somehow, I don't think her casket meant one little bit to her. She knew where she was going and I am confident her accommodations are first class, with the buffet included.

Remember when churches had buses and vans and went out early on Sundays to pick up kids?

And just think, Harrah's buses are running every single day of the week...


So You Will Know

Last night we had our big summer kick-off party at church. I sat with three new friends. Ryan is 3, but will be able to hold up four fingers next month. Next to him were Emma and Emily, two gorgeous little girls with bright red hair. I was totally convinced that they were twins, due in part to one saying they are 15 hours apart. Later on I discovered that Emily lives next door to Emma's grandmother and that is how they became inseparable. Emma's favorite number is three-hundred-thirty-three. "That is just the coolest number ever."

As you may remember, I have lots of best friends. One of them is dear Laurie --- we met about 27 years ago. We too, were often thought of as sisters. Those things amaze me. One time we took a psychological assessment (the real kind, this was before the "What is your favorite Starbucks?" test....) and we came up with the exact same score and identical answers. I'm sure our psychology teacher thought we shared answers. But no, we were truthful.

As a grown-up (mostly) I truly cherish the variety of friends in my life. I'm glad we're not all identical, and I'm ever so glad for each one and the gifts they bring to my world. But I do need to find out their favorite numbers. I realized last night I'm not at all sure what mine is...


Brand New

This is the week....We're starting a brand new world with Kid's Church. Way too much fun, if I may be honest with you... Yesterday's paint scenario involved splash painting a new bulletin board. Just as easy as you could imagine and it turned out great --- except, well, my hands were spotted, red, yellow and green all afternoon and my fingernails seem destined to look like I've been fingerpainting just a tad too long.

Today we began around 10 this morning:

And then after a bit of teamwork, with creative energy flowing like the Mississippi River, foraging for props in every closet we could find with quite a few laughs thrown in here and there....

I think we'll have a contest with the little ones to have them name the cave. But if you have a great idea, please feel free to let me know. You just might win a jar of play-doh yourself... Be sure to tell me your favorite color, too.



Washable paint might not be...

Just thought you'd like to know.


One More Referral

Honestly, I should charge this Jon guy a fee for promoting his stuff. (Maybe he'll let me throw out the T-Shirts for him to the crowd when he is the featured guest at the next NRB convention...) But here's the deal: my father was an amazing worship leader back when they only had song services and had never used the terminology "worship leader." Our son is a well experienced drummer and we've discussed worship issues for years and years... So sorry.... Back to my referral.... Please click here: Stuff Christians Like # 295 and # 296. #295 is about singing the first and third verses of hymns and #296 is titled "Fishbowling the Drummer."

If you've stopped by today hoping to find my latest recipe for cream puffs or mocha brownie surprise, I've really let you down. If you don't attend church and haven't grown up trying to stifle a snicker here or there when you're supposed to be giving God your full attention; well, you've missed out. Maybe this is to whet your appetite just a little. You see for years, the only entertainment lots of Christians had was seeing things other Christians did to either make them laugh or gossip about and getting together for church dinners. (That gossip option was probably never o.k. with God and never ever helped anybody, but you get the idea, I hope.) Laughter and food. Those were the things we could enjoy.

I really enjoy Jon the Prodigal's blog and the fun he has with Christian life. I hereby promise not to keep telling you about it. Unless it's really, really good....


Sunny Days

We came to visit Sunny when I was about three years old. I never would have imagined the life God was preparing for me or the paths I would follow to eventually spend my grown-up years here.

I have always loved sitting by the sea and listening to the waves. Dad would typically pick up a large seashell and pretend he was talking to God when we visited the ocean. I'd like to do that this weekend and ask for Dad's house. We have so much to get caught up on...


A Momentous Day

Yes, today, right here in Sunny, I'm posting my 100th post. Amazing, truly amazing! I've been wondering how to celebrate --- what tributes to pay, what deep theological truths to ponder, what recipes to share, what thanks to extend.... Oh the choices are so varied! So here we have it. From a cold January afternoon with the guys away skiing and nothing much to do that week-end; so I considered this little hobby...
Thanks to all of you who've become good friends visiting here. And thanks to each of you who give me a chuckle with your comings and goings from here to yonder and your many words of encouragement. But primarily, in a moment of seriousness, I hope you know that my hope for each of you is to know you know God loves you and hears your prayers. The photo above shows balloons with children's notes to God tucked inside them. He will always hear your prayers, balloons or not, and He is faithful. Always.

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
2 Corinthians 9:15


Stuff Christians Like: #285. The lady worship leader.

I know, I know.... I can get in really big trouble with a post like this one. But some things are just far too good to not share.

Many of you are now devoted followers of Jon the Prodigal over at the Stuff Christians Like blogspot. It's tricky to find though, because he has that extra "f" in "stuff" on the actual name. So here's a link: Stuff Christians Like: #285. The lady worship leader. If your church uses, or has ever used a female worship leader, you will need two hankies for this post. And a pencil --- there's a quiz. All I can say is, "Oh my goodness!"

The content of this post could be the basis for a class at many Christian universities in my opinion. Even if you've never ever visited church or you're just taking a break because it's far easier to flip on your DVR of Joel Osteen, you will be amazingly wiser after reading this post. I'm not sure it is wisdom that matters, but as you know, I've been known to share useless information before.

But you will laugh. Guaranteed!



Recently JJ was able to share one of DJ's favorite pizza spots with Honey. They were driving back from school with a caravan of friends.

Can you smell it? It truly is heavenly. I'm sure Honey will laugh when she sees this. She honestly doesn't eat much at all....

Idaho Springs, Colorado


Looking Back

Yes, the new profile photo really is me. Black and white. That's a statement, eh! Remember how happy we all were (those of us who were born back in the black and white era) when color t.v. came along? Remember the first time you saw "The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday night and you could see the sights of Disneyland in COLOR? For those of us who grew up attending Sunday night church --- remember when we could see "The Wizard of Oz" after Dorothy landed in Oz and it just sprang to life with the Munchkins flitting about in their colorful Munchkinland? Of course, we can't forget "I Dream of Jeannie" with her amazing, ah, wardrobe...either.

The 60's. What a time. Somehow, I knew there was a war going on, but it didn't really seem to affect our little world. I'm sure it did affect friends and family, but we didn't have nearly the amount of media overload to deal with back then. I'll never ever forget seeing the Vietnam Memorial a few years ago. And the overwhelming sense of honor, pain and gratitude I felt for those remembered there.

Our world has changed so much in the past few decades. We have amazing technology. I can make friends in Kentucky, North Carolina, Australia and Missouri just by connecting here with them at "Grace Today." But we are at war once again, we have a big election coming up, people are hurting all around.... and sometimes some of us wish we could find ourselves back in our Father's arms, watching black and white t.v. and wondering how the lost will be rescued off the island...


In the United States

At least 1.5 million children in the U.S. have one parent in the prison system.

... a quote I saw pop up during a documentary we watched on San Quentin yesterday on MSNBC. I'm not sure the verbage is precise --- but the number is horrifying...


Blue Man Group Lego Animation

It's a beautiful day here today in Sunny! Now I know I'm not sharing earth-shattering news with that opener...but some days you just feel like having a celebration. So please find a party hat and join in the fun!

Oh yes, a technical note is needed. You'll enjoy it best if you pause the playlist first. You can find that on the left side of this blog toward the bottom --- Right near where my coffee and art choices disclose my inner psychological needs and uniqueness... Once you've stopped the music, just click on this link: Blue Man Group Lego Animation

You're welcome!


Such Wonder

My mornings are full of such joy now. True happiness rather than utter frustration and bewilderment. I'd watched the DVD, read the manual and searched online. All I needed was to have a woman from Texas share the technique. She is not Italian in any percentage to my knowledge. But she has lived abroad and perhaps this is the source of her great wisdom.

(If I've totally lost you, please see yesterday's post. It will explain much --- not all, but much.)

And now, we're off to Super Saturday....


Mark the Date

We, well, I, to be precise, have just experienced a miracle. Yes, a genuine miracle. It was shortly over an hour ago and I hope to experience the miracle again soon about an hour from now. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Feel free to shout "Hallelujah" along with me if you please. The neighbors will not mind at all. (They're probably at work now anyway...)

Here's my news: After pushing the orange button, waiting for it to stop blinking, slightly heating the milk in the microwave and switching the dial from off to on...
I was able to "froth."
My joy is overwhelming. I simply can't believe it. So here's a hat's off and a twist of the belt on my fuzzy red robe.... Thank you dear Gigi, you have blessed me immensely with the wise counsel you shared recently on frothing technique. The only possible way my joy could increase is perhaps being able to share this new talent with you, dear friend, in our little kitchen. The machine does have the option of brewing two cups. At the very same time! Amazing.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."
I John 4:7


Oh...the Weather Outside is Frightful

Everybody...join right in: "And the fire is so delightful. And since we've no place to go....Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..."

No dear friends, please don't assume I've lost my mind completely --- but I've just put on my cushy cozy velour lounging set and it's pretty cold in our house tonight here in Sunny. This is just not right! We always prepare for June gloom, which is gray and overcast, but this is ridiculous! Who can I write to? To whom shall we address our petitions? Oh, dear.

As you may be aware....yesterday was our California primary. We turned on the channel hosting the incoming election returns and watched for a while --- there was a young man running for congress that we saw at church once (he didn't win). Only a couple of items made it to the ballot; it was a pretty low key year for us. (We do live in a suburb and most of the 'hot' items were for those in the big metropolis next to Sunny.) So as the announcers were interviewing one city council member, here was JJs comment: "You know, every time I see that candidate, I think of the vultures from Jungle Book. Don't you Mom??" And he started to sing the vulture's theme song.... The silly thing is --- the candidate's face and hair actually does resemble those cartoons.

Maybe JJ should pursue a career in editorial comics. There has to be some promise of success, eh!


When I Grow Up...

Photo courtesy of J.C. Cookman

All your sons will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be your children's peace. Isaiah 54:13


Lazy Days

It's a gorgeous day here today. The sprinklers were going full force first thing this morning. They always seem to wake me up with a "Hello Miss Grace. Hope you have a wonderful morning today!" The sunshine on the grass makes you want to kick off your slippers and play. And not too far away from here there's a gorgeous beach or two. That's where you'll find me as much as possible the next few months, so I may be posting a bit less. So please don't worry - I'm still here in Sunny; I'm just foreseeing being a bit busier with some other stuff. Fun stuff. Good stuff.

JJ started his summer job today and we'll have to have some ice cream for dessert to celebrate. I have a small suspicion dinner may be the extent of his entertainment tonight....he's going to be a busy guy at his new job. And that's good. Hard work is good for one's constitution, eh!

Now Max --- he keeps very busy also. Guarding and Protecting and...resting up for times when he may be needed to guard and protect. You never know when a stray bunny, kitten or hummingbird may dare enter our property! Right now he's quite busy resting up underneath this chair...


Not Our Universal!

JJ and Honey, 2007
When I was a little girl, our family didn't go to movies. Actually both my parents were pretty convinced that wasn't a good use of time or money for the better part of their lives. Of course, when television came along and then movie rentals arrived...well, watching movies on the t.v. was certainly allowed. We just couldn't go to them. But I'm not going toward that whole 'don't cause your brother to stumble' debate today. We're just so sad to hear of the fire at Universal Studios.

We have great family memories of visits to the park through the years. One of us was completely petrified the first time the shark rose up out of the water inches away from our faces... One of us was picked to be part of the Star Trek adventure and just thrilled --- only to find out they would be in an enclosed box on stage. (I will not say who was so sad not to be acting in the 'good lighting'...) And then there was the first time we saw the courthouse and town square area used in the Back to the Future movies and so many others. Oh, my.... it truly is sad to realize so much was lost in the fire today.

I'm sure they'll rebuild lots of it. But we'll all know it's not the original New York street set when they re-create it. Just like we all knew it wasn't really King Kong inside that attraction. But we all held on just a little bit tighter when we rounded that turn now, didn't we!

We don't go to the movies much anyway; we wait for them to come out on Blu-Ray so we can watch on our system with the surround sound at home with our popcorn that will never taste as good as the stuff in the theaters. But thinking of the magic of Hollywood --- the only phrase that comes to mind right now is: "Thanks for the Memories!"