Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Faith was Provoked

Life is never stagnant no matter what we think of it.  Even when we think nothing is happening life is moving.  It travels through a loop that is segmented into different seasons. Although these seasons are seemingly predictable in their nature, the intensity of the elements are unpredictable and so is our response to them.

Three days ago, our family was put in a very and scary situation.  We were on our way to visit my in-laws for an early Christmas get-together.  When we started our 6-hour drive, Tim was feeling an upset stomach.  He thought it was symptoms of stomach flu but he did not have the other flu symptoms.  We made it to the hotel but that night he could not sleep - he took some tums and other over-the counter stomach remedies but no significant effect was observed.  The following day we headed to my in-laws house for breakfast but Tim was increasingly uncomfortable - now in agony .  My mother in-law suggested that he goes to the ER which is five minutes walk from their house- really near!  He refused at first but then he thought he really needed to go see a doctor.  So we brought him there.  There was not waiting time he was immediately seen.  Brahms offered to go and sit with him.   After numerous texts from Brahms updating us on all the tests they were doing - they found something unusual.  His pancreas was inflamed.  That is very scary!  After five hours in the ER, and after experts did their share of interpreting the blood tests and images of his internal anatomy, they decided that they don't have a way of knowing what was causing the inflammation and recommended that he sees his doctor with all the reports they made.  They gave him pain medication to help him in the mean time.

That night as my drugged (hydrocodone) husband sleeps, I remained awake.  Induced by the unknown, thoughts, ran through my mind one after the other.  Like a storm bashing everything on its way into destruction, my imagination went too far.  And as a result I couldn't calm myself to sleep anymore.  I was too busy wondering how life would be without my husband.  My faith was provoked. So I prayed and prayed and prayed that night.

The following day, Tim was feeling much better,  He didn't need the heavy-duty pain med anymore.  He was fine with Aleeve,  He even drove half of the way home!  I praised my God!!!
Today, the symptoms are gone and he went to see his doctor as directed.  The doctor reviewed all reports from the ER saw nothing worth noting.  He wants to do another CAT scan after two weeks to see what he could see then.  So far, I have nothing to be scared about.  God is good.

The unknown is often frightening.  However, the knowledge that God, who knows all things, is on my side is comforting.  He does not shield me from experiencing the unknown because he uses it to shake me - to awaken and revive my docile faith into full energy again.  And yet, he is always there watching and making sure I am fine.  On the other hand, the blissful spring and summer of life, if I'm not careful, desensitizes me of God's presence in my life. When autumn and winter threatens to pluck away what I subconsciously replaced God with from time to time, my senses come to full alertness to the truth that God is the center of my life and everything I have is in his hands.

Let my faith grow stronger with every passing season 
- whether enjoyed or endured.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Change of Church Community: It is Like Moving To A New Neighborhood

Leaving one community to another.
I always thought that transferring church membership is like moving to a new neighborhood.  Leave your old residence and carry all that is important and start life in the new house and make it a home. Our old neighbors remain in the neighborhood until they decide to move somewhere else for one reason or another.

But why then do we feel betrayed when someone leaves the community to join another one?  Our beliefs and allegiance remain with us.  While we make tight friendships in church we take for granted that our faith remains not with the people but to God alone.  God is not monopolized by one community.  So if we feel betrayed when they leave is it because we believe that we have been the reason they were there to begin with?  The truth is, the community (or congregation) is chosen because it was a good fit at the time the family moved.  Unfortunately, the parameters for a good fit change.

Strangers in a New Place.
After 16 years, we left our old church community in search of a better place for us to grow as a couple and family. When we began going to the new place, everything was new.  Like going on vacation, the place does not feel or taste like home but we like it.  We were like tourists.  Everything looked interesting - the culture is different and fascinating.  We observed with caution and yet we wanted to try as much as we can in a given time without looking awkward - although we probably looked awkward anyway.😉

When people talked about how long they have attended this church that is when we felt like we are no longer at home.  Somewhere we once were the long-timers, but in this place we are the newbies. We got to learn everything, we got to meet the people, we got to be known by them - or else we would remain strangers.

Tourists No more.
One can only remain a tourist for so long.  There come a time when we cease to be content in watching and being in the fringes of the community.  There come a time when we want to do what the locals do for a deeper sense of experience and belonging.

Our family travels quite a bit.  And in our attempt to break away from the touristy experience, one of things we like to do when we're in a different country is to rent a house or an apartment that is situated where the locals live.   We get to shop at the local grocery store instead of the gift shops, eat at restaurants that cater to the residents instead of tourists, use the public transportation instead of shuttle buses that go from hotels to tourist places, and most importantly, we get to see how the inside of a home furnished by one of the local folks instead of a generic hotel arrangement.  Doing what the locals do make us feel like we belong.

Well, we have been slowly making our way into our new home church.  Attending the smaller gatherings and activities between Sundays; doing small things like bringing donuts to share; and participating in however small way we can in our capacity as newbies  - all helped in makings us part of the community.

New Culture
When we moved to El Dorado Hills, we didn't know everything about the place other than it was close to Intel where Tim would be working (15 minute commute!) and the our house because it had built-in Ethernet cables (this was important before WiFi was a thing).  But it turned out that there were more things than that.

We decided on Oak Hills for a very simple but uncommon reason - we agree with what the church is doing. So far, we are enjoying getting to know more and more of our "neighbors".  As we get ourselves immersed into this new place, a new culture is slowly pushing out the old out of our system and we like it that way.  We are open for change and improvement on the things that matter.   We are confident that He will always help us - so that we can be fully blessed as much as to fully bless others in our new neighborhood.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Random Thoughts About Thanksgiving

The pressure to impress diminishes the value of the feast.  Not only will it result in stress, it also defeats the purpose of the occasion which is to set aside a time to count the blessings we've received during the year and thank the God who graciously favored us.  Today Brahms reminded me yesterday to relax - just relax.  And I listened to him.  Today was a peaceful stress-free day!  And everything turned out great.

Early dinner is better.  Scheduling dinner at around 2 pm  eliminates the need for numerous hor d'oeuvres.  This relieves the hostess from preparing so many little things.  Today (Thanksgiving Day 2016) we did exactly this - dinner at 2 o'clock.  We ate dessert at around 5 pm after Tim and the kids played "Don't Starve Together" and after I finished my painting of crab apples.  A second dinner is in order as there are a lot of left-overs and a cornucopia of fruits sits on the table for eating.

And by the way, Tim did a great job grilling the turkey - which turned out beautifully golden with darkened wings and thighs and tender and moist white meat.  We used a different brand of turkey this time from an independent grower.  I was a little bit skeptical to begin with but ended up feeling happy and pleased with the quality.  Normally I have to rub the bird with a lot of oranges and lemons just to remove the strong smell of turkey but this one met my requirements when the packaging was removed and it delivered a delicious roast turkey.  In terms of aromatics, I put sprigs of rosemary and thyme in the cavity of the bird - and this I intend to repeat next year.

Thanksgiving is not the same when a family member is not present.  Shannon being in Madison leaves an empty space in my heart.  I now understand what my mother used to say when I was growing up.  (She used to work in Manila while I lived with my grandparents)  I am thankful that Miriam and Brahms still can be with us and thankful that we can talk to Shannon and still share experiences over the phone.  She might be far but we share the joy when she told us right before Thanksgiving Day that she got a raise and that she ran a 5K Turkey Trot early today.  God is good!

People think their food is better than yours.  No matter how you present your table spread, or how expensive the china you eat them on and the silverware you used to eat them with - it does not matter, people will still think that their food is better than yours.  This is not about you nor about them but it is simply because of tradition and experience that surrounds the table. Moral of the story:  Food pictures should not be the focus of social media posts on Thanksgiving Day. Just saying.

Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude.  Once-a-year exercise of gratitude does not do much good in the way we live.   However, if we can practice gratitude on a daily basis then we get the daily benefits of a calm and collected attitude regardless of our situation because we know where our help comes from.  And in turn we can love better.  Thanksgiving therefore is, more appropriately, a celebration of the completion of the year of gratitude.  That, I thinks, deserves feasting!  With the current way we perceive Thanksgiving, the mandate to be grateful tomorrow is missing.  In fact Black Friday ads tell us that we are inadequate at present and therefore we are all enjoined to get up early tomorrow to compete in the game of hoarders.  :)  

Give thanks, always.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Autumn Leaves Lie Undisturbed Now

In preparation for the rain that was supposed to come at 1:00pm today (it's 12:45 pm now and the sky is clear from any hint of clouds), I spent most of the morning raking and collecting all the leaves in the backyard.  And as I moved the leaves with my walis tingting to make a big pile on the lawn I remembered a time when I wished we had mature trees so that we can have more leaves in the fall.

Yes there was a time when I had to collect every leaf to add to a small pile that we had.  The kids would run and jump up and down and roll on it.  And then they would stop so that I could collect the leaves again into the small pile that they started with.  There was a year when we bagged the leaves so that we would wait for more leaves to fall and then dumping them back on to the lawn together to create a more substantial pile.  It was both painful and delightful to watch them.

Soon a time would come when we had enough leaves.  The three ornamental pears that flanks our driveway produced so many colorful leaves every year.  It was a beautiful time.  But then they were big enough so that we asked them to help bag the leaves - which to them was not that beautiful.

All the trees we have planted in our once upon-a-time-barren yard are mature now.   Along with that, my children have grown up - two of the three are not living at home any more.  The leaves are merely leaves that need to be collected now.  None of the noise and laughter around the leaves are no longer there.  And I am reminded of the lyrics of a song from  the album War of the Worlds,  "The autumn leaves lie undisturbed now, 'cause you're not here." I miss the days when my children were always together around me.

And as I worked against the wind in an attempt to collect every falling leaf before I called it a day, somehow I thought that young families when they decided to buy a place must choose something with a yard where the trees are already mature. We had it right when we bought our first house in Fremont but we blew it when we moved to El Dorado Hills.  Either way, sweet memories were made.

There is something about the falling leaves that triggers reminiscence.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Visiting Brahms at the Farm

Today we went to visit Brahms.   Although we all are excited to see each other,  Miriam always expresses her excitement more.  She seems to miss her sibling a lot.

 Brahms gave us an official tour of his stomping grounds - UC-Davis Student Farm where he works as the Lead Student Farmer.  He seems very happy working there.  He enjoys the people he works with and most of all learning new skills and knowledge - everyday.  At the farm they produce organic produce supplies all the Dining Commons  and other restaurants at the university.  It is a very sustainable farm and Brahms had a very pleasant experience as an intern.  Now he is one of the regular staff working the farm.

 As a horticulturist who worked on a research station, I envy his experience in production that I never had.  But as a mother I am very happy for my son.  I think that his experience at this job is making him a very responsible guy learning the value of agriculture, labor and people.  God is good to him.

Of course I had to have our picture taken by the vineyard.  :)   We had a fun day with Brahms.  And then Tim brought Miriam and I to the mall so that we could shop at Lush.  :)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Art: Retelling and Recreating (Part 2)

If art is retelling or recreating an experience for others to see which in turn results in our own sense of joy, then living is art in itself.

We live the way we do because we had experienced something.  We eat because we know it makes us feel satisfied.  So we feed our children or our pets.  When we give food to the poor because we know how it feels to be hungry and would not desire hunger on anyone else.

Art is sharing an experience.
One of the things that inspired me to draw was seeing an illustration of a plant in one of my gardening magazines.  I tried to copy it with my own hand and pencil; with careful observation and a a lot of erasing and redoing I was able to replicate the picture to some extent.  And after comparing my work with the original picture I felt a sense accomplishment.  Everyone lives the way we live because of our experience.  We experience something and because we think it is beautiful we recreate it.  Of course we all have our own criteria of beauty.

A long time ago, the bible tells us, God sent his son Jesus Christ to the world in the form of flesh and blood so that the world can experience Him.  Jesus Christ, in spite of his deity, came as a regular man to show mankind what a beautiful life looked like. God wants man to experience that life that delights Him so that we might be able to copy it.  It was not easy but He did it because he loved of the world.  The life he lived was so radical that some didn't see the beauty in it.  However, some saw it very clearly.  So starting with his disciples, people begun to mimic and retell the truth that they experienced. The apostle Paul, for example, was so  convinced that he had a sharp grasp of that life - he writes in a letter to the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 4:16), "Therefore imitate me."  He had a first hand encounter with Jesus Christ which changed the way he understood God and the way he lived because he believed.  In turn he urges the church to recreate what they experienced and he helps them by modeling Jesus.  Like a model on the runway sporting a piece of clothing based on the way the designer intended it be worn, Paul was living his life according to God's design copied straight from Jesus' life.   Through his writings the story is retold to us even now.  Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can experience Christ the way the early believers experienced Him.  As Christians it is our purpose to recreate our experience of Christ through the story that we live.

Art requires practice.
Some of the artists I admire, I found out, have been drawing for a long long time.  Some of them have been drawing for 20 years before they became known!  Basquiat for example started doing art when he was four!  And here I am in the second half of my life learning to draw an apple - with much difficulty.  But that's alright.  Art can be learned at anytime.  The only thing required is to start doing it - and practice.  Will my drawing of an apple ever look like that of Basquiat?  No, because I'm trying to copy a real apple fruit and I practice at it.  As a Christian will I ever love the way Jesus Christ lived?  No. Because God is still working on me.  But God in heaven can see whether I desire to retell His love and practice bit by bit everyday.

Paint God's love for the world to see.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Art: The way I understand it (Part 1)

I am currently teaching myself how to draw and paint. The process is rather slow because of my lack of knowledge about the topic.  But I don't mind because there are other lessons I learn along the way every time I pick up my pencil and paint brush.

So far, I am beginning to understand that...

 1.  Art is recreating a personal experience. In painting or drawing, it is recreating what we see or imagine;  in gardening it is the careful arrangement of plants that we know reflects beauty that we had experienced at some point;  in cooking there is art involved.   When we tell someone about a movie we saw - it is art.  When you write about a thought that crossed your mind - that is also art. When you exaggerate to mimic a presidential candidate you don't like, that is an exercise of art!  We recreate our experience for others to get a glimmer of the original experience.  

Art is a personal expression.  And this expression varies in style depending on the depth or focus of experience.  That is why art is interesting because they are always different with every artist.  As Ralph Ammer puts it, "learning to draw means to learn a new language - your language."  Don't worry if your artwork does not look perfect.  It is based on your own experience and imagination - and only you know what's in your head.  My daughter Miriam often tells me that my drawing does not have to look exactly what I am copying - as long as it gives the impression of what I intend to portray.  It is alright to paraphrase.

2.  Art is meant to be shared.  When we engage in art we bring to light what we have witnessed - either physically (as in fruits on a table), mentally (as an imagined story), subconsciously (as in a dream).  Art is meant to be shared and not the other way around.  When art is used to get something back, then it begins to become business.   This is when art begins to loose its intended value.  We share art so others can experience it also.  In some ways art is an aid to living in a community of people.  Not everyone can have a firsthand experience of something and so we bridge the gap through retelling and recreating.

3.  Art is a choice.  Either we do art or not at all. Sometimes we just decide to remain as consumer of  someone's artwork.  All the years that I was raising my kids, there were colored pencils everywhere in the house.  I hung my kids artwork on the walls or on the fridge but I never pick up a pencil to draw anything.  But I chose other forms of recreating back then.

In this age of the internet and social media, it is easy to remain a consumers.  We see something, we like it, and when feeling adventurous - click and share.  And there you have it.  We're done.   It is a noble thing to appreciate other's artwork but solidifying our own experiences by recreating them help us understand things around us better.  Take advantage of the world wide web platforms to make a statement.  We can produce something to share to the world.  Never mind that it is not grand.  Never mind that others seem better than you.  You have your own style and your own experience to recreate or retell to share.

When I posted one of my earlier sketches on Facebook, one of my friends asked me if I am not worried about possible comments or feedback about my artwork.  And I said, no.  Because I do not have anything to hide or to defend.  I didn't have any training at all and I do not claim to be a master.  Any feedback at that point is a lesson I need to learn.  :)

With these thoughts in mind, it seems to me that living is art in itself.  And I will talk more about it in my next post :)

Is living an art form in itself?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Superstar and Judge

A couple of nights ago we went to see Casting Crowns and Matt Maher and Hannah Kerr in Concert.  It was good to see the whose voices are the tunes that I like to sing and listen to.  My family has been a big fan of Casting Crowns for as long as I remember.  I do like the style and the lyrics of Matt Maher's music but I just learned his name before the concert.  Hannah Kerr is a promising artist - I like her songs.  However, the point of this post is about something else.

Every once in a while during the concert, the lights would be directed towards the audience.  Maybe to reassure the performers that the people are enjoying and therefore to be encouraged.  With my cell phone I was able to capture a picture of the people standing and singing with M. Maher.  When I looked at the picture the next morning, it occurred to me that the sight could have been a miniaturized version of what we can look forward to when we get to heaven: People of all nations singing together praises to the Lamb who was slain.  It is a beautiful sight!  To imagine that the whole world of believers will be in there singing to the Lord is hair-raising.  And yet, the bible says that only a soft glimmer of what's to come is all we know and can imagine.  I think that God wants to surprise His bride. I'm fine with that!  What has been revealed to us are truths we must treasure as anchor of our hope until we get there.

One Person on the Throne.  In heaven the Superstar will be on stage - the throne.  "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor  and glory and power, forever and ever!"

Our favorite band will not be on stage. We will not be screaming because our most respected artist speaks of something we believe.  We will not be whistling at the musical rhythm nor screaming at the drummers' boss beat.  No.  We will have undivided focus on the true superstar - the only one worthy of awe.  He is the only one we will be praising.  Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.

We attend Christian concerts but most of the time we are fan-girling the artists.  Yes, we close our eyes when we sing the lyrics that says "Holy Holy Holy..." but it is highly questionable whether we are focused on God.  When we hear the artist say something we believe is true we scream.  I doubt that we are screaming at the paraphrased truth from the bible.  Maybe it is as simple as the thought that my pet artist is theologically correct.

One Person-Audience and Judge.  Here on earth before we get to heaven, we are on stage during our whole life - to please an audience of One - God.  Here on earth his eyes are on us.  Our approval rating is determined by Him alone.

The ratings we get from the people we respect are null when it comes to our eternal position.  The spotlights on the people we so favorably followed in our days will be turned off.  And we will stand in front of God and we will be measured based on how much we loved and obeyed Him.

I am reminded of the presidential candidate Donald Trump when he said that he thinks he won the debates based on polls done by different agencies and he names a few including ABC.  But according to Stephen Colbert, ABC did not do a poll.

It is sad that we live our lives trying to get high approval rating on all accounts but often times we are using the wrong polls to determine our success.

If we analyze the lyrics of the songs of these artists, we get the message.  Because they based their songs on the words of the bible.  But in the Christian life there is a great divide between knowing and living out a truth.  Like a little kid getting carried away by the box instead of the toy inside.

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."  ~Psalm 139.23

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Grace and Hospitality

"The grace and hospitality we receive from God at His table compels us to offer grace and hospitality to the 
hurting and broken in our world."  
~ Mike Lueken  

Today at church we had a communion service, as with every first Sunday of the month.  Pastor Mike Lueken talked about the table - the communion table - as an example for us to follow in the way we lead our lives in this world.  Indeed, the table depicts a picture of the ultimate grace and hospitality even shown to mankind.  Based on Ephesians 2:1-10, we were undeserving of God's grace but He chose to grant us mercy so that we could join Him at His table. Through faith we enjoy an abundant life with Christ.  But it should not end there.  Instead we are called to extend the same (maybe not the same but even just a percentage of what we received) grace and hospitality to others.  This hospitality is not always in the form of material things but of kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding and all other good things,  I know from experience that it is way easier to judge and reject than to love someone who does not measure up to our standards. And yet the communion table reminds us that we were dead in out sins, but we were offered life.  You and I were not the last walking dead in our circle.  It is about time we live according to the life that we have been given.  A life born of mercy, grace and hospitality.  

This week I will find ways to be intentional about extending grace and hospitality starting with the people closest to me and then radiating outwards.  Help me God.

It has been three months since we started attending at Oak Hills Church.  One of the things that I appreciate is that Communion is handled in a solemn way.  Communion is taken very seriously at Oak Hills.  And that's a good thing!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tim Turns Forty Eight

Tim reaches another milestone! God is good - good to my husband, good to me, good to my family - for every blessing that God gives him the whole family benefits in turn. Every birthday is a milestone - a reminder to recount the blessings of the past providing more courage and confidence to face the next one. The past reminds us of the grace of God that sustained us along the way.

Every year is different and we adjust to the changing dynamics of our family and our situation in general.  When Shannon went to college our tradition  to have all children on every birthday celebration changed.  While Brahms is still in Davis (45-minute drive from home) this year, he will be finishing up his degree next summer and he will also move on.  There is a possibility that he will be in a different continent by this time next year.  Does that mean that we will be celebrating with only one child at home?  Maybe.  But until we get there we do not know what the Lord will bring.  In the meantime we are grateful for every blessing and grace that we experience.

His birthday this year was a full busy day.  We started early with his requested breakfast - a tradition in our family to request your choice of meal for the whole day of your birthday.  I posted the following summary on Facebook today.  

1. After I greeted him happy birthday in the morning I asked how old he is.  He said. Forty eight.  I am not old.  God is old!"  So he pulled out an old CD and we listened to the song, "Old" by Paul Simon.  What an appropriate song!

2. He spent three hours alone while I attended a class in art.  I told him to reflect on his life but he said no. He went instead to discover new things that he wished he knew before.  Also he bought some games he wanted to play with us.

3.  Miriam said, "Daddy if you got one Pokemon every year you would have Rhydon by now! And that is cool!"

4.   We hiked the beautiful Avery Pond Trail after a lunch date at the cozy Farmhaus. We talked about the relationship between getting old and the mind that drives mobility.  We that as age, it is important to train our minds so that it will be

5. Had a fun dinner with two of our kids - the traditional dinner of course with a different dessert. Played Dominos and Mad Libs together including our Shannon through Skype. It was actually very fun! Thank God for technology!

6. And before the night was over, I whispered to him, "I like to think that when God formed you He had me in mind." :)

7. God is good!

Together we will face the future with humility instead of fear because we know the Lord God is always there with us.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Change in the Menu

Every year since we got married, Tim has requested the same menu for his birthday dinner.  And every year, he enjoys every thing in it as he did the first time I was at his birthday dinner - as prepared by his mom on the first year of our marriage.  Our children know and have learned to love their father's birthday dinner.  I like it because I don't have to think every year.  I know exactly what to buy, when to start the process and it is very easy.  The same thing is served either it is only the family or when we invite people over for his birthday for a bigger get-together.  But this year is different.  He wants to change the dessert portion of the menu.

Few days ago as he was talking to Brahms on the phone and he mentioned that it will be Angel Food Cake instead of have German Chocolate Cake.  Brahms' response was, "Who are you?  and what did you do to my father?"  :)  Miriam is fine with the change but I am not sure what Shannon thinks about it.  Maybe the fact that she won't be here to experience the difference - she won't care.  I'm guessing she'll say, "It's his birthday.  He can choose whatever he wants."

I think a change from a German dessert to a more heavenly alternative is in order!  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Because I take so many pictures on any given time, I thought that, every end of the month, I will post choice pictures of the month - those ones that I did not already feature in other post but reflects what happened that month

School starts :  Books are covered with brown paper.

Tim looks old compared to Elisha :)
The yard looks cooler than it felt

Spending more time in learning to draw

Hummingbirds provide daily entertainment
August is like the last month of pregnancy.  You know you have just enough tolerance for the tormenting heat of summer as you look at the depressing gray/brown appearance of the once-upon-a-time green plants - because you know you will get a relief sooner or later.  It is the time when we are all ready for the change but when we get there we'll find out that we're not prepared at all.  Nevertheless, life will go on and we will survive - and with the right attitude we might even enjoy the ride.  :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Story Behind the Shell

Sea Snail Shell

Sometimes even a simple picture can initiate a story.  While Tim was on a business trip last week, I sent him a picture of my recent drawing.  He texted me back:

"Where did you get a shell like that?"

I didn't respond because Miriam and I were just leaving the house to go on a date.  So we get to the place and ordered our food.  As we waited I checked my phone again for Tim's message(s).

"I have to admit that at first I thought it was a cinnamon roll? :) "

"Wait,is it a cinnamon roll?"

"I'm sorry."

So I answered back, "Lol it's a shell."  But during the time Miriam and I were at the restaurant I kept trying to understand why he thought it was a cinnamon roll.  And figured out that it must be the highlights that looked like cream cheese frosting.  So I thought maybe I'll change the color next time.

Days later he comes back from his trip.  Miriam tells him of the struggle I had in figuring out his interpretation of my drawing.  Lol. And the revelation was hilarious.  He was right the first time in thinking it was a shell. Whew!  I was relieved to know that I can draw a simple shell!  The cinnamon roll emerge only because I didn't reply to his text immediately.  He thought I was offended, therefore he had to work harder to interpret my work.  A cinnamon roll might be better!  And because I still did not respond after that more enlightened response, he began to doubt again.  At this point he was really lost but he is so sure I was really mad.  "Why is she not responding? What is it really?"   There was a burst of laughter in the house.

And the moral of the story:

My silence doesn't always have something to do with you 
or what you are thinking.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

One Sunday Morning in August

Pie and Milk for Breakfast
 It's almost two months now since we started going to Oak Hills Church in Folsom.  And since we attend the first service at nine o'clock, our Sunday mornings have been earlier than it used to.  Unlike before when Tim was the only one who had to get up early, we all get up early now.  Which means that when we eat breakfast during this time of year, the sun is right there at the table with us. :) Last night we had apple pie for dessert because Tim just got back from a trip to Taiwan and by default we have pie for breakfast the next day.

Even milk looks better when it is in the morning light. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Gossards

The Gossard family visited El Dorado Hills! 
The last time Daniel and Becky came was when Eden was a baby.  This is the first time Alex and Elisha came to El Dorado Hills.  And they had the full experience because they came on a really hot summer day - a defining feature of our place. They were such a bunch of troopers!

And of course, for as long as my camera batteries are recharged, I would take pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites.  It turned out that Alex is very photogenic.  :)

Alex, Elisha and Eden

Eden in Focus


She was sitting so low that I wondered how she would eat her food.

Alex in focus.

The Gossards:  A moment in time.

They so reminded us of the days when our house had three little children. Looking back now, I see a very happy chapter of our life.  If I were to start all over again, that would surely be one part of my life that I would repeat. :)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Defining Marks

"Peaches" in colored pencil (8/3/2016)

In developing my new hobby, drawing, I have been using things that are found in my garden as my subject.  This summer, fruits seemed to be the obvious choice.  Being in close proximity, I thought that I would have a better grasp of the appearance of the fruits and the relationship between light and shadow on their form. I found out that I have no mastery of the fruits I have been eating and growing in my garden.  Take the peach for example,  I may be familiar with the general appearance but I found it difficult to draw and depict that general impression of a peach even if I am actually looking at a picture to copy during the process.  At first it came out looking like a lemon and I would have been happy to call it so but the leaf did not match the fruit. Oh, the joy of teaching myself something new.  I'm sure that there are instructions on how to do these simple things but I want to experience the process of discovering the marks that define an object.  There is indeed a deeper sense of understanding required in being able to duplicate what we see as beautiful.

Life presents us a similar structure. We are always copying something and Christians for example are called to copy the life of Christ. The question is, what is the rate of success in producing the Christ-like appearance in their lives?  We have a general idea of what a Christian should look and we admit that we live that life and yet we still need to tell others that we are Christians.  Should it not be enough that others look at us and know that we are?  I have learned, as clearly depicted through my attempts in drawing, that it is the small details of our lives that define our true form when we are exposed to light.  A slight deviation from such details will distort the image.  This makes me think of my own life.  What image does my life illustrate?  Do people see a picture of a follower of Christ?  If not, what defining marks am I missing?

"An unexamined life is not worth living."  Socrates

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sweet Sixteen

Miriam is sixteen!  As if it was only yesterday... It was a very hot day when I had to go to the hospital to have a baby, my smallest baby.  Now she's not that small anymore.  She has grown to be a beautiful smart, confident and considerate person. As much as I would describe her siblings as such, but she is completely different and unique.  God was gracious to give her to us.  

At sixteen...
Boss Drummer 
Four AP classes
Braces in place
Long term friend of Becky Carmickael
Owns a bunny and a dove
Traveled alone on a multiple-legged trip
The only girl in the group "Half and Half"
Successfully denied hope to several admirers but remained as friends
Filed a thousand songs in her playlist
Avid fan of "Hamilton".  She can sing the whole sound track.
Wears Converse shoes - primarily in primary colors.
Has a good friend named Keeton West. 
Legally permitted to learn to drive. She's a calm driving student.
Loves Macaroni and Cheese, Brie, Cheese Curds and Caesar Salad
She thinks she and I can eat a whole tub of cream puffs while watching television
Has a high-paying job dog-sitting three dogs.
Been to eight countries, so far.

 But then again, she's only sixteen...I can only imagine what God has in store for her.  God Bless my daughter so that she will walk closely with Him.

Friday, July 29, 2016


Here is another recipe that we like to make at home and now I am writing it so that my children who are away from home can make it - to remind them of home.  

(Based on Anne Burrell’s recipe)


2 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
2 Tbsp


1.       1.  Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

2.      2.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 4 tablespoons olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

3.       3.  Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, and then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

4.       4.  Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

5.       5.  Coat a cookie sheet pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.  (Note: This may seem excessive, but focaccia is an oily crusted bread. This is why it is so delicious!).

6.       6.  Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan.  Make sure the other side of dough is also coated with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough. (Chef's Note: Yes, this is strange. But when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.)

7.       7.  Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 30 min. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

1.      8.  Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse sea salt and lightly drizzle a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.
2.              Eat :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

R Street - July 2016

G-Ma: A Profile of Maturity, Balance, Stability and Beauty.

Ninety Years Old. If her life was a garden,it would have reached climax community - fully mature, balanced, stable and distinguished.  A life like hers can only be described by the wealth of experience and depth of wisdom achieved through years of growing.  All of us who know her are aware of her godly and loving character.  My kids like her a lot - and in spite of the generation gap, they think she's a cool great grandmother.  

The Gossards
Paul and Pam were so kind to bring the whole family together to celebrate the occasion.  They made all the necessary arrangements necessary for the multi-generation family to have fun including opening their beautiful home the night before we all went to Mattole - where Carl and Paula hosted us in "paradise".  

G-Ma with Paul and Pam
Because everyone was there, we had a family worship service at the R Street House.  Pam made a beautiful program where Tim gave the message on "How Not to Waste Your Life"; Daniel led the singing accompanied by Paul; and the some of the Lewis kids were given turns to read the scripture. It was very nice to part of a family where everyone share the same faith - old and young ones alike. 

G-Ma and the Latin/Classics  Girl
Mom (Marilyn) and Johnnye made sure we all had a great breakfast on that Sunday.  Served from the iconic G-Ma's kitchen and unto the plate-decorated dining room, nostalgia made the food taste really good!  It is like one of those days when we used to go to G-Ma's house and be awakened by the irresistible smell of food and the comforting sounds from the activities in the kitchen.  

G-Ma and the Software Developer

G-Ma and the Percussionist

Elisha: The youngest of the Gossard Clan

G-Ma and the Farmer Anthropologist

G-Ma and the Nerf Gunner and Duke Owner

The Family on R Street
We look forward to more years of making memories with the family - to imprint more of God's words into our hearts so that we can impress them on our children; to spend time with each other as we live out the knowledge we are learning about our Maker so that those outside our families will know that we serve Him.

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” 
~ John Barrymore