Friday, February 28, 2014

CA State Capital Field Trip

Today we went on a field trip to the CA State Capital. Studying CA history is required of fourth graders in the state of CA. We don't have any fourth graders...and frankly, none of our elementary students will graduate while we live in CA....but we love to explore the history of the area where we are assigned so off we went. 

We arrived early - but discovered our van wouldn't fit in the parking garages near the Capital building. In this garage we were told to find a spot on level 1 or 2; maybe we would fit on level 3, but never level 4. The problem being, once you are IN the garage there really is no way out except to plow ahead. I was SO HAPPY Michael was with us on this trip for many reasons. When the top of the van scraped a sign on the way to the 4th level I knew I would not have survived this situation. Michael had three kids and I head over to meet with the group while he and Nolan maneuvered on up to level 4 and discovered that any car may be a compact car in the right circumstances. 
The tour was good. I LOVE the architecture of these old buildings. We learned many interesting facts....assemblymen and state senates early $150K a year PLUS $150 a day per diem.....Jr. may want to consider moving from TX to CA.  ::snort:: 

The Girls were willing to pose

Zander with new friends from PWOC home school room 

A couple of families couldn't make it at the last minute, but we still had a good group. 

Although these animals look like rabid badgers we were assured they ARE grizzlies. 

Group outside the Governor's office

In our Assemblyman's office - Arielle said she felt the power - She thinks if she could have had just a few more minutes she could have taken care of many things for the state...including the DMV. 

I was interested in what a state assemblyman may read....

We looked around for a place to eat downtown and didn't find one. Our plan had been a picnic on the capital grounds but it was too wet. We split forces here. Tricia, Kaleb and our crew went to find the Native American and Spanish/Mexican seals.  The kids noted a truck set up on Capital grounds and thought it may be food. We adults decided to preview what we thought was a museum exhibit. It was the Traveling Wall: the "Wall that Heals" - which was really interesting. 

We never found lunch in the Sacramento area. We ended up stopping in Wheatland on our way home. This was a great trip and I'm glad Michael ended up coming with us. We prayed for CA with new understanding tonight. 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Following Requires Radical Commitment

Luke 5:1 - 11 (Matt 3:18-22; Mark 1:16-20)

I wrote about this call to follow previously. Luke provides more details on the calling of Simon, Andrew, James and John than Matthew or Mark. In the details I see Jesus  and myself.

First, I somehow picked up the idea in Sunday School that these four were rough, poor, uneducated. They were sitting around with  nothing better to do and Jesus offered them the chance to change history. The facts show a different story.  These are BUSINESSMEN. They have partners (Lk 5:7,10  and hired servants (Mark 1:20). I checked my thoughts and found several commentaries pointed out that fisherman would have made a better than average income in Israel.

Picture these men at the end of their work day. Fishing is said to be best at night on the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Gennesaret) and best out in the deeper water; they've fished all night.They are cleaning their nets before going home to eat, sleep and start again. They are taking care of business. They are doing life.

Jesus gets right in the middle of Peter's business. I don't recall Peter offering to be a floating stage for the traveling Rabbi. Sometimes, it Jesus shows up right in the middle of our business/life, uninvited. We have a choice.

Peter makes a choice. He could have told Jesus to find another boat. He didn't. He obeyed. He submitted to the Rabbi and put his boat out.  Jesus continued teaching to the crowd. Peter made the right choice.

Jesus finished with the crowd and turns His attention to Peter. "Let's go fishing!"

Peter has another choice. He had submitted to the Rabbi in religious matters, allowing Him to use his boat for a  floating platform. Fishing is Peter's area of expertise! Jesus wants him to go fishing now....he tries to explain the facts to Rabbi Jesus, but in the end he again submits and they go fishing. In this transaction Peter is responding to Jesus as a Rabbi, not as the Son of God.

It's as if Jesus is saying, "Watch Me, Peter!" The catch is huge, the nets begin to break, his partners come to help, their boats are full and begin to sink.

In the midst of their business, these men are suddenly seized with amazement. Peter falls at Jesus' feet and cries, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!"

What caused this response from Peter? He hasn't appeared sinful. In fact, his actions have been exemplary in his treatment of Rabbi Jesus.  He  loaned his boat, obeyed in religious matters, obeyed in his area of expertise and followed what appeared to be  a senseless request. Peter may have been feeling pretty good about himself and his humble service to this Rabbi. He was racking up some good temple brownie points. He's a good boy. I'm a good girl.

I believe Peter (Andrew, James and John) recognized in this moment  Rabbi Jesus was more than a teacher, he was God. Peter's response is raw and authentic. He sees God and is overwhelmed with his mess, his sin...he's instantly  "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3). He is stripped of all pretense. He has no desire to hide. I AM SINFUL.  His response mirrors Isaiah's call in Isaiah chapter 6. His response mirrors mine.

Via Google Images
Jesus tells Peter to "fear not." You're not stuck in your mess. In fact, I have a plan. I'm going to use you. I'm going to use your vocation as a background for your call, I'm using your personality (which will be conformed to My image), I'm even going to use your friendships. What a gift Jesus gave these men - to continue their community -  now their partnership will bless the kingdom and have eternal results.

I love that this call fits Peter. He will be fishing for men - catching men. He transforms their vocation and uses it for His purposes....much as the shepherds, Moses and David, became shepherds of Israel.

They left everything and followed Jesus.

"Fishermen made a better than average income, so leaving their job is an act of radical commitment that they would expect to adversely affect them economically."  (Bible Background Commentary - IVP)

This following Jesus is life-changing, big stuff. This following required a radical commitment of Peter, Andrew, James and John. It was more important for them to authentically follow Jesus, than it was for them to "live the dream," keep to their plan.  It's more important for me to authentically follow Jesus than it is for me to walk out my plans. That's just the way Jesus is - sometimes - He shows up right in the middle of life, gets personal with us, and nothing is ever the same again. He does what He wants.

And heart's passion is to follow Jesus.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Elder Gherkins Update

Some days or seasons are just monumental for a family. 

Big things are happening this week with our adult Gherkins and we love cheering them on. Here's a quick update!

  • Jamin placed first in both the 1 mile and 5K races at his first track meet of the season - 22 Feb. 
  • Jared was hired by a San Angelo Law firm! Woot! He will have to continue working at his service job for a bit longer - but this is a step in the direction he wants to head. It should look good when he applies for law school. 
  • BreZaak as well as CyBee love being married (just thought I'd throw that in). 
  • Krista was nominated for "Classified of the Year" - this is through the school district. She says she won't win -  it is nice to be recognized and nominated all the same! 
  • Jamin is writing a thesis for his graduate studies with a working title of, "The Effect of Human Trafficking on National Security." He interviewed a former Ambassador to NATO yesterday. All went well and he may have help getting it shown around when he is done with it. We think this is a God thing as the topic is one which concerns us both as Christians and American citizens. 
  • Krista is going on a mission's trip this summer and will spend approx 6 weeks living at an orphanage in a foreign country. Arielle will be joining her. 
  • Jared is speaking at the above event on his college campus on the 5th of March. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 3 years. 
  • Jamin broke the University's 10K record on the cross country in workout he ran even faster. Since he graduated in December, and immediately enrolled in the University's masters program, he is allowed to race this last track season. Maybe he'll beat his record at a track event. 
It's been a good week to be a Gherkin. ::snort:: 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Blessed Normalcy

I realize blessed, heavenly, normal days are slipping away as I don't make time to blog. 

We are double timing on school for a couple of more weeks. That take significantly more time than normal. 

We ARE making time to enjoy this for at least an hour most days of the week: 

Yikes - need to call the optometrist for contacts

and This...

We all enjoy the park differently. 

And....even when the weather is 70 degrees outside, and we are enjoying the bright sun...Japan is not far from our hearts and minds as evidenced by the sidewalk art I found. 

Yes, even though we love and are content with the bright sun - we can't help missing this...
The snowiest air base in the world in Northern Japan.  

We've had a couple of friends over to make logistics easier for their Mom and Dad. 

Wednesdays are always full. Our day began with a shared ride to base with Michael so we could go to PWOC.....then we had lunch and a commissary run...and PICKED UP OUR VAN with a brand new fuel pump. Michael says the van is a work of art....wait for it....a Van GO. 

Wednesday night we enjoyed Family Bible Study at the chapel. Well.....five us enjoyed the discussion of Romans 15 and one of us played quietly at the table with her band-a-loom - it works. 

Late at night - finally home again - I remembered the clean sheets needed to be put back on the bed. This cracks me up - the lengths we go to try to make the sheets play nicely with the new mattress topper. 

It is raining today! This makes me happy. We need to do lots of school today so we can visit the state capital tomorrow! ::grin:: We won't be tempted by the perfect weather. 

Oh yes, we've had DMV issues this week - maybe that will be another post...or not...and great things are happening with the older Gherkins....that needs to be another post....but for now...time to hit the books...table school is over and it's time for couch school. 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


Luke 4:1 - 13; I John 2:15 - 16

I have a few thoughts on temptation. 

Temptation is not sin. My response to temptation may be sin. 

I'm struck by a few facts in this passage. 

Via Google Images
1. Jesus' fast was most likely over! It would not have been "sin" or breaking a fast for him to have turned a few stones into bread.  It would have been indulging the cravings of His flesh, looking to another to provide His needs other than Abba, God. 

2. Jesus knew the Word. He didn't argue with Satan. He simply quoted the Word. 

3. Resist - and he'll leave you alone. The tempter leaves - but he'll be back. (4:13)

This reminded me of another passage. After warning about loving the world, John goes on to say this in I John 2:16, "For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful man, the lust (cravings) of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but of the world." NIV.

While studying I John, I reached the conclusion that Satan often tempts us in three areas:

  • Cravings of our flesh
  • Cravings of our eyes - what looks good to me
  • Boasting - which tries to meet my needs outside of God's provision
I've watched this pattern as I come across other temptations in the Bible - Adam and Eve's Fall (Gen 3), David and Bathsheba (2 Sam 11) and Jesus' temptation, here in Luke 4. 
  • Satan appealed to the cravings of Jesus flesh (4:2-4). Just turn a few stones to bread. Satisfy the craving. 
  • Satan appealed to Jesus' eyes (4:5-8). He attempted to lure Jesus with the world's glitter. 
  • Satan attempted to get Jesus to do God's will outside of God's purpose and provision  (4:9-12). 
Since temptations will come - from my own flesh or from Satan's hand; since I see this pattern in several cases of Scripture; it is wise for me to be alert! 

What appeals to my flesh? What looks good to me? Where and how do I try to meet my needs apart from God?  I must deal ruthlessly with these areas in my keep temptation from becoming full-blown sinful habits.  Your areas of cravings and temptations will certainly be different than mine - but that's what I love about the gospel. It's about relationship. Walk with Him and He will show you where your areas of weakness are - and then you are wise to alert. 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Picture of Jesus

Luke Chapter Four

I'm in search of an accurate picture of Jesus. If I am to be like Him, I need to see Him clearly.  If I'm to follow him - to walk in abiding fellowship with Him -  I need to recognize Him. I'm watching and observing Jesus - in daily life, in Scripture reading, in Bible studies, as we study the 7 "I Am" sayings of Jesus in John.... Who is this One who is fully God and man? Who is this One who has captured my heart?

As I read through the gospels, I am careful to observe Jesus. It is easy to gloss over stories we've heard before, pet doctrines, pet peeves.....but where is Jesus? What is Jesus doing? How does Jesus act? What difference does Jesus make in the story? How am I to act if I am a follower of Jesus. Where does Jesus lead?

In  Matthew I see Jesus as a King. In Mark I see Him as a servant. In Luke?

Luke sets out to write a detailed and chronologically correct accounting of Jesus' days on earth (Luke 1:1-4). I suspect I will learn much of Jesus in this gospel.  Luke chapter four is FULL of life lessons and great teachings....but I am captured by Jesus. I am captivated by the glimpses I catch of Jesus - here at the start of Luke's gospel.

  • Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit (1) - am I? 
  • Jesus is led by the Spirit - even in the wilderness  (1) - am I? 
  • Jesus was led to temptation (much to say on this) 1 - do I assume temptation is due to my weakness or do I understand there are times when I am led by the Spirit to face a temptation - and I grow. 
  • Jesus wasn't taken in by one quoting Scripture and "sounding" supportive of God's plans (9 - 12) - I have been. 
  • Jesus functioned/lived under the power of the Holy Spirit (14) - do I? Or do I try to fulfill God's purpose with my power? 
  • Jesus taught in synagogues (15-16, 31-33, 44). Often I picture Jesus  railing on "the church" - ministering at  mountains, seasides, meadows...but Jesus is often teaching in the church of His day. 
  • Jesus' teaching was gracious (22) - Is mine? 
  • Jesus' taught with authority and power (33- 36). Do I? Where would this authority and power come from? Am I dwelling with Him? 
    • authority over demons
    • authority over disease
  • Jesus spent time in seclusion (1-2; 42) - do I value time alone with the Father? 
  • Crowds did not distract Jesus from His God-given purpose (43). Am I allowing distractions to the purpose I know I'm called to live out? 
  • Jesus KNEW His purpose (43) - Do I know my purpose? 

I want so much to be like Him. This will only happen as I spend time with Him, as I listen to Him, as I surrender my will to His and obey Him. It will only happen as I follow Jesus. To follow I must recognize Him.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Role of Repentance

Thoughts from Luke chapter 3. 

  • John fully embraced God's mission/path for his life
  • John was a man of courage
  • John faithfully delivered God's message (crowds, religious leaders, Herod) - he sought to please God and not people
  • John paid a price for faithfully declaring God's message (Luke 3:20; Mark 6:25)
  • John preached repentance AND forgiveness (Luke 3:3)
  • True repentance produces changed conduct (fruit) in our lives (Luke 3:8, 10-14) - Transformation! 
I expected to go one way in my meditating, study and prayers...but God led me another. 
Via Google Images

Repentance is an old fashioned word. I have heard enough sermons to know it means "to turn 180 degrees" to "go in the opposite direction," but this a.m. I took the time once again  to look it up in some Bible dictionaries. 

Metanoia (3341 - repentance)  in its simplest form means - "change of mind/moral reflection". The verb tense used is imperative - making this a command. WE are expected to change as a result of God's call to repent. WE are expected to respond to His call.   Some verses seems to say God GAVE repentance (Acts 5:32, 11:18)  but scripture seems clear God will not force repentance on a person.  I believe repentance is an act of man in response to God's call - only possible through a move of God's grace. 

Faith is the final step of repentance.  "As eternal life is unattainable without faith, faith is unattainable without repentance."

Repentance brings salvation to us, but it does not necessarily bring deliverance from the consequences of our wrong choices and sin (Esau Heb 12:17; Lot Gen 13:8-13, 2 Peter 2:7; Life of David). This is sobering. Repentance is not a magic eraser taking away all consequences and guaranteeing us only sunshine from this moment forward.  Our choices matter. Choose well. I am compelled to point out, God's mercy walks with us through the consequences of our sins. 

Repentance causes me to change from living a self-centered life; to living a God centered life.

Repentance is expected to create change in my actions. (Acts 26:20).

Why is this important? 

Conviction leads to repentance. It is hard, unpleasant and painful to face our true selves...but if we gloss over this stage we run the risk of short circuiting the acceptance of true faith. In our concern for other's pain (or our own) we can rush past conviction and repentance to get to the good stuff - forgiveness, a clean slate, eternal life.  Without repentance there is no faith. Faith requires a change in our thinking, our conduct, the center of our lives. Faith requires repentance. 

We must not rush the work God is doing in ourselves or in another. We must let conviction lead to repentance, which leads to forgiveness and is HARD to stand by and watch God lead a loved one through these stages....but we dare not interfere unless God is clearly telling us to do so. We "travail" in prayer on their behalf. We let them wrestle with the One who will become their greatest Love. 

 I see many who actually believe they can "meet God," claim the name of Christ, and live unchanged six days of the week.  Repentance makes this is impossible.

Are there counterfeits of repentance? Sure. Can the call for repentance become legalistic? Sure. Should we ignore repentance because of this? We dare not. 

Definitions and  quotes from Vines NT Dictionary, Strongs and Dr. Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. 

Choosing Joy!

©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Fellowship and Breakdowns

I woke up at 0500 to have time to make a main dish, salad and spend time in the Word before leaving for Sunday School at 0830.  Today was the start of our monthly Fellowship Sundays - and it was great! We enjoyed the opportunity to share a lunch and more leisurely conversations with those with whom we share Sunday worship.  I took a couple of shots.  (We also deemed it name tag Sunday, which is very helpful for new chaplain families.)

This room got full as folks made it through the line - we'll soon be able to have tables outside too

We had a great service, great lunch, helped clean up, got gas and decided to stop at the trailer to see if Michael's watch was there. It wasn't. The van wouldn't start when it was time to leave. We had to get this hunk of medal to the gate's censor before we could leave the lot.....

 Yes, these are staged photos. I "drove." They pushed. I laughed when Michael shouted, "Faster, faster." I wasn't quite sure HOW to make it go faster...the concern was I would put the brakes on as we neared the gate.

We are VERY thankful to Scotty. He picked Michael up and drove him to the auto hobby shop. They were closed. He then drove us all HOME. We'll stay here today. The security forces are aware that big red is parked outside the trailer storage lot and that we are trying to get it towed. 

What a blessing it is that this happened ON BASE, when Michael was WITH us and FRIENDS were nearby -  and not on the side of the road or downtown when I was alone with kids.  It hasn't been giving us trouble....but it certainly stopped cold.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Sneak Peaks of The Wedding

Love these shots from Izaak and BreAnne's wedding

3 Generations

This is a great family photo - isn't it? 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Fun at Fairy Falls (Beale Falls)

Directions at end of post. 

We went exploring today and had fun in "Northern" California.  We had heard about "Beale Falls." A quick search showed  it is also commonly known as "Fairy Falls," or "Shingle Falls."   The trail head is at the site of an old mine in the Spenceville Wildlife and Recreation area. It promised to be an easy 5 mile hike (in and out).  We were warned NOT to go on opening weekend of Turkey Hunting or some other hunting season - but this weekend didn't hit any of those. We set out after the kids' Japanese lessons were over. 

It WAS easy...through meadows, along streams....nice roads...and then we reached this spot. We picked a trail that we later learned wasn't a trail at all.  It WAS fun....and we DID eventually meet up with the Upper Trail and made it to the top of the falls. We went straight at this sign - on to a trail - we "should" have gone right and straight and we would have stayed on one of the main, cultivated roads. 

It wasn't bad - its just that the cows weren't happy to see us and one was we put Michael in front....and texted Krista that we were climbing through cow pastures up the side of a hill - which came a bit later. 

Even off road wasn't terribly challenging....

Picnic at the top 

I wanted my toes in water - and Yuuki wanted to rest. LOL 


We came back down the main trail and it was a walk in the park. LOL 

 Mistletoe au naturale

 Don't look for State park signs - look for sharpies. ::snort:: 

Poison Oak

We found our first cache.....and it was hilarious. Michael and Zander got up close and personal with the cows....and looked like insane tourists...but we loved them for it....note the hilo dragon in the same spot as the black cache. 

Foundation of a house

The well

Looking for cache number the sky....

I was more interested in the giant pine cones

We found a rope swing over a swimming hole. No one was dressed for swimming...but Arielle goaded Zander into trying the rope.....

Then did it herself...

 Zander was NOT happy to get wet....

Nolan decided to take the gamble

We knew SOMEONE would eventually fall in....and she was the one in shorts! It's all good. 

Yuuki had been having a lovely time rolling in the she went swimming too. Some day she'll learn cause and effect....she seems to enjoy this tradition now. 
Today was a beautiful day for a hike. We keep pinching ourselves to be sure it is the end of February. It was 70 degrees today!

We discovered it's much shorter to go through the base and out the Grass Valley gate if you have base access..... Back at home we ate left overs, Michael worked on his sermon some more, the kids and I soaked in the hot tub, showered, AND now we're going to watch Belles on Their Toes.  I had planned to cook for tomorrow's Fellowship Sunday - but I'm going to have to get up early. I'm wiped out. LOL

From the base: Go out Grass Valley Gate on to Chuck Yeager Rd. Turn RIGHT on to Waldo Road - it's a marked dirt road.  You will shortly see a shooting range to the LEFT. Continue past the range all the way to the end where you will a wooden decked one lane bridge. Cross the bridge, turn LEFT onto Spenceville. You will come to a road on the right - but follow the LEFT and continue until you come to a big turn out on the LEFT for parking. There's a yellow gate and a sign that says "Falls" and points the way.

From Marysville: Drive east on Hammonton/Smartville Road. Go past the first Beale AFB sign - turn right on Chuck Yeager Road (used to be Smartville Rd) - you are heading towards Beale AFB. Go about 5 miles and turn LEFT on to Waldo Road - it's a marked dirt road.  You will shortly see a shooting range to the left. Continue past the range all the way to the end where you will a wooden decked one lane bridge. Cross the bridge, turn LEFT onto Spenceville. You will come to a road on the right - but follow the LEFT and continue until you come to a big turn out on the LEFT for parking. There's a yellow gate and a sign that says "Falls" and points the way.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...