Yet more reminders that life is beautiful…

Heard the news from Sister, & have been watching the news & reading the occasional PB Article, wondering if & when I would hear the ‘bad news’ that my snack of choice, Skippy Extra Chunky Peanut Butter was on the roll-call of salmonella laced products. Alas, nothing yet.

And so, today, I celebrate with a spoon, a jumbo jar of Skippy, a plethora of Hershey’s semi-sweets, & a fresh-pressed cup of java. Ahh. Life is beautiful.

And if that wasn’t enough to bring me joy… all I have to do is walk into my office, & more often than not, meine Nichte, Ellie, is usually around to bring joy, a steady stream of yet unintelligible words, & a unstoppable quest for nanananana… here she is sitting at my desk reading my Bible… Ahh. Again….life is beautiful…

Last Saturday was the Memorial service for Francisco Aranda. I spent the majority of the time at the memorial cracking up over memories… discussions, my attempts to practice Spanish, stories about pre-Disneyland Anaheim, & my favorite, Francisco’s very practical take on theology… I’m truly happy that we have a hope past just what this life offers, as well as the promise that we’ll see each other again. His family has put together a memorial website & online guestbook – check it out HERE.

Francisco Aranda

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

This afternoon at about 2p.m. Francisco Aranda died.

He was a hero to me – & was one of the key people that God used in my early days here in Reno to keep me standing, living on task, & what it meant to be faithful to the call of Christ.

I’ll never forget his answer any time he was thanked for one of the myriad helpful things he had done, for the people he fed weekly, for the odd-jobs he did to keep the physical building of the church looking good, & the prayers from the church flowing. He always responded:

…unto the LORD.

Heaven rejoices today.


It’s #2 sons 14th birthday today – tomorrow, early in the a.m. he & I are off to San Francisco for a one-day speed tour of the City. We’re going to AT &T Park for a tour; to Ghirardelli Square for some chocolate & na-nas; to Pier 39 for… Pier 39. And maybe the Hard Rock Cafe. And then we’re off to the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. Why a hospital?

#2 son has been asking a lot of questions about my brother Johnny – wanting to know him, reconstruct his likes/dislikes, experience the personality of the one uncle that he knows only through pictures, a few home videos, & the stories of those who knew him. A part of Johnny’s story involves his battle with cancer – & UCSF is where almost 5% of his life was lived – for treatment, recovery, & the like. And #2 son wants to know this place – & as difficult as it is for me to go there, with the painful memories, sorrow, & loss… we’re going.

Makes me feel a bit pensive – leaves me wondering, examining how I see the world, or how I view it. The lens through which I see it, a lens that I believe I am responsible for putting on/taking off. Watching the news, checking in with Drudge, hearing story after story of the dismal economy, holiday season layoffs, record high home foreclosures, equally high number of bankruptcies, & a war in the Middle East that just doesn’t seem to get any closer to resolution… a lens of ‘reality’… reminds me that I want to, I need to choose something different.

I don’t want to choose negativity, to speak words of ‘reality,’ death, nitpickiness, complaint, slander, criticism, harshness, destruction – over & about me or others. I think that I’m finding that a person will find just what it is that is looked for. And if my lens is negative, down, destructive, ‘reality based,’ I will find those things – & think on them. Talk about them. Spread the cloud of negativity like a flu-virus in the wintertime spreads.

I’m challenged to take on a new lens, one that almost feels forced, like a new pair of glasses that have never been worn, all the while knowing that the new glasses are the right prescription, & they fit like they should – but I’m so used to ill-fitting, poorly prescribed glasses that the real deal, the good ones don’t seem right. Its upside down, & I want to be right side up.

The new lens is to look to enjoy life’s relationships – rather than to pick them apart as inadequate, to place blame where its due -instead to be a radical extender of grace, esp. where it’s not ‘deserved’… as if I have deserved it ever? To look for joy instead of sorrow – to hope & to be filled with hope, even when the ‘track record’ tells me otherwise. To have faith, to believe against all odds that the One I serve really is able to move mountains. To perform what He says. To rescue. To deliverer. To transform.

Maybe this makes me an optimist. A deny-er of so-called reality… So be it. And my answer to you is:

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia…. [W]e’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Puddleglum – The Silver Chair, from The Chronicles of Narnia

Here’s to looking for Overland.