Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Grey Stone of Repentance and Forgiveness

The pastor passed out a grey stone to each of us this morning.

"A pet rock" I joked, and we laughed. Some sermon about Jesus being the rock of our lives, I presumed.

During the service, Andrea and I held our stones in our hands.....touching, inspecting, holding close.

My stone was smoothly oval and speckled evenly on both sides with dark gray patterns of dots. Andrea's stone was even smoother, but it had flaws, including one deep scar. We eyed each other's stones.

I liked her stone better than mine.....I admired its beauty in spite of, or because of, its white scars. Andrea being a semi-obsessive perfectionist with engineering/mathematician leanings, I could tell she liked my perfect stone better than her flawed one.

So I suggested we trade, and she quickly agreed. I carefully traced my fingertip along the stone's deep gash, as I admired its sensuous curves. Andrea smiled contentedly, and with relief, as she held the perfect stone.

And then the sermon (on having a healthy relationship with the Holy Trinity) ended.

And the pastor asked each of us to come forth, and....................drop our stone into a bowl of baptismal water, dropping our fears, our worries, our sins into the water along with our stone.

Realizing that we were attracted to our stones because of our mutual weaknesses, Andrea and I glanced at each other in a holy moment of panic.....what, God??? Uhhh...what?

But I stood up, as did she, and we ventured forth to the altar, with Ron (who looked at us quizzically) and everyone else.

She dropped her stone into the water, then received a blessing from the pastor.

I followed her, dropping my stone....along with deep decades-long pain....into the sacred water, and received a blessing from the pastor.

I asked our 14-year-old daughter later.....did you drop your perfectionism into the water with your stone?

She smiled sheepishly, "Mom, it's a long journey................ But I heard God, and yes, I tried."

Friday, September 23, 2005

Grooving in the City by the Bay

Without question, San Francisco is my favorite US city to visit. With fascinating museums, world-class symphony and opera, scintillating restaurants, gorgeous parks and public squares, cozy coffee nooks, superb shopping, simply the best bookstores south of Powells in Seattle and east of New York City's publishing circles.... San Francisco can keep a literate & liberal foodie like me busy for days on end.

today's San Francisco Chronicle, here's a sampling of just the upcoming weekend....

"Throngs will converge on the city Saturday for four events: the Love Parade and Celebration, the anti-war demonstration, the 33rd annual San Francisco Blues Festival and a night concert at SBC Park featuring the popular band Green Day.

Sunday has nearly as much going on. Besides the second day of the blues festival, hundreds of thousands are expected to converge at another locale, the Folsom Street Fair. Both events start at 11 a.m.

Also on Sunday morning, 5,000 people are expected to take part in the Komen Race for the Cure at Crissy Field to combat breast cancer. And Sunday afternoon, more than 60,000 people will pack Monster Park to watch the San Francisco 49ers take on the Dallas Cowboys. "

Sounds like a truly delightful time in the vibrant City by the Bay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Neighborhood Palm Tree

Lightening struck a neighborhood tree last night.

The tree was an sky-scraping palm, healthy, strong and scruffy with age. It must have been decades old.

Ron walked past it this morning on his way to work. He said the tree was still smoldering. When Andrea and I drove past it on her way to school, the street was littered with bark and frond debris, as though the tree had exploded when struck by the blinding electric current.

The palm tree was blackened in mid-truck, where the lightening struck, and it burned from there to the ground. It still stood tall and proud this afternoon, but was greatly weakened.

City engineers chopped the tree down about an hour ago. It's gone now....only a lovely memory and a stump by the curb.
Our lives are like that neighborhood palm tree. We can be decades old, healthy, strong and tall one day....and gone the next.

It's good to remember that God doesn't promise us tomorrow. And to enjoy the blue skies and balmy breezes of today.....

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Waiting for God's Pull, Following His Will, Learning to Rely on Him

Two years ago this month, I started blogging when I started my first (and favorite) blog, this one. I had just learned of this new medium, and instantly felt led by God to particpate and express myself in it.

By August of 2004, my social justice and political views were smothering my private thoughts here at The Crazy Woman, so I started a second blog,
Heart, Soul & Humor, which is devoted to "Blogging Beatitude Policies --- Unexpected Views on Democracy - Christianity - Sexual Politics - Culture Wars - Wall Street - Everything but the Kitchen Sink." Almost overnight, reader traffic at Heart, Soul & Humor doubled my traffic here. (I found it a bit amazing that people were actually interested in what I had to say....but interested they were.)

In October 2004, my beloved son-in-law,'s editor/guide to portable entertainment, casually suggested over family dinner that I apply to be a writer/editor for He thought I would adore writing for one of the cooking sites (which I would!).

Honestly...I was stunned. What did I....a middle-aged wife, mother of three and soon-to-be grandmother, happily retired from the corporate world...have to offer a a top-15 cyberspace destination site? Yes, I had a few years of home-based ecommerce and eBay experience, and yes, I can write, and yes, I have passionate views. But I certainly had no big-deal qualifications.

So I forgot about his idea. For about six weeks. One day, a few weeks after the November 2004 elections, I ventured a peek at I noticed that the Liberals Politics site was open and soliciting applications. Seems that post-election, the understandably discouraged Liberals guide/editor resigned or was terminated.

And again, I felt the unmistakable tug of God, urging me to apply for the position. So right then and there, I did. I poured my soul into it....explained my passions, my limitations, my enthusiasms, my experience, my lack of credentials. I emailed it into oblivion, and again forgot about it.

I decided in December 2004 to shut my two-year-old eBay bookstore (cookbooks and Christian books, mainly), for lack of adequate profits. Too much work, too much competition, too little margin. I prayed to God for a new direction, and I kept blogging at my two blogs.

On January 7, 2005, I was completely surprised by an email from saying they were impressed with my application, and that I would be given an intensive ten-day tryout starting on January 10 to build a site for US Liberals at

They say God's timing is perfect. In retrospect, He clearly answered my prayer, and His timing was , indeed, perfect. Now please understand...when I tackle something with all my heart and soul and mind, it tends to be excellent and usually reflects my sometimes-buried tendency to perfectionism.

I gave it my say the least. God sat right here with me during long days and nights, as I stretched my creativity to capture this gig that I thought was, in reality, beyond my reach. I landed the gig.

Now please know that I majored in journalism and non-fiction writing as an undergraduate at UCLA. My high school journalism teacher pronounced me a talented writer, and even my sixth grade teacher told me that I was good at sentence structure and vocabulary. This was and is my gift....

I've always admired the New York Times above all other newspapers and news mediums. Always. I could never imagine a higher writing privilege that to write for the Grey Lady. It was an unconsidered fantasy.....never a tangible goal.

So when it was announced in April 2005 that the New York Times acquired 100% of, I cried and thanked God. I really did. He answered a prayer that I never dared to ask of Him. Some people climb Mt. Everest because it's a's there to conquer. The New York Times was my distantly admired, unattainable Mt. Everest.

My site went live seven months ago now, and I consciously continue to exceed what the powers-to-be ask of me. I have something to say; I feel strongly...very strongly... led by God to say it; and God has provided a highly credible, well-traveled, public place for me to say it.

So here I am, two years after I first started blogging. When I do a search of the phrase "liberal politics" at Yahoo, Google, Dogpile, MSN or any other number of leading search engines, my US Liberals site is now usually the very first listing. #1. At Google's new blogsearch service, my site is also top-ranked there.

Now...uh, what now? I feel like God is leading on to something else, in addition to this gig and my blogs.

But what? This entire path was unplanned. For the first time in my life, I unquestioningly followed God's lead,and I learned to really, truly rely on him. Turned out He had a marvelous plan for that was marvelous far beyond my imagination.

So once again, I am asking God how He wants to use my writing gifts. I now have the credentials to publish books and the track record to expand my ministry.

But all I am doing is praying. I've learned to wait for God's pull, and to rely on His will for me.

It certainly seems to work.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Sweet Baby and a Lovely Young Woman

Our baby started high school today. The sweet baby we longed for.....the cheerful toddler who wanted nothing more than to be with us....the elementary school student who proudly brought home armfuls of papers each day, beaming as we admired each masterpiece....the gawky middle schooler who fretted to us about dances, the cool people and her hair, her clothes, her everything.

This morning I reached to hug my baby before she left for high school, but she was already gone. Instead, I found a lovely young woman...poised, smart, pretty, and ready to take on the world with values, intelligence and a love of God.

To say we are proud of her is a vast understatement. The better statement is that we are blessed to be her parents. We've given her sturdy roots, and her wings are developing beautifully.

But as loving parents, we already miss our sweet baby...even though college is still four years away.