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Monday, April 4, 2016

REFLECTIONS ON A SPRING BREAK
MINI VACATION TO TURLOCK, CALIF.
and I Peter 1:3-7



 
We, me, my man, my youngest son, and a very nice friend of our boys--ukuleles included--drove down to Turlock where one of our sons is in a group home.  We are encouraging him to stay there when he turns 18 in a couple weeks, but he can walk away from 3 hots and a cot, and choose to be  homeless.   Of course, we realize that living in a group home is far from ideal, is downright awful sometimes, but it is providing him a way to finish high school (in another year) and get some job training.


 
Fortunately, I--so unlike myself, procrastinator that I am--was able to think far enough ahead to secure lodgings .  It was barely above Motel 6 style, yet since Modesto, Ceres, and Turlock were completely booked up for the weekend (imagine that!), we were thankful for what we got.  So, we left Saturday morning, and two hours later picked up our son and ate at Red Robin for lunch.  After we stuffed ourselves, he got an a complimentary hot fudge Sunday for his birthday which we were celebrating whilst we were there.  Then we went to the movies.

 
 
I highly recommend "God's Not Dead II."  It was far and away better than the first one and very enthralling.  It was just what our son, and the rest of us needed, along with tissues.  Then we grabbed some fast food for dinner and went back to the movies. 


Okay, I'll admit it: my man and I saw "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."  It's nice to be able to sit around in a huge room and laugh with complete strangers, often, very loudly, and continuously.  I did, however, have to move to different seats three times due to people coming in and sitting by us wearing overwhelming perfume. The boys enjoyed their pick, "Zootopia," or something Disney like that.  We were all too full to even order popcorn.  (That's a good thing because popcorn makes me want to drink soda, and soda makes me want to get up and climb over people a couple a times in the dark during a movie to go to, well, you know where.  It's not a good thing.)



 
 
Here's how one conversation with the birthday boy went...I said, "Your sister's neighbor had a bat removal service come and get bats out of the roof of their house, but then they all went to your sister's house instead by the thousands.   So they had to get the bat removal service to come get them out of their roof next.  He looked so puzzled.  Then several minutes later he said, "OH!" When you said bats, I was thinking baseball bats."  By the thousands?  In their roof?  Hmm. 


 
It was time for us old folks with young'uns to go back to the smelly hotel.  Fortunately, we were tired enough to go right to sleep.  In the morning we picked our son back up and took him to church with us.  It was a wonderful place of worship with four services a weekend, one on Saturday night and three on Sunday morning.  (Talk about a full parking lot in between services!)  Our young men chose to go to the youth service in another building.  On Easter Sunday, the church had 7,000 total for the seven services they offered with nearly 300 accepting the Lord.  The facilities at the church were outstanding.  I especially liked that they used art work all across the platform under the screens to enhance worship, rather abstract but fitting canvases of the ocean, plants, crosses and ? Well  like I said, it was abstract art.

 
One of the worship songs that was sung is a favorite of mine by Gungor (the wife half of Gungor is a second cousin of mine on the Stovall side.)  We sang, "He makes everything beautiful out of dust."  I was sitting by a  nice guy covered with tattoos one of which was a cross on his neck.  He leaned over and said, "That song makes me want to cry."  During the meet & greet time when he asked and I explained what we were doing there so far from home, he said, "Well, jail is a good place."  He obviously meant, that's where he found Jesus...(not that Jesus was lost or locked up, but was a visitor that could go right through the bars and into his heart.) I understood what he meant: God can use tough love. 


 
The church even offered a small group called, "Troubled Minds: A Christian Response to Mental Illness," to help families and people who have been impacted by mental illness.  I never thought I'd say it, but for a moment there I wished I lived in Turlock, a very fleeting moment.  (If you remember from an earlier blog post, our son has bi-polar and does not always make the best decisions i.e. he wants to leave because they unjustly try to make him eat spaghetti for dinner when all he wants to eat for days on end is peanut butter and jelly.  Go figure.


 
The associate pastor who preached gave us the Word,  I Peter 1:3-7
 
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again
to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable,
and undefiled and will not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you,
who are protected by the power of God
through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice,
even though now for a little while,
if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
that the proof of your faith,
being more precious than gold
which is perishable, even though tested by fire,
may be found to result in praise
and glory and honor at the revelation
of Jesus Christ..."

 
Did you notice "Living Hope?"  It is not stagnant, nor perishable; it breathes in and out with us.
 
While listening to the pastor preach an excellent sermon, my mind went back to earlier in the week when I was reading "History Tidbits" online in Pinterest.  (Yes, I do that.  Don't you?)  One tidbit said that once upon a time, living rooms were called death rooms because the parlor was where the coffin would sit, the deceased viewed, and where wakes would be be held.  In 1910, The Ladies Home Journal declared, "No more!"  The rooms should be called the "living room."  Well, we can say, "No more!" We have a "living hope: no coffin, no wake, but a resurrection hope.  Where do you live?  In the death room or the living room?  The pastor reminded us that there were  7,000 promises in God's word to give us hope. 


 
"I pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe in him.  This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 1:19-20


 
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confidence HOPE will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us,
because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love."  Romans 5:3-5
 
Thus, we will hold onto hope for our son that he may be "protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed."

 
So, on the way home I realized that we probably were the only car between Sacramento and San Diego with two young men playing ukuleles in the back seat, perhaps the only car on the road that very day in all the United States with two young men playing the their ukuleles in the back seat, with the possible exception of Hawaii, of course.  The music was better than having a mariachi band along as accompaniment for our drive back to Marysville. 



This is Israel.  He played a version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow,"
that is a new classic, a music sensation.  He also played Christian songs.  I don't think he would
have fit in our car, so we took two smaller uke players instead, though they haven't
learned to play the classic "Somewhere..." song yet.
 

 
We arrived home to find out that our big baby, our Springer Spaniel Maggie, cried the whole time we were gone while being dog-sat at our daughter's house, the bat-less one.  But, it was nice to climb out of the car and see and smell the purple irises that bloomed in our absence.  So, how was your weekend?

 
A boy sandwich: mine are the on the outside.
 

 
 


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