CrossWise Living

Pure & Genuine: A Tale of Two Ruths

Tonight in a little village near the shores of Lake Victoria, a young African widow named Ruth sleeps, uncertain of what the future may hold.

In two days her world will be rocked by the Almighty God, who today is “doing exceeding, abundantly beyond what she could ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

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I am Moses

Welcome my friend, Nali Hilderman, history professor at San Diego Christian College, as today’s guest blogger. I recently attended a wonderful women’s mini-conference she presented and asked her to share some of her insights with us.

So often when I read the Bible, I read about the characters passively as though they are stories from long ago and I cannot really relate or identify with them.  However, there are times when I identify clearly with the thoughts and emotions they seemingly had.  One such person is Moses.  I often read the story of him as a prince of Egypt—something I cannot identify with at all, or as a shepherd—also non-relatable, and even the story of the burning bush is one that I cannot relate to all that much.  There was a time however, last fall

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Pruning Day

“The subject of pruning roses seems to strike fear into the heart of new rose growers. But it need not be so. If we remember that first and foremost, the goal of all pruning is to help the plant provide new growth and to keep it healthy by making it possible for air and light to filter into the middle of bush” (Pruning Roses – Rose Magazine).

“Prune: to cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of a plant to improve shape or growth” (The American Heritage College Dictionary).

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (Jesus – John 15:1-2, NIV)

Pruning Day Teamwork

My husband has learned that, each year, on the last day of his Christmas vacation, I am going to awaken, give him what I hope is a winsome smile, and announce that it is rose-pruning day.

He hates rose-pruning day.

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Tidings of Great Joy

I’m still ten feet from the classroom door, my arms full of musical instruments, when the potent smells of cuisine from Mexico, Iraq, and Afghanistan accost me. Nine AM is a little early for raw onions and garlic, coriander and cumin, but today is the Christmas party and the beautiful women I am about to meet in this room have spent hours preparing their best and most festive dishes. My son Jonathan teaches an English class for adult immigrants, and he has invited me to share some different musical instruments and to sing for them the Christmas carols that are part of our celebration of this holiday.

Each day 40 adults, many of them refugees, enter Jonathan’s classroom eager to learn the language that will help them unlock their dreams of freedom and prosperity in their new home. As I look around the room I notice most are women, some wearing headscarves, and all dressed professionally. They take this opportunity seriously, grateful for the chance their new country is giving them to improve their lives. One smiling woman tells me she is from Afghanistan; another man cheerfully corrects my pronunciation when I repeat the name of his country, Iraq. They tell me what a wonderful teacher my son is, and I beam with pride as I see him living CrossWise, reaching out a hand to help these men and women, most older than he, with the difficult transitions they are experiencing as newcomers to our nation.

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Little Giants, Going Down!

After an hour of sorting through the overstuffed iPhoto folders clogging my computer, I accomplished some necessary deletion and some happy recollection of the wonderful places and people I’ve seen in the past year. And I will admit it freely— if I found a picture where my actual weight and/or age were undeniably obvious, I hit delete. If you were standing next to me and looked fabulous, I’m very sorry.

As the year draws to a close, it’s good to spend some time taking inward inventory, reflecting on goals attained and accomplishments that should be celebrated. Today as I perused a year’s worth of pictures, what took shape for me was a list of things you probably wouldn’t have guessed I’ve battled this year. Since I am a musician, a teacher, and a writer, you might assume I do these things with complete ease. Not so. I call them Little Giants, and I am naming them because I want to acknowledge that God has continued his work in my life this year, helping me win some small but significant victories over various forms of fear.

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CrossWise Friendships. Part 2 of “A Simple Feast of Friendship”

CrossWise Friendships Mandy Thomas

I would like to introduce you to my friend Mandy Gervasi Thomas—photographer, nurse, poet, wife, and mom. I asked Mandy to collaborate with me on Chapter 9 of CrossWise Living: Navigating Transition. I pick up the chapter where I left off last time and Mandy’s voice will finish it.  


The Story Continues

A few years later, the phone rings and I hear the voice of Mandy, one of my visitors that pleasant evening. Married now for two years, she’s back in San Diego with her husband David for a short visit and wants to drop in for a few minutes that morning before they leave town.

Mandy and David arrive a few hours later with their new baby Judah, who has both a full diaper and an empty tummy. Things always seem to be going crosswise when there’s a new baby, and they’re running late. I suspect they might be hungry, as it’s way past lunchtime, and I’m pleased that they accept my invitation to join Jeff and me for a quick bite before they have to be on the road again. Fortunately, I’ve developed a new habit now that I’m cooking for just two—whenever I make soup, I double the batch and freeze it.

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Simple Feast of Friendship

Simple Feast of Friendship

May the meals that I prepare, be seasoned from above,
With Thy great blessings and Thy grace but most of all, Thy love.
So bless my little kitchen, Lord, and those who enter in,
May they find naught but joy and peace and happiness therein.
— Kitchen Prayer


A Simple Feast of Friendship

It is the day after Thanksgiving. What will I be grateful for at the end of this day? Hordes of bargain-hunters have set their alarms for the wee small hours of the morning and have arisen with a mission. I’m not above such frenzied commerce, but today I nod in its direction and am able to pass it by. Today is a blank check, and I will not spend it in spending.

What business would you have me about today, Lord? I’m mindful of the message from last week’s sermon: what will I choose to do today that will outlive me? The rest of my family members all have specific plans today—to see, to do, and to accomplish—and I’m now alone and wondering how to best use this treasure of an unscheduled day.

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Starring the Sun

Starring the Sun

 

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory.
Psalm 84:11

 

They call the high cost of living in San Diego a “sunshine tax.” We pay for the privilege of hearing virtually the same weather report everyday—70 degrees and sunny. The downside is that we face a looming water shortage, and many of us are now having to transition from lush green lawns to water-wise xeriscapes.

I’m not going to lie; I’m mourning the loss. I grew up in New Jersey, where playing on the soft and fragrant lawn lingers in my memory as one of childhood’s most sensual pleasures. There is something in me that recoils at the sight of rocks and bark and scraggly native plants. But times change, and so must we.

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Stitching a Work of Art

Stitching a Work of Art

When I say I’ve been a quilter, I mean I’ve enjoyed the social aspects of meeting together with other women in the church basement, learning how to turn old scraps into something warm and useful. During the years when I was home with small children, I enthusiastically churned out a succession of amateurish patchwork quilts­ for friends and relatives.  I loved doing it—I just never got good at it.

My husband and I still cuddle up under a now-ragged patchwork quilt I made nearly 20 years ago. It was never flawless enough to be mounted and displayed, but its blunt and unmatched points never prevented it from keeping us warm and cozy. They say Amish women would deliberately sew a mistake into their quilts as a reminder that God alone is perfect. I never had to be that intentional about it.

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Walking with Faith – Introduction

Walking with Faith -Introduction

Walking up to the edge of the Pacific Ocean is an exercise in steeling one’s nerves. Icier by far than the Atlantic, the Pacific does not beckon bathers the way warmer Hawaiian waters do; it dares you to enter it. It taunts you with its aquamarine beauty while it threatens to shock you dead from the cold. It’s much harder even than to stand on a pier and dive into a New England lake where it is all over in an instant. No, at the California beach you have to go shallow before you can go deep. Whether you dart in like a child or tiptoe in inch by painful inch like a matron in a vast black swimming corset, it’s a process. Never comfortable. Always worth it.

I’m not afraid of my shallow side. I recognize that you have to go wade through the whitewash before you can ride the waves. Not that I surf mind you, but I do know first hand the joy of riding in on a boogie board. Not with reckless abandon, usually with some thought of the possible chiropractic implications, but with joy nonetheless. The exhilaration of those few moments always begins with my having to grab the guts to get in the water, to assume the risk, to get out there and live a little. But you do have to go shallow before you can go deep.

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