We live in the desert and it’s beginning to roast. For now it’s mildly in the 90s but we know it’ll soon hit above the 100s and the Husband will blast the AC whenever he is home. When he’s not home, our house stays at a cool but comfortable 78-79 degrees. He prefers temperatures equivalent to his work/hospital setting, which is basically freezing and I cannot stand–the constant AC rumble and air blowing into my perpetually runny nose. If only we could build him his personal cold room.
But enough of my rant.
There is so much to sigh and complain about, especially when I think about society at large and Kanye running for Presidency (what!); it takes conscious effort to refrain and change my mindset to gratitude, to think about His sovereignty and that everything, no matter how absurd it may seem, is according to His plan. The least we can do is submit to His commands in humble obedience, to care and love for our neighbors, make effort to do what I can socially (e.g., voting, supporting local businesses, etc.), and to be thankful for the life we were given, the life that was purchased through His Son’s blood. Though there may be much chaos in the world, peace can be found within Christ and the gospel, and that gives me hope and sanity when I feel myself beginning to spiral down my mental blackhole.
We still have many months ahead of social-distancing: of crafting, creating, exploring, reading, reflecting, and studying.
Here are five things that allow a bit of unwinding and de-stressing:
Cooking new recipes: If you’re like me, you might have already been pinning, saving, collecting recipes from cookbooks, magazines, blogs, etc. Lately I’ve been referring to Alison Roman’s Dining In. I know, I know; she’s been recently scrutinized for her insensitive, callous remarks regarding a few well-known non-white female entrepreneurs, which was/is horrible and it was so disappointing and saddening because I’ve been a fan of her cooking/videos, but I purchased her book before the incident and her recipes are…well, pretty good. I hope she does make effort to change her way of thinking and speaking. One cooking lesson I learned in my 30s is that I have a flavor profile and chefs/recipes also have flavor profiles, and in order to find a “good” recipe, our flavor profiles must match. Not only must they match, they must also be accessible. Alison Roman’s recipes match my flavor profile and her ingredients are (mostly) simple and accessible/adjustable. Recently I tried her bronzini recipe, which was basically baking/roasting 2 bronzini fish from H-mart with slices of lemon, and it was simple and delicious with rice. Anyway, my point is, experimenting with new recipes and finding ones that are tried-and-true will be worthwhile even after this pandemic.
Netflix’s EurovisionSong Contest starring Will Ferrel and Rachel MacAdams was a lighthearted film with catchy songs. Dan Stevens also stars in the film, and his character is so ridiculous/funny! Because he played my favorite character in Downton Abbey (as Mathew Crawley), he has become one of my favorite actors, and because his character in Eurovision was the complete opposite of his Downton Abbey character, it was all the more hilarious to watch.
Disney Paper Parks: Disneyland closed its doors since late March and having been an annual pass holder last year with hopes to continue to visit this year, we’ve been missing the monthly excursions. So sad. hehe. Disney Parks Blog released a paper craft activity that recreates Main Street with parade items. I haven’t tried it yet, but I printed it out to craft with my daughter this month.
Gardens: We haven’t ventured out to public spaces, especially ones that are indoors, but I think we may be able to visit gardens this summer/fall. There are a few botanical gardens I have had in mind, and they have been slowly re-opening with limited capacity/tickets. As long as everyone adheres to wearing masks and these outdoor venues are limited in capacity/tickets, I may dare to venture out of my home.
Drive-in Theaters: There are a couple drive-in theaters around where we live, and we’ve attended Street Food Cinema once or twice in the past, and the change in scenery allows for a brief refreshment, even though the activity of viewing a film may be frequent and mundane. My daughter is always down for staying up late, watching a movie, and eating snacks.
I didn’t realize how similar my dad and I were until recent years. He and I are drawn to the arts and philosophy/literature, we are reclusive/introverted, skeptical, insensitive realists. Sympathy and empathy are difficult for us, whereas my mother (and sister) are more of the dreamers and emotional, passionate types. But I didn’t know I was like this and I didn’t know why my dad was how he was while I was growing up, so as a child, I saw him as a distant, often angry, figure.
Now that I’m older and I somewhat understand his history and personality, I appreciate his efforts in trying to be the father he never had. Life was never easy for him, and to make it more of a challenge, he chose the most emotionally, mentally, and psychologically draining career–ministering to people. Similarly, I chose a career in teaching, which took a toll on me in similar ways. For introverts like us, it was an odd career choice where it was our duty to be close to people, talking to them, and teaching/leading them. (What were we thinking?!) But alas, the Lord uses the odd ones, often the inadequate, to reveal His power and plans. After decades of toil, my father has finally settled as the Lord has used him and grown His church and he lives his life shepherding God’s people while physically working on his land as God has intended man to live.
Here are a few life lessons I have learned from him:
God comes first, in everything.
Cling to God, trust Him, call out to Him.
Study the Bible.
Have faith; do not be anxious; God will provide. (Luke 12:22-31 is his way of life) — this is how we’re different. I am an extremely anxious person, which affects me mentally and physically. I think my brother is similar to my father in this regard.
Oh, my lov-e-ly lov-e-ly (pronounce the separate syllables to make it sound like her) mother. She may not be the most graceful and elegant woman she imagines to be, but she has her charms. She is boisterous and her laughter is contagious, she tackles problems head-on, she has a tender heart and is the opposite of my often unresponsive father, her enjoyment and commitment to studying the Word is honorable, and she is passionate. It took me nearly twenty years to appreciate her intended motives and efforts, and what I came to realize was: she tried to the best of her abilities. She wanted a better life for us (me and my siblings) and though things did not turn out the way she wanted/expected, we know that God works in mysterious ways. I was subtly rebellious and did not like the idea of obedience and conformity–so foolish, I know. To tame and love such a sinner–the Lord knows the grueling task that was given to her and the struggles, agony, tears along the way. I am humbled and ashamed by my sinful past, and now as I raise my own child, I hope I can cling to Him as she did.
Here are a few life lessons she has taught me by example:
Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed—and gazed—but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
I may have posted this poem before, but it’s one of my favorites and it came to mind this morning as I was washing the dishes. I unconsciously recited the first line in a random tune, “I wandered lonely as a cloud…,” and Elaine asked if it was a Winnie the Pooh song.
On March 6th, 2019, Elaine witnessed her first rainbow. We were driving down to San Marcos on a rainy day to celebrate my father-in-law’s 60th birthday. It had been raining all week, all winter, and rainbows were nothing new. But Elaine had been in school, at home, at church, indoors mostly because of the rain, and she never had the chance to see the magical colors paint the sky at the right moment in the right place, when the rain stops and sunlight seeps through the clouds causing light to refract and reflect to form a rainbow.
We pointed to the faint rainbow almost camouflaged by the colorful hills, and she yelled, “A rainbow! A real rainbow! I’ve never seen a real rainbow!” Then the rainbow disappeared because we were driving away, because light works in funny ways, and she was sad to learn that they didn’t last.
A few minutes later, we witnessed another rainbow along the road and I exclaimed, “Another one! Look!” and pointed to the left of our path. “God wanted to show Elaine another rainbow,” I thought, and surprisingly another rainbow appeared, and another, and another. I think we witnessed at least five on our drive down, and the very last one was painted over the poppy fields. Patches of orange against green hills, and a giant rainbow gracing itself across the green, down to our road, exactly on our path,
and we drove along the rainbow road,
with a pot of gold on the other side shining with golden poppies.