Food, Jesus, Michigan

Sparkle and Roar & a February Fix

Sundresses, cotton skirts, khakis, good jeans and tidy shorts were streaming toward the Tabernacle. Our casual beach clothes were swimming against the current, heading for the beach.

“I’m starting to feel kinda’ like a heathen,” I whispered.

“I’m not,” she replied with confidence.

“It’s not so much that I feel like a heathen,” I corrected, “it’s more that I kinda’ feel like they might think I’m a heathen.”

“And I feel like I’m dissing my people by walking right past them.”

“Why?,” she asked. “You don’t care about ‘dissing your people’ any other Sunday.”

True, I thought, funny how I consider fellow Christians “my people” when I don’t know them, when I’m out of town.  They look so much shinier and friendlier as strangers. I think I just like the Christians I don’t know better than I like the Christians I do know.

“Maybe it’s not the people, maybe it’s the music, the call to worship. We’re walking right past the call to worship.”

“God is calling me to the beach,” she said with certainty as she steered me toward the path that leads to the lake.

In order to get on the path you have to walk right alongside the Tabernacle, with its open windows and full pews and wafting music.

The walk of shame.

“Must have been an intentional design,” I said, “back when the church was that way: ‘Sure you can go to the beach instead of to worship, but we see you. And we’re praying for you.’”

“Good, they can pray for me,” she quipped, “I’m going to go be dazzled by God.”

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And we were.

I recorded the surf for about five minutes. For a February fix, when it’s -2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here, you can have 35 seconds of it, in case you need it in February, too.

The sparkle and roar of the waves is as much a call to worship as any man-made song. I love the way the waves hit the beach and then scurry sideways along the shore.

After I made my movie,  I thumbed through a couple of books. My daughter, Stephanie, and I were away for the weekend on a personal retreat. The retreat center had a library, which was great because I forgot to pack something to read. If there had been WiFi or a decent cell signal, I would have read you, my blogging friends, but, alas, I borrowed a biography on Hudson Taylor and one on George Sweeting.

“Never suppress a generous impulse.” – George Sweeting

Every waitress and barista we encountered for the rest of the weekend benefited from that quote.

So did the panhandler and the street musician we encountered on Monday. Except it kind of bugged me afterward that I gave the same amount to both. I should have given the musician more. He, after all, was contributing something beautiful to my day.

We encountered a panhandler on Saturday, too, and I didn’t give him a dime. 1) I hadn’t yet been inspired by George 2) I felt no impulse toward generosity 3) He annoyed me.

I probably would have given him a dollar if he had just simply asked me to help him out. But he gave a long, annoying tale of woe about being from Chicago and being left by his buddies and it costs $15 for the megabus and his buddies were arrested in their hotel room and his story went on and on and changed as it went.

If we had been a scene in a movie, I would have held up my hand to stop him and said, “No, ‘cuz I’m not liking your vibe.”

But in real life I’m nicer so I just listened and nodded and, when he was finally finished, said, “Maybe I’ll have some change on the way back.” Knowing I wasn’t going that way back.

In real life I can be a tiny bit of a liar.

After spending the morning on the beach, we headed to town for lunch.

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lunch with legends

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Can you identify all four?

After lunch Steph ducked into a public restroom before our long walk through town, along the canal and out to the end of the pier.

She returned with a story:

Senior Lady 1: “I’m so glad I brought that chair with me, it puts NO pressure on your body.”

Senior Lady 2: “Oh yeah, when we walked over to the other bathrooms we saw those chairs everywhere.”

Senior Lady 1: “I didn’t want to be rude to Mary, but they only hold up to 250 pounds.”

Senior Lady 2: “She shouldn’t buy one.”

Restroom fell quiet for a minute.

All of a sudden one of the senior ladies started singing “Blessed Assurance” to herself in the stall.

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The pier at sunset on Saturday.

Sunday night we watched The Joy Luck Club on my laptop because there are no tvs on a personal retreat. I’m going to have to read the book now because I have unanswered questions.

I wondered whether there is some thing I should tell my daughter, something that will free her, show her her worth.

But I couldn’t think of anything.

It was beautiful in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

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That’s my lemongrass, rose, holy basil iced tea third seat from the left.

But it was really hot and steamy on Monday.

We thought it would be a little cooler along the river.

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It wasn’t.

We got coffee as soon as we arrived in GR Monday, right after putting our names in at our beloved Wolfgang’s.

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repurposed

I don’t like coffee shops or restaurants that are new and shiny.

I like coffee shops and restaurants that are old and re-purposed.

And good.

There are so many good restaurants and coffee shops in Grand Rapids. Especially in Eastown.

If they ever re-purpose a bank or some other cool old building into a boutique hotel, we’re staying there. We’re going to park ourselves in Eastown for a whole weekend and merrily eat and drink coffee.

Back home now listening to the rumble of thunder in the distance and the soothing sounds of my sleeping beagle right next to me.

Hopefully the coming rain will cool things off a bit.

Life is good.

P.S. If you find yourself in western Michigan:

The Electric Cheetah

Madcap Coffee Company

Snug Harbor

Electric Hero

Hearthstone

The Sparrows Coffee, Tea & Newstand

Wolfgang’s

 

 

 

 

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Michigan

Pea Green & Still

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My mom said the air suddenly became very still that humid June evening as she stood at the kitchen window washing the dinner dishes. The air became still and the sky turned green, like pea soup.

In that split second she heard what sounded like a freight train barrelling through as she watched my dad throw grandma to the ground, laying on top of her until the storm passed.

There were downed trees and power lines everywhere in the aftermath, blocking the roads, making my dad’s search for grandpa difficult. Making the trip to the hospital difficult.

The tornado carried grandpa a mile and then just dropped him.

116 people died. Grandpa walked with a limp.

Now, when the sirens go off, I look for the stillness. I look for that pea green sky. I listen for that freight train. And I stay close to the basement.

You can read more about that epic, historic, F5 storm here.

And speaking of tornadoes: Let Go of the Dang Door!

#1953Flinttornado

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Jesus, Light, Michigan, Stories from the Island

Sunny, Semi-Serene September

I last visited Mackinac Island on a cold and mostly cloudy weekend in October 2014.

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If you know anything about the island, you know that cars are not permitted there. It’s all walking, bicycles and horse-drawn taxis.

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The island bustles with tourists and clip-clopping horses all summer long. But by late October it is a quiet retreat. A beautiful, quiet retreat. This view from my balcony, with the lone worker heading to his early-morning post, captures the autumn serenity.

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The nights in October are serene, too.

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Gone are the late-night bar hoppers, catching the last ferry back to the mainland. Nothing left but the peaceful glow of quiet streets.

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Excitement was high on that last trip as my daughter, two of her friends and I boarded the ferry to the island.

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Excitement was high as we checked into the Grand Hotel.

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And excitement was high when we returned, as we contemplated all that God had done.

Back then I shared a little something my daughter wrote in the afterglow.

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I’m sharing it again:

Shelby and Lesley and I weren’t the only ones on the island this past weekend. We brought women with us. Women who deserved to be blessed. Women who needed to know how God felt about them and who He created them to be. Women who had stories to tell, stories that would allow us to learn from each other.

We brought former prostitutes and addicts. We brought women who used to work the streets, and women who currently go out and minister to those who still do.

Really, my mom brought them. She planned the whole retreat and listened when God told her who to invite. Perhaps I don’t know all the factors that were taken into consideration when she chose the hotel on the island as our location, but I don’t think any of us thought about the significance of crossing over water to get to an island until Brenda did.

Brenda was one of the women who came with us. When she shared her story last night, we found out she had been gang-raped at the age of fourteen, an incident that propelled her into prostitution, promiscuity, and drug use until she eventually surrendered her life to Jesus.

During introductions on the first morning Brenda said “I know that God brought us across the water to cleanse us from everything that happened over there. When we go back, it’s going to be over.”

I got chills. And I am just so thankful for everything that this weekend was, and a God who brings His children across the water.

I revisited the island this morning for two reasons:

1. WordPress prompted me to do so.

2. I am planning to return with another group of women. Hopefully in sunny, semi-serene September.

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Jesus, Light, Michigan

It’s All in Your Perspective

Final conversation from True Detective, which I’ve never seen, season 1 finale. Thanks to Brad Jersak:

Marty: “Didn’t you tell me one time, dinner once, maybe, about how you used to … you used to make up stories about the stars?”
Rust: “Yeah, that was in Alaska, under the night skies.”
Marty: “Yeah, you used to lay there and look up, at the stars?”
Rust: “Yeah, I think you remember how I never watched the TV until I was 17, so there wasn’t much to do up there but walk around, explore, and…”
Marty: “And look up at the stars and make up stories. Like what?”
Rust: “I tell you Marty I been up in that room looking out those windows every night here just thinking, it’s just one story. The oldest.”
Marty: “What’s that?”
Rust: “Light versus dark.”
Marty: “Well, I know we ain’t in Alaska, but it appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.”
Rust: “Yeah, you’re right about that.”
Rust insists that Marty help him leave the hospital, Marty agrees. As they head to the car, Rust makes one final point to his former partner.
Rust: “You’re looking at it wrong, the sky thing.”
Marty: “How’s that?”
Rust: “Well, once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.”

Amen, the Light’s winning. Glory, glory, hallelujah, His truth is marching on.

I came upon the same sentiment on a stroll through Traverse City.

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Darkness isn’t everything.

#perspectiveinthecity

Speaking of perspective, you should read this: Love Wins When We Let God Be God, if you haven’t already.  It’s pretty brill.

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Michigan

Spring in the D

I wasn’t doing anything today and the SUN WAS SHINING so we – my daughter and I – headed to Midtown for lunch and some shopping. Actually lunch and some browsing because who can afford to buy anything?

There’s just something about Spring in Detroit.

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Look at that sky!

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First stop, shopping at Shinola.

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Browsing at Shinola, but shopping at Shinola sounds better.

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A few more stores and then lunch.

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There are lots of hip new restaurants in Detroit which are getting good press, but we opted for a golden oldie, a tried and true favorite. Plus, it’s right next to Shinola and the cluster of other hip little shops and we were HUNGRY.

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Traffic Jam & Snug’s garden – with a fountain made of an old tub and sink.IMG_2356

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As soon as we settled into our booth I heard the voice of a child coming from the booth behind me: “The best Republican by far,” he declared, “was Abraham Lincoln.”

“You don’t hear much good about Republicans,” he continued, “but I like them.”

Apparently he and his mom are visiting from Manhattan. It was impossible to not hear their conversation.

On the way out of the restaurant he reminded his grandma that she owes him $10, “because I won the poker game.”

He looked eight.

Eight-year-olds make the best lunch companions.

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When the hub walked in the back door after work, he asked the beagle if she had been a good girl. Then he asked me if I had been a good girl.

“No.”

“No?”

“We split a piece of four layer chocolate Kahlua cake with coffee ice cream.”

Speaking of cake. The waiter. Cordial and really handsome. I only mention it because he seemed like the icing on a perfectly lovely day.

We didn’t have the customary cup of decaf to go with our cake because we wanted to try one of the many groovy new Detroit coffeehouses.

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We decided on this one.  Lavender lattes. Yum.

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Then we walked a couple of blocks in the bright sunny air to Will Leather Goods.

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Will donates really nice backpacks to area school children. There’s a couple of walls worth of thank you notes. This one is classic.

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“We liked the inside part and the outside part… Your best friend. Karla”

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Will Leather Goods from the back.

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There’s something reassuring about men working.

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Especially in the Spring when everyone seems happy to be out there.

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Spring in the D. It was a good, shiny day.

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Jesus, Michigan

A Guest Post for Your Monday Afternoon

My daughter drove into a snowstorm late Friday afternoon. She was headed to Maranatha on the shore of Lake Michigan for a personal retreat.

“I need to talk to the Lord,” she said.

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This morning she sent me a guest post, if I wanted. I like it. It says to me that actions speak louder than words.  God’s people weren’t getting it. The spoken and written words of the prophets weren’t quite enough, so Jesus put on flesh to show us.

We’ll never really know Him until we follow Him with our bodies and not just our minds.

So, without further ado, music to Jesus’s ears and mine (and perhaps yours):

I’m reading my way through John again—slowly. When I was nineteen and working as a camp counselor, I had to take a day of fasting and solitude as a part of training for summer. I took my Bible and my journal, sat down on top of a secluded picnic table, and opened to the book of John. As I read, I wrote down every single thing there was to learn about Jesus in the text. I wrote down every fact, every detail, every description, and every story. I wrote down every one of His words. I just wanted to know Him better. Recently I’ve felt a pull to do it again, to let knowledge of Him fall afresh on me.  So this morning I started. I have the week off of work. What a perfect time to begin.  For one chapter a day, I’m writing it all down and then gleaning. I always journal in the second person, if you’re interested, these are my thoughts on John 1:

I think the greatest lessons about who You are come from Your own words. “Come and see,” You tell two of the disciples of John.

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.  Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

They ask a simple question, and You respond with an invitation. When someone wants to know about You, You ask them to come along.  Words are not sufficient. You must be experienced. We learn what You’re about by partaking, by spending time with You.

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. (John 1:37-39)

Later you find Phillip. “Follow Me.” Another invitation. Phillip, in turn, invites Nathanael.

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel. (John 1:43-49)

You speak truth about Nathanael, a man who’s never met You, before he’s even reached you. “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree, before Phillip called you,” You tell him. You saw Nathanael. You see us. When I stop to think about it, it’s a startlingly beautiful, overwhelming notion—to be seen and known by our Savior and Creator.

And yet, what you have in store for those who follow You is even greater.  “You will see even greater things than that,” You tell Nathanael.

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:50-51)

The very thing I learn from Your words is that words aren’t sufficient. They are precious, and they show me a glimpse of who You are, and yet You want to show me so much more. So as I ask You to fall afresh on me, as I’m hoping to experience you in a new way, I’m realizing this better be a time of following and of doing even more than it is of reading. I’m excited for what’s in store.

Amen.

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