Oakland, California

Yes, I have been on vacation and away from my discipline of writing and somewhat less intercessory prayer, too. We stayed in Oakland at an Air B & B that was quiet and enjoyable. We often ate out with Karen or at one of the sibling’s homes. The visit started with a big bang luncheon at Mark’s house in Forestville, CA with all the siblings present. Lunch at Becky’s Chinese restaurant. We ate dinner with Anthony’s family and his Mom, Karen, at the Golden Squirrel one evening. Lunch in Marin after seeing the Golden Gate Park Marin headlands area. Lunch another day with Karen and I cannot remember the name of the place but great Mediterranean plate. A dinner with Jackie’s family that was all delicious. They grilled flank steak. I will have to try that for us! Breakfast at a place we used to visit with Karen. Not nearly as good as pre-Covid. At least, now she knows! We usually ate a small breakfast, one meal out and a snack or small other meal.

We also went to Peet’s coffee almost daily and bought my favorite, Arabian Mocha Java beans, which they do not ship to area stores here. We will enjoy that for months to come as we are frugal in our usage. Before Bob and I met I lived across the street from the original Peet’s so it holds a special place in my heart. Daily I would smell the delicious scent of coffee beans roasting. They are now owned by someone else and run on a much larger scale.

Bob remembered the French Bakery. Once we found it we were there often, too. The breads, the cookies, the cookies, the specialty cookies, brownie, etc. Safeway still had Svenson’s Bear Claws which we only get here rarely if Sam’s happens to get a large box of pastries from them. At Safeway I can buy a tray of 6 and yep, they are in my pantry and freezer right now. Bought various forms of sour dough bread and enjoyed all of it.

La Farine, Boulangerie and Patisserie

Bob has noted that we often eat our way through vacations. That makes a problem with going to one place repeatedly. We know all the things we like and where to get them! See’s candy, which they reportedly sell at one store in Cincinnati, makes the best vanilla walnut fudge. They also let you taste a piece of candy of your choice.

After we got home a magazine came in the mail noting one especially delicious English pub. Drats! Had we known we could have eaten there!

Visiting Bob’s sister reminds me so much of visiting Queens, New York when his grandma and aunts lived there. Dense population, extreme difficulty if you want to park a car, public train running all the time, homeless population (now called “the unhoused”) also in high density. There is a vibrancy of human activity here, too. Shops and wares that are fresh and I want to taste all of them. A new upscale market called “Market Hall.” We walked through it but did not purchase anything. We were actually getting sated with foods by then.

Welcome to California!

We started the day at about 4AM Ohio time. Checked in to the airline, but did not realize I should have asked for wheelchair or cart transportation at the check in desk. Instead I waited until the TSA had cleared us. My bad. Two different transportation employees said they would try to get someone to come get me, After being in the boot all summer and working with physical therapy to get rid of the pain and extend my walking ability, I still was not ready for hiking the huge Cincinnati airport. Bob started wondering if we would make our flight. Finally, I got up and started walking. We made our flight, but halfway into the first flight my foot began to swell and the pain alarms went off, NOT a good way to begin a vacation!

There was a transportation person waiting for me at the Phoenix gate. We only had to go about 3 gates, but I appreciated the help. This flight was packed full.

When we landed in San Francisco I was SO grateful for the transport person. The steps to the baggage claim seemed to me like MILES. We arrived in San Francisco exhausted, hungry and likely dehydrated. Robert, my knight in shining armor, went to get the rental car and I waited with my luggage for him to come pick me up.

By the time we reached Oakland I was in a blur mentally and whipped. We went to Trader Joe’s to get a few food items for dinner and breakfast. Then bought Peet’s coffee and headed for our Air B & B. We sat in the courtyard with about 20 invites to spare before check in.

This is what greeted us in the court yard!

Carpet of purple flower petals, my favorite color!
The trees that graced the sidewalk.
My new screensaver

We went to bed early to read and try to rest up. The purple flower petals and curious cat certainly made my day. Travel is HARD work!!

A California Visit

What speaks loudest to me? Fleet week is here, where the Navy brings ships to the Embarcadero for citizens to tour. The Blue Angels are overhead practicing their moves. We are avoiding the traffic and crowds by not attending.

We had a family luncheon at Mark and Dawn’s home in Forestville, north of the Bay Area. We even got to visit with their son, Corey, who presently lives in Brooklyn, but was making a brief visit there. As usual the weather was warm and sunny. Sadly for the locals, no rain in sight. The drought is frightening. They served corn chowder with shrimp, warm sour dough bread both garlic and plain. Mark made a strawberry & raspberry crisp with a cornmeal topping and 2-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. It was all delicious.

Peet’s coffee is still our favorite. I used to live across from the first store at Sixth and Walnut when I worked in Berkeley as a nanny. We were married outdoors just down the road from there at Live Oak Park. The first time I walked into one of their chain stores on this visit there was a sign about a new small batch blend called “Sixth and Walnut.” Later Bob bought some. First Peet’s coffee we have not liked! It is a mild roast and to us it almost brewed like weak tea. Next day we bought Major Dickinson! Then the next day we bought my favorite, which they do not market every place “Arabian Mocha Java.” Oh goodness. I love that blend!!

Hopefully before we go home we can find my favorite Bear Claw pastries, which I first ate here. Found some tiny green grapes at Trader Joe’s called Sark’s Little Thoms. So sweet! We are told they sell See’s candy in Cincinnati now, but it can’t possibly be as good to us as going to a store in this area. Besides, they give you a free piece of candy when you enter!!

Yes, we like to eat our way through vacations, especially when we have learned and loved local specialties. We also enjoyed the Golden Gate National Park. Bob, Karen and I had never visited. The sandy beach was not as fine as sand on the east coast. It was fun to watch the surfers in their wet suits. One older guy was doing his stretches on the beach in preparation for surfing.

When we got to the top of one bluff we could barely see the top of the north tower for the Golden Gate bridge. A day of heavy fog that never did lift around the Golden Gate bridge.

I was delighted by the fog horns. Bob thought they sounded Ike tubas. “Each foghorn has a different pitch and marine navigational charts give ships the frequency, or signature, of each foghorn,” says the Golden Gate Bridge highway and transportation website. The foghorns were on the entire span of our visit that day.

Battle, War, Skirmish

Growing up I knew little about warfare. In the neighborhood the girls were relegated to being nurses when the boys played battle games. I never got that. I could make sounds with my mouth like guns as well and sometimes better than the boys could!

I understood my Dad had been a Naval flagman in World War 2. I did not understand what he did during the war until years later when I ordered his service records from the Navy. He was disappointed that his poor health kept him out of the Korean War.

Then I came to religion and the life of faith described so often as warfare. The Charismatic movement sometimes went a little overboard seeing a demon behind every bush. At least they were aware that we are under attack. All the time. I believe complacency just gives the demons more ground in our lives. Too much attention to the devil weakens us by distracting us from the power of Jesus Christ our Lord and the strength of the indwelling Holy Spirit, His greatest gift to us.

Hand in hand with my Bible I go to the dictionary for help in understanding.

Skirmish: an episode of irregular or unpremeditated fighting, especially between small or outlying parts of armies or fleets.


1(Military) a fight between large armed forces; military or naval engagement; combat

2. conflict; contention; struggle

3. (Military) do battle give battle join battle to start fighting

Narnia Preparing for Battle Scene

I thought this was well worded truth about the faith life.

Faith is war.

It’s a fight. A battle. Faith is hard. It’s a fight to trust God when you can’t see him. It’s a fight to believe God is in control when all around us screams life has derailed. It’s a battle to thank Jesus that his steadfast love never ceases and his mercies are new every morning in the midst of pain and sadness. It’s a fight to believe Scripture rather than our eyes and circumstances. It’s a fight to forgive and resist bitterness and believe Jesus can change others’ hearts. It’s straining and wrestling to rejoice always. It’s a struggle to believe that in the end, God will work all this out for our good. To believe that Jesus will have the final word. To believe our sufferings are producing an eternal weight of glory. Faith is a fight to believe that following Jesus is better than sin.


Throughout the Bible there are references to battle. Repeatedly. Most of us go on our way as if those references do not relate to us. 2022 is rife with warfare, especially against those who love Christ Jesus. I pray you will live with your eyes wide open to this phenomenon.

When the time rolls around for our small group to meet, Bob and I experience some of this warfare. He and I co-lead the study and suddenly there will be friction between us, conflict all around us, a multitude of things against us distracting us from Jesus.

Have you experienced this sort of oppression from the enemy of your soul? I have found the best weapon against oppression is to recognize what is happening, push back against the darkness, and return to praising the God of heaven and earth. Psalm 22 says God inhabits the praises of His people. Even if the King James version has the translation slightly wrong we can be assured that Lord is with us and through His resurrection power the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We do not need to relinquish ourselves to the enemy in the heat of battle. Read the book of Revelation and you will learn OUR GOD WINS. Colossians 2:14 declares that we have been freed from our sin and shame.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2:13-15 NIV

Battles and skirmishes come often to test what we truly believe. I believe the Truth of the Word that declares God wins! Do not be complacent.

In 1975 I thought someone should update the weapons of our warfare with modern day images. Have a person march into the church with riot gear on and other accoutrements of battle. Now in 2022 that person might get shot if the security force of the congregation was not made aware of what the teaching plan entailed. Imagine the weapons however best to encourage you to fight the good fight of faith and not grow complacent or defeated in your faith.

The Pacific

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the Earth and in contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.

Rachel Carson

Going to the Pacific ocean I saw flocks of pelicans careening through the sky. I am rarely impressed by seagulls, though they were around also. The sandy beach was mostly ground rock and shells. A few tiny shells were in tact. The rocks were interesting and several went into my pockets. It was chilly, windy and foggy. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Cold Pacific waters with surfers

Greater than me. Larger than me. More powerful than me. A mighty creation by a mighty God of heaven and earth.

Enlarge to see the seals hauled out on the rock

A moment of clearing and we could see the handiwork of men as fog cleared from one end of the Golden Gate Bridge,

Can you imagine being on the boat there?

We went on a drive and saw cattle of almost every description. Then I saw Elk and Bob thought I was teasing until he saw them, too. Even spotted a coyote. And these massive aged trees.

That is NOT a cow!

Yes, Rachel Carson, a day to know of wonder and humility.

Blue Skies & Sunshine = Drought

We are seeing that the blue skies and sunshine people in Ohio desire spell disaster when it goes on for way too long. We had a blip of cooler weather where we needed sweatshirts and jackets. Frost killed the most tender plants. I was out there pulling them up and disposing of them. Bob drained and put away our garden hoses so the wintry weather would not ruin them. Now we are back to the 70’s during the day and 50’s at night. Mild and above average temperatures for this time of year. Wishing for those hoses as the chrysanthemums and roses are drying out in the flower beds!

And what of our walk with the Lord? Is yours drying up? Has your walk brought challenges that you would rather ignore? Are you bundled in a blanket of self-pity waiting for some other thing to do, rather than obey? There is a saying that if the devil has not bothered you lately, you likely are not obeying the Lord.

If the enemy is not bothering you then perhaps you are not walking in obedience to Christ. Why would our lazy enemy bother us if we do not need bothering? He likes to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10) If there is nothing in your life that is furthering the work of Christ that serpent brushes off his hands and says ‘my work here is done.”

C S. Lewis wrote “The Screwtape Letters” a fantastic story about the demons and how they try to cripple or at least hinder the walk of a Christian. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. If you have read it, perhaps it is time to read it again.

It is gloomy here today and it rained under an inch last night. No drought relief here. Some of the local farmers have not harvested their crops from the field as they fear they cannot ship them with the Mississippi river so low and barges stranded in the channel. What a strange time to be alive. I suppose those that lived through World Wars thought the same thing.

The mail delivery continues. The school bus transports kiddos. Men get haircuts. Women tend to the grocery needs. Through it all are we engaged in the work of Christ?

If your walk is drying up perhaps you better get with it and find ways to drench your soul with His Living Water! We cannot control the weather but we can control whether or not we seek Him and His will for us! If the enemy of our souls bothers you, do what the Word says:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:7-10 NIV

Suscipe Prayer


St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote the following prayer. He lived 1491-1556. Suscipe means Take, Lord, and receive. I am drawn to this prayer repeatedly as I tend to want to be in control of my life (like most humans) then realize I have no control over my life. Rev. Gerhardt was right, “Control is an illusion.” He preached that and I argued with him all the way home from church. So here is the prayer by St. Ignatius.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Why is this prayer important to me? I know God asks for my surrender to Him. Surrender in everything. Surrender of everything. That has been a tough lesson for this Irish German girl! Yet as I yield to His Lordship and sovereignty over me I find riches of peace and blessings I could not have imagined.

I am hoping this post will help you ask the Lord to take all your liberty, all that you have and call your own. May you find this the most fulfilling action you ever take.

Unsplash by Billy Pasco

Reviewing a Journal

Because of the arthritis in my hands I began to journal on my iPad a few years ago. I have kept the habit of a paper journal by printing out those ideas and pasting them in a spiral bound journal. This involves printing out ones I have not printed, arrange by date, cut and paste, etc. For several years, I have sadly dropped the habit of reviewing my journal. When we got ready to travel this month I decided to take the latest journal and review it. I will read through it. Praise God for how He sees me through situations. Mark poetry I likely did not organize in poetry binder, etc. with marker.

Mitchell Luo

Sometimes this yields themes for this blog. Most times it is just for my comfort and remembrance. We are told to rehearse the works of God and praise Him. But do we? I often fail at that task. I remember some highlights, but I drop the minutia that can change the course of my thoughts and arrange my victories in the daily battle against darkness.

Recently I was pondering that warfare. I am sometimes engaged in small struggles that remind me following Jesus is not “all unicorns and rainbows.” If you examine those times in your own life you will likely see that there are recurring patterns in the attacks. When I can recognize, and say ‘oh no, here comes THAT again’ I am better equipped to defeat it. Putting on my armor, praying, raising high the sword of the Spirit, taking every thought captive to Christ Jesus, doing my part not to surrender by means of apathy. If, however, I have not been paying attention I can get swept under a current of negativity and hopelessness before I realize what hit me.

Have you examined your life by a similar means? Some other method? Many recommend making a timeline of your life with God. Note the occurrences that have impacted you. Reflect on where your awareness of God was at each of those times.


Yes, look back at what has happened and how you went through each thing. We are not to be permanently looking back, but it is helpful to review our life and His participating Presence at each stage.

Journal before I get hold of it with photos and glue stick!

A Prayer to Thank God for His Sovereign Control

Father, we praise You for the delicate way You powerfully align our lives to Your creation. Thank You for the waters and mountains that remind us of You. Forgive us for overlooking Your presence in every aspect of our lives, and bless us to notice and give glory to You, for You are our healer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

(Meg Bucher) https://www.christianity.com/wiki/prayer/thank-you-prayers-to-give-thanks-to-god-and-the-lord-jesus-christ.html

Psalm 124 NIV
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

Find a way to review your life with God. No matter your age, no matter how many times you have done it, making a timeline with God is a great exercise.

Have You Read These?

{First photo from Unsplash, yoshua girl} Bob and I enjoy finding an author we like who has written an abundance of books. Then we try to work our way through the books in their order of publication. One such author is Louise Penny. The books are usually set in a small town named Three Pines. Inspector Gamache and his fellow Sûreté du Québec officers speak French Canadian phrases which Bob adores and I translate in my own way.

Louise Penny weaves wisdom through her writings. There are 17 books in this series so far. I came across this quote recently and had to share it.

He tried not to go to the worst possible conclusion. That they were down because everyone who might communicate was down.

No. He forced his mind away from that. Stick with the simple facts. He knew how catastrophic a rampant imagination, driven by fear, could be.

How The Light Gets In, Louise Penny

Fear occurs about 1,025 in the Bible and first appears in Genesis 3. Fear has been with us a very long time. Fear not or be not afraid appear many times (unlikely the 365 count is accurate according to most scholars).

Regardless, we are prone to fear, even Louis Penny knows, and we are told not to go there. Fear not, Be not afraid. It is something we have a choice about.

When did you recently force your mind away from the worst possible conclusion? Were you able to take those thoughts captive to Christ Jesus?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

This is a discipline that truly takes practice. We must learn not to let ‘awfulizing’ become the way we think. We must turn our thoughts and our ways to His thoughts and ways. You can likely tell by my catching and quoting this from a fictional novel that I have been at this practice for a while. No, I have not mastered it, but like my other spiritual disciplines it does help me grow closer to Jesus.

Water Prayer

[First photo by r m dutina]

While traveling in the Smoky Mountains one year I bought what could be a flower vase. It was pinched in the middle giving it two ‘spouts.’ The longer I looked at it and handled it the more it became a vessel for my prayers. We were always near the running water of the spring rivers be it the Little Pigeon or “one of the 2,100 miles of rushing mountain streams and rivers that flow through the park.” I would show you a photo, but when we downsized I let the vase/pitcher go. 😦 sigh

Here was part of my inspiration

And so my morning prayer gradually became

Jesus, I pour out this water
before the undivided Trinity:
Let my living be this day
an offering and thanksgiving.
This day caress me.
This day possess me.
Open my ears and eyes
to Your Love for us.

Try making a ceremony around your prayer time. I have taught that many ways. When you get a drink of water, say a prayer, turning your attention to the Holy One. Are you a coffee addict? Dedicate each sip to the Trinity. 

Keep a glass near the water faucet and try a water prayer of your own. Or use mine. 
The idea is to turn your heart and mind to Him who loves you best.

Our soul is like a stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream. Therefore we are in harmony with God, reality, and the rest of human nature and nature at large.

Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart