Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coming soon to a city near you... long as your city is near Grand Rapids or Holland, MI, or Chicago, IL that is! I can't wait to see all my good friends in the midwest, and I would love to see you while I'm in your neighborhood. :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Final Fire Update: Home again!

Last night I slept in my own bed. Ahhhh... that was nice. Things are returning to normal, although with a lingering smoke smell in the air. It's not that the air is smoky so much as that the large burn area nearby is filling the air with a smoky smell. In other circumstances, it might be a pleasant smell. Like in a mountain cabin with a wood-burning stove, or around a fire while on a camping trip. (Yes, there are S’mores at the campfire.)

We were very lucky. There isn't even much of a smoke smell in the house, so that's just one more thing to be thankful for. That and the motorhome my parents have in the driveway, which means we have a small refrigerator and stove, since we are without power in the house. My parents called Friday to get the estimate on when power would be restored and they said November 8. Several hours later, the neighbors' lights went on. On Saturday they called again to find the estimate had been postponed 3 days to November 11. They said with that kind of track record, they're afraid to call again!

So, with that being the one outstanding item for a "return to normal," this will be my last fire update. My thanks to anyone reading this for your thoughts, prayers, notes of concern and offers to help me out! I really do appreciate you! It's been a blessing to know I have such a great support system.

Book: Bookends

I picked up this book thinking it was going to be a very light bit of "chick lit," hopefully entertaining, but not really thought-provoking. As I often read purely for entertainment, this type of book is a fun indulgence. Although definitely on the light side, I was surprised to find that it went a bit deeper than I expected.

Main character Cath maintains close friendships with several of her college crowd, although there has been a mutual drifting apart between the core crowd and one individual. As she and her friends navigate changes in their early 30-something lives, and the missing person re-enters in a surprising way, she comes to a new understanding of both the friendships and her present life. By the end of the story, she has "come of age," accepting who she is and breaking out of the self-imposed box she had been living in. She finds a new contentment and joy in her life.

Well, obviously, at least to me, there are some parallels and lessons for me. I'm about the same age as the main character. Although I have some perspective on my college days and growing up years, I'm not entirely content with where my life is today. I think it's fair to say that I have imposed unnecessary limits on myself, and definitely I feel that if I could just be brave enough, I could make some positive changes in my situation.

In the book, Cath quits her unfulfilling corporate job to open a bookstore and conveniently meets and falls in love with Mr. Wonderful as an added bonus. Need I say that I would be happy to jump into these pages and live her happy ending? Probably not. There's a reason that fairy tales are works of fiction, but at the very least it's prompted some thinking about what I can and can't control in my life. For that which I can't, I will need to seek some patience, peace and acceptance. For that which I can... maybe it's time to muster up some bravery and find a dream to chase after.

Bookends: A Novel
by Jane Green

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fire Update Friday 9:00 AM

Wow. Although the fires are definitely well on their way to being contained and extinguished, our area of Fallbrook is still under evacuation. What this means is that I'm still camped out at my brother's house, since my attempts to talk my way past the roadblock yesterday were unsuccessful. (How did mom do it??) My parents are absolutely staying at home until travel in and out of Fallbrook is uninhibited; if they leave now, they won't be allowed back in.

I'm posting a portion of the map provided by the San Diego County Emergency Department that we’ve been watching. It shows the part of Fallbrook they opened last night (green shaded area) and the approximately location of our home, which is solidly within the closed part of town, and within the burn area (purple shaded area.) You can go to their website to see a full version of the map.

At the same time that I know I should be grateful for a home to go to, I'm anxious to be there now. I had grand delusions of sleeping in my own bed last night. I’m weary of the waiting, and a bit exasperated because since mom and dad are living there, I know it’s safe to go back. But, arghh! …they won’t let me in! Thankfully I got an infusion of clean clothes yesterday.

On another note, I booked a plane ticket weeks ago to visit friends in the Bay Area this weekend. It would seem this might just be the perfect opportunity to get out of town and relax with some friends when some relaxation might be just the thing I need. The kink in this plan is that the brakes on my car started acting up last Sunday, and they are now to the point that I really don’t think I should drive it anymore, so getting myself to the airport may be the challenge to completing my travel plans.

For those keeping track of the grand delusions about sleeping in my own bed, and wondering why I’m so anxious now to fly 400 miles to sleep at someone else’s home: if it’s not my bed, it may as well be theirs, right? Did I mention that these friends almost never sit down to dinner without a glass of wine? Or that we've been friends so long... being at their home is almost as good as being at my own? I am thankful once again for the offers of help and hospitality I've received this week. I am truly blessed with wonderful friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fire Update Weds 7:00 PM - Revised

*** A quick addendum: my brother is on his way home! Excellent news both for us because we know he is safe, and because it's a good sign that the fight against the fires is succeeding. ***

My mom and dad are both "camping out" at home now, as power is still off and may not be restored for a couple more days. They moved some refrigerator items into their motorhome, where they also have cooking capabilities, so they will be fine. I returned to work today, after sleeping a little extra this morning. I'm still really tired from the drama and sleeping somewhere different, so I know my own bed is going to feel really good whenever I get there. I elected to stay at my sister-in-law's one more night due to the lack of power.

It seems that there is no further risk to our home, and we are grateful. Others near us were not that fortunate. Also, I know a large number of people from my church were evacuated from their various home communities, and I don't know yet if any of their homes were lost. Whether or not it turns out that I personally know families who have lost their home is irrelevant: there has been significant loss of property in Southern California. Eventually, I'm sure my path will cross with someone else's who wasn't so fortunate.

On Monday, I was already at work when the threat moved into our neighborhood, and my mom began packing up important papers and photos. I had to quickly think: what should I ask her to pack? At some point, you just have to make peace with the fact that it's all just stuff. It can be replaced. But I am thankful that we were spared, and in a few days, I will return home and resume my “normal” life. The life that sometimes I think is “boring.” However, if this is the alternative, “boring” will be just fine for a while.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire Update Tuesday 5:00 PM

As hours go by it seems more certain that the threat has passed. I just talked to my dad for a while, and he can see some flames not too far away, but doesn't expect a problem for our house. Praise God! He will remain at the house and just continue to monitor the situation. He is without power, so doesn't get news except from us, but the latest is that the fire department in Fallbrook is optimistic for containment, and doesn't expect to see more loss of homes. Also, the wind has let up pretty considerably in Fallbrook, so that is a great blessing.

As of now, they are still not allowing people back to Fallbrook, so I'm staying here in Temecula. My sister in law has been wonderful!! My mom went to visit my Grandma today and may spend the night there.

My brother is doing fine, still working on the fires in Rancho Santa Fe. So far, of the thousands of firefighters, there have only been 5 reported with injuries, and 4 of those were on the first day, Sunday. A blessing to be sure that they are safe.

Thank you all for your prayers and notes that your thoughts are with us!

Fire Update Tuesday 8:00 AM

The immediate danger seems to have passed - some brush on the property burned, but the fire department was there to put it out, and my dad monitored it all night to make sure nothing flared up. Now we wait, and hope that winds don't change and put the home in the path of the fire again. Mom and I will stay here in Temecula until we can go home, which could be a couple of days.

Estimates are that as many as 500 homes may have been lost already just in Fallbrook, so we are fortunate so far. The fire is still burning and difficult to contain due to the ongoing high winds, so it could be a while before the fire is contained and more homes could be lost. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire Update Monday 9:35 PM

Friends, my mom has evacuated and is safe here in Temecula where I am. My dad is at the house, armed with a fire house, a hydrant on the property, and the prayers of many. Please pray for him. Will keep you updated when I hear anything.

Fallbrook Fire

Friends, as you may have heard there are fires raging throughout Southern California today. One of them is quite close to home, so close in fact that my parents have packed their cars with the photo albums, important papers, etc. A majority of Fallbrook has received evacuation orders, although my parents feel our home is not under immediate threat. I am at my brother's home, well away from the fires. I'm safe, just very, very worried.

If you think of us, please pray:
* Weather is a huge factor as the strong Santa Ana winds have impacted the ability to fight the fires from the air. The strong winds and warmer than average temperatures are not expected to let up for a couple of days.
* My brother was called into work this morning and has been fighting fires and doing other fire dept tasks as needed.
* That as many homes as possible will be spared, hopefully including ours. The house and the stuff in it is replaceable, but still, it's scary to think about.

I will post updates when I have new information. Please do not call, as we are being urged to keep cell phone usage to an absolute minimum to keep communication lines open for emergency and fire workers.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Book: Girl Meets God

This book was not a book I would typically pick up. Mainly, I’m a fiction reader. I love a good story! But recently, I’ve read a few biographies, and when a person’s story is told well, I find it very enjoyable.

Lauren Winner writes about her experience of being raised Jewish, converting to Orthodox Judaism, and then becoming a Christian. Several times through the book she mentions that she was irresistibly drawn to Jesus and therefore, Christianity. In the reformed tradition, the concept of “irresistible grace” is a key theological point, and it was beautiful to read a story where that concept is so obviously evident.

She crafts her story as a memoir of a single year, weaving in memories of significant moments in her faith journey. Time is marked in her story by noting both Jewish and Christian holidays, and her thoughts and experiences with both. Although her comments on each event include historical explanation and her knowledge of them is readily apparent, the discussion is not merely academic. Her story is very personal, and obviously both traditions have great meaning to her.

Another thing I liked about this story was the author’s very personal and honest discussions about sin and confession. Her honesty in dealing with her own sinful shortcomings is admirable. I often shy away from confession, even when it’s just me and God, as I’m afraid to reveal that I have not met His standards. Of course, this is completely irrational in the face of an all-knowing God, who knows my every move before I even complete it.

I enjoyed this book not only because it is a well-written story, but also because it challenged me to think about my own faith.

Girl Meets God: A Memoir
by Lauren F. Winner

Books, books, books!

A little note to preface my next, and other future, posts...

When I started my blog, I was considering one that was primarily about books I read. Then I decided on the name "Rebecca's Miscellanies" because I figured now and then I'd want to write about other things too. As it turns out, I haven't written about any books yet, so it's probably good that I didn't start this blog with the title "Rebecca's Bookshelf" (not to mention that name was already taken.)

My musings on books are in some way just so I can keep track of what I read and what I liked (or not!) about it. Also, because I was a bit curious how many books I actually read. My thoughts may not be of any interest to you, so feel free to read them or just pass on by.

On the other hand, if you have a book you’ve really enjoyed, I’m always looking for something new for my nightstand, so please feel free to pass on your reading recommendations.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ashley's Wedding

My cousin Ashley got married today!

Here's some pictures of
Mr. & Mrs. Cappelle.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Well, this hasn't been the best week ever. It hasn't been the worst either, so overall I guess it's a wash. You know how sometimes you are in the middle of what seems to be the BIGGEST DEAL EVER, and you just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel? I was in that dark place for a couple days this week. Now that it's Friday, things are a little brighter. I won't lie: my weekend begins in a matter of minutes, and that helps a lot. And it’s jeans day at the office, that helps too. The little things, right?

My friend Sarah blogged today under this same title, and it was just what I needed to remind me to climb out of the big bucket of self-pity I've been wallowing in for a few days and focus on some of the blessings in my life. (Click here for Sarah's post.) Sarah, I hope you don't mind if I borrow your idea... it is with thanks to you for brightening up my day and reminding me that I have much to be thankful for! Here's just a few of them....

1. FRIENDS. One of the things that has always been so meaningful to me about the great friends I have is that when I am brave enough to admit that I'm struggling, my community of friends gathers around me with encouragement, prayers, and the best part - assurance that they too have had similar struggles. Normally when something is just not well in my world, I tend to think that surely I must be the only one dumb/unlucky/inadequate enough to be in that place. How crazy is that? Everyone has problems, and just remembering that helps me get through mine.

2. MY CHURCH FAMILY. I joined a new church about a year and a half ago, and it has been a HUGE blessing in my life. I have experienced Christian community and a sense of belonging that has exceeded many of my previous church experiences. As an added blessing, I've been volunteering more of my time and have been given so much joy as a result. God is good.

3. ANGELS. This is the only explanation for the fact that the front end of my car is still intact after a VERY near miss on Tuesday. Whew! Thank you Lord, for watching out for me.

4. MY JOB. Okay here is where I have to swallow hard and be obedient in thanking God. I ummm… really don’t like my job right now. It would be the main reason that I was in a total funk earlier this week. But at the same time, I must be grateful. Why? Because earlier this year, I was unemployed and this job was the end of 3 ½ months of uncertainty. Why? Because this is how God is providing for my daily needs right now.

Now that I’ve put that into words, I realize I’ve been a bit ungrateful this week. Now that my perspective is not clouded by the aforementioned self-pity, it’s clear that I need to spend a few minutes on humbly repenting. Then I will gratefully add one more item to today’s list of blessings: FORGIVENESS.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Grace and Grandma

Last weekend, the Christian Reformed Churches throughout Southern California held a combined worship service to celebrate the founding of the denomination 150 years ago. I love attending events like this. I can't resist wanting to say “I was there.” I enjoy every minute of the special music, the memories shared, and simply being present as history is made. Incidentally, the worship service was held at the Crystal Cathedral, and that in itself was pretty impressive. But most special was attending this historical event with my Grandma.

Grandma is 86, and has been a member of this denomination since about 1953 when she and my grandpa packed up their four kids and immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands. You many know someone just like my Grandma – she’s the sweet little old lady with the thick Dutch accent. If you're lucky, she might be able to supply you with Mentos or Kings during that one- or two-peppermint sermon. I digress.

"Grace Through Every Generation" is the theme for this anniversary year. As I enjoy the memory of last week’s event, I need only think of being there with Grandma to recognize this theme in my own life. My faith is part of the legacy passed down to me from my parents and grandparents. Their faithfulness to God, and His to them, is a priceless gift I am blessed to share.

I've heard a number of dramatic conversion stories, but mine isn’t one of them. When I was younger, I thought my faith story was boring. When one grows up in church, the answer to "When did you become a Christian?" is ambiguous. Was it in Sunday School, when I first learned the stories of the Bible? Or at home, where devotions were read daily after dinner? How about in my years of Christian school and college, where faith permeated study of every subject? Well, yes. All of the above.

While I can’t pinpoint an exact day and time, I do know that over time their faith became my faith. More importantly, I began to see that a legacy of faith is a remarkable testimony to God’s grace in its own way. So for this, and so many other reasons, I held hands with Grandma to sing, “Oh Lord my God… how great Thou art.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Was it something I said?

I think I have occupational bad luck. While I've had some interesting jobs, and liked some things about all of them, I was thinking recently about some changes at my current job and realized this is the third job in a row that my boss has quit or changed jobs on me.

Anyone who's ever had a job - any job - knows that a boss can make it or break it. It's a huge factor in job satisfaction. And when you're spending more waking hours at work than anywhere else, it's a notable factor in life satisfaction as well. (Those of you who are your own boss, paint me envy green for just a moment.)

Currently, I am without a boss, and it's unclear when or how that might change. When it does, it will be like starting a brand new job, but without as much choice or control over the terms as if it was actually a new job. There is an upside: I already know where to find the bathrooms and the coffee pot. But I fear a possible downside: a 50% chance the new boss will not be as good or easy to work with as the old boss.

In the meantime, if you happen to ask, "how's your job going?" you might get a melancholy response. The truth is, I just don't know how to answer that.

Monday, October 1, 2007