Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Things: Laws of the Universe

1. There is a purported law of the universe that goes something like this:

If you buy cheap sunglasses, then you will have them for decades; and if you buy expensive sunglasses, then you will no doubt lose them to the black hole vortex that is the bowel of the universe — you know, the place where all the impish, venturesome, lone-ranging socks go.

It's no surprise, then, that a few weeks ago, during the flood mayhem, I lost my expensive sunglasses. My cheap sunglasses, however, haven't left my side. Since then, I have been searching high and low for my missing sunglasses.

I've checked under pillows, on shelves, and in every drawer. I even looked in the mailbox. And then, this week, I discovered them, in like-new condition, in the dryer.

Somehow they'd survived the wash and a 60-minute dry cycle with nary a scratch or loose hinge. It turns out expensive sunglasses are not the worst investment for space cadets...

Take that, Universe! Your wily schemes won't get the best of me! *Throwing back head and laughing maniacally*

2. There is another law of the universe that goes something like this:

If your name is Sarah Christine Jackson and you decide to take the plunge into the world of online dating, then there are two types of men whose profiles you will be inclined to read:

A) Men with long hair
B) Men who are completely bald

Years ago a good friend observed that my approach to life was generally "all or nothing."

It turns out she's right.

3. In heaven, I will dance like this 6-year old girl:

Until then, I'll stick with what I know best:

Jazz hands, folks. You can't go wrong with jazz hands.

Or salsa. You can't go wrong with salsa:

My salsa partner, Dan

4. There is a third law of the universe that goes something like this:

If you stop at Trader Joe's after a long day of teaching without lunch and you buy a bag of sweet potato chips, then you will eat the entire bag in the 10-minute car ride home.

Moral of the story: buy a bag of broccoli the next time you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

5. Last night I awoke to a rather shocking and unfamiliar sound: rain dancing across my window panes. It's supposed to rain all weekend which means that, come Monday, the normally smoggy air will be scoured clean, and I will be able to see the ocean from my house, sparkling in the sunny sea air. I cannot wait.

6. Today's final law of the universe:

If you live in an area with lots of smog, the sunsets in said area will likely knock your socks off. (Don't bother looking for your socks when they're gone, though; no doubt the Universe's insatiable black hole vortex will have quickly sucked them into oblivion.)

That's Catalina Island on the far-off horizon

7. It turns out laws of the universe are my jam, folks. Stay tuned for what may be my next book: "Laws of the Universe: Subverting their Sly Schemes (Or Surrendering to Them; Whatever Floats your Space Cadet-ish Boat)"

I'm open to alternative titles.

8. Happy almost-Friday, my friends!


© by scj

Monday, February 24, 2014

Banana Coconut Chia Seed Pudding: gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free

It's been a good week, folks. Spring is in the air; the birds are chirping with delight; the orange groves are unfurling fragrant blossoms; and on top of all that, I've experienced no flooding, no illness, no cars breaking down AND I've gotten snail mail from friends three times — count 'em: three times, people. This is nothing short of a 21st century miracle. A good week, indeed.

It's also been a week of mastery. I've mastered power walking across campus in high heels (HIGH heels). I've mastered the "crumpled, used kleenex-hanging-out-of-the-front-pant-pocket" look (hey, it's allergy season, Jack!). And I've mastered a divine recipe for banana coconut chia seed pudding. You guys. I can't stop making it. Or eating it. For every meal. It just so rich, creamy and healthy. "It gives me nutrients. It gives me eagle powers!" [Name that movie]. I can't think of a reason to not eat it.

You should make yourself a Monday pudding treat, right now. And a Tuesday treat. And a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday treat. And then, on Saturday and Sunday you should make yourself this fudge. Just in case you want to eat pudding for first breakfast and fudge for second breakfast. It's always a good idea to eat fudge for second breakfast.

Here's the handy dandy, quick and easy pudding recipe:

Banana Coconut Chia Seed Pudding
Serves 6

  • 2 1/4 cups of coconut cream (I refrigerate the cans of coconut cream the night before I make the pudding so the cream is a nice, thick consistency)
  • 2 ripe bananas (the more freckled they are, the stronger banana flavor your pudding will have)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (or you could use regular vanilla)
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of raw honey (you could add more if you like it really sweet)
  • 6 tablespoons of chia seeds (I use Bob's Red Mill brand which you can buy at most health food stores, like Sprouts, and some normal grocery stores. You can also buy them online)
  • toasted, unsweetened dried coconut (shredded or flaked, however you like it!)


1. Blend the coconut cream, bananas, vanilla bean paste, lemon juice, salt and honey in a food processor or  blender for at least 1 minute, until smooth and lump-less.

2. When the ingredients are thoroughly blended, mix in the chia seeds.

3. Pour the pudding into 6 ramekins and let it sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes. 

4. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge overnight. 

5. Right before serving, top with toasted, unsweetened shredded coconut. You can toast your dried coconut ahead of time on a baking sheet at 300 degrees for 10-20 minutes. Just be sure to watch it carefully!

Bon appétit, my friends, and Happy Monday!


© by scj

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Things: Photobomb

1. There is a scary thing that happens with greater frequency as I age:

I meet a girl and think she is lovely.
I assume she's about 6-8 years older than I am.
I discover she is my age.

Folks, IT'S HAAAAAPPENING......! I am beginning to look older than I feel inside. And although I know I'm still a spring chicken, my internal monologues are beginning to sound like the things I used to hear older, graying people say:

"My wrinkling skin sure does belie my perky soul."

"This body of mine ain't got nothin' on my youthful spirit."

"How did my body run ahead and age like this, when my soul hasn't aged a day?"

Etcetera etcetera.

There is nothing to do about this but grieve. And buy eye cream. And plug my ears when my friends talk about being middle-aged (is 29 middle-aged?! It can't be...) And look forward to heaven.

2. My family does not think this is the cutest dog they ever did see.

"Its eyes have been photoshopped; those are human eyes," one of them said. "That thing is disturbing," another said. "Sarah. Ummmmm. Hmmm."

Someone call the optomotrist. My family needs glasses.

3. This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. Notice the looks of unabashed delight etched on our four childish little faces as we whiz down Splash Mountain for the first time.

Or not.

Our faces. You guys. The fear. The panic. The thought that life may soon be over. This picture makes me howl with laughter. Actually, it makes everyone in my family howl with laughter. We love texting it to each other periodically.

4. My friend mentioned "heckleberries" in a text last week. As in, "What the heckleberry?" I wondered, what is a heckleberry like? I think it must taste tart and zippy and come in all sorts of colors — purples, blues, reds, yellows, depending on where it grows. And it grows everywhere. The mountains of Colorado, the plains of Minnesota, the streets of New York.

Also, I think it is a mischief-inducing berry. Take care when eating heckleberries; you never know what they'll tempt you to do...

Hmmm, what else do we know about heckleberries?

5. My autocorrect keeps turning "heckleberries" into "huckleberries." I used to love huckleberries, but I I have not eaten them in 20 years. The last time I ate huckleberries I was with Jake Long up in Indian Heaven. For hours we laid in a huckleberry patch swallowing fistfuls of berries while our siblings filled their berry-picking buckets nearby. We ate until our fingers were stained purple and we had no appetite for lunch. Or dinner. Or huckleberry pancakes the next morning. It turns out eating buckets of huckleberries can make a kid feel really sick. That week I vowed I'd never eat a huckleberry again. But a heckleberry, well, that's another story.

6. Last week, at the Valentine's Day dinner the boys prepared for us, I got photobombed. That is, I made the mistake of leaving my phone unattended on the table. Three minutes and 300 photos later (I do not exaggerate), I retrieved my phone. But you don't photobomb Sarah J. without receiving retribution. That is, you don't photobomb me with at least 5 of those 300 photos being posted for all the world to see.

Robert Carter, you're a selfie bomber extraordinaire. 

7. Happy Thursday, everyone! The weekend is aaaaalmost here!


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 © by scj

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scenes from a presidential banquet, Part 3

Last week I posted part 1 from the President's story one of the students I tutor and I created. You can read it here. Somehow, part 2 has gotten lost in the bowels of Tutorville, and so I give you part 3. 

But first, a review of parts 1 and 2:

The setting: a hoity toity presidential banquet in a fancy schmanzy building; and the street outside the banquet which is, incidentally, teeming with queer characters.

The action: a man sitting on the john wearing a tie; drinks spilling; canons firing; pizza at a McDonalds next door (with 13 chimneys); a drink master who served cool soda and sherbet, and a dog named Franklin who ate a rose of felt off an unsuspecting man’s lapel (Franklin Roosevelt) etc. We left off with the dog devouring Franklin's rose of felt.

And now, scene 3:

A hippy standing in the street outside McDonalds watched the dog tear the rose to shreds. “Woooah,” he murmured. “That dog’s saliva is so hairy.” His friend, also a hippy, turned to him and said, “So true, man, so true.” (Harry Truman)

Just then, a basketball player, on his way to perform at the presidential banquet, came jogging down the street past the hippies and boomed, “Dwight in the hooooouse!!!”

This hippies watched, their mouths agape, as Dwight spun, jumped, and spun some more, right into a building.

“Ouch!” he cried as he nursed his bleeding elbow. “I need some ice!”

“The ice is in that tower, Dwight” one of the hippies said, pointing to the banquet hall’s highest turret. (Dwight Eisenhower)

Minutes later, the basketball player was in the tower icing his wound while using the John and gazing out the bathroom window. “Wow! What a view! From up here I can see Kennedy. Wait. Kentucky. Or is it Connecticut?” (John Kennedy)

He heard a knock on the door. A man from London yelled through the door to the John, “Kennedy’s not a state, son!” (Lyndon Johnson)

When the basketball player opened the door the Brit looked up at him in awe. “Hello, I’m Richard. Do you play for the Knicks or the Suns?” (Richard Nixon)

All of a sudden, one of the hippies, named Gerald, decided to go for a joyride in his Ford, up the tower stairs. (Gerald Ford).

He flew up the stairs and crashed out the side of the tower, his car dangling dangerously over the street below. The tower’s head security guard, Jimmy, put a cart under the dangling car and yelled, “Jump into this cart or die!” (Jimmy Carter)

Minutes later, Ronald walked out of McDonalds next door holding a ray gun. “I didn’t know they put these in happy meals!” he exclaimed. (Ronald Reagan)

He pointed the gun upward, tested the trigger, and accidentally shot the car perched precariously above him. Slowly, the car disappeared into thin air and the hippy fell to the ground, safe and sound.

A girl watching on the street yelled at the hippy, “Are you crazy, you almost killed my friend George! Now look at him, he’s lying disheveled in that bush!” (George Bush)

At that moment, twins, named William and Clinton, walked out of the presidential banquet, yawning with boredom. As soon as they saw George lying in the bush they ran over to help him, lifting him onto a bench with a huge “W” on it. It was an advertisement for wiener schnitzel. (George W. Bush)

And then, just as George was getting situated, out of the banquet walked the current president of the United States, Barak Obama. When he saw George, he walked over to him and said,

“Want a gummy worm?”

The end.

Note: this is in no way political commentary. It’s just a silly pneumonic device, man.

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 © by scj and mg

Monday, February 17, 2014

A scientific, factual law of the universe

Dear Friends,

There is a scientific, factual law of the universe that goes something like this: If a flood in your apartment forces you out of the apartment for nine nights, then you will probably get sick the day you have to move back in and reorganize everything; and once the virus runs its week-long course, two days after you feel better and finally get everything in your house reorganized, your car will stop working.

This is a fact of the universe that my life has corroborated. Yesterday, in fact. Although it all started last week, when I thought to myself,

You know, I've had three whole days of peace and quiet; something will almost certainly happen to upset things soon. My car will probably die. 

Now, my car has not given me any problems ever, and it's not done anything strange this week, so I had no reason to believe my car would stop working. Except that I am familiar with the aforementioned law of the universe.

So it was no surprise when I hopped in my car with hopes of going grocery shopping yesterday afternoon and it didn't start. What was surprising was that this inconvenience did not feel like a bucket of sand dumped on my head whilst I tried to claw my way out of the quicksand pit of the last 3.5 years, like it usually does.

Instead, a tiny tribe of butterflies in my gut began to flutter and murmur something about how I really need to get to work tomorrow because I have important stuff to do with my students, and my! but this is inconvenient. But if you ask me, tiny tribes of murmuring butterflies are a normal response to inconveniences. Very normal, indeed.

And normal I can do. Normal is what I've been working and hoping for these last 3.5 years. Normal is extraordinarily wonderful.

Also, my friends are extraordinarily wonderful. Most of them live pretty far from me in south county, but one of them, John (you met him here), lives close. His friendship is recent, and I cannot describe how wonderful it feels to have a nearby friend I can call when my car dies.

So John came to my rescue yesterday. He met me and the tow truck driver at the mechanic, and then took me to the grocery store so I could get food for the week. Today he took me to and from work, since I couldn't get a rental car last night. God has cared for my needs through John, and I am so very thankful. I'm also thankful for the tow truck driver I had, Jimmy. He was a kind, engaging and hard-working Christian who made me feel so safe and cared for. I felt like God hand-picked him just for me

So that's what's happening over here, folks. Large provisions, medium inconveniences and a small tub of ice cream to compliment season 1 of White Collar this evening. It's looking to be a good night.

Please pass the chocolate syrup!

Happy Monday night, friends. I hope yours is full of ice cream, too.



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 © by scj

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wuv, twue wuv

I know really smart, wise and lovely people who think Valentine's Day is a lousy holiday. "It's pointless," they say. "We should be loving each other well every day, not one day a year." "I want to be the kind of lover that my family and friends don't feel the need for a holiday to celebrate them every year."

These folks have some great points. It seems foolish to compartmentalize our love lives, only going out of our way to treat people with dignity and kindness one day a year.  That's not kind or dignifying, anyway. 

But I like Valentine's Day. I don't want to do away with it simply because it promotes, on one day of the year, something we ought to be doing all year. If I did that and was consistent, then I'd have to do away with Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, too. I'd like to be characterized as the sort of person who's thankful everyday, and who celebrates the birth and resurrection of Jesus all year. But by golly, I think these holidays are helpful and important.

They can reorient our prone-to-wander hearts. It's easy to forget to be thankful, and it's easy to forget to celebrate the work of Christ on our behalf, and it's easy to forget that the people in our lives are lovable and that we are too. Sometimes we need something built into our calendar to remind us who we are and who God is.

I think this is one of the reasons God commanded the Old Testament Israelites to observe annual religious festivals. These festivals encouraged the Israelites to redirect their eyes to the good work of God in the past. They buoyed their faith in an unseen God and set the Israelites apart from other nations, highlighting their "otherness" as God's chosen people. And while Valentine's Day isn't a God-ordained holiday, it, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, can encourage us to redirect our eyes to the good work and gifts of God in our lives.  

The word "holiday" comes from "holy day," a term used to refer to religious holidays. Although not a religious holiday today, Valentine's day has religious roots. It celebrates the life of St. Valentine who exemplified self sacrifice, reminding us of the nature of true love: a choice to put the needs of others before our own — a choice which opens us to true intimacy, and frees us to celebrate each other in community. I'm glad for the reminder. 

And boy, did my single guy friends go all out in reminding us girls of our unique, God-given value yesterday. 

It all started earlier this week, when they hand-delivered long-stemmed roses and invitations to a formal Valentine's day dinner. 

Our friend Pete, the mastermind behind this dinner

We were on our way out to line dance. What a great way to start the night.

It was the cherry on top of a vanilla week.

Last night, we girls got glammed up and showed up at the boys' house with drinks and dessert. It was a beautiful affair. Candles lit the walkway up to the house and twinkle lights stretched across the fence. The drink table sparkled with crystal goblets, and the banquet table showcased rose and candle centerpieces, gold chargers and more crystal. 

Inside, the boys were bustling about, cooking risotto to perfection, roasting asparagus, tossing salad, and putting the finishing touches on chicken marsala. They looked dashing in their fine suits. 

As the girls trickled in, we got pictures of our finery. Isn't getting all dressed up fun?! I just wish we had gotten a group picture.


After everyone had arrived, the girls sat at the banquet table while the men served us dinner and passed out blankets to anyone who was cold. They were attentive and quick to meet our needs. They made us feel so special.

Boys, dinner was delicious.  You done good. And you're all mighty fine catches. 

Our friend Jeremy likes to do something he calls "Words of Affirmation" for which we go around the table, "popcorn" style, highlighting the good and beautiful things we see and are drawn to in each other. 

Last night we went around and around, identifying the value we saw in person after person. We must have done it for 1 1/2 hours. It made me so thankful for the Body of Christ — his mouthpiece to speak grace and his hands to serve. Our guys were God's love embodied for a group of single girls who felt as far from lonely as Russia is from Minnesota. Or the north pole is from the south pole. Or the pacific is from the atlantic. Very very NOT lonely.

In fact, as I sat there surrounded by such lovely people, I knew that marriage and a family of my own could not have made me more content. I love those golden moments when the ache of unsatisfied desires is eclipsed by the shining care and loyalty of friends. 

After our words of affirmation — which were punctuated with lots of deep belly laughs — we went inside and enjoyed chocolate cake, cookies, and fondue. We danced in the living room, crammed into a dark bathroom to see John's glow-in-the-dark shirt, and generally enjoyed talking the night away. 

It was a glorious Valentine's day. A day that reoriented my heart that needed reorienting, and carried on the legacy of St. Valentine, a man whose devotion to Christ impelled him to sacrifice his own needs for the needs of others.

Wuv, twue wuv: it's a grand and glorious thing.
(Name that movie!)

I hope your Valentine's Day had lovely moments, my friends. I hope it reaffirmed your worth in Christ, and reminded you of the unique things you have to offer to the world. And if your day was lonely, aching and hard, I hope you can spend time with Jesus this week, maybe by reading the book of John and noticing how Jesus sought the outcasts, healed the sick, and emptied himself on the cross for us. His love is bottomless and relentless and his power can't be contained, even by the grave. 

And now we get to live and really love, because He lives and always loves.

In Him,


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 © by scj

Friday, February 14, 2014

Scenes from a presidential banquet, part 1

This fall one of the students I tutor — an elementary school kid — told me he had to memorize the American presidents (#'s 9-23) for a quiz the next day. We had thirty minutes to get him prepared. But flashcards are not his thing, man, and neither are raps. So a silly story was the name of the game. Parts of it made me laugh fit to kill. I think it deserves a public debut, especially if you like your Fridays with a side of zany. And so, I give you, “A scene from a presidential banquet, part 1” 

(Hint: read it aloud. Most of the presidents’ names are harder to see and easier to hear. All first and last names are present in the story):

At the presidential banquet, William Henry’s hairy son (William Henry Harrison) knocked impatiently on the bathroom door. “Hurry up in there!” he shouted.

Unbeknownst to him, the 10th president of the United State was sitting on the john reading the newspaper, whilst wearing a tie (John Tyler).

When John finally ventured out of the bathroom and into the ballroom, he saw James poking Zachary’s best friend Taylor (James Polk and Zachary Taylor).

Taylor was ticklish, so he fell backwards and hit Millard who was filling more punch in his cup (Millard Fillmore).

His punch spilled everywhere, splashing onto Franklin who was piercing his cake angrily with a knife (Franklin Pierce). Earlier that day, James blew a cannon at Franklin, putting him in a foul mood (James Buchanan).

At that moment, Abraham pulled up in a Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln), and Andrew and John’s sons (Andrew Johnson), who both happened to be named Ulysses, jumped out of the back seat. “We can’t wait to see the grand staircase in this banquet hall!” they exclaimed (Ulysses Grant).

While they were gushing and waiting for Abraham to park the car, a girl named Ruth came running up the street. “Have you seen a cat anywhere?!” she cried. “He’s stolen my money, and now I can’t afford to buy a hamburger. Hey! There he is! Get him!” (Rutherford Hayes).

It was Garfield. “Catch me if you can!” he yelled as he whizzed by. “I have plans to buy some lasagna! Lasagna that’s just for me — you better believe I won’t be sharing any of it with my roommate, James” (James Garfield).

Just then, Arthur the Jester (Chester Arthur) walked out of a clown shop and into Garfield’s way. He had a groovy bounce in his step as he declared to the cat, “Hey! In Cleveland, where I’m from, we don’t steal! (Grover Cleveland).” “Give that lady back her benjamins, you hairy son of a gun” (Benjamin Harrison).

And that’s it for now, folks. It’s a real cliff hanger. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.

The kiddo and I have joked about writing a book. Just in case we do, © MG and SJ

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 © by scj

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Medley of Moments

This week is off to a great start. I think this is because Monday started with second breakfast. After first breakfast, of course. It's always a good idea to model your eating patterns after hobbits. Also, it helps if first breakfast is dessert.

There is a law of the universe, and it is one of my favorites: any week that starts with first and second breakfast is bound to just get better.

And it did get better. The last two nights the sunset has dazzled. Wispy clouds settle over the ocean, looking like the opalescent inside of the abalone shells my dad used to find scuba diving. Just after the clock strikes 5:30 the sun sinks behind those abalone clouds, making them burn and glow. It is a magical way end to a day in which there are no emergencies or grievances. I love these quiet days.

When I woke up yesterday morning sun poured through my window. Eager to catch some rays, I skipped second breakfast, pulled on my favorite sundress and hat, lathered on the sunscreen, gathered my grading, and walked out the door. Only to come running back in the house from the cool. It was a chilling 70 degrees, folks.

What sort of weather wimp have I become?!

So I pulled on some sweatpants, fired up the furnace, and graded, and graded, and graded. I graded all day, taking breaks only to eat. And go outside. And watch the Ellen show. And call my mom. And clean the kitchen. And make fudge. And write. But you know what? I'm glad to have the freedom to spread out my grading like this. And boy does it spread. As far as the east is from the west...

I'm grading my heart out so I can spend some of the weekend with my pals. They're just the greatest friends a girl could ask for.

Here are some of them, in what may be my favorite selfie of all time:

Let me introduce you to some of my friends.

Here I am with my dear friend, Tiffany. She is kind, thoughtful, and loves to laugh. Her love of laughing will make you laugh. Which will make you love life. She's a blast to hang around.

Here Tiffany is looking photogenic while I sing a medley of the Lion King and Pocahontas theme songs. Standing on top of a large rock does wonders for my inner Disney Diva.

This is John drinking. He's a good man with strong arms.

Just look how easily he holds us in the palm of his hands.

Lucky guy, walking down the beach collecting girls instead of seashells.

This is Jeremy:

He's also a good man with strong arms, but he didn't carry girls this trip. He carried the camera and was our photographer extraordinaire. He caught fun bloopers, like this one.

Jeremy's also a surf chaplain who does good, faithful Kingdom work with surfers. You should pray for his ministry, if you think of it.

This sky:

If I had licked the horizon it would have tasted like honey. And then peaches and cream. Its flavors shifted as the sun set.

No beach trip is complete without jumping photos. It took us awhile to get them timed right. Actually, we never got them timed right. But it was loads of fun. Anything with these folks is.

And now, I must jump back into my work (see what I did there?!), if I am to play this weekend.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

I hope your week has been wonderful — full of satisfying work and pockets of play and quiet rest.


P.S. This dog exists.

I think its primary purpose is soften wicked hearts, cheer drooping spirits, and generally remind people that there is still goodness in the world.

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 © by scj

Friday, February 7, 2014

When the World knocks

I'm finally back in my apartment, and everything is warm and....ready for it?: DRY!!! Well, mostly dry. I caught a cold the night I moved back in, and all I have to say about that is: snot. Loads and loads of it, flowing incessantly from my spigot of a nose. Life is just an ebb and flow of different kinds of floods, I guess. I much prefer the snot kind to the water kind.

I had plans to spin the last few week's difficulties away salsa dancing tonight, but I'll be curled up with a movie and soup instead. Bean and sausage soup is one of God's great gifts to mankind, but it sure can't beat moving to pulsing Latin rhythms. Also, I'm craving bacon. Also, pasta. Also, my nose is about to fall off. So I'll be sure to catch the sunset from my backyard lookout point tonight. Watching the sunset has become the spoonful of sugar that helps all my medicine go down.

In fact, watching the sun set has become a balm to almost all of my life ills. When I'm sick or discouraged or afraid of the future, I try to catch the sunset. And for seven minutes it makes me happy to be me, right where I am. It feels like a warm breeze stirring up something new inside of me. It reminds me how small I am and how big and beautiful God is. It makes gratitude easy. It opens me to joy.

Last Tuesday, a couple of days into my flood mayhem, a girlfriend and I decided to catch the beach sunset. When we arrived, the beach was almost deserted, except for a few surfers. The wind whistled and the seagulls settled on the sand to watch the sun sink into the sea. We stood with them, looking at the expansive sky, a pale canvas of wispy clouds. And then, right on God's cue, the sun reached across the sky-canvas and began to finger-paint with fire.

Amber, tangerine, and pink pulsing with electricity — it was a sunset for the history books: a glowing reminder that life is a gift to be unwrapped with gratitude and stewarded with joy. 

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 © by scj