I took these pictures today at The Palo Alto Baylands. I don’t touch them up because I don’t claim to be a photographer, just someone who likes taking pictures and sharing them sometimes…here they are.
I hate camping. It’s not the dirt. It’s the sleeping and the peeing. I like the comforts of life and would much prefer a lovely B & B to spend my leisure time. My hubby is a camping guy. My kids are camping kids. My hubby wants me to love camping as I did when I was a teen. I didn’t think it would happen, but I think he may have succeeded (and I was trying to keep an open mind and tried choosing to love it again). Here is what he did…
- He bought me a lovely cot with a nice little pad on it to be all cozy (we call it the princess bed)
- He got me a sleeping bag that will guarantee warmth (although once it didn’t, so he also got me a special heating blanket for really cold nights)
- He let me bring TWO pillows (one for the knees and one for my head)
- He brought a “Ladies Only” port-a-potty just for me
- He fed my extrovert side by making sure I’d have a friend to chat with (Love you Lena Marie!)
- He ordered up some lovely sun
- He brought Wine with twist tops and got me lovely plastic wine glasses
- He let me wear a tiara the whole weekend (that was to remind people of my princess camper status)
Well, it worked. I had a blast. I was surrounded by good friends. I shot guns. I swam in freezing cold water on a hot day. I ate amazing food (including fresh fish). I had my pup Bilbo with me. I read my Kindle. I peed in the woods (not as much fun as the rest of the stuff ~ I think I might have gotten some on my PJs ~ still working out the kinks on that one). And best of all I slept great on my princess bed.
Here is my vow to you Hubby, “I will camp again! As long as it’s Princess Camping.”
I woke up today with a clear sense that I was supposed to contact a women at my church and give her a message I assume is from God. I had this dream where I was sharing with this woman and when I awoke I prayed and asked God why he had put this women in my dream and why the dream felt so clear. The reason I questioned it, is because the woman is someone who’s name I don’t even know. I have seen her around my church, but we don’t know each other. I don’t even know the last time I saw her.
I have often struggled with hearing God. What does it look like? Is there really supposed to be a voice (I still wouldn’t mind a big booming voice…alas, it’s never a voice)? How will I know it’s from God (and not the other voices in my head ~ haha)? This was different. I woke up feeling clear of mind and sure I was supposed to contact this woman. While I was praying I asked God how he wanted me to call her if I didn’t know her name or number. In another dream I was sure that I was supposed to call another friend to get her contact information. When I called the friend this morning she knew instantly the woman I was describing and was able to give me the woman’s number.
This is the first time this has happened to me with such clarity. I have also never had words or pictures for a stranger. You may think this is all a bit nutter, but I think it’s kind of cool. I love the idea that God uses us to communicate encouragement, or advice, or the answer to prayer. I hope that when I talk to the woman I find out what purpose God had in orchestrating it this way.
I called the woman and I really didn’t know what to expect. In fact, I had fears that she would think I was crazy for saying, “I know we don’t really know each other, but I think God wants me to tell you something.” It turns out that when I told her about what happened and I gave her the message she was surprised and said, “You have no idea how much this means to me. You have been an answer to prayer.” We had a great conversation about God after that and I have a new friend at the church.
This is all new to me. 20 years ago I would have said the author of this story is nuts (I was an atheist back then). Now I think God is amazing and maybe if I keep my mind open enough he can use me in mighty ways. It’s hard for me to post this and be so vulnerable in my beliefs, but here it is. I am amazed by this experience and love God for using me this way.
Tonight I have 4 couples coming over for dinner. I don’t know if they know each other very well and that’s the point. I have a friend who stood up in church and said she was having people over for dinner from the church to get to know her church family better. I love this idea. So far we have had a few dinners that mixed groups of people. It has been a great success so far.
I want to challenge you all to try this. Keep it very simple.
- Serve a simple meal ~ We cook chicken and rice and have different people bring bread, salad & dessert.
- Keep it intimate. ~ Try not to do a big thing and have people walking around. This will cause people to congregate to the people they know best. SIT DOWN and eat together. If you only have room for 6, then only invite two couples.
- That’s it!!! Don’t stress over this. It’s really just a great way to spend an evening.
What happens when you do this, is people stop thinking of that guy at church that wears the colorful shirts as “The guy with the loud shirts” and start calling him by his proper name, Bob (don’t worry, that wasn’t a real example). It will connect you in a new way.
I’ve even had someone recently tell me they were close to changing churches, but after connecting at my dinner, they have a renewed sense of connection. Please try this. I’d love to hear if you do and how it goes.
P.S. This also works for your neighborhood family…not just your church family
The emphasis on this place, The Luxe Calistoga, should be the breakfast. They serve a four course breakfast that overwhelmed the senses every morning. The owners, Chris and Brent, were very friendly and the property was beautiful. It is located near a main street which had its pros and cons (the noise was there, but not too bad and it was nice to be able to wander easily to the local restaurants).
Here are pictures of the amazing breakfasts…
This past weekend, my hubby and I went to Calistoga, California for a weekend in the wine country. One of our stops along the way was Castello di Amorosa which is a castle that was built in Napa Valley by an Italian family to replicate the castles of Europe.
Outside the castle were some animals. I saw the sheep (I love sheep) through an open door and went out to see them and take pictures. This, of course, got us locked out of the castle and we had to go back around to get in. You really can’t take me anywhere (well, anywhere near sheep ~ they’re so funny).
Some of the wines down in the cellar were hundreds of years old and were part of the Amorosa family collection.
We went on the tour with our friends (they were with us the whole weekend ~ good times!). The tour included our own private wine tasting room down in the “dungeon” of the castle. It was such a neat experience.