Life Updates and Other News

“Okay kids. Don’t buckle up. If the road drops out from under us we want to be able to get out of the car as quickly as possible.”

Yes. I actually said that— many times this past week. Ed has repositioned the orange cones and I’m again coming over the knoll looking for them in hopes our road is still there.

It is an 8 foot sheer, vertical drop down to a pile of oozing mud sloping into a deep canyon. This part of the road WAS 30 feet from the edge before the initial drop on Monday. Over the weekend, Ed also found 7 massive redwood trees that have fallen in the canyon. Crazy!

As precarious as all this sounds, the sunshine has definitely brought a more optimistic outlook, and we have several ideas for repairing it once the mud is    completely dry. But… just to be on the safe side… we are still parking most of our vehicles on the other side of the slide and using my van as a shuttle. The idea is to have as many cars on the outside should the road give way.

This plan is definitely not without glitches! Cory was running late for church so he missed the shuttle to his truck and had to hike out. Problem was… he forgot his keys on the first hike! He eventually made it… and burned a few extra calories too!

Speaking of Cory… he recently surprised us by going out for the men’s volleyball team.  Several weeks ago, he announced after dinner he was heading back to school for open gym. He randomly said he was considering trying out for volleyball and they were having an open practice for anyone interested. As he walked back in the door several hours later, he said(quoting the coach in a playful voice), “Apparently I’m a natural at volleyball.” Who knew?

The next day he came home from practice saying, “Apparently, I’m a really good server.” He was again quoting the coach and we have had so much fun prefacing every volleyball conversation with “apparently!”

At one point the coach pulled him aside to ask about his volleyball background. Cory explained his sister was on the middle school volleyball team and he would hit the ball around with her. As the coach probed further, Cory revealed that his sister is now 20 and he hasn’t touched a volleyball in 8 years!

Apparently it runs in the family. Hah!

  

(That’s Cory in all black jumping to block the ball. Apparently, he’s a really good jumper too.).

One last update…

Today I played piano on the worship team at church. The music was gorgeous…if I do say so myself. We did a very acoustic set (that’s cool band talk for less electric instruments…or something like that) and the presence of God was tangible in all three services. But…I HAD to take a picture of the door to the music room.

“Please keep door locked and closed.”

That sign is new and I’m just wondering if it came as a result of Ed and Cory snooping around back there trying to find my purse with Jessica’s keys in it a few weeks ago. Hah! I could not stop laughing to myself when I saw it.

Well, those are some of the highlights from this past week.

We continue to wholeheartedly rely on God for His direction and timing in our lives.  This verse is ministering to me so much right now….

Joshua 1:9. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Apparently, I need the reminder.

Slip Sliding Away

Psalm 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall…”

Well…

The earth is giving way and the mountain is beginning to fall on our property.

We live at the end of a mile long dirt road which circles around a canyon that is about 70 feet deep and 70 feet wide. With all the rain hammering the central coast this past month, we had 30 feet drop off the last part of our road which is now inches from collapsing.

  Each day as I’m driving out from my house, I come over the hill before the slide, holding my breath and praying the road will still be there.  The first thing I look for are the orange cones. If they’re still perched on the edge, I know the road has held for one more day. It’s absolutely terrifying!

I say that because we have lived through a mudslide in the not so distant past. It was December 23, 2005.  Ed kissed me goodbye and routinely left for work. Within minutes he was calling, explaining the disaster sitting in front of him. Four acres of our neighbor’s property had slid onto our road covering 500 feet of it with debris piled 20 feet high.

There was a secondary access road to our house that was not quite drivable, however, Eddie was able to get his heavy-duty, four-wheel drive truck over it, allowing us to have a vehicle parked on the other side.

Ed then figured out a way for us to hike in and out of our property, reaching his truck.  You read that correctly… we were hiking to our house with only one vehicle parked on the other side of the slide. This was a steep, quarter mile hike, which included crossing a narrow creek on a twelve inch, wobbly plank that Eddie rigged up.

After a couple of weeks we were able to bring in some rock to the most treacherous part of the secondary access road. Even with this bit of improvement, only a four-wheel drive vehicle could get through.

It was a steep hill followed by a perilous, narrow, windy road down a mountainside. I would drive my suburban up to the steep part, put it in four-wheel drive, say a quick prayer and GUN IT! After some spinning out and more prayer, I could make it to the top followed by a slow descent down the scary switchbacks.

We did this for TEN MONTHS!

Within weeks the cause of the slide was easily determined. Four of our neighbors had an old, wooden holding tank for water. Unbeknownst to us, it had not worked right for years—leaking gallons of water each day! After saturating the hillside for so long, it finally gave way.

Those 10 months were long and hard AND… we made it through them seeing God’s faithfulness every step of the way. He brought us the incredible surprise blessing of Olivia smack dab in the middle of it all. Her story is crazy-amazing and I need to share it sometime soon.

I’m sitting here reminding myself that God is always with me and He loves to bring joy out of the chaos of life.

I have these verses underlined in my Bible, dated May 5, 2006, with the phrase “mudslide” written next to them:

Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

I have a feeling these verses are about to become a reality to me once again as the cones have now slipped off the road… just minutes ago.

I’m not sure how God can out-do the blessing of Olivia during our last slide, but I’m waiting patiently to see how he will put a new song in my mouth this time.

He is always faithful!!

A Different Type of Valentine Post

So… I told myself I was not going to write too much about Eddie in my next few posts because the first thing he said after I read the last one to him was, “You didn’t mention me as much as you usually do.”

Are you kidding me? He had a whole paragraph dedicated to how amazingly helpful he is and never complains and now he’s complaining about not getting enough blog time?

Anyway, I just HAVE to make an exception and brag on him one more time and then he’s side-lined for a bit!

Here’s how the day unfolded:

Jessica had a flight scheduled to leave San Jose this evening, and I had agreed to pick her up from work and drive her to the airport. Problem was, it RAINED all night and all morning and flash flood warnings started coming in.

I texted my friend, Brook, who works in San Jose and asked her if she knew if Highway 17 was still open. (It’s always the first road to close in stormy weather, but is the fastest route to the airport.)

Her response: “Drive in the fast lane to avoid landslides. Hah!”

Followed by, “The cars that have been hit by the big slides are usually fine. Worst case scenario—it pushes you into the divider. Take the van!”

An hour later, Brook sent me this picture:

That’s a mudslide on highway 17!

Within minutes, the news came in that all major roads out of Santa Cruz County were closed.

The next hour was a frantic group text of Eddie, Jessica and me trying to figure out how to get to the airport.

Let me clarify that…

…basically I was frantic and Ed and Jess were calmly discussing how to work this out.

Ed agreed to pull off work early and do his best to get her there on time. He had to clean up the construction site in record time, and as he bent over to grab a tool— his pants split open across his back pocket. Haha.

I came up with a super-sensible-no-risk-long-way-around plan, but Ed made the decision to chance it on one of his favorite, backcountry, mountain roads. I really tried to talk him out of it, but he responded with, “I’m bringing my chainsaw in case any trees are blocking the way.”

He was dead serious.  

The road was extremely narrow with lots of blind turns. When they met another insane person taking it, they would have to inch by, hoping not to scrape against them. Water was cascading down the steep banks as if they were driving alongside a waterfall. Ed said the trees looked like matchsticks scattered all over.

When I asked him what Jessica was saying during all this he answered, “Dad. Slow down.”

He immediately regretted telling me that as he realized I was taking notes for my blog.

They made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

On the way home, Eddie ACTUALLY did have to use his chainsaw to cut branches off a tree that had fallen. Can you believe it?!

He also joked how his good friend who likes to take that same backroad to work had said not to tell anyone about it being open—keep the crowds away.

(At this point I quietly deleted my Facebook comment about Ed and Jess making it over Old Mt. Madonna Road that afternoon.)

Eddie is my hero. In so many ways.

I hesitate to mention… he even picked up Taco Bell on his way home because I was too stressed to cook, and ,of course, really did not want to go out in the rain. I mean, I don’t even know how to work a chainsaw out on the roads!

I’ve ended a post before with a screenshot of my texts with Brook. I thought you might enjoy her humor and insight one more time…

The Keys to a Happy Family…Literally

I could not silence the incessant beeping coming from my minivan.  One of the electric doors would not slide into place and the noise was escalating the whole drama of me, already running a few minutes late.

It was EARLY Sunday morning and I was scheduled to play keys on the worship team at church.  (That’s cool band talk for keyboard.)  I had no choice but to wake up Eddie.  Graciously (and groggily I might add) he came out to the garage and body-slammed the van door until the beeping stopped.

I have to pause here and say:  Eddie is ALWAYS willing to help no matter how inconvenient it is for him.  Me— not so much.  I roll my eyes, sigh and even stomp toward whoever needs me.

Super dramatic!

Ed comes to the rescue the minute he is needed and never complains.  I mean, here he was, standing in the cold garage on this rainy morning in his boxers and a t-shirt, no contacts…beating on my car.

I took off down our steep driveway and as I rounded the first curve a loud beeping announced that the door was sliding OPEN! I zipped back up the hill and Eddie again beat on the door until it fully closed.  This time I locked it and Ed felt confident I would make it to church without it sliding open.

Same corner.  Same result.

I quickly made the decision to commandeer Jessica’s car.  This was a bold move on my part because she really needed her car to get to work in a couple hours.  I drove away leaving Eddie to figure out how to get Jessica to work and the rest of the family to church.

Band practice and the first church service went really well.  As I got set-up at the keyboard for the second service, I made eye contact with Cory and was happy to see he was sitting where it would be easy for me to join him.  I knew Ed was taking Olivia to her class and would appear soon.  Jess had driven Cory’s truck to work AFTER Ed made an early morning trip to the gas station.  (Cory always runs on fumes!)

The music was beautiful that morning.  I kept trying to glance at Cory and Eddie without being too obvious, but, for some reason, was unable to spot them in the crowd.  I waited until there was a break in the action (a.k.a. “greeting time”) and scanned the room, but they were nowhere to be found.

Hmmm.  Very strange.

We finished the last song of the worship set, and quietly headed for the door at the back of the stage.  Imagine my surprise as Cory was the first person I saw.

“What are you doing back here?” I asked.

“Mom!  Where are Jessica’s keys?  We’ve been looking everywhere for them in the music room.”

He went on to explain how Jessica arrived at work and was unable to unlock the door because… I not only had her car keys, I also had her work keys! She was standing in the rain with customers, waiting for Cory to bring them to her.

Oops!

Cory and Eddie had been searching every nook and cranny trying to find where I stashed my purse during church.  Little did they know— I hide my purse on stage because of people like them: YOU NEVER KNOW WHO MIGHT BE RUMMAGING THROUGH STUFF BACK THERE! Hah!

I’d like to say this is an out of the ordinary day in our lives, but… no can do.

Life is crazy, hectic, busy, full and packed with every emotion you can possibly think of.  We have hard days as a family, filled with big struggles and on-edge emotions that takes everything in us to get through.  But that’s just it:  Jesus is in us and He’s the reason we can love one another and make it through challenging times.

(And silly, inconvenient times like car doors sliding open while driving and needed keys hidden on a church stage).

This verse is the key to getting along with others and, for me, it starts with my family; they are the ones seeing the real me.

Ephesians 4:2-3  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I am not humble (eye rolls, sighs, stomps) yet alone, COMPLETELY humble.  What does that even mean??  And my words have a natural “snap” to them rather than a gentle caress.  Let’s don’t even venture in to the next phrase of being patient!

Luckily, Jesus is so patient and COMPLETELY gentle with me (and I know exactly what that means).

More than anything, I want each member of my family to be growing in their faith and know how much they are loved by Jesus.  THAT is literally the key to a happy family.

And… it wouldn’t hurt to COMPLETELY upgrade the old minivan!

Just sayin’!