Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It was 7:15 that overcast Thursday morning as I was dressing for work. Oftentimes, there is noise out on the street in our condominium campus, but this time, the noise was different. The sounds were like full aluminum soda cans being tossed into the back of a pick-up truck full of ice. But when it got more intense and sounded like wooden planks being slammed to the ground, I had to look out my bedroom window to see what was all the commotion. What I saw was a huge fire ball coming from my next door neighbor’s garage. I grabbed my phone to call 911 but my fingers were fumbling and it just wouldn’t go through. I then heard a male voice yell “FIRE!” and a female voice screaming “Get out of the house! Get out of the house!”

 I  sped outside to help and observed people assisting the neighbors and their pets to evacuate. We live in town homes, and my unit is on the end of a 4 - grouping and the home on fire was on the end of the next 4 grouping. My unit has an attached garage and two stories whereas the neighbor's home was single story with detached garage. We're not connected, but separated by a mere 30 feet.

I spotted clusters of fire dripping off  the side of the blazing garage facing my front door and setting the  ground vegetation on fire. I grabbed my garden hose in attempt to put out the small flames, but it was kinking up;constricting the water flow. My neighbor on the other side assisted to unbend the rubber tubing, but it took awhile and I was becoming quite anxious. "Please hurry!" I cried out. While I was dousing the plants that were aflame, people were telling me to get back; that it might blow. The heat was intense. Someone else said I should not spray water on the fire in the event it could flare up. I knew this! I was only watering the plants to keep it from spreading towards my home. I was able to extinguish the ground fire and put the hose away by the time the fire department arrived.
 It took awhile to get the fire subdued, but Praise God; it was  mainly contained to the detached garage.

As the fire was being doused, thick grey smoke blew over into my open garage. The joining condo to the right of the fire was vacant for renovations, but fire fighters had to kick in the front door so that they could access the garage in order to vent the shared wall. Heat from the flames warped the metal garage doors of the two neighbors directly across from the fire. The Star Jasmine plants that are up against my outer garage wall turned brown from heat damage, as well as leaves on the large oak tree between our homes.

 Once the fire was fully out, and the fire inspectors completed their work, authorities constructed a covered fencing across the carcass of the garage, and boarded up the exit door and blown out windows.

Before the fire was extinguished, my neighbors who are Christians, arrived on scene and were comforted by the numerous neighbors in our community. They are loved and respected on our block and would help anyone. They often attended to my two cats when I went away for short trips.

My neighbors lost some treasured recreational toys stored in their garage, but their living areas only experienced smoke damage. They will stay with family and hopefully return when the unit is restored. My friends trust God for directions on what next to do.

I like taking pictures of things, but while the fire was going, I just could not do it for I felt it was violating my friends. I don’t know if that makes any sense. However, I did take photos of the damage and clean-up.

I do not understand why I  still feel so traumatized by the event, even now, three weeks later. Yes, it was scary, and happened to people I care about, but they are safe and will be okay. it was only material things they lost. Yet, there remains the yellow “fire line- do not cross” tape strung across the pole on my front porch and past my front door, and I see the home several times a day. I pray for the family each time I glance over at their home.

 The emptied home now sits and waits. It's so sad.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


“Awww, How cute!”
“Look at this one, Barbie!”

Stephanie peered into the cluster of cages, oohing and aahing at the cats inside. Felines of every age and color played, slept or eyed us with expressions of hope. My fifteen year old niece and I were at PetSmart, looking for a kitten through the “Cats In Need Of Human Care” adoption program.

 The date was June 28, 1998, and I had promised Stephanie that she could have a cat, after recently moving into an apartment that allowed pets.

 Five years earlier, when Stephanie came to live with me, I resided in a place that did not allow pets. We then needed to move to the city where my parents lived, because they took Stephanie to high school each day, as I had to be at work at 6:30 AM. I was using their address because I lived 25 miles away in another district. Now, the school would no longer allow out of district attendance, so we needed to move.

Round and round we went, looking at the adorable critters and wishing we could take them all. Stephanie came across this one petite cat, who took to her fancy. This was the one! As we filled out the adoption papers, the three women working the event cooed “Oh, Emma!”

Fifteen week old Emma was dark grey with stripes and had a very long tail that appeared to have rings down its length. The story was told that Emma had previously been adopted, but then returned for an unknown unreason. That story clinched it for Stephanie, as she could relate because her own mother gave her away.


I had dogs as a child and had yet to know a cat, 
I immediatly  became  smitten with Emma.

She was Stephanie’s cat but that little ball of fur often slept on my bed and I think she liked me better!   She had this toy that was a stuffed fish on the end of a string and when Emma heard me awake, she would come running and sit down next to the toy; ready to play.
Emma loved to play keep away.  Stephanie and I sat at opposite ends of the short hallway and tossed a toy back and forth till that little kitten collapsed in exhaustion.

Our most favorite Emma memory is that she was in the kitchen window waiting for us whenever we returned home. When we moved again, there was no window for her to watch for us. We missed that. But Emma found another sport: fly catching. You see, we lived in dairy country, and it was inevitable that the insects would break into the house, but Emma became a pro at eradicating the pests!

Emma had attitude from the day we brought her home and it grew as she grew! Though mellowed with age, there is still some kitten and a lot of attitude in her. When Emma was two, another feline joined the household and she was not impressed. (Another story)
Her attitude increased tenfold, and she and Dusty do not get along. He is twice her size, but she intimadated him when he was a tiny kitten, so they just tolerate each other.

Stephanie has grown, and moved on with a family of her own, but Emma remains. (So does Dusty) Now age thirteen, she has some hearing and vision loss, but remains the Queen of the house! Each day when I arrive home, she must sense the garage door opening, for she is at the door when I come in and we sit and cuddle awhile. That is, until she says she’s done!

I am grateful to have met this little kitty for she has brought a lot of joy and pleasure into my life. I will enjoy and appreciate Emma for as long as I can!

Friday, June 17, 2011


This is a devotional I wrote for a FaithWriters Challenge, and Lisa M. suggested that I should post it on my blog. Thanks Lisa!

Sitting in my plastic laundry basket, Missy covered her face with splayed fingers and giggled when I walked past her. Going along with the game, I asked:
“Where’s Missy? I can’t find her!” More giggles came from within the container sheltering the child. “There she is! I didn’t see you!”
I hugged her and she responded with a heartfelt Mwwaaaa.

Playing Peek-a-boo with children is entertaining, but when it feels like God is playing the game with us, it’s not so fun. There are times when it seems God has vanished and nowhere to be found. We know He's there, but we can’t sense His Presence. We ask “Where is God? I can’t see Him.”
What would it be like to see God face to face? The Bible tells us that we cannot see Him while we are still earth-bound because it would be too much to comprehend. However because He loves us, God has allowed nuances of Himself to be physically communicated. Oftentimes, the revelation of God’s Presence follows a time of suffocating darkness.

I love the Biblical story in Exodus 33 of Moses confronting God with a bold request. He wanted God to be a visible presence to the others while on the journey to the Promised Land. Moses asked this because he believed that the people in his charge would see that God approved of him, and thus worthy to be their leader.

God responds “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

So, God has agreed to Moses’ request, but that is not enough for the insecure man.
Moses blurts out: “Now show me your glory.”

God does not become angry at this insolent fellow. Instead, he provides an insightful reason why He will not allow himself to be seen.

“…I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence…. But you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (NIV)

God elaborates on what He will do for Moses:

“There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my Glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

God spoke metaphorically so that Moses could understand the overwhelming essence that is God. We are not privy to the information of what actually happened to Moses when the big event occurred, but can only imagine what it was like.

While we are in our darkest times, it’s because God is at work in us. When life becomes too oppressive, that sense of darkness is actually God covering us with His hands to communicate protection and comfort. We cannot see or feel Him, but He is there beside us. After the blackness of the cave-like existence where life seems hopeless, the brilliance of daylight is the outcome of God’s Presence, therefore, seeing “his back.”

I can’t fathom what it will be like when facing God’s Glory, yet I long for that day when we meet face to face. Nevertheless, I am grateful that God is not playing a child’s game when I cannot see His face or sense His Presence.

Dear Lord God, thank you for caring so much about our meager understanding of your Holiness. Thank You for your protection and comforting embrace during the times when we are caved in darkness, for  it is then that You are working your Will for us. Lord, let us be aware that it is Your Presence even though we cannot hear or see you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not willing to quit

My name is Barbara and I am an addict. I’m addicted to
 Diet Coke.

That icy cold effervescent liquid feels so good going down my constantly-irritated-throat-due-to-post-nasal-drip, and it is the only beverage that quenches my thirst.
 I don’t like coffee and so get my  caffeine jolt from the soda.       

I believe this penchant for diet soda began as a young teen. On occasion, my Mom would treat my brother and me to a large bottle of Diet Rite Cola. (I was overweight, but Mom and Doug were not.) With anticipation, I waited while Doug walked to the corner market to buy the magical concoction. Oh what pleasure those drinks brought to my life!

I used to drink Diet Pepsi till one day I took the Pepsi Challenge at the Fair when an exhibitor was promoting Pepsi over Coke. They had two unlabeled bottles of the beverage and in-between sips, saltine crackers were eaten. I chose the Diet Coke! Been a convert ever since.

Truthfully, I don’t remember needing the soda so much till I was in my twenties. It all started because I thought the drink would fill my stomach so that I would eat less and therefore lose weight. So naturally I drank Diet Coke with chips and other non-dietetic foods.
I did not drink that much, but eventually a once- a- day 42-ouncer turned into a twice a day habit. But that was thwarted when I spilled filled cups of soda in my car. When I bought a new car, cardboard containers of soda were banned. I promoted to bottles. I consumed thirty-two ounce bottles three to four times daily.

I’m trying to reduce my consumption, but have no intention of giving up the stuff. I am down to about two liters or less per day. I realize that that I should drink more water and that the chemicals in the brew are not that healthy, but you know what? I don’t care!

Let me have my Diet Coke and I will be okay.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


C  is for COOKIE!
Come join the fun!


Flour spilled over the sides of the mixing bowl as the scrawny girl blended the cookie batter; simultaneously popping a handful of chocolate chips into her mouth. With flair worthy of an Oscar, she dumped the remaining morsels into the mix and blended them to perfection.

It was the summer of 1993, and my ten year old niece was making chocolate chip cookies to enter into the Los Angeles County Fair. Stephanie had come to live with me just a few months previously, and since I had been entering baked goods for the last two years, I thought it would help her self-esteem to submit something too. Steph chose to make chocolate chip cookies, but decided that the basic recipe should use milk chocolate chips rather than the semi-sweet chips listed in the ingredients. She was right; made the cookies yummy!

The long wait between the times we submitted the baked goods till we could view the outcome seemed endless to Stephanie. Finally arriving to the large fairgrounds, we sped over to the kid’s exhibition hall and scanned the rows of baked goods. There were the delicious cookies-with a blue ribbon attached! That was one happy girl and auntie!

To this day, I've never told her that all the entries for kids received ribbons. But Stephanie did get first place with her cookies, and has been proud of that recipe ever since. As intended, Steph’s self-esteem was greatly lifted. As she grew up, she baked those prize-winning cookies for boyfriends and other special people in her life; boasting of the blue ribbon she received at the county fair.

Isn’t it wonderful that chocolate chip cookies are not only delicious, but they actually aid in raising self-worth!

Do I hear an AMEN?