Summer Surprises

Today was one of those great summer days, it wasn’t too hot, and had a nice breeze.  I found myself waking up at 6a.m. which I never do, unless the Holy Spirit has something in mind.  I had a summer adventure planned not quite an hour away in Livermore and Pleasanton, two bedroom communities somewhere East on the way to Stockton. That’s all I knew.

I love exploring new places.  I love California architecture and how it reflects the Spanish influence of the early missionaries and the wild west salons that still stand in some towns.  When I found myself in downtown Livermore at 7a.m, I admired its quaintness and quickly found the local cafe.  Spending some time journaling all my worries and frowns, I sipped my cup of decaf (yes decaf, that’s all I drink) and asked the Lord to take my hand and plan some surprises for me on this day.

The first was stumbling on the open doors of St. Michael’s Catholic Church.  I swerved the car over to the side and went in.  I love the quiet stillness of Catholic churches, the smell of incense, kneeling down on the kneelers, seeing Mary’s statue  in the corner so comforting, and sipping real wine (surprise) in the chalice for communion. The priest’s sermon was just 10 minutes long, but touched on the Scripture that I so needed to hear this morning, (another surprise) from Mattew 6:25-34.”Do not worry”. I chuckled to myself.  The  basic premise being to live in each moment today, experiencing God’s love and grace for that moment and don’t worry about tomorrow.  I vowed to enjoy today with the Lord as my travel companion.

Next I was off to Trinity Church, for the Christ Centered Art Exhibit.  I had entered my painting entitled “Cross with Pearls” based on the parable of the “Pearl of Great Price”.  No one was there yet so I tiptoed into the sanctuary to peer at the artwork, all by Christian artists depicting the parables of Jesus. SURPRISE, the commentary on my painting was missing, I had sent it in but obviously, it hadn’t been received.  I heard a voice and turned to see the Pastor, greeting me.  When I voiced my frantic concern of no commentary in sight, he warmly replied, “Miriam, come into my office and you can type up your commentary there.”  I quickly found the email I had sent with the description and printed it up.  Hmm…lucky I was here early, I thought…The Holy Spirit nudged me “SURPRISE, this is why I got you up at 6a.m.” he whispered to my heart.

I was so in awe of the beautiful artwork inspired by the Holy Spirit that hung around me on the sanctuary stage.  A warm and knowledgeable professor of ‘spiritual art’, from a local seminary, went around the room stopping to reflect on each piece of art, acknowledging the artist.  When he got to mine, I was nervous as I wondered if He would like it and think it as good as the others, “Surprise” said the Holy Spirit again, “It was my vision I gave to you to paint, you used your gifts to create it for me.  Remember this.”  I was humbled.  Yes, the glory should go to the Lord.   After eating lunch of chicken and egg salad sandwiches, prepared lovingly by the hands of the women of the church, I dashed off to my next destination.

I drove toward the hay colored, rolling hills sprinkled with green vines, into the heart of Livermore’s wineries.  I had decided to visit a few small wineries for a tasting of these local wines I had never experienced.  Not quite the beauty of the Napa Valley, still there was a cow here and there, and many pink limos carrying brides nervously awaiting their special moment at the winery venues.  I pulled into the Crooked Winery and put my $5 tasting fee on the counter.  The woman served me 6 tastes, which was 5 tastes too many for this lightweight. Worrying I might now get a DUI, and not wanting this SURPRISE, I got back in my car and vowed not to visit any more wineries.

Soon I was in downtown Pleasanton which was a surprise, a quaint old western town with many cute cafes and shops.  “I could really live here”, I thought, but remembered how hot it got there in the summer.  I had a scoop of cold strawberry ice cream and let the cool breeze run over me as I watched people go by.

Next stop was the Alameda County Fair at the fairgrounds.  I love this fair and go every year.  I headed for the art, which exceeded my expectations.  So much talent. I lovingly stopped at each painting that caught my eye and marveled at the technique of these artists.  What is a county fair without a corn dog? and SURPRISE! mine was lukewarm and chewy.   YUK.   I walked through the beautiful flower gardens and next watched children racing on sheep! What a SURPRISE that was to see them hold on for dear life!  I ended my day, sipping a diet coke and eating a whole bag of kettle popcorn, listening to the country music singer, sing about lost love and how women love cowboys. Amen. The Lord sat beside me tapping his foot to the music and I swear I saw Him in the Spirit get up and dance a country jig!

As I drove home, trying to maneuver all the confusing freeways, I thanked Him for the day full of fun and surprises that only He could have orchestrated.  Once home, I glumly discovered  that bag of popcorn had 25 weight watcher points.  SURPRISE!

What surprises has the Lord brought you this summer?  I would love to know.  Leave me a comment or reply.

To see my painting “Cross with Pearls” go to my earlier blog post on the home page entitled: Our Pearl of Great Price.  To see all my art, click on the menu above on ‘art website’ or go to