as long as I'm on the subject

I'm still walking down memory lane and remembering a time about nine years ago when I had a peaceful, interesting day that I'll never forget.

We were in Anaheim - Scott was attending the American Academy of Ophthalmology meetings which were scheduled from Friday to Monday. So I had lots of time to myself and took good advantage of it by reading, writing, and shopping (think Southern California malls lol).

But this was Sunday morning and I wanted to go to church. I found the address for the LDS ward in the area and took off in our rental car. (This was before GPS.) I got lost and knew I didn't want to wander around unfamiliar neighborhoods all alone. Then, in the distance I saw the outline of the Crystal Cathedral - a church that I knew about because we had toured it years before when visiting Anaheim. It was famous for its architecture (glass walls and ceiling) and for Robert Schuller's Hour of Power. (It has now, sadly, gone into bankruptcy).

I decided it would be fine for my Sunday excursion, better than going back to the hotel. I found the parking lot and followed some people going inside. The Sunday morning services had just started, so I quickly found a place to sit. I still remember when the choir started to sing - I had to look up and behind me to see them. They performed from the loft which was at the top and back of the auditorium. The acoustics were amazing and their lively music filled the air. Their hymn was just the beginning of the music-inspired joy that awaited me.

The program consisted of a sermon, a special musical number, and a guest speaker. I had never heard of either of the performers (this was in 2003), though now I hear about them all the time. The singer was CeCe Winans and the speaker was...Dave Ramsey.

The reason I'm thinking about this now is that CeCe Winans is a wonderful gospel singer and family friend of Whitney Houston. They performed together on occasion - I love thier duet of Bridge Over Troubled Waters and their Count on Me song from Waiting to Exhale. And CeCe Winans perfomed at Whitney Houston's funeral. Her voice, as she sang Don't Cry for Me, was said by many to sound very much like Whitney singing.

Back to the cathedral. Dave Ramsey gave an amazing talk about finances and budgeting and tithing. He was funny and dynamic and convincing. As I listened I hurried to take notes about his seven 'baby steps.' (Again, little did I know how famous and influential he would become.) I think his Total Money Makeover offers some of the best financial advice around.

Next the spotlight moved to a smaller side stage RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. On the stage was a quartet and a soloist ready to perform. When CeCe Winans started singing, I started crying. Her performance was one of the most beautiful and spiritually-touching events of my life. She sang Jesus You're Beautiful, a song that I'd never heard, but have now played about a million times in my car. Her voice, her presence, her dynamics, her gestures, the quartet accompanying her were all amazing.

After the service, I went to the bookstore next to the church and bought Dave Ramsey's book and CeCe's CD. I put the music in the car CD player and started driving. As I listened to the CD, I again caught my breath as she sang How Great Thou Art, one of my all-time favorite songs. I drove and drove just listening to the music.

I remember looking at the map and realizing I could stay on the same road and end up at the beach, which I did. I called Scott to confirm that I was headed in the correct direction. I drove through a most interesting neighborhood along the way - little Saigon. There was seriously a sign that said that, and sure enough the streets were filled with Vietnamese people shopping and visiting. And, I'm not kidding about this, for a stretch of probably five blocks, there were nail salons and nail supply stores on every corner.

Seeing the beach ahead, I could hardly distinguish between the ocean and the sky - both were a soft gray with white clouds and white foam. It was early November so there wasn't much going on except a few walkers and a beach volleyball game. And lots of seagulls...gray and white. I sat on the beach and reflected on the beauty around me and the blessings I had received from my Heavenly Father including the scene of beautiful waves crashing on the rocks in front of me and an afternoon that influenced my soul and is still with me today.