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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A bi-weekly column, featuring one Christian's (a)musings on life's journey

by Barbara Dahlgren

Simple Pleasures
Column for the weeks of August 16-31, 2007

Our world offers a variety of options that were not available a few years ago.

A seemingly easy shopping list becomes complicated by the myriad of options available for each product, not to mention different brands. Orange juice alone comes pasteurized, fresh squeezed or from concentrate, frozen or not frozen, with a little, lot or no pulp, with or without fiber, organic or non organic, with or without calcium, and so on. A husband trying to pick up a few items at the store for his wife is doomed before he pulls into the Safeway parking lot.

What if you want a pet, but don’t want the hassle of caring for one? Just call FlexPetz in San Francisco. They will rent you a dog for a day for only $39.95. I can’t imagine anyone renting a pet for a day (Haven’t they heard of the zoo?), but business is thriving. Plans to open other similar ventures are in the works for Manhattan and London.

Forget about naming your newborn after your favorite aunt. That is passé’. If you want your baby to have the “right” name, better call a baby-name consultant who uses statistical data, phonetic analysis, and marketing research to come up with names complementing whatever ambitions parents have for their child. Baby name expert Bruce Lansky states, “When you pick the right name, you’re giving your child a head start.” Marion Morrison and Merle Johnson Jr. can attest to that. That’s why they changed their names to John Wayne and Troy Donahue. Marion just didn’t sound like a cowboy and it’s hard to imagine girls in the 1960s swooning over someone named Merle.

Even prisoners have options today. California’s prison system allows some criminals to upgrade to nicer jails. For a surcharge of $75 to $125 or so, prisoners can be transferred from county jails to private rooms in cleaner, quieter city jails. Some deals even guarantee personal computer use. I guess even the California penal system has “gone Hollywood.”

Today a woman has the option of freezing her eggs for future use. Melanie Boivin of Canada has frozen her eggs for her infertile 7-year-old daughter Flavie, who was born with Turner’s syndrome. One day Flavie will have to decide whether or not to use these eggs. If she does, her daughter would actually be her sister. Talk about an identity crisis! Which reminds me of a song we sang when I was young called I’m My Own Grandpa. The singer married a widow with an adult daughter. Subsequently, his father married the widow's daughter. This created a tangle of relationships by a mixture of blood and marriage. The singer’s father became his step-son-in-law. The situation was further complicated when both couples had children. WOW! I always thought we were behind the times – now I find out we were ahead – and we didn’t even have to use modern technology.

Like I said – today we have many options. In some bizarre way, all were probably designed with convenience in mind, but in our zeal to simplify our lives, we have actually filled them with complicated decisions. Which makes me think – have we lost our ability to appreciate simple pleasures?

God’s pleasures are simple ones. Nineteenth century English preacher Frederick William Robertson writes:

"All God's pleasures are simple ones;
the rapture of a May morning sunshine,
the stream blue and green,
kind words,
benevolent acts,
the glow of good humor."

God has much to say about simple pleasures, although that phrase won’t be found in the Bible. He tells us to take joy in each new day (Psalm 118:24). He emphasizes contentment (Proverbs 30:8, 9; Hebrews 13:5). He loves unity not contentiousness (Psalm 133:1). He wants us to be kind and tenderhearted (Ephesians 4:32). He likes a good laugh (Numbers 22:25-31). He encourages us to get away occasionally to regroup and replenish (Matthew 14:23). He delights in children (Matthew 19:14). He paints analogous pictures that bring nature alive (Isaiah 55:12). His creation beckons us to marvel at majestic mountains, enjoy vibrant sunsets, smell fragrant roses, and calm ourselves beside still waters. Yet, we don’t even have time to name our own babies or be bothered with a pet.

Life is filled with options. We make the choices. We can choose to enjoy some simple pleasures or not. But remember – life doesn’t always have to be complicated. After all, if we can’t decide which orange juice is best, we could just eat an orange.



Be sure to visit this page often to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at



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