31 December 2006


You likely can identify with me that there is a lot happening...
-rumors of wars
(feel free to add to the list.)

And in the midst of pondering life, the end of the year, God's provisions over the last year, the beginning of something new, etc., in pounces energy and activity in the shape and glorious color of Kate and Georgia (evidenced here by an exhilirating time of Disney's paper doll princesses narrated by the oh-so-imaginative Georgia Grace).

It's undeniable. For 24 fun-filled hours, which unfortunately included some sleep (unfortunately only in that it means we couldn't be playing and hanging out. We needed the sleep. Believe u me. Georgia especially, God bless her!!) Kate and Georgia and their fabulous parents, my sister Carmen and my b.i.l. Rich provided a delightful distraction. (Katrina, here, not to be outdone by Disney, or Georgia, for that matter, is holding one version of the American Girl doll propaganda, er, merchandise, which, yes, I succumbed to purchase for her.)

One of my favorite questions in the 24 hour extravaganza:
"Auntie Diana, would you be happiest if we stayed with you
(fingers counting down),
five, four, three, two or one days??"
(Is this a trick question??)

My answer of,
"I'd be happiest if you could stay here forever..."
didn't really fit into the finger counting equation, I so astutely detected by her confused look.
But, the 24 hours were pretty happy.

And from dear Kate...
"I kinda hid my crabbiness yesterday," she confided this very morning,
"unlike" (gesturing to oblivious Georgia) "her, don't you think??"

Yep. Hidden. Undetected. Didn't-hinder-a-thing-unnoticeable-crabbiness.
Am I taking lessons from my 8 year old niece??
I'm certainly trying!

[Speaking of taking lessons, you likely noticed Rich, above, displaying his rhythmic drumming skills (or at least his acting abilities).
Oh, check out my restored grace post, below, too, if you have a moment. As I finally added the picture (thanks also to Jack)!!]

Blessed new year's eve all!

25 December 2006


she woke up and waved at me... and that's what hit me.
what if I fell asleep in a car seat and was transported from wherever to somewhere else, waking up not only with a blanket covering me completely, but in a completely 'foreign' land?
I imagine the scene to be rather chaotic because of the disorientation alone.

As I stepped off the plane last week, Florida greeted me with warm temps, bright sunshine, multiple flipflops and....dangling snowflakes? poinsettias? flocked Christmas trees? Somehow my mind couldn't marry the two. Summer and Christmas screamed for attention and in my head it was an either or situation.

In the same way, this sweet chlld, sleeping so soundly, awaking in a church service, midst robust celebratory praise, responding with a gentle wave and smile, well, it seems like disorientation might be on offer there, too...somehow, not. I don't know how God wired that to happen, but it's amazing to me.

And so I wonder, when our precious Savior and Lord, Jesus, opened His eyes, dearly departed from His Father's physical right hand, awakening in a rustic stable or cave, welcomed by His new parents, did any strains of disorientation accompany Him? Or was His focus for our behalf and to do the will of His Father sufficient?

There's likely other questions of greater import. But I still wonder.

This I know, my life could never be without that precious baby. I celebrate you again Jesus. Happy Birthday. Thank you for living and dying so we could die and live with you, too! I love you Lord Jesus.

18 December 2006

peeves, pop, and a celebration

I'm away on my final work trip...at least, unless things drastically change in the next few days. And at dinner tonight, something struck a chord with me. The restaurant manager stopped to inquire about our meals and phrased her comments like this, "Hello. I'm the manager. I just wanted to stop by and make sure that things are okay. You're satisfied with our service and the food, correct?"

Perhaps a person could analyze my motivation, and that's likely a whole different post. But my peeve is that I don't appreciate being forced into a response.

it's the same way I react when I ask someone, "How are you?" and they respond, "Good. You too?"
I'm not sure how to name this aversion. Perhaps my best attempt is that when someone says, "you too?" I feel like they don't really want an honest response. Their posture doesn't invite originality or even transparency, but rather expects a normative, programmed response. And at the expense of sounding slightly schizophrenic, I'm not identifying this because I always offer an honest response to the "how are u?" question. But I do want permission to respond with what's on my heart.
anyway, enough said. It's not really that important but maybe someone out there knows whutimean.

In other news, I'm currently watching an HBO special featuring Bono and The Edge, and they're just dead cool. (Please say with irish or scottish accent. Much greater effect.) They communicate a remarkable message through rhythm, lyrics, friendship, melodies, harmonies, activism, priorities, etc. Pretty unpredictable and often unpretentious heroes.

And lastly, I want to honor a friend who celebrated his birthday last week. He doesn't want fame and glory. But he truly is a hero in how he lives. I respect his honest expression of faith. I appreciate the way he pursues Christ. His blog entries provoke hundreds of responses partially because he opens up space to question and ponder why we do church the way we do, among other things. He seeks to live fully for God but not without question and or struggle. And he and his wife are some of my favorite parents. They're raising some of my favorite kids (yes, their children) with integrity and grace and truth. And although my words can't do justice, I do want to celebrate the anniversary of his birth. Happy Birthday K!

photo credit: Beth, 0906

14 December 2006

restored grace

Grace arrived broken.

That is, in October, I received a birthday gift from my sisters (the word GRACE), and unfortunately, despite their careful packaging, grace arrived broken. So it sat on my table at home for several weeks. I put the pieces in place, and they'd tumble out of alignment, demonstrating their brokenness. I didn't tell my sisters, actually, not wanting to spoil their thoughtful and gracious gift.

Eventually, I brought it to work, because I knew a handy co-worker would tell me what to do. And he did. I wrote down his suggestions and intended to put "grace" back together. Still grace remained broken.

And then, Wednesday, after being out of the office for a few days, I noticed, Grace. And I knew, Grace was repaired in love by Jack. I notice the cracks in some places, but others are undetectable.

A new gift of Grace. I'm so thankful.

Jack also emailed me these words this morning:

One of the reasons that I was interested in repairing your
"Grace" is that I am convinced that there is no more
beautiful noun in the English language (I'm excluding proper nouns).

That name to me as the best Elder I ever served with urged me
to be sure to preach the grace of God. That got me to thinking about it.

Grace is love, with the special idea: though we do not deserve it
we are loved anyway. Its root is in the One who loves us. Thus
we may be sure of it. I hope I can keep on in my soul to be
amazed: there is grace for me..... Amazing grace, expensive grace,
everlasting grace.

And for you.

I am thankful you are under his grace. And I pray that you keep on
in that hope and confidence and assurance.

In His grace,

Thanks be to God for friends like Jack. And for the ways God shows and restores love and grace in our lives. May we be faithful as we receive this grace and share it with others. Be glorified Abba!

09 December 2006


Today found me living a different life, in some respects, as my friend Beth and I are staying with and caring for our friend's three two year olds. It's life to the full and utter exhaustion in simultaneous spaces. I wouldn't trade it for the world (but I also know I get to sleep in my own bed tomorrow night).

Our ambitions included incorporating some holiday baking/cooking in the afternoon with another friend, following the kids' naps. [Likely,
  • Karen
  • will post about this as well.] In fact, we'd communicated and in some respects coordinated the various goodies we planned to make. The primary thing that Karen wanted to make was sugar cookies with fun shapes to frost and decorate. At a point already past turning back (doesn't that sound dramatic for Christmas cookies?), Karen realized she did not remember cookie cutters. And so we searched this house for a few moments before calling K to ask if she had them hidden somewhere. Her definitive, but negative response prompted a different tactic. Thankfully, Karen's sister also lives in this neighborhood. But a call to her house did not find her home. No worries, I thought. I offered to walk and ask the neighbors.

    And here was my surprise: of the neighbors I found home, NONE, (as in zilch, zero, nada, nobody) had cookie cutters. Some offered baking powder, sugar, flour (I'm pretty sure only to feel useful, and in some slim way helpful, not thinking those ingredients could make the difference...) but no one had the fun and festive, fond and familiar metal shapes. (Perhaps an overindulgence of alliteration, I realize.)

    So, what's to become of us? Are cookie cutters a thing of the past? Will the moments of creative decorating (at least before the growning realization that doubling the recipe meant way too many cookies to frost) disappear from our Christmas traditions? Or was this simply the wrong neighborhood, the wrong time and place, or...??

    Pix credit: Group shot: Karen; camping, 0906, Karen and Zane: Beth; camping, 0806

    06 December 2006

    surprise grace

    remember my post of several weeks ago regarding my car window, garage door, etc? Well, November was a crazy month in some respects. I traveled out of state for work, and also traveled out of state to be with family for Thanksgiving...and thus, some things had to wait. The car window couldn't really wait. In the glorious snowy, winter, wind of west Michigan, i had to get my car door window fixed.

    the garage door, however, didn't make the priority list. Even tho' it was so out of sorts that I couldn't open and close it manually (well, technically, I could, but only with the assistance of two other people). In my trunk I have a new garage door opener, and a new cable, just in case. And last week I finally called a few service places to schedule a service call for yesterday. That was the plan. That is until...

    Sun AM, I'm hurrying to remove snow and start my car (b/c it's outside my garage per above garage door issues) to warm it up before heading to church. It's a potluck day so I'm carrying extra food and doing a few trips in and out of my house. I sit in my car and nearly scald myself with my crockpot offerings, as I hear an unexpected, "Good morning," behind me. I turn and step around to see my neighbor from the condo across the way. He asks me, "what's wrong with your garage door?" I mutter something about not having time to get around to it and that something something is wrong with the door but I do have a new garage door and cable and some other such gibberish. (It's Diana speak for "Yes, I know the door looks lame and in fact is a bit of an eye sore for our condo community. And I know the average and normal person would have taken care of it long ago. And yes, I am feeling guilty about it. And yes, in some ways, I do want to think I've got the situation managed, despite the fact that my car has parked outside my garage for the last month...")
    Obviously oblivious, he ignored my internal anguish, however, by saying, "you know, if it has anything to do with the door, it's the condo association's responsibility. You should talk to our maintenance guy before you do anything else..."

    Which led to yesterday, where I cancelled the appt with the garage door fix it people, and went to talk to our condo maintenance guy, and although I didn't hear back from him definitively, when I pulled in last night, and asked my neighbors if I could run thru their garage, and they looked at me all quizzically and said, "sure, but, i think ur door works..." needless to say, I raced over to push my garage door opener button and nearly lept to the moon in my excitement that my door functioned properly again.

    And, along with that joy, I can now return the mentioned new opener and cable to Sears, without paying any money to have the door serviced or to try to figure out how to assemble and install the new opener, and well, at this moment in my very life, I'm just every shade of grateful and thankful and thinking perhaps my condo association fee is really worth it after all.
    Thank you Lord.

    03 December 2006

    right responses 2?

    so today at church, a friend of mine attempted to talk to me about my job situation. and perhaps i was misreading her discomfort, but i've come away analyzing the conversation thinking, geez, no matter what was spoken, it was a no win situation for her. She tried to offer sympathy, and I didn't really want that. And then when she tried to say that I was on a new and exciting adventure, well, I didn't really agree with that either. and then, when she was joking with me about needing to control the placement/location of food for our potluck and I said something like "yeah, well, i want to control something..." truthfully, light seconds after that she walked away. And i understand.

    How does one respond??? I would never pretend that there is some manual of right or wrong responses. I haven't found good ones yet myself, obviously. So, sorry J! Please forgive me as I don't even really know how to react or respond as I've never been in this situation before.

    That said, i'm thinking this might get to be a rather tired subject to blog about, that is, my job situation, so please forgive me and bear with me (or obviously don't read or comment for a long while and I'll likely get the hint...) but I have a feeling these posts may be part of my "dealing" with this aspect of life.

    But can I say all that, to ironically admit that another conversation at church, where amazingly grace did reinhabit my spirit, or something, another friend was talking about his week and the lessons God was teaching him. And I realized how much of what he was saying was completley applicable to me. And I even muttered something akin to, "you know, it's so often not about the end result, it's how we respond, isn't it??"

    Arghhhh, seriously, i've got to get better at the response.
    perhaps it's time for bed to start over on a new day??

    in other news, friend J also asked if I had a picture with all my sisters. She has 3 sisters, too, so it's fun to compare. Here's one from this past June: we're sitting in birth order, sort of, with the older two behind us younger ones. BR: Jenni, the oldest on the right, then Hildred, FR: Carmen, then me on the left. (or perhaps that's confusing, pure left 2 right: jenni, carmen, hildred, diana.) Six years apart from Jenni to me.

    29 November 2006


    i know, i say i don't like to talk about the weather, but today, november 29, in w michigan, we had 60+ degree weather and an amazing thunderstorm, because, you guessed it, a front is moving through and we'll be experiencing a huge change in the weather. some changes are predictable, or at least something u can anticipate, others, are not so much.

    today i received word about a job change. i was expecting some word about changes, but not the one i received. so i'm in a bit of a state of shock. and yet, i'm not even slightly emotional--perhaps b/c of the shock, but also perhaps because God has been preparing me most recently. at least, that's what I hope is the grace and peace in the midst of these somewhat stormy times.

    honestly, the platitudes about God being unchanging and God being faithful are all true, as is every word of scripture. and i don't have it all memorized by any means, but a lot of it stirs in my soul, spirit, and some memory, too. and i do believe those things. and i know who God is...

    but the human side of me (and perhaps no one else is like this, which is fine, afterall, this is my blog, as selfish and narcissistic as this may be) does panic a bit. i think i'm an easy going person. i think i'm someone who isn't that controlling. i think i go with the flow pretty well. and maybe those things remain true. but when you hear your job is being discontinued, and u look at the responsibilities of a mortgage, and other bills, and you wonder if u'll ever find a job you love so much again in ur life, and wonder somehow if the job change decision does really mean that you're a loser and you are incompetent, well, speaking for this person, i sometimes want the personal word from God that even if all of these things are in question, and even if they are true, He won't let me become .... well, say, a street person.

    however, what if, being a street person is the best thing for God's kingdom? What if that's the best place to be used to serve Him and love people? what if the mortgage and the life and relationships which i hold as rich and good are not really the most effective for His kingdom? What if i'm valuing the wrong things all together and this is His way of getting my attention?
    What if....?

    I have a lot of questions, and there will always be so much unknown. i do know this, i have no where else to turn, for you, oh Lord, have the words of eternal life. That remains certain!

    Oh, and the pix, doesn't have anything to do with post per se, but it's 2 of my sisters from this past Thanksgiving weekend. And I'm grateful for them!

    27 November 2006


    so, i'm hanging out at my sister's, as u know from my braggin' on my nieces. and they're great. and i'll likely continue the brag fest. but today, i just had to laugh. several times. out loud. without restraint. because Georgia Grace is so, well, how else to say this, except, brazenly and yet innocently manipulative. Is that possible? Perhaps you should decide.

    She's this peanut of a girl, five years old, just out of age 3 clothes. Massive blue eyes dominate the majority of her impish face. And yet she wields this power. I'm serious. She loves to have her way. So, as we headed out the door (or attempted to do so) to go ice skating, and she wanted some control, she pitches a fit about being forced to put socks on near the door instead of in the bathroom...so she says (imagine hand on hip, nearly wagging her finger), "Daddy, I left the light on in the bathroom. Do you want me to waste electricty or what??"
    Seriously, lol...

    And then, later, she's lounging on her parent's bed watching some tv with her Dad. She asks her Mommy, my very sister, if Carmen will do her a favor and tell Kate that Daddy will read them a book if Kate joins them on the bed. When my sister suggested Georgia just hop across the hall and tell Kate herself, Georgia bats her big blues and says, "Well, Mommy, what kinds of things do you do for me?"
    As if...

    Yes, watch out folks. And don't let this innocent face fool you. She'll completely capture your heart at hello and u won't know what to do.

    24 November 2006


    I wouldn't say that I'm someone who holds to a ton of traditions. But the more I contemplate it, the more fond traditions I seem to recall. One such tradition is traveling to Fargo for Thanksgiving. This is likely my eighth year in Fargo.

    And for the last two years, my nieces have been enamored with the parade. Thus, in the grand tradition of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, Katrina Joanne and Georgia Grace created their own float.
    Here are a few pictures of their festivities.

    (They are wearing flower girl dresses from a wedding of their neighbor friend Leah from the summer of 2005)...and just to allow comparisions from the photos of 2005, here's a similar picture from a year ago.

    I'm not sure if you significant differences are that visible, really, because they are beautiful girls, no matter what year it is!!

    23 November 2006

    Thanks for giving...

    An incredibly full and abundant life:

    -for life, and the ability to play and live in the freedom of God's love
    -for Jesus, for choosing to leave heaven, embrace human life, endure horrific death, and for overcoming death to usher us in to life

    -for family who love Jesus and encourage me to do the same; for parents, sisters, brothers in law, nephews, nieces, and family yet to come

    -for the imagination to create Thanksgiving day floats with nieces year after year (stayed tuned for forthcoming 2006 pix)
    -for friends who welcome me into their homes, families, lives, and inspire me to follow after God with all my heart
    -for freedom to post my love for Jesus and love for family and friends without fear

    -for the tradition of eating turkey and all the fixings...we want for nothing
    -for the opportunity to serve Jesus in a church and at a job in a way that partners with His kingdom plans
    -for the privilege of hearing God's voice and being assured that we are His beloved children
    -for the continual reminder that we can trust God for His best
    Want to add anything to this not even slightly exhaustive list??

    20 November 2006

    prophet, priest and king

    do you know these roles? they're actually something that my particular denomination holds to as a deep part of our identity and heritage.
    however, when it comes to truly understanding these toles, i'm not sure we really get it. it's challenging to understand things about God which require faith and trust in something mysterious and not quickly (linearly) plotted on a flow chart.
    And i can't blame some of the hesitation and skepticism, really. We've experienced a few folks in this century who have sensationalized the prophet role, especially, in such a way that I am skeptical and hesitant.

    But I'm curious, and I want to hear from God.
    So I keep pressing in to scripture and pressing in to what I know.
    I've heard from God in a variety of ways, lately. Consistently thru scripture, but also in a number of other ways. The unity of teaching on hearing God's voice points me to test these "words" in a variety of ways.
    1-all words must be about the glorification of God. (Ask, does this "prophecy" glorify God?)
    2-all words must agree with God's word
    3-test it by asking others to witness to it
    4-watch for the fruit (although this one may take awhile)

    so i continue on the journey...praying, listening, hearing, and testing the word...
    It IS mysterious. But it's also very exciting.

    19 November 2006


    So i'm still reflecting about my Bowen island experience. Here's something else we experienced and observed. In the cozy pub (Doc Morgans) that provided us a lite lunch (in the fire, candle, and kerosene lantern light), as far as I know, they were the only establishment open to serve the public.
    They had some type of kitchen generator (or some such thing) that allowed them to cook.. When we walked in (a group of about 20 or so), the wait person sighed loudly and deeply and muttered something akin to, "i'm not sure how much I can handle," and proceeded to say, "We only have some soup and a few sandwiches. Sit anywhere you find open..." So we did.
    And their soup and other offerings were fantastic. Really excellent. (Although, they apologized for serving them with plastic spoons as they couldn't run their dishwasher...)

    But anyway, the thing is, we sat there for a time experiencing the local flavor, and as we did, we observed a group of men, perhaps construction workers, or some such trade, enter the pub. They scanned the room for a place to sit, and upon finding only empty tables with dirty dishes waiting for them, they bused their own table. After clearing the dishes, they even asked for a rag and wiped it off. It was really great to watch. (A little humorous, too, b/c another group of guys walked in to sit down at this newly cleaned table. To which they were quickly informed, "hey, we cleaned this for ourselves." )

    Still, it was good. And the busy waitress described above, well, we know SHE appreciated it.
    I'm a fan of people on Bowen Island. Can u tell?

    16 November 2006

    island life

    Truthfully, I'm not sure how to describe my last few days. I've been on retreat, again (we repeated the retreat we hosted 2 weeks ago), only this time we were on Bowen Island, British Columbia. Which hopefully you can see on this cool little map.

    First learning: Things will be different!!
    Even though I laid down expectation that because this was a new group at a new location that it would be a different experience, I still wasn't prepared. The atmosphere differed. The spiritual intensity differed. The discussion and conversations differed. The worship and prayer time differed.

    Second learning: Different doesn't equal bad.
    Despite the differences, we know the value of each person who sacrificed time in their work and family life to participate in this retreat. And we were blessed by each other. Greatly.

    Third: Retreats without electricity rule!
    That is, to the person who wakes up on the final morning of the retreat, pondering how we all have to rush to catch the 12:30 ferry off the island, and wishes we could stay and relax for one more day. Ha! That's me, of course, and so when the storm was really wild (HUGE crashing waves!!!) and the electricity kept flashing and finally gave out, AND then, the report came that the ferry was NOT running, naturally, I was elated. Sure I had a plane to catch...in Seattle. But this was adventure!!!

    Fourth: Retreat after the retreat.
    That's the beauty of what happened. Not that we packed the "formal" retreat schedule. But waiting for word on ferry service in a local pub interupted by brash, yet helpful updates from the wait staff while sitting in candle, fire, and kerosene lantern light as the winds howled and waves crashed off the shore, well, it was restful, and unscheduled, and delightful.

    Fifth: Breathe in the beauty of island life.
    When the latest word that we would get off the island arrived and we waited expectantly in our lineup of cars only to hear yet another delay report, we received another snapshot of island life and culture. A young coffee shop owner knocked on all our car windows to invite us to their wee shop for free tea and free sandwiches. As we approached (snug cafe), we noted that the shop was lit up because an electric truck, waiting in line for the ferry, was spotlighting the shop with their big ol lights. How cool is that?! As we go inside, they hand us tea. They offer us free sandwiches. Then they break out the cookies. Plus they adamently refuse a tip or a payment, AND apologize to us for the blackout? It was some outrageous hospitality.

    I love that. I wish we experienced it all the time. Wouldn't our world be cooler if such experiences didn't happen only in crisis or chaos or emergency? Or would that make them less novel? Somehow, I hope against that. Wouldn't it be amazing if we channeled our competitive drive into "out doing" people around us in generous hospitality? Our opening conversation instead of the weather might be, "hey, did you hear what so and so did for..." or some such report??

    I've heard of this man, actually, whose life and experiences provoked such responses and reports. And the more I hear about him, the more I want to be like him. Hmmm...it shouldn't necessitate living an island life. But it couldn't hurt.

    10 November 2006

    send your rain

    Just a few years ago (I'm in denial about the actual number), I moved to Michigan. I learned about seasonal affective disorder [(SAD) refers to a mood disorder in which a person has depression that worsens in the fall and winter, when the amount of sunlight per day lessens]. I recall newspaper headlines claiming "Record 15 days without measurable sunshine..." and other such reports. Just the fact that they record and report the days without sun made me a bit depressed. I wanted to deny the existence of such a disorder, but, somewhere along the road, I've observed that I AM affected by the sunshine or lack there of.

    Related to that, often, is precipitation levels and types. Although I don't have the statistics on hand, I've been told that West Michigan has as many grey days as my home Seattle, without the reputation of being a rainy area. I've also heard that W Michigan actually receives MORE rain than Seattle, certainly in inches and accumulation b/c the rain in Seattle resembles a mist, where W Michigan is often a downpour.

    So I'm en route to my childhood home in Seattle. And they've had more rainfall then in 15 years my own very Mom reports. And it's the type of significant soaking such that areas are at risk for flooding and other damage.

    Hmmm, somehow, when I cry out for God to send rain this is not the image that I've pictured.
    Still, I'm longing for deep, saturating renewal and revival personally, for our churches, for our nation, and for our world. So I'll persist in calling out: "Send your rain..."

    07 November 2006

    mercy and grace

    In what feels like eons ago, I was deeply and profoundly influenced in the area of prayer ministry by a seemingly haphazard path. The journey intensified when I started serving my church as director of small groups and prayer ministry but had no real job description. (Perhaps that seems ideal, but it is rather challenging, too, in creating something.) A "random" flyer landed in the mail box at my then church, advertising a prayer conference. Upon receiving approval from my pastor (and supervisor), I registered, booked the flight and went.

    That conference lands in the category of significant life events. My faith and understanding of prayer became provoked and encouraged by the ideas of speakers and facilitators. My hunger for God and belief in His power also grew. I'm eternally grateful.

    I returned to that church in previous years for other prayer conferences. I encouraged others to experience a similar journey. The church, worship leader, and pastor developed as role models in my life and ministry experiences.

    Three years ago, I visited that church for the last time (only b/c I haven't had opportunity to return), and also met with the senior pastor. He had written a book on small group ministry which I had devoured and a few of us were given time in his busy schedule to meet in his office, pick his brain and chat. He was down to earth and friendly, shorter than I expected, but very hospitable, full of energy and charisma. We took pictures and the memory is etched in my mind.

    Perhaps you can guess that the pastor is Ted Haggard. News of his "scandal" devastated my spirit. I am sad.

    But I also am compelled to cry for mercy. Part of me laments the devastation of a "fallen" Christian role model. Part of me laments that we place persons on such pedestals in the first place. Part of me fears the impact on young believers or the sometimes vicious skeptics.

    But mostly, I wonder, how do we live in the mercy and grace of God? David, a man after God's own heart, seriously deviated from obedience to His God. I certainly grieve God and the Holy Spirit daily. How do we overcome the enemy and still confront sin in our lives? What should our posture be?

    I'm at the place of knowing only a few things, that you oh God are strong and that you oh God are loving. I pray that Ted, his family, their church, and all of us, find our rest and strength in a merciful, gracious God.

    05 November 2006


    My work is loving the world.
    Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird--
    equal seekers of sweetness.

    Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
    Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

    Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
    Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
    keep my mind on what matters,
    which is my work,

    which is mostly standing still and learning to be
    The phoebe, the delphinium.

    The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
    Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

    which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
    and these body-clothes,
    a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
    to the moth and the wren, to the sleep dug-up clam,
    telling them all, over and over, how it is
    that we live forever.

    -Mary Oliver in Thirst

    02 November 2006

    return s l o w l y

    These words hang on a pole along the driveway of a retreat center in Three Rivers, Michigan. A final reminder begging notice as you depart a retreat experience to reenter the regular rhythms and routines of life.

    It's curious how participating in a retreat demands an information and activity detox. Somewhat like vacation, perhaps, the diversity of activity allows one to let go of some work worries and responsibilities. But even on vacation, there's a process, an excavation, if you will, to release and suspend normal cares to engage in something different and new. It's a transformation of mind, perhaps enhanced by a transformation or relocation of body.

    And so, too, a retreat, an excursion somewhere else, presents an opportunity to displace and surrender the cares of work and life, to withdraw; pull back or move away. And although it takes time to deprogram as you retreat, the expectation of reentry seems somewhat merciless. Hopefully the beauty, insight, and refreshment of the retreat dwells much deeper within one's soul and spirit to anchor and protect in intersections with life's harsher realities. Perhaps it's living out "thy word i will hide in my heart that I may not [grieve] thee."

    In any case, other tasks and activities clamor for attention. And so the retreat ends. May God's mercy and grace sustain us all.

    pix credit: Hildred, Ocean Shores 0803

    28 October 2006

    brrr, grrr and whrr

    For those of us in W Michigan, u'll likely concur that it's been colder than normal. We're experiencing November skies, rain, and temps throughout October. I wouldn't normally talk about the weather, really, but October in Michigan is typically one of my favorite months. I've been reminding God with some frequency that we didn't really need November to come early. (Yes, I'm thinking God tends to humor me when I get into the "hey, just tho't I'd remind you..." type of speech.)

    In the category of my subject line, here's the deal. On the way to dinner last night, I was delighted to discover a Culver's!! I've never really consumed Culver's food (butter burger? is that another way to say artery-blocking invitation??) but I ADORE their blackberry shakes. Mmmm. So since I was driving :-) we did make a stop at the Culver's drive thru on the way back to my very house. This was all happy, until I heard this little whrrr sound. Back in the depths of my brain, I recalled that noise. And then it clicked, or rather fizzled. See, i remembered it b/c about a year ago I heard the very same noise...when my car window DID not make it's happy and secure trip to lock back into the top of the door (unlike this featured pix). Brrrrrr. A window opened in the summer is one thing, but in October that feels like November verging on December?? No. Not so very happy. Grrr.

    So, in my not-even-slightly-technical-mind I hope to myself, maybe it's just too cold. A night of rest in my cozy garage will surely give the window courage to zip back into place. (Yes, please don't analyze the personification that I assign to my car.)

    Within moments I arrive back at my cozy little house with my cozy little garage and realize, hmmm, odd, my garage door is open. And there again, this warning flashes somewhere in the depths of my brain. B/c I remember a season, several months ago, when I would shut my garage door but halfway down or so it would change direction and go back up. I remember sometimes I helped physically guide the door down. But last night, in pushing the button to shut it again, I saw this little (or not so little) cable slither off the track on the left side as the door completed the painfully familiar half descent and return to it's open resting position. Grrrr.

    Remember my idea that my car window would perhaps "heal" by a cozy (warm) overnight stay in the garage? Not an offer. Obviously.

    But I must report this sweet piece of grace. As I was heading to bed, I heard my garage door button. So I peeked out my little privacy/security peekhole on my door and watched my kind neighbor Bob as he attempted to shut my garage door. (He does this for me, especially in the summer if I forget to close my garage at night. He's sweet.) He actually used some big-ol sledge hammer thing to try to straighten the track on the right side thinking that something was blocking the door from closing properly. And this morning, when he and I talked and I showed him the rusted cable piece, he told me what time he planned to return from work and that he would help me fix it this afternoon if possible. Isn't that the greatest???

    Now, if only I could find a helpful person to fix my drafty car window? Perhaps the technicians at Firestone will have to fit that bill. Brrr.

    27 October 2006

    recreate and retreat

    Things are out of control, that is, in my schedule. (oh yes, things are likely out of control other places, too. but humor me, please.) So for the first time in my blog history, i didn't post for a week. sad.

    One of the crazy-good things this week was attending some teaching and experiences regarding healing prayer. Although I'm still processing what I observed and experienced, I saw miraculous things. Jesus healing people. Right very now, in front of my very eyes. We experience healing all the time, really, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A friend of mine recently expressed her utter disbelief in how her son's wrists were healing. (He had fallen out of a bunk bed and broken both wrists.) She explained how she didn't really want the casts to come off because the idea that God really made our body to heal was so amazing. And it is. God's creation and recreating power presses my rationale and forces me to receive His supernatural, reason-defying sovereignty.

    To assist me in this, next week, when many are finishing costumes and planning some sort of halloween observance, I get to retreat in God's amazing creation. I'm thirsty for it. My soul longs for the healing power that dwelling in God's presence provides, especially in an extended retreat setting. And so I'm off...to retreat...from the "normal" routines of life. Hooray!

    (Re)create in me a clean heart Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.

    Pix credit: Hildred, Yosemite, 0606

    20 October 2006

    beth!! and it depends on your perspective

    Yesterday was Beth's birthday. She's one of my dearest friends. You likely love her if you know her. And definitely would love her if you don't. She's worth celebrating--for more than a day even. Since I often get amazing pictures from her, I don't often have an amazing picture of her. But, that pix I took in Scotland last year.
    And I like it. So, please celebrate Beth with me! Oh, and I found another picture I like...still from Scotland, 0605.

    As to perspective, my emotions yesterday were a bit out of whack. That is, out of whack for me. I realized not too long into the day that I was seething. Under the surface, but seething. I'm not really sure I know how to deal with anger. In fact, likely I just don't deal. At all. I repress. And deny. And pretend. And carry on. But then, something, likely inane and inconsequential will happen, even slightly irritating, and I overreact. Why? B/c I haven't dealt with the anger below the surface. That was yesterday. Until I went to my dentist. Enter, my really friendly hygeniest, Ellie. (And I really am not protecting her identity. I can't remember her name so Ellie sounds good to me.)

    My anger was actually surfacing with Ellie, unbeknownst to her, b/c I had a tight schedule for my check up since I really wanted to be back at the office sharing lunch with my good friend Cindy. But someone else was chatting, for-what-felt-like-eternity-ever, at the check in desk. So they didn't see me. And I couldn't check in. Ellie, cheery-as-ever finally came to get me...and well, it wasn't her fault. But I was not feeling very social.

    That is, until she told me about her day. And her could-have-been-really-fatal-hit by-a-drunk-driver likely-totalled-her-car, accident. And how she was getting around. And how she really didn't have anyone to call when the accident occurred. And how she's glad she's alive but she's really sore. And she was so looking forward to not having a car payment in a few months. And well, everything in my life seemed totally miniscule in comparison.

    So, pray for Ellie, would you? She could use a reminder of God's love, grace and favor right about now. (And i will be working on the anger thing, too!)

    17 October 2006


    It just so happens that nothing is different in my life from last week at this time. Last week at this very moment, or nearly, I emailed people asking for prayer. Truth floated around my brain but the anchor seemed to be dragging. Faith flowed somewhere within my heart's arteries but seemed too faint to secure me. In response to my cry for help, people poured out faith, love, care and grace.

    My Dad called to remind me that God had not abandoned me. (Thanks for reminding of me of all those Biblical promises, Dad!) My Mom encouraged me not to get ahead of God and wait on His timing and direction. (Practical and wise as always Mom, gracias!)

    Friends emailed to say they were praying. Others offered nuggets of scripture. Some co-workers left notes on my chair or computer keyboard with their encouragement. I received a lovely note from a dear friend in the mail (even before I sent out my email, actually! How's that for discerning??)

    Grace comes in a variety of packages. It is a gift. And God uses such experiences to anchor us to His love even when we feel abandoned in a storm. I'm so grateful. It's still stormy. And I might be tossed about again. But I know where to turn. Thank you Jesus for the richness of community and the blessing of your grace, regardless of circumstances and situations.

    Photo credits: #1 & 3, yours truly, somewhere in Scotland, 0605. #2, Hildred, Christmas 1204.

    15 October 2006


    For all you pc lovers, this may not be a post you'll enjoy. But for mac lovers everywhere, read on. This weekend marked a most significant, auspicious occasion. This is the weekend that my lil computer met her brothers. (okay, is that quite ridiculous to one, decide that my computer could possibly be a male or female AND then decide that a computer might have siblings?) Well, who cares, just check out these pictures and you decide. By the way, the "family" is my cute white one, silver, the eldest, and the younger brother, the black one.

    Even beyond meeting "siblings," I got some tips about even more splendid things that my lil computer can do. For instance, it has features called dashboard and expose. And you can set preferences on hot corners as to what applications or programs you want the corners to activitate. And yes, it's true, i can't even slightly tech speak. but if you were here right very now, I could show you how amazing this little machine really is.

    And you know you're curious and interested. It's the same reason you love the mac/pc television commercials. You know you do. You know you laugh and wonder "have I seen this commerical?" and even call out to your (spouse? roommate? friend?) "hey, it's a new mac commercial. Come look..." or if you're really entertainment starved, you might even go to the website to download the latest commerical. Anyway, this computer is such a gift and it's entirely, completely fabulous.
    You really should try one.

    12 October 2006


    Driving makes me rush. I don't know any other speed when i drive. Okay, you're right, I choose to rush. And sometimes, given wanting to make a time commitment, it seems rather acceptable and completely necessary. But even when i'm beyond on time (in other words early), I still rush.

    And truthfully, it's not just the speed. I actually feel competitive with other drivers. (Have i blogged this before??) I'm that driver who speeds to pass the cars in the slow lane, but at the end of the day, I'm sitting at the red light beside the people I've just hurried to "overtake."

    Hmmm, I'm thinking that this competitive, rushing behavior contributes to my "unwell" blood pressure readings. So, I'm identifying, for whatever it's worth...I'm a rusher. Sorry if you're the driver I'm racing beside...

    pix credit: Beth, en route to Skye, Scotland 0705

    09 October 2006

    decision making

    here's the conversation: you've received communication that your job will likely change within the next two months. You won't be out of a job, but your job description will change dramatically, AND the possibility of relocation to another city and state is highly probable. The reality of a mortgage and other responsibilities looms. Do you wait out the process or look for another job? Do you consider dipping into retirement or other savings to stay afloat and trust God will provide some work at some point?

    Or another scenario: you have a family of five. You finished a masters level degree but in anticipation, a year prior to graduation, you purchased your first home. With completing school, you and your spouse assume your next job will reflect the advanced degree and support the house payment and care for your family. However, over a year later, the better paying job has not surfaced despite vigorous job searches. And the bottom line is, you are living beyond your means.

    What do we base decisions on? Do you stay in an area because God has provided and developed community there? And because family and other support systems exist there? If we know God as a provider, yet know His promises don't dictate a name it or claim it theology, what really matters? If our chief responsibility is to glorify God and worship Him forever, does it matter that we're establishing equity? Is it really necessary to invest the suggested amount for retirement? How do we discern God's heart in these scenarios?

    Pix credit: Hildred, Pike Place Market, Seattle 0805 (And, not that u asked, I think this is one of the coolest pictures ever. And it really doesn't have much to do with this post, except it's intriguing to look at, and I'm desperate for some distraction.)

    07 October 2006

    a moment in someone else's life

    There are moments that serve amazingly well. In my experience, those moments often come when things in my life seem particularly ambiguous and additionally anxious. And those moments can best be described as lovely distractions.

    Here's what I'm talking about: For the last 24, i've vacated my typical weekend activity to hang out with one of my best and dearest friends. And since she has four kids, two dogs, plus other farm animals and lives way outside the city, it's definitely a different life than mine.

    What's curious to both of us is that when we roomed and worked together in college, our lives were extremely similar. We even shared a major and thus also shared multiple classes (which, as aside, was an incredible bonus on those rare occasions when one of us was unable to make that 8 o'clock class).

    Now, several years later, our lives appear nearly completely different. And yet, the depth of our friendship and previous shared life anchors and supports our current relationship and regretably sometimes too infrequent interactions.

    I must confess, running with her kids, walking in the woods with her dogs, observing her negotiate sincere sibling squabbles (and sometimes dabbling in the negotiations myself), performing vigorous "underduck" pushes on the swingset, encouraging middle school leaders on a zip line, and experiencing intense college football team rivalries while watching tv, among other things, transports me from my life's concerns in a way that nothing else can.

    Sometimes the moment is simply the grace to inhale someone else's air for a time. And that refreshes my soul.

    04 October 2006


    something about traveling reminds me about how much time the average person spends waiting. Waiting for a ride to the airport, or the shuttle to deliver us to the terminal. Waiitng to see if our luggage and our person clears the latest safety standards.

    (Personally this week, I was grateful to get by with TWO quart sized plastic bags with liquids, gels, lotions, etc. even though the standards clearly declare we can only travel with ONE. Technically the TSA safety guy determined my saline solution was empty. but he doesn't know i squeeze out every possible drop from those bottles. Silly man.) Where was I? Oh yeah, waiting...

    Waiting for a standby confirmation. Waiting to board the plane. Waiting for other travelers to store their luggage so we can walk by and wait for who will sit next to us. Waiting for clearance to take off. Waiting for the door to open upon arrival. Waiting for our turn to pile out of the plane. Waiting for luggage. Waiting for the rental car or nice person who will pick us up from the airport...well, you know the drill.

    here's the thing though, with all that practice, don't u think I should be really good at waiting????

    photo credit: Beth, Scotland, 0705

    03 October 2006

    time keeps on ticking

    so yesterday was my very birthday. yep, i was born the day after my dad, so naturally I'm his favorite, (RIght, Dad?) And I love parties...but I didn't have much energy to plan.

    No worries. People just came and hung out.
    I love that. I love the gift of people's company. (Okay, technically, that picture was taken when we went camping a few weeks ago, and there were actually MORE fun people at my house last night. But, this gives you some idea.) Mostly I love it b/c most of my friends live WAY across town and so visiting my house means they drive a few miles. And we could share life together for a few hours. And eat delicious food (like homemade salsa, and brownies, and watermelon, and pita chips with pesto, and broccoli salad). And share fun stories. And entertain kids, er, okay, well, be entertained by them.

    Somehow, all the above helps me feel like I'm not getting so old afterall...well, at least for one evening. :-)

    01 October 2006

    my dad!!

    Today is important. In fact, today is vital to my very existence. Here's why: it's my Dad's birthday!!!
    Happy Birthday Dad!!! I celebrate him on this the anniverary of his very birth. I'm so glad he loved Jesus so much and wanted all of us to love Him too. I'm so glad he loves Mom well and models love for his wife and love for our family! I'm so glad God choose him to be my dad.
    I love the way my Dad loves people and enjoys sharing laughter with people as he gets to know them. And although I don't always agree with everything he thinks, I do appreciate that he has firm opinions and enjoys sharing them. I like how Dad loves kids and is so patient with playing with them.

    I like that he reads the Dutch newspaper on the internet and keeps up with football (soccer) around the world.
    There are many other things I could say, but the truth is, I don't know if my Dad will ever read my blog. Thus, I'll have to phone in the rest of my thoughts. Happy Birthday anyway Dad!!

    29 September 2006

    Katrina Joanne and Georgia Grace

    Just last Thanksgiving, these two glorious girls were dressing up at their house in Fargo.

    By far the most beautiful girls in the world, as anyone in my family will agree, Kate and Georgia were born on this very day.
    Kate born eight!! years ago,
    and Georgia born five!!! years ago.

    I cannae believe it.
    They are delightful. They never cease to amaze me with their curiousity and their care. Here they display their imagination and their dancing ability taken in my very living room last summer. (Dancing with the Stars, Kate's favorite show, watch out!!!)

    Oh yes, sometimes they display human qualities like selfishness or inconsideration. but it's so rare. i mostly forget (well, yes, that and the fact that they live in faraway Fargo).
    (And aren't they cute making these silly faces alongside their cousin Nate?)
    So, Happy Birthday dear nieces. You represent grace and hope and joy in this world.

    Pix credit: Hildred. She captures them well!