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!

26 September 2006


someone, the elusive they, sponsored wellness day at work today. [okay, not so elusive, it was our personnel department (elusive they sounds much more mysterious and intriguing.)]
Participation strongly encouraged, I signed up for the 10 minute procedure which tests blood (a tiny finger prick) for cholesterol, diabetes (glucose level), blood pressure, and other such things.
True confessions: I think I'm healthy. I gave blood three weeks ago and tested some of the above. My cholesterol has previously been low and good. I wasn't worried. I wasn't nervous.
Perhaps I was overly confident?
The test results determine: I'm unwell. (Clearly people could argue they've known this about me for years. Please resist. I'm feeling a bit fragile.)

(Warning: the next paragraph may be really boring and force one to read the word cholesterol repeatedly.) That is to say, my total cholesterol is low, but my good cholesterol is not high enough, and so my total cholesterol ratio is nearly dangerous.
My blood pressure, which two weeks ago was plenty low, and normally tests good and low, registered just above the desired number, which in essence designates me in a risk zone.

Clearly unwell!
My heart rate elevates dangerously as I type this.

The nurse asked me if I was nervous to be tested. (I think, "not even slightly, b/c i'm so healthy.") She asked if perhaps some of this is genetic. She asked if I ate good foods and exercised.


I don't like the label or implication or judgment.

So, I pursue the timeless, faithful remedy, I reach for a dark dove chocolate, read the dove promise (which reads "don't think about it too much"), and savor every satisfying taste.

Unwell. Hmmmph!

24 September 2006


"So our salvation lies
not in an escape from this world
but in the
transformation of this world.

Everything good and true and beautiful in history is not lost forever
but will be restored and directed to the
worship of God.
All our human activity (in the arts and sciences, economics and politics)
and even the nonhuman creation
will be brought to share in the liberating rule of God [Romans 8:18-21]...

You will not find hope for the world in any religious systems or philosophies of humankind.
The biblical vision is unique.

That is why when some say
that there is salvation in other faiths I ask them,
'WHAT salvation are you talking about?'

No faith holds out a promise of eternal salvation for the WORLD
the way the cross and resurrection of Jesus do."

-Vinoth Ramachandra, "The Scandal of Jesus"

Not much else I can add to that except Amen.
Thank you for your incredible grace to us and to your world Lord!

photo credit: Hildred, ocean shores washington, 0803.

21 September 2006

completely contradictory

"We often overuse electronic gadgets for the same reason we spend innumerable hours shopping.
We do not want to be left alone with our thoughts...

We need to rediscover silence.

Says 14th century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart,
'nothing in all creation is so like God as silence.'

To rediscover silence, is to rediscover God."

-Diana Bulter Bass in Christian Century, 091906

Ironically, these words captivated me en route to New York City. Since reading them, however, no decibels of silence managed to penetrate my day. From animated cell phone conversations overheard on the subway to construction crews exchanging colorful words on the sidewalk, and much, much more, this city has much on offer, but silence does not top the "what did you do in nyc this week" list. I'm pretty confident I could claim that silence isn't even available here. Or at least, not in the neighborhoods I visited.

With that observed, I don't know if my soul could take living in a city of this magnitude. But for the raging extrovert in me, it's amazing how much this noise and activity draws me. How do I explain that contradiction?

photo credit: first-me, china, second-hildred, yosemite waterfall rocks. Do u see my "wee" nephew there midst the massive rocks?

19 September 2006

conversing over cars

Several years ago, before i moved to where i currently live and purchased my home, i remember praying and thinking about who my neighbors might be. At the time of those prayers, my zeeland dwelling, a rental, was housed in a great neighborhood, with very interesting characters. (In fact, i recalled recently how when i was unpacking my boxes to move into my cute lil zeeland house, a neighbor came over to introduce himself and see if he could help in any way. when i peered over a box to "make his acquaintance" i realized we'd already met. b/c we had dated in what seemed like a previous life. random! but i digress...)

Currently, i don't see my neighbors much, but when I do, it's often in our garage (four separate doors but shared space inside). Either over the cars, or at our "inside" doors, my neighbors reveal details about their lives, some seemingly significant ("my daughter moved out this weekend and is getting a divorce..."), and other things simply informative ("we'll be out of town the next few days visiting...").

In a recent garage chat, one neighbor disclosed both financial anxieties and grave health concerns with her parents. These are heavy burdens. And so I asked, "can i pray with you about these things right now?" And we did. And now I'm waiting (and likely she is, too) to see and hear how God is moving in response to those prayers.

In the midst of that, however, i wonder, does prayer "work" the same? do I pray to God my provider with the same expectation for my neighbor as I hold for myself and for others who profess Jesus as Lord and believe in the promises of scripture? Hmmm.

Regardless, I'm curious how God has moved. Perhaps it's time for another carside conversation...

pix credit: i actually took this photo of Gillian, our wee Scottish pal, in our rental car last summer, on our way to the island of Skye, Scotland. Not quite a garage photo, but it's the best car photo I could find on short notice.

15 September 2006

identity check

A favorite poet/artist of mine once wrote,
"when I consider the heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him?
the son of man that you care for him?"

or as Eugene Peterson expresses it:
"I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?"

Last night I listened to another version, from the band Casting Crowns:

Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I?
That the bright and morning star,
Would choose to light the way,
For my ever wandering heart.

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,
And you've told me who I am.
I am yours.
I am yours.

Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again.
Who am I?
That the voice that calmed the sea,
Would call out through the rain,
And calm the storm in me.

I am yours.
I am yours.

Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
'Cause I am yours.
I am yours.

-Casting Crowns

Those are a ton of words to breathe in, contemplate, and consider, much less to live. But worth pursuing and believing. Thank you for your grace, Abba. It is undoing.

(photo credit: Hildred, Ocean Shores, Washington, 0803)

12 September 2006

the "whole" truth and nothing but the truth??

I've got truth telling on my mind. That's not to say I want to tell the truth, necessarily. Weeks ago I confessed to my friend Julia that one of the things I struggle with in attempting to live into my identity as a Christ follower is that I'm a deceiver. It was a campfire chat, actually. And although she and I haven't talked much since then, I'm assuming that my transparency is not enough to disgard a friendship.

This weekend, around a different campfire, with other friends, we broached the subject again. In what ways do we stretch the truth (a little exaggeration helps a story dontchathink)? Are there occasions to omit facts or avoid direct answers so as to not "really" lie, but not really tell the whole truth either?

And then there's a test of any relationship, do you risk rejection and/or a separation or worse a conclusion of a friendship by addressing something in a friend? Is there an openness to face a friend who attempts to speak the truth in love but may be identifying something in your heart and/or actions that might cause you to feel defensive, or worse? Would our relationships be better served, and would we better resemble Christ if we held a posture toward our friends which might invite such conversations? And how would we communicate such a posture?

I remember the first time that someone confronted me about being sarcastic. My initial reaction wasn't stellar. I quickly assessed this person was obviously not able to handle a joke or two and that their overall humor quotient might be seriously challenged. But, as the holy spirit worked on my heart, I concluded that this person wasn't motivated to hurt me. And likely to just dismiss their lack of appreciation for humor didn't do justice either. So why would a person be so bold as to confront this in my life? Clearly the motivation was love. They knew I could do better. They viewed me as a representative of Christ and that Christ could be better seen in my life. Wow. My respect for this friend, and for their willingness to risk definitely changed my perspective. I'm still sarcastic, unfortunately. (Isn't it some type of spiritual gift?? Or something?) But I try to live into my identity more. I definitely want to be more like Christ.

Campfire chats do provoke interesting conversation. And although we didn't necessarily identify all the roots of why we might lie, or uncover why we might not fully offer information, we did, in my opinion, spur each other on toward love and good deeds. It's a piece of grace in the journey.

07 September 2006

Are we crazy? Camping again!

It's true. After living to tell the tale of 10 inches in five hours, we're headed camping again. To the same place. This weekend. Hopefully we won't be singing "the foolish man built his house upon the sand..." and adding this verse, "and camped in the same campground two weeks after the flood..." for several hours cramped together in one tent. (Check out Beth's recent recollection of our previous experience. It's great.)But if it does rain, well, I truly like these people. I delight in spending time with them. We'll survive. And we'll dry. The promise of getting away from it all is too lovely and too lulling to not risk the elements.

So tune in next week for all the reports... :-)

Grace and peace to you this weekend!

(Pix credit: Julia, church camping weekend, 081906)

05 September 2006

sometimes someone else just believes it

Do you ever experience pangs of doubt such that you wonder if God cares and if what you're doing bears any significance in His kingdom at all? It's been a "hey God, I have this question about what u're doing..." couple of days for me. It's crazy, really, that I have the audacity and arrogance to question Him about things in my life and in the lives around me. But doesn't He invite such relationship and conversation? Isn't that a piece of what friendship with God is all about?

Today I had this amazing conversation. It was work related and it was on the topic of spiritual formation. I was looking forward to the interaction with this person over lunch. But the conversation surprised me. It was less about work and more about "what is God teaching you about the work and power of the Holy Spirit?" Another super cool and completely uncanny thing I love about God is how He connects dots. (hmm, yes, perhaps they're always connected, but I just don't have eyes to see the connection, or something...) Several of the things I've been asking God this person also asked of God. Answers to questions received by someone else holds faith in balance for me. Perhaps you might relate, if you ever doubt something, and someone else experiences something that addresses that doubt, even if you don't receive a direct personal answer, just knowing someone else believes it (and often has lived through it), the journey feels richer and more hopeful. That's the grace of the day for me. Still questioning. But holding on to faith of another.

And just one more praise, did anyone notice incredible clouds today? Like seriously forming, storming, dissolving, brooding, whimsical, playful, amazing kinds of formations and clouds? At least here in Michigan? God, u're really good!! Thanks.

(Photo credit: Beth, Scotland trip 2005)

03 September 2006

Virtual and Eternal

Communication tends to fascinate and frustrate me. It was one of my majors in college. However, the developments in the medium since graduation date me more than i care to admit. Verbal and non verbal cues, sharing a common language or attempting to communicate with signs and gestures, all demands attention and provokes the possibility of delight and sometimes frustration. My friend Karen just completed training in sign language (I know there's more official language, my apologies) which is an artform on its own. Accompanying my fascination with communication, I'm also keenly gifted in miscommunicating. In email exchanges alone, what I perceive as perfectly clear can be "read" as completely different than my intent. It's often cause for regret and retracing steps. Ugh.

Communicating with a friend yesterday, we discussed how virtual conversations can be more real and perhaps even more transparent than face to face encounters. So, in the spirit of that observation, I tho’t I’d post this entry in my blog. ☺ I wondered if the consideration of words and composing of thoughts via email or other virtual places allows for editing and deleting, and perhaps generally better communication. But does that come at the expense of less significant face to face discussions? Do we resort to discussions about weather, television plotlines, and perhaps (if we're bold) political positions and forfeit depth or even transparent cries regarding basic needs or longings in our hearts and lives? Do we hide the real joys and pains of life we’ve reflected on in a safer, perhaps less threatening environment such as email or by blogging? Is it less real to post something in a blog? Do our face to face daily conversations suffer as a result? Or do we simply not have the time in our frantic schedules to go deep in face to face settings? No answers...just musing aloud, er, online.

In the category of eternal, I'm so thankful to honor my grandmother today. Three years ago we buried her, just before her 99th birthday. Thus if she were still alive, we’d celebrate her 102nd birthday today. [The picture (credit Hildred, again) is our nieces at Grandpa and Grandma's tombstone in South Dakota.] But I celebrate her life. She impacted lives beyond her life. I miss her lively brown eyes...and much more!! Miss u Grandma. Love thinking of you and Jesus and Grandpa together.

01 September 2006

right responses?

Does something ever happen within your life experience that catches you completely off guard such that u don't even know how to respond? i'm not talking random weird things. I'm recalling a family vacation in bend, oregon where a few of us went horseback riding along the river, with a trained guide, and were ambushed by a "flasher" waiting to reveal all from his perch on the cliff above the river bank. There's no "right response" to something so shockingly sick and wrong. And I'm not talking about when a person cuts you off in traffic or that sweet looking lil ole lady "steals" your this-must-be-meant-for-me-close-to-the-door parking spot.

I'm talking about the "wow! i didn't see this coming" type of occurence where you react in emotion and not reason. That's the "right" response thing I'm thinking about. It's that sense that as a Christ follower, and an image bearer of Christ, I should react in a certain way. But what spills out, or at very least fills your mind, is something altogether not righteous, and as far from 'turn the other cheek' as you can imagine.
Yeah, me neither. i have no idea what i'm talking about. clearly that never happens in this life.

but, for the sake of humoring me (it's my blog after all), let's say it does happen. let's say we don't respond rightly. how do we overcome that? or is it really okay to show honest emotion? i guess what i'm wondering in my rather obtuse, likely too ambiguous way is whether it's truly okay to vent, or to complain, or to be angry about a situation or circumstance? I ask in part b/c i look at some of the writing of a guy I respect named Paul and he plainly and firmly says, "don't let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen." So, in the category of being not only hearers of the word, but doers of the word, how do we live that out??

Perhaps my problem is that I want the "right" or correct response. And God's been reminding me pretty consistently that it's really okay to "give up the right to be right" and to trust Him for the whole surrender piece. Or perhaps it's just that I don't really want to be fully obedient to the word? Or it's a matter of not trusting God enough? I might not have the proper diagnosis. I know this, though, it's a journey. And i'm leaning into some other words Paul said, 'He who began a good work in me will carry it out to completion in the day of Christ Jesus." Ah. There's some hope and some grace. Hallelujah.