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