30 August 2007

dare I say it?

i don't really believe the comments that I am a camping weather jinx. I do not have that kind of power. But even so, nearly every time I've gone camping, it has rained. It's so great to have raindrops dance upon the tent as one sleeps through the night. It's somewhat mesmerizing and lulling. But that is not the type of rain we've experienced. Oh no. Torrential downpour hardly seems like an exaggeration for last year's initial camping run. And this year, I'm being kind when I summarize it as a steady downpour. I mean really, we barely had a break to tear down the tents, and don't even think they were dry.

Yet, we risk it all to do it again. And the glorious news is that the weather predictions are for an outstanding weekend. No rain even staining the edges of the days we're gone. Hooray. (I'm completely ignoring the shadow of a cloud that wants to spur doubt. Well, nearly completely ignoring.)

Off to the woods again. Yippee! Happy Labor Day weekend all!

28 August 2007


In the former days of my blog's short life, it used to be that all the pictures I'd post would be from other people.
And truthfully, I have nearly 7000 digital pictures from the last few years, largely taken by others.

This year, since I purchased my own lil digital camera, I've relied less on others. But I can't do so in this case. My sister's photos of my (our) lil nieces are too precious. I need to brag. About my sister the photographer. And about my lovely nieces.
See what you think!
Actually, my completely biased, non-subjective opinion is likely extremely obvious. So, if you don't agree, I suppose you can voice your opinions, but it just might not matter!

27 August 2007

half full or too full?

I intended to title this post summer is over! But that seems too "glass half empty-ish" when the fact is summer remains until sometime mid September. So, I'll phrase it another way, grad school started for me again with assignments due today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week.
I've already said NO! to good things (camping with my church over the weekend) in order to plod through reading and homework. And so I'm saying Yes! to something else. And it's good.
It's just that summer has been so rich and full and delightful. I couldn't have asked for more.
And these photos are the screens that I'll be looking at the next several months.. and the books I get to read
and the subjects I get to learn about.

Thank you dear Father, for the grace-filled days of summer. You extend much healing in these lovely light days!

26 August 2007


Friday was the big meeting. At the school (university) I work for there is an annual kick-off the new year meeting. Tbey called it a workshop, which seemed a bit curious to me. Basically, we sat there listening to talk after talk after talk.
Oh and we had a little comic relief as we performed our own University Musical. Very much the highlight of the day...
but here's what I've been thinking about:
How do we become people who feel so compelled to posture ourselves? Do you know what I'm talking about? It's that atmosphere in a conversation when you know that you're being sized up for what you do and how you do it. It's the inserted comments that provide a sense of boasting and allow for measurement. And what is it that drives us to feel as if what we do or more importantly who we are is not enough? Who decides that comparisons leave one person greater or more important than another? It definitely seems to defy the idea that blessed are the poor and blessed are the meek.

Despite that, I got to hang out with some really cool people. Kati and Chrissandra, pictured here, do "my" job in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, and trained me, too. So I'm their biggest fans. And was glad for the chance to interact with them face 2 face for a few hours. Big, sometimes boring, sometimes stuffy, important meeting or not!

22 August 2007

need or want

As you may recall, this past weekend a few of us retreated to camp in the woods. Our excitement and expectation level crested if our food and supply planning emails were any indication.
Weather forecasts predicted cooler temps.
Visions of perfectly roasted marshmallows and personally appointed sandwich pizzas spurred on us. (Okay, some not so perfect sandwiches tarnished that vision a tad bit. But still...)
Fireside chats after the kids settled in their beds were also hoped for. We imagined snuggling deep into our bags after a satisfying day for great in-the-woods sleep.

Friday night transitioned into a gloriously sunny Saturday. (We were "forced" to get ice cream, early in the day, and of course Casey gets her own cone!)
Sunlight danced on the lake. The sights and sounds of summer begged our interaction. The lure of the lake was so great, kids fell in sans swimsuits.

Smiles lit faces as we experienced what we hoped for.
Campfire cooking!!
Campfire conversations.
Sandy beaches.
Warm lake water.

Until the sprinkles descended.
Rain through the night Saturday.
Rain through the day Sunday.
Rain through the night Sunday.
Rain all morning Monday.

I pleaded with God.
"we have six kids here Father. I know we need rain, but please, please, please, could it be sunny on Monday? Could you let the rain rest?"

We tried not to complain. So much of life is better if one reacts in a good mood. Karen's comment on Sunday night, "I think that must be the last of the rain," inspired hope in all of us. (Even if we couldn't resist throwing that back to her Monday morning as the torrents pounded us in our feverish attempts to pack up tents and fold tarps and take down.)

We did make the best of it.
We did have fun together.
We really enjoy each other's company regardless of the weather.
But we longed for something different.
Still, I wonder, what if what we wanted was not what we needed?
Certainly the ground was desperate for rain. In fact, things were so dry, on Friday night, the rangers came around to insure our fires were not too high because the threat of forest fire was so severe. Farmers everywhere were praying for rain. Perhaps we needed to deal with the rain to see how we reacted (it was not a repeat of last year's 10 inches in five hours with all of us crammed in one tent). Perhaps it was necessary to see if our attitudes toward camping would sustain the rain?

As with so many things, I have more questions than answers.
I'm still glad we went. And I'm really ready to do it again.
I'm holding out hope that some of our dreams will still become realities.
If that's what we need...

21 August 2007

what do u want?

A few years ago, a work situation allowed several coworkers and I to retreat (or to be led in retreat) with Ruth Haley Barton. As part of that retreat, she described a birthday celebration where her original plans were transformed when she honestly asked herself, "what do you want?"

Today I joined several other people who were recipients of that question, not with Ruth, but with our friend Jordan. It is her birthday and she wanted a lunch with girlfriends. A mere 22 of us!! from all different walks of her life.

This is a cute wee photo of Jordan and her Mom.

Happy Birthday lady!!
I celebrate the life of Jesus in you
and rejoice in the woman you continue becoming!

17 August 2007

to the woods

We're off to camp...
we being the friends that i camped with last year...you know, when it rained TEN inches in five hours...
and the place where we had major disturbances in the middle of the night (not that they really bothered me as I slept right thru it, even tho' my friends departed their tents to make sure all was safe in the world--or, at least our campsite).
Yep...it's wonderful to sit by the campfire and disengage from all other parts of life and other (hoped for) experiences we're about to undertake.
I can't wait...

bye for now.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Rachel!!

13 August 2007

table talk

We lingered for literally hours, around the table, over breakfast. Technically, since I was working, I served the breakfast, but still, we remained in that comfortable space.
(This is a photo of the folks at the bed and breakfast this weekend. They've been meeting at bed and breakfast inns with their spouses for over 20 years!!)There is something luxurious about conversations around a meal when one doesn't have to scurry off here or there. As we exchanged stories and shared laughter, our lives connected deeply. It's quite amazing, really.

I really enjoyed meal times growing up. My sisters and I often recall the times we had our eyes opened during prayer (yes, a perfectly legal option which I still practice) and wound up giggling and receiving the squeeze or glare from Mom and Dad. Even today, the table at my parent's house provokes numerous conversations, arguments, encouragement, teasing, you know the type. The rhythm is relaxed, mostly, except if you're fighting for the last dinner roll in our carb-loving familie. Sometimes it's a space I dread leaving, as if somehow, the departure from the table signals the return to a hectic pace.

This weekend if things go as planned, I'll gather with some friends to enjoy that type of pace around a campfire. I can't wait. There's nothing like staring into and stirring fire's embers to provoke conversation, laughter, and community. It's part of what we were created for. It's a place of invitation. And a place of grace.

Oh...one more thing, happy anniversary to my blog. It's one year old!!!

10 August 2007


Today marks something so signficant...in fact, without this day,
I would not exist (not that it's all about me or anything)!

On August 10,
45 (short) years ago,
my parents wed. And so I celebrate them.
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!!

Their life,
and hospitality,
just to mention a few things,
has impacted countless lives.
These are a few photos from their anniversary celebration
(with some of our family present)
this past Monday night on the shores of the Puget Sound!

Happy Anniversary parents!!

09 August 2007


I was born into a family of "doers." It's likely beyond family, really, and is more like a heritage. My Mom would tell you that my Dad helps her seek a reprieve by saying, "why don't you sit here beside me and rest a wee while." (Right, okay, I added the "wee.")

Projects are part of the legacy.
My grandpa (my Mom's dad) is known to have said that he and my grandma would stay in Seattle (at my parent's house) as long as there was a project to accomplish. Once that was done, they journeyed back to South Dakota. We were frantic for projects--not that we had to look too far.

Grandpa helped construct most of the basement living area--from the bathroom, complete with the cement block shower he produced, to the bedrooms my sisters and I inhabited, to the dropped ceiling and dividing wall in the "rec" room. And then there were the outdoor projects, fences, especially are what I recall.

It should not be a surprise then, that sometimes I come back from times with my family semi-exhausted :-). But as we work together, we also have a great time. This week, along with helping with the wedding, etc, we worked on peaches (in case the photos were not clue enough). We canned quarts and quarts and made delicious peach jam. These are processes I would never endeavor on my own. But with a few others in the kitchen, it goes pretty well.
We even had time to entertain one of my Mom's dearest friends.
Admittedly, she didn't stay long in our chaos, er production,
but I know she enjoyed her stop in the midst of our mess!

08 August 2007

common dilemma

Last week, when my travels found me in Detroit, instead of in Seattle, I was in line with a lady who had not flown in ten years. Social though I may be, I sometimes crave solitude. When she asked if she could tag along with me since we were both stranded, I hesitated a moment before consenting.
We shared a common dilemma, and she wanted company.

The unknown unsettled her, so she pursued information:
What will the hotel look like?
Will we find somewhere to eat and use our travel vouchers?
How will we get back to the airport?

Will my luggage follow me (perhaps I should have answered this differently)?

And the like. (If she didn't like my answer, she asked someone else.)
She created community. Along with asking to join me, she invited several other people into "our circle." She encouraged one person to sit with us at dinner after we had already ordered. When the woman hesitated, I quickly said, "if you want to be alone, that's just fine."
To which she responded, "Oh no, I'm alone all too often."

And so our circle grew.
We laughed.
We broke bread together.
We moaned a bit about not making our connections...and then celebrated our food, accommodations, and the fact we weren't walking.

We traded email addresses.
They even let me pray with them.

Misery may love company, but one needn't stay miserable!

07 August 2007

'twas the night before the wedding

and all through the house,
all the creatures were stirring,
even, the lous i est
string player...

Because you see, my sisters three, and i,
were to play our instruments for my nephew's wedding, and we hadn't practiced.
Truthfully, we didn't even know what music we were playing.

That type of pressure is the best kind (to my esfp myers briggs temperament of course). Another truth is that Carmen is such a good player, we all know she carries the melody and the rest of us can "slide" a wee bit.
Another truth is that Jenni is super organized and has oodles and oodles of wedding music.
And there's the whole sister thing. We've been a string quartet forever...and so we play intuitively and somewhat naturally...

Lest this sounds like bragging, I must quickly confess, we blew it, somewhat. And so it was, in the middle of one of the arguably easiest pieces we played, I noticed Jenni wasn't on the right measure.
And since I'm a helpful girl (okay, also b/c I was playing an easy, repetitive pizzicato), I whispered to her that we were nearly at measure 15. (Specific measure details don't really matter at this point, do they? I mean, details are not always my strong suit.) So when Hildred heard me and looked at me like I was growing a second, possibly third head, I should've clued in that perhaps I was not on the correct measure either...and so when I did look back at my (did I mention "easy, repetitive pizzicato?")own music and could not find my place, well, I'm not sure what my options were.

But learning to fake it...and staying in the right key signature are tricks (skills?) of the trade after all.
Who really knew--aside from the piercing glare of my sisters of course?? :-)
This picture is well after the fact, days later, when my mistakes (I hope) were long forgotten. Happier days!

Hildred shot the cool instrument photos! I love that she is such a great photographer!!

lessons learned, er learning...

In my former life, when my job required a fair amount of travel, i learned to travel light. i used to give "speeches" about packing one's carry on luggage, and particularly, being prepared in case checked luggage doesn't arrive as expected.
And so, i should have learned...

When my flight to seattle got way laid in detroit, and I couldn't get to my checked luggage, I should have been prepared.

Perhaps it relates to my arrogance. See, Thursday, as I drove on my way from work to the airport,
I called my family who had been on the road since early Wednesday morning, and still were not in Seattle. I smugly said, "I'm leaving for the airport. See you in a few hours." That is, if you get to Seattle first, I thought.

Sleeping in Detroit was not in the plan.
And when my luggage didn't arrive in Seattle when I did the next day, well, part of me felt like it served me right!
But I made it.
And I didn't have to walk.
And I didn't have to drive.
It's all good!

02 August 2007


Happy Birthday Jen!! It's time to celebrate your big day.
Jenni is, among other things, the planner in the family, at least, as far as us girls go. Her curiosity and interest in life, wildlife, and really all of God's creation is second to none. One of my favorite memories in Hawaii was Jenni's exuberant expression of delight and awe as we were snorkeling. "Amazing!!" she kept saying. And it was a most appropriate word!

Jenni is one of those people who is good at everything. Her intelligence and curiosity make a great combination to getting jobs done.

I love watching Jenni serve people. Her heart overflows with faithfulness, commitment, and loyalty. And she's always got something goin' on. Her musical skills proceed her and are put to good use in the churches in Seattle.

And I just heard from her that she'll be taking birthday cake to Mom and Dad's tonight. Woohoo!!! I'm on my way. Save a piece for me!
Happy Birthday sis!

Pix locations from June in Hawaii. I should probably explain that in the first photo she is eating an appetizer--a fresh pea pod coated with a bit of butter. Delish!