30 September 2007


No moss gathers on our family feet during fall Saturdays. (they might have some dust though- it was a windy day in the Midwest!) Some of what we were doing:

J. took a master's class from pianist Krassimira Jordan. She was in town to perform and teach at OCM. Her students are usually in the college setting, but she was very good with the younger students. I think James enjoyed the experience, and maybe The Little Shepherd will take on new lightness.

Deakin and Dillon were banished to the outdoors while Su, L & S excavated, oops- I meant to say cleaned, their room. Yes, under the bed. Yes, in the closet. Yes, behind the door. Thanks to their dad for supervising this monumental event. They are very happy about it today. They have friends over right now and were just overheard asking them to look under the bed. :-)
J. took the outside duties and mowed. T. says J. did a better job than he would have done himself. There's a compliment!

Team Dynamite took the field again, and finished with a win. YAY! Both girls played goalie and allowed no goals past. L. scored a couple for the good guys. Only downside, one player twisted her ankle. First injury to a Dynamite player in 4 years! (well, besides normal scrapes, bumps and bruises, of course...) Team H. helps out as K. is the team photographer and J. runs the flag on the sideline.
Here's S. on a throw in,

and L., heading towards the goal.

K. and the Warriors took the court for volleyball. No win for the Warriors this day, but count it all as training, right? Man, it's tough to take volleyball photos! The gym lights and the camera just do not like each other. We did get a great shot of K. lunging with her tongue out, though kind of fuzzy and dark. Here's the Warriors setting it up for K. to tip over...

We finished off the day at the Creighton Men's Soccer game. They took on Washington, and won in sudden death overtime. Good game! Very physical. TWO yellow cards which really impressed my young futbol players. There is no bad seat at the Creighton soccer stadium. And besides, you can take your picture with the Jay, roll down the grass hill, play the Big Screen Shell Game, and watch the Human Hamster Race at halftime. (I have a photo if you must see...) We resisted the call of the Mystery Mansion. (Just kidding! I wouldn't go in if they paid me, and the bats circling overhead seal THAT deal!)
On to Sunday. Ahh... the Sabbath. Worship and rest.

28 September 2007

Mom's overture

Thanks to my friend Janet in NC for sending along this very clever ditty. It sounds Oh-So-Familiar, and made my entire family laugh, besides. Enjoy!

27 September 2007

Some days...

Some days not even this or this is enough. Some days holding on to this is best of all...

Press on.

26 September 2007

As long as I'm not chasing rabbit trails...

Found another silly internet quiz. I love these things. Good entertainment while making copies of the circulatory system...
What book are you? :-)

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

23 September 2007


Hooray! The first day of Fall! My favorite season, even though it makes me sneeze. Thinking about fall, I think about growing up in New Mexico. Fall in Albuquerque is one event after another.

Starts with the State Fair in September. My sister and I would go to the State Fair every year, on School Day, with my grandma. We'd do every inch of the fair, the livestock barns, the exhibits and blue ribbons, and the Fine Arts Gallery. Through the Exhibition Halls to watch the knife demonstrations and get all the free stuff we could carry in our plastic sack. Through Villa Hispana, the mariachis playing, sombreros and leather and blown glass shops. Through the Indian Village, drums beating, with Fry Bread, turquoise and coral and silver jewelry, and beaded and feathered dancers. Through the midway and the fun house and the Tilt-a-Whirl. Later, as I got older, I went with friends- one year biked over which was good because no one likes to park at the fair. I went with T and rode the Zipper for the first, and last, time.

The Ballon Fiesta (hmmm... that should be a post by itself, later in the month, I think). The Greek Festival. Soccer. Aspen trees. Green chile roasting. Fall.

Yay for Fall, that all too quick season before winter descends.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

19 September 2007


"Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.
Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways."
Proverbs 23:25-26

One of my favorite columnists is Andree Seu, a regular contributor to World magazine. I hate to admit it, but the back of the magazine, where her page always lies, is the first I turn to when I get my new issue. I wish I could say I read the issue cover to cover and wait for her. I do read it cover to cover, every issue, but I always look to see if there's a new Seu column first.

This week's writing is another gem, another "oh- I need that reminder." Here's just a little bit, and I hope you delight in it as I have. (click here for the full column)

Delight is the most useless of things. It doesn't get the house clean or the bills paid. Useless—like flowers. Like rainbows. Like Beethoven's Ninth.

Delight covers a multitude of parenting shortcomings. You may be too strict or too lenient and still come out all right, if you delight in your children. They will know it, for delight cannot be hidden. It finds excuse to ooze all over the place. It seeks a getaway vacation with the beloved when it's not convenient. It asks different questions than duty. Duty says, "I should." Delight says, "I want to." Duty is efficient. Delight tends to anything but.

What is less efficient than the story of mankind? If it were about efficiency, God would have wiped the plate clean and commenced with more promising subjects. The Bible in entirety is a love story, a tale of unquenchable delight—His for us, finally ours for Him. No sound rule of parenting is modeled in the sprint of an old man down the road to meet his prodigal. Only delight. No royal protocol is modeled in the dance of a half-naked king before his subjects and the Lord with all his might. Only delight. What is more useless than hymns?

"Let the mind for an instant consider the history of the Redeemer's love, and a thousand enchanting acts of affection will suggest themselves. . . . Our souls may well faint for joy . . . for our loving benefactor Jesus Christ our Lord, whose love is wonderful, passing the love of women" (C.H. Spurgeon).

14 September 2007

"Field" Trip

This afternoon we made our annual pilgrimage to the meat locker in Hancock, Iowa, to pick up our 1/4 share of a cow. 1/4 cow in beef, that is- all kinds of cuts, burger to steak. Family farm-raised, corn-fed beef. Tasty meat that will last us the year.

Hancock is a nice little town- with what has become one of our favorite parks. This year, we were given a tip to look for buffalo. We snuck over to a fence and spied elk and buffalo in the distance, though we weren't too stealthy, as the butcher we had just picked up the beef from drove by and asked us if we were looking for more meat. HA! Butcher humor! :-). And, my J son was correct in guessing, it was actually bison. Who would think, that right there in Hancock, IA, population 201, we would find Botna Bend Park, a local wildlife refuge of sorts.
The fields are beautiful at this time of year. So many shades of gold and green, as the corn and soy near harvest. We saw some farms with equipment already out. Lots of birds, and plenty of cows, pigs, and horses along the way, as well.

We made a stop to surprise a friend along the way, but she wasn't home- that's what we get for not calling ahead, but I bet she was surprised to see our note! And, I was able to maintain control of the music selections while driving, despite occassional grumbles from the crowd. A good afternoon outing, all in all.
Have to include a few shots of the playground:

Spinning on the merry-go-round, a mighty success with no scraped knees!

HA! Look at K, so tall now that she does a handstand rather than hang off the monkey bars! :-)

A group pic on the teeter-totters. Big victory! L conquers her fear of UP on the teeter-totter! But, she'll still only ride with her trust-worthy twin...

A good day and a good outing in the Heartland. :-)

12 September 2007

how did they know?

Today's Pickles is nothing short of a snapshot of life at our house, with a certain terrier...

11 September 2007


We did it! We finished!
It took a while, yes, but it was worth it.
We laughed. We quote our favorite scenes.
The duke and the king and the nonesuch will be with us forever.
We loved the end.
Thanks, Mark Twain.
Keep checking for our next literary adventure...


Six years.

Six years since that seemingly slow-motion and yet all-too-quick-moment in time changed how we go about our world.

We all remember exactly where we were, what we were doing, what we were thinking, when we realized that not only were airplanes crashing and buildings crashing, but part of what we knew as normalcy in America was crashing as well.

Six years, and we think about families that were changed forever. Lives that changed in that blink of an eye, and questions that linger.

Last year, at a service of remembrance for victims' families, PCA pastor Tim Keller delivered a message that I believe is worth considering. It is not political, instead addressing so many of those questions that we all have after confronting tragedy, particularly on a scale as immense as the events of September 11, 2001.

Ground Zero/St Paul’s Chapel
Tim Keller Sep 10, 2006

As a minister, of course, I’ve spent countless hours with people who are struggling and wrestling with the biggest question - the WHY question in the face of relentless tragedies and injustices. And like all ministers or any spiritual guides of any sort, I scramble to try to say something to respond and I always come away feeling inadequate and that’s not going to be any different today. But we can’t shrink from the task of responding to that question. Because the very best way to honor the memories of the ones we’ve lost and love is to live confident, productive lives. And the only way to do that is to actually be able to face that question. We have to have the strength to face a world filled with constant devastation and loss. So where do we get that strength? How do we deal with that question? I would like to propose that, though we won’t get all of what we need, we may get some of what we need 3 ways: by recognizing the problem for what it is, and then by grasping both an empowering hint from the past and an empowering hope from the future.

First, we have to recognize that the problem of tragedy, injustice and suffering is a problem for everyone no matter what their beliefs are. Now, if you believe in God and for the first time experience or see horrendous evil, you rightly believe that that is a problem for your belief in God, and you’re right – and you say, “How could a good and powerful God allow something like this to happen?”

But it’s a mistake (though a very understandable mistake) to think that if you abandon your belief in God it somehow is going to make the problem easier to handle. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from Birmingham Jail says that if there was no higher divine Law, there would be no way to tell if a particular human law was unjust or not. So think. If there is no God or higher divine Law and the material universe is all there is, then violence is perfectly natural—the strong eating the weak! And yet somehow, we still feel this isn’t the way things ought to be. Why not? Now I’m not going to get philosophical at a time like this. I’m just trying to make the point that the problem of injustice and suffering is a problem for belief in God but it is also a problem for disbelief in God---for any set of beliefs. So abandoning belief in God does not really help in the face of it. OK, then what will?

Second, I believe we need to grasp an empowering hint from the past. Now at this point, I’d like to freely acknowledge that every faith - and we are an interfaith gathering today – every faith has great resources for dealing with suffering and injustice in the world. But as a Christian minister I know my own faith’s resources the best, so let me simply share with you what I’ve got. When people ask the big question, “Why would God allow this or that to happen?” There are almost always two answers. The one answer is: Don’t question God! He has reasons beyond your finite little mind. And therefore, just accept everything. Don’t question. The other answer is: I don’t know what God’s up to – I have no idea at all about why these things are happening. There’s no way to make any sense of it at all. Now I’d like to respectfully suggest the first of these answers is too hard and the second is too weak. The second is too weak because, though of course we don’t have the full answer, we do have an idea, an incredibly powerful idea.

One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.

But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection. In Daniel 12:2-3 we read: Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake….[They]… will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and…like the stars for ever and ever. And in John 11 we hear Jesus say: I am the resurrection and the life! Now this is what the claim is: That God is not preparing for us merely some ethereal, abstract spiritual existence that is just a kind of compensation for the life we lost. Resurrection means the restoration to us of the life we lost. New heavens and new earth means this body, this world! Our bodies, our homes, our loved ones—restored, returned, perfected and beautified! Given back to us!

In the year after 9-11 I was diagnosed with cancer, and I was treated successfully. But during that whole time I read about the future resurrection and that was my real medicine. In the last book of The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee wakes up, thinking everything is lost and discovering instead that all his friends were around him, he cries out: "Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead! Is everything sad going to come untrue?"

The answer is YES. And the answer of the Bible is YES. If the resurrection is true, then the answer is yes. Everything sad is going TO COME UNTRUE.

Oh, I know many of you are saying, “I wish I could believe that.” And guess what? This idea is so potent that you can go forward with that. To even want the resurrection, to love the idea of the resurrection, long for the promise of the resurrection even though you are unsure of it, is strengthening. I John 3:2-3. Beloved, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope purify themselves as he is pure.” Even to have a hope in this is purifying.

Listen to how Dostoevsky puts it in Brothers Karamazov: “I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.”

That is strong and that last sentence is particularly strong…but if the resurrection is true, it’s absolutely right. Amen.

10 September 2007

Date Night, part 2...

...which gives the impression that it's one date night after another around here. Well, maybe not, but perhaps this is our most frequent date- nearly every Monday night at 10pm, you'll find the two of us travelling to far away venues, partaking in local festivals, getting a taste of local foods, experiencing the culture of places around the globe. Tonight we're scheduled for Paris, "the city of light, love and culture." Globetrekker TV, locally found on NETV, the cheapest ticket to the world you'll ever find! (Thanks to our fellow GlobeWandering buddies for turning us on to Trekker! :-) )

09 September 2007

Date Night

What could be more perfect than a good date night dinner only 1.3 miles from home? Such was the reality on Friday night when T. took me out to Dario's, right in bustling downtown Dundee. One word. Yum. I ordered a huge heavy black pot of mussels steamed with tomatoes and garlic. And pommes frites. Yum. And chocolate mousse, which he pretended to share because he knew that I wanted it but wouldn't order it by myself. There's love. :-) Yum.

08 September 2007


Madeline L'Engle died last week; she was 88 years old. As a young reader, I devoured everything by L'Engle on the library juvenile/young adult fiction shelves. And then later, as an adult, I discovered her non-fiction works, and read them with equal voracity. I appreciated her candid honesty and vulnerability; her ability to write out her questions and search for answers in personal struggles with faith, and life and death. Perhaps a scene from Meet the Austins explains her journey, when Grandfather explained to Suzy, "The search for knowledge and truth can be the most exciting thing there is as long as it takes you toward God instead of away from Him."

There was very little "childish" about L'Engle's children's literature. In her Newberry Award acceptance speech, in 1963, she said,

"What a child doesn’t realize until he is grown is that in responding to fantasy, fairly tale, and myth he is responding to what Erich Fromm calls the one universal language, the one and only language in the world that cuts across all barriers of time, place, race, and culture. Many Newbery books are from this realm, beginning with Dr. Dolittle; books on Hindu myth, Chinese folklore, the life of Buddha, tales of American Indians, books that lead our children beyond all boundaries and into the one language of all mankind.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth… The extraordinary, the marvelous thing about Genesis is not how unscientific it is, but how amazingly accurate it is. How could the ancient Israelites have known the exact order of an evolution that wasn’t to be formulated for thousands of years? Here is a truth that cuts across barriers of time and space.

But almost all of the best children’s books do this, not only an Alice in Wonderland, a Wind in the Willow, a Princess and the Goblin. Even the most straightforward tales say far more than they seem to mean on the surface. Little Women, The Secret Garden, Huckleberry Finn --- how much more there is in them than we realize at a first reading. They partake of the universal language, and this is why we turn to them again and again when we are children, and still again when we have grown up.

Up on the summit of Mohawk Mountain in northwest Connecticut is a large flat rock that holds the heat of the sun long after the last of the late sunset has left the sky. We take our picnic up there and then lie on the rock and watch the stars, one pulsing slowly into the deepening blue, and then another and another and another, until the sky is full of them.

A book, too, can be a star, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,” a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe."

L'Engle's books were among those stars that shone for me as a child, and as an adult. Her legacy will be long appreciated.

06 September 2007

Class Photo

You're gazing on the Holliday Academy Class Photo, 2007-08. A motley crew. Hard working. Enthusiastic. Full of promise.

Keep up the good work, students!

"Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

That's the promise we're holding on to.

03 September 2007

Labor Day Croquet

It might just become an annual event, the Labor Day Croquet Tournament. T. takes the rules seriously. (he also takes "sending" seriously, but we won't get into THAT here...) He didn't know about poison rules (scroll down to Option 6). Watch out, buddy! You are toast!

We did enjoy a great family outing today, all nine of us, including the D dogs. We headed east, crossed the river and the state line, to the playground and picnic areas at Lake Manawa. Besides croquet, we brought whiffleball, volleyball and soccer balls with us. A few magazines for me. Fried chicken for everyone. Before we left the park, we could smell barbacoa on the grill and hear a live mariachi band. Viva la heartland!

Not to mention, a stop at DQ on the way home. How's that for a very non-Labor Day?

One more shot of Team Croquet. (and why isn't croquet an Olympic event...?)