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27 September 2009


The question is always asked by the curious travelers who have crossed the Plains at Interstate speeds, “How can you live here without the mountains, the ocean, the woods?” But what they are really speaking to is their desire to “get it” right away. The sublime of this place that we call the prairie is one of patience and looking. There is no quick fix… If one is to understand the beauty of this place, the old answers just won’t do.
- Keith Jacobshagen, “Personal Journey” in The Changing Prairie (1995, A. Joern and K.H. Keeler, eds.), Oxford University Press

(photo credit: me!)

The Apple Orchard

I found this poem while wandering orchard websites, and I like it. Especially the end, the last eight lines.
"Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!"
It reminds me of Paul's language, to persevere and strive and bear fruit...

The Apple Orchard by Rainer Maria Rilke

Come let us watch the sun go down
and walk in twilight through the orchard's green.
Does it not seem as if we had for long
collected, saved and harbored within us
old memories? To find releases and seek
new hopes, remembering half-forgotten joys,
mingled with darkness coming from within,
as we randomly voice our thoughts aloud
wandering beneath these harvest-laden trees
reminiscent of Durer woodcuts, branches
which, bent under the fully ripened fruit,
wait patiently, trying to outlast, to
serve another season's hundred days of toil,
straining, uncomplaining, by not breaking
but succeeding, even though the burden
should at times seem almost past endurance.
Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!

Thus must it be, when willingly you strive
throughout a long and uncomplaining life,
committed to one goal: to give yourself!
And silently to grow and to bear fruit.

(Photo credit: me!)

The Lord's Day

O Lord My Lord,
this is thy day,
the heavenly ordinance of rest,
the open door of worship,
the record of Jesus' resurrection,
the seal of the sabbath to come,
the day when saints militant and triumphant unite in endless song.

I bless thee for the throne of grace,
that here free favour reigns;
that open access to it is through the blood of Jesus;
that the veil is torn aside and I can enter the holiest and find thee ready to hear,
waiting to be gracious,
inviting me to pour out my needs,
encouraging my desires,
promising to give more than I ask or think.

But while I bless thee, shame and confusion are mine:
I remember my past misuse of sacred things,
my irreverent worship,
my base ingratitude,
my cold, dull praise.

Sprinkle all my past sabbaths with the cleansing blood of Jesus,
and may this day witness deep improvement in me.
Give me in rich abundance
the blessings the Lord's Day was designed to impart;
May my heart be fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares;
Flood my mind with peace beyond understanding;
may my meditations be sweet,
my acts of worship life, liberty, joy,
my drink the streams that flow from thy throne,
my food the precious Word,
my defense the shield of faith,
and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.

from The Valley of Vision, ed. by Arthur Bennett
(photo credit: me.)

25 September 2009

The Surprise of Seeing Things...

"If you have ever driven down a road at a good clip all your life, and then one day done the same stretch on foot, you have experienced the surprise of seeing things you never saw before in a familiar setting." Andree Seu, An Insomniac's Psalm 103, verse 1

This week one of my fave columnists, Andree Seu from WORLD magazine, has been writing on another personal favorite, Psalm 103. I hope that this is a continuing series!

An Insomniac's Psalm 103, verse 1
An Insomniac's Psalm 103, verse 2
An Insomniac's Psalm 103, verse 3
An Insomniac's Psalm 103, verse 4
An Insomniac's Psalm 103, verse 5

(art credit: Praise the Lord, O My Soul by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld)

24 September 2009

Three things Thursday

1. Fall! Love fall. LOVE fall! I swoon over red leaves. Everytime I see red leaves I "ooh" and I "aah". There is a distinct shortage of red leaves in my 'hood. A lot of yellows and umbers and mossy black greens. Red, however, is precious. (the photo was taken four doors down. No red leaves in my yard, sigh.)

2. My beloved and I had date night last Friday (was it Friday? I think it was Friday...) and went to a new-ish Indian place, Mother India. MMMMM. Just thinking about it makes me seriously consider jumping in the car and returning RIGHT NOW! On a scale of 1-10, the ambiance at Mother India is a 2. The service is a 3. The food is a 9+. (and the cuteness of the daughter that seated us and brought our water is an 11!) I had Vegetable Curry and my sweetie had Lamb Vindaloo that made sweat roll down his head. Naan! And an appetizer of delicious crispy fried spinach balls that have an Indian name that I can't remember and REALLY taste much better than I'm making them sound. Next time, I've already decided, it will be Chicken Tikka. And more naan. If in need of Indian in O, GO TO MOTHER INDIA!

3. In a Unfortunate Series of Events I cut not-one -but-two fingers while making vegetable soup on Tuesday. For those who know my kitchen exploits, this is not uncommon. Therefore, I share with you my favorite band-aids for the kitchen- Band Aid TOUGH STRIPS Finger Care, along with good ol' fabric tape for extra protection. (and confession, I can hardly say "BandAids" without sing-songing this tune...)

Three things Thursday.
Hmmm... kind of catchy...

20 September 2009

First Day Morning- Worship

O Lord,
We commune with thee every day,
but week days are worldly days,
and secular concerns reduce heavenly impressions.

We bless thee therefore for the day sacred to our souls
when we can wait upon thee and be refreshed;
We thank thee for the institutions of religion
by use of which we draw near to thee and thou to us;
We rejoice in another Lord's Day
when we call off our minds from the cares of the world
and attend upon thee without distraction;

Let our retirement be devout,
our conversations edifying,
our reading pious,
our hearing profitable,
the our souls may be quickened and elevated.

We are going to the house of prayer,
pour upon us the spirit of grace and supplication;
We are going to the house of praise,
awaken in us every grateful and cheerful emotion;
We are going to the house of instruction,
give testimony to the Word preached,
and glorify it in the hearts of all who hear;
may it enlighten the ignorant,
awaken the careless, reclaim the wandering,
establish the weak, comfort the feeble-minded,
make ready a people for their Lord.

Be a sanctuary to all who cannot come,
Forget not those who never come,
And do thou bestow upon us
benevolence towards our dependents,
forgiveness towards our enemies,
peaceableness towards our neighbors,
openness towards our fellow-Christians.

from Valley of Vision, ed. by Arthur Bennett

(photo credit to bpbpBrianPetersen at Flickr)

18 September 2009

"... keep this at the forefront of your mind..."

"Avoid Paternalism. Do not do things for people that they can do for themselves. Memorize this, recite it under your breath all day long, and wear it like a garland around your neck. Every time you are engaged in poverty-alleviation ministry, keep this at the forefront of your mind, for it can keep you from doing all sorts of harm."

What's it take?


What does it take to get you to grab the mic and sing in a karaoke room? It would take aliens completely taking over my mind and body. I cannot imagine everEVER "grabbing the mike" (doesn't "grab" imply enthusiasm?) and singing (doesn't "sing" imply ability?) karaoke. I'd rather rip off my fingernails. One. At. A. Time.

That said, I did sing karaoke one time in a soundproof booth at the Boston Children's Museum, and I loved it! Give me a mic in the privacy of my shower, and it's a totally different story!

What does it take to get you to give up a whole Saturday to hang out with people you don’t like? Hmmm... there's not many people I don't like, and I rarely have a Saturday to myself anyway... If there's a worthwhile purpose, I'd probably be there.

What would it take for me to give up a Saturday to have an entire day by myself? about 5 seconds to grab my book and keys and say "see you later!"

What does it take to get you out of bed without your hitting the snooze button? Knowing I'm on a timeline. If it's time to get up, I'm up.
(but in truth, I factor snooze into waking up)

I received a new alarm clock-I Pod dock-radio for my birthday. The snooze on that machine? DARN annoying. The volume gets louder if you don't turn it off. Every morning Roger Olson gets louder and louder and pretty soon he's shouting the agri-business report at me.

Now that I think about it, THAT is what it takes to get me out of bed without hitting the snooze button...

What does it take to get you to take someone else’s turn at a really unpleasant task at work or home? Compassion? Necessity? Frustration?

What does it take to get you to eat something you really dislike? Hospitality- only to be polite as a guest. If I'm on my own, no way!
I'm glad that there's not much I really dislike to eat...

(photo credit to ficus on Flickr)

15 September 2009


"The best writing tip I ever got was from my old professor John Frame, who told me that when he writes, he always keeps in mind the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
Andree Seu, "Writing tips,", September 15, 2009

And, she points out, that might apply to writers AND readers...

Read the entire piece.

(photo credit to enjoi yourpanda5 at Flickr)

11 September 2009

Remembering September 11

"But grief is not a force and has no power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery."

from Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

(photo credit to AP, via FOXNews)

Hannah Coulter

"This is the story of my life, that while I lived it weighed upon me and pressed against me and filled all my senses to overflowing and now is like a dream dreamed. So close to the end now, what do I look forward to? "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Some morning, I pray, I'll have the good happiness of "the man who woke up dead," who Burley Coulter used to tell about.

This is my story, my giving of thanks."
from Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

If I ever write an autobiography, I will start it with that paragraph.

I devoured Hannah Coulter this week. And yet, as voraciously as I read through it, I didn't want it to end. When it ended, my heart was broken and yet, I wanted to do it all over again. Hannah Coulter is that kind of book. I am borrowing it from the library, and I have to procure my own copy before this one is due, in order to transfer the dog-eared pages marking passages I adore (S- think Shadow of the Almighty :-) to some sort of permanence.

Hannah Coulter is that kind of book.

09 September 2009


In honor of today's date, nines...

1. Folder 9, picture 9: (GRR! photos NOT downloading!! It should be a picture of my kids in Shanghai, China...)
2. Song 9 when I shuffle my ITouch: Happy Together by The Turtles
3. Contact 9 in my address book: my husband at work
4. Station 9 on my Pandora: Emmylou Harris radio
5. App 9 in my ITouch: Bejeweled 2
6. 9th place I lived: Monterey, California
7. Psalm 99:9- Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; For holy is the Lord our God.
8. from the book I'm reading (Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry), page 9, line 9: And what must have been clear enough to the two of them was forever a mystery to us.
9. Question 9 from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is the work of creation? (Answer: The work of creation is God's making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.)

and, a "nine" quote: "Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives." C.S. Lewis

08 September 2009

Heart check

from recent readings...

"Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?"
And Jehonadab answered, "It is."
2 Kings 10:15

Is thine heart right? This is a question we should often put to ourselves. I make a fair profession, have gained a reputation among men, but, is my heart right? Am I sincere with God?
Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary on the Bible

07 September 2009

Montage Monday

A random sampling of this and that on a holiday Monday...

My girls and I had the privilege of doing a neat thing this morning. We took a dad and daughter to the zoo. The little girl, 2 years old, has been a heart patient here. The family is from Belize, but they are Mennonites and speak German. They look European, not Latin American. Fortunately, the dad knew a little Spanish, so with my little Spanish, we did ok. They are farmers, and use a horse and buggy, and no electricity. In Belize! Go figure! My heart goes out to this family- can you imagine being in a foreign country, for life changing medical treatment, in such dramatically different cultural conditions?

New Etsy stuff I like... this tree and stamped necklaces...

I know this commercial isn't new, but I saw it for the first time last night. Maybe you have to be married to a guy with a computer engineering degree to appreciate it, but it sure made our entire family laugh out loud.

And while talking commercials, the Swiffer "Baby Come Back" commercials make me laugh, too.

Not that anyone cares what I think, but I don't see what the super big deal about school kids listening to the President is. Read the speech. Why not have kids hear from the President, hear about the importance of education, and talk together about what he has to say. (and look-ee... John Piper and I agree...)

It must be a fun and games Monday. A perpetual Scrabble game has been in play, and stay tuned for the results of the 3rd Annual Labor Day Croquet Tournament...

04 September 2009

Personal Crusade

I have one daughter, who out of respect for Ms. Austen and Mr. Darcy, is determined to physically turn every cover of this book , and this book, that she sees...

You go, girl.

Public art on a Friday

Last week on a bright and sunny Friday morning we found ourselves downtown, with an hour to waste and no money to spend. Not a problem! Time for a mini public arts tour...

First stop, this VERY COOL mural. It is titled "Fertile Ground" and it is a mammoth 32,500 square foot project on the side of the Energy Systems building downtown. The detail is amazing. We felt pretty small standing next to it! Go here to see a really neat time lapse video of the project taking place.

Next, onto the newly opened Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden at the Joslyn Art Museum.

There are traditional bronzes, like this larger than life Sioux warrior on his rearing horse.

There's a reflecting pool. We stood and reflected, in our minds, in the picture. (of course, we failed to reflect that it is
actually a topographical map of a section of the Missouri River... next time...)

Our favorite, however, had to be this whimsical sculpture of this pioneer family, journeying in their covered wagon. (if you look at it from the back, you'll see two kids, one sister trying to push her brother out of the wagon! "Are we there yet?" :-) Doesn't it remind you of the Timbertoes? This sculpture had just been placed in the garden the previous week, so there was not yet any plaque for the title or artist of the work.

And just as if choreographed to end our public arts morning, this car drove by. (note~ the driver DID NOT take this picture! My front passenger seat photographic assistant did, in lickety split time!) The photo does not do justice to this previously-a-hearse-now-public-art vehicle! Trust us! It was something else!

So, if anyone tells you that the midwest is void of public art and boring, they are not trying very hard!! Take our word for it!