Friday, September 08, 2006


I just got home from a wonderful vacation to Montana and Idaho. It seems that vacation always has a way of making me step back, take a breath, and gain new perspective on the journey I call my life. I have realized amidst the grandeur of "Big Sky Country" that I'm in a hurry too often, miss to much, and love too little. I've realized once again that the little men in my life named Aidan and Dominic, are amazing gifts from God. I've realized how selfish and self-centered I can be and how unloving I am at times to the husband God has given me. Why is it that just taking a step back from our daily routines and pausing from all our busyness can do that?

On the car ride home, my three-year old reminded my husband and I that "You don't need to be stwessed out 'cause God always takes car of us."

From the mouths of babes, huh?

What a time I had. From taking in the fresh mountain air to enjoying the view of the grazing deer; from the majesty of the Smoky Mountains to the joy that a day at the playground can bring to a child; from a ride on the lake in my Aunt Carol's boat to listening to the squirrels chatter on the roof of her lakefront cabin---I''m refreshed. Thank you Lord.

Friday, June 30, 2006


I've just come in from the garden. For the most part, my vegetables are doing great. My tomatoes are growing like weeds (and in fact, I just discovered that one of my staked "tomatoes" IS a weed). I sent my husband out to buy tomato starts earlier in the season and he went to a local nursery famous for their prized tomatoes. I decided to try a new variety called an Amish paste tomato. I thought it looked a little strange and after a couple weeks, I noticed that it appeared vaguely familiar. In fact, it's not an Amish paste tomato, but what I call a "false tomato." These spring up all over my garden every summer. Perhaps it was an honest mistake by the nursery, but I feel a little cheated.....

Anyhow, back to the garden. I just spent an hour weeding my four small raised beds, knowing that in another week they will have sprouted many new weeds. Try as you may, you can't keep your garden weed-free. So, I've come to see weeds in a new light. You just have to take care of them. It's part of being a gardener. It makes me realize why Jesus spoke in parables and used the illustration of weeds as hindrances to the growth of seedlings. If weeds aren't taken care of, they would choke out all my plants. Just as our sins and wordly desires, if left unconfessed and unchecked, will choke us out, wear us down, make us weary and heavy-laden. How great that God is that gardener who carefully removes the weeds, who reminds us of our sins and brings us to repentance. He pulls out the weeds for us. And yet, being in a fallen world they grow back. Our sins and sinful desires never go away. We will never reach a place in life where we don't sin. We can try and try and strive with all our might to make the weeds go away, but God must take care of them for us. We must ask him to pluck them out and ask his forgiveness for their presence.

I also thought of the weeds in another light....childrearing. My son Aidan, who's 3 now, is like a tender plant. He needs nourishment (both physically and spiritually) from my husband and I. He has many weeds that are making themselves seen these days--he talks back to us, challenges us, disobeys us, lies, and throws fits when things don't go his way. Don't get me wrong, most of the time, he's a great kid. But, he needs us to come and show him the weeds; to show him how wicked they are and what a mess they can make of his heart if they aren't plucked out. He needs to know that disobedience is sin and must be punished; that repentance is what God desires. We must teach him how to recognize the weeds as he grows, so that in time he can discern for himself what is good and perfect and pleasing in God's sight. What a job we have as parents.

To close, I just want to say that I'm thankful for my garden and the lessons I learn there daily. I'm thankful for the nourishment and enjoyment that our fruits and vegetables provide. Although I wish my garden could be ten times the size it is, I enjoy the little space I have to watch things grow.



Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Powerful Poem

I'm sure many people have heard of Madeline L'Engle. But did you know she's a poet too? Reading this poem really hit me at the core. It's called "Fire by Fire"

My son goes down in the orchard to incinerate
Burning the day's trash, the accumulation
Of old letters, empty toilet-paper rolls, a paper plate,
Marketing lists, discarded manuscript, on occasion
Used cartons of bird seed, dog biscuit. The fire
Rises and sinks; he stirs the ashes till the flames expire.

Burn, too, old sins, bedraggled virtues, tarnished
Dreams, remembered unrealities, the gross
Should-haves, would-haves, the unvarnished
Errors of the day, burn, burn the loss
Of intentions, recurring failures, turn
Them all to ash. Incinerate the dross. Burn. Burn.

I started to think about my own life and tears came to my eyes as I read and re-read this poem. How many things in my life I've hung onto--past sins, trash, stuff that needs to be burned away and forgotten so that Christ can heal me. I long to serve God and yet feel as if all this garbage is in the way. Emptying the trash can of my heart isn't easy to do. The hurts, the broken dreams, the pains that pile up; the failures, the disappointments that have filled my heart. Oh Lord, God of All, take it away. Make me pure.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed

Okay, I've had one of THOSE days. You know the kind. You wake up and just feel grumpy. After days and days of sunshine in Oregon, it's gone and done it's raining. Now, having lived here for 27 years you'd think I'd be used to spring in Oregon. But I woke up today and was just downright angry at the rain. My son asked me at the breakfast table, "Why are you making the mad face mama?" And I said, "Because of the stinking rain." I told him that I was just joking and in fact, the "mad face" was just because I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. I wasn't mad, just tired. He went back to eating his banana and said, "Cheer up mama. God made us a good day. It's light outside." Oh, he is my joy. Three years old and so wise. At least I don't live in Alaska and have to deal with intense periods of darkness. :)

All that said, today ended up being one of those days that I just have to admit that life is hard. I fail. I can't do it on my own. It's humbling to have to apologize to my son that my attitude is just downright rotten. It's humbling to realize how selfish and self-centered I truly am. But grace is here again. At this point in my life, I'm just sorting through a lot of junk in my life. I'm taking the skeletons out of the closet. I'm becoming vulnerable. I'm taking a deep look at who I am and trying to change the things that need changing. I know that God loves me and I know that He desires my greatest good. I trust in Him with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding (because scriptures commands that I do so). Life wouldn't be worth living without Christ. At the end of my day I can lean on the words of this great hymn. I love it. I love it. I love it. It was written by the great John Newton (1725-1807) and is entitled "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder".

Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s Name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

Let us love the Lord Who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong Salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He Who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

Let us wonder; grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise, and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted Him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky:
“Thou hast washed us with Your blood;
Thou art worthy, Lamb of God!”

Hark! the Name of Jesus, sounded
Loud, from golden harps above!
Lord, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by Thee we come to God.

Sing out a new song.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Eating for pleasure

Food. An ever-present and precious commodity. Yet, how often do we stop and think about where our food comes from? Do we know the land where our vegetables and fruits were grown? Do we know the farmers who grew them? Do we know where that great steak came from that we enjoyed last week? How were the animals treated before they ended up sliced up and packaged on a plate of styrofoam and wrapped in plastic? Five years ago I wouldn't have asked these questions. But, now I must. Ignorant as I was, I had no excuse. But, now it's hard to turn back. I care about the earth God has given us to live in and I want to do my best to sustain it and to treat it with care. I feel much better about eating foods that come from local farmers. I feel good about buying my meat from friends or local farmers who treat and feed their animals well. I'm not trying to step up on my soap box and preach; merely refer you to a few short pieces that may make you think about what you eat.

The following is a short piece by one of my favorite modern day thinkers, Mr. Wendell Berry. It's entitled "The Pleasures of Eating".

Here's a clever little production that gives an introduction to some of the things that can go on in factory farms (and DO every day).

And here's a link to finding stores and restaurants near you that promote sustainable farming and agriculture.



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Poem to Ponder

As a Christian who tries to do my best to care for this earth God has given us, I grieve sometimes at how we treat this gift. Myself included, we are too careless with how we treat the land, the animals, the rivers and the rest of creation. Over the past 5 years, my views towards the environment in which we live have changed. I've changed from the "It's all gonna burn anyways" philosophy to a philosophy of concern for the creation. God has, in my humble opinion, charged us as humankind to take care of nature (Genesis 1-2). And he is a God who delights in his handiwork. Throughout the Bible we see examples of His tender feelings towards nature. A friend of mine recently brought to my attention an interesting article entitled "The Four Most Important Biblical Passages for Christian Environmentalism." Here's a link to the article for those intersted:

This poem was included at the end of the article and is one of my favorites. Gerard Manley Hopkins is a favorite poet of mine, whose work is worthy of your time and effort.

God’s Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 5
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 10
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Hopkins was obviously a lover of nature and one who saw the hand of God as the author of all creation. In contrast to the grandeur he sees in creation, Hopkins sees as well how generations of humans have treated the earth carelessly. And yet, ultimately, he is optimistic. Now, Hopkins lived and wrote in the 19th century and times have certainly changed since then. This world has been populated and tread upon even more since then. Yet, the sun keeps rising and setting day after day. As the wise author of Ecclesiastes would say, "there is nothing new under the sun" (paraphrased). Times haven't changed that much. I might be a little bold to say this, but what I believe Hopkins is trying to get across is that we are not fully worshipping God if we don't see his hand in creation and take care of what He has given us. We neglect God by neglecting his creation. And yet, He is still gracious--"nature is never spent;" He blesses us beyond what we could ever deserve and continues to bring sunshine and rain down upon us. Even those who don't acknowledge him are creatures who enjoy his workmanship. The sun on one's face is a gift from God. The beauty of a sunset is a gift from God. The whole world has been given to mankind. We must do all that we can to acknowledge Creator and Sustainer of the World.

That's enough for now.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

"What we play is life."

As a lover of coffee (and one labeled a coffee snob by some), I occasionally enjoy a good cup of tea. Now, I know I'm not a tea snob, because I like the kind that involves tearing open the bag. I don't do the loose-leaf route. And I even put my water in the microwave to heat it. That said, one of my favorite teas is called Good Earth Originals. It's sweet and spicy, full of all-natural goodness. One of my favorite things about this particular tea is the short sayings attached to the end of the strings. I open up the bag looking forward to what I might read. Tonight I opened the bag and read, "What we play is life." It's a quote by Louis Armstrong. I started to think about this and smiled. May you play life in a way that's beautiful today and always.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Louis Armstrong songs, which I'm sure most people would recognize.

"What a Wonderful World"

I see trees of green........ red roses too
I see em bloom..... for me and for you
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue..... clouds of white
Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world.

The colors of a pretty the sky
Are also on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin.. how do you do
Theyre really sayin......i love you.

I hear babies cry...... I watch them grow
Theyll learn much more.....than Ill never know
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world

(instrumental break)

The colors of a pretty the sky
Are there on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin.. how do you do
Theyre really sayin...*spoken*(I

I hear babies cry...... I watch them grow
*spoken*(you know their gonna learn
A whole lot more than Ill never know)
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself .......what a wonderful world.

As I raise my babies and enjoy this world as much as I can, I thank God for the grace He has given me to live another day. On the dark days, sometimes I lose focus, but God keeps me going. He has created a beautiful world and placed us in it. Look around and renew your sense of wonder today.

Back to playing,