Monday, August 31, 2009

Lift Up Your Eyes

April 21, 2009

Journal for Christa— (from April 21, 2009)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth
Ps. 121: 1 & 2

When I walk the greenway, I have a tendency to look down toward my feet, which isn’t totally foolish considering some of the old, uneven pavement. But, it’s not unusual to be half way across the north end of the soccer field, on the return trek home before I think to look up at Pikes Peak and the surrounding mountains that flank the west side of Colorado Springs. I often look at those mountains and recall the words in Psalm 121:1&2.

Sometimes “the peak” is framed by a sky so blue
only someone who’s gazed into the Colorado sky could imagine it.
At times a cloud hovers over the top in such a way
I wonder if the Israelites saw something similar
while Moses communed with God on Mount Sinai.
I’ve seen the setting sun reflect off clouds
that painted the whole horizon in brilliant pinks and oranges
amidst the majesty of that peak.
Then again—a front can settle in, rendering it totally invisible.

Resting my eyes on Pikes Peak reminds me of God—strong, majestic, awesome and fierce, “the Creator and Sustainer of all things,” whether I can see Him or not.

These days I’m making a conscious goal to “lift up my eyes,” whether I’m winding through the Village 7 greenway or treading this path of life.

—Take a look at the Peak today—

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Showers

Journal for Christa—

I love the summer afternoon showers in Colorado. Maybe I love them more because we’ve gone through a lengthy drought cycle and I’ve missed them. But I think I love them because they come like a refreshing draft after a hot day, whisking away the heat, with clouds breaking apart to clear blue evening skies. The showers and Jay’s diligent hands have turned the yard into a verdant haven—a place of beauty and rest.

Oh, rest my troubled soul
As cooling showers of day—
Wash away the cares of life;
Renew my foot, upon Your way.

May I sense refreshing
In Your sovereign hand—
And help me see the beauty
As no other Master can.

And when the heat of noontime
Bears down upon my breast,
May the thought of evening showers
Bring comfort, peace, and rest.

Deb Borkert ‘09

Wishing you abiding rest in His garden of grace today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Blue Heron

Journal for Christa, (from July 3, 2009)

The blue heron sits on the neighbor's roof—
waiting, patient, stealthy.
The curs`ed bird.
The fish have stopped their spawning.
How do they know he's there?
They've sunk to the bottom—
motionless, waiting, waiting.
I watch from the window—
I, too, waiting...

Jay says the blue heron is the most patient animal God created; one can also consume a 10 inch fish every 3 minutes, according to his Internet research. We had backyard ponds for years and were never bothered by them. Maybe it was because we had a real dog, a sheltie, not the little Molly dog of our old age. Regardless, a few years back, one discovered our sanctuary.
The large and majestic blue heron. He quite reminds me of a bad habit—one you really need to get rid of—but just when you think you have it licked, there it is again.

One year we netted the ponds through June, and that seemed to work; then he was back— so has been our saga with the big bird. Last year Jay meticulously strung rows of monofilament (fishing line) from the deck to the house. We were surprised that most people didn’t even notice it overhead. Then in May this spring, I opened the sliding door to catch him perched on a support board that held the winter netting. There he was, again, much to my dismay.

Everyone has a blue heron. They vary—things we shouldn’t, but do—things we should but don’t. Things we thought we had a handle on and then, when we least expect it, there it is—our personal blue heron.

Blue herons are beautiful creatures—and to see one spread its expansive wings and lift into the air can almost take my breath away…but, not if he has my fish in his throat. We can’t give up fighting our blue herons, whatever they are. Every time he appears, Jay threatens to “throw in the towel,” fill in the ponds, and be done with it. But, next morning, he always has a new plan.

In the book of Esther, King Xerxes had a garden with hangings of blue and white linens. Jay has one with hanging trellises of monofilament. King Xerxes was only interested in making impressions; Jay’s looking after his fish. I think it’s best we watch after the fish.

“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Bean Snappers

Journal for Christa— (from July 30, 2009)

I’ve been snapping beans to can this morning. I had planned to snap them out on the veranda, but it was cool and rainy, so I sat at the dining room table where I could watch the hummingbirds instead.

Snapping beans doesn’t take much concentration. So much of my world requires focus. That’s probably why I don’t really mind snapping a few beans. My thoughts can wonder and snapping beans takes me back.

I imagine my midwestern grandmothers sitting on the porch, looking out over fields of corn, snapping beans in a slow, rhythmic cadence. Feet and legs tired from standing all day, they rest their eyes on rolling hills in the distance, hoping to catch a breeze on their faces—all the while strong fingers snapping off the ends of beans.

Different times bring different challenges. These women rose early, for each day held so much to do, and a summer’s day often ended in snapping beans. I wonder what they thought about. I wonder what they said to the other bean snappers.

Yet, so many things would be the same—a husband to know, children to tend, a God to wonder about—I wonder, if they could snap beans with me today, what would they tell me? I think they’d say,
“People today have too much stuff—
You need to let the Lord take care of that—
Snap them beans a little smaller.”

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Epiphany

Journal for Christa-- (from 2/2/09)

I’ve never concerned myself much with mammograms. Having very dense breast tissue, mine always come back “inconclusive.” So, putting one off six months until it was more convenient in the summer wasn’t even given a second thought. I even cancelled and rescheduled in June.
My sisters and I had gone to my mom’s for a week. Mel and Callie had flown out for a few days. We took a four generation picture and put it in the paper for Mom’s 75th birthday. An 8x10 hangs in Callie’s room.

The day Mel flew home, Jay called. Penrad had left a message. They wanted a diagnostic mammogram, which simply put means more pain than you can imagine. That took two weeks to schedule. They gave us the results there. They wanted two biopsies. Now we were bearing down on the start of school.

Angie, Mel's mother-in-law, had told Mel over July 4th that her cancer was stage 4 and to prepare herself. We decided not to tell the children. Mel had enough to worry about. In fact, we only told those we felt like we had to, and Joy and Shane only days before the biopsy. We missed the first morning of school, a Tuesday, and made arrangements for me to return early from senior retreat to go in for results the following week.

On Wednesday Mel called. Angie’s cancer was back. They gave her 4 weeks to 3 months, maybe. How could that be? She seemed fine, except for her eyes weren’t blinking as they should.

Thursday afternoon my cell vibrated in my pocket. Stepping into the hall, I took the call. My results were in: They were negative. It seemed surreal. “Are you sure?” I questioned.

We were leaving for retreat on Sunday, and Friday was a nightmare. One issue after another, the day dragged on. Later that evening while undressing for bed, I thought, “I’m so glad this day is over!” Immediately, my thoughts flew to Angie preparing for bed in Arkansas. Was she gazing into the mirror and sighing, “One of my days is over”?

Then came the epiphany: No day is so dismal to be wished away; no day so bleak we cannot find joy—

Each day that comes to a close in which we find ourselves still living is a day to be grateful for. For me, every day now is a good day. I don’t think I will ever again look at a day as simply a day—at least I hope I don’t.

Each day that we live and breathe and can reach down and touch the faces of little ones or gaze up into the eyes of those we love—that is a day to cherish—
--a very fine day, indeed.

Wishing you fine days…

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Journal for Christa—

Beth follows the blog. She emailed me this morning and said, “Could you write about a family vacation or a road trip... with all those kids?!?!? I tend to have high and unreasonable expectations for Norman Rockwell family moments...”

It doesn’t take children to turn an expected wonderful time into something else, so I responded as follows:

How's your summer winding down? We came to this camping "resort" to get away, just us, before we go back to school next week. We should have realized that "resort" and "camping" don't really make a good word combination. But I really can get Internet if I sit on the porch of the check-in place. It's quiet and that's nice. Jay's creek fishing this morning, so I hope he's having an enjoyable time. I think he left his hat in the trailer though, so he'll probably be sunburned on top. We also left the 2 toiletry bags on our sink upstairs at home. That's been interesting. In this little store, they did have one contact solution bottle and a couple of toothbrushes and toothpaste. I scrounged up some soap in the back recesses of the trailer. Shampoo and a comb would have been nice. I'm just going to use soap on my hair after I swim this afternoon. As for make up, well, I wouldn't exactly call this place a resort. I think I fit right in. We'd planned to go home tomorrow anyway. There will be no pictures posted of this trip on facebook.

Expectations just have a way of messing us up. I can’t help but have them, but often expectations and reality don’t match up—sometimes because my expectations were too unrealistic and sometimes because life is, well, just life. Life has a way of forcing us to be more flexible, a characteristic that’s supposed to be good for us according to longevity researchers. I guess all one can do is try to find the good in the situation she’s in.

I really did finally find the advertized Wi-Fi on the porch of the check-in building. The Jacuzzi is out (It has plants growing in it—real dirt and all.) But the view from the porch is nice and the bathrooms are clean. We had fun playing miniature golf and might try our hands at shuffleboard (heaven knows we’re old enough). It’s quiet and restful. So, when you expect a resort and end up in a campground, try not to miss what a campground can offer.

I’m trying. I seriously am trying—among all these flies and ants!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Helen Is a Princess

Journal for Christa— (from April 22, 2009)

Helen is a princess. If you don’t believe me, just ask her; and she will smack her palm against her two-year-old chest and state in no uncertain terms, “Yes, me, Helen, princess,” while nodding her head in affirmation. I blame Disney and those cute princess dresses (one of which we bought her for Christmas) and Joel for this misconception. And, when we do go to Disney World this September, we will eat in the castle with Helen and the OTHER princesses. I expect Helen to bring her crown.

But, the reality is that we often live in a world that feels more like Cinderella—cooking the food, scrubbing the floors, and dressing the other princesses. Do you ever look in the mirror and wish you had a fairy godmother?

Dreams put on hold... Expectations that never panned out… Life has a way of snaking in directions we didn’t expect or intend. But one thing I’ve learned is that those roads have a way of opening up to something good, not that they’re easy, because often they aren’t.

Would Cinderella appreciate the banquet had she not burnt her fingers on the stove? Would she be so gracious to those who serve if she herself had not served? Would she cherish life had she not touched death?

So, one day too, Helen will see that the road to being a real princess isn’t the fairytale one. But it will be a good one all the same because it was planned by the King just for her. But for now, I can’t imagine the meltdown that would occur if someone was to tell her that there hasn’t been any nobility in the Borkert family since William the Orange—and he lived a very, very long time ago.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Haman's Bane

Journal for Christa—

I’m a wimp. I always have been. I’ve thoroughly bought into the consequence concept and the idea of your sins “finding you out.” I hate pain and suffering. I’d do most anything to avoid it. I manage to get into enough trouble without asking for it. So, I think that’s one reason I especially like looking at people in the Bible, characters in classic literature, and people in general. When Jay and I are in an airport, he’ll open the laptop and log in; I, on the other hand, like to watch people and conjure up all kinds of wonderings about them—men meeting women with a bouquet of flowers, soldiers coming home, college students returning for Christmas—I like watching them all.

This summer I’ve been reading Esther with a group of women from church. I like the book of Esther. I always have. Because it was smaller to haul around than my current Bible, I picked up an old one I used years ago. Though the binding cover is missing, the pages naturally fell open to Esther, where I discovered several comments in the margins. I’ve always found Esther an interesting woman, but this week the focus was on Haman. Half way through the story, the natural place for the turning point, the tables unexpectedly turn on Haman—the man who had found favor with the king.

Important people. They seem so un-American to me, in the land where everyone is supposed to be equal. But there they are—the beautiful people, the important ones. Important people live in a different realm than I do. I suppose their worries and concerns are far different from mine. Sometime before the narrative opens, Haman had found favor with the king. Perhaps he’d been in the inner circle for some time. One thing’s for sure, he felt pretty comfortable there. There should have been warning signs for Haman concerning Xerxes, the man who had forever banished the queen from his sight in a crazy drunken stupor and who had agreed to exterminate an entire ethnic group on a whim.

Haman, a man others likely envied, fell from favor as swiftly and smoothly as turning a key in a well-oiled lock. How different in character was Mordecai, Esther’s cousin. He simply did his work at the gate, which was not likely a shabby job. Perhaps he’d studied the king closely and knew his ways. After being honored so extravagantly, the narrative states he returned to his work at the gate. Mordecai did use his influence through Esther to accomplish what was right, but he didn’t seem to think so highly of himself. Remember his admonition to Esther? …that if she refused, the Jews would be saved through another avenue? Unlike Haman, Mordecai used his influence to help others. And though God is never directly mentioned, Mordecai put his faith in something bigger than important people. I hope I do the same.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Journal for Christa—(from January 25, 2009)

My mom used to call me every week. All the biblical training aside, I think my best teacher on parenting was, and probably still is, my mother. My mom is just an ordinary lady, living on a farm in southern Illinois.

Oh, how I dreaded telling her I was pregnant with Mel, and Chris not even a year old. No telling what she said to my dad when she got off the phone, but she’s always had the attitude of taking life as it comes. And she definitely was then, having just finished chemo.

So, on the first anniversary of her cancer surgery, she was dressing Joy for kindergarten in a green dress she’d brought with her. She’d come to take care of us: Mel had just been born. My mom came with every baby. That’s how she spent her vacation days from work. Dad would bring her down and come back for her in a week.

Once when Jay told me I should just make a schedule in order to get everything done, she told me in a nice, tactful way that with four small children that really just wouldn’t work and that there were some things men just didn’t understand.

It seems strange now to fill that role with the girls. I hope I do it as well as she does. During the dark days when Mel was dealing with the imminence of Angie’s death, I told her, “If you can’t get a hold of me, call Grandma. That’s who I always call.”