Thursday, May 27, 2010


Journal for Christa—

Just the slightest whiff from the pine trees reminds me of camping—not camping now, but camping when the kids all lived at home. The first Christmas in Denver, everyone received sleeping bags that Jay had found on clearance at a local sporting goods store. In those days we did “wild” camping on public land, which meant we hauled everything in and hauled it all back out. It also meant we were totally alone, and it was totally free.

It didn’t matter what a foul mood anyone happened to be in; it melted away once camp was set up. Everyone got along when we were camping. Joel liked to get up early and build the fire. That worked for me. And, it took a whole day of my reminding the kids that we weren’t in the city, so they didn’t have to shout.

Last summer at the cabin, I saw Chris and Mel talking out on the deck, staring up at the starlit skies. I threw on a jacket to join them. They were reminiscing about camping as kids. All the wond’rous stars had reminded them. We’d while away our camping days with Jay and the boys fishing, while the girls and I read and embroidered. No one ever complained about what I cooked. They were always hungry, and after all—we were camping. Besides, it was generally hot dogs.

Now, camping wasn’t always idyllic: it invariably rained. But, it was the thing we did together. (We also cleaned the church together each month; though good for us, it never had the same effect.)

We eventually moved from the van and a little tent, to a big tent, and finally the tent trailer; and the days of wild camping are long gone. I think I realized things had changed the year that Mel and I joined Jay and Chris on a long weekend hunting trip. I’m not sure if camping had changed or if we had changed. We were on private land at a hunting club the guys belonged to. That first morning before Jay and Chris set out from the trailer, Jay informed me where he’d put the pistol. He’d never left one before.

Change is, indeed, a part of life, but each family still must find the things that build their unique bond. For us it was camping, and the smell of the pines makes me glad it was. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Journal for Christa—

In exactly one week, school will be over. The ending of a school year might be described as—intense to the power of 10. There’s the push for the last piece of literature, the last essay, the last test—the last outcome to turn in, the last book, checked and shelved. Then, like a switch, with the last downbeat of “Pomp and Circumstance,” it is over.

On Monday the alarm will not ring, but I’ll awake at 5:15 just the same. Though the switch is flipped, it takes a week or so to settle into the summer me. Change takes time—even the ones you look forward to—whether it’s a new job, a new baby, or a new relationship. It’s strange how I take note of the metamorphosis into summer—feeling like I need to be somewhere when I don’t—thinking it can wait for tomorrow, and it really can—

This summer I plan to read more than clean; bake cupcakes (pink and green, of course), go to the zoo with most of our family in Kansas City, take pictures of Breck and Helen in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and sneak over to France with Jay.

Lori, my pastor’s wife, once told me I am a totally different person in the summer. I’ve never quite known what to make of that. Somehow, I don’t think it’s good. Sometimes, I wonder where the real me does live. Right now, I think it’s in summer, and I’m just waiting for the last measure of that song!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Journal for Christa—

It could have been a tricky situation for John the Baptist. After all, he did have his own following; but when his disciples questioned him about Jesus, he stated, “A man can receive only what is given him from Heaven.” John the Baptist knew who he, himself, was. He also knew who Jesus was—and he was good with that.

I’m not much into the competitive spirit, so being a team player generally comes fairly easy for me. Some people, though, are just born with that drive to win, regardless of what they ultimately lose. Not that I’m an expert on any sport, but I’ve listened to the frustration of coaches in the lunchroom enough to know, competition within the team generally does more harm than good. And just like any high school game, often a team just works better than one shining individual.

Children fuss among themselves; spouses can insist on their own way; mothers can even wish to be the favorite parent—all generating a competitiveness that weakens the team. John claimed that the “friend of the bridegroom” feels great joy when the bridegroom arrives. Maybe today’s a good day to ponder how we feel when someone else excels—happy, perturbed, jealous? 

I think John the Baptist was content with who he was—with what he’d been given from Heaven. After all, one could do way worse than to be the “voice crying in the wilderness”—the forerunner and announcer of the Christ.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Journal for Christa—

Here we stand,
You and I,
In the unknown—
Will tomorrow bring
the sun—
Or torrents of cold rain?
Will the flowers
Bloom for us—
Or die in silent pain?
Will the breezes
gently blow—
Or howl amidst the fray?
Will the rivers sing
our song—
Or sweep our dreams away?
In the unknown
We stand here,
You and I.

There are no guarantees in life. Sometimes we make it what it is; sometimes we don’t. Some days are good; some aren’t. Nevertheless, it’s nice to know we aren’t alone.