Thursday, June 24, 2010


Journal to Christa—

We’ve been driving across Kansas today. Once one leaves the Springs, the flat lands of Eastern Colorado blend into the Kansas plains for a long, long drive. The first time Stefanie drove through Kansas to visit Chris one summer when they were dating, she swore she would never drive through Kansas again, but she has—many times, and we’re glad every time.

Though the drive through Kansas is really boring, I don’t mind it because, today, I know that 3 of our 4 children and their spouses, and 4 of our 6 grandchildren are waiting for us just across the Missouri River. We’ve planned a week of activities and have divided up the responsibilities for supper each night. So, driving through the Kansas sameness doesn’t seem as boring as it usually does.

As I drive along through Kansas, I think of all the things in life that never seem to change—the daily tasks that’ll demand my attention again tomorrow, and the weeks and months and years that kind of melt into forgetfulness. It’s easy to feel like we’re going nowhere—very slowly. But in reality, we’re moving right along. It’s easy to get frustrated with Kansas; it’s easy to get frustrated with the daily routine.

But today, Kansas doesn’t seem so bad. I think it’s because I know what waits on the other side of the Missouri River. I think it’s because even though it feels like I’m going slowly, I know I’m really not. I also know just how long it takes to drive across Kansas, and that helps.

Laughing, playing, baking cupcakes, and laughing and playing again—that’s what awaits just beyond Kansas.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When Darkness Falls

Journal for Christa—

If Elliott doesn’t get her nap out, she sits on the floor with a pacifier in each hand. As she fusses, she slowly removes one pacifier while inserting the other, making sure a split second doesn’t go by without at least one in her mouth. Some days are just 2 pacifier days.

Everyone has those days—they start out wrong from the beginning, and you just know it’ll be “one of those days.” They’re the kind of days you drop into bed at night and are glad because tomorrow has to be better—

Others, though, have entered the darkness, and a mountain of pacifiers isn’t going to help—and tomorrow may be no better at all. Two students I taught over 10 years ago have entered the abyss. Their little daughter, in a near drowning accident, lost her heartbeat for 30 minutes. Now, she hangs somewhere in-between—between the world we know and one we don’t. I remember them as high school sweethearts, crazy about each other and happy with the world. It seems surreal for me to picture them now as I watch their daily blog updates.

People amidst the darkness must rely on what they know to be true—that God is good and God is there. They can see no one else. They also walk in the habits they’ve already set. We establish our paths in the light, but when the veil of darkness falls, we can only find our way from the steps we already know. For these two, they may stumble, but I believe they will find their way.

It does make me ponder—I teach students who walk mainly in the light. I am often so shortsighted. I forget the twists their lives may take far beyond the English class. I also wonder about myself—Do I truly know what I know? And, I question—If I should walk in the valley of the shadow, would my feet know the way?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Journal for Christa—

The tongue in cheek conversation began something like this:

The youth pastor (aka-the son): Yeah, your journals—kind of have a lot of—fluff.

The parishioner who doesn’t do anything (aka-the mother): They’re not “fluff”—besides you’ve never read them.

TYP: I’ve read almost every one.

TPWDDA: Really,—well, they aren’t full of “fluff.”

TYP: (coyly spoken) They’re—very relational—

TPWDDA: Women like that.

TYP: They’re rather light—

TPWDDA: Women like that too.

TYP: And—another word for “light” is—?

TPWDDA: They’re not “fluff.” I write for women who already know the Bible. They just need a little encouragement—to know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel—in about 20 years.

TYP: Twenty years? That’s encouraging.

As I listened to the youth pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning, I was reminded of how like-minded we actually are. We should minister where we are; we should minister according to what we think God’s will is. So, I’ll keep writing journals for now—“fluff” and all. What can a youth pastor expect from a parishioner who doesn’t do anything?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Journal for Christa—

Sometimes we need to push through things. We need to struggle against the current regardless. Then at times we need to go with the tide; and if it’s going out, let it carry us beyond. Wisdom is knowing the difference.

But, often the real struggle comes when it’s all over. If we aren’t careful, after we’ve weathered the storm and come through fairly unscathed (or all beat up), that’s when the bitterness sets in.

Remember Jonah? Jonah endured three days in a fish, preached to the Ninevites, witnessed their unlikely repentance, and eventually found himself sitting in the shade of a plant in the heat of the day; and then—at such an unexpected time, bitterness gripped him.

Whatever is a Jonah to do? Two things seem to help me when I hear that cynical tone in my voice and the anger clutching my throat: One is to acknowledge and accept that God is sovereign. I may feel like I’ve been tossed upon an untrodden shore, but wherever that shore is, God has put me there. The second is thankfulness. Bitterness focuses on me and the unfairness of it all. Gratefulness focuses on God and His sustaining hand. I don’t always do these things, but I wish I did.

So, when the storm is over—and you look in the mirror to see that you’re still in one piece, don’t let down your guard. Bitterness just may sit in the next room.