Saturday, July 28, 2012


I love how the mountains eat up the sound and give back a hushness—a dog’s bark all muted—along with the people voices around this lake.

Jay, Joel, and the kids marched into the trees—poles in tow. There are things to learn about toting a fishing pole—like watching where the end is so that you don’t hit anyone passing by—being patient while tying knots—or waiting for someone to tie them. 

And then if one actually fishes—which I don’t—you learn to cast out just right and to reel in when something’s on your line.
And if you get a snag—well, then—there’s usually a long process of untangling a mess of line. And when fishing with children—I remember Jay returning to camp and saying he’d hardly fished at all for untangling snags. But, that’s fishing.

And that’s life.
There’s the watching out so that what we’re doing doesn’t injure another. There’s the patience of tying secure knots and the learning to wait for all that to happen—when to cast out and when to pull in.
And then the messes. There are always snags—always snags.
We might wonder why anyone fishes at all.
But, some days the fish bite. And the mountains always swallow the noise—and the cares and the weight—giving calm for another day. And the water catches the light. 

In life—like fishing—there are tangles, there’s learning, there’s patience, there’s untangling, there’s light. There’s hope.
Even though I don’t actually fish, I’ve learned a few things from those who do.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thoughts on James 1:16-18

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

"Every goood thing" comes from God who "does not change." He created us as the "first fruits."

Man changes; God does not.

Man (woman too) is the first fruits--the best--the part to be given to God. This reveals man's value to God.

Shadows across the blinds,
Shadows across the yard,
Sometimes they are there;
Sometimes they are not.
Not so with God.
Though it may seem so,
It is only illusion.
God, unlike shadows is 
Always present--
Always giving
Good gifts.
And mankind is His favorite 
Of all Creation.
Like cherries, spilling over,
The first of the season. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Turning "Old"

Yesterday I turned 58. I think I’ve now officially turned “old.”
Some people think that 50 is old, but I kind of liked 50. When I turned 50, I still felt 49…and thought I looked it too. I got a lot of mileage with my students the year I turned 50. I would admonish them: “I am a 50 year old woman, and I cannot put up with this!” to which they usually rolled up their eyes and laughed. It was also a memorable day because it was the last birthday that my dad and I (born on the same day) shared together.
We were home in Illinois and my uncle was in the hospital. We spent the day with aunts and uncles who were in their 70s. And as we ate ice cream at Diary Queen on the way home, Mom apologized for not baking a cake, but in reality it was the perfect way to turn 50. (I would have been the youngest there, if Jay hadn’t been with me.)
But when one turns 58, which is officially close to 60, one should give thought to how she has lived and how she plans to live the next 20 or so years. I have considered this year that I have put all my eggs into one basket and have concluded it was right to do so. That basket being Christianity—an observation that God is God, the Bible is His Word spoken to us, and we are expected to believe and follow it. Also, that this world, as beautiful as it is, is terribly broken and though filled with joy will also bring pain—and if it did not, could we ever be ready to leave it?
William (16 months) is totally into baskets, large ones. As he visited yesterday, he unzipped his diaper bag, pulled out Pooh (and a bag of graham crackers) and dropped Pooh into a basket with Molly’s dog toys and proceeded to shuffle it from place to place. It made me think of how important it is to choose a basket wisely—and to consider who is toting it. After all, there truly aren’t that many baskets to choose from in life.
One morning as Jay and I returned from our walk, we stepped up on the porch and Jay said, “Well, look at that.” And I did. A tiny little house finch had built her nest nestled into one of the hanging pots on the front porch. I thought it was a rather smart place to put her eggs, first two and then three. Jay keeps a thistle sock filled out back, the drip showers her pot everyday at exactly 11:00 and the plants in the pot hide her eggs nicely. And now that we know she’s there, we go through the garage not to disturb her—and we’re hoping to see little baby birds when Breck and Helen come to visit in a couple of weeks.

Today, I’m 58 and anticipate what the future holds. I don’t know what that is, and I don’t need to know. To yearn to know the future is a characteristic of the young. But when you’re 58, it’s just good enough to know who’s holding your basket.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Later Doesn't Mean Never

Later doesn’t mean never.
After the hailstorm, we said: “We’re glad we hadn’t gotten the squash planted. It would have all been ruined.”
Then came the grandchildren, then the fires, then we left town.
And now—we’re back.
And in all that time, we never got around to planting the squash.
But as I paid 65 cents a pound for a zucchini and crookneck squash today, I rolled my cart right back to the plant section to survey Walmart’s root-bound and pathetic looking leftovers.
Zucchini, crookneck, and butternut—to which Jay turned up his nose as he lifted the pot out of the cart. (Orange is not his favorite color.)
Then, I planted them in the corner where I always plant them—weeks late—but I planted them just the same.

And the Colorado sun and Jay’s drip system will make them grow. And we will have squash into the fall, even the orange kind.
I’m glad that later doesn’t mean never.
It may be different from what it would have been. But, perhaps in the end, it will be the same after all.
Later doesn’t mean never.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thought for the Day: Isaiah 5:18-19

Woe…to those who say, “Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it.”
People who exist in time rush it along. Is that not a paradox when life is so short—a mere breath?
To wait is to trust.
To wait is to live.
Rest in today and be anxious for nothing—

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Greater Joy

Sometimes the greater joy is watching someone else’s.

“Jay, someone’s taking pictures of our house.”
And there he was—parked in front, snapping pictures, first of the house, then of that old tree in the front yard.
Jay stepped out the door: “Can I help you with something?”
“Yeah, I used to live here when I was a kid. When I was 4 to 7.”
After introductions and a brief history, Jay asked him if he’d like to look in back. “We’ve done a lot of work out there. Bring your kids. We have fish ponds.”
After slipping on sandals, I met his wife as she entered the garage, trailing behind a passel of kids, theirs and cousins. “Oh, I love your grape vines.” The children were already feeding fish.
The man’s face was a wonder as he took in everything. “We had a garden here.”

“Yeah, there was a garden there. Then we planted strawberries and later dug the pond.” He and Jay conversed back and forth.
“It looks nice terraced. It was just a hill, and one year it snowed so much we could step over that fence. It seemed so big in those days.”
I smiled. It’s just a street lot. 

It’s funny how the world is so much bigger to children. 

I wish we wouldn’t lose that.

“The only original owners are the Harsh’s. Do you remember them?”
“I do. My brother who’s 8 years older than me was friends with their son.”
As he continued to snap pictures of the garden house, the flowers, the pergola, I whispered to Jay, “You should show him the kitchen.” Old dark cabinets changed to white, a wall removed and the ceiling raised. He filled his phone with pictures. “You don’t know how much my parents will enjoy seeing these pictures!”
He wanted to see the basement where they’d played and said, “My brother and I used to scrape oranges across this stucco wall.” I got a visual of little boys scraping oranges down the wall and decided he really hadn’t needed to share that.
After a picture of the fireplace (It’s original, though the rough ‘70s style mantel has been replaced for years), he stepped onto the front porch. “I don’t remember this. It was just a concrete slab.” The porch was one of Jay summer projects several years ago.
Then, after a shaking of hands and repeating of names, he walked across the lawn toward his car.
Suddenly, he stopped and turned, “Oh,” he said, “we used to call this tree Henry.”
Laughing, Jay stated, “And we gave him a face!”
Then off he drove, remembering a childhood—a part, I think, that was good.
I looked the old tree up and down and settled my gaze on its face with the eye that needs repainting: “After all these years, it’s nice to know your name—Henry.”
I’ll have to tell it to the children.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Sometimes the best way to celebrate is to rest.
We’ve been going 90 to nothing since before school let out. What I anticipated as a more relaxing summer turned into a whirlwind from the hailstorm the day after the house was painted to the visit of 7 grandchildren, ages 4 and under, the absolute unbelief of the fire devastation across town, a visit from college friends, and a trip to the Midwest to see my mom who has had a difficult time recovering from pneumonia.
Today is the 4th of July, a day normally spent preparing food and anticipating a variety of activities. But, this morning I felt achy and queasy. Mom slept in her chair, my sister had the kitchen under control, and Jay worked on updating his curriculum for his publisher, and I slipped back into bed and slept.
Sometimes the best way to celebrate is to rest.
Our son returns home from Germany tomorrow. He hasn’t been back to the homeland he works to secure for 2 years. Many wonderful and terrible things have taken place in those two years. Life has a way of bringing us both. So, Jay has spent much of the last 2 days searching for a peaceful place for us to stay in the mountains, reflecting on the beauty of the Colorado he calls home and the God who is always present.
Sometimes the best way to celebrate is to rest.
There’s something wonderful and comforting about going home. I see it in my children’s eyes as they and their families tumble out of road weary vehicles. I feel it when I rest my eyes on an Illinois cornfield.

Today will be a low key 4th and when it cools, I’ll walk along the road.

My voice teacher in college used to say, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” She was right.

And, sometimes the best way to celebrate is to rest.