Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
But, I do not see it there.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
What’s in your hand?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Back in the day, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door. I distinctly remember the moment I slapped my 12 whatevers on the kitchen cabinet with Scotch tape. Ironically, I don’t remember even one of the edicts. I also don’t recall what purpose I thought they’d serve since Jay and I alone inhabited a house, much too small, with four illiterate wee people and a dog. I doubt they made a splashing impression on Jay either when he came home from work. But, it felt good when paper in hand smacked the cabinet door!
We think of Martin Luther as a great man of accomplishment, and so he was. But even for Luther there were long years of waiting, pondering, and growth— How often in solitude did he contemplate his purpose in life?
Four degrees between us (3 were Jay’s), we spent the first ten years of our marriage waiting to “do what we were called to do.” Many things happened during those years that only distance brought to light. They were significant, foundational years under the ministry of Dr. Martin. In those days we went to church three times a week, not to mention Sunday school, training union, and choir practice. I heard so many of his sermons, I could quote his illustrations verbatim. Though a seminary professor and scholar of the Word, he was immensely practical. He had made marriage a focus of his ministry, weaving it into every sermon, laying a foundation to last us a life time. One of his illustrations was about a newly-married man who thought he loved his wife too much, so he sought the counsel of his pastor. “Do you love her more than Christ loves the Church?” the pastor questioned. “Of course, not,” replied the man. “Then you do not love her too much,” stated the wise pastor, “for that is your standard.” Husbands, love your wives as Christ so loved the Church and gave himself for it.
The most important relationship between people is the marriage relationship. And under the careful tutelage of the Martins’ ministry, we became “one flesh.” Oh, there were other things, like his annual sermon on anger or his sermon on how to handle criticism. All in all, they were not stagnant years, as they often seemed to be. They just may have been the most important years of our lives, for they dictated how the subsequent years would be lived. As for the “12 Whatevers,” that’s just a blank page—a day of frustration embedded in years of waiting, pondering, and growth.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
One thing I remember about being a teenager is that I didn’t do anything that I was afraid I couldn’t do well. So, even though my junior high ninth grade English teacher insisted that I must take French when I went to high school, I didn’t. I was afraid. I’ve found that French would have been quite helpful, being an English teacher, and I’ve always regretted not heeding her advice. So, I have said for many years now, “Someday I’m going to learn French.”
I’m not teaching AP this year and was looking forward to the lighter grading load, when I discovered that French I was scheduled for my classroom during my planning period, and there were only 11 students in the class. Our French teacher is quite good and seemed rather excited at the prospect of my joining her class. Knowing the sadistic side of teachers, I think Madame Voss thought teaching a 55-year-old brain French might lighten up her life a little. (I do catch a twinkle in her eye when she looks at me.)
I had to skip the first day. (It is my planning period after all.) But the second day I slipped in and sat at the end of a row behind a nice girl—who unfortunately (for her) has ended up my practice partner—and whom I think will do quite well in American literature later on. So, our lessons commenced: Madame Voss says, “a bientot,” and the smart little ninth graders parrot back, “a bientot,” while I stare at the white board thinking, “aahhhhh…”
Yesterday Madame Voss finished a few minutes early so I slipped out and headed directly to the library and Shannon, my eternal encourager. “I’ve made a terrible mistake,” I blurted, “but I can’t quit. They’ll all be in my American lit. class in two years. And besides, I’ve already covered my book!”
It just reminds me of what Anne Graham Lots says about witnessing, “If you’re scared—well—then just do it scared!”
Monday, August 31, 2009
Journal for Christa— (from April 21, 2009)
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
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.
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
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.”
Thursday, August 20, 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,
You need to let the Lord take care of that—
Snap them beans a little smaller.”
Monday, August 17, 2009
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—
Thursday, August 13, 2009
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. 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
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
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.”
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Dr. Martin, our pastor when we were first married, used to hit marriage long and hard in his sermons. One of the things he would say, if I remember correctly (which is a caveat I need to make considering how little I remember from that epoch), was that the 7th year of marriage was thought to be a difficult one.
Because Joel’s job will change and they are moving to Germany for 3 years, the close of their 7th year feels like the ending of an era for them. I suppose it became more pronounced when we met Kim at my parents last week to visit shortly and take their dog back to Colorado where he will spend the next 3 years with my canine loving sister. On facebook Joel reflected on the struggles and milestones of their first 7 years that Fritzi had been a part of.
As for me, there was no closure event to mark our 7th year of marriage. I was perceptive enough to note when our children were born, which seems to be the gauge of my 20s. Our 7th year began with Chris being 6 months old and ended with the birth of Melody just 2 weeks later. I don’t recall anything much about our marriage, just that Jay worked an incredible number of hours, and I changed and washed an incredible number of diapers. The only specific thing that stands out that year revolved around a tragedy that our friends experienced; perhaps that’s because it was much larger than Jay, me, or us.
It makes total sense that the 7th year would be a challenge. At 7 years people have lived together long enough to learn most of their mate’s foibles. Work has become just that, work. Then there are diapers, enough disposables to reach the moon and back at least 23 times. Fading are the idyllic visions of adult life. Young love is moving back stage as old love is moving toward the center, as it must.
Earlier this year, because of the twists of Mel’s world, Mom and I were discussing married love. Mom said, “Mel is just thinking of young love. Old love is different.” Old love is birthed through struggles and trials and the dailyness of life that each couple decides to take on together. They are often things not chosen or planned. They are things that are.
Monday, July 27, 2009
When I graduated from college, Jay figured it would take him two years to finish his Master’s. I think that is where the concept of “two years” came from. In two years we would move out West and become teachers.
But, before two years were up, I was pregnant with Joy; and the caveat of teaching, we knew, was that I would have to work as well. So, after Joy was born, it was “two more years” and we’d move out West and begin teaching. But once again, before those years were accomplished, I was expecting, and we stretched—very slowly—two years into ten. Those were often discouraging years.
It wasn’t that we were unhappy. The years of babies are never regained—mirrored in grandparenting somewhat—but never regained. And it wasn’t that we felt “out of God’s will” because we weren’t. But, out upon the horizon, just beyond our reach, beckoned the ideal image of changing lives forever. And it so seemed it would never come.
The spring after Melody was born, Guy and Terry (friends who were co small group leaders with us) insisted that we go off for a weekend. Childless at the time, they packed their bags, came to our house, getting a weekend crash course in insanity.
Jay and I went to an inn isolated in the rolling hills of north Georgia. We played tennis, swam in the pool, and mostly sat in rocking chairs on a wrap around porch, which looked out over serene views of the Great Smokey Mountains. We were reading and editing a book Jay had written, totally engulfed in our own world.
One afternoon, with typed manuscript in tow, we were descending the few steps from the porch when two older ladies passed us. They stopped and inquired, “You two are teachers, aren’t you?” Taken aback, we both blurted, “yes,” having never taught a single day in our lives beyond student teaching, but we were teachers.
Now, after teaching almost 25 years, that memory makes me smile. For there was plenty of time—days, months, and years, stretching out into weariness—if only we had then known. Youth has a way of rushing things: always seeking the next phase, peeking around corners, anxious as a toddler, certain it’s missing something just beyond its fingertips. It is the great myth of youth.
Do not get discouraged in the days you seem to be marking time. The days of each life are numbered, and there are just the right days to accomplish God’s purpose. Live and wait—for when the time is right, you will know it—and that path, too, will open up before you, like the first rose of spring—fresh as the new day it is…
Thursday, July 23, 2009
It seems like there’s always someone in every literature class who just can’t wait to see how a novel ends. So, in the quiet privacy of her room (I say “she” because it’s always a girl.), she flips to the back of the book and reads the ending. I usually give her a hard time, and nothing makes the others madder than for someone who’s read ahead to reveal a crucial element before the rest are there.
Tonight we started a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Esther. Beth referred often to Esther’s destiny… and ours; but having read Esther several times over the years, the burning question I always wish I knew is— “What happened to her after she saved a whole nation of people from the wicked Haman?”
I’ve read that some think she may have died soon after her story, since her life from that point on falls silent. I don’t know. I suppose if one were to create a blockbuster, the beautiful Esther, shrouded in Persian opulence, would breathe her last in the devoted arms of King Xerxes. To me, that seems too simplistic and not the way life generally turns out. I somehow see her cloistered in a harem, soon forgotten, replaced by another voluptuous form. How hard would it be to fall from queen to harem girl? Now, that’s an Esther who intrigues me. What did she do then? Did she seek the face of the God who had saved her? Or, as the great deed receded farther and farther into the past, did she grow old, regretful, and bitter? We may never know.
Another woman in the Bible whom I would have appreciated more information on is Abigail. It sort of seems that David took her as a wife out of gratitude or obligation. It wasn’t like he really knew her. The foolish Nabal dies, and then comes David to bring her home with him. Have you ever wondered just where in the palace she was the night David called for Bathsheba? A woman mature and wise, what did she know? And did she say anything—or deem it wiser to keep silent?
Women. Women who made a splash on the pages of Scripture, but afterward are never heard from again—living in obscurity—where mostly the rest of us live everyday. I wish I knew how they lived there. People seem to have the capacity to do great deeds when great deeds are required, but most of their lives—and ours—are spent just doing regular things. We cook dinner. We clean house. We haul kids around and feel lucky to check facebook. Often we get to the end of the day and feel like we’ve done nothing, but that is not so. We all have a world we touch, and only eternity will reveal significant deeds that may not have seemed so at the time.
I look forward to our study in Esther and think I’ll learn many valuable lessons because that’s the part of Esther’s life God wanted revealed. I’m not sure how Beth Moore will sum up the end of Esther, but I don’t think skipping to the last chapter will tell me all the things I wish I knew.
Monday, July 20, 2009
—To be the mom of a little one is to be a whole world—
I guess you sort of lose your identity in motherhood in a way. I sometimes thought about that, when I had time to think. As toddlers Joy and Joel were a bit of an attraction in the grocery store (the only place I really went) since they both sported brilliant red hair. Old ladies constantly stopped to chat with them in the grocery cart. Then they always turned to pregnant me and stated emphatically, “Enjoy them. They grow up so fast!” It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them; it’s just that the years from birth to kindergarten seemed so long. And I did enjoy them—everyone.
In many ways they were years I put away myself. I think I spent a lot of years afterwards searching for myself, only to realize one day that I’d always been, and I was just me.
I’ve also come to realize (now that I’m one of those “old ladies”) that the role of motherhood is a most fulfilling one after all—far greater than any class I’ve ever taught or any recognition anyone has ever given me. Beyond the diapers and the endless housework, beyond listening to little ones learning to read, beyond all-day Saturday wrestling tournaments and band concerts and choir concerts await a clean house, pressed clothes in the closet, weddings to people as precious as your very own kids, Sunday dinners (with adult children), and the sound once again of tiny, busy feet.
Of all the things Jay and I might accomplish in our lifetime, the one we’ll always feel most blessed about is our children. I guess when we became one, we really did lose our identities. Then we became 6, then 10, then more. And now, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else but who I am. I am a mom, and to be a mom is to be a whole world.