Friday, December 16, 2005

Merry Little Christmas (S4theD)

Lessons and Carols, 400 Christmas cards, hanging ornaments on a tree, Yuletide readings, more carols, evening Vespers service, school plays with Mary and Joseph, lighting candles, parties, gifts...

There's so much to do this time of year that I've often been neglecting the checks and balances I had built into life to keep from being so harried. While all the above are wonderfully festive and delightfully engaging, I've been reminded that to stop and listen is an incredible discipline. This time perhaps more than any other time of year tries and tests all those well-intentioned habits one has sought to develop over the course of the previous eleven months. I'm beginning to see the train of thought behind the ever so popular January movement to restrain the demands of will: the concept known as "the new year's resolution". If well-formed or well-intentioned habits hadn't gone out the window by the fifth month they sure do seem to be quickly forgotten as soon as December hits. It's a month of exceptions! I guess that's why so many people feel so very guilty by the time January rolls around.

Several months ago I sought to punctuate my day with a healthy and reflective pause. I tend to stay quite busy whether I'm actually doing something or not, so I decided to marry my love of music with my desire to slow down. Thus came the "Song for the Day" (S4theD) tradition. I had never stopped to think about the music I listened to nor seriously read the lyrics up to that point, so it ended up being a good exercise in music listening as well as having the desired effect of a mid-day punctuated pause!

It's December. Well-intentioned habits seem to fly out the window when the harried duties of spreading festive cheer beckon. I've just been reminded that to stop and listen is an incredible discipline. According to Der, I've fallen down on the job. The songs for the day have been few and far between these last few weeks and so he kindly took it upon himself to provide the punctuated pause for this day and, unintentionally I'm sure, the reflective inspiration for this blog. He understands all too well the necessity of well formed habits and figured we "needed our daily dose of beauty, goodness, and truth"!

So here in its second hand, phonograph quality, over the phone lines recording glory is Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas as sung by HEM:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
Our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Until then we'll have to muddle through some how.
So have yourself A merry little Christmas now.

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Voice Inside My Head

It helps to have a voice inside your head that’s not your own. As long as you’re sure that it’s not a part of some deeper duel psyche. And as long as it doesn’t carry on conversations with you such as, “Am I going to eat this sausage pizza or continue to be a vegan?” And as long you don’t give that voice any other name that the one it originally came from.

When I see a sun rise above the tops of early morning evergreens preparing to peer intently through the crisp mist blanketing the earth below. Or when I see the handiwork of the Creator orchestrating something that only He could successfully bring together, I think, “Puuurfect!”…but the voice is in an incredibly delightful, well suited to the awe and majesty kind with a Welsh lilt.

When I’m in over my head, sinking in the mire, drowning in the quicksand of life. Or when I’m getting ready to say, “sure, I can do that” for the fifth time today and the eleventh time over the past two days combined, I hear: “What are you doing missy,” in a short but somewhat sweet, firm but not lacking proper grace kind of voice. Then followed by a gentle, “you need to learn to do what you’re doing well before you kill yourself by adding anything else.”

When I don’t have time for reading or writing—wait. Stop. Rewind. Stop. Play. When I think I don’t have time for reading or writing, or when I’m stuck facing a perpetual onslaught of “amymeeshisms” around the times of December and May, then this little matter-of-fact, it’s as simple as this (incredibly annoying in it’s simplistic nature) tone of voice comes and says: “Just do it.” Just like that. As if to say that if I were to stop mulling over how to mull over the current mulling issue and do something, anything, that would save the world!

When I’ve looked at my check list and can see that rather than five things I was pretty sure I accomplished in my day, it was in actuality only two, that’s when—after I’ve penciled in one or two things that I know I have done just so I can mark them off—that’s when the incredibly profound, jolly-witted reminder comes to me, “You know, the only person that can truly say ‘It is finished’ is Christ!” And I can’t help but chuckle and move on.

I’ve never been in to pet rocks or chia pets. Quite possibly because I’ve never had that multiple personality conversation with my self about sausage pizza versus vegan. While I do often hear voices, I’ve come to accept them. I used to think that maybe they really were a part of my underdeveloped subconscious, suppressed by the overdevelopment of my childlike developmental state...'er something. But now that I’m a bit older I know it’s just that first bit—without the “underdeveloped” part! They really are voices coming from the depths of my subconscious, but they’re really not my own. They are the voices of those who have spoken volumes into my life, and occasionally a nugget of their truth and wisdom manifests itself just in time to save me from myself.

Thank God for the voice inside my head!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Almost...and Yet

Apparently I've been wrestling with the concept of all or nothing faith for quite some time. Searching glassy-eyed through the dusty back corners of computer files in a moment of overworked side-trackation I found this journal entry from a couple yars ago:

November 7, 2003. Discernment is knowing the difference between what’s right and almost right. So said Spurgeon. The great church heresies of the middle ages were labeled as right “except”. In all great ecclesiastical undertakings the church has sought God’s wisdom in knowing where their error lies. The results were historical and covenantal declamations known as “credo” or creeds which means “I believe”.

Nothing can be orthodox save one point. Nothing can be true and followed by a “but”. Nothing can be right with any exceptions tagged on. Yet it’s so easy as Christians to point that out in the lives of others and well neigh look over the issues of our own hearts in which we fall so terribly short. It’s easy to see the blatantly evil in more of an objective light. It’s near impossible to apply such objectivity to the subject of ourselves.

Think of the speck Christ talks about in Matthew 7. It could actually just be the log in our own eye obscuring our vision and superimposing that speck into another’s eye.

I remember hearing some time back about a psychiatrist who said something to the effect that the reason a person commits a murder is because they have had something in their background that they haven’t been able to cope with and they themselves want to die. Though obviously absurd, I think a similar view could be more accurately applied to the Matthew 7 scenario. The reason people are so eager to lash and point out the downfalls of others is because they see those same or worse short comings in themselves and seek to remedially clear their conscience.

Thus, we are almost right except. We’ve pointed out our brother’s abnormal wart and taken no heed to the tumor over our own hearts.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Wisdom of Fenelon

We've come across a small book through a Lamplighter Publishing catalogue that some one had given Der some weeks ago entitled The Wisdom of Fenelon: Education of a Child. The book came on Friday while Der was out of town so I decided to read it before I gave it to him. While a fairly small book (I should be done with it but haven't had the time), I've found it to be simplistic yet needed, full of common sense and yet profound...and Fenelon even quotes Augustine on multiple occasions! Here are some of my favorite sections from the book so far, displaying everything from keen observation to deep Scriptural wellsprings. All in all, pieces of the well-written to reflect the well-read:

"Fear is like those violent remedies which we employ in the most severe cases of disease; they purge it is true, but thy alter the temperament, and exhaust the organs."

"We spoil our taste for simple pleasures as we do for ordinary cuisine; we accustom ourselves to high-flavored dishes, till those which are simple and unseasoned become flat and insipid. Let us then fear those great emotions of the mind which lead to weariness and disgust; but above all, they are to be feared for those children who never resist their feelings, and who are always seeking emotion. Let us give them a taste for simple things, to the end that simple amusements may content their palate. A simple walk through the woods or splashing in a stream brings contentment to the soul and appreciation for God's beauty in a manner that extravagant amusement cannot. Moderation is the best sauce; it gives sufficient appetite, requires no high seasoning, and is a stranger to intemperance."

"In every period of life, example has an astonishing influence, but in infancy it is everything. The great delight of children is to imitate others...."

"Actions have a far greater weight, and leave a far stronger impression than words; if therefore [children] see persons act differently to what they pretend to teach, they will learn to look upon Christianity as ceremonial, and upon virtue as impracticable. It is to this end that our children need to see the soul of Christianity, if I may be allowed to use this expression: to maintain a sovereign contempt for this life, and a great affection for the next."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 5)

TO JOJO, my light switch flipper:

December 2, 2003. Good byes were said and Mr. Trent picked me up at the hospital to take me to the airport. Between my discussion with him and phone calls to Joanna, I had the distinct stench of fish in my nostrils. Mr. Trent asked one too many questions in two too many different ways about what my plans were when I got back to Franklin. So with mixed feelings of dread and a bit of relief I got on the plane to Tennessee.

It was never so good to see Joanna’s face as it was that evening. She asked what I wanted to do and where she could take me out for my birthday. It sounded to me as though she was suppressing her enthusiasm which, if you ask me, is not healthy for some one…and I assumed that some one was me. So my answer was something to the effect of, “I want to go somewhere where no one knows me.” (Insert the sound of suppressed enthusiasm being squelched) The “oh” and longish-short pause that followed were unforgettable, and while she recovered quickly I resigned myself to the fact that it was more than likely not going to be a just her and I kind of evening.

“Well, before we go to Friday’s or something, do you mind if we run back by my house real quick to get your present that I forgot on my way to pick you up?”

“Sure. Whatever.” Followed in my head by, “Yeeeaaah, right. You forgot.” And another verbal, “Whatever”.

Cradling my splinted hand that had gotten cracked a couple of days before in a fit of enthusiastic joy while hugging my mother, I sat quietly in the passenger seat of the most adorable baby-blue bug convertible ever as Joanna kept getting phone calls from “friends”. Oh, we needed to stop by Kroger on the way to her house to pick up my present before we went out to eat too. I had almost forgotten about that. I must admit it was all a grand show! The only reason I was so anal is because I was so daggum tired and suspicious.

We pulled into the infamous Grant gravel driveway and there were no cars that didn’t have a Grant as an owner. Der and Mrs. G had gone to bed and Jesse was out and about somewhere or other. I relaxed a bit and was already to collapse on the nice big red couch as soon as we walked through the door. And in the 3 seconds too long it took Joanna to find the lights in her own house, all enraptured visions of comfy couches poofed from my dreams.

There, standing before me, was pretty well weigh every single person I knew in Franklin. If I had not seen the picture of my face and eventually apologized to Joanna, I’m sure she would still think that I was about to kill her. Truth be told, I was. I had never seen so many people in my life standing in the Grant house, staring at me, and then asking me what I thought. “Get-me-out-of-here,” was the first thought. “There’s so many people,” was the second thought. “Joanna put this together and I didn’t suspect until today,” was the third. I think what zapped the speech from me most effectively was the diversity of the people that were there. Mrs. G even commented afterward that there were people from my past, present, and those whom I knew I’d know better in the future. Young and old. From mentors to basketball girls, co-workers to students, choir members to room mates. Community was standing right in front of me. Someone just had to turn the lights on before I could see.

I wasn’t very talkative that night. I was soaking it all in.

Once I was an island—or at least considered myself one. I tried most everything in my power to alienate myself to some remote part of a hypothetical sea. I had to be taught, over time. But there was one mile marker, a point in time where I can look back. That was the one.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 4)

December 1, 2003. Was a blur. I really don’t remember much besides trying so very desperately to sneak in one of those travel sized bottles of Bailey’s into the hospital so my parents and I could have a proper, ceremonial rite of passage. Two very small things blew it for me: 1) I couldn’t find one of those cute little bottles like the stewardesses give you on air planes in all of Charlotte…ok, so I couldn’t find one in all of the two stores I had the chance to drop by. 2) And then there was the minor combined issue of my father a) currently being in the hospital, and b) on the transplant list for a new liver. The hospital runs a pretty tight ship in general, I kinda forgot about the fact that to be on a transplant list is kinda like being under house arrest. You may think your body’s your own, but for a certain length of time your butt can be grilled—or in this case—you could be called in for random drug testing at any time. And seeing as we were on hospital turf, to have smelled Bailey’s on Dad’s breath probably would have initiated one of those random times for him! All in all, not good. Didn’t work. Sensing my sheer disappointment, mom took me out to an Irish pub and bought me a Guiness. All was amended…well, pretty right near all....

Monday, November 28, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 3)

Yikes! And I'm not done yet! So here's part 3 of my most memorable thanksgiving:

Thursday, November 27, 2003. The church had rallied so very well. Since my aunt and cousin had arrived they had committed to bringing our family meals every other day for two weeks and they provided us with a full Thanksgiving feast. All I had to do was heat up the turkey. Somewhere in between being back and forth from the hospital to home with the kids I had remembered to take the meal out of the refrigerator but, lost in the fray, the idea of actually heating the turkey was completely otherworldly. I had the presence of mind to grab a carving knife, the kids, and the food (the knife was for the food, not the kids) before leaving to go to Charlotte for our Thanksgiving festivities. The day before I had had grand visions of streamers and decorations to fix up the hospital room where we would be feasting, but some how one seems blessed to have simply practicality when caught in such a time of flurried activity.

The third floor of Carolina’s Medical Center was completely empty on my dad’s wing, and, from what I remember, there were only two or three people on Britny’s wing. Dad’s nurses volunteered the small kitchenette/breakroom area for our family gathering (mom’s parents and my uncle had come down the day before). In my mad rush I had forgotten all manner of plates, utensils, and cups…thank God for an on site cafeteria! Nurses were volunteering left and right to go “sneak” down to the cafĂ© and get what we needed—the adventure they saw in the endeavor was almost as humorous and uplifting as their eagerness help.

Our little room was furnished somewhat sparsely with a refrigerator, a sink, inaccessible cabinets, a microwave, a folding table, and one of those hard vinyl hospital recliners that my whole family at one time or another has spent a sleepless night or three in. We wheeled both my dad and Britny down the hall and started pulling out the food to see what all we had by way of variety. After noticing small chips of ice falling from the packaging we pretty much deduced that all the food was not just cold but half frozen! I remember my bright idea of sticking the containers in the microwave for a few minutes was abruptly shot down by some member of my family saying, “What, do you want to blow us all up?! Those containers are made out of aluminum…you don’t put metal in a microwave!” I try. My uncle got to cutting on the frozen turkey with the one useful tool I did have the presence of mind to grab while the rest of us scooped out iced mashed-potatoes, slushified cranberry something-or-other, and the well chilled dressing. Plates had to go into the microwave one at a time, so by the time one person’s was warmed up they had to go ahead and eat or it would be cold again by the time the next plate was heated. What a crazy, fun mess!

My friends the Trents showed up at the tail end of the festivity to add some festivity of their own. They brought me a birthday cake. Since I had gotten home, I hadn’t really thought much about the fact that my birthday was in a couple of days, but most assuredly when I had thought about it I never pictured spending my 21st in the hospital with two of my family members...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 2)

Saturday, November 22, 2003. I was on a plane. My friends had taken such care of me—Elizabeth had purchased a ticket for me to fly home, Mrs. Wilbur drove me to the airport, and the Trents were in Charlotte waiting to pick me up. My family was looking forward to seeing me…on Monday. My Aunt, who had come in from West Virginia with my cousin earlier in the week, was the only one in my family that knew I was flying in early. It was a wonderful surprise. I’ll never forget the look on my Dad’s face. I think I asked some thing like, “do you guys need anything” before I walked in because they told me later that they had thought at first that I was a nurse!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003. I love action! I’ve always wanted to be a professional driver, or even better a stunt driver. I’d always seen great emergency mad driving skills on TV and had wished that I could do that. It was my day. We were flying in the emergency lane past interstate traffic in my family’s Ford van with the blinkers flashing. My aunt and I were taking my cousin Britny to the ER. Mom ended up staying at home with the kids rather than returning to the hospital to see dad that evening. Providence is a beautiful thing. Britny and my aunt both have health issues of their own and on this particular evening Brit spiked a pretty dangerous temperature causing my aunt to wonder if there was a shunt malfunction to blame. Never a dull moment.

Later that evening Britny was transferred to not only the same hospital as my father, but the same floor. God has a bit of a sense of humor amidst His graciousness in keeping the family together. My mom and aunt kept each other going that night. They were the ones to point out that nothing could have ended up any better than God had planned it for a situation like this. Thanksgiving really started two days early at that point...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 1)

I attempted to start writing in hopes of churning out a memory that would be concise, clean, and coherent. I'm ending up with anything but. And yet I feel like I should ride this one out, so I've decided to make it an installment blog. I'll probably end up with at least three parts if I keep writing like I have been thus far. So, here's part 1 of my most memorable Thanksgiving:

I try so hard to merge my worlds. Some times more than others, but it always seems to be a constant at the forefront of my mind. I suppose I’ve grown sentimental in my old age in longing for simplicity and unity, but I also feel that living in fragments is not really the way God intended life to be lived.

I haven’t always thought this way. I once was an island—or at least considered myself one and did most everything in my power to alienate myself to some remote part of a hypothetical sea. No, I had to be taught, over time. But there was one mile marker, a point in time where I can look back and say, “that was the moment”.

Saturday, November 15, 2003. I had been making plans to drive home to North Carolina the Monday before Thanksgiving. That was before my 6:30 am phone call from my father who told me that while he and Micah were out watching the newly released Captain and Commander at the movie theatre he had gotten up to take Micah to the restroom, fallen down the steps, onto the hand rail, and ended up breaking his hip and shoulder.

Call me superstitious, but ever since my junior year of high school it seemed that our family in general and my father in particular had developed this knack for hospital visits punctually around the times of mid-terms and finals. So don’t think me cold and heartless when I say that I wasn’t too shaken or surprised when dad informed me that he was once again in the hospital just before another holiday. After all, it takes talent to be that predictable!

While I say that I was not surprised or shaken, I was however automatically shifted into responsibility/action mode. I can be a bit hot-headed and reactionary in times like that so I decided to call my long time sounding board for all things sane and sure—Der. He told me stay put until we knew more about what was going on. I wanted to go home. I just knew I needed to go home right then and there. Who else was going to take care of my family? The week that followed was the longest of my life I’m pretty sure. And all my friends knew it. So when Elizabeth Taylor asked me if there was anything at all she could do, I knew exactly what I wanted—to get home as soon as possible—but I had neither the courage nor the humility to ask for help to get there. So I phoned another friend, Joanna, like her father, another sounding board for all things sane and sure...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Blessed Excitement

The truth is, I'm so excited! I mean, I know I'm probably a little nuts and I'm sure there aren't really a whole lot of people out there that can say this with as much enthusiasm as I have behind every keystroke of this blog, but I LOVE my job! No, really, I do! Yesterday was spent in desperate earnest, attempting to get out the King's Meadow Thanksgiving Newsletter before, well, Thanksgiving. While it made for a rather long and interesting day, it was so incredible to be reminded of all the things we have to be thankful for as a ministry. We've charted where we were a year ago, noted all the steadfast volunteers that have come our way, and planned for the incredible vision that God has given us for the future. The best part of that vision is that it is so very tangible. There has never been a time when so many people have been so excited about what we are doing and attempting to do. There have never been so many--though they are still few--eager volunteers willing to do what needs to be done to spread the word, ease the load, and bolster spirits. There have never been this many visionary plans out on the table that have the potential of all being launched within the foreseeable future. It is so very exciting! Now we just need the money!

To see the fruits of our collective labors, click here to read the KMSC Thanksgiving Newsletter. There is much to be thankful for this season...and I haven't even gotten to my personal list yet! I am truly blessed indeed!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The King of the Limestone Scepter

The leaves have fallen. Winter’s here. There’s so much beauty just outside my window as I type away in my office attempting to save the world one e-mail, one newsletter, and then one phone call at a time.

Fairly often I get sidetracked but I’ve been pretty regular in taking my special concoction of memory vitamins so most of the time I eventually get back to whatever it was I was sidetracked from. (Though on Tuesday I forgot to turn in a payment…but when I turned it in on Wednesday, well, they forgot to charge me a late fee so I suppose I’m not alone in my mental schizophrenia!)

What was I saying?

Oh, yeah, so I get side tracked. The other day I walked out of the office to go to a meeting and was surprised to see that my truck was parked right out front. (I never park out front.) I had thought for a second that some one had played a joke and moved my truck. Then my mind jumped to the realization that the only people that would do something like that either don’t have a spare key to my truck or they can’t drive a stick shift automobile. But then I thought that maybe some one really did because I saw a piece of paper stuck under my windshield wipers. I’m such a kid, I love it when people leave me notes! About 20 people went through my mind in quick succession as to who the note could be from. But it wasn’t from anyone I thought of. Even better, it was from someone I had really been wanting to get to know for the last couple months. This adorable old man who works across the street from me. I say adorable because he rides stately around the streets of Franklin in a small but steedly golf cart, cradling his chalk-tipped scepter as if parading the might of his noble position.

What was I saying?

Oh yes, my note. Well, as is the case with any one in any kind of higher position than my own, I must at some time or other pay my respects to the greatness of their station. Apparently the King of the Limestone Scepter saw fit to draw the line on my lack of dutiful obeisance and collect from me his rightful tribute…..So then I walked across the street and paid my $11 parking ticket.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005


No matter what is said about the banality of cleverness, I still think that cleverness is, well, clever. One of the most clever songs I have ever heard was done by the "one hit wonder" group Reunion. I love music and this is just one of those songs that brings a wide range of artists, songs, and movements together in, well, the cleverest of ways. Here is what has to say about the group followed by the lyrics and audio file of Life Is A Rock:

Reunion was a studio group created around songwriters Norman Dolph and Paul DiFranco, which scored one US Top 10 single in 1974 with the novelty song "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)". The group had already released a number of singles on RCA Records with no luck when writer/producer DiFranco approached writer/singer Joey Levine to work on the song which ultimately became their only hit. The song had been written two years previously but had remained unfinished. Levine, Dolph and DiFranco took final writing credit and it was recorded in a bubblegum style (Levine had had success writing hit songs in the 60s for studio bubblegum outfits such as the Ohio Express, and was a member of the Third Rail). "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" reached number 8 in the US in late 1974 but further releases under the Reunion name failed to chart. They did not record any albums and the project was soon shelved.

Life Is A Rock by Reunion

B.B. Bumble and the Stingers, Mott the Hoople, Ray Charles Singers
Lonnie Mack and twangin' Eddy, here's my ring we're goin' steady
Take it easy, take me higher, liar liar, house on fire
Locomotion, Poco, Passion, Deeper Purple, Satisfaction
Baby baby gotta gotta gimme gimme gettin' hotter
Sammy's cookin', Lesley Gore and Ritchie Valens, end of story
Mahavishnu, fujiyama, kama-sutra, rama-lama
Richard Perry, Spector, Barry, Rogers-Hart, Nilsson, Harry
Shimmy shimmy ko-ko bop and Fats is back and Finger Poppin'

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

FM, AM, hits are clickin' while the clock is tock-a-tickin'
Friends and Romans, salutations, Brenda and the Tabulations
Carly Simon, I behold her, Rolling Stones and centerfoldin'
Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers, can't stop now, I got the shivers
Mungo Jerry, Peter Peter Paul and Paul and Mary Mary
Dr. John the nightly tripper, Doris Day and Jack the Ripper
Gotta go Sir, gotta swelter, Leon Russell, Gimme Shelter
Miracles in smokey places, slide guitars and Fender basses
Mushroom omelet, Bonnie Bramlett, Wilson Pickett, stop and kick it

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Life is a rock but the radio . . .

Arthur Janov's primal screamin', Hawkins, Jay and Dale and Ronnie
Kukla, Fran and Norma Okla Denver, John and Osmond, Donny
JJ Cale and ZZ Top and LL Bean and De De Dinah
David Bowie, Steely Dan and sing me prouder, CC Rider
Edgar Winter, Joanie Sommers, Osmond Brothers, Johnny Thunders
Eric Clapton, pedal wah-wah, Stephen Foster, do-dah do-dah
Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Surfer Girl and Little Honda
Tighter, tighter, honey, honey, sugar, sugar, yummy, yummy
CBS and Warner Brothers, RCA and all the others

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

Listen (remember) they're playing our song

Rock it, sock it, Alan Freed me, Murray Kaufman, try to leave me
Fish, and Swim, and Boston Monkey, Make it bad and play it funky

(Wanna take you higher!)

this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, November 12, 2005

In Truth: A Reply

My interpretations of terms:
1) truly false: genuinely false
2) falsely true: unintentionally true
3) falsely false: true
4) truly true: true

A thing can not be falsely true and truly false at the same time. Truly (or genuinely) false truth is false because it has been "de-truthed". To say that trueness and falseness are falsely false and truly true is to say that both truth and fallacy are in the right, are equal, are true. Two negatives make a positive--to be falsely false is to exhibit truth. If you were to say that falseness is never falsely (or unintentionally) true but is usually truly (or genuinely) false truth (meaning that it is false because it has been "de-truthed"), then that last statement is incorrect in saying that the previous statement is truly false. True?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

True Truth

I was a bold first day teacher. Even though I had no idea what I was doing that day, I knew that I wanted to emphasize the fact that I was open for questions and that dialogue was welcomed. I also said that if I did not know the answer to something then I reserved the teacher privilege of researching and answering in a later class. That being said, I did not really expect much to come of that proclamation by way of response until much later in the school year. And that is where my simplistic ignorance as a new teacher was almost immediately addressed. Within the first week and a half I gave the assignment of writing a journal on the importance of truth. One of my students decided to write a creative follow-up essay, which he handed to me and asked for a response. Here is what Robert wrote. The response will have to come after a good nights rest!

False truth is only true when it falsely faces the true truth, but remains false to be truely false. When the truth is truely false and falsely becomes truth, then the truth is falsely true, truely. For truely, falseness cannot be true, unless the true truth is falsely true and truely false. Some would have you believe that false truth is truely false, but in fact it is truely falsely true, truely. Some say that falseness is not false truth, but rather truely false truth that has been de-truthed. Trueness and falseness are not falsely true or truely false, but rather falsely false and truely true. Sometimes falseness is misunderstood, and so can be considered to be amazingly truely false and falsely true. Truthfully, falseness is never falsely true, but usually truely false truth. This statement is truely false.

Is this statement true/false

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Soaring Intentionality

I sit within four plaster walls covered in a lovely quite cheerful powder blue paint with bright white trim. Modest and strategic decor highlight the room making it clean and simple. Before me is a framed series of colorful sketches depicting four historic locations in Scotland, the first of which is the Gileskirk Cathedral. I often stop mid-day and stare at it. The image of the Gileskirk dome has become such an integral part of our ministry at King's Meadow and Gileskirk Curriculum that I often forget the beauty and larger whole of the cathedral itself. While my office is housed in a lovely 1800's chapel, I still can not help but wonder at the intentionality and detail that used to go into churches, or buildings in general for that matter. The soaring splendor of places like Gileskirk or Ely Cathedral have altogether been replaced by the sweeping sprawl of fellowship hall functionality. Sad. I should love a return to the intentionality of planning for a lifetime, building across generations, and working in community to leave the kind of legacy the cathedrals embody. But, for now, since I am not planning to build any type of building in the very near future, I think that I will simply do what I can with what I have where I am by being intentional within these four walls and those of my own home. After all, even in the small things soaring truths can be conveyed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fun New Discoveries

So, there was a question as to where yesterday's S4theD could be listened to online...I searched long and hard to find a place where King's College Choir, Westminster, or even Trinity could possibly have Jesus Christ the Apple Tree in its beautiful entirety. But alas, a lack. I found several upbeat remakes of the old hymn, but I couldn't let my self settle for those in stead of a choir arrangement. So I set off across the world wide web in search of a way to put an audio file on an independent blog. After much Googling I ended up right where I started,, bottom of the page where there is this novel button labeled "Help". I pushed it and did a search for music posts and came up with this newly re-released--this time for free--audioblogging technology. The big bold letters F-R-E-E are what did it for me at first, until I dug a bit deeper and realized that this new thing could be done totally independently from a computer and an online connection. Audioblogger is designed to be an on-the-go way to blog by telephone by waxing eloquence verbally as you may normally do so in writing. I was fascinated. I signed up. Am I ever going to have my voice on the world wide web? Um, NO! I have used audioblogging for an alternate purpose, having in the back of my mind that the technology should not control the human but the human is charged to take dominion over the technology and use it as an enhancing tool. Or something. Basically, I played the song from my iTunes with my phone on speaker phone. Way to take dominion! So today, I offer you two means of pleasurable listening. One is a second hand, bumps-and-static recording of a choir rendition of Apple Tree as lead by James Galway. The other--the link here given--is a modern folksy remake done by The Rankin Family. Enjoy!

Audioblog: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

Monday, November 07, 2005


I had started the habit some time ago of having a "song for the day". It started out being simply a song that fit the mood or doing of the day or even ended up being just the first song that popped into my head when I woke up in the morning. Being a fairly random person I ended up sharing some pretty diverse stuff with who ever happened to be around when I played the song--mostly those of us in the King's Meadow office. The tradition died away for a bit a year or so ago and just recently has been revived. Now I send what has come to be known as the "S4theD" out via e-mail to a few friends and KM folk. I have begun using it as both an opportunity to read the music I listen to on a regular basis--by including the lyrics--and as a punctuated breather in the middle of the day.

Today's song lead me on a rabbit trail that I simply felt like sharing. I find it intriguing to learn about the lives of writers and composers and see how often their story is told or explained in their music. Jesus Christ the Apple Tree has long since been one of my favorite early 1900's hymn tunes--ever since Dr. Grant introduced it in Humanities class my 9th grade year. Here is a piece written about the author, Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987), written up by the Friends of the Forster County in the UK, followed by the text of Jesus Christ the Apple Tree:

Elizabeth Poston was born on 24th October 1905, at Highfield House, Pin Green, Stevenage, the site of which is now occupied by Hampson Park. In 1914, a year after the death of her father, she and her brother were taken by their mother, Clementine, to live at Rooks Nest House, childhood home of E.M. Forster. She lived there for the rest of her life, until 1987.

A highly regarded composer and musicologist, Elizabeth Poston had a distinguished career in radio broadcasting. During World War II she worked for the BBC in London, Bedford and Bristol, ending as a 'secret agent', using gramophone records to send coded messages to allies in Europe. She never revealed the exact nature of this work and it remains secret to this day. After the war, she was one of the team who founded the Third Programme, which became Radio 3. She was an authority on carols and folk-music; her two Penguin books of Christmas carols, published in 1965 and 1970, were regarded as definitive. One of her best-known and loved carols is Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, which is a regular feature of the Christmas Eve service of Nine Lessons and Carols televised from King's College, Cambridge.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Reminder to Remember

Experience can only inform us of the past. It tells what has been—but we need another informant besides memory to assure us of what is to be. Experience tells us of the past constancy of nature—but experience alone or memory
alone can give no intimation of its future constancy. This irresistible persuasion comes to us from another quarter. It forms a distinct principle in the frame or workmanship of our intellectual system. It is a befitting theme of gratitude and wonder
that this instinctive faith from within, should be responded to by the unexpected fulfillment of Nature’s actual and abiding constancy from without. But the one is not a derivative from the other. The two are in harmony—but it is a contingent harmony.

Thomas Chalmers, Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

Thanksgiving is the action, the practical application and outworking of remembrance. They go hand in hand as the manifestation of the gospel in the lives of God’s people. “Man is God’s agent for the glorification of the world" ( James Jordan, Through New Eyes). The hope of the gospel lies in the fact that the victory has already been won. Through the Incarnation, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, sin and death have indeed been swallowed up in victory. Because of His work we can proclaim with expectant joy: “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15:54-56)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
I John 5:2, 4-5

The victory has already been won. Over and over again through out Scripture we are reminded that the spiritual skirmishes still being fought on earth are simply that—skirmishes. Reminders that the transformation and restoration of both man and creation are still being worked out. But as we have seen truth requires a response, not just a remembrance. The application of the gospel must be practical and it must be deliberately practical. It is in nature, but all too often we are overcome by the simplicity of a faith that calls us to remember and rejoice that we either suppress or embellish. The day to day remembrance of the mercies of God and the giving of thanks for such a generous means of grace as memory affords is the chief end of man.

Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them night and day before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony….
Revelation 12:11

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Plaque Verse

Psalm 23: I understand, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil". That's the part I get. The part that I'm still having trouble with is, "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me". What is it about a shepherd's rod and staff that is found to be so comforting? The rod seems like a tool of correction and the staff, well, think of has a crook at the top to rein in strays. What, pray tell, is so comforting about that? Discuss...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I've been told that I over analyze and that I'm a perfectionist. I've been told. I mean just because I think a lot about what I think about and by the time I get done with this blog I would have re-read it at least three times, just because of that must I really be labeled. I mean no one is going to know that I re-read this three times unless I tell them, right. And how will they find out that I think too much about what all I think about if it's me thinking it rather than voicing it. I mean am I that predictable? So rather than over analyzing, I'm simply going to spout off a few, not profanities because we have established that I do not in fact have the shakes as a result of turrets...a few profundities that I have recently come across or have recently re-come across.

1) Just do it.

2) Take care of yourself so that you can better take care of others.

3) Breathe in. Breathe out.

4) Eat.

5) Sleep.

6) Repeat.

Why does life have to be so complicated, those seem to be the basics. Why can't we all just stick to those? Oh, and...

7) Keep it simple.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Church

I have often questioned the purpose of church membership. Is it biblical? Is it necessary? Having been a part of a good number of failing--and often brutal--church situations in the course of my young life, I have grown quite skeptical of the institution that is supposed to unify the Bride of Christ. I have always thought it looked more like a custody battle than a functioning marriage. Why would I want to be a part of something like that? Why would I make myself accountable to an entity that I feel has it less together than I do? I mean, at least I know I am messed up! For that purpose I have never willingly joined a church until this past summer. Apart from the fact that I could not allow my parents to join before me the church they had been going to for a matter of months and I for 4 years, it had simply taken me that long to sit back and make some needed observations before I took the step of membership:

1) There are no perfect churches. I hated that statement for ever so long because I knew that deep down. But it took time for me to realize that the church is made up of people--fallible, opinionated, often undependable people. And to think that God realized that when He made the church His primary means for the propagation of the gospel! I had to see and experience that for myself. To watch those in leadership wrestle with what is good, true, and right, making tough decisions and only occasionally seeing the fruit of well invested endeavors. People are messy. The church is made up of people. The church is messy.

2) Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. While the charge given to believers before Christ's ascension back to Heaven is one that is to be taken with no little amount of trepidation and a great deal of diligence, it is at the same time not a charge that carries with it 14 points that are the letter of the law. The simplicity of Christ's last words often baffle us into an unneeded attempt to clarify and adhere strictly and literally. Just as the dying wish of a loved one or the parting words of a far away friend leave us eager and willing to jump to the task they request as a sign of your resolute dedication and love, we are often over eager to get to the task of the Christ's charge before we look at the purpose of it. Christ simply wanted us to work out our faith in the ordinary affairs of life, being deliberate to apply the gospel to every area, from washing dishes to counseling friends, from planting gardens to writing books, raising children to preaching sermons. Though it is a seeming paradox, we are to constantly be living in light of the fact that "to whom much is given much is required", and yet not to so overannalyze that fact that we are so heavenly minded we do the earth absolutely no good, thus taking ourselves too seriously. Be yourself in light of who you are in Christ.

3) The church is the only perpetually defeated thing that has always survived its conquerors. Despite the problems, despite the people, despite the continual onslaught from within and without, the church is still the church. So basically it really does not matter what I think about church membership or what I think about the role the church is to play in God's plan for the gospel, because the church has out lived the expectations of those who have gone before, it will out live my own expectations, and will continue on past those who come after. Obviously God is so all-fire determined to work with people, despite how I feel to the contrary. Stop trying to psycho-analyze the problems of "them" and take a look at those within.

The past few years I have heard repeatedly the statement "the church is God's plan A and there is no plan B". While I still find myself on occasion responding with a non-verbal "prove it", I think that I am a lot closer to understanding why. Unfortunately I am not called to be an island unto myself in my little ivory tower, however much I would wish otherwise, nor is anyone else called to that. God has left us on earth to fulfill that last wish: to do all things in His Name, including working with imperfect people. Because if that can happen, however inharmoniously at times, there is really no stopping that perpetually defeated thing, that limp-along institution known effectually as the church.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What If?

Life could have been so very different. I haven't even reached the quarter-century mark and I've already found myself wondering in spare moments or during random remembrances, what if? I've heard that hind sight is always 20/20. While I'm not sure that it's that perfect, I can recall strategic points in the past that have been marked by drastic decisions. The ironic thing is, most of them didn't seem so drastic at the time. It's kind of funny how the poured over and the wrestled with seem to fade with time while the day-to-day and the simplistic tend to make the most profound change.

There have been very few times in my life that I've recognized a mile marker as a mile marker when it was planted. Most of the time it was more like little yard-sale signs along back roads that gave direction as opposed to towering bill-boards aside major highways. I didn't know what I was doing then, but looking back I can see at what point I decided to take the road less traveled. And boy, has it made all the difference.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Common Quotes

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.
—Henry Ward Beecher

Things which restrict the common are to be interpreted rigidly.
—Latin Proverb

The miracles of nature do not seem miracles because they are so common. If no one had ever seen a flower, even a dandelion would be the most startling event in the world.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Nature of It

There's something about the recognition of personal sin that either makes one a quick repenter or an even quicker judge. When your own sin is revealed in all of its ugliness or when revelation is brought about by the judgments of others, it's easy to see those same faults in your accusers. When people judge unrighteously they do so in order to cover or diminish the sins of their own hearts--all is put aright because they have found a target for their guilt and are thus relieved.

"But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world." I Corinthians 11:31-32

Friday, September 30, 2005

Thought For the Day

I manage three, some times four, other blog sites besides my own. The boys can blog more than twice a month, why can't I?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Grace in a Jolt

Open your eyes. Look at what is going on around you. Think about the fact that while it could always be worse, you have never been in a better place to see that it could always get better too. Stop. Remember when. Those were the days. But were they really? Would you really want to go back? You have learned so much. They smiled at you. Keep going. It's a new dawn, it's a new day. He laughed with you. It could always be worse. She sent you a card. But it's not. They prayed for you last Sunday. Why does it have to hurt this much? He listened when no one else would. It has been such a very long road. I never knew she cared so much. What is the point? A kind word. Where is the pleasure? An honest answer. Who really knows what I am going through? A simple deed. What next? A touch of mercy. Where are the people I need most? A small grace. How much longer? A leap of faith...

Often great calamity brings a whole new perspective of life to the church. At least it should. The deeds that should be carried out as a consistent outpouring of the truth of Christian faith are jolted into action and awakened to the realization of need. We finally stop to listen, to see, and, if the former are allowed to reach our inmost being, to comprehend a hurt and a hunger out side our finely padded lives. Why can't we hear the questions all the time? Why can't we respond with a kind word and an outstretched hand when it is less convenient for us? Why wait until we have no choice but to stare woe in the the face and fall back on the same grace that heals hearts and others? That is grace--when we are left with nothing but. That is mercy--when we are driven towards it in time of need and left with a gaping void when the time is over. With every trial more is learned. Remembrance and forgetfulness in how to extend the gospel of grace to others need not be a vicious cycle. We will forget, we will be stirred, we will remember. But hope lies in that faith is the evidence of things not seen. Grace depends not on our deeds but on the finished sacrifice of the Creator of all things. It is in His Image and as His people that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling--if we will only have ears to hear and eyes to see.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


If we look for the big things in life there will never be enough of them to satisfy us. But if we take them in stride, there will never cease to be a small grace that amazes us.

It is most often the simple things in life that leave us the most dumb-founded and encouraged. Anything from the reddish rays of early morning sunlight piercing the hovering ground cover of fog, to a Wednesday tradition of eating Tai food to go. From the comforting ambiance of your favorite coffee shop couched in the middle of a suburban sprawl, to a kind reassurance from a friend that the world is not going to fall apart. The small things just tend to remind us that there is a pattern and a purpose to life. We need not look to deep descriptions and elaborate explanations when ordinary simplicity makes so much more a profound statement in its own time through well-placed graces and kindly explanation. Some times no manner or amount of elaboration will get a point across. But if we are shown rather than simply told, many times the light bulb of realization turns on when we least expect it. And often when we need it to most.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Logic Low-Down

Somehow, our whole approach to teaching and learning has gone awry. Do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible? Although we often succeed in teaching our pupils subjects, we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think. They learn everything except the art of learning. Dorothy Sayers

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right. Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Logic—the art of reasoning born from sound judgment—is the second stage in the classical approach of the Trivium. Following the grammar stage and preceding the stage of rhetoric, logic is the vital transition between knowledge and wisdom. Its purpose is to cultivate an environment of thought, to begin to understand purpose and pattern, and make connections.

Logic has been defined by some as "the science and art of reasoning". Some have argued that logic should stand apart from the sciences, but few know why nor do they see the link that logic can be bridging the rigid and the refined, the structured and the sensate, the numbers and the narrative. It would seem that the grammar stage is dealing mostly with facts and figures while the rhetoric stage is primarily polished dictum and practicality. Because most people lean to one extreme or another in relating to the arts and sciences, the middle stage of logic tends to get passed over due to a lack of understanding when in fact it is the perfect marriage of the studies. Pattern and order are an originally biblical idea after all. "In the beginning God created..." and the vivid portrait of God's masterpiece is put on display before our eyes to both observe and imitate. There is a pattern in the daily structure: God spoke and thus made, He separated and called forth, He blessed and saw that all was good. There is and order that is made more resilient by the poetry of the words: Light and darkness; the expanse of the waters; earth, sea, vegetation, and seed bearing plants; sun, moon, and stars; great sea creatures and birds; livestock and creeping things; man, within whose nostrils was breathed the breathe of life.

There is a place for structure just as there is a place for beauty. While it is true that the point of logic, ultimately, is not to win and argument but to restore order, it is simultaneously true that one must first learn how to rightly win an argument based on sound judgment and the understanding of thought patterns. Hand in hand, the sciences can merge with the arts to craft a lasting and substantive apologetic for truth...if we will only cross the bridge.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dark and Depthless

Confession: I do not remember the last time I sat down to read. Oh, it was probably last week, but this is Tuesday for heaven's sake! That was ages ago! I have caught snatches here and there--on blogs, in Levenger, in Scripture, sifting through theology but never letting it seep in. So when I sit down with a moment's peace in which to write, I have nothing to say. I am a dried up well whose last glimmer of liquid has evaporated leaving only dark and depthlessness. It is so easy just to get by, running off of shear talent or energy can carry a strong headed person such of myself a good long way. But happens when joints start squeaking or muscles cramp up disabling that natural talent to do it one's self?

Yesterday I had the day off and went on a really long walk. I took my time and stopped a good bit along the way...for the sake of my knees and to stay hydrated. The first six miles were basically an avoidance of thinking. All I wanted to do was get as far away from people as possible. So, music up, back pack on, tennis shoes laced I set off to power walk my way away from life. Long about, oh, mile one and a half an elderly couple pulled up in their hunter Crystler mini-van stopping the traffic behind them to a 4 to 5 car halt. I saw their lips move and realized that they were talking to me and I should probably get rid of the head phones. I gave them their directions, they turned around, and I was bemoaning the fact that I had to actually interact with someone on this trip--and a mile and a half into it to boot! About mile four I begrudgingly went into a small town market to get a bottled Cheerwine and water and I am pretty sure I didn't say a word to the poor girl who took my money. Oh, wait, she did ask if I wanted "a bag for that", and I thought, "Are you crazy! Did you not just see my walk up to this joint all red, hot, and nasty without a car and wearing a back pack", but what came out was, "no thanks". Somewhere along mile 7 when the first of three people pulled over to ask if I needed a ride things got a little bit lighter, "No, thanks. I'm just walkin' to walk". That produced some strange looks. So that around mile 9.5 and 10 I was telling a little old lady and a little old man that their yard looked beautiful!

When you do any one thing--or even when there is a lack of any one vital thing--for any period of time, something has to give. Baby sitting some one else's children is not quite the same as raising your own. Eating one low carb burger means you are about as faithful an Adkins dieter as if someone else feigned being a vegetarian after drinking 32 oz. of carrot juice. Sitting in your average Sunday morning church service is not quite the same as participating in a four hour Orthodox Easter service. Fifteen or twenty minutes a day of quiet time tends to become avoidable or improperly repetitive until you shaken life up a bit with so long a walk that you find that the only thing left within site is you and your thoughts.

Life catches up with us. Some times it overwhelms us, some times it bores us. Maintenance is good. If you let a car run long enough on what it has got to keep it going at present, things will inevitably burn up and fall out. You have to put something in to get something out, but being the creative beings that we are we tend to not feel like using out creativity so what we do--or do not do--on a daily basis becomes trivial and trite. I think I have come to prefer life shaken, not stirred.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Doing Something Worth Doing

"If a thing is worth doing" do you define what is really worth doing? "If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly" can you define what is really worth doing enough for it to be worth doing badly? At the top of my list are those things that show instant accomplishment: mowing a lawn, washing dishes, making a bed. While these things are considered chores, there is something to be said for being able to quickly strike a task from your to-do list. But things like that leave little room much less time to be done badly. So, does that say something as to there worth?

I have heard the plea for Reformation as opposed to Revolution time and again--the quality and importance of a thing being worked out and perfected over time rather than over night. When one really tries to live in that fashion--to invest in ongoing accomplishments, to soak in continuing education, to strive for a vision that may not be achieved in ones own life time--that in and of itself is a process worth pursuing. It is stretching and maturing. And the change over time shines so much more evident a light on the permanence of the endeavor. It is in those long spent, toiling days in which the small mile-stones and the completed chores of instant gratification mean so much more. To everything there is a season and to all things there is a purpose. So the short term brings a seed of hope to the ongoing labors of the long term. But that is the beauty of things worth doing. Because we are called to invest, because that requires time, because time leaves plenty of room for error, that is why life has been punctuated by small graces. That is why things worth doing are worth doing badly.

"If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly."
G.K. Chesterton

Friday, July 29, 2005

Story Time

We say we are a covenantal people. A covenant people who wrestle with covenant issues. A covenant issue is one that takes into account past performances. A covenant is the initiation of an agreement on the part of individuals and God, the slow progression over time towards either the fulfillment or breaking of that oath on the part of the individual and the consistent fulfillment of that oath on the part of God. Come what may, God is always faithful to keep covenant and whether or not man is able to do the same determines the fruit produced from such an interpersonal investment--cursing or blessing. The deliberateness of God's relational dealings across time has been preserved, written down just as contracts are so that both parties may stand in accountability before a watching world. A document that can be referred back to in times of crisis, sited when rebellion threatens everything that has been worked for, and recalled to mind when encouragement is simply needed to face the path ahead. Scripture is our covenantal thread--the stories making up The Story, the commands to show us what we are, the dialogue to show us who God is. It is the contract signed so long ago by our spiritual ancestors and our familial forerunners. It is a word that has been sealed upon the tablets of our hearts and stands as a stone of remembrance for what God has brought us out of and a sign of hope for what He will lead us through in times to come.

The way a story is told should have as much a deliberateness about it as the message of the story itself. The means and the message should insist on going hand in hand otherwise the narrative is lost to a sea of talking faces who never intended to put feet to their loud insistence. Inconsistency is the hypocrisy of the day. There is no point in saying "in all things BUT". The world is flooded by exceptions while the absolutes sit stagnant, just to the brim of a thimble. The very nature of covenant demands consistency and deliberateness in every area of life. After all, as Kuyper has said, "There is not one square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not say: MINE". The Incarnational deliberateness inherent in God's covenant with man can be expressed by no more profound means than through a story. The complexities of such a relationship can only begin to be fathomed in the ordinariness of living out life from day to day--sharing that life with the community surrounding you, and then applying your mutual discoveries to the culture around you. The wonder of Scripture is that while we have been given the principles in covenant, we have been shown the application through stories.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Elijah Concentrate

There is so much here! I am trying to unpack it all and then I realize that I have been jumping around schizophrenic-like as usual. I feel that I have got the whole picture and then it hits me that I am not even sure that I have read the whole narrative from beginning to end. Where did he come from, this Elijah the Tishbite? Where in heaven's name is Tishbe, tell me quick and then I would know! He just shows up in chapter 17 of I Kings and boy, is it a whirlwind ride from there. Confronting the king, praying for no rain, no rain, empty grain barrel one minute, unable to contain the overflow of grain the next, raising a boy from the dead, proposing a duel of sacrifices, jeering at the false prophets when nothing is going their way and then dumping 12 buckets of water on his own sacrifice and having God consume it--bull, wood, stones, water, ditch and all. And then there is the aftermath. He does not just leave it at that, there is cleaning up to do and rebuilding. Oh, and maybe while he is at it he will start a school of prophets with his disciple Elisha just to leave a lasting nagging impression on any and all future kings who decide not to tear down the high places and opt to walk in the ways of their father Jeroboam. Drama, drama, drama.

It never ceases to amaze me how even God's method, His structure, in conveying His message is so revealing and consistent to His character. To put so much in a story. To even converse through story itself is so very potent and unassailable. For the ordinary saint, it is the gospel in interpersonal tangibility. For the theology buff, it is a parable of many faceted ponderables. Either way it is grace concentrate. So deliberate and yet so vivid. The story of Elijah is proof once again that Scripture really is only one story--His Story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Chalmers: On the Need for a Replacement Warrantee

If our affections for the world are not to be in existence, they cannot simply be striped from us with nothing present to fill the void. It must be replaced with something so much more consuming and desirable lest the vacuum be left to devour itself for lack:

“The heart would revolt against its own emptiness. It could not bear to be so left in a state of waste and cheerless insipidity….You have all heard that nature abhors a vacuum. Such, at least, is the nature of the heart, that though the room which is in it may change one inmate for another, it cannot be left void without pain of most intolerable suffering.”—pg13

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” —I John 2:15-17

“…to bid [a man to] love not the world is to pass a sentence of expulsion on all the inmates of his bosom. To estimate the magnitude and the difficulty of such a surrender, let us not only think that it were just as arduous to prevail on him not to love wealth, which is but one of the things in the world….But to desolate his heart of all love for the things of the world, without the substitution of any love in its place, were to him a process of as unnatural violence as to destroy all the things he has in the world and give him nothing in their room. So that, if to love not the world be indispensable to one’s Christianity, then the crucifixion of the old man is not too strong a term to mark that transition in history when all old things are done away, and all things are become new.”—pg 14

“If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things have passed away behold, all things are become new.” —II Corinthians 5:17

“We have already affirmed how impossible it were for the heart, by any innate elasticity of its own, to cast the world away from it and thus reduce itself to a wilderness. The heart is not so constituted, and the only way to dispossess it of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.”—pg 17

Monday, July 11, 2005

Grace for the Petty Schizophrenic

I’ve been wondering and unsettled. Moving from one thing to the next, scared that if I let more than 5 minutes laps without productivity I will fall back into my natural habit of slothfulness. I find that when I do not know what to do with myself I find things to do. Stay busy. Stay harried. Fill in the void with pure manual labor—that builds character I hear. When I lose grip on life I start doing petty things to cling to the fruit of my labors. Petty things like fold laundry with particular creases in particular places, or sweep my floors for the 6th time this month when two times would have sufficed. I’ll make dinner for myself using as many utensils, plates, and bowls as possible and then wash them just to see that I have done something—two somethings really…made dinner and cleaned the dishes.

My most recent impulse might well be the most life saving side-track of productivity ever. It is thirty pages long with an introduction of 2 pages and a title and copy right page taking up 2 before that—so really it is only 26 pages. I just got it in the mail today. Published in 1910. Looks fun. And, hey, if I sit down to read it now I can say that I read a whole book in one sitting and I wouldn’t even be lying. What a sense of personal accomplishment!

That is what I was thinking as I read the introduction by one Dr. John Angus MacVannal. I should have know by the heartiness of the man’s name that I was in for a confrontation with substance, but I did not think that through. And then I got to the line, “What we love we live”. The impetuous impulse vanished, the hunger emerged. It was then that I actually stopped to think about the title of this small book I held in my hands—“The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”. I knew I was doomed, or at least my bout of schizophrenic-egotistical-harried-habitual-impulse-to-petty-productivity was doomed:

“The heart must have something to cling to, and never, by its own voluntary consent, will it so denude itself of all its
attachments that there shall not be one remaining object that can draw or solicit it.”

Chalmers goes on to talk about how we belabor ourselves with pleasurable sensations and petty indulgences that we grow tired and numb to any sensation at all. The genuine longings of our heart then become either lost in a mess of overbearing excess or indistinguishable from the affections of our self-sufficiency. My heart had lunged out once again to find that one thing to side track and numb, and true to grace that one thing, this time, has brought me to repentance and contentment.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Model for Word and Deed

If God is God then He is consistent in every way, imaginable and inconceivable to the human mind. If He has said that His word will endure the test of time we must conclude that there is something in both communication and content to make it so secure and lasting. What is the means of His message? Is the means an extension of the message? Do message and means compliment each other? To a world that is self-satisfied with the diatribe that the end justifies the means God gives a deliberate and singularly perfect model that the means of the gospel not only justify the ends but weave such beautiful coherence that the end is more fully complete for the narrative of the thing. The message of the gospel wouldn’t be the same without the tangible realness of relational narrative. While it is normal and often expected that men say one thing and seldom if ever are seen to follow through, God deliberately shows His people what it is like to live in covenant faithfulness by not only building interpersonal relationships Himself but recording them so that the generations may know of His steadfast love and purposeful intent.

As a people so deficient in matching word and deed, we could stand to study a bit more the model for life and godliness that has stood the test of time. It is not just a book. It is a handbook for covenant relationship. The model covenant between God and man is to be applied in every aspect between man and man, on earth just as it is in heaven.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Peru Paragraph

Mr. Wilbur wanted me to write a piece on my Peru trip for the King's Meadow newsletter he's doing. I was shooting for a paragraph, but once again it ended up being a bit longer:

If education is a transfer of a way of life, there is definitely something to be said for how Joanna has gone about this missionary endeavor. I am amazed at the courage she has shown in picking up her life in the states and moving to Cusco, Peru, to dedicate at least a year of her life to a group of people whose language, until quite recently, she could not understand. That fascinates me.

If the gospel is true, I suppose it best manifests itself as a genuine transfer of a way of life just as Christ demonstrated in His short time on earth. It takes hold when you share your life with some one by living with them rather than living around them. When you eat their food—no matter how many talons are found in the chicken foot soup. When you hold their hands—no matter how many warts you may get. When you listen to their stories—no matter how long, even if you can only understand half or less. To be submerged in the lives of the people she is trying to get to know, I am sure, is among the chief and most lasting impressions Joanna will leave in the lives of these people. It was so fun to be a fly on the wall for a brief time. I did take notes, because this is stuff you definitely can not learn in missions 101!

My goal in going to Peru—aside from learning and taking in as much as I possibly could—was to encourage the encouragers. The small band of missionaries working with MTW (Mission to the World) are in the midst of their busiest time of year. Summer is always a consistent stream of short term church or youth groups eager to assist in VBS, clinic work, construction projects; eager to experience for a time the inspiring cultural and spiritual flowering that the long term missionaries are immersed in day in and day out. Those long-term missionaries in Cusco see extraordinary growth at times when the Gospel comes to fruition in tangible ways, but they are also capable of being weary in well doing. So I decided to come and bring a taste of home with me.

According to the list the missionaries in Cusco had given me, I had my two seventy pound bags all but packed practically before the transaction had gone through to purchase my tickets! The list consisted of some ministry items, but mostly treats for the missionaries themselves that can only be obtained in the states: From corn tortillas to coloring books. From Dr. Pepper to double-fudge brownies, shampoo and Starbucks, nail polish and Nutri-Grain bars…I even managed to bring Joanna some specially packaged Krispy Kreme doughnuts on my way out of the country that were hot off the line when I picked them up.

Travel is most assuredly an educational experience, and both education and good friends are a part of the gospel graces that were the source of this adventure. To take part in the ordinary affairs of life in a different culture, to see a friend who has chosen to take a year of her life living out the gospel in tangible ways along side those who have dedicated their lives to such an endeavor—that is indeed the most beautiful picture of the Kingdom of I have witnessed in quite some time.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Gospel Tangibleness

It has been over two weeks since my return from Peru. I had hoped so much that the trip would not have been over so quickly and yet it is. I think I am running on adrenaline right now—it is the end of the school year. The first year as an employee and not just as a student. It has been a year of changes and maturity and now there is a lull. I saw it coming—with every great goal there is a let down when it is accomplished. Going to Peru, visiting Joanna, was my greatest goal in years. I have been so consumed with surviving one day at a time, on getting my family through the next crisis that I had forgotten what it was like to set a goal much less achieve one.

It is often the small things in life that some how always end up meaning the most. Even the small hurtles over long distances end up building more character and leaving more lasting impressions than big events. On that note I have been thinking and writing a lot about friendships—what a tangible means of gospel grace. An application for growth and maturity. There is something at once freeing and terrifying about some one knowing you so very well. While every fun story is familiar to them so are all idiosyncrasies and pet sins. All is laid bare. True friends are those who call out the best in you especially when you yourself count it as the worst. Friends are most often the cause—or more like the inspiration—for our boldest ventures. We may doubt ourselves, give up, or never attempt things outside our comfort zone and yet friends seem some how to find a way to lay aside all our greatest hinderances. Maybe that is part of the maturing process from Individualism to Covenantalism that I was reading about the other day. It is not about me and yet the very nature of covenantalism takes into account the individual—to grow us up in wisdom and action.

Why do we focus on the individual even after we acknowledge that Christ came to redeem all mankind from sin. Even when we acknowledge the church triumphant—across the ages and around the world—we still focus on singular evangelism. Which reminds me of a comment Mr. Wilbur made in his blog a couple of days ago about “evandalism”—people defacing property just so that “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for you life” can reach that one person that might never set foot inside in a church.

The phrase for the day, though, seems to be “Individualism matures into Covenantalism”. That is the nature of redemptive grace. The goal is to move away from the solely individual, just as babes grow into greater awareness of people and things outside themselves. Friends come into our lives for just that reason. They tend to take the focus off ourselves, whether in terms of self-pity or self-glory, and make us aware, through fun and familiarity, that there is a bigger picture to life and that we can be a part of it. What an achievable goal—with help!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Rethinking Pensiveness

Why are the stars on the American flag white and not yellow or gold? Why is Mary the Mother of Jesus always seen wearing a blue dress? Why is it that Kleenex is a brand name but we shall always ask for one when we need to blow our nose, just like we assume all Zip Loc bags are Zip-lock bags? Who came up with the random idea to have red and green be the prominent Christmas colors? Why do all traffic lights sense when you're in a hurry and automatically turn red? And pets, why do they love on you all the more when they sense that you dislike them? How do babies learn to smile? Why drink a Dr. Pepper at 10, 2, and 4? How many times has Elizabeth Taylor really been married? Is airplane food really safe to eat? When you swallow watermelon seeds do they really sprout inside you? Does gum make your insides stick together? Do grandma's dentures wind up? Is "out back" like behind the shed at the slaughter stump where they got the name for the steak house? If you were an inch worm, how long would you be? Should the toilet paper come over or under? Is there a difference in dental care performance if the tube of toothpaste is squeezed from the end as opposed to the middle?

Questions: These are the ordinary profundities of life, are they not?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Creative Outlets

I've decided that this weekend I'm going to take the opportunity to explore creative outlets. There's so much one can do with a blog, change typeset, add color, show the world the tasty delicacies of Peruvian chicken-foot soup. So many options, so I'm going to make time to explore at least some of them starting right now. It's time for a face lift!

What better place to start. What better time to begin!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tryin' to Figure Out

So, I'm trying to figure out what I'm trying to figure out. I've always been interested in the Socratic method. I've always had a fairly logical mind. I've loved studying random aspects of Scripture and tying them into random aspects of theology. Here I go again. So I figure that if the devil has no stories and all grand and glorious things that fallen man has been known to accomplish have just been rip-offs of God's perfect accomplishments and plans, then such is probably the case with the Socratic method.

I'm trying to find my answer in Christ's method of teaching, i.e. His proverbs, parables, and rhetorical devices. I'm thinking that I'll have to do a study of Hebrew literature and techniques to even begin to begin to figure out what I'm really looking for. But then again, the process is half the point, isn't it?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Home Again with Random Thoughts

Almost 20 hours between leaving Peru and getting home leaves one with a lot of time to think. Some would argue too much time. I’ve just returned from taking myself out to dinner and a movie. It struck me as strange that I’d do something like that after having just returned from where I’ve been, but then I have just seen and left my best friend again so I thought it would distract my thinking about that little detail. Being the classically educated student that I am, I got to thinking about how all that goes together and applies: Batman, Peru, and life…

What defines who we are? Is it what we do, or “what is underneath”? Which comes first, being or doing? What is being? What is doing?

I have often heard it said that God wants us to be all that He has called us to be so that we can do all that He has called us to do. As Christians we get so caught up in doing that we often forget that doing is not only our instinct, it is our nature. Reflexes, reactions, revolutions. The knee jerk effect is a part of who we are as fallen man. It’s so simple and natural to do. It’s so uncomfortable and irregular to be. If what we do defines who we are I should think it obvious that we are all hopeless bumblers, liars, and hypocrites. Even the best of intentions are tainted. But if we look at being apart from anything but the gospel, that too is hopeless because it requires our doing in order to be something.

Missions in an isolated place can often be a daunting and doubtful undertaking. Any ministry for that matter with the purposed intention of spreading the gospel can come to that place. We realize that if we do things correctly, biblically, and reformationally we will not see fruit for quite some time if at all. While the vision is sound, the slow change over time often gets monotonous…we have too much time on our hands to think. Think about how little we see happening, think about how little we feel we are doing. And the urge comes to do something drastic—just to speed up the process of reformation and cultural change, mind you.

There is something to be said for bettering yourself so that you can better the community. We must not mistake that for a rebuke of selfless piety or as a call for intellectualism. In the New Testament, Christ not only made an acknowledging commented on the tree that bore no fruit but cursed it and it shriveled up and died. All through Scripture the purest of wells were the deepest ones. The more shallow ones were often polluted by dust and elements, the water still able to be drank but bitter or unhealthy.

There needs to be something we can draw from. History of the past. Wisdom of those who have gone before. Helpful hints to avoid making the same mistakes as others. Pruning techniques to better grow. It seems to me that there is a fine line between being and doing. Bettering oneself through study and discipline is definitely a doing thing. But it also seems the more we take in, the deeper the well the Holy Spirit has to draw from in guiding us to what we are to do.

I don’t know the answer to which comes first, the being or the doing, or if they go hand in hand. But it does seem that the process is the point and not the end result. When it seems to me that I am not doing enough for the Kingdom, when I ask myself what good am I really doing here, or what should I do differently, it is later that I look back on those times and see that it was more than a lull, more than a time of doubt. It was preparation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Peru: Day 8

What a day. It continued in yesterday's train of exceptions so much so that it ended up being quite funny. First off Joanna had a meeting with a couple of her MTW co-workers to prepare for a last minute team that's coming in, oh, three days. She wasn't planning to do much, if any, work while I was here but this turned out to be a necessity. It was kinda fun getting to sit in on the meeting and see what all goes into bringing summer missions teams in from the states.

Afterwards Joanna wanted to take me to Pisac, a village that is about an hours bus ride from Cusco, to rummage through their famed market. The bus ride was the first exception...normally it would be so crowded that people would be standing up in the isles. So many people, I hear, that it would be all hot and smelly. So I hear. It was just Joanna and I for about the first 15 minutes...yup that's right...we waited that long and longer because the bus wouldn't go anywhere until it was well neigh full! So we get to Pisac and Joanna was wondering where all the market people were. Again, I had no expectations so I knew no better. I thought it was great! Joanna said that normally there would be people lining both sides of the street and taking up all of the square with things to sell. I did a little more shopping, but not too much. I'm not really the shopping type. Oh, we did see a wiener bulldog. The dogs here are so plenteous and inbreed it's hysterical!

So, that's all the time I have for right now to write. I have a lot of blanks I want to fill in and a lot of random thoughts I wanted to randomly think through. But I guess they'll have to wait until I get back to TN on Friday. It's been fun!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Peru: Day 7

Today has been a day of exceptions...or so Joanna has told me. I've had no pre-conceived notions about anything she wanted to do today, so I can honestly say that everything far surpassed my expectations! She wanted to take me to a few markets of which was closed for cleaning. 1) Joanna's never seen it closed before in al the time she's been here and 2) for "cleaning" she took as a joke. The market we went to before the closed one consisted of fruit and meat. The meat being rows and rows of raw ribs, skinned cow heads, intestines, chicken feet, cow bellies, etc. The closed market was supposed to be so much better in the sense that it had more and it had a roof...which meant that the nasty heat induced smell would be amplified a great deal. I'm really feeling like I missed out on something grand so I'm trying to get over it! After the markets, we went back to Pallpanccay for home work time. Joanna said that there were very few kids there and there were only two regular teachers, her and Nolan. That too was irregular apparently. On our Way back from homework time, Joanna wanted to stop and observe the stars she's been telling me about since she first moved to Peru. I thought they were spectacular, especially since I had a different perspective being on the other side of the equator. But Joanna said that there were normally 3 times as many stars out. Alas, a lack. I knew no different. It was beautiful. After eating dinner at her house, Joanna wanted to take me to the place with the best chocolate cake in all Cusco. The bakery style for the place was like nothing I'd seen in Peru until then, but sure enough, when we asked about the chocolate cake...they were out. The substitute place--which didn't have chocolate cake or anything of the like--was open despite my jesting that it would be closed simply because we wanted to go there and everything else tended toward the exception today. It was there that we worked on my Spanish. Pretty fun stuff. I had written down on a piece of paper the words that I knew I knew, so we talked out some other words that I should know or have heard a good bit since I've been here and pieced some phrases together. I think I have enough to keep me busy for a while, Spanish wise! If I really study it, I should be able to pick up on a lot more than I currently know. I'm starting to wish I had a little more time to pick up on some more Spanish...but boy, has this been an incredible crash course.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Peru: Day 6

We just got back a bit ago from Macchu Picchu and hiking up the neighboring Wayna Picchu. Joanna told me once that the view from Wayna Picchu was the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. After climbing straight up the mountain and seeing the view from the top, I couldn't put it any better. It was beautiful.

I thought I had seen all possible kinds of mountains until Peru--North Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Washington State. The mountains here are just different. When I first flew in to Cusco I tried to find the words to describe them. The best thing I could come up with was a kind of draped blanket--they just looked like folds. No jagged edges or covering evergreens. So, to experience these incredible and insufficiently described mountains all the better, Joanna took me hiking up Wayna Picchu to get a better glimpse of the Incan ruins below. Between the hundreds of step-like rocks going virtually straight up at times and the fact that Peru is at a higher altitude than I'm used to, I literally huffed and puffed my way to the top. It was by far the guttsiest thing I've done to date, and if Joanna hadn't kept me going I might I missed out on the view from the top. It was definitely the most worthwhile venture I've ever taken. Definitely worth the physical exhaustion...being in the middle of some of the highest points around, seeing neighboring mountain tops covered by clouds, and a few mountains a little further off topped with snow. Truly amazing!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Peru: Day 5

Aahh, the joined pleasures of getting to sleep in and go to church! 11:00 AM services are so very nice! I told myself that I was going to pay the utmost attention in church today and not zone out. My Spanish is pretty much limited to "hola", "gracias", "muchas gracias", and "mui bien"...and that's all I can get out verbally so I'm sorry if I spelled any of those incorrectly! Since I've been here I've picked up on a few other words, but comprehension definitely isn't happening too often these days. I do love it when words sound similar in English and Spanish. That's helpful. It took me a while to figure out that a lot of words are incredibly alike, they're just pronounced a bit differently. Today's sermon, for instance, was from the book of Esther. It took me a good 15 minutes to figure out that I really was hearing the names Esther, Haman, and Mordichai, just with a unique emphatic twist! It was so much fun to follow along during Scripture readings just because a word here or there sounded the same or because it was a word from my limited vocabulary that I recognized. Now, the singing. I've never found overheads to be more beneficial! I had no idea what I was saying but I figured that if I was participating with a church group I could count on the words being ok sing. There were a couple of tunes that I couldn't pick up on so I just looked around at the people on all sides of me. I guess you could say I got a glimpse of eternity. The speaking pastor this morning is from England, many of the missionaries are from all over the states, and then the Peruvian families, all joining together in song to "Senior Jesus". It was a pretty amazing sight.

It's awesome to see the gospel at work outside of what we often make to be the confines of our own experiences, our own families, our own churches. While it's true that God interacts on a personal level with us, we often forget the larger picture. God's plan across time has always been to bring the nations to Mt. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. Merging worlds and reforming confined notions is a part of the gospel's transforming work. That I'm beginning to understand even with a limited Spanish vocabulary.

Random Midnight Thoughts

Education is a transfer of a way of life. There's something to be said for how Joanna's gone about this missionary endeavor.

I've always shirked away from the missions trips to far off places that last for a week to 10 days where youth or church groups do little more than play tourist. I remember one of the last youth trips I took as a teenager to the Bahamas. To the Bahamas. That I hate to admit in the first place. But I was told on that trip that it was cheaper to take a cruise ship from Florida than to fly, so we cruised to the Bahamas. That was "sufferin' for Jesus" if ever there were such a thing.

While there is a great deal of good that can come from such short term missions endeavors--to places like the Bahamas or to Peru--it's just refreshing to see someone break the mold of text-book missionary. I mean, who says everyone has to have in class training or pre-foreign language experience to make an incredible missionary. I'm amazed at the courage Joanna has shown in picking up her life in the states and moving to Cusco, Peru to dedicate at least a year of her life to a group of people whose language, until quite recently, she couldn't understand. That fascinates me. What motivates that kind of selfless guttsiness?

If the gospel is true, I suppose it best manifests itself as a genuine transfer of a way of life just as Christ demonstrated in His short time on earth. It takes hold when you share your life with some one by living with them rather than living around them. When you eat their food--no matter how many talons are found in the chicken foot soup. When you hold their hands--no matter how many warts you may get. When you listen to their stories--no matter how long and even if you can only understand half or less. To be submerged in the lives of the people she's trying to get to know, I'm sure, is among the chief and most lasting impressions Joanna will leave in the lives of these people. It's so fun to be a fly one the wall for this brief time. But I'm taking notes, because this is stuff you can't learn in missions 101!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Peru: Day 4

Yeah. So pretty much I've been pretty non specific when I write so I've decided to just tell everything we did today and then go back and fill in the description if I have any left over time. The morning started out by going to San Jeronimo (where Joanna's church is and where she lived last summer) to play with the kids at the park. Saturday's been park day for Joanna ever since I can remember so it was neat to see what all they did. I will give one detail just because it's so humorous. So the little kids here call Winnie the Pooh just "Winnie Pooh". Joanna's friend, Nolan, has called it Winnie Poof a few times. But today at park time, a little girl got all excited when we pulled out Pooh Bear coloring pages and she called it "Winnie Poot"! Joanna and I laughed so incredibly hard!

After the park we went to pick up our Machu Pichhu tickets for Monday. Then we came back to the house and ate some of Marcia's left over yummy Recoto Rellenos (peppers and rice) for lunch chased down with some of Peru's own Inca Kola. Then Joanna took me to all the good Saturday markets. The interestingness started when we came across what I thought to be cooked guinea pig. When I pointed it out to Joanna, she informed me that it was pig fetus. Yeah. So I promised myself I wouldn't get caught up in the touristy trap of buying trinkets for all the friends and family back home, but yeah, sure enough I got caught a little. I keep justifying my purchases by least I didn't buy any of those little Smurff hats like Jesse loves, or those lama skin Indiana Jones hats like all the visiting missionary groups inevitably get! Any way. Needless to say, we were both shopped out by the time it was all said and done.

Then we came back home so that we could finish up our "Shasta" card game and so the pain of me beating Joanna's butt for a change could be quick and as painless for her as possible. Then we talked to her family on iChat for a while. It was really really strange being on this side of the camera. The Grants were sitting in the very place that Caleb, Rebecca, and I were sitting just weeks ago to talk to Joanna. It was more than a bit strange!

So for dinner we went to eat Alpaca in down town Cusco. It was delish. Smothered in a mushroom sauce with a kind of mash potatoes that were heavenly. Ahhh. Yum. I love experiencing a culture by eating their food! And then we came back and I kicked her butt some more in a couple of rounds of Rummy! I think being away from the states has dulled her card playing abilities!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about the most detailed and yet not that I've been since I've been here so there we have it!