Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
~Romans 2: 1-8

This is the passage we considered in evening fellowship last Sunday evening. As Dave led the discussing, he used some good study materials from Redeemer Presbyterian. One of the topics we discussed has been in my mind all week. The materials commented that these verses act like a little tape recorder around the neck of believers, recording all those things we say and think about others, and on the day of judgement, God will play back those things and ask how we measure up to our own words. Yikes! If I will only remember that horrifying thought, it might help me guard my mind and tongue and thoughts more carefully when I think about others.

The first pastor we had after getting married used to say we should be as hard on ourselves as we can be, and as generous with others as possible. Oh, what troubles this would spare us!

Of course, this passage is written to believers, who are *supposed* to be discerning. What a fine line there is between discernment and judgementalism! May God give us the grace to know the difference, Gentle Reader.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do what you're gonna do...

This morning as I took my walk along White Rock canyon, I was listening to music. (I've not yet loaded my next book onto my Mp3 player...) I enjoyed some music by Steven Delopoulos One of the songs I listened to had the above title, and the words to chorus say something to this effect...
"Do what you're gonna do
Call me when it's over...
I'll have coffee on..."

This song sent me wandering among the friends and acquaintances of the past that, in my youth, I have tried to fix. After all, why wait for the work of the Holy Spirit, when we can do it ourselves? *Sigh* That was sarcasm, Gentle Reader. At first, these lines can seem rather dismissive or fatalistic. But perhaps they point us to something wiser.

We all have those friends, don't we? Those who seem to make repeatedly foolish decisions, or who are unable to overcome those things that oppress them? And in my youth, I thought a truthful, loving friend would make all the difference. And sometimes, that is what God uses to affect change. At other times, not so much. And we are left frustrated that no change is accomplished.

As I have grown farther and farther distant from that youth of mine, I think I have learned that it is not my responsibility to fix everyone who needs fixing. It's my job to speak the truth when asked, or when not asked if public sin is involved. But it is also my responsibility to let people do what they are going to do, and have the coffee ready afterwards, with a plentiful supply of compassion. That is tough for me to accomplish without a fair dose of judgmentalism thrown in. But I am slowly learning to let God deal with others, even when it is painful for me to watch.

I hope this is born of wisdom, and not just weariness. But, since I am not in the place of the Holy Spirit in your life, Gentle Reader, you will have to be the judge.

(You can hear this song on Steven's release over at Noise Trade.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Technology update...

This is my new cell phone. We are rather old-fashioned in that we have not yet caved in to the texting/internet connection thing. So it is relatively simple. The bad thing about a new phone is having to reprogram all my phone numbers into it. The good side of that it is that it forces me to learn how to use my new phone. Now I won't be recognizing my new ring tones when you call, Gentle Reader!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sore hands and muscles...

Whoever passes by what is over his head condemns his head to its present low altitude; for nothing can elevate a mind except what is over its head; and that elevation is not accomplished by capillary attraction, but only by the hard work of climbing up ropes, with sore hands and aching muscles.

~Mortimer Adler, “Invitation to the Pain of Learning”

This quote seems especially apropos as the new school year gets into full swing. The excitement of a new beginning is waning, and the hard work is setting in. We all have our areas where we need to work hard to learn, Gentle Readers. I hope you are making headway with your sore hands and muscles!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A visitor from afar

We just enjoyed a wonderful visit from Chris Johnson, husband to Donna and father to three wonderful girls, including our dil#1, Elsa. He stopped by on a quick trip to New Mexico, and we were able to enjoy time with this dear brother in the Lord. What a blessing God has given us in the whole Johnson family, who really seem like part of our family!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The house on Country Shadows Drive...

Today Tim and Nikki went along during an inspection of the lovely home above. They are now under contract to purchase this home, with a closing date of October 21. Please pray that all will go smoothly for them in this purchase, and that the Lord would make this house their home, a place where His hospitality and love will be felt by all who enter!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The rock that is higher than I...

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
~Psalm 61: 1-3

The last 24 hours have been a bit topsy-turvy for me. Yesterday I received a call from my oncologist, telling me that she had received my MRI results, and I needed further tests to clarify some "areas of enhanced activity." Those are dreaded words... and this morning I found myself in Santa Fe having mammograms and ultrasounds done, and speaking with a radiologist. The good news is that this is fairly common "fat necrosis": part of the healing process still on-going from both my surgery and my radiation. The best news is that over the last 24 hours as I contemplated the possibility of dealing with cancer yet again, I found God to be my rock and refuge, a strong tower. Shall I recount his blessings?
~I continue to have no sign of cancer.
~I met a wonderful mamography tech today, who was able to give me mammograms without pain (!!!). If you want her name, contact me privately!
~I have a wonderful, supportive husband who wanted to come along to wait during the tests, and then celebrate with me afterwards.
~I have a mighty God, who has piled blessing upon blessing upon me.

Join me in praising Him, Gentle Reader. He is worthy of our praise!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The works of God displayed in us...

This morning I was reading in the 9th chapter of John, and was struck by this section:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but(E) that the works of God might be displayed in him..."
John 9:1-3

So this man was blind from birth so that God could manifest His glory in him. Am I brave enough to desire to be used of God in this way? Would this fellow have said, had he a choice, "Yes, make me blind if that is your will, Lord, and use me for your glory?" This challenges me, since I am a coward when it comes to pain, or even discomfort. May the Lord give us, Gentle Readers, His view on these things. May we desire His glory above all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A fast morning...

This morning we got up at 5:30am to watch coverage of the Philadelphia Distance Run Half-Marathon. Our son, Tim, was running in a race with the big guns. At the right, you can see our computer screen as we got live updates for Tim and Ryan Hall. Ryan won (in a time of 61:02), and Tim did great, finishing in a time of 70:06 (that's 5:21 mile pace over 13.1 miles), third in his age group, and 34th over all (out of more than 15,000 runners.) Way to go, Tim! Well done! Pictures will follow once we get some.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sharing in joy

Today it was our privilege to receive a visit from two young friends. They came to share the news of their engagement and upcoming marriage, and to talk to a couple of old folks about marriage. It is made sweeter because they met at our house, both beloved by us. What a joy to share in their excitement!

We are rejoicing with you, Rebecca and Quinn! May God bless the new family you are forming, and may you always glorify Him!

(And please note that Rebecca's engagement ring is not the lovely blue game piece pictured. It is a lovely ring that once belonged to Quinn's great-grandmother, and is now being resized for its new owner!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Little acts of love

This is the little table that resides next to my comfy chair. For the past year, as I have rested in my comfy chair, I have pulled a hamper over to rest books and drinks on. My sweet husband came home from travel with this little deal from Kohl's for me (he spent less than $2.00!) It was a little gift, but was big on thoughtfulness.

And on my little table you will see a steaming cup of Trader Joe's English breakfast tea with sweetener and fresh lemon in it. The same sweet guy delivered this to me this morning as I read my bible. Making someone a cup of tea is a little thing, too, but speaks volumes to me day by day.

I am very grateful for the little acts of love which surround me! What little acts of love can we plan today for others, Gentle Reader?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The creativity of Fall

Every year I seem compelled to wax eloquent on the day when the first snows appear atop the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Today is that day. The beauty of fresh snow at 11,000 feet under stormy skies is remarkable. There is a crispness in the air, even here at 6,500 feet, that belongs to the new season. And as the picture shows and my allergies attest, the sage and chamisa are blooming. So the aspens will soon begin to turn golden. Fall is arrived.

There is something beautiful and orderly in the changing of the seasons. It reminds me of God's providential care over our world and universe, and it reminds me that I, too, am in His hands. It also reminds me that our Creator is a God of order: that, indeed, order characterizes Him, and therefore it characterizes His amazing creation. Praise be to our Creator!

Form does not limit creativity. It is the vessel in which creativity abides. It is the synergistic flesh through which the breath of creativity breathes. Form is the proof of creativity; its standard; its only evidence.
Creativity is precisely the act of in-forming matter with idea.
~Andrew Kern, Quiddity blog, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flowers and such...

A friend recently asked me where I get all the flower photos for my blog. Well, I take them, of course! Some come from my own yard; others from the yards of neighbors as I walk, or from our church rose garden.

When I first began to blog, I usually grabbed photos from the web, but I began to be concerned with copyright infringement, and it was more trouble to figure that out than it was to put my own photos up. I am not so concerned about the overly burdensome laws as such, but artists need to work and feed their families, too, and I don't want to be guilty of stealing from them and denying them the fruit of their labor. I'd rather labor myself.

And I really enjoy the digital photographic process, anyway. It's quite amazing what an amateur can do with a 7.2 megapixel Nikon Coolpix L5. So most of the photos you find here are mine, Gentle Reader, in case you have ever wondered. I will occasionally use something else to fit something I'm particularly writing about, but I try to be careful and use only things in the public domain.

So when you see the flower or landscape photos on my blog, you can think, "Imagine: she lives with that beauty!" Isn't God good to me?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reaching that haven...

The MRI is behind me. Praise God! Thanks to those of you praying that my arms would n9ot fall asleep: they did not! However, my ribs and shoulder and neck were not so blessed, and they are still a bit painful. Still, the test is over, and I praise God for it! I also received a copy of my last blood work, and though I'm not a doctor, nor have I played one on TV, it looks to me like all my values are in the normal range. Another item for praise! And I enjoyed a lovely afternoon and evening on my own, shopping and reading while I ate shrimp linguini Alfredo (yum!) Over all, it was a delightful day, but one that has left me thoroughly exhausted tonight.

And added to all those blessings, was Spurgeon's reminder today:
When we sail in Christ's company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord Himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to fare as He fares; and when the waves are rough to Him, they will be rough to us. .. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day's cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey Him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the centre of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in Him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours.
~C. H. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, September 14

I am heading for my comfy chair and my heating pad to enjoy the anticipation of reaching that haven!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Maintaining a contented heart...

"Under all providences maintain a contented heart with what the Lord allots you, be it more or less of the things of this world. This grace must run parallel with all providences. Learn how to be full, and how to suffer want, and in every state to be content."
~John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence

"Learn how", indeed. This goes into the category of easy to say, but quite a challenge to accomplish. This Sabbath day, I am contemplating my lot, with gratitude, and wondering how I can better learn the art and discipline of contentment. I could always reach for my worn copy of Burroughs, but I am seeking experiential success here. I understand the concept, but lack the will.

It reminds me of something I recently heard about the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. He apparently talked about lack of faith being due not to intellectual knowledge, but to lack desire to have it.

I desire to be content...Lord, help my discontent!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An intentional habit...

This morning we had planned to drive up to the chair lift at Pajarito Mountain, above Los Alamos, and ride the chair lift to the top of the mountain and hike back down to the lodge. Dave, being the wonderful leader that he is, suggested we go to the ski club's web site before driving up the several miles and several thougsand feet in altitude. And, much to our surprise, there had been a water main break and they were not running the chair lift. Bummer! But not as big a bummer as if we had driven up to find out the bad news! So instead we took a hike for about an hour a bit closer to home. What a lovely morning it was! And then we did various household activities, and have passed a quiet, domestic day.

I am constantly amazed at how the Lord brings blessing to me when I listen to my husband. I ought to make more of an intentional habit of it...

Friday, September 11, 2009


Eight years ago I was getting ready to go for a walk with my neighbor and friend, KB, when my sons, who worked the early shift at the doughnut shop, called to tell me a plane had hit one of the World Trade towers. I thought it was a bad joke, but they urged me to turn on the news. I did so as KB arrived, and we watched in horror as the towers fell. We wept and knelt in my living room and prayed together. Soon after that, the National Lab in town was closed for security reasons, and the boys got home from work, and we all stared at the photographs in disbelief.

Life changed in America on 9-11-01.

May God bring us to repentance for our sins as a nation, and turn us to Himself.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A new semester

Today new semesters began in Composition II and Worldviews II. I loved being back in the classroom, and hope the Lord provides the grace to stay there for the whole year. My students may not feel the same way, however, once they get started on their work...

I challenged the students today with an essay by Dr. Grant (found here.) It is a good reminder for all of us in education, or in life. He says in part,
Thus, the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession properly begins by asserting that, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." The English reformers that composed that venerable tome, recognized that the beginning of any serious endeavor must necessarily be rooted in a humble and holy fear of our Gracious and Almighty God--that worship of Him, fellowship with Him, service to Him, and communion in Him, must be the vortex of any and all other activities. The Biblical faith is a circumspect fear of the Living God. That is its essence.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Health update

Today I went early to get blood drawn. This is because it is time for my one-year-out check up. I am grateful a whole year has passed since the end of my radiation treatments, and I have seen real improvement in that time! I have more energy, feel better over-all, and am praising God for carrying me.

Monday I will have a breast MRI, and then see my oncologist next month. I also will see the ob-gyn next month, and my primary care in November. Then I hope to be done for a while again.

I didn't expect this testing to be any big thing...and it really isn't. But I do find it unsettling. And that surprises me. I guess I am good at fooling myself into believing that everything is normal (whatever that is) and then all it takes is a little reminder like an MRI to be reminded that normal has shifted, never to return again. The new "normal" where I live is a place where every test is a possible diagnosis.

The good thing about all this, of course, is how it reminds me of my own mortality. When I remember how very fragile this life is, I am more prone to do the important things, and to line up with God's priorities for me. I am driven more to my knees.

Of course, the bad thing about it is that I am reminded of my own mortality. It requires mental and spiritual discipline not to give way to fear, or be driven by it.

As always, I appreciate your prayers, Gentle Readers, as I move along this journey.

O lift me higher, nearer Thee,
And as I rise more pure and meet,
O let my soul's humility
Make me lie lower at Thy feet;
Less trusting self, the more I prove
The blessed comfort of Thy love.
~quoted by C. H. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, September 9

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

And the winner is...

Tim! Yesterday he ran the 8-Mile Saguaro National Park Labor Day Run, and won! You can see all the details here. Tim is training for a half-marathon in Philadelphia in two weeks, and so things are looking good! He is not running to win in Philly, since the participants list is a who's who of the elite running world (like Ryan Hall): he'll be running against the clock there.

Congratulations Tim!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Birthday, Marilyn

Today is my mother-in-law Marilyn's 83rd birthday. We celebrated with a hike at the Audubon Center in Santa Fe, and Chinese food for lunch. And tonight we'll have cake and gifts.

Happy birthday, Marilyn!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The domains of grace...

"If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
--Galatians 5:18

We who looks at his own character and position from a legal point of view, will not only despair when he comes to the end of his reckoning, but if he be a wise man he will despair at the beginning; for if we are to be judged on the footing of the law, there shall no flesh living be justified. How blessed to know that we dwell in the domains of grace and not of law!
~C. H. Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, September 6

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Ben: update on the poor fellow

Well, Ben's horrible week continues...

The car remains unfixed, though they have replaced everything they planned on replacing. More diagnostics to follow next week.

The jury duty finished in one day (on Thursday all day.) It was a terrible trial, dismissed for lack of evidence, and left Ben pretty stressed out.

Last night he dropped his cell phone, and it completely broke in half and now has no audio.

This morning he went to the bus stop to catch the bus for campus to take his comps. The bus never came. NEVER! He eventually did catch a bus that could get him there, but he was VERY late for the test. He explained everything to the Prof giving the test, who realized that Ben has really had a rough week of it. They had already arranged another time for Ben to take the test in case his jury duty wasn't over, and so they agreed to meet then and he'll take it then. I haven't yet made contact with him, so I'm not sure when that is. This is all through his little bro, Tim, who managed to talk to him.

These are the times when God seems to shine strong in our weakness. Please pray that Ben would trust Him in the midst of all these reminders that Ben is not ultimately in control, that all would be well, and that, even though he is an adult and 25 years old, his momma could stop worrying about him and feeling heart-broken for him!

Training up human beings

The new school year begins for me this coming week, and I've been gearing up. A few excellent resources I've run across lately have helped me get my mind focused on the work ahead.

There is an excellent essay by George Grant here. I plan to share this with my students at the beginning of our first class together. He says in part:
Arthur Quiller-Couch, the mentor of a host of literary luminaries including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, Maurice Baring, and Dorothy Sayers once described what we have received in this fashion, “You are indeed the heirs of a remarkable legacy--a legacy that has passed into your hands after no little tumult and travail; a legacy that is the happy result of sacrificial human relations, no less than of stupendous human achievements; a legacy that demands of you a lifetime of vigilance and diligence so that you may in turn pass the fruits of Christian civilization on to succeeding generations. This is the essence of the biblical view, the covenantal view, and the classical view of education. This is the great legacy of truth which you are now the chief beneficiaries.”

I'm hoping that will help provide motivation for self-learning this year! I've also just read an excellent article by Jeff Baldwin on the Socratic method of teaching and why it's important. You can read the whole thing here, but he says in part:
But ultimately we want to train up human beings, not parrots. Although the passive approach to education is challenging at the grammar stage, it invites laziness in the logic and rhetoric stages. Students need only parrot in the grammar stage, but as we become adults we need to learn to learn for ourselves. In essence, that’s what education is. “For the sole true end of education is simply this” writes Dorothy Sayers: “to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.” The best minds are not the minds that have absorbed the most facts—the best minds are the minds that can identify and own truth, incorporating that truth into their lives.

What’s being said here is not radical. Any Christian parent, given a moment’s reflection, would agree that the ultimate purpose of education is to train the student to own his Christian faith for himself—that is, to think and live like Jesus Christ.

This dove-tails nicely with a short post I read yesterday from Randy Greenwald here. indoctrination, indeed!

And if you are reading this post on Saturday morning or early afternoon, Gentle Reader, would you please pray for my ds Ben, who is even now sitting in his PhD comprehensive exam in Greek Literature? The jury duty is over, the car is still not fixed, and yesterday he dropped and broke his cell phone. It's been some week for him. Please pray for his focus and success. I am sure God has his own training rpogram going for Ben. Thanks!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Providence leads to gratitude...

…[P]rovidence is our comfort in life. It is not our guide. Our guide is God’s law. God requires of us only what He commands, Calvin says in Book I, chapter 17, section 5. So, you do what you believe God is instructing you to do through His word and then you take comfort in the fact that God is in control of all things. Calvin says that providence leads us to gratitude of mind for the favorable outcome of things.
~David Calhoun, Lectures on Calvin’s Institutes (Lecture #6), Covenant Seminary (

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A loaded week for Ben

Gentle Readers, please pray for my eldest son, Ben, this week. He's had a rough day.

Ben and Elsa's car has been in the shop for several days, and today he got news that there are more parts needed and more days needed to get the parts. It is their only vehicle, and it is an expensive fix for a fuel pump, hoses, etc.

He received this call while being interviewed for jury selection, and he was selected. They would not excuse him because of his classes, or because of his PhD Greek comps scheduled for this Friday. So he HAS to serve, and the trial starts tomorrow. Please pray for the Classics department to be as understanding as the bailiff said they had to be, and help Ben rearrange all his responsibilities for the duration of the trial. Also, please pray for him to be wise, discerning and just in hearing the evidence and rendering a verdict in whatever type of case comes before him.

And lastly, his dear wife leaves on a trip to Alaska tomorrow for the wedding of a dear friend. Ben already couldn't go because of his comps. So he will be a bachelor for the rest of this week on top of it all! Pray for safe travels for Elsa, and a wonderful time with friends.

Thanks for your prayers, Gentle Reader! The boy needs them!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Today I am organizing in earnest for classes to begin next week. I am printing out cover sheets, making class lists and calendars, organizing notebooks and working on lesson plans. I love these sorts of things: new notebooks with tabbed dividers, lovely colored pens and fresh notebook paper, the smell of roasting chiles and Fall in the air! Out in my kitchen, 10 pints of canned apple slices in cider syrup are cooling, and I am turning to teaching prep for the rest of the afternoon (or at least until nap time!)

If you are interested in what I am up to, Gentle Reader, you can check out my updated pages at Mrs. Finnegan's Fellows. I am looking forward to all I will learn this year!

"You teach best what you most need to learn."
~Richard David Bach