Monday, May 31, 2010

What a week...

It's been a busy week around the old homestead! After our weekend retreat May 21-23, we had a visit from my parents, and my brother Matt, his wife Maria, and his daughter, Zoe.

After a failed attempt to picnic and hike at Bandeleier (where they were paving the road into the canyon), we had an impromptu picnic and short hike at the Overlook in White Rock. It was lovely seeing them.

Next, Tim and Nikki arrived just in time for a wedding. The wedding was lovely, and a joy to be part of! I helped with decorating and we served a dinner after the reception. it was all such fun, and our friend Quirky and Quacky are off to a good start, presumably, on their honeymoon.

We got to enjoy the rest of the weekend with Tim and Nikki, and they headed back to Tucson this morning. And we also squeezed in a visit with our favorite Kansas family, the Finches (but I failed to get a photo of them, unfortunately!)

It was busy, and delightful!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Today, after telling my eldest son a little bit about our weekend retreat, I asked him to think about what growing up with a Dad with stage-4 cancer had accomplished in his life, by God's grace. He responded, "I don't have to think about it, Mom. It taught me to believe in miracles."

Indeed. 18 years ago about this time of year, we were driving to Houston, where Dave was entering a clinical trial for people who had no hope of cure, but a chance to improve quality of life for a time, and provide data for those coming behind. Who would have thought that 18 years later, we would still be marveling at how God used that treatment to bring about complete remission for the past 18 years. God is so very good. He majors in miracles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

From an overflowing heart...

Last weekend, Dave and I attended the Spring Family Cancer Retreat sponsored by Cancer Services of New Mexico. It was an incredibly worthwhile time. In addition to learning lots of new things, we had the chance to really go back and remember and evaluate things, and to feel afresh the wonder of God's care for us over so many years of fighting cancer.

In particular, we revisited, sometimes for the first time in years, some precious memories together. In our busy lives, it seems we must have a special occasion to sit still long enough to do that! One such memory caused me to find this photo:

One of the speakers we heard at the retreat was singing the praises of his care-givers, and told the sweet story of his father growing a mustache when his fell out, and not shaving it until the patient could grow one back. That reminded us of what Dave calls the "fuzzy" period: he never quite lost all his hair, but lost most of it, and as it grew back in, it was all cut short. During that time I was on the way to the barber shop with the boys to get their hair cut, and Ben, then about 8 years old, said, "Hey-- if we get our hair cut short, in a buzz, like Dad's, then people won't know Dad has cancer. They will just think that we cut our hair that way in our family." I was so moved by the thoughtfulness and sensitivity of this little boy that I could hardly tell the barber the plan without crying! And that evening, when Dave returned home from work, they all matched. It was a wonderful moment of caring and embracing the "now" of that moment. It was a moment of hearts overflowing.

Many such memories are strong with me right now, so you might be reading lots of cancer stories for a while. Bear with me patiently, Gentle Reader. My heart is simply overflowing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A possible rant...

If I wanted to rant a bit about something that doesn't really matter, I might rant about weather forecasters on television. First of all, they have the authoritative tone of the expert, which very few of them are. They are info-tainers. And they have that media mania of making everything seem like a crisis: the driest/wettest month on record; the highest/lowest recorded temperature, etc. And it appears they don't understand the whole concept of average temperature. I heard a news weather man the other day say, "Well, we're a little below average in temperature today." The temperature was 72 degrees. The "average" temperature was 73. Has he ever heard of a margin of error? Or does he understand that there is no such day as "average", if it is an actual average of every day of that date for the last 100 years?

Don't get me wrong. I value science. I just tire of arrogance, ignorance, and over-statement.

Maybe I should stop watching the news at lunch time...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our classicist...

Ben has completed all the required course work for his PhD. Way to go, Ben!

But more exciting to Ben is the fact that he has the privilege of teaching Virgil next semester. Yes, he is positively thrilled that he will be solo-teaching the fourth college semester of Latin, and taking students into the realms of that Roman Master. This summer he is taking a "French for Reading" course, and enjoying Alexandre Dumas in the original. He'll also take a German reading test at some point. And next fall, he will launch into his special author subjects, along with Virgil.

God built Ben for understanding and enjoying languages, and every aspect of language, from grammar and syntax, to poetry, to fricatives. We always told him that if God had given him a gift and a passion, God would have a purpose for it in His kingdom. We are rejoicing to watch Ben pursue his passion, and Elsa put up with it so nicely. And soon we'll watch and see just what God does...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Can't we be reasonable?

This is not a rant, exactly, but an attempt to be reasonable about something that seems to engender a lot of passion without much care: the new Arizona Immigration Law. The pundits would have you believe, Gentle Reader, that this law is tantamount to the Jim Crow south, and will strip the civil liberties of every Hispanic. However, I suggest instead that the law is simply Arizona's attempt to take seriously the enforcement of the federal immigration laws already on the books, but largely ignored. And apparently a group from the law school at UCSD agree with me. If you still question this bill, I suggest you read it's text, available here, and not either extremely lengthy nor difficult to understand. I simply don't see what all the hubbub is about, except from those who wish to continue breaking the federal immigration law.

And what is our obligation as Christians to the "sojourners" in our midst? To love and care for them, to help them to comply with our country's laws, and to show compassion. But that is not the same as encouraging the breaking of the law.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Growing things...

Yesterday I was able to work with Dave and Marilyn and get our vegetable garden in. Along with 14 tomato plants and 4 cherry tomatoes (started from seed inside), I planted bush beans, beets, lettuce and zucchini. And the peas (snap and garden varieties) are already up and doing well. And for good measure, I planted a few sunflowers at the back and some border geraniums at the front. Watching God cause these seeds to grow and produce is such a source of joy! Our God is so good to provide for us!

And speaking of growing things, below is the latest picture of our little runner. His or her long legs are at the bottom, with feet on the left side, and you can see the spine curl up and over on the right side, and see the reflection of his or her arm along with his or her head near the top center. This little one is stretching like a runner again. And the technician told Tim and Nikki that this baby has REALLY long legs. I asked if the tech had ever looked at Tim or Nikki! We are rejoicing that God is growing that little one well, too. May His name be praised!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Waiting for rain...

Today is a waiting-for-rain kind of day. The clouds are gathering, the smell of rain is in the air, but nothing is on the ground yet. Will it actually hit the ground or just disappoint me? How much will it be-- enough to skip watering the garden or just enough to whet the appetite of my plants for moisture? God promises rain, but not the timing or quantity of it.

What a metaphor for life...

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Today was my last day of classes for the school year. It is always a bitter-sweet moment. I will never relate to this group of young people in the same way again, nor have the opportunity to speak into their lives in the same way. But on the other hand, I have watched one student find his voice, another learn the academic disciplines in a deeper way, another speak from her heart. So in the end there is beginning, and promise for the future. There are also papers and final exams to grade in my future, so I won't be relaxing much until the grades are in. But I will be rejoicing in all God has accomplished in my students, and in me, this year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


One of the great blessings of motherhood is watching your children become believing adults. I have been blessed with amazing sons, by God's grace. They pursued and married godly girls, and have joined healthy churches where they are taught and discipled. What could be better than that, I ask you? I am very thankful for God's richly giving me what I did not in any way deserve.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Being a mom is the hardest, most rewarding, and most life-changing calling in the world. Congratulations to all of you who have joined those ranks. And thank you to my own mom, for her love and patience, service and selflessness.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Today's geocaching adventure

Today, Dave and I ventured out into the spring winds to take a hike and enjoy a little geocaching. We found two caches quite easily, as the above photos attest. But on the final one, we got somehow turned around a bit, and headed into the lovely and rugged White Rock Canyon. We descended onto the lava fields below the rim, and then transversed said lava fields, and the photo below shows you how we climbed out of White Rock Canyon.

I am not kidding. This was serious boulder-scrambling, and it was great fun! We were prepared hikers (with sunscreen and water) and knew to watch for snakes. And I actually made it with only a minor run-in with a cholla cactus and a small tear in my pants. Pretty good for me.

We never did find the last cache, because the GPS died before we reached it. But there is always next time. And I think now I will drag my tired body out to dinner with my sweet husband, who is not nearly as tired as i am, even though he ran 10 miles before the hike!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My favorite softball player...

My friend Micaela was interviewed for the NM high school sports web site, and I thought she did an excellent job of handling herself. As a Freshman, she is one of the top players in the state, and she's adorable to boot. It's a good thing she's got lots of softball equipment around, because she's growing into a beautiful young woman, and her dad will likely need a baseball bat to keep the guys away...

Well done, Micaela!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The privilege of teaching...

Tonight I sat on this glider in my back yard, at just about the same time as this photo was taken. The bees were still buzzing in the apple tree, and the sunset was filtering through the new leaves on the pear tree. As Dave worked on resurrecting our sprinkler system for the year, I read and graded the final Worldviews book reports of the year. And I found it all delightful.

In these precious moments, I remember what a gift it is to teach. I have the privilege of peeking into the hearts of my students. I see them learn to express themselves with growing clarity, and engage ideas on a deeper level. I see growth and change and can write words of encouragement, and I see stubborn tendencies and can write words of warning. These things delight me.

Sometimes, after a long, hard school year, a spring evening beneath the trees, in the light of the sunset, can revive my sense of calling.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

History and redeeming the time...

I have been enjoying some history podcasts lately that I thought I would share with you, Gentle Reader. I listen to these while I'm doing laundry, cleaning my room, etc., and have found them fascinating. And if i were a bit more techno-savvy, I could put them on my mP3 player...

The first is a delightful series called "The History of Rome". By going back in the archives, you can begin the tale with Romulus and Remus, and continue on through his most current post, the Parthinian War and Marcus Arelius. Mike Duncan has a dry wit and a way of saying things that makes me laugh out loud. And the history is fascinating. I highly recommend this series.

The second, which I have just started, is called "12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of the Byzantine Empire", by Lars Brownworth. I have to say that so far (and I am just through Diocletian and Constantine) Mr. Brownworth is not quite as funny as Mr. Duncan. But the history is still fascinating, and my knowledge of both of these time periods was woefully lacking, so I am learning much.

And maybe just a note about redeeming the time. Maybe it seems ridiculous to listen to history lectures while one cleans the bathroom. But I am becoming much better educated as I do. And somehow that redeems the time cleaning the bathroom for me. As I do simple manual labor to chase away the bacteria, I fill my mind as well. It helps keep the cobwebs out of my brain as well as my bathroom!

And now, Gentle Reader, I am off on a walk on a lovely Spring day, stopping by the bank, picking up a prescription, and beginning to listen to The Brothers Karamazov on my mP3 player...

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sabbath Sentiments

O Savior, Precious Savior by Francis Havergal, 1870

O Savior, precious Savior,
Whom yet unseen we love!
O Name of might and favor,
All other names above!
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee, and confess Thee
Our holy Lord and King.

O Bringer of salvation,
Who wondrously hast wrought,
Thyself the Revelation
Of love beyond our thought;
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee, and confess Thee
Our gracious Lord and King.

In Thee all fullness dwelleth,
All grace and power divine;
The glory that excelleth,
O Son of God, is Thine;
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing:
We praise Thee, and confess Thee
Our glorious Lord and King.

O grant the consummation
Of this our song above,
In endless adoration,
And everlasting love!
Then shall we praise and bless Thee
Where perfect praises ring,
And evermore confess Thee
Our Savior and our King.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Some thoughts for a wedding shower...

I had the privilege this morning of giving some devotional thoughts at the wedding shower of a dear young friend. And I have been requested to post those thoughts here. I have removed the personal references to the couple to protect the innocent)and share the rest below. I stole liberally from Paul Tripp's new book on marriage, What Did You Expect?, which I highly recommend.

Just as I began to think about what I might share about marriage this morning, I received a new book on marriage in the mail. It is a book by Paul Tripp, entitled “What Did You Expect?” And as I scanned through that book, I thought he had a lot of worthwhile material to share, so I have stolen liberally from his book, and if anything I say is edifying for you, it is thanks to him!

Let’s start by reminding ourselves of what God’s word says about love in 1 john, Chapter 4 verses 7-12 and 16-21

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I find it an amazing that love, by God’s definition, requires so much death to self. We live in a culture that hasn’t got a clue about what marriage should be, that seems to define love in terms of self gratification, and propagates unrealistic expectations for meeting all of our needs in marriage. So today, I want to provide a tiny, hopefully godly, reality check about marriage, and our expectations going into marriage.
The first expectation we ought to have is that we are two sinners, marrying in the midst of a broken world. That could be a pretty depressing thought without the equally sure expectation that God is faithful, powerful, and willing to redeem your marriage for His glory and your good. That good news is how the gospel redeems a marriage. It is as we worship God together, that He does transformational work in our hearts. Our marriages, like our lives, have to be built on a solid foundation of worship every day. What does such worship entail?

• First, you must worship with your spouse every day. That worship will take on a character uniquely your own over time. For Dave and I, going on 30 years of marriage, it has looked different during different seasons of our lives, but has consistently included prayer and reading in God’s word and other sources that would lead us to worship God and know him better. God has often used those times of family worship to prepare us for trials coming, or to sow seeds of joy that would come to later fruit.

• Second, your worship together will only be possible if it is built on a firm foundation of individual worship of God in each of you. Encouraging one another to spend time with the Lord each day, and modeling commitment to that will grow your family worship time. As you embrace God’s sovereignty and His grace, you will learn to better embrace each other.

Day by day, living as a sinner with a sinner in a sinful place, can zap your hope. But when your love is rooted in worship, and when you commit to loving one another according to God’s plan, God provides such rich joy, and hope, even in the darkest of hours. But what are those commitments that God calls us to in our marriages? I’m going to steal six commitments from Mr. Tripp, and I’ve found them to be true for Dave and me:

1. Give yourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness. This is a two-fold commitment. First, you have to deal honestly and openly with your own sin, and be willing to encourage your spouse to call you on it, and to believe him when he does. And secondly, you have to be ready to forgive him when he has sinned against you—notice that I didn’t say “IF”, but when. We are sinners. We will break one another’s hearts. When we forgive someone, it’s not that we forget what they have done. Instead, we promise not to remember it. That is a tough order, and means disciplining your thought life not to rehearse the hurtful things, but to commit to forgiveness instead. Early in our marriage, Dave and I committed to never have a fight until we’d prayed. Now, we don’t always manage to stop a fight for a prayer break, but it has become our habit to pause for prayer, and it often short-circuits our anger, and lets us fight productively and deal with our own sin.

2. Make growth and change your daily agenda. If we are worshipping daily, and living a life of confession and forgiveness, we will have to change. Christ will be about the job of killing off the old man in each of you, and renewing you both in His image. As you discover these changes, you need to embrace them in yourself and each other, and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit into unexpected and sometimes frightening new places, well outside of your comfort zone. We are to be reformed by God’s word, and always reforming, so we have to embrace godly change.

3. Work together to build a sturdy bond of trust. This involves never keeping secrets from one another, never hiding our sin from one another, never letting our fear of being really know by our husband keep us from taking the risk of being honest. For Dave and I, this includes me telling my friends when they ask me to keep a confidence that I will be happy to do so, but not confidences from my husband. It means guarding Dave’s dignity by refraining from sharing personal and intimate things about him with my friends, so he knows that things shared between us will stay between us. This kind of trust is like a deposit made in the early years of your marriage, that grows with interest over time, and reaps greater and greater rewards as you mature together.

4. Commit to building a relationship of love. This may seem self-evident, but disunity, spending lots of time apart from each other, and being distracted can make a marriage more of a co-habitation than a relationship. What does God’s word say love looks like? The passage we read from 1st John describes love, and so does 1st Corinthians 13. Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require either reciprocation from that person, or that the other person deserve it. And there will be times when you feel your spouse does not deserve your love. But love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. That kind of love takes a daily commitment!

5. Deal with your differences with appreciation and grace. As a young, newly married woman, I think my unspoken and unexamined expectation was that, given enough time, Dave and I would agree on everything. But if you agreed on everything, then there would be no need for two of you. God built each of u with unique gifts which he intends us to use to further His kingdom. The problem is, those places where we are different can be irritants and rub us raw. It takes a commitment to be thankful for those differences, and treat them with grace.

6. Work to protect your marriage. Watch for ways to safe-guard your precious relationship. Make sure you don’t drift apart by interests that separate, but look for interests to bring you together. Where you have separate interests, learn to enjoy them with each other. My dear husband is an avid runner. And, as is obvious to everyone, I am not. I had a choice early in our marriage whether I would let him go off to running events alone while I did something I enjoyed, or if I would suffer through long, boring events. Well, I no longer consider running events long and boring, and our time spent together at those events was not only a safe-guard in our marriage, but witness to others. People with hurting marriages, or broken relationships, often spoke to us, and opened the way for truth to be shared. Guard your marriage by watching for temptation and dealing with it, whether that temptation comes in the form of a lovely young grad student with whom Quinn works, or too much time on the internet, or too much time commitment to work or a hobby. Pray that God will keep you pure in your relationship, and that you may see the things that threaten it. And guard it as the precious gift it is from our heavenly Father, the source of all good things.

Worship, work, and exercise grace well. Love with your heart, mind and strength. And God will transform you and your spouse, and bless not only the two of you, but those whose lives you touch!