Sunday, July 31, 2011

Things I am being reminded of...

Here in Indiana at the start of a new week, I've been reflecting this morning on some things I am being reminded of. Such reflection is a good way to lay the old week aside and forge ahead into the new one.  Here are some of my reminders:
~Deciduous trees overhanging the road and Queen Anne's Lace lining it look delightful.
~Humidity was a good reason to leave the Midwest permanently.
~It is amazing how one can start a task overwhelmed, and see God's faithfulness transform that thing that overwhelmed into a tool of redemption and blessing.
~The body of Christ is an amazing, organic structure that is just as surprising and diverse as the God whose hands and feet it is.
~The gospel is all about good works, and not about good works at all.

Here's hoping you have good reminders from your past week, Gentle Reader, that will carry you into the new one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tucson time...

 Last weekend we had a wonderful time in Tucson.  Emma is growing and showing her personality (which is very BIG) in so many ways!  What a joy it is to spend time with her. Here are a few photos of playing, eating, and swimming with Emma.




Tomorrow I'll try to post a few more photos before I head off on my next great adventure: heading to Indiana to help Elsa move to Phoenix! She is hoping to be out there in under three weeks, so it will be a challenge, but also a wonderful time of fellowship with her.  And if we don't drive each other crazy during a "move-put the house on the market- drive 30 hours together" three-week adventure, I think we'll make it for a life time! I'm looking forward to being with the other half of the family, and helping out wherever I can. And I know Ben an Elsa would appreciate your prayers, Gentle Readers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy anniversary!

Today Dave and I celebrate our 31st anniversary. Of all the earthly blessings God has given me over the last 51 years, the most amazing is Dave. I would not be who I am without him, nor know God as I do.

Happy anniversary to the man who is still my best friend and constant confidant, who daily points me to God and models faithfulness to me, who loves me well, and can still take my breath away.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Joy in terror and terror in joy

Well, Ben is having an adventurous spring/summer.  The most adventurous thing is, of course, that he and Elsa have a little one on the way.  But he also finished grad school for the time being, and now, he has a job! He and Elsa will be moving to Peoria, AZ (a suburb of Phoenix) for Ben to teach Latin to student in grades 5-10 at The Basis, a classical charter school.  This is a new campus of this school this year (they have established campuses in Tucson and Scottsdale) and so it should be quite an adventure.  We are grateful that God has provided a good position for him.

Ben has to be in Phoenix next weekend, so poor Elsa (who is doing well and not complaining) has to close up shop and get their townhouse on the market in Bloomington, and follow him later.  I hope to travel out and give her a hand in the next week or so, after  we return from our trip to Las Vegas and Tucson next week.

God is truly blessing us with an awful lot of adventure! And Ben has written a poem that reflects some of this blessing.  He told me, when he sent it to me, that these are the insomniac ravings of a classicist under pressure. I think they are delightful.

CONTEMPLATION by Ben Finnegan

There is joy in terror
and terror in joy.
To let on'e self
go--
on the one hand
not to understand
and on the other
to know all
too well.
To dwell in the 
interstices
of gnothi seauton
and charisma,
to straddle the borders of
willful ignorance
and unintentional
illumination.

There is terror in joy
and joy in terror.

Knowing and not knowing
why.  Feeling
and not touching.
Internalizing
and not grasping.
Joy for the end,
fear to pretend
to prepare.
A pair of ambiguities--
one hiding in fact
the other uncertain.
Fear of when,
joy of what
(or vice-versa or
why or who or where)
and there is joy in terror
and terror in joy.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A slow salvation....

It's been a while since I posted poetry here, Gentle Readers.  Sorry to be negligent!  My eldest, Ben (at right with his niece Emma), sent me a few things of his yesterday, and I thought I'd start with the one below. It was written several years ago when he was in Rome, and was recently recovered.  
 
GALLERY by Ben Finnegan

Eyes that are not
eyes stare,
some stern, some 
joyful, some in
ecstasy, others in despair;
all unchanging, but
for a slowly gathering
layer of dust.
Children never meant to grow
smile a mischievous eternity
holding hands or standing
on one leg
for the ages to observe
their innocence.  
Here and there
a Christ or a saint
bleeds immobile drops
of redemption
before the wondering gaze 
of time and passage:
a slow salvation of the past
forever reaching
forward.

And Ben has some job possibilities, and some big decisions to make even today, Gentle Reader.  Please keep him and Elsa in your prayers!

Friday, July 15, 2011

LAPD at its finest

I have often discussed here the phenomenon of LAPD (Los Alamos Personality Disorder).  Whether it is returning library books as you are being evacuated due to a raging wildfire, or nicknaming your grandchild Femto, it comes with the territory of this quirky, highly-educated, science-saturated place.  And I find it rather endearing most of the time.

Here in White Rock, we have what is affectionately known as "the white rock".  It sits prominently on the busiest corner in town (where Route 4 meets Rover Blvd), and what started as a landscaping statement has become a sort of message board, constantly being painted by citizens.  Sometimes it has a message like the one pictured here, or is simply art-work, but more often it has a birthday or anniversary wish.  My children have helped to paint it for various occasions, and Tim and Nikki's engagement was announced here.  That is a sweet little community ritual, and there is nothing particularly odd about it.

But here is where the LAPD comes in.  A local scientist began to wonder exactly how thick the paint is on this rock after 40 years of painting.  He found the surface of the rock to be rubbery and soft, and was worried that the rock was somehow deteriorating. So he did an experiment.  He actually took a core sample from the rock, then patched his hole, sealed the core with epoxy, cut it in half, and found 5.5 inches of paint on top.  When asked why he did this, he replied that it is the nature of Los Alamos people to wonder what is inside things and to find out.

Ain't it the truth?! Remember this is the place where, after I had a radioactive injection for cancer treatment, my neighbor loaned me his Geiger counter to track the movement of the material in my body.

Thanks, fellow LAPD observer, B.F. (who is my bff) for the info. And if you want a little taste of LAPD, watch the Sy-Fy channel show Eureka. It's not a great show, but it is populated with people who are infected with LAPD, and as such, I have a bit of affection for it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A trip or two in the works...

I have the best husband in the world.  Next week, he is heading on a business trip which will occur over our 31st anniversary...so he is taking me along!  We will head to Las Vegas, NV,  where he will work at the DOE headquarters and make a trip to the test site, while I lounge by the pool, watch old movies, and read.  And then we will have delightful evenings together! Woo hoo!

And last weekend, while at a community concert and watching people pass by, Dave said to me, "Look at that little girl. She must be about Emma's age!"  This lovely comment made me burst into tears.  So, after Las Vegas, we are heading to Tucson for a few days. And, not to play favorites, we are heading to Indiana in August to visit the other half of the family.Though Femto is still in-utero, we will enjoy the excitement!

Hasn't God blessed me with a thoughtful and generous husband?!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Under a cloud

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
   his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
   "therefore I will hope in him."
~Lamentation 3: 22-24
 Lately I have been waking up under a cloud.  And I don't mean the plume of smoke from the Las Conchas fire, though it still wafts our way from time to time. This is more of the feeling of a cloud that descends as I wake. It is a feeling akin to depression, but I know it has nothing to do with the reality of my situation.  I know it has something to do with the tamoxifen I take to increase my chances of remaining cancer free, because if I take my entire dose at night that feeling is so strong that I can't get out of bed in the morning.  But when I split my dose, it is there more subtely, flirting around the edges of my heart.  And perimenopause may not be helping it either.

I am not sharing this with you, Gentle Reader, to solicit your sympathy.  Instead, I think we sometimes keep these kinds of struggles quietly to ourselves, hoping no one will think we are weak or faithless. And then when this cloud envelops the next person, he or she thinks, as we do, that he is alone in his struggle.  So I am saying that if you have to struggle out from under an emotional cloud, I am here, struggling with you.

The very early morning hours, when I am not yet fully awake, tend to determine my victory or defeat..  If I give in then, instead of disciplining my thoughts and heart, I will despair.  But if my weapons are ready to fight, I can get through that cloud and on with my day.  I do it by depending on God's grace, and using his means of grace. I memorize Scripture, like the verses above, and repeat them and meditate on them.  I try to make my first thoughts in the morning thoughts of praise and thanksgiving for God;'s gifts and provision through the night. And I remind myself that feelings are just that: feelings, but not necessarily something to rule my life. And my husband and close friends encourage and uphold me, too, whne I let them know where I am.  I am so grateful for these dear friends!

I am hopeful that when I complete my course of tamoxifen, which is God's good gift to me for another two years, I will emerge from this cloud a more mature person, more ready to follow Christ and imitate Him.  May you prepare your weapons to fight the clouds that descend upon you, Gentle Reader.  Remember the saints who have fought such circumstances before us: Paul and Martin Luther, Spurgeon and Cowper. They were given grace sufficient for their tasks.  May God provide for us in such a way. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sabbath Songs

Jesus, Our Soul's Delightful Choice 
Original version by Isaac Watts, rewritten by David Ward

Jesus, our soul’s delightful choice,
In You, believing we rejoice;
Yet still our joy is mixed with grief,
While faith contends with unbelief.

Your promises our hearts revive,
And keep our fainting hopes alive;
But guilt, and fears, and sorrows rise,
And hide the promise from our eyes.

Chorus:
Lord, make our dying spark a flame,
Reveal the glories of Your name;
And take our anxious doubts away
Like darkness banished by the day.

Oh let not flesh and Satan win
Amid the struggle of our sin;
Nor see our faith in ruins fall,

Friday, July 08, 2011

Back to the fire...

This map is courtesy of the Incident Information Web. I have to admit that reading the following there is somewhat unsettling:
Los Alamos Area: Yesterday a downdraft from a passing thunderstorm caused erratic winds that resulted in a fire flare up in Guaje Canyon north of Los Alamos. This event resulted in large amounts of smoke, which settled in the city of Los Alamos and surrounding areas. Firefighters are working to ensure the flare up does not cause the fire to grow. The fire continues to slowly spread through the Cerro Grande burn area. Firefighters have completed secondary control lines and structure protection plans between the fire and the edge of Los Alamos. If the fire threatens the city, firefighters will burn out areas around Los Alamos to create a defensible space.
The smoke was bad again this morning, but is lifting a bit right now.    We're at almost 140,000 acres, and 40% containment.  Please keep praying for rain! The sight of the flames on the mountains night after night is a is a reminder that we put our trust not in firefighters (though we love and treasure them) but in the One who made those mountains!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A little Emma for a change...

The news of the fire has dominated this blog.  And after a whole day of being, yet again, in the middle of the plume, it's time for a beauty break.  How about a few photos of Emma?





Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Wednesday, with a few words

This is the Los Alamos Airport (taken this morning), being used as a staging ground for some of the 20 helicopters fighting the Las Conchas fire.  Behind the runway, you can normally see the Jemez Mountains, but this is what the huge fire plume does at night and into the morning (like it did this morning): it lays low and starts travelling down the canyons.  It was very smoky on the hill this morning.
 This fire fighting is an impressive business.  The helicopters make water and fire retardent drops, and sometimes do aerial back-burn ignitions.  Amazing!

 This is looking east from the main hill road alongside the airport, to where you can normally see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  Not today.
 And this is looking west towards Pajarito Ski Hill.

Please continue to pray for the more than 2500 people fighting this aggressive fire over 130,000 acres. They continue back burns around Los Alamos, but the hot spots are south at Bear Peak and North in Santa Clara and the canyons on the northeast of the Valle Caldera.

And today the lab reopened, and businesses are up and running, and our community attempts to do business as usual with fire on three sides of us.  By day we have the smoke-- either in town or as huge plumes rising from various places in the mountains.  And at night, the red fire creeps from ridge to ridge above us. We appreciate your prayers, Gentle Readers!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Working at home- Part 2- and an announcement

 As Dave has been working off the items on my "honey-do" list, I have been having way too much fun sewing.  Above is a small quilt with an adorable alphabet panel on one side, and pieced checker-bord in green and blue on the other.  Below are two receiving blankets and a set of burp cloths.
 And below are a couple more receiving blankets.  All these receiving blankets are double-sided with decorative stitching around the outside, all various sizes, all warm and soft!
I probably should be working on lesson plans to get ahead on my school year, but i have the firm belief that a baby who has a grandmother that is a quilter should NEVER have to purchase blankets!  And so, I am making baby blankets and quilts like crazy, and loving every minute of it.  

But these are not for our little Emma.  These are for Emma's cousin.  Now, she has had Reckman cousins since birth.  But this will be her first Finnegan cousin. We are thrilled that Ben and Elsa are expecting a baby sometime at the end of December or beginning of January.  What a sweet promise of God's goodness at the turning of the year! We can't wait to meet this little peanut, and I am busy making sure he or she will stay warm when they arrive!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Working at home

 Happy 4th of July, everyone!  I thought you might be interested in what Dave is doing while he can't go to work (LANL repopens on Wednesday.) Well, since we came home, he has been busy doing many of the things he never seems to have time to do.  He has cleaned and organized, replaced screens, built shelves, and a myriad of other good jobs. And I thought I'd post photos of the most impressive: our new covered deck!  This has been in the planning stage for years and was worked on before the fire, and now is finished.  And we'll break it in tonight with our friends, the Baers, and have a July 4th barbeque

 He did a lovely job, didn't he?

This July 4th we are particularly appreciative of the firefighters still on the lines at the Las Conchas fire.  As of early this morning, the fire was well over 123,000 acres, and there are today over 2,000 people fighting to contain the blaze.  We are grateful, for their hard work, by God's grace, spared our community.  Please continue to pray for containment (now at 19%) and for the safety of the fire fighters.

Here in White Rock, we have periods of pretty heavy smoke, and I am ready for some real monsoons to cool the temps and refresh the air.  So please pray for rain as well!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sabbath Songs

Isaiah 43
1. When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,
And the waves will not
Overcome you.
Do not fear,
For I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
You are Mine.
Chorus: For I am the Lord your God
(I am the Lord your God),
I am the Lord your God (I am)
The Holy One of Israel
Your Savior
For I am the Lord your God
(I am the Lord your God),
I am the Lord your God (I am)
The Holy One of Israel
Your Savior
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)
2. When you walk through the fire
You’ll not be burned,
And the flames will not
Consume you.
Do not fear,
For I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
You are Mine.
(Repeat chorus)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Under the plume

We spent most of yesterday under the plume.  This plume was so large yesterday that even in Santa Fe we were not out from under it.  Here are a few photos taken on our way to run errands in Santa Fe.  The first is from 501 just on the east side of the Rio Grande.  This is usually a beautiful view of the Jemez Mountains.  Now it looks like this:
 And turning north from the same spot towards Black Mesa, it looked like this:

Returning home late last evening, however, we were met by the mountains on fire in the dark. I didn't think my camera would do justice to the sight.  There were spot fires in the ridges above Los Alamos, and a big bright spot to the south whoich must have been either Frijoles or Cochiti canyons. But to the north of Los Alamos, Santa Clara was burning in ridge after ridge, the fire bright from the top ridges to the valley floor. So fire from south to north, pretty much as far as one could see looking west. It was a heart-breaking sight.

And here are a few sobering numbers from the 1 a.m. update:
  • 113,734 acres 
  • Approximately 1,632 personnel including 41 handcrews
  • Percent Contained: 6%  
Pray for the brave men and women on the fire lines. No loss of life yet, though over 60 houses are lost, and more than 30 outbuildings and businesses, with many more still threatened. And pray for cool temperatures, low winds, and rain.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Pictures from Thursday

 We travelled to Lowe's in Espanola yesterday, and went through the Las Conchas plume.  This (above) is what Black mesa looked like from the Los Alamos Highway.

 This was the plume looking west from Hwy 30.
 And these were from the main hill road approaching the Y and heading to WR.