Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So He can bless me...

Here are a few more photos from our last camping trip. But the beautiful surroundings were not the best thing about the trip for me. It was as if God, in His graciousness, was saying to me, "You can hope again: you can do some of the things you love. I have plans for your future." I don't think I had even realized that I had given up hope of some things: hope of hiking and camping again, hope of getting back into better shape, and having the energy to do things again.

Today I hiked for a little over an hour along White Rock Canyon, overlooking the Rio Grande. I was reminded of God's grace in the words of Isaiah 30:18:

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.

So, today I am determined to remember that God is not waiting to drop the next calamity on me. He is waiting to be gracious; waiting until I have learned what pain must teach me, so He can bless me.

Monday, June 29, 2009


We had a lovely camping trip this weekend. We left on Friday morning, and headed to Redondo campground in the Jemez Mountains, and here is our little home-away-from-home in the woods.

We had rain off-and-on on Friday, but Saturday was a perfect day, and we managed to hike to the box canyon of the East Fork of the Jemez River on Saturday. It is one of the loveliest hikes and spots anywhere! And lest you remain unimpressed, may I just mention that the hike is about 4 miles round trip, including climbing over trees and hiking through the river to get there? What great fun!

The wild flowers were out in force everywhere we looked. Each little ecosystem had different plants, and left us marveling at the creativity and genius of the Master Gardener!

And the best thing about the sometimes rainy weather was the spectacular sunset. This was taken ove the Valle Grande, where we watched several elk follow a trail across the valley below this sky.

I will post more pictures on my other blog if you want to see them.

And for those of you wondering about the finch family, here is a picture of them today, Day 11 of their little lives. It's getting crowded and messy in there. Their eyes are open (you can see a partially open on at the top of the photo, and a wide open one near the bottom. As you can see, their wings are continuing to develop, and feathers are growing on them. They are difficult to rouse, so I'll have to start getting more creative to get good pictures!

Happy birthday, Dave!

Happy birthday, Dave! I can't speak to the first 19 years of your life, but during the last 34 or so, you have been my best friend. I praise God for your servant's heart, your gentle spirit, and your steadfast love. May God bring rich blessing to you in the coming year, as you richly bless those of us who love you.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

He graciously gives all things...

Today I tried not to get the baby finches wet when I watered the basket, but they got a little wet anyway. The added wetness makes it easier to see their little developing wings. You can easily find them by their four little yellow beaks. This is Day 7 of their little lives, and may be the last photo for a couple of days as we may head out camping for the weekend. So maybe by Monday there will be some more dramatic changes in their lives.

It seems life is full of dramatic changes. If not our own lives, then we seem always to know someone dealing with crisis. Such is the state of our fallen world. It is quiet on our cancer front at the moment, but cancer is ravishing others. Daily we pray for Natasha, Donna, Silvano, Gary, Russ, Karina, Rachel, and Linda in their cancer fights. We also pray for three families who lost young daughters within the last year. There is plenty of heart-break here. That's what makes these words from Romans 8 so precious:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
~Romans 8:18-32

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finches Day 6

It's harder than you might think to get an action video of tiny baby birds. If you move them or their surroundings too much, they go into the "play dead" mode. But here is a short video of the finch family children on Day 6 of their lives. Their little movements are so cute, in an ugly kind of way... They still make no sounds when they open their little beaks. And it's getting rather disgusting in there. I hope they start getting feathers and learning to fly away soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Family Matters

Well, the baby finches are still small and ugly, but they are taking up more and more of the nest. This is their 5th day of life. At the moment, they cannot imagine life without their siblings, or without their mama to feed them.

Families are important: they are God's design for man. And godly families don't just happen: they are a matter of both grace and obedient, hard work. I ran across a couple good examples of hard-working fathers this Father's Day week. I enjoyed reading this letter to his family from Ray Ortlund, Sr. (Thanks to JH). I was also touched by this story of a godly dad.

As Christians, the most important thing parents pass along to their children is knowledge of God, and an example of following him that will make them desire to follow him, too. And that takes both time and relationship. I found these reflections interesting in that regard.

God has blessed me with an amazing family. I have parents and siblings who love me, a husband who is faithful and my best friend, and wonderful children and children-in-law. Yes, I have worked hard to raise my children, to maintain relationship with my siblings, etc. But if the truth be known, this, too, like so many blessings, is all of grace. I don't deserve it in the least. But I am grateful for it.

Monday, June 22, 2009


We have piles of several interesting things around our house, but here are just two of them. Above, cherries from our neighbor's tree (and no, this is not all we picked!) And below, a pile of finch babies in the hanging basket on the back porch. This is day 4 of their little lives. Note to self: if you want interesting photos of the finch family, do not take the photo in mid afternoon, when no amount of jostling would waken them!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finch family Day3

The four finch babies are continuing to grow, though still tiny and voiceless. In the photo above, you can see all four of them, and in the lower foreground is a dime to give you some sense of the size of these little critters. Their eyes are beginning to get little slits, and as Dave said, they are already less ugly than they were yesterday! When they all raise their little beaks like this, it is such a temptation to stick my finger down there and feel them...but I am afraid that would scare Mama Finch away permanently, so I resist the temptation.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweet!

Ever since Tim was very small, he was a thoughtful guy. He was always tender-hearted with those who were hurting, and always wanted to make them feel better. That gained him the nickname "Sweet" around home.

Well, today he turned 24, and though he's not little anymore, he is definitely still a kind, thoughtful fellow.

Happy birthday, Sweet!

Finch Fam 4

By this morning, there were no more eggs in the nest, and there were four little fluffy, rather ugly babies. They are tiny. My next photo needs something for perspective...but you can see the little strand of blue yarn used in the nest, and imagine its thickness compared to these little ones. In the photo above you can see three tiny, voiceless, open mouths, waiting for their Mama Finch to fill them. The fourth is laying face-down, which seems to be the default position.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The first hatchling

Today when Mama Finch left the nest after I opened the back door, the first little hatchling was moving about in the nest. It is ugly, in an adorable sort of way. Papa Finch, below, stood a vigilant guard as we peeked at the baby, singing his warning to us.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A perfect gardener

Today I harvested some spinach from my garden. I pulled the plants up by the roots (since the high dessert sun will soon scorch these cold-friendly plants), and then sat at my porch table trimming the good leaves off the plants and bagging them for future use in spinach salads, steamed or sauteed spinach, vegetable lasagna, etc. The rest got thrown right away into the garbage can. If my compost was currently going, I would put it there to recycle the nutrients. (Maybe next year) But I brutally dealt with the spinach this morning, and we will enjoy its good fruit in the near future.

As I sipped my tea and trimmed my spinach this morning, I was glad the leaves in the discard pile were not crying to me, "No! This isn't fair! I thought I would amount to more than this!" I have found myself crying that to my Master Gardener lately. "Surely you intended me for more than the garbage heap! You can't be serious that this is Your real plan for me!" But I planted the garden. It belongs to me. And I am doing with each crop what is best...or I would be if I were a Perfect Gardener.

All this got me to thinking about my Gardener. The one who formed me and knows me. The one who dreams dreams for me, and will harvest me in due season. He is Perfect. I can trust Him with His plan for me, whatever that is. The truth is, I deserve something even worse than a garbage heap. But instead, He is growing me into something beautiful and useful in His garden. And that is a gift of love and grace.

How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
your encampments, O Israel!
Like palm groves that stretch afar,
like gardens beside a river,
like aloes that the LORD has planted,
like cedar trees beside the waters.
Water shall flow from his buckets,
and his seed shall be in many waters;
his king shall be higher than Agag,
and his kingdom shall be exalted.
~Numbers 24:5-7

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Calvin Update

Get the John Calvin birthday clock at Calvin 500

I'm afraid we are hopelessly behind in our Calvin reading. We did well for months, but then life began to intervene. I think we may just skip ahead to where we're supposed to be and dig in again. Alas.

There are lots of cool Calvin things at the Calvin 500 website here. If you are enjoying all the Calvin hoopla, check it out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A house finch family

This is one of three hanging baskets on my back porch. For years I have waged war with the house finches who wanted to pull out the flowers to make room for their nests, and run to the door to scare them away whenever I would hear their song reverberating on the porch. This year, I decided not to fight. I decided they could do whatever they wanted, and that we would enjoy their song. Here is what they have done:

If these eggs make it to babies, I'll post pictures!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hurray for Katie

Last weekend, our dear friend Katie Page competed in the US Nationals for the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. She took second place in her weight class! Congratulations, Katie!

And in addition to being an amazing weightlifter, Katie is engaged to be married to a nice young man this summer. I am hosting a wedding shower for her tonight, so today will be full of flowers and fruit and baking...What fun!

Hurrah for Katie!

Monday, June 08, 2009

HD Update

My sweet husband, may he ever be appreciated, managed to retrieve my e-mail addresses, and basically everything else, from my apparently only mostly-dead hard drive. Hurrah! I'm glad I didn't cry, but doing a happy dance is a lot more fun!

Death of a hard drive

It is true, Gentle Readers. I am posting from my dear husband's computer, as my hard drive has finally completely bitten the dust. I had backed up most things, sensing a problem. But as I did a complete back-up with my new external hard-drive, it gave up the ghost. I had most everything I thought I needed, except when I realized with horror that I didn't have all my financial program nor me e=-mail (including those hundreds of e-mail addresses. Horrors!

My amazing dh, like a valiant warrior, was able to hook up my cold-in-the-grave drive to his machine, and pull off the financial records and most of my e-mail stuff before it died for good. Unfortunately, it died before I got my shopping receipts and my e-mail addresses.

So, gentle readers, if you have my e-mail address, please send me an e-mail so I can reconnect and get a new contact list going. I am happy to say I haven't cried over this even once, though I currently don't have a printer, and am missing most of my e-mail addresses. At least not yet.

So, good bye old hard drive. May your death pave the way for a bigger, dual core machine...

Friday, June 05, 2009

How my garden grows-2

We've now had our first meal with our spinach (a yummy, fresh salad with strawberries courtesy of the neighbors) and I'll saute a bunch with garlic tonight! The first snap peas were picked this morning as well, and the tomatoes are full of blossoms.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Racing in Tucson

We had a great time at a Saturday evening race in downtown Tucson. It was HOT, but very fun! As the guys warmed up, ran and cooled down, Nikki and I enjoyed people watching, taking pictures, and just laughing together.

The old buildings and quaint adobes and courtyards of the downtown area were simply fun to look at and hang out in. And there were plenty of interesting people, too!

Here are our intrepid runners, getting ready for the race.

Both the guys had great runs. Tim finished fourth out of about 800 people, and it was wonderful to watch him run again. It was great fun for all of us.

And after the race, it was a stop at In-n-Out Burger for food and shakes to take home and enjoy while we watched a movie. What fun!