Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another Beautiful Voice

Milton at Don't Eat Alone touches on many topics, but this week I took a closer look at the music he recommends--and have gotten hooked on Diane Zeigler. She has a voice I could listen to day and night, based on excerpts from the "Paintbrush" album and "December In Vermont." Listening to her songs, I experienced a mix of deep longing and precarious joy. Not a bad mixture. If I can do half of that with some of my poems, I'll feel successful.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Tonight I'm feeling blue, not for any particular reason, I guess. Maybe it just goes along with having a temperament that swings between enthusiastic and melancholic, with not much ground in between. And it's funny, I tend to not want to write about those down times on this blog. Don't know if it's part of growing up with the feeling that I'm supposed to "Be a Sunbeam for Jesus" (a song on a record I had as a child) or just the idea of public exposure and possible criticism.

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing people I love in Oregon--just 22 days and counting. And I'm really happy to have our entire family of five together for part of this summer (though Jeff and the two oldest are in Israel at this moment on a trip--I'm glad they can tour some of the places like Jerusalem and Jericho that I got to see when I was ten, on the way back from Africa to the States). I have lots to be happy about.

On the flip side, I wish I knew where we will go a year from now. Back to the northwest, I hope, but nothing is certain. Also, these last two years have been utterly draining for me. Sigh. Moving to Germany, I assumed I'd be the one making the adjustments more easily than anyone, after all, wasn't I the one who grew up in another country and has always appreciated diverse cultures? Ha. Assumptions suck, especially in the aftermath.

I do know that God is here with me. Just wish I felt God more in the day to day moments.

Memorial Day 2006

Sculpture in London, England

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Journey With Jesus

Just added a link to a website I've been enjoying lately -- Journey With Jesus -- essays, books, film, poetry, and music. Found a good poem on their site by Anna Kamienska, "Those Who Carry." In fact, the entire index of poems is worth checking out.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Latest

Currently reading: "The Dark is Rising" by Susan Cooper and "a Generous Or+hodoxy" by Brian McLaren.

Currently listening: Nickel Creek

One of the advantages, as far as I'm concerned, of having older children (in the thirteen to twenty-one year age range) is that they introduce me to books and music I might not otherwise encounter. David saw Nickel Creek in concert this last year at college--he's been playing their songs and I especially like "Ode To A Butterfly." Can't help tapping my feet when that's on...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Five, Plus A Canine

Our kids are all home--huzzah! David, with his usual luck, almost got upgraded to business class, but didn't sprint to the counter fast enough and missed extra leg room by a microsecond. It's nice to be five at the dinner table again (plus the dog, lurking underneath).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

News Flash

Pure deliciousness = A Jolly Rancher green apple lollipop.

In other news: Danielle arrived safely, having survived an enforced seating next to a man who hogged the joint armrest, stuck his feet into her small space, and emitted numerous gaseous clouds during the nine hour flight to Frankfurt. But she's still alive. Her hearing might not be intact, since she could hear rap music playing at full blast through his headphones (I hate to think what the decibel level was cranked up to).

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Different Kind of Mother's Day

Yesterday was a unique Mother's Day for me. Anna and I started the morning at church (Jeff was gone on a retreat), and the pastor certainly chose an interesting text--Luke 7:36-50, where Mary washes Jesus' feet with her tears, then dries his feet off with her hair and lovingly annoints them with perfume. Try preaching that story on a day dedicated to moms! He did a good job, and I appreciated his realization of the fact that some come from homes where mothers might have been absent or even done harm to their children, and that others in the congregation might be dealing with an inability to become a mother or the loss of a child. The emphasis was on Mary's heart of love, and how we all, mothers or not, can grow towards loving God more.

After that, Anna and I grabbed lunch, then drove to Heidelberg and hiked my favorite spot in the city, Philosopher's Walk, which overlooks Old Town and the Schloss (castle) . On Sunday, Germans typically get out and stroll with extended family and friends, and yesterday was no exception. We took Murphy along, and as usual, everyone stopped to pet and coo over him. Dogs are always good ice-breakers. Fragrant flowers and bushes were in bloom and blackberry scents drifted across the path when a breeze shifted our way. I think I'd like to do the same thing again next year.

For dinner, we went to an open-air cafe, ordered spargel (white asparagus) soup and dipped french bread in the creamy broth--spargel's in season at the moment, and a great delicacy of this region. There's even an asparagus sculpture in the main square of Schwetzingen! I'll try and remember to take a photo of it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

World Relief News

On May 2nd, I blogged about the current situation in Darfur, Sudan. Here's what World Relief is doing there to help Sudanese women and communities maintain and repair their own clean water sources.
I'm familiar with World Relief because my brother Dan and his wife Tam work with the same organization in Burundi, Africa.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Nose Washer Deluxe

Here's the photo I promised--it goes with my last post. Looks like fun, eh?

Hayfever Season Beginneth

OK, I confess it--until I bore a daughter who suffers immensely from hayfever symptoms, I had very little empathy (read, none) for people with sneezes, itching, and general misery during the pollen and grass season. Danielle's tried everything, from benedryl to zyrtec, and a few years ago, allergy shots, which she reacted to several times with a swollen-up throat and hives and all manner of scary side-effects. So, at the moment, she's existing on a lesser remedy of pills and eyedrops, hoping for a scientific breakthrough in the next few seconds or weeks. The air cleaner sits in a place of honor in her room, awaiting her arrival in exactly five days (YAY! I'm excited! And David flies back the day after!)

Why are thought of airborne allergens crossing my mind? This has been the craziest week ever as far as pollen, here in the Heidelberg area. My van is entirely covered with a coating of light green dust, and if we dare leave our windows open, it wafts in through cracks and settles on the coffeemaker and toaster and anything else immobile. Never in my life have I actually been able to see the usually-invisible culprit. I hope the worst is over before Danielle returns. I did take the step of buying a plastic nose-washer for her (on sale at the local Penny Markt)--it looks like an ear trumpet, at least what I imagine one might look like. Later I'll try and post the box cover photo, of a woman sticking it up her nose and blasting out the pollen with a saline solution. Highly amusing, but if it works, it's worth a little humiliation and teasing from your family (right, Danielle?).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Good Question

Tuesday, Lorna blogged about how "each of us have two or three key aspects of God locked in our hearts," and asked later in her post, "what are those two or three revelations of God that are imprinted on your heart?" I liked reflecting on that question, and came up with a few of my own key verses and passages:

* “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13).
* Also, I’ve always liked Genesis 16, the part where Hagar calls God “the God who sees me,” when she’s alone and at wit’s end in the desert.
* Revelation 1 pictures Christ, with “eyes like a flame of fire… his voice as the sound of many waters.” The entire book of Revelation is filled with so many startling and beautiful images--a sea of glass; the tree of life; a multitude of nations, tribes, peoples, & tongues, standing before the Lamb's throne; the stars of heaven, falling like figs...

I could go on, but that’s a good start! Thanks to Lorna, for making me think, as always.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ice Box

My daughter's friend, Lizzie, rides a school bus daily from town to her American school on base. Each morning, now that the weather's turned warm, the German bus driver greets all the kids as they file into his air-conditioned bus -- "Vell-come to the Ice Box!" in a thick Bavarian accent. Anna and I have had fun intoning those words at odd moments of the day. I think maybe we're amusing ourselves a bit too much. Can someone send us a new phrase to obsess over?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


"For everything there is a season...a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 Today seems to be a day to plant. The sun has overtaken the drizzly south German rain (not unlike Oregon) and green things are springing up overnight in our pocket-sized backyard. Grass, clover, and a new type of nettle, so far. My miniature rosemary bush is sitting by the wall, waiting to be unpotted and given its own spot of honor. I have gladiola bulbs somewhere in the house--hope it's not too late for them. And, as for me? I'm putting down a few tentative roots in this place. At least for the moment.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Looking to Darfur

D., another writer I met last week in Michigan, sent me an email with a link to the Save Darfur Coalition, where his daughter works. He describes the Sudan situation--"hundreds of thousands have died there, and many more are endangered by militia attacks, disease and starvation. The U.S. government has spoken out against the genocide, but their words are not enough. Your words, however, can be crucial: as Senator Paul Simon said about the Rwanda genocide a decade ago, if only 100 people from each congressional district had contacted their Senators and representatives, Congress would have been galvanized to action."

Here's a prayer from the resource section of the Save Darfur site. I know that my prayers must be linked with action, and my actions with prayer, to make any difference in life. Now I'll be looking more closely at the Darfur crisis, with an eye towards what I can be doing to help my brothers and sisters in that African country.

A Franciscan Benediction
May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger,
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears,
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness,
To believe that you can make a difference in this world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Another Way of Seeing

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting in on an interview with Makoto Fujimura, an artist who lives and works in the center of New York city. He spoke with thoughtfulness and humility about painting, writing and life in general.

A few quotes from that interview:

"Artists can be the leaders and peacemakers of the world."

"Epiphany takes place, even in ground zero. It's the responsibility of the poet (painter/ musician/etc.) to respond and be open to that epiphanic experience."
"Reconciliation is not possible. But God calls us to it, and it happens through generations."

"Each painting is a sort of confessional to me--usually dealing with issues that I'm dealing with spiritually. My heart becomes transparent."