Wednesday, December 30

Daily diaper

...and out of his newborn clothes!
He's growing into his cloth ones....

Friday, December 25

Second Leg

From the hospital, he travelled to his first temporary quarters at the Air Force Base Inn...

...then on to Tennessee to visit the farm where his daddy grew up.

Welcome home, baby boy!

He slept as he flew out of the hospital.

New Addition

Welcome baby Omari!  Born 15 December 2009, Kansas.

Thursday, November 26

Turkey Trot!

On a team of five, we ran, shuffled, and pushed our aching legs for 4.97 miles!  Through a thin white fog, we trod a track of stately homes and fallen leaves, past deluxe duplexes and fancy hotels back to the Bojangles where the warm biscuits and coffee went home on the arms of moms, dad, and grandpas in bright yellow boxes, the sunshine of happy taste buds.  The start line was packed; it was the obvious the race had sold out.  Though we five started out together, we separated in the massive herd, so Kathryn, Patrick and I ran the whole way together, despite Kat's aching joints and side stitches.  Kristie and Elizabeth kept a brisk pace for themselves, wisely pacing their jog to gently challenge their muscular endurance.  They finished a mere quarter hour after us.

We finished with quickened beat and wheezing lungs--but fast!--over the finish line, right under an hour for the 8K. 

Tuesday, November 10

Visiting the hills of Tennessee in the fall of the year is a walk into another world than the one we live daily on the flat coastland. On the flight over, we saw the Appalachians crowned with deep lava-red and girded with remnants of green at their warmer feet, where lakes and winding rivers lie like piles and necklaces of diamonds that glitter in the sun. This time of year, they are no mere hills and hollers. With the sun shining through thinning branches of yellow, red, orange, and punctuated by sturdy evergreens, the wind whistles and hums tunes of long-ago memories and hints of the future, preparation for coming storms.

Tuesday, October 13

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I am under the predisposition that all of life points to the glory of the Kingdom. No where should this be more apparent than in our worship. This past Sunday we had the opportunity to worship with a body who allowed the Beauty and Truth in the Liturgy to direct our hearts and minds toward God, the Father.

Anyone who knows me understands that I have a very strong opinion on the act of Worship. I believe it is a never ceasing act that encompasses all of our life. However, there are aspects, such as the sacraments, that you can only engage in corporately. In particular, the act of taking Communion has particular importance to me. For it is there that we feast on the Body and the Blood of our Risen King. And a feast it is indeed. It is no meager meal that consists of a flake of cracker and grape juice. It is a sensory filling feast of warm, wonderful bread and rich, full bodied wine. The fact that we live in such an affluent society and reduce the Body and Blood of our Lord to the cheapest of materials is a tragedy. But I digress. What I witnessed and participated in this past Sunday was a beautiful representation of the Gospel.

After the appropriate fencing of the table the body began to come down. One by one down came the sick, the lame, the depressed, the old and infirm, the young and athletic, children and infants, sinners all. But as they came down to partake of the feast there was hope in their eyes. Though many of their bodies had failed them, their Lord had not. He had come to prepare a feast for us all, and it was beautiful. It was good. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, October 1

And Yet, and always just yet. . .

Life is hard right now. Very scary. Very stressful. The weight of an unforeseen, but very real load weighs down upon us. And yet, just yet, there is hope.

Blest be the God of love,
Who gave me eyes, and light, and power this day,
Both to be busy, and to play.
But much more blest be God above,
Who gave me sight alone,
Which to himself he did deny:
For when he sees my ways, I die:
But I have got his son, and he hath none.

What have I brought thee home
For this thy love? have I discharg'd the debt,
Which this day's favour did beget?
I ran; but all I brought, was foam.
Thy diet, care, and cost
Do end in bubbles, balls of wind;
Of wind to thee whom I have crost,
But balls of wild-fire to my troubled mind.

Yet still thou goest on,
And now with darkness closest weary eyes,
Saying to man, It doth suffice:
Henceforth repose; your work is done.
Thus in thy Ebony box
Thou dost enclose us, till the day
Put our amendment in our way,
And give new wheels to our disorder'd clocks.

I muse, which shows more love,
The day or night: that is the gale, this th' harbour;
That is the walk, and this the arbour;
Or that the garden, this the grove.
My God, thou art all love.
Not one poor minute 'scapes thy breast,
But brings a favour from above;
And in this love, more than in bed, I rest.

Evensong by George Herbert

Tuesday, September 15

We sought a way of escape

The movie, Gigantic, is paradoxical in the worst sense, of being about small-world, admittedly messed up and weird people, who think all their own problems are gigantic (perhaps that's the title's reference??)--again, like we all do--but without changing in a satisfactory way, nor accomplishing anything worthwhile (to themselves), and refusing to face the mess in which they find themselves. And the filming is all gray, grey, dark, gray. We found a good stopping point; the girl was leaving the guy, and she might have come back, but we'll never know...or wonder.

Sunday, September 13

Thoughts On Work

I am slowly learning through my discourse with friends and associates that it is very important to define your terms when walking through a conversation. When speaking a language that is constantly in the process of transforming the meaning of its words, a common meaning is essential. In particular, I have found that this is no where more necessary than in the discussions which take place within the confines of the Church. Of note, when we discuss the intricacies of good works, do we mean my personally defined "good" works, or do we mean art of good work? And really, what is the difference? Perhaps, if you are a Christian, you have spent a great deal of time considering what it means to do "good works", but how much time have you spent considering what it means to do "good work?" Ok, you ask, is there a difference, and if so, what is it?

C.S. Lewis brings up an excellent representation of this in his book, The Joyful Christian. "When our Lord provided a wedding party with an extra glass of wine all around, he was doing good works. But also good work; it was a wine really worth drinking." In short, while a fruit of our faith is finding ourselves serving in good works, we should care that our works may also be recognized as good, as defined by a standard Other than ourself. Okay, fair enough you say, but what defines this good work, and where does it come from?

The easy answer is hope. To borrow from C.S. Lewis yet again; Lewis describes "hope as one of the Theological virtues." And what he means is that hope is an understanding of the here, but not yet. An eschatological view that neither discards the ramifications of this life, nor builds them up to be something more than they really are. Lewis goes on to say that "if you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought more of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English evangelicals who fought for the abolition of the slave trade, all left their mark on earth precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven."

If we are only focused on doing good works, we will never do work that is good. It is the same principle that may be applied to your health. Taking care of yourself is an important obligation, but the minute you make your health your number one priority you become a self obsessed human who never rises beyond the minutia of your own selfish needs. Likewise, Lewis goes on to say that "if you aim at heaven, you will get earth thrown in: aim at earth and you will get neither."

Friday, August 14

more on religion

We like to think of ourselves as running with the band of merry men who wake up one day and find themselves freed of Religion. The attempt to explain leaves me more often tongue-tied and my hearers confused and perhaps concerned for my sanity. Thus, I leap at the opportunity to share C.S. Lewis' explanation, as I discovered it today, in The World's Last Night and Other Essays.

"The word religion is extremely rare in the New Testament or the writings of mystics. The reason is simple. Those attitudes and practises to which we give the collective name of religionare themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one's attention fixed on God and on one's neighbour in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn't the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from outside."

~From Lilies that Fester

Saturday, August 1

Under the Shadow

My Mother loves to tell the story of a me as a little boy who, when going around the house with a black cloud over my head, would send me to my room until I could gain a better perspective on life. In other words, I was banished until I could cheer up. My response was to cry, yes, literally cry, "I AM happy now....I'm HAPPY now!" That little story is a cute anecdote, but perhaps the scary thing is that I am still that little boy. It is an interesting perspective on the redemptive work going on in our lives.

This summer has been full of new challenges for us: continuing to deal with raw emotions involved in loss, sorting through the emotions of potential gain, a profession that is demanding more than is human to give, and yet attempting to love not only each other through it all, but also learning to love our neighbor. Now, I am not trying to say that I have had a tougher time than anyone else. In fact, mine in many cases is most likely better. I have no doubt been blessed. But, that is not the point. The point is that as I look to the future, I cringe.

There is a very real part of me that wants to run, run back to where there is peace and life. Or at least where I think there is peace and life. We were designed to long for home, it was built in us as a reflection of God's desire to draw us near to Him. Yet, even our desires are fallen, and what we long for is nothing more than a shadow, a haunting apparition that lingers in our mind. If we really went back, it would not be the place we have in our minds. I want to run back to a hospital where I knew my son. I want to run back to Kansas where I met a life that I pray affects my own. I want to run home.

But here is the promise; a grand but terrible promise. Home is not behind us, it is ahead of us. It is waiting for us in the Shadows of the here, but not yet. We get glimpses of it sometimes around the corner, but always it alludes us. I wish that I could do as Jeremy Huggins has phrased, "sleep for home." But I can't. None of us really can. We have to run, walk, and sometimes slog our way through the Valley of the Shadow. Which, by the way, is not a one time thing you go through, it is the whole of life.

And so, I have no choice but to keep going, to keep running. But in my running, I pray that the run is not in vain, for I have been called to dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. And in my run I may still cry out, "I am happy now", but I will do so with the understanding that there is more than just my dear Mother listening to my cries and being a shelter to run to when I cheer up. But a Father whose Shadow I never leave, who guides our feet as we run, who accepts even our cries of desperate happiness, and will call us Home within the comforting confines of His Divine love.

Thursday, July 23

look at the garden!

These pictures are in upside-down order: 2/Early planting.  1/Today, the cucumbers are overtaking the second bed and the cabbage never balled up... The tiny white asters bloom before the daisies, before the pink blossoms come out on the bush.  

Wednesday, July 22

mud in the face

Who was it, I wonder, who discovered the cleansing effects of coating one's body with mud and letting it sit right there and dry and harden and wash it all off again?  In most normal daily activities we would consider mud on the face as dirty, to be avoided in the first place and washed asap.  Nevertheless, I indulge myself a mudding, faithfully, each week.  

The dirt got in my eyes this week.  In the form of a letter to the Philippians in which Paul speaks of his doing vs God's doings in him, as an example of what each of us ought to be, "Not that already perfect, but I press on...because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (3:12).  Whether it's in my personality or my upbringing or merely a part of being human, I find myself tormented and yet passionate about my own perfection.  Be it a good reputation, being known for simple punctuality or blameless in murdering others--those whom I discount as beneath my company--I strive daily for confidence in the flesh.  To what end?  My confidence is dashed on the rocks of Paul's boast, "whatever gain I had, I counted as loss" (3:7).   The pride-happy satisfaction I achieve in works of cultural right-ness will not attain for me the resurrection from the dead.   And if I die like Rover, dead all over, I have failed, I lost the fight, I have nothing, not a thing to show for all my self-made veneer of goodness.  

What help is there, what mud will cleanse me free me of the blemish that is my self-mutilation of good works by pride?  Somehow, "it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure;" I must "be poured out as a drink offering;" I must lose everything to "gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law"--and to think how many laws I make for myself and judge others by--"but that which comes through faith in Christ" (2:13,17, 3:8-10).   It's the power of his resurrection that I want, not my own flesh-zeal, his sufferings I must find in common with him, as he works by faith and patience in the spirit of a man, to revive him from among the dead, and into his glorious body.

Wednesday, July 1

It Came Today

Beau's headstone.  

Mom had stopped by the cemetary a few weeks ago for a quick visit and mentioned that the headstone was not there yet.  So after a quick call to Sally, who by the way is the most wonderful funeral director/manager in the world, phone calls were made and answers were quickly at hand.  Sally sent the photos for us look over and we are pleased at how the design turned out.

Admittedly, there is something odd at looking at your son's headstone.  I can't really say that I ever imagined ever doing that. . . but then again, we often do many things we never would have imagined doing.  

I placed the picture on the frig, as if it were something Beau had made in school and brought home.  I am not sure if that is weird or not, but the picture offers something that is tangible.  Something that offers proof as to the reality of his being in our lives. . . Something I really need.

(Note: The pic is not of his new headstone, this pic was taken back in January)

Tuesday, June 23


A shred of it pierces you, fills you, encourages you to go on.  Maybe I call it hope, but I wonder if it something more, more like a promise.  And that promise of hope to me is that if we repent, and be baptized, then: "the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord God calls to Himself."  (Acts 2:39)  

Sure, maybe the face value gives comfort in the fact that the Promise so freely given is also extended to our children, and what a hope by the way.  But tonight the Hope goes further than that.  The Hope is in the Promise of knowing that all I have to do is repent.  That is it.  There is nothing more, and indeed, nothing less.

Saturday, June 20

Wendell Berry Picks Jail Over NAIS

This is a very interesting development from the Department of Agriculture.  Thanks Bonnie, for sharing this as I had not yet seen this snake rear its ugly head.

Wendell Berry Picks Jail Over NAIS

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, June 16

the dark planet

Re-reading A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle is a remembering of all the truth ideas I learned from her back at the intense ages of 12 and 13.  One of the main characters, Proginoskes, is a cherubim whom the little boy Charles Wallace took for a host of dragons, and Meg his sister describes: "She had the feeling that she never saw all of it at once, and which of all the eyes could she meet? merry eyes, wise eyes, ferocious eyes, kitten eyes, dragon eyes, opening and closing, looking at her....And wings, wings in constant motion, covering and uncovering the eyes.  When the wings were spread out they had a span of at least ten feet, and when they were all folded in, the creature resembled a misty, feathery sphere.  Little spurts of flame and smoke spouted up between the wings; it would certainly start a grass fire if it weren't careful" (54).  

It is of Proginoskes that I think when I read of the Four Living Creatures assembled around the throne of God:  "And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind....And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!'" (Revelations 4:6-8)
And then we sing the song "Holy, Holy, Holy" and I remember Progo and think of the Four Creatures with all their eyes blinking and wise and if you read further, you find that it's a not a few creatures alone, but "the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands," are all shouting or singing or just speaking as if one thunderous voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev. 5:11-12).  He's worthy, because he died, and he died because he alone was worthy to redeem us all out of this dark, comparatively silent planet.   And we with our weak and wobbly voices and kid voices off key are not alone when we solemnly sing "Holy, Holy, Holy."  We have Proginoskes, dissolved in a shimmer of air next to us, joining with his much more heavenly voice and spurts of flame burning our hands as if mimicking the sparks of the Spirit blistering our heart.  

Monday, June 8

The truth of each of us

From Wendell Berry's book about a mouse:

"She lived at the center of the world.  This is one of the things every mouse knows.  Wherever she was, she was at the center of the world.  That one lives at the center of the world is the world's most profoundest thought.  So firmly was this thought set in Whitefoot's mind that she did not need to think it.  Like humans, she lived in the little world of what she knew, for there was no other world for her to live in.  But she lived at the center of her world always, and of this she had no doubt."
~p. 11, Whitefoot

Yet it takes me so long to know that about myself, even a mouse knows more than me!

And this at the end I see as one of Berry's repeated messages in his novels:

"Her sleep was an act of faith and a giving of thanks."  ~p. 21

Always, he throws in the refrain, and give thanks.  As if that were the whole point of it all.  All the humans, with the mouse, are summed up in one reason for being, the sacrifice of thanks for the joy set before Him, enduring.

Saturday, June 6

the curtains left open

And again, I see a big house sitting on the hill as I jog by on the asphalt road near the river.  The house is one of the big mansion sort, the kind I never get invited to, but love to look in curiosity.  In fact, the house is so big, I think it might be a city, a multi-level complex of something like an Italian villa surrounding a garden in the middle.  In the middle of the garden I think is a tree, as I'm peering through the night at the branches overarching this house from its center, the fiercely green leaves lit up as if by a spotlight hidden in the nest of branches.  Reminds me of the tree of Life, that old legend.  

In a slow trot as I run by, I gaze over at one of the windows, off across a wide yard on this hill, and notice that there seem to be shadows in the house, shadows of people and I can hear the laughter of voices and the bark of a dog or two.  Light beams out of each of the many windows in the wide wall of this mansion, as if seeing stars sparkle on the wall of the sky on a moonless night.  I peer into the closest window and see that the curtains have been casually pulled aside, revealing merrymakers dancing, and they are singing as they keep rhythm to something further inside the house, a pulse I can almost hear as far as the street upon which I run, and vibrating back from somewhere beyond my road in the deep darkness of the forest on my other side.  

I glance away, checking my path ahead, dimly lit by the light from the big house.  "Only sixty-nine more miles," I say to myself, and with impatience, "sixty and nine too many."  I look back over at the window, but the curtain has been drawn and I can see only dimly--fuzzy shadows wobbling.  

Tuesday, June 2

what color is your curtain?

Kermit put up curtain rods this weekend. I put up the white curtains in our bedroom. I woke up to see the half-transparent eyelet-like sheets blowing gently in the breeze through the window, which struck me as surprisingly beautiful, winsome, like a girl's dress blowing in the Easter wind, like something out of a Jessie Wilcox Smith illustration of Little Women, full of the emotive sentiment of young girls and breezy spring days. Otherwise, the curtains are like walking into your own familiar room of no surprises and finding a mannequin staring at you from the corner. Nothing to make one startle.

We say there's a curtain between us and the Other world. Our eyes cannot behold the Lord because our window to the soul is dim, curtained off, thus we think it an evil that we cannot access the spirit world as we might like. But we dress our windows for comfort, for visual delight, for practical protection from extreme temperatures and snooping night eyes. Perhaps the drapes between us and the Other protect us, shield our mortal eyes from something, the things we cannot bear to see, not for their horror but for extreme goodness, the holiness of Him who is brighter than the sun.

Wednesday, May 27


"Take no heavier lift of your children, than your Lord alloweth; give them room beside your heart, but not in the yolk of your heart, where Christ should be; for then they are your idols, not your bairns. If your Lord take any of them home to his house before the storm come on, take it well, the owner of the orchard may take down two or three apples off his own trees, before the midsummer, and ere they get the harvest sun; and it would not be seemly that his servant, the gardener, should chide him for it. Let our Lord pluck his own fruit at any season he pleaseth; they are not lost to you, they are laid up so well, as that they are coffered in Heaven, where our Lord's best jewels lie." ~Samuel Rutherford

Tuesday, May 26

A Quotidian Saturday

Saturday Mornings for the Boards gang usually find us heading out to the Farmer's Market downtown to do our weekly shopping. Due to various schedule issues I had not had the opportunity to go yet this year, and this past Saturday was my first for the growing season.

Our Farmer's Market is a small, but busy affair and it was exciting to see all of the same faces I saw last season, albeit a season older. It was also the first Saturday for a couple that we have gotten to know who are taking a stab at organic farming. The last time we had seen them Kelly was about to pop with a baby. So naturally, their first question was "How is the baby?" So we filled them in on what had transpired over the past few months that we had not seen them. They were sympathetic and sorry for what we had lost, and so the went the conversation. And on the conversation continued, turning next to how the season was starting for them, the frustrations of too much rain too soon, the question of whether to start raising livestock, etc.

What occurred to me during our conversation and during the rest of the time at the market was how much I enjoyed shopping here. And it occurred to me that my enjoyment came from much more than the fresh food, my enjoyment was coming from the relationships I was developing with the farmers who grow my food. It was the human connection that I was craving. We tend to live in a very detached culture that feels it is largely independent of the need for relationships to get by. And so, I was reminded from this very mundane, normal Saturday morning that people indeed matter and that we are created with the need to know and be known. It is a joy to share your trials and tribulations with another human, even when you are shopping!

Tuesday, May 19

The Longest Saturday

The Greeks have a wonderful little adjective, kairos, which describes time in a qualitative sense. Not the kind of time that your watch measures, but the kind of time that is characterized by a feeling such as "this is a good time", it is time for a beer, or, as the ancient poet remarked: there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. Have you ever thought about how absurd it is for us to attempt to describe God, who is outside of time, with language that exists only within time?

Consider this: in between the days of Christ's death and his resurrection there was Saturday, the day when nothing happened at all. Christ was dead, and that was that. The Gospels have little to say about it, the Disciples themselves simply rested as they were commanded. But imagine such rest, they were most likely scared out of their skins and doing more of cowering in the dark corner of their flat than resting with a good drink and a pleasant book. And waiting, for what they were not even sure.

So too for us, Saturday is the day that we know best. We too are waiting, waiting for God knows what. Maybe we are waiting as a pessimist for the government to finally fail, maybe we are waiting as the typical American Evangelical for that supposed thousand years of peace, or maybe we wait as the good humanist for human kind to finally reach a perfected state of being. This is certainly one way to wait. It makes us feel brave as we laugh in the face of the dark night; it also tempting because as Buechner says; "despair is often easier than faith."

The other way however, is to say "to hell with the dark." The other way is to say "thanks be to God" because the darkness is not the end. Sunday morning came, and with it life. Life everlasting. As sure as the light has already broken into the darkness and will break through again, so will our Sunday morning come and put an end to our Saturday.

Saturday, May 9

my little beach buddy

Mac kept us busy, running from camp down to the water, and finally lay right down beside me; we listened to the music from tiny speakers by that bag in front of us, appropriately playing the country song "Blow Wind, Blow."

We girls had a great time at the beach yesterday while our guys were hard at work, flying somewhere around the same coastline. Since the water is still chilly, we did no more than wade in the waves, choosing instead to burn ourselves up on the beach. You know you've gotten an overdose of sun when you get home groggy from doing nothing more than lying on a beach towel.

Friday, May 8

Siesta in Tuscon

As one of my friends puts it, being professionally unemployed frees me to "live the life" and traveling with Boards on business trips is one of those rare pleasures. While the husband was enduring lectures on the hidden art of bomb building, I spent each morning writing for hours in the outdoor nook of an Italian style cafe the first morning and a more business like Panera style cafe the next two mornings. Sipping coveted lattes followed by rich, in house-baked chocolate chip cookies was an indulgence I allowed, with the hour invested in the hotel gym later that afternoon. We ate dinner at a friendly little Guatemalan restaurant, where the chile rellenos are excellent, stuffed with spinach and walnuts--not the standard gooey cheese. The impression of the desert cities to me is always one of brown rubble, coming from the overpowering green of the east. And always after only a day or two, one begins to enjoy the ever sunny blue skies, and every piece of green cactus, each bright cluster of flowers catches the eye like no one tree will ever do in North Carolina.

Wednesday, April 22

The Hungering Dark

We live in a world that though dark, hungers for something to fill it, to light it, and make it right. Some days we may find that we come close to making things right ourselves: the car remains clean for the weekend, a perfect summer afternoon ends with barbeque and beer, your kid scores the winning touchdown, you might even find a way to say the right thing to your wife. But like all things here, the good passes and we are left with the dark once again, hungering for something more.

Upon our loss of Beau I have found the dark to be hungry. The darkness wishes to be filled with something that is substantial. Fortunately, for those who are in Christ Jesus, the dark cannot remain hungry forever. In eternity it will indeed find its fill. In the meantime, before we taste eternity, we receive grace. And in this grace, the darkness retreats with the knowledge that it will get its fill.

The sweet taste of grace that filled my darkness today came in the form of a visit to the hospital for our final follow up check with the doctor after the events of the winter. Walking into the NICU, where we spent eight wonderful days, fills me with the sensation of being home. I feel close to my son once again, as if I am visiting his room to tuck him in. I can once again smell his smells, and hear the sounds he heard during his time here on earth. I see once again the nurses and doctors who cared for him, who remember him, and I am reminded through their testimony that he did matter.

And what is more, I am reminded that he is risen with his Christ. His life did matter. It was ordained by God. He changed us, he changed the lives of his nurses. Though he could not speak, his voice broke through the darkness of our hearts and proclaimed the reality that Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. And in that all darkness, mine, his, yours is broken and filled, never to be that hungry again.

Saturday, March 21

the gardeners awake

Today is the day of mild 60's, chilly to touch, but the sun calls all the neighbours out to their scruffy yards, pale with winter's faded grass, moist around the muddy edges from recent rains. A green glow vibrates from grass roots up to the trees' swelling limbs, which bud with ruddy red leaves mirroring the cheeks of children hollering in the blue, blue air. The Carolinas are known for their blue skies, a peculiar quality of robin's egg colour highlighted by the white fluffies that drift on our coastal breezes.

I woke to the gruff whine of leaf blowers, answered the door to questions of "where do you find your truck loads of horse manure?"--which we had tried to hide under secondary loads of mulch--and felt a slight nod of pride towards the lord and master of the place who insisted upon doing all our spring yard cleaning a whole month earlier, before the March rains set in. A glance at our sad seedlings, pale and weak from--what? too little sun, no fertilizer in their peat pots, over watering?? --resets my gardening pride barometer; no largess of motivation substitutes for long term experience of growing and tending year in, year out.

Sunday, February 22

A Case For The Liturgy - Take II

Language Has Consequences ~ Dr. George Grant

How does one settle a dispute that has been raging since. . . well, since Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians. At Least. The Church has argued for centuries now over what the best way to worship is. Should we go with the high church mentality and have a full blown Liturgy that requires a class to decipher which book you are to turn to next for the responsive reading? Or, on the other hand, is it wiser to go with the emergent/charismatic model and just let the spirit move you individually and without constraint.

I wonder if we are asking the wrong questions. After all, if God had wanted a specific liturgy, wouldn't He have set it out somewhere in the New Testament? Perhaps the question we should be asking is this: In what manner has God called me to worship Him and therefore in what manner would be most pleasing? I would offer up to you that me, an Anglo-Saxon male who was raised in the Mid-South would worship in a different manner than an African male raised in Zimbabwe. However, if our worship is truly Christ centric, it will be pleasing and acceptable unto God.

As I think through this particular issue, I am leaning more toward the idea that there is not one particular liturgy for worship, but several. And the idiosyncrasies of each particular liturgy are both culturally driven yet biblically informed. With that being said, there are tenets of a true liturgy that must be met in order for the liturgy to be true worship. 1) God calls His people to worship - we do not call ourselves. 2) God speaks to His people through His word - the Word is exegetically proclaimed. 3) A corporate confession of Sin 4) A response to God's Grace 5) A corporate confession of our faith, and finally 6) God sends His people out - the Benediction.

These particular marks can look different depending on where you live, what language you speak, or perhaps even more significantly, if you live in the rural south. But seriously, the tenets mentioned above are spoken of throughout both the Old and the New Testaments and though they may look different depending on local, they follow a specific model that has been placed before us.

Questions are good. If we ask the right questions. I want to continue asking questions, but my prayer is that my questions are biblically informed and not snobbishly mis-guided.

Saturday, February 7

65 degrees and sunny

The beauty of the day says that all is well, but there's fear in the air.
God comes to a virgin girl and says, fear not,
I am with you, even overshadowing you,
My power will produce a child in your frame,
A man child who will know you as mother,
To the wonder of the world, he will take up his cross,
Deny his parents and follow a trail of tears,
Pursuing the lame, the blind, the deaf, the dumb,
Victims of a darkened world, an unholy planet,
Lost beneath the ruins, he digs up the fallen,
Restores to the brokenhearted their brother,
Children receives he to bless and speak in parables
The sleeping children of Israel to awake,
With stories that confound these men and those who walk
With him on the path of sorrows he brings his friends.
Fear not, and walk to him on the water,
For with God, all things he wills will be possible.

Upon reading The Faces of Jesus, Frederick Buechner.

Monday, February 2

The World Spins Madly On

"I think of your face, wonder where you have gone, and the world spins madly on" ~ The Weepies

The world spins madly on. How we wish we could stop it. In many ways we feel like for us it is stopped. We see transactions occur, people flash by like apparitions. Work, merciless in its dogged pursuit of fallen goals, relentless in its tugging at our shoulder, leads us with chains of iron.

I believe that God granted us a protection in our grief that shields us from returning too soon to the normalcy of life. In fact, I would go further to say that as we walk with the "crook in our lot" we are reminded that what we lived before is not normal, and what we are living now is more normal. I do not want to go back to the man I was before the birth of my son. My son has changed me, or rather, the hand of God through the death of my son has changed me.

But grief is like a chameleon, it changes. It matures. And this is necessary; grief is healthy, but when it leads to depression, the positive aspects are stripped and we are no longer transformed for the better through our grief. I have felt a tearing as of late. A desperation to run as fast as I can to the physical location where the memories of my son are is tempered by a peaceful beckoning that calls me to venture beyond his leaving. I know that his leaving led to his life, in a small temporal way my leaving will also contribute to my life.

Like a crippled man taking small steps, I tasted the breath of new life lived through friendship this past weekend. It was sweet and it was real. Electra and I, like two Canadian trappers stepping out of their cabin during the first semi-mild day of Spring, stuck our heads out into the life of our local community. The breath was sweet, and for a moment the world stopped spinning madly on.

Wednesday, January 21


We all love them. Whether they come in the form of a movie, a song, or in a book there is an intrinsic draw to the drama, tragedy, and even beauty of living life.

All of us that live yet have a story that is already written, those who lived before us had a story, just as those who will come after us have one. The point is that the Author of life cared enough for us that He wove us into the poetry of drama that makes up His creation.

One of the anticipations I had in having a son born unto us was the opportunity to tell him stories. In my mind I pictured telling him of the tall tales that made room for Hrothgar, King Alfred, Henry V, and of Jacob. Instead, his mother and I told him a story that had the makings of an epic. A story I never would have been able to tell him had he not been with us in the manner that he was. We told him of how he was a son of Adam, fallen and yet redeemed. How that he was born into sin, but through a Mercy we can not fathom he was born into the Covenant of Grace. And of how he would leave our arms and be taken up into the arms of his Father and carried Home to a place where he could run, play, learn, and rule as a prince.

It was a great joy to be able to explain to him that this was no mere fairy tale, but a story that was in the process of being lived out and died in, and that we all would be there to see it through.

Tuesday, January 20

Snow In New Bern

Today we had a great treat! Snow! Coastal North Carolina is not known for great snowfalls. Due to old man Gulf Stream, which flows so close to the shoreline, our winter weather is moderated accordingly. Today, however, was the perfect mix for a grand snow fall. With cold air aloft and plenty of moisture thanks to the aforementioned Gulf Stream, snow was in abundance.

We celebrated with sledding in the street and romping with Herbie. Sweet Pea was not amused.

Thursday, January 15

The Great Schism

"and I wear it for the thousands who have died thinking that the Lord was on their side." ~Johnny Cash

Beau's life established a line of demarkation for us. When you glimpse eternity you can not help but be changed by the reality that floods your mortality.

For some time now I have well understood Johnny Cash's "Man in Black" mentality. And it has caused me to be a bit cynical as I viewed the Church. How can a group of people who insist that their God became man, hung out with losers, suffered and died a horrible death still insist that they pretend everything is well with the world. The Christian faith makes a horrible diagnosis. This faith insists that everything is not well with us, or the world for that matter. Sure, we can pretend on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings that we are "great", our kids are doing well in Sunday School, and the choir sounds wonderful. In short, we fake feelings that we wish were real. To tell about conflict and difficulties would be denying the work of Christ in our lives right?

I am not cynical anymore. Beau taught me that yes, we do suffer here. Suffering is real. However, I saw something during the early evening hours of November 25th that proved that this suffering is real and yet powerless over us. As Beau left my arms that evening the foundations of the world shook, and my breath, instead of being sucked out of me, filled my lungs in a new and mighty way. The City of God could be seen as a reality and the City of man crumbled away behind me in so many pieces. Yes, suffering is real. And as the Psalmist says, the words of man are but empty praise, but the Word of the Lord is life. I therefore do not have to feel bad about not using the unwritten code of Christian vocabulary, but can instead feel secure in using the vocabulary of the God made Man and rest secure that though our diagnosis is grim, our hope is both real and wonderful.

Saturday, January 10

A Case For the Liturgy

Theology is history class. ~Peter Leithart

In my mind, one of the unfortunate byproducts of the Protestant Reformation is the way in which we Protestants view the Liturgy. In many cases we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. To have a specific order to your worship and recite creeds or prayers is just so high church and is definitely not where you want to be if you are attempting to gain new members or be culturally relevant. Or is it?

Experience is often the best teacher and I have found the opposite to be true. Since I was a young man I have had the opportunity to worship in a manner that had order. That is, we had a liturgy. In my younger years, not all of the liturgy made sense, but as I matured not only did I understand it, but worship without it was simply not worship. The liturgy became just what it was supposed to be, a conduit by which I might most truthfully and beautifully worship our Lord.

What a litrugy really does though is give you a baseline, a foundation if you will, with which to stand on when you have nothing else. I understand the argument that states that it is knowledge of the Scriptures alone that must be utilized to strengthen our faith in a hard time, and that is true. But that sentiment is worthy of amplification. There is comfort in having a tried and true statement of our faith that has been hammered out by councils of godly men, that along with Scripture, has proven the test of time and apostacy. When your world is falling down around you it is comforting to have more than a smattering of verses memorized to give you comfort and hope.

A case in point. The night I was told of Beau's diagnosis my world shattered. The room began spinning and as I began looking for any shred of hope and comfort it was the Apostles Creed which came to me first. This creed, which I have been reciting since I was a young man, became a lifeline to a very powerless not as young a man. As I went down through a mental checklist in my mind of what was and is to be, I came across this question: "What do I believe?" What came into my mind first was this: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. . ." I recited it over and over for about fifteen minutes. That Creed became my foundation with which I could then build on as I had to make further decisions that night and in the days to follow. It remains my hope even now.

Had I not recited that summation of Church history every Sunday for the past fifteen years, I would not have had it so readily available and would have thus lost a great cornerstone in the foundation I needed to move on. I am sure that had I not had the Apostles Creed memorized, God's mercy would certainly have been sufficient in some other way. But I would venture to say that God has given us many tools to use in our walk with Him and that it is harder on us when we do not use all of those at our disposal.

Thursday, January 8

Grey hair of the Grandmam

Jose (from the movie, Bella): My Grandmother always used to say, If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

And how often do we pray with these intentions: we ask him incessantly to fulfill our plans, pave the way for our ideas to be known, make things happen when we think they should--and why? What insanity makes us think we know the best way things should be done? He need only say: be not anxious. For we are anxious about our lives, preserving our lives, keeping ahead of death's time, carefully protecting ourselves from giving too much away.

How often we make God laugh! My hope is that his laughter is that delighted joy of what he has in store for us. Perhaps the Spirit's work today is to interpret the bowl of prayers offered before the throne tomorrow so that God is always, figuratively speaking, one step ahead of us, knowing what we need vs what we ask for and making provision for us with a superabundance we didn't think to imagine yet.

Monday, January 5

"You gotta have faith." George Michael c.1988

Over the past few weeks while dealing with the cause of grief in my life many have remarked how great my faith is, as if I have now reached some sort of Christian high place. A place that is somewhat mysterious. A place that they are not sure that they really want to get to. After all, the people who get lumped into this classification are often the subjects of calamitous events. Either that or they are the elderly ladies of great wisdom in your church.

Well, I have not reached any sort of high place of faith, nor am I one of the sage elderly ladies in your church. If anything, I am simply the recipient of a grace of which I am not deserving. Take the Book of Hebrews, one of my favorite studies; in it the author talks of the ones who by faith parted the Red Sea, slew giants, and walked out of the fire. But he also mentions that there are others. Some, who even though they too possessed faith, were sawn in two. There were some who though they had faith, were forced to wander in the desert, were hunted by beasts, and were persecuted. The difficult thing for us to understand is that neither one of these groups had a greater faith than the other. In both cases, their faith was true and not found lacking. Not fair you say? Well, I am with you on that one. But seriously, who are we to judge fairness? If I have learned anything through this time, it is to leave the fairness issue to God.

To those who comment on my faith, I can only reply with this, the most incoherent of responses: It is not faith. . . well, ok , yes it is. But, it is not me reaching out--it is God reaching down. All I have done is accept this mysterious plausibility that God became man to die for me and in that I attain salvation. With that simple admission made, the Spirit comes to hover over me in that somehow Maternal manner and breathe the breath of life into a dead son of Adam. It is this breath that is breathed on us that we call faith. And it is therefore nothing that we do.