Lent 37: the Emu nests.

26 03 2013

(Thursday, March 21st post) The emu nests again. A few years ago ago I did some research and learned that either the male or female emu will incubate the eggs, so we’re not sure which emu this is. Whichever it is, s/he has been very protective and faithful, even chasing away the other emu. The sacrifices this emu is making are impressive also–Lent 37: the emu nestsin the past couple of weeks we’ve had all sorts of weather including snow, sleet, and rain. And, sadly, three years ago when the older emus were nesting, the mother made the ultimate sacrifice–death. She was killed by a wild animal (fox or coyote, we were told) while protecting the eggs. Neither she nor the eggs made it.

Last week as I took this photo, I was thinking about God’s faithfulness and loyalty to us humans. The animal kingdom never ceases to amaze me. But what amazes me even more is our great, creative God who made it all.

That, and the ultimate sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus, for each one of us as well.

(Note: if you are local, and you decide to check this emu out, please please please don’t approach the fence right by the emu. We have been asked to be very cautious, and only approach from an angle… keep the dog away, and not get too close…. We’re all hoping for better success this year with the emu eggs, and want to do whatever we can to enable that.)

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Lent 36: trash or recycling?

20 03 2013

In Philippians 3:4-14, the Apostle Paul states that the former gains in his life he now considers garbage–that he may gain Christ. Lent 36: trash or recycling? In The Message (paraphrase of the Bible), Eugene Peterson translates part of the passage this way:

“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him.”

It’s a great image…. dumping the former stuff in the trash, the garbage, the rubbish… and considering it dog dung. Yet I can’t help thinking about how often we humans still hold on to the former stuff. It’s almost as though we consider the former stuff recycling, rather than trash.. something we can re-use, upcycle, whatever… whatever is most useful, when we need to rehash stuff. Trash. Maybe it’s time we stopped recycling some of these things, and throwing them out instead, so our lives can be free from trash, and more useful for God. Maybe it’s time we lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross.





Lent 31: the Rocking Chair

18 03 2013

Rocking chairs have always held a certain appeal for me. Even the ones that are too high for me to rock in comfortably. When we bought this rocking chair at a garage sale many years ago, I expected many nights of rocking Kajsa to sleep.  Lent 31: the Rocking ChairWhat I didn’t expect was how much she and I would both long for the rocking chair at other times.

It started a couple of years ago when, after a particularly hard day, I carried her to the rocking chair, and simply rocked. I think she was still a little frustrated with me at that point, and wasn’t eager to be rocked. But before long she calmed down. I sang one of our favorite songs (Skidda-ma-rink-a-dink-a-dink, skidda-ma-rink-a-do), and pretty soon she was asleep. The story repeated itself a few times.

Then the story changed. She began asking if I would rock her. And so we rocked. And rocked. We have rocked ourselves calm (that sounds strange) too many times to count. When my five year old or I are having a difficult day, she is often the one to ask to be rocked. The rocking chair has become one of the many methods we use to quiet ourselves, to hug each other, to adjust attitudes and frustrations, and to move on. I love this time.

Reflecting back to last week (!) and the Prodigal Son story, I imagine that God loves the times with us, when we have quieted down, when we allow God to hold and comfort us, and to welcome us back into God’s arms.





Lent 28: hiding place

12 03 2013

Kajsa loves to hide. And maybe even more than hiding, she loves the creation of hiding spots. Sometime in the past two days, she developed this new hiding spot by the coffee table. I think she calls it my secret spot.  She hides back there and does her “work”: writing, reading, drawing and talking to her stuffed animals. Lent 28: hiding place

Today’s Scripture reading from the Lenten bulletin insert for this week, is Psalm 32. One of my favorite verses is verse 7: You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I have often felt like hiding. Hiding from the many icks of life–painful and difficult detours. Sorrow, illness, death, tragedies, brokenness, loss, poor decisions, prodigal behavior, injustices, trauma, disappointing news…. lots of tears, lots of questions, not many good answers.. The icks of life that create pain.

But hiding places don’t remove pain. Sometimes we need a break, a reprieve from the detours… that’s different. And more often, what we do need is to rest and trust–in God. That kind of hiding, that doesn’t take us away from the pain as much as it does help us through it. That kind of hiding place helps us remember that even in the midst of all the pain, God is still present. God is still loving. And God is still faithful. This much I know.





Lent 23: Which Way?

8 03 2013

Yesterday evening, Jim and I joined Jen & Rob (friends who were visiting this week–they had gone to Philly for the day) for dinner. We met them in the Comcast Center, a very fun, tall, many-windowed building downtown. I didn’t even know this place existed, and we spent very few minutes in the “lobby” of the center, but I was immediately drawn to these statues/figures walking different directions way up high. Lent 23: Which way?

Choices are everywhere, in daily life. At least it seems that way. You can do this, you can do that, you can do the other thing… you can go left, right, straight, behind, veer, make a u-turn, go in reverse… Granted, not all choices are available at all times. Often we wish for more choices–and, at times, we wish for fewer choices. Some choices are obviously good, some are obviously bad, others are simply not the best… and still others don’t have a giant affect on our lives.

What choices have you been faced with today? How did you decide? Or did you? And what choices could help you to draw closer to God?





Lent 16: steadfast parenting

28 02 2013

On the winding road of parenting, today almost got me carsick from all the turns. Nothing horrible happened–it was just one of those days. Thankfully, we also had some fun and laughter. But not enough, in my mind.   Lent 16: steadfast

As I peek in on my sleeping daughter, some parental guilt sets in, about the day. “Why didn’t I …. ” or “Ugh.. ! She’s five! It’s kind of her job to be an imp!” Regardless, I am incredibly thankful. Thankful to God. Thankful to her. Thankful for this gift that is our daughter.  And I whisper to her for about the 10th time tonight, and 25th time today (give or take one or two), “I love you SO much, Kajsa!” My love, though a bit carsick today, is steadfast. It is fixed and unmovable–except to grow bigger.  I am reminded of the love God must feel for each one of us–even after we try God’s patience.

I also appreciate how tired and relieved God might feel when we humans finally stop whining, and simply fall asleep.





Lent 13: driving the curves

25 02 2013

This is where I learned how to drive–in Southern Vermont. There is no lack of curvy, winding roads in my former stomping grounds. And so I approached the learning process with fear, trepidation — and a little excitement. My dad told me, when he first started teaching me to drive, that he wanted to make sure I knew how to drive the curves. And he did. And, I loved it.   Lent 13: driving the curves

I still love to drive the curves–in Vermont. The curvy, winding roads of life, however? Not so much. I’m not wishing for a bunch of perfectly straight roads-that actually sounds boring. But at times, I’d like to have a bit more variety, and not so much curve.

As I write this, I can’t help but think of those in my circle of friends and family who are currently on a stretch of  really hard curves. Illness, medical procedures up the wazoo, loss… lots of loss… death of loved ones, depression, strained relationships, lack of adequate finances, feeling utterly overwhelmed. It all can feel a bit out-of-control, much like driving too fast on a curvy road.

One of the things my dad taught me, about driving in Vermont, is that you don’t put the brakes on very much as you approach a curve. Obviously, if the situation warrants it, brake! But if you’re driving at the normal speed, and it’s a normal curve, keep driving into it. Don’t give it too much gas, don’t give it much brake… keep driving.

Easier on a Vermont road than on the road of life. And yet, I also have learned that–for the most part–one has to drive into the winding roads of life as well. Even when we change direction, even when we pull over at rest stops, even when we have to stop and fix a tire, switch drivers, whatever… we still need to get back into the car and drive into the rest of the trip. It takes more guts and white knuckles than I think I have, most of the time. But thanks be to God for his strength, for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, for the love and grace of Jesus Christ… and for the community of faith, that helps sustain.

Grace & peace & blessed driving.