Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bremerton Ferry

I've decided I need a ferry in my life.

It was all rather a shock when we went to visit our son near Seattle last summer.

I knew he lived on a peninsula.

I knew he had to take a ferry to come and go with any efficiency what so ever.

I even knew we would have to take the ferry to get to his house.

Somehow, though, I had a small ferry in mind.

     A quick trip across the bay ferry.

          A maybe fifteen minutes if we timed it just right ferry.

The conversation when we got off the plane didn't quite go as expected.

"We're here.  We just have to pick up the rental car and we'll be on our way.  If you want to meet us at the dock, we'll go get some dinner."

"You won't be here in time for dinner.  The ferry leaves in fifteen minutes."

"Oh.  Well, I preregistered the car.  Surely it won't take too long."  (Seriously?  You'd think I'd never rented a car before.)

"Aren't you at the airport."


"The airport is a good hour from the terminal."

"Oh.  Well, ok. I guess we'll just catch the next one then."

"That's an hour."

"An hour?"

"And the trip is over an hour."

"An hour???"

Yes, an hour.  And that didn't include sitting in the line waiting to drive onto the ferry, then sitting in the line waiting to drive off.  It seemed interminable on that first ride.

People really do this every day?

I couldn't imagine the planning to meet the schedules, the enforced captivity, the constant tension of lost control.  An hour, each way, for every casual trip into town.  

For that one hour, there was absolutely nothing I could do about time.  I couldn't hurry the captain, I couldn't pass a slow vehicle, I couldn't rush to meet a schedule.  It was all completely out of my control.


The ultimate fantasy of modern life.  With our phones and messages and voice mails and all day every day contact, just who is really in control?

All through that week, as I floated day by day, twisting through the inlet, back and forth, I relinquished all thoughts of control.

For fifty-five minutes, all I could do was talk to my family, read a good book, take a quick nap, or just stand on the deck and watch the mountains float by.  

What a wonderfully peaceful way to live.   

Friday, August 1, 2014


I opened my FB page and found the most horrendously awful picture of myself.  

My eyes are droopy and bagged,
          from the not quite sleep of a night on the ground in a tent,

They're bloodshot and watery,
          from the smokey flames of the campfire surrounded by family-friends,

My hair is a scraggly, tangled mess,
          I packed that hairbrush,
                                  I know I did,
                                                Didn't I?

My face is red and chapped,
          from outdoor,
                   all day,
                         hours of biking,
                                       and hiking,
                                                and scrambling through rushing streams.

I'm laughing,
         I'm happy,

                    I'm clutching a bundle
                                          of wriggling,
                                                             irrepressible, life.

I really love that picture.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Battle Plans

Then he prepared a great feast for them,
and after they ate and drank,
he sent them away and they went to their master.
2 Kings 6:23

It opens like a classic movie finale.  

The embattled hero, Elisha, stands alone with his one trusted friend.  Surrounded, out numbered, out gunned, they wait in the valley, it's always a valley, with heads held high.  

The terrified servant declares it's the end.  The calm and confident Elisha reassures him; God will never let them down.

Suddenly, silently the mountain tops bloom with the multitudes of allies engulfing the conquerors.  

With war cries echoing off the hills, they swoop down into the battle, conquering the enemy, celebrating their victory, and cheering as the hero gets the girl and the credits roll.  

Well, almost like the movie.  

No war cries, no massacre, no girl;  Elisha just quietly leads them into the city as the hosts of heaven watch from the hills. 

He protects them, he feeds them, he lets them rest, then sends them on their way.

A unique battle plan to say the least.  

I wonder what they thought.  

Where they afraid to eat the food?

Did they cringe at every sound, waiting for the swing of the sword?

How far along the path home was it before they really believed they were going to be spared?  

How did they ever explain it to their king?

Whether in gratitude or confusion, or total humiliation, I doubt they ever forgot that day.  

They would live, forever in the shadow, of that one encounter with God.  


Monday, June 16, 2014

Push Back the Leaves

On a weekend still cool enough I turn back for my sweater, the first tinges of summer heat  brush the air.  Strawberry season drifts to it's close, brief and hidden in the tumultuous turn of the seasons.  

It looks rather discouraging at first glance. Long green rows are dotted with bubbling children, scatterings of dark, soft, overripe berries, and plants that weightlessly dance in the sun.  The farmer points us to an abandoned section with a smile, a box, and a lifeline;

 "Don't be afraid to push back the leaves.  If they were easy to find, they've already been picked"

True to the promise, they're there.  They hide in the shadows of the thickening leaves and the mounds of earth.   I scoot through the stiff hay layering the ground between the rows, nudging my cardboard box with it's softly rattling tumble of loot.  I lift layers of leaves, and gently push aside tangled stems and vine rotted fruit to find the hidden gifts.  

Brightly glowing in their first touch of sunlight, they're a hint of the miracles waiting to be found if I just take the time to look.     

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lifted Eyes

I will lift up my mine eyes to the hills...
Psalms 12:1

Hiking the rain softened trail, it's easy to be lost in the stones beneath my feet.  Step by step, I skip to a more secure boulder, and swing my legs over a fallen branch.  The soft morning air brushes the wild flowers that dance at the edge of the path.  Stopping for pictures, stopping for breath, I lift my eyes to the beauty that almost overwhelms me.  

It's a pleasant walk, within the radius of my arms.  I could stay here quite happily, engulfed in the trees and the flowers and the sounds of the birds.  Yet the glory lies just outside that self imposed bubble. 

How often do I forget to stop, 

to lift my eyes, 

and to embrace the gifts that surround me?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Bagpipe hymns,
On lavender trails,
Haunting over waters
From a wrought iron bridge.
Blessings of sunshine,
Blessings of warmth,
Blessings unnumbered 
of a day off in Spring.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Storm of Power

They were fearful and amazed, 
asking one another,
"Who can this be?
He commands even the winds and the waves,
and they obey Him!"
Luke 8:25

I wonder which one scared them the most.  They were frightened by the raging winds and swamping waves, certain they were about to be pummeled to the bottom of the sea.  But at least it was natural, expected, a normal part of the life they led.  

What exactly did they hope Jesus would do when they woke him?  They'd seen him teach, and heal, and even raise the dead, but there's no indication they really expected him to stop that storm.  

Maybe they just wanted company in their fear.  Maybe they wanted reassurance that it would all pass over soon, that they would survive to continue this mission they'd abandoned their lives to.

What they got was the instantaneous hands-on power of God.  

It wasn't a sign this time, a gift bestowed on a stranger in the crowd  It was the personal, immediate, force of heaven, for their benefit alone, in the voice and touch of their friend.  

That was terrifying.  

"Who is he?" they asked in fearful awe.  After all they'd seen and heard, they didn't know the answer.  After all this power, they didn't still.

When, after all he's done, will we? 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Sower's Seeds

A sower went out to sow his seed.
Luke 8:5

How many fields would a sower sow?  

Over a lifetime of sowing and harvesting and sowing again; of an endless cycle of backbreaking effort and anxious waiting, how many times would he model the words of Jesus?

In reading the parable, I always think of a single planting, of a one time shot or you've missed it gift.  But is that really how his listeners would have heard it?  

Did they see a farmer, laboring on a distant hill as Jesus taught? Did they watch him trudging up one row and down another, flinging the hopes of his family across the soil?  

They would have seen him in the light of a lifetime of work, of father passing on the land to son, of good years and bad and the endless renewal of hope. 

If the seed is continually sown, then the harvest is new every season.  It's not enough to hear a single call, to check off a box and move on.  

The sower's seeds, forever fresh, demand a fresh response. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February Morning

It's raining.  
Through soft thick clouds, 
drifting on a hint of Spring.  
Snow has dissolved into puddles, 
skipped like pebbles across the ground.  
Stark, bare trees, 
stretch and yawn 
into the quiet gray morning.  
A roll of thunder, 
more promise than threat, 
hints that winter 
just might, 
be losing it's grip.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love in Four Dimensions

...may be able to comprehend 
with all the saints
what is the length, and width,
height and depth of God's love...

Ephesians 3:18


That's four dimensions. In a three dimensional world of rumbling carts and lowing sheep, the calling of merchants and ring of hammers, God's love is proclaimed in four dimensions.  

Time, the forth dimension. 

It's cliche today. The science fiction staple we throw around like we really understand it. Time, the enduring depth of the love, of the plan, that stretches across centuries lost in the mists beyond our grasp.  

A sudden geek moment in the middle of the sermon, wondering at the time-bound author who never knew his words were reaching me; at the tiny infant sleeping in my arms who might someday do the same.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Oh No, You never let go,
                                                                                   Matthew Redman

Another snow day, another wind chill advisory, in a winter that seems destined to cling tightly to the shivering earth for weeks to come. I set out wrapped in scarf and hood and my heavy left-over Alaska coat that seems to inspire as much entertainment as envy.  

I don't care. It's warm. It lets me out of the house and into the crisp fresh air and billowing fluff.  The streets are scraped to damp asphalt now, but the sidewalks are still barely distinguishable from the buried yards they huddle against. I stay on the deserted road until I reach the park then plunge through the drifts to the trail. 

It's marked already, with the runners of a single sled and the darting prints of a small animal. The trees are frosted in white as expected, stark and bare against the steel gray clouded sky and the silent air.

Except for one. At the top of the hill, where the children play, it stands alone. Tired, brown, crisp-wilted leaves clutch its branches in defiant pride. Against all storms and wind and cold, they won't give up, they won't let go.  

It's cold now, even through my heavy coat.  The winds are picking up and the temperature dropping.  I head back home, Matthew Redman floating through my mind on the icy walk and a down slope fall. Through storm and trial and barren branches, God will never let go.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Showers

Snow thick sheeting,
        Plate glass windows,
                 Cafe buzzing,
                          With bubbling


                                      Basketball team

Was it supposed to snow today?  What do we even mean when we say that?  Apparently it was since it is.

Unexpected, unpredicted, outside my plan for the day.

The very definition of life.

I can scowl at the lowering skies as I dash to my car,

Or pause to laugh at the kiss of snowflakes on my cheeks.

The choice, as we endlessly intone to the kids, is mine.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dog Sled Mini

I breathe in the tang of sharp crisp cold of record breaking St Louis snow, and brush the memories that seem like yesterday.  How can it be twenty years ago that I stood out on nights like this, looking up into sparkled Alaskan skies searching for the endless swirls of Northern Lights.  

I pulled my toddlers behind me everywhere that winter.  They bumped along in their little red sled over snow packed roads and sidewalks.  

Two blocks behind our house lay a lake of thickly dusted frozen expanse.   The dog raced after us that day, in bouncing excitement.  His curly black cocker spaniel fur glowed in sharp contrast against the snow as he skittered and slid on the ice.  We shuffled out to middle of the lake, tugging, and scrambling, and sliding until I decided to harness his boundless hysterical energy.  

I hooked him to the children's sled.  They sat stuffed together, in snow suits so thick they could barely bend, flapping their arms in excitement.

He shot off in proud delight when I fastened the final buckle.  Their shrieks of delight spurred him on as I chased after the careening carriage on foot.  We stumbled together in laughing circles.  They begged for more each time he stopped to catch his breath, and with brief stops in between, he was delighted to oblige.  

The children tumbled off at last, and lay in exhausted joy on the frozen sheet.  I dropped beside them and eyed the helpless fold of plastic.   I was determined to try it myself.  I wedged my way onto the sled as the dog pranced his eagerness to fly off again.  

There we ended though.  He turned to look back over his shoulder as I called to him to take off, and considered his unexpected new passenger.  He leveled a glance at me that announced as clear as speech, "You've got to be kidding me."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The God of hope

Now may the God of hope
 fill you with all joy and peace 
as you believe in Him
 so that you may overflow with hope
 by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15: 13

The God of hope; the God of the future.  Hope looks forward.  It bubbles with optimism, with the faith that the struggle will be worthwhile in the end.  Hope is strength; a goal to grasp, a reason to keep pressing on.

It's the reason I walk around muttering "eight more years" every time it gets insane at work.

I try to stop myself from doing it.  It makes me feel guilty every time.  I don't want to live in a fog of longing for the future, but maybe all it really is is hope.

There's a constant tension between living for today and grasping at the tendrils of the future.  Maybe there's really not much we can do about that.

It's a fixture of humanity that we can visualize consequences and imagine our place in the future.  We're not particularly accurate with it, but the hope comes in seeing that future in a positive light,  in expecting it all to get better.

Joy and peace are the gifts of God for today.

Am I filled with joy and peace when I have hope the future?

Do I have hope for the future because I'm filled with joy and peace?

The God of hope.

What an incredible title.  Not the God of  destruction or fear or punishment;
       but hope,
               the strength of life,
                      the balm of despair.