Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Running the Race

Did you know that right now there are 158 people from around the world involved in a foot race in the Gobi Desert?  They are participating in the Gobi March (China) 2010, a venue of RacingThePlanet.  According to their website, "RacingThePlanet is a unique category of rough country footraces that take place over seven days and some 250 kilometers in remote and culturally rich locations around the world."

The competitors range in age from 22 to 61, with the average age being 39.  They will be given bottled water, a spot in a tent where they can mingle with others and sleep, and they will receive necessary medical care and administrative oversight.  But they are responsible to carry all their own supplies and food.  The temperatures for this year's race in the Gobi Desert are expected to range from 50 degrees F up to 95-104 degrees F.  Dry rocky river-beds, dusty tracks and sand dunes will make up the terrain of the race.  I suspect that, unlike marathons, there will be no spectators positioned along the race course.

Again, quoting from their website, "RacingThePlanet is international; the events typically involve competitors from over 20 different countries who are able to mingle around the campfires and in their geographically mixed tent.  Currently the events consist of the 4 Deserts, a series which encompasses the Gobi Desert in China, the Atacama Desert of Chile, the Sahara Desert in Egypt and Antarctica, and a fifth event which roves to a new location each year."  In 2010 the "roving" event will take place in Australia; the 2011 race will be in Nepal.

I'm just trying to imagine what this must be like, how if feels to get up at 2:45 in the morning so they can get most of the event finished before the desert heat becomes unbearable; the brutal battering the body receives; the emotional and mental strain; exploring a microcosm of the world as you are living with people from many cultures (now that part sounds good to me).  What would drive a person to even consider entering? How could anyone ever prepare adequately for such an undertaking? Amazing, just amazing -- and a little bit crazy!

The entry fee if US$3100, and the winners receive only a trophy.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever...Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  (I Corinthians 9:24-25; Hebrews 12:1b)

(Interested in reading blogs by competitors?  Check them out here.  Or check out their Facebook links.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gerard Le Feuvre of The King's Chamber Orchestra

Cello music is probably my favorite, so when Monday's Haven Today podcast included an interview with Gerard Le Feuvre, a cellist from the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel, I turned up the volume.

Gerard lives in a 500 year-old home, which was last remodeled in the 1700s, about the time his cello was built.  He is the founder of The King's Chamber Orchestra which is made up of string players from all over Europe, people who are both outstanding instrumentalists and passionate followers of Jesus.  They come together to perform in London, the various home countries of the players, and occasionally overseas.

As I listened to Haven Today's program and visited The King's Chamber Orchestra website I found a couple of stories I want to share.

When Gerard was 22, he was taking a walk in a Scandinavian forrest.  Suddenly it became very quiet -- the birds stopped singing, the wind stopped blowing.  It amazed, even frightened him.  Then he heard Jesus say to him, "And now you will worship Me."  Though not a Christian, Gerard heard Jesus speak into his heart that day; he fell to his knees and wept over his sins.  When he left that forrest, drenched with his own tears, he was a completely new person, hungry to read the Bible and get to know God.  He knew from that moment that he was born to serve, and that is what he's done since that day.

The other story occurred in 2003.  He had just finished a concert in Toronto and set his cello on the floor for just a moment while he spoke with another musician.  Without him noticing, a young man somehow, quite accidentally, crashed into the cello so that it spun in the air and landed with a crash on its bridge, splitting it apart at the seam.  He picked up the cello and cradled it in his arms, feeling faint, while the offending young man collapsed in front of Le Feuvre and begged forgiveness.  In the midst of his own grief over the broken cello, he forgave the young man.  Amazingly, the damage was in the seams, where the pieces are glued together, and not in any other place.  He took it to the repair shop, where they glued and clamped it.  When he got it back, this magnificent, beautiful instrument was "(in terms of sound) twice the instrument that it was before. The orchestra I subsequently performed with in London who know me and my Cello well could hardly believe it. It was one of the finest instruments around, but now it is even better."  

Come to think of it, isn't that what the Lord does with anyone who comes to Him in repentance?  He takes our broken lives and recreates them, then puts us to work for His joy and His glory!

You can hear the powerful, sweet music of The King's Chamber Orchestra on either of the websites mentioned above as well as listen to the interview (on Haven Today) or learn more about the orchestra (on their website).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Early Morning Wake-Up Call

12:32.  I awaken to cramps seizing both feet and moving up the back of my right leg.  I slip out of bed and put on my fuzzy purple sipper-socks, which always seem to help calm the cramps, then hobble into the bathroom.  I fumble for the Tums and pop two into my mouth.  The flavor is Tropical Chalk.  The only thing worse than cramps is the remedy.

I crawl back into bed and try to relax.  I’ve trained myself to concentrate on relaxing enough to get to sleep, and usually that takes my mind off the cramps.

Tonight I think about my sweet auntie whom I have just visited in the nursing home.  The expression on her face suggests that she is in pain, but it is hard to tell the source.  Where does she hurt?  Can she find her call button? Can she tell them where she hurts?  How can anyone help if she can’t tell them? 

The cramps wake me again at 1:16.  I shuffle into the bathroom and take another Tums, then return to bed.  While I settle I think about my aunt.  Does she hurt right now?  Were her tears today from physical pain or something else?  I wrap the arms of my heart around her and lift her to Jesus.

In another 45 minutes I find myself again headed for the Tums.  In the morning I will need a jackhammer to clear my mouth of the chalk build-up.  “God of the universe, You know where she hurts.  Comfort her tonight; calm her spirit and relieve her pain.”

And now I sleep.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Two Thumbs Up

So we watched the entire first season (to date, it's the only season) of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I'd been worried that they might have mis-cast the characters, but my worry was all to no avail.  They did a great casting job.

When I read the books I always pictured Precious Ramotswe looking like my Ethiopian friend, Aster, so I was a bit surprised to see Jill Scott, American singer-sogwriter, poet -- and now actress -- cast in the role.  But it didn't take long to realize that she was a perfect fit.  We got a little sample of Jill's hauntingly beautiful voice when she began to sing to the jazz trumpet of Note Makote. And we got a good dose of her acting talent as she drew us into the life of a modern woman with an Old Botswana heart and ethic.  Most of the crimes Mma Ramotswe investigates are family oriented -- cheating husbands, concerns over missing or worrisome children -- and she approaches them with style and wisdom.  With a conflicted past, she seeks to overcome her own demons while making a life for herself as a detective. 

Grace Makutsi is a recent graduate of the Botswana Secretarial School and finds a job with Mma Ramotswe.  Played by Anika Noni Rose (from Dreamgirls and The Princess and the Frog), Mma Makutsi has a quick mind and tongue.  Her world expands as she works alongside Mma Raomtswe.

Shoes are important to Mma Makutsi.  She has many fancy pair of heels but seems to struggle to walk in them.  One thing missing from the TV series but present in the books is that her shoes talk to her!  "You're in trouble now, boss!"  "Good going, boss!"  She does love her shoes.

I might have chosen older men to play the two mechanic apprentices, but apart from that I was quite impressed with the casting.  The writing and filming were equally impressive.  Each episode gave us a larger view of Africa in general and Botswana in particular, and drew us into the less complicated, slower pace of life than we experience in the West.  The colors -- in the sunsets, the clothing, the buildings inside and out -- added vibrancy to the story and the vast variety of musical styles enriched the African experience. says we can expect six new episodes in the next two years.   Sounds good to me!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Aah, Quinoa

We call a delicious and healthy salad that we enjoy "Cheebu Quinoa Salad."  Cheebu brought a pasta salad to a potluck at our home several years ago and we recreated it later.  It has gone through so many changes, including a substitution of quinoa for the pasta, that she'd probably not even recognize it as her own, but the name stuck.

You may not be familiar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wa).  It's an ancient grain, grown in the Andes Mountains of South America.  It is gluten-free and has the highest protein content of any grain.  It is quick and easy to cook and can be used in many dishes or as a stand-alone side dish.

Quinoa is available in bulk at stores such as food co-ops, but if you want to try it out for the first time, I recommend that you start by purchasing a box of Ancient Harvest Quinoa.  Each box comes with a recipe booklet, offering information on the grain, how to prepare it, and a number of recipes.

With no further ado, here is our recipe for Cheebu Quinoa Salad:

In a large bowl, mix together:
2 c quinoa, cooked
garlic powder
1/2-1 c mayonaise (or Miracle Whip)

Add in:

2 c cooked chicken, cubed
1 c celery, diced
1 diced apple
1 can mandarin oranges
3/4 c raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 c walnuts, optional

Refrigerate.  Serve on a bed of lettuce.

You can use vegetables instead of fruit and substitute shrimp for the chicken for a lovely alternative.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Food for Thought

The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials.
George Muller

It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.
Jeremy Taylor

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?
Corrie ten Boom

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dynamo Kiev's Death Match

In the midst of World Cup fever, here's a story that you might not have heard before.  

It was 1942 and Gernan occupation of Ukraine was in full swing.  Having already been ravaged by Stalin in the preceding years, the Ukrainians now faced the terrors or the Nazis.

Dynamo Kiev was the local soccer club.  When people were being rounded up for extermination, the players were spared. They hadn't practiced during the occupation, and now a game was ordered between them and a strong German team.  When Dynamo Kiev was ahead at halftime, they were told that they must lose or they would die.  They went on to win 4-1.

Rather than execute the team, the players' rations were reduced and they were put into a match with another team.  Again they won, 6-0.  Within the next week two more games were ordered, each with a professional team from Hungary, MSG Wal.  They won both games, with scores of 5-1 and 3-2.

On August 6, 1942, they faced the undefeated Luftwaffe team of Flakelf.  Only Germans were allowed to watch the game.  Warned that they had better lose, Dynamo Kiev won, 3-2.  And now the Nazis called for one final game, four days later, against the German team Rukh.  This would be their final game, and Dynamo Kiev knew it.  Despite warnings that their death would be the reward for winning the game, they beat Rukh 8-0.

Most of the players were executed or taken to concentration camps.  Only a few escaped death.  But the courage and grace shown by Dynamo Kiev was an example to their homeland.

You can read about the Death Match here and here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Dad, a Really Good Sport

One of my dad's most endearing qualities is that he's a good sport.  That's my dad!

When we were growing up he had lots of opportunities to practice this grace.  Take, for example, the day my folks were going to drive a carload of CYC kids from the church to Camp Casey for an overnighter, but while Dad was at work the 18-month-old twins had filled the gas tank with rocks! When the car wouldn't run, Dad unloaded his work van and piled the kids in, assigned each one his own bucket to sit on, and away they went!

He would turn his handkerchief into a mouse in church and entertain us when we had trouble sitting still; he'd put his thumb in his mouth and "blow up his muscle" like a balloon; he helped Tom build a tandem bicycle in the family room.  He has always been adaptable and available, all part of being a good sport.

Even now, if one of his kids has a project that needs to be tackled, he'll be there to help.  He's carried his 40 pound tool box to Boston and Juneau, he's built apartments, installed counter tops, painted and done yard work for us, just because he's our dad and he loves to help us.

Dad is wiling to try new things.  A few years ago Samuel brought home virtual reality goggles from church.  Dad and Mom came over and Samuel convinced Dad to put them on his head, then guided him to the driveway where Dad tried to orient to the world of virtual reality.  With each misstep he would smile or laugh and keep on trying.

He's provided thousands of miles of transportation for his kids and grandkids, to and from the airport and on road trips, and always without complaint.  He has faithfully carried out his calling to care for his family with grace and humor.

Papa, on behalf of this group of goofballs that you are raising, I'd like to thank you for being our Dad, our Gramps, and a really good sport.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oh, Shoot!

Tom and I had a great time with our new camera, a Nikon Coolpix P100, purchased last week.  We went to the beach at Livingston Bay on Camano Island -- the driftwood was especially nice -- then to Garden Treasures in Arlington, a nursery and organic food farm, where we got some wonderful colorful pictures.

As for "the ones that got away," just after we finished shooting hay bales in a field near home we looked up and saw an eagle just 100 feet away, flying to his home with nesting material in his claw.  It was green and lacy, possibly moss, streaming through the air beneath him, about twice the length of the eagle himself.  And there I sat with the camera in my lap as we stared in wonder at this amazing sight!

Just down the road, on Pioneer Highway as we headed toward Arlington, we saw a deer in a driveway and, hopping along in the road like a four-footed baby kangaroo, was a fawn, still spotted, following its mother.  Our mouths hung open but my hands held the camera in my lap without getting the picture!

(Samuel's comment:  "Sheesh!  What kind of cameraman are you, Mom?!")

So here are some of today's pictures.  Hope you enjoy them!

Hello Saturday!

I had a great YouTube video for today but I'm having too much trouble to keep messing with it.  Besides that, the day is flying by and I am anxious to go out with Tom and our brand new camera.  We're going to see what kind of photo ops we can find.

Check back at 8:57 p.m. (that's still three minutes to nine) and see what we found!  In the meantime, have a great day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

School Garden

My friend's nephew attends an elementary school in Seattle's Central district and they raised a garden this spring.  All the kids had a chance to tend the garden and as school came to a close they harvested their produce. With the assistance of many volunteers, the cafeteria was turned into a vegetable market.

Over the months the kids had earned tickets that they were able to use in the market.  Each was given a bag and a chance to buy whatever vegetables they wanted with their tickets.  Their parents took them shopping, but here's the catch -- they couldn't have any input into what the kids bought!  It was all up to the kids to get whatever vegetables they wanted with their tickets.

My friend's nephew chose his favorites, lettuce and carrots.  "What am I going to do with five heads of lettuce!" his mom said.  What a wonderful dilemma!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


We spent an evening last week with our friends Bill and Deanne.  We thoroughly enjoyed their hospitality and the delicious meal they served us and our friend Sue.

I wore my tennis shoes, just to be safe.  Once when Sue and I were at Deanne's for lunch, she wouldn't let us eat until we'd taken a walk.  She drove us to one of the steepest hills in Marysville and marched us to the top, then, partway down, she turned us around started up again!  And I had come thinking we were going to eat.  Silly me!

Bill and Deanne are a remarkable couple who have traveled to several Youth with a Mission (YWAM) sites to serve as volunteers.  Their most recent trip saw them in Mexico, serving in an orphanage and doing whatever they were asked, whether serving food or crawling on their hands and knees to pick up nuts that had fallen from the trees.

Between mission trips Bill kept himself busy by building a hermitage in their backyard -- a hideaway to spend quiet time for reading, prayer, and contemplation.  They've added an upstairs so that the grandkids have a space of their own when the come to visit.

When Deanne called to invite us I asked how the building project was coming.  "It's finished," she said.  "I'm afraid you might covet it."  She was right!  When I saw the hermitage I was tempted to covet it.  But who could begrudge such a lovely couple a place to come in quietness into the presence of the Lord?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Mountains Were Out!

Saturday we went to lunch at Ivar's Mukilteo Landing to celebrate Marilee's birthday.  What a glorious day it was!  The first truly sunny day in ages, the sky was clear and the mountains -- Rainier to the south, Baker to the north, the Olympics to the west and the Cascades to the east -- were magnificent.

Ferry lines were long and the boats were full as every 20 minutes a ferry arrived from Whidbey Island and reloaded to return.  Here the Kittitas is headed to Whidbey with Mt Baker in the background.  I've never seen the beach so crowded nor so much activity on the streets and docks.

It sure beat staying home cleaning bathrooms!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Music of Heaven

Tom's mom loved her piano,
whether she was playing it herself
or listening to someone else.
But the sweet sound that she so enjoyed
fades to mere noise
compared to the pure, rich melodies she's hearing
in Heaven --
the wrap-around echo of angels
singing, Holy! Holy! Holy!,
the resonance of earth's redeemed
singing the Hallelujah Chorus
in dozens of languages.
Perhaps she has come across
a bluegrass worship team, just fiddlin' around,
or maybe she's joining an African group,
dressed in their finery,
as they sing and dance before the throne of God.
She has all eternity to take in Heaven's music.
I can only imagine!

Photo by Marilee Drew

Monday, June 14, 2010

Did you Know?

We were at dinner with friends the other night and the country of Morocco came up in conversation.  All I really knew about Morocco is that it's in north Africa and once, while I was at the Seattle Center, I purchased a beautiful tooled-leather shoulder bag from Morocco.  But now I know something more.  Bill, our host, told us that you can snow ski in Morocco's mountains!  I looked it up and, sure enough, the Atlas Mountain Range stretches 1,500 miles across north Africa, separating the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea from the Sahara Desert.  The highest peak in the range is Toubkal in southwest Morocco, and it stands 13,671 feet.

Here's some more mountain trivia for you: according to Wikipedia, all 23,000 ft peaks in the world are located in the center of Asia.  There were 109 mountain peaks on their list and I couldn't find one that I thought must be outside Asia, mostly in the Himalayans.  Lupghar Sar, number 109 on the list, measured 23,622 feet.

Compared to this, Mt McKinley in Alaska's Denali National Park, the highest peak in the North America at 20,320 feet, is a little on the short side. Besides that, if you are to believe everything you read on Wikipedia, Mt McKinley isn't even its real name!  That's just what out-of-staters call it.  The locals call it Denali!

Photo is of Mt Toubkal

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ministry of Comfort

Yesterday I stopped by a shop in town that specializes in medical equipment.  I was just there a minute, but it was long enough to see compassion at work.  The elderly customer at the counter must have just told the man behind the counter the recent episode in a continuing story and her uncertainty about the outcome, and he told her he'd add her to his prayer list.  Then he reached out and gently touched her on the arm.

That's all.   But it was enough.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Derek Paravacini, Musical Genius

This is just too good to not share.  It is long, but it is thrilling to hear this young man, with several disabilities, play the piano, and well worth the time.  You might want to check out his website.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grab Some Red Bush Tea and Find a Seat!

Have you met Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's No. 1 (and only, I might add) ladies' detective?  She lives in Gabarone, where she has opened a detective agency in an office at the Tkloweng Road Speedy Motors, the auto repair shop of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni.  She lives on Zebra Drive and gets around in her tiny white van.  In the series we also meet Grace Makutsi, Charlie and the other apprentice who work for Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, and Mma Potokwane, the matron of the orphan farm, among others.

Mma Ramotswe is the creation of novelist Alexander McCall Smith.  Born in Zimbabwe, Smith was a former law professor at the University of Botswana and now makes his home in Scotland.  He has provided insight into the soul of Africa and her people in his delightful series, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

The characters are very real -- flawed but resilient, willing to learn and grow -- and we get to know them well through the series, which now has eleven books.  I'm about to read the newest one, The Double Comfort Safari Club, because my circumstances don't allow me to listen to it on CD just now.  I especially enjoy listening to the voice of Lisette Lecat reading the series -- almost as much as I delight in listening to the stories themselves.

We have ordered the HBO presentation of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency from the library, but I'm a bit fifty-halfty about watching.  I am, indeed, looking forward to seeing some of my favorite characters come to life, but I already know what they look like and hope that they found actors who match my ideas.  I'm bracing myself!

Another series by Alexander McCall Smith that I have enjoyed is The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom, about three German academicians whose area of expertise is irregular Portuguese verbs.  In the midst of their endeavors concerning this extraordinarily weighty matter, they wander into some ridiculous situations they are ill-prepared to handle.  I loved the series but was glad there were only three books!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hymn of the Month -- Revive Us Again

   William Paton MacKay (1839-1885) was  the author of the song, Revive Us Again.  His godly mother shared the gospel with him and prayed for him often, but he was unimpressed.  He lived his own life, and studied to be a doctor.
   One day a seriously injured man came to the hospital.  His case seemed hopeless.  Conscious, he asked the doctor how much time he had left to live.  The doctor responded cautiously, then asked if there was any relatives who should be notified.  No relatives, the patient said, but he did request that his landlady send him "The Book."
   The doctor visited the man daily and was impressed by the quiet, happy expression on his face.  After the man died, there were some details that had to be tended to in the presence of the doctor.  Here is the rest of the story as told in the doctor's own words*:

   “What shall we do with this?” the nurse asked holding a book in her hand.
   “What kind of book is it?” I asked.
   “The Bible of the poor man…As long as he was able to read it, he did so, and when he was unable to do so anymore, he kept it under his bed cover.”
    I took the Bible and-could I trust my eyes? It was my own Bible! The Bible which my mother had given me when I left my parent’s home, and which later, when short of money, I sold for a small amount. My name was still in it, written in my mother’s hand…
    With a deep sense of shame I looked upon the precious Book. It had given comfort and refreshing to the unfortunate man in his last hours. It had been a guide to him into eternal life, so that he had been enabled to die in peace and happiness. And this book, the last gift to me from my mother, I had actually sold for a ridiculous price…
   Be it sufficient to say that the regained possession of my Bible was the cause of my conversion.
Among the hymns that W.P. MacKay wrote is Revive Us Again  Here it is, sung by a team from the Worship Network.  Yes, Lord, revive us -- as a church and as individuals -- again.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Walk Down Sensory Lane

Last Friday's Clock Walk provided exercise for all of the senses.

What a workout -- from the gleaming white of the inside of the refurbished Union Station to the magnificent colors at the Glasshouse Studio (located at 311 Occidental Ave S);

from the sounds of trains, shoes clomping on escalators, street preachers, to the man playing the Chinese Erhu;

from the rough, weathered wood of the totem poles in Occidental Park to the the smooth bronze firefighters nearby (a memorial to Seattle's fallen firefighters);

from the smell of diesel and exhaust to the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee;

from the mingled delights of the Shanghai spring roll, garlic beef, and coconut curry chicken at the Red Lantern (newly opened at 520 S Jackson) to the most marvelous, melt-in-your-mouth macaroons (chocolate dipped, at that!) I've ever eaten at the Caffe Umbria (at 320 Occidental Ave S, across from the Glasshouse Studio).

And if that wasn't enough excitement for one day, there were also the mad dashes to get back to the car before our parking stickers expired!

All in all, a very stimulating day!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seattle Clock Walk

Tom took last Friday off and we went to Seattle to do the Seattle Clock Walk.  We had a wonderful time exploring our favorite city.  There are 29 clocks on the walk, and it takes an hour and a half of brisk walking to see them all.  We don't walk briskly, and sometimes we find other things to look at, so we'll be going back another day to see the many clocks we didn't get to.   We got in several hours of fresh air and fun together and would recommend the tour to anyone looking for an adventure.

Here's Tom standing in front of the clock outside F.X. McCrory's in Pioneer Square.  We talked to the man standing behind the clock; they'd had a power outage and he was waiting to correct the clock's time.  He told us that the clock used to sit in front of the court house in Nome, Alaska.

Some of the clocks were on posts, some were on buildings, some were inside buildings.  The information we got from the website gave us all we needed to know to find the clocks.  We saw Atlas holding up the world on top of Tiffany's and this question mark on Pine and 5th.

We knew that there was a clock on the Times Square building but we couldn't find it, in spite of our trips around the block looking.  Finally we gave up and walked on to the next clock.  Later, as we were approaching the building from a different direction, we discovered the clock, above the awning that we kept walking under as we looked for the clock!  We found a couple to take our picture with the clock in the background.

Just as the rain began, we made our way to the car and returned home.  Now we're waiting for a sunny Saturday so that we can go back and finish the tour!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Friendly Fire

Tim lives in Anchorage, where moose are plentiful this time of year.  He sent the photo and note below to each of us siblings the other day.  Here's the dialog that ensued:

This is not a great picture but I got it last night. A mamma mouse and her two new born calves. -- Tim

Pretty cool! -- Ginger

I went to the eye doctor today and got a good report. Now I know the picture is slightly blurry, even my eye doctor would agree with that, but I can't beleive you though those were mice. They are clearly horses. --Ted

Ted, you need a new eye doctor! --Peach

Amazing how the eyes can recognize moose even when they are fuzzy, but sees the word mouse as moose!  How did I miss that?  You're good, Ted! -- Ginger

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fill 'er Up!

When I was very young, there was a Richfield service station on the corner of 41st and Rucker in Everett, near our home.  It wasn't called a gas station, it was called a service station because, well, they served you!  The uniformed attendant would come out to the car and pump the gas and, if you wanted him to, he'd check the water and oil levels.  He'd also wash the windows.  Has anyone done that for you in the past thirty years??

Regular Glen worked at our service station.  I know it's an odd name, but my brother and I were convinced that was his name because, whenever he'd come to the window to check on us, Dad would say, "Fill 'er up with Regular, Glen."

Once they introduced self-service they dropped the price by two or three cents if you'd pump the gas yourself.  It wasn't too long until full service stations were a thing of the past.

A few months ago I was in Seattle and stopped for gas at a Chevron station at the corner of 25th Ave NE and NE 65th Street.  It was about 8:00 in the morning.  I pulled up to the pump and before I could get out the owner was at my window, asking me if I'd like him to fill my tank!  Indeed, I would, thank you very much!!

Another day, when we were driving through Sedro Woolley, we stopped at a cute old Chevron station on Ferry and, once again, the proprietor filled our tank for us.

There's one other station I want to give kudos to.  It's the 76 station on the corner of 196th and Alderwood Mall Parkway.  One December day I stopped by to get just enough gas to get me to my favorite three-cent-discount-per-gallon station (Fred Meyer in Marysville), but when I saw the enormous nativity scene prominently displayed on their property, I happily filled my tank to the top.

I just thought these uncommon occurrences should be noised abroad.  Next time you're in the neighborhood, you might want to drop by and give them a little business, just for old time's sake!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Victorious Faith

Just after I posted yesterday's blog I opened my e-mail and found in it a reflection from missionary to Haiti, Rick Ireland.  I thought it tied in so well with the "No Fear in Death" theme that I should share it.  So here it is, slightly edited:

Every Thursday at noon, a group of Free Methodist Haitian pastors gathers in the office of the General Superintendent for a time of worship and prayer. I happened be there as they gathered this week. The mood was somber. The day before, a prominent and beloved pastor had been robbed and killed as he left his bank after withdrawing some money to replace his car. The murdered pastor's son was among those who slowly and quietly filed in. Each greeted the grieving son. Someone handed out hymnals and one of the pastors led out the singing, marking time with the snap of his fingers. The first song was slow and sad. A pastor prayed. The second song was a bit more upbeat. Another pastor prayed. And so the pattern continued. At one point, a pastor opened his Bible and began to preach. I couldn't understand all the words but the name "Job" figured prominently. More singing and praying followed. I watched in wonder as God filled that space, lifting people up in a difficult time. By the end of the meeting, even the grieving son was singing these songs of faith. As the impromptu service wound down, there was still sadness but there was also quiet resolution. These pastors did not face the future alone. They have one another, and they have a God who is bigger than their suffering, and who understands their suffering, sharing the journey.

These pastors are no strangers to suffering. They have lived through floods, political upheaval, and now earthquakes. Every one of them lost people close to them on January 12. They knew the pain of the grieving son, but they knew that the Son who saw them though the suffering of the past would be there in this as well.

Our faith doesn't exempt us from suffering. What I could see first hand is that faith gives us the resources to face the suffering that is part of life in a fallen world. We do not serve a God who is watching a show from a distance. We serve a God who took on the very flesh of man, experienced life in its joy and sorrow, in its victory and its suffering - a God who understands the pain of grieving over a much too early death. There is strength in that and I saw it in the faces of the men as they left that day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

No Fear in Death

I went to a memorial service yesterday – I’ve been to several lately – for a godly woman I had known in my childhood and youth.  Jo Ann helped me get my first job the summer between high school and college and took me with her each evening on the 25 mile trip to the Old National Bank in downtown Seattle.  It gave me a chance to get to know her better, this capable woman who loved the Lord, her family, and good books.

I got to know her again through yesterday’s service and the chance to visit with her daughters afterward.  They, too, were lovely and compassionate women, quick to laugh and love, even as they dealt with their mom’s passing.  Assured that she is with the Lord and they, too, will be, they modeled the hope that we have as believers in Christ, even in death.

How is it that Christians can face death and not be afraid?   How is it possible to die in peace?  How can anyone even be sure that he or she has lived a good enough life to make it into Heaven? 

The truth is, it’s not possible to live such a good life.  If it were up to us, faithfully slugging it out in this life so that we will qualify to enter Heaven when we die, no one would make it.

The good new is this:  Jesus has qualified us by His own death and resurrection.  In God’s providence, when Jesus died on the cross He took our sins on Himself.  When He was resurrected, He conquered death.  As The Message version of 1 Corinthians 15:55 says:
“Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?”

What’s our part?  To receive this free gift of salvation.  To humbly accept that Jesus has paid the price of our sins and has set us free!  Then to live our lives in gratitude.  And one day we will see Him who loves us enough to have died in our place.  We will be with Him for eternity.  And this is our Hope as believers.