Friday, December 18, 2015

No Joseph

Joseph is missing!

As I unwrapped the nativity figures I brought home from Burundi I noticed that there was no Joseph character. Mary? Yes. Baby Jesus? Yes, and two kneeling sheep. Two shepherds, complete with removable staffs, and four stately wisemen (all identical; all presenting the same gift). But no Joseph.

You want to know what's really weird? Joseph is missing from two of my other nativities as well! Can you really have Christmas without Joseph?

Joseph gets very little press in the Scriptures. Did you know that he doesn't utter one word in the entire Bible? Although he never speaks, we know enough about Joseph from what is said about him to see that he is fit to be the human father of the Son of God.

A shepherd stands in for Joseph.

Righteous. Matthew, the gospel writer, calls Joseph righteous. Let's look at the characteristics of this righteous man.

Joseph was compassionate, and not rash. When he learned of Mary's pregnancy he did not take quick action to protect his reputation. His concern was for Mary's well-being more than his own. He did not want to expose her shame publicly and decided it would be best to divorce her quietly.

Joseph was open to God and was able to recognize his voice. On four separate occasions the Lord used dreams to give Joseph very specific direction.
- In the throes of deciding what to do about Mary, an angel came to him in a dream. Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, the angel instructed (Matt 1:20).
- When Herod sought to kill Jesus, the Lord interrupted Joseph's sleep with these words, Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt (2:13);
- Once Herod had died the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel (2:20);
- But Joseph was afraid, because Archelaus, Herod's son, was now in charge. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee (2:22).

Joseph was quick to obey. In response to each dream, he took action. He trusted God so much that he recognized His voice and promptly did what he was told.

Joseph was faithful. He took the law seriously when he wrestled with Mary's dilemma; he went to Bethlehem for the census (Luke 2:21); he had the boy circumcised on the eighth day and named him Jesus (2:21); he presented Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem and sacrificed to the Lord (2:22-24); he did everything required by the Law of the Lord (2:39); and he made the annual trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover (2:41).

Joseph was a faithful father. He surely was tender with Mary during their trip to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. Did he think it strange that this Son of God was born in a stable and had only a manger for a bed? Or that their visitors were poor shepherds and rich sages? He marveled at Simeon's words at Jesus' dedication and would later be astonished to see people's reaction to the twelve-year-old Jesus.

Jesus was obedient to his father. Luke tells us that after Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them (2:51). Jesus had the example of Joseph's obedience to all the law to teach him how to be obedient both to his human parents and his Heavenly Father (John 8:29, Heb 5:7-10).

We read in Luke, just prior to the genealogy of Jesus, this astonishing statement: Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph (3:23). We don't know how old Joseph was when he died, but from the time the angel appeared to Mary until his final breath Joseph was thought to be the father of Jesus.  "Isn't this Joseph's son?" the people asked when they heard the gracious words that came from [Jesus'] lips (Luke 4:22).

Only a righteous man could have filled Joseph's role as a human father to the Son of God. In the cast of Christmas characters, the part played by Joseph is vital. The strong, silent Joseph is just the man for the role. Take him out of the story and you'd have a gaping hole.

There's a hole in the story when there is no Joseph.

This post originally appeared on December 24, 2013.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ladies in Waiting

In Luke's rendering of the Christmas story we are introduced to three ladies in waiting -- Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Anna the prophetess.

Upright and blameless.  That describes Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah the priest. For many years she had longed for a child of her own, but they were now old, and she was barren.

Her husband had been chosen to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.  This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a priest put Zechariah in the very presence of God.  While serving, an angel appeared to him and said, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to give him the name John" (Luke 1:13).

Zechariah questioned the words of the angel. "How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."  Because of his doubt, he was struck dumb and would not speak until the birth of his son.  But after long years of waiting, Elizabeth accepted the news with joy. "The Lord has done this for me... In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people" (1:25).

 Elizabeth's cousin, Mary, was young, maybe only 13 or 14.  She was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter.  When an angel appeared to her, telling her that she would bear a son, the Son of the Most High, she humbly accepted his words.  She said, "I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said" (1:38).

Mary's waiting had just begun. As the story unfolded and the child was born, shepherds, wise men, and an angry king all became part of her life. We are told that "Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart' (2:19). Until her final breath, she would wait to see what God would do through the life, death, and resurrection of her son.

And then there's Anna. She was not just old, she was very old. Widowed after only seven years of marriage, she was now 84. The Scripture says that she never left the temple but remained there night and day, worshipping God, fasting, and praying. When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus at the temple, Anna was there. "Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" (2:38). Her waiting was over.

We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Psalm 33:21

This post originally appeared on December 14, 2011.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Beautiful Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Tom and I spent a couple of days at Cannon Beach, Oregon, last week. I was there a couple of times when I was young, but Tom had never been there, and he was anxious to get some photos of Haystack Rock and other beach scenes.

The weather at the Oregon coast in November is a gamble. We got blue skies with billowy clouds on this trip, some haze, color in the sunrise and the sunset, and no rain while we were at the beach.

We stayed in a cute little cottage (the gal in the rental office said she preferred the word "cozy" but it was downright tiny) a short distance from Haystack.

Enjoy a few of the photos from our trip. Most were taken by Tom, just a few by me, and one by a stranger on the beach.

Along the Columbia on the Oregon side

Tom's happy place

Fellow photographers, talking shop

Waterfall onto the beach at Hug Point

Friday, October 30, 2015

All of Me, For You

All of Me, For You

Lord, train my heart to know Your grace,
I turn my eyes to see Your face,
Tune my lips to sing Your praise --
All of me, for You.

Let my ears receive Your word, 
My life reflect the truth I've heard,
I'll stand boldly, undeterred --
All of me, for You.

Might my feet walk in Your way,
My choice be always to obey,
Your Spirit guide me every day --
All of me, for You.

Ginger Kauffman
October 30, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Women of Influence

There are people who leave a mark on the lives of others, not because they set out to do so but  because of who they are. Several remarkable women have left their mark on me.  I have not been mentored by them, but I have watched their authentic lives over the years. Their gifts and passions  have impacted the way I see the world and live my life.

They are like the apostle Paul, as Eugene Peterson describes him in his introduction to the book of Philippians in The Message: "This is Paul's happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious... Paul doesn't tell us that we can be happy, or how to be happy. He simply and unmistakably is happy..."

Starting with the upper left hand photo and continuing clockwise, here are some of the women whose infectious spirits have made a difference in my life.

Lois and Lavern Snider were the career missionaries I worked when I was in Japan in 1978-81. Their responsibilities included the oversight of several short-term volunteer English and Bible teachers and hosting and serving as leaders of a church that met in their home. Lois put her heart into her work as a gracious hostess, always respectful of the needs and interests of those she served. Over many meals and cups of tea at her table I got to know her heart for Japan in a way that heightened my vision for the people we served and helped me find my place there. 

Delia Nuesh-Olver and her husband Paul are committed to each other and to the work of the church. Sometimes he's the pastor (Seattle's Rainier Avenue Church), sometimes she is (New Hope Church in Rochester, New York) and sometimes they both are (Brooklyn Free Methodist). Currently all of Latin America is their parish as Delia oversees the work of the Free Methodist Church in fifteen countries and Paul works in leadership development. The gospel is Delia's heartbeat and she joyfully shares it with people wherever she goes. Her welcoming smile and winsome ways are evidence of the Spirit's presence in her life. 

Another ministry team, Dan and Carolyn Brannen, have impacted hundreds of international students in the Seattle area where, for years, Dan worked on college campuses through the ministry of International Students Inc and they opened their home to students. Unpretentious, Carolyn serves up meals to all who sit around her table. The food is delicious and the atmosphere inviting. When you are with Carolyn you have her undivided attention. I worked alongside the Brannens for several years and appreciated Carolyn's cordial servant heart and her genuine love for people.

The first time I met Charlotte Deuel I sensed her passion for the world. I remember when she first told me about her burden for an unreached people group, and I delight in the ways she has found to use her background in food technology to assist developing countries with agricultural programs. Courageous and faithful, God hears this woman's prayers and uses her in ways unique to her gifts and earnest heart for the world.

Muriel McDowell was a busy pastor's wife and mother of five. I worked with her and her husband, Bob, at Warm Beach Camp and with the youth group of our church in the mid-1970s. From time to time I sat at their table for a meal or a youth group planning meeting, where love and laughter flowed together. Indeed, laughter is the first of Muriel's outstanding qualities that comes to mind, even before her efficiency, her music, or her undaunted spirit. Your crinkly eyes, your beautiful smile, and the sound of your delighted laughter—such a legacy you left us, dear Muriel.

Miriam Adeney's worldview is founded on Christ's commands to love God, to love people and to spread the gospel. In the classes I took from her  after I returned for Japan, Miriam encouraged me in my writing and equipped me to do a better job of it. I was especially challenged by her book, A Time for Risking, a call to Western women to look outside our own lives and reach out to our neighbors. She was proof that this could be done as she ministered to Muslim women along with teaching, writing, and raising a family.

I have spent hours with Deanne Lessley, enjoying together the richness of life in Christ. She loves Scripture, she's an avid reader, her conversation is honest and uplifting. I am always impressed with her passion; she lives out her faith with her every breath. Before I went to Burundi she told me she had some baby clothes she'd made, would I take them with me? I last saw her in August, just before she went to Canada to be with her brother and his family during his last days of life. Deanne lives her life in response to the charge: "Find a need and fill it."

Opal Townsend was nearly sixty when she began working with international students at Seattle Pacific University and she was my inspiration. I loved the students I met in her apartment during my college days and, after my three years in Japan, I looked her up again. Townie was still going strong, by then in her mid-seventies. We ended up working in International Students Inc (ISI) together for several years. She served the Lord she loved by offering weekly Bible studies, hosting meals and parties, and loving  students who were far from home. Townie touched many, many lives, including my own.

Nancy Nelson prays big. This faith-filled woman who sees God at work in miraculous ways in her own life and the lives of others leads our Soulcrafters Sunday School Class each week in a time of worship as she shares a devotional and asks for praises and prayer requests. I have been challenged by her confidence in God and His promises, and the way she models the praying life. Hanging out with Nancy each week increases my faith and encourages me to pray boldly.

These women have had different gifts, different callings, and different personalities. Yet they have this in common: they all have loved Jesus and shared that love freely. I have been privileged to be influenced by these women of faith.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mother Teresa on Love, Kindness, and Smiling

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. 
Be the living expression of God's kindness: 
kindness in your face, 
kindness in your eyes, 
kindness in your smile." 


"People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centered. 
Love them anyway."


"Smile at each other.
Smile at your wife, smile at your husband,
smile at your children,
smile at each other --
it doesn't matter who it is --
and that will help to grow up in greater love
for each other."


"Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things.
It consists in accepting,
with a smile,
what Jesus sends us.
It consists in accepting and following
the will of God."


"Every time you smile at someone,
it is an action of love, 
a gift to that person,
a beautiful thing." 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Central Park in Fall, Time Lapse

Enjoy a few moments of Fall in Central Park. The producer of this video, Jamie Scott, visited fifteen spots in Central Park twice a week for six months, each visit just after sunrise, and spent hours editing to create this fast-forward experience of Autumn.

Fall from jamie scott on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How Do You Find the Words?

As hard as it is to watch, I seem to have a magnetic attraction to the movie, The Guys, starring Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia. A haunting story, it is about Nick, a New York fire captain who has been asked to give the eulogies for eight of his men missing since September 11. Grief overwhelms him and he has no words to express his sorrow or to comfort the friends and families of the fallen. He turns to Joan, an editor, who helps him find words and give them structure.

"Tell me about Jimmy," Joan says, or Patrick, or one of the others. Nick shakes his head and gropes for some image, some fragment of a conversation lingering in his mind. Just words and phrases—"mischief," "lives with his parents," "kitchen"—provide hooks for Joan as she gently, persistently coaxes from Nick pictures of the missing men. Her gentle probing and ability to organize his scattered thoughts bring these lost lives into clear focus. The results of their grueling efforts are stunning.

It's as if Nick had never seen his guys fully until this experience. Even his knowledge of his best friend, Patrick, crystalizes through the agonizing process of preparing Patrick's eulogy.

The magnetic power this film has on me is two-fold. First, it is the value of the individual, the uniqueness of each person who has ever lived, that calls me back to this intense dialog. My feelings are like those that Joan expresses as she struggles to come to terms with the sudden and devastating loss of life in New York, her beloved city. "I knew that every time I saw someone on the street I just saw his public shadow. The rest, the important part, lived in layer after layer beyond my view. We have no idea what wonders are hidden in the people around us."

Secondly, Joan's insight, patience, and hunger to breathe life into the memories of Nick's comrades allow her to persistently grapple with this project. There is something so deep, so real that needs to be salvaged from the wreckage of September 11 and Joan is willing to do the hard work to uncover the treasure. As a writer who tells people's stories, I am moved and challenged by Joan's example.

I believe anyone who watches The Guys will be impacted by it. Whether or not you are a writer, I recommend it. People around us have stories to tell and hidden wonders to share. Perhaps they are just waiting for someone like you to help them find the words.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Just in Time

Are you anxious about how you will pay your bills? where you will live? whether or not you will get the job you've applied for? when you will ever be through the ordeal that is consuming you?

Take heart. God is at work, and He will care for you. But it will be in His time. Although He may seem slow, His timing is perfect. He may not answer in the way you want or at the time you expect, but He will not fail you. Trust in Him, and in His timing. 

I am the Lord; 
in its time I will do this swiftly.
Isaiah 60:22b

But when the time had fully come, 
God sent His Son...
Galatians 4:4

(This post originally appeared on March 13, 2013)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

Northwest award winning writer Kate Breslin has another outstanding novel with the recent release of her second book, Not by Sight. Set in Britain during WWI, it is the story of Grace Mabry, a beautiful young woman with a fierce sense of patriotism and a passion for life. We get a glimpse of both these qualities as the book opens. Grace and her ladies' maid, Agnes, sneak into a masquerade ball to give out white feathers to the cowardly men who refused to enlist in the war.

When she spies a handsome Casanova among the costumed party guests, she recognizes him as Jack Benningham, the Viscount of Walenford and the future Earl of Stonebrooke, and her heart rate quickens. Her knowledge of him as a playboy and a gambler is based on newspaper photos and town gossip, and here he is, living up to his reputation rather than serving on the frontline, as her brother Colin is. Stepping toward him, Grace, dressed as Pandora, takes a white feather from her box and hands it to Jack. In so doing, she unleashes on both their lives all manner of trouble far beyond their control. The extent of the problems and how their lives intertwine are revealed through the masterful unfolding of this absorbing story.

After her father learns of Grace's disgraceful actions he sends her to the countryside of Kent, where she and Agnes become volunteers for the Women's Forage Corps, working in the fields to provide food for the horses in the war. It is here that she meets other young women, each with a secret of her own, and discovers that Jack Benningham is lord of the manor on which she works.

Kate Breslin's writing is tight. Whether she is describing a scene, sharing a conversation, or providing narrative, the author chooses just the right words to move the story along.  "I like to paint the scene but not put the reader to sleep," she told me in a recent interview.

Neither does she waste details. More than once I caught the slightest whiff of something brewing by reading a carefully placed detail, a subtle foreshadowing of future events. Kate never disappointed me by leaving me hanging. By the end of the story each of the details had found its place in the larger narrative.

Is the book a mystery? No, but it is filled with intrigue. She likes to read gritty novels about real life, and that is how she likes to write. She told me, "It is very much a Beauty and the Beast story, [portraying] a beautiful, smart woman who is sensitive to the needs of others and a man who is a wounded hero."

But the story is much more than fine use of language, intrigue, and romance. Sprinkled throughout are issues of suffering, consequences, and truth. And always, Grace and her comrades struggle with what it means to live by faith, not by sight.

You can read my review of Kate Breslin's first book, For Such a Time, here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Spiced Apples and Raisins in a Pumpkin Pot

My husband stopped for a medical appointment after work one day recently. The woman at the front desk seemed overwhelmed with her work and, in my husband's opinion, in need of a little cheering up.

Noticing the little pumpkin on her desk, he said, "I wonder how it would work to scoop out the guts of a sugar pumpkin like the one there and fill it with chopped apples and raisins, maybe some sugar and cinnamon. If you baked it, I'll bet it would be really good." She looked up with a smile on her face. "I'll try that! I think my husband and I would really like it!"

We decided to try it ourselves. It was delicious. We'll do it again this Fall, probably more than once.

(Sugar pumpkins are sometimes called "pie pumpkins" and are very small, usually six to eight inches around.)

Spiced Apples and Raisins in a Pumpkin Pot

1 sugar pumpkin
4-5 baking apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 c raisins
1/4 c chopped walnuts
1/3 c brown sugar
spices to taste -- suggest cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the guts, as if you were preparing a Jack-o-lantern.  Mix together the apples, raisins, and walnuts with the sugar and spices. Stuff the pumpkin with the apple mixture. (Any stuffing that doesn't fit into the pumpkin can be saved for making applesauce or filling for apple pie, fritters, or other apple dessert.) Replace the pumpkin top.

Place in a baking dish and bake for 60 to 90 minutes, until the inside of the pumpkin is fork tender. Scoop the contents into a bowl, including the pumpkin flesh. Fold the pumpkin into the apple mixture. Dot with butter. After it's melted, fold the mixture together one more time. Serves 4.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Give a Child a Chance, Three Stories

Story One—You're a Granny!

I spent a few days on a mission trip to the Philippines in 1984. We worked closely with a church that was doing outreach in an impoverished part of the city of Manila. We fell in love with the kids we served and the church folks with whom we ministered. When I got home I contacted International Child Care Ministries (ICCM, the child sponsorship program of the Free Methodist Church) so that I could become a sponsor. My first child ever was the toddler son of my new friends from Manila—the  pastor and his wife. That little toddler has, of course, grown up. Recently I got a Facebook message from his mom. Along with the beautiful photo above she told me that their son's wife had given birth to Caleb. "You're a granny!" she told me. This is one of the sponsorship perks that nobody mentioned to me those long years ago!

Story Two—A Heart of Compassion

For our son's birthday a couple of years ago, Tom and I took him to hear a popular Christian musician in concert. The music was great, but it didn't capture our boy's heart nearly as much as did the pitch for Compassion, a ministry that provides sponsors for children around the world. When a representative of Compassion came to the mic and shared stories of kids who had been sponsored through their organization, telling how the kids' basic necessities were being met through the compassion of supporters, he invited people to sign on. "If you would like to become a sponsor, please raise your hand." Before the gentleman could finish his appeal our son's hand was waving in the air.

Through Compassion this young man, whose discretionary funds amount to about $100 a month, sponsors a young girl in Dominican Republic. He's looking for additional work beyond his few hours a week at a pizza shop, so that he can sponsor others as well.

Story Three—God's Treasures

photo credit

The Guatemala City Dump, the largest dump in Latin America, is home to more than 11,000 people, of whom nearly 6,500 are children. The people at Potter's House call these folks Treasures, and share the love of Christ with them through a number of transformational ministries, including child sponsorship. Their outreach at the dump over the past twenty-nine years has had a powerful impact on lives. During the past twenty years our friends Jim and Ruth Youngsman have sponsored many children through Potter's House. Two of their sponsor kids are now studying at universities in the United States, both having been awarded full ride scholarships! Through the love and support of the Potter's House and the their sponsors, these young women have  excelled even in the face of great difficulties. One of them will be visiting the Youngmans over Thanksgiving and will share her story with Soulcrafters, our adult Sunday School class. I'm looking forward to the celebration.

In Conclusion
There are millions of children around the world who don't have the advantages of most North American kids. At the moment, there are 3,000 children who are awaiting sponsorship through ICCM. An article in today's publication called Tuesday's Child focuses on those kids, and this is just one agency among the many child sponsorship programs. You may not be rich, but you likely can find a way to make a difference in the life of one child, or even more. Consider what you might do to give a child a chance.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hymn of the Month -- Lead, Kindly Light

This is a re-post from one year ago. It's a new edition of an old hymn.

It is my guess that you'd have to be quite into church music to be very familiar with the hymn Lead, Kindly Light. At least it's not one that I have known well. In my head I hear it played on a big pipe organ and sung as a kind of dirge. You may have a different experience with it than I, but this is what comes to mind when I retrieve it from my memory bank.

Lead, Kindly Light was written as a poem in 1833 by John H Newman and set to a tune by John B Dykes in 1865. In 2007 The Telegraph published a short but interesting story of the origin of the hymn.

I recently came across a re-write of the song by musician Audrey Assad. She's updated the words but kept to the intent of the original lyrics, and she's given it a new tune. It is one of the loveliest songs I've heard in a long time.

Lead, kindly light, amidst the grey and gloom
The night is long and I am far from home
Here in the dark, I do not ask to see
The path ahead -- one step enough for me
Lead on, lead on, kindly light.

I was not ever willing to be led
I could have stayed, but I ran instead
In spite of fear, I followed my pride
My eyes could see, but my heart was blind
Lead on, lead on, kindly light.

And in the night, when I was afraid
Your feet beside my own on the way
Each stumbling step where other men have trod
shortened the road leading home to my God
Lead on, lead on,
my God, my God,
Lead on, lead on, kindly light

© Audrey Assad Inc (BMI) / Heavily inspired by Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman's poem of the same name>

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How My Blog Got Its Name

Tom's dad walking to the upper field at our home in New York

I remember the intensity of my feelings the morning of September 17, 2009, six years ago today. One boy had left for high school, his brother's classes hadn't yet begun at the community college. He sat at the computer, I sat at the dining room table.

"Please get off the computer. I am going to start blogging today!"

I couldn't have been more surprised by my request. Blogging? I'm going to blog? I certainly hadn't known that when I'd gotten up that morning, but it was very clear to me now.

I sat down at the computer and opened Blogger. It was a snap to get the blog up. Things like deciding on the template, making decisions about style and format, and inserting the wonderful photo above  were a breeze. But I had some other fundamental decisions to make. An inner dialog ensued.
So, how often do you plan to blog? 
Every day. 
Every day, huh? 
That's right.
What time?
Nine o'clock.
Nine o'clock every day. Rather ambitious of you.
I can do this!
And what do you plan to call this blog?
Maybe Crysanthemum? Hmm... I don't even know how to spell that. How will anyone find me?
No, you can't use that. Try again.
I spent the next thirty minutes considering possible names, but I kept coming up empty. Everything I thought of was already taken.
Here's a thought. Since being on time is a problem for you (ahem!), why don't you surprise everyone and publish your blog earlier, like at three minutes to nine?
Bingo! I'll do it!
And that's how my blog got its name.

You can read my first blog post here.

That first post included these lines:
Although I don't have any deep well of knowledge about any particular topic, I do have lots to say! Sometimes I amaze myself -- I'm sure to amaze you too!! 
I've always written what I wanted to say, and shared whatever came to my head or my heart that I thought was worthy of sharing. You might find a tale from my childhood one day, a book review the next, a hymn the day after that, and Snoopy on his dog house the day after that. But I have really struggled over my approach to blogging. There is a part of me that yearns for order and I simply haven't been able to see any order at all to what I chose to blog about.  Until last week.

Asked to post a link to our blogs on our Northwest Christian Writers Facebook page and tell what we write about I said, "I tell stories, share resources, and offer encouragement." Bingo again! That is what I do and everything I post—well, maybe not the Snoopy posters—fits into one of those categories. Perhaps this is way more information than you require, but I must say I was thrilled to realize that's what I do.

I don't post every day anymore (this week being an exception) and I seldom have it ready to go at 8:57 AM. But I plan to keep writing. Thanks for being here with me. See you again soon.

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Morning Song

This poem was first posted on September 16, 2011.

The day is fresh and new.
Rose scent fills the air,
The house ticks like an old clock shop.

I sit by the window,
Sipping tea,
Absorbing the quietness,
Listening to robins hunting worms
In the yard.

When was my heart last still?
When was my mind last able to see the world?
When was my body last rested?

I release the breath I’ve been holding for days,
I drop my hands to my sides.
I hear the words,
“Come to me, weary one,”
Ready now, I come.

Ginger Kauffman

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Purple Sunrise

This is my post from September 16 a year ago. I'm reposting as a part of my sixth blogiversary week.

My friend Colleen took this picture of the sunrise over the Cascades this morning
Today's pre-dawn sky was the color of eggplant against mountains the shade of a nearly black plum, finally ready to eat. At 5:50, it was still an hour until sunrise, but the hint of color brought with it a hint of the day's promise.

We've been a one-car family for the past three months and occasionally I commute with Tom the 33 miles to his office so that I can have the car for the day, then return to pick him up in the afternoon. It's not a great longterm solution, but it works for now. I've witnessed a lot of sunrises with my husband this summer, and that has been worth the inconvenience.

When we began our treks together it was just after the first day of summer and the sun was rising about 5:15. The sky was already bright enough to read in the car without a light, but who could read? Colors streaked the sky, horsetail clouds formed whispy patterns around us, and fog often lay just above the ground over the farmland and along the slough in Everett. Some days were so glorious that I forgot to breathe. Each trip found the sun rising a few minutes later than the previous trip, providing us a tangible reminder of nature's clock.

Sunrise was 6:49 today. I couldn't get enough of it. How often we've remarked that we should have had a camera on our morning trips to work, but even if we had it, you can't exactly stop along the freeway to snap a shot.

After dropping Tom off I was determined to find a spot where I could pull off and get a good, long look.

If you know Everett, perhaps you remember the overpass by the Evergreen Cemetery which will take you from South Broadway (overlooking Lowell), across the freeway, then down on to Broadway. It has not been kept up -- that is, there are lots of weeds along the sides of the road -- but it is still in use and still offers a great view of the Cascades and the Snohomish River valley. It's not wide enough to pull over but there was no other traffic on the bridge so I did stop momentarily and drink in the view. The sun had still not risen but the sky was turning orange and the clouds, light grey puffs that scattered across the sky, were lit from underneath. Fog settled in the low places, faint enough to see forms -- trees and buildings -- in the distance.

Even the sewage treatment plant just north of Everett was radiant in the moments before the sun appeared above the mountains. Reflections in the pond were filled with pinks and yellows and oranges and purples, and the details in the mountains above were beginning to be washed out by the brightening sky.

The sun had fully risen by the time I turned off I-5 onto Hwy 532. I was too far north by now to see it until, heading west, it glared in both my rearview mirror and my side mirror, temporarily blinding me. By the time I pulled into our driveway the day looked like any other. It might be, too, except that I had seen the sun rise this morning and had known the secret of its splendor. It had whispered its beauty to me and filled me with its wonder.

It just wouldn't be right to waste a sunrise.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Case of Mistaken Identity

This week marks the anniversary of six years of blogging. In celebration I am reposting blogs from years past. All the posts will be from a September day some time over the past six years.Today's is from September 12, 2011. I present it with thanks to Google Maps. I hope you enjoy it!

* * * * *

As we were making plans to go to Eastern Washington last week, Tom was looking for details about the roads from Stanwood to Yakima.  He opened Google Maps and typed in his information.  He was baffled when the following map and directions appeared.  Seems he added an extra a to the middle of the word Yakima, (Yakiama), so Google Maps directed him to Yokohama Japan!  Check out the directions; apparently we'll have to take some sea kayaking lessons before we venture out on this trip!

Stanwood, WA, USA

6,796 mi - about 34 days 9 hours

1.Head south on 102nd Ave NW towardWA-532 W
62 ft
2.Take the 1st left onto WA-532 E
5.9 mi
3.Slight right to merge onto I-5 S
42.6 mi
4.Take exit 169 toward NE 45th St
0.6 mi
5.Merge onto 5th Ave NE
233 ft
6.Turn right onto NE 45th St
0.6 mi
7.Turn left onto Wallingford Ave N
0.9 mi
8.Turn right onto N 34th St
292 ft
9.Take the 1st left onto Densmore Ave N
436 ft
10.Turn right onto N Northlake Way
282 ft
11.Kayak across the Pacific Ocean
Entering Hawaii
2,756 mi
12.Continue straight
0.1 mi
13.Turn left onto Kuilima Dr
0.5 mi
14.Take the 3rd right onto HI-83 W
12.4 mi
15.Continue straight onto HI-99 S/Kamehameha Hwy
6.5 mi
16.Slight left onto HI-80 S/Kamehameha Hwy
Continue to follow Kamehameha Hwy
2.1 mi
17.Take the Interstate H-2 S ramp toHonolulu
0.2 mi
18.Merge onto I-H-2 S
7.9 mi
19.Merge onto I-H-1 E
4.7 mi
20.Take exit 13B toward Halawa Hts. Stadium
0.3 mi
21.Merge onto I-H-201 E
4.1 mi
22.Merge onto I-H-1 E
4.1 mi
23.Take exit 23 for Punahou St towardWaikiki/Manoa
0.2 mi
24.Turn right onto Punahou St
0.1 mi
25.Take the 1st right onto S Beretania St
0.1 mi
26.Take the 1st left onto Kalakaua Ave
1.9 mi
27.Kayak across the Pacific Ocean
Entering Japan
3,879 mi
28.Turn left toward 県道275号線
0.4 mi
29.Turn left toward 県道275号線
358 ft
30.Turn left toward 県道275号線
0.2 mi
31.Turn right onto 県道275号線
0.1 mi
32.Turn left onto 国道125号線
499 ft
33.Turn right onto 県道24号線
0.6 mi
34.Turn left at 千束町(交差点) onto 国道354号線
2.0 mi
35.Turn right at 中村陸橋下(交差点) to stay on 国道354号線
1.0 mi
36.Take the ramp to 常磐自動車道
Toll road
0.3 mi
37.Keep left at the fork, follow signs for東京 and merge onto 常磐自動車道
Toll road
23.8 mi
38.Take exit 三郷JCT on the righttoward 首都高・銀座・湾岸線
Toll road
0.7 mi
39.Merge onto 首都高速6号三郷線
Toll road
5.8 mi
40.Take exit 小菅JCT toward 湾岸線・銀座
Toll road
0.3 mi
41.Merge onto 首都高速中央環状線
Toll road
0.4 mi
42.Take exit 堀切JCT on the righttoward 銀座
Toll road
0.3 mi
43.Merge onto 首都高速6号向島線
Toll road
5.4 mi
44.Take exit 江戸橋JCT toward 銀座・横浜
Toll road
0.4 mi
45.Merge onto 首都高速都心環状線
Toll road
2.3 mi
46.Take exit 浜崎橋JCT toward 湾岸線・横浜
Toll road
0.4 mi
47.Merge onto 首都高速1号羽田線
Toll road
7.4 mi
48.Continue onto 首都高速神奈川1号横羽線
Toll road
11.5 mi
49.Take exit 首都高横浜公園 on the right
Toll road
0.3 mi
50.Keep right at the fork, follow signs for大さん橋・中華街・県庁・市庁
Toll road
331 ft
51.Turn left at 横浜スタジアム前(交差点)
0.2 mi
52.Turn right at 関内駅南口(交差点)
Destination will be on the left
210 ft
Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan