Wednesday, November 02, 2011

In John Bunyan's classic "The Pilgrim's Progress" Faithful and Talkative have a meaningful conversation while accompanying Christian on the way to the Heavenly Country.  Christian is well acquainted with Talkative, since they are from the same home town.  He informs Faithful that Talkative isn't what he seems--from far away he is handsome, but as "unpleasing as one gets closer", that he may seem able to have a theological discourse, but has "no religion in his heart or his home.  They are as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of flavor.  Religion is only on his tongue." 

Faithful is not convinced, even though Christian warns him that Talkative has a bad effect on people, either by causing them to stumble or by cheating on them.  Faithful finally believes Christian and wants to get rid of him, and Christian advises him that all he has to do is talk to him and tell him the truth.

Then Faithful called to Talkative, "How does the saving grace of God manifest itself, when it is in the heart of a man?"

"So we speak about the power of things? It's a very good question, and I'm happy to answer you.  First where the grace of God is in the heart, it causes a great outcry against sin.  Secondly--"

"Wait a moment," interrupted Faithful.  "I think it shows itself by inclining the soul to abhor its sin."

"Why, what's the difference between crying out against sin and abhorring sin?"

"Oh, a great deal:  A man may cry out because of a law against it, but he cannot abhor it unless he has a godly antipathy against it.  What was your second point?"

"Great knowledge of the gospel mysteries."

"That is also false.  Great knowledge may be obtained in the mysteries of the gospel and yet not work as grace in the soul.  Consequently, he would not be a child of God.  A man may know like an angel, and yet be no Christian; therefore your sign is not true.  Indeed, to know is a thing that pleases talkers and boasters; but to do is that which pleases God.  Not that the heart can be good without knowledge, for without that, the heart is nothing. There is therefore knowledge and knowledge--knowledge that rests in the bare speculation of things, and knowledge that is accompanied with the grace of faith and love--which puts a man upon doing even the will of God from the heart.  The first of these will serve the talker, but without the other, the true Christian is not content.  If a man 'can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge but has not love, he is nothing." countered Faithful.  "What is another point?" 

"None.  I see we shall not agree." 
 Faithful isn't through with Talkative yet.  Faithful accurately contrasts the difference between those who have grace working in their souls and those who merely observe it.  Those with grace at work in them are convicted of sin and the Savior and His holiness are revealed to him, and subject themselves in "faith and love to the power of the Word."  He goes on to eviscerate his acquiantence's lifestyle with the observation on how his life doesn't match his words, and how his words are actually foul lies.  His final point that Talkative is a shame to all followers outrages Talkative who in return accuses  Faithful to be a gossip and an "irritable, dismal man " who has no right to judge him and bids him a curt farewell. 

Christian returns to Faithful and reassures him that "I told you how it would happen.  Your words and his lusts could not agree.  He would rather leave your company than reform his life.  But he is gone.  Let him go," said Christian. "The loss is no one's but his own..."

Faithful hopes that Talkative will think about what he said to him, and maybe it would curtail his destructive activities in the future.  Christian appreciates Faithful's courage in being confrontive with Talkative. 

Faithful sang:

"How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes!
How bravely does he speak.  How he presumes
To overwhelm all minds near!  But as soon
As I did speak of heart, like waning moon
He shrivels to an ever smaller part:
And so do all, but those who know the heart."
While in college, someone older  used to call me "Thea-logical" because his impression of me was that I was always thinking about big theological issues.  Maybe he thought it was so cute that a girl would spend so much time "thinking deep thoughts" as he put it.  I didn't know whether to be flattered or to be annoyed that I wasn't taken seriously.  After awhile, I realized I didn't have to do neither.  I soon became concerned that my knowledge, such as it was at the time, was outpacing my obedience to God. 

Looking back, I had the impression that all I needed was more information, more truth and that would make me more holy.  So, I read a lot of books and got involved in a lot of bible study discussions.  Which is really a good thing.  But as Serena, my bible study leader for four years in college, pointed out, it's nothing without application to real life.  She didn't want us to be merely well educated in the Bible, she was trying to teach us to live for God in obedience to His Word. 

It wasn't until post college when I realized that my love for others was actually as thin as water.  I talked the talk, but when it came to really loving people when they were hard to love and partaking in true community and real fellowship,  I was blowing it big time.  God brought me down as I saw my selfishness, arrogance and self-righteousness for the first time.  Like Talkative, I could have walked away but I chose not to.  I had to face that I fell short--way short--in the things that pleased God the most.   Not long after that, worship was no longer a performance but a real expression of joy that God still loved me and still wanted me in His domain, as I knew I was the most unworthy citizen in His kingdom. 

As William Shell explains in "Come Follow Me" :

 "I will give God what he wants, regardless of whether he gives me what I want."  This is the biblical response to the fact that Jesus is Lord; it is the very heartbeat of discipleship and submission to his lordship.  Anything less than this is inconsistent and impoverished Christianity.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

I wasn't expecting much at my last visit to the doctor's last Thursday--as a diabetic, I need to see her every 3 months.  And I have to have my blood drawn for tests on how my blood glucose is doing--the A1C primarily.  I've been a diabetic for five and a half years, and I've had my ups and downs with it. 

The last year and a half hasn't been a great year, but it was better than before when I was catching my blood sugar spiking to 342 on the meter 2 hours after a meal.  I would go for a half hour walk to see it drop to 160, a more normal range.  On top of that, I was having trouble getting my blood pressure to get below 140/90.  It wasn't too bad, but alarmingly, it wasn't getting better.

When I've been checking lately, the fasting bg (first thing in the morning) has been normal--120-135, and before bed, around 160-170.  I didn't notice any spikes.  But I still dreaded the last A1C lab result.  But it showed improvement--6.8, much better than 7.1 that I had last March.  I blamed it on Valentine's Day. 

The scale at the doctor's office showed a drop of nearly 10 pounds (actually, 7.5, but I went home and in my underwear on my home scale, it was 10, maybe that isn't totally accurate, but it makes me feel good).  And the nurse murmured that my blood pressure was 120/80.  I almost asked her if she was sure, maybe do it again.  I was shocked--my bp hasn't been that good for years. 

The doc and I talked about it for about a half hour.  She asked if I had made any changes.  I didn't know what to say, because I have worked harder than I have lately with no results to show for it. Reflecting about it later, I realized that Dennis and I had worked harder on controlling expenses overall which included less going out for meals and cutting back on the grocery bills.  I ate more apples and bananas,nuts, peanut butter and  included more fiber whenever I could, to the point I even got sick for awhile.  We ate simpler meals with less meat.  I passed up dessert at night, didn't feel the need.  If I ate a sweet, it was usually at work when I was on my feet all day and sure to work it off, but I brought fruit usually to head off the temptation.

I didn't expect any improvements, but since the changes were minor, I didn't feel like I deprived myself.  I even added 2 pumps of real carmel syrup instead of the sugar free kind to my grande latte a few times.  I drank a caramel macchiatto that was made by mistake last week--the first one I have had in five years.  It would have been tossed out, and it was just a small one, so I caved.  I had that caramel macchiato on my mind while I went to get my lab test done on Tuesday. 

The books on managing diabetes mention that you don't have to give up the occasional dessert or treat, but to work it into your plan and work around it--watch the total carb intake and exercise.  Of all the changes recently, the one that had to help the most was the less eating out.  But honestly, I didn't feel deprived.  I had been reading about how the food industry has totally manipulated America--we have no idea what we are eating.  Every meal has sugar, salt and fat amped up to incredible amounts to the point that it has destroyed the American palate.  We don't appreciate plain food anymore.  From my own experience, I can guess what has hurt me the most over the years. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Heidelberg Moment

Question 28: What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold all things?

Answer: That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Resistance

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dana the soon to be Tenth Grader

Dana wiped the sweat accumulating on her forehead and tied her bandana around her fluffy hair a little tighter.  She looked straight up the side of the cliff and wondered how she got herself talked into a bit of rock climbing tomorrow.   It was not a hard climb for a beginner like her, and she had practiced rappelling yesterday.  But she still felt apprehensive and nervous. 

Suddenly, an arm came around her neck and pulled her backwards, "Oh, I can't wait--this is going to be awesome!" screamed her best friend, Kellie.  They had taken Outdoor Ed together last spring, and now, in the summer before 10th grade, they were camping with Kellie's family in Colorado.

Kellie's dad finished a medical tour in the Army in Iraq, and had recently retired to begin a new practice of his own in a sleepy little community in dusty eastern Washington state.   He was the rock climbing instructor who was going to help Dana and Kellie learn the fundamentals.  He assured them that they could climb to what ever height they felt comfortable with, which made Dana less nervous.  Kellie, on the other hand, was already planning to climb Yosemite's Half Dome.  She had plastered pictures of it on her bedroom walls. 

"Ahh, you dork, I want to live long enough to get to 10th grade this year!"  She pulled one of Kellie's many braids and Kellie let her go. "And I want you to be there, too!"

"Well, we got through ninth grade and Outdoor Ed--we're survivorwomen."  Kellie threw a stone up to the top of the eight foot cliff.  "This is nothing, right?"

"How's your photography project coming along?" Dana was changing the subject, it left her feeling a little queasy.

"I have a lot of pretty pictures, but  I am still waiting for something really exciting and dramatic."  She threw another rock up the cliff. "I'm hoping that rock climbing will give me another perspective."

Dana sat on the ground, not knowing if she could take another minute of this discussion.  Kellie was obsessed, everything lead to rock climbing and "perspective".  On the other hand, Dana thought, they were both strong girls.  Mr. Johnson was pretty sure that they could handle this little cliff, and they would tackle more heights the next few days. Dana appreciated the slow breaking in approach but for Kellie, the process could not go fast enough.  Dana figured that Kellie was pumped at finding something that combined her artistic interests and her boundless energy, but she wondered if she could keep up with her restless and creative friend.  Dana was the tortoise to Kellie's hare.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Coffee of the Week--tasting notes from a barista

As most of you know by now, I work at Starbucks and I get a free pound of coffee for life every week.  This week's coffee mark out is Yukon Blend.

Yukon is a blend of Indonesian and Latin American beans, and on the tasting spectrum between mild and extra-bold, it is considered a bold one.  But it is so smooth, it doesn't feel like it to me.  Most Indonesian coffees have low acidic, herbal and earthy tones.  Some differences occur like a spicey note that makes the Sumatra bean really feel like sandpaper on my tongue.  In contrast, the coffee from Sulawesi tends to be silky smooth.  Latin American beans are a lot brighter, because the post harvest processing of those coffee cherries is called "washed",  where the mucilage and pulp surrounding the coffee bean inside is removed with an extra wash.  Indonesian coffees are called "semi-washed" meaning the mucilage surrounding the coffee bean is left on for a while before it is removed by washing. 

As a blend, the Yukon is well-rounded because the Latin American beans tend to cut the heaviness of the Indonesian bean.  There is some acidity, but not much, which I detect on the sides of my tongue.  There is an earthiness still present, but it doesn't linger as long.  There is some spice, but it is silky, too.  I never feel like I have "coffee breath" when I sip Yukon.  When customers want to make a step up from the milder coffees in our line-up, I always recommend Yukon because it doesn't overwhelm them as much.  But it is an outdoorsy, large and broad tasting coffee, and if you keep sipping it, it's like discovering a gold mine.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bob Dylan Time

It's been awhile.  Dylan will be in Michigan sometime this summer, but I'm not sure I'm able to go.  We'll see.  The following lyric  is a cut of  "Heart of Mine" from Shot of Love, (1981).  Ringo Starr plays the tom tom in it.  The general idea of the song is based on Jeremiah 17:9 that "The heart is more deceitful above all else, and is desperately sick,  who can understand it?" and applies it to a story of a man dealing with a unscrupulous  heart which leads him into disasterous relationships with the wrong women.  He's already lost the battle. 

Heart of mine so malicious and so full of guile
Give you an inch and you’ll take a mile
Don’t let yourself fall
Don’t let yourself stumble
If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime
Heart of mine

Apparently, he hasn't heard of Proverbs 4:23 about guarding or watching over one's heart, because it is the wellspring of life.  "Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life". If it is sick, then your whole life is sick.  The man in this song will not have anything going right in his life for a very long time until he learns self control. 

The discipline of self control commonly deals with what exposure from the outside world that I let into my thought life--my books, my Netflix account and the television I watch.  In this day and age, this is a very tricky endeavor.  For a long time, I used to battle depression.  Part of the depression was from not facing the truth of the past, but it also had a lot to do with the books I read.  Most Christians I know are careful about what they watch or read because of sexual content, but I think it is a little more complicated than that.  I also think that discipline is needed to deal with the heart itself.  Where am I directing it?  How am I guiding it?

The bottom line, really, is how my heart is the dwelling place of God.  He cleans it up, and He lives there.  Every thought, every feeling and every attitude should be available to His scrutiny.  He already knows it all.  Psalm 139.  Before I became a Christian, this was an intimidating idea.  I had a lot of things in my heart I did not want Him prying into.  But as I grow older in the faith as a believer,  this actually comforts me.  He knows me completely, I am completely known.  Nothing surprises Him.  As I learn to yeild to the Spirit and to His work on me, the more intimacy with Him I experience, because God is kind and good, as well as holy. I do not need to be perfect for Him to abide in me and for me to abide in Him.  I just need to want Him and to want to be like Him, no matter how long it takes Him to make that happen.  Sometimes, it feels it isn't happening at all.  Sometimes, I am surprised at what He's accomplished with so little. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


On the way home tonight, I caught a glimpse of magical cows on the corner of Hagadorn and Jolly.  Well, they were actually Black Angus cows.  Their silhouettes were against the beautiful rose, orange and violet sunset, the grassy knoll was a deep tinge of green and the fireflies flickered as they grazed.  It was worthy of a photo if I had a camera and by the time I remembered that the phone came with one, the light changed and I was holding up traffic. 

Sometimes, life looks like a page right out of a Harry Potter novel.  Not often, but enough.  When I see something like that, it feels like a gift from God.  It calms me down and reminds me that He's here.  It was so beautiful, that I almost turned around and went back, but I realized that the moment was over, never to return.  I'll have that picture in my heart for the rest of my life, though. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This week's coffee mark out

One of the perks of my 10th year anniversary of working for Starbucks is a free weekly mark out of coffee for the rest of my life, even after I quit the job.  It will be my 12th anniversary coming up on the end of July.  Today, one of my old managers came in with her mom and two year old son on their way home to Detroit from vacation.  Eight years ago, I told her how I didn't like the coffee from Guatemala.  She prepared a french press of Guatemala Antigua, and during a special tasting just for me, successfully persuaded me to appreciate its fine elegance.  In honor of her, this week's mark out is Guatemala Antigua.  Thank you, Heather Alsip!

This coffee is a single origin bean with a medium strength.  I think as I have gotten older, I've grown to like the less bold coffees.  Guatemala Antigua is complex with a soft acidity and a little cocoa/chocolate tone.  It doesn't bite like most Latin American coffees, but it does linger a bit towards the back of my palate.  This is what I first objected to, until Heather had me taste a little cocoa powder and then sip my coffee.  The sensation was amazing.  It wasn't bitter, but a totally different taste profile that I had never experienced before.  This coffee is meant to enjoy with a chocolate croissant or toast with Nutella spread on top it.  Or have a chocolate biscotti for dunking. 

I dedicate this tasting to my friends from Guatemala--Oscar, Delia and Ricardo!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blogging versus Living?

Dennis and I were without a computer and internet access in our home for a few months.  We were sustained by Den's Blackberry for awhile, but its limitations included a short battery life and small screen size.  Which adds up to poor support for significant blogging activity--reading or writing.  I could start posting and then be interrupted by an incoming phone call, which are frequent.  My husband loves talking on the phone.  I think it is his spiritual gift. 

So what did I do with all my extra time that used to be blogging time?  Let me numerate the ways:

  1. My closets are immaculate and organized.  My dresser drawers are neat and also organized.
  2. I've got lots of roses in the garden.
  3. I've been reading C.S. Lewis from real books.
  4. I've read everything on my Kindle.
  5. I am caught up in my sleep.
  6. My to-do list everyday gets finished.
  7. No dirty dish is left in the sink longer than 10 minutes or more than 15 minutes after the meal has finished.  Dishwasher gets unloaded everyday.
  8. No laundry in baskets waiting longer than a day to get folded.
I'm doing stuff, in other words.  For every blog I publish, there is something (somethings) that didn't get done.   Or something I'm depriving myself of (see #5).  I forgot about the pleasure of opening my closet door and being able to find everything I want to find. And finding the right socks for the right activity without having to dig through the ones that lost their mates a few years ago or have holes in the heel.  Or having enough eye contact solution every morning without having forgotten to get some the day before when I was getting too low because I was thinking about a subject to blog about.  Blogging was fun, but my life was a mess.  And I'm not even getting into the effect this blogging distraction had in my marriage.  Let's just say I feel more connected with Dennis.

Perhaps I could strike a sane balance between writing and living.  I'm not sure, because my focus works like a laser.  Imbalance is not so much a lifestyle as much as a personality trait.  I'm 49, and I know what I'm like.  In some ways, the laser-like concentration is a blessing, but  it is hard to control.  I've accepted that I am an INTP (without the genius part), and God has worked in my life to broaden my experiences (a life-long prayer for myself).  Where to take that INTP tendency, I don't know.  Blogging is a good outlet for it, and I appreciate that gift.  Perhaps the problem isn't blogging versus living, because if I didn't have a life, there would be nothing to blog about. 

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 10

"I don't know what just happened." Dana gave her friend a quick hug. "It seems to me that you're too hard on yourself.  Why should you worry about what Greg thinks?" She threw a new log onto the fire that was dying down. "It sounds like a funny idea actually, to put those clowns in the yearbook."

"I have a temper. Just ask Mike. He's fond of saying  that 'hell hath no fury like Kellie scorned.'  And his nickname for me is 'Killer'." She stood up. "I've been working on that, and things were going good all week until this afternoon and I lost the victory. Greg saved me from myself. He knows what I'm capable of." She pulled Dana up to her feet. "You have no idea!  I was praying that I wouldn't get mad at you!"

"Well, you did, you dork!"  Referring to yesterday's blow-up over breakfast. 

"That wasn't mad, Kellie!  Like I said, you have NO idea!"

"Wow, if that wasn't mad, then I'd hate to see what mad is!"  Dana rolled her eyes. "I'm no Dr. Phil, but that dog don't hunt."

"You watch too much t.v.!"
"Dr. Phil is so educational! Whenever I feel like my life is all screwed up, I watch that show and I don't feel so bad anymore.  Everyone else has it much worse!  And they have to be on the show, too!"

For a minute, Kellie just looked at her. "Hey, if you need help, you can talk to me.  I don't know much like Dr. Phil, but I can listen.  And pray--God listens."

"I just might take you up on that. I need all the help I can get." 

"Just don't whine.  My offer ends the minute I hear you whine." 

"Nope, I am going to whine like a little baby, Kellie."

"I've changed my mind!"

"No, you can't!"

"Oh, yes, I can!"

They laughed and headed to the Lodge's primative kitchen to make dinner.  They planned to make a fruit salad and fried spam over rice and share it with Chris, who previously took a loss in a barter out of pity.  Later that evening was a fire circle, and Dana was really looking forward to hearing what creative and inspiring essays everyone wrote.  It was the last evening before they headed home the next morning, and she was surprised that she was sad about the idea.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 9

As they opened the door to the back of the Lodge, Kellie ran smack into Greg and Dana bumped into her from behind. Although they were tall girls, they only came up to Greg's shoulders in height.

Greg was the other senior Outdoor Ed alumni recruited by Mr. Branson to help chaperone the class. In the fall, he played football with Kellie's older brother, Mike, and was generally famous in the community for his blocking skills and college football scholarship prospects. Kellie knew him way back before his local celebrity status when he was an awkward chunk of a boy who played xbox for a few hours every Saturday with her brother in their den.

Although their gaming days were almost over, Greg still hung out with Mike in their den, mostly talking shop about football and their futures. Mike was accepted already to go to University of Washington in the fall for the engineering program there. Greg was also considering UW, but wanted to be closer to his family and had decided to accept a full ride scholarship to Washington State University to study Wildlife Ecology instead.  The idea that they would be competing against each other was a constant joke between them, which Kellie could never figure out.  Why would being rivals be so funny?

"Yo, Strawberry Shortcake, what's the hurry?" When Kellie was a kid, everyone called her by her favorite dessert, which everyone forgot about except Greg.

"Nothing, Greg." He filled up the doorway and she was looking for a way to get around him. "Excuse us, we want to get through."

"You've got to wait, they're still cleaning the outhouses." With lightening speed, he grabbed Kellie's camera. "So, who invited you, paparazzi?  Whenever I see you with this thing I know you're up to no good."

"Just some nature scenes, Greg."

Greg looked at her skeptically.  "Tell me what you're planning, or I'm handing this over to Mike.  He's still mad about the photos you posted on Facebook."   He nodded his head toward the cleaning crew, which included the little Lipovsky kid that was on Kellie's hit list at the moment. "Let me guess, you were wanting some fun with those poor guys over there?  They're just doing penance for howling at the moon last night, Kells." Which was true, Mr. Branson assigned them the worst jobs on the chore roster for literally howling at the moon after quiet hours. 

For reasons that eluded Dana, Kellie confessed that she was mad and was planning to take some compromising pictures of Lipovsky cleaning the outhouse to put in the freshmen pages of the yearbook.  Greg still hung onto the camera and stayed in the doorway.

"So, he threw pebbles at you and you're going to roll a boulder on him? Revenge isn't justice, Kellie.  Over there, that's justice because Mr. B is the authority on this trip and he didn't make them do latrine cleaning duty because he was angry with them, but because they broke an actual rule and he made sure they paid the consequences.   What you're planning on doing is pure spite, Kellie."  Greg put the camera in his jacket pocket. "I'm hanging on to this until you cool down. I know you're furious at me, but I'm your buddy." He went out the back and walked towards the boys scrubbing the outhouses. "Aren't you done yet?  The faster you get it done, the less you suffer." The boys groaned. "Hey, I know what I'm talking about...Mr. B put me on latrine duty back in the day, too."

Kellie and Dana headed back to the fireplace.  Dana knew that Kellie had a giant crush on Greg for years, but she would never admit it.  She didn't deny it either when Dana teased her privately when she caught her looking at him from a distance or reading for the fifth time the blurbs about his performance on the team in the local newspaper.  They sat for a long silent minute.

"I wish that he wouldn't call me Strawberry Shortcake."

"I thought you like that?"

"Not anymore." Kellie stared at the fire. "But what he said was true.  When am I going to grow up?"

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 8

"Did you have a "marmot moment" on the hike, Dana?" Kellie was warming her bootclad feet at the fireplace. The clouds had come in and the temperature was dropping in the late afternoon. Dana sat next to her on a rough hewn bench. The hike was easy and she had gotten some ideas for the essay she wanted to write for her project while on the mountain ridge.

"Almost." She patted her friend on the shoulder, "So, did God talk to you while you were up there?"

"Yeah, God told me not to murder that Lipovsky kid up there. He was throwing pebbles at me while I was trying to think. I even gave him one of my famous killer looks, but he just laughed! I went up the ridge and sat next to Mr. Branson. It was a better angle for pictures, anyway."

"He was trying to get your attention, Kellie. You know how these boys are--such babies!"

"I know! Grow up already! I think I've got little pebbles stuck in my hair, too. So annoying. Really, it took all I had not to go up there and do something violent!" Kellie started to look through her fluffy hair and sighed and gave up. "I was really looking forward to having a "marmot experience", too. I was so disappointed because all I could think of was how irritated I was."

Dana found a pebble trapped in Kellie's curls and pulled it out gently.

"Hey, Kellie, I'll get up early with you early tomorrow morning and watch the sunrise. Maybe you'll get your moment then... I promise not to throw little stones at you."

Kellie gave Dana a big hug. "Thanks, thanks and thanks! I'm a morning person anyway!"

"But we have to share about our projects tonight during the fire circle. What are you going to say then?"

"Oh plenty, I never run out of stuff to say. Speaking my mind comes naturally." Kellie looked around, "Hey come with me, I've got an idea." She grabbed her camera. "It's revenge time on that Lipovsky kid!"

Dana had a bad feeling about this. But Kellie looked like she was very mad and very determined. What could she say to make her change her mind and forget about her anger? Dana got up and started to follow, trying to think of how to divert her friend from whatever shenanigans she was cooking up.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 7

The assignment for the afternoon was to quietly sit on the ridge across from the mountain and write down any observations. Dana waited for something to happen to report, but after 15 minutes all she saw was a solitary bird soaring above. She couldn't tell what kind.

As mountains go, it wasn't all that exciting. There were patches of pine trees, patches of rockiness, patches of grasslands and patches of snow and a patch of a small lake. It was much further away than it looked, and probably much bigger than she thought, too. Between her and the mountain was a wide open meadow. It was too cold for spring flowers, it was just full of brown grass. She wrote all this down, plus the fact that the snow was melting away and the sun was shining very brightly.

A slight breeze was a little chilly, but she wasn't uncomfortable. She heard another student cough somewhere along the ridge--Mr. Branson had taken them out and placed them in spots a few feet away from each other, while he sat above them at the top of the ridge and kept watch. He had talked about this assignment a lot in the months leading up to this trip. How just sitting quietly in nature can teach you a lot. How he saw a marmot come up to him one day while sitting on a cliff, which is rare because marmots are really shy.

After a few more minutes, Dana was bored. She had 45 more minutes before they hiked away from the area, and even if something happened, like a deer or a marmot came out of the woods, she still wouldn't have anything more original than the rest of her class, because they would've seen the exact same thing.

She took a drink out of her water bottle and looked at the mountain again. Most of the time, she was always in a car traveling through the mountains when her mom drove to Seattle to drop her off at her dad's and vice versa. She never had a chance to actually sit and look at one. What did Mr. Branson keep saying? That everyone "looks but don't really see" what is right in front of them?

Sooo, Mr. Mountain, what I am not seeing? You are a bit of a nerdy mountain, not as rugged as the Cascades or majestic like the Rockies. You are far away from any highway or tourist trap. I had to hike 30 minutes in from the Lodge to see you. Nobody comes to climb you like your cousins Rainier, Adams and Hood. No one skiis off your slopes like at Baker. Are you lonely, Mr. Mountain? Are you glad to see us kids come and really pay attention to you? To really see you?

At this thought, Dana started tearing up. This was not a popular mountain, but it was pure in a way because of that. No one trampled on it. There wasn't garbage anywhere, unlike most places that people visited. Not even a gum wrapper. This mountain was better off in this wild and desolate place. Dana began to understand the value of a hidden, secret thing.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 6

"Wow. Fruit salad for lunch, Danana." Kellie said flatly. "I had better eat Spam for lunch, dinner and tomorrow's breakfast because I am not packing all of this down the switchbacks." She brightened. "I think I've got a packet of ketchup somewhere, too! I love ketchup with my Spam!"

Dana barely heard her friend's excitement over the Spam because her heart was still racing and she felt a little dizzy. She felt elated, concerned and proud at the same time. It was the first time she actually had a real conversation with Macho Man Chris, and she didn't say anything stupid. But she was worried that he thought that she had anorexia. Were there rumors going around about her? The thought sobered her up for a second until she realized that Chris's heart was in the right place. All the girls liked Macho Man Chris, but it was so good to know that he was as handsome on the inside as he was on the outside. She wasn't wasting her crush on some jerk.

"...Spam with ketchup, Spam with tropical fruit salad, fried Spam, Spam sandwiches, Spam on our boiled rice..."

"See you later, Kells, I've got to find Stephanie Hill." She shook her head, "Don't forget green eggs and Spam."

Stephanie Hill was a high school senior who was also an Outdoor Ed alumni and applying to study forestry in college. Mr. Branson offered credits to qualified upperclassmen to help lead and teach as well as chaperone on the class trips. Stephanie had experience as a camp counselor, and Dana considered her pretty cool. Stephanie was always surrounded with students, both boys and girls, vying for her attention--the guys thought that she was "hot" and she was like a big sister to all the girls.

When Dana finally found her, she was outside with a bucket of warm water trying to rinse biodegradable shampoo out of her long red hair. There was no shower, and Steph had warmed the water on the propane stove.

"Hey, Dana--mind helping me out here?" Dana took the bucket and slowly poured the warm water over her hair. "Hurry up, it's freezing!" So, Dana tipped the bucket all the way. "Whoa! Thanks!" Stephanie grabbed a towel and ran inside the lodge, drying her hair along the way, not stopping until she was in front of the massive fireplace. She poured a small bottle of stay-in conditioner and proceeded to quickly comb it into her locks. When she sat down to braid her hair, Dana sat down next to her on the wooden bench. Dana contemplated the fact that not only did this woman survive in the wilderness, she seemed to look good the whole time too. Stephanie pulling out a tube of lip balm just served to punctuate Dana's observation. Dana's orange knitted hat with the pompom on top of her head suddenly felt hideously tacky.

As if on cue, Steph remarked, "I like your hat--it's cute! Did you and Kellie plan to wear the same headgear?"

"Maybe Kellie did--she brought it because she knew I wouldn't"

"Good idea, really. I just brought my Mariner's ball cap." Steph produced it from her back pocket and put it on. Dana saw that it only upped her appearance, not subtracted it. "It's not as warm as yours. Wanna trade?"
When Dana hesitated, "I don't have lice or anything. And my hair is freezing. Please?"

Dana surrendered her hat, feeling weird because her mom always told her not to share hairbrushes and combs, and hats were kind of personal. The Mariner
s ball cap looked brand new, though. Dana put it on.

"The blue brings out your amazing eyes. I'll let you keep it."

"Thanks, orange is more your color than mine." Dana looked around for Kellie and saw her across the room, talking to Greg, "You can have it--don't tell Kellie that I let you."

Steph started laughing "Yeah, I'll tell her I stole it from you because I couldn't resist its awesomeness." Steph put on her new orange hat and pulled her braids under it. "What's up, Dana? Did you want to talk about something? Have any questions about your outdoor ed projects?"

"Yeah, well, no." Indecisiveness hit her like a wave. "It's not a big deal."

"So, it's easy to talk about then, right?"

"Not really. People are getting the wrong idea about me. I don't know how it got started and I don't know how to end it." Dana felt the momentum of her words moving towards the real issue. "I don't have an eating disorder. I'm not starving myself on purpose." Dana felt numb from the shock of spilling her heart out.

Stephanie sat quietly for a moment, choosing her words carefully before proceeding. "I see you are really concerned. I'm sorry. I saw you not eat not just during the meals that Kellie ruined, but you refused s'mores last night, too. I didn't know if it was because you were sick, emotionally upset or what. I remember from my health studies class that girls your age start to develop eating problems, and if this is a pattern, it's good to catch it early." Steph moved closer to Dana on the bench. "I've been a camp counselor for a long time and I've seen anorexia and bulimia before." Dana had hung her head so Steph bent low from bench to try to make eye contact. "And you are a dancer, right? Ballet? You are in such good shape, it's one of the reasons your application was accepted for the class. I'd hate to see your health on this trip ruined, or worse, because of an inadequate diet."

"Yeah, Mr. Branson mentioned that you were worried. I hate s'mores--they're too sweet. And Chris practically gave away all the fresh fruit he packed up here." Dana smiled, even though she blinked away big teardrops "I wanted him to notice me, but not that way."

"Aww, Dana, we all just care a ton about you." Steph gave her hug."Chris really loves fruit, so it was a big deal for him to sell it to you. He's a rock star, that's all."

"Yeah, he rocks." Dana dried her tears. "It's true, prob'ly, that I've got some hang ups about food. And learning to speak up. I'm figuring it out. Hey, watch this!"

Dana stood up on the bench "Listen up, Ninth grade Outdoor Ed people! I'm not anorexic or bulemic! You can all relax, now!" She laughed as the room erupted in applause and she jumped down and did a perfect pirouette.

"I want my fruit back!"

"No way!"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 5

"Hey, ladies, I heard that you are in the market for real food, not freeze-dried pouches." Chris said in stage whisper, "Have I got a deal for you!" From beneath his jean jacket, he pulled out a can of Spam. "How many fruit rolls are you willing to pay?"

Dana was not impressed. The only meat they had was turkey luncheon meat, because it was lightweight and she was tired of its saltiness. She had never eaten Spam, but it didn't look much different. As cute as Chris was, she was ready to tell him no sale. Kellie, on the other hand, looked like she was ready to pounce on it. Dana had to act fast if they weren't going to waste their fruit roll investment.

"It's processed meat. What else you got?"

Chris relunctantly pulled out an orange from his pocket and set it next to the can. He then extracted a banana, a mango and a kiwi from his jacket and laid them on the other side.

"Wow, Chris! How much weight did you haul up here in your backpack??" Now, Dana was impressed. It wasn't fair, the girls packed as lightly as possible and were hungry while the guys seemed to have whole refridgerators in their gear.

"Seventy pounds." Chris puffed out his chest a little, he was also impressed with himself. "I was in training for this trip for months, you know? But the hike down the mountain is actually tougher than going up, and I don't want to wreck my knees because of wrestling tournements coming up, but I don't want to waste the food." Then he whispered, "And I heard that one of you girls in this group is anorexic or something." He looked straight at Dana. "I'm a little worried about you all."

"Okay, four rolls for the whole lot." Dana didn't know whether to be mad or to be grateful. The confusion made her feel flustered so she didn't know what to say. "It's my final offer." Her face reddened, "Thanks, but I'm just a picky eater. I don't know what to do without a microwave in the wilderness, either. So, don't worry, I'm fine." She got the fruit rolls and gave them to Chris. "These are strawberry, my favorite."

"Well, my knees and I thank you--stay strong, Danana." Chris made his nickname for her almost rhyme with "banana". She smiled as he picked up his fruit rolls and left.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 4

It felt like Thanksgiving.  Dana and Kellie leaned back to back on the picnic table bench in the Lodge, with their bellies full for the first time since they left civilization.  Their teamwork finally coelesced that morning, with Dana taking over the cooking and Kellie bartering extra fruit rolls for more substantial food.  Since the class was breaking camp the next morning and backpacking down five miles to the bus, many were eager to get rid of any extra food to lighten their loads. The lightweight fruit rolls proved to be in high demand.

"Dana, you make yummy freeze dried eggs!"

"Thanks for scoring that box of Macaroni and cheese!"

Kellie nudged Dana with her elbow  and  cocked her head at Mr. Branson sitting in a corner writing stuff on his notepad."I wonder what grade we got on our tent last night?"

"Without the rocks under the floor,  it would have been perfect."  Dana sighed, "If we don't tell him, he won't know."

"He doesn't care about comfort.  He is grading us on survival and if we apply the information we learned in class."  Kellie's turn  to sigh, "Don't you pay attention?"

"Huh? What did you say?" Dana played dumb and Kellie played like she was about to choke her until they heard a throat clear in mid-strangle. Mr. Branson sat across the picnic table from them. It was time for a verdict on their tent pitching skills.

"Ahem, your tent was solid, Smith and Johnson.  According to Miss Hill's evaluation while you were assembling it, it was placed in the best direction--back against the wind.  Nice trench around the perimeter, rain fly, pegs all in securely--not easy this time of year.  You used a ground cloth, good.  Were there stones underneath?"  Mr. Branson looked at them straight in the eyes.  The girls gulped.  Sometimes, their teacher seemed to have extra superpowers.

"We missed a couple."

"Well, it is a rocky terrain--make sure you get as many as possible, they poke holes in the floor and if it rains, it could leak.   A-" Mr. Branson got up from the table with a rare smile "Tents have very thin walls.  When I said lights out, you know it means all quiet.  But you weren't the noisiest ones.  However if you want an  "A" from this class you need to work on adhering to the lights out rule."

"Mr. Branson?" Kellie got up from her seat. "What if the conversation taking place after lights out was necessary for team building?"  Kellie described their reconciliation in the tent last night .  Mr. Branson was nodding his head. "...and I know you noticed we did better this morning than the previous ones."

"Ok, you've made your point." he jotted down 'team building' on his notepad. "Which raises another issue, about the food.  Miss Hill said that you, Miss Smith, weren't eating.  She was concerned that you had an eating disorder.  I'm relieved to see you dined well this morning.  So, we'll talk about this some other time." 

He headed towards a group of gangly boys, barking "Buckly, McEnroe, Lipovsky and Dean!" They were the noisest ones of the tents, and were about to face their own Outdoor Ed Judgement Day. Kellie jubilently sat down, pumping her arm in victory. Dana laid her head on the table.  This "A" was the hardest one she ever had to work for.  She sat up with a sudden realization.

"Kells!" she whispered.


"Tents have thin walls!"


"Think about it!  How did our teacher know about the rocks? " Dana put her head in her hands, "What if everyone heard us talk about-" She looked to her left and right.

Kellie gazed at her with disbelief. "You mean, boys?"  Dana hushed her. "Oh please, what are you?  A twelve year old? "
As if on cue, Chris came over to their table. Dana looked like she was about to die.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 3

Sunshine hitting the exterior of the orange tent made it glow inside when Dana opened her eyes the next morning.  Kellie's silver sleeping bag was rolled up and stashed in its bag.  Dana groaned from all her aching muscles from a bad night sleeping on the ground--for the first time in her life, she got out of bed without wanting a few more minutes of snoozing. The cold air hit her like a slap on the face, so she dressed quickly.  If only there was a hot shower, she thought.   Dana pulled off the orange hat that kept her body heat from escaping out the top of her head all night.  She glanced in the metal mirror she always kept in her jacket pocket.  Not a pretty sight.  She brushed her hair and put the hat back on. 

After packing up her bag and sleeping bag, Dana retrieved some toiletries and headed out the tent.  Kellie was nearby, sitting on a rock overlooking a view of the lodge down below.  She had her camera out as well as an open small book and was deep in thought with her eyes closed.  She looked so tranquil that Dana tried to quietly pass by without disturbing her.   Throughout the trip, Dana sometimes found Kellie sitting off by herself either thinking, singing softly or meditating, like just now.  Dana was curious, but Kellie's quiet times seemed pretty personal, so she didn't want to pry with questions.  It was a sharp contrast to what she was like the rest of the times she was awake--always talking, joking around and laughing that Dana didn't know what to make of it.  How could an outgoing, talkative girl like Kellie be also so... spiritual? Dana couldn't think of another word to describe this private side of her outdoor ed partner.

Kellie's eyes opened, and Dana blushed at being caught staring at her.  Her friend didn't seem to care, and moved over on the rock to make room for her.  "Hey, Danes, I've got some pictures to show you of the sunrise you just missed!"  She picked up her digital camera and started to scroll through the saved photos on file.  "It was just so beautiful!  I wanted to go back to wake you, but if I did,  I would have lost the moment, you know?  And I would have woke you up for nothing, you would have missed it anyway.  But I've got the pictures, I hope you don't mind."

Dana still felt like she was intruding, even as she sat down on the big rock.  She took the camera and as she viewed the landscape photos, she concluded that Kellie indeed had a good eye.  "Thanks, Kellie--as nice as the sunrise was, I appreciate you letting me sleep. Great photos!"  She handed the camera back to her friend. "Are you serious, do you really want a career in photography?"

Kellie sighed.  "I would like that, but it looks like I'll end up being a senator or some big wig.  Mom wants me to be the first African American woman president someday.  Destiny calls, you know?  God's will?"

Dana shook her head.  Sometimes Kellie said things that sailed right over her head.  She often felt that Kellie dwelled in another dimension apart from everyone else--her goals were so lofty, but she herself was so down to earth.  Was she an alien? 

"Here, Dana.  Mom showed this to me last week."  Kellie picked up the small book laying open beside her.  Kellie read a passage from it that sounded like another language, only it was still English.  Dana saw her friend read often from it, and wondered what it was.  Whatever deep thought she was attempting to share with her, was clearly bouncing off her like a rubber ball against a concrete wall.

Kellie turned to the scene below them.  "It's about perspective, Danie.  What we see from this point of view is much higher--we see a lot more than we would from down in the lodge.   In life, we are down in the lodge all the time."  Kellie jumped off the rock.  "Hey, let's get the tent down!  I'm hungry--let's see what I can burn for breakfast!" 

Dana laughed as she jumped down, too.  That's what Kellie  thought. Dana was going to make breakfast this morning, just let her wait and see what real eggs are supposed to be like. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 2

"I know.  This is really depressing."  Dana was startled at Kellie's admission.  Kellie had not complained once, except to complain about her complaining about her cooking.

"Yeah, I don't think we cleared all the rocks before we pitched our tent.  I've got one under my ribs. Ouch!"  Dana turned on her flashlight.  Kellie had pulled the top of her silver colored sleeping bag over her head.  Only the pompom of her hat was sticking out.   "Are you warm enough?"

"Toasty, but I think I've got a rock hitting the back of my head here."  Kellie's sleeping bag started to move around, like an inchworm. Dana started to giggle.  "What?"

"Nothing."  Dana's giggling turned into laughter. "You look like something out of Star Wars."

Kellie popped her head out and blinked at Dana's flashlight.  "Sorry I yelled at you this morning about the eggs."

"Sorry that my whining ruined our whole day."

"Hey, why aren't you wearing a hat?  Don't you remember Mr. Branson saying that most of our body heat escapes from our head?"

"Hat hair!  I can't stand hat hair!"

"Who cares?  Everyone has hat hair, why should they care about your hair?  Here, wear this, I brought an extra."  Kellie tossed an orange flourescent knitted cap like the one she was wearing.  "We can be twins."

Dana put it on, carefully.  "How do I look?  Dorky like you?"

"I knew you wouldn't bring a hat.  You're so vain, you know?"

"Why glow in the dark orange, Kels?  I swear, I can see you a mile away with this thing on." pouted Dana.

"So you won't get shot by hunters looking for wild turkeys.  You look like one, Dana."

"The hunters might shoot you for looking like Jabba the Hut in that crazy sleeping bag!"  They started laughing.  Dana found that the hat and the good humor actually made her feel a lot warmer.  She laid back down, careful to avoid the rock poking her. 

Kellie had outrageous taste in clothing--she was an original, but somehow it worked for her.  She was outfitted in something that seemed bohemian, colorful and outdoorsy at the same time for this trip.  Dana and she had long talks about  her fashion sense as they got to know each other in class.  Kellie said that she  attracted attention as coming from the only African American family in their small town, so she thought that she might as well give them all something to look at.  She found that she liked finding vintage clothing at thrift shops and making it her own.  Except for the winter camp, she made sure she got the warmest high tech gear she could afford, in bright colors.  Kellie was tall and willowy, Dana thought that she would make a great fashion model.

"Dana, have I been too bossy?  I mean, for this class, in planning and all." 

Dana thought for awhile.  Kellie was a take charge girl, she was always something like class president, Associated School Body president, Honor Society president, and with all that experience and brains, Dana just trusted her.

"I don't think so.  But I think I needed to speak up.  We needed cooking lessons or something."

"Yeah, I think I was over confident.  Food is pretty important. I just didn't think that it could be all that difficult.  My mom cooks all the time, and she makes it look so easy." 

"All you need to do is turn down the heat, Kels.  That's all."

"Oh." Kellie turned towards her.  "I've got to ask you something."


"Why did you take this class?  Whatever got into your head to try this outdoorsy stuff?"  Kellie was smiling. "You just don't seem like the type to rough it."

"Oh, I know.  I'm a ballerina, a diva, a Glee fan.  But I'm not a wimp, you see."  Dana sighed.  "I'm an only kid and my mom got me into dance lessons and music and stuff we both like.  But my dad likes fishing and the great outdoors.  I want to do stuff like this with him, but he won't  take me.  I guess I just want to prove it to him that I can do it."  Dana turned to Kellie. "Why are you here?"

"Actually, because the most beautiful places in the world are right here in Washington state.  I'd like to try photographing it.  Maybe someday I could be like Ansel Adams." 

"Oh.  I thought you took this class because of Greg. You liar."  Dana teased.

"No, you lie.  I think you are out here freezing your buns off for Chris the Macho Man." 

"We're both lying!"  They laughed again.  Dana turned off her flashlight.  She was finally toasty warm and forgetting about her misery.  "Good night, liar."

"Good night, silly."

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 1

This sucks.  Dana tried to keep that thought far away from her, but it was true.  No matter how well she and Kellie planned for this trip, they weren't prepared for how cold cold could be.  They were members of a popular ninth grade outdoor education class and they could only get in during the spring semester.  Spring at home was different than spring in the northern Omak National Forest.  It was not really spring.  It was winter in April.  There was snow everywhere.

And Mr. Branson wanted his class to learn how to spend the night in a tent in that snow.  Kellie and Dana had heard all the lectures about winter survival and how to keep warm.  How to pitch a tent in the right direction.  The dangers of frostbite.  Layering your clothes.  He explained how half of the students were going to stay in the lodge next to the big warm fire while the other half spent the night in tents in pairs.  And the next night they were going to switch--the lodgers will camp outside while the campers got the lodge.  Mr. Branson and Mr. Smith were going to do rounds and check each tent, which were given spots a few feet away from each other. 

Dana couldn't get her feet warm, so she tried curling up in a fetal position in her sleeping bag.  Staying warm took a lot of energy, but she and Kellie didn't plan their meals very well.  Neither girl could cook, but she trusted Kellie to know more than she did.  By the time she discovered that Kellie was clueless, it was too late.  They got along most of the time, but Kellie blew up that morning when Dana complained that she was burning the eggs over their little backpacker propane heater.   Dana suddenly realized that she was always complaining all weekend long.  But Kellie burned everything including oatmeal and Dana couldn't eat it. She resorted to cold lunch meat and fruit leather.  Her stomach rumbled.  She was sick of fruit leather.

Kellie was the talkative one, but throughout the trip, she got quieter and quieter.   Dana shivered a bit.  They didn't choose each other, Mr. Branson assigned them as partners the very first day.  They had nothing in common.  Kellie took charge most of the planning times that they had, and Dana stayed passively quiet.  And now, she was paying the price for her silence.  But to be fair, blaming Kellie was not the way to go.  They were partners and shared equal responsibility for their decisions. 

Dana had never planned anything before.  This was her first experience with taking the information a teacher gave her and applying it to a real life situation.  The dilemma that Kellie and she had to deal with is how to pack everything they needed and keep their backpacks under 40 lbs each.  It was a 5 mile hike to the lodge from the bus.  Uphill with a lot of switchbacks.  The first night, Dana was glad that they got the lodge, the hike took a lot out of her.  She didn't pay heed to Mr. Branson's recommendation that they get in shape by loading up their packs and taking long walks before their trip.  She couldn't imagine walking around town with a loaded backpack and getting stared at all the time.  It just looked dorky.

Dana tossed and turned, and gave a big sigh.  Kellie was still on her side of the tent.  She couldn't be asleep already. 


She heard a groan.  "Now what?"

"This sucks."

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Surviving the Toddler Room

After snack time of doling out handfulls of cheerios to fifteen or so 2 year olds, I spotted young Fifi draped over his Big Wheel.  It was only 9:45am Sunday morning, but he had already pooped out from taking his little vehicle for a few spins around the Toddler room. We had at least an hour left to go. His large brown eyes looked at me expectantly.  It was a little intimidating. When it comes to entertaining small children, I am a real amature.  I'm sure Fifi saw right through me. 

How I got into doing childcare during our church's early service, I don't know.  One year I was holding crying newborns in the nursery, the next I was chasing crawlers and now I had graduated to the Big Time--toddlers/preschool.  Which requires serious playing skills. Since I don't have kids of my own, I am a little out of my comfort zone.  But I wasn't ready to wimp out on Fifi. 

I asked Fifi to pick out a book for me to read to him and after careful consideration, he brought me a couple of  books, one by Dr. Seuss.  An obscure one I had never heard of, where there is a certain Mr. Brown who makes noises. Hmmm.  Which requires you to make noises as you read aloud.  Hmmm.

Fifi settled into my lap.  At certain points of the story, the reader coaxes the readee into making a few sounds of his own.  And Fifi obliged every time.  Even the "whisper, whisper" part.  I love Dr. Seuss.  When you read his books to a child, he makes it easy for you.  Your storytelling skills seem way and above what they really are. Shy Fifi just turned the book back to the first page and in his own nonverbal way, got me to read it again.  And again.  And again. And again.

And I really didn't mind at all.  It was good to be sitting on the class/playroom floor, totally engrossed in this remarkable book together with Fifi.  And before we both knew it, it was 10:45am and Fifi's parents were ready to take him home.  And I realized, Fifi was as perplexed as to why he was in the Toddler room as much as I was.  But we made the best of it.  I want to do this again.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Season

There is a season for everything. A season to blog, and a season to not blog. I am busy beyond description in relationships and reading. This is clearly not my time to blog. 
Yet, I have much to say. Even more, I have a great need to slow down and process everything. Which is where blogging often helps. 
For the past two weeks, I've been fighting to stay involved with friends, celebrate the holidays, work effectively during busy shifts, and fighting the flu. Basically, treading wildly below to keep my head above the water. I'm recovered, and am now staring down the cold, steel barrel of a gun of things that need to be done to get ready for the upcoming events of this weekend, next week and the week after. All important stuff. I nearly had a panic attack earlier today, in which I said to myself, pull it together. Trust God. He's the one in control, not me. In the meantime, just do the next thing. 
Last year, Dennis was predicting that we would be stretched out more than ever.  And he was right.  So far, God has been faithful.   He has held us and our endeavors together.
So, I'm praying more. Having longer quiet times. Reading good stuff. Extending ourselves more in hospitality. Connecting deeper with friends. Blogging less.