08 February 2019

Deep Winter

I love winter. We say that a lot in Minnesota. Perhaps we do. Perhaps not.

We are reaching the point of the really hard days of the season we love. Highs around zero. Lows somewhere down on the minus scale. It is mid-February and the sun is much higher in the sky than at Christmas, though that fact has not yet made a difference in our temperatures. That will come.

This is the waiting time.

This period of winter is like many times of our lives. Waiting for something. For first grade. For a new bike. For a drivers license. For marriage. For a new job. Waiting for a sign. Some signal that what you wish for will come to be.

I am a hospice volunteer and just spent 15 months visit a patient with a friend with a terminal illness. Waiting to die. I stopped by twice a week to chat, about his family, sports, occasionally his faith. He had the type of illness that shows no real symptoms to others until the very end. As predicted, that was how it played out. On Monday he was happy and alert. On Thursday he was much weaker and knew his last few days were upon him. On Saturday his body was dead.

I have tried to put myself in his place and imagine this period of waiting. For some it is a period of fear and dread. For my friend it was a time to enjoy with family and friends, to ponder his life in its triumphs and regrets, to read, to sleep, to meet a new nurse, to welcome a priest bearing the blessed eucharist. One day folded into the next, one season to the next. Now he is where there are no seasons, and no waiting, only joy and love in its purest of pure forms.

I look around my house for a sign of spring. The snow is piling up. The ice on the lake is thicker than last week. No birds in the air or squirrels in the trees. But the sun is higher in the sky today than yesterday. For a while that will suffice.

20 November 2018

Day two of Retirement

Pondering this part of life.
Last week as I drove to work for one of the last times, I wondered how I would answer all the old friends who ask about my new status. This question and answer came to mind.....

What is the most important project you are working on now?

Answer: Repairing the damage to my soul

07 May 2018

In the name of the Father

Pondering the Trinity

One recent evening I was reading the Easter story to my granddaughter, Lilly, who is three. During the time in the Garden of Gethsemane, we read that Jesus prayed. “Why was he praying?” she asked. “What do you mean, why?” I replied. “He’s God isn’t He? What was he doing, praying to Himself !?” In this simple sentence she laid open one of the deepest questions of theology.  

The truth is we don’t know. We believe that Jesus was fully God and fully Man. We can write books about that and talk in our Bible studies about it, but can’t ever understand it. God as man is a glimpse of what God is like and what we are to be as sons and daughters created in his image. His life and love and pain here was a tiny peek at his nature. What does it mean when God takes on all the suffering of the human body? Not as a punishment but as a redemptive act.   

I tried to explain to her that we know God in three ways, or that he shows himself to us in three forms, but dumb down the Trinity and you find yourself wandering from one heresy to another. Fortunately she’d had enough and turned the pages of the story book, to his arrest and death and then resurrection.  

What our talk reinforced to me, is what CS Lewis said so many times, one of the reasons Christianity rings true, is that it is not something we humans would have come up with. The very fact that at times it seems to not make sense bears witness to the fact that it was not man made. 

Lewis said...

“Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is
one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have
guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected,
I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing
anyone would have made up.”

A three year old heart felt the tug that something fundamental to this story is very very different from every other story she's heard. It has no flying ponies, or talking rainbows. But something even more incredible. A God who is fully one of us and fully God. You need not ask her if it is true, just look on her face and listen to her voice when she says "He's alive!, that's my favorite part". 

21 November 2017

The eve of Thanksgiving eve.

It is two days before Thanksgiving and I am in the Charlotte airport. Flight out of Knoxville was delayed so I spent a ew hours at my brother Kevin's house waiting. Had a real nice cigar and a snack of crackers and pimento cheese. Watch the second half of last years Clemson Alabama game on his deck and talked football and Thanksgiving plans. A nice break from a routine business trip.

Charlotte airport is packed with happy people, off to see family and friends. No one has more to be thankful for than I.

14 March 2017

New Stuff

Got some snow this week, our second one of the month after a very dry Feb. Soon the ground, the lake, the trees will be showing signs of spring, signs that what we thought was dead is alive. Symbols of the Resurrection. What was dead is alive. Easter.

06 October 2016

Fall in a flash and the winter onset

In Minnesota we love the fall. Too bad it doesn't last very long. What most folks call autumn starts here in late August, when you first see a leaf or two begin to change and you wake up one morning to temps in the mid-50s instead of 60's.

It was 45 when I woke this morning and the weatherman says we may fall to the high 30s over the weekend.

Other fall things going on....

The boat is off the lake. This weekend it goes into storage until April.

The dock and boat lift are off the lake and are pulled up on the shore. That happened yesterday.

The last hummingbird was spotted last weekend. The smart ones left earlier. The feeders have been washed and are stored until May.

Leaves are falling with every breeze.

Tomato plants are in the trash and the cages are stored under the deck.

Chokeberries have been picked and frozen for some winter recipe

Apple harvest is in full swing and we'll be making apple butter this weekend or next.

We have placed our best on when we first see snow. November 3rd is my date.

The box of Christmas lights are in the garage, ready for their early November hanging.

Mailed the check today to my snow plow guy for his continued service.

23 August 2016

First post of 2016

My how things like twitter and linked in take away from blogging. I really used to love this but there is something about that evil little bird that keeps me from posting here like I should. What are the big things in my life this summer?

A new granddaughter, a special reminder of how wonderful God is and how the world is blessed by new children who are born into loving homes where He is honored.

A new dock service. Hooray! No more days waking up at night wondering if the dock is going out in the spring or if it will freeze to the lake in the fall.

Gooseberries, currants, and hazelnuts from bushes I planted three years ago.

New landscaping on a hillside that was once home to an old shed.

That is all for now. Just wanted to get something plugged into the blog today. If I recall right one of my new years resolutions was to blog more this year than last. I have some work to do.

21 December 2015

That may have been the last big solo drive of my life

December 20, 2015

Left Waco, TX at 4am. Arrived in Victoria, MN at 830pm. If you don't stop at all, Google Maps says its a 16 hr drive. So I guess I wasted about 30 mins stopping for gas and driving less than expected in road construction areas.

Not a bad drive, just a grind. Getting through Fort Worth is always challenging. Texas border to Oklahoma City is somewhat scenic. Oklahoma City to Wichita is flat and fast. North of Wichita is the Flint Hills area, a most beautiful area of the country that most people have never heard of. Knute Rockne died near there and is commemorated very tastefully at a rest stop near his plane crash.

After leaving the Flint Hills the beauty turns into millions of acres of farmland, interupted briefly by the cities of Kansas City and Des Moines. During summer it can be nice to drive by acres of corn wheat and soybeans, but in the winter it is stark. From the Flint Hills to Minneapolis it is a grind that you just get through by force of will.

1080 miles.

In the hours before I left I drove around Waco and wished I had taken more time to see the place. It really is a special little spot with its own history and its own special mark on America. My youngest daughter has graduated from Baylor University. More than likely I will never go back to Waco, but one never knows for sure. I only know that next time I won't be the only one driving.

10 December 2015

I remember you! Weren't you that guy.....

In college I was in student government. It seemed important at the time and was the sort of thing that you list on your resume when you first leave college, before you have a real job. 

One of my college friends in student government is now in the insurance biz in Missouri, and has been for many years.

On his website he lists his bio and career accomplishments. What's still there for this now 60-yr old? His position in student government. In the 1970's. 

After all these years, that is one of the high points of his life. That is so terribly, terribly sad.

Lord, thank you for all the things that really matter, and for clearing my life of so many things that don't.

09 November 2015

Taking it with you....

Last week I chatted with a hospice patient. One who insisted he did not know why he was there and that he felt fine. Not resigned to his fate but a fighter who still has a few rounds left in him.

Somehow we got on the subject of retirement and finances and money. He told me... " I never wanted a lot of money, just enough to pay my bills. I never wanted to be rich. All the rich think about is how to keep what they have." That may not be an exact quote but it's close.

I thought about that statement over the weekend. I suppose there is some truth to it, but it also is full of error.

I know wealthy people who think a lot about how best to give their money away. How to use it for the Lord's work. How to be the stewards that He wants. I really dont know any who only focus on how to keep it, though I'm sure there are some.

For me, dollars are like rocks strewn along the road to righteousness. Some days there are just a few decisons to make and they are simple ones. They are like pebbles, little annoyances. Other days there are big decisions, boulders. They don't block the road, they never do. But they always distract, make you look the wrong way, or take a different path.

I have never heard anyone say that having more money brought them closer to Christ, though millions would testify that being without it certainly did.

04 November 2015

A thought last night on characters in the Prodigal Son Parable.

I have been all of them.

I have been the one who strayed into sin and squandered gifts from the Father.

I have been the one who was judgemental and unforgiving of a person who asks for forgiveness.

I have been the father who forgives a child.

I have been the servant, observing these things in the lives of others, just watching and waiting to be told what to do.

Which character am I right now?

03 November 2015

Post-game comments

Funeral homes have online guest books. You can leave comments about the deceased. It is a very impersonal way to connect to the family during one of their most personal and emotional experiences, the passing of a loved one. 

Today I ran across an entry I made on one of these a while back. It was for someone I had known for a few years who had passed away. Someone I did not really like, nor dislike.The type of person I would not go out of my way to see. Like a distant cousin you don't know very well.

I found myself thinking, "If I would not say these nice things to the person while they are alive, why I am writing them today?"

I am certainly giving the impression to his family that this person was someone I liked much more than I did.

Am I a bad person for doing this? Perhaps this is something we all do, which is the worst excuse there is. There are several ways to look at this.

1) I want to give the false impression to others that I am nicer than I am. That I cared for this person more than i actually did. 

2) In the passing I am reminded that in spite of our faults, we all have nice qualities. (how trite) I want the family to know that I remember nice things about their loved one. 

3) God is telling me that I was wrong to not have reflected His love toward this person. I rightfully feel guilt. I want to make amends but only with a gesture that is tiny.