Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Here's what I know: God is good. He's sovereign, loving, kind, merciful, just, righteous, gentle, powerful, creative, forgiving, and patient. I believe these things to my core. I know that I know that I know they're true.


Here's what I also know: life is full of all kinds of suffering. A dear friend has just been diagnosed with incurable cancer. An orphan in America was born with a virus that will most likely leave him in a vegetative state. Whole people groups are dying in Uganda because they don't have clean water. Suffering is as far as I can see.

We listen to a catechism CD with Moo, and the first few questions are:
Who made you? (God did.)
What else did God make? (God made all things.)
Why did God make you and all things? (For his own glory.) 

So, here's the rub. I believe God made all things for His glory, BUT I'm struggling to see how cancer and feeding tubes and slow suffering bring Him glory. My tendency in the face of suffering is to either conclude that God just can't be good or to sweep suffering away with trite comments about God's sovereignty.

The truth is that that both exist. Simultaneously. God is good AND suffering will happen...to all of us, at some point, in some way. And I don't claim to understand that, but I know it to be true both personally and scripturally.

I do believe there's a bigger story going on, one I don't always see and one in which every confusing detail of life has a place. But that doesn't mean suffering isn't hard now, isn't overwhelming sometimes, isn't confusing and horrific and evil. Strangely, though, the times I've walked most closely with God have been times of great suffering, and isn't nearness to God is worth walking through the shadow of death this side of Heaven?

How do you give when you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?

I don't usually promote specific sermons on here, but this one is an exception. Follow this link, then choose the August 26 sanctuary sermon ("How the King leads us to see and serve the hungry and needy") by Brian Salter. Worth every one of the 35 minutes.

Once you've listened to it, I'd love to know what you think.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My truest self

We were in the mountains a couple of weeks ago--a welcome change from my typically-stressful back-to-school August. Had it been a "normal" year, I would have been teaching instead of being in North Carolina with my family.

That day in August, when teachers started back and I stayed home, felt strange. There's just no better word for it. For the first time in eight years--in my whole life, really--I wasn't going back to school. I missed my coworkers, students, and teaching--all signs that I loved what I did, and I consider that a good thing. But, I also experienced considerable relief not to be starting the marathon-sprint of teaching again, not to have the burden of grading hanging--always--over my head, not to have to leave Moo every morning. I miss teaching, but not to the point of regret, and that's a very good thing indeed.

So, back to the mountains. There's something about those mountains--the Smoky Mountains in particular--that sets me alive and makes me feel like my truest self. I don't know exactly why I love the mountains so much. Maybe it's because I grew up in them. Maybe it's because Phil and I are reading Cheryl Strayed's Wild, which chronicles her journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in California. Maybe it's because I'm reading Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow, a beautifully written novel about place, about roots and knowing--intimately--your particular niche in the world. Whatever it is--probably a combination of all of these--I'm longing for those mountains where it's simple and quiet, where I sleep soundly, where the fog lazily drifts, and where I feel closest to God. I want more of that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Moo update: 9 months

Ooh, y'all. This boy's a-growin'.
Heart. Throb.

Latest tricks: crawling, pulling up to standing, throwing things (for fun, not retaliation), waving, giving high fives, correctly identifying his toes, drinking water out of a cup

How I find him at least once a day
Favorite books: Snuggle Puppy, Daddy Kisses, Moo, Baa, La, La, La, Goodnight Moon, That's Not My Monkey, and Animal Farm (see picture)

Dressed like Daddy
Hangin' with Raffe
Favorite activities: playing with other children or dogs, opening and closing doors and cabinets, playing outside, taking baths, banging on any available surface, eating puffs, going "twosie" in the bathtub ;)

Current motto: "Search and destroy"

Favorite toys: Raffe, his VTech Roll & Lights Bug, his wooden tower of rings, anything made of paper or cardboard, balls, and any musical instrument (piano, drum, xylophone)

Favorite foods: bananas, puffs, squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, apples, pears--pretty much anything...except avocado and peas.

Physical update: 

  • Length: 30.5 inches (95th percentile!)
  • Weight: 20 lbs., 7 oz.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Olympics have me wondering...

photo credit
What have I been doing lately? Watching the Olympics, that's what. Watching far too many hours of the Olympics. But, hey, they only come around every four years, so I'm okay with it. They have left me with a lot of questions, though. Questions like:

Women's beach volleyball:
  • Does all that colorful tape on your shoulders and backs and knees actually do anything or is it just there to look all tough and injured?
  • Why are there bikini-clad groupies in the corner of the sand area? They look like they should be on an Old Navy commercial. Not sure what purpose they're serving.
  • Can the media not find better stock photos of Kerri Walsh and Misty May? Kerri looks like she's been in a Russian prison where they didn't let her wash her hair and Misty looks like she has a medical condition that makes her eyes bug out. They're attractive girls; find some pictures that do them justice! (Side note: they're also among my favorite Olympic athletes! Haven't missed a match yet!)
Men's single canoe:
  • Who knew that even existed? Not me.
  • Doesn't doing that digging motion over and over for over five minutes work out only one half of their body? How do they decide which arm to use for paddling? Do they switch it up? They must because their bodies were oh-so-perfectly proportional.
  • One question: Balance beam--how the heck do you do that? Sheesh, ladies.
  • At what point in your life do you decide to jump off a 2-story building, do a bunch of flips and twists and attempt to land in water in such a way that you a) don't die and b) don't belly flop and c) make as little splash as possible? Just sayin'. 
  • Why is it that most of the best swimmers are in their teens and twenties but that most of the best runners are much older? Hmm.
  • Do you think athletes who compete in trampoline are a little embarrassed? Someone at the opening ceremonies asks, "So, what sport do you compete in?" and they have to answer, "Trampoline." Doesn't have quite the same ring as "distance swimming." Still, I couldn't do what they do, so they have my respect.
And a special message to water polo: I'm just not that into you. Sorry. It's not you; it's me.