Thursday, May 31, 2007

Eleanor's New Way to Make Me Nervous


Eleanor now loves to swing like a "big girl."
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ice Cream, Watermelon and More

I tried to post the ice cream picture earlier, but for some reason it didn't work. So, here it is again:

On our way home from Mulberry, we stopped at Dairy Queen for dinner (and of course ice cream). Eleanor enjoyed her first ice cream cone. She didn't realize the cone was food (I'm not sure that it is), so she just ate the little ice cream off the top.

And so you don't think that all we feed our daughter is fast food and ice cream:

Eleanor LOVES watermelon (who doesn't?).

In developmental news, Eleanor is still developing at a rapid rate. It seems like every day she learns a new word or concept. I'm loving this burst in vocabulary. Some of her most recently acquired words include:
  • belt
  • George (as in Curious)
  • orange (although it sounds a lot like George)
  • boy
  • hair
  • fire truck (we hear a lot of them where we live)
  • bra
That last one is proving to be a bit embarrassing.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stabbing us Awake

So a few weeks ago, I was skimming a blog I stumbled upon by a guy in London named JonnyBaker. To all those folks who think Christianity is dead in Europe, you should spend some time catching up on some of the creative ways he and his friends are living church in urban England.

He mentioned an author he was reading. It sounded interesting so after a little digging and some help from a friend (thanks Mary Jane) I found a different book buy the same author.

I've been reading a chapter here and there but on Sunday one passage really struck me. The book is borrowed so instead of underlining or highlighting I typed it out and I thought I would share it you, gentle reader.

Now, by way of introduction, you need to know that the author is a missionary working in India and this passage is lifted from a longer arc of the narrative in which he is attempting to describe the psychological state of a people oppressed by a foreign government. He seems to be trying to help us in the West understand the religious critique of the Indians he regularly meets with in meetings designed to teach about Jesus .

Let me know how it strikes you.



"This judgement of the West by the East in the light of the person of Jesus is powerfully expressed in the lines which a Bengali poet wrote on Christmas Day and sent to my friend, Mr. C.F. Andrews;

'Great-souled Christ, on this blessed day of your birth we who are not Christians bow before you. We love and worship you, we non-Christians, for with Aisa you are bound with the ties of blood.

'We, the puny people of a great country, are nailed to the cross of servitude. We look mutely up to you, hurt and wounded at every turn of our torture-- the foreign ruler over us the crown of thorns; our own social caste system the bed of spikes upon which we lie.

'The world stands aghast at the earth hunger of Europe. Imperialism in the arms of Mammon dances with unholy glee. The three witches-- War Lust, Power Lust, Profit Lust-- revel on the barren hearths of Europe holding their orgies.

'There is no room for thee there in Europe. Come, Lord Christ, come away! Take your stand in Asia-- the land of Buddha, Kabir and Nanak. At the sight of you our sorrow-laden hearts will be lightened. O Teacher of love, come down into our hearts and teach us to feel the sufferings of others, to serve the leper and the pariah with an all embracing love.'

This poetic appeal loses none of its power of judgement and appeal even if we could have wished that he had said that instead of Christ coming away he had asked that he would enter more deeply into the life of the West. Come, Lord Christ, come away? Nay, Lord Christ do not go away! For we too have sorrow-laden hearts; and if the East is crucified on a cross of servitude, we are being crucified on a cross of materialism. We both need thee-- desperately.

This judgement of the East is a call calling us back to our own Master and Lord. As such we welcome it. It shocks us from our smug complacency. It is the earthquake that does not destroy us, but looses our chains. It is the angel that smites us and says 'Arise.' This searching criticism of the East is a Godsend to keep us from falling asleep after taking an overdose of the opiate of material prosperity. It is God's own voice to us. It is stabbing us awake."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Little People Villiage


Eleanor really enjoys playing with her Little People. These are the new version of the peg and head people we had when we were little. I'm constantly amazed at what these little people are doing. They do normal things like eat, drive, slide, swing, use the toilet, take a bath, knock on the door, and do laundry. They also do less than normal things, like fly (we are working to discourage this) and enter the bus through the window.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

...Cause We're Already Married

We don't have a tv anymore. Sometimes that breeds curious behavior. So far that's all it's bred.
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Monday, May 14, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Devotion of the Day: Will you Also Leave?

Hmm. No clever illustrations of today's devotion, just the results of my quiz on who I would be were I a super-villian. The relevance this has to the following devotion only you, gentle reader, may judge.

I'm especially excited because a co-worker let me borrow
The Fantastic Four on DVD (featuring Dr. Victor Von Doom, yes that's his real name). Now I know those of you who have seen it are thinking that my excitement will be a short-lived as the box-office run of Electra, but that's neither here nor there. Enjoy.


Your results:
You are Dr. Doom

Dr. Doom
Poison Ivy
The Joker
Mr. Freeze
Lex Luthor
Dark Phoenix
Green Goblin
Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.

Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz


Chapel Devotion

Good morning…

Yesterday I shared a passage of scripture with you in which Jesus told the religious Jews who were talking with him that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood or they would have no life within them. Now, this was a very confusing thing to say for them for a number of reasons, not least of which, drinking blood is strictly forbidden by Jewish law, the law that God gave his people. Nevertheless, Jesus was laying the groundwork for teaching them something that they would only come to understand much later.
In John 6:66 we read: As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

When my wife and lived in Indonesia she suffered a blood clot that landed her in the hospital for a little over a week. Ultimately, all ended up well, but we were shaken by this first great experience of our own frailty. Up until this time we had thought that God would protect us from this sort of medical disaster. Now that this “hedge of protection” we had imagine around ourselves was gone, we were shocked and more than a little scared.

On blood thinners for the months following, we became acutely aware of how dangerous basic activities like riding the mini-bus into town became. What if there were a wreck? What if she got cut and bled to death? Before, we would have calmed our minds with Jesus’ protection but now we were not so sure. We were having serious doubts about God’s presence in the midst of our struggle, and you had better not even bring up that “footprints in the sand” poem around us.

Over time, our questions and fears became the water and wind that wore away at the concrete wall of God’s protection in our minds, revealing a more nuanced, textured surface beneath. It wasn’t that God wasn’t there, he had been faithful to bring us the help we needed to deal with the crisis. But why hadn’t he prevented it in the first place.

We found ourselves having to answer Jesus question to the 12 disciples: Now that the going has gotten rough, and things didn’t turn out like you planned, “You do not want to go away too, do you?” This is a legitimate question because many people do fall away, lose their faith, leave the church, stop praying, stop trusting in God after they suffer a great loss they assumed God would protect them from.

Over time as we struggled to make sense of it all, we returned to God, to prayer, even to trust, but with a little less easiness, a little less bravado, a little less presumption. But the question still remains: “Are you going to leave me when things get hard? When you don’t understand? When you lose what you thought you couldn’t live without?”

Stanley Hauerwas, the sometimes controversial professor of theological ethics at Duke University once said: "We are willing to worship a God only if God makes us safe. Thus you get the silly question, How does a good God let bad things happen to good people?"

I disagree that the question is silly, but it certainly does reveal our assumption that about what we get out of the deal of believing in God: safety, certainty, clarity. And when those things are in short supply we tend to stop following.

So how do we answer that question that Jesus poses, that question that hovers before all our minds who are struggling with understanding how we could get where we are if a good God really loved us?

Here’s how Simon Peter answered Him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy one of God.”

What it came down to for my wife and I, was just this: we have believed and come to know that Jesus and God are who they say they are even when our expectations about who they are, are disappointed. To whom shall we go? We came to accept, perhaps even grudgingly that worshiping God does not mean that we will always be safe. But that it does mean that we can trust that God will be as present in our suffering as he will be in our joy, as present in the dark, coarse bloodiness of the cross as the shining brilliance of paradise. May his presence illuminate your life today.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Devotion of the Day: Blood and Bread

And now we take a Break from "Photo of the Day." It's that time again: time for Matt to write devotionals for the Hospital Chapel services. Will he write five all new ones or resort to digging in the stacks of older devotionals before week's end? Stay tuned to find out...


Well. Here’s Jesus (point to stained glass). He looks very gentle. Very meek and mild. He’s holding a lamb, and the other sheep are looking towards him with loving trust. He is indeed a good shepherd. It’s no mistake that we have this image of Jesus here in chapel. Day after day, hurting people, you, the very people watching stream through this place seeking the peace and hope that the banners on either side of this room point us to. But if we really take Jesus seriously, if we’re willing to take a long hard look at him, I think he’s more multi-faceted than any stained-glass mosaic can make him. Sometimes, if we’re honest, Jesus can be downright confusing.

Listen to this story from John’s gospel. Jesus has been talking to some of the religious Jews not long after he has just done his miracle where he fed 5000 people with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. He’s trying to teach them that they have greater need than food.

John 6 (NASB)
41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."
43 Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves.

47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

48 "I am the bread of life.

49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.

50 "This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.

51"I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."

52Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

53So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

54"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

55"For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.

56"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

Wow. He did he just say that? Remember these are Jews we are talking about here, religious Jews. They live by a code of rules that defines them, that binds them together into a community. Their very identity is bound up in what they don’t eat, what they don’t do, what lines they don’t cross. One of the things they don’t eat is blood, and certainly not the flesh of a man. Nevertheless, Jesus, a religious Jew himself, is saying that if they don’t eat his flesh and drink his blood, they have no life in them. He is the bread, he is the blood. He’s saying that the very thing that they had been taught would make them most unclean, most sinful, in their own eyes, and God’s, that this is the thing they must do if they are to have true Life. This very strange, very strange indeed.

The response of the people hearing it attests to that: “This is a hard saying, a difficult teaching, and who can hear it?” How can we make any sense out of this? What does he want us to do? Have you ever been here with Jesus? Have you ever found yourself in a situation you never thought Jesus would let you get to? A low you never thought you could reach? How can we make sense out of this? What are we supposed to do?

Now, we can look back on this passage and many of us read our own faith back into it. “He’s talking about the Lord’s supper,” we tell ourselves, “He never really expected them to drink blood.” That’s all well and good for us now, 2000 years later with decades between us and this “hard saying.” But that’s cheating. These people were there in the middle of it, trying to figure out how to deal with what they’d just heard; the paradox of having life from eating someone else’s flesh and drinking someone else’s blood; from taking someone else’s life. Just like them, all of you here are in the middle of your own struggles to make sense out of the events that have ransacked your life and broken every rule you thought would keep you safe or separate from the kinds of suffering you now face. The reality is that sometimes Jesus is hard to understand.

Many of you, as you live through days and weeks, months even in this strange purgatory of the hospital; in the dark, timeless cave of the intensive care waiting-room; many of you begin to see truth in the contradictions.
  • In giving up control of the care of our loved ones we find the peace to think more clearly about the choices we have to make for them.
  • When with great sorrow and pain we take the patient off the ventilator machine because they’ve told us they don’t want to live like that, only to discover that they go on breathing on their own.
  • For some, the truest healing comes from death. For some in the hope for resurrection and new life, and for others in that new life that springs from the word that: yes, we have a new heart to put in your chest.
  • Or maybe in that holy sacrament that takes place every time a nurse in the ER hangs a unit of “O-negative” and that bag of blood squeezed from some stranger’s arm courses into the flesh of a trauma victim. Each thirsty cell drinks it in, and they have a chance again to have life within them.
Yes, if you spend enough time in the hospital, in this world of people wrestling meaning out of their pain, you begin to see past the strangeness of what Jesus says sometimes, past the incongruity between the circumstance to what you thought you knew about God; you begin to understand one of Jesus’ other that deeper paradoxical truths: that

Matt 16.25 "whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Join me in prayer.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Story Time


Eleanor has been bringing us this book quite often lately. It is a story about a lion in the circus. I think. I bought this book when we were in Germany. It is written in German with no English translation. Matt reads the German words. I make up a story to go with the pictures. How confused do you think our daughter will be?
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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Walking Across the Water


Today we went on a walk across the somewhat new bridge over the Arkansas River. Eleanor, despite being a bit under the weather, really enjoyed the outing. Matt's brother Jason who is in town for the weekend inspired the trip. I'm sure that Matt would have chosen a different picture to post, but I like this one. Eleanor loves water these days. She likes to drink it and play in it. On this trip she took not one, but two sippy cups of water. She kept looking at the muddy river and exclaiming, "wa-wa!" and occasionally "baf" (bath).
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Friday, May 04, 2007

Photo of the Day: Sea Lions

Back by popular demand: Photo of the Day

Here are some funny sea lions I met in California.
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