Events of Recent

Where to begin? The past 10 days have been a wild and crazy ride.

We did get to Madison on Friday night. Saturday afternoon we were told that my wife's father died. It kind of came out of the blue. He was in a car accident almost 19 years ago that has left him . . . well, really it left him as a different person. Physical and mental disabilities changed who he was. At times he was full of joy; but there were times that he was just angry (which we wonder if it was just frustration at not being able to do what he used to--including communicate). We know that he loved Jesus. He reminded us of that constantly. So, it's comforting to know that at least he is without pain and limitations of his body now. I never really got to know who he was. I think for me it was easier to see the celebration in his passing.

We still got together on Sunday for Christmas. Everyone came. There were tears at first, but it was really a happy day. The funeral was on Tuesday. Again, tears at first, but not really a depressing atmosphere.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we had family Christmas celebrations in Iowa. The burial was on Saturday. We didn't go back for it. That was hard on my wife.

I heard some people in a grocery store on Friday night saying how glad they were that Christmas was over. Its sad how commercialism has made the holy day something people dread. We're still celebrating.


Saw The Return of the King last night. Wonderful movie. Jackson does a good job of bringing Tolkien to life. The battle scene was cool. And, what do you know, good triumphs over evil. But you don't always know do you? I mean, you want things to turn out good, but they don't always. There's that daily choice we make: do we walk the straight and narrow or try and make it on the wide path that leads to doom.

Over the river and through the woods

Well, we're not going to grandmother's house, but we are heading to the in-laws in Wisconsin today, so we do go over the river & through the woods. It's hard to believe that Christmas is almost here already. I detest that stores bring out Christmas things before Halloween, and I don't like do even think Christmas until after Thanksgiving Day. But at times I do wish that Advent were longer. I love singing advent carols in church. I seldom feel like I've spent enough time focusing on the coming of the Savior into the world.



There's not much to say today. It's been one of those days. A little slow, hard to get into things at times, quiet. And its lightly snowing outside.

I guess we need days like this.


5 days until more sun

I miss the sun in the evenings. It gets dark by 5 p.m. I know that in Iowa we don't have it terribly bad. Geographically speaking, more of North America is north of our parallel. I often wonder how I would handle a North Alaska or Sweden winter. Of course, too much darkness is at least a chance for rest. Long days of sunshine just keep you going . . .

The wind was blowing hard today. And apparently we had a bit of wet precipitation last night--at least enough to create a layer of ice on the snow on the roads. Biking to work was fairly easy this morning--the wind was at my back. However, there were a couple of times when I hit a patch of ice and found myself riding perpendicular to the route I was taking at a 45 degree angle. Shortly after, I found myself (and my bike) sliding along the ground. I'm sure it would have been a sight to see. Unfortunately, no human eyes were around to witness my traveling adventure.

I'm praying that the wind has stopped or even changed directions. As I look outside to try to gauge it, it's too dark to even tell. Bring on the solstice!



This was told in church this last Sunday, so I'm taking liberties to share it.

A woman with several young children was trying to do her Christmas shopping, but was getting more and more frustrated with trying to control her kids and with the large crowds. In an elevator, while shifting one child from her right hip to the left and trying to pick up another one, she muttered, "If I ever find the person who created this holiday, I'll shoot him."

A voice in the back came forth, "Sorry, lady, but they already crucified Him 2000 years ago.

Maybe a little too sappy, but poignant, nonetheless.

The Dilemma

I am a sinner. Pretty much on a daily basis. It is usually the same traps that I fall into. I know I shouldn't do them, but I do. And I usually know what I should do instead, but I don't.

St. Paul summed up this predicament by saying, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it (Romans 7:15-20)."

The old church ancestors called this situation simil justus et pecator: basically, at the same time a sinner and a saint. That says it all. I am a new creation (Galatians 2:20), but yet I easily slip into my old habits. Actually they're not even really old. They came about after I was a follower of Jesus. I don't know why I trade in the good stuff for the bad. I know the consequences. I ejoy freedom offered through grace much more than being a slave to sin.

At times I wish Adam had never brought sin into this world. But I know that if he or Eve hadn't, I would have. I know at some point I would turn from God and try to follow my own ambitions.

And so I confess. And I pray.


Crisp Air

It's cold. That's one of the amazing things I discovered biking the half mile to work this morning. Actually, the morning usually isn't as bad as going home. Then I'm often heading into the wind and the air tends to be a bit colder after sundown.

As cold as it has been, there are still large patches of open water on the lake. I have a feeling that will change soon. I'm sure the few geese that are left around are thankful for it. The whiteness on the ground does help spruce up the brown, harvested fields.

I had my employee review today. It's actually not that bad. I know the things I need to work on, and Joel (the executive director) is always willing to help provide resources and guidance.

I also got to share the news with the staff (and now with you) that we're expecting this next summer. That, of course, provides all sorts of new things to focus on in prayer. God's timing is funny: we've been trying for years, and now it happens, but in the middle of the summer (which is extremely busy for us). I know He has something in store--after all, His timing is perfect. I'm just waiting to see what He's thinking.


A Beginning

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Sometimes I feel they were lucky. Sure, almost every single one of them died before they got to the promised land, but the wilderness isn't always a terrible place to be. There are many times when I long to be out there in God's creation. I bike back and forth to work, but sometimes I just long for more.

Last night I watched the snow swirl around as the wind howled about. A few days back there was a windless snowfall. It was absolutely peaceful to step outside and watch the snow fall without a sound around. You could see where each snowflake landed. There are times, though, when the blizzard whips the snow about and you can't keep track of a single flake. They're gone before you can identify them.

I think that's enough of a start for me. Work beckons.