Loving & Forgiving

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." - C.S. Lewis

Sometimes the person I have the most difficulty forgiving is myself. I think we sometimes get too focused on loving others that we forget about ourselves (of course, we also swing to the other extreme of loving only ourselves and becoming self-indulgent). We must find a balance in the middle grounds. We our called to love God first. Then to love others. But we are to love others as we love ourselves. We can't love God and love other people if we're not taking care of ourselves (meeting our real needs: addressing our emotions, taking care of our body, dealing with our wounds). We also can't forgive others and receive God's forgiveness if we can't forgive ourselves. Well maybe you can, but I'm not sure I can.


Sculpture Garden


The Week in Pictures

The first three pictures are from a week ago at a park we found on Medicine Lake. The next picture was this morning--Anders was reading a book and Nils just plopped down next to him to read with him. The rest of the pictures were from a walk the boys and I took this morning around the lake at the Nature Center.


The following is an article by Dr. Mark Laaser from a recent newsletter from Faithful & True Ministries. I'm posting it here to help remind me of these questions.

Four Questions to See if Your Life is in Balance

It's a good idea to pause every now and again to take your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pulse. Recovery and long term health are built on the foundation of a life that is balanced and sane.

The feature article from this newsletter is brief, but intended to help you reflect. Take a look at the questions below (adapted from an article from the Hazelden Foundation), and see how you are doing. Maybe it's time to make some changes?

Take a minute to reflect upon your previous week, and ask yourself:

1. Am I honoring my body?
  • Have I listened to its aches and tensions?
  • Did I take time to rest?
  • Did I get exercise?
  • Have I been eating balanced meals?

2. Am I honoring my mind?
  • Have I taken time to read a good book or attend an interesting class?
  • Was I able to exchange ideas with a friend?

3. Am I honoring my emotions?
  • Was I able to express my feelings in my journal or to others?
  • Have I spent quality time with someone this week?
  • Did I take time to play and laugh?

4. Am I honoring my soul?
  • Have I spent time in prayer, meditation, or solitary thought?
  • Have I gathered with others for worship and spiritual encouragement?
  • Have I read something inspirational or listened to beautiful music?


Refreshing Worship

Our pastor at church always gives an altar call at the end of the service. Not the "Just as I Am" type of altar call. It always relates to the service: come forward if you want to be a better father, come forward if you want to commit your marriage to God, come forward if you want to love your neighbor better. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what to do with it. I went forward one or two of the first times we visited. But I could honestly go forward every Sunday. And sometimes I just don't want to go up there. I'd just like to be prayed for from my seat. But sometimes it's nice, too.

Today, we had a guest preacher who talked about being last ("Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." - Mark 9:35). At the end Pastor Efrem Smith came forward and gave an altar call for people who wanted to stop putting themselves before others and God, for people who wanted to stop striving for perfection and upward mobility in their lives and be willing to wash another's feet. Them Pastor Smith decided that he needed some prayer for that himself, so he invited the guest preacher back up to close the service in prayer and went down with the people for prayer. That was refreshing.

It's also good to see the couple gray-haired ladies who come to the morning service raising their hands to the hip hop music. They're not so concerned about style. They're concerned with God--and with praising Him. That's what it's about.

And I also love to watch Anders and Nils "dance" to the hip hop worship. Nils started clapping with the music today. I don't think he's done that before.


A Weekend Home

Memories can be very wonderful; memories can be difficult. But memories are necessary. Memories help make us who we are, and memories can help us get beyond ourselves to become who we can be.

We went to Iowa for the first time since we've moved back to the Midwest. It was also the first time we've gotten to see my grandmother since she had a stroke. Seeing her that way wasn't easy. I hate the way that the effects of The Fall ravage our bodies in terrible ways. I wondered, as I did with Beth's dad who also had a stroke-effect, what her brain is able to process that she isn't able to communicate. I spent a lot of time remembering growing up with my grandparents and what their farmhouse was like before it was torn down. There were a lot of good memories there.

My sister rode down with us; her twin drove up, bringing Anders' favorite cousin Ethan with as well as Nils' favorite "cousin" Bella (Amy's dog). We had fun playing in the swimming pool, catching lightning bugs/fire flies and watching the boys play together (as well as sleep after long days).

It was good to be back on the farm amidst wide open spaces, refreshing breezes and more natural sounds (missing the noise-polluting traffic and airplanes). It was good to see the boys interact with family who
m they've missed out on the past year. It was good to see my grandma smiling as she watched the boys playing and just having a time to visit with her. It was good to let Nils have his first tractor ride.

It is hard going back and wanting to see so many people (both in the area where I grew up and in the area we used to live about 45 miles from there), but at the same time wanting a slow, relaxing weekend. It was hard, as I said, to see the effects the stroke had on my grandma as well as the effects of cancer on another friend. It was hard to pick out something memorable out of what was left in my grandparents' home (but that we would also have space for).

We also got to see a lot of our old friends at P-Cov when we went to church there. Afterward, we had a picnic with many of our old camp staff friends. The boys had fun playing with the Peterson kids--I think Anders may have a new girlfriend. Children do so well at spending time together instantaneously. They don't need to get to know the other first. They just take the moment and have fun. Maybe that's another part of having "faith like a child."



So, it's frustrating when your four-year-old decides to throw a tantrum instead of getting shoes on to go outside and play. Especially when you haven't gone out to play all day because you were waiting until after supper when the playground is a little more shaded and, therefore, playable.

And I felt it was best to let him see that there are consequences to his actions, even if it meant that Nils and I missed out on the fun. I actually was going to let him go outside, offering forgiveness and a second chance, after he had admitted that he had thrown a bad tantrum on the phone to his mother. But Anders decided he'd rather take a bath. Ugh, I'm a bit scared that we're butting heads already in his young life.


He's 4!

Anders wouldn't actually call himself 4 years old until today. But today it's all different. He's 4. And it's cool. He's grown so much and is able to do so many things now. I'm excited to see what's to come in the year ahead. Most excitingly, he's very much into God--talking about Him, singing about Him, reading about Him and talking to Him, too. God has been good. I pray His blessing upon Anders as he grows in stature and wisdom, becoming the man God has called him to be.


Birthday Party

We celebrated Anders' birthday today. It was a beautiful day. The temperature was nice and there was a good breeze which kept it cool and kept the bugs away (thought it did blow away the napkins, plates and other items at times). FarFar & FarMor, Aunt April & Uncle Wilder and my friend Joel came and we enjoyed meats on buns, corn on cobs, chips, watermelon and potato salad. And a Mater cake with ice cream. Plus, plenty of fun playing games and shooting water guns. Most of us (except the kids) could have taken a nap on the grass. It was a good day.

You Put on A Good Show, St. Louis Park

My parents arrived yesterday on their way back from a mission trip to a reservation in South Dakota, stopping here so they can celebrate Anders' birthday with us. We had a picnic supper at a park with a splash pad. It was mostly warm enough this time for the boys to play in it.

Later that evening we headed down (sans Beth and Nils) to watch the fireworks. We got there just over an hour before they were scheduled to begin. The park was packed. Blankets lined the hillside for blocks. It was fun to hear all the different languages spoken by people who came out to celebrate this country's birthday. It was a good reminder of how the pilgrims who settled this country came speaking different languages but would eventually band together to form a new nation. And they came seeking freedom, escaping persecution and longing for a better life.

If fireworks are indeed a celebration of that independence that we gained back in 1776, then St. Louis Park did a great job of celebrating. Thanks for the show.


Delighted In

"He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me." Psalm 18:19 NLT

I came across this verse in my Psalm for today. I guess it never stuck out for me so much before (I hadn't underlined it or made notes on it at least). But isn't it a wonderful thought? I tend to neglect it in my daily living. Why do I choose to live through days while wallowing in self-pity or false pride or depression, when I could be focusing on the fact that God delights in me? Let's remind each other of that.

Cool Dudes