Boating Through Life

"Don't row so hard, or you will exhaust yourselves. Is almighty God not the helmsman and captain of our ship?" - St. Brendan


The Week in Review

This week started off last Sunday with a day trip to Interstate Park in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. We did a little hiking (not as much as we would have liked because of tantrums by a 5-year old), a little swimming, some exploring of the small Scandinavian towns along the way and just enjoying the scenery.
The boys and I hit the Splash Pad on Tuesday one last time before it's shut down for the summer.
I was bad and forgot to take pictures, but the boys and I drove to Wisconsin to see Beth's mom on Thursday night. We haven't gotten to see her as much as we've seen my parents, so I wanted to give them some time with her.
When we got back on Saturday afternoon, my sister and her dog were here (she brought my grandma up for the weekend). Nils enjoys spending time with Bella, her dog. My other sister's family brought Grandma to church with us today. Anders was part of a Sunday School performance, doing a "dance" to a mem0ry verse. Afterward we had lunch at our place to celebrate Grandma's 91st birthday (and Uncle Wilder's birthday tomorrow as well). She celebrated her 90th with a Harley ride; she went to a diverse church for her 91st--which is a pretty big step for her.
This evening the boys and I went to a concert at Lake Harriet. I should have run them around the playground a few times first, as they weren't ready to listen, even if it was Jack Pearson--Mr. Song-Strummin' Storyman. Afterward, the boys and I went to a nearby Famous Dave's restaurant (our first visit). I had a BBQ pork sandwhich with fries, Anders had a mini-corn dog kids' basket and Nils had a PB&J kids' basket (and we came home with a huge box of left-over French fries)--all for just over $3 since my first name is David as is Anders' middle name. Thanks, Famous Dave's.



Rainy Days and Thursdays

Beth was off yesterday. It was a rainy day. A nice rainy day. I needed to get out of the house. The zoo was our initial destination, but the rain didn't look like it was going to let up, so we took the boys to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. Anders was keen on seeing the Egyptian mummy sarcophagus. He was also delighted to see some swords and medieval armor. It was hard for Nils to look and not touch. So we weren't there for too long, but saw a nice sampling of displays.

We still went to the zoo--I wanted Beth to see the butterfly exhibit before it's gone in a couple weeks. It was kind of nice because we were able to find parking close and there weren't any lines. We only hit the butterfly tent and the primate house, but it was just enough.


Rockin' the River

Beth worked after church yesterday; I dropped her off so the boys and I could drive over to St. Paul to go to some of the Rock the River event. It was a big concert venue put on by the Billy Graham Evangelism Association. His son Franklin spoke a couple of times, along with a few other people. But music was the big focus. It was the boys first big concert to go to. I think they were overwhelmed. There were so many people. The screen with Kirk Franklin on it in the picture below is the big one toward the back of the crowd. We were under it quite a bit. You can maybe see another screen just under the big one. That's one of the ones up by the stage. The place was a sea of people.

There were a number of bands over seven hours. We weren't there for all of them. We did hear December Radio, SuperChick, Lecrae and Kirk Franklin (we didn't get to hear Canton Jones, Flame and Flyleaf). Nils impressed a few people with his dance moves.

They also had an area with some skateboarders. The boys enjoyed watching them.

It was a long day, as you can tell by Anders' expression.

I think they enjoyed it yet. We were able to go since they got in free and it was only at $10 ticket for me. It'll probably be a little while before they get to another big concert (unless there's another really affordable one that comes along). It was fun (though a bit overwhelming and tiring--and we got a bit hungry since we weren't buying food there and weren't supposed to bring our cooler inside the gates). It was interesting just to watch the variety of people who were there (most for the "Jesus music", but guessing from some of the t-shirts people were wearing, there were a sampling of people who just came because it had "Rock" in the venue title). I saw a lot of hope for the generation that's coming behind us.


Is He All That?

Today as we were singing a song at church that goes, "Your name is Holy, Holy You are and Holy You'll be . . . " (replacing Holy with different names like Good, Righteous, Faithful, All That, etc.), I was reflecting on those names. I sometimes have days (or weeks) where I don't feel God is faithful. I don't feel He is good. But that doesn't really change things. Just because I'm not feeling His love or goodness or whatever, doesn't mean it's not there. God's character doesn't change, just because I'm not experiencing it. His goodness or righteousness or faithfulness aren't based upon my emotions or even my current experiences (as I'm not standing outside of time seeing the whole picture). God is Who He is. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that my my faith community. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that through reflecting on what God has done in my life as a whole. God is good. All the time. And all the time, God is good. Even if I'm not feeling that at the moment.


Hot Days

The boys came back late Friday night. They had a great time on the farm. They had four-wheeler rides and saw cattle (thanks, Uncle Doug), saw hogs (thanks, Uncle Lynn), picked sweet corn (thanks, Danielsons--we have a freezer full) and other garden vegetables, and got to see the tractors that were setting up at the Albert City Threshermen & Collectors Show. My parents had a few days of business in the Twin Cities, so they brought the boys back and had some time with us here and there.

We've finally had some summer warmth, so we went with my parents and my sister's family to a nearby park (though not quite near enough to bike to while pulling the trailer). It's got a nice splash pad (free!) and the water isn't more than an inch deep, so there's little to worry about.

Beth didn't have to go into work until late afternoon today, so we put a picnic together and headed to Lake Calhoun. We haven't gotten to the lakes much this summer, so when there was a chance we went today. The boys enjoyed playing in the sand, as you can tell.

You really can't enjoy summer in Minnesota without water.


Healthcare, Politics and Jesus

One of the things I enjoy (there are a few other reasons, of course) about Pastor Efrem's sermons is that he isn't afraid to get political, but never gets partisan in doing so (which is what any pastor is supposed to do).

This Sunday he mentioned to touch on health care--which obviously is a hot topic right now. I lived a year under government health care. I had an appendectomy there. There are pros and cons of it, of course. It was wonderful to walk away from a hospital and not ever see a bill. I did have to share a room with three women though (one who was the mayor of the city). It wasn't always the most expedient. But everyone had access. I tend to be better at doing preventative check-ups and such when I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay for it. So I'm not quick to totally nay-say government health care (much of the world is under it and has a better health record than we do), but I don't know if the current approach solves much either (not that I'm well-versed on the subject matter yet).

Efrem's point, however, was that health care shouldn't be a government issue. It should be a church issue. Part of the reason why the government has so many issues to deal with and troubles of it's own is that the church hasn't stepped up and done it's job of advancing the Kingdom (not that that would remove all government issues, of course). God's Kingdom, as we've been looking at in Jeremiah recently, is a Kingdom of truth, justice and righteousness. That means helping those who are overlooked (like the homeless woman who was standing at the corner on our way to church last Sunday). Churches should think about making space for a free clinic rather than upgrading to a multi-million dollar building (Pastor Efrem also targets pastors who drive a Lexus in that).

I've noticed a lot of political argument tends to say the government shouldn't be involved in some areas, but then never gives a solution for dealing with it (eg. abortion is murder, but people seldom talk about how to minister to the women who are seeking abortions outside of making them illegal, or about all of the children in orphanages). This is where the church needs to come into play (and should have been for years). We've got the solution (which is Jesus, of course; and Jesus method was to heal the sick, give worth to the outcast, lift up the low, take care of the widows, orphans, poor, etc.). We just haven't been good at sharing it with those who truly need it; we haven't done a great job of inviting the needy inside the doors of the church.

That's sounding a bit critical, I'm realizing. And I don't fully intend to be--though on some level I do. I just encountered a quote by Pastor Efrem in a magazine that was sitting next to me that helps shed light on where he's coming from (and I think I'm hitting on as well). "We should be involved in politics in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He never sold out to the Deomocrats or Republicans. He ticked them both off as he served as a prophetic voice" (Efrem Smith, Relevant Magazine, Jan-Feb 2007). So in addition to being a little critical, I'm more trying to be that prophetic voice, encouraging the church to bring the Kingdom of God to the people around it and not letting the government try and fix everything that's broken. I know I'm not modeling this well myself yet, but someday I may get there. I invite you on the journey as well.


While the Kids're Away . . .

Since our boys have been down on the farm with my parents for a few days, Beth and I decided to get caught up on our dating life yesterday while she had a day off.

First stop: Farmers Market. I didn't get any pictures, but we filled up a cooler with veggies for under $15. Now to plan some good meals for this week.

Next we went down to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. We only got through part of the second floor, which was art from Asia, Africa, Native American and some textiles and modern art. We plan on going back a bit to see the rest (the third floor is European and American art, plus there were plenty of exhibits we missed).

After some sandwiches at the Bad Waitress Cafe (where we actually had a waiter), we headed down to the Museum of Russian Art. All the Russian Art was housed in an old American church done in Mexican-mission style. Kind of a clash of cultures. But it was cool. The building was very nice and the art was cool (cameras weren't allowed there, so I don't have any pictures). The special display was an exhibit of stamps from Russia.

We ended the evening with dinner at a friends house and then out to a movie with them. It was nice to have some time with just other adults. I guess it's been a while. But we're glad the boys are coming home tonight, at the same time we're thankful for a bit a of alone time.


Global Needs

At the beginning of her sermon today Pastor Cecelia showed a video clip from Mocha Club that said, "I need Africa more than Africa needs me." It was a reminder that even though plenty of people in Africa need help because of AIDS, starvation, genocide, sex trade and other atrocities, the people in Africa don't need us for their happiness. Rather, Africans remind us of how even in the midst of what we would describe as terrible living conditions, they still have much joy. The majority of the people aren't living how we see them on television--dejected, miserable, dying. They live with great joy and happiness. Visit an African church to see this (I haven't, but I've seen videos and pictures from missionary friends).

I know that I need that reminder at times. It's easy for me to get downcast when I compare my life with others around me. I all too often get my focus shifted and forget that God is my source of joy: not things, or status, or wealth. Thank you, Africa, for the reminder.