Music & Trees

The rain held off today (and Anders' allergies were doing a lot better), so the boys and I were able to bike over to the Nature Center for their Earth Day/Arbor Day celebration (the funny thing is that we were the only bike in the parking lot).

Nils enjoyed making music with his lemon shaker during a concert. Anders warmed up and put on a big cat mask for a music parade.

The boys enjoyed several of the activities: a local recycling company had their truck and a sorting-the-recycling bean bag toss, face painting, tree planting, and several booths of information.

We got a couple free trees there and planted them at home (hopefully someday they'll have a more permanent place to be planted). Anders is showing off his spruce which he planted.


Watch Out Ladies, He's a Looker

As I was getting into the shower this morning, Nils asked me to read him a book. I told him I couldn't and that he should go look at it on his own because he's a good reader. He told me, "I'm not a reader. I'm a looker."


Earth Day or Creation Care

My facebook status for today says, "I wonder if we subdued the earth the same way we subdued the economy. I'm just wondering--not making a political statement or anything like that." Maybe I'm just passive-aggressively trying to ruffle some feathers.

That being said, Earth Day is not a holiday I celebrate. The boys and I might bike over to the Nature Center this weekend for some of their activities, but otherwise I'm not really doing anything different today because it's Earth Day.

I do however, believe that we must be responsible with the earth (just like with our lives, our marriages, our kids, our spiritual gift and everything else that God has given us. Responsibility, like obedience, tends to be a biblical theme in my belief). I think far too many Christians in particular have neglected creation care, hiding their abuse of the earth behind the excuse of not wanting to be a pagan earth-goddess worshipper.
I believe, however, that creation care was one of the first commands God gave humanity:
God spoke: "Let Us make human beings in Our image, make them reflecting Our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth."

God created human beings; He created them godlike,
Reflecting God's nature. He created them male and female.
God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."
(Genesis 1:26-28, The Message)
Many translations have told us to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. The problem is that we've misused those words to give us free reign to do whatever we want with the earth. But subdue and having dominion both have elements of caring for. If a ruler has dominion over a land, he cares for his subjects--otherwise he is a tyrant.
I do believe God gave us the earth for us to use and enjoy its resources. But I also believe that we must be careful in doing so in order for us to keep things in good condition for future generations. I think we've also largely overlooked how taking care of creation is a soul issue for us as well. God placed us in a perfect garden at the dawn of time; we lost that when we sinned. There is a connection between us and our environment. And what we do in our own little corner of our neighborhood does have ramifications for others around the globe. Plus, God gave it to us. What right do we have to abuse our gifts from Him?

So, while I'm not going to be perfectly "green" or "environmental" in everything I do, I am going to pay attention to His creation around me and take care of it as best I can. Because I do enjoy the beauty of creation and I want my kids and their kids to be able to enjoy it as well.


Weekend Update

Beth had a weekend scrapbooking party in Iowa, so the boys and I headed down to Des Moines so they could see their cousins, aunt & uncle. On the way we stopped at The Ledges to hike. Spring was in bloom.

It worked out that we were there for a birthday party of one of the cousins. The boys really enjoy spending time with them.

Unfortunately Anders got sick Sunday morning so we weren't able to spend some time with friends as we planned. So we returned home early. Which isn't all bad--we got some extra rest and things put away earlier. It's just not fun having sick kids. they're on the mend, thankfully.


Creation's Lesson

Caring Creator,
How wonderful the works of Your hand are!
You designed each plant, animal and rock
with a marvelous uniqueness.
How many billions upon billions of blades of grass there must be;
yet You care for each one,
sending the morning dew and midday sun.
You push up the hills and cut out the ravines.
You stretch the birch tree upward,
And draw the branches of the maple outward.
the wren sings Your praise;
The goose trumpets Your glory.
You bring forth new life to fill the earth
yet there are constant reminders of our mortality.
My life is in Your hands;
You alone control the course of the future.
I need You and depend on You.
Trusting in myself is folly;
Following my own path is foolishness.
I do not know where my own path would take me,
But I know that Yours, alone,
Will lead me to life abundant.
- May 2002, Pine Lake, Iowa


Religious Holidays

"Is it still Easter? Easter and Christmas are my two favorite days. My next most favorite day is when I get to wear shorts," said Anders at the breakfast table this morning.


Long-Term Memory

As I was shaving my beard down to a goatee today, Anders old made sure I wasn't going to shave it all off "like in the good old days when I was little."

Resurrection Living

Easter Sunday came and went. Easter is typically the holiday we enjoy the most. Yesterday wasn't that way. It was more of a "Good Friday" type day in some ways. Neither best or I were in good moods in the morning, which of course doesn't help. A year ago we were attending an Easter service in a big church where we didn't know anyone, going home to an Easter dinner with no one coming over to celebrate with us, and it was a difficult time for us. I think we were still somewhat remembering that.

But we did have cousins over for Easter dinner yesterday, so that was nice. We enjoyed the time together and being able to play a lot outside in the nice weather.

Part of it was that our church service wasn't the "traditional" easter service we're used to having. We knew it was going to not be our usual going into it--and I'm not sure that helped our attitudes about the day. We didn't sing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" or "Up From the Grave He Arose" or any of the other "classic" hymns we grew up singing on Easter Sunday. There wasn't a forest of Easter lilies up front at church. It was just a different service. And I think that was a good thing for me.

Pastor Efrem commented as he was caught up in a worship song that it wasn't a show, that this isn't about a institutionalized religious experience, but that he was into the song because he had experienced the transformative power of Christ in his life. It got me reflecting on how I probably get too tied into the emotions of the traditional Easter service and find my comfort and joy in that. Instead I need to be finding my joy in the resurrected Christ who has transformed my life.

I'm still on this journey of learning to better live out my faith in my heart and not just keep it in my head. I guess that's what Easter is about in many ways.

He is risen. He is risen, indeed. And He lives in me.


A Poem for Good Friday

After a long night
before a prejudiced jury
His sentence was given:
Crucify Him!

Already beaten beyond recognition,
He willingly picked up
The heavy cross beam,
And walked up the road
To the top of the place
Called "The Skull."

Hammers pounded nails
Into wrists and ankles.
A crown of thorns,
No clothes to wear,
A makeshift sign with His "title"--
Is this any way
To treat a King?

Of those who gathered:
many taunted, soldiers gambled,
a few disciples stood aloof
while women wept.

He gave His mother
to His beloved disciple,
He forgave
And He gave up His spirit.

The ground shook.
The sky went dark.
Tombs opened.
Women wailed.
The earth plunged into
Dismal gloom.

How can we call a day "good"
When it led to the crucifixion
Of a sinless man?
When the Son of God
Died on a cross?

It is "good" for us
Because He took our place.
Our sin was nailed
There with Him.
He willingly went
Because of His deep
Love for us.

And only because of
God's love
Can that day be called


Confessions of a Child Care Provider

Today I'm beginning the first day of watching my niece Riley on a regular basis. I've watched her before, so it's not a new thing. But her dad got an internship, so I'm going to be helping take care of her while he's at work. Not everyday: he's hoping to do his hours in 3 full days instead of 5 half days, and his mom will watch her as well. So at least one day a week, with options for more.

It's still an adjustment, though. Three kids to take care of is a different story than just two. Especially when one of them is not mobile. And wants to be held. A lot. (I'm working on helping her see that she can survive without being held for a little while.) The boys are pretty good with her at least.

It does take a more focused effort to get things done. But I'm proud of myself. So far this morning I've got a loaf of bread kneaded and rising, and I've got laundry in the machines downstairs.

Anders just commented that he's "tired of the crying right now." There'll be more things we'll have to get used to. Like figuring out how to do rest time for everyone in two rooms. And try and get some quiet time for myself.

I know plenty of people do this with more kids. So it can be done. We just need to learn to adjust. It'll come.


A Message from a Somebody.

Today, we woke up to about an inch or two of snow on the ground. Ahh, April in Minnesota. It was all gone by early afternoon. We went for a walk around the lake by our place.

This morning in church we had a guest speaker: Gerrie Lubbe, the Director of the Desmond Tutu Diversity Trust from South Africa. On reflection of the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., he preached being a "somebody."

Dr. Lubbe met with Jesse Jackson many years ago. Jesse Jackson asked him who he was and Gerrie Lubbe replied, "I'm just a small fry" (he's actually a man of decent stature). Jesse Jackson grasped him and said, "You are a somebody."

We are all somebodies. Isaiah 43:4 says, "Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you." In that chapter God talks about how he would give up Egypt, Cush & Seba (all were nations known for their considerable wealth in that time) as ransom for His people. For us all, though, He gave His Son.

I was reflecting on how even though I don't intend to I still put people in a box when I see them. I too easily label them as suburbanites who are trying to gain the whole world or trouble-makers with lots of tattoos or as parents who would rather spoil their children than give them loving discipline. I would probably have been the pharisee who prayed, "Thank you, God, that I'm not like that sinner." The reality is that I'm a sinner in need of God's grace, just as lowly and just as important as anyone else in God's eyes. I need to remember the Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." And I need to remember that He does. Because He loves me.

As Dr. Lubbe reminded us today, "I am deeply loved by the Lord Jesus Christ. I did not earn it, and I do not deserve it." But that makes me a somebody. And if I am a somebody, I can't keep it to myself. Our task is to make room for people to be people. And people can only be people if they know that God has made them a somebody.

I may have missed children coming in with palm leaves, singing "Hosanna," but it was Palm Sunday nonetheless. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey being hailed as King, He did so to remind us that His Kingdom wasn't going to be like any other kingdom on earth. He wasn't in a regal procession with guards and trumpeters and courtiers. He came humbly, on His way to the hill where He would give up His life for us. And as much as Palm Sunday is about Jesus, it is also about us, because in His Kingdom we are all somebodies. Even a nobody like me.