Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Janie Update 12-29-09

Thought you'd all like to know that Janie is doing ok. We went in at 10:30 this morning and were driving away by 11:20! She had a brief wait and then they took her in to a little outpatient surgery room. They numbed her up and made the little cut and slid that little tube into the area where the air 'bubble' was. They knew they were in the right spot because they put the other end of the tube into a dish of water and it made air bubbles...meaning that the unwanted air was escaping.

They then attached a little gizmo called a Heimlich (of 'The Heimlich Maneuver' fame) valve which allows air and fluids to only flow in one direction: out. I guess most of the air was supposed to be gone by the time she got to x-ray; they wanted pictures so they could track the progress of the re-inflation of the lung. The real goal is

Monday, December 28, 2009

Janie Update 12-28-09

Here is the text of an email that Janie sent out tonight...we'd of course crave your prayers and thank you all so much in advance!





The Day Has Come And It Is Tomorrow!

Happy Almost New Year Everyone!

I am still trying to get through this one! So, I innocently went to my regularly scheduled appointment this morning for a nice breakfast of chemo, radiation, and chest x-ray. It's the first time I had chemo AND radiation at the same time! I just wheeled my IV pole right into the radiation room and away we went! Got my chest x-ray last. Just a follow-up to make sure everything was A-ok! Hahahahahahahah!

My surgeon (we're not actually on a first name basis but I did get a personal phone call from him. . .) called at about 2:15 this afternoon to say that my right lung has collapsed about 30% and he'd like me to meet him in a treatment room tomorrow morning at 10:30. Eek! So I will have the chest tube after all. I really feel like

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Since the President's speech pre-empted Charlie Brown's Christmas, well, here is Linus's speech...a classic for a reason. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandfather? Clock

Do anything to not get this job!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Show

Was Switchfoot totally sick the other night? Why, yes, yes they were! I wasn't sure we'd make it after the Monday we'd had, but we'd bought the tickets a long time ago, and Janie felt well enough - so I drove a handful of kids up to Burlington. Small, venue, only 200-300 people. Jon Foreman got down in the crowd and stood directly in front of Daniel. Crazy and fun!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Janie Update 12-16-09

Hey Everyone!

Thank you for all your prayers for my poor right lung.  They are working!  I had a follow-up x-ray on Monday and it is getting better.  The air pocket is smaller and for that we are very grateful.  That's the good news.

I have been having some pain in my right hip and after all the x-rays of last week they have finally determined that it is indeed another spot of cancer.  I was given two choices on how to handle it.  I could go on a pain patch to control the pain but it would have no effect on the cancer.  Or I could have radiation, which would hopefully kill the cancer in that spot and eliminate the pain.  That is risky because I have already been radiated twice in the pelvic area, both right and left hips.  If I chose radiation I could not have radiation in this area again. I knew right away that I didn't want to start on a pain patch.  That just seemed to doom and gloomy to me. So......

My right hip is once again tattooed, sharpie markered, and ready to go.  I start treatment tomorrow (Thursday) and will have a total of 10 [in a row...every weekday until December 31]. Both my oncologist and my radiologist think

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thought for the Day

Becca posted this today on her blog and I like it:

I was reading my Bible today and I found this chunk in James 3:17-18
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
It kind of struck me that these are the traits that I am meant to exhibit if God’s wisdom is in me. So when I ask for wisdom or discernment, these are the things that I should see change in my behavior. Anyways. Just a thought…my challenge for the day!
Also, my piece of minty gum is no longer minty and i feel like I am chewing on a plastic cotton ball. The end!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Shopping

I guess the mall won't be so bad after all...we are so spoiled.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Poem


John Piper's Christmas poem (from 23 years ago today) imagines a visit by Jesus to the stable where he was born...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grinches Really Can't Steal Christmas

Our friends Tim and Rose emailed us with some unhappy news...and a healthy, God-pleasing attitude about it if you ask me:


"I did want to ask you guys for prayer-in case you hadn't heard--
Our house was totally Burglarized while we were away for Thanksgiving!  All four guitars were stolen and all our sound equip. and even "TJ's" car, right out of the garage!  That was recovered within days-including drug stuff, but SOO many things were taken!! (Jewelry, Ski boots, etc,etc) Weird feeling, but Thank God our Real Treasure is Stored up in Heaven!
We are So Thrilled to have Matthew [home from Iraq] with us for a few weeks!  Thank you for Praying for his safe return!!
WE Love You guys and Thank God for our Christian Siblings!
Have a Blessed Christmas season!
We'll be in touch,
Love, Tim and Rose"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Janie Update from 12-9-09

Here's a note from Janie that she sent to our email/prayer list - updating friends about her latest developments:

Thanks for tuning in again!  My follow-up chest x-ray showed no change so we are going to watch and wait.  This involves taking a strong cough medicine (my new best friend) and having periodic x-rays maybe once a week to make sure things are staying the same.  Of course there's always the "if you get short of breath or are in pain go straight to the emergency room" advice.  Which I was given.  I am trying not to be aware of every breath that I take!

In other news, I also had a full work-up of x-rays of pretty much all the bones in my body.  There is a questionable spot on my pelvis so they thought it might be wise to check the other bones, too.  We aren't bothering to plug the Christmas tree in - I shall be the

Janie Update from 12-7-09

This was sent in an email to friends who pray for Janie...I realized I needed to post it here for those who get news of her through the blog...

Merry Christmas-time!
Today Janie said, “I have learned that when I go to the cancer center on Mondays there is no such thing as an uneventful day.”  Today was definitely no exception to that little rule. We went in for a treatment today with a few questions, mostly regarding Janie’s cough. “Is it from mere(?) post-nasal drip or is it from a grapefruit-sized tumor that was maybe growing on her lungs?”

Well, Dr. Eisemann put in orders for a torso CT scan to get a good picture of her lungs. While they didn’t find any new tumors (for which we are relieved and praising God!) they did find that Janie’s right lung has separated a bit from its usual position (it has ‘sagged’ if you will) and as a result,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

White Christmas?

My sister-in-law Wendy taped this MFI volunteer's recollections of Christmases in Haiti..."back in the day." It's only 5 minutes long; be patient - I promise, its not what you think.

White Christmas from Wendy Karabensh on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Herman J

We called him Herman J. We didn't know what his real name was. We didn't bother to find out. He was skinny and pimply and greasy and probably poor. He was new to our 8th grade bus. I never knew where he lived: he got on in the morning before me and got off after me in the afternoon. Looking back, I see now that he was miserable. Angry. Wretched.

My friends teased him because of things he couldn't help. The teasing wasn't relentless in that it didn't last long - not hours even many minutes really. It was relentless in that it was just a bit at a time...daily. All they'd do is briefly welcome him onto the bus. "Hi Herman J!" "How are ya Herman J!" "How was school today, Herman J?" He wouldn't answer. He'd just look out the window.

We had one of each in our group:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Let Us Take Holiness Seriously..."

Matt Chandler is pastor of The Village Church in Texas...a church God has blessed greatly in a very short amount of time. So young but speaks with surprising depth. I really appreciate his directness. In fact, can I just say, please don't let the fact that he is speaking to a bunch of seminary students keep you from asking yourself, "is this for me? Is he talking about me?" Why not pray right now before you watch this and ask God to make your heart soft...
 
Click to listen to this good message.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Update Straight From The Horse's Mouth


 Here is the text of a note Janie just sent out to our praying friends:

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

We have so much to be thankful for. Mostly for your faithful prayers. We see God work in our lives everyday. I am almost back to myself. My energy has returned and the brain fog has kind of lifted so I am back to running everyone’s lives again. This is not really appreciated as it involves clean rooms, homework, and instrument practicing. But I remind myself that a prophet is withou

Friday, November 20, 2009

Inbflat

Daniel showed this to me...for those (like me) who can't play music...you may almost think you can...

You'll figure out what to do...enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More No News Is Good News

Yes, that does sound funny. But we're happy to report that there is nothing new to report! Janie is feeling fine, though the cough persists. She (ironically) feels much better on chemo day and the few days after...probably due to the steroids. Her voice still gets hoarse, more so on chemo day...also probably due the steroids?? She drags a bit by Saturday and Sunday. So she may be the one person on the planet who looks forward to Monday and chemotherapy!

In other news, I myself had a visit to the doctor. I have been having pain in my hip for a few months and finally broke down and let the doctor take a look. So off to the orthopedic doc who did my shoulder seven years ago. Funny, I get myself dressed up nicer than my usual day-off wear, so as to be on a level playing field...you know, fellow professionals and all that. The nurse shows me into the exam room and promptly says, "you'll need to wear this." I don't even need to describe this to you...you know what this is...I swear, I'm going to invent a keep-your-dignity-johnny and make a million bucks. The doctor never saw my professional looking getup.

So Dr. B and I discuss the situation and he says,

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Saw What I Saw

Sarah Groves' rather affecting video of her trip to Rwanda. Would you give the shirt off your back? Man, I hope I would...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Creativity is Better Than Consumption

We use the city library a lot. As we were heading out the door this week, Carly sighed contentedly, "I love the library. The library is the best thing in the world.....no, strike that. The library is the second best thing in the world."

I raised an eyebrow. "And, the first-best thing would be...?"

"A notebook."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Switchfoot 'Spirit'

I don't know what album this came off of...must have been a bonus track somewhere. A.W. Tozer says when Jesus is glorified, the Spirit comes. What were the disciples doing when the Spirit came at Pentecost (Act 2)? Glorifying Jesus. We should probably pay more attention to this.....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Forgotten God


Have a peek inside Francis Chan's new book, Forgotten God. I haven't read it yet, but this got me curious and I liked Crazy Love.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Church Bulletin Bloopers From Carly

"A reminder during tax time: don't let worry kill you - let the church help."

"The peacemaking meeting originally scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict."

"Don't forget next month's Prayer and Fasting Conference. Registration is only $50, and that price includes all meals and snacks."

"Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa."

*from the book, "A Laugh a Day" from Hallmark Books

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Antipsalm 23

Dr. David Powlinson (a professor who teaches biblical counseling at Westminster Seminary) wrote an article for Boundless webzine in which he describes how there are only two ways of 'doing' life. He brilliantly retools Psalm 23 to describe life without God.

Two ways of doing life

From Jesus' point of view, there are two fundamentally different ways of doing life. One way, you're connected to a God who's involved in your life. Psalm 23 is all about this: "The Lord is my shepherd ... and his goodness and mercy surely follow me all the days of my life." The other way, you're pretty much on your own and disconnected. Let's call this the antipsalm 23:

Antipsalm 23
I'm on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I experience a continual sense of need. Nothing's quite right.
I'm always restless. I'm easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It's a jungle — I feel overwhelmed. It's a desert — I'm thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can't fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life's confusing. Why don't things ever really work out?
I'm haunted by emptiness and futility — shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I'd rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.
I'm alone ... facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can't really trust anyone. No one has my back.
No one is really for me — except me.
And I'm so much all about ME, sometimes it's sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough. I'm left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, "Hell is other people."
I have to add, "Hell is also myself."
It's a living death,
and then I die.

The antipsalm tells what life feels like and looks like whenever God vanishes from sight.

....the antipsalm doesn't need to tell the final story. It only becomes your reality when you construct your reality from a lie. In reality, someone else is the center of the story. Nobody can make Jesus go away. The I AM was, is and will be, whether or not people acknowledge that.
When you awaken, when you see who Jesus actually is, everything changes. You see the Person whose care and ability you can trust. You experience His care. You see the Person whose glory you are meant to worship. You love Him who loves you. The real Psalm 23 captures what life feels like and looks like when Jesus Christ puts his hand on your shoulder.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Can you taste the difference?

Bitter versus sweet.

You can read his whole article here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Comes After Terabytes?

Facebook users upload 40 million photos per day...that's about 2000 photos per second. Curious to get a peek at the servers that can host such massive numbers? Click here to see a little Facebook recruiting (or something) video. People love pictures. Why is that?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mission

I just came across this little mission statement that Janie & I wrote up for ourselves regarding the teen bible study group that met in our home back in 2005. I kind of like it.

"It is our desire to see each student grasp their faith, live Biblically guided lives, and serve God with passion. This is accomplished best when students desire God to invade their lives and then enlist the help of their spiritually-minded peers, adults who love them, and parents who direct them."

It kind of makes me want to write up a personal mission statement; you know, not just one that guides a group or an organization, but one that guides your life. What do you think should be included in your life-mission statement?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Holy, Holy, Holy


















"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory! And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
And I said: Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!"

Have you ever been caught in a thunder storm? Not your average, every day thunderstorm with a few rumbles, but I mean the big, terrifying, no-delay-between-flash-and-BOOM! variety? The put-your-hands-over-your-ears-and-cower variety. I have. On a mountain, in a tent, at night. Terrifying.

That passage above is from Isaiah 6. It seems to me that the
"Holy, holy, holy" would be a terrifying thing for humans and should not be read in a light-hearted or blase' or bored way. The seraphs that say it are fearsome creatures and their "Holy, holy, holy" should be thought of as the cower-in-your-tent-big-thunderclap-on-the-mountain-at-night-BOOM! Deafening to the human ear. Like a sonic boom in terms of sheer volume.

Holy!
*BOOM!* Holy! *BOOM!*
Holy! *BOOM!*

And to think: all of this is to put on display the greatness and awesomeness and fearsomeness and power and Holiness of the God who, for instance, could speak into the pre-creation nothing and, Wham! things begin to be!

If this is even a little bit close to what it was like in Isaiah's vision, then his reaction of "woe is me, I am undone!" makes perfect sense...you and I would feel the same way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Corrie Ten Boom

My good friend Nate Winters from Pennsylvania has just been here for a really good but all too quick visit. Among lots of other things, he mentioned that his family has been reading "The Hiding Place" together. Oddly, I have been thinking about Corrie Ten Boom lately too. Nate had no knowledge that I'd been revisiting Corrie Ten Boom, nor I him. I had already gotten this post together before Nate came...just hadn't published it yet. Kind of a cool-ish thing...

Anyway, I'm freshly shocked every time I remember this story she tells about the power of God in forgiveness. During WWII, Corrie had been interned in a German concentration camp because she and her family had helped hide Jews from the Nazis in her home in Holland. Now she was back in Germany to speak a message of grace and salvation and forgiveness...

"It was 1947, and I’d come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth that they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. “When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED.’ ”

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush— the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard— one of the most cruel guards.

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course— how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,”—again the hand came out—”will you forgive me?”

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it— I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.

But forgiveness is not an emotion— I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust out my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then. But even then, I realized it was not my love. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit. (Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (Berkley, 1978), pp. 53-55)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No News Is Good News

Janie is actually feeling pretty well, which is why I haven't posted anything recently! Her energy is better, her appetite has returned (which for her means that she can eat now - but all food still tastes funny to her) and she doesn't feel sick very often. The fevers are gone, the UTI is gone and the nausea is gone. So we're starting to drop back into the routines of life: kids to and from school, Carly's soccer, Daniel's band concerts and the like. Becca and Dan were home for a quick 3-day visit. It was so great to see them again after a month and a half of college.

We'd like to say a big thanks to all of you who prayed for us! September was rough, but our great God carried us through!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Post-Modern Apology Slip

Nabbed this from Tim Challies' blog...he called it a "Post-Modern Apology Slip." Click it to make it bigger.





















We laugh because in our hearts we know that apologies are only useful when they are sincere.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Christ Alone

Got 6 minutes? Settle into your chair and get blessed by this great song by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.This performance by Adrienne Liesching and Geoff Moore.



In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Your Best Life...Later!

Just got back from the dentist. Actually, it was the clean-your-teeth lady. Scrape, scrape, scrape. Rinse. Spit. Repeat. I wouldn't mind it so much if she wasn't so rough. Plus, I think I saw a tremor. In her hand. So the lady with a tremor in her hand comes at me with a very small pointy metal tool. I'm glad to come home with both my eyes.

As I lay on the very comfortable dentist chair (I want one for home - to replace the Barcalounger) with this professionally-trained-but-otherwise-total-stranger's hands in my open-but-otherwise-quite-personal-and-private-mouth, I got to thinking. I thought about how great it will be, Some Day, to never experience this *or any* unpleasantness (for which I actually paid $75) or pain again. "Ohhh, heaven!" I thought, "Think of a world where you get to eat all the sweets you want and never have any consequences for ignoring oral hygiene! Ah, that will be the day!"

There is a gigantic flaw in this kind of thinking however. It's this: the point of 'glory land' is not merely that God will grant us freedom from pain, as real as that is. And, the point of heaven is not just that there will be all kinds of things that we like there (for me, massively sugary sweets... of course I can't defend that one biblically, but I can hope...).

Let me be rather serious here.

The Big Deal about heaven, the Point of it all, the one joy-filling, praise-inducing, pick-your-jaw-up-off-the-floor Central Reality of it all will be that Jesus is there. The side benefits of being in His presence will be freedom from pain and sadness and death and fear as well as lots of delights that He has planned for us in a real, tangible world that we call 'heaven.' But the main attraction will be Jesus Christ, risen, glorified and triumphant!

And our souls will have met the fulfillment of their every longing and desire.

We should think about heaven more. It would kindle the fire in our imaginations about how we might enjoy Him more now AND it would fire our imaginations for how we might spread the Good News about Him...so as many people as possible can one day experience His Presence!

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Revelation 5:13

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kina Grannis



This summer as she was getting ready to leave for college for the first time, Becca came across this artist, Kina Grannis. It's a sweet song and it'll always remind me of my Becca...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What I Want For Christmas

Wow, a new Calvin and Hobbes Book! Wait, wait, sit down again and keep reading. It's about Calvin and Hobbes, but it's not by Bill Watterson.

From Justin Taylor's blog:

"If I had to guess, a fair number of Between Two Worlds blog readers out there are fans of Bill Watterson’s comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes.” (CJ Mahaney has called the complete set a “must read for every pastor”!)

But even if you’re a fan, there are two unusual things that are also true: (1) you don’t have any Calvin & Hobbes movies, mugs, t-shirts, or toys; and (2) you don’t know anything about the creator, Bill Watterson.

Writing in a 10th anniversary book, Watterson wrote about the former:

'When everything fun and magical is turned into something for sale, the strip’s world is diminished.

. . . My strip is about private realities, the magic of imagination, and the specialness of certain friendships. Who would believe in the innocence of a little kid and his tiger if they cashed in on their popularity to sell overpriced knickknacks that nobody needs? Who would trust the honesty of the strip’s observations when the characters are hired out as advertising hucksters?'

Which, if you ask me, is quite refreshing.

The other odd thing is Watterson’s serious reclusivisity [sic]. I’m not even sure that a public photograph of him exists. He does no signings and makes no appearances. It’s as if he wants the artist to complete disappear behind the art.

This is all a set-up for a new book that’s out, where the author (Nevin Martell) decided to track down Watterson and to learn the story behind this magical creation."

You can order it for me here. Amazon drop ships. ;-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bible Mesh

Interesting new(?) approach to understanding the Bible, Bible Mesh - in Beta testing right now - will help you explore the Bible and Christianity. It also seems to have a kind of online archeological exploration, online discussion groups and even online tests of what you have learned. At least, I think that's what it is...the site seems to be just introductory so far. Click the link above and watch a short preview video.

If you want to be a Beta tester, click here or email Owen Strachan at ostracha@tiu.edu The deadline is this Monday, October 12!

The Gospel in 3 Minutes

As concise a description of the Gospel message (3 minutes) as you'll ever hear...this is Pastor Mark Driscoll from Seattle.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enemies of God



Ok, its funny and everything (I'm not a cat person...), but I hope after the chuckle I can make you stop and ponder how great God's love for His children is. That is, who of you would send your only begotten son to die for one such as this? You laugh, but is the comparison really so far fetched? Were we really so very different from this lovely feline?

"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:10

It makes me think about the words to that song I posted a while ago:

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

100%

Janie's comment tonight: "This is the first week in a while that I have felt kind of normal..." We thank God for these better weeks. Her little tickling cough persists, but she manages that annoyance pretty well. Though she's not at 100%, she says that she has noticed lately that she feels better when she gets the chemo. Go figure. We're guessing that it's because the anti-nausea drugs are kicking in rather well and the steroids give her energy. Who knows?

We've been to some meetings at Ira Baptist Church this week, presented by Life Action Ministries. What a blessing. A crew of 25 people (ministering to children, youth and adults) has come to little old Ira and is exhorting us to stop holding ourselves back and give 100% to the Lord. Funny (or not so funny) how we can slip into ruts in our relationship with God. I came home tonight hungry for more of Jesus.

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Philippians 3:7-8

So, um, if you read this in time and live in the area, I would like to invite you out to Ira at 6:30 Thursday and then again Saturday morning at 9:00 and Sunday morning at 9:45 and Sunday night at 6:30. Then it's 6:30 each night, the 12th, 13th and 14th. Why stay home eating the crumbs off the floor of NBC, CBS and ABC, when a veritable feast is being served up in Ira?

Oh, and...are you sitting down? They brought musical instruments that are not organs.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"I Thought It Would Make Me Happy."

Mark Dreier, a disgraced financier currently serving 20 years in prison for fraud, on why he hatched a $380 million Ponzi scheme that ran for four years beginning in 2004.

I picked up my Time magazine this week and these words just jumped off the 'Verbatim' page at me.

Happy. Happiness. It's kind of weird if you think about it. What is Happiness anyway? Merely a neurological reaction...merely and chemical wash over our brains when we see or feel stuff we like?

Carly has a report due Wednesday on a part of the Revolutionary War. I thought, "If I'm going to help her with this thing, I'd better read up on my history." So I've been reading middle school level Revolutionary War books lately. The Declaration of Independence looms over this whole period of American history. You will of course remember that it states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The pursuit of Happiness. An "unalienable right." The founding fathers said, in essence, "as humans, we have a right, just by being alive, to go after Happiness. Capital "H." A mega-theme of life.

Webster's says happiness is "having, showing or causing great pleasure or joy." Well, I'm most interested here in the "having" part of that definition here. What is it to have happiness? To have great pleasure or joy. I think sometimes we Christians stink at being Christians because some of us make going after pleasure an antithesis to obeying God. We get especially confused when we mis-read verses like 2 Timothy 3:4 where Paul warned that in the last days men would be "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." Pleasure -or- God...like we have to choose. If we choose pleasure, if we "pursue Happiness," are we forsaking God? Does God hate pleasure? Or is it possible to go after pleasure and still go after God?

Well, I guess that would depend on the pleasure we are going after.

What if, rather than going after all the cheap counterfeit pleasures that the world has to offer, - counterfeits of cars, counterfeits of houses, counterfeits of iphone apps, counterfeits of plasma tv's.... counterfeits of $380 million - the list could be endless - what if we found a pleasure that could truly satisfy us with a lasting satisfaction AND at the same time find a pleasure, a Happiness, that pleases God too? Godly pleasure. Godly contentment. Godly happiness. Is there such a thing? Could there be such a thing?

Well, if you are still reading this, I'm guessing that maybe you are hoping that there really could be such a Happiness. I'm happy to say that there is. There really is.

I know people hate reading stuff written by dead guys from a long time ago, but just indulge me this one time. In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the very first question is, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer that the student is supposed to give is, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

There you go! What if the greatest pleasure in your life could be to glorify God? And how about this: what if the best way to glorify God could be to enjoy Him forever? (Actually, joy-in-God verses are all throughout scripture. Check these out: Psalm 16:5-11; Psalm 144:15; Luke 2:10; Philippians 4:4 and Revelation 21:3-4.) Are you starting to get an inkling of what this could mean for you? "Enjoy God?" Could that be fun? Or is that an oxymoron.....

John Piper gives this helpful illustration, which I have tweaked here:

Imagine it's Janie's & my anniversary and to surprise Janie, I get a dozen roses and, being the clever guy that I am, go to my own front door and ring the doorbell. She answers the door and with a surprised look sees me and sees the roses and says, "oh, Chris, why did you?" And I reply flatly, "It's my duty." You laugh, knowing that I'm a dead man. Not the response that the beloved wife wants to hear.

So next anniversary I try again: Roses, check. Doorbell, check. The surprised look. "Oh, Chris, why did you?" "Janie, I just had to get you flowers! I love you so much...so go get some fancy clothes on, baby, cuz' I'm takin' you out! Nothing would make me happier tonight than to be with YOU!"

Ca-ching! Yes! High five! Nice job, Chris!

Why the difference in reaction? Why is that a slam dunk when I said that "nothing would make ME happier" than being with her? Doesn't that make me a selfish jerk, to go after my own happiness?

Here's the answer: my being satisfied by Janie ('nothing would make me happier')...glorifies Janie! It makes her look good when I find my happiness in her, right?

And so much more with God. "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Perhaps we could tweak what the writers of the Catechism wrote and say "Man's chief end is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever." Don't you see that if we can experience this shift in our point of view (kind of like Copernicus, who discovered back in the day that the Sun, not the Earth is the center of the Solar System), our concept of how to get happy could change as well. Imagine what life could look like if we could loose our white knuckle grasp of all the junk that the world tells us should mean so much, and stop shoving God to the periphery of our affections and get Him to the Center where He belongs....well, if that God really wants us to be Happy....by giving us Himself...well, that's life-changing, paradigm-shifting stuff right there.

Maybe this resonates with you. Maybe you are feeling like something inside you is longing for something more...like you've tried the world's version of 'Happy' and have found it lacking.

May I suggest you have a look at John Piper's book, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist or at least read up on Christian Hedonism at the Desiring God website?

Maybe some day I'll blog about how I almost drove off the road as I listened to a sermon about this very thing. It rocked my world and changed my outlook about God, me, and God-and-me forever.

Maybe Marc Dreier will pursue true Happiness (his name is Jesus) as well. I just hope he won't be driving when he does...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Summertime Video



David Davis, Till We Have Faces' drummer has revealed yet another talent. Here is the music video which he edited of their song, Summertime. Taped back in May...but worth the wait. Nice job everyone!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cardboard Testimonies



My friend Mickey Shortsleeves sent this along. I thought I'd share it here. Redemption really is beautiful.

Look here for more on how to be changed by God.

How to Ride a Roller Coaster

The experience of dropping Becca off at college taught me a lesson. In the days leading up to her imminent departure, people would ask how I'm feeling about it as a dad. I came to realize that I was both excited (for her) and dreading it (for me) at the same time. I saw more clearly in myself a tendency to dread such a big change, since I knew the ripping feeling in the chest (as I described here) was coming up soon. Honestly, I even got the shot of adrenaline in the pit of the stomach sometimes when I thought of her leaving.

I came to describe these two feelings as the difference between the two ways you can ride a roller coaster. You can strap yourself in with a sense of dread, and then hold on tight with your eyes closed till its over. Or you can trust your safety harness, throw your hands up in the air and scream your head off! But either way you choose to ride, your destination is the same, right?

So I think I can actually say that I did better this time with a change that life threw at us. I really did enjoy the process of sending my daughter off to college. And I stopped dreading it so much. To mix my metaphors, I feel a little like the dad-fish in Pixar's Finding Nemo, who would worry too much about his little fish-son swimming too far away from the safety of the reef. Not that I'm happy to see her go; no, just the opposite. *sniff* But I am doing better at enjoying the ride. Like 'Dori' I guess.

So, I'm going to keep trying....look ma, no hands!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Supersize Me

Fall is definitely on its way here in Vermont. The mountains are rusty, but not the flaming reds and yellows and browns and golds that we expect every year. Its the early fall 'tease' that makes you keep watching for more.

So Janie and I got in the car this afternoon and went for a drive up to Killington. There is for me an, "ah, finally" kind of sensation to the approach of fall, and its not about the approach of deer season. I think its more the sense of release, since my summers at work are always so loaded and it finally relaxes once the seniors are back in school. So I look forward to fall a lot. Plus the air is cooler and dryer which I like because I hate heat and humidity. Plus its just beautiful. Vermont is just stunning in the fall. God does some of His best work in the fall.

The bonus to our little jaunt was that I got a FREE coffee and the soft ice cream wino got a 39 cent soft ice cream from...McDonalds. That's right, McDonalds! Not to worry, coffee and ice cream is the limit of what we would ever get at McDonald's. We heard from Andrew Hilliker, McDonald's employee par excellence, that McDonald's was giving away coffee. Why? Who cares? But there was Andrew and his buddy Steve Latucca in our driveway with a large (ok, supersized) coffee cup on top of his car. I said to him, "dude, if that's full, you are my new best friend." Alas, it was a fake made to strap onto a car to advertise the free coffee just by driving around town. He thought that was the best job ever.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Real Food

I am happy to report that Janie has moved beyond bagels and broth and is having meals...like the rest of us! Not exactly five-course banquets or anything, but cereal and toast and ziti lasagna (thank you Gladys) and squash soup (thank you Carol) and even pasta with Mediterranean chicken (thank you Laura) have been on the menu! As you can see, the good folks at Ira Baptist have been taking good care of us. I guess that is a part of what Community is about. Thank you all so much for the meals and especially for praying.

So she's on a good track. The fever is down...AND: she is finally not feeling sick anymore! Huzzah! She did have her chemo this week and is getting her energy back. She even went on a short walk in the neighborhood tonight, so we are very happy and praising God.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bagels Are A Start


Janie continues to improve...a tiny bit each day. Yesterday (Sunday) she went in for two more bags of fluids more as a 'just in case' kind of thing. They didn't want her to get dehydrated. She ate 1/2 a bagel and some crackers. Woohoo!

Today (Monday) she is definitely up and around, though still moving slowly and just ate a real lunch! Yippee! She is still going to take it slow. The UTI is still there, so she is going back on her antibiotic for that.

Chemo tomorrow........thanks for praying!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Miracles...

Warning: the following post includes miracles, answers to prayer and beautiful people. Read at your own risk.

First of all, thank you all so much for praying for Janie. We have some encouraging news, though we are not quite out of the woods yet.

Yesterday (Thursday) Janie slept, well, all day. She had taken an Adavan (the strong one for nausea) which just knocked her out. I'm glad she slept - she needed the rest I think. She was very sluggish and woozy. I don't know about you, but if I sleep during the day, I'm up all night. Not so here: she then proceeded to sleep all night. She didn't feel very well when she was awake.

Today was a pretty exhausting day. Janie got up ok, though she still had no appetite at all. She was sitting up and by the time it was for me to go to work she had dutifully taken her antibiotic for the UTI. She barely got it down since that involves swallowing. She had eaten 9 potato chips and a few sips of Fresca since Wednesday and felt very weak...like you feel after you've had the flu. Janie's mom came to be with her for a while and decided wisely to call the cancer center to discuss more IV fluids. Sure enough, by 10:00 it was back to RRMC for two more big bags of fluids.

They decided to have a look inside her abdomen (via CT Scan and X-Ray) for anything fishy. I guess they wanted to see if

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Janie Does Have a Brain After All

The following is a good news story. (However, she has not read it as of 'posting time,' so I may need to revise this to correct any inaccuracies...).

For the last several weeks, Janie has been feeling very exhausted and even kind of car-sick and feverish. We haven't known why, and it had gotten worse over this past weekend. It had gotten bad enough by Monday that her oncologist, Dr. Eisemann, decided to hold off on her regularly scheduled Monday chemo so he could prescribe some anti-nausea drugs and some steroids. He thought it would be best if she was stronger (by skipping chemo for a week) while she gave these drugs a chance to work.

He also sent her (still on Monday) to our friendly neighborhood ear/nose/throat specialist so he could have a look at her sinuses. Janie had been having a lot of, shall we say,

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Elegant Universe


New Hubble Space Telescope pictures...spectacular!

Cog



I know you've probably seen this oldie, but I have a point in posting it here:

Would anyone really believe that the car parts in this ad just randomly, with lots of time and chance, came together to work exactly the way they did to produce the final advertisement? You would think the answer should be "no," but every day Darwinian evolutionists ask you to believe just that.

Where we see a design, there must be a designer. It seems so clear to me that there was a designer of the movements and unique functions of the parts in this (amazingly clever) ad. Why shouldn't this be so for other far more complex things...like us and all of the universe? If we see design, doesn't that indicate a designer?

The 'Cog' video is actually a good example of 'intelligent design.' It illustrates very well the concept of irreducible complexity: a machine or organism needs all of its essential parts to work. Like the basic mousetrap: remove any of its parts and it will not work. Design.











I think this is probably true of any machine. Remember those funny old Rube Goldberg machine cartoons?















Remove any essential element and the machine will not function.

Michael Behe (who wrote "Darwin's Black Box") wrote a brief article (scroll past the section on the eye if you only want to read about irreducible complexity) that mentions intelligent design and irreducible complexity. If you don't want to read that, just get this point: He said, "What is 'design'? Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts."

Behe says that Darwinism has made virtually no strides in explaining how "irreducibly complex " systems (like your blood or your eyeball, for instance) could arise through Darwinian means. He proposes that "a better explanation is that such systems were deliberately designed by an intelligent agent."

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."
Psalm 19:1-4

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Fair

We've never really been "Fair" people. Meaning we're not really go-to-the-Fair-and-eat-artery-clogging-fried-dough-and-over-pay-to-play-carnival-games-you-can't-win-for-stuffed-animals-you-can't-sell-at-the-yard-sale people. I suspect that America's land-fills are in trouble because of giant styrofoam-pellet-filled Magilla Gorilla carnival prizes. But Carly begged and we finally caved in because it was get-in-for-a-buck night. Plus her cousin Anna was there to keep her in line.

So we texted Becca at college: Hey, we're at the Fair...here's a picture.

She texts back: MY MOTHER LET CARLY GO TO THE DIRTY FAIR? I LEAVE AND ALL OUR STANDARDS GO DOWN THE DRAIN I SEE. :)

We text back: we love Carly more.

Becca: Hahahaha well have lots of fun and use lots o Purell.

Ok, so we have germ issues. I'd like to take Kim Winters' suggestion and fill a Super-Soaker with Purell and hose down most of the crowd. But that's not very loving I suppose.

This year *sniff* Till We Have Faces did not play at the Fair as they had for the last two years. It felt funny to be there as 'civilians' and not as participants. However, The Skys from Prince Edward
island were there...Celtic style gospel music complete with clogging. Worth checking out.

We bumped into lots of dear friends too. I think Rose is stalking us...we saw you like 50 times Rose, and you bear-hugged Janie each time. Every life needs a Rose. Lyandon and Kim, congratulations on the arrival of Charlotte! She's beautiful!

Also thanks to our niece Anna for the super top-notch cellphone picture.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Resident Geek

Smarty-pants Daniel gave this web comic to us...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Metal Mouth

As of today, Carly is a genuine Brace Face, Tinsel Teeth, Metal Mouth...you name it. Yep, Carly has joined the braces club. Not too painful yet; a little tylenol and she's good to go. They are her favorite color: green. Plus, she starts 7th grade at RACS tomorrow...she doesn't know which to be more excited about!

3,2,1...Liftoff!

So Becca and Dan's first day of classes at Houghton are today. Right now. As I write, our daughter is in COLLEGE! The countdown is over and we had 'ignition' and they are launched!

It was quite a flurry of activity getting packed and out the door and on the road. I looked at the stuff and said, 'it'll never fit in a dorm room.' I guess I thought packing for college meant, basically, a toothbrush, some clean underwear and maybe some Ramen noodles. Well, yeah, I was underestimating by just a bit.

The amazing thing is that it all found a place in Becca's room, and she didn't even have to ask her roommate to move out. So that was good.

Dan's room is, ironically, a little bigger than Becca's. Ironic because he took, basically, a toothbrush, some clean underwear and some Ramen noodles. Well, and three guitars, an amp and a pedal board.

So we unloaded the day before the official arrival/move-in day...with special permission because of our longish drive. How nice was that? With hardly anyone around, it was quiet and we could easily park the car close to the building...and with the aforementioned volume of stuff...yes, it was great.

I won't bore with details of the next day's business of student id's and cpo mail boxes, but we did that stuff and sat through some boring 'welcome students' speeches. Throughout the day I noticed a creeping sense of dread as zero-hour approached: time to say goodbye. Then all of a sudden the day was over and it was TIME. Just like that. So we hugged and cried a little...maintaining a modicum of control until...until 12 year old Carly started in with the crocodile tears. Then it hit harder and the true emotions were there and it was a much better parting. Truly. Tears are so good for you. So thank you Carly for being real.

Of course, Becca and Dan went merrily on their way...I think Becca may have cried a little, but then they recovered and were off to the next big thing that Houghton had planned for the incoming freshmen: Party Time! Meanwhile the parents driving home began to experience a ripping feeling in their chests and an emptiness that they've never quite felt before. Suffice it to say, it was a long and quiet ride. We came around, though, and thought we were fine - indeed, we were fine - until we got home to find that Becca had left a personal note on each of our pillows. You can imagine the scene......

I am so very thankful to God who brought together many elements to make Houghton possible for Becca and Dan. And I am also so full of gratitude that Janie felt well enough to enjoy the drop-your-daughter-off-at-college experience. And we are so excited for Becca and Dan, that they have such a great opportunity to learn and grow at Houghton College.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Becca...college?

Yikes! Is she ready? Why, yes, I believe she is!


Click here for Becca's take on moving in to college!

The rest of her blog is here.

I'll give my thoughts soon...........

Your Government

I had determined that this blog would not be political.....but this is just funny.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dan's Baptism

When you don't get to witness too many baptisms (we don't - the spiritually frozen northeast and all that), you can almost forget what a joyful occasion it is until you are right there in the moment. At least, that's how it is for me. Then it all comes back as the 'baptisee' tells what he is doing and why this is meaningful to him. Without fail, they come up out of the water and joy spreads on their face and flies across the water to those on the beach looking on.

Our Becca's boyfriend, Dan Austin, was baptized today by his pastor, Glenn Davis, in Star Lake in Belmont. I love baptism. I love that Dan wanted to follow Christ in obedience, but beyond that, Dan wanted to be publicly identified as a follower of Jesus. He's always been very public about his faith anyway, singing songs about Jesus with the band and being unashamed of Jesus (way more than I ever was in high school) in front of his public school classmates. So this was a next natural step for Dan.

Baptism is a wonderful yet sober picture of our position in Christ: died, buried and raised with Him. It is also a beautiful display of the Christian's hope regarding his own physical death someday...that is, the hope of his future resurrection. Plus, in the bible, hope refers to a sure thing, so the picture of the Christian going down into water (the Abyss, death) and coming up again ALIVE in newness of life because of Jesus alone, well, that's a cause for celebration!

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:1-5

I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to the David and Maureen Austin for raising Dan in a Christian household so that he could hear the gospel and respond by faith to the true story of Jesus' work of salvation. It means so much to us and our Becca. I'd like to thank Pastor Glenn for preaching the truth, year after year to a - maybe sometimes discouragingly small - country church. Your faithful work has meant the world, both now and in the hereafter, to a young man who would someday grow up to meet and fall in love with our daughter. I'd also like to thank Len Doucette and Diane Ingalls who worked with the youth of Belmont Baptist church...you have invested and now we get to enjoy the benefits.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

Who says no one writes good worship songs with anymore? These lyrics are as good as any hymn in your hymnbook....written by Stuart Townend and sung here by Fernando Ortega. My thanks to my friend Scott Hewitt for bringing this song to our church....


How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Till We Have Faces' Final Bow


"Another show before the music dies and we're all gone away, Lord help us find our way! And can we sing it loud enough for all the world to hear his voice? Can we break through the confusion? Can we shout it out with all that is within us? Only on His wings can we fly..."

This lyric is from the first CD by my kids' band, Till We Have Faces. It suggests that they know that their time as a band is limited and they wanted to use their time together well...and for God's glory. At least that's how I read it.

Last night, Till We Have Faces played their last show. For the last three years or so, these teenagers (and drummer David, who is out of the teen years) have played their music that comes from a worldview that puts Jesus first. Now its time to move on, since our Rebecca and her boyfriend, lead singer Dan Austin, are headed off to college in eleven days and Chris Day, the lead guitarist, is headed back to his second year at UVM. The band has known all along that this day would come, and the show itself was actually a nice mix of their old and new songs. It was a happy night with just a whiff of bittersweet.

Seems like I should be sad - you know, the end of an era and all that - but please let me tell you, I am excited. I am thrilled to anticipate what these kids have ahead of them. Each member of the band is just oozing potential. And I'm encouraged because in a world where so many youth give so many reasons to feel discouraged, we see some that are willing to go against the flow of their culture and live a life following Jesus. Their music has made a positive impact on the teens of this area, as well as those in other parts of Vermont and beyond. It has been a blessing and a real hoot to have been a part of it.

Please visit their Myspace and have a listen and peruse their pictures. Of course you can buy their music through the music player at the bottom of this page...hey, gotta pay for college somehow! Also, check out Dan's new Myspace page to hear some of his own personal acoustic recordings.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Taxol, Aloxi, Decadron...Benadryl?

Mmhmm, good old Benadryl is on the list of drugs Janie had to take today. So it was a lovely morning (8:00 - 12:30) of Taxol (chemo), Aloxi (for nausea), Decadron (nausea), and Benadryl is supposed to prevent other side effects. And can you believe its working? Janie is actually feeling pretty well as of 6:30! They prescribed Compazine for nausea during the week and - here's the fun part - she has to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid a day for the next 2-3 days...to clean out all the toxic stuff.

Remember the goofy old movie, The Fantastic Voyage, where scientists shrunk a submarine and themselves and drove around inside this human body to kill the thing or catch the monster or save the girl or something? I can't help but wonder what they'd see inside of Janie...I'm thinking they'd probably find a hospital owner and a drug company president (with his Ferrari) and Barak Obama smoking cigars and playing poker.

They said she will probably need to rest a lot, since

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Dead Guy's Song

When I was growing up, people would sometimes say about those big, inexplicable things of life (sickness, pain, death, disaster, etc.), "well, God moves in mysterious ways..." And that was the end of it. I found that frustrating of course. I wanted someone, anyone, to plumb the depths of God's purposes and get to the bottom of it all. I wanted answers. But since so many seemed to answer, "well, it's a mystery," I decided to take the plunge myself. Over the years I have thought about it and revisited the subject from time to time and studied and prayed and by now you have guessed what my results were: God is actually as mysterious as everyone said (actually even more so) and He just doesn't lay it all out for us. Indeed, He actually intentionally keeps His some of (probably most of?) His purposes from us. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

But Christians hang their hats on the Sovereignty of God, trusting that He knows what is going on down here and beyond that, that he cares, and beyond that that He loves and beyond that, that He has planned all of this out from before He created anything...even planned using the results of our human sinfulness for His Great Purposes. (Browse the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50 -but be sure to land on 45:5 and 50:20 to stop and think. And there are many more examples throughout Scripture.)

God's Sovereignty has become to me immeasurably sweet. To know that God has all things well in hand, that He hasn't looked away and that my troubles do not go unnoticed by Him and that rather, He has great things in mind not just for my future but for my now - even in the midst of trouble - this is immeasurably sweet. Mysterious, sure, but sweet nonetheless.

So why do people say, "God moves in a mysterious way?" William Cowper (evidently pronounced Cooper), the great poet from way back in the 1700's, wrote those words as a hymn that was included in John Newton's (of Amazing Grace fame) Olney Hymns. I know its old, but can I just say that with only a few exceptions, I think that old dead guys still have the greatest song lyrics?

The original tune for this is rather boring, but you can try it to the tune of, "Oh God Our Help In Ages Past" if you know it.

I love the third verse so much, and the fourth...and the fifth...

God Moves in a Mysterious Way by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.