Friday, September 28, 2007

the signs are everywhere

Many of you know that I am a big fan of funny signs, always looking out for them. In fact, I saw one yesterday that will have to make its way to this blog sometime soon. For now, though, here are some of my favorites from our journey to Montana.

I don't know whether to say this reeks of pessimism, realism, or faith. But it sure does make me laugh.

We finally found it, the oft-referenced hell on earth. We went the other way, in case you're wondering.

She's just following instructions...

In the "town" of Moran, near Grand Teton National Park. I like my version best.

We all know that rules come about because someone has actually tried the now prohibited action. Apparently, the clientele of KOA has a hair dying issue. We also appreciated the lack of comma in the "thank you" section.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

small town Sunday: voicemails and new life

Ah, relief. Two Dot, Montana was great, but Green Mountain Falls just feels restful. The sun did not shine on my pew until I sat in it, and I felt as if it were welcoming me home. It all felt so familiar: the spoken invocation of God’s presence, the call to a freeing rather than guilt-inducing time of confession, and the chance to say to those around us what Jesus himself might have said—“peace be with you”. I cannot help but want to say shalom every time we do this.

Early in the service, the Pastor did something strange (though he often does, so it wasn’t all that surprising). Telling us we needed to listen to a message, he dialed voicemail and held his cell phone up to the pulpit microphone. “That’s a first,” I thought. The message began with an odd, rhythmic sound similar to TV fuzz. At the very end, a voice: “That’s your baby!” His wife, he told us, had made that call from the ultrasound appointment. It was the sound of their baby’s heartbeat. What a fun way to announce it!

During the children’s sermon, he spoke of forgiveness. “I need to ask your advice,” he said after a few minutes. Still addressing the children, he said, “What do you suggest I do to help teach my child about forgiveness?” When (after a minute or two and few awkward responses) the children walked out and he returned to the pulpit, he laughed and told us, “Hey, gotta start getting advice wherever I can right now.”

There was cake, of course, this time in celebration of a congregant’s 65th birthday. I forwent it in favor of some incredible homemade zucchini bread, and I sat and chatted with various folks about school and life and the 14er I had hiked the day before. That day, I felt more at home there than I ever have before. Now, as the fall quarter begins and my travel becomes less frequent, I find myself ever so excited for a promising new year, full of small town Sundays.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

back to the basics...and I mean basics

This quarter, as I begin to apply my long year of Greek to the work of actual exegesis, I am also entering the world of biblical Hebrew. I cannot yet compare it to Greek for actual grammatical and structural difficulties, but I do know one thing: that darn alphabet sure looks funny! It is a whole new ball game learning a language whose characters don't resemble anything I've used before. So, in hopes of developing legible--maybe even beautiful--Hebrew handwriting, I have gone back to the basics. Bring on the Scooby Doo writing notebook, complete with helpful dotted lines!

This, however, looks nothing like what I was doing in kindergarten.

Monday, September 24, 2007

small town Sunday: Two Dot

Away from home again, last Sunday found me driving across Montana, hoping to cross into Wyoming before stopping for the night. In the name of taking a bike ride, we had chosen a route along state highways, rather than the interstate-only version (which I generally avoid anyway). One of the highlights of this Sunday drive was passing through the town of Two Dot (population less than 100). I mean, the place is named Two doesn't get much more small town than that!

Note the vehicles parked out front. Yep, that's a 4-Wheeler.

Check out that fire truck!

Something tells me "State Bank, Two Dot" has long been forgotten by the rest of the state...

World Famous? Seriously? I'd like to know the story behind this sign.

Two Dot highway, a ribbon of asphalt stretching to nowhere, which apparently didn't even merit the paint for a center line.

Friday, September 21, 2007

the problem with bootstraps

I'm not a fan of streaks when I feel like I am posting only pictures, but I have felt a little speechless lately. Yes, I have been busy as well, and there has been little spare time for pausing to compose any sort of profound post. But more than busyness, it has been the heaviness of heart, the whirlwind of thoughts in my mind, that has made me a woman of few written words.

Any writer knows, there is a sort of nakedness when one comes to an empty page. Sometimes it is a refuge, a place to write the myriad thing you are dying to say. Sometimes it is scarier than that. Sometimes we know that nakedness of the unwritten words will call us to name a darkness--a barren place--that we would rather let linger, anyonymously and unacknowledged, somewhere in the back of our minds.

In my life, there is a certain place of weakness that causes me to panic a little. A fairly intense fear of abandonment kicks in, and my mind begins screaming, "Pick yourself up! Snap yourself out of it! And do it quickly, or you'll find yourself alone." Of course, we can't always do that. We aren't always strong enough to pull ourselves up by our proverbial bootstraps. Right now, I don't feel like I can even find my bootstraps. Maybe not even my boots.

When, in desperation, I picked up 2 Corinthians 4 one day and started to read a passage my heart knows well, I was reminded of a great truth: God is made great in my weakness. We talk about that a lot, but it is a very different thing to embrace it when one feels painfully, embarrasingly, helplessly weak. We'd rather proclaim that truth from the pulpit than be found clinging to its ankles when the world has knocked us to our knees.

Ultimately, as I realize the truth of it all, I see that it comes down to a matter of what I want my life to say. If I want others to be astounded at me--"Look at that amazing girl, the way she picks herself up and walks with strength"--then I'd better start looking for my boots and take a hold of the straps. But if I want my life to be a testimony to God's goodness--"Look at that girl. God shows himself so strong in her life."--than the call is to stop squirming, stop striving, and embrace my weakness. God calls me to relax myself into it, and to turn my face in surrender toward his great glory and strength.

I think of a song I've been listening to, speaking of the fear to be weak: "But I guess I was wrong. I should have known all along: when I'm weak, you are strong in me...My deepest point of need is the better part of me, because when I'm weak you are strong in me."

The kingdom of God is paradoxical, isn't it? Turns out, in that topsy turvy kingdom, that the greatest strength I have to give is the true offering of my weakness. The greatest thing I can offer anyone is the strength of the God I love.

I'd say that's a good thing. After all, I don't like boots much anyway.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


It's been a chaotic few months, to say the least. Travels and trials and the adjustment to trailer life have made for little writing and a less than calm heart at times. Over Labor Day, however, I got one night in the wilderness, and a much needed moment to sit high on a rock, soaking in the evening sun and being still. In the hills with my Creator...I love the view from there.