Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: family moments (page 3 of 5)

So near, yet so far…

I never thought I would be stranded just a stone’s throw from home…
But here we are.

I awaken with a start in the post office parking lot where we have taken refuge from the storm. We were on our way to Texas, now we’d just be glad for a place to lay flat. A mere hour and a half from home, and now we can’t go forward, and we can’t go back. Mother and Chantée who left earlier and were to meet us are likewise stranded in Albuquerque, both interstates closed. We roll our window down to talk to the policeman who is quickly becoming our friend…

“You guys ok?”

Oh boy. We’re fine… But are you going to get that car out of this parking lot?
Joshua and I end up white from head to foot after pushing the unit out of the drift created by our very van. We decide to get out ourselves before we’re drifted in…

And in the biting wind of the worst blizzard I have ever lived through, I think:
Boy, so near, yet so far! If only we could get home

I mean, I just drove through the worst conditions of my life to get here, but I’d still give anything to be able to head back towards my room right now.

Snow stings. I squint as I make my way back to the car.
My heart strains at receding red and blue lights. The kind policeman promised he’d see us again.

But just before I yank the frozen-closed driver door open, (to go back to “sleep”) this little thought thunders me–

He could have gone home. But He didn’t.
He stayed stranded in a cold world, on a cold night… By far the worst “blizzard” He’d experienced. Like me, part of Him probably wondered at the circumstances he found Himself in. But the stronger part embraced them.
And he didn’t run home, though He could have.

He came here, He stayed here, by choice

Merry Christmas.

usually, there’s a road there.

p.s. this really is real time blogging. Posted from back in the selfsame Post Office parking lot. No idea when we’ll get out of here… Did I tell you this GYC wasn’t going to be average?

Cost of Giving

Like all gifts, Heaven’s almost always come with the price tag removed.
And that’s no accident. Because one shouldn’t be able to casually calculate the cost of giving…

–  –  –
–  –  –

Crickets sound and I quiet my iPhone in the dark. It’s not long before I’m smiling.

Thanksgiving day.
Best day of the year.

Gifts pile up all year long, and of course we say thanks along the way…

(I hope.)

But today is different.

Today we sing over our gifts, and keep singing.
But there’s more than that…

Because a step back to take in a full year’s worth of grace gives us a little bit better sense of the cumulative cost of the giving.

You know, the price tags are always removed before the gift is wrapped up pretty… Heaven does that too. Even if we were informed of exactly the purchase price, we wouldn’t remotely be able to compute…

So we’re given another way to understand.


There is only one kind of person in the world that can grasp the value of a priceless treasure.

It’s the man or woman who rejoices over the gift they don’t understand until their own hear bursts with giving-back.

Gifts I’m rejoicing over (and over) today:
A bleeding Brow.        John 19:2
The Father’s Hands.     Luke 23:46
The innocent Face.     Mark 15:14
Everlasting Arms.      Deut 33:27
Eyes that never wander.    Psalm 33:18
A Heart that never forgets.    Isaiah 49:15 

I Thirst

Another full revolution around the sun…

I thirst.

25 years have taught me a few things, and none more potent than this:

The greatest gift to any man, is the faith of a child.

Just days ago I sat on the piano bench in a living room full of life, and animated conversations. I was surrounded. Surrounded by young friends 8, 10, 12 years my juniors. Thirsty for God

I love young lives. And I try to maximize every opportunity to make them stronger.
But these lives had at least as much to teach me as I had to teach them.

I thirst. And I’m not alone.

Strange thirst; all consuming, filling to rejoicing, yet only growing stronger with time…

I thirst for Christ.

Nothing else matters.

If there is anything I intend to do with this year of my life,
it is pass on the faith of little children.

Consuming Treasure

I sit on black leather watching the day wake up past curtains drawn back on french doors. My thumb in the COL on my lap, my other hand behind my head… Countless yellow flowers sing “September!” in the morning sun’s first glow. 
My mind is far away.
I know God gives back. You’ve heard it said He never closes a door without opening a window– Never takes anything away without giving something better in its place.
I know.
But what of the times…

You know what I mean? Sometimes God grants that the fire should burn through our lives, and take away the dross…
And other times God grants that fire should burn through our lives, and completely consume the treasures.

And He doesn’t give them back.
I’ve had my share of fire over the years. And I’ve held on to more than my share of promises.
[The sun creeps across the floor and up the side of my desk; warms the cover of my journal.]
And I’ve probably written miles of ink lines in those books.

But this week, this morning, I’ve learned something. 
Something that gives me chills up and down my spine… and makes my blood surge jubilance.

The times when the fire burns through and takes treasures, leaving nothing to hold on to but memories of fire and smoke–
God has still given. 
He did give you something better. 
He gave you the fire.

My soul tingles.
If I am a soldier, if I am a victor, if I am free…

It is thanks to the treasure of losing everything, and never getting it back.
I sigh and smile.
I am free.
Blaze, Spirit blaze. Set our hearts on fire…”

See. Change. See change.

Spent last weekend in the wilderness… One of the most refreshing in my memory.
Since then I’ve stopped only to tumble into bed for what feels like a few fleeting hours before getting on the move again.
But each morning, when my iTunes playlist heralds the coming of day, it seems I’m back in my sleeping bag, miles from nowhere…  

And I close my eyes again, but I do not sleep. Instead, I cringe at what I can almost see through my closed eyelids:

An immaculately robed high priest, rubbing his hands as he watches Judas go.
A man in the agony of death, ignored by his sleeping friends.
A kiss, of all things.
Wrists tied hard.
Lawless judges.
Strong man’s shoulders heaving with sobs after he realized he’d done the unthinkable, and cursed his Friend.
Blood drops on Pilate’s portico.
Frenzied, frenzied rage.
Roman rulers with pale faces, and trembling hearts.
Tears running down salty on the face of the Condemned.
Parents screaming curses on their own children… (His blood be upon us…!)
The King raised up to die.
His best friend (just a boy!) upholding His mother…

In the tent when I first (at random, I thought) decided to hear out all four perspectives back to back, I didn’t know what I was getting in to…
But I’ve learned why we’re counseled to spend “a thoughtful hour” daily contemplating these themes…

Sin loses its hold after you’ve watched Him die…

But We Know Better

We were loathe to leave.

Something made me linger in the entrance of the Waldensian temple clutching the side of the Alps. And I wasn’t alone…

. . . . . . .

I turn again to face the pulpit, camera in one hand:

“La Croce é la potenza di Dio Noi predichiamo Cristo crocifisso”

The place still rings from our last song… But once more my lips part:

Because the Lord our God is good,
His mercy is forever sure
His truth at all times firmly stood
And shall from age to age endure…

Shouldn’t we always end with the Doxology?

My hear throbs fullness as I walk once more towards the door.

What a day! 
– Breakfast in the shadow of the cliff where 19 year old boys, and 14 year old girls, and mothers with their babies sealed their testimonies and the rocks cried red. 
– The school that young men left never to come home unless they dropped of exhaustion before they died at the stake. 
– The stone table, [the very table!] where they copied line after line of scripture with cold fingers all winter long so that the next generation wouldn’t have to die in darkness. 
– The canyon fog rolled down. 
– The pool where the mocking captain filled his lungs with freezing water instead of air, while the insults were still on his tongue...

My fist closes around the iron gate, lungs take in air hard.
My gaze fixes afar. 
Natasha steps up behind me; silent.

“‘His truth at all times firmly stood.'”
“And shall from age to age endure.”

“Some thought it was nearly gone…”

I step around to watch water pour timelessly out of the fountain before the door. 
(Some of you know that fountain: I saw your names in the guestbook.)

“But the flame was still there.”

My gaze wanders up to windows high.

“They thought men and devils had it nearly snuffed out.”

My shutter sounds.

“But we know better.”

Sermon in Three Words [and photos of the week]

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” Romans 1:1

I set out to read Romans 1 today,
and I never got to verse 2.

Here’s the sermon in three words…
Paul– Called; Separated.

— * — * — * — * —

Just to set the record straight, I do like taking pictures. 
The reason I don’t call myself a photographer is because I lack in the hardware dept.
But every once in a while, some friend puts their Canon (sorry guys) strap around my neck, and I go to town…
up in the fire tower, getting the briefing on the last conflagration
10 cents if you can identify that logo. 
view from the tower
faces: my favorite shots
the county seat from above
more briefing in the tower
pretty faces
making merry with the dogs leash
another Canon friend
to turn chain into ribbon…
attentive eyes and a friendly face
that would be her Canon strap around my neck. (thanks Jessie! :))
[Seán’s] photo of the week 
the top

a few more photos in the web album

It Seemed So Far Away…

Just a few days ago, it seemed so far away.

I know the smoke is making eyes water in Iowa, 1,000 miles away. And I know that the flames have left blackness half the size of the state of Rhode Island, (and counting fast) where last week were the most beautiful forests to be found a day’s drive in any direction. 
It makes me sick.
But it still seemed far away.

Even two days ago as I stood in uniform with a stethoscope around my neck, eyes and throat burning in acrid smoke and blowing dust, watching 10 trucks and two dozen men battle 300 acres of flames while 4 other fires burned simultaneously in our district with less attention (from one brief dry thunder storm)– even then, I could look past the crest of Arizona’s third tallest mountain where the aspens put on their show right after the first frost, and see the smoke… 

But distant is changing.

My lungs are on carbon overload. 
Ash falls like snow from time to time.

All day we listen to the radio call signs of people we know by first name, in gear for the inevitable.

A fire that started 70 miles away is now barely 30.
And most of the time it is too horrendously windy to use the 20 helicopters and 8 slurry bombers at the disposal of the thousands of brave men trying to fight it.

The Nebbletts flew over the fire themselves tonight. (thanks, Google Earth) and then over to the place they call home, and then back again.

And then they fell serious.

And in a moment, it was as if everything around me came into focus.
–Like all at once I could see things I wasn’t able to, when the fire seemed far away…

Treasure. Simple. Things.

Treasure the frying pan you’ve scrubbed so many, many times. I looked at ours long and hard when I pulled it out of the suds this evening. There are plenty of people that left home this week wishing they had room in their car to take theirs as they fled. 
Treasure the worn corners of the cozy rugs that testify of life lived in your house.
Treasure the dandelions that audaciously grow in the gravel of your driveway.

Dandelions are better than ashes.

Treasure the steaming bowl of soup.
Treasure the down in your pillow.
Treasure the eye’s twinkle.
Treasure the blue sky.
Treasure life.

Treasure life.

Tomorrow it might not be here.
Or at the very least, it might be very very different…

and if you think about it, please pray for rain…

“The stars do not change, Monsieur.”

My God is a constant.

Through an incessant flickering of transients too numerous to compute,
from people and places, to promises forgotten–

I see the Lord high and lifted up,
sitting on His throne.

He never changes.

Comforting when that truth is driven home.

Almost overwhelming when it’s driven home by faithful, albeit frail human flesh.

This evening I rejoice in the mercy of just such faithfulness.

My sister’s head resting on my shoulder; from my mouth come words quoted from a cherished tale of Huguenot fidelity:

“‘The stars do not change, Monsieur…'”

and my little sister finishes:

“‘Nor do the angels in Paradise.”

National Geographic


I have formulated a new definition for harmony…
It’s what happens when you mix life and love.

And the harmonies captured here today certainly consist of the love of more than 6 musicians…
Somebody’s been praying. 
And we’ll always be indebted…

We’re at 7 of 14. 
And we’re smiling.   

Thanks friends… 🙂

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