Friday, May 29, 2009

i'm obsessed

...with the wisteria that is blooming over the patio in our front yard. In the evening, the breeze carries the intoxicating smell through the windows in our kitchen and dining room.

In the afternoon I stand underneath it and listen to the drone of the bees who love it even more than I do.

It smells like Spring, and love, and more than I deserve.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

stick a fork in 'em.

Parenting Law #367: The level of complete meltdown that children exhibit when they return home from an excursion is directly proportional to the amount of fun they had on said excursion.

We just got back from a great weekend at my family's cabin on Vashon Island. I could post tons of cute pictures of the kids throwing rocks on the beach, playing in the sprinkler, splashing in the baby pool, and roasting marshmallows... but this video really says it all. You might want to turn down the volume on your speakers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


My friend Keighly sharing her testimony during a choir concert

What's your testimony? When did you become a Christian? How did meeting Jesus change your life?

If you've been a Christian any length of time, you've been asked these questions. Camp counselor applications, church membership classes, Christian school admission interviews -- at some point you will be asked to share the story of how you came to faith. For those who grew up in the church, this can be a difficult task. On the one hand, being raised in a Christian family means that you were supposed to be a good kid growing up -- stay out of trouble, say 'no' to drugs, wait for marriage, etc. On the other hand, evangelical culture promotes the expectation that every Christian should have a dramatic and tear-jerking testimony of how God turned their life around, transforming them from sinner to saint.

Hannah Notess (writer, editor and Milton Fellow at SPU) has a book coming out this summer called Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing up Female and Evangelical - a collection of personal essays from women whose stories don't fit the typical before & after mold of Christian testimonies. I got to hear Hannah speak on this topic at SPU earlier this week and came away with plenty to think about. Her main criticism of the current evangelical definition of 'testimony' is that it is a tragically narrow genre to use for telling our spiritual stories. The plot is prescribed and predictable, like an episode of What Not To Wear, except that instead of meeting Stacy & Clinton in New York City, you met Jesus at summer camp. Now you've dumped your old clothes in the trash and always look fabulous. That might be your spiritual story. If it is, by all means, tell it. But if it's not... if all the bad stuff isn't pre-Jesus... or maybe all the good stuff hasn't been post-Jesus... if your story can't be told in the language of epiphanies and light-bulb moments... don't be afraid to tell it anyway.

The mantra is true, we do all have a testimony - in the sense that each one of us who claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can testify to the work of God in our lives and in the world. But it doesn't have to have the plot of an after-school special, or follow a pre-set formula. It is nothing more or less than the truth about who we are, who God is, and where we have been together.

Monday, May 18, 2009

the falls

January Hour -- Baptism, by Makoto Fujimura

I had the privilege of hearing Eugene Peterson speak at University Pres last weekend. When asked about spiritual disciplines, Peterson said that he doesn’t like the word discipline because it gives the sense of control, as though we are manipulating something to get a desired result. He went on to say that “In the life of faith, we don’t make anything happen. We enter into what is already going on.” I wrote the poem below as a response to his statement.

The Falls

Ours is a thirsty enterprise.
The wail at first for want of walls
is quickly hushed by truer cries of thirst.
A bleating introit -- the strain
by which we make our living known.

From birth day cries, we set about our business:
to quench, to slake, to satisfy.
Testing, tasting, bar-hopping, but
quite unable to appease our arid tongues.

Until at last we hear the Story,
meet the Man who drank the Cup
that we may drink and thirst no more.
Living Water means our search is done.
New birth day toasts! and then

again we set about our business.
To research, read, and look the part,
to prep the lab for optimum success.
Two hydrogen, one oxygen,
plus all the effort we can muster.

Outside our well-intentioned workspace
white foam churns and droplets spatter
from the foot of the falls, for all time
pouring forth seventy times seven gallons
per second
per foot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

four in motion

the rundown

It's been a wild week (hence the lack of posts).

Monday we said good-bye to Mimi & Grandpa. What a great week we had with them. Here are a few more pictures...

Nate got his birthday present from Mimi & Grandpa a few weeks early -- a big boy bike!

Hot tub with Mimi -- look how pink Nate is!

Tuesday Jon and I went with a couple of friends to see Flight of the Conchords at the Paramount. We sat in the last four seats of the last row of the theater, but still had a great time. Business Time, Hip-hop-opotomus, and Sugar Lumps were highlights, but the funniest part was all the banter between songs.

Wednesday I took the Victoria Clipper to see my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew in Victoria, BC. My nephew Asher was at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver for his first 14 months of life and finally went home about 2 months ago. This was the first time I had been up to visit since he'd been home, and my first ever trip to Victoria. Unfortunately, Asher got very sick while I was there and had to be hospitalized (though just at the local hospital, not back to Vancouver). He is doing OK right now, but will probably stay in the hospital for the next week or so. Asher is such a tough little cookie and has the sweetest disposition despite all he has been through. Even though he was sick I still got some good auntie-nephew snuggle time and loved being there with him.

Courtney & Asher

I got back from Victoria late last night and am now trying to catch up on laundry, email, gardening, and kissing my kids. Four of my favorite things, as it turns out, so not at all a bad place to be. Peace.

Our front yard in bloom.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

grandpa & mimi

at the Thompson family cabin on Vashon Island

Jon's parents have been here visiting this week. When they come to my house, I feel like I am on vacation. They are the type of people who can't help but be a blessing, wherever they are, to whomever they are with. I am so thankful that they could be here with us.

Here are a few snapshots of our time together:

frisbee in the backyard

pike's place market

gasworks park

walking the trail to the beach on Vashon Island

Thursday, May 7, 2009

an active silence

apple blossoms

The silence of meditation is not the silence of a graveyard; it is the silence of a garden growing. --Linda R. Douty

Today the rhubarb is ripe, the apple tree is blossoming, the spinach has sprouted, the peas are deep in the soil, and the plum flowers have wilted and died. Every step in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth is represented... all in the same yard, on the same day. In one yard, as in one life, some things have just pushed up their first seedlings, brand new and fresh in the damp earth. Other things have fallen dead to the ground and lie dormant there, hoping for rain and sun to do their redemptive work. Still others have bloomed and now wait for fruit to appear and ripen as the days grow warm.

All of this - all the life and death and rebirth, all of the sprouts and blossoms and fruit - it all happens in the God-filled silence of a garden growing.

apple blossom buds

the remains of a plum blossom

Monday, May 4, 2009

the valley of dry bones

This is not the first time that I have been stalked by a scripture.

Last time it was Psalm 51. Later that month it was Psalm 65, and then John 12:24.

Now it is Ezekiel 36-37.

It was the scriptural basis for the 'Assurance of Forgiveness' section of the liturgy at church yesterday.

In the same service we sang a song with words based on Ezekiel 36:24-28. It was also in my head the whole week before as I prepared to help lead music.

[In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that those two things are not coincidental -- I knew we would be reading that scripture in church, so I suggested the song to our worship leader. But the next part gets stalker-ish, so read on.]

Then this morning Nate crawled in bed with me and asked if I would read him a verse from the Bible. "I will pick it, Mommy." OK, bud. He carefully flipped through the pages. "This one, read this one."

The page was open to Ezekiel 36-37.

Some things in my life seem to only get harder, but God's word is relentless in offering hope. I am thankful for the words that keep coming back:

Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off...
I will put my spirit in you, and you will live.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

worn much?

jeans on kid #1:

same jeans on kid #2: