Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good Prayers....

So for the last year or so, I have been blessed by the great Puritan prayers found in the book The Valley of Vision. They are so theologically rich. Since I am so swamped with research and paper writing right now, I want to share with you one of the great prayers that comes at the very beginning of the book. I hope that you are blessed and encouraged by it....

The Valley of Vision
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Freedom Trail and amazing heritage








For the last week (give or take), our good friend Maria has been out visiting us. She and I had the opportunity to go down to Boston and walk the Freedom Trail together. Joshua and I did this the second or third day that we were here with the Lannings, so I already knew what to expect. Little did I know that being in the area for two years, and being steeped in the history of Boston and its surrounding areas would make such a dramatic difference. This trip to the city took on new life, as I was able to appreciate the richness of the history that was all around me. Even visiting the cemetaries was more amazing with a bit of knowledge of gravestone art. Maria and I had an awesome day absorping history and the beauty of the Boston area in the fall. I've included some of my favorite pictures from the day.

Even if you never come out while we are here (we're cheap tour guides, after all)--I strongly encourage you to come out and experience the richness of the history that you find in Boston.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Maine Adventures


This story proves that you never know what will happen when you head out on a road trip....

On Wednesday, Joshua and I headed up to Freeport, Maine with Jon and his fiancee Joy. There are many tales that I could tell from the day. Jon and Joshua planned the whole thing and it was pretty much awesome. They even planned a bountiful feast (aka picnic lunch) for us at a gorgeous park on the coast. But this story is the one I want to share (right now) because it was seriously amazing.

We were driving home, after an exhausting but fantastic day, and all of the sudden we blew a tire. Joshua immediately pulled over to the side of the freeway and the boys got out to assess the damage. They did what every man would do--jacked up the car, took off the lug nuts, and began to remove the tire to put on the spare. It was really the removing the tire part that caused problems. They kicked, they tugged, they used a nasty tree branch to try to bash it off the axle--to no avail. So then we do the other smart thing...we called AAA. (a side note: AAA was seriously unhelpful)

Well, as we're on the phone with AAA, a state trooper rolls up behind us--lights flashing and all. He was extremely nice and after making sure that we were all okay, he called his dispatch to have a service truck come and help us with the tire. After he left, we were just standing around, eating Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies, and wondering how long it would take for a truck to get to us.

Now for the cool part...
As we were waiting for either AAA or the other service truck to come, we suddenly see the tail lights of a car backing up on the shoulder in front of us. This guy gets out of his car and comes over to where our car is. Jon, being the protective guy, goes over to tell the guy that we've got everything under control--two trucks are coming for us. He kind of shrugged and said "I'm a mechanic...want me to see if I can help?" And so he does...he walked over to the car, Joshua and Jon explain what's going on with the tire, and he takes a look at it. And then he did the coolest thing...he climbed under the car and, with his steel toed boots, full on kicked the tire off the axle! It was like Chuck Norris had come to our rescue. He stands back up, moves the blown tire to the side, puts the spare on...and then leaves. He was barely there long enough for us to thank him.

Not only was this guy extremely cool for roundhouse kicking the tire off the Audi, he also saved us from a long wait in the rain after dark. Amazing.

Well, we got home safely, and as I type this post Jon and Joy are getting the tires replaced.

Praise God for fun road trips and for the Good Samaritans who still stop to help the person in need!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Major Prayer request

(this was also sent as an email to many of you--this is a reminder to please pray for us)

Hi Friends and Family~

Some of you may already know (either from the email update or from Joshua's blog) that Joshua is scheduled to have his wisdom teeth removed on this coming Tuesday (9/26). Over the last months (years is probably more accurate) he has experienced discomfort due to the pressure of the impacted teeth, as well as pain simply from the presence of them in his mouth. While we are excited that he will finally be able to have them removed, it is also coming at a hard time for us--both academically and financially. Joshua will likely miss several classes (one of them potentially being his very first at Harvard) because of the recovery time involved in this kind of surgery. He will be dealing with the more nasty side of recovery and probably taking pain medication, all the while trying to keep up with his reading and studies for classes. The surgery is also going to cost considerably more that we had first anticipated. The original quote that the surgeon gave Joshua was almost half of what we are now expected to pay. While neither of us had any illusions that this would be inexpensive, we certainly were not prepared for the burden of the final bill that will be handed to us. Though there is some money in our savings account that can (and likely will) be put towards this, we were hoping that would be a nest egg for the (future) addition of children to our family. There is the possibility of various credit cards with little to no interest, but we are loathe to add that kind of debt to our lives.

All of this to say...please be praying for both of us in the following ways:

1. That the surgery would go well and that Joshua's recovery time would be swift
2. That Joshua's teachers would be understanding and gracious, and that he would be able to keep up with his studies and not get too far behind
3. That God would provide financially in a mighty way

Thank you all for your love and support in our lives! Thank you also for your prayers for us, on this occasion and always.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the begining of the end


***these are pictures representing my classes this semester: The English Reformation (Queen Elizabeth I)--the link for this is currently not working; Puritanism in America; Jonathan Edwards; and Introduction to Islam***

So this week was the first week back at classes for me. I must admit that I was dreading it just a little bit. With so much freedom over the summer (ie: no classes) I was worried that I just wouldn't be able to get back into the groove of school. My fears, I admit, were premature. I've been doing the student thing for over six years, so it's not to hard to jump back in. So far, I've started off with a bang--I already have one book under my belt and am on track with my reading. I have two of my four paper topics chosen, and some of the books that I will need checked out. I have mapped out my reading requirements, and added all of the critical dates to my calendar. Both my desk at home and the one I use in the library are organized and stocked with resources.

What does this all mean? Well, practically, it means that I may survive this hectic semester without going insane. It also means that after all these years, and now being so close to the end of it all, I might actually know what I'm doing as a student. Funny thought....

I may from time to time share what I'm learning in my classes, or post brief "did-you-know" comments...but overall, I will likely disappear from this blog until the end of the semester. So, keep me in your thoughts and prayers...for my sanity, my marriage, my study habits, and for finishing my master's degree well.

May you be blessed by the Lord as you approach those things which He has called you to, and be strengthened by the mercy and grace that He pours out on us all through the Blood of the Lamb.

Monday, September 11, 2006

meeting famous people

One of the perks of working at CBD is that every once in a while, we have authors, musicians, and other wonderful folks come in to meet the employees and customers. I had the privilege of meeting Karen Kingsbury over the weekend. This woman is a brilliant writer. Seriously though, how many people do you know who can bust out eight novels in one year!??! She's truly gifted. Plus, she completely shattered my paradigm of Christian fiction. I was always a little (well, okay completely) snooty when it came to Christian fiction. I thought, "it's all sappy junk that doesn't deal with real life issues and just makes Jesus a warm and fuzzy friend." Don't we all think that sometimes? Well, maybe it's just me. Anyway, my brother's girlfriend Mandy really likes Karen's books, and since I think Mandy has a good head on her shoulders and doesn't just read lightweight stuff, I figured I'd give KK's books a try. Was I in for a surprise! She writes about hard stuff...the things that people go through in the real world...divorce, unplanned pregnancy, anger, bitterness, etc, etc... And in the midst of it all, the Light of the world shines through. I can understand why books like this can be life-changing for people. Anyway, all this to say--she's a wonderful writer and a very genuine person. I felt like I have known her for years while we were chatting. Plus, she's from Washington state...which automatically qualifies one as cool. :)

For anyone who is curious about who this woman is and why her books affected me in such a way, check out her website www.karenkingsbury.com. You might even find a picture of me on there!

May the Lord bless you and keep you in His amazing grace!
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

highlights


Well, we had an awesome time at home with my family. I'm not really sure that I can explain how good it was to be with them. After the whirlwind weekend of my grandfather's memorial service, it was nice to just hang out with them and not be rushing around everywhere. I know I've said it already, but I'll say it again--I have a fantastic family.

I wanted to share a few pictures from our trip. If you want some commentary on the trip, or other more "serious" pictures, check out Joshua's blog--he did a stellar job of documenting it. My purpose here is simply to highlight the fact that I am not the only goofy one in my family. :) (notice that somehow my parents escaped being captured on film while being silly...but they did smile quite nicely upon request)

Friday, August 04, 2006

How Great Thou Art

This is a song that my father has sung at many funerals. And while I sometimes associate it with someone's death, the words are very powerful and true. Every time I hear or sing it, tears come to my eyes--not because I usually hear it at a memorial service but because I am reminded of our amazing God, His love, and that He is always bigger than what is going on in my life. So, read and be reminded that God is great.



O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art! Posted by Picasa

grace under fire...

Apparently I don't have much of the above mentioned characteristic. No, this is not some sarcastic remark. It's something I have been thinking quite a bit about. This lack comes down to two of my other characteristics, which can sometimes be a blessing and sometimes definitely the opposite. Firstly, I am loyal. This plays out in many different ways--staying in a job that is physically too hard on my body because I don't want to let down my boss, letting my anger rise probably too quickly when someone attacks my husband in any way, holding tenaciously to my point of view even when I'm wrong. These sorts of things generally aren't the good side of my loyalty. However, if you are a friend you may already know that you can always count on me to stand by your side, no matter what. If you are an employer, you know that I will work hard even to my physical detriment.

My other trait (which is often a flaw) is that I don't do well with blunt criticism. This is due to many factors which I cannot (and should not) go into here. Let it be said that I know I need slightly thicker skin. This trait of mine gets me in trouble because if someone wounds me with their words, I often react like a hurt animal--lashing out--or simply ignoring what has been said. Obviously this is not a good thing, but I recognize it in myself nonetheless.

So, you may ask, why am I baring this part of myself to the cyber world? What reason might I have for sharing all of this with you, who may be friend or total stranger? Well, if you look at some of my earlier posts, you will see that one has been revised. In this post I was more than insensitive and pointed my finger accusingly when I should have just stayed silent. I have revised that post because I've done a lot of thinking since I first published it. Much of this thinking is because of my anonymous cyber "brother." At first, when I read his (or her, I'm sorry I don't know even that) comment to my post I was quite angry and upset. But the more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that he is more right than I was.

Thus, I have revised the post and I invite you to read what God has been doing in me since it was originally put on this blog. I have also cut out the part that Anonymous commented on. This is still accesible under comments for that post, should you desire to read it.

Here is where I would like to thank anonymousblogcomments for giving me a prod and helping me to realize that I am not always right. Thank you for reminding me that I need to be more like Christ and less like a Pharisee. Thank you for caring enough to comment at all, knowing that your voice may or may not be heard. I take back what I said in my original post--that shows quite a bit of courage.

May you be blessed with people who keep you humble and be continually shaped and molded by our wonderful and merciful Lord.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

fascinating and frightening...

A friend brought this article to my attention. I find the concept very interesting. Yet the book lover in me...the one who loves the feel of a book against my hands, and the smell of new pages...is a bit worried about what this might mean for the publishing industry as a whole. Granted, there are things that scare me more, like iBooks for your iPod. Read on to discover what may become the newest trend in the world of books...

Publishing: But Can It Make Julienne Fries?
Newsweek

July 31, 2006 issue - Imagine if there were a magic machine that could print entire books in mere minutes. You could go to a bookstore or coffee shop, choose a book online from millions of digital titles and then—poof!—out would come a fully bound book. You could get rare and out-of-print titles, in any language, and for less because the inventory isn't stored on site.

That machine exists—it's called the Espresso Book Machine—and it's currently being tested at the World Bank bookstore in Washington, D.C. (The New York Public Library and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, in Egypt, are each getting one in the fall.) Former Random House editorial director Jason Epstein, a legend in the industry, and former Dean & DeLuca CEO Dane Neller are backing the venture. "We're on the verge of something really powerful here," says Epstein.

The current model of the machine can print the text for a 300-page book, with a color paperback cover—and bind it—in just three minutes and for only a penny per page. It will retail for less than $100,000. If publishers digitize their catalogs and booksellers get onboard (big ifs), the machine could revolutionize the current warehouse-distribution model. "I think that this may, indeed, someday come to fruition," says Jane Friedman, CEO of HarperCollins. "But there's a lot that still has to be worked out."

Elise Soukup

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13989046/site/newsweek/

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

passing...

Posted by PicasaMy grandfather died on Sunday night. He was 85. I haven't really seen him since last May (2005) when we were home visiting. I suppose you could count going to the nursing home with my parents, but he was asleep. Even if he had been awake there's no way to know if he would have even known who I was. The funny thing about losing someone, especially when you're far away, is that it shakes you up a little more. You weren't there, and you feel like maybe you should have been. You never really got to say goodbye and it makes you feel like you got the raw deal--or maybe that the person wondered why they hadn't seen you lately. It's a completely different experience than being home close to where everything is happening. Almost like it's a bigger deal because you have to depart so drastically from your daily schedule to go home to be at the funeral.

The thing is...I haven't cried yet about this either. While I'm not sure how aware he was the last few years, since the dementia had gotten so bad, I know that my Grandpa was a believer. And the last six months he's been suffering a lot because of all of his physical and mental illnesses. My prayer since the day he fell and broke his hip was for God to heal him or bring him home. I'm not happy that he's gone, but I rejoice in knowing that he is no longer suffering.

There is comfort for those who are in Christ. We no longer live in fear of death, but look forward with anticipation to the resurrection of the body. Death does not have the final say. Christ's death and resurrection are for us a foreshadowing of what is to come in our own lives. Every person, believer or otherwise, will die one day. No one escapes that. But for those who place their hope in the Lord, death is passing from this into new life. It is passing from brokenness into glory. It is passing from a life that is fleeting into life everlasting.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

it's offical....

I am NOT a city girl. I've always told people that I'm more of a suburb/country girl than a city girl. I like open space, pretty landscapes, quiet, and clean air. I dislike not being able to see more than a square foot of sky when you are outside. Generally, I find tall building and skyscrapers to be ugly monstrosities, as opposed to beautiful architecture. I do not like taking my life in my hands any time I want to cross a street. Dodging puddles on the ground filled with who knows what makes me more than nervous. The thing that I realized most clearly yesterday, when Joshua and I went down to Harvard to register for a class, is that I do not like having such a large number of people so close to me. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely not claustrophobic. But there's something about personal space that isn't being invaded that appeals to me. Instead of it being this wonderful adventure, it felt like stress in the form of a city. I can't even describe how wonderful it was to walk through our door into peace and quiet. Even being on the T (Boston's subway) was better than being outside on the streets because it was less crowded--since it was the middle of the day--and (sort of) cleaner. Not that Boston is dirty, don't get me wrong.

All of this to say, the Dixie Chicks' song "Wide Open Spaces" has been running through my head for the last 24 hours. The idea of a small town is alright with me...everything close together so you can just walk instead of driving your car. But a big city turns me off. I do want to be close enough so that I can have the opportunity to go see musicals, operas, symphonies, etc. But when it comes down to day in and day out--well, there's nothing like a few acres and a lot of grass to make me smile.

Monday, July 17, 2006

template frustration

Today I went on a quest to find a new and exciting template for my blog. I thought it would be nice to have something that reflected my thoughts and personality a little more than the standard options. All in all, I probably spent at least and hour or two searching for something that would be just right (like Goldilocks and the porridge). I found a few that would have been great, except for the fact that there was no way to download (or upload) them at all. There were others that were beautiful, but there were 800 steps you had to do before you could make your blog look like the sample. After all my searching (and even trying out a few of the standards) I ended up with the same template I started with. I guess sometimes you should just stick with what works.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

my family rocks

So, every year for as long as I can remember (and probably longer than that), my dad's side of the family has gotten together at Battleground Lake State Park. It's a family tradition that I absolutely love. We all settle into our camp sites, go out for pizza, swim as much as possible in the lake, play pinochle until we can't hold cards any longer, eat good food, and have an all around good time. Since Joshua and I moved out to the East Coast we haven't been able to go. This is mostly due to the fact that it is more practical for us to return to Seattle during May than any other time of year. Because we can only afford to come out once, I was really bummed this year when I found out that my brother and his girlfriend are going to be there. We were talking one night and Alex (my bro) asked if we were going to come out. I told him we couldn't afford it (in so many words) and he apparently decided that was unacceptable. Somehow between my brother's desire for us to come out (did I mention that I adore my brother), and my parent's desire for him to save the money he earns this summer, a plan was worked out. Unbeknownst to me, my parents decided to fly us out for a week in August so that we can come to Battleground. I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard this. Seriously, I was that excited. And it seems that other family members are stoked that we are coming out...My greataunt Dorothy sent my dad a check--a contribution to the "bring Joshua and Sarah home" fund. Awesome.

So really all I have to say is that my family is amazing. It's been really hard to be so far away from them, especially since we can only make it home once a year. This is a huge blessing, answer to prayer, some would say miracle. We are looking forward to being with family and getting to camp in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Did I already mention that my family is awesome? Because...they really are.

May you experience the joy of loving and being loved by those you treasure the most.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the mosquitoes of life....


*revised*


There are certain things that bother most people. Bugs such as bees, spiders, and mosquitoes usually are not high on lists of favorite things. Screaming babies on long airplane flights... you get the picture. True, not everyone agrees on what is annoying. For example, whistling makes me crazy. It doesn't matter if you are the world's best whistler with perfect pitch, for some reason whistling is for me what nails on a blackboard is for other folks. It takes everything in me to not smack someone upside the head and scream "stop making that awful noise!!!" Of course, if I were to ever do that, someone might have me taken to a mental institution. After all, it's not normal to scream at people who are happily whistling.

I'm sure that everyone can relate, since there is no one in the world who doesn't have at least one thing that gets under their skin...just a little. I am also sure that the Lord is stretching me in this particular annoyance. Perhaps more accurately, He is continuing to teach me patience. Generally speaking I am patient...but specifically I'm learning how to be patient with people and things that would otherwise make me crazy--whistlers, people who drive two miles under the speed limit, older folks who call me dearie and miss, you get the picture. I am learning that even though I don't often realize it, I am selfish and self-centered more often than I would like to admit. So when I say that the Lord is teaching me patience, I really mean that He is teaching me to die to myself and learn to experience and give to others the Love and Grace He has already given to me.


May you have patience for those things that bother you and otherwise make you crazy, and the courage to let God take you out of your self and mold you into His image.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

ridiculous weather

I am definitely not one to look at happenings in the world around me and declare that the end of the world is at hand. Many people see the end of the world in the serious weather happenings (Asian tsunamis, devastating hurricanes in the southern US, earthquakes in the Middle East, etc) as signs that the End is near. I try not to get caught up in that, since Jesus said that even He did not know the day or the hour. However, when things like severe thunderstorm warnings are issued for the area in which I live--with tornado warnings about half an hour north of us--I do sometimes wonder. Yes, you did read that correctly...there was a tornado warning in southern NH earlier today. That almost never happens here in New England. Even now as I sit here typing, there is a ridiculous amount of crashing thunder and pouring rain outside of my window. People always say to me, "You're from Seattle, you must be used to rain like this." Well, let me tell you, people, it does NOT rain like this in Seattle. Back home I use a rain coat (sometimes), and don't mind if I'm wearing long pants that touch the ground. Unless you're walking a long distance, you usually don't get too wet. I didn't even own an umbrella for the last few years that I was in WA. Here...well, rain is completely different. I make sure that I always know where my umbrella is. When going outside, I zip up my raincoat, hike up my pant legs, and run as quickly as possible to my destination. Despite these measures, I'm often soaking wet after running even the shortest distance. Yuck. All this to say...I'm still not sure that I like the weather out here. Mostly I pine for the beauty and mildness of the PNW. Oh home... And to think, in less than a month I will be camping in the beauty of it all. Hooray! Let's just pray that the tornados and whatnot really aren't the signal of the end times...otherwise no camping for me.

May you all know the beauty of the Pacific NW, and stay dry even when the thunder rolls outside your window.