Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On or in?

I've always said you stand in line, ever since I walked the halls of Glacier Valley Elementary School with my class, on the way to gym or lunch or to get a drink.

Now, it seems, everyone is saying you stand on line. I chalked it up to regional differences-- must be an east coast thing. But lately, our local west coast news channel have been talking about people standing on line.

Is it just me, or is this a recent change? I looked it up. Sure enough, it's changing. Apparently we're so used to talked about being online on the Internet that the phrase is getting generalized to other parts of life.

Okay, I can deal with the change now that I know where it came from. But what I can't deal with are some of the other annoying phrases that work their way into our vocabulary.

Outrage for example. Any time I turn on the news, someone is outraged about something. No one's just angry or miffed any more. We've got road rage and now even wrap rage (uncontrollable anger that arises when you can't open a package).

Or take holiday tree. Come on! If you're going to have a tree, call it a Christmas tree. You're not fooling anyone by changing the semantics.

For more words and phrases that should be kicked out of usage, check Lake Superior University's list of Banished Words.

My personal favorite was the tendency to combine names of celebrity couples. Think Branjelina and Beniffer. As one commenter said, it's so lame and pathetic... it's lamathetic.

Do you have any unfavoritist words to add?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Peripheral Vision

There are a lot of people in my life who exist in my peripheral vision. I see them, but I don't really look at them. I greet them, but I don't really know them. I shake hands with them, but their lives don't actually touch my own.

One of the kids was sick yesterday, so I sat with her in the church lobby until services ended. There was quite a crowd back there... a couple of teenagers hanging out, the church secretary overseeing everything, an elder praying with a couple, and a woman crying, a pillow hugged against her. Over the intercom, I heard the call to prayer and the instructions, repeated every week.

"If you have a prayer need, feel free to ask someone to pray with you. Or if you know of someone in need, get up and move to be by that person."

I didn't know the lady. I've seen her, but just in that peripheral vision. I couldn't ignore her, not now that I faced her with nothing to distract me. So I sat by her and prayed for her. I don't know if she heard me through her pain. I wish I could have done more.

I'm so thankful that the God of the Universe heard, that the God of all comfort does not see us out the corner of his eye. He sees us clearly.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Behind the Scenes

For those of you who lost track... this is my 200th post to this blog. Since December of '05, I've averaged a posting every 2 days.

That's a lot of nothing to say. I feel like I've delivered what I set out to do... scribblings, random thoughts, opinions on all sorts of subjects. This blog is my exercise, my mind-stretcher, my doodle pad.

I don't obsess about the counter, but I do check it from time to time to see where my readers hang out. I've had hits from Togo and Thailand, India and Indiana, Juneau and Johannesburg. And tonight, for the first time, I had someone stop in from Israel.

Israel... wouldn't you love to go there? Or Greece or even Patagonia? At least my thoughts get to visit. Sigh.

One benefit of blogging that I didn't expect is that it can help people know me better. I even had a faithful reader (and friend) call the other day to check on me since I hadn't posted an entry in 4 days.

Thanks for caring and thanks for sharing this little side road with me.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oxymoron-- No Offense

Diet ice cream.

Virtual Reality.

New Classic.

Act natural.

Friendly fire.

And now, the latest oxymoron in my collection...


The two reactions to the news of his engagement have been...




Congratulations, Geoffrey and Dana. May your life together be as fun and exciting and perfectly right as your courtship has been.

If anyone wants an invitation to the June 9th wedding, drop me a line and I'll pass on the word.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Eleventh Commandment

Growing up, I actually thought it was one of the original ten (but I also thought Juneau was on an island until I was twelve, so I wasn't always tuned in to reality).


Followed closely, of course, by




My kids are growing up thinking the most important commandments are





I wonder what other tapes will play in their heads when they're older. What was the eleventh commandment at your house?

Friday, January 19, 2007

When dreams come true, but you don't know what to do with them

I bought an MP3 player.

I want to listen to podcasts of sermons and npr.

Problem is, I have no idea how to easily get the podcasts I want to the player. I've downloaded about 6 different jukebox programs and I see lots of options on how to buy music, but I'm stuck on what to do with podcasts.

Anyone out there who has a non-iPod MP3 player, who listens to podcasts, and who has a clue how to help me out?

What's the best jukebox or podcast organizer program?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

War Memorial

Adam Langford, missionary to Uganda, died in a car accident along with his friend and co-worker Moses Kimezi yesterday.

I didn't know Adam, though his sponsoring church was not far from here. But I can picture his life in Jinja, his work with The Source Cafe, an Internet cafe and coffee shop that serves as gathering place, fund raiser and development prototype. I can picture his last trip in a lorry across the pitted asphalt and red dirt roads of Mount Elgon.

For those of you who know Adam, Ben and Kym, my deepest sympathies and my most sincere prayers. To you in Fort Portal, Mbale, Mbarara, Jinja and Kampala and elsewhere in East Africa, to friends and family in Oklahoma and Portland, may God bring comfort, peace and eventual understanding.

In the war we wage, the battle that is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of this dark world, it seems there are so many casualties lately. Adam, Cyndi, Nancy, and Cathy, all left their comfortable American homes only to lose their lives on the African roads. But that's from our perspective. In fact, I wonder if they are casualties at all.

I read a book years ago about a missionary in South America who was kidnapped and later murdered. Rather than leaving a hole in the work in that place, his story spurred dozens of new recruits to volunteer to replace him. A loss on this side of the curtain between life and death may bring many surprises. I don't believe that God caused this accident, but I do know that he can use it for good ir ways that we can not yet imagine.

God bless you, Adam and Moses. May your sacrifice and suffering reap great rewards.

Solutions are wonderful. Cures are amazing. Answers are great. But in this broken world, I am beginning to believe we need more people who are willing to enter into the suffering of others whether they can help or not. I want to choose to suffering for the sake of others. I am not always sure how to do that or what it looks like, but most days I wake up and can’t think of anything else to do. Uganda has problems, I pray that God will solve them, but until He does I will also pray for the strength to suffer.
- Adam Langford, November 2006

For more news about Adam and Moses and the needs of the church and teams in Uganda, click here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Old Fashioned Snow Day

I've got nothing deep to share today... just the warm, satisfied feeling of a well-spent day.

We awoke to gently falling snow, which wasn't a surprise. What did surprise us was that it kept falling and falling into the afternoon. Mid morning, I dug out my husband's ski shoes and went out cross-country skiing for the first time in over 20 years. I never was an expert, but the gently swishing of skis on fresh snow brought back sweet memories. I've never heard the neighborhood so silent. Cars had not yet beaten down the three inches of white fluff.

I came home to hot chocolate and chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles that I started simmering on the stove last night. Then it was out again with the whole family for some sledding, skiing, and snow angels. The little one (the perfectionist, you remember) announced that she already knew how to make a snow angel, but that she wouldn't because it might mess her clothes up. With a little encouragement, though, she knelt down and gave it her best shot - stiffly at first - but then with great pride in her perfect angels.

Back at home, we scraped up a layer of untouched snow and made a big pot of snow ice cream which went down with a smile. Then Daddy read to the older kids while the little one and I read together.

A hot bath, some flannel jammies, and a sigh of contentment.

What a lovely day.

I couldn't resist!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

really SMALL world

Lori and I have been friends for - what? - 4 years? We were thrust together at a camp out where, for some reason, we were the only 2 families not from a certain church. They all knew each other, we both knew no one, so we paired up. Soon afterwards, we joined their home school co-op and our kids became fast friends, which is a fantastic excuse for us moms to get together.

When I was visiting her a couple of weeks ago, she pulled out her Christmas album which is filled with photos of all the people who send her photos in in their Christmas letters. I thumbed through, listening to stories about her good friend from Mississippi, her other friends from Idaho, her family on the East Coast. I turned a page and stared straight into a face from my past.

"Why, that's Nancy!" I said.

"You know Nancy? How do you know Nancy?"

Nancy, who first invited Lori to church, was from the family I stayed with every summer when I went to camp. Nancy, who left Anchorage to move to Egypt, looks exactly like she did when we were both 12. Nancy, who I haven't thought about for 20 years, brought a new friend into my life.

If Nancy hadn't extended a welcome to Lori, Lori never would have made connections in the Church of Christ. And without those connections, she wouldn't have been at the camp out where we met. And if she wasn't there, my life would be so much the poorer.

Small world?

I'll say!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Real as Life

I have a complex relationship with my personal trainer. I dread going to her classes since I know she'll gripe at me for not making it every day. I watch for her to turn her back so I can quit doing her eternal sets of heel jacks. I've even (gasp!) changed my name so I could rejoin her class after dropping out. I'm hoping she doesn't notice it's me and ask why I've gained 3 pounds since I joined.

The thing is, my trainer, Maya, is not actually a person. She's a computer animated trainer that lives in my X-Box.

I think it's a little weak-willed on my part to play mind games with someone who's not even real. But she's real to me. I put in a Billy Blank's Tae Bo tape this morning, but realized that if I didn't show up to Maya's class, she'd notice. So I popped out the tape, braced myself, and tuned in to Maya. She noticed I didn't work out yesterday, but she wasn't too disappointed this time.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hearts Entwined

I don't often cry, but I did today.

Several times.

I cried for Ablavino whose oldest child, Ablavi, died yesterday after a long illness stole her twenties from her. For talkative, opinionated Ablavino whose voice has been silenced by a hard-hearted husband. For Ablavino who mourns alone as the rest of her family wails and cries out that Ablavino's faith in Jesus brought about this tragedy.

I cried for Brenda, who first saw Ablavi as a friend and later embraced her family as her own.

I cried for Murphy and Christine, for Marty and Louise, who search for ways to offer help and comfort, who live in a place where the questions are so difficult and the answers harder still.

I cried for Edemno and Delano and Suzanne and all the other mothers of Zebe who try so hard to keep their children safe but fail again and again.

I cried for Sandi and Jenna and myself as small pieces of our hearts wither with the loss of friends beyond our reach.

I cried for Ablavi and the choices she made, the choices made for her. I haven't been in her life in many years, but I have a hundred pictures of her in my mind... of her braiding Esi's hair, or pounding fufu, or fetching water from our faucet, or repeating a phrase to me for the fifteenth time until I truly understood.

I told her story to a girl today, a girl about the same age Ablavi was when we first met. This girl said, "The death of one is a story; the death of millions a statistic."

I thank God that Ablavi was not just a statistic. Her life touched mine. Her story is part of my story. Against all logic and reason, our stories are entwined.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I have a small, young perfectionist in my house. I've known it for a while, probably since she used to line her toys up along the edge of the bed. Or maybe it was when, as a toddler, she would cry when she spilled something on her shirt. Or perhaps it was when she started having tantrums because her pants were wrinkled.

Being a perfectionist can be a hard job. When making a mistake sends you over the edge, any new endeavor can be threatening. So I was surprised that my 4-year old perfectionist insisted on skating around the rink on her own after only 5 minutes of holding my hand. She went out there like a trooper and skated proudly around a couple more times.

Then she fell.

She wasn't hurt, but she was done.

"I'm no good at this, Mommy. I fell down. Take my saktes off me."

I wanted to hold her and love on her and tell her what a narrow life she will have if she never lets herself fail. But I gave her a quick kiss and said, " Let's go around again. I'll hold your hand if you want."

No body's perfect, honey. No matter how hard we try.

And that's where our spiritual awakening begins.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

so long, farewell

Do you know many times I baked cookies in December? I can count at least a half dozen times. Each time I swore I wouldn't eat any... I was just doing it for the kids.


All the gingerbread and sugar and butter and lovely treats dipped in chocolate enticed me and I couldn't hurt their feelings by ignoring them.

But now, alas, they're gone. All except the M&Ms and the Kissables who will wait politely in their bags until we invite them out.

Sleep well, cookie cutters. I'll see you next December. Good night, beautiful angels, sugar sprinkles and twinkle lights. You all brought magic into our home for a short time. We'll think of you throughout the year, but keep you tucked away.

Right now, I don't miss you. But I know in a few months I will. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. And right now, I'm longing for sunny days and my little garden.