Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sand Dollars and Sunsets in the PNW

Leaning Out Can Be a Form of Leaning In

I just finished Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
While I commend her for an insightful book on the world of women and work, I am not sure that I agree with everything in her book.  I found her viewpoint to be very biased toward the importance of women having a career.  Sheryl's book is an important manifesto for women in leadership and the role of women in society today.  She champions the cause of women in senior leadership and encourages and empowers women today.  Although I think this is an important cause, it is not the only role for women in society.  I believe that women can have it all and juggle family and career.

I realize that not all women have a choice and many must work; I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom for 13 years.  Our family made choices to move to places with lower cost of living and to live a more modest lifestyle.  After my girls reached middle school, I rejoined the workforce.  I believe that different seasons can lead to different choices.  I believe that those years at home with my children were an important contribution to society.  It is my opinion that the shaping of the lives of the next generation and the fabric of family is too important a task to leave to others.  

Although Sheryl might say that I "leaned out," I would disagree.  I leaned in - to different priorities.  I would not trade those years for anything.  They resulted in close relationships with my daughters who are now confident, happy, and productive young adults. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Beauty of Creation

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God: 

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.

                              Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On Writing Well

Tom Lake,  a writer for Sports Illustrated and an alum of my alma mater, Gordon College says, “We’re seeing this hunger among readers for long stories that really dig into something to find answers rather than just sticking to the surface—and they’re reading them on their iPhones."  I for one love to read the alumni magazines of several institutions that I support including Wheaton College, Gordon, and Seattle Pacific University because they have well-written and interesting stories.  And the articles are somewhat long.  But I enjoy the intellectual stimulation.  Good photography and graphics and visually interesting layout are important, but alone they do not provide enough to hold my attention.  These magazines provide an opportunity for institutions of Christian Higher Education to tell their story, to celebrate their impact on students and the world at large, to promote their vision.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hard Eucharisteo

Once again I am wakeful between 2-3 a.m.  Clearly my brain is still processing all that has happened. This story could have had a different ending for my family. Would I still be giving thanks?
Eucharisteo. Charis: at its root grace and joy. Eucharisteo: giving thanks. In ALL things. This is what Ann Voskamp calls 'hard eucharisteo.'

When I first got the news of what was happening, I went straight to my knees. Since then, I've been on my knees several times in gratitude, in questioning, in praise, in lament, in worship. We MUST be on our knees for this generation.

An SPU prof expresses just how difficult it is to process all the emotions. Beautifully said. This campus community is so strong and so filled with charis.

As I chatted yesterday with a student on Eastern's campus, who coincidentally is also named Jenny, she remarked, 'we're not safe anywhere.'  My response was, "we're not safe anywhere, but we are safe everywhere in the arms of God. He will carry us through."

My final text to Gennie last night was "Go live life!"

Friday, June 6, 2014

Pray for SPU

Please join us in prayer for the students and families at Seattle Pacific University. There was a shooting on campus yesterday. One male student has died and a female student is in intensive care after undergoing surgery last night.

Those of you who knew our girls when they were small will remember that bagels were a staple in our home.  But for a bagel, Gennie might not be here today.  

Our daughter, Gennie, is a junior at SPU and texted us late yesterday afternoon. The text that no parent wants to get: 'I'm safe. There is a shooter on campus. We're in lockdown.' She was on her way to meet a friend in the building where the shooting happened when she stopped to get something to eat, a bagel. When she arrived the police were there with one of the victims. She described seeing a lot of blood. She sheltered with other students in the building across the street until the campus was secured. Her friend hid under a table and was spared.

We are thankful for Gennie's safety but heartbroken for the victims and families.

She texted me late last night saying how much homework she still had to do for U Scholars and how she needed to finish preparing for a one question essay test today - which we have been chatting about all week - the question is "What does it mean to be human?" - this was for U Scholars - a culmination of all their science, theology and philosophy of the past 3 years.  They are to write a maximum of one page. I had shared with her earlier this week about my current devotional readings in One Thousand Gifts about how the meaning of life is to glorify and honor God (from the Westminster Shorter Catechism) to see His beauty and glory all around us and about my readings in The Pursuit of God about how the veil of self keeps us from a fuller intimacy with God.

 I assured her that classes were to be cancelled today.  I imagine the question will take on new meaning in the light of yesterday's tragedy.

"but faith is always a way of seeing, a seeking for God in everything. And if the eyes gaze long enough to see God lifted in a thing, how can the lips not offer eucharisteo? The truly saved have eyes of faith and lips of thanks. Faith is in the gaze of a soul" Ann Voskamp

Please join us in praying for this CCCU school and the students and families. This is the beginning of finals weeks for the students and graduation is scheduled for a week from tomorrow. Obviously classes are cancelled today and there is another prayer service on campus at noon. I am convinced that our prayers for this generation are vital.

God's grace and mercy be with us all.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014


 Photo: A wonderful day outdoors

The question was raised in my book study of One Thousand Gifts last week ... of what is the point of listing small things that we are thankful for like the green leaves of spring.  I don't remember who asked it, but I think she and others were wrestling with the larger question of how to be thankful in the midst of life's larger trials and what relevance these small things had.  Why should we fill a list of 1000 things we are thankful for with seemingly insignificant things?  How can we be thankful for the hard things?

Eucharisteo - grace, joy, thanksgiving

As I pondered this, several things came to mind.
Thankfulness is a discipline.  Being thankful in the small things teaches us how to be thankful in all things.
Thankfulness is a habit - and habits take practice.
Noticing these seemingly small things, puts God in perspective and teaches us to reverence our Creator.
Noticing helps us to "be here now" to live fully.  It allows us to experience life in new ways.

I think that as we develop this discipline, we grow closer to being able to trust and thank God in all circumstances.

Being thankful brings us deeper into relationship with God.

I think God is delighted when we give thanks in big and small things.

As Maria sings in The Sound of Music:
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles with warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things

The picture is the view I enjoyed yesterday as I worked at our annual golf tournament.  

  • Thankful for a day outdoors
  • Thankful for good weather
  • Thankful for time to enjoy God's beautiful creation
  • Thankful for the hawk overhead
  • Thankful for the sunshine and the breeze
  • Thankful for the people I met
  • Thankful for the team of people I work with
  • Thankful for filet mignon for dinner
  • Thankful for my health
  • Thankful for women on the journey studying together


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Feed My Soul

Thursday mornings I get up extra early.  I'm at the Deli by 7 a.m.  One by one, they straggle in, these friends of mine, church ladies.  I am one of the youngest.  We catch up, pray, study together and do life, sharing each other's burdens and joys.  All within the space of one hour, once a week.  Charlene tried to express what this time meant to her this morning as we were getting ready to leave.  This group is a place to process life, to work out our faith, to talk about deep theological issues as well as how we deal with family situations. We try to make it practical and applicable.

It's a lifeline really.  This thing called fellowship.  We are a small tribe, sometimes just two of us show up, other times as many as eight.  But we are deeply connected.  We ask about that grand-baby, or that situation at work, or the difficult pregnancy of our youngest, or the trip we are planning or just returned from.  We remember and are connected.  This connection feeds the soul.  We share pictures, text or email each other.  We see each other at church and sometimes at other gatherings.  Yet it is this sacred time and space on Thursday mornings at the deli that bonds us.  The waiter remembers what we like to drink and brings it when we arrive.  We order crispy bacon or oatmeal or a full breakfast, but it is not the food that nourishes us.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reflections on Grad School

As I approach the final weeks of graduate school, we were given an assignment to reflect on our time and our growth.  This is what I wrote. 

The Advanced Strategic Management course seems like a point of convergence in that it is bringing together all we have learned within the framework of leadership.  I am seeing in retrospect that my last boss was a collaborative leader practicing the tenets of appreciative inquiry; and I realize that I thrive under this leadership style.  The papers for this course are designed to help us make a personal strategic plan for our own professional growth and I am enjoying that.  I also appreciate the fact that this final course is more practical than theoretical. 

My interactions with you, my cohort mates, have made me a more articulate speaker, a better listener, and a more open-minded person.  You have expanded my understanding of nonprofits, of friendship, of faith, and of worldviews.  Chavonne, you have taught me about caring enough to take action through your ministry with Young Charming Ladies.  Megan, our resident grammar Nazi, you have showed me that there are many different perspectives and ways to view an issue.  Huan, you have been steady and thoughtful and have taught me much about intellectual inquiry.  Corwin, your absence is deeply felt – you taught each of us how to be better, more passionate speakers.  Each of you has opened my horizons and collectively you have loved, supported, and encouraged me, and each other, on this journey.  And I am thankful.  I am proud of how hard we all have worked to achieve this goal. You have asked penetrating questions and not been afraid to wrestle with difficult issues and theoretical concepts, all while looking for a practical application in your lives and work.  Together, we have become stronger advocates for the causes and ministries that we care about.  I pray you will continue on the path of intellectual discovery and growth and that you will seek to use your unique gifts to love and serve others. 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sense of Place

There is a place I like to go, a small town, a beach town, an island ... I've been going there since childhood.  And something about that place has gotten into my blood.

A town administrator said "the uniqueness of Conanicut Island. 'It’s so extraordinarily beautiful: the landscape, the seascape, the village, the sense of place. People are willing to come forward to preserve and protect that. I don’t think you will find many places where people have so much gratitude towards where they live.'”

It's a combination of factors: small village, beaches, rocky shores, lighthouse, farmland, quiet streets and even quieter neighborhoods. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Global Warming

At dinner the other night, someone asked me if I thought this extreme weather wasn't more evidence of global warming.  Our neighbors had come to dinner because the power was out and our generator provided lights.  We had no heat, but we did have a working fridge, toaster oven, microwave and grill.  I did not readily agree and she was surprised.  Here's why I could not agree.  First I would not define this as extreme weather - it's winter.  Just another snowstorm and ice storm.  And this was no blizzard.  Second, weather comes in cycles anyway.  Remember the blizzard of 93?  How about the winter of 95/96 when we had over 70" of snow in Connecticut. And it did not melt in between storms.  Some winters are just worse than others.  I don't think this year's snow is even excessive.  But if it was, I wouldn't say that was evidence of global warming.  I am not sure where I even stand -what I believe about global warming.  But I am convinced we need to be better stewards of this created earth.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Majesty and Sky

Powerful so powerful
Your glory fills the skies
Your mighty works displayed for all to see
The beauty of your majesty
Awakes my heart to see
How marvelous how wonderful you are

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Daughter's Thoughts on Christmas Day

White Christmas that was melted before (a lovely) sunrise.
Thoughts about being wholehearted and obedient and seeking simplicity. Waking up laughing.
Cuddling with the whole family starting at 6am.
Long morning wanders on the golf course with my mom & aunt.
Dark espresso & eggs/bacon.
Joy from giving & seeing delighted loved ones.
So many blessings in return - Sunlamp alarm clock, baby crockpot, beautiful sea glass jewelry made by my sister, comfy jean shirt, Patagonia jacket, lavender...
Accidental naps on the couch.
Paddle tennis.
Cozy fire & reflection on Christ's gift.
Champagne cocktails.
Family movie night w/ blanket beds on the floor.
Christmas celebration at it's best!

Vermont Weekend Celebrating My Little Sister Turning 50

A sprained ligament in my knee did not stop me from hiking to the top of Smuggler's Notch  (the road is closed in winter and used for hiking) with micro-spikes.  Or snowshoeing up to the cabin at the top of the mountain at Trapp Family Lodge resort.  Or cross-country skiing for a couple of hours in Sterling Forest.  And I enjoyed every moment outdoors even in the snow (actively snowing) and cold. The six inches of snow during the weekend transformed everything into a winter wonderland - all the trees were blanketed in snow. 
Cabin where we had lunch by the fire

But the best part of the weekend was surprising my sister by walking out of the Burlington Airport as she pulled up to the curb to pick up one of her best friends.  She had absolutely no idea that I was coming.  Her two best friends from high school were coming and I managed to get on the same flight as one of them.  We had a great weekend of conversation, feasting, reminiscing, and playing outdoors.  And can't forget the Banana Grams!

My sister is blessed to have maintained close friendships with at least three friends from high school.  They can laugh together and encourage one another and be honest with each other.  So many stories!  Apparently they all thought I was the cool one in high school - who knew - probably just because I was older.  But they accept me warmly and I am touched. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Parenting: The Adventure

If I may share a bit of parenting wisdom.  If you are a new parent, or not yet a parent, file this away for the future ...

Everyone says that when your children are old enough, they will choose their own faith and the prevailing thought is that you have no control over whether they will choose your faith.  I disagree.  I think if you teach them the faith in their formative years, and disciple them in the 18+ years that you have with them, the choice will be obvious.  The faith is compelling and the "world" does not have to win.  Your children can have a relationship with God from the time that they are small.  Don't leave it to the church! 
Our pastor, Mark Browne, shared this with me when my first was small and we were diligent to read the Bible as a family, to pray together and to incorporate faith into every aspect of life.  Mine are now 19 and 22 and each has a vibrant faith.  No rebellion to speak of.  Don't buy into the lie that every child will rebel!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The years of living dangerously

I am thankful that I enjoy relatively good health, but these last three years it seems I've had more than my share of injuries ...

Jan 2011 - fell on the ice and broke my humerus and tore my left rotator cuff
Spring 2012 - threw out my back
Summer 2012 - injured my  right shoulder
Spring 2013 - broke a rib
Summer 2013 - problems with my right knee exacerbated by my couch potato to 5k running program
Fall 2013 - pain in my right elbow
November 2013 - badly twisted my ankle while hiking and made it worse by running 2 miles a few days later
January 2014 - injured my left knee

I must be getting old!  Although I try to take care of my body, it is not repaying me with kindness.  Still paying some of the physical therapy bills out of my HSA.  I'm thinking of joining a YMCA because I need some help getting in shape and getting stronger.  I'm hopeful that if I lose some weight and get fit, I won't continue to have injuries.  I enjoy my running, biking, walking, occasional sailing and paddle tennis and want to continue to enjoy them.  In a good news report, one of my exercise apps reported a total of 212 miles for 2013 ... I also used a second app for running, so my total is 250 miles (and that probably does not include lots of walks where I forgot to use the apps.