Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowflakes Magnified

Here in southern Virginia, we are blanketed in splendiferous snow--see the pictures in posts below this one. I hear it's the biggest area snowfall in 25 years and we are supposed to get twelve to sixteen inches of it. Unfortunately for poor British Columbia, they can't get any, and the Olympics are just a mere two weeks away. Anyway, we are all full of wonder around here, and my grandson was asking me about snowflakes, which led to an internet search, which led to these incredible micro-photographs.

Pictures from Wilson A. Bentley, The Snowflake Man, public domain

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."
Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley

White Through Our Windows

This is very, very exciting for people who have lived their whole lives in Southern California and Hawaii!
Americana Post Card Perfect!

All this... and we live at the beach!

Our Front Yard.
Sending a big shaka to our SoCal and island friends!

Everything Looks Different

The Backyard...

The Hedges...

The Front Yard, Our Cars, Gunther on the Edge...

Our Walkway...
All Covered with a Lovely White Blanket.

Bunnies in the Snow

Breakfast at dawn

Criss-cross bunny paw prints in the snow

Bunny thoughts: "We like it---but what is it?"

Bird feeder full--but no seeds--birds mystified...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prayer Needed

Baby Kaia

Dad Jared and Mama Alana with big sister Kaelynn

Precious little Kaia, born less than two weeks ago to our beloved friends, was born with heart problems. Yesterday, she was implanted with a mechanical heart to keep her blood pumping. Now she is waiting for a donor heart for transplant.
This is one of the most difficult and challenging situations I've ever seen, on many levels, and it hurts to have people you love going through it. They all really need our prayers, so please join me in asking God to heal little Kaia's heart and to provide this family with peace and comfort.

I AM the Lord thy God that healeth thee -Ex 5:26

Monday, January 25, 2010

What We've Been Doing

Our new church has been a wonderful gift to us from God. We love our young pastor, Steve, and his beautiful wife and family. He is a gifted Bible teacher and his life wisdom belies his years. We love the kind and honest people who join us on Sunday mornings to learn about God, and how to live with one another in love and grace. We love our old/new building, donated to us by another church that was in decline, but wanted to see the building live on through another congregation. We love seeing our grandchildren there learning the life-changing truths that will sustain them through the terrible storms of life that undoubtedly lie ahead. We love contributing to this noble effort in our own little ways.

With all this in mind, we spent most of our spare time during the month of December and early January getting the building ready to be occupied. My interest was in the children's wing, because I think Sunday School should be the warmest, coziest, funnest place we can possibly make it. I think children should wake up on Sunday mornings and think to themselves, "Yippee, I get to go to church today!"

So we set out to create an environment for them, and with albeit limited resources, but lots of good will, we came up with Treasure Cove. And we, along with some very wonderful and dedicated partners, painted and sawed and hammered our way through December and created a kids' zone where our precious little ones could learn where their true treasure lies.

We started with this projected drawing on the wall...

Then painted it (I love the goatee on the little sailor)...

and turned it into surf shack check-in center...

then built a boat on some waves-- for climbing, and sitting, and gathering...

and added frolicking orcas to inspire the kids to do the same...

...and a treasure chest, overflowing with treasure on the outside, and prizes on the inside, that are earned by learning their verses and bringing their friends.

So far it's working beautifully!

Store up for yourselves treasure in Heaven...Matt. 6:20

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My New Favorite Song

So this is what if feels like to walk the wilderness
and this is what if feels like to come undone
So this is what if feels like to loose my confidence
unsure of anything or anyone

So this is what if feels like to walk the desert sand
and this is what if feels like to hear my name
and to be scared to death cause I'm all alone
but feel love and peace just the same

And this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
And I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now
So this is what if feels like to be led

So this is what if feels like to have it fall apart
to be totally unglued
and find out if I accept my brokenness
I get more of me, I get all of you

If this is what if feels like to be on shaky ground
Careful of every step I take
Realizing as I stop to look around
I look around and see everything a different way

And this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
cause I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now
So this is what if feels like to be led
and this is what if feels like to be led

So this is what if feels like to just walk away
from everything I thought kept me safe
to depend just on you for every meal
and find it's better this way
oh it's better this way

And this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
And I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now
like i do right now

And this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
And I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now

And this is what if feels like to be led
And this is what if feels like to be led
And this is what it feels like

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Birthday Princess

I had a very big day today, and I'm all filled up with birthday pampering! Please note the chocolate and strawberry delight with 2 little candles--my favorite flavor combo.

Thanks for all the love from my peeps, and a wonderful birthday dinner with our very, very special long-time friends, Maarten and Calene. We've known one another for 20 years and what a treasure of love and companionship they are. They are incredible friends and a gift that was waiting for us in Virginia.

I had one of those birthdays that's the same forward or backwards:
It bodes well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Death and Avatar and Imagination

My son's death has killed a lot of my fascination with this world. Things which were once enthralling to me have simply lost their lustre. How good can a place really be when, in the end, everything dies? Every person, every creature, every growing thing, the planet itself-- all that we hold so dear, some sooner, some later, but all, all of it ultimately doomed. Why I never allowed this to sink in before, I cannot say. I suppose the despair of death had never touched me personally.

Now I see death everywhere. We are trained to ignore it, but I can't anymore. I see death, disease, decline, everywhere now and I cannot romanticize it in any way. I don't know how people do that. I cannot in any way connect with the "circle of life" mentality, the Hospice talk about death being a "natural transition", the new age approach that says we reincarnate over and over again, or the corporate approach that says that three days of Bereavement Leave from work is sufficient to box that all up and move on. I can't. Everything inside of me revolts against death and the acceptance of it. I will never make my peace with it.

We lost the battle way back in the Garden of Eden, and now we pretend, with all our busy activity, that we are building something that will last. But pretending doesn't change the facts. The fact is, we are stuck on a dying planet and we are making the best of a bad situation. We are making do now. At worst we live in despair, or by distracting ourselves in hedonism. At best we create beauty and give love to make our time here bearable. But we are, underneath it all, merely surviving, living out our days here, because death has stripped us of our hope for more.

Death is awful and final. It's our enemy. Like a mass murderer insanely slashing at us and hitting its mark, it brutally interrupts every good thing--peace, harmony, love, closeness and companionship. Death up close is harrowing, hopeless, and pitiless. It separates us with the harshest and coldest finality from those we most cherish. It destroys their precious bodies and replaces them with impervious, unbreachable brick walls that block all contact. It puts an end to dreams and innocence and happiness.

Before you pass me the Prozac, I am leading somewhere with all of this. My son's death has opened my eyes to the tragedy of life, but also to the overwhelming grace of God. We are told that He fixed it and is fixing it and will fix it all permanently, in the future, in a world to come. I believe in the world to come, I am hanging on to it with all my heart and soul. I can hardly wait for it. And this is why I liked the movie Avatar.

I know it's not a "Christian" movie. I know that it's not theologically orthodox; that it stops short of telling us the whole truth about life and death. But it doesn't have to be perfect for me to see the truth that runs through it. It inspired me anyway. And it comforted me. And most of the inspiration was on the level of imagination, because I lack imagination of my own. And imagination is what is required to keep hope alive, to get us through this life and to the one beyond.

Avatar helped me enter a spectacularly beautiful new world, similar but different, where the flowers are luminous and light up when you touch them. Where airborne jellyfish/dandylions float and land on you and take your spiritual temperature. It helped me imagine the freedom of flying on a bird, and swooping high and low and fast with no limits, and with clean, fresh air rushing at me; full of risk and excitement, but with no real danger of injury. And to imagine falling from the height of a skyscraper only to bounce on the forest floor and then being able to get up and run over trails of moss-covered branches with vistas of beauty all around me. To have a body that runs that way--alive like an adolescent, coordinated like an athlete, without tiring, without bruises, no pulled muscles or broken bones, no diseases. A body with a universe of stars on its surface.

I loved seeing a world where the old broken body is replaced with a new and beautiful and powerful one, and the sheer thrill of it drives you to out run the pain of any memories past.
As I sat and watched, I thought to myself, "So this is what my son is doing now. No wonder no one ever wants to come back."

It takes imagination to see a Savior who takes on the form of the people he's saving, who enters their world and loves them and is willing to sacrifice Himself for them. It takes imagination to create symbols of oneness and unbreakable bonds, and to summarize it with the words, " I see you".

Avatar lifted my sights again from the pages of a Book to a vision of what happened in history when Christ died for me, and what will be and much more than I can dream. The ultimate Imagineer will undoubtedly create something even more spectacular than James Cameron's gifted cast and crew can conceive... something way beyond our imaginations, but totally in sync with our deepest hopes and dreams and longings.
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.
I Cor 2:9

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mystery Solved

Leave it to Liza to figure this one out! She's a smarty-pants straight A student! Thanks, Liza! Even my geophysics Ph.d. brother-in-law, Uncle Don, will be super-impressed by this! We've all learned something new...

Here's what Liza said:


I posted the link to twitter and here's what a Twitter friend sent me:It's called "Ice Spikes"

If the link won't work here, cut and paste that whole link address on your URL box, or google Ice spikes :)

Sending you some warm sunshine from Maui .... :)


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter Mystery

Every day we put water in a little rubbermaid container and place it outside on our porch for the bunnies . Yesterday morning, it looked like this. How did this happen? Are there any icy weather people out there who can tell me how the water has a frozen wave on it's surface? There was nothing dripping into the dish, nor is there anything inside that wave to support it. The picture is pretty much the actual size.
How on earth did this happen?
Who can fathom a guess?
We are mystified.
Somebody please explain...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Party Time!

Here Clare is just about to blow out the candles. I love the focussed look on her face.
The best thing about moving near our children and grandchildren is a moment like this. I wouldn't trade all the ocean views and Maui sunsets in the world for this moment. It all comes down to being with/sharing with/caring with the people you love the most in the whole wide world. That's living and it's what we were made for. I will endure the long, cold winters and the congested highways for this...

Rewind to the beginning: The Birthday Girl and her bounty! It's all about black and pink--so girly-licious! Oh la la!

Here with her blessed Nana and Papa.
And yes, my 11 year old granddaughter has caught up to me in height. I predict she's going to be a gorgeous 6' tall woman, and she'll wear high heels just to show it off!

The face of an angel. Well, at least before it had chocolate all over it. We love her blue eyes and she and Aidan are our only blue-eyed babies. Stands out in a family of browns and hazels!

All eyes on Clare and the candles.
Can you tell we just love this girl?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Clare's Big Day

Our Birthday Girl.
We are busy getting her birthday dinner ready for tonight.
Everything is pink and black, her favorite color combo right now.

Clare and Isabel are best, best, best, best friends forever.

Our Fair Bear is a Rare Bear.

We just love this precious beautiful girl. She is a gift in our lives and brings us a lot of pride and joy. She is quite unique and quirky in a good way! She made me bunnies out of socks for Christmas. She's a creative and curious girl. Always has been. She's gifted and therefore marches to the beat of her own drum! A very fun kind of girl to watch grow up.

I loved my daughter JoAnne's facebook comments about her Clare today:

"My sweet baby girl is 11 today!!! Clare's first 10 years of life have been amazing to behold... and the last year in particular was really fun to watch as Clare went from a scaredy bear to a brave bear. Some of Clare's acts of courageousness this past year include becoming a rollercoaster junky, a white-water rafter,... a rappeler, a zip-liner, a rock climber and she even got baptized this year!!! A can't wait to see what God has in store for her this year! Mama loves her "Bestie" soooo much!"

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Christmas Flashback

Christmas is difficult for the bereaved. I feel like I drew a deep breath, then plunged underwater till it was over. The underwater part is: "don't think, don't feel, just do". That's what I did. I got through it and was glad when it was over.

But looking back on my pictures this morning, I realized that this was my special moment in all of it. A few days before Christmas we had Christmas dinner at our house. After dinner, Isabel read The Polar Express to all of us.

Her approving audience.

All feet pointing center!

I love the imagery in the Polar Express and my grandchildren seem to understand most of the symbols.

Faith is the silver bell and when we lose it, God helps us to find it again.

An Angel in a Santa hat.

Monday, January 04, 2010

My Son, The Genius!

Joey, reading his Bible, in a coffee shop in Montreal

This is a reprint from a post I wrote a year and a half ago. As we enter a new year I thought it was a fitting time to reprint the most essential thing about my son and the life he lived.

Joey went home to be with the Lord three months ago today. In the time since he passed, we have heard over and over again what an amazing person he was. Not a few people have called him a genius, and I have to say we saw him that way ourselves. As his family, we were daily witnesses to his hilarious insights and penetrating analysis of life, culture and current events--- and WE were impressed by him! As his proud mother I actually tried not to boast about him too much! I guess nobody will mind if I do that now.

I first suspected he was bright when he could rattle off all the names of African animals at 13 months...giraffe, warthog, zebra...he knew them all! He was highly verbal, especially for a boy, and he loved to read. When he was in second grade, he was tested by our school district and was formally and officially inducted into the GATE program for Gifted and Talented students. He got mostly A's, with little effort, and he could "wing" his way through school projects, presentations, and even speeches with great success in spite of little preparation. One time he got an A on a speech about sharks, a speech he made up on the spot based on what he remembered from the movie "Jaws"! In sixth grade he was class president, student of the year, and he won the school oratorical contest for best speech. He shone even as a kid.

After hormones hit, he was still an effortless A student. He graduated high school with a 3.8 GPA, taking mostly Advanced Placement classes. He was accepted to both UCLA and USC, but chose USC because of a scholarship to their exceptional business program. He flourished in college and became an open-minded person and a critical thinker. And being a well-rounded guy, he didn't merely focus on academics, he also absorbed everything he could about music, rock n' roll and guitar-playing. He was aware, talented and confident.

Once out of college, he started a brilliant career blending his business degree with his love of music. He worked for Universal Music Group, one of the biggest companies in the industry, learning the music biz from the inside. He left Universal to join Filter Magazine, a new music industry mag that promoted the art and the artists. By all accounts, he was a brilliant marketer and a great promoter. Last year he started his own marketing division for a company called Sauce Design. He developed marketing strategies for the sports beverage, Red Bull, and was working on a deal with Nike up to his final day.

He got a fat paycheck for all his hard work and had acquired, by age 28, three houses, a nice stock portfolio, two retirement accounts, and a nearly perfect credit score of 815! He had been to Europe three times, to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, and he'd taken a carefully planned year-long van tour of North America, west coast to east coast, north to Alaska and south to Panama. He had his own music studio, tons of musical equipment and a half-finished cd of original songs. He was a brilliant young man and had great success by any measurement. His numerous achievements, though, couldn't prevent death and they couldn't give him eternal life. When his life was over, he stood before God and I don't think God was even slightly impressed by Joey's brains or his bank account!

Looking back on his life, there was only one truly brilliant thing that Joey did on earth and that is the only one that matters now that his earthly life is over---he believed in Jesus Christ. His childhood faith grew into an adolescent quest which grew into an adult conviction. Like all of us, he had his questions and doubts, and was at times disappointed by "religious people", but that didn't stop him from seeing that God was real and that Jesus could be trusted. He believed in Jesus, he believed that Christ's death covered his sins, and he believed he was going to meet his Maker one day and would be ready because of his faith.... and not because of anything that he had done or could do himself. He lived in a very cool world in Hollywood, where Jesus and the concept of faith don't get much airplay, but he died with a Bible by his bedside, and a firm belief in the saving grace of God.

That is paying off SO BIG right now. I like to think he entered Heaven, fell to his knees and thought to himself, "Wow! I am SO glad my parents dragged me to Sunday School!" In the long run, the smartest thing my genius son ever did was believe in Jesus. And to anyone reading, I encourage the same. Be a genius--believe in Jesus.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Treasure for Christmas

On Christmas Day, Joe showed a video that had recently come in the mail. It was from a friend's wedding 25 years ago, and she had sent it to us after Joey's departure to Heaven because it had footage of my children. My children were little when the video was taken and I think it was probably the first wedding and reception they had ever attended.

As my young children went through the receiving line to hug the bride and groom, the videographer caught their little faces all full of shiny wonder and good manners (that had, by the way, been coached into them all the way to the wedding). When my darling little five year old son, all dressed up in a bow tie and big boy slacks, made it to the front of the line, someone asked him who he was going to dance with at the reception. He proudly answered, "I get to dance with my mom!"

I never knew that till I saw the video last week. Fireworks in my heart. Like another Mother, I treasure all these things in my heart and remember the joy of raising that beautiful boy.

Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:19