31 March 2009

27 March 2009

There is a new Henry book!

Yesterday perhaps the world's best children's librarian saved for us the new D. B. Johnson book: Henry's Night. When I was a child I spent a good portion of the summer (after baseball season of course) at the Norvell farm/camp. I once traced the call of a whippoorwill too. Only the bird did not land on my head, instead when I got real close it shot up from the ground and nearly scared me to death.

26 March 2009

Wanted: Spring

The other morning the weather (in the 20s) made #1 so furious she grabbed her crayons, a piece of paper and went to work producing this poster:I cannot say that I blame her. I too am a bit tired of my water bottle that I leave in the car after running being frozen every morning. And I am a bit tired of the still present mounds of ice-snow in parking lots (the salt preserves them for a good spell).Spring is coming though. The kids, the VOR and I have been out in the yard passing baseball, the lilacs are budding, the rhubarb is emerging, and the ground is thawed and muddy.

In other news the VOR and I volunteer in #2's class every Monday (on a rotating basis). When one of us enters the school we have to sign in. Normally they have the standard Bic pen for the sign in folder. This week, however, nothing could have prepared me for the writing instrument that awaited me.

25 March 2009


When I was ordained to the Christian ministry I asked a trusted and wise elderly colleague to offer some words on ministry. The late Rev. Bob Newell looked at me and said "Look, there are too many problems in the world. You cannot solve them all. Instead, find one issue where you can make an impact and there invest your time and energy." The "issue" that spoke most to me was the protection of the environment. Water, Air, Earth the basic elements every living being must have for life and the elements we all have to share.

My late father was a natural environmentalist. When we would go trout fishing this time of year in the mountains, when there would still be a fresh layer of snow on the ground, he would always pick up the trash along the river bank. My memory of him doing such a small act made a large impact. Later on when the coal company bought our family farm and destroyed it the image of a once lovely place bleeding acidic ooze made a large impact too. I recall reading a line from a Philip Roth novel that childhood ends when you see your father cry. I remember seeing my father cry when we sold the last remnant of the farm, that impacted me too.

I mention all of this because yesterday the EPA issued two letters that ordered the cessation of all mountain top mining permits (issued by the Army Corps of Engineers). Were the letters smoke and mirrors from the Obama administration? I do not know. But I know they are a hopeful start.

“This is one of those things where I want science to help lead us,” Obama said. “I will tell you that there’s some pretty country up there that’s been torn up pretty good.

“I will also tell you that the environmental consequences of the runoff from some of these mountains can just be horrendous. … Not taking that into account because of short-term economic concerns, I think, is a mistake. I think we have to balance economic growth with good stewardship of the land God gave us.”
(President Barack Obama while talking to a reporter, Mr. James Carroll, from the Louisville Courier-Journal).

23 March 2009

Come Round Right

Some more garden news.

1. I once heard that gardeners are not actively gardening unless they are out in the yard killing plants, i.e. trying to grow plants in regions that they are not supposed to grow. This year I decided to take a more aggressive approach to my garden. About four years ago I started some leeks from seeds. I let a few go to seed just to see what would happen. What happened? Every year a clump of leeks grow next to my rhubarb, every year i mow over the leeks and think I ought to do something about them. This weekend I dug up the clump, divided them and replanted them. Have you ever noticed a patch of wild onions growing in your yard? You know, you mow over them and smell the pungent aroma of onions. Yesterday I dug a clump of them up, separated the bulbs, and replanted them to see if they would mature. If they all die, no big deal.

2. We celebrated St. Patrick's day by planting Thomas Laxton peas, a pleasantly sweet pea. Although I imagine they would make an excellent edition to a salad, they never make it inside. Usually me and #1 sit at the vine, pick, shell, and eat.

3. This weekend the groundhog was spotted. My question: how in the dickens did she emerge larger than when she went in her hole for hibernation? She just had to show herself as I planned the Spring garden, smart aleck.

4. More on the White House garden. My big question: Where are the tomatoes? In the garden designs there are no tomatoes! This should be more of an outrage than the AIG bonuses.

5. BIttman also had a great piece on organic food (I call it a great piece because I have been saying the same thing for the past few years).

6. While on the topic of newspapers. Yesterday I went to the convenience store to pick up a newspaper. Get this, Providence Journal: $3.00, Boston Globe: $2.50. I could not believe it.

7. Finally, my nephew is doing great. He begins physical therapy this week. He has a long way to go towards full recovery but he is well on his way. Your prayers, kind words, and thoughts are deeply appreciated.

20 March 2009


The news from last night, the good news from last night I still cannot fully fathom it. I know my nephew has a rough road ahead of him, right now he is in terrible pain but the cancer has been removed his spine will cease to push on his brain, the headaches will stop, his spine will stop pushing on his legs, the night screams will stop, amazing, simply amazing.

Today is the first day of a new life for him. Fitting that it is the first day of Spring. So for my nephew may we all pray the prayer/poem written by Robert Frost:

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Author: Robert Frost
Online Poetry at PoetryFeast.com

In a fitting way on the first day of Spring the NY Times ran a first page story on the organic garden to be planted on the White House grounds. I feel this is huge for community gardens, healthy eating, whole foods, joyful alternatives to agri-business models of farming, and the slow food movement.

If you have not yet checked out Google's logo today and you are an Eric Carle fan then you need mosey over to google as Michael Scott said last night "ASAP as possible."

19 March 2009


The surgery for my nephew is over and successful. The doctors were able to removed the tumor (looks to be benign) and there was no paralysis. He will be sedated for 48 hours and then in the hospital and additional 8 days. Thanks for all of your prayers, love energies and thoughts.



17 March 2009

Update from My Sister


The prayers and love that you guys are sending are absolutely amazing. There is no way that we could get through this without your support. Thank you all so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have decided to have Jacob's surgery in Huntington. I am going to call today and schedule it. Jacob's surgery will probably be tomorrow, possibly Thursday. I will let you know.

I explained everything to Jacob last night. He is so scared. I told him he will feel so much better when this over. He looked up at me and shyly asked "will I be able to run like the other kids." I so desperately wanted to say "yes" but the truth is we don't know.

The hugh and scary risks with this surgery are paralysis and loss of bowel/bladder function. If he is not paralysed, the muscle strength in his legs will be weak but he should regain some strength over time. We are also concerned with his growth. Surgery on his spine will stunt his growth some and the doctors have to be careful because he still has several years of rapid growth before him.

His night pain and muscle spams have come back. Now that we know what is causing his pain, it's almost unbearable to hear or see. He has been running around like a wild man and sleeping so soundly for the past few days that we temporarly forgot about the night screams. He reminded us last night and my fear for him is once again. I know that this will all be over soon and that's what I am holding on to. God will take care of him, I know that with all my heart.

I did find some comfort yesterday. While we were researching the internet, we found that it usually takes two years to recognize the symptoms of this type of cancer. I have hated myself and blamed myself for not discovering this sooner. A mother should know when her child is hurting and I just didn't take care of my baby the way I should have. BUT, I am moving forward and doing the best that I know to do now. With God's guidance and love, we are going to get through this.

Just so you know, the name of Jacob's cancer is "intramedullary astrocytoma of the spinal cord". I told you it was a long and hard name to remember.

I have printed off all the emails you have sent. I am making a book for Jacob so he can see just how many people are praying for him to get better.

The bible verses are so comforting and they are bring us peace. I am reading each and every one of them.

I will let you all know when the surgery is scheduled. Thank you so much!!!!!!

My sister informed me this afternoon that the surgery is scheduled for this Thursday, March 19, at 11:00am

13 March 2009

A Request for Prayer

If you are a praying person I ask that you pray for my 9 year old nephew Jacob. If you are not a praying person could you direct some good thoughts Jacob's way. Thanks

Last night my sister sent this email:

I've been up since 3:30. Can't sleep and can't quit talking to God. My thoughts are not very clear but something has drawn me to send this to everyone on my email list.

Please pray for Jacob for this morning. We are meeting with a pediatric neurosurgeon this morning at 10:00 in Huntington. There is a tumor near the base of Jacob's spine. There is also fluid at the top, which has caused spaces in between his spine which is causing the curving. This is a very rare type of cancer. It is hard to detect. We found it on-line last night. Some of the symptoms for this are stomach pain, constipation, low muscle tone. He possibly has had this since birth. Jeff also read some where that it hides and that is why nothing has shown up in his blood work.

I don't know what God has in store for us.

I do know that God can heal him and I have complete faith in Him that He will take care of us. I can take anything that is thrown at us as long as I know that my little boy is going to be okay.

There is so much strength in numbers - PLEASE PRAY for us.

Please pray that God leads us to the right doctors who can help Jacob. Pray that Jacob has the courage and the strength for the future. He is so scared. He hates all the needles and the tests. He has been through so much this week. His little body is so frail.

Last night when I tucked Jacob into bed - he hugged me and said "thanks mommy for helping me to get better". The only thing that we have told Jacob is that there are some bad sick germs trapped in his spine and we have to find a way to get them out. When we do, his stomach and his legs will not hurt anymore.

Your prayers are working!!!!!!!!!!!! Jacob has had two great nights of sleep. He has not had uninterrupted sleep in weeks.

We all know that Jacob can be a little twrip!!! As frustrated as he makes me, I couldn't image one second without him in my life. His smile lights up the room and his unacceptable behavior always brings a hidden laugh (and embarrassment) that only Jeff and I can understand. He is so tried of the doctors and tired of us TALKING to doctors. Yesterday he shouted at the oncologist "Hey Dude, stop talking!" and then kicked him and flicked him in the face.

Thanks for your prayers and PLEASE DON'T STOP!!!!!!!

Now my sister and her family are trying to discern where to take Jacob and the best avenue(s) for treatment.



08 March 2009

Sermon 08.March.2009

Below is the sermon from this morning's worship service. How was it? Hmph, more like a hit off the handle that peaks over the third baseman's head rather than a solidly hit line drive up the middle. Odd how a sermon can seem pretty good on a Thursday but so good on a Sunday.

The Day Together
text: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col. 3:16)
Second Sunday in Lent -- 8.March.2009

Roughly 27 years after Christ was resurrected the Apostle Paul sent a letter to the churches in the cities of Colossae, Laodicea, and Heirapolis, which were 100 miles inland from the town of Ephesus. The churches were not founded by Paul but by another evangelists: Epaphras. I mention this because Paul never visited the churches of the area or knew the members intimately, the exact opposite of his experience with the churches in Galatia. The conundrum Paul faced with this letter centered on how to write the letter? Place yourself in Paul’s place, how would you write a letter to churches that neither you do know nor do they know you?

On the one hand Paul took a conservative and safe approach with his letter. He took on the questions of the day concerning the nature of Christ and included general ethical adorations. On the other hand Paul took a creative gamble with his epistle we now know as Colossians. He offered an elevated and cosmic vision of Christ that is without parallel in his other letters. After the poetry of Christ’s divinity Paul moved onto our text this morning as he offered ethical exhortations, but the poetry was like ice in his veins that kept the moment alive. As God’s chosen ones…Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Sometimes the language of the bible is a flat as a piano top while other times it is as thick as a Thundering Herd biscuit (a biscuit with sausage, egg, cheese, and fried potato, which the biscuit chain Tudor’s Biscuit World back home makes.) This morning we are in the thick, thick world of Paul’s poetic language. (Despite his specific mission to the Gentiles I doubt Paul the former rabbi appreciates my pork-laden analogy).

We refer to the Bible as the Word of God. The New Testament refers to Jesus as the Word. Christian theology refers to Jesus as the embodied Word of God. The Word, the logos is at one time simultaneously the words of God and the actions of God. In the beginning the Hebrew poets said over the waters God spoke the Word was voiced and creation happened.
-Let this Word, the Apostle Paul issues the imperative, dwell in you richly.
-Let this anima, this life giving, world creating, dwell in you richly. -Let this Word, A Love Supreme, The Magnificent, A Testament of Hope dwell in you richly.
-Let this word come and find a home in you.
Just as the Word came and tabernacled, pitched his tent, and dwelt among us let the word come and dwell in you.

One time in order to illustrate the goal of the word Jesus told this Comparison: “One time a farmer went out to plant. As he did so, some of the seeds fell on the path, and the birds came along and gobbled them up. Others fell on rocky place where the soil was shallow. Because they weren’t planted deep they came up right away, but not having a deep root they withered when the hot sun hit them. Still others fell among the weeds, which grew up and choked them out. But others fell on good dirt and matured, some multiplying a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty. Now please let that soak in.” (Cotton Patch Version Matthew 13)

One time an Appalachian in New England told it this way. One time the word was placed in the heart of a know-it-all but she scoffed at the word saying “in the real world this is how life really happens.’ One time the word was placed in the heart of a wounded person but whose pain was so deep that they could not feel the word. One time the word was placed in a hungry and desperate heart and this person said nothing but thank you for eternity.

Those are true stories made up of composites of my time as a pastor. Now let this soak in, even the know-it-all and the wounded, I saw moments when the word was present. I heard, felt, and experienced the tender mercy of the word dwelling within them. The word may have not been dwelling richly but it was dwelling nonetheless. Here is perhaps the most dangerous part of Christianity: once the Word takes up residence in us, we are changed forever and ever. God does not ask for us to extend our arms wide open exposing our vulnerability; all God needs is a crack, a sliver. Give the Word a crack and just like Leonard Cohen sang: a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in. From this tiny opening the Word seeps into our hearts and takes the long journey to our heads or as the Hebrews would say it sticks to our guts.

Although I believe the biblical narrative does reveal a God who changes and changes quite often I do not believe God morphs into different beings or takes on multiple personalities. Yes God changes but God does not Change. I mention this for when the word finds an opening in our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls the word does not change, we change. Furthermore I believe it is because of the change the unchanging word causes in our lives most of choose to separate ourselves from letting the word dwell richly in our lives. Who wants to change? Who wants the Word to inform us that we are not doing what God desires for us to do? Who wants hear the call to repent and live a new life? So we choose to distance ourselves from the word hoping that the distance will not affect our lives. We hope a marginal word dwelling in our hearts will be sufficient for us. We hope a marginal word dwelling in our hearts will endorse our current lives, thoughts, and actions. For we know that a word dwelling richly in our hearts will cause deep and radical change of our lives, thoughts, and actions. For the word does not change, we do.

The task for us this season of Lent is to figure out how to cultivate our hearts to give the word some room to dwell in us richly. We need to somehow join in what God is already doing in us by tenderizing and conscientizing our souls a little more.

Last week we centered on the gift of Christian community. For is Christianity cannot offer us wealth, good health, and promised success then what can it offer? It can offer us transformative community a place
-where we can discover who we were made to be,
-where we can discover God’s mark in and on our lives,
-where we can realize God’s presence in our lives.
But how do we sustain such a community? How does the Word dwell richly both in our own hearts and in the heart of this community?

This causes quite a complex problem for us today for we do not live in a closed community, we do not work together, and we rarely eat together. Our lives are scattered, planned, and multi-directional. Yet there is the distinct possibility of praying together, of spending the day together within the bounds of prayer.

I suggest we pray for each other throughout theses days of Lent, pray for the word to dwell in each other richly, pray that we will find the joy, grace, and hope on Easter morn, pray that we will be held up by the tender mercy of God this day. For prayer is a like the pressure of gravity over time, eventually cracks will appear, eventually our hardened hearts implode, eventually our strongest walls turn to dust. By praying for others we create more and more room for the word to dwell richly in us.

Recall, Paul did not gently ask the community of Colosse for the word to dwell in them richly, he commanded them. Research shows that humans do not respond to commands as well as they do to challenges. Can we rise the depth of our community to a level of mutual prayer? Can we broaden the breadth of our community to create new spaces and ways for the word of Christ to dwell in us richly? Can we approach the empty tomb this year in wonder, gratitude, and amazement?

Sisters and Brothers I believe we are up to that challenge. I believe we can join in on what God has already set in motion with us. I believe we can have the word dwell in us richly.

Amen and Amen.

After the service I came home, played with the kids outside and then headed off to the First Baptist Church of East Greenwich for the Rev. Jonathan Malone's installation. It was great to take part in the service, officially welcome Jonathan to RI, and hear the Rev. Darin Collins preach. I know what the man sounds like in practically every other situation but never heard him preach. He did a great job. I hope he posts his sermon!

07 March 2009

Ups and Downs

Today it was nearly 60 here in New England. (Still snow on the ground but most of it melted). #2 had a soccer game, #1 learned the butterfly stroke, and by the time lunch came I was singing Walking on Sunshine.

After lunch it was a different story. First Marshall lost to UAB meaning no winning record for the season and in conference. But the real kicker was the bees. I knew the bees did not make it through the winter, but I was hopeful. I pulled the top off the hive box and no movement, then I opened up the big boxes (not the supers) and peered in only four were alive (no queen, just workers). The bad news kept coming, the hive just didn't die due to starvation or extreme cold; they died because of a disease. Only one thing to do: burn the hive. I started a small fire in the backyard and burned the hive. If I were to leave the hive as is then more than likely some bees from hives (honey bees fly roughly two miles in all directions from the hive) in the town would come and rob my hive and carry the disease back to their hive and infect it. I knew pine, wax, and honey would burn hot and fast but not as hot and as fast as it did. After I watched the hive go up in flames I wasn't singing Katrina and the Waves, nope, I was singing Standin' Around Crying

05 March 2009

It Has Come to This

Monday morning, yes that Monday, the Monday it snowed 12 inches, after I dug out the NY Times from the foot of snow on the driveway I brought it in and saw a supreme sign of the economic hardships on newspapers: ads running the entire width, below the fold, on the front page! It has come to this.

Tuesday I went to Target to buy the new U2 cd, that's right I did not go to the neighborhood music shop. Nope, I went to Target to buy a cd (it was on sale for under $10.00). This was not a sign of the economic downturn, or the business of the season, which are both true but it was a sign of complete banality!

But yesterday evening, yes yesterday evening, even though it was a brisk 15 degrees a few hearts were warmed during the Lenten study on Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I started the time with a brief introduction to Bonhoeffer, read some from Letters and Papers from Prison, and then showed a portion of the fantastic documentary on his life, we then ended with a time of silence prayer and the reading of two psalms.

I had hoped the would like the subject but I was surprised at how interested they were. If I were fishing I would have to decrease the drag for these folk are hooked! It has come to this, that God continues to surprise!

Before ending allow me to recommend another Bonhoeffer resource: Saints and Villains by Denise Giardina. Giardina wrote a wonderful creative work on Bonhoeffer's life. She even has Bonhoeffer traveling to WV.

02 March 2009

A Move in the Right Direction

I have often thought of turning this blog into a coal related/environmental journal. But I do not have the resources or the exact know how to read Department of Energy papers. I have tried to track coal from the mine to the power plant but could no. I tried tracking investment company dollars from Boston back to WV but was unable. I even tried tracking the jet stream for a few weeks to show where the exhaust coal burning plants effects other parts of the nation.

Luckily, someone else has similar interests: Coal Tattoo.

Also check out this related web page: 350.

01 March 2009

Jumping to Conclusions

Yesterday morning while I sipped on a cup of coffee a notice appeared on my facebook account alerting me that someone had reported me for violations of the Terms of Agreements for facebook. Usually I would have laughed at this blatant spam attack, ignored it, and moved along. However, the alert indicated which "friend" had supposedly reported me. My initial reaction was, "now why would she go and turn me in for something?" You see, I could very easily see this person taking the terms and agreement policy of Facebook with the upmost seriousness to the extent that she would take it upon herself to be the facebook police. (Not that I did anything wrong.)

Naturally I opened the report and instantly from my facebook account the same message went out to all of my "friends" stating I had turned them in for violation of the Terms of Agreement Policy of Facebook. I quickly placed a status update informing all of the hoax, but it was too late.

My reaction to the person whose account sent me the alert caused me to check it out, because I could easily see her "turning me in" along with vast number of other folk. But what would be the reaction of my friends who thought that I turned them in? Most laughed it off. But some were quite worried. One friend actually deleted his facebook account rather than think he had done something wrong. (Luckily this person realized the hoax, reported the spam to the proper facebook authorities, and is now back on facebook).

Facebook adventures continue...

8-12, come on.