Saturday, November 26, 2011

celebrating new life

At a time when this nation debates whether to say "merry christmas" or happy holidays," banners are already up in China with the words, "Merry Christmas."  And Marshal, our Chinese student, tells us that in Mandarin, Christmas is translated as "holy birth festival." So, China, a nation that does not particular support religion. is willing to use the word Christmas with its religious meaning.  Interesting to say the least.

Regardless of one's religious or non religious beliefs/inclinations, celebrating the birth of Christ does give us the opportunity to consider our lives anew.  God came to earth clothed in human flesh so that we could be clothed in God. What an amazing gift!

I like what Brennan Manning writes: "Christmas is the promise that the God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory. God is saying in Jesus that in the end everything will be all right. Nothing can harm you permanently, no suffering is irrevocable, no loss is lasting, no defeat is more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive. Jesus did not deny the reality of suffering, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and death; he simply stated that the kingdom of God would conquer all of these horrors, that the Father's love is so extravagant that no evil could possibly resist it."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Musings on life and justice after a week back in the courtroom

I spent last week in the courtroom, filling in for judge who has retired.  It was the most stimulating, rewarding five days I have enjoyed in my twenty eight years of judging. I find there is so much to love about people, and I am deeply saddened to see how far we stray from the love God has placed within us. As I have moved deeper into the human condition through God's Word and prayer, I feel I have gained a deeper insight and compassion for the consequences of our decisions, for good or for bad. And I also realize that if we are not traveling toward God, our road, our lives, are going nowhere. God has given us a clear blue print: there is justice and there is love. The justice that I--or any parent--impose is so limited and flawed. I look forward to the perfect justice God will give us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

the joy of His presence

Dakota, our thirteen year golden retriever, is filled with absolute love for Meg and me; we often comment how we wish we could love the Lord with the same desire that he has for us.  However, he is showing signs of his age.  I worry about the loss his death will create in my life.  So, as he and I were walking up our driveway in Tuesday's afternoon sunlight, I prayed as I watched him moving ahead of me.  I prayed that the Lord prepare me for his death, that I focus on thankfulness for life, not on the pain of grief.  And I also asked the Lord's forgiveness for the ways in which I had taken my own parents' love for granted; not appreciated their many sacrifices for me.

I happened to look up when I finished praying.  Above me, high in the sky, a hawk was flying--a relatively unusual event. As it circled, and rocked in an unusual way, sunlight shone intensely off its body and wings. I felt a moment of conscious unconscious, of being there but not there, and an overwhelming knowledge that the Lord is kind, good, and merciful. (Psalm 116:5) And, of course, whereas signs/miracles are wonderful, I am well aware that I must "live by believing and not by seeing."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grande Ronde Valley Sunrise

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall along the Yellowstone River

Flowing freely from its origin high in Absaroka Range of northwestern Wyoming, the Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 States. It flows through its namesake National Park and after 692 miles, joins the Missouri in North Dakota. The name is derived from the Indian word for the yellow sandstone bluffs that are evident along the lower reaches of the river, not the falls that are in the Park. William Clark was the first white man to explore the river extensively during the Lewis and Clark return expedition.
Meg and I enjoyed the brilliance of the cottonwood trees at their full peak during the last week of October.  Their glow was a special surprise, as we had expected the leaves to be gone this late in the season.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Whose am I?

I remember my college years being asked, and seeking, "who" I was. Supposedly, the answer would give me self esteem when I discovered my "true self".  Well, in the maze of possibilities, I never did find out.  Fortunately, in my mid forties, I reoriented my journey and sought a relationship with, not a religion of, God.  I found out "whose" I was.  I was a child of God. Seeking "who" led me to worship at the idol of me, of my accomplishments, my ego. Knowing "Whose" I was placed me directly in the arms of a loving Savior; one who loves me despite myself and so gives an eternal blessing beyond anything my tiny mind can imagine or comprehend.

Friday, November 4, 2011

New Hampshire. New England fall colors

Meg and I have enjoyed stretching fall from Oregon to Minnesota/Michigan to New England.  We are somewhat awed by the privilege of having the time and resources to take such a trip.  Since the fall colors of New England are still fresh in my mind, I wanted to post a second set of those pictures before I return to sharing the beauties of northeast Oregon.  So, here are the final pictures of the time back east.