Friday, December 30, 2005

Attn: So Cal Friends

We will be in Pasadena from 1 January - 4 January when we take off in New Zealand.  We have arrangements on the calendar to see many of you but if you haven't made it on our calendar yet and you're free Tuesday afternoon/evening, 3 January email Emrys or I and we'll hook you up with the "open house" details so we can see you before we take off. 
Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sorting, Packing & Visiting!

With Christmas 2005 now just a great memory we are enjoying time with Sara's parents, brother Josh and Emrys' brother Christopher all in Phoneix this week. We will also get a chance to visit with Emrys' other brothers here in the area tonight as we all hang out before we take off to the ends of the globe (us to New Zealand and Emrys's brother/sis-in-law Geoff & Krissy to South Africa). We've done so much packing, sorting and repacking this year that by the time we land sometime next fall we'll be ready to settle! But first- we're off to see the world- which alas, requires packing!

Happy New Year to all!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Walk in Wisconsin

20 December, 2005

We left the dry warmth of Phoenix yesterday for the moist cold of the upper Midwest. A perpetual cloud of flurries has been falling since we landed in Minneapolis and drove to the small farming community of Colfax, Wisconsin. As I left for my walk through the farmlands of western Wisconsin, my Mexican hoodie quickly collected an assortment of the delicate, six-pointed flakes, as if we adorn me with real winter.

The land is flat here. But the level surface of soil serves a deeper fecundity rather than a bland sterility. Though the smooth surface of the land now appears uniform and blank, whispers of life echo all around. Single farmhouses, bastions of warmth under the grey blanket of cold hold lives waiting within, waiting for the inevitable turn of green. Rows of corn skeletons stand in broken poses, their pale brown spines defying the seasonal rigor mortis with the pride of promise for another year’s life to come. Stands of conifers shudder in the breeze, their defiant green tassels serving as festal fringes on the world’s robe of white.

There is life here. It waits patiently for winter to have its season, for the cold to snap and the chill to settle in, knowing even as the days grow shorter that they must grow longer again. Spring will come once more, and life will arise out of the wintery void, creation again from nothing. Unlike the Antarctic barrenness, which lies frozen under an endless frigidity, this wilderness has an unassuming expectancy.

It is the perfect place to remember Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Phoenix, Arizona

We spend a week in the curious melange of the American Southwest. It is a place to which thousands of Americans flock anew every day, but to which they must also bring their own water. The seguaros have known this for years, of course--that's why it takes them a hundred years to grow five feet in height. But human developments of homes, golf courses, rec centres, and pools sprout up in this arid clime as if there were a fountain of youth under every desert stone. Some strange inversion of values has drawn God's people back into the wilderness, where terebinths and cedars wither as seedlings and where milk and honey need swift refrigeration. And they need hand cream--lots of it.

But there is redemption in the newly populated desert.

Yesterday we drove in traffic for the first time since leaving Los Angeles. There, sitting behind the steering wheel, I relived some ancient dream: relaxing in the comfort of a beige bucket seat, sipping air filtered through the carbuerators and mufflers of countless cars while the gorgeous golden globe of the sun set in a wide polluted sky. Certainly this is how Phoenix is meant to be experienced. The cowboys can have their sunsets over the brown sandy fields of cacti, putting their lips to tin coffee cups. I will celebrate the dusk on a pale grey sheet of asphalt, my lips caressing the steel tailpipe of a Honda Civic. That's the real Phoenix, now.

I wonder if I'll be able to get a fix like that in New Zealand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


We have left the land of snow and cold. But we received the treat of a few inches of new fallen Rocky Mountain snow in Durango this morning before we left. As I watched the final flakes descend from the sky, I thought about the miracle I beheld.

Yahweh did a wonderful job with snow. If you’ve ever seen pictures of snowflakes taken with an electron microscope, then you know of the perfect six-pointed fractal designs that are unique to collections of molecules made with single oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. It dances through the air with chaotic choreography, gracing the cold hard stage with its glass slippers. It blankets the world in silence, as if to say, “Be quiet, and observe the beauty before you.” Its insular cold beckons nature to sleep and forget the worries of life. It brushes wisdom and grace upon the heads of mountain tops, transforming dull knobs into shimmering towers. It gleefully bears the weight of children’s sleds and lovingly catches them when they fall. It is strong enough to bend the boughs of trees but humble enough to yield its territory when spring comes with its claim. And when it yields, it offers each year’s youthful sprigs just what they need to grow. What a perfect work did Yahweh with snow! Next time you see it, or hold it in your mitten, or catch it on your tongue, thank God for this wondrous creation.

~ em

Monday, December 12, 2005

On the Road Again...

Like an upbeat country song, so our adventure continues. Today we moved out of the manse in Lake City and watched the peaceful town disappear in our rearview mirrors as we set out again. We are in Durango tonight and will drive on to Peoria, AZ tomorrow and spend a few days with Sara’s folks before we set out for WI next week.

We hope this Christmas season finds you filled with joy!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

When Snow Crunches

When I walked out the door this morning to go to the community men's fellowship, it was -20 degrees Fahrenheit.



And I could see every star in the sky.

~ emrys

Monday, December 05, 2005

You Know It's Cold When...

...when you're out walking and your perspiration turns to frost on your hat and mittens!! 5 miles at 5ºf. Definately looking forward to walking in warmer climates after this week!!

Friday, December 02, 2005

On the Loss of a Father

I sat in the front pew of the church at my dad’s memorial service. Before me, on my right, was the choir loft in which my dad had sung for many years. I remembered the vivacity with which he spoke about upcoming choir performances, difficult offertories to be sung in worship, and—when he had taken up the violin in earnest again—his part in instrumental numbers. As I looked on the choir loft, I noticed his absence. When I closed my eyes, I could hear the tremble of his bass voice from the back of the choir. I could hear that it was missing.

I wept when I thought about his missing voice. It would be missing from my life, missing from phone calls and conversations.

We stood up to sing “Amazing Grace.” (I should be accurate here: I stood up and the congregation followed my example. I understand why the congregation was not asked to stand for any hymns at the memorial service, but you can’t sing “Amazing Grace” sitting down. You just can’t.) As I mouthed the words with trembling lips and a tongue stilled by emotion, I noticed something. My dad was in the choir loft again. But now, rather than a single voice singing bass in accompaniment to the ten or twelve other folks in the loft, I heard my dad as part of host of angels. He had joined the heavenly choir that sings “Amazing Grace” into eternity and back. Of course, it’s the place where he belongs, having sung and played Christ’s praises in faith for most of his life.

Then there was a new mourning, and a new weeping that came over me. It was the mourning not of those who have no hope, but the mourning of hope. For to be exposed to the truth that Jesus brings the faithful children home upon death is to be exposed to the equally potent truth that I am not yet home. Pain came no longer from the realization that Dad was not with me; pain now came from the realization that I am not with him. He is experiencing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ, and I am not.

Academics refer to something similar in what is called the “already/not yet” problem. In the Scriptures we see Jesus announcing God’s kingdom as having arrived, and the disciples witness his resurrection. But evil still exists in the world, and we do not yet experience the New Jerusalem as it will be when Christ returns. At my dad’s memorial service I found myself caught between the life I have—which mourns the end of my dad’s life on earth—and the life I will have but do not yet have—of which he already partakes. The reverse of this phenomenon is what someone once called “realizing that you’re on deck”: that is, when your parents die, you realize that you’re next. There’s no more generational buffer between you and the inevitable stilling of heart beat and breath.

But my sense in the pew was not an anxiety borne of fear. It was an anxiety—an agitation—borne of expectation. I will be there, singing with him and the hosts and all the generations of the saints; but I am not there yet. And my absence for this world is terrible. Let me be there now, Lord, rather than here! Suddenly having patience—a trait that seems to have a genetic origin in Dad and me—with God is difficult. I am left on this side of the great divide, to wait.

So I wait, with only one thing to do between Now and Then. Oddly—in an uncanny twist that would make the hosts of angels smile—that thing to do is precisely what Dad had a gift for doing. It is to serve.

Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ, who teaches us to serve in such a way that we may be prepared to sing with the choirs of angels some day!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Past Cancer!!

Sara received a clean bill of health from oncology on Wednesday and had her port removed this morning. She's feeling a little sore but that's to be expeced when you're cut open and stuff's taken out! We're greatful for all the wonderful docs we had here in Durango through this process and the nurses and staffs at Mercy Medical, Southwest Oncology & Durango Cancer Center. All were huge contributing factors in quick discovery of and success in treating Sara's cancer. So now we move on with life, letting this just be a page in the book that has taught us the value of relationships and the preciousness (not sure that's a real word- but hey- I just had surgery!) of life.

Enjoy your loved ones this holiday season!
Much love