Friday, August 28

Evening on a Porch Swing

We sat together in silence on the porch swing, my feet dangling as he rocked us gently with his feet firmly planted on the deck.

"You have such pretty feet. So small and delicate," he broke the quiet.

"That's funny, I've never been particularly fond of my feet."

"Why not?" his level voice challenged my dismissal of his compliment.

"They have so many scars on them. I don't think that's very beautiful," I equaled his tone and our banter began.

The swing halted. "You know, the most beautiful Man in the universe has scars on his feet."

"Yeah, but at least the scars on His feet tell of a noble act. An act of love. All my scars can boast is foolishness and failure."

Silence settled over us as the swing commenced swaying again. I rested my back against the back of the swing, confident of my victory.

"Well. That may be true," he started once more. "But that's what makes the scars on his feet all the more beautiful."

"What do you mean?"

"His scars of love are permanent so that our scars of foolishness and failure don't have to be."

Friday, August 21

Wonderings: An Abridged Version

The following are some questions that I've contemplated within the past few months. Several of these questions have sparked rather interesting discussions. I've also enjoyed hearing some of my friends' answers to a few of these questions because it has given me some insight into their priorities and values. In any case, I'm putting them out here. I'd love to hear answers to any or all of the questions here if you care to share (either anonymously or under your name). Or, if you don't feel like sharing your answers, I hope that you enjoy an opportunity to exercise some introspection.

What is the biggest compliment anyone has ever paid you?

(I'm stealing this next one; a friend of mine asked me once, and I enjoyed the discussion it brought about) Who are two of your favorite Bible characters, and why? Or, what are two of your favorite Bible stories, and why?

What does your name mean? Do you think that it's fitting for you?

If there were one thing you want people to say about you, one thing that you want people to see about the way you live life, what would it be?

There are many reasons that people get married; what, primarily, is the reason that you would want to get married someday?

What are your spiritual gifts? I know, that's a really direct and difficult question. For a long time I didn't think I had any, at least not any I could think of. So I prayed and asked God to show me what my spiritual gift was. I think when we force ourselves to think about and make ourselves aware of what our spiritual gifts are, we're more likely to be intentional about using them.

What is your goal in life? What would be your ideal lifework? I feel that this question must be qualified; most people who read my blog would say something along the lines of wanting to do whatever is God's will for their life. So, if you would like, you can read that as, what is your dream for how you would like to serve God? I believe God has given us each different talents, goals, and visions for how to best serve Him; what are yours?

Tuesday, August 18

Moose Pond

Christy and I had a day off together this summer. Just one. So we decided to do something different; instead of hiking a high peak, we chose a lovely little flat hike to Moose Pond. The description to find the trailhead was quite specific: There is a footbridge that is clearly visible from the road. An old road descends for about 200 yards between fences.

We found a nice bridge clearly visible from the road, pulled off in the designated area and our adventure began. Christy commented, "That's odd that there's a gate barring the path," as we climbed over. We also saw no fences and the trailhead began about 10 feet from the road rather than 200 yards, but how accurate are those guide books really? A few feet in, Christy noticed a small sign mostly covered by tall grass: No Trespassing. So we pressed on.

Not too far into our hike, we were thronged by a vast host of famished mosquitoes, and our trail quickly opened up into a small cleared field that looked like a somewhat abandoned garden. And there was an old tractor. We went a little further on the trail that we found on the other side of the clearing and finally decided that this couldn't be the trail to Moose Pond and if it was, then it wasn't worth hiking.

We ran back to escape the plague of mosquitoes, got in the car and decided to try to look for the trailhead again. Out came the guide book for a consultation. This yielded the result of finding another pull off, but no footbridge in sight. We decided to explore anyway. As we walked down the old dirt road between two fences, we finally caught a glimpse of our footbridge.
Somewhere amidst those trees is our footbridge that is "clearly visible from the road"

The footbridge
After that the hike itself was rather uneventful except for Christy slapping my back every three seconds to kill the vampire mosquitoes on my neck. Our trail ended at Moose Pond where we spent some time relaxing on the rocks and enjoying the pond. We saw a loon land on the pond, and then we saw an elderly couple come by in their fishing boat. They told us about a beaver that had been following them, so we watched for it to come by.

The Loch Ness Mons-- umm beaver

And that was the end of our hiking adventure. After hiking, we went into Saranac Lake to visit some of the little shops. We ended up talking to a photographer in his studio (see Christy's Blog) and a painter in her studio. Great fun was had by all.

Random truck we were following

Oh, and I almost forgot. The night before our hike, we went out on the lake and Christy and Joel wakeboarded, which I only wanted to mention so I could have an excuse to post some pictures.

Tuesday, August 11

Me and Becky

A few weeks ago, during Adventure week at camp, I had the privilege of having a camper in my cabin that taught me a lot. Her name is Becky. She has Asperger's Syndrome, and thus we had a lot of ups and downs throughout the week.

Sometimes Becky was super excited. Thrilled. With whatever we were doing. Other times she was at the extreme opposite end of excited. Many times she would be close to tears because we were doing something that she didn't want to do, such as cleaning our cabin or our cleaning assignment for the day. When this happened, Emily or I would take her aside and talk to her, using various techniques- distraction, making a game out of the cleaning, reasoning with her, and things like that. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't.

The first night that Emily and I took our girls to the bathhouse to take their showers, it was a battle. Becky didn't want to take a shower because she was afraid that the water would hurt. We reasoned, we coaxed, we did everything we could think of. Finally, Emily decided to sing with her. They sang songs that we had been singing at worship, and Becky was fine. She finished her shower with no more tears. On Emily's night off, we went to the bathhouse again. All day long, I had been wondering how things were going to go, and when it was time to go for showers I talked to Becky and said, "Becky, we get to go sing in the showers now! We're going to have a shower party!" I expected resistance, but was shocked. She got in the shower, and was done in record time with absolutely no complaints. When Emily got back from her day off, Becky excitedly told her, "Emily, I took a shower. And I did it all by myself!" She exuded pride as she said this. And I was proud of her too.

We did this with many things. One day while picking up trash around campus for our morning cleaning assignment, Becky was crying and complaining about picking up trash. I held her hand, and we walked together. I made a game out of it. Suddenly, Becky wasn't crying. On occasion she would give a half-hearted complaint, but that was it.

Sometimes, unfortunately, what worked best was just making her look me in the eyes and telling her that we were done with crying. Then I would hug her, and we would move on.

All week long I was given many opportunities to practice patience and creativity. But it was so rewarding. Toward the end of the week, Becky had begun to change. We still had some rough spots, but for the most part things were smooth. She got to the point where she would come up to Emily or me and put her arms around us, or hug us, or lay her head on our shoulders.

One of Becky's biggest problems was lagging behind or wandering. Countless times, I would find myself saying, "Come on Becky! Let's go." Often I would have to take her by the hand, or walk by her side to get her to keep up with the group. Each time I said, "Come on Becky," a song would come to mind. It was stuck in my head all week long. And God used it to remind me, that so often I am just like Becky. God has to keep coaxing me along, often taking me by the hand, so to speak. And I pray that like Becky, I will respond to God's love and patience with love in return.

Becky loves Jesus and really wants to make him proud,
She tears up in church and she sings her harmonies loud...

So come on Becky, let's go for a ride
If I'm driving too fast then I apologize...