Thursday, July 31, 2008

more than content with place

speaking of slowing down - a little wendell berry will most certainly cure any high-speed ailment.  this last week, i have had the pleasure  of savoring a beautiful novel by this beloved writer.  for my birthday in june (in the midst of our all-consuming renovations) jodie gave me "hannah coulter."  oh it is lovely.  it is the first book i've read in three months or so (which is a terrible dry patch for one who reads nightly).  no doubt wendell is working his magic on me.  as i read my heart rate drops and my mind lingers in the land of port william.  he has the most tender way of igniting the imagination and stirring a longing for other - for earth, for quiet, for handmade.  i loved this quote about place:

"most people now are looking for 'a better place,' which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one.  i think this is what nathan learned from his time in the army and the war. he saw a lot of places, and he came home.  i think he gave up the idea that there is a better place somewhere else.  there is no 'better place' than this, not in this world.  and it is by the place we've got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to heaven."

i haven't yet shared this quote with geoff, but no doubt it would resonate with him deeply with his recent american citizenship rite of passage.  in our eight years together as husband and wife and missionaries, we've spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating "place."   and now, with immense gratitude and peace, we've settled on a place.  i love that wendell (from his many years of passion and fidelity to place) captures it so well in one paragraph of fiction.  i am so thankful that his works (both fiction and essays) act as a guiding light and a prophetic call to many of us at this time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

missing memories

from a book on marginless living:

"my chinese side wonders why americns are so uneasy with time on their hands and must busy themselves with activities, the sweatier the better.  why do they keep changing their minds and ways, jobs and towns and spouses?...americans are a self-selected breed programmed by their genes to be forever on the go and cursed by the fates never to enjoy luxuriating in the material comforts and spiritual splendors of home.  is it any wonder then that they are always asking themselves who they are?  they just don't stay put or reflect long enough to find out."       - wife of a chinese ambassador

like everyone else we are busy.  but more than that, our lives are rich and full and good.  this past weekend we had a memorable time with my family and with our friends and supporters.  on sunday, we packed up before the church service was winding down and set out for home because we had things awaiting us.  we launched into this week of hosting some youth from montana with lists to do and meetings to attend.  the sweet thoughts of last weekend were washed away by the immediate before they could solidify as memories.

reading this excerpt this morning, this insight from an outsider, i was convicted.  the rich, full, goodness of our lives is a gift from god that goes unappreciated a good part of the time as we live under swamped schedules.  there is nothing noble about being busy.  i feel shame and regret when i cannot properly cherish a given moment or a recent memory because of an unbalanced pace of life. 

certainly we don't have answers and we haven't lived long enough to be wise but i know i don't like regrets.  maybe the inconveniences and the slow things of life that are to be avoided are the very things that can bring us to change course.  lesson for me this week - as this book repeatedly teaches, less is almost always more.

Monday, July 28, 2008

marietta, lake lanier, and home again

we had a most wonderful visit with some friends and supporters at lake lanier in north georgia.  their home was so very relaxing and we soaked up the chance to swim in the pool and play on the lake. 

lake lanier



our trip to georgia was relatively short this time but we enjoyed working on building shelves for our kitchen, spending a night at the lake, and capped the weekend off by visiting with mountain view community church.  they were having a commissioning service for their first short-term mission team.  Paul (sherry's dad) is on the team going to Peru this week to serve and love a community of people who make their living collecting recyclable materials from rubbish dumps.  it was an honor to join in the prayers and blessings for the team and we expect God work on and through each team member.  mountain view is a remarkable church because of its commitment to mission.  like communality, it is a part of the CMA family.

we're now back in lexington and having a good time sharing in the hosting of 12 new friends from Montana.  they are part of a youth and college-aged group who are interested in learning more about urban mission and community living.  we have three lads staying in our home and they are already doing amazing work with energy only teenagers can muster.

Friday, July 25, 2008


on monday i pledged allegiance to the United States and formally became a citizen of this country.  it is a solemn and wonderful thing and this act sits firmly at the heart of my commitment to be a missionary in this place.  i am aspiring to the kind of proud patriotism offered by wendell berry (among others) who has taught me that fierce loyalty to and love for this country can (and often must) involve dissent.  i am very excited about voting this year and exercising my new rights and privileges.  thank you to all you wonderful US citizens who have made this step an easy one and thank you to you aussies and other foreigners for not taking your anti-americanism out on me :) 

here we are at the courthouse (in Ashland, Kentucky - the far eastern edge of my state).



friends (if anyone is still out there checking this blog),

we are sorry to have been so rubbish at keeping this updated.   we promise to be better at posting in the coming months.