Monthly Archives: June 2008

No longer carrying her just in their hearts…


Now their arms are full as well. 

Cathy and Jim have their little girl. 

Take a look at Cathy’s blog for a picture and update



The Lord’s van…


So, this last week we made a quick run to Minnesota to get the our stuff that was residing in a room in my folks basement. 

As we drive a small minivan,  have a huge dog, and those pesky kids that take up so much room, we knew another vehicle would be needed to bring the stuff back to Madison so it can all be shipped together.

We looked into U-Haul, but it seemed kind of expensive, and the gas mileage is dismal on those things. So we asked my folks if we could use “the Lord’s van”.   They said yes. 

Now let me explain why the van has that heavenly title.

This van is a 1986 Chevy Astro van with either 243,000, or 343,000 miles on it. Nobody seems to know.  My dad bought it long ago from one of those “donate your old vehicle and we will keep troubled youths off the streets by having them rehab it” organizations.  I think he paid about $1000 for it.  It’s a special van.  The door handle on both the driver’s side and the back door are broken off and it takes pretty fancy finger work to reach in and find the little thingy that you need to pull down and out to open the door.  The fan only works on high, so you get really hot in the winter and really cold in the summer.  The paint is peeling, there is a bit of rust, the seats are threadbare.  But the stereo is great. 

One day, a couple of my aunts used the van to bring a load of furniture and other items to a home for women leaving abusive relationships.  When they pulled up to the home, a gentleman came out to help unload and he said:

“I see you are driving the Lord’s van.” 

My aunts said:  “what?”    

and he replied:  “because God is the only reason that van is still running.”

So, since that day, we have called the van “the Lord’s van”. 

But believe me, this is not done irreverantly.  Oh no, we say this because it is true.  This van defies all reason, it just keeps running and running.  And I do think that perhaps this van has it’s very own group of angels assigned to it.  To help it along, and protect those in it.  Because God is good, and takes care of us all in ways we can’t even understand, and in ways we often fail to recognize. I am convinced that this van, in all it’s non-glory,  is truly a testament to His goodness. 

33 days…


That is how much time we have before the move to Alaska.  It is not enough, and it seems like forever.  The flight is scheduled, the tickets are paid for and we have our seat assignments.  Buying one way tickets was so strange. 

The kids and I will leave Minneapolis July 31st at 9:20am, arriving in Alaska 12:09pm.  (Dave will leave for Alaska July 15th and will join us in Anchorage August 5th).  Crazy. 

The movers will come July 15/16 to pack our stuff and ship our car. 

This move is so different than any other move I have ever done. 

Every move I have been a part of has been on the cheap, usually really cheap.  In all our previous moves, we have sold, or more likely given away, everything we didn’t feel like we NEEDED or LOVED.  Furniture etc, we have never taken that, never had anything worth paying the shipping on, never had furniture that we couldn’t replace at Goodwill for $20 at our next destination. 

Every other move I have ever been a part of has involved loads and loads of driving.  Whether it was to nothern Minnesota to attend college, or when my in-laws drove all our stuff to Alaska after our wedding, to the different houses we lived in while in Alaska(all over Anchorage, and then the Valley), then the move back to Minnesota (7 days in a 1986 Volvo wagon, 2 dogs, 2 kids, 2 car top carriers, 10 weeks pregnant and wretchedly morning sick), the move to Madison, and then across Madison (just over a mile, but at least 40 trips in our little van).

Now, after nearly 16 years of marriage and collecting, our household possessions look a little different.  We still don’t have much:  a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, 9 bookcases, a big Persian rug,  a couple of harps, a piano, and the most amazing computer desk.  Oh, and mattresses.  But not real bed-frames. That story is long and involved, I will tell you all about it some other time. 

And books, we left Alaska with 53 boxes of books.  Now we have more.  5 years of graduate school and 3 kids who love to read has meant that our collection has increased.

This time the move is paid for. We have what seems like an unlimited number of pounds we can move.  And I keep getting told NOT to pack. The movers will come, pack up our stuff, put it in a container, ship it to Seattle where it will get placed on a barge and sailed to Anchorage.  There the moving company will bring it to our new home, unload and UNPACK. 

I feel a bit like Cinderella at the ball, a bit out of my league here.  And loving it.  This is our 4th move in 6 years.  I am SO happy not to do the heavy lifting this time.  Don’t wake me up from this dream.


The alarm rang at 2:45 am…


and I jumped out of bed.  Truthfully, I was already wide awake.  This is not normal for me.  After 5 years of night shift, I have come to appreciate a full night’s sleep more than I ever thought possible.  I really LOVE a good night’s sleep. 

But last night/this morning, all I wanted to do was get up and get going. 


Because this morning I got to drive my friends Cathy and Jim Stanley-Erickson to the airport, so they could catch a plane to China, where they will finally, finally, finally meet their little girl. 

So join me, blog readers, in prayer:

for safe travels, all through China and home to Madison.

for good sleep for Jim and Cathy, that they might have all the energy they need.

for good health while they are there, and in the busy first days/weeks back home. 

for, Kajsa (their daughter), that she may, somehow, feel the love they have for her from the first moment she sees them.  And that there will be no issues relating to parent/child bonding.  That she will understand, in her not-quite-one-year-old way, Cathy and Jim are Mom and Dad.  That she will feel safe, not scared, despite all the changes that will be taking place in her little life. 

And finally, a prayer of Thanks, God is good. 


A great article, a dull ache…


I read a lovely article this morning on a website I sometimes peruse.  Much of the time I am put off by the content of this particular website, well, not so much the website, it is nicely designed and all that, but by the “blog” that is written there.  A series of articles by women(mostly), some fairly prominent, within the evangelical community.  Sometimes the articles seem so self-righteous, or whiny, or something I can’t quite put my finger on.  But, once in a while, there is something that really hits me.  And that makes the other stuff worth wading through. 

I need to be honest, I read the content with a biased eye.  Long, long ago, I knew one of the women who is now involved in this website/ministry, and she hurt me.  Badly.  A sucker punch to the gut, totally unexpected and incredibly damaging. 

 I haven’t seen her in a long time, we both moved away from the scene of the crime many years ago.  But we have kept in touch with her husband, and he alerted me to this new venture of hers.  So I started reading, hoping to soften the scar a bit.  Well, that hasn’t happened.  I think the scar tissue around that part of my heart is pretty thick, it was once a very big wound, and I can still feel it tug on occasion. 

Back to the content of the website. 

So I read this blog-thing, and sometimes find a nugget I can take with me.  And today, I found not just a nugget, but a whole big rock! 

A really long and rambling, and totally ridiculous introduction to a topic close to my heart.

enjoy, reflect, let me know what you think.


Food, Culture, and True Communion

Sometimes I am reticent to invite people over for dinner. I wish I weren’t, but I am. This is why: I am tired of people talking about their personal food preferences. Any given day, I can easily list off several friends or acquaintances who are following some sort of individualized diet—weight loss or not. There’s the standard vegetarians, vegans, all types of intolerances, simple likes and dislikes, and now, the winner of the Oxford University Press Word of the Year 2007, “Localvore.” Localvores are people who eat only food produced within a hundred-mile radius of their home.

Funny thing: I’m kind of a localvore. My husband and I own a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, own another share of a dairy herd, and purchase meat from local farmers. But when I go out, I keep my localvore locked in my house.

Why? Because I love communion.

In my church, we take communion every Sunday, standing in a circle, passing the bread and the cup to one another, saying, “Christ’s body, broken for you,” and “Christ’s blood, shed for you.” I love communion. I love that we share ubiquitous foodstuffs, bread and wine. It’s nothing fancy—caviar, say, or imported limoncello.

In the New Testament, communion was utterly counter-cultural because Jews and Gentiles would sit and eat together. And they would eat the same food. These shared meals became quite controversial, too, as the early church navigated issues of eating food sacrificed to idols and whether or not Gentiles should become circumcised.

But communion, or a sort of communion at least, depending on your tradition’s theology, can happen at more places than just church. Anytime we share a meal with others is communing. We commune with our brothers and sisters in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

And as important as I believe food is—and I believe it’s very important and very socially and spiritually significant—I believe relationships with others are more important. I believe God has called us first to love others. Our preferences or ideals—even those made with sound Christian ethics or concern for environmental and physical health—should take a distant second to the first. Why? Because relationships matter and truly sharing a meal means sharing a meal—not just sitting together picking at individual plates of food, but passing a dish, and enjoying the same fruits of creation.

I lock my localvore in the house because I am not, really, a localvore. I am a Christian. My identity in Christ far exceeds my ideas and ideals about food.

So I challenge you to eat well and healthfully, but moreover, to show that you love others more than you love your ideas about food. Start by receiving any type of hospitality with open arms and an open mouth, if applicable.

Will you? What do you think?

Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence is a freelance writer and part-time staff member at Calvin College where she is the costume shop manager for Calvin Theatre Company. Joy-Elizabeth recently wrote an essay on food and culture for an upcoming publication called Eating Well: A Food Road Map. For more information


So to this article, I say, AMEN. 

Hail, sunshine, rain and slugs…


So was our weekend. 

For months we had been planning a camping trip with our friends Hans and Lili.  A state park had been picked out, campsites reserved, meals planned…  And then came the rains. 

It has rained and rained and rained here the last couple of weeks.  Flooding all over the state, some of it quite severe.

So on Friday morning, Hans called to see if the state park we were planning to go to was open.  It was.  Dave sat down in front of his computer to see the roads to that state park were open.  They weren’t. 

Decisions had to be made.  Do we try to find a new campground?  Do we stay in town and have a campfire by the lake, and spend the weekend doing activities around here?

We decided to drive to Governor Dodge state park, about an hour from Madison, and take our  chances.  We got there, they had sites available and we set up camp.  It is a beautiful state park.  Loads and loads of room to roam and play.  2 lakes to swim and fish in.  Big wooded campsites. 

Friday night the guys went fishing, the girls went swimming.  We all ate hotdogs and brats and smores.  The kids were tired and went to bed early.  The adults were tired and stayed up too late.  Gotta make sure that campfire is all the way out. 

Saturday was lovely.  Fishing, swimming and a picnic lunch at the lake.  And then the clouds rolled in.  Big black nasty looking clouds.  And the rain came down, and then the hail,  then the sun came out and we decided to stick it out another night.  We re-lit the fire, made “bush loaf”, some concoction of burger, onion, potato and a whole lot of garlic.  Wrapped in a neat little foil bundles and thrown on the coals.  Then more smores, and camp pies (chocolate/cherry/marshmallow).  Yum. The kids stayed up too late, and the adults stayed up later. 

The weather was beautiful until we were all tucked in our sleeping bags, and then came the rains, again.  But, we  have good tents and all woke up dry. 

We awoke to slugs, pretty much everywhere.  In shoes that had been left outside, on the coolers, and camps chairs, on the outside walls of the tents.  All over the road.  You could see the trails of slug slime. little journals of their travels.  Yuck. 

Sunday was perfect, a big camp breakfast of eggs and pancakes.  And really strong coffee.  A hike to a waterfall, and then through the woods.  And another picnic lunch by the lake.  3pm found us packing up the car and heading home. 

It was a great weekend.  So fun to be with friends, and yes, a little sad as we all knew it was then last time we will be able to do this kind of thing together.  We will be in Alaska this time next year, and soon Hans and Lili will be done with grad school, and who knows where they will be after that.  But I can’t dwell on that, I have cried enough over this change in our lives, and now, I have to celebrate another set of wonderful memories.