Midnight Gardener

The Midnight Gardener arrives in February to trim back willow and alder branches encroaching on our paths. Mule ears prick toward every sound—her nostrils flare, two craters in a prodigious roman nose. Our gardener leaves a trail of cloven imprints in her lumbering wake, and her long, stiff shanks carry a gaunt frame draped with…

Being Known

As I look back in my journal, the size of two books now, I see a pattern: I think I know, but I do not “know” at all. I stare at events like a painting and distinguish primary figures while completely missing the background that makes the picture come alive. I never see the complete…

Is it spring yet? Huh? Is it? Huh?

A little blue sky and above 40 degree weather and we all get a little crazy. Easy girl. Spring is coming, in a couple months or so… After 30 years in Chugiak, Alaska (20 miles north of Anchorage), the Chinooks (warm winds) stir up longings for a new season to commence. February is our moose’s…

Believe and Breathe

Therefore I [Jesus] tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24) When we committed our bones to Jesus, he invaded our space. God replaced our Heart 1.0 with a brand new upgraded version: Heart 10.0. Our new spiritual heart is able to…

Passover Panic

Perhaps it’s time to stop searching for an answer to the question “Why?” and embrace the mystery of God’s grace instead. Jesus was 12 years old when he traveled with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. Thousands of bleating lambs and the voices of children and parents filled…

Rock n’ Roll Blessings

On the way to the hospital to visit our 18th grand-baby on January 4th, my wife and I considered how blessed we are. Not everyone would see it this way: Due to the earthquake, the building we have used as floor space for our business in Anchorage is tagged unsafe. We are scrambling to move…

From the Edge

“Gramps!” I turned to Ivan’s voice and my heart stopped beating. Ivan stood inches from a 14-foot drop at the edge of the shop roof, smiling proudly. He was four years old. I had been nailing roofing panels, my focus upon lining up edges on a chalk line. The steep pitch didn’t scare me much.…

Beware Brooding

Jesus admonished his disciples to beware the “leaven of the Pharisees”—but also considered the Herodians to be a threat to his disciples (Mark 8:15). The Herodians were fair-weather friends with the Pharisees, but set aside their differences to brainstorm ways to catch Jesus in an offense worthy of execution. The Herodians differed from the Pharisees…

Proof of Love

God’s justice outguns every terrestrial court that has existed. God’s justice steamrolls every model of jurisprudence (philosophy and principles that lead courts to make the decisions). Your trial, the verdict, and your sentence has been absorbed into Jesus Christ. As Sovereign God yet man, Jesus Christ stands as your perpetual heavenly defender. He lives inside your circumstance…

Creating in the Crucible

Often we reflect upon the values we learned from our wives, husbands, fathers and mothers AFTER they leave us for their heavenly home. Perhaps we should appreciate their worth more—before they’re gone. My mom has sketched with charcoal and dabbled with oils for as long as I can remember. She still chides me about testing…

Missing

Yesterday she drove me to-and-from the airport, so that I could catch a round-trip flight to interview a wonderful couple for a book. We got up late today, and I mixed her eggs and potatoes on a plate–the way I did when she was 17. We lived in a one room studio then, and our…

Mushing Memories

At 93, pleasant memories glisten like snowflakes in my mother’s mind. Her paintings remind us of when she served up hot chocolate and mushing stories to parka-clad clients at our Mush A Dog Team theme park. Twenty years later, it’s hard to believe it was us who lived this Alaska life–with 40 howling huskies, harnesses,…

Magpies and Mercy

Some creatures mentor their offspring to be wild and malevolent. Their family is ruthless. Opportunistic. But then, that’s just the way magpies are. A sudden flash of ebony and white warns any living thing smaller than a fox that the deadly pica hudsonia (scientific name for magpies) is on the hunt. About 180,000 magpies call…

Reasons

That week in ’73 I wondered, “Will this really happen?” Carol struggled to focus on her school work at Rogue River High School, while I slammed particle board sheets through a panel saw at a cabinet shop in Grants Pass. It seemed like a dream when Carol’s mom agreed to legally emancipate her from her…

Restore the Reed, Ignite the Wick

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice… (Isaiah 42:3). (Scriptural Context: Isaiah reveals the coming Messiah as “Servant.” God will unlock eternity and justice for the “Gentiles” (everyone who is not of Jewish descent). As a boy, if I…

Our Story My Way

One Saturday, Tom, my youngest adult son, challenged me to get away from the computer and play outside. I followed him to 4-wheeler territory that locals call the Jonesville quarry. I remembered the Fossil Canyon trail from several years before — a pretty tame 4×4 jaunt, and easy on my 63-year-old bones. After traveling for…

Campfire Communion

After Jesus’ resurrection, he gathered his disciples around a campfire on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. They likely ate Tilapia Galilea (also known as Saint Peter’s fish), but an ugly specter haunted the disciples. Only days before, their friend had been nailed to a cross of timbers by Roman soldiers. In the glow…

Controlling Control

Control is the bully we should lose once and for all. We can’t seem to stop it, though it ruins our health and shreds precious relationships. Our need to control EVERYTHING has become our bread of life, and we meddle as if we possess sovereign foresight. Control commandeers the cable “remote” and infects our minds with…

Rest in the Roar

God had something to say to me as my newborn grandboy, Rapha, cuddled against my chest. “This is YOU, Son,” Jesus said. My soul nodded–a little grudgingly, and Rapha wrapped his tiny pink fingers around one of mine. “I know, Lord: I’m helpless without you.” I sighed. Younger Rick never would have admitted it. Sixty-three-year-old…