Friday, February 29, 2008

Ram Power

This is quite the year for hockey in my hometown. I found out recently that the Roseau girls' team went to state for the first time and took third place! Way to go, ladies. Now the boys are going to state (for the second year in a row--they took home the championship last year!) and Matt and I are actually going to Minneapolis to meet my family and catch the action. For those of you who aren't from Minnesota, I should tell you this is kind of a big deal. :)

Go Rams!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring Fling

Suffering what has been a long winter in more ways than one, I finally heard good noise this morning. Birds chirping. Snow melting, "drip, drip, drip..." Soon I will hear those wonderful sounds that truly initiate the rite of spring; the crack of the bat, the sound of a ball and glove. Baseball season is nearly here. In fact, today is the first time in 2008 that the Mariners take the field to play another team. The annual charity game between San Diego and Seattle.

I have some cautious hopes for this coming season. The Mariners have seriously upgraded their pitching with the addition of Erik Beddard and Carlos Silva to the starting line up, but it came with the high cost of five of our best prospects--including Adam Jones who has big potential to be an offensive power house (in AAA Tacoma he was batting .317 on pace to hit 50 homers before the M's called him up to ride the pine for the rest of last season). Thats what made me nervous. The Mariners offense is likely going to slightly decline this season, Jones would have been a very helpful addition to the line-up. Many believe that last season the Mariners over-performed with the tallent they had but still finished 6 games behind the Angels. The word among some is that even with a powerhouse pitching staff we'll be unable to compete with the Angels for a pennant. But thats why we play the game right? There are enough variables in baseball that keep the game interesting, and last season we were in the hunt all the way till late August. A great pitching staff will take us far, but we'll need some career years out of the offense to take us to the post-season. Here's hoping. Go Mariners!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Now, Anxious Heart...

This semester I have the privilege of being classmates with Matt again. I decided to audit a class he's taking called "History and Theology of the Covenant Church." Since I'm auditing, I get the benefit of sitting in on lectures without the accompanying homework! One cool thing about the class is that we begin each lecture by singing a hymn and learning some history behind it. I love hymns, and many of these are ones I haven't heard before. I learned a great one that really comforted me today called, "Now, Anxious Heart, Awake from Your Sadness" written by Carl Olof Rosenius and most recently arranged by A. Royce Eckhardt (who incidentally played the organ so beautifully at Evie's memorial service). For those of you who may own the blue Covenant hymnal (It's probably also in previous editions, but I don't know the page number) it's hymn #472.

Now, Anxious Heart, Awake from Your Sadness

Now, anxious heart, awake from your sadness,
have you forgotten the things that remain:
grace and communion, unbroken union
with Christ arisen and ever the same?

Is God not still your heavenly Father,
has Jesus changed since he suffered and died?
Is not the Spirit, pleading and leading,
ever the counselor, helper, and guide?

Are not the saints a trifle confusing,
they speak of joy but great trials endure,
kingdoms possessing, pleading a blessing,
safe in God's keeping but never secure?

So, anxious heart, awake from your sadness,
rise to remember your blessings to claim.
Though skies be clouded and the sun shrouded,
never forget it is there just the same.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Expecting to be Surprised

It's funny, I didn't know Matt had written the previous post about faith issues, yet I felt compelled to write something along those lines today, too! I was prompted to think about some things today after reading a devotional that our friend (and one of Matt's classmates) posted on her blog, bornoriginal.blogspot.com. I want to share it here (I got her permission first, of course!) because it both comforted me and affirmed some of my current thoughts on God.

I never used to think that my faith could be changed by circumstances. God is always the same, regardless of what happens to little old me, right? But then again, I had it pretty good. Now, after losing what was most precious to me, I often ask myself those hard questions: Does God exist? Probably he does, but if he does why didn't he care enough about my family? Or maybe he cares, but isn't as powerful as I thought. These are thoughts I never imagined having (in truth I had never been forced to have them before), but I think just about anyone who encounters sorrow will have to ask these things, whether it be seldom or often. The fact is that right now God is not apparent to me--I don't see him, and I don't feel him. But that doesn't mean he's not there. And I don't expect him to be hidden from me forever. I anticipate that God will reveal himself to me in surprising ways. Just read what Ingrid had to say, if you have a minute, because she puts what I mean into better words than I can:

Chasing Denali

“The Mountain is Not Out.” So say Alaskans of Mt. McKinley (Denali is the native name) when the snow-covered titan lies hidden in the clouds of its own personal weather system, to which it has every right considering its status as the tallest thing on the continent. Such was the case when I was in Denali National Park this September during a visit to my dear friend Katherine. We drove 150 miles to the park through a heavily overcast morning. The tundra slopes lining the highway were rich in fall colors, and I was enjoying the immediate terrain too much to mind the low visibility ahead. Once we were in the park, the clouds started to lift, and by the time we had summited Mt. Healy, a nice little 3,400-footer, we could see mountain ranges all around us, but still no Denali. I became considerably exasperated with the elusive giant for refusing to reveal itself even as the sky cleared everywhere else.

Word has it that Denali is visible only one in four days, and even locals get really excited when the Mountain deigns to permit onlookers. The Mountain will not be taken for granted. This is for me a great deal like faith. Most of my experience of God comes from stories, reflections, and echoes. Only on rare occasions do I meet God in any way more solid than a subliminal nudge. I think that’s a large part of why we create idols. We want something that is tangible, predictable, and safe. God is not subject to our whims, and seldom appears how and when we expect.

This excursion to Denali was only for the day. We were spending the night at a cabin in Talkeetna, a little backwoods town that serves as an outpost for wilderness recreation. We peered between trees and into the sunset the entire drive home, straining for a glimpse. Even from designated viewpoints along the highway there was no sign of the Mountain. One starts to question, if not its existence, at least its magnitude. (What presumptuous creatures we humans are.)

At dusk as we arrived in Talkeetna, the veil dissolved, and there it was in the fading light, towering even from 100 miles away. Wow. The following morning was perfectly clear and we stared awestruck at the Mountain for awhile on our way out of town. It was plainly visible all the way back to Anchorage. Wow again. Breathtaking.

God hears us, calls us, seeks us. And we are to seek him, not merely in order to confirm his existence or to check it off the list of things to do, but because the rumor of his glory compels us through the journey that is life.

God’s unseen presence does not become more or less real with the changes in our lives. We can put distance between ourselves and God, have our senses cluttered with mundane details that obscure His majesty, or get our perspective distorted by mindset and circumstance. Yet He is there. He reveals Himself according to his perfect timing. We can no more discover God at will than roll back the clouds.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. . . . Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? . . . Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.” – Job 38:4,12-13,18

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” – Hebrews 11:1-2

Author of the Universe, Help us to trust and find comfort in your greatness. Heal our fear and confusion, and teach us peace. Give us the strength to be still and know that you are God when our questions have no answers we can understand. Help us open our hearts to wonder and joy. Amen.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Short Version

No doubt that since losing Evie we've had some struggles with our faith. We ask ourselves the oft asked question, "how could a good god allow this to happen?" Over time I hope that as I share some of my own theological reflection, it can be a help to others. In any case let me say this, I still believe. I believe, but since the tragedy God has certainly felt distant. What used to be for me a deep sense of his presence is now a feeling of emptiness and loneliness... but it is not unique to me, consider the many characters of scripture who felt the same thing (Psalm 30, Job, Mark 15.34). But because I do not necessarily feel God near me does not mean that I don't believe. The very reason that I've ever believed is that the story of Christ's life, death, and resurrection made me believe that I was loved by God. Thats about as simple as it gets. I could get more elaborate, in reality this explanation is sufficient to me. Jesus proves God's love. I try and live in accordance.

There were plenty of answered and unanswerable questions in my life before Evie died. Now there are more. I live on borrowed faith; the faith of friends, mentors, prophets, apostles, and saints. It never really was just my own faith, but I hope and anticipate that I will "own" more of it again. In the meantime I still try and love God and neighbor, even though both can piss me off. They've shown enough kindness and patience that I can at least return the favor until I get my head back on straight.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Visitors!








Adrienne and Becky were awesome enough to come to Chicago to visit us this weekend! We got to do some Chicago-y things while they were here. On Friday night we went to the show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind which I thought was fun and creative as usual! On Saturday we went downtown to the Art Institute (it's free this month!) and Millenium Park. There's a special sculpture there right now which is a wall of colored ice, and as always, there was the giant reflective "bean." We fit quite a lot into the 2 days they were here! They headed back to the great state of Minnesota this morning, and here's hoping I get a call from them sooner rather than later that they made it home safe and sound because I know they're battling some nasty storms in Wisconsin...

Friday, February 15, 2008

NIU

Yesterday when I got home from work at 4:30 I turned on my TV to catch some King of the Hill, but instead every channel was showing an overhead shot of the Northern Illinios University campus in Dekalb, IL. At that time they knew that, about an hour prior, a gunman had opened fire on a classroom of students, wounding 15 and killing himself. This morning 7 are dead including the shooter.

We hear tragic stories of lives lost each day, and my reaction is usually "how awful," but then I get to move on. But when our daughter died, death touched my life for the first time in an espescially devastating way. And I started to comprehend just how many people die all the time from unpreventable circumstances, like dieases, birth defects, and random accidents. So then, with all the unpreventable tragedies that are bound to occur, how dare anyone take someone elses precious life through carelessness or violence? When I think of how hard we fought and how others fight every day to try to ensure that their loved ones might live, how can someone just randomly take it all away with a gun?

4 of the students killed have been identified as Catalina Garcia, 20; Julianna Gehant, 32; Ryanne Mace, 19; and Daniel Parmenter, 20. The 2 other victims were taken to out-of-state hospitals and haven't been identified. The gunman has also not been identified as of yet, but apparently they know he was a former grad student. Let's keep the families of these students in prayer, and pray for the safety of all school campuses.

UPDATE: Correction, 6 are dead including the shooter.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What is Love?

I found the following passage quite fitting for both Valentines day and the season Lent...

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is,

than falling in Love in a quite absolute way.

What you are in love with,

What seizes your imagination,

Will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,

What you will do with your evenings,

How you will spend your weekends,

What you read, what you know,

What breaks your heart,

And what amazes you in joy and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love,

and it will decide everything.

-Pedro Arrupe

Puppy love!





Espesically on Valentine's Day, you just gotta love a little dog who was born with a heart on his fur. Heart-Kun, or "heart puppy" was born in Japan last year! His owner claims he brings luck to everyone he meets. Cuuuuuuuute. <3

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Frontera

Last night's Valentines day date was delicious. I mean, romantic.

I'm usually not much of a big beef consumer, partially out of taste and partially out of conscience. But when I saw that Frontera had local grass fed beef, I thought I'd take the opportunity to have one of my 3 or 4 steaks a year. It did not dissapoint. The rib eye was perfectly cooked medium rare, deliciously marinated in a spicy red chile sauce. The blackbeans were fine, but the guacamole was excellent.

The company was good too. We've become accustom to celebrating Valentines day not on Valentines day to avoid the incredible headache of competing with every other couple in the city for a table, tickets, etc. Besides, we didn't want to miss LOST this week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valen-time!






We did our Valentine date tonight. We had dinner at Frontera Grill, which is an AWESOME Mexican restaurant. It's owned by the host of one of our favorite cooking shows, "Mexico One Plate at a Time."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Continuing Adventures

Throughout our whole ordeal with Evie, we simply wrote her blog from the heart. After it was all said and done, many had commended us for the way we presented her story and shared our own inner life. While being praised for quality writing was not at all consoling after the loss we experienced, we are glad that by presenting Evie's story that so many felt close enough to us to care for us. Many were interested and concerned enough to journey with us through our tragedy, its fair that people also have the opportunity to journey with us through recovery. Our lives go on, and so we hope to share some of that here. We'll try and share some thoughts, stories, pictures, and news from our lives. We're just that interesting...

A time to blog

Before our daughter was born, I didn't dig blogging very much. I had one, but I never wrote on it. Matt was more into it than me. But after Evie got sick, there was something that felt good about writing out what was happening--to "tell our story" was cathartic. I'm hoping some periodic writing will have the same effect now that we are grieving her loss. Also we can use this to post pictures and write about all things in general to help ourselves remember that our life is going on.

If you know us you probably know the story of our daughter's life and death, but if not we had another page just for her which was http://www.eviemarie.com/.