Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It Really Can Rain Here

So, one thing about living in the Midwest is realizing how much it can rain. Like for three straight days. Courtesy of the hurricane formerly known as Ike. We ended up with 8 inches and a slightly wet basement, which was great considering north of us they got 11 inches, schools have been closed for two days, and many people ended up with 8-9 inches of water in their basements.

Still, that amount of rain, which I'm used to getting in a whole year, is a bit hard for me to grasp. That and hearing my sump pump go off every few minutes. It sounds just like a garage door opener, but it's in my basement, which is just really disconcerting.

And since it's Tuesday, I really should be doing a Tackle It Tuesday. And I do need to go grocery shopping, but it's my day to work from home, and I'm just not motivated to do any of it. I need to come up with some wild story line that can only take place at a grocery store so I'll want to go on the pretext of research. Anybody got any ideas?

Monday, September 15, 2008

When Answers Aren't Enough

I have to admit I've been really intrigued by this book ever since it came in the mail. Of course, I haven't gotten to it yet. I picked it up again yesterday when I was cleaning off my desk and moved it to the top of my TBR pile. So I should crack it open tonight.

I'll be curious to see how the author handles the subject of pain and problems in this world. To me, this is one of the biggest issues I come across when talking to non-believers about Jesus. And frankly, as a believer, I have a hard time with pain and suffering too. I think many of us do.

So for all those reasons (and it's got a great cover for a non-fiction book) I can't wait to pick it up. I'll let you know what I think of it when I'm done.

It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and his/her book:

Zondervan (April 1, 2008)


Matt Rogers is copastor of New Life Christian Fellowship at Virginia Tech. Eight hundred students call it home.


On April 16, 2007, the campus of Virginia Tech experienced a collective nightmare when thirty-three students were killed in the worst massacre in modern U.S. history. Following that horrendous event, Virginia Tech campus pastor Matt Rogers found himself asking and being asked, ìWhere is God in all of this?î The clichÈ-ridden, pat answers rang hollow.
In this book, Matt approaches the pain of the world with personal perspectiveódealing with his hurting community as well as standing over the hospital bed of his own fatheróand goes beyond answers, beyond theodicy, beyond the mere intellectual. When Answers Arenít Enough drives deeper, to the heart of our longing, in search of a God we can experience as good when life isnít.

Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310286816
ISBN-13: 978-0310286813


A Heavy,
Sinking Sadness

Embracing the World That Is


Lately Iíve been walking in the evenings. I tend to do that when stuck on a question. Maybe Iím trying to walk it off. On days when I have time, I drive out to Pandapas Pond in Jefferson National Forest to be in nature. Once there, I set off through the woods or slowly stroll along the waterís edge, deep in thought or prayer.

Most days, because of time, I have to settle for the streets around my home. I can quickly climb to the top of Lee Street, turn around, and look out over Blacksburg, the Blue Ridge backlit by the setting sun. From there, I can see much of Virginia Tech. The stately bell tower of Burruss Hall rises proudly above the rest.

On nights like tonight, when I get a late start and the sun is already down, I head for campus. At its center, separating the academic and residential sides of the school, sits the Drill Field, a wide-open grassy space named for the exercises that the Corps of Cadets practices to perfection there. After dark, old iron lampposts, painted black, blanket the ground in overlapping circles of light.

It was here on the Drill Field, the day after the shootings, that students placed thirty-two slabs of gray limestone rock ó Hokie stones, as theyíre called ó in a semicircle in front of Burruss Hall, to commemorate the lives of loved ones lost. Thousands of mourners descended on the place, bearing with them a flood of condolences, a mix of bouquets, balloons, and poster-board sympathies. They came sniffling, clinging to tissues and to one another, and lifting their sunglasses to wipe tears from their tired, red eyes. The world came as well, vicariously through television, watching us, kneeling with us in grief.

I also came, revisiting the stones day after day, and sometimes at night, drawn to them by a need to connect with the dead whom I never knew. Always there was something new here, some trinket that had been added. At times the items seemed odd: a baseball for every victim, an American flag by every stone, though some of the dead were international students.

People took their time passing by this spot. There was no need to rush; there were no classes to attend. It would be days, dark and long, before there would be any distractions from the pain. For a time, there was no world beyond this place.

By day, soft chatter could be heard around the memorial. After sunset, no one spoke a word. During daylight, masses huddled near the stones, peering over shoulders to read the notes left there. At night, however, mourners passed by in a single-file line, waiting their turn, patient with the people in front who wished to pause at every name.

The masses have since receded. The Drill Field now is vacant (except for these stones) and silent. The semester has ended, most of the students are gone, and only the sounds of insects disturb the stillness of the summer evening air. If I close my eyes and take in the quiet, I can almost imagine nothing happened here.

Almost. Except for the stone reminders that lie at my feet. On one is written a simple, anguished note.


We love you.

Mom and Dad

These stones are more than rocks. Each is all that remains of a son, a daughter, a husband who will never come home again. I picture my mom and dad, heartbroken, kneeling by a stone for me, had I been among the dead. Moreover, I imagine myself by a stone for my dad, had he not survived his fall.

This is a summer of mourning. I am grieving the world as it is. And I am asking, ìIf I embrace the world as it is, in all its sadness ó if I refuse to bury my head in the sand, pretending all is well, but rather think and speak of the world as it actually is ó can I, then, still know God as good? Can my experience of him be more consistent than my circumstances, which alternate between good and bad?î

Is this too much to expect?

Before I can know, I must face the world at its worst.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

I loved the golden sunlight streaming through the rain drops on my back screen door. When the image is enlarged, it's even cooler.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Un-Labor Day Part 3

The remnants of hurricane Gustav are visiting us, giving us much needed rain. About as close as I've ever been to a hurricane.

So back to my story... Sunday we went to a Silverhawks game, the local minor league baseball team. It was Community Day so we had vouchers to get in free. We sat in front row seats next to the bullpen and one of the kids caught a fly ball.

After that, we went to the Blueberry Festival, the area's biggest weekend festival. We listened to Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. They're a modern horn band with a style that ranges from Big Band to swing to echoes of Chicago. I've really enjoyed this band for years, even before they were on TV's Next Greatest Band or whatever that was called. They are also made up of local boys, which just adds to the enjoyment. And the fact that they love Jesus and are open about it with their music and during their concerts is just icing on the proverbial cake.

After the concert, I got a custom fitted toe ring which I have been wanting for over a year. Yeah, it doesn't take much to make me happy.
Finally, we watched one of the best fireworks shows I've ever seen. It lasted nearly 30 minutes. What was so odd to me, coming from an area where fireworks are so strictly regulated because of the fire danger, was to see the embers floating down over our heads and through the trees like showers of pixie dust. It was beautiful but I kept waiting for something to catch on fire.

Monday we went to another Silverhawks game, the last one of the regular season--they did make the playoffs. It was Dollar Day so we got the same cool seats for a dollar each, plus dollar dogs and sodas. It was pretty hot though, mid-90s, so I was quite happy when Calvin wanted to leave early.

So that was my Labor Day. Winter can come now (not really, but it'll be here far too soon, I'm sure). Anyone else do anything fun or interesting?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Un-Labor Day Part 2

Jumping ahead a bit I just had to say, I had sushi today from Martin's, prepared freshly by a sushi chef. I was in a bit of OC heaven :). And, I didn't even mention they had a olive bar, which Sissy and I also partook from.

Okay, so back to Saturday. It started with breakfast at Krispy Kreme (yes, I raised my children to be addicts too). Then, coming home I saw a (one of many) garage sale that had two couches that looked like they might be halfway decent. When our house flooded we lost pretty much all our furniture. Since I moved to Indiana not too long after, I didn't bother to replace much of anything. I did replace my bookcases. I do have priorities! But I didn't have a couch. So I'd been looking.

After thinking about it, I went back to the garage sale and checked out the couches. They were in good shape, didn't smell, and had decent fabric. I wouldn't even need to recover them. I figured I could afford $100. So I went up to the owners and asked what they were looking for on the couches (there was a couch and a love seat, and while I really only needed the couch I figured they wanted to get rid of both). The gal said, "How about $80 for both and the couch covers?" Sold! Guess it pays to wait until about 3 PM and wait for them to get desperate.

While getting the big couch into the house was a bit of a pain (literally--I messed up my knee), they looked even better inside my house than on the lawn at the garage sale. The colors matched other items and they fit nicely in the living room (that pillow in the picture above was one I already had). And you can't be that price at all!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Good Un-Labor Day Part 1

Did you all (being very generous in the use of the word all, referring to the few hardy souls who still read my sorely neglected blog) have a great Labor Day weekend? I actually did and had a restful time.

One thing I've learned in the Midwest is to appreciate summer. Labor Day is the last hurrah for the season. Even the sun has just about given up, shining warmly during the day but tucking itself quietly in bed by 8:00, which seems early after 10:00 dusks.

So we did Labor Day with a blast. Of course anything would have been better than last year when I was getting my gallbladder removed. So this year we went big. Friday night we grilled steaks. Not a super huge deal in itself but it was what I found at the store when I got the steaks that thrilled me to my toes. The Martins in Granger has sushi and a sushi chef! I know I made little moaning sounds when I saw it. I think it even brought tears to my eyes. Real sushi in Indiana? I couldn't believe it. I thought I had died and gone back to the OC.

But let me just say, that was just the beginning of a very auspicious weekend. Stay tuned for more (yes, now that I actually have something to blog about, I'm going to drag it out as long as possible!)