Monday, August 31, 2009

The Emerald Rainbow

GLEN: This past Saturday's kayaking voyage (big word for what we do, I know) introduced me to new colors that I didn't know existed.

We try to beat the sunrise on Saturday mornings in order to see the Great Artist's display of glory and beauty. I actually wasn't expecting much this trip because the day was so cloudy that we almost didn't go. Thank the Great Artist that we did!

When the sun rose above the clouds on the eastern horizon, we saw one of the most beautiful scenes imaginable. The light on the water created a color (or colors, I don't know) that appeared to be separate hues of gray, pink, light blue, and perhaps silver, while at the same time somehow blending together to form a solitary color. If I had to name it, it would be, well, I don't have the foggiest notion.

FRANCES: For me, watching the sunrise is a wonder and a struggle. I am trying to make sure the video camera (mounted on an extra paddle) has the horizon in the proper line, shooting still shots, keeping the kayak facing the right way and watching the sun waiting for that "perfect" shot. All the while, enjoying and marveling at the wonder of the beauty that is before me. I want to be able to take what I see on the water and bring it back to you here.

I recall that the Crayola company used to put out new colors every year, and the newspapers would actually pick up on them and report the news. (I think we know now what is wrong with our newspapers!) I don't know if they still do this, but I do know that the Great Artist is still plying His trade. And I'm here to report the news. And I'm also here to tell that the Bible teaches that there is an rainbow "like unto an emerald" around the throne of God (Revelation 4:3). That's the name of my green kayak, by the way. It's pretty beautiful to me, but I'm quite sure it's nothing in comparison to its namesake.

I can't wait to see that "emerald" rainbow. I don't understand a rainbow that can just be one color, but I know it must be absolutely beautiful if the Lord has chosen it to circle His throne.

Sparrow and the Squirrel

Sparrow saw the squirrel first and reacted by pulling hard at the leash. Certain the squirrel would be up the tree long before Sparrow could reach it, I flipped the switch on the leash and off Sparrow went. I glanced aside for a moment and when I looked back I was shocked to see the squirrel was still on the ground. Even more shocking was the fact that Sparrow was standing beside the squirrel, sniffing him from one end to the other. I don't think the squirrel thought it was a proper greeting.

As I came closer to investigate the duo, the squirrrel started to scamper up the tree, only something was wrong with it's back left leg. It couldn't move fast and was even having trouble holding onto the tree bark. He managed to get up about four feet -- just out of Sparrow's reach -- and then froze.

Realizing that Sparrow was significantly increasing the squirrel's distress, I took her inside, which increased Sparrow's distress. She did not like having to watch this from the window! I went back out to the tree. By this time, the squirrel had managed to make it up an additional three feet or so to the fork in the tree. I felt helpless and sad for the little squirrel - not yet an adult, but more than a baby - it would certainly die soon there in the fork in the tree.

I checked on the squirrel several times throughout the afternoon and I prayed for him often. At first I felt silly, praying for a little squirrel. "The Lord is busy holding the universe together, and I'm asking Him to heal a little squirrel!" But my heart ached so much for this little creature and I felt so powerless to affect any change in his life except through prayer. I would go out and look up at the fork in the tree and several times I thought he was dead. Then he would open his eyes or move his tail, just enough to give me some reassurance.

The next morning, I was certain the squirrel would no longer be alive, after all, it had been a whole day now. He was still there, nestled in the fork of the tree and my heart melted with relief as two tiny eyes opened toward me from their high perch.

I decided he needed some food, and I had some shelled pecans -- he was a southern squirrel, surely he liked pecans. I grabbed a handful and went out to test my aim. From the back of the tree, I couldn't toss the pecan so it landed in the fork of the tree and didn't tumble out again. I tried from the front of the tree and on the third toss, I heard a faint little sound - a tiny exclamation of sorts - as I followed the trajectory of the pecan. I am sure I hit my little friend on the head.

That afternoon, puzzling with the issue of how to get water to the squirrel, I went to check on him. This time I didn't expect him to be dead, I expected to see those cute brown eyes. I didn't expect what I found, though. The pecan from earlier was there, but no squirrel. He was gone. He wasn't in the fork of the tree, he wasn't in the bushes under the tree. I couldn't see him in the branches of the tree. The brush under the tree didn't look as if any other dog had been by to try to disturb him. He was just gone.

I don't know where the little squirrel went, but I know Someone who cared that I cared about the little squirrel, in fact, who cared about the little squirrel Himself. I don't know where the squirrel is, but He does.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."
Matthew 10:29

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Mother's Heart in War. . .June 6, 2004

Someone asked me the other day to write about my son.

There is much to write about, much that has been hidden deep in a mother's heart. I can't
write about when our son left for college, because straight out of high school he didn't leave for college. Instead he decided to serve his country and join the military. He decided to become a Marine, not only a Marine, a Recon Marine. Not only a Recon Marine, a Force Recon Marine.

In deciding to begin this posting, I have turned to a journal I wrote in when our son was deployed to Iraq. The journal was not written with the intention that it would ever be read by anyone else, much less published in any way. There are feelings in the journal that are deep and true and I wasn't sure at first I wanted to share them. But there are many sons and daughters still serving in our armed forces and I think it might be good to share "a mother's heart" with you what those other mothers may be facing.

Once a week, on Fridays, I will share an entry from this journal, as a tribute to my son and his service to our country, and to all those sons and daughters who continue to willingly place themselves in harm's way for the protection and preservation of liberty.

Here is an entry from June 6, 2004, the day before our son was about to leave for preparation before deployment:

Yesterday was a hard day. We went to the Deployment Ceremony and the Family Day at the Marine Corps unit. Some of the information made me feel much better, but still the whole day centered around one fact -- our Marines are leaving.

I find moments of sadness creep in and overcome me when I least expect it. I find myself dry-eyed when I thought I would be crying and crying when there seems to be no stimulus for the tears. So, yesterday was a hard day.

And today is a hard day. Watching Noah and Aimee sorting through his belongings, trying to decide what stays, what goes. I try not to think too much of how this separation will hurt them both. It is almost as if I can't add their pain to my own, but it is there all the same.

Today we put the ribbon on the big oak tree in the front yard. A big yellow ribbon with a big

Iraqi voterImage by lakerae via Flickr

yellow bow. Seeing the tears in Glen's eyes as we put up the ribbon brought even more to mine. But on this day of all days -- the anniversary of D-Day, I cannot selfishly wish for my son to not walk in the steps of the brave men before him -- nor would he choose another path if offered. There must always be those who willingly accept the sacrifices of military life to secure liberty for others. If only one Iraqi can openly speak his - or better yet, her - opinion without fear of torture or murder, then it has been worth the cost, worth the hard days, the missing of the smile and the laughter.

And yet, tomorrow will be a hard day too. In some ways, the hardest yet. For tomorrow we say goodbye for a while. I will remind myself that I am not the first nor the only mother to send a child to war. I will remind myself that for a few weeks he will remain safe on the shores that sing of liberty and freedom. I will remind myself that there is yet a hope to see him in July before he leaves. But most of all I will remind myself that the Lord is his safety, his protection. And there is some lesson that the Lord can only teach Noah on the dusty, barren slopes of Iraqi soil. May he learn those lessons well and quickly!

Today though, I wish I had a time machine, not to go to the future, but to go to the past. I would

An officer's cross of the L├ęgion d'HonneurImage via Wikipedia

like to tell the mothers of those brave young men of D-Day how their sons were given Legion of Honor medals from the French President today. I would love to tell them how the world holds them responsible for peace in Europe. Most of all, I would want to thank them for their pain and sacrifice -- there are no medals of honor for mothers.

May the world hail the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of today in as much honor and esteem sixty years from today.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dog River - May 9, 2009

This was written May 9, 2009:

I woke up this morning to the blare of the alarm and then realized that it was Saturday and I

A mid 1970's analog alarm clock radio using ro...Image via Wikipedia

didn't have to get up and go to work. Now there is no doubt about it, I am NOT a morning person. After working night shift for over twenty years, my body definitely prefers those hours. I get up early every morning for work, but my body doesn't do that easily. So the realization that it was Saturday was very welcome. Then in another sleepy instant it dawned on me that it was SATURDAY -- kayak day and that was the reason the alarm was screaming so early. Much easier than I manage to do so Monday through Friday, in a flash I was up, my suit and water shoes on, my hair pulled back and ready to load the boats.

This week I was much faster in loading the boats. I remembered I had to take the head rests off the back seats this time, and even had them off as I was lowering the seats. I remembered which bungee cords went where and I managed not to knock out a window pane out of the room where we store the kayaks this time.

We were at the River and in the water at 6:15 am. Even though it was a little later than the last week, we still beat the sunrise. We paddled out a way on the river and then turned back to watch the sun come up over the trees and clouds.

I had forgotten to charge my camera the night before, so I only managed to get a couple shots before sunrise. Glen and I sat on the river, holding hands as the sun came up over the clouds and painted the river with diamonds of light.

Today we paddled back to the creek we had visited last week. It took some paddling to get there and it was a bit of work, too. We were paddling into the wind and across the waves caused by boaters. At some points I felt like I was paddling in mud.

We finally made it to the furthest point in the creek we had visited and kept going on. A bend in the creek opened to a large area lined with a few homes. It was quiet, peaceful and beautiful. The birds chirped and we could see some perched on the tall water grasses or hidden in the marsh along the river. Some flew past us over our heads. The water had very little movement and was noticeably warmer than on the river.

We followed the curves and turns of the little creek, expecting it to play itself out at each turn and being surprised with more creek and more places to go. Finally, more because of time than anything else, we picked a spot in the distance, said we would go to that spot and then turn back.

Once we returned to the river, the water was much cooler, which was good. The sun was just beginning to come out from behind the clouds, it was getting warm and we had quite a way to go until we were finished. Going in, while not easy now that we were tired, was easier with the wind at our backs.

As we reached the put in, I felt sorry to have the morning's float over, though I didn't think I could have gone much further. This was our longest trip I can remember, both distance and time.

We shared the water with a lot of fishing boats and every now and then a power boat would whisk through leaving us to sway along in it's hopping wakes. I didn't feel the same uneasiness with the power boats as I had before, we seemed to all share the river well. But then, there is a lot of river to share.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Infinitesimal and the Infinite

Preachers often begin sermons on "The Glory of God" by speaking of the vast array of the universe

In 1995, the majestic spiral galaxy {{w|NGC 44...Image via Universe

. In fact, I heard one of these sermons this week. Looking into a star-filled night sky it is no wonder we look up and think of God.

"If He created all this," our minds speculate, "what must HE be like?" The answer resounding in our spirits is that which fills us with awe. But I want to take us in a less spectacular direction.

I recently had a culture done for an infection. From that culture there were greater than 100,000 colonies of organisms of a particular bacteria growing on that dish of agar. Not greater than 100,000 organisms of bacteria, mind you, but greater than 100,000 colonies of organisms. While a colony begins with one organism, it can grow to consist of a million organisms!

Microbial growth medias: a petri dish with a b...Image via Wikipedia

To think the Lord could create such tiny living creatures that millions of them could fit in a four inch flat dish -- a whole nation unto itself, each colony a little city. Greater still to think the Lord knows each organism in each colony in each agar dish in every city in every nation, everywhere.

From the infinitesimal to the infinite, our God is the Lord and Creator of it all.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

No Kayaking this weekend

There was no kayaking trip this weekend.

Glen has a bad cold.

The forecast for yesterday morning was 50% chance of thunderstorms. We meant to go in the afternoon, but an issue with the wireless router took priority over kayaking. This morning Glen just didn't feel up to it.

Next weekend, for sure. Absolutely!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Apalachee River July 18, 2009

This was written July, 18, 2009:

FRANCES: I can't believe it has been over two months since we were in our boats! First we went to Chicago, then Glen was sick, then I was sick, then I was working. Whew!

GLEN: Lord willing, I hope that we never again go that long without being in our kayaks. It is too much a gift of God for such interruption in the joy of it.

Today we were going to go to Meaher Park for a quick trip because Glen had to be back to help a neighbor move a piano. When we got to Meaher Park, the gate to the put-in was closed and locked. We drove back North down the road and found a nice spot for a put-in. It turns out this was the same spot where we came for me to take pictures of the sunrise the morning of my fiftieth birthday.

This is by far my favorite put-in we have found. Private and easy access to the water, and a beautiful spot from which we can go in a number of directions to find beautiful waters and scenes. HEY! Don't tell everyone that its so great, then it won't be so "private" anymore!

We put into Chacaloochee Bay. We followed the bay along the Causeway, behind the restaurants, until we came to Apalachee River. We paddled a down the river a little way and came back, since it was a short trip.

Looking at those seafood restaurants makes me hungry! Yeah, if they were open when we finish, we could have some shrimp and grits for brunch!

Along the bay, I paddled with my camera between my knees to get some video -- not too easy to do. Every now and then, I would hit the camera with my paddle. This began my resolve to work out a good 'yak-cam system. When I got home, I made the video at the end of this post. The music in the video is a song written by Glen entitled, "Mountain Streams".

I love Frances' photography and video work on our trips. I don't think she anticipated this being a part of kayaking, and the experience wouldn't be the same without it. Like we say, "With God, there's always more to the picture than meets the eye." One of the great promises and principles of life: "Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." (Ephesians 3:20) (We we first started, I didn't think about photography, and certainly not videography. It has grown from a disposable camera to a paddle-mounted video-capable digital camera. Each time we go, it seems like there is some new aspect opening up to us. "Abundantly above" has been the theme of our lives together and the Lord has provided that over and over again.)

When we first put-in, the water was very choppy and it was windy and chilly. I remember thinking that I wish I had one more piece of clothing. That thought didn't last long. Paddling in the choppy waves warmed me up quickly.

We've never done any cold weather kayaking, but are planning on buying wet suit bottoms and sailing through the fall and winter. (We really don't have "winter" here. No snow, no ice, not many really cold days.) Now that will be interesting, and I anticipate exhilarating. I anticipate the hot cup of coffee and fresh, hot Krispy Kreme donuts on the way home will be exhilarating!

Once we got out of the bay, the water was much smoother. Coming back down the river it was like glass, until we reached the bay again.

At the end of our loop on the river, we found a huge old tree up-ended in the water, the roots pointing toward the sky. It was now a haven for fish, where it had once been a haven for birds. At first it seemed so sad to me, something so proud and mighty now fallen and dead. Then Glen pointed out that even dead, it was still fulfilling a great purpose and providing a home and life to other creatures. It had provided a sense of wonder and awe to me as I stopped to look at it and watch the birds perched on the roots reaching up from the water. It just goes to show that even when we think something has no worth or use, the Lord can make it a home, a sustenance, a provision to someone else in ways we could have never imagined.

Perfect expression of Paul's words, "So then death worketh in us, but life in you." (II Corinthians 4:12)

Dog River May 2, 2009

This was written on May 2, after our first trip of this year:

FRANCES: The first trip of the year!

We went to Dog River and put in about 6:10 am. We started a little later than we wanted, but then the first time out always takes longer -- it takes longer to remember which bungees go where loading the boats. And you forget something before you leave and have to go back in the house to get it. So we missed the sunrise, but that can be a goal for next time.

GLEN: Frances' securing of our kayaks in our small Toyota Corolla is a work of art!

I was a little concerned that the water might actually be too cold. I had been checking the temperature and it had been running in the low 70s. When we put in and my feet touched that cool water, that was my first thought, and in fact I said, "Now that water is cold!" That was the last time, however, I thought about the water temperature in a negative sense.

I won't ever get used to the feeling of the first shock of cold water. Even as I write those words, however, I remember that it's a mind thing more than anything else. From now on, therefore, I'm going to take a different attitude toward the matter. Instead of dreading jumping into the cold water of a pool, or feeling it on my feet a the outset of a kayaking trip, I'm going to choose to view the experience in different terms. Life is a matter of attitude and expectation. If we expect the worse, we'll get it. Expect God in our experiences, however, including such small things as a brace of cold water, and we'll get Him.

We set out and decided to go in a different direction than we had ever been on Dog River before. I had meant to print a map, but hadn't done so before we left. I didn't feel entirely comfortable paddling without one, but I had seen the satellite view of this area enough to not be afraid of being lost forever in a marshy delta.

Sure am glad that Frances has some notion of where we're going! Me, I'm a feather in the wind with not much regard to getting back. "Full speed ahead, D--n the torpedos!" Torpedos! Now those would be neat to launch from kayaks! "Engineering Department (a.k.a. Frances), get to work on that!" There's no telling where you would end up if you launched a torpedo from a kayak! I do like to know where we are going and I certainly like to know how to get back. We are fortunate to have wonderful landmarks in almost all our put-ins that are easy to find. I do use the satellite maps alot as well, so I know how the area looks before we go. We take turns being "Pocohontas and John Rolfe" leading our little exploration party.

To go where we wanted to go, we had to cross Dog River. Now we have crossed Blakeley River before, so I don't know why I always felt such trepidation about the open expanse of Dog River. Ever since we have started paddling there though, I have thought it would be a hard float to cross that river.

As we talked about whether to go in that direction or not, Glen jokingly called me a "wimp" and that did it. I tightened up my core muscles and pulled my little boat hard and as fast as I could across the river. It felt like an accomplishment to get to the other side.

Never, ever, for any reason, or any contingency, call Frances a wimp! Her Special Ops gene that made Noah a Force Recon Marine, kicks in and her entire body becomes, like Barney Fife said of his, "a deadly weapon." In Frances' case, its true. As Lizzie Bennett said in Pride and Prejudice, "I deserve neither such praise nor such censure." Other than giving birth to him, I cannot take the credit for my son's accomplishment in the Marine Corps. What he has accomplished, he has accomplished. Also, I'm not sure I deserve being compared to Barney Fife either,

Deputy Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith ShowImage via Wikipedia

although I know Glen means that in the most positive of ways.

We followed one little inlet and paddled along by the river houses until it brought us out to the river again. We followed the shoreline, waiting to find a particular creek I had been looking at on the map earlier. We came upon a large opening to a creek and looking at the watch I was surprised to see we had already been out 45 minutes. We still had to head back down the river and across it get to the put in, so we decided to turn back.

Since then, we've taken much longer trips, in preparation for our tran-Atlantic voyage. Hope there's a lot of islands along the way, so I can stretch out my aching hips.

Heading home we were against the current and were also having to navigate the waves from the boats now starting to come out for the day. After reading about a "hit and run" boat-kayak accident that killed a kayaker this year, I was much more watchful of the boats. One of the concerns about the speed boats --beside the speed at which they can be upon you -- is the fact that they may have been consuming alcohol and also may not be paying attention to little kayaks out on the water. To be honest with you, they tend to frighten me more than the alligators.

Except when the alligators have also been consuming alcohol. Talk about grumpy!

One interesting thing this year was I could no longer wear my favorite red PFD. Having lost 56 pounds, it no longer fit and was too big to be safe. I've never felt Glen's fit correctly, (remember the "Where'd Glen Go?" story?) or had enough buoyancy for him, so I made him wear this nicer red one. It fits him much better than his old green one. I feel safer with him wearing red, too. It makes him more visible in the water. His dark green kayak can sometimes blend in with the surface of the water, so the red helps him to stand out.

There's no need to keep bringing up, "Where'd Glen Go?", is there? Regarding the "more visible" red PFD, I guess it'll make it easier to find the body.

Coming back to the put in, there was a group of pelicans diving for their breakfast. I enjoyed watching them as I let my hands rest in the cool water (I wrote about the pelicans in The Powder Room.) The whole trip took two hours, which was a good length for the first one of the year. The temperature, both water and air, were perfect.

A word to the wise: pelicans won't share their breakfast. Greedy little critters.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gnats and toilet paper. . .

I am sitting here after having waged a full-out, frontal attack, nothing short of war. . .on gnats. I have become so frustrated with trying to eradicate the little bugs and even more frustrated with myself for becoming increasingly frustrated with their continued existence on the planet, and in my kitchen. Its just, well, frustrating.

Yes, I have searched the internet and tried every tip there is, no matter how ridulous. These are just bionic bugs. They refuse to die. My anger and irritation mounts with every sighting.

Then there is the toilet paper issue. Have you ever noticed that a household always seems to

Toilet paperImage via Wikipedia

run out of toilet paper just when it is absolutely necessary not to run out? I have even been known to keep spare rolls hidden (or what I thought was hidden) for emergencies. I'm not sure if the toilet paper issue irritates me more than the gnats, it may be a toss-up.

My point is, I seem to be so easily "besetted" by these little things. The big things, the things that we know can only be faced with faith and trust in the Lord, seem somehow easier to cast upon Him than all the little things.

Yet, I am absolutely certain that the Lord is just as concerned about my desire to be rid of the gnats as He is my desire for my last lab tests to come back OK. I know He wants to meet and supply my needs for toilet paper just as He does and has my need for everything else He has supplied for the thirty-six years I've been a Christian. But it seems harder for me to initially put the little things in His hands. I start out responding first and only after I have reached the point of frustration, do I realize I should have been trusting Him all along.

In this life, Christians live like mummies wrapped in graveclothes. The redemption through the blood of the Lamb has caused us to be birthed as "new creatures". Our old heart is gone and "all things are become new"(2 Corinthians 5:17). But we are contained in the flesh that still has the "law of sin" in its members, as the Apostle Paul described when he said, "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Romans 7:19) Paul sums it up by telling us "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."(Romans 7:25)

This is where the "renewing of your mind" comes in that the New Testament speaks of so often. I think of my issue with the gnats and the toilet paper and I know that the Lord desires to work in and through me in this situation. He has something He wishes to teach me and maybe He has something He wants to do for someone else, too. I offer the situation up to Him for His purpose. Maybe He wants me to learn to be content with the gnats. Maybe He is using this situation to work patience in and through me. But it is His situation primarily. If my focus is on Him, then the problem becomes so much smaller.

By focusing on the truth of the Scriptures, my mind is renewed to see the situation as His situation first, not mine. Then the next time I see a gnat, my first response can be to thank Him for the gnat -- after all, He created that gnat. And then to ask Him for His purpose for that gnat is in my life to be fulfilled. "Not my will..."

June 21 2008 Meaher Park

FRANCES: This was written June 21, 2008 after a trip from Meaher Park.

Today is Saturday and we set out early. We were on the road at 6:01am. This time we checked off everything before we left -- PFD, check. Two complete paddles, check. Everything we needed, check.

We put in at Meaher Park there was already a row of cars with their trailers waiting when we arrived. Of course, our car would be without the trailer.

We unloaded quickly and immediately upon getting in the water, I tried out my new waterproof camera bag. The sun had not been up long as was beautiful
sparkling on the water. (To this day, that is one of my favorite photographs.)

As we paddled off, we encountered the effects of our first low tide in this little bay. It is very difficult to paddle -- no let's just say push -- a heavy person through mud and two inches of water in a plastic boat. We paddled and pushed ourselves around until we found water deep enough to make movement smooth. We had planned to go out toward the bay, but decided to head toward the deeper river water instead.

As we went through the pass between the two, I
noticed a foam on the water and small black bugs floating in the water. It reminded me of when we were at the beach and the fire ants were in the pool. One bite had become a big reaction which has affected my life for seventeen years. I paddled wide of the bugs. Later Glen found a live fire ant on his legs. I was glad my epinephrine was safely clipped to my waistband it the waterproof container. (It even floats!)

We headed north up the river. The water temperature was perfect and there was a nice breeze. There was very little traffic on the river, we basically had it to ourselves.
We went further this time than we did before on this river.

We were resting at the point that leads to Cedar Point and Bay Minette when we noticed him.
His head was at least as long as my whole arm. He was easily the biggest alligator I had ever seen. He had noticed us, but wasn't interested in us -- at least not as interested in us as we were in him. He kept going his way (in the direction we had been going) and we decided it was a good time to turn back the other way.

But coming back was quite different from going out. The current, going downward across the river, was quite strong. If you stopped to rest, it pushed you back to where you had been. So I just braced my feet and decided to take some deep breaths and "do it". Somehow I felt it wold be easier once we got past the Causeway crossing the river. It took so much more effort to cover the same distance but finally we made it to the bridge and it did getmuch easier.

When we made it to Bay John, the water was cooler and refreshing after the work we did on the river. Glen challenged me a race to the dock and I worked up a sweat again (we won't say who won.) We decided that between the race, the current of the river and the increased heart rate from seeing our "friend", we had burned the equivalent of two Krispy Kreme donuts. And yes, the light was on!

Hot Donuts NOW!Image by clyatt.jasper via Flickr

Here is an entry about the same day on my
Powder Room blog:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kayak Safety

It is my hope that our blog has inspired someone out there to try kayaking.

Now for those of you who live in our area, or have read our stories about the

Two American Alligators (Alligator mississippi...Image via Wikipedia

alligators, I can understand that you might be just a little hesitant.

But for those who don't live in gator country - DON'T BE FOOLED! You have some type of wriggling, slimy, toothy creature lurking in your water, too! Unless the place you plan to kayak has to be treated with chlorine regularly, you have critters underneath, around and beside the shore of your body of water. You just have to get used to the ide

If you can get past the notion of paddling with critters, here are some common sense safety suggestions you need to keep in mind before you go out for the first time.

Having seen a person capsize, I recognize the value of having a buddy along. Take a friend. . .the joys will be doubled and any trouble will be shared.

This is so if the alligators, extremely large lake bass, or whatever sea creature it happens to be, actually eats you, your family will know where to begin looking.

"Fits" is the operative word. If it is not snug, IT IS NOT FITTING! Raise your arms up over your head. Then have your kayaking buddy pull up on the PFD by the shoulders. If your vest moves freely, or the front zipper touches your nose, IT DOESN'T FIT!

If your vest is on the kayak next to you, IT ISN'T FITTING!

If you don't know how to swim, go on a cruise, rent a fishing boat, stand at the shore and enjoy the scenery, but DO NOT KAYAK!

Be prepared for everything to get wet. Have plastic bags, or plastic lock boxes for anything you don't want to end up soaked. If you don't like getting wet, don't go kayaking.

No one expects to run into trouble, but be ready for it all the same. Carry sunscreen, bug spray, signaling devices (visual and auditory), a first aid kit, a compass, water to drink, etc.

Carry an extra paddle. We like to use pieces of pool "noodles" on ours as well to make sure they float.

If you wear glasses, secure them to your head. Keys, wallet, anything you don't want to end up at the bottom of the river needs to be secured and made waterproof and buoyant.

Kayaking out on the water, with a metal paddle in your hand in a thunderstorm, would not be a fun day of boating.

Check the weather before you go. Look at the conditions before you put-in.
Know the weather patterns for the season and your area.

Back to the critters, again. If you leave them alone, they will most likely leave you alone.

Research the animals that live around the waterways of your area. Find out when and where they nest. Learn to steer clear of their nesting areas.

Do not be aggressive with wildlife. THESE ARE NOT CARTOON ANIMALS. If provoked, they will attack in return.

Leave the birds and fish alone (unless you are fishing from your kayak, of course.) Do not feed the wildlife, they will associate eating with the humans around them.

Try to leave the environment the same way you found it. The only thing that should be taken back from your trips are great memories and photographs. The only thing you should leave is the wake of your boat and your footprints on the shore.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why Are You Crying, Mom?

(In 1999, we took our oldest daughter away to college. This was written immediately after that trip. It is reprinted here and dedicated to everyone who has their children with them at home and have yet to face this day, and to all those who have gone before me and been through this already and most of all, for Marie.....)

Why Are You Crying, Mom?

Over the past weekend, we took our oldest daughter, Marie, to a state University two-hundred and fifty miles away to begin her freshman year of college. As we made the journey, I found myself often in tears. My daughter, thrilled and excited at the prospect of this new venture in her life was confused and frustrated each time my tears would appear. Marie thought she knew the reason for my tears, but she could have never known what fears, thoughts and memories this separation was creating in my heart.

Clark Hall, home of the College of Arts and Sc...Image via Wikipedia

"Why are you crying, Mom?" Marie asked me, and with tears streaming down my face, I was unable to form thoughts into words to respond. Even if I had been able to form the thoughts, my sobs would not have allowed the words to have been uttered.

The tears actually began in the driveway as Marie said goodbye to her sixteen-year-old brother. He could not accompany us on our trip and their goodbye would be brief. They were born only twenty-two months apart and had been playmates, friends and confidants for years, or until they had to share a car in high school. To see them parted for the first time broke my heart and started the flow of tears. We were miles down the road before I stopped crying. After that, while I tried to keep from crying, it seemed as if the smallest thing would send me reaching for a tissue or sobbing into my hands. I knew my daughter didn’t understand, that she thought I was just sad, and I couldn’t explain it to her then, mostly because I did not understand it myself.
As I watched my daughter that weekend, it began to dawn on me exactly what it was that was piercing my heart and I was able to pen the words to express to her what was making me cry so often that weekend.

So, what is the answer? Why do I cry as I take this talented, gifted, bright young woman to college to continue her education? She has worked hard, won multiple scholarships, grown into an accomplished young woman with awards and medals covering the walls of her bedroom. All who know her describe her as sweet, talented and brilliant. So why do I cry taking her to college? Do I cry because I will miss her? Yes. I know I will miss her a great deal. Do I cry because I won't be there to protect her, help her? Yes, but that is only a part of it, and not what prompts the torrent of tears and the sharp pain in my heart.

I don't cry for the young woman who is now starting her own life as an adult. I don't cry for her independence and her ability to live without her mother. At eighteen, she should be independent, and I feel like I have done my job well precisely because she is independent.

I don't cry because I will go days without hearing her voice utter that single word that she loves to use, "Whatever!" and weeks without seeing her face. I expected that the time would come when she and I wouldn’t be together daily and I realized that was a normal part of life, the way it should be. I don't cry just from the anticipation of missing her so greatly, though I do anticipate missing her greatly.

I cry, and in fact, I grieve, for the little girl who is no more.

I cry for the little baby with the long black hair that everyone used to comment about. For the most beautiful baby I have ever seen, and as a Labor & Delivery nurse, I have seen thousands of babies. I cry for the little toddler playing with her new baby brother. For the ruffled pink outfits and the frilly dresses, the black patent leather shoes and the hair bows.

I cry for the eight-year-old little girl as a patient in the hospital room who was amazed that someone could watch TV, eat and even bathe in bed.

I cry for the young girl receiving an academic Presidential award from her principal. For the dedicated student who started science projects at the beginning of the summer. I cry for the young teenager facing her first band camp and for the sunburns that came with every band camp (will she EVER learn to use sunscreen?)

I cry for the first days of high school. I cry for the trials and triumphs of those four years and for learning to drive. I cry for the frenzied studying for Hi-Q Academic competition and for thousands of index cards from which she studied, scattered all over the house. For the football games and half-time shows and the parades. For the challenges over clarinet first chair and drum major. For the search for the perfect homecoming dress. For the graduation, that now seems long ago.

Yet, it is more than that.

I cry for four place settings at the table instead of five. I cry for the empty bed in a room for two girls. I cry for all the birthdays and Christmas mornings now past, days whose magic has been lost with the “growing up.” Most of all I cry for the little girl who used to run with arms wide open for her “Mommy.”

So, as I celebrate the independence of an accomplished and talented young woman who will certainly grow into a wonderful adult, I also mourn the loss of my first baby, my first toddler, my first little girl, who now lives only in the hearts and memories of her parents.

I cry because I would give anything to hold her just once more in my arms and kiss her sweet little face.

That, Marie, is why I cry.

(Today our youngest daughter begins her college career.
May she follow the path the Lord's light shines upon, all the days of her life.
She is no less bright, talented and intelligent as her sister and I wait eagerly to see what beauties will be displayed as this "rose" opens up over the years.)

(Em -- may your light always be perfect and your shutter never stick!
I love you,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blades of Grass. . .

I was out walking our sweet beagle, Sparrow, the other day, and the sun was casting tall shadows of the blades of grass onto the sidewalk. I was so struck by the sight, that I had to go back into the house, much to Sparrow's confusion, to grab my camera.

The reason the shadows of the grass looked so big to me was because I was on the wrong side of the sun. Had I been on the other side, I would have seen the grass for what it truly was and wouldn't have even seen the shadows.

There are many troubling issues casting shadows out there to tempt us in our lives today. If we focus the camera of our minds upon those shadows, they will be the reality which we know. We must be sure the blades of grass -- the troubling issues of the day -- are not between us and the Son.

When Paul and Silas were cast into prison in Philippi, they didn't petition the Philippian government for their rights. They didn't rant and rave about the injustice done to them. What did they do? "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." (Acts 16:25) Understand now, they had been beaten, whipped with "many stripes", cast into the innermost, vilest part of the prison, and their feet placed in stocks. Talk about casting shadows! But what did they do? They prayed, they sang praises - - and at midnight no less! And the Lord intervened in the situation.

Christ appears to Paul in prisonImage by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Our focus is always to be "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. " (Hebrews 12:2) Once we have done that, we can trust the Lord to intervene in our situations. He knows what is best. Perhaps He may first lead us to the innermost prison, or to our feet in stocks, but He may do so that the jailor and all his house might be saved. (Acts 16:31-34)

Let us keep ourselves on the side of the Son, our focus on Him, and the troubles of this world will seem small in comparison to His glory and grace.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

All The Trips

This journal entry was written May 29, 2008, and is not about a specific kayaking trip, it is about all the trips. At that point, we had been away from kayaking for almost three years -- more about why in another post -- and I had stopped to ask myself exactly what it was I liked so much about kayaking.

The original journal essay is in blue. Glen's additional thoughts are in green, mine in red.

What do I like about kayaing? Here was my answer:

It is so ironic to me that I DO like it, because when Glen first started talking about getting a kayak, I was certain I wouldn't like it. From the very first trial run in Marie's kayak, however, it was something I really enjoyed.

Let me take it step by step through a trip. . .

GLEN: My favorite thing about kayaking is how much Frances likes it. I thought she would, I knew she would, but her love for it surpasses my expectations. Anything that makes her happy makes me happy, but I also must say that I personally love it also.

I like the boats themselves. They are beautiful and incredibly well designed. I like the water, especially the reflection of the sun on it at sunrise. I love to see the sky and the clouds, and to feel the wind on the water. I love the fact that it's usually cooler on the water than on land. And, as Frances says about me, I love "see what these boats can do!"

There is almost something puzzle-like about getting the two (or three) boats in the car and safely secured. I love getting out the things that are only used for kayaking: the boats, the vests, my hat, the water shoes, the waterproof boxes we added after the capsize incident. Its like a special ritual that has to happen before the fun begins.

For the most part, I tote the boats, and The Brain (Frances) figures out how to secure two kayaks in the trunk of a Toyota Corolla. She has a method, and so far, it's worked every time.

I love putting the boat in the water. Watching it slide partially in and then sitting into it and finally feeling it slip completely into the water -- like a perfectly fitting piece of paper into an envelope. Somehow it always seems to amaze me that it stays afloat.

There is no way, by the way, to look graceful while getting into a kayak. This is a goal of mine, and I feel as if I am making progress. If I get really good, video may follow!

I love the way the boat gently glides across the water. Even if you paddle fast, the boat itself still has a gentleness to it. Somehow it encourages you to slow the pace and relax, enjoy, commune with the One who created all you see.

I love the way it feels and sounds when the paddle slips in the water. The slightest whisper of a sound and the push of the boat past a wall of water. I even love the little splashes that run down my arm and drip on my legs and help keep me cool.

I love the flow of water in and out of the inside of my kayak. Always self-baling, the water is constantly changing and flowing -- a river in the river.

I love the things Frances writes about our trips, a really important part of the experience now that I don't think either of us expected. I don't know why I felt compelled to begin journaling all our trips, except that I journal everything. It is fun to be able to go back and read about all our trips, and now nice to be able to share them with you.

I love the exploring, finding new places, seeing things we have never seen before. I love going and looking on the satellite map the places we have been.

That is definitely a big part of the experience. New sights. New places. New opportunities for wonder.

I love the fact that in the kayak I can only kayak. Nothing else. No computer. No PDA. No lists. Just the boat, the water, my family and the Lord. It is one of the most pleasurable thing I have ever learned to do.

That last sentence speaks, again, to my favorite thing about kayaking.

One point I didn't make in the original journal entry was that I love kayaking because we do it together. Sometimes we will find a peaceful spot and let our boats drift, resting together, hand in hand, enjoying the beauty of the Lord's creation around us. I love sharing one of my favorite activities with my favorite person.

Aw shucks!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Four Kayaks in The Water

GLEN: We had a different and very nice experience on the kayaks this morning. A young couple very dear to us, Sterling and Sara, sailed with us. It was really great to see 4 kayaks in the water, and even better to share the experience with such friends and fellow believers.

FRANCES: I enjoyed kayaking with Sterling and Sara as well. I loved watching how gracefully their kayaks moved through the water. The kayak always seems to move so slowly when you are the one paddling, but it seems to move so fast when you watch the person beside you.

Sterling is a fine young man, a fireman, and the son of the man who led me to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The story I often tell about Sterling is about his response to a question I raised in a Bible study when he was only 10 or 11 years old. “How does Satan seek to deceive us?” I asked, and Sterling immediately said, “Uncle Glen, he makes good things seem bad, and bad things seem good.” Read those words again, and the profundity of them will hit you square between the eyes. To this day, I’ve never heard it said any better, and considering it came from one so young, and a normally very quiet boy to boot, the response remains one of my favorite sayings of all time.

I quoted Sterling saying this in my Powder Room blog just yesterday! (

I haven’t known Sterling’s wife Sara for as long as I’ve known her husband, but she has captured our hearts as well. She is a very beautiful, intelligent, and sweet young lady, and hey, she handles her pink kayak like a pro! Yes, I said pink! Beautiful! Sara’s a third grade teacher, and her students are greatly blessed to have Sara as their teacher. And Sterling is greatly blessed to have her for a wife.

I can still remember my third grade teacher and she wasn't a beautiful young woman who would have been paddling a pink kayak! I never had fond memories of her, possibly because of a different sort of paddling she gave me.

Sterling has a yen to get close to alligators. Accordingly, he paddled close to the reeds to get a closer look, something Frances and I don’t do very often. We’re not scared of them, but we’re also not taking any chances of disturbing their morning nap either! Ah, to be a young man again, when you’re sure that if a gator jumps in your boat, it will be to his demise! And Sterling is a big, strong fellow, so a word to the wise for all you gators out there…

When Sterling was doing this, I joked that I didn't think my first aid kit would be sufficient if he encountered a gator. He immediately quipped, "You mean for the gator?"

Sara taught us the “kayak kiss.” That’s where you nudge your kayaks together bow to bow, or stern to stern. Newlyweds! Good idea, actually, although I personally like better the traditional form of kissing my bride.

I prefer not to have the kayaks touching, thank you. Ours are small and I'd rather not end up flipped and soaked.

Blessing, a blessing of God. That’s the only way to describe our trip today with our dear young friends that make us remember 30 years ago when we were just starting our life together. May our Lord bless Sterling and Sara with His wondrous love as he had Frances and me, and may He grant us many more kayaking trips together with them in days to come.

My sentiments exactly.

Friday, August 14, 2009

. . .I Am the Clay

Let me go back to my clay analogy once more.

When working with polymer clay, sometimes the clay was too hard to work with at first. It wouldn't give under the pressure of my hands. In that case, I would have to take a rolling pin and roll it for a while to soften up the clay until it would begin to accept molding.

A wooden rolling pinImage via Wikipedia

I would work for hours sometimes to make one small thing. Once I made a teddy bear for one of the nurses at work who loves bears. The little bear, probably only three inches tall, was wearing a lab jacket like the ones we wore at that time. I must have sculpted that bear and then waded him back up again several times, until I got him just right. I would work on one part of his body and then set that aside and begin on the next. As each body part was completed, it went into the oven. You see, this clay had to be fired to a certain temperature to obtain rigidity.

When the clay first came out of the fire, it was too tender to touch. If I moved it then, I would disturb the pattern or mold. But quickly, as it cooled, the mold would become permanent. No amount of pressure could change the shape of that bear into some other animal.

A few dabs of paint, and my little bear was ready to go to his new owner, and she was delighted.

Paint BrushImage by Counteract. via Flickr

I was even more delighted with her delight. I had enjoyed every minute of working with my bear, because I knew in the end I would be giving her something she would treasure.

As the Lord works in our lives to transform us into the image of His Son, things go much the same way. He knows the areas of our lives which are still too hard to mold, which resist His will and purpose. Sometimes that means He has to take out a rolling pin -- some type of pressure in our lives, to cause us to turn more to Him, to cause us to be more willing to be molded. He will work on one area after another until finally He is ready to allow us to go into the fire of trials that our clay may become rigid and sure. He knows that our faith and trust in Him will be strengthened for having walked through the furnace with the "fourth man" who is "like unto the Son of God".

The Lord delights in working in our lives that He might "present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. " Ephesians 5:27

So let us humble ourselves as an offering to our Lord, that we would be the clay in His mighty and wise hands. May He shape and mold us as only He knows what is best for us to be. Let us trust Him, the only One who is truly trustworthy, to accomplish that which He has set out to do in and through us.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thou Art the Potter

"And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good,
and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:2

There was a time when I used to sculpt things out of polymer clay. The particular clay I used started out hard and stiff, but the more I pressed against it, the heat from my hands warmed it, and it would become softer and more pliable. Eventually it would get so warm that it would even impress my fingerprints if I held it with too much pressure. The clay would conform to whatever shape my fingers wanted it to become.

Like the clay, we are meant to conform, to transform, to be changed. As believers, we are not to remain stagnant, but are to grow, to be renewed --day by day. (2Corinthians 4:16)

The issue is, like that clay in my hands, we will conform to that to which we are the closest. If we immerse ourselves in the ways of the world, we will find the "fingerprints" of the "prince of this world" will eventually be found upon us.

Oh, at first we will be hard against his pressure. We will be unyielding and stiff, sure in our convictions and beliefs. But if continue to "give place to the devil", soon those ways won't seem quite so wrong. A dear friend of ours said, when he was only about ten or twelve, that "the devil tries to make good things seem bad and bad things seem good." As we continue to feel that continual pressure, it will begin to slowly meld us, mold us, shape us -- almost without us even being aware of it. Until we are so like the world that we are no longer distinguishable as a Christian.

We have all had that happen. We will find out an acquaintance knows the Lord and we will be surprised. Why are we surprised? Because their life showed no difference from the lives of those who don't profess to be Christians.

Our transformation is to be a renewal, a change from glory, to glory:

"But we all, with open face
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image
from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
2Corinthians 3:18

We are to be conformed, not to the world, but to the image of the Lord Jesus. If by closeness to the world and its temptations we become conformed to it, how do we become conformed to the Lord Jesus?

By closeness to and immersion in the things concerning the Lord. Reading the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship with other believers -- these things keep our clay molded by the Holy Spirit. But there is one thing more.

We must have a willing heart to be molded, to be changed. This requires a spirit of humility. The prideful heart will not want to be changed, it will seek its own way, the way of independence.

"I don't want to be told what to do!" is the phrase I have heard from even Christians who would otherwise state that they want the Lord's will for their lives. "I'm going to do it my way," is another of those statements. Then there are the Christians who stage the silent rebellion. Yes, they read their Bibles. And they pray. They attend church. They do not verbalize their desire for independence and their disrespect for the Lord's authority in their lives. . .but they don't follow it either. They grow that resentment and bitterness in their hearts like a secret garden, cultivated and tendered daily. They are not warm, pliable clay. They have been transformed to the world just as much as the person who performs the outwardly deeds.

The question is, when life is over and we stand before Him at last, who do you want to look like?

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
think on these things."
Philippians 4:8