More certain than…

With flux seeming to dominate the economy and politics, my thoughts have turned to what’s most reliable. One relationship stands out. See if you recognize this paraphrase:

With Yahweh treating me as part of his flock,
what else could I want?
He causes me to stop and relax in meadows where my hunger can be met.
As I follow his initiative, there is ready access to refreshment that satisfies my thirst.
Here I find he’s soulfully renovating my entire life.
He dependably redirects me into patterns that demonstrate right relationships – to honor his character.
I might expect to be anxious when plodding through the depths of extremity,
but malevolent powers’ ultimate threat of death fails to intimidate me because of your constant presence.
The weapon of your just wrath and the instrument of your caring discipline: both reassure my security.
Gracious host, you feast me within plain sight of would-be powers of destruction.
You sooth and renew me head first;
stretching my capacity for satisfaction, there seems to be no end to my tab at your bar.
I have no doubt that such utter integrity and loving kindness will persist through every day I breathe,
and I so look forward to settling permanently into your hospitality,
sharing the same address as Yahweh –
for an eternity.

With apologies to an ancient David – j

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t plus 49 years: anniversary observed in absentia

The tenth of October rarely carried the import while the parties were both still around. Tom and Ann (John’s dad and mom) usually celebrated quietly their lengthening partnership. Today we salute them for their steadfastness through the years.

Because of their security in the love of Jesus, neither is finally lost to us, nor to each other. Their love for each other continues to inspire the next generation. – j

dirt sandwiches and other delicacies

Eating freshly boiled soy beans last night reminded us of boiled peanuts – not altogether a pleasant recollection for most of us. Delightful, I thought, but then I like boiled peanuts.

Here’s a concoction borne of desperation years ago when there was no jelly found in the house:

Special Sandwich or (later) Dirt Sandwich
a recipe by John and A.J. Egleston

2 slices of bread (toasted dark as “rocks” or “burnt wood”)
peanut butter (smooth or chunky “clay” or “mud”)
some brown sugar (“sand”)
a little cinnamon (“dust”)

Toast the bread, dark but not burnt. Then spread as much peanut butter as you like on one side of each slice of bread. Sprinkle some brown sugar on top of the peanut butter on one slice of bread. Then sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of the brown sugar. Turn the other slice of bread upside down on top of the slice with the brown sugar and cinnamon on it so the peanut butter seals in the rest. Cut into as many pieces as desired, or eat it without cutting it up. Enjoy!

Nutritional value: probably not much

Sharing this with A.J’s class was almost as fun as offering a variety of cheeses (including gorgonzola) with a reading of The Old Man Who Loved Cheese by Garrison Keillor. It was amazing how fast Tee and A.J. moved toward the kitchen when these were offered again recently for lunch. Dy outlawed the addition of M&M “pebbles” but chopped nuts or chocolate chips occasionally appear. (The pic comes from 2004 while we were housed in Bayview Cabin at Cedar Campus.)

None of this compares with my childhood memory of being driven almost an hour on North Georgia backroads to an all-you-can-eat fried catfish joint – and home again – by my Uncle Wyman. He reportedly died yesterday morning, and I trust is enjoying better fare.

As may you – j

loss of a brother-in-law

Ronald L. Finnerty, Jr. passed away on Friday 6/20 after complications from heart surgery 6/3. His wife, my sister Ruth, reached the wise and brave decision to remove him from life support, in keeping with his expressed wishes. After about an hour and a half on his own – but not alone – he breathed his last. Lord. have mercy on his soul. Prayer for Ruth is especially appreciated as she deals with this latest and greatest loss.

Friday morning I shared with some coworkers before we prayed:

Ronnie’s a self-described redneck who likes his rock-n-roll loud and long. He’s loved and stuck with Ruth for over a decade through many taxing difficulties. Despite our many differences, Ronnie and I have developed some significant rapport over the past year; the friendly and serious chats outnumbered the more difficult conversations. Hard work has won “Big Ron” the respect of his workmates, whether from the seat of an excavator or down in the ditch.

An avid reader, Ronnie had picked up the capacity to laugh even at himself. So I think he would have enjoyed some of my other (otherwise totally unrelated) post for today. He is missed by a good number of folk, including us. – j

spoonerism mania = moonerism spania (and gracious suffering)

Our lives recently seem to have been punctuated by trips to visit family members – well, ailing or worse. Back to that in a moment.

Besides reading our own books and reading one of them aloud, one of the ways we occasionally entertain ourselves is with spoonerisms. I’ve accumulated a small collection from other sources, but sometimes the homegrown variety are the funniest. (We’re still trying to remember Dy’s most recent contribution to the art.) On a van ride earlier this year, we spent over an hour sampling spoonerized fairy tales. A fellow staff member, Mark S., picked up a couple of these while hosting a foreign worker years ago, and shared with our kids – among many others, with similar uproarious results – about the time “Rindercella slopped her dripper.”

Were it not for another family medical crisis unfolding in Florida, along with other factors, at least one of us would be on the road as planned in Indiana this weekend. What was to be a celebration of God’s ongoing work among the colleges and universities there was appropriately postponed as one of the honorees approached death quite painfully. Yesterday her obituary appeared (as I was attempting to write my own as an exercise following chapter 1 of Waters from a Deep Well). It tells just a little of JoAnn’s amazing life and influence, and only hints at the excruciating end. Only a believer in the resurrection guaranteed by Jesus’ own resurrection could be both honest about the pain and solidly hopeful of the ultimate cure. That cure comes (at the latest) with the repacement and restoration of our planet (at least), and our re-creator will not lose us between now and then. Christ-following martyrs most pointedly share such confidence, openly and graciously affirming that “Jesus is Lord” in the face of Roman imperialism gone mad – and many other wanna-be-gods since. You can meet more of them in Jerry Sitser’s latest book.

Meanwhile, it looks like the situation in Florida is headed toward court, against our better judgement. [As usual, the most interesting comments are probably best left offline in my journal.] Suffice it to say: My Florida brother-in-law has survived heart surgery with complications on June 3rd – against all odds – but with few signs since of consciousness and additional difficulties. His wife, my sister, after enduring with us repeated loss recently, would stave off another, whatever the expressed wishes of the other sufferer. On such issues, we “deg to biffer” (to quote Dy out of context). We continue to ask for a miraculous recovery for one or both. Knowing such boons are an overflow of the next age overlapping with this one for a while yet…

Did I mention Dy and I yesterday passed the 21-year mark of marriage? It’s true, and good. – j

one has to laugh…

…you know the rest! Seriously, one of the strangest things that happened to us recently was getting a letter in the mail from the US Treasury to both my (John’s) parents with “DECD” after each of their names. It was the standard explanation of the economic stimulus payment coming their way. (We filed their taxes this year for the first time, after my mom’s passing.) Sure enough, later came the check. We asked our financial advisor and promptly deposited it in a trust account where it belongs.

Something tells me those two saints are stimulating an entirely different economy at the moment, having sent significant riches on ahead. But if they’re aware of the transaction, they got the same chuckle we’ve shared.

Now, how many conversational taboos did I just violate? Note the topical labels – j

No monopoly on generosity

Just wrapped up a two-day game of the classic American game Monopoly with Tee and A.J. – they were back at it this morning before I rose, even purchasing a property for me they knew I’d want. They learned a little about investing for the future (“I’m not buying Boardwalk – it’s $400!” – to quote A.J. early on) and I got the satisfaction of garnering over $9000 after giving away at least half that sum in discounted rents and “keep the change” overpayments. We ended on friendly terms with the promise of a rematch soon.

All this in spite of Dy’s and Arey’s refusal to play me this game over past alleged misconduct…which we won’t go into detail about here. (Hey, they can post too.) It was most rewarding to watch A.J. and Tee bail each other out – and even extend mercy to me on occasion. The faster-and-faster pace of the play rate and transactions reminded me of the “rat race” I’m so glad to have avoided in the day job. What a luxury to be able to sink a few hours together into a simulation with bearings on real life – without any danger of addiction.

As was mentioned this morning from the pulpit, inevitably the game ends and everything goes back in the box. Even the players themselves are ultimately liable to that rule. Good reason to exercise generosity that sustains futures and freedom. – j

crossing cultures on film and beyond

A. and I got to see End of the Spear last weekend after watching the trailers and related video interviews online with the rest of the family. What struck me most tellingly (as it did on that beach fifty years ago) was the way the missionaries modeled both mostly-humble cross-cultural communication (“We are just like you”) but also the self-sacrificing love of their Master. He and they refused to strike back and, even when misunderstood, demonstrated true friendship. And God came through with visible feats that could not help but communicate.

During the funeral scene, as a main indigenous character walked around behind the crowd, I thought one tall, elderly White fellow looked familiar. Later as the credits rolled we saw the reason: Long before appearing in the movie or speaking at the Cedar Campus fiftieth anniversary, Walt Liefeld married one of the martyrs’ widows. A. recalled labeling his audio tapes – that was Cedar’s final season for cassette recordings.

Closer to our new home, Madison’s State Street seems such a cross-section of campus and world cultures. Ethnic eateries generously sprinkle several blocks, alongside niche retailers and Midwestern mainstays. This updated version of Main Street attracts much of the city’s variety, drawing from the state capital on one end and the student union at the other. Last weekend we walked its length to visit the Children’s Museum, in Sunday outfits against the blowing cold. I look forward to more leisurely and enjoyable future surveys of this created diversity. – j