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

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Satisfaction, contentment, BBQ, Tee pix and rehab

Several guys at the office are reading The Contented Soul and discussing it over weekly lunches. Monday’s discussion of the difference between satisfaction and soul contentment led me to an experiment this week. I knew it was culminating last night at supper.

When the rest of the family left Tuesday for a two-day visit four hours south, I thought I might try to be content with the food available in the house. The breakfast foods, yogurts and leftovers were fairly satisfying, but didn’t keep me from suggesting dinner to a workmate. I got a raincheck, worked late both evenings, and avoided any spending. The quiet hours of reading took me into the wee hours, and offered a different kind of nourishment.

Everyone’s return on Thursday was followed by a supper of instant macaroni and cheese – filling, but not the baked kind A.J. and I (at least) prefer. The leftovers were delivered to me in time for lunch Friday; I’d somehow managed to forget them at home.

Last night’s dinner was delayed by my late arrival from work and the further wait for the charcoal to be ready. But was it worth it! The grilled ribs with (for most of us) Sweet Baby Ray’s bar-b-que sauce were (for me, at least) a perfect complement to Aunt Dana’s spicy preserved asparagus and slices of French bread topped with the same aunt’s strawberry jam. “Wow,” I kept saying frequently throughout the meal. A.J. got to gnaw several bones Florida Gramma would have enjoyed. We ate almost half the jar of jam, and the asparagus was finished, mostly by me.

The delicious combination was matched plentiful quantity; we usually treat meat more as a condiment than the main dish. The whole shared experience more than made up for the previous days’ slim fare and balanced the solitude. The past day had also seen Dy and I move from opposition on an important decision-making process toward collaboration, which has continued today. A measure of contentment was restored along with the physical and relational satisfaction.

Okay, enough analysis for now. Tee’s visit with the DJs at a local radio station almost two weeks ago is now visible at http://picasaweb.google.com/jdata5/TeeAtLife1025FM (or http://picasaweb.google.com/m/viewAlbum?uname=jdata5&aname=TeeAtLife1025FM&start=0 for mobile devices). The promised CD of her on-the-air chats arrived this week, and I’ve been commissioned to make at least one copy.

Meanwhile, my Mom has completed her first week of rehab from gall bladder surgery. After the previous posting, she went into the hospital and surgery soon followed, placing a drain when removal proved too risky. Not having a cell phone, we kept up by public phones and at friends we visited on the way home from Cedar. (We got to see more of Sleeping Bear Dunes [www.nps.gov/slbe/] this time too.) Your prayers will be appreciated for her fuller recovery and for safe and sustainable arrangements once she’s home. I’m looking forward to being some on-site help when visiting later this month.

Hoping you’re finding contentment with the best – j

Tee joins the DJs Tue. 7/24 8-9 AM Central

This is your heads up about some planned fun. A local Christian radio station features a “Life Kid of the Week” throughout the summer. Tee won the drawing and gets behind the microphone of WNWC this Tuesday between 8:00 and 9:00 AM. If you’re within the reach of the Internet and can play streaming audio, you can tune in as well. Visit http://www.life1025.com/ and listen online to the FM station.

Do they know what they’re getting into? She gets to read the weather, at least, and interact with the morning crew. We never know what will come out of her mouth, so it could get interesting. One friend has marveled at Tee this past week, considering the transformation since her first trip to Cedar Campus with a feeding tube and pump.

We’re finishing a week’s vacation around Cedar’s annual Pastors Seminar. It’s been refreshing to meet the Lord at the edge of the water and wilderness, and to hear his word relayed by Ben Patterson along the theme of God’s joy and ours. (Anyone can order recordings of Cedar’s speakers since about 1980 at www.cedarcampus.org/go/audio.) We’ve all caught up with friends and made new ones, and will visit more on the way home.

Trusting you’re hearing better than this – j

"meet me in St. Louie"…for Urbana

2:25 PM+ No Wi-Fi signal strong enough here at the pool, so this will have to be posted later. A.J. and Tee are trading off being sharks and minnows while I enjoy the third-floor view of the America’s Center across the street. The big sign in front of the AC, where we spent most of the morning setting up for check-in, periodically welcomes “InterVarsity’s Urbana 06 Dec. 26-31.”

materials await distribution at check-in – and this is the minority of those stuffed by volunteers
Well, we’re finally here after months of preparation, a small part of the advance onsite team. Our lead time has been relatively short, since Dy joined the registration team in Sept. Others have been working ahead for more than two years. In spite of scale drawing the floor plan for check-in at the AC repeatedly, the rooms seem larger than the specifications. Plenty of room for pallets of materials for the minority of attendees checking in here; most will do so at the 36 hotels, if they used the online housing feature correctly.

the check-in area almost ready to be filled with those needing housing or making a final payment

The fun of roaming the sparsely tabled spaces quickly grew old for Tee and A.J., who spent the rest of the morning hitching rides on golf carts and playing marbles or Legos on the spacious carpeting. Arey has started her role as Dy’s “gopher” by helping adjust check-in furniture and distribute materials. She’s also photographically documenting our experience – some of which may end up here.

the kids play or help while we work with fellow staff and convention center personnel

I drove us through the fog yesterday afternoon into the early dark, while the kids listened to CDs and Dy plowed into some email offline. The first guy to meet us as we pulled up to the hotel turned out to be from Kenya and is registered for Urbana. We unloaded the van onto a pair of carts while Dy navigated the front desk’s hoops (hopefully being shortened for the hundreds to follow). I hope we meet up again.

The kids are familiar with hotel pools, considered a necessity. But none of the hotels we’ve visited as a family have displayed quite the opulence of this one. Before going to sleep last night, Tee confirmed, “We wouldn’t have gotten in here if it weren’t for Urbana, right?” Close enough. The brisk walk a few blocks to breakfast taught us that Panera’s began as the St. Louis Bread Company – mmmm!

one massive Christmas tree dominates the lobby of the hotel – no need for one at home

Time to wrap up the swimming. A.J. managed to hold his breath underwater for 25 seconds; Tee for 11. They chose to wait a few minutes for the beginning of mixed bathing, in deference to the conservative Jewish families gathered to celebrate the other festival of the season. We took the few minutes of male-only swimming to visit the lobby and explain why not everyone prefers mixed bathing. And why some call swimming bathing. And to test the wireless signal there. And to check if FedEx has delivered the third scanner with which we’ll continue to attempt onsite processing of Urbana decision cards in eight days. Weak Wi-Fi and no box yet, but the other items were addressed as far as interest held out.

the exhibit hall still being setup – what a great place for discovery and conversations!


Back in the room, A.J. just succeeded in landing an Amamiri model under power on the runway for the first time. Hopefully practice on the screen will translate into some real-time aerial skill when it comes to flying his recent $20 purchase by spring. He still prefers crashing the free planes into parts of the free landscapes. Now he’s up in a Fokker triplane. Time to go back across the street and be more directly useful. – j

Summer-like reflections

The other morning while walking back up the driveway from delivering garbage and recycles to the curb, I heard a woodpecker sound off a few houses away. Homing in on the direction automatically, I laughed at the audible reminder of how accustomed I’ve been to enjoying such sounds as common during our stint at camp.

Coming in the door to find A.J. donning his coat for the walk to school, I mentioned the bird. “Was it a piliated?” was his excellent question. Probably not, but where else but at camp would he have learned to ask?

Six summers ago, Edmund Clowney was addressing the Pastors Seminar at Cedar Campus. (Now he continues to dwell with his Master, but on high. And the pastors welcome non-pastors like us.) Sunday morning he began with a sermon to the families on what “Jesus Tells Us About Praying to Our Father.” (Many others were recorded, but not that series.)

Dr. Clowney’s exposition of Jesus’ pattern in Luke 11:5-13 and story in 18:1-8 was more like them than an article which Jesus wouldn’t have written. And so the pith stuck with seven-year-old Arey clearly enough that she could recall it in her own words as she and I made canals that afternoon in the sand at the edge of Prentiss Bay past Forbrich Cabin.

All this comes to mind as I reread a poem from that week’s retreat of silence that’s ripe for a reworking. The other page in the packet records that Sunday’s hymn of profession, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God,” which with Jesus’ words served as inspiration for some not-so-free verse.

Breathed On
(behind Taylor Lodge; John 3:8)

What else could dance before the breeze
Quite like these bright and hardy trees?
The cedars sway, and poplars bend
Revealing paleness in the wind.
Some firs and pines stand trembling, dark –
Stout wardens of this woodland park.
Mere grasses, weeds and bushes grow
To mimic treetops from below.
The gray of stems turned into trunks
Someday will glow in embered chunks
Or grace a fence or polished chair –
Now witness serve of moving air.
It pleased the wind to blow this way:
So yield your boughs while it’s today!

Surprisingly to me, I only changed two words in the rewrite (green and leafy in line 2, FMI). As little metered and rhymed verse as I generate, I’m not sure what came over me that day.

After I shared that bit at today’s poetry read-in, someone suggested an illustrated collection of poetry inspired by Cedar Campus. I’ve passed along the idea to the appropriate coworkers – who are in the thick of preparing to welcome students yet again. It’s one of several labors of love I’d enjoy making into a hobby. Hoping not all such impulses wait until retirement – j