"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

24 December 2011

Happy Birthday

Ninety years ago on Christmas Day my mother was born, to become the middle of three children. Six years later their mother died, and shortly after, their father was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent years in a TB sanitarium, not expected to recover. Mother and her two brothers were raised by her father’s mother (who had already raised twelve children of her own), with the help of some of their aunts. Each sibling, separately, also spent some time in the sanitarium, for treatment to prevent their also contracting the dreaded disease. They slogged their way through the depression selling eggs and taking in washing and feeding hobos who were willing to work for a meal. Their father was returned to them, well at last, but not until Mother was in high school. Her older brother, a pilot, died in World War II; her younger disappeared after the war until after her own children were gone from home.

Because to recognize a Christmas birthday was too much for a grandmother trying to carry three more children through the depression, Mother’s first birthday party was given her by us when I was in high school, a surprise I’m still proud of pulling off. And on this day when we celebrate the Saviour sent for us, I celebrate too the woman who led me to Him through her daily example of His sacrificial love. Her early life was anything but easy – yet it molded her into a woman who learned gratefulness, who learned to love her Lord and serve her neighbors all her life.

Mother and Daddy had their trials and tribulations too, of course, over 67 years, but she had chosen to live in joy from a young age and so they worked together to make a home that was a miracle of love. She loved Daddy first and best, always, and she gave to us, her two children, of all she was. She taught us to love books by reading to us, keeping full shelves in the study and in our rooms, taking us to the library weekly. She taught us to work as part of a family with our various chores, and she made sure we were part of family life in the kitchen, the sewing room, the garden, the grocery store. The church was our second home, where we joined choir and youth group and went to the dinners and activities and contributed in various ways to the missions and charities. She participated in the church circles and made items for the yearly bazaar and volunteered in the local food bank. She welcomed foreign students, from the university where Daddy worked, for the holidays; she put together food and gift baskets for the local poor; she created a “Santa’s Cookie Tree” on which we hung the gingerbread cookies we’d baked and decorated for the community to enjoy. She took me to the Plaza in Kansas City to window shop and look at fashions, then we picked out patterns and material to make my clothes, as nice or nicer than any we’d seen in the fancy stores. She cried over us, rejoiced over us, daily prayed over us.

Her brothers both are gone, her brothers- and sister-in-law too, and now Daddy. But, despite sorrow and loneliness (what could ever fill the emptiness after 67 years of marriage), she still chooses every day to live in joy. She remains active in her church, she still read voraciously, she cries and rejoices and daily prays over us her children and over her grand- and great-grandchildren. She chooses joy and so her love lifts me up every day of my life, as it has ever done.

(The rose is one from the bush Mother sent us one year.)

21 December 2011

Sabbatical is Here

I am now officially on sabbatical. The last things I did before leaving the office last Friday were to set my college phone and email messages to refer callers and correspondents to someone else. The phone I won't check (no one calls anymore anyway with email so convenient); the email I'll take note of just in case there is department or college business I actually need to attend to or want a voice in, or a personal message I want to respond to.

So far:

I have cleaned up, polished, and refurnished my desk. I can now get to the top of it for more than just charging the computer and phone. Pens and legal pads are within easy reach, and a bit of chocolate, of course, and a new box of printer paper for the new printer.

I have placed the books I brought from work neatly on top of the small bookcase that also holds the creative nonfiction books, collections of familiar essays, and drafts of my Inscapes and Essaying posts.

I have printed out the last few of those posts and placed them in their chronological order. I'll be going through them all to sort them into categories soon, but not just yet.

I have made a calendar of January-March creative nonfiction contest submission dates and placed it on my computer desktop and on a hard-copy calendar. I may not enter any of these particular ones, but they still provide incentive; if not, then perhaps some a bit later in the spring.

I have had 3:00 a.m. connections made between ideas and drafts I've not before connected, and remembered them in the morning.

I have, finally, read and enjoyed almost all of Cleanth Brooks' essays in his collection Community, Religion, and Literature -- a book I've tried to concentrate on for months now. I have only a couple left for today or tomorrow. (I highly recommend this book to my lit-teacher friends, by the way.)

I have gone to Chattanooga with K when the Young Man returned his rental car to bring him back home for a two-week leave. I've even made dinner one night. (Okay, it was a chef salad, but I still made it and we all sat down together to eat it!)

I have slept till I wanted to get up and taken naps if I felt like it -- and I am beginning to feel less exhausted and more refreshed than in a long time. It helps to know that I needn't be working on syllabi and schedules for January.

Now for the writing.

12 December 2011

Sepia Moon

This morning’s moon shone confidently above and over the clouds filling most of the deep sky; not even the ragged bits of ebony left from the night’s attempt at rain could cross her surface. Clear she shone for the full ten minutes of my drive, creating her own sepia frame that rebuffed all darkness. Surely beauty will save the world, for who that has eyes to see can see less than its Creator, do less than fall to the ground before its burning Truth . . .

23 November 2011

One Thousand Gifts

I have finally begun reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Last spring a beloved former student first told me about it, and I must have heard the name a dozen times since. I ordered the book, with a large number of others, some time back, and it had been patiently waiting its turn at the bottom of the stack. Then a couple of weeks ago, K. showed me an interview with Voskamp in World Magazine, and the next day my oldest daughter mentioned hearing her at a conference and said I might enjoy her book. I retrieved it from beneath the books left in the stack.

So far I find it encouraging and honest fare. I am having to get used to her writing style, just a little different from the norm and something many readers would likely not notice, but it is growing on me and I think I will find it pleasing long before I reach the final chapter.

She begins by describing her family’s shutting out grace when her baby sister was killed in their driveway, toddling behind a delivery truck after a cat. It is her first memory, “my mother’s witnessing-scream,” “blood [seeping] through that blanket” in which her mother held the dead body. She describes the grave: “They lay her gravestone flat into the earth, a black granite slab engraved with no dates, only the five letters of her name. Aimee. It means ‘loved one.’ How she was. We had loved her. And with the laying of her gravestone, the closing up of her deathbed, so closed our lives. Closed to any notion of grace.”

Voskamp struggled well into her adulthood with believing in and opening herself to grace. I am only two chapters in, but I find her struggle to be written genuinely and I trust her as she describes her journey and reminds us of the lies Satan tells us about what we need – that what we have is not enough, not fair, that God owes us more, keeps back from us what would make us happy – and reminds us against that of what the Scriptures say about joy and gratitude and grace.

She explains her discovery of the meaning of that word we use for the Lord’s Supper, the eucharist, which she finds translated in Luke’s version as “he gave thanks”: in the Greek, it is eucharisteo. Its root is charis, which means grace; but it also contains a derivative of charischara, which means joy. “Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo – the table of thanksgiving. I sit there long . . . wondering . . . is it that simple? Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?” She list the words, savoring, reflecting, wondering: Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy. A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black. A threefold cord that might hold a life? Offer a way up into the fullest life?”

She lets us hear her wondering, her meditations, her working to understand, ending with the plight of living and the question we must all someday answer: “The way through is hard. But do I really want to be saved?”

As she is considering these things a friend sends her a sort of dare: can you list one thousand things you love, one thousand things for which you are grateful? And she begins, immediately, with “morning shadows across the old floors” and “jam piled high on the toast” and “cry of blue jay from high in the spruce.” And smiles, finding the exercise of putting the gifts she has into words on paper to be like “unwrapping love.”

She finds beauty and joy and increased gratefulness in recording these small, everyday things – at the same time admitting, sometimes “I do scoff. I yearn for the stuff of saints, the hard language, the fluency of thanksgiving in all, even the ugliest and most heartbreaking. I want the very fullest life. I wonder, even just an inkling – is this but a ridiculous experiment? Some days, ones with laundry and kids and dishes in sink, it is hard to think that the insulting ordinariness of this truly teaches the full mystery of the all most important, eucharisteo. It’s so frustratingly common – it’s offensive.” And adds, “Driving nails into a life always is.”

She reminds us of what C. S. Lewis says about life: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” She begins to see her list as a training ground, practice; one must begin somewhere: “Practice,” she writes, “is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.” Finding herself beginning to be more grateful, finding that others – friends, family – sense a change in her, she writes, “Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant – a seed – this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life – even the hard – is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. [. . .] There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.”

I came home yesterday to begin Thanksgiving break feeling nearly euphoric. I recognize that much of that feeling stemmed from circumstances – the research essays were graded and didn’t need to come home with me, five blessed days of quiet, maybe even a few minutes within them to grab hold of for writing . . . But it was as well some part genuine simple gratefulness – for the weekend visit of the Young Man, for a loving husband and comforting home to spend these five days with and in, for colleagues who encourage me and allow me to be an encouragement to them, for children and grandchildren, and my mother still well, and friends who love me, and books to read . . . certainly one could go on forever; a thousand gifts is a pittance of all that we have been given.

But I don’t practice gratitude, not really, not regularly. Two chapters into Voskamp’s book, and it’s so lovely and encouraging, and I am almost afraid to keep reading – for what one knows one is responsible to and for. Do I really want to be saved? Do I really want to learn the way of eucharisteo, of giving thanks in all things, of living in grace? Or do I prefer to listen to Satan’s lies and whine and complain and demand more and more of what I never needed? Teresa's little way, the only way life is lived, minute by minute, blessing by blessing . . . do I have the courage to embrace it?

30 October 2011

Wildlife on the Lawn

I looked out the front window this morning to find an entire flock of robins, two bluejays, and a squirrel feeding on the dew-covered grass. As I watched, the robins began interspersing their foraging with games of tag, swooping under the trees, across the road, and back again. When a second squirrel appeared, they ate together for a while, watching the birds, then suddenly leaped into their own game of tag, all about the lawn, racing in widening and tightening circles, resting a moment, then off again. One finally shot up a tree trunk and the game ended. The flock of robins had thinned out, the jays had flown, so I walked back to my study. Glancing out the window, I saw that the robins had merely moved on to the neighbor's lawn for a second course of food and fun.

14 October 2011

Full Moon

Phoebe hung in the sky this morning like a luminescent jewel, like the promise of God's providence lighting my way into the day . . .

05 October 2011

C. S. Lewis on Literature

Several of us read and discussed quotations from C. S. Lewis in chapel this week; here's what I wrote:

We often forget that C.S. Lewis made his living as a literary critic and teacher of literature. Teachers of literature today do not only use his literary works, such as Screwtape Letters or Till We Have Faces, in our classes, but also his works of criticism, such as The Discarded Image on medieval and Renaissance literature or Spenser’s Images of Life on the Fairie Queene. And his writings on the philosophy of literature, found in books such as On Stories and numerous essays in various collections, provide a framework for an approach to writing and reading that is invaluable to the serious Christian.

In his essay “Christianity and Literature” (which can be found in the collection Christian Reflections), Lewis writes about the contrast between modern criticism, which aggrandizes the self as the source of “creativity, originality, and spontaneity,” and the Scriptural understanding that we are to be “as little as possible ourselves,” and instead become “clean mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not ours.”

He writes, “pride does not only go before a fall but is a fall – a fall of the creature’s attention from what is better, God, to what is worse, itself.” Because of this, he asserts that “the basis of all critical theory [should be] the maxim that an author should never conceive himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody, in terms of his own art, some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom.” He further claims that “all the greatest poems have been made by men who valued something else much more than poetry”: in other words, art created merely for its own sake can only be shallow, frivolous, and self-important; art for the sake of the other – God and neighbor – has the potential to attain sublimity.

In other words, Christians are meant to be only reflected light – just as the moon has no light of its own but can only reflect the light of the sun, we have no light of our own but can only reflect the light of the Son of God. We cannot create ex nihilo: all that we make is drawn from what has already been given; it is discovery of that which already exists.

As both a writer and a teacher of literature, these claims guide my philosophy.

As a writer, this leads me to seek first to serve my readers rather than to focus on my uniqueness as a writer; the work I produce must not be intended to draw attention primarily to me and my ability to be “different,” but rather it must be intended to serve those who read it by reflecting the beauty and wisdom that God has revealed. I must be in the business of seeking truth before all else, desiring to make that truth accessible to others for their benefit. If I do this, I can be confident that the unique personality God has given me will be carried in the works – but only to the extent that it is helpful in serving to point others to its Source. “He must increase; I must decrease” must be the Christian writer’s motto as it is that of all believers.

As a teacher of literature, I desire for students to find the wonder and beauty of the works they read, and to glorify God for such gifts – that fallen men can show us the beauty of God’s creation and the hope of redemption in a broken world. We can and should love such writers, but we honor them most when we recognize that they point us to a greater One, to the One who is the Source of all beauty and wisdom. Even secular literature often does this, of course, because every writer is made in the image of God and able to reflect some truth about the world he observes and records and reflects upon; whether he knows it or not, his compass is set to true North whenever he writes with honesty. And even what he may miss reminds us of the world’s brokenness and the need for God’s message of redemption to inform it.

In these ways, Lewis’s professional and Scriptural understanding of the place of literature in the life of the Christian informs all that I do and – even more importantly – challenges me to always remember my own purpose in the world: to “become a clean mirror filled with the image” of the Lord who lives in and through me.

25 September 2011

Living Reality in Light of Eternity

“The people of our time are helpless, distracted, and rebellious, unable to interpret that which is happening, and full of apprehension about that which is to come, largely because they have lost this sure hold on the eternal which gives to each life meaning and direction, and with meaning and direction gives steadiness. I do not mean by this a mere escape from our problems and dangers, a slinking away from the actual to enjoy the eternal. I mean an acceptance and living out of the actual, in its homeliest details and its utmost demands, in the light of the eternal, and with that peculiar sense of ultimate security which only a hold on the eternal brings. When the vivid reality which is meant by these rather abstract words is truly possessed by us, when that which is unchanging in ourselves is given its chance, and emerges from the stream of succession to recognize its true home and goal, which is God – then though much suffering may, indeed will remain, apprehension, confusion, instability, despair will cease.”

When I read this passage from Evelyn Underhill’s Radiance, I was struck by the way it echoes what I have been saying about literature (good literature, true literature) for a very long time. We are not healed or helped or eased by escape from reality, whether into the worlds of literature or into a world of esoteric contemplation. The saint cannot very well be a saint if he does not live in reality, after all. We are not saints for God’s sake; we are saints for the sake of our neighbor. God pours Himself into us to make us saints, of course – we can hardly be saints on our own power – but He doesn’t do this because He has some personal need for our patience, our endurance, our joy, our love. He surely desires these things of us, and offers them to us for our growth and strength, but He is all this and all else that is Good, so when we offer Him these we offer Him nothing He doesn’t already have.

Rather, it is our neighbors who need us to be saints. We need to be saints in the midst of the reality of this broken world in order to serve our neighbors. We need to offer them the fruit of the joy, the faithfulness, the compassion, the diligence that He has poured out and wrought in us, to draw them to the only real Hope offered to any of us. We need to find the eternal, to turn to the eternal, to rejoice in the eternal and find our strength there in order to live well here, in, as Underhill calls it, the “actual.”

And while the road of the mystic, the road of contemplation, is one way into the eternal which informs our life in the actual, another road is that of literature, the words of the wise from all of time gathered in the soul to remind us of, of course, the eternal in the actual. I have said that literature shows us the ideal, the way the world ought to be. Not, if it is true, ideal in the sense of unfallen – we have no idea what an unfallen world would be – but ideal in demonstrating to us the way to live well in the midst of that fallenness, to demonstrate courage and compassion and forgiveness and gratitude, and to bear witness to their Source.

10 September 2011

9/11 Ten Years After

A few links to help us remember what should never be forgotten:

Bill Luse at What’s Wrong with the World: "A Sunday Thought for the Victims of 9/11"

Rich Lowry at National Review Online: "A Decade of Heroes"

And a sobering view from Mark Steyn, also at NRO, of how we may have failed to meet the challenge of that day horrific day: "Let’s Roll Over"

An excellent memorial video: "In Memoriam: Remembering September 11, 2001"

24 August 2011

First Day of Classes

An alabaster crescent moon in the unclouded just-dawning blue, a blessed reminder of our purpose here and always: to reflect -- however imperfectly or partially -- the glory of the Lord in our service to our neighbor.

17 August 2011

Truth, Lies, and Exaggerations

Caveat (because you can't write anything without them anymore, it seems): I think that bearing false witness is a wretched sin for which we should never employ the gift of language. That said:

When we would catch my dad out in a somewhat different story from its original, he would grin and say, "It's just exaggeration for emphasis."

The other evening, I heard another take on it on some television show I was watching; one character had left out a significant element of a story about another, and when called on it replied: "Let's call it 'truth reimagined for the greater good.'"

I thought it was kinda cute, in the context.

05 August 2011

Forever 21? No, Thanks!

Yesterday we went to Chattanooga to celebrate K's birthday. He bought himself a gift, we ate at O'Charley's, then we went to Hamilton Place mall to browse a bit.

It was the first time I'd seen -- or heard of -- this store.

Who in the world wants to be 21 forever? Twenty-one-year-olds think they know everything but know nothing; they judge everyone around them for every perceived flaw they think they see; their footloose and fancy free lifestyle is self-absorbed and shallow; they believe that anything (or anyone) older than they is totally without value; they think they will live forever and thus endanger those around them . . .

What makes 21 attractive? Legal consumption of alcohol -- it's not called 20 Forever. The lack of responsibility -- few 21-year-olds these days are even married, much less parents; older than 21 would risk having to care for others. Being still bound up in video games and 10 movies a week and going out every night and expensive cups of coffee every day. Pleasing oneself, in other words, instead of growing up.

But it is a sad thing not to grow up. We were not born to stay foolish and self-absorbed; we were born to grow up and live in real community. The service given us by parents and others when we are children is meant to lead us to serve others, not give us the idea that others were created to serve us all our lives. The responsibilities of a full-time job, marriage, children, serving in a church and community: these are wholesome and satisfying in a way that living for self cannot ever be.

Annie Dillard says in The Writing Life that the life of the senses is never enough, we are never sated, always grasping for more and more; but the life of spirit satisfies, allows us to slow down and find life sweet. And the life of the spirit is the life of putting others -- God and neighbor -- above the self.

I'm always so moved and delighted to see many of our students here understanding this by the time they graduate -- knowing they do not want to be forever 21. May they be salt and light in an ever-darkening world, demonstrating the sweetness of service and satisfaction of growing up -- not to the dullness that the self-absorbed fear but to the adventure of genuine love and the bonds that only perseverance and commitment and shared purpose can ever create.

30 July 2011

Summer Storm

Distant thunder draws our attention to incoming rainclouds long before the sky darkens above us. The first drops stir me from a doze over the slow-moving novel I've been trying to read and bring me to the front porch.

By the time I step outside, silver sheets glitter from sky to earth, turning the sidewalk into a shallow rushing creek. Drops bouncing upward off the neighbor's roof look like steam rising, then falling back down to slide to the thirsty lawn. Tightly closed crepe myrtle buds cling to silver droplets even as the wind thrashes them in every direction.

Two balls of golden fire whip through the slowing drops, finches swooping from the dogwood to the crepe myrtle. To the east, the mountains rise in their customary smoky haze; to the west, the mid-day sun lightens the edges of storm clouds into grey-white sky; overhead the thunder rolls farther and farther away as the heat begins to rise again and birds call back and forth in the newly-cleansed air. The finches swoop out of the crepe myrtle and over the roof, and tree branches still as wind and rain slow to silence, attempting feebly to rise again and yet again until only the glimmer of grass and leaves bears witness to their passing.

A choir of praise swells from someone's stereo to fill the neighborhood.

25 July 2011

I'll Take Mild Sauce, Thanks

The other day, I made a pot roast. K bought potatoes, carrots, and onions to go with it, but I used only a small portion of them. So I decided to cook the rest in the leftover broth, mash them up, and freeze them in one-meal portions.

The carrots were bubbling away in the broth, I'd cut up the onions and was getting ready to start on the potatoes -- both to go in later since they take less time to cook -- when K pointed to the two small, brilliant orange-red peppers the neighbors had given us, and said, "Hey, you could put those in."

I'm not much of a pepper person as a rule; bell peppers on pizza are about as daring as I get. If you bring stronger than mild salsa into my house for chips, you're welcome to it. So I demurred: "I thought you said they're hot; I want to be able to eat this, too."

"I don't know that they're hot; I'll find out." He cut off the tiny tip of one, chewed on it for awhile, and pronounced it no more hot than bell peppers. Well, okay, then. As long as they were small and bland, I could handle some pepper in the potatoes and carrots.

Holding the peppers in my left hand, I sliced and de-seeded and diced them, then scooped them up, also with my left hand, and dumped them in with the carrots. They were small; it didn't take long. Then I licked the juice off my fingers (and must have licked my lips immediately after).

Two seconds later, I said, "These are too hot." Five seconds later I was running cold water over my hands and very nearly screaming for ice. K came in, baffled, remarked again that the bit he'd eaten earlier hadn't been hot. Had I bitten into a seed, maybe? No, I had not; I had licked the juice from my fingers.

He took a bit from the pot, put it in his mouth, and almost instantly spit it out, horrified. He poured soap over my hands, got me ice, got me ice cream, got himself a popsicle. He took the pan outside and dumped out all those lovely carrots in that savory broth, then cleaned the pan, the knife I'd used, the chopping board, assiduously. Meanwhile I continued running ice cubes over my tongue and lips, moaning. I washed my hands, again and again, afraid to touch anything for fear of contaminating it with that flaming juice. I wiped my hands on my apron only, then threw it into the wash.

Two hours later, the fire in my tongue and lips had mostly abated. I accidentally touched the corners of my eyes with my fingertips and ran for the eyedrops; thankfully, I'd barely touched them before I thought and they only burned mildly for a few seconds. I wondered, seriously, if I'd have been blinded if I'd touched them earlier.

The worst pain gone, I began to realize that the fingers of my left hand were burning. Examining them closely, I found they had actually blistered from the pepper juice. If I touched them to my tongue, my tongue burned again. All night they burned; they still burned when I got up this morning. Only now, 16+ hours later, are they beginning to feel almost normal, the blisters receding, the burning relieved.

Who said beauty isn't dangerous?

05 July 2011


Because we are lazy, we shorten words:

telephone --> phone

refrigerator --> frig

weblog --> blog

Because we are lazy, we write long redundant phrases:

"all throughout" --> through

"due to the fact that" --> since

"the reason why is because" --> because

I don't understand human nature.

20 June 2011

Alisa Kailey Impson: Requiescat In Pace

Alisa Kailey Impson
2 February 1994 - 20 June 2011

Our beloved granddaughter Alisa, who loved nothing better than to hold onto and be held by those who loved her, has been gathered into the arms of her loving Savior. Her influence in the lives of her family, both immediate and extended, cannot be calculated.

We will miss her.

08 May 2011

Sunday Update: Best Mother's Day Ever

Today Davina walked without the cane. Friday a walker; Saturday a cane; Sunday all on her own: amazing recovery in such little time!

She called this afternoon when Daniel was there so I spoke to two of the kids at once -- what fun!

She sounded like herself, laughing and joking with the little brother, making fun of herself a bit about dragging her foot as she walks, pretending indignation at the littlest one's sudden ability to stay happily overnight away from Mommy . . .

So happy today!

07 May 2011

Second Saturday Update

I just talked with Davina again, and she sounds wonderful. She has already graduated from a walker to a cane, though she feels very awkward, and they are sure she will regain the strength in her left leg with time and physical therapy; they've scheduled her to do therapy very near where she lives. She will be try tomorrow to see if she can get off the major pain medication, as she has to be off it in order to go home. If so, and if all else continues to go as well as it has, she could go home as early as Monday. Today's medical science is amazing!

The children got to come see her today so they are more reassured now that Mommy is really all right. Her church has scheduled meals for all next week, and her friend who is a nurse came today to wash the grunge out of her hair; she said it doesn't even look like they shaved it at all. A nice surprise!

I told her about all of you who came up to me today before and after commencement to ask about her, and she is so grateful. We appreciate you all more than we can say.

Saturday Update

Davina reports that yesterday was very difficult with pain, and they did an emergency CT scan to be sure everything was all right. The doctor said the scan was "fantastic." So it was just a matter of not having enough or the right kind of medication, and now that they've adjusted that she's feeling much better. She's frustrated of course with not being able to walk very well, but this will come with time.

06 May 2011

Friday Update


She talked a little, laughed a little, sounded very much herself except extra tired.

Unsurprisingly she has a very bad headache. This of course will subside as the brain heals.

She says her left leg feels very strange; she can't move it much. But she can already feel improvement in it.

Again: thanks to all for your prayers. Now for, we hope, an uneventful recovery!

05 May 2011


Davina's surgery, according to the neurosurgeon, went very well. She has been moved to the ICU and has been waking up a bit now and then. They know that she does have some weakness in her left leg, but believe that will correct within a few weeks. I suppose they will be able to better see any other side effects after she is awake and aware.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers, and I will continue to let you know if there is more news.

04 May 2011

Thursday: Thank you for your prayers!

Our lovely Davina

with Daniel & kids

with Devin, Abby, Emma, and Alex

Pre-op: 5:30 a.m. (MRI, brain-mapping, etc.)
Predicted Completion: late afternoon
Hospital Stay: 3-7 days
Recovery: 2 weeks - several months

Prayers: wisdom and skill for the surgeon
peace for the children
smooth recovery

Praise: for a wonderful church family and good friends
for the prayers of so many across the country

27 April 2011

UPDATE: Surgery Date Set

Davina's surgery is scheduled for 5 May. Thank you for the many, many responses and we appreciate your prayers so much.

26 April 2011

Prayer Request

I have posted before about our older daughter's difficulties with an angioma: a cluster of blood vessels in the brain that bleed occasionally and, in her case, cause seizures. She has had some grand mal seizures in the past year, and today she saw a neurosurgeon who strongly recommended that she have surgery to remove the angioma. It has enlarged and has been bleeding inside itself, causing the greater pressure on the brain tissue that brings on the seizures. The more times this happens, the higher the chance that the angioma will hemorrhage.

Brain surgery is a serious and frightening thing. Davina's angioma is located in the motor skills part of her brain which affects the left side of her body. Surgery could cause a loss of strength on that side of the body, and of course there are many possible side effects. We would so appreciate prayers as she finalizes this decision.

If you are interested in knowing more about angiomas, the Angioma Alliance site is very helpful.


24 April 2011

Christ is Risen Indeed!

St. John of Chrysostom’s Paschal sermon (4th century):

"If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

"And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast you all of it, sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

"Enjoy, all of you, the feast of faith: Receive the riches of loving-kindness, and let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

"It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

"O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?

"Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen."

Found at Scott Cairns’ lovely description of Holy Week as celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox church.