A Quiet Wood

A Quiet Wood

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

This is Sonja.

She is nice. Some people really like her. But Sonja has a flaw. Sometimes she forgets to listen to her mother.

When Sonja was little her mother said, "Sonja, don't ever leave the water running in the sink. You might forget about it, and you could have a flood!!" Sonja listened. She knew her mother was right because her mother was Wise.

But Sonja thought, "I can do more than one thing at once." And so she did. For many years Sonja let the water run in the sink while she did other chores, and nothing ever happened until...

Saturday morning Sonja was getting ready to meet her friends. She combed her hair and brushed her teeth. Then Sonja walked into the kitchen. Sonja wondered, "Why is that puddle on the floor?" "Why is that lake on the floor?" Then Sonja saw the water pouring out of her sink and onto the floor. The bubbles were piled high!

Oh, no! What was she going to do? First, she turned off the water because she is a smart girl. Then she pulled the plug in the sink. Then she began to clean up the water. (Later she remembered to get her camera - after she had already cleaned up a lot.) The cabinet under her sink was flooded.

The floor was flooded.

Sonja cleaned 2 and 1/2 basins of water off her floor. Sonja was sad.

But her floor and cabinet were clean! *Woo Hoo!*

Sonja should have listed to her mother. She also should have read this poem BEFORE the disaster. Because it is a good poem and says Wise things.


If you don't turn the faucet off tight

When you're done in the bathroom,

You'll be wasting water.

Also, the sink might fill up

And overflow and flood the bathroom,

And then the bathroom would fill up

And overflow and flood the bedroom,

And all your clothes would get soaking wet,

And when you wore them, you'd catch a horrible cold

And have to stay home from school

And you couldn't learn anything

Or see your friends.

And after you'd missed school long enough,

All your friends would forget you

And you would be so sad and wet

You'd probably just stay in bed

Wearing your sad, wet clothes

With your sad, wet head

On your sad, wet pillow

Until you just shrivelled up and wasted away.

And nobody would care.

Except your parents

And they'd be all sad and wet

And shrivelling and wasting away, too,

Because you didn't turn the faucet off.

- Jeff Moss

Sonja should have read that poem. But she didn't. She should have listened to her mother. But she didn't.

And she flooded her kitchen.

Fortunately, my dears, the story doesn't end there. Later that night, after the coldness and wetness were done, Sonja went to see her BROTHER! Whom she LOVES! He sang in a concert. It was pretty. Sonja loved it. She smiled...and so did he.

They both smiled. Because they were happy. But it almost didn't happen. Because Sonja didn't listen.

So, my dears, always listen to your mothers. They are Wise. And never, never leave the water running.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Fall came back today. I think it took a bit of vacation and got summer to cover for it for about a week, but today it was back and working hard. (Does that seem like a lot of "its" in one sentence? It does to me. Wait, there it is again...and again. *sigh*) Anyway, I kind of missed fall, and I'm glad it's back...overcast skies, rain, cold, the whole shebang.

You know what else I love that's back? A full day without hearing any sort election coverage. I missed those days, and now they're back. (Excuse me while I wipe a tear of gratitude.) I pray that, no matter how we feel about who won or lost, we will behave like true followers of Jesus and students of the Word. May we honor, obey, and pray for those in authority over us. May our spirits stay sweet and our words gracious. (Enough said.)

Many things have happened in my life since last I blogged. I shall quickly enumerate a few of them for you.

I made a trip to PA to see my aunt and uncle. They always make me feel loved and a bit spoiled. (Lovely.) Of course, I didn't pull the camera out to get any shots of them...just their yard. But it was early fall, and I was overwhelmed by changing color. It must have gone to my head.

I love these trees. You just gotta love trees with faces.

Like I said, I think it went to my head.

I also made a little fall display for my office. My uncle picked out the appropriate pumpkin and gourds for me (following orders from his wife). I think he did a pretty good job!

I also went to a hayride and pretty much did everything but that. There is something lovely about a big fire, cold night, hot dogs, marshmallows, s'mores (in which the chocolate never melts properly), lukewarm "hot" chocolate, hats with pompoms, and crazy kids. It's a pretty great combination! Here are some of my flock.

This is the one where I'm a disembodied head. (That's actually convenient at times.)

So...it has been busy. Right now I'm teaching Biology for almost 2 weeks while the regular teacher is away. I'm really enjoying myself...except for the prep work. However, I find that it's actually the grunt work that makes the experience of teaching a truly enjoyable one. Without it I'm ill prepared, nervous and basically a mess. However, when I put in the time beforehand, I have a blast explaining how stuff works and examining the handiwork of our Creator. Hmmmm. Think there might be a lesson in here somewhere?

This weekend I'm in the office. I just came back from late night in the gym, and sometimes it takes a while for me to settle in for the night. Thus, the blog. Speaking of the office, there's grunt work to be done in there as well if I want to have the kind of rapport I need to have with my girls. Starting to see a pattern here?

I believe that in our spiritual lives there's grunt work as well. Sometimes we complete our spiritual disciplines simply because they are just that - disciplines. Sometimes we do right just because it's right. Am I saying that there is no joy in the spiritual disciplines? OF COURSE NOT! However, if I did only what I felt like doing, there are days I wouldn't take the time to forge through that difficult scripture passage or scribble my scattered thoughts down on paper. But, as with Biology, prep work yields rewards. I may not see them right away, but as I daily do right I form a pattern of living. I begin to watch the Word transform my life, and I enjoy the abundant life God promises.

"For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." Gal. 6:8-9 NASB

Keep up the good work!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I should be asleep. I should. I was. But not anymore. Oh, well. Now I sit...awake in my green chair.

"I could blog," I thought. So here I am, blogging. Unfortunately, I realize that, while many things have happened in the last few weeks, there really isn't much I can blog about. Not that I have a wildly exciting secret life of which I can share no details. No, nothing quite that spectacular. (I don't even have The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.) It's just that much of my life centers around the girls God has given me, and I choose not to share their struggles, joys, heartaches, blunders, etc. with the outside world. I care about them too much for that. Suffice it to say that the last couple of weeks have made me realize my moment by moment need for Jesus. They have made me thankful for those in my life who work alongside me and help me bear burdens; for those who remind me that there is only one Savior...and it is not I. (Unfortunately, I seem to need that reminder more often than I would like to admit!) I have also truly enjoyed my girls recently. Some of them can make me laugh so hard that...well, let's just say they make me laugh hard! I am truly blessed to do what I do. I am consistently amazed and thankful for a Father who so beautifully matches our gifts with ministries that will make a difference in His Kingdom while giving us a sense of complete fulfillment. What an amazing God!

Speaking of my girls, one of them make this for my birthday in August.

It's a fruit bouquet. Cool huh?

This weekend was Homecoming. It went well. I did the traditional dorm-wide room check to make sure everything was squeaky clean for our guests. Unfortunately, the upperclassmen told horror stories to the Freshmen about the thoroughness of my checking. I had some pretty paranoid girls. God love their hearts. =) However, I think some of them are anxiously waiting for next year when they can do the same thing to the newbies!

I just finished working my way through Psalm 119 in my devotions. If you want to be deeply convicted about your love for God's law, read this Psalm! It has been an incredible blessing to me. Allow me to share two verses that have been especially meaningful. I put them up in my office as a reminder. (NASB version)

133. Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.

165. Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.

V. 133 is my prayer. Truly, I do not want any iniquity to have dominion over me. To take it a step further, I want to be ruled by NOTHING save God Himself. I love the concept of establishing. What beautiful connotations! What security - to be founded in and by God's Word. Obviously, if God's Word is to establish my footsteps, I've got to know it! It is my responsibility to love His Word, to feed on it, to let it cleanse me. As I do this, there are many byproducts, and one of the most beautiful is peace. In a crazy, changing, panicked world I am promised "great peace." I am promised a cure for stumbling. What a promise! Do I really believe it? Do I live like I do?

Good night, my friends. I wish you peace. If you don't have it...see above. =)

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Thanks so much to all of you for your kind comments and commiserations. I must say that the "Blackout" week was a truly lovely time. The timing couldn't have been better for me personally (and I do realize that it's all about me). =) Seriously, I had been carrying a bit of stress that was a bit heavier than usual, and it was taking a bit of a toll (not to be confused with a "troll" - although...stress can be a bit trollish at times). Being able to completely disconnect for a while did worlds for my outlook, my emotional state, and my spiritual well-being. Cool, huh? Anyway, it was a wonderful week.

After getting power back on Friday afternoon (at the same time I returned from my trip to the laundromat...grrr...if I had just waited...), I was treated by a visit from my extra special friend, Kimberly. Kimberly was my college roommate for 3 1/2 years (bless her), so we know each other pretty well. What a blessing to be with someone with whom you can truly be yourself! It was so great to spend time with her family as well. Her parents took me in on MANY occasions when I couldn't go home on school breaks because of the distance. They offered me a real "home away from home". (Sounds a bit corny, but it's true.) I have so many incredible memories that involve their family. Anyway, we had a great time together.

I love this pic because Mr. Paul was trying to take our picture with a camera in each hand. I was highly amused at him and Kimberly, well she was being tolerant.

What a special family!

Kimberly's cousin, Janet and her husband, Chuck, also spent part of the day with us. Lots of great stories and many laughs.

A trip to Graeters always brings out the best in people.

And these are pictures from our "non-visit" to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. (We ran out of time, but we did see the gift shop!)

And dinner was at Pompilios (famous for appearing in Rain Man) - great Italian food. Yum. (Kimberly did wonder for just a bit how old the place was...)

The next week we got back to the serious task of educating our students. However, the Fall Picnic was already scheduled for Tuesday, so we took another break to eat outdoors and play softball. (Well some played. I just ate.) I actually work pretty hard setting the up the food for these picnics, so I didn't take many pictures, just a few of the loading process. What is it about guys that makes them want to throw things? Lots of this went on.

I don't really understand...but it makes them happy!

This week has been a week of lessons; a week of reminders that I must lean heavily on my Heavenly Father. I have been reminded of my own frailties and my neediness, but I have also seen my Father's sufficiency and endless wisdom. I am more and more aware that I must let Him live in and through me moment by moment; that I must ABIDE in Him. (No stepping out for a few errands every now and again.) These lessons can pinch a bit, but I am grateful for them. I'm also grateful for reminders of simple love and simple joy. Like this...

Have a happy day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


To Whom It May Concern:

This blog is to inform you of the continued but somewhat dim existence of the author of this blog. Her power has been partially off since Sunday evening, and her children have been sent away (a result of the Strong Winds of Ike that visited the Queen City on Sunday). She lives a life of semi-darkness and tepid water, huddling around the few working electrical outlets in her domain. The world is quiet and peaceful. She is happy. She is catching up on her sleep and finding that the sun shines brighter and the birds sing more beautifully. She shall return with her acerbic wit and astute observations when she again is able to connect to the internet from her domicile.

Until then she remains,

Your Humble Servant

Monday, August 11, 2008


Here I sit in the embrace of my favorite green chair. I drink in the stillness of the hallway outside my apartment. I relish these last few moments of solitude before another year unfolds here on the Hilltop. Am I ready? Yes, I think so. (And thanks for asking.) There were moments earlier this summer when I could not have replied quite so readily, but our Heavenly Father has been reminding me lately of why I am here at all; has been reconfirming my calling, my purpose. So, yes, if He has more for me to do...I'm ready; ready to welcome these young women so full of promise, fears, hurts, and endless potential into my heart. I pray that they will truly find a home there.

*Please pardon me while I make a wild shift in both subject matter and tone. There...it's done.*

I realize that I left you, my faithful readers, smack dab in the middle of my summer and have since recklessly abandoned you with shockingly little remorse. I'll try to give you a brief rundown of the rest of my summer activities as quickly and painlessly as possible. (Of course, that's also what they tell you right before they jab a 2 inch needle into your hip, so it may not be of much comfort.)

My summer was truly blessed with some time to disconnect and recharge a bit. It was also blessed by incredible moments with friends. I did not record every single one of these moments due to the fact that people begin to look at you funny if you pull out the camera every time you pass within 10 feet of each other. So, I expect you all to take me at my word when I say that I had many wonderful times with my friends. :)

I did have to record our evening of Balderdash at Harold and Kayla's. My dad pulled out a very strange wig/hat arrangement in honor of our time. It demanded a photo.

My mom also had a few pretty funny moments with Dylan, who was absolutely determined to feed her chips.

Great times!

The last week I was actually at home, our church had its yearly VBS. The theme this year was "Go for the Gold".

Different people from our church participated, and it turned out really good. We had over 200 kids every night. I had a lot of fun being involved with my buddy Willie. He had a way of keeping things hopping. He and Pastor Loper were a big hit with the kids.

Right after VBS was over my family left for our vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Brent met us there, and we had a really fantastic time. My mom, who is wildly organized, brought lots of great food items to make our experience even better. She even brought my unbirthday cake. (Remember last year's? So beautiful.) Unfortunately, the trip was not kind to this cake.

Oh well, it still tasted lovely!

I'm trying hard to force the trip into a nutshell, but it's a bit difficult. There was the trip to Dollywood...

...with my parents;

the tubing accident that wreaked havoc on my elbow (I flipped my inner tube in the rapids...dumb...but excessively funny.);

browsing at The Christmas Place (or whatever it's called...my dad loved it.);

eating good food at places like the Apple Barn, Huck Finn's Catfish, Bullfish Grill, and The Old Mill (Hey...he's awake!);

visiting with our neighbors;

and just enjoying time together with our family.

There was this time when Brent annoyed my dad by "wasting film" in the digital camera (Not really, but the concept applies. He was annoyed.),

and this time when he nearly sent my mother to her eternal reward out of sheer terror for his safety,

and this time which defies explanation,

and these two people who are responsible for it all. I rise up and call them blessed! *rising* "You are blessed!" *settling back to a reclining pose*

If you are interested in any further tidbits from our vacation, you can view some excerpts on Brent's latest video blog.

After our vacation, I came back to the Hilltop to start the process of getting ready for the year. It wasn't all work, however. I did manage to fit in trips to the park, the flower conservatory, the art museum, the museum center, etc. Really lovely times. It was on my foray through the conservatory that I had a moment of inspiration. I shall share it with you now...ready or not. I was walking through the Bonsai display enjoying the miniature plants; so detailed and intricate in design. I came across this one.

Not all that extraordinary really as bonsai plants go. Pretty, detailed, but that's what one expects in this sort of display. However, the thing that caught my eye was the card below it.

This little plant is 40 years old, and 31 of those years it has spent "in training". It is constantly being pruned, shaped, and bent into the image that its owner desires for it. Without this constant "training" the branches would grown unruly and this delicate plant would lose the thing that makes it unique. It would become just one more bit of greenery.

How often do I chafe under the constant "training" of my Heavenly Father. "How long is this going to go on?" "Surely I should be good at this by now!" And then I remember that the One who owns me, both by creation and by purchase, is conforming me to a very specific image; that of His Son. He knows that without constant "pruning" and "training", I would grow unruly and the image would grow more and more indistinct as I became just like everyone else around me. It may not be the most powerful example, but I was blessed as I realized that if human gardeners will spend hours and years to perfect a tiny tree, how much more will our Heavenly Father patiently tend us until the image of Jesus can be clearly seen.

Bless you, my friends. I wish you all very lovely last weeks of summer. Make them count!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Suspension of Summer

For those of you wondering about the word "suspension" in my title, I use it in its scientific sense. A suspension (unlike a solution) is a mixture like pepper and water in which one ingredient will not dissolve the other (small rocks and water, small children and water...things like that). This blog promises to be just so. If you, dear reader, are expecting smoothness of flow and startling continuity, you are about to be sadly disappointed. Due to my utter lack of initiative (call it summer slothfulness), I have been amassing a great host of experiences which have yet to be recorded. That, my friends, is the purpose of this blog, an absolute juggernaut of information that I hope will not overwhelm you too intensely. So here goes...

A Day With Mom
by Sonja

It was 5:15am on Saturday. Sonja was sleeping in her bed.

All at once, her alarm clock sounded. "Beep! Beep! Beep!"

"What is going on?", Sonja wondered. "Why is my alarm clock beeping?"

And then Sonja remembered. It was her Day With Mom! They were going to Yard Sales! Oh, joy!

Soon she and Mom were in the car. Mom was Happy! She loved to yard sale.

The first yard sale was pretty good, but Sonja didn't get much. She also went back to the car before Mom did.

Then it started to rain, but Mom and Sonja braved the rain. They would not be deterred. They were very proud of their bravery.

The rain came down harder...

...and harder.

But they still got a few cool things.

After they were finished, Mom and Sonja met Dad at their favorite breakfast place, The Royal Cafe. Mom and Dad love to eat breakfast. They also love each other.

Eating at Royal Cafe is finger lickin' good. Right Dad?

After their yummy breakfast, Mom and Sonja went to the dented can store to get Bargains...

...and to the flea market to get a watermelon.

Their last stop was at Staples to buy Stapley stuff.

After their big outing, Mom and Sonja were tired. It was time to relax in the Pool!

So they did. It was fun. What a great day to be with Mom.

The End.

Heidi's Wedding

Weekend before last, I flew up to Cinci to enjoy the joyous occasion of my buddy Heidi's nuptials. Heidi married a wonderful man, Nathan Easley. They make a terrific couple. The wedding was beautiful in its simplicity and sacredness. It made my heart go, "Ahhhhhhh". I also was able to spend a little bit of time with Julia, who braved the trip from Illinois. It was lovely to see her as well. Here are just a few shots of the blessed event.

Nathan with the girls.


Hope. (The group, not the emotion.)

The musicians...amazingly talented, all. :)

The cake (by Marianne), both beautiful and exceedingly tasty.

A really beautiful day. I'm so glad I was able to be a part of it!

Cake Decorating Lessons

Speaking of cakes... On Thursday, my mom invited some young ladies over to our house who were wanting to learn how to decorate cakes. It basically turned into a "Fun With Icing" party, but a good time was had by all nonetheless. I even decorated a little cake myself with results that weren't too terrible.

Our "class".

My cake and I. I will be taking orders shortly.

Finally...Our Backyard Zoo

Some people have to go to zoos to see critters, but here in South Florida, one never knows what one will see in the back yard. Friday morning I saw this.

An armadillo just making himself at home. He actually made it all the way up to the back porch.

Fortunately, he opted not to come in.

Well, that's about it. At least that's all I have pictures of. For those of you who have successfully made it through this entire post, I salute you! *salute* You are either extremely kind or extremely bored. (There may be a few other options in there as well.) Blessings to you all!