Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent Emerging

   I love the image below by Rockwell. Do you see St. Nick's book has only the words "Good Boys" on it? The hysterical implication is all girls are good, but that good boys can be confined to a single volume.

   From previous experience, I proffer that good boys may be hard to find in art museums near Christmas, and that Christmas does not always bring out the best of good girls nor their mothers!
   As for Advent: It's been a month. J has worked 3 weeks straight, 12 hour days (at least) with 1 day off. He's ready for a much needed break; we are ready for his presence with us. 

   Yet God's grace sustains us. God's grace holds us close. It helps us do the next thing, share the next word, and shop and wrap joy. We walk into the dark holding the light.
       We began advent with our favorite German inspired advent walk.
       But we also began advent with the loss of another lamb.
      And the terror that comes with watching a cougar haul off a precious lamb while your son plays soccer nearby cannot be described. And it occurred within 90 minutes of sharing these words with someone I love:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them.

  There is a battle between light and dark. Winter solstice has come and gone, and so too the darkness must give way to the light. The darkness hasn't a choice, dear ones. The light is coming, and it comes from a single source.

   Yes, this December, we have dashed the mouth of the lion. We overcame through Christ - it is He who shuts the mouth of the lion from our children, and pays the cost Himself. He is the Lamb of GodDo you see?

   Through Him alone, we celebrate amidst the pouring rain, dark days, and loss. Through the lashing wind and rain, He emerges, He is enough, and He is good.
      And His rainbows this month? There have been too many to count!
   And Sunday, we finally made it to a local tree farm to cut a massive Nordmann. She's 10' tall and drinks like an elephant. I do miss the fir smell which Nordmann's lack, but maybe this is your tree if you have allergies.
   Note to self: A tree with a 5" diameter base in a 6" diameter tree stand means watering every few hours. Brother has been using his hydrodynamics water works to keep her full up. It has been a great gift which has lasted years.
   We have settled into baking and are working on peppermint bark, chocolate gingerbread cookies, baklava, and chocolate peppermint crackles. The kids are really enjoying audible Cinnamon Bear stories while they bake, and make origami decorations for the Christmas tree. We are keeping it very low key this year for everyone. 

  More and more, we are moving toward home made presents and giving the gift of our time and presence. We cannot buy what truly counts. We can only give it.

   There will be a few small things under the tree. We will see if this and this is a hit. I hope so! 

    She offered up songs in the middle school Christmas Cantata. It was wonderful to see her sing with joy after being so sick last year. God is exceedingly gracious. 
   We took in White Christmas at The Gallery Theatre in McMinnville. Darling. They've watched a White Christmas too many times to count, and yesterday watched The Christmas Story. We are writing stories all around us, living stories, breathing stories, and we are being invited into the One's story.

   I keep coming back to Rohr's words during our advent devotional times: Jesus did not come to change God's mind about humanity, but to change humanity's mind about God.
   For those of you facing loss this month: One day, in Him, we will gain those we have lost. When the dawn of new time arises, our lanterns we will lay down. We won't need them - the world will give way to the Light. 

   Even now, all earth speaks to His birth and resurrection - if only we would believe. If only we would ask for eyes with which to see.

   Wishing you a blessed Advent, and the awareness and awe of His glory emerging. 

~ Kim

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Remedy by Thomas Goetz

      Miss Conolly's fall writing has been a fairly grim endeavor. Around here, a steady writing lull has only been exceeded by a steady rain. She did complete a paper on Vermeer and a fiction piece called Sweet Crime. Of course, a crook covered in sugar from head to toe and partaking of sweet shop doughnuts is a sweet crime indeed. I keep reminding myself that Rod and Staff 7 is a full grammar and writing curricula, and we are doing that. Thankfully, she just finished a book review for The Remedy. Enjoy!
The Remedy Book Report

     The Remedy, by Thomas Goetz, is about Tuberculosis and the quest to find a cure. On the whole, it is a very interesting book, but in some places, it is unfortunately necessary to wade through chest-high tediousness to get to the interesting parts. German physician Robert Koch, French chemist Louis Pasteur, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a medical doctor before he began writing full-time, are all included in this captivating book. With excellent documentation of medical issues that were controversial at the time, this book will interest both those with an understanding of healthcare and laymen alike. Learn about the origins of microbes, antiseptic, and  “germ theory”  in this enjoyable read!

All  Those Little Idiocracies
      Pasteur disliked shaking hands. Koch was seriously introverted. Conan Doyle was a doctor, even though he wanted to be  a writer. Everyone has their “thing”.  Often one’s “thing” is just that: a silly little thing. But these guys…. Well, Pasteur was a germophobe, of all things, yet he upheld the “germ theory”. He actually advocated for the existence of germs- and he did things (like dissecting anthrax infected carcasses) in his lab that were a lot germier than shaking hands. Dr. Robert Koch, for all the wonderful work he and his lab staff did, was completely, hopelessly, introverted. When he was called on to speak at a medical conference, the people in the front row had to strain their ears to hear him! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle practiced as a doctor, but what he wished to do was write! Of course, there are also silly things that whole people groups do. For instance, if you see a red lamp in Britain, you have located a doctor. Here’s another strange fact: It typically takes approximately 17 years for a lab breakthrough to become a common medical procedure, a reality that could certainly create some very annoyed patients. Everyone and everything appears to have something a little crazy defining them.

Everyone Has Rivals
Contemporaries, Pasteur and Koch were rivals from the time Koch became known for his discovery of anthrax baccillus. With national pressure thrown in, both of them raced to find the cause and develop a cure for diseases such as anthrax. Koch provided some rather heated words on the topic of Pasteur’s ability to grow anthrax bacteria, but Pasteur was the one to develop a vaccine for anthrax. While Pasteur may have used control groups in his experiments,  small-town, back country Koch was the one to develop the revolutionary lab procedures and techniques that are standard today.   It’s strange how things work sometimes. Even though they were both working for a common goal, Pasteur and Koch were personal enemies!

        When Robert Koch emerged from the German countryside, no one expected him

to build up his reputation, only to strike it down. Koch pretended that he had

found the cure for Tuberculosis, but what he actually found was tuberculin, a

substance that did nothing to strike down this particularly vicious disease. Sir Conan

Doyle realized the substance for what it was, and somehow learned through the

process of discovery that his destiny was to be the author of the Sherlock Holmes

series. Somehow amid all the scientific turmoil of the time, people were able to

document this time period for what it was: an amazing Golden Age of Discovery.    

That is the essence of Remedy,: the fascinating story of Sherlock Holmes, Tuberculosis,

and the race to find a cure for a deadly disease. Read on!
     Next up, she begins working on the biography of a woman mathematician. She will submit it in mid-January to the Association of Women in Mathematics Essay Contest. Tomorrow, she will need to take the leap to begin connecting with some women mathematicians. Write on!  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Snowy Thanksgivings

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me, 
As if thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be,
Thy praise. 
~George Herbert 
Many many cuddles,
a bit of trekking,
and the best turkey and gravy ever! 
Hours of outside time,
 and hours of sledding =
  lots of smiles.
 Food, more food, and family +
cold sunny sunsets =
A new face in the crowd,

chapped lips and ice skating,
= warm hearts.
 A little sugar, photos, and icy sun =
Advent season has begun! 

    May God bless your family as you draw near to Him this Advent season. While there are no perfect seasons, nor perfect families, there is a perfect Grace holding us close, pulling us close. New beginnings are being birthed about us; let us open our eyes to see. Let us open our ears to hear. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015


We watched Charles Dicken's Oliver at the local high school on Friday night. How timely a play. How timely are Dicken's stories today - the evil, the bondage, the sale and destruction of people, and yet the redemption.

So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?  Hebrews 13:6 

We may live with hope, and we are called to offer hope.
I am here this morning, in this space, because I need that hope, because the night is too long and the daylight seems too short. Over and over again, I need to be reminded of His words. He speaks them in the night.

"Do not be afraid of what man can do to the body."

You and I are made of eternal cloth.

The I AM is our eternal hope. 
What is it that you do best? What spheres of love, life, and joy do you hold in your hands? Keeping investing in them, keeping growing them. In the wake of tragedies, and the lies that create them, and the evil, offer a great hope. Because there is hope.
The most powerful thing we can offer the world today is our stories of love and life, of awaking each new day and beginning again, even when night terrors keep us awake. When the cries of humanity ring in our ears, let us rise with renewed purpose to offer joy and embrace each other where love is lacking.

A dear writer friend winged her way towards Paris on Saturday. She headed into the darkness in order to write light. Let us join her in these efforts, exactly where we live, love, and breathe.

What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Mathew 10:26-28

Monday, October 26, 2015

Make Meaning

We cannot make meaning here alone. We may seek to make sense of it alone, or give up all together seeking sense, but we cannot make meaning alone. Meaning and significance is made only in collaboration with others and God. If we seek others alone, we'll never find our inner anchor. If we seek God alone, we will find others.

~ Annie Dillard


Creative Schools by Ken Robinson
Voracious by Cara Nicoletti

...looking not at the world, but into it. 
~ Ellen Meloy

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

As the World Gives

I do not give to you as the world gives. 

   I drive home and ponder the above words. It's been a week of pondering words - those others have said to us, to me, and words I've said to others. Words shape and define us. We can spend our whole lives trying to overcome words, because ultimately actions follow words and words follow actions and words become us, and we become words. Words: it all started with the Word, and that word: it was good.

  I do not give to you as the world gives.

   And I wonder about the words my children are ingesting in this world. What are they are hearing and what they are reading? More than ever, we are engaged in the words they ingest because one day they will become these words and carry words into the world.

   We have been caught up in the much acclaimed story, Wonder, over the past few weeks. We have listened by audio to the gripping story of a boy with a deformed face. The story has been incredibly moving, bringing tears to my eyes, and yet there are parts of this book I loathe.

   Is it normal for today's kids to play Dungeons and Dragons, and have Halo, a first person shooter game, voted best killer app, on their computers? 

   God help us. God help us that we normalize violence for our kids in our books and in our homes. They come home asking for it, and we cave. God help us.

   Dear R.J. Palacio,


   EVERY WORD is PIVOTAL. Words INFLUENCE us. We are them. They are us. What we fill our minds with, is who we are. Wake up!


   I listened to OPB this morning and the polls about gun violence, and the majority of people believe our mass shootings come from mental illness.


   COULD WE START BY ADDRESSING OUR VIDEO GAMES, and the words we let our kids read that normalize this violence? Very few of these mass shooters are older people. They are young people raised in a culture of violent gaming. But we don't/won't talk about that!

   We bring violence into our homes. Why do we shake our heads and Wonder at the outcome? Our own Halo's are truly gracing our heads. 
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Here is a real Wonder story happening in Oregon very near you. 
This story is all about what God gives. 

   This is what the world gives...

   The school librarian recently chided my middle schooler for reading The Count of Monte Cristo (full edition, 1,000 pages long), encouraging her to read more age appropriate materials. I wasn't there, I didn't hear, but when she brings home dangerous fluff (there is such a thing) and puts down the Count at 500 pages into her story because of some librarian's words, you can bet there will be words spoken and words pondered. Thank you librarian for causing us to stop and think, yet again, about what we read and put in our minds. My mama/teacher feathers may have been ruffled for a moment, but you did us a service, and we were reminded...

I do not give to you as the world gives.

   As so as I drive home, I ponder His words and His reminder to me, and I ponder one more story about a girl, but her story is my story, and your story too. It's a story about a girl that's beginning a trek. She's trekking to find a homeland.

   My prayer for you dear girl, is that you know: He does not give to you as the world gives. As you seek answers, therapies, love, hope, and family, may you be led to resources that speak truth, freedom, light, love, and joy. May you find Him. Because every therapy we seek for our broken souls, apart from Him, will never fully heal us. Apart from the One Great Soul, we will always be looking for the wholeness, that deep down, we know exists, and it does exist, dear girl. It does exist. There is a giver of peace.

And He does not give to you as the world gives.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday, Well Not Really

     We are up to our ears in school, soccer, art, FLL robotics, and now chemistry classes, but as October passes, the fall schedule shall settle down. Right now, we are soaking up warm fall days and lots of learning.

   I'm writing, but not here much. A lovely writer friend deposited a book in my hand about Thomas Nuttall that I'm delving into. I'm grateful for this hard to obtain reference book on his life. I've no more excuses for procrastination station!

    Pictures are from Smith Rocks while on a less than 24 hour birthday bash adventure. I managed to get myself up Misery Ridge on Sunday morning; it's been a while. Monday was great, but Tuesday I felt the burn and ache!

  Oh! I must share. I have a new favorite CD by The von Trapps! We were blessed to catch them in a free concert last Friday in Portland before chemistry class, and then a sister-in-law's delicious dinner under the stars.

   Love their stuff! Yes, they are related to those Von Trapps!

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Sun Rises Again

    Up in the night, I grappled with the gods of Isaiah 46 and the God who sustains me. This business of salvation, of deliverance, is and must be, new each morning.

   Each new morning, I am invited to embrace God, and to leave behind the gods who are failing our broken world. Today, He still offers you and me another way.

   And let us remember that man's brokenness and evil in the world, will never ever surpass God's hope. Hope, love, joy, and truth will one day win. They will.

   As the sun rose again this morning, pink on the horizon, so too, are God's mercies new every morning. But we must carry these mercies to the hurting, even while we are hurting shattered vessels. 

   While He yet mends us, may His love pour from our shattered places.

   And let us never forget that God's heart throbs, screams, and aches with ours, and still, He invites us to create with Him each new morning. We are called to be creators under the light of His sun, through the light of His Son.

   What are we creating, living, and breathing today that brings His hope into a shattered throbbing world?

  I needed Tonia's words today.  Maybe you do too?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Eavesdropping Elections

   Why is everyone talking about Donald Trump anyway?

    Because they can't predict the weather anymore. Politics and weather have always been something we predict, and the weather is more unsettled these days; no one can predict it. And if you want to talk about politics, just ask anyone about Donald Trump.

    Why? Because he's a weird, or because he doesn't know much?

They listen to him because they want to believe the myth that America could be great, is great, if it was just different. Or, they believe the myth that our nation was once great, but that myth ignores what we've done to our own people and our history of slavery. No one wants to talk about the fact that every school in our town is Title 1, because more than 50% of kids are near the poverty line, or talk about a nation that took over land from Native Americans, and is still not meeting treaty obligations we signed. Even today, we say America is great.

Why don't we pay them?

    Because the money has to come from somewhere, and theirs is a myth that America is great and people like to believe that myth, and not face what they've done. People like to place their fears in other people instead.

    There was a leader once that became strong and significant because he led people to believe he could make their economy strong again. That was Hitler.

   Other nations pushed Germany into collapse after WW1. People lost their homes, their money, their jobs, and schools were failing. Hitler rose up and said, "I'll make our economy strong," and he gave them someone to blame for their troubles. He said, "We'd be great, things would be great, if we were all like me."

   He was elected into office, and not because he was stupid. His ideas were dangerous, but he wasn't an idiot. If you understand human nature you can manipulate it.

   Don't ever laugh about Donald Trump. He's kind of a funny guy, but never make the mistake of thinking that he's stupid. People like him are likely smarter than us; because their ideas are dangerous, and we buy into them as a nation.

*Overheard this weekend.

Row for the Cure Portland

  We headed to Portland on Sunday for Row for the Cure. A great race, even if a bit chilly. It's time to pack some extra gear for warmth in the back of the car!
   We took our Willamette University Tomadachi (friendship) student with us to Portland, and after the race, we went to Powell's for book buying and selling, and then hit up the PDX food carts for lunch. Brother and me* had fried chicken breast on waffle with maple syrup.
   There was quite a lot of grumping and whining, and we were all exhausted by 4 p.m.. Most napped in the car. We've learned that after a Safe Families hosting to keep things low key, but there wasn't a thing we could do about that this past weekend, as the race was scheduled long before the hosting.

   Sometimes you just have to deal, give it your best, and hope for a better day next time. As J said of his race, "Well, we gave ourselves a time to beat."
   After Portland, we headed west to Beaverton for Uwajimaya for some shopping and ended up leaving a bunch of our groceries there. Did I say we were tired or what! They were great about it, and are giving us a credit upon return. It was Koi Festival weekend and we saw fish, some brilliantly gold, worth $10,000! That was pretty cool.

~ Kim

*See Confessions of a Comma Queen!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Double Rainbows of Grace

    What do you do when the morning greets you with sheer joy? You open wide your arms to embrace the new light coming forth, pink in its wake. You run for the camera. You catch it.  And far too early, you wake children so you can see their smiles open wide with beams of wide stretching hope. And when a 4 year old asks where that rainbow comes from you say, "Water, light and God's heart." It's a sufficient, if simple, answer at an early hour.
    In the midst of a very short Safe Families hosting and feeling blessed. We learn and receive so much by these breathing blessings that come into our lives. 

   Today, I having been pondering the Pope's words with a 4 year old in the back seat. At 4, he knows nothing of the Pope, but he knows he's having a great time, and he has new boots for stomping around after stubborn stray lambs. 

  Sometimes new boots and stubborn little lambs make you feel alive.
You know?
   I've had no great epiphanies today, only rain drops and laughter, cookies and kids. It's been a lovely day. Last night I was pondering children: what to teach them and what to share. These thoughts grabbed me among the bolts of lightening and rolls of thunder in the night.

    I think and I wonder, if the two most powerful things we will ever do for our children will be to teach them about God's love for them, and to get them a library card. Then, maybe, just maybe, one day we will add a third most important thing - having involved our family in helping families in crisis in and around our community.

   Grace guide us on the way. We will soak up every single rainbow You send. We stand astounded at Your double rainbows, and all the hope that falls in rain drops around us. 

~ Kim 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Modern Blood Letting

   "I like my needles small and blunt!" she yells while waving Hercule Poirot in his face.

   Is she going to pound the poor lab technician with the 4 pound tome?

   One never knows. What she will do. Staring down a blood draw.

   She's already informed him, "Don't count it down for heaven's sake! I don't need to know when you are going to put that thing in me, and don't use a butterfly!" 

   "What is a butterfly?" I wonder to myself.
    He ignorantly asks, "Who's the author?"

    "Agatha Christie! Can't you see it right on the front of the book?" she demands.

   The tome does indeed sit about 4 inches from his eye balls, but a 12 year old with a book dagger she's thrusting to and fro, with fists clenched and eyes of fire, can be a bit distracting, if not intimidating.

   These blood draws, I abhor.

   This time around, we put a small dab of lidocaine on her arm. Yet in the chair, her mind is one focused pain processor; you would not have known she was numbed. Sheer panic, a vice-like grip, and eyes that could mash a rose bud to bits, flare from an upturned chin and less than stiff upper lips.

    For a brief moment, okay two, as I re-position my body to the other side of hers, I wonder if she will kick him in the shins. I really don't think she will bite. Would she?

    Ten herculean minutes later, the dreaded task is accomplished, and the poor technician is as flustered as I. Palatable is the blood pressure rise in the roughly 4' x 4' room.

    In rare form, she begins to instruct him on the care and keeping of his lab.

   "You need to keep horse bandages in stock, sparing people sticky tape on their arms." She commands. 

    "Wilco," I say. "At Christmas. It's cheap. Really cheap. Can be used for many things." I only want to move on and move out.

    The curtain is moved aside, and the guy in the blood letting stall next door, stares dumbfounded. Could that tiny bit of darling make all that noise?

   Yes, indeed. That was us, in our local lab tonight.

    After dinner she tells her father, "It went great! Best blood draw yet."

   I silently sip my glass of red wine. 

   But bingo! I realize the lab is open 24 hours. Next time, they can have a father daughter bonding experience.

   As for the bloody battle's results? We expect fabulous results - just not in the lab chair.