Photos of Hurricane Irene

“In this handout image provided by NASA, Hurricane Irene is seen from space from the International Space Station, as it churns off the east coast of the United States, August 26, 2011, in the Atlantic Ocean. Irene lashed the eastern coast of the U.S. with wind gusts up to 125 miles per hour.”“Throughout its path in the contiguous United States, Irene is estimated to have caused up to $7 billion (2011 USD) in damage and at least 41 deaths, with the death toll still reportedly rising.”“Waves and storm surge pound the boardwalk and the beach at first light as Hurricane Irene slams into Asbury Park, New Jersey, August 28, 2011. Hurricane Irene knocked out power to 3.3 million homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast, forced two nuclear plants to shut and idled oil ports and refining as it approached New York City early on Sunday.” Do you remember the Hurricane Irene from 1999?

Alan and I waited out the 1999 Hurricane Irene, huddled in the hallway of our Daytona beachfront resort hotel, watching the huge picture glass window literally bulging and vibrating against the force of the hurricane winds…and that was only a Class 1 hurricane.

Even so, the next morning we found that the windows and moon roof of our Saab turbo (rental) car had been completely blown out by the gale-force winds.The 1999 Hurricane Irene dropped 20″ of rain in Miami, caused eight deaths and 800 million in damages, which seemed huge at the time… but has been dwarfed by the unbelievable damage that has occurred this past week.Furthermore, last week’s Hurricane Irene devastated not only the southern Atlantic states, but the entire Atlantic seaboard.

“People gather at Hudson River Park at the end of the day in New York, Aug. 28, 2011. Irene swept through the New York City area on Sunday morning lacking anywhere near the force that had been feared, but still cutting power to more than a million people, toppling trees and flooding some parts of the city.” (Michael Appleton/The New York Times)My brother’s family lives in downtown Manhattan, and frankly, I haven’t been able to connect with them since the disaster, although I’m hoping they made it safely to their Poconos cottage. And, my Connecticut kids live far enough inland and high enough on a hill that they were safe (although a neighbor’s tree blew over). BUT, what about the hundreds of thousands of people who may not have had a car and a home to retreat to.

Where do more than a million displaced Americans go to get warm and dry?May we be praying for our people, and may they look up to God for help.“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

Surprise! Happy Fifth Anniversary, Jen and Dan

Great friends are hard to come by, but once you find them, you never want to lose them! Kathy’s two best friends from “Diaper Days” (about 25 years now) are Jennifer and Melanie Ingland. (Jennifer is in the middle with her husband, and Melanie is the furthest on the left.) Five years ago, Kathy was a bridesmaid in Jennifer’s wedding, and that’s where she first met Carl, who was also in the wedding party for the groom!Anybody who knows our family knows how much we all love Carl, so the wedding was not only a joyous occasion, we remember the event  as a double blessing! Thanks Dan and Jen! 🙂 (That’s what friends are for, right?!!)

Well, this Sunday after church we “flew” over to Detroit to be part of a surprise fifth anniversary party for Dan and Jen…and they were realio-trulio surprised!It was so fun! Both families got involved in preparing a video of D+J’s first five years. There was a wonderful picnic, games, a dessert buffet, bonfire, and even a cake-cutting for the happy couple. What a great idea!The Ingland parents have been great friends for Alan and me all these years, too. When we lived in Marquette, they were the first family to come visit us, and they were the last family to visit us before we moved down to GR! On a Christmas gift, Dona once wrote: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.” Dave and Dona have certainly been solid gold!Gene and Andrea (niece and nephew and almost like our own kids) were the photography team for both Jen and Kathy’s weddings, and they were at the party too. We got to enjoy their latest model, little Elijah Daniel, who’s as cute as a button!And, as a final, rather bittersweet part of the day, we also moved the last of Stephen’s belongings into his new apartment at MSU, where he’ll be studying music for the next three years. Stephen has a lovely apartment, a full-ride scholarship, and I’m totally thrilled for him…but all you parents know how it feels to watch your chicks flying away, even it they’re doing a great job at flying! 😦

Thank you, Lord, for all the wonderful things that are happening in our family…the kids growing up and flying away, starting their own families, and becoming who you want them to be. Thank you for friends both silver and gold! But, please, Lord…help me learn to rejoice in every season of life!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to get, and a time to lose…”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,6)

Brian: Full of Kindness

Okay, so you’d think I’d be the one bringing pies to Brian, since he’s the one who’s the longest-on-record survivor of his type of cancer and cancer treatment.…but in fact, Brian brings our families pies! This time he brought two: a Red Haven peach pie (his favorite, made from peaches that are just ripening here in our area), and a cherry apple pie. So, Brian joined us for lunch, and we broke into the peach pie for dessert. While we were feasting, he and Stephen carried on quite a lively discussion about music, which was especially on Stephen’s mind because he’s starting his graduate studies in musicology and piano performance (in fact, this very morning as I write)!

Brian knows a great deal about music…and just about every other topic under the sun. In his unassuming way, he infuses a huge amount of knowledge and insight into every conversation. He’s also an amazing prayer warrior and has prayed faithfully for our family ever since being a classmate of Daniel’s about 8 years ago. Brian brought the pies a couple of days ago. By now, both pies have been devoured and are just pleasant memories! 🙂 However, what lingers most in our minds is Brian’s kindness. Instead of wondering why people aren’t reaching out to him, he reaches out to others with grace and goodness…even in the midst of kidney failure and pretty constant pain. What an example of living out the grace of God and the life of Christ in the midst of suffering! He’s a model to me when I think of these verses:

“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21)

My “Little Sister” Lizzie

Do you have any forever friends who’ve been in your life since you were a kid? Well, Lizzie is my forever little sister. Actually, we’re both the youngest in our families, but I always wanted a little sister, and so I adopted Lizzie! After I became a Christian at the age of 12, “Mother” Linda Rudd, my Sunday school teacher, became a spiritual mentor to me.  Mother Linda had a very precious sister who visited every summer with her young daughter, and since the Rudds lived just a block away from us, I would often play with Lizzie when she came. Elizabeth ended up at U. Michigan in nursing school while Alan was a resident, so we got to spend enough time together as young adults to become fast friends.Liz spent many years working as an intensive care nurse in Chicago, and we would always visit back and forth from time to time, but this spring she decided to retire from nursing (at least for awhile), and so she came to visit. What fun! I’d planned to take her sightseeing, but we mostly talked nonstop by the hour and really didn’t do too much. In fact, in all the excitement, I forgot even to take a picture of her, so I had to use a couple from days gone by!

Don’t you love friends that stick by you through thick and thin all throughout life?! I am so thankful for my forever friends, and I’m so thankful for having Lizzie in my life!

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother [or sister! 🙂 ] is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

A Rose By Any Other Name…How About Rio Samba?

Do you love gardens? I do! I’d prefer a peaceful stroll through a garden or a hike through some scenic landscape to almost any other type of recreation. Probably has something to do with getting older, but I adore stopping the smell the roses!Jon and Linda took us on a wonderful excursion to Manito Park in Spokane.There were hundreds of varieties of roses, and we meandered through them carefully, thinking about which smelled the most fragrant, which looked the most fabulous, and which had the most interesting names. J+G posed for me in front of our winner for “best name,” delicious pink roses called First Kiss! He  confided to me that their first kiss didn’t occur until after Linda had come to the U.S. to see what she thought about Jonathan’s family and the possibility of living in America. Bless such gentle patience! Rather like a rose, don’t you think?!So, now I will show you a few of my favorite roses!Do you have a favorite color for roses?I think I love reds and pinks the best…although…I’m thrilled with the beauty of a rose in any color, shape, or size!I found one rose bush that was a totally new discovery to me: the Rio Samba.On the same bush there was a profusion of pinks, oranges, and yellows! I’d never seen anything like it…and I’m hoping to ask Alan if I may have one for Mother’s Day this coming year! 🙂I often wish I could be as beautiful as a rose, although I never will be! On the other hand, I have since realized that there is a beauty even more profound than external beauty if I only had the spiritual eyes to appreciate it!

“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD.”

Psalm 27:4

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us”

Psalm 90:17

“Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me

All His wonderful passion and purity

Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine

Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”

(—Tom Jones)

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Man

When Alan and I were visiting Jon and Gerlinde in Spokane, WA, we spent one morning at a wonderful exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci. Although I’ve seen his works in Florence, Paris, Rome, NYC…and probably other places as well…I’ve never seen such a fascinating, comprehensive explanation of his life and works.

Leonardo da Vinci lived about 500 years ago—for only 67 years—but has since been heralded as the archetypical Renaissance man—a man of unparalleled genius, creativity, and diversity in western civilization. For instance, did you realize that he had journals full of sketches for countless inventions such as an automobile and a flying machine?In recent years, many of his inventions have been modeled out just to see what they would have looked like. Here is his idea for an auto-mobile. He also conceptualized helicopters, tanks, solar power, a means for walking on the water, and a calculator (ETC!).He wrote everything backward (perhaps to keep his ideas from being stolen?), and because he never published his works and was so far ahead of his time in thinking, few of his ideas ever had much impact on the mechanical development of mankind.Leonardo is most famous for his paintings, in particular the Mona Lisa and the most reproduced religious painting in the world: The Last Supper. His use of perspective was monumentally innovative, and his successful experimentation with oil paint over tempera revolutionized painting.Because he was illegitimate, he was ostracized and not allowed the benefits of formal education, although he was apprenticed to the Florentine artist, Verrocchio, at the age of 14. The story is told that Leonardo did such an incredible job of helping paint Verrocchio’s The Baptism of Christ that his mentor put down his brush and said he would never paint again, having been so far exceeded by Leonardo’s brilliance.I found myself totally captivated by this man’s stunning mind, imagination, and diversity, and I was particularly taken with some of his quotable sayings (like the one above).I couldn’t help but compare him to a man who lived 2,000 years ago—for only 33 years—and is still considered the greatest man on earth: Jesus Christ. Although Jesus never wrote a single book, his life and works are more quoted than any other person’s. He was the the central figure in da Vinci’s paintings, and the true Renaissance man in that he encouraged us all to be reborn in order to enter, not an earthly kingdom, but the kingdom of God: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Jesus said,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and  “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Talk about learning how to fly and lifting our eyes skyward! I’m flying, and the end of the trip is heaven! I hope you’re experiencing the wonders of the world’s greatest Renaissance Man—Jesus Christ!

“I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” (Exodus 19:4)

“They that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31)

Update on Joel

Joel’s done a lot of different things since graduating from college. He totally reorganized our house and worked with a friend to put in hardwood floors upstairs. He applied for work until he was blue in the face and quite discouraged, but finally, finally he got a super break! The woman who served as ghost-writer for Bethany Hamilton’s book, Soul Surfer, has been a mentor to him, and she recommended Joel to edit the manuscript of a lady named “Lu” in Iowa who’s writing a grief memoir about the sudden death of her twenty-three-year-old daughter. Lu’s journal started as a therapeutic account of her own journey through grief, but it gradually segued into a collection of comforting ideas and lessons garnered from many sources as she began developing a ministry to those who also grieve. Here is one bit of such wisdom: “When you lose your parents, you lose your past; when you lose your spouse, you lose your present; when you lose your child, you lose your future.”Joel has spent many months working closely with Lu, carefully writing and rewriting her story until his perfectionistic mind felt at peace. Lu flew him out to her home in Iowa so they could meet to discuss last minute details, publishing options, etc. But guess what? Wonder of wonders, a publishing house is already negotiating with Lu for the rights to publish her book, and this dear lady has decided to name Joel as a “co-author.” What a fabulous break for Joel!

If all goes well and the book comes out, I’ll let you know all the details. But, I am really praising God for this unusual turn of events. Not only has it been a great experience and good money, it will definitely look good on Joel’s applications for graduate school in the field of writing for the fall of 2012! And, besides all that, just as the editing job wound down, Joel was offered a part time at Sears…a relatively pleasant way to fund his German classes and writing ambitions for this coming year! Thank you, Lord, for overflowing blessings!

“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

Lamentations 3:25-26

Enchanted April

If you’re ever in the market for a lighthearted, romantic costume drama with a totally charming ending, I recommend the 1992 UK production of Enchanted April. It’s rated 7.2 (out of 10) on IMDb, who calls it a “slow-paced gem… about the civilizing influence of Italy on beleaguered Londoners both male and female” and points out that it has “it’s own civilizing influence on the viewer.” Another review put it this way: “The enticement of an enchanting Italian holiday captivates the hearts of two British housewives on a drizzly London afternoon in 1922, and fills their imaginations with wisteria and sunshine. By the time they arrive at their Mediterranean villa, an aging matron and a young socialite have joined their quest for something more. The gardens, sea, cinnamon and pasta are just the beginning of the transformation they discover.”

Our family totally enjoyed it!

“Love never fails…” (I Corinthians 13:8)

From Bowl and Pitcher to Nigeria and Back

Jon and Linda took us on a royal tour of their work places. Jon totally loves teaching. I relate! My experience teaching introductory psychology at CMU as a graduate assistant was a super happy high point of my academic career!Linda is also thriving at the clinic where she works as in speech pathology, although it is extremely challenging for her, because she works primarily with autistic children.After a delightful tour of their workplaces, we stopped for a lunch break at a little German deli near campus. It’s always fun to hear Linda and Jon chattering away in German with people!After lunch, we took a hike along the Spokane River in “Bowl and Pitcher” State Park…so named because the huge boulder on the left looks somewhat like a pitcher about to pour water into the bowl of the river.The Spokane River comes straight down from the mountains and is not only crystal clear, it’s ice cold! Alan was too smart to jump in for a swim, but those of us who are still kids at heart (or just plain nuts), couldn’t resist. It was in the 90°s out, and we were hot from our big hike! (At least, that was our excuse. 🙂 )The swim got us in the mood to really enjoy grilling brats for our picnic supper. J+G have the coolest restaurant in town, as far as I can tell!

This past week, Jonathan has been team teaching with a national pastor in Nigeria. He’ll be returning to the U.S. soon, the Lord willing. If you think of him, I’d appreciate your praying not only for him, but for everyone who has to travel home from this seminar over the weekend.Travel is dangerous due to civil unrest and crime. Bandits like to put logs across the road in the remote areas (where they are), and when travelers get out of their vehicles to remove the logs, then the bandits will rob/steal/kill…whatever. May the Lord be merciful to all the dear souls who are studying God’s word together. It is mind-boggling to consider how difficult life is in many countries. I hope those of us who enjoy relative safety and civilization appreciate these great blessings, because they are uncommon, not commonplace!

“For you have delivered my soul from death: will you not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”  (Psalm 56:13)

P.S.—Today Grace is also flying home…across 6 time zones with Eowyn and Nycteris after a week-long adventure stateside for her sister Naomi’s wedding. I’m sure she’d love prayers for a peaceful transit too (as would probably everybody else who ends up on the same planes with those two adorable little fireballs of energy! 🙂 )