Man Eaten By Tree

We have been plagued with good weather lately, day after day of warm sunshine and clear blue skies. Ordinarily, we get a break on the weekends, when clouds and rain close in so that all the office workers can stay home and do their taxes. But this last weekend remained sunny and we were eventually forced to do something about it.

We celebrated David’s birthday on Saturday, complete with a train cake and grandparents. A friend from the Hood Canal area was visiting and stayed to snap pictures and help me play remote-control car tag on the basketball court with the kids. On Sunday we went to church and hosted a Bible study in the evening … it was a full weekend.

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Playing tag with these two remote-controlled cars kept us occupied for more than two hours, I’m embarrassed to admit.

I had wanted to visit Mt. Rainier for our next field trip, and a little research suggested that a number of the hiking trails were open, although travel to the Paradise area (5400′ elevation) was restricted to those with snow chains. This has apparently been a year of minimal snowfall on Rainier, such that the sledding areas are closed due to insufficient accumulation (they require a full 60″ of snow cover to protect the vegetation). I ran my suggestion past the Field Trip Quality Council and it was tentatively approved. Though technically a volcano, Rainier has been dormant in recorded history. After what seemed an eternity of searching the garage for boots and snow pants Monday morning, we all piled into the van and headed southeast.

Since we have moved into the suburbs, Rachel has honed her already-sharp eye for Volkswagon bugs and beetles. She recently set the record (21) of ‘Herbie sightings’ in a single day. We decided to try (as a team) to beat her record, and eventually we did, scoring a total of 35 Herbies in the course of the day. Each time we would see one, we would break into a loud and raucous chorus, sung to no particular tune:

Oh, we now have seen [insert proper number here] Herbies,
We now have seen [same number] Herbies,
Oh we now have seen,
We now have seen,
We now have seen [same number, repeated for emphasis] Herbies!

To while away the time between sightings, I would sing variations on the “I wish I could find that big mountain” theme while Rachel accompanied me with “but I’m too proud to ask for directions”. Eventually David asked us to stop, so we limited ourselves to one chorus per Herbie sighting … it was a great hardship.

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Fortunately, Kathy can actually make a cake that is recognizable, so we didn’t repeat the Winnie-the-Pooh cake debacle of 1996. Notice the ‘Herbie’ caboose — we call that literary foreshadowing.

Competition was pretty fierce to be the first one to see a Herbie … Rachel had a very hard time subsuming her individual accomplishment into the team sightings (and kept a separate running total of how many she had seen, apart from how many we all had seen). I demonstrated my maturity by teasing her unmercifully about this. I’m not sure she ever did understand why it was so funny … I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We finally arrived at the Park Entrance, although I did stop a few times along the way for pictures of the mountain. This was done in tribute to my father’s long-standing tradition in which he would stop for every possible photo opportunity involving Mt. Rainier. As a child, I spent long minutes sitting in the car waiting for him to capture such photographic masterpieces as:

  • Mt. Rainier looming over garbage cans
  • Mt. Rainier looming over a field with cows
  • Mt. Rainier looming over a field without cows
  • Mt. Rainier looming over a few rusty cars
  • Mt. Rainier looming amidst a large bunch of clouds

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I might as well just start out with a gratuitous shot of The Mountain.

I estimate Dad has as many as a thousand pictures of Mt. Rainier and its environs … we used to tease him that he worshipped the Mountain, a charge he denied fiercely, but which did not deter him from stopping for yet another picture of Mt. Rainier looming over wild flowers.

We bought an annual pass to the park, confirming my optimistic intention of visiting at least twice more, and we drove on to our first objective … a restroom. Daniel continues to lead the family in his need for frequent rest stops; I had foolishly given him a Capri Sun about 40 minutes before we got to the park. We stopped at the campground at Sunshine Point, and enjoyed a half-hour of clambering over sun-baked rocks and volcanic sand along the banks of the Nisqually River. David really liked playing at the river, and later asked at least five times to go back there, in spite of the fact that he fell (or was he pushed?) in the river within the first minute of our visit. It was a little nerve-wracking for me to watch Sarah make her uncertain way over the rocks. I kept expecting an injury with expensive dental repercussions, but we were mercifully spared such a mishap.

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Only David could look this cheerful after a dunking in the Nisqually.

We ate lunch at the Kautz Creek picnic area, enjoying the sunshine and spectacular view of the mountain, and throwing snowballs at one another. Although the bridge was out about 1.2 miles up the trail, I thought it might be nice to walk at least that far, remembering this trail from my own childhood. Surprisingly, the hike was mostly in shadow, a new-growth forest having mysteriously sprung up in the last thirty years or so. Joshua seemed very amused by my indignation over the ‘sudden’ growth of the forest and the fact that I considered 30 years a ‘short’ period of time … it made me feel like quite the geezer.

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I rounded up the usual suspects, but we never did find out whether David fell or was pushed.

The kids enjoyed a running snowball fight throughout the hike, and we all had fun hiding in a big hollow tree, some more than others. The trail ended abruptly at a sharp drop-off where the bridge used to be, and we weren’t able to get down into the creek bed, which was disappointing (some of us would have welcomed another chance to fall in). I had neglected to place a mandate on jackets or sweatshirts, and we were all glad to get back to the sunny parking lot … it was pretty cool in the snowy forest. David and Sarah were tough little troopers, walking nearly the entire 2.4 miles roundtrip … I was very proud of them both. David could not resist picking up snow along the path, and so I took on the additional duties of Chief Hand Warmer.

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It was a little snug, but I was fine, until I remembered Old Man Willow from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring

We drove up to Longmire and explored the Inn and General Store there, buying a few obligatory postcards. We hiked the short ‘Walk of the Shadows’ loop around the Longmire meadow, and then played some more in the snow around the Inn. It was coming up on nap-time for the little ones, and so I decreed that we would head for home, keeping a sharp eye out for Herbies all the way. Everyone (except Joshua and probably me) dozed until we stopped off near home for ice cream cones at McDonald’s Playland … we sat around the table there and I told the kids how much I had enjoyed the day with them. They all agreed I was a wonderful Dad, so I gave them each their ice-cream cone. You can’t be too careful when fishing for compliments, I’ve found. I let them all play a little while, and then we went home.

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Not even Washington, crossing the Delaware, looked this heroic.

It was a glorious day … we all were a little sunburned, and I managed to snap a number of pictures of the mountain that would make my Dad proud. Kathy got some well-needed respite from being a 24×7 parent and home-school teacher, and the kids got a chance to play in the snow. For some reason it is (so far, anyway) easier for me to set this field trip day aside than it is for me to set aside five distinct one-hour blocks on separate days … maybe the expectations aren’t quite as intense, or perhaps there is some other explanation. Whatever the reason, I finished the long weekend charged-up and ready to face my work-week again.

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The Geneva Convention was thrown to the wind, as were caution and a few snowballs.

Kathy and I are really enjoying the Parenting class at our church, taught during the Sunday School hour by a couple with eight children. I think a lot of people are cheating themselves out of most of the joy of parenting … like anything else, it seems to be just a matter of applying a little effort to get the most out of it. We’re watching carefully to see how those with teenagers manage … I think we might be in for some wild and wooly times ahead.

A few weeks ago the leaders of the Parenting class had to be out of town and asked Kathy and I to teach. It was surprising to me how much I enjoyed the chance to teach and what a difference it made in my spiritual walk, to have the opportunity to exercise my spiritual gift. I think the lack of teaching opportunities is one of the things I’ve missed most … except for a brief visit to Michigan, I haven’t taught Sunday School in almost two years.

As it turned out, the leaders’ retreat was cancelled, but they let me teach anyway, which was very gracious but a little scary, since David and Kelly were there and could see it first-hand if I messed up. A number of our kids were sick, so Kathy stayed home while I taught the class, then we swapped and she went to church while I stayed home. Fortunately, she collaborated with me in advance, which turned out to be a big help.

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Even the rocks Sarah throws are dainty.

One of the things we talked about this last week had to do with how we define success, and how we communicate those definitions to our children. I felt rather convicted that I have heavily bought into worldly measures of success, including power, prestige and (perhaps most of all) money. I was reminded that at the end of my life, it will matter a lot more what kind of a husband or Dad I was than what was printed on my business card (or if I even had one). At work we’re in the midst of Performance Review season, and my focus has been on finding ways to measure my strengths and weaknesses. I wonder what my review would look like, if I faced an annual review as Dad:

Please rate the employee according to the following criteria, using the following scale:

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Agree
  3. Disagree
  4. Strongly Disagree
  5. Not Enough Information
  • Keeps his promises
  • Is fun to be around
  • Teaches the scripture
  • Lives out what he teaches
  • Tells the truth
  • Works hard
  • Pursues justice
  • Acts with gentleness and compassion
  • Forgives and doesn’t hold grudges
  • Is generous
  • Shows kindness
  • Demonstrates patience
  • Exercises self-control
  • Loves others
  • Provides for his family
  • Disciplines his children
  • Lives with his wife considerately
  • Treats others as more important than himself

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David and Sarah were very sweet to each other throughout the day.

Ultimately we will all face the King of Kings, receiving from His hand our eternal reward based on just such a review, only much more comprehensive, as our works are tested by fire. These kind of reflections encourage me take a deep breath and square my shoulders … I have some work to do on a few of those, I’m afraid.

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The “Big” Special Day

Last Monday marked the beginning of my new four-day work-week arrangement, and I was off on Valentine’s Day. I had discussed it in advance with the kids, and they were very excited. David kept saying to me: “When will it be the day when we have the big special day for ALL the kids?”

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Just ’cause you’re home-schooled, doesn’t mean you can’t ride on a bus once in a while. But how many kids get to drive it?

Although at first I had thought to go to Mt. Rainier or Mt. St. Helens, the weather was not optimal and there was a volcanic activity warning in effect at Mt. St. Helens. Reluctantly, Kathy and I agreed that the children hadn’t been that bad, so we decided to play it safe and go to the Hands-on Children’s Science Museum in Olympia. We opened a few presents to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and then we got ready go. Kathy decided to stay home, so I set off with all five kids in our little red van. She concealed her sorrow at being left behind by shoving us out the door and locking the deadbolt, laughing maniacally. We all felt very sorry for her.

There was some kind of protest at the Capitol, and the museum parking was taken … we had a terrible time finding a parking spot. I was about to give up but the kids all prayed for a spot, and we found one on the street nearby. I was reminded of my dear friend and adoptive mom, Sue Casner, who taught me that God cares about the little things like parking places.

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We had a few things to talk over with the legislature, and then we ate lunch.

The hands-on museum was fairly small and compact, but had many interesting exhibits, with something for all the kids from Sarah to Joshua. I took a few moments when we first arrived to talk over the building’s security with the museum receptionist. Apparently there was only one non-alarmed exit (right by the receptionist’s station) and they had a procedure for when one of the other doors was opened. Employees were assigned to go out each of the doors and had walkie-talkies by which they could communicate with the other workers … it seemed a good system which would prevent easy theft of a child. There were a few times when I lost sight of one child or another, but each time I found my errant child pretty quickly … the building felt secure and our family comprised about a fourth of their patrons for the duration of our visit.

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Daniel helped out at the dentist’s office, scheduling appointments and ruthlessly filing insurance claims. If you look closely, you can see him printing “Services NOT covered — OUT OF NETWORK”

The kids loved it. We bought a year’s membership, since I think we will definitely want to go back at least once more during the year, and the price structure was such that two visits will ‘pay’ for the membership with room to spare. It is a great rainy-day activity, especially when the rest of the benighted kids are whiling away their days in public schools. I picked Monday as my day off partly because I figured most schools won’t tend to have field trips on Mondays … it seems to me it would be hard to get kids to remember the field trip over the weekend, and so Monday trips would cause logistical problems with permission forms, attire and lunches.

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Sadly, it was determined that Joshua required extensive dental work, including several root canals and extractions. “Hurry it up with that novocaine!” shouts Dr. Rachel. “This guy’s about to make a run for it!”

Sarah got her shirt and jacket wet in the water table before I noticed, and we were short on drinks for the kids (I, of course, had a Diet Dr. Pepper). Kathy had packed us a lunch, and we ate outside in the sunshine, a nice break from the museum.

It was a pretty good day. We were gone for a little more than five hours, and Kathy got some down-time for herself … I’m sure to her it seemed we were only gone a little while. In some ways, it doesn’t really matter what we do on Mondays as long as we are out of the house … Kathy doesn’t get much of a break from the kids, between being a Mom of five kids and homeschooling.

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The kids loved playing with the ambulance and ER — Sarah’s real-life experience last September helped her to play the part of a patient convincingly.

One of the activities they had was a set of giant Builder Boards that you could use to build a play structure (like a little log house). Rachel and Daniel built a house without a door or window, so of course I had to prove that I could do one better, and I built a house with both. One of the museum workers passed by and remarked how many people forgot the door … I felt very smug. Then she noted that the average age of usual builders was 5 1/2, and I felt substantially less smug. It has been much too long since I was able to play with Lincoln Logs.

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A lot of the pictures that I took were blurry, perhaps because of the low lighting in the museum. I was rather disappointed, because some of them would have been pretty good, if it weren’t for the fact that the kids were nearly indistinguishable. But hey, they were good pictures. Really.

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“Captain, she won’t take much more! She’s breakin’ up!

At the end of our visit we stopped by the souvenir shop, and bought some healthy snacks (ice cream sandwiches and cans of pop) and devoured them in the sunny little cafĂ© area at the front of the museum. Kathy’s had the kids reading nutrition books ever since, trying to undo my influence. We piled back in our van and headed home … a good time was had by all.

Now I’m a little worried … can I come up with another Field Trip that won’t be a disappointment? The weather has been clear and cold this week, but I’d really like to do something a little less sedentary than a museum. Each morning as I ride the train, Mt. Rainier calls me with its snow-covered slopes and majestic beauty. But they require snow-chains on some of the roads this time of the year, and I don’t have any (or any desire to purchase a set). Then there is Pioneer Farms, another hands-on exhibit that has been very popular with the kids in past years, but one that has some dependency on good weather. Although it has been sunny all week, now that the weekend is upon us, it is supposed to cloud over. I guess we can have no complaints … once again, we’ve had an unseasonably mild winter, both in terms of temperature and rain. It is hard to remember that we live in Washington, sometimes … this place is more like San Diego!

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Sarah really loved the water table — I told Kathy we really needed to remember to pack extra clothes for her next time.

Of course, nearly every kind of activity costs money, which is discouraging in these months after Christmas, when money is tight and bills are thick upon the ground. But I am enjoying the kids so much these days, it seems very much worth it. At the end of the day (or my life) I doubt I’ll regret outings like this or the money spent. Nobody seems to request tombstone captions like, “If only I’d spent more time at the office!”

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Civil War

I slept in last Tuesday and didn’t leave the house until after 8:30 am … how nice it is to sleep in from time to time. If I wait until the traffic thins out, I can make it to work in a little less than an hour (as opposed to 1:40 if I take the train). Still, I miss this time on the train to read my Bible and write.

I have received permission to move to a four-day work week, starting this week (in fact, by the time I have published this, we’ve already had our first ‘field trip day’). I am excited about the change and about the opportunity it will give me to go on field trips with the kids. As the weather starts to warm up and the days get longer, it will be good to be out and about … we’ve huddled indoors much of the winter. One trip I really want to make is to visit Mount Rainier … some days I see it looming majestically to the east as I travel on the train, but it has been many years since I paid my respects, and I have no decent digital pictures of the mountain.

Monday was the first day that it was still light (sort of) when I got off the train, and now I see a glimmering of light to the east as we move through Puyallup. Pretty soon my entire commute will be in daylight (at least on sunny days), which makes a big difference to me. The lack of light really seems to affect me … I get gloomy very easily in the winter here in Washington. It always surprises me how extremely the seasonal difference affects the length of day at this latitude … we’re almost six degrees north of Detroit, and the day gets pretty short in January. Of course, we have no complaints in terms of cold weather … again today I walked out the door in shirt sleeves … and the rain just doesn’t ever seem to materialize in any great amount.

I’ve been reading in II Chronicles lately, reviewing the exploits of the kings who followed Solomon in both Judah and the remainder of Israel. It is interesting to note that a substantial number of people from the tribes of Levi, Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon also joined Judah and Benjamin once they saw that the southern kingdom was really following the Lord. I had always wondered at the disparity in size between Israel and Judah, and now I see that they were more evenly divided than I had suspected.

Under Rehoboam, Judah makes one attempt to re-unite the kingdom, but is instructed by a prophet of the Lord to desist from civil war. Some years later, under Abijah, king of Judah, there is a massive battle between Judah and Israel in which 500,000 soldiers from Israel (more than 60% of their army) are killed. Although this is a major triumph of God over the pagan idols of Israel, I wonder what it must have been like to have such huge casualties in Israel. Perhaps as many as one in five of the men of Israel were killed? It must have been a very bittersweet victory for the people of Judah, to see God’s judgment come upon the northern kingdom in that way.

It is sad to note that king Asa, although he trusts in God in dealing with a foreign invasion from the south, ends his reign badly. Toward the latter part of Asa’s rule in Judah, the king of Israel began to fortify a town near the border to stem the tides of those defecting from his kingdom to Judah. Much like the iron curtain or the Berlin Wall, this pagan king seeks to prevent any of his subjects who loved God from voting with their feet and heading south. Although this seemed to be an opportunity for God to teach the nation of Israel yet another lesson about His sovereignty, Asa chooses not to trust in God, but rather sends tribute to the king of Aram, hiring him to attack Israel to take the pressure off Judah.

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Perhaps Asa lacked the counsel of a good Queen?

Ultimately this choice is shown to be bad, yet the knowledge seems to embitter Asa against the Lord and he ends his life with a painful illness, still refusing to turn to God for healing. It is a sad progression of one bad choice followed by others, each seemingly cementing Asa’s stubborn position and souring his reign. Towards the end of his life, II Chronicles 16 records that this once-godly king began to oppress some of his people brutally, effectively doing the work of the Enemy by discouraging any further southward migration among the people of Israel.

I suspect it was the desire of God to re-unite the kingdoms of Judah and Israel or at least to draw all of those who loved Him south into Judah. If I was a God-fearing person in, say, the tribe of Issachar, I would have thought seriously about relocating to Judah during the early years of Asa. Toward the end of his reign, though, I expect that there was no need for a fortified city to guard the border … Asa’s oppression was enough to keep any remaining god-fearing subjects of Israel at home.

Over the past months I have allowed my heart to become a little cold toward God, perhaps consciously and unconsciously blaming Him for some of the disappointment in my life. This story of Asa rings a warning bell in my mind, and I am convicted of my lack of humility toward God. Asa could have repented of his lack of trust in God, turned away from his stubborn pride, and ended his life as one of the most godly kings of Judah. Instead, he became more and more set against God, imprisoning God’s messenger and ultimately betraying his trust as king over God’s people and bringing shame upon God’s name.

The prophet Micah gives a very succinct summary of our responsibilities:
“He has shown thee, O Man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Micah 6:8

Once more, I need to humble my heart before God and to trust Him. You’d think I would learn this, once and for all!

I’ve been reading the allegory, “Hind’s Feet on High Places” to the kids at night lately … I’m not sure they are really getting it (I wonder I understand it myself, for that matter). One of the things that surprises me every time I read it is the choice of companions that the Shepherd makes for poor little Much-Afraid, as she heads off on her epic journey to the High Places. Sorrow and Suffering are definitely not the companions I would choose for my own journey to the High Places … like Much-Afraid, I would much prefer Joy and Peace, to encourage and strengthen me on the way. Yet God seems to care more about our development along the way than our speed or comfort in arriving at our destination. This is a hard teaching, and it resonates as truth, but I really don’t have a good handle on it yet.

I guess that once we are with the Lord in Heaven, there will be no more resistance or impediment to loving Him, and everyone will be able to fully give themselves to Him in love and adoration. Yet we know that true love is only possible where there is a choice, a choice we must apparently make outside eternity … which is probably why God does not take us immediately home to be with Him. Is it possible that the extent, depth, or quality of our love is also determined by the growth that we experience during our short lives on this planet?

Throughout my marriage with Kathy, one of the things that makes our relationship special is the confidence we have in each other’s love and fidelity. Because we were both still virgins when we married, we knew that we could trust each other. Sometimes, when life is hard and we have disagreements, it is natural to wonder about the depth of each other’s love … it is at times like that when it becomes very important to remember that your spouse chose to marry you over all others.

If everything was always easy, and life was one long honeymoon, I wonder if our love for each other would ever grow? Love is about sacrifice and putting the other person ahead of yourself more than it is about hearts and flowers. Perhaps the preciousness of our love for God is in its depth and completeness … maybe the sweetness of our savor is increased as we demonstrate our willingness to love Him deeply and truly in spite of hardship.

One night after I finished work, Kathy wanted to go to Costco and Target to do a little shopping, but I wanted to stay home. At first I refused to go with her (for some reason she didn’t want to drive to Costco at night) but then I remembered that the scriptures instruct husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and to lay down their lives for their wives. So I told the kids about this and lay myself down on the floor in the living room, telling Kathy that I would go with her if she wanted me to. Joshua immediately pounced on me, taking advantage of my prone position … I was forced to remind him of the frequent brochures and flyers I receive from the Spitsbergen Military Boarding School and Arctic Exploration Center (SMBSAEC).

West Spitsbergen, controlled by Norway and nestled in the warm and sunny Svarbald archipelago, is the home of one of the finest military boarding schools available. While some complain that the latitude (near the 82nd parallel) makes the winters a bit long and nippy, others maintain that such is the talk of sissies.

We went to Costco to pick up a new mattress for Sarah (we think she is ready to take the big step of moving from her crib to a real bed) and checked the prices for replacement glasses for Daniel. I bought everyone ice cream and we wheeled the mattress out with the four younger kids all sitting on the mattress happily eating their chocolate and vanilla swirls, much to the envy of several bystanders. A good time was had by all until we got to Target, where the lines were long and Kathy was delayed while the rest of us waited in the van. The mattress (which was now resting on the heads of all five children) began to be much less fun, and we were all glad to be on our way home again when Kathy finally emerged.

About a half-mile from home we witnessed an accident between a man in a big SUV and a woman and child in a smaller sedan … fortunately no one was hurt, but there were shards of plastic everywhere, filling the intersection. Both drivers insisted that the other one had run the red light; unfortunately Kathy and I had not seen enough of the collision to reliably testify. The little boy, perhaps five years old, was pretty shaken up and cried and cried while his mom held him and shouted at the other driver. The woman who was hit may have been uninsured … I felt badly for her and prayed with her, but there was little else I could do apart from sweep up the debris. The police never did come to investigate the accident, which I thought was pretty unprofessional.

Today is a rainy day, and the train is pretty full already, and we haven’t even reached Tukwila. I think a lot of people are like me, in that they sometimes take the train, and sometimes drive their cars to work. Personally, I like the variety … there is nothing quite like sitting in traffic to make one appreciate the train, even if it is crowded. I heard yesterday that the Washington State Ferries have finally implemented a wireless network on the ferries and in the terminals … that will be very nice for the commuters, I think, if people can handle e-mail and be connected to their work systems. I wonder if I will ever be a ferry commuter again? In many ways my heart is divided about moving back to the Duckabush.

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Daniel loves gymnastics, especially the foam pit. As far as we know, that other little boy survived this encounter.

Last Friday marked the beginning of our involvement in a local homeschooling cooperative … the kids are very excited about spending the day in classes rather than doing the usual schoolwork at home. They are each enrolled in four classes, two before lunch and two after, from 8:45 in the morning until 3:00 pm. Kathy is required also to work as an assistant in one of the classes, so the whole family (except me) is involved. I’m a little jealous … I do hope that they enjoy their classes and teachers … the co-op seems to be well-run and fairly comprehensive in terms of the classes offered, with what seems to be as many as a hundred children enrolled. This semester covers the next sixteen weeks, ending in May, so it is a big undertaking.

My mind keeps coming back to poor king Asa and his stubborn embitterment toward God … I went back and re-read part of his story. This blog entry has already gone too long, but I think it is worth noting the difference between Asa’s reaction and that of king David, when confronted with his adultery. Instead of having a teachable heart, Asa became angry with the prophet who rebuked him and put him in prison. David, in contrast, accepted the rebuke of Nathan and repented before the Lord. It seems to be less about the severity of the sin and much more about our response to God when corrected. I need to look for the Holy Spirit’s conviction and correction in my life and be humble and responsive to His rebuke. In the words of Paul:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:24-27

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