100th Blog

This is a momentous occasion (for some definitions of ‘momentous,’ or, for that matter, of ‘occasion’). The Duckabush Edgren Blog has been up and running since February 2004. This week Tim wrote the 99th blog entry. As we were approaching this lofty number, Tim asked me if I would be willing to write the celebratory blog. I agreed readily but have been struggling to figure out what to write. Tim’s blogs are so insightful and encouraging and often spiritually challenging, I am intimidated to write along side him.

I asked the kids for help on ideas and Joshua suggested I write about centipedes or centimeters or maybe even centuries. He’s a big help. I considered listing 100 things I was thankful for but thought that might result in a bit of an odd, unwieldy blog.

Finally I came up with something that sounded fun and interesting (always a good place to start writing) although still long. Our 100th Duckabush Blog will be full of 100 things about our family, our busy lives, our interests and loves, and so on. The children will each help me with a section. I hope you enjoy getting another peek into our lives.

1) First born, tall, smart, thoughtful, helpful
2) Interested in drama (starred in Sir Nose the Burger Rat as Sir Nose)
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Joshua starring in the lead role

3) Favorite thing to bake: waffles (makes breakfast in bed for the birthday family member on their special day)
4) Favorite card game: Authors
5) Favorite Book: Iron Scepter
6) Best Loved School Subject: History (we’re finishing up with the second part of American History this year)
7) Worked with Grandpa this year to build a loft for his room
8) Best thing about living in Lakewood: Homeschool co-op and Lake City Church
9) Looking forward to our trip to Michigan, Wilderness NW Day Camp in mid-July, and Miracle Camp in August
10) Best thing about the month of June, 2005: the cousins moved to Washington

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Joshua enjoying some homemade ice cream

11) Fun Friday Tradition: sleepovers in Daniel’s room with the rest of the kids
12) New Friends in the ‘city’: Stuart, Timothy, Philip, Logan, and Nigel
13) Hardest Thing from the Year: Presidential Fitness Testing at the Y
14) Special Mondays with Daddy: Train Day to Seattle topped the list as best so far
15) Yummiest Meal: fried chicken, scalloped potatoes, and ice cream pie
16) Big Brother Role: wrestling with David

17) Second born, beautiful, petite, honest, animal lover
18) Hardest part of gymnastics: bar (pull-overs with back hip circle)
19) Best part of gymnastics: being with friends and learning new moves
20) New Friends this year: Emily, Abigail, and Kayla

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Rachel sitting in a future window at the Refuge

21) Latest book read: Goose’s Gold, A to Z Mysteries
22) Favorite computer game: Petz 3
23) Hardest school subject—tie between Math and Phonics
24) Longest Bible verse memorized this year: I Corinthians 10:6
25) Best of the Special Mondays with Daddy: Big Day in Seattle

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One of the big trips with Tim on a Special Monday

26) Most unusual visitor this year: Myrtle the Turtle
27) Old friends who are missed: Leanne, Alivia, Leah, and Ema
28) Color she wants to paint her room this summer: aqua blue and purple
29) Exciting Event of the Spring—trip to Wild Waves Water Park (first time on a roller coaster)
30) Reward for saying the Books of the Bible: lunch out at KFC with Sunday School class
31) Favorite evening treat—shopping with Mommy
32) Practices the piano over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house

33) Third born, fast, handsome, fun
34) Good friends in Lakewood: Jesse, Adam, and JJ
35) Most recent movie seen: an episode of Blondie (black and white)
36) Currently reading: The Boxcar Children
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One of Daniel’s birthday presents from Grandma and Grandpa

37) Special Treat of the Week: Rainbow Sherbet at Baskin Robbins
38) Favorite breakfast cereal: Fruity Pebbles
39) Likes to do Explode the Code (phonics) in school
40) Did gymnastics and swimming this year at the Y
41) Very excited about going to Michigan
42) Favorite computer game: Age of Empires (likes to play with Daddy or Zachary B. as often as possible)
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Daniel and Zachary eating ice cream on the jungle climber

43) Didn’t drown at Wild Waves but had a scare
44) Liked the Timber Hawk ride best at Wild Waves (roller coaster)
45) So glad to have a cousin move to town
46) Very cheerful and willing to play outside with David and Sarah
47) Asked for a short hair cut like Zachary B.
48) Good at fixing things, very helpful around the house

49) Fourth Born, blond, talkative, sensitive, special
50) Favorite things in gymnastics at the Y—jumping on the trampoline and playing in the “pit”
51) Talks often about his good friend, Gus, from the Duckabush
52) Big transitions this year: Cubbies in Awana and Sunday School Class (not the nursery) in church
53) Likes to do school for a little bit then is ready to play
54) Wants Daddy to “walk him on the ceiling” as soon as Tim walks in the door from work
55) Swings every day on the swing set outside

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These two are ready to throw some water balloons!

56) Loves to watch movies and play Playmobil with Sarah upstairs
57) Went to BSF this year with Mommy and Sarah
58) Begs to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house
59) Has three bathing suits and thinks we should buy Sarah some more as well

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Hot day in Washington

60) Loves presents from small treats to clothes, likes to be remembered
61) Has been to Texas to visit his great grandmother: likes to swim there and ride the golf cart with Grandad
62) Is very particular about his clothes: likes to pick out his own things and cares about colors and styles
63) Must put on his socks every morning before getting dressed for the day
64) Wants to please God


65) Fifth and last born, adorable, long wavy hair, definitely the little princess of the family
66) Adores her brother David, looks out for him and wants to be with him most of the day

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Swinging out at the Duckabush

67) Recently potty trained: Yay!
68) Wants to play with anything that belongs to Rachel (the more beloved by Rachel, the better)
69) Moved out of the crib and into the bottom bunk this year
70) Likes to read books, especially The Apple Tree Farm series
71) Already knows how to pose for pictures

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This girl looks very ready to sleep!

72) Favorite game with Daddy: Zoo Keeper
73) Loves dresses and the colors pink and purple
74) Likes to talk on the phone but mostly just smiles into the receiver
75) Is always ready to go to Grandma’s house to play
76) Went to BSF this year with Mommy and David
77) Scared of big dogs but loves to give treats to Martin the guinea pig
78) Calls Avery (from the Duckabush) her “best friend”
79) Thrilled to have a new back pack for the trip to Michigan
80) Sometimes falls asleep on the couch watching movies


81) Working 4 long days with Mondays off
82) Mondays are Special Kid days full of adventures and field trips and books
83) Continues to enjoy the train part of his job commute—good chance to read, write, study the Bible, work and even watch movies
84) Currently hooked on www.popcap.com games
85) Always looking for a new, great computer game

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These are the new backpacks for our trip to Michigan–yay!

86) Very glad to have his brother (and family) living here in Washington … if only for all the books he can scam (I mean borrow) off him
87) Misses the Duckabush but enjoying life in the “city”
88) Stays up too late—never quite gets rested during the work week
89) Loves a gorgeous sunny day with a bright blue sky and a view of The Mountain somewhere nearby
90) Is the best father and husband ever!!


91) Jumped right into all the “city” activities this year with BSF, a homeschooling co-op, Awana for the kids, a membership to the YMCA with special homeschooling PE classes twice a week
92) Loves the Mondays when Tim takes all the children off for a LONG adventure and gives her the day to herself
93) Likes living back in the suburbs—has made some great new friends and found a wonderful church
94) Currently off sugar, wheat, and flour as well as caffeine and NutraSweet (ie no diet Coke!!)
95) Favorite popcap game—Bejeweled
96) Wishes friends lived closer to play Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne more often

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Kathy and Tina as the royalty in the game of Scum

97) Watches movie trailers online whenever there’s a good new one available
98) Occasionally will have a clean house, be caught up on laundry and have dinner made all on the same day but counters it with overdue library books
99) Lost her beloved Nana this Spring
100) Is the most blessed mother and wife ever!

There you have it—100 odd and trivial things about our family. If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed the patch work glimpse.

Kathy—Until next time

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How to lose 20 pounds

A couple of Wednesdays ago I took a long lunch so I could meet with a recruiter from another company. I was disappointed with a recent raise from my employer, and I thought I would at least see what other opportunities were out there. I had my own preconceptions about how the meeting would go, and braced myself for the difficult task of being honest about my abilities yet putting my best foot forward.

At the very outset, my interviewer (who I’ll call ‘Bob’) identified himself as a Christian. This happens to me a fair bit in direct-hire interviews, since the first line in my ‘Personal Information’ section reads: “I am a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ.” I’ve been told that this may close certain employment doors to me, but I’m OK with that. (When I go through contracting firms, I usually find that they have edited that line out of my resume before presenting it to prospective clients … sort of pathetic, but not surprising.)

It rapidly became apparent that the potential position would not offer the salary I was seeking, and so I prepared to gently disengage myself from the interview and head back to the office. We had originally made plans to go to lunch, but I didn’t want to hold to that plan since I was of no further value to Bob or his company.

We chatted for a few minutes to save face, and I seized the opportunity to ask Bob about how his faith made a difference in the workplace. Coming up on the age of 40 as I am, I worry about accomplishing something in my life for the Kingdom of God, and wonder how I can make my work meaningful in an eternal context.

Bob had little to offer me in that regard, but it turned out that God had placed him in my path for an entirely different purpose.

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Foxglove, aka Digitalis, growing near the Duckabush House

For a long time I have been harboring bitterness and resentment against several people whom I felt had wronged me. The Holy Spirit has been convicting me of my sin in this regard for some time, now, and just this last Communion Sunday I felt that I needed to confess my unforgiving and grudge-holding spirit. Bob gently reminded me of Hebrews 12:14-15:

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

He went on to tell me about a number of things that had happened to him, ranging from years of chronic pain culminating in the loss of a limb, to the death of relationships and betrayal on the deepest levels by close relatives. I trembled to think of how penny-ante my issues were compared to the gut-wrenching offenses that had been perpetrated against this man.

He told me about a vision that he had received from God. It began with a view of a three-tiered prison block with a guard standing on the walkway of the middle tier. As the image zoomed in, he saw that the guard was himself, complete with uniform and nightstick, and that the occupants of the cells were each of the people who had wronged him. He remembers feeling a deep sense of anger and a fierce anticipation of nightfall, when he would be able to harass the occupants of the cells with his nightstick. Then suddenly he heard the Lord say, “This is how you see it, but THIS is how it really is.” The scene changed, and he found himself a prisoner in one of the cells, and Jesus was the guard. He could feel the solidity of the bars and the tightness of his confinement, and a longing to be free. The Lord came to his cell door and asked him if he wanted to come out. “Yes!” was his answer — but the Lord only replied, “Good, I’ll be back.” Three times this happened, and on the third time the Lord told him to reach into his pocket and hand through the bars the keys to the other cells. “Once I’ve let them out, I’ll come back for you,” He told Bob.

This story impressed me deeply, because I could see that Bob wasn’t showing any bitterness against these people. Even when telling me of the wrongs and betrayals, he was matter-of-fact and did not leak outrage the way that I do when I am nursing a root of bitterness.

Then he looked me in the eye and said to me: “There are two things you need to know about forgiveness. One, forgiveness is not about their worthiness. Two, it is not about how you feel … forgiveness is a choice.”

The idea of forgiveness being a choice really resonated with me — something I have long understood to be true about love. My ethics professor (most colleges have at most one of these) always used to say, “Love is a choice. The best one-word definition of love is commitment.” All marriages have their ups and downs — the ones that are based on feelings don’t tend to last very long. Some days I just don’t ‘feel’ like loving — but my love for my wife is steadfast, a choice I made regardless of how I feel. It seems that forgiveness is a decision as well … not some fluffy feeling I need to sustain every day.

We talked a while about the availability and abundance of God’s grace when we are obedient and choose to forgive, and how useless it is to try to forgive someone in our own strength. Sitting in a busy food court over a bowl of corn chowder, I realized that God had slowly been bringing me to the point where I was willing to release my resentment and bitterness against these people, regardless of whether they ever apologized or even knew or understood that they had wronged me. In light of my own sin and desperate need for forgiveness, how could I not release these fellow prisoners from my petty resentful grudge?

Thinking about this encounter the rest of the day, I planned for some decisive and dramatic moment that evening when I would ‘officially’ lay down my bitterness on the altar and make the choice to forgive. Driving home from the train station, I realized that I had already made the choice and was feeling the absence of the burden of that grudge I had been carrying. It is a pretty good way to lose 20 pounds, I think.

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Here are two little people who barely weigh 20 pounds …

It is strange to go off to an interview expecting to be asked all kinds of technical questions, and instead to encounter two hours of intense spiritual counseling … just another reminder that so many of the events in our lives are according to God’s appointment book, not ours. I wonder what the Holy Spirit has penciled-in for me today?

5:48 am … wake Tim up with a song about my faithfulness
6:22 am … give Tim a choice between running a yellow light or developing patience
6:38 am … give Tim a chance to exercise courtesy in holding open a door for an older woman
6:40 … 7:05 am … teach Tim about my plans for the New Jerusalem during the millennium
7:25 am … convict Tim about being mean to his wife yesterday
7:50 am … meet Tim on the corner of 8th and King disguised as a homeless person

… and so on.

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Several weeks ago I was sharply disappointed. I have been waiting for more than a month to hear the results of my annual performance review as it applies to my compensation … a subject that closely rivets my attention. Some time ago I received the narrative part of the review and was delighted to see that, in the view of my boss and peers, I had performed beyond expectations for my level and position. This was particularly welcome in light of the high performance standard and stringent hiring requirements that my employer maintains. I began to allow myself to hope for a generous increase, which turns out to have been a mistake … the small increase I did receive was half of my most conservative hopes.

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My hopes weren’t quite this high, but I did expect something fairly generous.

Accounting for bonuses and ignoring inflation, I am earning substantially less now than I did when I was laid off in 2002 … not quite the career path I had planned. With our Duckabush house mortgage on top of the cost for this house in Lakewood, we are not making great strides (or even a slow shuffle) toward financial security; rather we seem to be consuming our tax refund and increasing our debt level. I had really looked for a salary increase as a validation of my worth and a badly-needed affirmation of my ability to provide for my family, especially after a recent 17-month stint of unemployment. It seems very important to me to be able to bring nice things home to my family, to continually improve our lifestyle.

A large part of my satisfaction at work is tied up with my hope for the future. That hope was sharply dashed … the level of salary increase seems starkly out of step with the positive nature of my performance review. When the dust settles, actions mean a lot more than words … based on compensation, I am inclined to believe that my career prospects may be rather limited with my current employer.

As I drove home from the train station yesterday, I wondered, “Is God stingy?” Does God hold back financial blessing from me out of a sense of miserly mean-spiritedness? Why, when I have (at least in my own mind) clearly earned it, would I not reap the benefits of my hard work? As those thoughts passed through my mind, I looked to the east and saw Mt. Rainier in all its lofty glory, shouting God’s attributes with 14,000+-foot authority. Surely the God that created such lofty heights is not stingy … a stingy God would stick to rolling hills topping out at 3000 feet or less.

So then I must conclude that this salary increase is part of God’s plan for me, and He is doing something in my life through this perceived injustice. Several theories come to mind:

  • I don’t handle disappointment very well at all. Perhaps God is teaching me to look to Him when my hopes are dashed.
  • I continue to look to my own ability to provide for my family, rather than trusting in God. Perhaps He is reminding me to rely on Him for all my needs.
  • I do not respond well to injustice, especially when I am the one being treated unjustly. When all is said and done, I would have to admit that I have mostly failed to learn this lesson in the past. Perhaps God is continuing to teach me to wait for His justice, waiving my ‘rights’ for personal, immediate justice.
  • I am not known for my patience, and will often choose the path of least resistance. Perhaps God is motivating me to make the most of the opportunities for learning in my current employment situation … in a weird sort of way, lack of generous financial remuneration motivates me to more aggressively seek some other advantage in terms of on-the-job learning. It probably wouldn’t hurt me to learn a little more patience, either, although it pains me to admit this.

I’ve been reading in Isaiah lately, chapters 30 and 31, wherein the prophet warns the people against reliance on Egypt for their defense and deliverance:

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.” Isaiah 31:1

This is a repeated theme in the Old Testament … horses and chariots must have been really cool by the technological standards of the time, because the people of Israel are warned against trusting in them on multiple occasions. God’s desire was for His people to trust in Him, not in the worldly power of Egypt. Interestingly enough, Egypt is often synonymous with wealth and ease in the Scriptures … I suspect I am not reaching too far in applying this warning to my own situation. Certainly all those who trust in wealth or their own hands will be put to shame sooner or later. But is it wrong to want to work hard and enjoy the fruits of that labor?

My initial reaction is to jump ship … now that I am not tied to living in the Duckabush, surely I can find an employer who will value my experience and abilities, if not in Seattle, then somewhere else? One advantage of growing up as an Army brat is that moving holds no particular terror for me … for my own part, I would see moving to another state or country as more of an adventure than something to be feared.

On the other hand, I think that there are many things I could still learn, working where I am now. Is there any virtue in sticking it out, persevering beyond this perceived injustice, making the most of this employment opportunity?

I asked Kathy and the kids last night this question: “Which do you think would be better? Should I seek to make a lot of money, to be happy in my work, or to work in a field that accomplishes something for God?” Certainly there is no money to be made in programming for a Christian organization. I feel as though this job provides none of the three, which seems a definite lose-lose situation.

Yet the thought of leaving my current situation somehow saddens me. Call it cognitive dissonance, but I like working there for some reason. I like a lot of the people, I like the dynamic nature of the company, I like the idea (even if I don’t take advantage of it as much as I could) of learning new technologies.

I talked it over with my boss and learned that I was not particularly singled out for stingy treatment … apparently my employer is not lavish with annual increases but relies on other factors to retain employees. I’m not sure I find this particularly comforting, but there is at least a reasonably well-defined path for advancement within my organization, if I am willing to exert myself.

By a strange coincidence, I started a new project yesterday afternoon which provided me an opportunity to learn something new … I had more fun in my work yesterday than I have since I started this job. I found myself still working at 10:30 pm last night … full of energy and enthusiasm … this kind of experience has been rare in my current assignment. Was this God’s creative way of encouraging me to persevere?

As I have done many times, I cast myself into the hands of God, for Him to do with me as He wills. I choose to let Him carry the burden of any injustice that has been done, and will let Him take care of the needs (and wants) of my family. If this means that I take another job, then I will do so carefully, trusting in God to guide me in making that decision. If it means we do not buy a house, then we will continue to rent, and if necessary move to a smaller house, trusting in God for our long-term financial well-being. If it means we must give up the Duckabush house, then we will trust God for a place to retire, and count on Him for comfort in the loss of that dream.

Just outside Seattle there is a place where my train pauses at a signal to allow a southbound train to pass. It is one of the ugliest places on the planet … railroad tracks branching into industrial yards, graffiti-covered concrete warehouses standing amidst mounds of discarded ship chains and stacks of rusty rails. Yet in the morning sunshine, a wild bunny hops daintily amidst the piles of junk, looking for a dandelion poking up through the asphalt. It reminds me of the remarkable way that God can take an ugly situation and make something beautiful of it, and it gives me hope. I’ve certainly seen Him do it before, and I can rely on Him.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

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