Monday, September 27, 2010

On wearing purple

"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple," begins the famous poem about aging and "doing your own thing." I thought it was funny, and showed it to my mother about 20 years ago.

"How terrible!" Mom said. She reacted reflexively, immediately - with horror. "I wouldn't want to spit and swear. Who would want to be like that? I want to become a sweet old lady." She is still a lady, a friend to many, and lovely to be around at 75 years of age.

That got me thinking. How many of us have bought into society's values without even knowing it? The Hallmark cartoon Maxine features a crabby older woman, taking on the world with a sour, jaded attitude. I think John Wagner captured many of us well, As our bodies age and our minds resemble sieves rather than fishing nets, we can forget how beautiful and rich life is.

Waldemar and I have been watching past episodes of Lie to Me, featuring scientists who read facial and body language to find the truth. Seeing so many ways to commit crimes, hide broken relationships, and deceive others, I'm aghast our fallen natures.

Who thinks up these TV episodes? Who knows the world so well, and so badly, that unthinkable crimes and violence are accepted as entertainment? I admit that I like the detection of vice. I'm happy that criminals are brought to justice and the innocent are vindicated. What bothers me is that even the "innocent" are flawed and often unlikable. No one seems to value purity and strong character.

Which makes me pause to ask, "What standards are we aiming for? Do we want to be a little better than the next person? A little less angry, a bit kinder, more loving... maybe even go out of our way to help someone once in a while?"

Or do we strive to be revolutionized as our hearts are overtaken by Love? Are we aware of God's expectations and trying to please him by conforming to his character? Are we continually renewed from the inside out because we've been reborn as children of our Heavenly Father?

Are we measuring ourselves with the standards of scripture or the culture of the world around us? Saturation in biblical stories, teachings, and proverbs helps us sort out what is pleasing to God. Let's dive in, head-first, tippy-toes getting wet as we slide into the Word of God. Let's compare ourselves to Christ, like Romans 12:1-2 says (below.) And let the transformation begin! 

Read more:
*For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12 NLT

*"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-20 NIV

*Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:1-3 NIV

Thursday, September 23, 2010


"What's that? Could it be used for...?" I'm looking at some kind of grey metal support, propped against the mirror in my office. It might be the end of an IKEA shelving system. 

We picked up several of the lightweight metal pieces for $1 each. They looked like inventions waiting to be discovered. So far, three supports lie flat between the swim spa and the garage wall, holding up the pool cover when I swim. Um, the cover... also nontraditional. It's actually a huge, heavy-duty sheet of black plastic "from somewhere." Works perfectly.

Anyhow, two metal sides of this thing have eight thin, 12" cross-braces soldered across the width, which might be perfect for hanging wet monoprints to dry. Let me grab some clothespins to see if they'll clamp paper on the cross-pieces. 

Going to an art store for made-to-fit drying racks might be quicker, if less resourceful. But why get in the car, drive to Daniel Smith, and get distracted by all their other art supplies? I already have potential print racks. Right beside me in my office! Besides, while I like inventing, I hate shopping. "Hmmm." My eyes narrow for a second look.

I've always been curious about the world. "Why?" and "How" are concepts invented for people like our family. Rethinking and reusing common items seems normal for both my husband's family and mine. 

Most people are comfortable using specific tools for projects. However, challenges and disasters shake us into the realization that stuff is just stuff.  When the world turns upside down, everything within reach gets re-purposed and applied.

Only love remains. Only relationships, survival, and serving others matter. What's within arm's reach that improves your serve?

Read more:
*Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:1-5 NIV

*Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. from 1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No fish funerals

The carpet in my office is starting to stink. Last Sunday, the newly planted aquarium cracked, leaking 10 gallons of water over a beautiful oak cabinet and onto the floor. The little drawers fused shut. W is hopeful that as the wood dries, the drawers will shrink so I can access my art supplies again. 

Meanwhile, the smell of rotting fish water is more and more unpleasant. "Dry already!" I command the stubborn dampness.

Eight fish died overnight in the "Aquarium-ONLY" bucket. (Obviously, something else has been in there, not just aquatic water.) By morning, six fish floated to the surface, so I scooped and tossed them into the garbage. The other two disappeared. No scaly funerals allowed, but I regretted the rough night for the fish school.

Monday morning, I bought the first 10-gallon tank I could find, filled it with filtered water, popped the survivors into it, and hoped for the best. So far, so good. The bellies of the tetras are still pointing down.

I wouldn't have blinked at the minor catastrophe and cleanup if my life were on pause. But on this particular Sunday morning, I was looking forward to hearing W teach a Bible study. We had guests coming for lunch. Meanwhile, my dissertation proposal is limping toward its month-end deadline. And I'm prepping a five-session writing class. 

Needless to say, I missed the Sunday session. Lunch was fine - I cook on autopilot after so many years, so we enjoyed two small beef roasts, vegetables, potatoes... and fresh fruit cakes baked by my mom. 

After rescuing the fish, I am two days behind on my proposal deadline and I spelled "Writing" as "WRTING" on today's introductory handout to the English students. Unimpressive. 

Evening falls. I read the daily news online, as usual. Floods, famines, hurricanes, and wars abound. My little fishy trauma is nothing but a tiny interruption in a season of plenty. My heart is grateful tonight for abundant blessings. 

Heartache comes to us all as part of an imperfect world. But when real disaster strikes, I don't want to look back at days of whining and complaining over life's little upheavals. I'd rather have spent my time in admiration and appreciation for God's provision and faithfulness.

What are you thanking God for today? 

Read more: 
*Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:2 NEV

*Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. Psalm 150 NIV 

*For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV

Sunday, September 19, 2010

30 crazy days

I was surprised and flummoxed by the creativity of Dominic Wilcox. He decided to design something daily for 30 days. Budget = L20 (about $17). Dominic came up with things I would never have thought of... all kinds of useful, useless, out-of-the-box, and just plain weird stuff.

Why is it that some people overflow with ideas, risk-taking, and flair, while others budget their lives to the last penny and only feel safe within well-defined regimes and boundaries? 

It apparently pleased God to give us various gifts, skills, and personalities. Leaders thrive on vision-casting, helping us to recognize new paths to move an organization or individuals out of deep entrenchment into future greatness. Administrators use their gifts to manage people and resources. Teachers research facts and methods, happy to explain knowledge to anyone who will listen. Artists reflect the Creator by looking at everything with a tilt of the head or a squint that blurs the original idea into possibilities yet unexplored.

Conflict arises when the MBA meets the creative thinker. "Where is your plan?" demands the organizer. "You can't just dump ideas into a meeting. You have to think them through first and present us with your plan for consideration."

Meanwhile, the idea person is puzzled. "Why do you want me to create a structure for this? If everyone thought about these things together, we'd find our way from stagnation and tradition to our full potential. Oh, and we'd love to hear what you're thinking in management, too."

In another scenario, imagine a builder with the gift of service, cobbling an emergency shelter from non-traditional items. She cares deeply that "this can work," and little for "this is how it should work - or this is how we always used this item in the past." The last thing she needs is a carpentry teacher at her elbow, explaining: "Oh no, that is the wrong way. That specialty board is designed for ..." 

There is a place for every gift, every skill, and every personality within the Family of God. More staggering, according to scripture, is that no child of God is more beloved or more important to the Kingdom than another. Yet within the Church, those with position and power hold back those who differ from them by "spiritualizing" authority and position. (Has anyone ever heard, "Touch not the Lord's anointed," when a pastor feels threatened?) Insecure bureaucrats fear the volatility of those who explode with God's creativity and are unconventional about using God's resources. On the other hand, those who love the latest worship trends and rush off to every conference for ideas feel utterly frustrated by those who value stability and tradition.

Feel free to look at Dominic's 30 Crazy Days for inspiration. Then pause to thank God that he's not chairman of your board!

Read more:
*I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2 NIV

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16 NIV

*Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 NIV

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Doggy heaven

My office door is closed, my dissertation files are up. I'm ready to work.

Except that Spike the dog, watching me drink Jasmine tea and eat toasted rye bread, is doing tricks. He gets up on his hind legs and spins. Sits behind me and barks. Jumps onto the desk by the window and lies down, looking at me in anticipation. Lying down is often enough to get a taste of what I'm eating.

No results? No compassion in my eyes? He leaps off the desk and throws his front paws on my legs. He's persistent, I'll give him that.

Now he's distracting me from the task at hand. Spike is cute. And I skipped our three-mile morning walk because I couldn't make it up the hill from house to the stop sign at the end of the street because of an early morning torture session at the XGym. (Oh yeah, it's that intense.)

I throw him the heel of bread. He crunches it with great satisfaction. "It worked! It worked! She fed me."

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I'm doing Spike-tricks to get God's favor. Maybe he'll satisfy my wants if I am good. Maybe he'll finally intervene in this problem if I do a few extra deeds of kindness. If I keep praying the same prayer, maybe he'll finally take notice.

Oh oh... let's get one thing straight! Our life of faith in Christ is not built on repetition, rules, or getting it right. It's a relationship with a Master who knows what we need and how to build his Kingdom in good times and bad.

The other kind of religion, of begging and chores? That probably only gets us a taste of doggie heaven, with acknowledgment and a few treats from other people, if we're lucky.

Read more:
*"So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. … So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God." (written by a jaded wise man, who had everything money and power could buy) Ecclesiastes 2:24–26; 3:12–13 NEV

*(Jesus said,) “And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven... Matthew 18:19-22 TEV

*But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 NEV

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family tradition

"Cornelius was saved, and his entire household with him" (Acts 10). Luke also reports that a jailer's family became Christ-followers when the jailer did (Acts 16). 

Reading that made me think about the difficulty in passing faith to the next generation. I remember praying fervently each time I was pregnant: "Dear God! Please let this child serve you with all her/his heart. I would rather you take this child away than let her/him be born to serve the Enemy of our souls." Fanatical? No, but I was setting my priorities as a mother firmly in my heart before meeting and falling in love with a son or daughter.

In the Old Testament, Abraham does okay. His tribe gets his vision and in spite of a slow learning curve, pass along the faith of their Patriarch.

In contrast, the Bible never glosses over the ungodly lives of children whose fathers are godly leaders. Most of the kids feel entitled to their father's status and family privileges. Their characters are stunted and they don't accomplish much.

Adam's oldest becomes a murderer. Moses goes outside the family to mentor Joshua to lead Israel, rather than than training his own half-Midianite sons. Aaron's children die for their flagrant disobedience. Eli's and Samuel's sons are disrespectful of the priesthood and unworthy to carry on their fathers' roles. Solomon initially has the heart of his father David, but uses the privileges of royalty to live a life of dissipation. David's other sons are rebels or nobodies, who fade into history.

We don't read that any Old Testament prophets' sons continue their fathers' ministries or promoted God's ways. Even the New Testament apostles have no descendants who stand out in the early Church.

In American culture, where many Christians' family lives revolve around children's sports, education, music lessons, and other hobbies, are we doing a better job? Are we raising our children to become part of the Church? Are the children of our pastors, Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, or worship leaders preparing to serve God with a double portion of the Spirit (like Elisha asked of Elijah - 2 Kings 2:9)?

In  the Old Testament, the Spirit descends temporarily on an individual who may speak for God (priests, prophets, and kings). In contrast, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes to empower every believer to serve daily in the power of the Spirit. Do our children understand that it is not enough to have a father and mother who love God and have accepted his lordship? Have they also received the Spirit's power to proclaim the gospel?

If so, thanks be to God! If not, how can we train the next generation in God's ways, growing them beyond self-centered self-promotion to sacrifice and obedience for the Kingdom's sake? 

Your suggestions and observations, please! 

Read more: 
*Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.... Deuteronomy 7:9 NET

*Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV

*"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30 NEV

Monday, September 13, 2010

No more magic

"Abracadabra!" Many of us played with this phrase as kids. It was "hocus-pocus," making no sense to us. We'd wave an invisible wand in the air, fantasizing that there was a real fairy-godmother or magic spells to produce our wishes. We were just playing, after all.

Mature Christians should have left those incantations and beliefs in "presto-chango! because-I-say-so" behind, in childhood. Instead, some of us drag them into our life of faith. We demand that our God show up (as though he is not already present), listen to us (as though he were unusually deaf), and fulfill our demands. Sometimes we even bring finite, foot-stomping tantrums before our Heavenly Father, based on our reading into his revelation in Scripture.

"You promised to heal! I'm/he's/she's/they're sick. Right now, in the name of Jesus..." Instead of acting with trust in God's absolute provisions and absolute goodness, instead of believing he does what is best in light of his power and ability, we begin to chant a formula.

"Whatever you ask in my name," said Jesus... except that there's more to the phrase than speech, because he said this to his intimate circle of followers.

Therefore, when we pray in his name, we give him the right to ask us, "How are you living as my disciple?" 

Are we completely under his direction? How closely do we follow his footsteps? How willing are we to travel the hard road to crucifixion of our own desires and wants, so that our requests are the same Jesus would make to our Father in heaven?

Every walk with God is unique. His promises apply to each of his children. Like a wise Father, the Lord of all knows how to love us and still fulfill his purposes. 

If there were a magic phrase or three-turn trick, I would have learned it. Our daughter would be healed. My doctorate would write itself. There would be no challenges or sicknesses to overcome. Weirdly, the planet would be crammed with ancient people, living on and on in perfect health! 

Many walk away from Christianity, disappointed because the promised magic didn't happen. The boss puts a pink slip on our desk when the company downsizes. We struggle to forgive abuse or neglect. Children disobey, run away, or die of cancer. The house burns to ashes in spite of frantic pleas, "Oh God, help!" Humanity lives under the brokenness and shadows that will only, finally, be removed and redeemed in the timing and scope of God's plan for the universe.

I want to set my heart to hear his voice, pray his will, and delight myself in the paths he on which he leads. No more wishing and hoping, positive affirmations and dreaming, as though our efforts defined faith. Rather, today, join me in prayerful submission. Impassioned requests coupled with gratitude for his care. 

Let's choose W's theology class definition of faith = "Trusting Obedience." Such a life of faith is harder. Steeper. More mysterious. This is the faith that moves mountains and sees them tumble into the seas. 

Read more:
*But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15   NIV

*Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10 NIV

*When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 NIV  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stuff happens

I'm wedged between big stuff and little stuff. Between praying for God's help in world crises like Pakistani floods and missionary martyrdom, and sighing over losing my keys getting off the bus yesterday, or trying to focus on research methodology for my coursework.

Our kids have always managed big stuff well - two of our boys hardly blinked while recovering from surgeries to repair their collapsed lungs. "Ah, collapsed lungs. Skinny white boys. Typical." (We were amused by this remark - twice - from their Asian surgeon.) Our daughter is heroic in her management of pain from arthritis. They've handled career changes, found new jobs, good spouses... seemingly without losing momentum or balance.

But, bee stings? Scrapes and bruises? The flu? Inconvenience? We heard their protests, loud and clear.

Stuff happens. Life is full of moments where unexpected challenges surprise us. What we do with the little things determines our reactions in important matters. For instance, when someone cuts us off in traffic, do we say, "Shoot (or its harsher alternative)!" or whisper a prayer of gratitude for not being in an accident? When we stumble over our feet, is it "oops!" or does something coarser cross our minds? Good patterns and aligning ourselves with God's character in "little" choices will help kick in survival reflexes with true wisdom rather than mere self-preservation.

Today, I'm thankful for a God whose patience and persistence continues to train and discipline the hearts and mouths of his children. And yeah, I'm still wondering if someone will turn my keys in...

Read more:
*Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:13 NIV

*For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we areyet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:12-16 NIV

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Following our passion and/or our paycheck...

Several blogs tout following your heart, doing what you love, and supporting one's lifestyle by working for self. Fine and good! Composing one's own employment structure sounds like a delight for some people, a nightmare for others.

In contrast to those on vocational monkey bars, most of us serve someone else. We hear about a job opening. We spot an ad. Maybe we could do the work, so we apply, and are happy to get the job. It might not be our favorite way to spend a day, but it's definitely okay or at least bearable. We exchange life hours for money to buy food, shelter, and clothing. Maybe we can even support our hobby or vacations. Is that so bad?

Maybe. But maybe not. Many of us need the discipline of regular hours, a desk, or a post where we're expected to show up. We like the routine of a paycheck. Some of us thrive as part of an organization that does worthwhile things. A few live to climb up the business ladder so we can tell others what to do. It takes all kinds.

I loved working within a great institution in a season of expansion and freedom to create a new thing. Now I'm back to the sheer joy of setting my hours at home, being my own boss, and doing work just for the love of it. I am surprised by coming alive again, and incredibly grateful (among other things, for a husband supports my passion by being paid for doing what he loves - thanks, honey!)

My creativity is constantly on the prowl. No one gets anxious because of my ecstatic finds or feels obligated to protect their turf when I get excited by possibilities. Nobody is upset by my huffy moods. The dog and I walk out my breaks when research and writing put my brain in a fog. 

What a window of lively exploration and discovery! Who knew "not working" would be so rich, fulfilling, and peaceful? Thanks be to God for every new morning, whether we are privileged to punch the clock or creating new ways to live in time. 

Read more: (Thanks, Tillie!)
*O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8 NIV

*Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:2-4 NIV

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Honor where honor is due

Today, Northwest U honored LeRoy Johnson with the first Meritorious Professor designation. He's been a professor at NU since 1967, so he started out teaching grandparents of current students. When we were students, he was one of our favorite profs. I didn't know that history was interesting until my history class with LeRoy. He spurred a love of people's stories that continues into my dissertation. A few years later, he and Marilyn became friends and mentors when we came back to the university. (January 1986, W started teaching here. Yup, it's been that long.)

First, something about Marilyn. She's full partner in this team of information and people-persons. She misses few events at the college to which spouses are invited. She and LeRoy attend more weddings, funerals, and milestones of NU alums than any other faculty. Marilyn stays up to date on university "stuff" through LeRoy's daily calls home. 

Between them, they remember former students, families, and tribes of alumni. They hold the memories of the college's past. "What a blessing for an alumni director!" I often thought while at that post. I appreciated their willingness to confirm facts or provide an accurate background for alumni relationships.

LeRoy is a really good teacher and was a beloved assistant coach for a generation of basketball players. But something else makes him unusual. He has always stood up for the underdog. My husband and I admire his willingness to speak for those without speaking rights. Sometimes in an institution, students or employees need a senior fellow to plead their cause to a hierarchical "superior" (someone else's word, not mine). LeRoy has been such an advocate over many years.

It takes a brave heart, wisdom, maturity, and great Christian character to live on the inside of an educational institution for decades. It takes someone extraordinary to have his good will and good intentions admired by administration, faculty, and students alike. LeRoy is such a man, and I am proud to know him. He's a special friend to so many!

To give honor, say thanks, or share your own memories, feel free to drop him (and Marilyn) a line at or PO Box 579, Kirkland, 98083 

*The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

*Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That's the value of wisdom: it helps you succeed. Ecclesiastes 10:10 NEV

*And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christto the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 NIV