Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wild women in the woods

Take five women of different backgrounds, educational and economic brackets, and marital status. Then mix in ethnicity, diverse worldviews, individual ways of "how things are done," and add a daughter or two for each... and you have a volatile mix. 

Cram the women in a cabin in the woods, let the lights flicker on and off, and add a downpour. Meanwhile, entertain the kids, whose ideas of adventure include watching a video in the van, going to the bathroom in the woods, and other non-camping preferences. Let the fun, shouting, tantrums, and learning begin (among the parents)!

My husband and I loved the play written by Janesse Schaeffer and directed by Karen Lund. We laughed and cried along with the actors who earned "BROWNIE POINTS" with us for their portrayal of honesty and vulnerability.

I spent last weekend at Cannon Beach with my accountability group. We four women have met for almost 18 years. We've formed deep and trusting relationships, but still have moments of adjustment and disagreement. We work hard to include each one and feel included. I kept thinking, sitting at Taproot Theatre, how we four would respond if a stranger with a completely different history and unique expectations tossed her hat into our ring. Sparks might fly!

Go see "Brownie Points" if you can. Take a neighbor or friend - and be prepared to examine your assumptions about people you know. Let your guard down for discussions that follow. Rather than offering relationship solutions, the play opens the door to take an honest look at American culture and friendships. Audience members hung around after the show to talk about what they'd experienced.

Ladies, if you've ever thought you were the only one who struggles to make it through a day, you'll be among friends. Gentlemen, if you ever wondered how women think and what they talk about, you'll get an insider's perspective.

Don't miss it! And be sure to take in the quiz and display in the upper foyer before or after the show. Once again, Taproot hits it out of the park, pulling us into a story, and showing - as well as telling - how sweet and complicated life can be.

Actors: Faith Russell, Karen Ann Daniels, Amy Love, Casi Wilkerson, and Nikki Visel. Photos by Erik Stuhaug. Tickets provided the reviewer by Taproot.

Friday, May 27, 2011

2 for 1 tickets for good theatre

Really enjoyed this (more coming in the review tomorrow). If you need a date tomorrow night, go 2 for 1:

Escape the rain this Memorial Day weekend with a 2-for-1 Offer from Taproot Theatre!

SEATTLE – May 27, 2011 – If you’re staying close to home this Memorial Day weekend, stay warm and dry with 2-for-1 tickets to Taproot Theatre’s production of Brownie Points. Take advantage of the “Memorial Day Discount” and get 2-for-1 tickets for the Friday, May 27 (8 p.m.), or Saturday, May 28 (2 or 8 p.m.), performance, limit four tickets per order. Tickets are available through the box office at 206.781.9707 or online at (discount code: “Memorial Day”).

In Brownie Points, the girls' club pledge never promised camping would be easy...for the moms. In the late night mayhem of a backwoods campout a storm rages outside, while a squall builds inside the cabin. Set against tranquil mountains, the close quarters, diverse backgrounds and differing walks of life collide, spurring hilarious but meaningful conversations about race, religion and parenting.

The Memorial Day weekend discount is not valid for previously purchased tickets or with any other offer, is based on availability, and is valid for the May 27 and 28, 2011, shows only. Offer must be mentioned at time of purchase. Memorial Day weekend discount tickets must be used on May 27 or 28; if a patron switches to another night, they must pay the upgrade fee. Brownie Points, by Janece Shaffer and directed by Karen Lund, runs through June 18.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Poof! It's gone!"

If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much. I would have it on its knees; miserable, greedy, and sick. - John Steinbeck (Daily Quote: John Steinbeck from The Poached Egg

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Same old new me. Maybe.

I've read it so many times. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them." 

Sounds great. What a relief. I'm a new person. 

Then why does the old me keep waving "Hello! I'm back!", driving in the car with me, and keeping me company whether I'm alone or with others? "Doesn't she know she's dead? She's pretty lively for a corpse," I think when the old girl sticks out her foot to trip the "new me"... again.
Today I'm clearing bookshelves in our bedroom. Three tall, double-wide oak shelves, sit crammed - some double deep - with words and pictures on paper. Book dust, constant and impossible to eradicate, may be affecting my husband's allergies. So "Onward ho! Out they go!" to the living room.

Last time we cleared the shelves, W needed clearance to redo the bedroom floor. I didn't want the books back in our room then, but he shrugged, "Where else would they go?" I didn't have a ready answer to the chaos in the hallway, so the books returned.

We've talked several times about building floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the LR, but there are too many other projects needing attention. After 17 years, a house needs refreshing and remodeling, just like people do. At this point, it's easier to drag down our shelves and set them them against the LR wall where the books shall warm the room with their colors and shapes and share their dust with guests.

The old me grumbles at the effort, and I suspect W's old man lurks just around the corner, waiting to jump him, too. What's going on? Where's the perfect love, peace, joy, and patience of a fully renewed mind? I read the passage again. 

Oh oh! Wait! Paul isn't done in his exploration of "new creation." He continues with OUR responsibility. It's not God's fault if we don't look or live like Jesus. Apparently God's provision, complete and free though it is, requires a personal and communal response:

"And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, is though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV) 

As I shlep the full book bags down the steps, empty bags back up, that's something to work on. Reconciliation and righteousness. Hopefully the same old me is moving onward and out, like the books I trudge to their next space.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Green. Tastes great.

My lunch plate is overflowing with 49 calories plus 276. I washed a bunch of leaves - 2 romaine, 1 red Swiss chard, 1 or curly green chard, coupla parsley stems. Chopped them together on the board. Tossed them into a big bowl. About 49 calories. The bowl is full. I'm craving an avocado so I walk over to the conservatory where veges and fruit, warmed by the sun, nestle in their glass bins. 

We scored a 4-tier, Crate & Barrel ornament holder after Christmas, and repurposed it for food storage (photo, far right). Last weekend, I planted the top tier with mesculin (salad). It's already sprouting. It's getting too hot for lettuce and quick-ripening veges in the conservatory, once it's sunny out. I moved most of the greens to the fridge after stripping and cleaning it yesterday (one of my most-hated household chores).

There's no dressing on the chopped greens. But slicing the avocado, warm, soft, ripe - deeelicious - adds 276 calories, according to the internet. Well worth it. I barely finish half in one go Green. Tastes great @ 1/2 of 325 calories. Wow. If you're sick and tired of your yo-yo Atkins or Weight Watchers, read more about this kind of eating. Bet you can't eat the whole thing, meal after meal! 

Read more:
*“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV 

*Jesus: "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." Matthew 10:28-31 NLT

Monday, May 16, 2011

Little shop of corners

"There it is," I'm pointing in the dark. And then, "Is that it?" There's no sign indicating we've reached the coffee shop where we hope to top off the evening's great eats.

The imposing dark red Victorian lurks alone and barely lit on a Belmont city block. We swing into a parking space on the street and pick our way to the front porch along a rippled brick walk . 

The Rimsky-Korsakoffee House rings with laughter, conversation, and live acoustic guitar. The soloist perches between the piano and the entry, plucking classical and pop tunes with equal improvisational vigor. 

The eclectic decorating includes 30" plastic gold beaded garlands poked into the ceiling with pins. They cascade with a 20-something craft party vibe, photos, paper mache boats and musical instruments, sparkly costume jewelry, and other assortments of junk, ending in a round tinseled sign, "30". Must be their 30th anniversary. Art Deco wallpaper lines the room, which is filled with kitch and antiques. 

College students drape across a sofa in the next room, leaning in to argue with friends perched on fading armchairs. Our table, its burgundy tablecloth topped with concert tickets, handwritten notes ("Prom 1985, son's prom 2011"), sheet music, and decoupage clippings under a circle of glass, is surrounded by mismatched wood chairs. Old ones that rest casually against an antique fireplace surround. The fireplace is blocked off, but the oak mantle's carvings hint of former splendor in the gloomy lighting.

People come and go. The servers boast multiples tattoos (why are octopi so popular?), piercings, and colored hair streaming in all directions. This is not an old lady teashop, stinking of musty linens and dusty teacups. The clientele is mostly 20s and 30s, with a few oldsters like us tossed in. 

W's cappiccino is delicious, and my herbal chai is excellent. Banana flan and berry cobbler round out the fun and funky vegan food. I imagine the kitchen to be well-used, barely clean, and chaotic. Fabulous! Now this would be a perfect place for evening Bible studies, for life discussions, and hanging out to develop deep friendships. Is that Jesus I hear, talking to someone around the corner?

Read more: 
*(Jesus) "Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names! But don't be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.'" Matthew 10:24-26 NLT

*Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV

Summer Fun for Little Kids

 By Daytona Strong

SEATTLE – May 16, 2011 – Fairy tales, knights and dragons, superheroes and jungle creatures—Taproot Theatre’s Acting Studio offers plenty of fun for kids with its week-long Creative Dramatics summer camps. Creative Dramatics offers kids from Pre-K through 2nd grade a great introduction to drama and is a guaranteed imagination builder. Students will have a great time cultivating their creativity and working together to create a presentation that shows off everything they’ve learned in camp. There’s a new Creative Dramatics session nearly every week throughout the summer; parents can choose a session based on the schedule or by theme!
Creative Dramatics is just one of many camps offered during this summer. Children must be age 4 or older and completely potty-trained. Summer quarter runs from June 20 through August 26. Registration is open now. Camps are held at Taproot Theatre (204 N 85th St.) and Phinney Ridge Lutheran (7500 Greenwood Ave. N) in Seattle. Registration is now available online, along with class descriptions, at, or contact Taproot’s Acting Studio at (206) 529-3668 or
About Taproot Theatre Company’s Acting Studio
Taproot Theatre Company’s Acting Studio offers year-round classes for youth and adults taught by local theatre professionals. Budding thespians will find classes to help them develop their acting skills, while more seasoned actors can build on their knowledge and learn new techniques. Taproot Theatre Company is a professional, non-profit theatre company with a multi-faceted production program. Founded in 1976, Taproot Theatre serves the Pacific Northwest with Mainstage Productions, Touring Productions and Acting Studio. Taproot exists to create theatre that explores the beauty and questions of life while bringing hope to our search for meaning. Taproot Theatre Company is a member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Theatre Puget Sound (TPS), and the Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce.
Special thanks to our media sponsor, ParentMap. Seasonal support provided by The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, The Seattle, Foundation, 4Culture, ArtsFund and PONCHO.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Swimming with the whales

Killer whales provided a rare treat for Vancouverites yesterday, playing near the seawall at Stanley Park. They flipped their tails. Pushed their heavy black and white markings above the surface to flop down with a splash. Blowholes puffed spray twenty feet into the air.

We grew accustomed to people swimming alongside the wall, walking the park shores years ago. Apparently no one was swimming in Burrard Inlet yesterday but the big guys. Killer whales eat sea lions, dolphins, and other mid-size mammals. I don't know if that means they'd eat a person or not. Certainly the chase would be less fun for the whales, since we're so slow in the water. 

These orcas are mostly loners, according to researchers. Born into a species that travels in lifelong packs, these drifters range up and down the West Coast, moving in and out of pods. Their social life is unusual, but when they need help or company, they form small temporary groups.

I got to thinking how Western societies have changed. Rather than settling into small communities where we know everyone and are known, most of us prefer the "freedom" of anonymity in big cities, of not knowing others. We don't have to deal with our family histories, present failures, or future ambitions under the watchfulness of informed neighbors.

When I walked the dog this morning, the high schoolers strolled past. Their eyes were down, their ears plugged with Earbuds. Seven junior highers, waiting at their bus stop a half hour later, stood apart. No conversation. One carried a violin case, another a duffel bag, and bulky knapsacks weighed heavily on all their backs. When the bus pulled up, they slouched one after another up the steps without talking or looking at each other.

None of the kids made eye contact with invisible, unrelated me. They've been taught to ignore strangers. To focus life around themselves, not people older or younger, unless it is for personal advantage. Obviously, sadly, those lessons have been well-assimilated.

On the other hand, an Asian woman, ten years my junior, stopped to chat. We introduced ourselves and our dogs. "Nice sunshine this morning," she smiled. "When do you walk?"

"Six to nine, depends on the morning."

"Yes, me too. Depending on weather," she agreed. "Hoping to see you again." 

"Let's walk together when we do!" 

We left in opposite directions, but I hope we do meet. I now know her name. She knows mine. Our dogs didn't bite each other, though Missy, our poorly socialized poodle rescue, snarled a lunging greeting before settling down for a civilized sniff.

While I don't want to swim with whales if I'm a dolphin, I want other dolphins like me around! They'll jabber (sometimes annoying when I'm trying to relax), play, warn off danger, and help me fly to safety through deep and shallow waters. 

How about you? Do you rely on others who know you intimately? Or are you happiest to remain a stranger? 

Read more:
*My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 108:1-5 NIV

*"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!" (Jesus) Matthew 10:8 NLT

*Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled awayfor it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” Mark 16:1-7 NKJV

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Native growth

Some neighbors arrived today to dig up my yard. I'm good with that.

I'd advertised "Native Plants Free" on Craigslist, and apparently a lot of people want native plants. The first to arrive took one look, said, "Oh, it's just forest," and left. The next one dug up ornamental grasses and ferns. The gardeners who just arrived need "everything, please." I point them to the forest floor where we are pruning away overgrowth to establish azaleas and other ornamentals.

They've come prepared, they think. They've brought shovels, a pick to loosen the ground, a pickup truck for hauling, and high energy. But I doubt they'll take as much as they hope to. It's hard physical work digging shrubs and ferns from the ground. I warn them that even if they dig deep roots, the leaves will need to be pruned back hard before replanting the shrubs.

I tear a few woody branches off our boxwood and other shrubs, showing them how to prepare cuttings that can fill their enormous hillside.

"You really have to take off all that greenery?" the lady asks as I strip off two thirds of the leaves. The green falls to the ground to compost, leaving a stubby wood stem with a few pitiful leaves on top. The couple looks too kind and "merciful" to do the brutal work required for a transplant to survive or thrive.

I'm firm on this one: "Yes, otherwise the stem can't pull enough water up to sustain the leaves." It's a lesson new gardeners learn quickly as heavily leafed cuttings wilt and die. Most of the plants in our courtyard have come from such cuttings. Our boxwood hedge started as 4" clippings from Mom's boxwood. The yew tree beginning to hide the side stair began as a little trimming from a friend. Same with the shrubs in the garage planter.

I wonder if these people have the heart needed to create a beautiful garden. Do they have the dedication and discipline for regular watering until plants are established?

As I head back in, I shake my head. My garden's a wreck after several years of neglect, due to studies and other interests. The bones are good and the plants established, so from a distance, it looks tame and orderly. Get closer, and the truth is revealed. I need to go through and completely weed and mulch... after I trim the skeleton back into shape.

I wonder what parts of our spiritual lives are in the same condition. Good beginning, strong growth, then overgrown or neglected. In need of severe pruning. God help us to withstand the hard cutting needed to make those areas flourish again!

Read more:
*This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV

*Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

*And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 5-6 NIV

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Anchored in hope

I love being around hopeful people. Some of the most optimistic and thankful people I've met live with health challenges, financial troubles, and family chaos. They don't rely on circumstances because they've anchored their circumstances in the faithfulness of an unchanging, reliable God.

I love what the Psalmist says in the middle of his challenging season. Admitting his inability to thrive on his own, he plants his hope firmly in the God who can sustain and cheer. I sing today with the lyricist who lived over 2000 years ago, though my house is warm and my studies are progressing, acknowledging that life's opportunities balance between happiness and  hardship:

"I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

"Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you. 

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." ( Psalm 143:5-10 NIV)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

West-coast premiere of award-winning show... almost here!

Here's the scoop for the next award-winning show Brownie Points at Taproot in Seattle. Sounds like great entertainment for the family as motherhood and racial assumptions collide. For more information check the Taproot website.
(Photos by Tanya Barber)

Taproot Theatre presents West Coast premiere of Brownie Points

Opening on May 20, premiere continues Taproot’s 35th Anniversary Season

SEATTLE – “Brownie Points began with the question, ‘what is more powerful: the shared experience of motherhood or the divisiveness of race?’” says playwright Janece Shaffer of her new dramedy, making its West Coast premiere at Taproot Theatre this spring. Directed by Karen Lund, Brownie Points opens on May 20 and runs through June 18, with previews on May 18 and 19.

The girls' club pledge never promised camping would be easy...for the moms. In the late night mayhem of a backwoods campout a storm rages outside, while a squall builds inside the cabin. Set against tranquil mountains, the close quarters, diverse backgrounds and differing walks of life collide, spurring hilarious but meaningful conversations about race, religion and parenting.

“I love how this play gets to the heart of sensitive issues, by couching them in the comic moments of our everyday lives, making them accessible,” said Lund. “It basically comes down to what’s more important, people’s differences in things like race and religion, or what they have in common, which in the case of these women is the struggle to raise their kids the best way they know how.”

Brownie Points premiered to sold-out crowds at Theatrical Outfit in February 2010. Shaffer won the Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award for Brownie Points in November (she also won the award in 2009 for Managing Maxine). In addition to writing, Shaffer serves as director of communications for the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Shaffer will visit Taproot Theatre for the week of Brownie Points’ opening.

Taproot Theatre’s production includes a talented cast of Karen Ann Daniels, Faith Russell, Nikki Visel and Casi Wilkerson. The production team includes scenic and sound designer Mark Lund, costume designer Sarah Burch Gordon and lighting designer Jody Briggs. Anne Hitt serves as stage manager and Sonja Lowe as dramaturg.

Following Brownie Points, Taproot Theatre presents Something’s Afoot, running July 13 through August 13.

 HERE'S MORE info:

Brownie Points
By Janece Shaffer
Directed by Karen Lund

·         Previews: May 18 & 19, 7:30 p.m.
·         Opening night: May 20, 8 p.m.
·         Pay What You Can: May 25, 7:30 p.m.
·         Senior Matinee: June 1, 2 p.m.
·         Student Matinee: June 7, 10 a.m.
·         Post-play Discussions: Wednesday nights, excluding preview

WHERE: Taproot Theatre Company, 204 North 85th Street, Seattle, WA 98103

TICKETS: Tickets are available online at and through Taproot Theatre’s box office, in person or by phone at 206.781.9707. Tickets range from $20-35, depending on the performance. Taproot offers a $3 senior/student discount off regular priced tickets (excludes previews). $10 tickets are available for ages 25 and under. Tickets for the senior matinee are $20. Discounts are available for parties of 8 or more through Group Sales; call 206.781.9708. Tickets for the pay-what-you-can performance are available day of show at the box office only; contact the box office for details.

ABOUT: The girls' club pledge never promised camping would be easy...for the moms. In the late night mayhem of a backwoods campout a storm rages outside, while a squall builds inside the cabin. Set against tranquil mountains, the close quarters, diverse backgrounds and differing walks of life collide, spurring hilarious but meaningful conversations about race, religion and parenting.
Taproot Theatre Company is a professional, non‐profit theatre company with a multi‐faceted production program. Founded in 1976, Taproot Theatre serves the Pacific Northwest with Mainstage Productions, Touring Productions and the Acting Studio. Taproot exists to create theatre that explores the beauty and questions of life while bringing hope to our search for meaning. Taproot Theatre Company is a member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Theatre Puget Sound (TPS), and the Greenwood‐Phinney Chamber of Commerce.

Thanks to our title sponsor, Viking Bank, and our opening night sponsor, The Upper Crust. Support for Taproot Theatre’s 2011 Mainstage season is generously provided by The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, The Seattle Foundation, 4Culture, ArtsFund and PONCHO.

Twins named Peace and Humility

"I want to get ahead and I'm trying to be noticed!" and "I am the BOSS around here and don't you forget it!" I've heard both at work. The speakers were anxious and controlling of their work and their authority. Not so much fun to be around.

Those ambitions reverberated as unpleasant memories when I read the morning's scriptural passage: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

I've never thought of humility and peace as twins. Yet, another verse came to mind: "Great peace have they that love your law, and nothing can make them stumble" (Psalm 119:165). The law of Jesus says that we must treat others the way we want to be treated, and our obligation is to love God first, then others the same way we love ourselves. Hate being bullied? Dislike the "I'm more important than you" in others? Don't do it yourself!

Who do you think of (maybe yourself) when you read this? How can God's care and peace envelop us, no matter what our -- or others' -- plans and goals...and prevent us from being eaten alive by human power struggles? (Read the verses below.)

Read more:
*Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11  NIV

Monday, May 2, 2011

Logger at large, with small blade handy

The sun stunned us with its warmth and light yesterday. We walked into the front courtyard, where W talked about propping up the kiwi trellis which seemed to be leaning a bit. "I'll have to put in a concrete block and another post or two to keep it upright," he decided. 

Last summer, the courtyard became sequestered under the shade of overhanging branches. The fig tree hardly had leaves, never mind fruit. I'd been eying a few 50' maples in the woods between our house and the street. We're allowed to cut two big trees a year, and these were leaning toward the house, growing 5' annually. After the neighbor's maple tree snapped its trunk and fell onto our roof a few years ago, we're less hospitable to overhanging hardwoods.

When I pointed the trees out to W, he said, "Just a minute," disappeared, and returned with a little folding saw. Its unimpressive blade boasted 12" of curved, serrated steel. But with a wedge here, and a flat cut there, the trees keeled into the forest, their unfurling new leaves headed for compost rather than green summer glory.

"Anything else?" asked our intrepid logger.

"Well, actually, look at that shrub. It's blocking the light on the trellis. Do you mind taking it out as well?"

A few minutes later, the kiwi scaffolding emerged, liberated from a mass of waxy leaves. Suddenly we realized that the maples blocked the sun's rays less than one woodland shrub, overtaking an area we hadn't protected. The kiwi trellis popped upright. It hadn't been the tangle of kiwi vines, but the slow creep of a wild bush, that had weighed it down.

I thought about how many times we likewise think big sins hobble us and define our futures. Yet, scriptures warn that "the small foxes" ruin a vineyard. Untamed daily habits can be more damaging to spiritual fruit and future dreams than major breakdowns or failures.

The rains are back this morning. The courtyard basks in the wet, water soaking every flowerpot and washing the kiwi vines. The formerly dry ground under the trellis soaks up moisture without hindrance. Similarly our hearts, pruned by the Master Gardener, allow the latter rains of God's love and the rays of his light to reach us so that we bear plenty of good fruit. (John 15)

Read more:
*When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields." Matthew 9:36–38 NLT

*Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36 NIV