Thursday, July 28, 2011

Passing on the glory

Mentoring and coaching affirm and boost skills and opportunities in others. It's not that hard to find people who claim to be a mentor or coach, but quality varies widely.

I LOVE my coach, Jodi Detrick. She clarifies my thinking, asks thoughtful questions that make me pause to consider options, and helps put my goals into focus. Her assistance and counsel opened several doors for me this spring that I would never have been able to pass through alone. Without self-promotion or hesitation, she's done the same for many influencial leaders across the nation. Thanks, Jodi!

David's trials with his son Absalom spotlight the humility, generosity, and astonishing character of Barzillai the Gileadite (2 Samuel 19:31-39). Absalom rebels and chases his father from Jerusalem, Barzillai stands by his king, providing supplies and assistance. As David returns after Absalom's insurrection ends, he offers Barzillai a place in the King's palace, benefits of influence and access, and a seat at his table.

The old man is a realist. "I'm 80, and rich food and influence don't really interest me. However, there's someone I value, someone who has served well, and who would benefit from your offer. Let me present my servant Kimham. I'd love to promote him because I can't take full advantage of your kindness myself."

Kimham got his big break when he worked for Barzillai. But the old man went beyond mentoring and giving good job reviews. He placed his protegee in the seat of power to his own loss, boosting him into circles of high influence, catapulting him into King David's inner circle. The prophet Jeremiah mentions a city named after Kimham (Jer. 41:17), though we don't read any more about the younger man's exploits with David or his sons. It was up to Kimham to live up to his opportunity.

Some mentors offer advice and training, but feel threatened, resentful, and angry when their servant becomes greater than they, when their hireling achieves stardom, or when the mentor is left behind. Such greedy leaders note their own stalemate and erect roadblocks for underlings instead of continually pushing others forward. They promote themselves, sabotage others' good ideas, and fight to stay on top of their hierarchical heap.

I wish I'd had a boss like Barzillai. Growing up, my own dad created great expectations of such leadership. I've watched him shamelessly encourage and promote employees and younger talent who showed any lick of ambition or courage. Every eager and gifted employee longs for a promoter and booster like him.

Like my father, I am determined to copy Barzillai, rejoicing when people I mentor surpass my abilities and achievements.

If you have position or power in your organization, deliberately step back from the limelight to promote others. Help them excel beyond your sphere of authority. Boost them to pass you by, do better than you, and make you proud as they stand on your strong shoulders.

When someone who once worked for you becomes great in the ocean outside your little fishpond, let them name you as the fearless, honest power broker who made them shine. This is the only way your influence can expand and lives on through others' greater glory and achievements.

Like Barzillai, you will become known and admired in wide circles beyond any grappling, politicking, or self-protection that promotes your own interests and hard-won executive post. Live big! (I promise it won't make you smaller.)

Read more:
*Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. Now Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man.

The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.”

But Barzillai answered the king, “How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of men and women singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever pleases you.”

The king said, “Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever pleases you. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.”

So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing, and Barzillai returned to his home. When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over. 2 Samuel 19: 31-40 NIV

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Personal bias vs. a godly life

"Well, at least my intentions were good!" Have you ever heard that from someone who just spoiled a job or broke a relationship with an ill-fated attempt to help? 

"I just thought they should know that." Ever watch someone control another person with spiritual legalism or slice a frail person to ribbons with cruel facts?

"It's his/her job, not yours. Stay out of it." Ever seen a project fizzle without realizing its potential because a gifted person is overlooked by political correctness or stultifying hierarchy?

Most people land on both sides of the equations eventually. We act, speak, and delegate without thinking through the implications of our actions. And we've been knifed by careless words, undermined by bad "help," and refused the opportunity to use our skills.

When W was principal of a Christian school, we attended a conference where men and women were separated for some sessions. Since the articulate wife of the main speaker "could not" address men, the women attendees got the full blast of her teaching on Southern Baptist submission. All males were superior in position to females by God's decree, she told us. Whether or not women were smarter or more skilled than male peers, every woman had better knuckle under and let a man lead. No woman could teach a man anything, whether at home or in public. Oh, and no trousers permitted for the truly holy women of God.

W found me in tears in our hotel room after I'd endured three hours of lectures. "What's going on?" he asked, puzzled to find me sobbing on the bed, especially at a "how-to" Christian school convention. "What happened? Are you okay? Are the kids all right?"

"I can't do it!" I wailed. "I can't go into the bathroom, shut the door, pray God to give you direction, and let you decide everything for us. I will go crazy!"

"What are you talking about?"

"Patti-Belle said if her husband decided to move to Alaska, she would never cross him or challenge him, even if it was terrible timing for the family. She'd go into the bathroom, pray earnestly that God would give her husband good counsel through godly men, and come out smiling and ready to pack up the house. I don't think I could be that kind of a 'good wife,' ever!"

W looked at me with dismay and shock. "Why would God give men a marriage partner if he didn't intend a husband to benefit from his wife's counsel and interactions? In marriage, two heads and two viewpoints are better than one."

I dried my cheeks with a sign of relief. However, the trauma of that woman's attempt to foist on her listeners the spirituality of male dominance has stayed with me all these years. I'm delighted not to be in her denomination or culture! (Though admittedly, my mom, girlfriends, and family therapists confirm that even in the strongest marriages, a wife's advice is often heeded less than casual remarks from a husband's peers or boss. Oh well.)

Nothing I read in scripture tells me that God, usually referenced as male, thinks less of his daughters than his sons. He gifts them both through the Spirit, calls them to serve in dangers and challenges, to be faithful through good times and bad. He uses the values of each culture to emphasize his right to "the best" people acknowledge, own, or accomplish in their communities (such as the firstborn son, the dowry of a bride, or the tithe from the harvest).

It's amazing how God works to build his Kingdom in all cultures, drawing us to himself within all our worldviews and traditions. He stoops to listen to our prayers, to grant our petitions, with love that cherishes us more than we can love ourselves or each other.

How arrogant of us to read our finite understandings into Scripture, to presume that our tribe, our gender, our nation, or our Christian community pleases him more than all others. 

In contrast, Jesus assumed a humble and lowly position rather than arriving as a "somebody." He was born into a tradesman's family in an unimportant town, at a time in history when his nation was despised by their conquerors. As his servants, let's not pretend that we are more important than he through our personal bias and self-importance. How dare we ignore his call to imitate his humility with a godly life, no matter what our station or status.

Read more:
*"In times of trouble, may the answer your cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm. May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem… May he grant your heart's desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the LORD answer all your prayers." Psalm 20:1–2, 4–5 NLT

*"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

*Jesus replied, "And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.' 

"But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, 'Sorry, I can't help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.' In this way, you say they don't need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.'" Matthew 15:3–8 NLT 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Green green grass of home

Today it's suddenly summer. Ok, I'll grant you, yesterday wasn't too bad in the afternoon and evening. Because of the wet, cool year, the garden courtyard is green. The ornamental grasses are lush and tall.

My college roommate Bonnie gave me two ferns from her daughter's wedding in May. They couldn't take them back across the border to Canada where Bonnie lives. I hung the plants on the posts of our front entry.

A few weeks after the wedding, I heard a loud "chit-chit-chit" as I went out the front door. A little sparrow hopped up and down on the trellis of the courtyard, scolding me and trying to draw me away. The next time I pulled down the ferns to fertilize and water them, I couldn't believe my eyes! Three little birds, newly hatched, lay nested in one of the ferns. After the chicks disappeared, one egg remained unhatched in the abandoned nest.

I left the nest for a few weeks. It lay clean and tidy, not full of bird waste like usual after raising chicks. I tipped the sole egg out today and teased the circle of twigs from the fern to bring it inside the house as part of a floral arrangement. Thank you, Sparrow!

The ferns have spread and grown in the past few months, along with the grasses in the pots on the steps. I'll hang the ferns in the conservatory when autumn comes and the grass dies back.

Each time I pass by, I pause to pray for Starla and Jose, now living in Venezuela. Blessings on you two, and may the garden of your marriage grow and thrive! 

Read more:
*How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:1-2 NIV

*(Jesus) "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.   

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.    

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done. 
  -Horatius Bonar 1846

Thursday, July 21, 2011

To bring in the new, discard the old

After our granddaughter came blinking into this world yesterday, her mommy continued to push. The doc encouraged her, "Keep pushing! You're almost done! You still have work to do." The doctor held a plastic sack ready, then examined the afterbirth for missing pieces and deposited it for disposal. Any pieces left behind rot and poison the mother once the job is done. No longer needed, the afterbirth, so vital to develop a baby, was thrown out without a glance from mother or father. 

Baby Kinsey moved into her mommy's arms without a thought for the crucial organ that had allowed her to develop. I'll write more on the pleasures of lovely Kinsey and her young family another day. 

But in morning devotions, God impressed on me the need likewise to let go of any womb that nurtures new existence, depending on God's timing and hard labor to bring about a new thing.

We become so attached to the warmth, the dark safety, and closed-in walls that feed and shape us. New ideas, new projects, and new character are forged in the protection and comfort of a hidden, quiet season. When incubation is done, we are thrust into the glare of a cold room filled with watchers or cheerleaders. Our lungs suck in the first painful breaths of dry air and we may wail in terror as we clear our airways and announce our arrival. What was precious and safe becomes toxic and unclean, whether it is a relationship, church tradition, or business agreement.

This morning, I talked with a woman whose husband left her a year ago. She sobbed throughout the conversation, "It's like he left me five minutes ago. I don't want to change. I still love him. He was my best friend, my soul mate." Though she's asking God for help, her hands are still clenched in fear and sorrow against the reality that she cannot control another person. She is being poisoned by the past, not yet willing to receive the beauty and new life God knows plans for her future.

As I drove away from our meeting, I asked myself, "What am I holding, desperately clutching, afraid that future will not live up to the past?" 

Read more:
*I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.”Psalm 89:1-2 NKJV 

*A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.'

But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. 'Tell her to go away,' they said. 'She is bothering us with all her begging.'

Then Jesus said to the woman, 'I was sent only to help God's lost sheep—the people of Israel.'

But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, 'Lord, help me!'

Jesus responded, 'It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.'

She replied, 'That's true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters' table.'

'Dear woman,' Jesus said to her, 'your faith is great. Your request is granted.' And her daughter was instantly healed. Matthew 15:22–28 NLT

*Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthymeditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Monday, July 18, 2011

The steeper, faster life

When Missy the poodle first came to our place, she could hardly walk a block. Her owners rarely walked her or let her out except for potty. She had never been on a leash. I bet she got the shock of her life to be taken outside every morning. When Spike would need a good run, Missy would sit in the wicker basket and relax... while the terrier stretched his wandering legs.

The Walky-Dog has got to be one of my favorite inventions. Though our dogs are small, they love to run. I'm too old--well, certainly too out of shape--to be running for long. Hence the clamp and post on the seat stem of my Brompton makes both the dogs and me happy.

They love to be leashed onto the coupler, a recycled convention lanyard. "Let's bike!" I call, and they run for the door to wait patiently while I get the bike out. In no time, we're off. They pull me for a few blocks like miniature sled dogs until their initial energy abates a bit.

Do I feel stupid being pulled by a 12 lb. terrier and an 8lb poodle groomed like a Hollywood show dog? Nah. Not a bit. I think it's funny, and I'm glad to have found the quickest way to scoot around our hilly neighborhood for 2-4 miles, especially on a rainy day. We don't go very fast: the dogs run at 7-11 mph and trot at 4-7mph. But... when we get home, the dogs relax and enjoy the rest of the day indoors.

It's especially nice to have a cycling option when I come back from a MWF exercise class that runs 6-7:30am. (Crazy, I know. But who's going to fight for my attention at that time of day? And what books are compelling enough for research at that time of morning?)

I wonder about seasons of our lives when we've been inactive, sitting on the sofa content with being fed, cuddled, and hugged by an appreciative group of friends or family, like our Missy was. Then without warning, our limp muscles are challenged. 

Off we go. Life drags us off the couch, calls us to step up the pace. Every day seems longer and steeper, rather than easier. (You'd think we'd get time off as we get older.) I find myself whining, "Oh please! Give me a break," reluctantly leashed to a new trip around the block.

Like Missy, we get strong quickly with harsh realities from which there is no escape. For some of us, the adventure is prayer and intercession. For others, hard service. For yet others, painful and intense thinking and planning. Along the way we stretch and contract until we can hardly recognize the person in the mirror. Oh, our face and form may look similar, but inside, the stamina and flexibility tells the story of a new creation. 

In case you wonder, Missy can outrun Spike at this point in speed and stamina. Inside the lazy lapdog was a crazy, bouncy runner, just waiting for a challenge.

Read more:

*Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns. She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table. She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come. She calls out from the heights overlooking the city. "Come in with me," she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says, "Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment." Proverbs 9:1–6 NLT

*Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 

Then Peter called to him, 'Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.'

'Yes, come,' Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. Matthew 14:22–25, 28–29 NLT

*To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hymns of comfort

 Today, I'm reposting a blog that means a lot to me! Hope you enjoy it, too.

Two Hymns of Comfort

By Chaplain Mike
We here in the iMonk community have been sharing with each other many words about trials and spiritual disorientation lately. This might be a good time to include some hymns of comfort and encouragement in our weekly “Hymns for Ordinary Time” series. One of the lessons to be learned in Ordinary Time is that the hard passages are part and parcel of our daily journey, and it is something we should find a way to sing about.

Today we feature two hymns by a woman who has been called, “the Fanny Crosby of Sweden.” Her full name is Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg, but she is known as Lina Sandell. She lived from 1832 to 1903 in Sweden, where she grew up as the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. In her lifetime she wrote more than 650 hymns. Many of these were put to melody and carried across Scandanavia by guitarist, composer, and arranger Oscar Ahnfelt, of whom Lina said, “He has sung my songs into the hearts of the people.”

As a teenager, Sandell wrote the beautiful and tender, “Children of the Heavenly Father.” This is a favorite of my wife’s extended family, and we sing it when we gather at reunions for worship. Lina wrote it having already experienced severe trials in her own childhood. At age twelve she was paralyzed, confined to bed, and given no hope of walking again. Yet somehow she experienced healing just like the people in the Gospel stories she read and prayed over. This led her to testify to God’s care in this beautiful, lullaby-like hymn of comfort. Whether you are in the disorienting circumstances of pain and sorrow, or have found peace or even a surprising deliverance of some kind, this is a song God’s people can sing together to encourage one another to trust our Father’s loving presence throughout the journey.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

When Lina Sandell was in her twenties, she and her father took a boat outing on a lake during which he fell overboard and drowned. Out of her deep and lasting grief, she wrote some of her most loved hymns, including the one below, “Day by Day.”
This hymn has given me much peace and assurance throughout my life, and I have been able to use it as a pastor and chaplain to bring comfort to others as well. By sharing these words with us, Lina Sandell provides a good example of how “the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2Corinthians 1:3-4)

Walk To Queen's Merephoto © 2009 Garry Knight | more info (via: Wylio)Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Friday, July 8, 2011

People like I am...

(Originally named "People like me" but bad grammar, combined with an assumption of affection, required a revision of title.)

It's easy to get frustrated and judgmental, reading the Old Testament. "C'mon, people!" I want to say to Israel. "I'm getting worn out, hearing your repeated failures, generation after generation. Buck up already and do what is right!"

A leader turns his heart to God, taking the people back from idolatry to true worship. Then his son erects Asherah poles, restores the high ground of the Baals, and builds altars under every spreading tree. The same kings commit murders and assassinations, rape and pillage, reaping wars and famines. The people, who have strayed like sheep after these arrogant and idolatrous idiots, cry out for mercy.

Then God raises up a faithful leader again. The nation reaps prosperity and peace. But the cycle repeats. Obviously, we don't learn good character, morals, and law from history.

Few kings spent a lifetime as worshipers of the One God. Not even Solomon, for all his glorious beginnings, endured to the end. Why doesn't God just roll up the historical archives of the Israelites and Gentiles, wipe out humanity, and start a more obedient creation?

Instead, God repeatedly shows his mercy, forgiveness, and patience. Those inherent qualities of WHO he is color everything he does among us. If we got a fraction of what we deserved, we would not survive his wrath.

My eyes and ears burn as I watch and listen to culture. Most of us live in fantasy. We assume we live with justice, riches, safety, and care for others. We can be especially naive if we grew up in church.

At the same time, we lock our homes and cars against strangers (and friends, at times). Weapons are a "right, "not for hunting food, but for protection against others. We sanitize our hands lest unmentionable diseases infect us. We distrust the overtures of salespeople, and scrutinize offers of neighborly kindness for hidden motives. A quarter of our schoolchildren don't get enough food at home, according to a recent study.

I occasionally play piano at a local hospital, watching people stream by. I listen to snatches of conversations, and catch slivers of many unique stories. It's humbling to recognize that God knows and loves each passerby as much as he knows and loves me and those I care about. He waits for us to turn to him, so his loving, forgiving, and healing arms can embrace us.

I want to grow old with a faithful heart. To show tender mercy and patience to others as God extends it to me, day by day. To recognize that human hearts are desperately wicked, while living joyfully because God - knowing the depths of our condition - lifts us up, signing our pardon on a New Covenant with the blood of Jesus.

When I read the Old Testament, I have to remember it's not just stories about "awful us." The Bible is a showcase for the spectacular. It reminds us that our loving Creator interacts time and again, based on his goodness and infinite love, with all those who are willing to receive his attention. His untiring advances invite us to know and love him in return.

I need grace more than anyone else. So,

"Thanks be to God! Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. Thanks be to God!" He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever... even on a day when I'm crabby about another overcast sky, reading the news on the BBC, shuddering at the hardships of followers whose rotten leaders drag them through hell.

Read more:
Who is a God like You, who pardons
Iniquity and passes over the rebellious
Act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19 NASB

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2012-13 Season - Taproot Theatre

I love this company. Every show has been interesting and has showcased human life and interactions. Can't wait for the new line-up. Thought I'd include their press release below, so all you theatre lovers can get your tickets early. If you've never been to a live show, get ready to be wowed and to step into the story!
Taproot Theatre Company announces 2012 Season

Season includes two regional premieres, a sparkling musical full of nostalgia, and a heartland comedy that’ll make you relive your family vacations

SEATTLE – June 28, 2011 – Taproot Theatre Company is excited to announce the lineup for its 36th season, a year packed with comedy, classics and romance. The season features two regional premieres, a comedic road trip with the family, and a musical full of nostalgia and harmony. Taproot Theatre’s Company’s 2012 Season runs from January through October. The resubscription period is currently underway, with subscriptions opening to the general public on October 3.

Taproot Theatre’s 2012 opens with Molière’s Tartuffe (translated by Richard Wilbur), a fast -paced farce that will have audiences rolling with laughter and rhyming in couplets (February 1-March 3).

Next comes the regional premiere of Freud’s Last Session, the off-Broadway hit by Mark St. Germain. Two of the 20th century’s greatest minds—C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud—spar to the end in this fictional meeting (March 21- April 21).

In the spring, Taproot Theatre gets in vacation mode with Leaving Iowa. By Tim Clue and Spike Manton, this warm and funny celebration of the classic family road trip reminds us that sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination (May 16- June 16). 

Then it’s Chaps, which is perhaps your only chance to see a British cowboy croon at the moon, in this musical by Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner, with vocal arrangements by Malcolm Hillgartner and Chip Duford (July 11-August 11).

Finally, Taproot Theatre wraps up its 2012 Season in the fall with the regional premiere of Dorothy Sayer’s Gaudy Night, adapted by Frances Limoncelli. Sayers’ signature wit, insight and charm will delight you in this dazzling mystery (September 19-October 20).

Ticket and Subscription Information:

Performances take place Wednesday through Saturday evenings, with matinees on Saturdays. Taproot Theatre is currently in its resubscription period; subscriptions open to the public on October 3, and single tickets go on sale in January 2011.

Subscribers save up to 18% over single ticket prices, plus enjoy great benefits like priority seating, discounts on additional tickets, free ticket exchanges, a subscriber rewards card and more. Subscribers have a number of packages to choose from, including three- and five-play season subscriptions and a Flex Pass subscription, which gives patrons more flexibility when scheduling their tickets.

For more information about subscriptions and single tickets, visit or contact the box office at 206.781.9707 or  The box office is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m., and until show time on performance nights.

All performances are held at Taproot Theatre, located at 204 N. 85th St. in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. The 226-seat theatre is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with assisted listening devices.

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 opening night sponsor, The Upper Crust. Support for Taproot Theatre’s 2012 Mainstage season is generously provided by The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, The Seattle Foundation, ArtsFund, 4Culture, PONCHO, and the Nesholm Family Foundation.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The terror of a call

Many people aspire to teach or preach or stand on a platform of importance. "Be careful," Paul warned. "If you have a position, God holds you accountable in added measure."

Jeremiah's call was more awful than that. About to embark on a lifetime of telling people God's thoughts and judgments, God buttressed him up with words we use to pacify people who are feeling troubled. Our salve for the weary began as God's iron backbone for difficult ministry. Unlike many of us, Jeremiah had no confidence in his ability or maturity for the task ahead:

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” 

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” 

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:4-8 NIV)

When Jeremiah agreed to go in God's name, he did not know the risks, the life-threatening obstacles, and the sheer meanness of his people. We would say he followed his call in faith, trusting God to take care of him. 

Reading Jeremiah a few times the past year, I want to shout a caution to him as he embarks: "It's a worse ministry than you know. Are you sure you want to do this? No one will believe you. You will suffer! You'll doubt yourself and God. Are you very, very sure about your call?

We quote many verses from Jeremiah as platitudes. For example, the prophet said, "When you pass through the waters, you will not drown." But he didn't say it to people about to undergo surgery or looking for a new house. His nation wasn't merely experiencing financial set-backs or a bad year of harvest. No - they were about to be dragged into captivity by a vicious conqueror. Many would die, starve, and be raped or tortured. Yet God said he would keep a remnant for himself.

It's probably correct to apply those verses to our difficulties. However, we must recognize that the greater context of most promises is God's ability to do as he pleases. He carries out his purposes and does what he intends, no matter how devastating the circumstances to humanity. He will be in control when our country loses its identity to war, when famine claims the few survivors, and families are torn apart in death and displacement. 

The promises seem greatest when the hardships are overwhelming. When saying yes to God's call, we need to remember that the prophet is rarely welcomed with a message of bad news. It doesn't matter how many reassurances he or she offers alongside the truth.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

She's a-comin'

Sometime in the next week or two, we hope to meet our first grandchild. Melissa's doctor predicts a girl and we're looking forward to saying hello to her.

"Have you looked at all the cute things for baby girls?" my friends kept asking. "Such fantastic things! You can spend your whole afternoon in the little girl section of a store!"

Until this week, I've resisted gathering baby stuff. Melissa's friends and family rallied at a huge baby shower last weekend, and we had no idea what gifts Baby would receive. This week I found a Britax stroller/carseat on CL, and Rebekah passed along a Graco play-set with "the works" for traveling and infant comfort. Along with newborn disposable diapers, our purchases are done for now.

While I puzzle together the baby stuff, W's busy nesting elsewhere. He's finished the top tread of bamboo on the stairs this morning. Now he is sanding the conservatory. When I moved the furniture out earlier, the sun-darkened wood outlined the edges of the rugs. The raw fir floor, installed at Christmas, has shifted as it absorbed heat, cold, and humidity. Over the past months, a few canine guests added their yellow inspirations in a few places.

I remember my impatience and obsession with our babies' development during pregnancy. Every day stretched into endless hours and minutes of waiting. I'd wake up thinking, "23 weeks, 2 days. Morning." At noon, I'd remember, "23 weeks, 2 days. Lunch.) In the evening, it would still be, "23 weeks, 2 days. Ah, it's finally evening." 

The next day I'd wake with, "23 weeks, 3 days. Oh no, I still have the whole day to get through." In a mean twist of fate, I delivered our first child 15 days "late," the second 8 days "late," and the third and fourth nearer their due dates. (Where we live now, gynecologists push for quicker arrivals. Our Canadian family doctor said, "That baby will come when it's ready." Right, Doc!)

Watching W work, I am grateful for lessons learned by previous delays. Years ago, the unfinished floor and waiting for this grandchild's birth-day would have buzzed through my mind from morning to night, nearly every day. Mental blocking techniques and absorbing energy into other projects help. However, learned reluctance to dwell on events and unfinished chores beyond my control has become the biggest stress-reliever.

Sometimes people waited a long time for good things from God's hand, like those ill for decades before Jesus healed them. I'm content with the drone of the sander. Relieved we can step down or up the steps without watching our feet. And I'm very glad that we'll soon greet Timothy and Melissa's baby.

I guess patience pays off. Eventually. 

Read more:
*Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, 'Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?' (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)

And he answered, 'If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.'

Then he said to the man, 'Hold out your hand.' So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Matthew 12:9-13 NLT

*(Jesus) "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24:49-53 NIV