Brown and Blue

We only got a slight dusting of snow this week — enough to have to shovel the driveway but not enough to cover the fields.  You can see that the walking trail was pretty dry within a day or two of the snowfall.

The roads didn’t stay icy for long, and the fields were still brown against the bright, blue sky.  A beautiful day for a walk!

Deer crossing:

I stopped to visit with a friend and enjoyed seeing this adorable dog, Mikki.

One brown, one blue.  Perfect!







A few days ago we received our second dusting of snow for the season.  I loved observing the various footprints on the walking trail that morning, and trying to guess what they were.

Prancing deer?

Tiny things:






Klondike Rush

The Klondike Rush was held here in August, and since it was an anniversary year of the event — 40 years — Paul and the other two men who started the race were honored.  Here are the founders of the Klondike Rush:

Paul Jarvis, Bob Miller and Dave Harness.  All finished the race this day.

Here is a great write-up about the race from the YMCA website:

The Klondike Rush is the oldest running 10K event in Wyoming and surrounding states. Our historic 10K course will get you out into the hills with some good climbs and great scenery as you run to views of the Bighorn Mountains and the sounds of Clear Creek. The popularity of this event continued to grow over the years and led to the addition of the 5k distance. The 5k course is fun and fast for those interested in time, but is also very family and walker friendly. Following the two main events is the FREE Klondike Kids run with three distances depending on age. The Klondike Rush is fun for the whole family!

The name, “Klondike,” comes from the name of the street that the race begins on, in front of the YMCA.  It has become very popular and participants come from around the world.

To commemorate the event, “Whistle-nut and Ole,” rodeo team with trained bull, was present to start the race. When I first saw Ole, I was thinking, “it’s a good thing that ambulance is nearby.”

After some confusion and spinning-around and trouble with a camera, the main event was finally off and running.

Paul did well, especially considering that he hadn’t had a lot of time to train.

It’s always fun to see our friends at the Klondike Rush!  Dave, Dean (always a winner) ,Bob, Paul.  Well done, guys!

Specifics Can Be Funny

I recently shared the fact that as I read God’s Word each day, He gives me exactly what I need for that particular day.  When I read an assigned daily reading there it is–just what I need to cope, have courage, move forward, forgive, change my attitude or rest quietly in Him and trust Him.  Let me give you some specific examples from Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message, to illustrate what I’m talking about.  Some of these are pretty funny, actually.

May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance.  2 Thessalonians 3:5  (given on a day when I was praying about wrist sprains, internal injuries & bruises from a bad bike accident)

I’m letting you know what I need, calling out for help and lifting my arms toward your inner sanctum…Blessed be God—he heard me praying. He proved he’s on my side; I’ve thrown my lot in with him.  Now I’m jumping for joy, shouting and singing my thanks to him.  God is all strength for his people…Save your people and bless your heritage.  Care for them; carry them like a good shepherd.  – from Psalm 28  — (given on a day when I was weary and praying for wisdom)

But you’ve made me strong as a charging bison, you’ve honored me with a festive parade.  Psalm 92:10 — (given the day our high school (the Buffalo Bison) won state football, and returned to town with police and fire truck escorts leading the way)

Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night—You’ll find I’m just what I say I am…I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot in front of the other.  I’m not giving up.  I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.  Psalm 17:3, 5-6a  (given the day of Chris’ graduation from boot camp in 2001)

GOD met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.  Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. When I was desperate, I called out, and GOD got me out of a tight spot.  GOD’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.  Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good GOD is.  Blessed are you who run to him.  Psalm 34:4-8 (given at a time I was worried and anxious about something)

Keep your eye on me; hide me under your cool wing feathers.  Psalm 17:8  (given on a stifling, hot day)

I have a friend who was starting a new job as a middle school music teacher, and she was especially nervous about conducting the choir with her hands.  Her scripture reading at that time said, “Whatever happens, conduct…”  (Philippians 1:27–NIV).  We just had to laugh, how God added humor to the day and gave her the courage to do what He had equipped her to do.

I could give hundreds (or thousands) of examples like this.  Some are too personal to share.  These are just a few that I wrote down in my journals from The Message; I’ll share more in the future.  I read from various translations, and the same thing occurs with any of the Bibles I’m reading.  Seeing the same scripture from various translations helps me see the passage from different perspectives, and helps me understand God’s heart a little more each day.

I don’t share this to brag on my own faith or “goodness;” I am only human like anyone else — weak, failing, imperfect.  I share this to reveal how good and faithful God is.  He is always present and speaking to me in my daily needs.  It’s all about Him, not about us.


Rough and Earthy Language

The media hardly noticed something that happened last week, but I noticed.  Don’t miss this entire blog post about “Rough and Earthy” language, because it may not be what you expect me (or Peterson) to say.

Montana resident and author Eugene H. Peterson passed away on October 22, 2018, and though I was happy for him to leave an imperfect world for a perfect one, it seemed sad for the world to lose such an outstanding preacher and writer.  I don’t idolize any human beings, living or dead, nor do I think any writer is perfect in all that they say, including Peterson, but I would say that his writings probably attributed more to my understanding of the true gospel than any other.  He spoke and lived the message of free grace, not of works. He also, in his humble way, had a way of directing followers, always, to other writers giving the same message that focuses completely on God, not on the believer.  In other words, it’s not all about us; it’s all about God and the finished work of Christ on the cross.

But the gospel–a word that actually means “good news”–is all about God not leaving us where we are, or even expecting us to earn our way to him.  God loved us so much that he provided the way for life–by sending his own Son.  Eugene explains it this way:  “Jesus is the descent of God to our lives, just as they are, not the ascent of our lives to God, hoping he might approve when he sees how hard we try.”  And that’s where the beauty and relevance of the Bible lies–not in our “good”-ness, our personal holiness.  The mystery of the gospel finds its greatness in God himself coming to us.   — Introduction, The Message Remix, Navpress, 2003, pg. 12

I recently shared that I have been reading through old scripture journals that I’ve kept through the years, and Peterson’s name comes up often in the quotes I’ve written down from his books, as well as in scriptures from his wonderful translation of the Bible — The Message.  His paraphrase has been criticized for not being an exact translation of original documents, even though it was intended to be a paraphrase, not a translation, and was intended to help people understand God’s Word better, in their own language–“rough and earthy.”  It certainly did that for me, as I compared his paraphrase with other paraphrases and translations.  I love how he explained this in his introduction to the New Testament (some of what he says here is indeed shocking to our way of thinking):

The arrival of Jesus signaled the beginning of a new era. God entered history in a personal way, and made it unmistakably clear that he is on our side, doing everything possible to save us. It was all presented and worked out in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It was, and is, hard to believe, seemingly too good to be true.

But one by one, men and women did believe it, believed Jesus was God alive among them and for them. Soon they would realize that he also lived in them. To their great surprise they found themselves living in a world where God called all the shots, had the first word on everything; had the last word on everything. That meant that everything, quite literally every thing, had to be re-centered, re-imagined, and re-thought.

They went at it with immense gusto. They told stories of Jesus and arranged his teachings in memorable form. They wrote letters. They sang songs. They prayed. One of them wrote an extraordinary poem based on holy visions. There was no apparent organization to any of this; it was all more or less spontaneous and, to the eye of the casual observer, haphazard. Over the course of about fifty years, these writings added up to what would later be compiled by the followers of Jesus and designated “The New Testament.”

Three kinds of writing, eyewitness stories, personal letters, and a visionary poem, make up the book. Five stories, twenty-one letters, one poem.

In the course of this writing and reading, collecting and arranging, with no one apparently in charge, the early Christians, whose lives were being changed and shaped by what they were reading, arrived at the conviction that there was, in fact, someone in charge, God’s Holy Spirit was behind and in it all. In retrospect, they could see that it was not at all random or haphazard, that every word worked with every other word, and that all the separate documents worked in intricate harmony. There was nothing accidental in any of this, nothing merely circumstantial. They were bold to call what had been written “God’s Word,” and trusted their lives to it. They accepted its authority over their lives. Most of its readers since have been similarly convinced.

A striking feature in all this writing is that it was done in the street language of the day, the idiom of the playground and marketplace. In the Greek-speaking world of that day, there were two levels of language: formal and informal. Formal language was used to write philosophy and history, government decrees and epic poetry. If someone were to sit down and consciously write for posterity, it would of course be written in this formal language with its learned vocabulary and precise diction. But if the writing was routine, shopping lists, family letters, bills, and receipts, it was written in the common, informal idiom of everyday speech, street language.

And this is the language used throughout the New Testament. Some people are taken aback by this, supposing that language dealing with a holy God and holy things should be elevated, stately and ceremonial. But one good look at Jesus, his preference for down-to-earth stories and easy association with common people, gets rid of that supposition. For Jesus is the descent of God to our lives, just as they are, not the ascent of our lives to God, hoping he might approve when he sees how hard we try.

And that is why the followers of Jesus in their witness and preaching, translating and teaching, have always done their best to get the Message the “good news”, into the language of whatever streets they happen to be living on. In order to understand the Message right, the language must be right, not a refined language that appeals to our aspirations after the best but a rough and earthy language that reveals God’s presence and action where we least expect it, catching us when we are up to our elbows in the soiled ordinariness of our lives and God is the furthest thing from our minds.

This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message current and fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners. The goal is not to render a word-for-word conversion of Greek into English, but rather to convert the tone, the rhythm, the events, the ideas, into the way we actually think and speak.

In the midst of doing this work, I realized that this is exactly what I have been doing all my vocational life. For thirty-five years as a pastor I stood at the border between two languages, biblical Greek and everyday English, acting as a translator, providing the right phrases, getting the right words so that the men and women to whom I was pastor could find their way around and get along in this world where God has spoken so decisively and clearly in Jesus. I did it from the pulpit and in the kitchen, in hospitals and restaurants, on parking lots and at picnics, always looking for an English way to make the biblical text relevant to the conditions of the people.  — Eugene H. Peterson, Introduction to the New Testament, The Message

This week and next I will be sharing many of these “rough and earthy” quotes from Peterson, both from his books and from The Message, which he humbly did not count as “one of his books”, as you can see in the memorial video below.  I do this simply to remember someone who, through his writings, took me by the hand and led me to God, rather than to himself; and hopefully, reading his quotes in the coming days here will do the same for you.

Timely Quotes

Perhaps I should explain where all these quotes are coming from.  Since 1990 I’ve been keeping small pocket calendars that I write special quotes in from scripture, books, newspapers, movies, even Facebook, etc.  — anything that speaks in a special way to me, and to what my circumstances are at the time.  I’ve never tried to line up the quote with the date; I like the size of the pocket calendars, and just write from page to page, ignoring dates and days of the week.  If I want to remember the occasion, I’ll write the date beside the quote.

I can always pick up these calendars free from various businesses.  They have no idea what treasures they have become to me!

Some days I’ll write nothing and other days I may write 5-6 quotes and record a difficulty I’m dealing with at the time.  Some years I end up using 3-4 pocket calendars (such as in each of the years when my parents passed away).  These little booklets are my life because they are the specific scriptures and quotes God is giving me, especially during trials and difficulties.  He always gives me exactly what I need, every day.  I have no idea why He blesses me in this way; I’m not deserving, but these timely truths firmly bring me through those difficulties.

This summer, while walking each day, I began grabbing one of the notebooks each day to re-read as I walked along.  It’s easy to read one quote, then walk a bit and think about it before reading another, or read several at a time.  What amazed me was the fact that I was experiencing similar, difficult situations through the years, and God was giving me the exact same quotes each time.  The quotes came from the particular page of a book I was reading, or the particular assigned scripture of the day, so they weren’t quotes I was “looking” for.  God’s timing is perfect.  This week I’m sharing more of these quotes, as I know they could be just what you need to hear today, too.

Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.  The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.  — Matthew 6:5-6 (MSG)

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let Me lead.  You’re not in the driver’s seat, I am.  Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.  Follow Me and I’ll show you how.  — Matthew 16:24-25 (MSG)

Let your heart be at rest.  You may enjoy a deep, settled peace that no disturbance can destroy.  It is maintained by your confidence in My love.  Place in My care both yourself and all you hold dear…Release all anxiety.  I am watching over you.  — (Given to me the day one of our children travelled to New Zealand for a 6-month study program), Progress of Another Pilgrim, pg. 108

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.  — Isaiah 54:17

What should set us apart is our trust, our ability to let God loose in our circumstances rather than forever trying to control them ourselves.  — Barbara Johnson, Promises of Joy, pg. 44

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  — Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

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)


My Emotions

I said earlier that touring the Anne Frank house was very emotional for me.  About 3-4 years into our marriage I re-read the diary, having read it in my teenage years.  I honestly didn’t remember how the story for all the others ended until I got to the last page (of course I recalled that Anne didn’t survive).  It seemed especially sad that she died just weeks short of liberation.  At that time, I decided to read every book I could find written by survivors of the concentration camps.  Our small library had 2 dozen or so, and I read every single one.  They all had different takes on the same story–some victims being Jewish, others Christian helpers, or gypsies, mentally disabled, etc.  Some had been used for musical entertainment until they were no longer wanted.  Some were being used for medical experimentation.  Others were political or resistance prisoners.  It was encouraging to see that many did survive the camps.

Now fast-forward to 2015 when we were in Amsterdam and were able to tour the house itself; I’d been re-reading her diary on the flight to Europe.  It was truly remarkable to step into the real “Secret Annex,” and to see the original diaries and other papers and photos.  I could climb up into the attic and see the little bit of sky that they were able to see.  On the other hand, I could step out the front door of the museum and see the beautiful canal in front of the house, which they were not able to enjoy.  It was very moving to see the marks on the wall where the Franks kept track of the girls’ growth, and to see actual photos that Anne had placed on the wall. I was handling the tour pretty well, though, until we got to the last room.  On the TV screen was an old lady telling a personal story about Anne.  I was amazed to realize that it was Anne’s childhood friend, Hannah Goslar, who had also gone to a concentration camp but had survived.  The story was something I’d never heard before, and it was remarkable.

While Hannah was at Bergen-Belsen, someone told her that some Dutch-speaking people were on the other side of a fence, in a separate camp.  It turned out that Anne was one of those people, and they had a chance to talk.  Anne’s condition was much worse; Red Cross packages weren’t allowed there, nor did they have warm clothes or much to eat.  There was a terrible outbreak of Typhoid in the camp.  Hannah (“Hanneli” in Anne’s diaries) told this story in the video, which was also published in a book that I purchased.  Since she had received a Red Cross package, she prepared one to give to Anne, and others in her barracks also donated food:

The package consisted of a glove, some Swedish bread and dried fruit, and what she had saved from the evening meal.  Hannah waited until it was dark and walked across the camp to the barbed-wire fence.  Cautiously she whispered, “Anne?  Are you there?”  Immediately the reply came, “Yes, Hanneli I’m here.”  … Hannah felt very weak but summoned her strength and threw the package over the fence.  Immediately there was a scuffling noise.  Then the sound of someone running and Anne cried out in anguish.  “What happened?”  Anne was crying.  “A women ran over and grabbed it away from me.  She won’t give it back.” … Hannah called, “Anne, I’ll try again but I don’t know if I’ll be able to get away with it.”  Anne was crushed.  Hannah begged her to not lose hart, “I’ll try.  In a few nights.  Wait for me.”

She tried again a few days later and was able to get the package to Anne.  But that was the last time she spoke to her, sadly, as Anne’s camp was soon cleared out completely and Hannah was sent to another one by train (Anne and her sister Margot apparently died at the camp very soon after this incident, sometime shortly after February 25, 1945).  After traveling far into Germany, the train Hannah was on stopped and the guards disappeared; the war had ended and the prisoners were free to return home (though parents and grandparents had all died; she had only her young sister left).  Hannah spent many months recovering in a hospital in Amsterdam, and Otto Frank was a big help for her; he visited her often and helped locate an uncle in Switzerland that could care for Hannah and her sister Gabi.

The part that was the saddest for me was one of her last conversations with Anne, as described in her book:

Hannah told her that Mrs. Goslar (her mother) had died in Amsterdam before they were arrested.  So had the new baby.  Grandfather had died in Westerbork.  She explained that so far the rest of their family had managed to stay together–Gabi (her little sister) with her, Papa and Grandmother, all in the same camp but in different barracks.  But now, she told Anne desolately, her father was in the hospital.  He was very, very sick.  [Anne replied:] “You’re so luck to have your family.  I don’t have parents anymore, Hanneli.  I have nobody.  Margot is very sick, too.”  Again they began crying.  [Hannah Gosler Remembers — a Childhood Friend of Anne Frank, 1997]

Now, remember, I was hearing this story from Hannah herself, in a video in the Anne Frank museum.  At this point in the story, she said that what was sad was that Anne thought she was the last one of her family left alive; Margot was dying and her parents had too.  But Hannah pointed out that actually, Anne’s beloved father, Otto Frank, was still alive.  She said that if Anne had known he was still living, she may have lived through the holocaust.  There were only a few weeks left before they were all liberated.  Hannah believed that Anne may have been able to hold on for those last few weeks, if she’d had the motivation to stay alive.  This is when I started sobbing uncontrollably in the museum.  Poor Chris–I held onto him and buried my face in the back of his neck and cried and sobbed as we walked out of the room.  It was just too much for me to hear.  Anne came so close to living through the ordeal, and Hannah actually did live. New research indicates that Anne most likely died the end of February, rather than the end of March, as they used to think, so that connects perfectly with what Hannah recalled. Anne probably died shortly after Margot died, very soon after Hannah’s and Anne’s last conversation. Nobody knows what happened in Anne’s camp, but since Typhoid was rampant, they probably all died rather than being transported away with the others.

But, on the positive side, Anne’s story lives on and has been told all over the world.  The diary has been published in dozens of languages.  Next week I’ll share quotes from her diary; some regarding her dear friend Hanneli.  What an amazing, perceptive young lady.  She was hoping to publish a novel called “The Secret Annex” when she got out of hiding, and could never have imagined how far-reaching her actual diary would be.  Her story will never die!