Sunday, August 31, 2008

So This is What It's Like to be Married to a Gold Medalist

John apparently running into the cops, Holland Rotary 5K, 2008

Yesterday morning, John and I hit the road at 7am to go to Holland, MI so he could run in a 5K there. It was kind of a local yokel affair where you all are standing around and out of the blue, someone says, without any passion, "On your mark, get set, go" like you did on the playground when you were a kid. John ran a good race, not his best time, but definitely respectable. Much to our surprise, he was presented with the 1st place medal for his age group!

Do I have to say the part about how he was the only one in his age group?

I'm still proud to be married to a gold medalist!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Big Four Four

mar andrea holding hands
Sisters Andrea and Marianna skipping down the path... 2008

Happy Birthday Mar - sending lots of sister love your way!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Practice Good-Bye

ed camping
Edward in the woods during the recent camp-out

Next week, on John's birthday, we'll be taking Edward to Calvin College to move into the dorms. Yesterday, he left for a cross country resort/camp in Canada with the Calvin team and he won't be back till Sunday, so we're getting a taste of how life without Ed will be. I'm going to miss his sense of humor and his unique view of life, but the big pots of laundry? Not so much. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Last First Day at the Bus Stop

bridget's first day
Bridget is convinced she is the only 8th grader with a camera-toting-mom at the bus stop, but she loves every minute of it.

aug 031 aug 039
Leo joins in for the fun and excitement of waiting for the bus.

Suddenly, the bus is here.

bridget's last step
See her little foot? The last step and I got it!

ed work
Edward, leaving for one of his last days of work before he starts at Calvin, is also very excited for Bridget's last first bus stop.

maria first day 11th
And Maria is excited too, as she poses for the traditional back to school pose on her first day of her Junior year.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

He's a Winner, as Aunt Mar would say

10k diptych

Today,,, I'm the mother of the winner in the 15-19 age group of the Hastings Summerfest 10K race.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Roller Coaster Loving Cousins

roller coaster cousins
Yara, Maria, Bridget & Annelise, August 2008, Michigan Adventure

Yesterday, John & I had the opportunity to take our 2 nieces from Venzuela to Michigan Adventure with our girls. We soon noticed that these 4 girl cousins with the same last name are fearless when it comes to roller coasters. We did them over and over again. When John, Maria & I rode the Thunder Hawk, their newest ride where your legs dangle and you see them several times up against the blue sky during the ride, I couldn't help but think how much trust we put in the roller coaster people and the mechanical devices that hold us in against the forces of gravity which are always there. When we rode the corkscrew, John & I were in the car ahead of them, so we could run ahead and get some photos of them during the ride.

corkscrew upside down

After several hours on the roller coasters, we hit the water parks. I found my happy spot, as Sharon would say, on the Lazy River. But then I went and ruined it when we rode a couple of stomach churners - the Tilt-a-Whirl and something I only remember as the Barf Boat.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blooms in August

I didn't mean for anyone to think yesterday that my peonies were still blooming. I just said that reading the poem made me think of them. In real time, our garden is for the most part past its prime. That's why I was thrilled yesterday when Maria asked me if I could take some photos of her for her "school pictures", our record of her as a Junior in High School. I was a little tired to go out on location, so we stayed in our own yard, and Maria, with her bright outfit from Spain, was blooming enough.

maria close up

maria rockstar

maria grape leaves maria yellow

maria superhero

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wild and Perfect for a Moment

Yesterday, I read this poem and thought of how we had to leave town just as our peonies started to bloom, I think they were late this year. So I picked them and brought them to someone.


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

Mary Oliver

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Day When I Didn't Shower or Brush My Teeth or Wash My Hair

lake mich2
Lake Michigan, Sunday Morning

john woods
John walking throught the forest

Saturday, we went on a short camping trip with friends from church and experienced being one with nature for awhile. It was beautiful. I didn't even mind the pit pots this time. Under clear blue skies, we enjoyed music, nature, fellowship - all the good things. John and I even woke up early Sunday morning and saw a bald eagle. As my friend Gracie would say, it was fantastic. Around the campfire, we prayed for Cathy whose back problems were becoming almost unbearable. A recent MRI had revealed a bulging disc.

On the way home Sunday morning, things started to get interesting. Some of us had decided to stop for brunch at the Steak and Egger because the name of it cracked us up. Cathy told us she couldn't drive anymore because her legs were not responding appropriately. I took over her van, and with doctors instructions, drove her straight to the ER in GR which was about 2 hours away. To make a long story short, she was quickly brought in to surgery where they performed a laminectomy. Afterwards, the surgeon told me that he was able to remove what was definitely causing her problems and felt they had done it just in time. Thankfully, now she is on the road to recovery. I saw her up in her room after surgery and we still kept talking about how we were going to wake up from a dream at any minute with the sound of rain on our tents. But today, I can see how God answered that campfire prayer for real.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Childhood Home

The Queen Mother's Estate, August 2008

The Queen Mother recently sent me these pictures of the work they have done behind their home in Celeryville which is the result of her and her Consort's love of gardening and architecture. What a nice place to come home to!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aunt Susan & Aunt Susan, Jr.

Maria has always reminded me of John's sister who often remarks that Maria looks more like her than her own daughters. It doesn't come through so much in this recent photo, so the resemblance must come from something more than just their looks.

susan & susan jr.
Susan & Maria staring into the sun behind me, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Anniversary of My Second Life

I received a call this morning from my friend Mark who had a terrible head injury 33 years ago today and lives with partial paralysis. He wishes me a "happy" anniversary on this date every year since I also had a significant head injury on the very same day. I love how he remembers to call me because I usually forget. I mean I think about how I'm going to call, but then things get away from me. So we talk about our anniversary and how he is doing in his life teaching disabled adults. I later think about how we met at Calvin College when I tutored him in Math and how we hit it off and what a blessing it is when we have friends who understand our losses. Like when my friend Cathy, who also experienced a head injury, said this week that our forgetfulness or spaceyness keeps us bonded. We have a tear in the fabric of our reality where something happened about which we know nothing and ok, maybe we were spacey before or maybe we're forgetful because we're in our 40's. Or maybe something happened in the time when we were absent that only You know about. Perhaps you don't know what I'm talking about, but I know that Cathy does.

The picture below with the happy smiling faces is of my mom & I taken a couple of months into the recovery process. When I think of the 3 months I was in the hospital, I never forget how mom was with me there every day. She's the best!!!

October 1975, Blodgett Hospital

Monday, August 11, 2008

Big Sandbox

Last weekend, nephew Brian was so intoxicated by the beauty of the sand and water that he fell over the sand dune cliff.

brian overboard

Maria, Bridget, and Uncle John were dispatched to help him up. I calmly stood by to take photos.

brian help

Not to worry - John rescued him and it made for some good photographs.

brian john

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Edward Wins the Bronze!

ed homerun 5k

Yesterday morning, John & I went to the Fifth Third Ballpark where Edward was running in the 11th Annual Homerun 5K (raising money to fight child abuse). He received a 3rd place medal in his age group. Instead of "Hey Eddie, it's your birthday...", I did the "Go Eddie Go" cheer which I learned from Sister Mary.

edward bronze

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Last weekend, when we were up at Big Platte Lake, we filed like little old people onto Paul & Susan's new pontoon boat. It was fun!! I am getting old!! Our oh-so-clever John coined the term pontoonificating for that thing you do when you ride a pontoon boat.

maria diptych

edward boat

john pontoonicating too

paul susan
Paul................................. Susan

edward brian pontoon boat
Edward & Brian

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Better Country

After seeing some rather heavenly photos the past few days, today, as promised, we are being visited by Dan Schaeffer, author of A Better Country. Several of you posed questions to the author after last Thursday's post. Dan has responded to them as follows:

Question #1 from Pearlie: Will there be a sense of time in heaven?

This is a really good question, unfortunately there’s not a really good answer. Some scholars and philosophers say in essence that since time will no longer have any meaning, it simply won’t exist. 2nd Peter 3:8 reminds us that “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” A popular hymn even says, “time shall be no more.” Yet in Revelation 6:10-11 we hear the martyrs in heaven told to “wait a little longer,” when they are questioned about when the Lord will judge the inhabitants of earth. Waiting is a measurement of time. In Revelation 7:15 we are told that the saints in heaven serve him “day and night” in His temple. In Revelation 22:2 we are told that the New Earth (earth that has been restored to its new condition for all eternity) has a tree of life and that tree “yields it fruits every month.” In other words, it appears that those people in heaven now are operating within the confines of time. Why should that cease? Time is not our enemy, death is our enemy. When we remove death, time ceases to be something that causes us stress or worry. Because we live in a world of deadlines and sickness and pain, time is a measurement that often causes us stress. But time will not distress us in heaven, we will not worry about “getting things done on time,” or feeling sad that the joy we are experiencing will fade away within a period of time. I believe that time will continue to exist in heaven and we will “sense it,” however all the negative aspects of time will be removed. Not long ago I went on a wonderful and much needed vacation. I do not ever remember being so weary both physically and emotionally before a vacation. One of my great joys was enjoying “time” as it passed without stress and without deadlines. Time was simply helping me measure sunrise, morning, noon, and twilight, all of which brought me great peace and contentment. I think that is the way we will experience time in heaven. Does this help? I hope so.

Question #2 from Sharon: I'd be interested to hear comments relative to "equality" in heaven. Example: Mother Teresa verses Joe Christian Average.

The Bible teaches that all are equal in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). This eternal truth will not change when we enter eternity, in fact, it will for the first time be fully realized. Furthermore, the Bible makes clear that the “average Joe’s” might fare much better than those who are famous and well known here on earth. Jesus said, speaking of the coming Kingdom, “Many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19:30). When Jesus said these words, He was saying them as a caution to those who might think that the way things appear (and people appear) on earth is the same way God sees them. Many people do externally impressive things (and even apparently selfless things) for very selfish motives which are hidden from our eyes. God alone knows these things. Honor will be given to those who have earned it, not to those who have bamboozled us here on earth. I have been incredibly impressed by the actions of people that no one will ever hear about. This is not to imply that there will be no special rewards for service rendered, the Bible makes it very clear that our lives here are the place we earn those eternal rewards. However that does not deal with the issue of equality. One can be an honored son, but one cannot be a superior son. Someone may have lived a life far more honoring to Christ than I do upon earth and receive greater honor than I do in heaven, but that does not close any doors to me. Christ will treat me the same, and I will have full access to all the benefits of being His child. All the joys of heaven, all the experiences of eternity; a glorified body, mind, and renewed earth, the entire creation will be just as much a part of my eternal inheritance as theirs. Being a son or daughter is conferred by your relationship to the parents, in this case our Heavenly Father. Since we were all equally adopted into the family of God, and were equally in need of the mercy of God, there is nothing that could make anyone in heaven better than anyone else. In other words, there will be no second class heavenly citizenship. I hope this encourages you.

Question #3 from Skip: Do our loved ones in heaven have a view of what is still happening on earth? Are they able to see their family?

That is an interesting question because we actually have evidence in the book of Revelation that those in heaven are aware of what is happening on earth. In Revelation 6:9-11 we are allowed to witness a scene in which the martyrs (those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained) in heaven called out in a loud voice, “How long Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” In other words, they knew and were somehow aware that this had not yet occurred. While it does not say in the scripture that those in heaven can see what is transpiring upon earth, it certainly seems reasonable that this might be true. It seems very possible to me that we might be able to see, or be made aware of, special events transpiring upon earth while in heaven. However, we must not think that our lives will be like those in books and movies who peer continually into magic crystal balls that are so popular in fantasy literature. Our existence in Paradise will not be spent totally engrossed upon earthly realities. Remember, we will be in Paradise, the city of the Living God. We will be fully immersed in the greatest joy, contentment and excitement it is possible for a glorified human to achieve. If we can see what is happening on earth, it seems unlikely we will see all things at all times. Frankly, that would become, at the very least, tedious. I would pity the poor soul who was constantly fixed upon me as I spent hours devouring books, or sleeping. Possibly we will be privy to special events upon the earth, or by special grace, special events in our human family, or those of close friends in our Christian family. I want to hasten to add that this is nothing more than an opinion based upon a possible understanding of the above passage, however it does seem a reasonable idea to me. Hope this helps!

Question #4 from Cathy: When someone hurts someone else, I often hear "When that person meets their Maker, they will be held accountable for that." I hear that about Christians and non-Christians alike. It conjures up the image that when someone reaches heaven, he will have to explain to God why he did something "bad". I picture having this interview with God where I am judged one more time before I am given the gift of eternal life, and the gift of never being separated from God again.That conflicts with my understanding of grace and forgiveness. It conflicts with the peace I feel when I think about being in God's presence away from earthly influences and sin.Is this a Biblical perspective that we will be judged by God one more time "when we meet our Maker"?

This is a very good question because it gets to the heart of our faith. The Bible makes it clear that there are two judgments in eternity, one for the saved, and another for the unsaved. The better known judgment is called the Great White Throne judgment and is the judgment at the end of all things. At this judgment the unbelieving world will be judged for their sins and their rejection of God and His rule over their lives. The judgment for the saved is called the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the judgment that Christ gives to His own. It can be found in 2nd Corinthians 5:10, and alluded to in 1st Corinthians 3:10-15. This is the only judgment that Christians will undergo, and it is not a punishment judgment. It is very important to understand that when Jesus died on the cross for sins, He died for ALL sins, for ALL time for ALL people. This is why Paul can say in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Or, as I like to paraphrase, “God is not mad at us anymore, forever.” To be “in Christ Jesus” does not mean you are in the top level of spirituality, but that you are in the Body of Christ, literally, that you are a Christian. All of our sins, past, present, and future, were paid for by the death of our Lord on the cross. As a result, we can NEVER be condemned again for our sins by God since that sin has already been condemned and punished. Sins we have yet to commit were already seen by God who is omniscient and knows all things past, present and future and were included in Jesus death. This is why the Bible says that God is “propitiated” or satisfied with the death of Jesus. His perfect life and death satisfied God’s righteous judgment against sin for all people everywhere. Since God has been propitiated, or satisfied, there is no longer any condemnation for those who have placed their faith in Jesus and what He did for them on the cross.

At the judgment seat of Christ we see that every Christian will be rewarded for their deeds, but those actions and deeds that were not good, or that appeared good but were done for improper and deceitful motivations, will be “burned up.” In other words, there will be no reward. We will not be judged, or punished for our sins, as those sins have already been punished on the cross. So the judgment of Christ for believers is a judgment of rewards. We will be rewarded for those things we have done which truly glorified Christ and honored Him. Some will reap much greater rewards, and some, quite frankly, will have little or even nothing to show for their lives, but their faith has still saved them. In short, your understanding of grace and forgiveness is rightly placed, and your peace is real and not imagined. I hope this helps. Blessings to you.

Cathy & Sharon were the winners of the drawing. The book is available at Discovery House Publishers or by calling 1-800-653-8333.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Never Ending Race

The thing about Edward, and maybe boys in general, is he always loves a good challenge, and all of life is a game for him really. Two years ago, he had climbed up the steep, 450-foot drop dune on the Pierce Stocking Drive of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 9 minutes, 7 seconds - a record begging to be broken. Cousin Brian was up for the dune climb challenge too.

steep bluff

They flew down the hill like they were on the moon. From the overlook, we watched them climb like little ants.


Edward returned quickly - 8 minutes, 31 seconds - and Brian was a few minutes behind. John went too - he was in the 25-30 minute range which is still good considering the average person takes about 45 minutes.

dune climb

We celebrated with a monster sundae at Cherry Republic where cousin Laura works.

cherry republic

Fun times.