Thursday, January 16, 2014

We do not lose heart

Last year at this time when our board was together for the annual meeting, we skyped with Ed Hague who lives in Tallahassee, FL. He has been on our ministry’s (RansomFellowship) Board of Directors for … I can’t remember how many years. Early 2,000s? We were saying good-bye to him, amid tears and laughter, as he was dying from stage IV prostate cancer. It had invaded his bones with a vengeance and he was too sick to join us. He had tendered his resignation. We felt heartbroken.

The amazing, the unpredicted, the strange thing is that after treatment with a powerful new drug he regained enough energy and health to join us this year (2014) in Chicago. He was only the 11th person world-wide to receive this treatment and because of his spectacular recovery he has become their poster-boy. No one knows how much longer he'll live, but we'll rejoice for whatever time he has left. So we thank God every day that he is still here and as impudent as ever. He continued to pastor us, even through his failing health, but with a new mantra, "I'm dying and can say whatever I want to you." He will attend this year as an honorary member and the request that all his power be reinstated minus the responsibilities. (We'll see about THAT, old man.) Today, he and his wife, Betsy will join us in Chicago for our board meeting!

I’d like to recommend his blog where he recounts his remarkable medical journey, the terrifying disappointments, the unexpected mercy of facing death and the amazing provisions of God for his family and business. I suggest you begin at the beginning and read through the whole thing. You won’t be sorry.
We do not lose heart: .

Ed Hague, 2007,  Rosemary Beach, Florida. That is not a coke.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Honeysuckle digs a rug

The arrival of very cold weather has us letting Honeysuckle into the house more often. Her wool has grown long and thick, so we don't worry much even when it is 20 below. She loves the cold far more than the hot. It makes her very lively and getting inside to cause a bit of mischief is a daily goal. When she hears the knob on the kitchen door, she hops down out of her hutch and tears across the porch planning to enter by force if necessary.
She has a taste for electric cords - and especially enjoys severing computer power cords. She also likes to scratch and push her way past the barriers that keep her from going behind the couch. She loves treats and comes like a white tornado when she hears the refrigerator opening - which definitely means something delicious like napa cabbage, carrot or apple.
After hopping around to inspect all her nooks, she often settles down for a nap, usually at Anita's feet or snuggled under her arm - as you see here.
Bunny Naps
A Christmas nap.

Sometimes we talk about pets, how they capture our hearts. How they make us laugh. How exasperating they can be, and how when they are sick or injured we must weigh… them, their worth. How much is too much to spend in making their lives better? What can we afford? Animals are grace to many of us. In creation, in the hoppiness of a bunny, the way she lifts her tufted ears, merely being her creaturely self, we see the goodness of the creator represented and are thankful for these small blessings.

I hope there are things in your life that bring you pleasure and the recognition of God's love for all his creatures, including you and me.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"In the bleak midwinter" the car breaks down

"In the bleak midwinter long, long ago" …  Christina Rosetti's poem sang through my head for hours as we drove through the North Dakota prairies this past weekend. The weather was gasping cold for our grandson's hockey tournament in Crookston. We've been looking forward to it for weeks now. Icy roads. Drifts. Currents flowed across the highway, twining, twisting streams of fine snow. Denis and I laughed as we passed miles and miles of buried fence lines. We were remembering that scene from the movie Fargo where the character played by Steve Buscemi buries a suitcase with the money in a snowbank and returned to his partner with only $80,000.00. The character stops his car along the highway, looks both directions, flounders through the snow, and buries the suitcase in a spot that is so like a billion other spots, we know he will never, ever find it again.
North Dakota power plant

The land makes you wonder about the early pioneers who made it to the Red River Valley in the fall, and before winter only had time to build a three-sided sod house in the lee of a hill - if they were so lucky to find a hill. Even in our warm car, it felt a little dangerous. When we left Grand Forks for home on Sunday morning, it was 26 below not counting wind chill.
My favorite app is the Starbucks Locator that can lead me to the closest store anywhere in the U.S. - the coffee I count on when traveling. Allowing the pulsing blue circle to lead us to the green light on the map, just over the hill and off the next exit always gives me a small jolt of pleasure. You may not know that my blog name "toadsdrinkcoffee" is not random. We live in Toad Hall, so I suppose you could call us Toadies and good coffee is a burden I gladly bear.
No buried treasure here

On that cold morning we found a Starbucks in Grand Forks before we headed south. Along the way I had fleeting thoughts of what it would be like to break down along the road. About 10 miles north of Fargo, we did. Suddenly the rpms dropped to zero and we coasted to a stop. Our engine was still running, but the accelerator wouldn't engage. These days with every insurance company carrying road-side assistance, we knew we'd be okay, but it made Denis very tense, while me, I'm just sitting there sipping my latte, dough-dee-dough. With the engine still alive, we stayed warm. After several calls someone in a far-away, warm climate called a towing service in Fargo, located our position via our iPhone and GPS, and after an hour's wait the tow truck arrived. As he towed us into a Firestone shop, he told us he had pulled 72 drivers out of the ditch that weekend. (There had been a strange sleet that fell making roads even more treacherous.) All of them idiots, he said. He didn't count ones like us who broke down. As we waited for the shop to open, Denis started the engine again and automatically touched the accelerator which suddenly woke up. We quickly decided to take the chance and head to Rochester. On the five hour drive home the engine cut out three more times. It was stressful for Denis, especially when it happened while we were in the passing lane surrounded by semis and me yelling, "Turn on the hazards! Turn on the hazards!" Shutting the engine off and restarting seemed to reboot the system. It's fixed now.
Winter has its bleak side, of course. But to be home safe? To be warm? More than sufficient.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
 earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
 snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
 in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
 heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
 In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
 the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
 cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
 but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
 worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

What can I give him, poor as I am? 
 If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
 if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
 yet what I can I give him:  give my heart. - Christina Rosetti