Sunday, February 27, 2011


 We each have a dream, a vision of life that corresponds to our convictions, embodies our uniqueness, and expresses what is life-giving within us. Whether altruistic or ignoble, the dream gives definition to our lives, influences the decisions we make, the steps we take, the words we speak. Daily we make choices that that are either consistent with or contrary to our vision. A life of integrity is born of fidelity to the dream.
- Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

J.M.W. Clarke plays Chopin's Raindrops Prelude Op.28 No.15 in D-flat


Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Room Called Remember, Frederick Buechner

"The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived."


Monday, February 21, 2011

a thin wisp

It's a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were . . . and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be.

So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification.

And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?

— Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts:
Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road

God of surprises

Whitney Balliett authored a marvelous book on jazz titled The Sound of Surprise. In it, he talks about the unpredictability of jazz. With jazz, the listener never knows what's coming next—the rhythms, the harmonies, the improvs—and this unpredictability makes it exciting. Jazz always seems to surprise us.

So it is with life and work. The only certainty is change, and change always comes as a surprise. We may be able to predict that change is coming, but we can't predict the details of its unfolding. The good surprises that God sends are often commonplace and ordinary. Unfortunately, we don't allow them to surprise us. Instead, we live in dread of the bad surprises. We want to anticipate them somehow, to be one step ahead, to be in control.
Of course, it is wise to prepare ourselves for the bad surprises in life, but we shouldn't overlook God's hand in every surprise. And we must be careful not to let our expectations get in the way. Much of the joy in our lives will be determined by how we react, and our reactions can make the difference between a life of joy and a life of fearful dread.

Remember the story of Paul and Silas sitting in jail one night? Perhaps both men were tempted to give up, go to sleep, and forget about the bad surprise of jail. Instead, Paul and Silas turned God's surprise into singing. That's when the night really got exciting. Jail doors opened, a guard almost killed himself, and a community reached a spiritual turning point. What might have been a night of despair turned into a night of wonderful surprises (Acts 16).
Unfortunately, by our very nature, we tend to face life with one eye looking over our shoulder. We all experience betrayal at some point in our lives. We all learn that bad surprises can be dangerous.

How do we guard against the bad surprises without becoming slaves to fear? How do we continue to recognize and appreciate God's surprises in the commonplace? Most people want to think in terms of complex formulas and rules. In reality, it's really a simple formula. Our joy starts with faith and ends with thanksgiving. You see, we need a certain amount of faith to wake up to the good surprises of God. Cultivate alertness. Jesus kept telling his disciples, "Watch!" Pay attention! See all the good stuff! Gratitude requires faith, and faith produces thankfulness. Ingratitude is every day's atheism; God ignored is God denied.

When we live with gratitude—and an adequate humility—we are constantly surrounded by awe. A lot of the awe and wonder in life comes from looking for surprises. But surprises to us are never surprises to God. Christ's resurrection is the Great Surprise. That's why:
"All things work together for good to them who love God"
(Rom. 8:28).

-Howard Butt, Jr.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

something waits beneath

"I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future- the timelessness of the rocks and the hills- all the people who have existed there. I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape- the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." 
Andrew Wyeth














"Winter is an etching,

spring a watercolor,

summer an oil painting,

and autumn a mosaic of them all."

Stanley Horowitz

Monday, February 7, 2011


one of my favorite zinfandels
is Bogle Winery's... and they do one of the coolest things!
on each of their corks is a unique quote:

"He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long."
Martin Luther

"In water one sees one's own face;
But in wine one beholds the heart of another."
French proverb

"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?"
W.C. Fields

"Over the wine-dark sea."
Homer, Iliad, I. 350

"Wine is bottled poetry."
Robert Louis Stevenson


Head-trained and dry farmed vines continue to be the source for Bogle’s Old Vine Zinfandel. These gnarly old vines produce concentrated fruit of unsurpassed quality and intensity. This full-bodied vintage shows itself with rich black raspberry notes that round out in the mouth, accompanied by the scents of summer fruit jam bubbling on the stove. Juniper berry and cinnamon stick join the spiciness of red and black peppercorns as they integrate with the supple fruit and lead toward the finish. Toasty oak and cloves are the perfect finishing touch.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


i find myself alone, holed in my delightfully cozy kitchen on this wintry sunday afternoon. today, i am venturing to make one of my seasonal-favorites-  mexican chili. yum. my recipe seems to be always ever-slightly changing, yet each time it is just as i hope it will turn out :)

the ingredients.....


now it cooks for hours,
filling the house with the most delightful aroma!

the end result.....

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'Ye were bought at a price', and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God."

"Music... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you."

"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."
"The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ."

"There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

alert and oriented times zero

what can be done, no, what can be said
when pain strikes so deeply that you lose all sense of orientation.
when life has chipped away at your very self with so much dedication
that you find one day, you are broken to pieces.
how do you regain heart when your heart is no longer beating.
how do you feel anything at all when you've been numb
for so long that you don't remember how to feel.
you think that healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love are great things-
in theory.
great things you yourself once possessed, and even exhorted.
but the gray, broken, painful place you now find yourself
has no use for these things.
you've been vulnerable for far too long.
who in their right mind would willingly throw off the mantle of self-protection- 
the anger, bitterness, coldness, detached way you've come to live- 
and leap naively into  

what is there to say to one who has done no wrong; 
yet been so hurt, so abused, and feels all of this and more?
only God can save us from this.

and if my heart should somehow stop