Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grace on the mountaintop

I originally wrote this eleven years ago, as a 23 year-old young pup. Just stumbled upon it earlier today:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

--Mark 9:2-9 (NRSV)

In this passage from Mark, we read of the Transfiguration of Jesus in front of the disciples. Can you imagine being Peter, James or John, being led up this mountain by Jesus, not knowing why you’re going or what’s going to happen? And suddenly, while you’re standing there, his appearance changes! His clothes begin to shine a dazzling white, so bright that you want to shade your eyes, but at the same time you can’t help but watch. As you marvel at this, you see movement out of the corner of your eye. Looking over, you see two figures approaching Jesus. Although you’ve never seen these two men before, you immediately realize who they are—Moses and Elijah! And there they are, speaking with Jesus as though they were old friends! Your knees begin to tremble a bit as you begin to realize the event that you are beholding. What role should you take in all of this? Your voice faltering, you suggest maybe making some tents, creating some shade for these greats of the Jewish faith. But at that moment, the shade takes care of itself as a cloud covers you, and you hear a voice: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

And just like blinking your eyes, it’s all gone.

The three of you are left alone with Jesus, his robe once again the worn, dusty one you’re used to seeing on him. The cloud is gone, there’s no sign of historical Jewish figures anywhere, and the sun is beating down on you again.

Quite an experience, isn’t it? The more I read this story, the more drawn I become to Peter’s part in it. I’ve always identified with Peter anyway, maybe because his journey of faith so closely mirrors my own. He has his moments of insight, to be sure, but he also has this uncanny case of foot-in-mouth syndrome. Remember the walking on water fiasco (maybe there’s more than one reason his name means “the rock”)? How about the crowing cock incident the night of Jesus’ betrayal? Peter has words, and plenty of them…as long as things are comfortable. But when the going gets tough, when all it comes down to is clinging to a strand of faith, he runs…or sinks.

Sound familiar?

The Transfiguration account occurs almost directly after a perfect case in point—Peter’s great confession and his subsequent great rebuke (Mark 8:27-33). One moment Jesus is calling Peter’s statement of faith the rock upon which the church will be built, and the next moment Jesus is calling him an agent of the devil. Poor Peter, who sees only the power and glory of his Lord, who insists that Jesus cannot and must not be put to death. What of the power? What of the glory? How stinging to be told, “Get behind me, Satan!”

We marvel at the power of the Transfiguration.
We marvel at the glory of the Transfiguration.
But does the Peter in us marvel at the GRACE of the Transfiguration?

It truly is a grace-FULL event! The voice on the mountain does not say, “You do not understand, therefore you have no place with my Son.” It exhorts the disciples to listen to Jesus. The more I read this, the more I am convinced that Jesus made sure Peter was there for a reason. It was a way to say, “I know you love me, and I know you don’t want me to suffer. But you must trust me. Listen to me.”

Jesus didn’t want the dialogue to end with “Get behind me, Satan!”

Just as he doesn’t want the dialogue with us to end with “Get behind me, Satan!”

Those “Get behind me, Satan!” moments in our lives are painfully obvious. What about the grace-FULL Transfiguration mountaintop moments? Can we hear the exhortation, see the glorious, risen Christ?

Our journey of faith will never be smooth. There will be missed steps, wrong turns, and barriers. May we always remember what a grace-FULL God we have and the grace-FULL reminders of his love that he sends us every day. He wants to renew us! He wants to refresh us! May we allow him to work in us, that he might also be able to work through us!


Monday, May 26, 2008

Make Way For Ducklings

Watch out Robert McCloskey, here comes the LutheranHusker household!

Our story begins about a month ago, when yours truly was mowing the lawn. I had finished the front, and had just started on our back yard. We have some landscaping along the back of our garage, with a little homemade brick border along the edge. I was mowing along that border when all of a sudden there was a rush of bushes and wings and flapping and feathers.

It was a duck, taking flight about 2 feet in front of me.

Now, when I mow, I'm generally in my own little world. I'll sing songs in my head, or think great thoughts about life in general, or just plain daydream. So when this duck took off right in front of my face, interrupting my mowing induced reverie, I pretty much jumped out of my skin.

After my heartbeat returned to normal, I took a look in the landscaping and found a little nest with four eggs in it.

"Cool," I thought to myself. I made a mental note to tell Sweetie about it, finished mowing the lawn, and promptly forgot about my mental note.

The next morning, I was getting ready for work, and suddenly remembered about the nest. We have a window in our laundry room that overlooks our landscaping behind the garage, and which provided the perfect view of the nest without having to go outside and disturb anything.

Except the nest wasn't there.

I swear to you, I looked and looked and looked exactly in the same spot where I had seen the nest the night before. No nest, no eggs...just a few feather remanants to let me know that I wasn't going crazy and a duck had indeed at some point in time been there.

I told Sweetie the whole story when she came downstairs, and we both thought it weird that there would be this nest there one day and then not. Without giving it a second thought, we both went to work.

That evening, still wondering what in the world had happened, I looked out the window again. There, right where it should have been, was the duck sitting on the nest!

Over the next few days, we discovered that our duck had ended up laying ten eggs, and that when she left to find food for herself, she always covered it up with bark from our landscaping...which explained the disappearing nest. We did some internet research, and learned that our mama duck was a mallard, that her eggs generally went about 28 days before hatching, and that once hatched the ducklings stayed with mama for 45-70 days, until they could fly.

As the days went on, checking on mama duck became part of our daily routine. One of us would look out the laundry room window and announce to the rest of the family, "yep, she's still there," or "the nest is covered." If I had to scare her away to mow, we'd keep checking until we saw that she had returned.

After a couple of weeks, we decided mama duck needed a name. So she became known as Oregon. (As in the University of Oregon Ducks...who by the way have the same fight song as my high school. But I digress.)

Sometime between last night and this morning, Oregon's eggs hatched.

Well, eight of them hatched. Sweetie and Kiddo were in the kitchen when suddenly they heard a crash against our kitchen window. A bird (totally unrelated to the story, other than this brief episode) had flown into the window. Sweetie went out to our back deck to see if the bird was okay, and noticed Oregon and her ducklings all marching single-file across our backyard.

She sent Kiddo upstairs to find me, and when I came down, Operation Duckwatch 2008 began. We took picture after picture and video clip after video clip of the Oregon family walking up and down the fence line of our backyard. It was amazing watching these fuzzy little balls of yellow and black...fuzz...follow their mom all around the perimeter of our yard.

Here's a video clip of the Oregon family wandering around the yard, followed by some pictures. Enjoy! (More updates to come as we figure out what to do now...)

Oregon's nest and eggs

The covered nest (eggs are hidden under the down and bark)

Oregon sits on her nest

Oregon takes a stroll around the yard last week

Showing the babies their new home in the backyard

A close-up of the Oregon family (not sure what the duckling in the back is looking at)


Friday, May 23, 2008

Fun with the kids

So yesterday was the last day of Kiddo's first year of preschool...thinking back to the crying and yelling and tantrums of that first day, we've come a long way!

And Kiddo's come a long way too. =)

They had an end of the year program last night with singing, awards, and ice cream. Each child received an award from the teachers, ranging from "The Bear Hug Award" to "The Mother Hen Award" and everything in-between (whatever that may be). Kiddo received "The Little Lamb Award," because he enjoyed the Jesus Time they had each day and was a good listener.

The kids were absolutely adorable singing and doing their actions to each song. Here's a clip of one of the songs they attention about 58 seconds in where the teacher has to reprimand a couple of the other kids for goofing off. =)

Pumpkin is 12 weeks old now, and has really started to babble a lot lately. Makes me nervous for when she's old enough to want a cell phone. =) Here's a video clip from just last night:

And here's some other fun pictures from the past few weeks. Enjoy!

Kiddo riding the zoo train with Mommy on Mothers' Day

Kiddo posing with the big show-off at the zoo

Pumpkin's scratching her head in wonder at her big brother. We think he might be channeling Spider Man...

Meanwhile, Pumpkin is channeling Obi Wan Kenobi. "Use the Force, Luke..."


P.S. Be sure to check out the post below this one for some AWESOME news in the LutheranHusker household today!!!! =)

Free at last, free at last...

...thank GAWD ALMIGHTY I'm free at last!!!!

Today, after being done with college for TWELVE YEARS, I received the following letter (click on the picture to enlarge):

That's right. My student loan is now paid off.
Pardon me while I go have a big ol' margarita...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Papal Bulls, indulgences and transubstantiation...

Ever wondered what you'd get if you crossed Reformation History with SchoolHouse Rock?

Okay, me neither.

But I did stumble across this video (entitled Reformation Polka) on Youtube today, and that's exactly what it is. Light, a little simplified, but as far as hitting the high points of Luther's life not a bad little jumping-off point.

And the song is to the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which makes it extremely cool. And catchy.

I am so going to find a way to use this in Confirmation class next year...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

No family resemblance whatsoever

Ever since she was born, I've thought Pumpkin bore a distinct resemblance to her older brother when he was an infant. Even so, I was stunned when I saw these two pictues side by side a couple of weeks ago. I'm still trying to decide if this is cool in a freaky kind of way, or freaky in a cool kind of way. Check it out:

Kiddo..................................................................................and Pumpkin

Friday, May 02, 2008

And the plural of moose is...

This afternoon, while in the car, Kiddo felt it necessary to pass along this pearl of wisdom to his parents:

"Mommy! Daddy! If you say 'a mouse', that means one mouse, but if you say 'a mice,' that means lots of mouse."

We're still giggling...