"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Monday, December 26, 2011


I saw my grandparents this week.
After making a trek to the northern parts of Minnesota, I saw them for the first time in a year.

Grandma, the last time she visited
Green Bay - Fall 2009
The once-alive face of my grandma and the smiling eyes that once lit up a room are now dark and empty.  Her gaze fixed on a point on the wall, she doesn't make eye contact with anyone anymore.  Her giggles would make everyone laugh along, but they have become rare and, even then, untimely.

Grandpa used to be always moving.  He couldn't sit still, and now that's all he can do.  Sure, his power chair slowly carries him all over the nursing home, but he is as sedentary as ever.  He still understands most things, but his speech is slurred and the non-use of his left hand has left him unable to even play cards or read a newspaper on his own.  He cries a lot - He never used to do that.

Tonight, Daniel and Kristen played a few songs on the piano and sang a few more.  During the Christmas carols, we all sang along - Grandma too.  Happiness shone from her face, a simple reminder that there was still emotion, still some coherence under that thinning, silver hair.  When Grandpa saw her glowing as she was, his eyes welled with tears.  He sure does love her.  Someday I hope to have a man who loves me the way that he does Grandma - It's beautiful.

The songs were nice, but the rest of the time spent together was in forced small talk.  Nothing of any substance at all.  We looked at the atlas to show Grandpa where he is on the map now that they've moved to Minnesota.  We hung some pictures on the wall.  We ate some Christmas cookies.  We laughed too much, the nervous kind of laughter, so to fill the silence.

It's strange, this whole aging thing.  It just seems unnecessary, doesn't it?  When people you've spent your life with don't even recognize you when you visit them.  When the things they say don't have any relevance to the current conversation or situation.  The mind is supposed to be our most valuable asset, right?  We are commanded to love the Lord with all of it.  We are given wisdom if we ask for it.  We constantly engage the mind in order to develop and strengthen it and all its necessary processes.
And then we lose it.

It reminds me that this life wasn't made for us to just get paid a lot or for us to enjoy it as much as we can.  All of that doesn't matter if you're just going to get old and forget that it all happened and lose everything you've worked for.

No, the purpose of this life comes from outside of our earthly understanding.  It comes from outside of these dying bodies in which we live.  We are called to know the God who created us, to worship Him, and to bring others to do the same.  Christ came to bring redemption, and that is what we must rely on for hope.  This is the only the beginning, as we are to spread that beautiful story of redemption to everyone we meet, lest their lives be meaningless.

Somehow, we will get through the painful conversation that will surely happen again tomorrow morning in the sterile rooms of this Detroit Lakes nursing home.  And, again, I will have to remind myself of the beauty of life despite the agonizing deterioration of man during the dying process.

Life in abundance.
Life that has meaning.
Life that comes from the Lord.
God grant us a daily reminder.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Resting in His promises.

Five days until I will be heading back to Green Bay.  Not for good, as I once thought, but until the new year.  This break is considerably longer than the rest, and I am eager to actually feel some rest that lasts longer than the three or so days of my normal breaks.

All this to say that I'm ready for a break.

You know what else I'm ready for?
To be back here two weeks later and start in a new position :)

That's right, I'm staying at Shelterwood for another year under the title "Residential Intern."
It's a pretty cush position, really.  It's 45 or so hours per week.  45.  Right now we work 80+.  I can have a life that's a little bit more "normal," more scheduled, more... free.  And I am excited for it.

The position is designed in such a way that I still have time on coverage in the house, but I get to disciple the Bigs and help with administrative tasks - things that I've been wanting to do, but haven't had the opportunity nor the energy for.

God is faithful, is He not?
I knew months ago that I wanted to stay here for more than a year.  I just.. knew that I would.  Then all of the positions I thought I might move into were filled or eliminated and it seemed a hopeless cause.  But God is certainly not hopeless and His promises are for real.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

waiting. anticipating. 'tis the season.

Last year, I began to learn what the advent season is really about.
Today I read over my post from the onset of last year's advent season to remind myself of this beautiful gift we anticipate in the weeks approaching Christmas.

God Himself came to earth.  He really came.
He came and was near to us.  He came to experience brokenness.  To make whole.
He came for us, to reconcile us to Himself.

Let us remember why this season is even a season at all.

Gordon Conwell puts out an advent devotional every year and sends it daily via e-mail.  It is a convenient reminder every day of what this season is about.  This year, unfortunately, they did not put out a new one, but have last year's accessible online.  Check it out here.