Monday, October 31, 2011

Anniversary 16.2

It wasn’t a great anniversary. Well, compared to our typical fun anniversaries. Usually you would find us at a water park, beach, or lively restaurant. But this year’s was different. Being extremely ill on your anniversary ain’t no fun at all.
There’s much to be said for holding your spouse’s hand when she’s sicker than sick on your anniversary. It contrasts the euphoria of the wedding day, yet there is a deeper love sixteen years later that is more meaningful without the need for a fancy honeymoon.

That said, we got a raw deal for #16. So as we realized we’d have a chance to go away for 24 hours a few months after #16, we were excited to have a do-over. Call it 16.2. With only 24 hours, we decided a long distance getaway wasn’t in the cards, but just a day of peace, quiet, and carefree living would be great. We picked a hotel in downtown Seattle online – it’s called Vintage Park. It looked fancy, but wouldn’t completely break the bank.

So at noon last Thursday we said goodbye to the kids and grandparents…and made a run for it. The options were endless: where to eat, what to do, where to go? We had a great lunch at an “East Coast” deli then drove to the hotel. The valet opened the doors of our kidmobile littered with goldfish crackers, sippy cups, and used baby wipes. Oh no! I completely forgot about the tip! I scrounged through my wallet and all I had…a buck. Classy! He picked up our duffel bag from the trunk (yes I said duffel bag) and carried it to the lobby. Did I mention I had forgotten to zip up the duffel bag? Socks and sweatshirts were plainly visible.

We walked into the lobby. They told us about wine tasting at 5pm and dinner at 9 in the hotel’s upscale Italian restaurant. Then the gal smiled and said they had upgraded us to a nicer room. We were gracious as we turned for the elevator. The bellman asked us which floor and we said the eleventh. He looked like he swallowed a tack because he had seen the car we drove. Room 1103 – three rooms: bedroom, bathroom, and living room. No wait. It was more like a parlor. A tv near the bathtub, one in the bedroom, and one in the living… I mean parlor. Couches with soft pillows, chairs without armrests, and real blinds on the windows. I know – fancy stuff!

We walked downtown wandering into stores with breakable items and coffee houses with candles. We strolled for hours, not having to stop to pee every 15 minutes. When we returned to the hotel, there was a bottle of wine and chocolate on the coffee table. And the wine didn’t have a screw top!

The rest of the stay continued on like this. Our waitress bought our dessert for us. Everyone on staff was genuinely considerate or faked it really well. We reluctantly departed the hotel still a bit suspicious. Were we set up? Did someone pay extra for us? Did they feel really sorry for us? At the end we didn’t care. We took it as a gift – a small treat for the postponed anniversary part one. Thank you God for small gifts like this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Parking Lot Speaks Volumes

The parking lot speaks volumes. It’s a beautiful fall morning here in the PNW. The leaves of the trees are bright orange, red, and yellow. It’s incredible. I’m staring through a giant Starbucks window which shares the dimensions of a computer screen. Pretending it was a giant touch screen, I’d love to start erasing the cars and Chevron sign I see in the near distance. All I’d have left would be the rugged landscape of a 45 degree Washington fall day: hills, trees, smoky clouds, and a blanket of gray. But the gray is hardly noticeable because the green branches of the evergreens and the iridescent leaves shame that dull sky.

And if it shames the sky, what does it do to the objects of humankind’s desire? You know, cars. Pulling out that giant touch screen again, if you were to take away the incredible foliage and mountains in the background, you’d have a pretty impressive spectrum of colors from these vehicles as well. There are greens, reds, yellows, blacks, silvers, whites, maroons, champagnes, and clays. Probably not much different from any other parking lot in Anytown, USA.

Of course this ain’t Anytown, USA. Looking carefully I can only see one car that looks out of place – some kind of station wagon missing its left rear hubcap. In anytown USA, 90% of all the cars aren’t so high end. My own Camry looks like a beater compared to the rest. Doing the math, there have been hundreds of thousands spent on vehicles in just this tiny parking lot.

And we all know that the owners of these vehicles have two and three car garages with who knows what else parked in those other spaces. I know we do! My minivan cost more than my adoption (Though in the long run with the amount of food the little linebacker is eating there won’t be a comparison.). Yet here I stare in jealousy of the guy in the lifted Jeep and that bratty little 16 year old in a Lexus SUV. It is a hard day for me. Excuse me while I wipe away a tear…

OK I’m back. The parking lot speaks volumes. My beloved “Silver Bullet” sits there which transports my three precious ones at speeds approaching a rolling bowling ball. There’s not a piece of litter anywhere (Did you know how clean the Eastside is?), yet our world is in peril. The hungry, the exploited, the angry. If I just sit in this chair all day long, life will remain easy and the world will still be perfect – just the aroma of coffee, the hissing of milk steaming, beautiful leaves, shining electric cars. Not a person with nary a problem. It’s kind of a nice bubble to be in. Get me some headphones to drown out the couple arguing in the corner and I’m good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Nope, not Scrooge. Let me explain.

Back in the saddle again. I haven’t come out of retirement. I just took a long break. It has been tough finding much free time the past four months, especially considering the way life has somewhat turned upside down. But you probably already know that story, but I’m not going there today.

Last Saturday was a great day, though it was largely void of children. Some of you may be wondering, “How could a day without your children be great?” Others (the ones with kids) will say, “I hear ya!” It’s not a loving your children thing, it’s a silence thing. I drove three hours south to my old stomping-ground: Portland. What a beautiful day it was. High 60s. Mostly clear. And a day to see old friends.

For the first time since graduating four plus years ago, I returned to the school that I have held most dear – George Fox Evangelical Seminary. A seminary reunion was the opportunity for my visit. Upon returning to the PNW I had foolishly assumed that I’d be able to jaunt south every month or two to see old friends or take a new class. Because reality stepped in, my dreams disappeared.

In the Old Testament Samuel constructs a stone monument, called an Ebenezer, to thank God for delivering the Israelites from the Philistines. Only because of his intervention was Israel spared in a battle, and actually victorious.

George Fox is my Ebenezer. Talking to professors and walking the halls last weekend was a jolting reminder of God’s faithfulness in my life. It was there that God showed me his work in the lives of people for hundreds of generations. Many memories swarmed my mind and for a brief moment it felt as if time has stood still – I’m still in seminary right? I get to come back tomorrow for another class, to be with friends, to wrestle with Scripture and theology?

As I begun the bittersweet drive home I took a photo of the majestic Fremont Bridge which will forever symbolize God’s work in my life. It’s the city of my Ebenezer. What’s yours?