Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Wilson Mash

Happy Halloween!

From Tom, Sarah, Katie, Rocky, and Stup

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Small Miracles

"You are my greatest adventure."
--Mr. Incredible

I used to get a chuckle out baby parents who talk about their kids' age in weeks or months, rather than just using years like everybody else. I still think it's funny, but I finally understand why. Katie's world has expanded more in the past three months than mine has in the past ten years.

Two weeks ago, I had the great blessing of being present when Katie discovered what her hands are for. She was playing on her floor gym, which at ten weeks (see, I'm doing it too!) means thrashing her arms and legs around randomly. While thus busily engaged, her hand happened to bump against a little turtle toy hanging down above her. It swung out a bit than bumped back against her hand. She froze, did a perfect double take, looked at her hand, then back at the turtle. I could almost see her thought process: "Well I'll be darned! When I hit that thing, it moves!" So she hit it again. And again. For fifteen minutes, she was completely enraptured as her hand smacked the daylights out of that poor little turtle. She was happy for hours afterward, no doubt overwhelmed with the thrill of scientific discovery.

This past weekend I got to spend more time than usual with Katie. She is on a fairly regular cycle by now: Eat. Play. Sleep. Repeat. She is, by now, an old pro at Smacking Stuff. She has even expanded her repertoire to include Grabbing Stuff. Her floor gym plays music for her, Twinkle Twinkle and Animal Fair and Skip to my Loo, in calypso/reggae arrangements that were charming and clever the first four hundred or so times we heard them. I want to expand her musical experience, of course, so yesterday during Play Time I got out one of my low whistles to play for her. Might as well start getting her used to the harsh realities of sharing a home with a whistle player.

I played through a couple of Irish tunes, which my sweet daughter completely ignored. That was actually a better result than I dared hope for, but not particularly entertaining. So on a whim, I started playing "Twinkle Twinkle," with the same rhythm as the music on her floor gym.

Katie's head instantly swiveled my direction, eyes and mouth wide. She watched me breathe, watched my fingers move, and as I cycled through her floor gym songs, she listened. And even though the sound was very different, she knew.

Parenthood makes adults and children of us all. Every day I see new textures in Jesus' teaching that I cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless I accept it as a little child. Let go of the old ways, and be exhilarated by the discoveries of learning a new way of life.

To my non-parental friends, I make this request: Try not to roll your eyes when parents rhapsodize about their children's most mundane accomplishments. Try to keep groans to a minimum when you hear young mothers discuss, with straight faces, how many diapers their tykes dirty in a twenty-four hour period. It's hard to believe, I know, but from this side it almost makes sense.

This is a time of epic discoveries for my young explorer. I'm glad I get to be along for the ride.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Love in the Time of Colic

We had our first serious snow storm yesterday. None of us were quite prepared for it. Our young trees, most of them still fully leafed out and green, were soon bent almost to the ground under the weight of heavy, wet, fall snow.

Late in the afternoon I went out and shook them, hoping they would get through the night without too much damage. But the snow kept coming. By the time I got back to the house, they were already bending under the weight again.

I can identify with them. These are tough times at Wilson Manor. Somewhere around eight or nine weeks ago, Katie started showing symptoms of colic, and it has steadily gotten worse since then. Just like the trees, there are moments of respite--such as yesterday, when our wonderful friend Becky came over and spent the day helping us out--but the pressure keeps coming, and we are soon bent to the point of breaking again.

At risk of over-dramatizing things, it feels like I imagine it must feel to live in a war zone. Even during the good times, we are never completely at ease because we never know when the enemy will strike, when the giggles and coos will turn into those horrific screams. Nerves are shot; health deteriorates; relationships are strained. I'm afraid to pick up my little girl and play with her, because often that's all it takes. Our days are defined by the frequency and duration of screaming fits.

So we plod through our hours and days and weeks, doing our best to keep smiles on our faces and in our hearts, to dwell on all the amazing discoveries and developments taking place, to excel at our jobs, and to love each other, no matter what, like we promised we would. Doing our best to stay in touch with the God who can turn even the most horrible of times into something beautiful, something sacred.

I woke up this morning and looked outside to see our young trees bent to the ground, but somehow unbroken. When I relieved them of their burden of snow and ice, they very slowly, almost deliberately, started righting themselves. This encourages me. I guess most of us are stronger, more resilient, than we think we are. It just takes time.

We're going to get through this with our love intact. Thank God, I really think we're going to make it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Father's Protection

Tuesday night chapel talk at Wyoming Bible Camp.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Song of Solomon: Nine Months Later

If Solomon had waited nine months before writing his song of songs...

May he wash the dishes with the washings of his hands!
For your housework is better than wine!
Draw me after you and let us run away together!
For the baby has come into the king’s chambers.

While the King was at his table,
the diaper gave forth its fragrance.
I said to myself: I will change the diaper,
and remove its fragrance far from me.
In the tents of Kedar, far to the east:
They should be about right.

My beloved is to me like a pouch of myrrh
which lies all night between my breasts.
Beware, oh daughters of Jerusalem:
Do not awaken love prematurely,
For that kind of stuff is what got us into this mess
in the first place.

Like an air raid siren among the lilies,
so is my baby in the night watches.
In the shade I took great delight and sat down,
but her cry was loud in my hearing,
and there was no rest.

The king has brought me into his bed chamber,
and his banner over me is bottle feeding.
Sustain me with caffeinated beverages,
refresh me with ice cubes down my shorts,
for I am catatonic.

I adjure you, oh daughters of Jerusalem,
my beloved adjures you; our dog adjures you;
the dead adjure you from their graves:
that you do not arouse or awaken my baby
until she pleases.


How beautiful you are, my darling,
how beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like hollow caverns in the rock.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
that have descended into the depths and drowned.

Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
drawn tight against the slow, creeping madness
of sleep deprivation.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
only larger,
and they hurt more.

Your lips, my bride, drip honey,
or perhaps it is just drool:
I cannot tell for sure.
The fragrance of your garments is like
the fragrance of someone who has not yet showered today.

A garden locked is my friend, my bride,
a rock garden locked,
a spring sealed up.
And so I said to myself,
Man, it’s gonna be a long, long, long time.

My beloved is dazzling and reddish,
at least his eyes are.
The locks of his hair are like clusters of dates,
and that is as close to a date as I am going to get.

His eyes are like doves, gunned down
beside streams of water,
lifeless, and shot through with red.
His lips are lilies, sprayed with herbicide,
drooping, blubbering, entirely without character.

His abdomen is like a bowl of mashed potatoes,
inlaid with bacon.
His voice is raspy from singing of lullabies
late in the night watches.

His mouth is full of nonsense
and his jokes are not funny.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
oh daughters of Jerusalem.

Who is this who groans in the dawn,
as pale as the full moon,
shrinking from the sun
as from an army with banners?

Oh you who lie in the nursery,
my companions are listening for your voice.
It is pretty hard to miss.

Hurry, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle or a young stag
on the mountains:we can catch a quick nap before she awakens.

Kathryn Elizabeth's World Debut

Katie finally joined us Thursday, the 9th, at 7:13 pm. There was considerable drama early on, and she almost had to be flown to Salt Lake with lung problems (two pneumothoraxes and a good deal of gunk sucked down), but she rallied, pulled herself together (literally), and after a couple speed bumps, she is now healthy as a horse. Tough girl.

But enough about that, you say. On to the pictures!

Sarah being very brave right before they induced her. I am so proud of her for coming through it so well.

Doesn't she look like a fighter pilot? I think she looks like a fighter pilot.

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated...
Katie's first view of the world was from inside an oxygen mask.

It was almost a full day before we finally got to hold her. Torture for all of us!

Ah, ain't she purdy?

Happy girls

Having a snooze with dad at the hospital


We're outta here!!!

Katie and dad in their Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as of 8:30 this morning it is official: I have completed and passed all necessary work to recieve a Master of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction (Technology).

Thank you. Thank you. There will be refreshments in the lobby.

I will not attempt to describe the tribulation this program has caused over the past two years for an active, outdoorsy person such as myself, nor the havoc it has wrought upon my bowhunting, rock-climbing, back-packing, and thowing-sticks-for-the-dog careers. It is too horrifying to put into words.

But no matter. It is over. Done. I never have to do this again.

The following video perfectly captures my feelings concerning this triumph over the nefarious forces of Acadamia:

The world is shiney and new again. Real life awaits. Bring on the mountains. Bring on the world. Bring on the baby. I'm ready.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Certainty and Meaning

The Lord of Hosts is on our side.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
--Psalm 46

Bill, my boss at school, has a sign in his office, attributed to some really smart person. It says "The need for certainty interferes with the search for meaning" (my paraphrase; I can't remember the exact words).

I have thought a lot about that saying, and I think it contains a lot of truth. Dogma is often the enemy of meaning. We pick through the teachings of Jesus and his followers with a fine comb, analyzing every word and tense, trying to find rules and regulations to impose and/or follow, often where none was intended. In the process, we utterly miss the bigger meaning of the teaching in question. In almost all of Jesus' teaching, the emphasis is on the internal, not the external. But we tend to look for certainty in practice, often at the expense of the true meaning.

This is nothing new, of course: Jesus once accused the religious leaders of his day of "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel"--what a great mental image.

The problem with Bill's saying, though, is it is only partially true. Certainty is important, too; in fact I don’t think you can have one without the other. Through some extensive research, I have become convinced of the physical reality of Jesus' resurrection and other miracles. Some say it doesn’t matter whether Jesus’ resurrection was physical or just spiritual. But it does to me. Here's why:

I have often struggled with the problem of suffering in this world, especially among innocent children. Twice in my life I have visited pediatric hospitals; in both cases I was a wreck for days afterwards. On a daily basis I come into contact with little kids who have experienced things no little kids should even have to know about. Some of these kids just don’t seem to have a chance. Attempts to find meaning in the mutilation or death of a child come across as hollow at best. More often such attempts are downright insulting.

But that is where certainty becomes important. I am certain that God is powerful, just, and merciful, and that he conquered death through Jesus. And that certainty is enough. I don't have to impose some sort of trite "meaning" on something that really just doesn't make sense. I can seek for a meaning, but in the end I might not find it, and that is alright (if not exactly comfortable). I do not need to articulate what God himself has not articulated. I just need to trust God to be who I know him to be. It is enough that HE is all-knowing. I don't have to be.

Isn’t that what Psalm 46 is getting at? Be still (stop struggling) and know that he is God; trust him even when he is hidden and things are scary. Also Hebrews 11. All those people accomplished great things, but died—often in horrifying ways--without seeing God's greater purpose. They trusted him.

And of course the entire book of Job, especially 38 through 42:6. Job's friends very comfortably found meaning in Job's suffering, explaining it away in a series of well-reasoned arguments. Job, meantime, is not at peace because it doesn’t make sense, and his friends' arguments don't reconcile with what he knows to be true. In the end, confused, conflicted Job was vindicated as the one who was right. But God never did explain himself--he just showed who he was and told Job to trust him.

That's one reason that the certainty of Jesus' resurrection is important to me. It shows, in a very real way, who God is and what he is up to in the world. And being certain of that, I can be OK letting some other things go. In my certainty of God’s goodness, I find true meaning. I can be still, and know that He is God.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

All-You-Can-Eat Crab at the Oxbow

You know it has been a truly amazing dinner when you have to wipe butter off your glasses before you can drive home.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Vagabonds

I have never much cared for valentines day. I always felt like the only people who profit from valentines day (other than the card, choco, and jewelry companies) are ladies who have attached themselves to clods too unromantic to do anything special the rest of the year. Besides, when you are single it stinks intensely having a whole day set aside to remind you of what you're missing. My lovely wife is of another opinion, however, so I have mellowed somewhat, especially this year. Any excuse to celebrate and give gifts can't be entirely bad, and at worst today is as good as any other.

All that said, we had an almost-perfect day today. Around mid-morning we got in my trusty blue 4-wheel-drive steed to do some exploring. Before pulling out of the driveway, I presented Sarah with her valentine present: A "Lander Nordic Skiing" tshirt. We are expecting a youngster in June, and Sarah has been a bit saddened about all the things pregnancy has taken away: Things like intense outdoor activity, ability to sleep comfortably, all that sort of thing. This shirt served as a reminder of better times to come.

Then we hit the trail. We had set aside this day to explore several roads which we had been meaning to check out for a long time. After a brief trip down Hidden Valley Road (yes, there are several Ranches there, in case you're wondering), we spent most of the day exploring the west shore of Boysen Reservoir, one of the bigger lakes in Wyoming which is completely surrounded by sagebrush desert and mountain ranges. Truly fascinating country, especially in winter when the lake is frozen solid and the fellow visitors are minimal.

Once we got as far as we could go on the roads, we got down to the business of relaxation, with a couple nice walks on the frozen beach, scrambling about in the blissfully rattlesnake-free rock formations, some snuggling and a nap in the back of the truck (do not attempt this in Wyoming Winter without the proper equipment and training), and lots of staring in awe at the lake and the mountains.

Having had our fill of the lake, we headed off toward our next planned destination, a tiny ranching town nearby called Pavillion, where there was rumored to be a good burgers-and-steaks restaurant. Avoiding the easy highway route, we found ourselves barreling west down Sand Mesa Road, a dirt track through some beautiful ranching country which is swarming with wildlife--big muley bucks, antelope, and thousands upon thousands of ducks and geese. All with the Owl Creek Mountains towering on the right hand, and the Wind River Range on the left.

There are worse ways to drive to dinner.

We finally got to the chosen restaurant and were surprised to be asked if we had a reservation. It is Valentine's day, of course, but this is a town of 150 people, for crying out loud! Having been found lacking, we were nicely seated at the bar, only to find that the normal burgers and steaks menu had been replaced with a "Special Valentines Menu" of lobster tails, prime rib, and lots of stuff we couldn't pronounce. Cheapest thing on the menu was $25; most things were over $30. Well, our experience has been that usually restaurants that charge that much really shouldn't.

So, we got back on the road, and soon found ourselves at the Midvale Bar and Grill. Midvale is a town on the maps only--in real life it's a loose collection of farm houses without so much as a Mormon Church. But they do have a bar and grill, and generally these little middle-of-nowhere places really put on the chow; if they didn't, they wouldn't stay around long since they rely on local business. Here we found the menu (and the prices) more to our taste: A good ribeye, potato, beans, grilled bread, and a good salad. Since cigarette smoke really sets off asthma, the friendly patrons directed us through the bar into the non-smoking dining room, which--get this--we had all to ourselves.

Now, how many valentines days do you get to eat steak with your sweetie, in a dining room all to yourselves, without so much as making a reservation or even knowing where you are going?

You can have the fancy chocolates and flowers and all that stuff. Those things are all well and good, but if that's all there is, it wears thin pretty fast. Spending some time just enjoying the world with the person you love--that's what romance is all about in my book.

Sorry for the long post. Just couldn't decide what to leave out.
Good night--

Monday, January 12, 2009

January Fly Fishing

My dad blessed me with a new fly rod for Christmas, and I just couldn't wait until summer to try it out. So this past Saturday saw me embarking on the first fly fishing trip of 09 down at Wind River Canyon, a fabled tail water where legend has it that three to five pound rainbows and browns are there to be taken.

The canyon was beautiful under a light dusting of snow as I bundled up in multiple layers, bag-lady style, complete with fingerless rag wool gloves, and hit the river.

I had never flyfished in the winter before, and I have to say it has its pros and cons. Most of the positives involved things that were missing: there was nobody else on the river except a couple of bait fishermen a quartermile downstream who were gone by the time I geared up. Also, not a rattlesnake in sight. No bugs, either, except for a few hardy midges scooting along on the surface of the river.

Cons? Well, it was cold. Really cold. I can put up with a good bit of cold, but when the guides on my rod started clogging up with ice, it's hard to cast. Hard to navigate, too, with the steep banks frozen and dusted with snow. I did manage to stay out of the river, though, which brings me to another disadvantage to winter fly fishing: If I do this much, I am going to have to invest in a pair of waders. The Wind is a fair sized river by Wyoming standards, and most of the good holes are out of reach from the bank, but it's just to chilly to get in the water this time of year.

The result? Nothing. Skunked. Whatever the legendary five pound rainbows and browns of the Wind River were hungry for, it was not clumsily presented green wooly buggers or bead head hare's ears.

But I'll be back.

Maybe after it warms up a bit.