Saturday, March 29, 2008

On the Threshold of the Eternal Exchange of Love

My friend Dawn wedded today in a reverent service that was keenly focused on the great love that our Father has so richly lavished upon us, that He would call us His Bride. Yes, the spiritual reality of the sacrament of marriage was present among us today. Who, but God, could think of a man and woman promising fidelity and faithfulness and love until the parting tide of death? Certainly no man could conceive of such a strange promise. Today we marvel that God's ways are better than our own, and that this, indeed life-changing vow, is the beginning of an eternal exchange of love that is truly consummated in the return of Christ for His Bride. What inconceivable and amazing goodness. - Sarah Angell

I once heard it said that to love someone is to tell that person that he or she will live forever. If God is love, then love, like God himself, is something eternal, infinite. Hence, if I give someone authentic love, in a sense I give that person eternity. If that person receives it, takes it in and makes a permanent home for love in his or her heart, then that person will live forever. - Christopher West, Reflections on Eros and Agape

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Exercising Love with Belief, Not Money

It must have been one of my student's extended feet, stretched into my walking path, that yesterday brought back a memorable Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is usually noted by its simplicity in our family tradition. My typical childhood memories of Christmas Eve include a church service followed by sleepy-eyed staring at the ceiling, a tell-tale sign of a mind that is excitedly anticipating the thrill of the following day. However, the Christmas Eve that came to my mind yesterday did not fit the usual picture.

I was about ten years old and our Christmas Eve was a little abnormal because Dad had some cases pending at a local court that evening. Keeping with the familial holiday theme, I decided to go to court with him. There was a man before the judge who was facing a DUI charge and his release was set at five dollars bail. My dad was standing with the defendant, and I was sitting in the front of the courtroom close to my dad.

I remember that the judge kept saying, "Does anyone have five dollars bail for this man? It's Christmas Eve and he would like to spend it with his family."

I had no money. If I had five dollars, I certainly would have given it to the fellow because I thought that everyone should spend Christmas Eve with their family. However, I was sure that Dad had money, and so I sat in the front of the courtroom and started kicking my dad, the lawyer. This is quite embarrassing to me now, but at the time, I thought that kicking my dad (I believed it was a discreet sort of kicking) would be a subtle hint that I thought that he should post the five dollar bail.

I remember leaving the courtroom, that Christmas Eve, so sad because no one ever posted the five dollar bail for the man with the DUI charge. As we left, Dad asked, "Sarah, why were you kicking me?" But I asked Dad, "Why didn't you post the bail?" I was so confused; it was Christmas Eve and the bail was only five dollars.

I actually don't remember Dad's response to my question, but with my adult mind I can understand that lawyers don't post bail for their clients; it's not proper protocol. As a child, love always seemed to be the thing that brought the most gratification and satisfaction in the moment. Letting someone spend Christmas Eve in prison was not loving to my ten-year-old mind. But as I look back on this memory, with the perspective of time, I realize that love, like anything else in this life, demands that it be exercised with wisdom. To a child that doesn't make too much sense.

I am readily discovering in my adulthood, that exercising love with wisdom is an amazing challenge. Surprisingly, to my ten-year-old self, I don't give money to someone every time that I am asked. Actually, I think I am learning that dispensing money is sometimes an easy way out of doing something much harder.

What is harder? Believing in someone enough to help them change. That is what makes me so proud of the kind of love that my dad gives. I know, for a fact, that many of his clients come back and say, "Mr. Angell, you were the first person who ever believed in me. You fought for me and told me not to give up. That made all the difference. I just wanted to come back and thank you." Yes, this kind of love is hard.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

All Creation Gave Another Smell

The snowdrops, the first flower of the 2008 season, are here. I think that all creation now gives another smell, maybe a small taste, or a fresh reminder, of the rapture of our spirit when taken into the paradise of God.

Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God. All things were new; and all the creation gave unto me another smell than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness; being renewed into the image of God by Christ Jesus, to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell. - George Fox

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Test for All Systems of Government

I am reading a book by Dale Ahlquist entitled Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton. In the book's chapter on democracy, Ahlquist proposes that Chesterton was deeply concerned about the move in Western affairs to a specialist system, a system where we entrust others to do the things that are most fundamental to our existence (a Wendell Berry theme for sure). Some snippets of my favorite quotes follow below.

Our society is so abnormal that the normal man never dreams of having the normal occupation of looking after his own property. When he chooses a trade, he chooses one of the ten thousand trades that involve looking after other people's property. (Chesterton as qtd in Ahlquist 165)

There is no obligation on us to be richer, or busier, or more efficient, or more productive, or progressive or in any way worldlier or wealthier if it does not makes us happier. (Chesterton as qtd in Ahlquist 166)

An honest man falls in love with an honest woman; he wishes, therefore, to marry her, to be the father of her children, to secure her and himself. All systems of government should be tested by whether he can do this. If any system - feudal, servile, or barbaric - does, in fact, give him so large a cabbage-field that he can do it, there is the essence of liberty and justice. If any system - Republican, mercantile, or Eugenist - does, in fact, give him so small a salary that he can't do it, there is the essence of eternal tyranny and shame. (Chesterton as qtd in Ahlquist 166)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hiking Taughkhannock Falls

Happy Easter! I started the day with the whole family in attendance at Clintondale Friends Church. After church, our family split ways. Nate went back to Princeton, Sarah and I headed to Ithaca, and the family headed back home. I am always sad to leave my siblings, parents, and grandparents, not because I don't enjoy being in Ithaca going to vet school, but because we have such wonderful times together. Whether it was setting posts with my brothers, hauling brush with family and friends, or eating dinner as a family listening to Jay Lee's funny jokes, the time was grand. I am so thankful to God that he placed me in my family.

My dear sister Sarah and I spent a portion of the afternoon hiking the gorge to view the splendid Taughkhannock Falls. This evening we enjoyed Japanese cuisine and then headed to the theaters to watch the imaginative “Horton Hears a Who” based on the Dr. Seuss book.

As I head off to bed now to get ready for an early day of classes tomorrow, I am mindful of God’s immense love for me, a speck of dust, a sinner, thankful to God to be part of such a family as mine, and awestruck by the grandness of his creation. But most of all I am thankful for the love shown by God in sending His son to die on the cross, thankful that Jesus died for my sins, and amazed by the resurrection of the Christ. – Isaac Angell

A Triumphant God

My thoughts of thankfulness on this blessed Easter are simple. Today I am exceedingly grateful that even the most immense suffering can end in redemption. Pain is not the end of our story because the grave is not the end of God’s story.

Yes, we shed tears that endure for a night, but joy comes and our heart cups overflow with gladness. Hallelujah! There is a Redeemer.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Medieval Fashion Statement of the Century

My girlfriend from childhood, Rachael, wedded today in the most elaborate of circumstances. What a wonderful work of art! The creative juices of so many people melded to pull off this medieval wedding that we have anticipated with such excitement.

Rachael, we dreamed of this day for the last twelve years. I think every dream came true today, not just in the details, but so especially abundantly with your knight in shining armor (no, not the statue). May God bless you and Steve! - Sarah Angell

(Pictures below encompass construction of the set, the rehearsal, the bachelorette party and reception.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Suffering God

One month ago, National Public Radio's Fresh Air Program turned the public eye to a former pastor, Bart Ehrman, who wrote a book entitled God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer the Most Important Question - Why We Suffer. In his book, Ehrman explains his journey from faith to agnosticism. He writes, "I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of life. In particular, I could no longer explain how there can be a good and all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things. For many people who inhabit this planet, life is a cesspool of misery and suffering. I came to a point where I simply could not believe that there is a good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge of it."

Certainly many theologians throughout Judeo-Christian history have sought to explain how a sovereign and loving God could allow so much brokenness, hurt and raw pain in this life. I have found some of these explanations to be helpful. But I will readily admit that from the tiny and small amount of suffering that I have experienced in life, no intellectual argument can begin to assuage the questions when all I know is the screaming and all-consuming cry of pain.

I am not sure if it would be intellectually honest for anyone to say that they understand suffering and its allowance completely. The collective human experience unites us all at that point of pain where we have stared to the heavens, asked "Why?" and wondered at God's silence.

Though I understand Ehrman's intellectual struggle to make sense of the mystery of suffering, I earnestly believe that what we lack in comprehension from the silence of God, we have been given in assurance from the life of the Incarnate God.

The Incarnate God knows loneliness, he knows betrayal, he knows blood-drawing scourging, he knows hatred, he knows the pounding of nails and the ripping apart of flesh. But, somehow, most amazingly, most incomprehensibly, the Incarnate God knows what it means to be immersed in the deepest of suffering, to look toward Heaven and shout, with the rest of us fallen creatures, "Oh, God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Why are you silent toward the words of my groaning?"

Herein is consolation. We cannot search the mind of a God whose hand does not obliterate pain. But, we are allowed to see, on this day above all days, that when we look intently upon that mysterious hand of God, we find, not an iron fist, but a nail-bored hole.

The Silence of God

It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God

It'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
'Cause we all get lost sometimes...

There's a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He's kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He's weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God - Andrew Peterson

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Celebration of Spring: Reflecting on Life's Purpose

Today the vernal equinox once again extends her hand of greeting, and I, for one, am quite grateful for the reintroduction. Somehow her welcome makes it possible for all of life’s hopes and dreams to once again flourish and bloom with the longer daylight hours that travel in spring’s caravan.

If I was in charge of things I might actually decree that life resolutions should be made on the first day of the vernal equinox, and not on the first day of the calendar year, because heralding the promised life of spring and reflecting on life’s goals seem so fundamentally complimentary.

Spring is an ideal time for goal-setting, because it opens a truth that is so often shrouded by busyness: goals don’t have to be about doing.

When I make goals on New Year’s they inevitably focus on action and performance. If I set goals on the first day of spring, they pivot upon becoming something beautiful, not through the merit of my doing, but through long days of basking in sunshine.

If the graceful tulips and the delicate cherry blossoms can bring joy to the soul and glory to their Maker through their elegant and colorful presence, then I must dare to believe that it is possible for me to find meaning, not in the mechanical work of my hands, but in the color and beauty that transcends the performance and interacts, not with matter, but with a soul.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Sacrament of the Incarnation

The theme of the most recent issue of Quaker Religious Thought was sacramental living. While I was still a student at George Fox University, I took a class with Paul Anderson entitled "Quakers and the Sacraments." His article, "An Incarnational Sacramentology," from the most recent QRT issue, brought back memories of great discussions. A highlight from Anderson's article appears below. - Sarah Angell

"Participation in rites can be feigned, and spiritual gifts can be imitated, but the fruit of the Spirit cannot be counterfeited. By this shall all know the disciples of Jesus, according to the Lord: that they have love for one another (Jn. 13:35)."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Homestead (Spring) Cleaning

Nate and Isaac spearheaded an outdoor cleaning marathon today in light of all of the construction of the past year. Jay Lee, Nate's friend from Princeton, is visiting for the week and offered humor and a helping hand. Spring cleaning (country style) involves cleaning out the barn, moving a swing set, stacking extra firewood, raking the driveway with a tractor to return all of the dirt to the proper position following the winter snow plow jobs and practicing for the upcoming baseball season.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What Isaac (and John Maxwell) Know About People

Isaac has long been a huge fan of John Maxwell and his thoughts on understanding friendships and human relationships. He spent all day installing an overhead light in the living room and was too tired to make this post, but he passed along the following for the BFG, most of which is a restatement of tidbits of insight that he has gleaned from John Maxwell over the years. - Sarah Angell

(1) God loves everyone.

(2) Everyone wants to be somebody.

(3) Everyone needs somebody.

(4) Everyone wants to be loved and affirmed.

(5) Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

(6) Somebody doesn't care what you think until they think they know who you are.

(7) Anybody who helps somebody influences a lot of somebodies.

People - they are those for whom Jesus died. And on a daily basis it is such a great and wonderful challenge to see people the way Jesus saw them; to love them the way Jesus loved them - to see people not as who they are now, but who they can be.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Good Times, Good Times

We celebrated the beginning of Nathaniel and Isaac's spring vacation with a trip to Philadelphia this weekend. Jay Lee (a friend from Princeton) joined us for the trip. We picked up our cousins, Joshua and Daniel, and headed to Valley Forge, the historic site that marks the 1777 winter encampment of General George Washington's Continental Army. We met up with another friend from Princeton, Andrew (and his parents!), at Valley Forge. The grounds contained many wide open fields and held the perfect conditions for a long field race, documented in the pictures below. Andrew won the race with a close follow-up from Jay Lee. After the race, we all collapsed; at least, I did. (Click "Notes" in the PictoBrowser below for a more detailed explanation of the photo documentary.)

After enjoying "pizza and a movie" at Germantown Friends Meeting with our Aunt Jeanne, Uncle Sam and Cousin Christopher, we spent the night at Sam and Jeanne's and woke up to eat Uncle Sam's amazing pancakes and attend meeting at Kendal, a Quaker retirement community where my grandfather and his two brothers (and their wives) live. A whirlwind trip with so many fun memories!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring Happiness

Spring happiness is... Caleb working with his older brother Nathaniel, home on break from college, to collect some of the season's last (hopefully!) firewood!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Singing the Passion of the Christ

For those readers who enjoy singing: We recently discovered that the old hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, can be sung to the moving Scottish tune - O Waly Waly (The Water is Wide).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Preparation for Holy Week

About half of the family spent the evening with the Maple Ridge Bruderhof community. They treated us to a holy and worshipful rendition of Bach's "St. Matthew Passion." I have never heard this piece before (and, actually, I only heard one hour of it tonight). Outstanding. I now want to purchase the three-hour rendition and just take it all in. As the Bruderhof community sang, I kept re-reading a poem on the side wall that was displayed in remembrance of Good Friday. The poem by Christina Rosetti follows. - Sarah Angell

Am I a stone, and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy bloods slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon,
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock. - Christina Rosetti

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Mortals Join the Happy Chorus

Grandma continued to celebrate the best (and I think, longest) birthday of her life yesterday. She was surprised by a visit from her eldest son's family. Jeff, Marilyn, Rita (Jeff and Marilyn's daughter) and Andrew (Rita's husband) called Grandma from our driveway and crept into her house, while talking to Grandma on the phone. Grandma was so surprised. She said, "It's a good thing that I have a strong heart!" A birthday lunch was celebrated at the Beekman Arms. Lunch was followed by many happy moments at home, many of which included the new Farmer family addition: a Boston Terrier named Oliver Wendell Holmes. Tsheko joined us from Princeton and led us in a song-fest that took us into the late evening hours.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Rejoicing With

I think that the phrase, "I am so happy with you," while not commonly spoken, is such a loving alternative to the more frequently heard, "I am so happy for you," or "Good for you." The word for seems to imply isolation and individualism while the word with emphasizes common humanity, shared brotherhood and sisterhood. The good news is that if we are happy with someone, and not just for someone, we get to enter into the communion of happiness that much more!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tender Mercies

I have a very distinct memory of running an errand with Mom at a local department store when I was about twelve only to find, in the pathway of our errand, a denim skirt that I adored. We never bought new clothes when I was twelve, so I knew that purchasing the skirt was out of the question. It's so silly that I loved the skirt as much as I did and I guess I was a little sad that we only bought our clothes at the thrift shop.

On the way home from the department store, I remember stopping at the thrift shop and finding on the clothing racks in the small little basement, the exact skirt (brand name and all) that I had seen in the department store in my exact size. I don't remember what the skirt cost, maybe three dollars, but I felt so stunned and loved and amazed and guilty all at once. How could God see such a little desire of my heart and tenderly grant that small and hidden wish in His own way? Why didn't I trust that God meant it when He said that He knew the word of request on my tongue before it was even spoken?

I am not a believer in a material-prosperity gospel; sometimes God's blessings hurt and don't feel comfortable. I am, however, a big believer in the tender mercies of God that see the depths of the human heart and meet us in our place of need. Thank you, God.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


This squirrel is a little desperate. It has several things working against its mission: (1) We bought a squirrel-proof bird feeder. As soon as the squirrel's weight is applied to the feeding bar, a triggered response is supposed to prohibit any seed from leaving the bird feeder. (2) When we realized that the squirrel was smarter than the squirrel-proof feeder, we decided to line the post with metal, thinking that it would be slippery and cause the squirrel to fall. (3) Whenever we see the squirrel, we open the porch door and yell outside (actually, I will exclude myself from the "we" because I empathize with the squirrel).

Apparently hunger is a powerful driving force because the squirrel has not yet been deterred. What persistence. Sometimes I want to be more like the hungry squirrel.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Christian Surgeons and Christian Nurses: A Plea for Unity

It’s never cool to be five-years out of fashion. I am beginning to think that twenty-years out of fashion might be cool because the clothes from the eighties are reappearing on my students and they seem to consider the attire popular. But I am about to admit that I am five-years out of fashion and I know that is not cool and I am okay with that. I just read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (published 2003). (I think can justify my late reading of this oft-discussed book since several of my friends from college were involved with the Imago Dei Community which Donald Miller helped found and somehow that makes me feel like I had vicariously read the book previously.) gives testament to the fact that within the five-years since this book was published, an immense amount of energy has been spent reviewing this book that examines the relevance of the Christian faith to a postmodern culture. To add any more words of review to Blue Like Jazz would sink a ship with words that is desperately in need of a restorative buoyant force of action. I would, though, like to compliment Miller’s ability to begin a discussion. The following piece (follow link because of length) is by no means a review of Blue Like Jazz, it is simply a summary of the thoughts in my head the day after reading this book. Somehow I think the book and the thoughts are connected.

Relationships can always get better. I have always believed this. Right now I believe that the relationship between Christian nurses and Christian surgeons can experience a much greater depth of appreciation and trust. Too often it seems as though the surgeons, direct and aggressive in approach, have a hard time loving the gentle nurses who follow Jesus. And, admittedly, sometimes the nurses, compassionate and understanding as they are, get really frustrated with the aggressive nature of the surgeons who follow Jesus.

The struggle, interestingly, does not seem to have root in the goal of the mission. The Master Physician made it clear two-thousand years ago that it was the sick (not the healthy) that needed a doctor. The purpose of offering health care in the first place was also distinct: Jesus came to seek and save what was lost. The surgeons and the nurses both recognize that the eternal union of life and health and unity with God the Creator was broken because of sin. Jesus said that there was a way out of ugliness, out of the mess and into the glorious health of restored relationship with God. The surgeons and the nurses both understand this; they both seek to minister to the world the joy of a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

If the tension between Christian surgeons and Christian nurses does not lie in mission, it may be reasonable to think that tension would arise in discerning which patients need healing. But even here, at least in the twentieth-first century, it seems pretty obvious that we all need healing. We recognize the need in every human soul to reach out to touch the hem of the Master’s garment to seek wholeness, to seek healing.

The dissension, I think, between the surgeons and the nurses lies in medical practice. As their root words betray, a surgeon is an expert at surgery and a nurse has a heart programmed to nurture.

When the nurses look out at the battlefield of the wounded, they respond with a cold cup of water, clothing, food, love and a genuine listening friendship. They organize a city mission to feed the poor; they visit the man on death row and recognize his inherent worth and human dignity; they walk the road with single moms struggling to work enough hours to feed their children; they build houses alongside the flood victims of Hurricane Katrina; they plead in the newspapers for the starving Sudanese children; they see the suffering men, women and children in Iraq and pray and hope and labor for the end of the war; they confess the ugly sins of the men and women who have come before them and have slaughtered and killed in the name of Jesus; they wear pink ribbons to empathize with those facing breast cancer and they wear red ribbons to remind us that AIDS is real and an inherent threat to so many innocent children; they are concerned about global economics and the proper and just sharing of world resources. The nurses do these things for the love of Jesus and as they work, they share the gospel of God’s grace and proclaim that God’s forgiveness and love is freely available to all. The nurses sit down with Jesus at the well of Samaria and tell the forlorn woman that there is hope, even for her. The nurses travel to the sides of the road in search of a beaten man who may lie at its outskirts, they offer their donkey and pay the fare at the inn. The nurses find the soldier on the battlefield and nurse his wound.

But when the Christian surgeon looks to the battlefield, and finds the soldier with a bullet wound, he, while empathetic to the pain, understands that it really doesn’t have to be this miserable forever. The surgeon’s training makes him seek a solution to pain. The solution for the bullet wound may, in fact, be the painful extraction of the bullet. But, to the nurse, this is beginning to look like a cruel scene – the surgeon reaches into his bag and extracts, not a warm compress, but a sharp knife and then he begins to cut and hurt the patient and the nurses start to get upset.

The surgeon, too, sees children who are suffering from AIDS, women without husbands raising children, people who are hungry and poor and prisoners on death row. The surgeon perceives the pain and realizes that it doesn’t have to be like this. The surgeons get upset with the nurses because they are spending their time bandaging festering wounds that are never going to heal without a painful extraction. And because the surgeons see that the extraction is necessary for healing, the surgeon begins to discuss morality.

The surgeon understands that if our society upheld some foundational principles and ethics there would not be so many poor, so many children with AIDS, so many woman who are pregnant without support, or so many prisoners on death row. And, considering the situation, the surgeon begins to talk about the importance of family values and moral virtue. The surgeon says that society is made up of communities and that communities are made of families and that when the family is not strong, all of society suffers. And if the family is the foundation of society, then the marital vow is the foundation of marriage, and so the surgeons spend a lot of time defending the importance of marriage as the union of “one man and one woman until the parting tide of death.” The surgeon believes that if more people were sexually monogamous, there wouldn’t be so many children born with AIDS; the surgeon believes that if more children were raised in stable loving homes, not torn apart by anger and the despair of divorce, there would be fewer prisoners on death row; the surgeon believes that if no one drank alcohol, there would be no children who were raised by alcoholics; the surgeons tell their patients that if they would stop attending night clubs, there would be a smaller incident of children raised without fathers. Of course the surgeons understand that there will still be hurricanes and cancer, and the surgeons do surrender to the fact that some bullets are irremovable. However, when the bullet can be removed, the surgeon wants to do the surgery.

The nurses, though, find some of this offensive. Some of the nurses’ patients do drink too much alcohol, some of their patients are attracted to members of the same sex, some of their patients are on their fourth marriage and some of their patients like to sleep around. It’s really hard for the nurses when the surgeons tell them that the bullet inside their patient is extractable and may require some painful change. That can be pretty hard to swallow. It doesn't sound like wet washcloths and love.

Likewise, it’s hard for the surgeons, when the nurses tell them that their patient isn’t strong enough yet to undergo surgery. The nurses, often accurately, understand that if you start surgery too soon the patient will feel only pain and never accept love. The nurses understand that the tragedy of early surgery is that the patient discontinues the search for healing altogether. It is hard for the surgeons to understand timing, to understand that people never can change until they have been overpowered by care and grace.

To me, the need for unity between Christian surgeons and Christian nurses is so apparent. The mission of nurture and the mission of restoration are not incompatible. In fact, as modern medicine makes apparent, both are vital to healing. Unity could bring so much healing, both within and outside the Church.

Ultimately, my prayer is that those whose natural occupation is surgery would begin to practice more nursing and that those whose inborn training is nursing would begin to undertake some surgery. In the tension of this hard balance I believe that we will find ourselves fully united with the Great Physician.

This post would not be complete without a special mention of my parents, who, I think, have worked within their marriage to minister surgery and nursing in a very effective and powerful way. I love when people are so surprised to hear my dad speak in defense of the family, “Tom, you think that?! The way you defend those criminals, I thought you were the biggest liberal in town.”

Winter Blast

It's March now and I am increasingly aware of the fact that the spring season will officially begin in less than three weeks. That hasn't stopped several weather systems from moving into the northeast to greet us with more snow. But why rebel when you can have fun? Caleb, Rebecca (with her two friends), and I trekked over to Windham to spend the day snow tubing, and of all things Bungee jumping. I realized that one difficulty of adulthood is that after snow tubing more than ten times, the thrill begins to dissipate; that was quite opposed to my younger counterparts who repeated their ride down the hill incessantly without bore!

Shrimp and Chocolate: What a Day!

This is where Janet took me for my birthday and it was a wonderful place to celebrate; it's called Mohonk Mountain House. It is a historic landmark and you feel as though you've taken a trip to Europe - beautiful scenery, interesting history and plenty of scrumptious shrimp and chocolate; who could ask for more? In addition, it was a gloriously sunny and cloudless day so we could see for miles, which isn't always the case in the mountains. Praise God for His beauty and thank Him for birthdays! - Elizabeth Farmer (Grandma)