Friday, July 31, 2009

Lake George 2009!

All said it was the best day of the summer! Three new guests went to Lake George this year! Rosa Marie, Allie, and Maryella (our lovely 91-year-old second cousin) all made their debut at Tea Island. Incoming reports said that it was a glorious day. Trip and Sally made the day extra special by providing an invitation, program and cake!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Breaking all Records

The highest temperature ever reached in Seattle's public records prior to today was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at the SEA-TAC airport. Today, however, SEA-TAC is reporting a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit (4pm Pacific). This is causing all kinds of excitement! (Link to article in Seattle Times.)

A Week in the Life of Maryella Strane

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Slowly Making Progress

Nate and Mark residing the east side of the house. Cedar shingles go so slow!

See who's watching? It's Maryella!

Uncle Mark, The Shepherd!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Adirondack Camping Trip

Earlier this month, the Angell and Blue family boys (except for Luke who was in Minnesota) took a long weekend trip to the Adirondacks to canoe and camp and hike. Here are some pictoral memories, thanks to the Blue family camera!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Familiar Faces of Family

My uncle Sam's family was so thoughtful - they came to see me just for a couple hours before I took off again for Seattle! I hadn't seen a family face in a month, so it was super special to go to dessert with them at a 50's-styled restaurant in Philly tonight. Thank you!

Trivia Olympics (Night 2) & Dessert in Downtown Philly

Friday, July 24, 2009

Philadelphia Summer Olympics, Science-Teacher Style

After our first hard day of lesson study, discussion leading and session attendance, we engaged Olympic Night #1 of the "Three Night Olympic Events" featuring 10-member-tie-legged races, leg wrestling, wheelbarrowing (my event), thumb warring, frisbee throwing, hula-hooping, and team bear/mosquito/fish tag! Go Team 11!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quilting in Seattle

I meet the most absolutely generous and wonderful people! A woman I met at church, Patty Federighi, runs the neatest quilting ministry called Peace through Pieces and she travels to parts of Africa (Burundi, The Congo, Kenya) and teaches women to become quilting instructors. In the meantime she also runs an organization in Seattle that makes about one-hundred quilts a year for bone marrow transplant patients in the Puget Sound area. Anyhow, she volunteered to help me quilt today, and we finished all of the quilting in about four hours! I am so super grateful because I was thinking that it would take years! Now I just have to bind it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cycles of Church History?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Challenging, Part II

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phillipians 2:4)

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment. (Romans 12:3)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Found Me When I Sought Him Not

O the height of Jesus' love!
Higher than the heaven above,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lasting as eternity;
Love that found me-wondrous thought!
Found me when I sought Him not!

- Chief of Sinners, Will Thompson

Kissing His Feet

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume.

Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”

Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”

“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 7:36-50


The believers felt that what they had was not their own, so they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32)


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A Bald Eagle, Wetlands and Ducklings

I feel like I could be in Seattle for a long time before I ran out of new areas to explore. Tonight I went to the Union Bay Natural Area which tends to draw a lot of bird enthusiasts. I was thrilled to even catch a bald eagle during my short stay! I don't have my good camera with me in Seattle, but I at least caught its silhouette against the backdrop of a perfectly blue sky.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Honda CR-V

Yea for no more helicopter noises!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quite Certainly

I went on a gorgeous walk this evening in Seattle. It was a rather ordinary walk until this couple stopped me on the center of campus with a question. Before I could say Jack Robinson, they had pulled out a Bible and had started reading it to me.

We moved pretty fast - Genesis first, then Revelation, then Ephesians. The theme of the pieced verses seemed to be that "God the Mother" brings us salvation in the end times and now that the end times are here "God the Mother" has already reappeared on this earth to bring us salvation. (I later researched this a little bit and apparently "God the Mother" is a Korean woman named Zang Gil-Jah. Entwined in this belief system is the idea that the second return of Christ already happened and that Ahn Sahng-hong was the Christ, but apparently he died in 1985.)

I didn't talk too much this evening. I mostly listened. I was trying to listen to the idea and heart behind all of these words that seemed so utterly foreign to me. I asked a few questions. I wanted to know what made these folks so passionate about their ideas and how these ideas increased their sense of fulfillment in relation to the world and God.

I find that when I am quite certain that an idea is perfectly bizarre and absurd, it becomes too easy to write the owner of the idea off the radar screen of my reality. This was certainly tempting tonight, but as I eventually continued on my walk, I didn't think these thoughts would be productive.

So instead of devoting my mental energies to mentally erasing the ideas that this couple believed so fervently, I started to think about the things in life that I knew for certain.

As soon as you start to think about how you know what you know, you realize that epistemology is a long road to travel. It is a hard road to travel. I have walked that road before, and I have been left with the conclusion that I cannot understand life with my mind alone. The epistemological road always travels back to my heart and back to my soul and back to my senses.

Where do you start when you think about what you know certainly?

Oddly enough, for me tonight, the beginning of all of my certainty started with a cluster of purple flowers that greeted me on my walk.

The cluster of flowers was beautiful, my senses told me so. Somehow I knew that the beauty of the flowers meant that the universe had purpose, that the universe was going somewhere, that the universe was being called, by the Someone who designed it, to become something grand and wonderful and majestic. The simple reality that I was allowed to behold beauty meant that I must be a part of this purpose in the universe. And somehow my soul understood that the cluster of flowers meant that God was good and that the goodness of God was much, much better than I could ever understand goodness to be. I was certain of that.

I was also quite certain that if the goodness of God meant that the Someone who designed the universe could step outside of the greatness of such Being to create something as small and ornamental and beautiful and temporary as a cluster of purple flowers, then I wanted to be a part of God's goodness and learn to step outside myself more, to learn to show more unconditional love, to give more selflessly in order that more people could see God's goodness, not just in flowers and mountains and lakes, but in humanity.

To be honest, I know for certain a lot more than this. A lot more knowledge springs from believing that God is so much better than I can understand goodness to be. But, for tonight, this certainty felt like quite an abundant gift enough.

Justice and Forgiveness

  • When God forgives, God justifies. We don't earn it. Forgiveness is, by definition, a gift, not something we earn. If we're seeking to evade justice after this life, all we care about is personal forgiveness, our own justification. But even in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus won't let us do that; he makes us link our forgiveness with our pursuit of reconciliation with other - you know, forgive us as we forgive others. If we're seeking justice in this world, a justice that includes reconciliation, then seeking forgiveness is an important first step. If I want God's will, God's justice, to come on earth now, I must admit how often I fail and frustrate that justice. So I need the assurance that God forgives me. That, of course, sets me up to forgive others as I have been forgiven, which leads to reconciliation, which in turn leads to a reduction of injustice by breaking the offense-revenge cycle.

  • Salvation by grace, judgment by works. There's nothing in the Bible clearer than those two realities.

- Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our Faith is Situated

  • From beginning to end, our faith is situated. It's an unfolding story, and every story requires a setting. It's news - and not just news that happened but news that's still happening, and that means it requires a context. It's an ongoing movement and message that always take place in a medium. It's all about incarnation - about God entering and embracing our story. So if you want to abandon the story, if you want to get out of time and culture and into some timeless neutral zone above the fray, you're trying to get out of the very thing God is deeply into.

  • Learning isn't a consequence of teaching or listening, but a consequence of thinking.

  • Chesterton used to say that tradition is the democracy of the dead. It reminds us not to be prejudiced against voices just because they're not here anymore.

  • Nobody fully understands the realities depicted by models, even the people who use them. That's the purpose of a model. A model helps us work with a mystery.

  • What an amazing thing prayer is, a kind of everyday miracle that we just take for granted, but to think that human souls can actually open to God and just wait, just wait to receive something, or just wait in quiet trust.

Yea for cozy times to read! The above quotes came from the first half of Brian McLaren's The Last Word and the Word After That. McLaren takes a narrative-based approach to theology which is very interesting to me because my entire professional teaching portfolio for this past year looked at a narrative-based approach to chemical education. I am finding that narrative is a very powerful tool for learning. No wonder Jesus told so many parables!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Accomplishments and Enjoyments at Bentley!

Hannah's alternative birthday cake! Happy Birthday!

Justin (from Princeton) is back for another (longer) stay at Bentley!

Good times, good times!

Uncle Mark keeping things clean at Bentley!

And here's Nate working on residing the east end of the house!

Luke just got back from spending a week in Minnesota doing medical clinical observations. (Oh, and Dad's been loving his garden!)

A wave from Maryella!

In and Out of the Physics Building Windows

The outstanding view of Seattle (see the Space Needle) from the Physics Building.

Studying PBI's Electricity and Magnetism curriculum with a faculty student ratio of about 1:4!

Determing electric flux with a bed of nails and a wire surface!

First exam is tomorrow!

A Sister.

Always there. Always laughing. Always fun. Always good times. Always encouraging. Always loving. Always a friend.

Happy 18th Birthday, Hannah!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Only in Seattle...

I'm sitting here in the Physics Library at the University of Washington and realizing that even if I couldn't look out the window and see the beautiful view of the evergreens against the backdrop of the Space Needle, I would still know that I was in Seattle.


Well, I have been in plenty of libraries across America that say, "Only drinks in covered containers allowed."

But the sign here in Seattle says, "Drinks in covered, reusable containers only."

Only in Seattle! I have never been in a more green-conscious environment! (I like it.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Six Years Goes Fast!

Today I had the treat of catching up with two friends, Chris and Rachel Fulton, from Fox that I hadn't seen in over six years! That went fast!

Seafair Milk Carton Derby

I was jogging around Green Lake yesterday and all of the sudden I found myself in the midst of a huge celebration, completely surounding a big section of the three-mile path. What was the cause for all the excitement? Well, I saw milk cartons, A LOT of milk cartons, and then I saw people building boats out of milk cartons, preparing to race their boats, and then I saw a sign that said, "Milk Carton Derby" and I thought, "What a cool idea!" I wish I had my camera, but I didn't, so here's a video compliments of the Seattle Times. The video is a "must-see" just so you can understand what a unique and fun event this is!

Take a New Grip

But God's discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong. Hebrews 12:10-11, NLT

Begging You to Hold on Tight

I want to run, it’s my nature to run
And I want to fight, it’s my nature to fight
And I want to live, but You tell me to die
I have resolved that I’m much better off in Your hands than mine

I’m begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to take my life from me

I want a crumb, but You are a feast
I want a song, but You are a symphony
I want a star, but You are a galaxy
And I have resolved that I’m much better off in what You have for me

I’m begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to take my life from me
So tell me You won’t let go
Tell me You won’t let go
Cause You are the only hope for me

Take my life from me, It’s the only hope for me
Take my life from me, It’s the only hope for me
And I’ll never want for more
I’ll never want for more

I’m begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to take my life from me
So tell me You won’t let go
Tell me You won’t let go
'Cause You are the only hope for me

- Bebo Norman, The Only Hope

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Savour the Things that Be of God

I think the disciple Peter was a little bit like me. When Jesus told Peter that he was going to suffer and die, Peter was upset. Actually Peter was so upset that he told Jesus to stop talking. Peter didn't like to dream of building suffering into the future.

To be honest, I don't either.

When I look into the future, I dream of creating an oasis, a haven, a resting place. I don't like to make room in my dreams to do really hard things that are way outside my comfort zone, that take a lot of sacrifice and a lot of commitment and a lot of gut.

But Jesus always turns the world inside out and upside down. I think Jesus knew that if Peter and I were turned loose to our dreams of comfort and rest, we would lose ourselves. So Jesus wasn't even sympathetic to Peter. Jesus didn't say, "Boy, I guess it is hard to dream of suffering and dying."

Jesus instead told Peter to be quiet and listen. "Peter," Jesus said, "Savour the things that be of God, not the things that be of men."

I think Jesus is having a similar conversation with me, "Sarah, what do you savour?"

I tell Jesus, "A really, really deep breath after the apple pie has just come out of the oven. The last warm and colorful rays of sun before setting. That final blast of air-conditioning before stepping out into the baking summer weather. Those moments with a bosom friend before they board their airplane and leave me alone. The taste in my mouth when the last M&M is gone from the little yellow bag. A day of vacation in a month of endless work. The quiet when my last student has left the classroom."

And then I think Jesus says to me, "Savour faith more. Savour more than all those things, the faith that believes that sacrifice and dedication and discipline will grow love, very deep love. When deep love that is rooted in commitment, in gut and in self-giving has grown, then my Kingdom is closer to Earth as in Heaven. Sarah, savour faith more."

(Based on Mark 8:32-33)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Maryella has Arrived!

(Above) Maryella, Grandpa Farmer's second cousin, arrived on Wednesday at Bentley with all 92 years of her spunk and thoughtfulness! She spent some time today looking at old pictures of my grandparents' wedding.

(Above) Here is Maryella's completed bathroom, constructed by my handy brothers.

Here is Maryella's room, also recently redone, with a picture of her late husband, Edward, on the armoire.

(Above and Below) And here is our bathroom, not only fully constructed by my brothers, but finally redecorated as well!