Saturday, July 30, 2011


Today was a true wake up call to the wonder of Oregon! Yesterday morning I noticed a deer in our front yard, called to the Princess and we quietly crept outside to find that there were THREE deer in our front yard. We followed them around back and watched as they made their way up the steep hill behind our garden. They stayed under a small tree for awhile and I noticed they were having a delicious breakfast off that tree. Hmmmm.

Today we made our way up behind the garden and discovered an APRICOT TREE! In the heat of the day we picked, and picked and picked until we had two heavy bags full (was it over 90 degrees? We didn't notice). I realize that for the life-long Oregonion finding a fruit tree is about as exciting as finding a stray potato for the northern Minnesota. We were ecstatic, I even got the pretty, pretty princess to climb pretty high (leave no ripe fruit behind!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Orchard in the Dalles

I grew up in a farming community – potatoes, sugar beets and wheat fields made up the landscape of my childhood. I now live in another farming community – cherries, cherries and cherries are the current landscape, we are completely surrounded by orchards! Today the Princess and the Pastor had the opportunity to tour a local orchard, currently in harvest. This particular orchard brings in 220 migrant works, primarily from Mexico, every year and housing them in “camp” right there on the orchard. We were welcomed into the camps, ate delicious tortas for lunch and practiced our Spanish skills. Then the cherry picking began! It was a great glimpse into the somewhat hidden community here in the Dalles.

The gospel lesson this past Sunday (and the Sunday prior) is using a lot of this farming imagery, especially the wheat and the weed. I have often thought that agrarian vocabulary is really over done in the church and can be pretty vague and distant from the community at hand. However, many of the members of my current church are orchard farmers, so this imagery was right on. Below is a little snippet of the sermon...and I should also mention I've quickly gotten used to the current crop...LOVE the four giant bags of cherries that have been dropped by our house.

No wheat, no weed, no good, no evil goes unnoticed in God's garden. God looks upon the garden and sees the evil, feels the evil and responds. The response is not eternal judgment or condemnation, the response is not a label that you will never wash off...the response of God is so much stronger than that, so much stronger than any weed within or around you. Through Christ, God responds to us with love. God's love goes to the source of the weeds as Jesus carries the cross and God's love tears that weeds from its roots as Jesus' resurrection conquers all sin, all suffering and all darkness. The grace of Jesus falls not just on the good, not just on the wheat, but all over the world.

No, we cannot neatly label what is good what is bad. If this parable is clear on anything it is that the gardening and harvesting is done by God alone. We are better off to be just what Jesus has claimed as wheat and weed growing together, not by our own power but by the grace of God alone. We cannot box out that which we do not approve of or condemn that which we do not understand. We also cannot protect ourselves from the weeds that grow around us, or the weeds that are strangling us from within. We can remember this and remind others of this...

...We are planted, firmly, in God's soil. We are rooted in God's word which are filled with promises such as “You will never be separated from my love”.
...We are gifted with refreshing waters that restore even our most scarred places within.
...And we can remember that our hope remains in the final resurrection, the time when Jesus will indeed rip up the weeds and tears, suffering, brokenness and sin will finally be destroyed. And all the weeds that grow inside of us – will be gone, once and for all. And all the weeds that grow around us, that have cause suffering and pain, disease and hurt – Jesus will wipe away forever.

This is God's garden, you are God's crop, planted in the soil of the Word, 
nourished with the grace of Christ and growing by the Spirit's movement within and around you.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Under Construction

4 days into internship and the Pastor has...

  • preached and led worship at church
  • preached, presided and played for worship at an assisted living community
  • sat in worship committee, board of trustee, human relations, supervisory and staff meetings
  • led a noon-hour Bible study
  • cleaned out and re-arranged an office

Its official, orientation is over. I feel overwhelmed by all the newness and at times feel more like a poser than a pastor. However, the people here in the Dalles are simply wonderful and devoted and fun and passionate about their communities of faith. Everything is taking a little extra effort and energy than “normal” (I mean, how many times can I get lost in the basement of my own church just trying to find the bathroom?!?) but I am trusting that soon the dust will settle and I'll find a rhythm I can dance to!

The pastor, however, is never just a pastor. This pastor is also doing a serious balancing act with the Princess. The move, a new preschool, a new life adjustment, new church, new _____ (fill in the blank with just about anything) has left her with a high level of crabbiness, anxiety and just general five-year old defiance. This is exhausting the pastor. Again, I am trusting that soon the dust will settle and our days will return to a rhythm that we can both play along to peacefully.

One refreshing gift of grace is the backyard of our little house. It has a porch and a garden that leads to a steep hill. The lawn also has a built in sprinkler system that the Princess has been LOVING during warm afternoons. I so enjoy siting back there and watching her run around, we recently decked the back porch out so that it can be our little oasis from all the stress and crabbiness. We also were given some vegetable plants that we have been faithfully watering – I'm sure we will boast about our first crop soon enough!

We are hanging in there, having fun at the local pool and the great parks here. Family and friends continually check in with us, so even though you're all far away it still feels like our support network is pretty well in place. In addition, spending time with a special seminarian who just happens to be in Corvallis, OR for the summer is adding quite a fantastic flare to this transition!

Stay tuned...