Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More On Granddaughter Fun

Yesterday’s post had Aubrey’s picture, and today I’ll give you a bit more on Hayley and Talli. That’s Hayley, above, now a happy middle-schooler, getting ready yesterday for an after-school snack.

Right now she’s hard at work preparing a Power Point presentation on the country of India, which she has been asked to give to the 7th grade Social Studies class at her school – a very distinctive honor, as the class is a year ahead of her own. But Hayley is uniquely gifted to do a fabulous job.

You’ll recall that Hayley went to India with her dad a little over a year ago; click here to refresh your memory. The journey half-way around the world was an experience in which VERY FEW students her age (10 then) get to participate. She’s been asked to tell the older students about her travels and impressions, and Hayley felt the best way to do so would be via Power Point (Hayley is VERY computer literate).

Maybe in the future I can get an online (or file) link to her report, and, if so, I’ll post it here. Hayley is also on a local swim team (we saw her practice session yesterday) and on top of all that is taking clarinet for the first time. She gave us a sample "recital-ette" yesterday of what she's already learned, and, based on that performance, we can't wait for a band concert that we can attend. Once again, we’re very proud grandparents.

This past Saturday our frosh granddaughter, Talli, ran a PB (personal best) in the 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) at the Tomahawk Twilight Cross Country Meet in Marysville, Washington.

Her time was 20:37:91, and, once again, she was the first to cross the finish line from her school, beating several older, upper-classperson team members, as well as those from other schools. Overall, she came in 45th out of over 250 competitors in the race. The photo above shows her (in yellow) at an invitational meet two weeks ago.

You can click here for a link to the event results. If you scroll way, way, down on the right hand side, you’ll see her name and time under the “5,000 Meters VARSITY (1,2,3,4)” category. If you click on her name (#44), it’ll show you her YTD events and times.

Lest you think she only excels in athletics, let it be known that she’s also a top academic student who is active in everything, it seems. And, oh, by-the-way, she also plays trumpet in the band. Yep, we’re very proud grandparents.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Home From A Day At School

That’s Aubrey Joy, above, our first grade granddaughter, as she arrived home this afternoon from a full day at school. We were in Oregon for the latter part of the weekend and today to spend a bit of time with our three sweet granddaughters and their mom and dad.

It’s always a joy to see them in their daily routines (we don’t get to do so very often) which are increasingly complex, schedule-wise, for mom and dad. Oldest sis Talli is in high school now, and Hayley is a middle schooler. All are active in extra-curricular, after school activities.

Tonight, when we left about 5pm, all were headed in different directions for evening activities. Such is life at Gregg & Elaine’s. More tomorrow on our fun weekend.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Do We Read and Study the Bible?

In the Lutheran perspective and tradition, of which my wife and I have been a part for several years now, elementary things – like how one reads the Scriptures – have taken on new meaning and application. I’ll try to summarize from our current adult education class, taught by Pastor Kent Shane.

Lutherans believe and practice the recognition that Scripture is an ancient text and was written by people who lived in times and places quite different from our own. The basic assumption is that we cannot fully understand the meaning of the text without an adequate understanding of the context of the people, the culture, the geographical location, and the time in history. Without that insight, the task can be overwhelming if not confusing.

I have to admit that for most of my life I have read the Bible with a “devotional” outlook; that is, simply with the expectation of hearing God, engaging the truth and attempting to incorporate it in my life. By itself, that is well and good. Lutherans, however, (and many other traditions, I’m sure), suggest that there are at least three additional considerations in studying the Scriptures.

Initially, there is the “historical” viewpoint. What do we know about the author, where he lived, and what the implied social and political realities were? Then there is the “literary” approach. What is the plot, and what are the characters, the setting and the theme (or story)? Finally, there is the “theological” aspect (obviously this is affected to a degree by the particular denomination or tradition). How do we distinguish law and gospel, how does the text point us to Christ and salvation, and how do we allow scripture itself to interpret other scripture?

Further, how do we distinguish the difference between the “plain meaning” of the text and “public meaning”? It’s not just our own little truth gleaned from several possible that is important; if Scripture is to be true for us individually, it must be true for all.

Encompassing all four methods into our study of the Scriptures helps to accomplish what Lutherans believe our faith practice is all about: a) to make room for God’s voice to speak to us, b) to beckon us to lead lives worthy of our calling, c) to lay out our sins and offer us God’s grace, and d) to deliver to us the promise that is ours in Christ.

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

“Forgiveness is Life-Changing”

Our husband-wife Associate Pastor team Kent and Alison Shane (they job share the one and one-half time position) have been on a sabbatical leave this past summer. (Photo at right is by Carolyn J. Yaschur of the Kitsap Sun.)

I missed Pastor Kent’s return to the pulpit a week ago, but I was glad to be back two days ago to hear Pastor Alison’s sermon.

I can sort of sum up her comments in a sentence: Forgiveness is life-changing.

I base this conclusion on her comments on Christ’s parable on forgiveness in Matthew chapter 18. First, Peter asks how many times we should be expected to forgive? Jesus’ answer was so large a number that the intent was obvious.

To further clarify, Christ told the parable of the king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. One slave owed the king an enormous amount that was impossible to repay by any standard of the time. The king was moved by the slave’s pleas, and granted not the asked for additional time to pay, but full forgiveness of the monstrous debt.

That same slave was owed a smaller debt that was easily payable, and the debtor came to him and asked for more time to pay. Forgetting what had been just granted him, he had the second slave thrown in jail until the debt could be repaid.

So the one who was forgiven an unpayable debt in turn had his debtor incarcerated for a far lesser amount owed him. This slave, according to Jesus, was wicked, had not learned his lesson and was given a worse punishment.

The point of this parable – and the sermon – is not at all about how many times we should forgive. What we should learn is that forgiveness changes us, and that was the point that Pastor Alison was making. In a similar way that we have been forgiven (which we could not accomplish on our own), we should now forgive.

And in the process God uses the change to make us more effective agents of His grace. Thanks be to God.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our Granddaughter Talli Is Already Number One on Her High School Varsity Cross-Country Team

Our 14-year-old granddaughter Talli, just a Freshman at Newberg High School in Oregon, yesterday completed the girls’ varsity 5,000 meter cross-country run in 20 minutes and 45 seconds at the New Balance Festival of Champions Invitational Meet at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. She’s number 912 in the photo above, taken early in the race, as she jockeyed for position.

Competing against other freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors from over 35 Oregon high schools, she was the first from her school to cross the finish line, making her the number one ranked runner on the Newberg girls VARSITY cross-country team. WOW.

CONGRATULATIONS, Talli. And did I mention that Newberg High is a 6A school (the highest of six State high school athletic categories)? And, in case you’re wondering, 5,000 meters is 3.1 miles. In the pic below, Talli (center) tries to look relaxed just before the race, along with her teammates Emily and Maddie.

She came in 16th in her race. There were far too many runners for a single race, and so there were several heats, all against the clock. Overall, out of 219 varsity runners in the 5,000 meters from all schools, only 41 had a better time than Talli’s. And this was her first high school race.

Needless to say, we’re extremely proud grandparents, and we can’t wait to see her run in person – hopefully in the not too distant future. It’s looking very much like Talli has a fantastic future in high school track and cross-country competition. You go, girl!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby “Fix”

Kay Lynne and I had another chance yesterday to see our fourth grandchild and to get our baby “fix” that may or may not last through the weekend. We had been in baby “withdrawal” since we first saw him on Tuesday. That’s KL with Nathan in the above photo, taken by Dad Doug. You can click on it for a larger image.

The little guy continues to do very well and is now taking nourishment both by I.V. and by bottle (mom’s “special” formula). He’s doing so well, in fact, that his condition has been upgraded to allow his move early yesterday from “neo-natal intensive care” to the “special infant care unit” (SICU) on a different floor. We thank God for His abundant grace.

The pic above is of the Koskela boys (minus one), taken yesterday in Nathan’s new hood. Wish we could have had Gregg there for the pic, but that will happen in due time. Nathan looks like he’s sleeping, but he was really whispering to Grandpa and his dad about the particular kind of fishing pole that he wants for his first birthday. Anybody know how to “downsize” a fishing rod?

Mom Jamie is gaining strength daily, as she recovers from delivery and four MONTHS of bed rest. She and Doug now spend the greater part of each day with Nathan at the hospital. Nothing new on when Nathan can come home – maybe in three or four weeks.

Time now for Grandpa and Grandma to go look at pictures of grandkids.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Meet Nathaniel James

Here's one of the first pictures of Nathan (snapped by his Grandpa), taken just after noon today. Is he a beautiful baby, or what?

He's proving early on to be a very strong little guy; in fact, he's already tried to rip off the wires (seriously). Plus, Nathan was doing so well with his breathing and oxygenation this morning, that they were able to remove the ventilator after only about 30 hours.

To be honest, I expected to see a tiny little "premie" and I thought he would be in an isolette (incubator). He IS a "premie," (by about six weeks) but he stretches out his 4 lbs, 5 ozs to a full 17-1/4 inches! That's about 80% of the length of an average full term baby. He appears to be doing wonderfully well health-wise, all considered. And the nurse says his "binkie" (the purple thing in the photo) is already his new "best friend" (besides mom and dad, of course).

They tell us that he will likely go into an isolette in a day or two, once everything stabilizes and is working properly. The early prognosis is that he may be able to go home around his due date or perhaps a week or two sooner. Everything is "iffy" right now.

We're just thrilled to see him and welcome him and love him. Doug and Jamie are very proud new parents. Mom may get to go home in a day or two, for the first time in more than nine weeks. "I'm ready," she says.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Grandparents for the Fourth Time

His name is Nathaniel, which means "a gift of God". And he's our grandson. The little guy came into our world early this morning at 4:45, a bit premature but weighing a healthy 4 pounds, 5 ounces.

And he's a miracle -- hence his name.

Baby and mom Jamie are doing fine, although Nathaniel James will be in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for a period of time, the duration at this moment undetermined.

Dad Doug told us that little Nathan is not only a miracle baby but may end up as a "storybook" case. Doctors say that Nathan beat at least 20-1 odds in lasting in the womb for 18 weeks after a breach drastically reduced his amniotic fluid. The vast majority of babies are born within hours or a few days of such an event, and when it happens as early as with Nathan, odds are very long for a viable delivery.

Jamie's excellent health and physical condition was a factor in the successful delivery, along with their following the best available medical advice to a "T". Jamie was on full bed rest for the past 18 weeks.

It may be a while before I can post a photo due to the incubator situation, but Doug says "he's got a full head of hair". That's a good start!

I can't help but be envious of little Nathan. He has FIVE -- count 'em -- gorgeous girl cousins, all waiting to lavish him with love and attention. He's a blessed young boy.

As we Lutherans say, "thanks be to God". And thanks to all of you who prayed for Jamie, Nathan and Doug.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Pitbull In Lipstick?

Well, I don’t know how this election will turn out in November, but I’ve got an idea I can recognize a future political superstar when I encounter one:

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate.

Who IS this woman, and where did she come from? I’ve lived through 12 presidential elections in which I had an interest, including the Camelot-ic drama of the Kennedys as well as the “I feel your pain” sentiments of the Clintons, but I’ve never before seen a rookie hit a walk-off home run in the first game of the political World Series.

This campaign Series is likely go seven games, and I’m gonna enjoy every inning.