Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Latest News

Couple of quick updates, just to let you all know what's been going on.
  1. First of all, for those of you who've been following Malachi's baseball career, the bad news is that his team suffered a brutal loss in the playoffs. They hit the ball extremely well in the quarterfinal game, but their defense smelled worse than stagnant pondwater. The other team played similarly, and the game was eventually stopped due to darkness after 7 innings with an 18-18 tie.

    The 8th inning resumed the next day (BEFORE the semifinal game) - Malachi's team batted first, scoring 3 runs, and then they only needed to hold the other team on defense. The made the first two outs quite easily, and then twice they had the final batter to 2 strikes, only to give up significant hits. The other team ended up scoring 4, and that was all she wrote. Sigh.

    Here's the good news though - Malachi made All-Stars, for the first time ever! Woo hoo! We are extremely excited and proud of him. Of course, it means another month of baseball, which just kills our evenings, but oh, well, we'll suffer :-)

  2. Second, as some of you know, Micah has been saving for a fly rod for a long time now. He had ordered an Orvis for his birthday, which then got back-ordered, and then back-ordered yet again (eg. end of July if lucky), so we cancelled the order and got him a Winston rod instead. Nice rod. Made in Twin Bridges, Montana. Lifetime guarantee.

    Micah practiced casting for a couple of evenings, and then on Saturday we headed down to the Bighorn River with Grandpa Mike and Uncle Jake - poor Malachi, he had All-Stars practice! Actually, he didn't miss much, because we didn't catch a thing. Skunked. Awful. Actually, what made the whole thing worse was the fact that a) we could actually see lots of fish (big ones, HUGE ones, like 5+ pounds big), and b) the schmucks floating down the river behind (the ones who couldn't cast a fly rod to save their lives) - well they absolutely KILLED the fish. As in 30+ fish while we caught nothing. All I can say is that they had a darn good guide, who evidently knew the river like nobody's business.

    The bright note? Well Sunday afternoon Micah and I ran up past Columbus to fish for a few hours on the Stillwater, and MICAH ACTUALLY CAUGHT A FISH!!! Woo hoo! It was really great! And I got pictures and everything. I'm very proud of him - he is officially a fly-fisherman now. Way to go son!

  3. Rebekah is the proud owner of a brand new mountain bike. Actually, its a brand-new-really-old mountain bike that Grandma Clarice has never really used. Grandpa fixed it up for her and now she's riding all over the place on it. Now all we need is one for Marilyn.

  4. You may be wondering - Christian, where are all the pictures??? Yes, it's true, I usually post pictures when I blog. And yes, its true that I actually TOOK a lot of pictures over the past week or so. The problem however is that after Micah and I finished fishing on Sunday evening, I set the camera down on the hood of the car (you see where this is going, don't you?) and then forgot about it and drove off. All this to say, there's a really nice Canon digital camera somewhere in a ditch between Billings and the Swinging Bridge fishing access site above Columbus. But I don't know where exactly - believe me I looked. Sigh.

    The problem is, we use (and need) a digital camera. And so last night I went online and bought a replacement. Should be here in 5-7 days, so don't expect much in the way of photos over the course of the next week. What sucks is that these things are not cheap. Sigh. There went the bike for Marilyn...

  5. Finally, it looks like we're heading back up to Missoula this weekend to look at houses in person, rather than just over the internet. Pray for us, if you think about it. The market is tight and our wallet is not as thick as it needs to be to get the kind of house we'd like for ministry. So ask God to do something surprising (but preferably not 'Elk Tent on National Forest Service land' kind of surprising!!!!)
That's pretty much it for now! We'll keep you posted on how things go. Feel free to drop us a line and let us know how life is treating you in your neck of the woods!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Look

Ok, so I'm playing with a new look - what do you think? I'm not sure whether I like it better this way, or the way it was (or whether it still just needs some more tweaking). If you're curious where the image came from, take a look at the Thunderstorm Rising entry on the photo blog.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Game Ball & Krispy Kremes

So this is Malachi's first ever "Game Ball," and the box in the background contains what's left of the Krispy Kremes we bought afterwards. We've long had this standing offer - hit a home run, and you get Krispy Kremes. Now, he didn't hit a home run tonight (although he came close), but he DID hit a triple, and then subsequently drew an intentional walk. Where he really contributed though, was with his pitching.

This was their first game of the Little League Tourney (well, second actually - they were good enough this year that their first game was a bye). After two pitchers in a mere one and a half innings, we were already down 5 to 2, and there were two runners on when the coach put Malachi into pitch. He gave up two runs early, bringing the score to 7 to 2, and then he settled down and pitched the next five and a half innings to close out the game. He's never pitched more than three innings before ever.

Final score? 11 to 7. We won, and it was a HUGE comeback. After the game, the coach gave him the game ball (something I've only seen him do once or twice in the previous three years). Since we figured that this was something to be celebrated, we took a vote and swung by Krispy Kremes on the way home. Micah and Rebekah said that it was a tough pill to swallow, but they were willing to do it for their big brother. :-)

All told, Malachi is really beginning to look like a baseball player, and I'm extremely proud. He's worked really hard this season, and he had one heck of a game tonight. Next stop, Wednesday night...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday Night in Missoula

So it's Saturday night in Missoula, and I am sitting in Liquid Planet sharing a fine cup of coffee with Marilyn while a young man named Chris Miles plays some classic Jim Croce on his guitar.

We got into town last night and met two virtual friends, Daniel and Jen. D & J are a great young couple who live here in Missoula, and they were kind enough to host us for dinner, and then let us crash for the night at their place (the shot above shows them cooking breakfast for us the next morning). Before we hit the hay though, we drove on over to The Big Dipper.

The Dipper is a really cool ice cream shop in the university district. We visited it last summer with Shane and Jean, and were amazed at how many people hang out at this place - all shapes, sizes, and colors, just chilling on good ice cream and talking to one another. Of course, it hasn't changed much since last year.

No sooner did we start walking through the parking lot than we met two of D & J's friends - Ted and Rosio. Ted's a long time Montanan; Rosio is from Ecuador. It doesn't take long to strike up a conversation in Missoula, and this was no exception. Ted spotted my Cabela's cap and asked if I liked to fish. Um, yeah, although that might be putting it mildly.

Turns out that not only is Ted an avid fly fisherman, but he also owns a piece of real estate down in Bolivia (think giant peacock bass). He's passionate about conservation, and so he's put together a group of investors to help help protect South American rainforest by wisely developing it - the point is not so much to make money, as to make enough money to keep it from being developed for other uses. Very, very interesting, and I'm looking forward to connecting with him again this Fall.

Missoula is full of people like this - people who see life a little differently, people who care about things like the environment, the community, their city. And I must confess, I like it. There are certainly lots of problems, but there are lots of gospel impulses in this secular city. I am looking forward to living here, to making friends and investing in lives.

Of course not everyone is a tree hugger or an artist. Missoula is a party town too. Just this evening I was walking Jack through Caras Park along the river, smoking my pipe and enjoying the evening sun. A couple of young guys in their twenties hollered at me from their park bench:

"Oh man, what are you smoking?!? That smells good! What a beautiful dog..." So I stopped and chatted for a few minutes. Before I know it, one of them is showing me his pipe, asking if I have a little of mine to share. Fair enough. I offer him some of my Cattleman's Gold.

"So how do you guys like Missoula? I think I'm going to be moving here this Fall."

"Oh man, you're going to love it! Missoula is a drinking town, man!" (He's leaning back, pretending to tip back a bottle).

Yeah, they were a little stoned. But they were nice guys, and they very willing to talk. Turns out one of them has been here six months; his friend, a mere week an a half. So this is Missoula - people who are looking for something more in life, willing to try just about anything to find it. It's beautiful, and it's sad, all at the same time. Already, I find myself loving this place.

One of the things that is going to be hard is housing. We know that we want to be within easy biking distance of the downtown and the campus, and housing prices are through the roof. We can probably afford a 2 to 3 bedroom place - but we need 4 to 5 bedrooms with enough room to throw a party for 60+ friends. Hmm. This is going to be challenging.

We talked with one realtor this morning and we're meeting another tomorrow. And in the meantime, we've been driving all over the city trying to figure out where we want to live, and where we don't. We're also trying to think outside the box - buy something small and add on? buy something dumpy and bulldoze it so we can start over? The cheapest _lot_ we've seen was for $50K. Most of them (the few that there are) are closer to $75K. But most of the 4 bedroom houses are over $300K, and this for something that still needs work. Ouch.

All told, housing is going to be a huge challenge. We'd appreciate your prayers about this. And if you have any creative suggestions, please drop us a line.

Well, time to get a refill of coffee and then head to bed for the night. Nothing like a Saturday night in Missoula...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What We Left Behind

So this is what we have left behind. It happened less than a block away from our house, 3 days after we left. My kids walked the dog by the scene of this crime every day for the last 4 years.
Philadelphia - Police were scrambling yesterday to track down killers from a bloody weekend, but made no arrests in the slaying of an 18-year-old man at an Olney park or a 51-year-old man shot dead in Southwest Philadelphia.

In addition to the killings, six other people were wounded - at least one critically - in shootings around the city during the weekend, police said. No arrests were made in any of those shootings.
The 18-year-old, a Latino shot in the head, was found dead Sunday evening in Fisher Park, at North Seventh and West Spencer Streets. The 51-year-old, also shot in the head, was found about 2 a.m. Sunday in the 5500 block of Pentridge Street.

As of yesterday, the number of homicides in Philadelphia stood at 149. During the first five months of 2005, there were 155 murders.

You can read the whole thing here...
What's interesting about this is that I don't simply feel relieved, or glad to be gone. This was our neighborhood. I find myself wondering if I would have recognized this young man who was slain.

It must have happened right here at the base of this tree. Here's our family photo taken this spring less than 50 yards from the very spot. And here's what it looks like in winter - beautiful, white, pristine.

I am indeed thankful for God's protection while we lived in Philly - we grew to love our neighborhood, and especially the people we met there. Lots of hurt, lots of brokenness, but all created in the image of God, and then fallen in the image of Adam. I'm not simply thankful to be gone - I really find myself longing to see these neighborhoods redeemed. News like this actually makes me miss it more, in a wierd kind of way, since I'd like to be back there trying to be part of a solution.

The gospel is the only thing that is going to truly solve our problems in society, and change will only happen one heart at a time...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Westminster Milestones

Well, I've just put up a bunch of photos from last week over on the photoblog - If you'd like to see graduation shots, or pictures of our trip back out west, click on over and take a look...