Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Recently I had 232 miles of alone time in the car.  So rather than listen to repeat episodes of Adventures in Odyssey I tuned on NPR and heard a cool interview of Dan Koeppel.

I've never heard of Koeppel, but I've heard of the topic he was talking about:  Bananas.  Ya, like America's favorite fruit.

  It was a great story.


Did you know;

  • bananas didn't always used to be the #1 fruit.  Apples were.  We grow apples in the USA…bananas had to be imported.  It was a huge undertaking to get them to the states.

  • bananas we eat now are not the same variety our grandparents (and maybe parents) ate?  That species got a virus that wiped it out.  It was a better tasting fruit than what we love now--which also has a virus in other parts of the world.  Predictions are that it will die out in the next 10 years.  Then what?

  • bananas only start ripening once they are cut from the tree?

  • bananas must be shipped in refrigerated containers to keep them from ripening?
bananas emit a chemical amongst themselves that activates the ripening process in each other?

  • grocery stores work very hard to get bananas on the produce shelf at just the right moment?

(You can actually listen to the story here and check my facts--I'm writing from memory.  And some of the banana's story is not all pure and wholesome.)

The whole thing was intriguing to me.  I love bits of information like that.

But what really got my attention was the fact that environment matters to a banana.
 It grows in a particular climate, it must be shipped in a specific climate, it ripens in just the right environment.  Even organic bananas--that variety of banana we should all be so conscious to eat--can only be grown in a particular environment (above a specific altitude and with specific guidelines).

Environment matters.


Teachers know this.  They talk about "hidden curriculum."  Those things that aid/inhibit teaching regardless of what is being said; colors of the wall, temperature of the room, lighting in the room, etc...

You know this too.  If the building looks dingy you are wary of going in.  If you don't receive a warm welcome you wonder what kind of people these are.  If the classrooms are smelly you won't likely leave your children there.  And certainly, if the message and relationships are flat…you are out of there.  (Sound like church?)

Environment matters.

If we are going to mature (ripen) in Christ,  the environments we create matter.  

*I am indebted to guys like Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Carey Nieuwhof and others for using the term environment in talking about church.  It has shaped the way I look at what we do, what we say, how we do what we do, and how we say what we say.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life today

Today is a day of remembering for our family.
We mark September 22.
It is the day, 2 years ago, our Annie died.

Within moments of her death we were thrust into doing all sorts of weird things.  They were like out of body experiences.  The kinds of experiences where I remember looking at Sarah saying, "are we really doing this?"
  • We drove away from the hospital with an empty car seat.
  • We began planning her funeral.
  • We even posted on facebook the news of her death. 
Strange experiences.

A day or so after Annie's death I drove by myself the couple miles from our home to the funeral home.  That drive replays through my mind in slow motion;  the long hill leading down into town, the gas station and all the people with their fountain drinks, the hardware store owner standing in the door of his shop.

I remember thinking, "No one has any idea that I am on my way to deliver an outfit for my daughter to be buried in."  There, on the seat beside me, were her clothes.

All around me life was still moving. Yet right beside me were the reminders of the end of Annie's life.

Today is like that.

William went to school and has soccer practice later.
Kate is taking her regular afternoon nap.
Eliza is on her second nap of the day.
Sarah has been leading the girls through their day.
I kept a commitment on my calendar that took up my entire morning through lunchtime.

Life keeps moving while simultaneously intersecting our grief.
(I still don't know what to make of that reality.)

I am anxious for our family to be together tonight.
We will spend time remembering Annie.
We may watch home videos of her or read through the journal we have of things we remember about her.

Whatever we do, we will move...forward, not on.   
*By the way, Sarah's thoughts today are captured (beautifully) here.  She's amazing!