Saturday, October 29, 2011

Paul Westlund, In His Own Words

Paul's been gone for over a month now.  Not a day goes by when I don't think about Paul, the difference he made...and the price he paid.

Here's a short clip where Paul shares the passion that drives us.

If you'd like to read more about Paul's life and passion, see the earlier post, Muddy Dancing Shoes.

thanks to jerrett roy for the video


I get such a kick out of the amazing breadth of creatures that God has designed.  Yesterday morning Cameron hollered for me to come to the window.  We just caught a glimpse of an otter as he disappeared into the rocks and brush at the pond's edge.  We knew that otters were around...but this was the first one we'd seen.

This morning Cameron again yelled for me to come to the window, "The otter's back!"  This time I was able to get out on the deck of the cabin and snap a little footage of the little guy.  The video is grainy and unstable, but I still enjoy watching the grace and agility of this little animal.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dead Ends

Most days Sheri and I take an evening walk down the gravel road that winds through the woods along the lake.  Towards the far end we come to this terrific sign:  

I can't count the times in my life I'd have given somebody else's right leg for a sign like this.  My unerring judgment will lead me down a primrose path to a pretty and proper dead end.  I'll have to put my life in reverse and back out, generally getting stuck in the ditches a few times in the process.  

So how do you know when a path will lead to a dead end or not?  Don't ask me.  Not sure we'll ever figure that out.  But I'm at least making an attempt to avoid the dead end the Amish call too quick old, too late I'm trying to learn from the dead ends I've gotten myself into.  When faced with the two divergent paths through the woods (which generally don't come with helpful hand-painted signs), I'm trying to ask,

which one is my Master taking?

Typically, it's the narrow one.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Am I comfortable with paradoxes?  Mystery?  Having things in life that are unknowable?  Not being able to understand all the reasons for why things happen?

The Apostle Paul had such a lock on the truth of the Gospel...but he also recognized that we've only been given so much.  Mystery, wonder, paradox and unanswered questions still float through our lives...a bit like a beautiful mist moving over the calm of an early morning lake.  

Of what we are able to see, Paul said,

for now we see through a glass, darkly

The other day my folks mentioned a passage they had heard quoted from Brennan Manning's book Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path To God.  I looked it up.

When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at the "house of the dying" in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how to spend the rest of his life.  On the first morning there he met mother Teresa.  She asked, "And what can I do for you?" Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. 
"What do you want me to pray for?" she asked.  He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: "Pray that I have clarity." 
She said firmly, "No, I will not do that."  When he asked her why, she said, "Clarity is the last thing you are holding on to and must let go of."  When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, "I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you trust God."

Trust the God of the mists.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Demise Of A Category

The Scriptures are rich.  There is so much there for us.

Take one little paragraph in Luke chapter 23.  Jesus has just died.  Luke introduces us to a man named Joseph who was

a member of the council, a good and upright man, 
who had not consented to their decision and action.

Rats.  This screws up everything.  Members of the council were not supposed to be good and upright.  I had just figured out that the Pharisees were the bad guys.  Pharisees are the self-righteous idiots in the stories that Luke tells.  And I liked it that way--keep people in neat and tidy categories so I know who to love, who to hate, who to respect and who to despise.  The Democrats are the bad guys, the Republicans the good guys...or is it the other way around?  Doesn't really matter, I just need to know who's who so I can decide without thinking whether I like you or not.

But the stories told throughout Scripture continually mess with my categories, and no more so than those told in the Gospels.  And here's one of the secrets about the narrow path that Jesus calls us to:  it's full of surprising people who we'd never think would be on it...and conspicuously absent are some of the people we thought for sure would be.  Categories mean nothing...a person's heart is everything.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Live Free Or Die

We feel extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to spend a few months in northern New England.  We're currently in Vermont and my folks live a few miles away across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire.  Cameron attends school in Jefferson, New Hampshire, in the shadow of mountains named Washington, Adams, and Madison.

The Presidentials from Jefferson Meadows, New Hampshire.
The area has an abiding sense of honor for the early leaders of this country.  New Hampshire's motto isn't some catchy new hook to pull tourists.  When you see a NH license plate, you're looking at words that were penned over 200 years a guy named John Stark, one of the area's Revolutionary War heroes.

Live free or die.  That'll pull the tourists in.

General John Stark
But actually, from a license-plate-motto perspective, it gets worse because we're not getting the half of it.  Stark's full statement, sent in a message to encourage his fellow patriots, was:

Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In Paul's Memory

If you've been moved by Paul's life and death and are looking for a way to respond, here are a couple of ideas.

A memorial fund has been set up to help Paul's family.  An email to the following address will give you details on how to participate:

Also, we are in great need of more aircraft to be used in reaching the isolated peoples of Papua with the Good News.  Paul's family welcomes gifts towards purchasing two more Pilatus Porters for Yajasi.  More information here: