Today I chuckled as I started to read the book of Jeremiah. Reading in the English Standard Version (ESV), I find a timely command from God. Jeremiah symbolizes for me our reluctance to follow God; we make excuses and we complain. If you remember, God sends Jeremiah on a speaking assignment, and Jeremiah complains that he is too young and not a good speaker.

God, of course, reminds Jeremiah that for whatever excuse or weakness Jeremiah brings, God presence and power are all Jeremiah needs. God will strengthen him. God will give him the words to say.

And now to the funny part. I read this as I thought about staying in my pajamas all day long.

God says: “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

I picture Jeremiah lounging about, much like you and me on our worst days. We can sit, languishing with our excuses and fears. Perhaps we’d prefer to stay in our pajamas today.  And God says, “Get dressed! Get ready. I’m strengthening you, and you’re going to be a success! I’m going to deliver you out of any hardship. Do not worry!”

So we get up. We get dressed. And we go out into the world again.


Holding On

It’s still dark and gloomy and freezing outside. It feels too bitterly cold to do anything.

So we do nothing. It feels wonderful once you realize you’re doing the work of holding on until warmer days. Perhaps we’ll make tea and watch sports. Perhaps we’ll read. Perhaps!


And the Snow Did Come

The potted plum now supports a mound of winter snow in 1 degree weather. The roots stay warm, wrapped in burlap. I love how the shadow of the oak tree behind the fence offers a glimpse of what this plum tree might one day become: strong and towering in her own way, within her own constraints. Meanwhile, we remember the goal of the season to stay warm and protect whatever roots we’re hoping will make it till spring. How perfectly fine to sit and do nothing at all but stay warm.


Impulsive Spending

Ash said something yesterday that really had me thinking. He mentioned how much we’re advised to avoid impulse spending. We’re taught to think carefully and wisely about managing our financial resources. But is money our only or even our most precious resource?

Ash then talked about not impulsively spending other resources like time or energy.

Might we avoid impulse spending of time? Of energy? What if we were as thoughtful and wise in this area as well?  What if we budgeted here, too?


Assume Nothing About Younger People

As a professor, you tend to think you know this younger generation of 18-22 years old.

You might think, for example, that young people know everything about technology since people call this age group “digital natives.” It’s not true. I’m learning that just because a younger person understands TikTok or Instagram doesn’t mean they automatically know how to use all technology. Noted. When you’re introducing any kind of technology, always assume there’s someone who needs a refresher or who has never used it before.

I’m also learning that not everyone in this age group enjoys social media. I have many students who don’t use it and think it’s destructive. So when people say this age group spends all their time on their phones, it’s not always true. Many of my students spend their hours in research labs, in their philanthropic clubs, and hiking outdoors.

I’m learning to assume nothing and just learn about people.



A Little Grammar Lesson: Make the Noun an Adjective

Today I taught my classes something I never learned in school. And it’s something I’m now applying to every sentence I write. It’s a great trick!

It’s called the adjectival noun–or when you turn a noun (person, place, thing) into an adjective (describing word) in order to condense a sentence and make it more precise. For example, in a cover letter, a student might write this:

I designed better practices for teaching in the classroom and upheld the objectives of the course. 

We have some nouns in this sentence that should function as adjectives to describe the main noun of the sentence. I’ll highlight all the nouns for you:

I designed better practices for teaching in the classroom and upheld the objectives of the course

The nouns hidden in prepositional phrases (for, in, of) might move ahead of the main noun and become a type of descriptor or adjective. Like this:

I designed better classroom teaching practices and upheld the course objectives.

In technical writing especially, eliminating long sentences with prepositional phrases (hiding nouns that could be adjectival nouns) matters for clarity!

I invite students to rework this sentence below to find the possible adjectival nouns. Could you do it?

I compiled the data from the research study of sleep to join with Dr. Vernon’s data at the hospital.

Students revise to this:

I compiled sleep study data to aid the hospital’s research.

If you have a clunky sentence with too many nouns, perhaps you’re hiding adjectives.




News from the Urologist: Drink Even More Water

I met with my urologist today. Because he saved me from the worst pain ever in the emergency room with emergency surgery and then successfully surgically removed the enormous kidney stone later, he ranks high on my list of favorite people.

He reminded me that people are chronically dehydrated. And he told me that, for people like me who have had kidney stones, I should aim for 90 ounces of water a day. So I need a little more water each day.

Well. Here I go with a new daily goal. Sip, sip, sip!

Join me in hydration.



Immediately, Immediately, Immediately!

I decided to read the book of Mark now that I’ve finished Matthew. I wanted to spend more time with Jesus in the gospels! Mark was the traveling companion of Peter and reports on everything Peter tells him, so we get a unique point of view in this short gospel account.

In the first chapter of Mark, you’ll see the word “immediately” seven times! It’s astonishing how busy Jesus is and how much is demanded of Him. Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit leads Him to the wilderness. Upon His return, He immediately calls the first disciples, and then He begins teaching in the synagogue. He immediately leaves and then immediately heals Simon’s mother-in-law. Everything seems so fast and frenzied. I think Mark wants us to feel this pressure in his narrative because it builds so much tension to invite us to then take a breath in verse 35. We rush and rush and rush and then. . .

We read this about Jesus:

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to desolate place, and there he prayed.

How did Jesus handle the life of immediate demands? We see His choice and the need for quiet, solitude, and prayer. I just love this as a beautiful invitation for us to take a moment out of immediacy and rushing to step away for quiet, solitude, and prayer.

This morning, a neighbor’s snowblower woke me up at 5:00 AM. I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I rose in the darkness, make delicious coffee, showered, and sat in the quiet living room with my Bible, journal, and devotional books. I would have two hours before the sun rose. I would have two hours before I would hear another person stirring. There’s something powerful about the silence of a pre-dawn morning alone with God. And it seemed like a divine appointment to read of Jesus’ own prayer life in the early morning on this very day of early waking.

As I turn to start writing, I remember the famous quote from Martin Luther when he was asked about his plans for his day: “Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” I think about having this disposition of heart to know that I can do nothing apart from Christ. I think of Luther spending those hours in prayer and Jesus alone in the morning. What a picture of dependence on God!

And now, I’ll immediately turn to the work of the day.


Back to Snowflake Photography

Years ago, my dad gave me a great digital camera with settings for macro-photography. I loved finding the smallest things I could photograph. Ever since the camera stopped working, I wondered when I’d return to taking photos of marvelous tiny things.

With my new phone, I now can. Snowflake photos are back!