Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Anticipation, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This picture was taken on June 3, 2007. We had just attended my dad's church, eaten some lunch, and Dad wanted to show my brother and nephew this place called fort boreman hill. Oddly enough, we didn't plan to color coordinate our attire--it just happened that way.

That river running behind us is the Ohio River. For generations, my family has lived along that river. When we needed time to think or to pray, we've journeyed to that river. It's been a place for us to go to remember, to reflect, and to contemplate the future.

It has also been a place for us to go make new memories like the one you see.

Today, I will travel across that river on my way to pick up my brother. It has been nearly two months since that day we hung out at fort boreman hill. It's weird when I think back to that day. The day before, my mom led us all through a wonderful and emotional spiritual experience. We were hopeful that mom would be home from the hospital soon. We had no idea that she wasn't coming to the place where dad and she had lived, but instead she went to her eternal home.

Tonight, i get to hang out with my other brother, Willie. I get to pick up my older brother chuck, and his son. I get to spend time with family. Everything I've been doing lately pales in comparison with that privilege. I truly can't wait to be on my way to columbus to pick them up. I think we will be returning to Morgantown the next day.

It's a really busy time of year for me as the return of students is fast approaching, but I'm looking forward to spending many spare moments in close community and fellowship with my family! I'm honored to be able to pick him up, and can't wait for our reunion!

Of course he is also pretty excited too I imagine. Among other things, he will probably be receiving his name while he is here. Plus, he gets to be reunited with family, and being with people you love and love you, that's pretty cool!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Corn Flower

Corn Flower, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I certainly hope folks aren't getting tired of pictures from my garden. I'm just so fascinated by the thing that I keep taking pictures and writing notes and exploring all that is going on in this little square of my yard. To me, it is just soooo cool that from a few seeds, some dirt, some water, and sunshine emerge all of these plants. I remember when there was nothing in that little square of my yard, and now--it's going like gangbusters.

So I've been learning some stuff about corn. Of course Indigenous people here in america are credited with giving corn to the world. In shawnee the word is Tah-MEE. Our three main ceremonies of the year celebrate God's gift of corn to the people. In fact, there is a ceremony that comes up in August called the "green corn ceremony" ; it celebrates the arrival of corn for the people and the provision of God for food for another season.

My old chief used to talk about corn and corn flowers in such beautiful terms--I may blog more about it in the future. You see, what most of us call corn silk is actually a corn flower. What we call corn tassels, is also a corn flower. The corn silk is the female flower. My ancestors used to talk of the cornflower as the hair of a beautiful maiden who gave of herself to provide for the people. Each strand of corn silk goes down into the husk to one kernel of corn. It's almost like the cornflower is really a bouquet of cornflowers. Each strand nurturing one seed, one kernal, one gift of life.

It's pretty amazing when you think about it. In a day where most of us get our food from a grocery store, it's kind of cool to think about where that food comes from. Somebody has to grow it. Somebody has to plant a seed, and it takes a measure of faith to believe that little seed will grow into a plant that will produce beautiful flowers and food.

So when I look at these beautiful strands of "hair", I'm reminded of the One who gives life and nurtures each one of us. The One who provides every good and perfect gift. The One who lays down his life--unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Pretty amazing that so much comes out of this beautiful, and yet unexpected flower. Be sure to take a moment as you enjoy the provision, to thank the provider.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
My garden is growing like crazy. I've been trying to make it a tradition to go out every morning and enjoy these beautiful blossoms. My old chief used to say that if you spent enough time with a blossom, you would see God. I think there's a lot of truth to that statement. After all, the book of romans says that his eternal power and divine nature can be seen in what is made. It's like he has left His fingerprints everywhere, and we just have to look around.

I was pretty stoked about how this picture turned out, because for some reason I have a hard time with the macro function on my camera. But this picture captured many of the waterdrops that were gathering on this butternut squash blossom. I'm really looking forward to eating some butternut squash soup later this summer and fall--it's absolutely delicious. Isn't it amazing how lenses can bring out some of the details, like the waterdrops, or the tiny hair like texture of the flower itself. Absolutely amazing how much detail is in this one little blossom. In the movie The Last Samurai, one of the main characters says a man spend his whole life looking for the perfect blossom, and it won't be a life wasted. That's the thing about beauty--it's worth searching for--it's worth treasuring.

There's something beautful about these flowers. And I think there is something about beauty that we hunger for in our world. It's like when we are close to it,or more realistically, when we open our eyes and become aware of it, something comes alive in us.

Take some time today, or this weekend and enjoy the good earth God has created. Go for a hike. Spend time with family. Soak in the beauty that is all around. I believe it will restore and renew your soul. As you do it, keep in mind the source of all beauty. Like John Piper said in that video earlier this week. Let's enjoy the Giver over the gift--He is behind every good and perfect thing that we enjoy--and He is the source of true joy and beauty.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Sister, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

This past saturday, I drove down to Parkersburg to surprise my dad and sister! Last Thursday, my sister had a big chunk of skin on the back of her leg surgically removed in an effort to insure the melanoma she was diagnosed with was thoroughly eradicated. The surgery (and simultaneous skin graft) insure her with 96% confidence that the melanoma should be completely gone.

Anyway, she's been having a tough time. She has to be extremely careful with the skin graft, and her leg has been incredibly sore over the last few days. She is accustomed to walking several miles a day, and for the next few days her walking will need to be significantly curtailed. Not only that, she's been doing a lot of lying on her side too. She has really been a trooper through it all!

So today, she gets some of the bandaids taken off her leg and skin graft area, and she is attempting to return to work.

My sister is gentle and lady-like, but she is also tough as nails, just like our momma. I'm so thoroughly proud of my sister for the way she has gone through this challenge.

And then this morning I read something in scripture that I feel is an encouragement to anybody like my sister who is facing tough times.

In Deuteronomy 1.30, it says, "The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes."

When we are going through those tough times, the LORD is with us, and He fights for us. Just like He did, when we were slaves in "Egypt".

Going through a challenge? Remember the LORD who fights for you, who rescued you, and who gives you the ability to stand.

Monday, July 16, 2007

John Piper on the prosperity gospel

The last week has been a busy week for me, and I've been unable to post a lot to my blog, but I look forward to changing that this week. There's been so much on my mind lately--so many things God is teaching me, and breaking my heart with.

Like this video. My best friend on the planet(and my brother) , Willie, sent me this video. It's a 3 minute video, so it won't take much of your time. It's from a sermon John Piper gave in Birmingham, AL.

I watch it, and it pierces my heart. While I am writing this little children are dying unnecessarily.

My friend Jake wrote this little paragraph about a farmer he met while doing research in Kenya.
"She was young, but you could read the years of struggling to survive in the lines on her face. She had four small children. Her small, ¾ acre farm did not produce enough for her to adequately feed her family. She couldn’t afford to buy the badly needed fertilizer to enrich her nutrient-depleted soil. In fact, the yield her land produced was only enough to feed her family for four months out of the year. The other eight months she (in her own words), “relied on the grace of God” to be able to feed her family. During the hunger season, she would routinely have to leave her children in the early morning to go hire herself out to work on other farms all day – earning about 75 cents a day – so that she could afford to buy the family’s one meal of the day. Each child would have a cup of tea in the morning and some corn flour porridge or ugali for his one meal at night when she got home. This extreme level of malnutrition has greatly weakened Josephine’s children. The young ones may not make it. She has already lost five children…their young, malnutritioned bodies finally succumbed to malaria because she could not afford mosquito nets to protect the children or malaria medication to treat the disease."
As you start the week this week, I pray that you will think about people like Josephine (the farmer). I pray that you will join with me in prayer about being part of the solution.

The needs in our world are so great. God has called His people to work toward meeting those needs.

It breaks my heart when I am confronted with these realities. When I come face-to-face with the fact that we have brothers and sisters in the world who are suffering and dying because they can't eat, or because they have illnesses that are treatable--it breaks my heart. I have friends who are working on sustainable solutions to these problems.

In the end, I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope that anyone in this world really has. I also know that part of a reflection of that gospel is that we who have found Jesus are empowered to care more deeply for the poor, for the environment, for the sick, and the needy, because we know this brings glory to God, and it witnesses to His great love.

Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, mind soul, and strength.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

I'm praying for creative ways that I can love my neighbor, by caring both for their spiritual needs, and for their physical needs as well.

So there's some heavy thoughts for a monday! Pray with me!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Rise Above

Rise Above, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This past Thursday evening, my dad and I drove up to our fish camp together to camp out and cut our grass. But that’s not all.

Early Friday morning, we woke up and got on the road, and my hybrid was challenged on some 9-10% grades as we traveled from our camp to Seneca Rocks. It was my second time visiting the state park this week. I think this is one of my dad’s favorite places to visit. There’s something refreshing that happens when you climb to the summit of Seneca Rocks.

Aside from the beautiful view of the valley below, Spruce Knob, and North Fork Mountain, something happens inside. You start to get a little different perspective. Maybe that’s what folks mean sometimes when they talk about a mountain top experience.

You see, I think climbing to the top of those rocks gave me and Dad some fresh perspective (and fresh air!). When you are looking down at the valley below, and see where you’ve come from, you feel like any problems you have are down in that valley too, and they aren’t nearly as big as they once appeared.

We spent a couple of hours on top of the rock, and then the people started coming up. We felt like it was probably time for us to go at that point. As we passed by others on the trail, we both found ourselves wondering if the people we passed would make it to the top. Would they get discouraged and turn around? Would they run out of steam?

Sometimes it seems like the odds are against you as you seek to attain goals. Sometimes problems emerge when you least expect it, and for a moment, it seems they will overwhelm you. There’s something about hiking that trail to the summit that teaches about perseverance too. Step by step, taking our time, we made it to the summit, and then we returned to our car.

Our problems, our fears, our anxieties, somehow seemed less significant and less overwhelming when we returned to the car, and when we eventually returned home. The problems didn’t go away (they rarely ever do) but the perspective and the refreshment we experienced during our brief stay on the mountaintop gave us hope and perseverance.

I think sometimes God gave us the hills so we could rise above our circumstances from time to time to get a fresh perspective—do you need some time on a hill top—even if you can’t go to Seneca, you can experience that refreshment by slowing down and letting Jesus give you the rest that he offers. The problems may still be there, but you will be refreshed and renewed if you take a little time for fresh perspective.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tenacious Faith

Tenacious Faith, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I just thought this picture was kind of fun. It was taken as I hung from the edge of a 1000 foot cliff at the summit of Seneca Rocks.

Yesterday evening, me and a few of my friends had an awesome little faith venture in the wilderness of West Virginia. It all started with a trip to my family’s cabin in on the Shaver’s Fork of the Cheat River. It was the first time I had been down to the camp since it was purchased. Before we left we were thinking about a 1000 different things we might be able to do down there, including fishing, but when you leave late in the afternoon, your options are limited.

We decided that we would make the camp a quick stop and then proceed to Seneca Rocks. The whole time was cool because there’s something about the departure from the typical day-to-day grind that affords a person with a degree of clarity about the important things in life. God, others, and growing to be a better human being. Our conversation centered around our cultures, our upbringing, and what God had been teaching us. We shared lessons learned, prayed, sang and even spent some time enjoying the view from the top of the rocks. It was a truly beautiful time. Again, getting away from the busy-ness of the usual was a truly refreshing departure. (I’m hoping to do something similar with my dad soon!)

Everything about our day seemed perfectly choreographed—it had been a truly wonderful time. After we came back from the summit, we decided it was time to head back home. We thought it would be fun to go to the Purple Fiddle and grab a bite to eat on the way back. As we started the journey, I felt prompted to pray that God would allow us to have discernment as we approached Thomas as to whether we should go hang out at the fiddle, and that if we did that we would be able to be a testimony to others and find favor among the folks who were there. (there’s always music there on Saturday night, and generally I think it is free). Just as I finished praying, Jeremiah noticed that we were running out of gas. We were somewhere between Harman and Thomas at that point.

I knew there was a gas station at Thomas, and when we arrived there, it was CLOSED!
We had gas to get us 19 miles. It was 15 miles to Red House and 24 miles to Oakland, MD. So we decided to try to make the drive to Maryland, and we began praying that God would stretch our gas (in the middle of the hills of WV), and that he would give us wisdom for the journey. About six miles outside of Thomas, we realized that Jeremiah could use the Nav Computer in his car to find the nearest gas station. It told us that there was a Sheetz 11 miles away in Parsons. That meant we had 3 miles to spare. But then, when we turned around and it calculated the travel distance we actually had 19 miles. Again we sought the Lord that he would make our 13 miles of fuel last the 19 miles of the journey.

We drove and prayed and held onto faith. We remarked that God must not have wanted us at the purple fiddle last night. We also watched as we began to make up mileage—Parsons is downhill from Thomas. So we watched and we prayed and we saw that God stretched our faith and our gasoline and delivered us as we arrived at the sheets with an estimated mile left in the tank.
As soon as we arrived in Parsons, I walked down to the river (and got totally soaked!) and picked up four stones. I kept one, and gave the remaining three to my friends. I explained that these were “ebeneezer” stones, or “stones of remembrance”. They could be just a little something that we could look upon later and say to God “Hither by Thy help I’m come”.
Reflecting on it as we drove back and made the journey home, we all were left to think about how intimately interested in “little things” (like running out of gas on a country road in a middle of a thunderstorm) our God is. The hairs on our head are numbered. And then, we started thinking about all of the times God has brought us through.
What about you? Do you ever take time to reflect upon God’s provision for you—how has He proven Himself faithful to you? You can leave a comment and share, or even better, simply spend time with your Creator in thanksgiving, and tell a friend about his amazing provision!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Becky on the Road

Becky on the Road, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, I was on the phone with my brother earlier today, and we realized something. It has been four weeks since my mom left this earth--and it is also four weeks until he and my nephew arrive back east for a brief visit.

Four weeks have gone by. I can hardly believe it. Sometimes it seems like something from the distant past, like a dream almost. Other times it is like it is something that is happening right now as we walk through the memories of our wonderful mom, and continue to deal with the adjustments that come from the loss of a loved one.

And just yesterday, I received a phone call from my sister. You see, we're all talking a lot more now, but this call was different. She had recently had a mole removed and she found out the results of that removal yesterday. It was a melanoma.

Thankfully it was caught early. It was really small (like 1mm). She found out today, that there's a 96% chance that it was entirely removed, but there is going to be some follow up work to insure that is the case.

Four weeks, and now my sister and our family have a new challenge. We all feel very confident that my sister will be fine, but just the same, we would appreciate the prayers. Her cancer is at stage 1A so she was able to catch it early.

At this point, there is very little left to do but wait for a final confirmation test, and then my sister will begin a process of 3-4 check ups per year and closely monitoring the site. She's doing fine and really keeping her spirits up in the middle of it all, but she (and the rest of us) are still just a little anxious.

If you would, please take a second right now and lift her up in prayer, specifically that God would comfort her and give her peace in the middle of an anxious situation.

Four weeks, and my dad is hearing this news about his daughter. Four weeks, and it seems like the world expects thing to go back to the daily grind. Four weeks, and soon my brother and nephew will be joining us again. Four weeks, and now it's time to celebrate independence. Personally, I would rather revel in the fact that we have a great community of loving friends and family who help us bear one another's burdens.

As we look to the future (just like Becky is looking out ahead in this picture), we can be comforted in the fact that we know God is good, and He is truly our sustainance and help in every situation.