Peterson on Freedom

I was on the verge of returning this book from a shelf in my room to its regular resting place in the living room, when I started skimming one of the early chapters and again my heart said yes, yes, yes! Here are some of my favorite quotes from a man who has easily become one of my top 5 favorite authors.

We are born into a world that shows everywhere the signs of some great primordial catastrophe. There are vast beauties and breathtaking virtues in this present age, but nothing pristine. The sign of our birth is a scar. The world into which we are born is dangerous. The parents to whom we are born are flawed. The governments under which we are reared are corrupt. Are we free to live? Or are we only allowed a meager energy and a compromised space to cope?

Sin is the fact of separation from God’s presence and purposes, experienced variously as restriction, limitation, inadequacy and weakness. Every interruption of the will or impulse or desire interferes with freedom. And the interruptions are endless. Life lived under these conditions cannot be called free, even though there will always be unforced and spontaneous moments that preserve a sense of the possibilities of freedom. Sensitive and thoughtful persons are often acutely aware of enslavement. Paul’s explosive “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24) is archetypal.

The rescue is not from the world, and not from limitations or boundaries, but from sin, that which separates us from God and his purposed creation and destined redemption. And the rescue is God’s work. Nothing else will do for a beginning. If there is no rescue from sin, there is no point in talking about freedom at all.

Remembering the Joseph story, we realize that no pit or prison is inaccessible to the freeing, delivering, rescuing power of God, and that freedom, once established even in one person, extends itself into political and social relationships and cultural movements.

We never develop the freedoms of maturity and wholeness and strength on our own, but always through the shared life of others in the faith.

Fear is a normal response to the chaos around us, the threat of being overcome by hostile forces or of being ineffective or hurt or thwarted or fated to poor and mean and scrubby lives…

It takes a certain bold courage to receive freedom. The free life is a strenuous life. Living in freedom is demanding and sometimes painful. If security is our highest priority, we will not want to live free.

Eugene Peterson, Traveling Light


2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 75 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 150 posts. There were 16 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was August 23rd with 109 views. The most popular post that day was maid of honor.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for formulating your philosophy of education, boursin cheese, formulating philosophy of education, formulating philosophy, and i wonder as i wander.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


maid of honor August 2010


About Me January 2008


formulating my philosophy of education… June 2009


mysteries June 2010


words fail October 2010

the final countdown

In four minutes I’ll be 28.

Goodbye, 27. You’ve been challenging, sweet, and memorable.

Hello, 28. I hope you are as much of all three.

As the years pass, I am less excited about the new numbers. They seem to loom ahead for months before each birthday, staring at me with accusation in their eyes.

“Have you done enough?” they ask. “Are you where you want to be at this age? Have you accomplished what you thought you would by now?”

Be quiet, silly numbers. Most of my old measurements of achievement are defunct now. My life dreams are essentially the same, but they have morphed into deeper, less easily defined goals. Adulthood is not, as I used to imagine, a cut-and-dried series of attainments and rites of passage.

I don’t need to prove myself to anyone. I’ve discovered that the most fulfilling things in my life are not tangible, expensive, or self-glorifying.

And as I get older, I crave wisdom. If I never become a published author, marry and raise a family, or travel to all seven continents, it won’t be the end of the world. Those things are only experiences. The actual experiences are less important than the effect they have. What matters is my maturity.

I can let God use my experiences to shape me. I can maintain a humble attitude and learn from them. I can grow wiser.

Or I can choose to respond selfishly to my experiences. I can cross my arms and stamp my foot at God. I can enjoy the good times and ignore the bad and remain an adolescent in understanding.

I want to grow wiser. I want to learn from everything I experience, difficult or pleasant. I want to know my God well and dearly and to be unafraid to say so.


the poetry project: sonnet

Francesco Petrarch refined the earliest Sicilian sonnet forms of two fused quatrains and two fused tercets into an ababcdcd-efefgg rhyme scheme, with 10 syllables per line, and defined sonnet writing for more than two centuries. Sir Thomas Wyatt brought it to England, but William Shakespeare shepherded the Petrarchan form into the limelight.

And now, several hundred years later, I shall try my hand at the form – much to the dismay of good poets through the ages. (Don’t worry, though: it’s the last day of September, so this is the crowning achievement, aka the final episode, of the poetry project.)

Deepest Sweetness

A Sonnet by JLB

On the threshold of my life I stood

Gazing in at people, places, things

All that in my history is good

Echoed in me as a bell that rings.

I watched as friends and family shared a meal;

Laughing, smiling, savoring the hour

Their conversation rich as it was real

And joy on every face; not one was dour.

I turned my head and saw a scroll unfold

With pictures of the places I have gone

Of summers ripe and warm and winters cold

Of Europe’s ancient cities and my lawn.

I cross the threshold to my life once more

In awe of deepest sweetness at its core.

the poetry project: pastoral

My first attempt at a pastoral poem. Maybe my only attempt? It was lovely to revisit these memories, though.

If I Could Go

by JLB

If I could go to Wittlingen

And walk along the ridge again

I’d see the valleys down below

And breathe the freshest wind that blows

Across the fields of corn and hay

As summer wanes and dies away

The farmer tends his fields with care

His faithful dog is with him there

They amble by the grove of trees

Changing colors, losing leaves

He lifts his hat as I walk by

I nod and smile and then I sigh

For church-bells start to toll the time

My favorite sound is their sweet chime

Once and twice and thrice they ring

And something deep inside me sings

the poetry project: limericks

We’re back to the poetry project, and tonight I will attempt a few limericks.


by JLB

There was a wee gnat on my screen

Who couldn’t quite get his legs clean

He rubbed them together

Quite safe from the weather

And felt most astoundingly keen


by JLB

I heard a low rumbling sound

While in my house, sitting around

In the sky it was clear

That the craft said “GoodYear”

And was hovering far from the ground


by JLB

Limerick writing is hard

I dislike it and then I discard

The lines that I write

They give me a fright

And show me I’m not a true bard

the poetry project: acrostics

One of my life goals is to write consistently and creatively. This fall I decided to narrow the goal a little (since narrower goals are easier to accomplish) and choose a writing project for each month. August’s was The Blog Project. It was my unspoken attempt to write a blog post every single day during the month of August. Braving a few late nights, and posting a few brainless entries, I succeeded – much to my comfort. (There is something comforting about achieving a goal; even a small one. It makes me think, “Hey, maybe I can follow through with bigger projects, too.”)

I was out of town during the first few days of September, so I didn’t think much about this month’s writing goal until yesterday. Jokingly, I told someone that I should make September “poetry month.” Later, I told someone else, and they both encouraged me. There is something in me that has always shied away from poetry – from reading it, but even more, from writing it. I am intimidated by the genre and think of myself as too practical to “get” poetry. I’m not a melancholic personality, and do not experience strong emotions and mood swings. All poets fit that description, right? I couldn’t possibly be stereotyping, could I? Nah.

Whether or not I find myself a true poet (I doubt it), this month I am challenging myself to dabble in the art. I’ve decided to highlight several poetic forms and try my hand at writing pieces within their boundaries. It will be a good exercise and, quite possibly, a source of amusement for my readers. I also realize it might drive away any readership I’ve accumulated here at the blog, so I probably will not be posting everything I write for this project. I will continue posting other musings, too. The poetry monster is not taking over my brain or blog. I’m just sharing with all of you – whoever you are – that this is my goal for September. The more people I alert, the more accountability I have for following through.

Without further ado, I present an acrostic.

“Simple Life” by JLB