Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Holbrook enters Jurassic World–and gets a surprise

Where dinosaurs roam...even when they aren't supposed to!

Where dinosaurs roam…even when they aren’t supposed to!

Our nephew Andy, who is visiting from his home in Page, asked if we would like to go and see Jurassic World tonight. Of course, we grew up with the Jurassic Park movies, and we wondered if this new one would be as good. We agreed with pleasure.

The new owners of Holbrook’s Roxy Theatre now bring movies to town earlier in their run. Since this movie only premiered yesterday, we were excited to see it available here tonight. We were also excited to see the theatre–which is surprisingly large for its location in a tiny town like ours–be nearly 100% full.

The best moment in the film for our audience happened early on,when Clare (our lovely heroine) asks Owen (brave former military hero) if he can find a dinosaur by scenting it. “Lady,” he says, staring at her, “I’m Navy, not Navajo.” I wonder if the producers of the movie ever imagined a theatre filled with an audience of at least half Navajo folks hearing this line!

A ripple of hearty laughter and a few cheers ran through the audience. Everybody got a kick out of it. It aided the community feeling of the night and provided some extra fun.

Not that the movie needed it–good, corny, nostalgic fun from start to finish. A little fear and trembling was part of the appeal, a lot of wonderful digital dinosaurs that you’d swear were alive, a pack of hungry but partly trained velociraptors, two cute brothers who ran into quite a lot of trouble, and the familiar background music we’ve been humming ever since we got home.

No place like Holbrook on a Friday night, that’s what I say!


Clear Creek

Campsite at Clear Creek

Campsite at Clear Creek

I caught this little guy in the midst of shaking his head.

Shaking his head–probably wondering “Who is that woman?!”

For our monthly camping trip in April, we went to the Camp Verde/Clear Creek area to set up our temporary household. As you can see, our camp is far from luxurious, but it has the familiar feel of home because we’ve used the same equipment so many times. Though it is basic, we’ve found ways to make our campsites comfortable, chief among them the cots we use for sleeping. Once you’ve passed 60, as we have, sleeping on the ground loses some of its charm and getting up becomes a tricky exercise!

Clear Creek and its surrounding area held several interesting places to visit. One was the Old V Bar V ranch, now a state park. It contains some extremely well preserved rock art sites. The other was Montezuma’s Well, a unique small spring whose water never fails no matter how dry the area becomes. Best of all, desert wildflowers bloomed wherever we went–past their best, but still very beautiful. Here are some of the photos from our trip.

Claret Cup Cactus (I think)

Claret Cup Cactus (I think)

Petroglyphs at the V Bar V Ranch State Park

Petroglyphs at the V Bar V Ranch State Park

In the petroglyph, the spiral symbol near the left side of the picture is one of a series of spirals at the site. Curiously, at each of the solstices of the year, a shaft of light from the top of the cliff above will cross one of them exactly. The ranger there speculates that they may have been part of a calendar or other time-reckoning system. Interesting, isn’t it?

Ancient dwelling places seen from across Montezuma’s Well. See the black doorways beneath the top rock layer?

As far as anyone knows for sure, Montezuma never had anything to do with this site, and the origin of the name is uncertain. Whenever I see ruins like these, I wonder at the amount of work it would have taken to live in them–climbing up to the gardens above on the rocky shelf, and climbing down again to sleep. Imagine raising children in a cliff dwelling with water beneath it and sharp rocks all around. I’m filled with admiration for the people who did these things.

It was a wonderful couple of days, though the nights were still chilly for camping. We’re already looking forward to next month.

More interested in whether I had something for him to eat than in posing for the camera.

More interested in whether I had something for him to eat than in posing for the camera.

Globe Mallow, my favorite wildflower.

Globe Mallow, my favorite wildflower.

A Small Town Easter

I know Easter can be wonderful in large cities, because I’ve enjoyed it in them at times. But our small town Easter this year topped them all for me.

Our Seder supper on Thursday night is becoming a real community event. We had more people stuffed into the fellowship hall at church than we could have imagined would fit. Lamb, eggs, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs were served, and foot washing by Jeff at one station and our city’s mayor at the other really moved the people who attended. Nothing seems to bring the message home like the visual participation of Maundy Thursday’s last supper.

Friday brought its somber note. Jeff borrowed a full sized cross (from the Baptist Church) and propped it in the sanctuary doorway, so that we entered under the shadow of the cross. We followed the last words of Christ and pondered their meaning.

I had to smile at the end of the service, though. Our congregation’s nature is not responsive to the bulletin note to “leave in silence.” We left the sanctuary in silence, but the fellowship hall buzzed with conversation. I glanced over at Jeff, and he just shrugged, chuckled, and joined in the chatter. People do feel the sober message of the service, but you can’t fool us–we know Sunday is coming!

On Saturday, the majority of the congregation gathered to give the church a good cleaning for Easter. Windows were washed, new gravel spread in the parking lot, and brass candleholders denuded of their layers of wax for the coming service. This year, we’re having a bumper crop of lilacs around town, and vases of them competed with the lilies in fragrance. You could feel the excitement building as everyone worked together in preparation.

On Sunday morning, the sanctuary looked and smelled like Easter. Jeff’s message was full of laughter and joy. A choir of 11 or 12 people led the amazing music of the day.  And the words of the lessons told us over and over: this is why we are here–this is what we believe to be true–we are safe and forgiven because of what happened at Easter.

A few years ago, God gathered 7-10 folks for worship at Peace. This Sunday, He brought 61 of us, and it felt like another miracle of the day. Many churches would close their doors if all they had was 61 folks, but for us, it was manna and blessing and great abundance.

Afterwards we ate together in the fellowship hall, in the sanctuary, out under the roofed gazebo in the yard. More talking–with guests camping in the area, with co-workers who responded to our invitations to come, with regular members, with folks from Bread of Life mission. A friend of mine who came for the first time with her daughter said, “There was peace at this service–I could feel it.” The sense of being part of a believing community strengthened the message of the day.

I close the story of this small town Easter with this photo of the front page of Friday’s newspaper. We laugh sometimes and shake our heads at things that happen in Holbrook that wouldn’t happen in a place more concerned about political correctness, but this year it felt like a perfect part of Easter. He is Risen, friends!

Holbrook's paper is very supportive of religious events, obviously.

Holbrook’s paper is very supportive of religious events, obviously.

Sometimes You Just Can’t Win at Camping

Jeff and I have adopted camping as our favorite hobby to do together–it is inexpensive, plus Arizona and our sister states nearby have wonderful places to visit. Okay, so it’s only February, but according to the weather forecast the temperature in the south of the state would be in the 80’s during the day and the 50’s at night. We set out with optimism for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It’s a fairly long drive–perhaps six hours. But we had a book on tape and all seemed well.

Organ Pipe is an international biosphere reserve because of its unique desert conditions. It actually receives a reasonable amount of rain, so it is a fairly green desert habitat. The plants are much closer together than is usual for a desert. The mountains in the background provide a lovely contrast.

And that’s pretty much where the good luck stopped. The temperatures were in the sixties daytime and at

The shy cactus hiding behind the bushes in the foreground is an Organ Pipe Cactus

The shy cactus hiding behind the bushes in the foreground is an Organ Pipe Cactus

night–well, the desert can be mighty cold at night, as we can now verify via personal experience. I brought some nice meals to make at the site, but we managed to forget our camp stove. I decided to take some pictures and found I’d left my memory card in the computer at home and had only the miniscule internal memory. Jeff found a map of a potentially lovely 16 mile drive, which turned out to be 36 miles of the nicest scenery and worst roads in Arizona instead. And the next morning, we had a flat tire, compliments of the rough road.

We finally gave up a day early and came home, stopping in Flagstaff on the way home to see “McFarland, USA,” which was a wonderful triumph-of-the-human-spirit type movie.

And we needed to be reminded that the human spirit can triumph about that time! Anyway, here are a few photos we managed to keep on the camera.


Beautiful Desert Scene

Beautiful Desert Scene

Saguaro Army

Saguaro Army







Saguaro Cacti against a mountain backdrop

Saguaro Cacti against a mountain backdrop


Valentine’s Party at our House. You can tell that folks want to eat, not have their photos taken! We had a very nice time visiting and playing a few games.

New Happenings in Holbrook


We’ve been here long enough now to see community events repeat themselves, which is fun for us.

  • On Friday night, we participated in Jeff’s big Kiwanis event of the year, Quiz Night. He brought the idea from Guam, and it went really well last year. I notice people this year were referring to it as the “annual” quiz night, even though it only happened once before. People seem to like having a contest that isn’t athletic in nature, just for the change. We rounded up 26 or 27 teams of six people each this year, including two teams from our church. My team tied for second place but unfortunately didn’t get the right answer to our run-off question, so we were officially listed as Third Place. Anyway, we had a fascinating night trying to figure out the answers to our Arizona-themed questions and we donated the prize of $25 per person to Peace Lutheran Church! A picture of us is above.
  • I’m having  bit of trouble with my new blog, which focuses on gardening in this impossibly dry area where we live. I hear from people that they sign up to follow it, but never receive their notices of it being published. It’s a BlogSpot blog, so if you know anything about them, feel free to write and tell me how to do it better! (
  • We’ve had baptisms lately–two young adults in the last two weeks. John Perez, who is a guest of Bread of Life Mission down the street from our church, requested baptism after our new members’ classes. He is about 23 and has been making his way alone in the world since he was in his early teens. His spiritual growth has been very rapid since coming here. Emily Eavenson was baptized on Sunday, which also happened to be her 16th birthday. She took the decision very seriously and spent a good bit of time with Jeff, asking questions and discussing their answers. But she was ready on Sunday and embraced her new life in Christ with great enthusiasm. It’s fun to see this sort of spiritual development among our younger people.


  • I got some good news this past Saturday. There’s a new store going in here in Holbrook called the “Tractor Supply Store,” which sells all sorts of things for farm and ranch life. I’ve spent about two weeks helping folks fill out on-line applications for this new business. On Saturday, I spoke with the manager, who told me he’d hired three of my candidates! I get very wrapped up in the lives of people who come into my lab for assistance, so I was just plain delighted to hear of these new jobs for ‘my’ folks.
  • One of the women from my lab, who comes in to do schoolwork for an on-line course she is taking, has been urging me to come and see a basketball game here in town. Her son plays and is quite skillful. So, on Friday night, Jeff and I went to see our first basketball game in something like 15 years! The last time I went to games regularly was back in high school, and there are numerous rule changes and other differences from that long-ago time. What a good time it was to see the wonderfully athletic and energetic striving of the home team! And we won, which made it an especially exciting experience. The team out here looks different from the Midwestern teams we grew up cheering for–more Native American and Hispanic kids playing, more Native American and Hispanic parents in the bleachers. But there is the same desire to stand up and shout for your team. We’ll probably go again–it was fun.
  • Jeff’s out of town at the moment, appearing as a witness in a court hearing–something he doesn’t enjoy doing at all. He’ll be back tomorrow and undoubtedly will be happy to get home!
  • I went out to trim some raspberry bushes in the side yard, and sure enough, there are little buds breaking out where the lateral branches will eventually be. I wish I could tell the plants to wait a while, but they’re apparently tired of winter, too.
  • We’ve been feeding birds this winter, hanging the feeder on the same hook as the hummingbird feeder of the summer months. It happens to be right outside our dining room window, and what a show those birds do put on!

Whatever is occupying your winter, I hope you are enjoying it! Blessings from Holbrook!


New Every Morning


You know the quotation from Lamentations (it may be the only one you know from Lamentations, if you’re like me!) about God’s compassions being new every morning? The verses conclude “great is thy faithfulness.” Here’s a little story about the truth of those verses.

The last half of 2013, while personally happy for Jeff and me, made us a little nervous. We’d hoped for more growth at church, more people in the pews on Sunday mornings, more involvement in Bible Study, more hearts open to learning. We love each one of our wonderful members, whose faithfulness has been steadfast in the extreme, I need to point out. Their sacrifice for their church has been a model. But I think some of them were also wondering if this was going to work! A former student of Jeff’s from NAU said to him a while ago “What are you doing here in a place like this?” which didn’t build his confidence, though it was meant lovingly. Satan was obviously working overtime to discourage us.

Peace Lutheran has grown, of course–just very slowly. I’m not bragging to say that this has never happened before in Jeff’s ministry, just stating a fact: it simply hasn’t. We know many of the reasons why churches here are slow to grow–the size and stability of the town, with little movement in and out taking place, the preponderance of the LDS membership locally, and so on. But growth’s been so slow as to be worrisome at times. We’ve had to abandon our modest vision for church growth in favor of trusting that God had the ultimate and best vision. Wouldn’t you think that would be an automatic mindset, given the years we’ve worked in the Kingdom? But it wasn’t. We needed to learn–really learn, not just in theory–a lesson in trust ourselves.

And recently, several things have happened in our own hearts. We’ve come to trust more deeply than ever before that high growth or not, our congregation will be fine, and we will be fine in it. As we’ve trusted more completely and left Peace’s growth or lack of it in God’s mighty hands, we noticed something curious happening. The numbers began to go up just a little. Some more folks began to attend from the community. Because Jeff conducts Saturday night chapel there, the numbers of folks from Bread of Life Mission has also risen, just a little. I can’t help but see the connection with God’s lessons in trust.

We realized also what a blessing it is to have small numbers, but the chance to go deep with members who wish to grow. My hyperactive (in a good way) husband plenty to do here between church, Kiwanis, and the Chamber of Commerce. I have a job I love at the library and a garden that could feed three times as many people as it feeds now. We love living in Holbrook, which may not be the most beautiful town in Northern Arizona, but which is certainly one of the friendliest. Optimism replaced concern in our hearts. Numbers began regularly swelling into the 30’s and sometimes even 40’s instead of the 20’s (Could 30+ people be called a “swell? Or at least a faithful insect bite?)

Last Sunday, we took in new members, whose pictures are above (I hope none of you is in the Witness Protection Program!). Just a few new members, not dozens. But they’re sincere, earnest Christians, whose faith will strengthen Peace Lutheran and build up the family of faith here. For the next two weeks, we have an adult baptism each Sunday. And those will also be sincere commitments, a fact which delights us. We’re hopeful again, but we’re letting God write the script, not trying to take the pen from His hands to write our own. We needed to learn this lesson, and I’m grateful that he took the time to teach us. Indeed, His compassions are new every morning!