Any Ideas?

2 09 2009


I came across this photo tonight.  Anna is in the front.  Samuel is in the red swim suit in the rear.  Anyone have idea what they are doing?  (No fair if you have lived for anytime in Indonesia!)


Anna with Her Eyes Wide

24 08 2009


Our family took a break from Switchfoot for a while in our car.  I am not sure what brought that on.  But recently we have started again.  Maybe there is just something driving around in a maroon Volvo station wagon that brings out the rocker in you.

When we listen to them in the car we use an iPod plugged into a device that sends the music to the car radio.  (Disclaimer: The iPod is the only Apple device used in our family.)  We have set the iPod to play our entire collection of 68 Switchfoot songs in random order and to keep repeating them.  I remember on our trips to and from Semarang from our home in Salatiga, one of the kids, I think it was Samuel, made the observation that the Switchfoot songs that came up on our ipod all seemed to come in groups.  That is, there would be a whole section of fast and loud songs, and then a whole batch of sad songs, etc.  Samuel noticed that it was interesting that the songs that came on the radio seemed to match whatever mood he happened to be in.


I remember one particular trip to Semarang the Sunday morning that we found out that our friend, Cyd Mizell, who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan, had probably been murdered.  Every song on the radio seemed to have some bearing on Cyd’s life and death.  The song that seemed most poignant to me was Switchfoot’s song “Burn Out Bright.”  The recurring line in the chorus was, “Before I die I want to burn out bright.”  I was certain that Cyd had burned out bright.

This afternoon Timberley and I drove to Samuel’s school to watch his soccer game.  On the way, we listened again to Switchfoot.  Right in a row we listened to “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine,” “Twenty-four,” and “The Blues.”  The song “Twenty-four” was one of the first songs we listened to the day after Anna died.  It was on our drive from Salatiga to Semarang where we were headed for the second memorial service to be held at the seminary where I taught.  I chose that song first because I wanted to hear the line, “Life was not what I thought it was twenty-four hours ago.  Still I’m singing, ‘Spirit take me up in arms with you.'”  I wanted to recognize the sadness and the faith at the same time.

I don’t know what the life story is of Jon Foreman, the singer and songwriter for the group, but he understands sadness and faith.  After Anna died I found a song that I ended up using in her memorial service in California.  It was from the second Narnia movie soundtrack, Prince Caspian.  Anna had not seen the movie, which she would not have liked, and she never heard this song, which she would have loved.  The song is called “This is Home.”  Jon Foreman explained in an interview that he was trying to write a song that would capture the spirit of the Narnia Chronicles, but there is one line in the song that he felt summed up C. S. Lewis’s writings:  “Created for a place I’ve never known.”  That was the line which grabbed me the first time I heard the song.  Later, after I heard the song 20 or 30 times that first day, another line took hold of me.  It was when I imagined the song being sung about Anna as she entered the presence of the Lord, or to keep with the Lewis theme, when she entered the Land of Aslan.  The line goes, “I’ve got my heart set on what happens next.  I’ve got my eyes wide.  It’s not over yet.”  Three photographs I have of Anna came to mind when I heard the line, “I’ve got my eyes wide.”  They are the ones I have put in this post.  I imagined the playfulness and the sheer happiness of Anna as she stepped into the presence of her Lord.california-2007-071 I imagine this is what Jesus saw as she stepped forward, or rather, as she ran toward him.

Anna Loved Even the Ugly

22 08 2009


Those who knew Anna or have heard her stories know that Anna loved animals.  She loved creatures of all kinds.  We have many photos of Anna with bugs, lizards,etc. (even an infamous and rarely shown photo of Anna with a number of large snails on her face that we were preparing for the Guiness Book of World Records, but that is another story).  Indonesians were always surprised at the boldness of both Samuel and Anna when it came to handling these creatures.  They quickly learned which ones to stay away from and which ones are harmless.  The caterpillars in Indonesia have nasty spikes along the backside that immediately stick in your skin if you touch them.  The cicaks (chee-chalk), the small household lizards that run all over your walls and ceilings, especially at night, are harmless and even helpful because they eat the mosquitoes and other bugs.  In Semarang, our backyard was full of frogs at night.  We think they may have come from a string of frog eggs that Timberley and the kids took out of a large pool of water at the train museum in Ambarawa and then brought home with them to watch hatch, but that is another story.  Walking in our backyard at night was like walking into a pot of corn being popped.  With every step taken it seemed as if four or five frogs would leap into the air to evade your foot.  The kids loved going out at night to catch or corral the frogs into places.  These were the animals that probably caused the most consternation with our helpers.  They were convinced that the frogs had poisonous skins and that the kids should not be handling them.  It surprised them a bit when our kids’ hands did not fall off or turn purple.  If nothing else, our kids gave the Indonesians something to laugh and talk about.

I mention these things because all kids, I think, to a certain extent are attracted to animals that are different, weird, or exciting.  I included a picture above of Anna with one of our dogs, Spotty.  Spotty was nasty.  He was gross.  If he wasn’t so pitiful and needing of compassion, there would have been no positive emotion extended from me to him.  I did not like him.  Timberley did not like him.  We endured him.  Spotty had to be experienced.  The only way I can try to explain what it was like to live with Spotty is to say that whenever he came around, he had a penchant for licking your toes.  It was never your hand or anything else.  Just your toes.  There was something wrong with that.  There were three reasons I kept Spotty.  First, we also owned his mother, Molly.  I liked Molly.  She had her problems, too, but I don’t think I ever had a dog as faithful as Molly.  Second, I loved my kids and it would have torn them and our household apart to even mention getting rid of Spotty.  Third, I don’t think anyone would have taken him, even as food.

When we came back to Indonesia in 2007 after our stateside assignment in the fall of 2006, we had a bit of a shock.  Both of our dogs’ hair was dirty and matted.  For Molly, this was not much a problem because she had pretty short hair.  Spotty, on the other hand, had very long and thick hair.  When we came back and looked at him even I felt a little sorry for him.  His hair was matted into what felt like a thick wool blanket glued to his skin.  We tried to bathe him, but the water and soap would not penetrate this outer armor.  I decided we needed to cut it all off.  During the bath and the shearing, however, we discovered something disturbing.  Both Molly and Spotty were covered in ticks.  We saw them first on Molly because we could see through her fur more easily.  With Spotty we did not see what was happening until we started cutting away these large patches of fur.  We discovered hundreds of ticks on him.  They were nesting underneath the canopy of his fur and breeding new ticks.  We discovered that the mother ticks who are laying eggs attach themselves to the animal and then swell up several times their normal size to provide for all of the eggs.  He easily had 50 or more of these large female ticks on him.  We cut away all of the fur from him, shaved him down to the skin, and began the slow process of removing all of these ticks.  It was dirty work.  It was gross.  And in the end we had two very happy and very ugly-looking dogs.  And we had two very happy children.

Anna loved the bizarre.  Anna loved the unique things of the world.  But Anna also loved the ugly.  Although a story about a pitiful, tick-infested dog may not be the best example of this, I believe that the love of Christ moved Anna to look beyond outward appearances and to love and have compassion for all.

Olga and Sven Fix the Tank

12 08 2009


I told you earlier about our Swedish Tank (93 Volvo 240 Classic).  The other night we had a small setback.  We got into the car and a warning light came on with which I was unfamiliar.  I asked Timberley to look in the owner’s manual and see what it meant.  She reported that one headlight was not working.  I looked ahead of us, flashed the high beams a few times, and, lo and behold, she was right.  Our right headlight was not working.

We decided to call a local mechanic we had heard about who specializes in Volvos to fix the light and look at  a few other things we wanted to have checked.  The next morning, however, while I was at work, I received a text message from my bright son telling me that we don’t have to get the light fixed anymore.  I asked him in return, “Why not?”  He immediately replied, “We fixed it already.”

Of course, I figured something odd had happened.  Perhaps the light had come on by itself.  Perhaps Timberley and Samuel opened the hood and there was a loose wire that needed jiggling.  I filed that thought away and didn’t think about it the rest of the day.

Then when I got home I remembered to ask her about it.  “So what happened to the car?  How did the light come back on?”

“I already told you.  We fixed it.”

“But I mean, really, what happened?”  I could tell that Timberley was enjoying this a little too much.  She had a funny smile on her face, and I was not sure what was so funny.

“I figured that I could fix it, so I got out the shop manual for the car.  Sam and I went out, took out the head light from the car, and pulled out the bulb.  We went to the auto parts store and bought a new bulb.  We brought it home and Samuel put it all back together and reassembled the headlight in the car.”  She said it all as if she had said that Samuel took out the trash and replaced the garbage bag when he was done.

I have been really proud of my wife and son before.  But not often have I been this proud.  Good job.

We are in North Carolina!

2 08 2009

Timberley, Samuel, and I said goodbye to our friends in Louisville and set off for the faraway land of North Carolina.  But we thought we should stop off in St. Joseph, MI along the way for some swimming in Lake Michigan.  While we were there my dad flew out from CA to make the trip to NC.  We picked him up at the airport in Kalamazoo.

Louisville-Raleigh 026Louisville-Raleigh 039

We returned to Louisville from St. Joseph long enough for Samuel to get his warts frozen and injected at the doctor, then we set off for NC.  We went through West Virginia on the way and found the best Italian restaurant in Beckley.  I wish we had found it years ago for all of our many trips from Louisville to Richmond.  We could have avoided Sbarro pizza at the Tamarack travel stop and just gone down the street for some real Italian food at Pasquale’s.  I had linguini carbonara, and it was fixed the authentic way, which I am sure is illegal in some states since it involves raw or slightly cooked eggs.  But it apparently is still legal in West Virginia, or Pasquale has some deal going with the local health department officials.  Anyway, we had a great meal, spent the night at Beckley and then set off for Raleigh.  We entered NC through Mayberry (Mt. Airy) and passed Mt. Pilot (Pilot Mountain) on our way to Raleigh.  My dad took our picture at the border.

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The Swedish Tank

11 07 2009


Timberley has her dream car.

We have a new 1993 Volvo 240 Classic.  For those of you who care, 1993 was the last year Volvo made the 240 model.  To finish production they made 1600 cars specially designated as Classic.  They are individually numbered on the dashboard.

We bought this car from a local used Volvo dealer, Mike Butenko.  In the course of working out buying the car we found out that he and his wife are members of a local Baptist church and that our family had attended a missions banquet at their church in 2006.  They remembered us from that night.

The car has 132,000 miles on it.  We told Mike that our goal is to get it to 500,000.  Mike said, “I think you are seriously underestimating this car.”

Later on I talked to Samuel about it.  We figured out that if we drove 20,000 miles a year, he would be 31 years old when we get to 500K.

For another view, here is Timberley next to her baby.


One Year Gone By

8 05 2009

september2006-186We are remembering today the first year since Anna’s death.

Today has been busy with the preparations for my mother’s funeral on Saturday so we have not really spent time together remembering Anna.  Instead we have checked in with one another from time to time, mentioning Anna or asking about certain memories.  The outward focus has rightly been on my mother and helping my father.  But in the background of everything is our memory of Anna.  The experience of losing Anna certainly clouds this new experience of losing my mother.  I don’t think it fair to say it has desensitized us, but I do believe that Timberley and I have approached her death with a realism that we would not have had before.  I am certain that in my own case my reflections on death and the resurrection have prepared me for answering certain questions about my mother’s sickness and death.  Of course, the whole experience of losing one’s parent is a wholly different experience than losing one’s child.  This week has not been as gut-wrenching as the week we had one year ago tonight.  Timberley reminded me of that while we were eating dinner this evening.  We were talking and joking about things.  Sometimes we spoke of Mom, sometimes we spoke of other things.  But everything, even the serious things, had a lightness about it.  Timberley leaned over to me and said, “Todd, do you remember the night after Anna died, how you felt like your heart had been ripped out, and everyone else was just walking around and talking about mundane things?  Look over at your dad.  I am sure he is feeling the same way now.”  I looked at my dad.  As we were all laughing about other things, my dad just sat and ate and looked at his food.  His other half is gone.  The one with whom he had become “one flesh” is gone, and so he is no longer one flesh, but what, just half a flesh?  Which half?  Left? Right?  Perhaps he is just the outside with nothing inside.  He is hollow and aching.  Or perhaps he is just the inside with no outside, raw and exposed to every passing intrusion.

the-kids-june-2005-007I received a letter–email actually, but letter sounds more human, less mechanical–from a friend who knew Anna perhaps better than anyone outside our family.  Their daughter was one of Anna’s best friends in Indonesia.  She was writing to tell us how they were remembering Anna’s passing on this one year anniversary.  They read Anna’s book aloud as a family.  They listened to Switchfoot.  They brought out things that Anna had given as gifts.  They have planted a memorial garden for Anna and they spent time in that garden.  I am really glad that on this day in which we are busy with other things, that other families are able to celebrate and remember the day in this way.

If you have young children, consider printing out Anna’s book and reading it together with your children.  Read some of the stories about her and what others have written about her.  Think about the example that Anna set as she followed Christ and use her as an example for your children to follow, or for yourselves to follow.

In preparing for this day we thought about putting something in the newspaper as a remembrance of Anna.  This was what I wrote.  I asked Timberley if was too “high-school-yearbookish” but as I told Timberley I was trying for something that had the character of Anna, something light and playful but serious at the same time.

Anna Christine Borger (March 29, 1999-May 7, 2008)
We wish to remember Anna Christine Borger on the first year after her death.
She gave freely.
She loved deeply.
She played happily.
She sang joyfully.
Anna, do you still have your eyes wide?
It’s not over yet!  Jesus is coming soon!
Anna resurget. Anna will rise again.