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Showing posts from July, 2007

Artistic Expression and Faith

A few days ago, I came across a post called Of Books and Faith written by Beck at Frog and Toad are Still Friends ( The best blog name EVER to my mind.) She writes about how the Christian market is saturated with mediocre books. How few fiction authors there are who really grapple with the messiness of humanity from a Christian perspective. I agree with her whole-heartedly. The Christian life does not come with the lack of conflict and the happily-ever-after resolutions that I find in many books of this genre.

It's funny that I came across that post because I had been thinking similar thoughts about another form of Christian expression. Art. Christian art is often either poorly rendered or is just too pretty. It lacks creativity. It doesn't engage the mind. Remember when I made that long trek to Hobby Lobby for stencil supplies? That was where this idea started to form.

I spent a few minutes flipping through posters. Flip. Glowing Jesus in a meadow. Flip. Glowing Jesus surrounde…

Putting the House To Rights (Recipes Included)

The smell of baking scones fills the kitchen. Lauren just mixed up a batch and popped them in the oven. John is emptying the dishwasher. Faith and Claire are tag teaming with the vacuum. All are working cheerfully. A bag of wintergreen Lifesavers stashed in the cupboard goes a long way toward sweetening their work ethic. They have graduated from helpless to helpful. The helpless days felt long indeed but I am surprised at the speed with which the helpful days have arrived.

While they bake and wash and vacuum, I put shoes on the shoe shelf, fold laundry and tuck it away. A quick peek out the back door reveals toys, tools, more shoes and a dog leash. I am tired of cleaning so I scoop everything up and dump it in the Mothership (our catchall basket) in the corner of the living room. All of this takes less than an hour. If I am faithful to keep on top of shopping and sorting, cleaning and cooking, it's easy instead of overwhelming. I enjoy the rhythm of daily tasks.

Now the children are…

Encourage One Another

I remember my first brush with gossip . My sixth birthday. It's the first birthday that I can recall... on account of the gossip.

There we were, six or seven little girls, packed into into the playhouse that my grandfather had made. One guest had not yet arrived. We should have been playing tea party or ice cream parlor. But we were not and I didn't understand why. Instead we were huddled in a tight group tied together by whispers.

"She smells. Did you notice that she always wears the same clothes? She only goes to St. Michael's Elementary because she has a scholarship."

I didn't know any of those things. I didn't even guess at them. I didn't care. All I knew was that they were talking about a little girl who was not there to defend herself. I felt like I had been burned by the cruelness of their words. I could not stay amongst the flaming tongues and went to seek the comfort of my mother's hug and to cry at the inexplicable meaness in my playhouse. …

What are You Wearing?

This is Faith... ...in her self-imposed uniform. A dark blue shirt and a pair of blue jean capris. She has to suck in her tummy to snap the capris but, "They're perfect, Mama! I love them."
If the uniform is clean, it's on her body. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of mama who does laundry daily, so, yes, she can wear it every day. Unless she sleeps in it. I love the nights she goes to bed in this getup because I get to see her in something different in the morning. Maybe even something purple. She looks beautiful in purple. She is one of my most creative children. Perhaps this is because she doesn't waste an ounce of mental energy deciding what to wear.
I have two more children who dress predictably. We read a science book a few years ago that showed how dark colors absorb heat and light colors reflect it. Hot-blooded Lauren took this to heart. She dresses in khaki shorts and a white t-shirt.

"How 'bout if you wear your black shirt with those shorts? Blac…

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

What's in your freezer?

The Bookend Book

Kathy of Sumballo has given us a tough assignment this week. We are to study the design of a Bible passage. Please do take a minute and visit her blog to view this lesson.She can pack more into a few paragraphs than I could in a whole book. It probably wouldn't be so tough if I would just pick a short passage and follow directions. (Some of you know me well enough not to expect that.) I had started writing a post of the structure of the gospel of John so that's what I'll post for this assignment.

We came to the last chapter in Luke last week. I was sad to say goodbye. I don't like coming to the end of a book in the Bible because then I need to make a decision about where to go next. We took a vote at the kitchen table. Acts or John? Acts seemed to be the more logical choice for its author and timeline continuity but we chose John. We wanted to see Jesus in a different light. Luke focuses on the humanity of Jesus and John on His divinity.
The gospel of John scares me. Sta…

Busy, Busy, Busy

Here. Take a look at my Daytimer. Flip back to 2003-2004. See the activities listed? We were new in town so there's not much to show you... K-1 choir director with a short hiatus to birth a baby...our fifth. Oh, that's right...I almost forgot the Purpose Driven Life Bible study. And then there was VBS in July. Yeah, the baby was under the weather but we did just fine.

Now look. Here are the pages for 2004-2005. A busy year...Choir director, adult and children's Sunday school teachers, substitute children's church leader, marriage discipleship leaders and yes, VBS again. A fun year. We made a bunch of friends as we served alongside them. No. I don't really remember fitting in much prayer time and Bible study that year.

Let's hurry on to 2005-2006. I'll talk fast. There's much ground to cover and I don't want to waste your time... ChoirDirectorSundaySchoolTeachersDeacon. Squeeze in a job loss and a search for new employment. ChurchCampCounselor. "B…

Errands

We had two errands to run this afternoon. 1. Drive to The Land Flowing with Milk and Honey to drop Lauren and John off at art class and 2. Continue north to The Outer Reaches of the Earth to pick up stencil creme and repositionable stencil adhesive.

I recently finished painting Faith and Claire's room a bright, cheery Extra White. I decided to paint the words A friend loves at all times over their window in blue and green to add a touch of color. Smallville does not carry stencil creme as it is not necessary for survival, nor does the Land Flowing with Milk and Honey because it is neither milk nor honey. We keep our UPS man hopping but ordering paint via the internet will not bring the hoped-for green to my mailbox. I know. I've tried. I just unpacked a carton of Leprechaun Green but it had olive tones to it rather than the true green I was after. Hence the need to travel to The Outer Reaches of the Earth where the really good stores are.

After delivering the oldest two to their…

Monkey Monday

This is Fuzzy. He is a good little monkey. Except when you squeeze his belly. Then he screams like a girl. On Monday morning, when Mama was in a fog, the children entertained themselves by styling monkey makeovers.





Samurai Fuzzy

Yeti Fuzzy

Mohawk Fuzzy

Mowhawk Side View
Electrified Fuzzy The Crew
What do your kids do when you can't keep it all together?

Peter and Jonah

I am so excited about a weekly feature on Kathy's blog, Sumballo. She is writing a post or two every week that provide tools for in-depth Bible study. This week, she teaches about pericope. It is a Greek word (pa-RIH-kōp-ee) that means “cutting around.” (I will be teaching the kids this word at the breakfast table this morning.) Interested? Stop by her site for more information.

We've taken to callling them the Barrel of Monkeys books, Luke and Acts that is. You see, you cannot look at an event written in either of these books without looking at what comes before and aft. They all hook together like one long chain. To help my little ones understand this concept, I put it in kid terms, "Kind of like the way the monkeys hook together in the Barrel of Monkeys game."

Their eyes lit up. They know about these monkeys. "Ooohhh!"

And now each meal begins with the request, "Read the Monkey Book, Mama."

I made some interesting discoveries this week in the seco…

Leadership

There was music as I drifted between sleep and wake, distant notes. The room was dark and the covers offered the perfect weight. I snuggled down deeper into them and Stuart scooted across the great divide of the king-sized bed to pull me close. Sleep claimed us until the notes interrupted again.

Stuart stirred. "Hon, it's time. It's time to get up and get ready for church. Hon?"

"Uh-uh. I don't want to get up."

"Do you want to sleep in and go to Sunday School?"

"Uh-huh."

Stuart hit the snooze button and we slept, warm and cozy, for another little while.

The moment of reckoning could not be delayed forever and I wrestled my way from under the covers in search of the shower and a cup of coffee.

A fog of sleepiness still laid claim to my brain in Sunday school.

"We didn't see ya'll in the first service."

"I know. " Stuart replied. " We had a long day yesterday so we slept in. We'll be at the second service.&q…

Frugality

I've been tagged by Meg at No Shadow of Turning to share five things that I like about Jesus. (It's actually called 5 Things I Dig About Jesus but I don't use the word dig unless I'm in the garden so in not using the word dig I have now written it thrice.)

This meme is all over Blogville these days and this is what I have noticed. When I read through these lists, one thing on each list grabs my attention. One. I think this is how we are. We read many words and savor a few. So, because I am not a rule follower (It's so much more interesting to think outside the lines) consider yourself tagged if you have not been tagged already and I will not write about five things that I like about Jesus. I will write about one. And maybe this one thing will go with you as you go about your day. It goes like this...

"Do you think...?" The words came out all in a rush after the words about abuse and alcohol and a lifetime of hardship, a ten year old lifetime. "Do you t…

The Curse of the Threes

The number of fire ant bites on my right hand?
The number of daylilies I had dug up prior to digging into the one where the fire ants had hidden their nest?
The number of fleas we've taken off the dog this afternoon?
The number of flea baths this dog has had in the last two weeks?
The number of times Charlie has wet the floor today?
The number of hours until Stuart finds out that I backed the Suburban into a large pole?
The number of days that Stuart has been in Canada?
The number of minutes we have talked on the phone?
The number of rags used to clean up a container of spilled soup?
The number of children who claimed they knew nothing about the soup?
The number of times Grandkid Three was in timeout?
The number of hours the Grandkids Three were here today?

Yes. The answer to all of these is THREE. (Except for the soup. Five kids claimed no knowledge of the spilled soup.)


(See the comments below for Stephanie's list of threes. Her list is much more significant than mine.)

A Letter to the Head Honchos

Dear Head Honchos of Food Prices and Packaging,

Because I purchase two carts of groceries a week, and send my husband after the things we forget or can't stuff in the carts, I consider myself an expert on this topic of food. I have noticed a trend, a correlation if you will. Prices go up, packages get smaller. And also, I have ingredient issues.

When I was a kid, my mom used coupons and filled two carts with groceries every week and the store owed her money. The packages were bigger. I think one box of Kraft Dinner fed our family of eleven. Now if we want to eat Kraft Spirals (and we do want to because they're tasty) it takes four boxes to feed seven of us, and if I use coupons, somehow, I end up paying more. I concede. You marketing gurus are way smarter than me.

About milk. Do you work with OPEC to set the price for a gallon of milk or does the price just come to ya'll when you're filling your gas tanks?

Barilla Plus Pasta. This hit the shelves a little more than a year …

Live Now

She came gently, in no time at all, because she knew what she was doing. She always does. And as she was changing worlds, from water to air, she let out a scream as if to say, "What on earth took you so long, lady?"

We leaned back, all of us did, to put some distance between us and the shriek. "Goodness, that child has a set of lungs on her! I don't know that I've heard such a noise from a newborn."

She still bellows, my Claire, and she's always in a hurry. Yesterday she said, "Has it been two hours yet?"

"Why?" "What are you waiting for?"

"In two hours, it's media time."

And five minutes later she said, "Hey Mom! How many more minutes?"

"How many more minutes until when?"

"Mom! I really want to watch my movie!"

"Why don't you ask me how many more minutes 'til Now. If you ask me how many more minutes 'til Now you won't have to wait at all. Now is... now. If you look f…

The Grandkids Three: Take Two

The Grandkids Threeare back. Ringing the door bell. Swimming in the pool. Looking for snacks.

My heart has been under construction. Thoughts of inconvenience and disruption are being dismantled to make room for love. Real love.

I've been thinking about those days when I was six, and seven, and ten. My mind scans through the list of grownups that I knew and searches for those who knew best how to love an awkward, shy child.

Susie comes to mind. She was my first and best babysitter. She led my siblings and I on expeditions into the woods. We walked on paths we had not discovered before and swung from vines hanging from the trees. She taught us how a gentle touch would make a Johnny Jump Up spring open. She bent my thumbs around an acorn top and taught me to blow across it just so. Six or seven of us piled into her blue Volkswagon beetle. She drove us around the back country roads and we laughed and laughed. I remember that blue Bug and the blue sky and the sunshine of that day. She gav…

Time Travel

The melody of the dulcimers and banjo called to us and drew us up onto the front porch. We watched the performers for a few minutes...hesitant to join in.

"Does anyone want to give it a try?" A man in early American garb held out one of the dulcimers.

John was the only daring one of the five. He took the instrument and laid it awkwardly across his lap. He fumbled to move his fingers to the correct places on the numbered dulcimer.

"Slide the dulcimer down toward your knees. Hold the pick tightly but run it lightly across the strings."

John rearranged his fingers around the pick and adjusted the instrument. After a few times through the numbered song, he had it...even the rhythm. The man with the banjo taught him to play a D chord. John played the chord. The banjo and a second dulcimer played In the Sweet By and By.

The girls watched for a few more minutes and before we knew it Lauren was dressed in a skirt, a long shirt, and a colonial cap. Stuart moved his colonial gir…

Nathan

I am fascinated by the geneologies in the Bible. Perhaps this stems from the fact that I can only trace my roots to my great grandparents. They fled famine in Ireland and military conscription in Hungary. I do not know the origins of my maiden name. It seems to be a truncated version of a longer name. Was it English or Scottish?

Jesus' geneology winds its way through the Old Testament and is laid out for us in Matthew and Luke's gospels.

Matthew starts with Abraham and ends with Joseph. This is the geneology that names Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba by name. This is the geneology that lists Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah. The Jews remembered God's promise to David and looked for the Messiah to come from this line of kings. This was the geneology that gave Jesus his pedigree. His credentials. His name.

In the seventh chapter of 2nd Samuel, Nathan delivered God's promise to David, "...I will raise up you offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and …

Potholes

We were driving home on the back roads between The Land Flowing With Milk and Honey (where the Wal-Mart is) and Smallville. The Suburban dipped and swayed through the tight curves and potholes. Lots of potholes. Asphalt sprayed the car’s undercarriage. “Tink. Tink. Tink.”

The children were oblivious to the dipping and swaying but the noise caught their attention. They looked out the windows. “Hey Mama, didn’t they just fill those potholes two weeks ago? Why did they have to fill them again?”

Good question, kids. Instead of hiring the Fix It and Forget It Construction Company, our county employs Larry, Darryl and Darryl to maintain our roads. Larry drives the pickup. Darryl shovels a bit of asphalt off the back and the other Darryl tamps it down into the hole. Week after week they fill the same holes. Week after week our wheels grind away their efforts.

Potholes. We all have them. Places in our lives that just can’t seem to stay filled up. Holes that consume great quantities of love or mo…