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Showing posts from August, 2007

Finding Rest: Part Two (Scroll down three posts to read this story from the beginning)

Why share such a personal story? I share it because I have talked to enough women to know that underneath the makeup and the matching outfits and the small talk that make up our exteriors, we are a broken people. To pretend otherwise creates isolation. Thoughtful honesty creates closer relationships and greater understanding. When we share the way God works in the difficult things of life it encourages first oneself and then others.

For some of us, the pieces have been patched and restored and there is wholeness where there was none before. But some of us are walking wounded, barely hanging on and wondering if there is hope. We have a choice. We can either be completely shattered by bitterness, depression and anger or we can lay the fragments before the One who can take the sharp slivers and jagged pieces and create a beautiful, productive life. Here is the conclusion to John's story.

When John was ten, he was sullen and moody and difficult and so was I. But I was no longer proud. I…

Finding Rest: Part One

This is my one hundredth post. Blog tradition dictates that I tell you that I like soft chocolate graham crackers and hate mushrooms and was once a flute for Halloween. But enough. I will tell you John's story instead. It is a story of human frailty. Mine. For it is against the backdrop of our frailty that the God's glory shines most brightly.

John adds spice, energy, and texture to our family. His innocence, quick wit, and academic mind are exceptional for a boy of twelve. His personality pours from the pages of our family journal. A few quotes from years gone by reveal his essence. "I fixed the hole in your sheet, Mama. I stapled it." (He put the hole in the sheet in the first place.) Once when instructed to finish his dinner, John responded, "But I ate forty-five minutes of it." (That would be 3/4 to the rest of us.) After I asked him to stop talking: "But I have to talk, I'm a Yak-In-The-Box." A boy with a thousand questions, "Where do…

The K'Nex Rock Star

This is John. A boy who is lives outside the box. Return on Thursday to read his story.

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Wordless Wednesday

Pancakes for Breakfast

ROAR! In my house, baking is announced with the roar of the grain mill. Pancakes for breakfast. Little feet come running. Quick as a wink, two stools are pushed up to the counter and two eager children scramble up on them. They hold their hands over their ears and then take them off again. On. Off. On. Off. What are they doing? I try it. The grain mill says “waa-waa-waa-waa” when I do. We three look at each other and grin. We look ridiculous clapping our hands on our ears. The sound from the mill goes up an octave. The wheat has become flour. I shut off the machine.

Kid sounds fill the vacuum of silence. “I want to measure!”

“I want to crack an egg. Can I crack an egg, Mama?”

I measure out the baking power. Claire and Charlie take turns adding it to the bowl. Charlie tries to shove Claire off her stool because he wants to pour in the salt.

“No, Charlie. Here. You crack this egg.”

I’m brave with the eggs. My sister taught me how to scoop out shell bits with a shell half. It’s easy and so Ch…

The Light of the World

“Mom, Jesus is like a thread.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, no matter what the Pharisees say, they leave loopholes and Jesus weaves his way through the holes and ties them up in knots.” Lauren made this observation as we inched our way through John 7-9.

John wrote in pictures and the more I understand of the Jewish culture the more I feel like I watch rather than read his chapters.


Come with me to Jerusalem. Leafy shelters line the side of the roads. Search for the stars in the night sky. Search but you will not find them as four brilliant candelabra burn at the temple and shower the city with their light. Give way to the torch carrying men as they dance and sing praise. Sing with them. The words you know well…The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.* Smell the acrid smell of sacrificial blood. Follow the procession to the temple as golden pitche…

Breakfast Interrupted

“Hey look. Miss Norma’s outside. Is that her cat or one of the strays?” Miss Norma is certified card-carrying animal lover. Stray cats come from miles around to feast on the delicacies that she leaves out for them in her garage. A smoky gray cat was following behind her little Jack Russell Terrier. We watched them for a minute as they enjoyed the company of one another in the late morning sunshine.

“I’m going to go ask her. Be right back.” Slam. Lauren ducked under the trees and ran over to the fence.

“I want to go say hi to Miss Norma.”

“No, Faith. Eat your toast.”

“I’ll just be a minute.” Slam. Two empty places at the breakfast table. Two children lined the fence. Fragments of cat conversation drifted through the trees and the screens of open windows.

I looked from the window to the table. Claire had sidled out the door. Three children lined the fence. Charlie and I were the only two left at the table. John had yet to make his pajama clad first appearance of the day.

“I’m going to say hi,…

Cicada Season

"Come look, Mama! We decorated every single fence post with cicadas." And so they did.
See? (This is really the cicada casing. When the cicada emerges from the casing it is green and has wings. Here's a great cicada website if you would like to know more. And there's always Wikipedia.)

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More Wordless Wednesday Participants

Be Nice!

"Get down, Charlie. That nice lady doesn’t want you to climb on her mobility scooter.”

We were in the freezer section at Wal-Mart. While I was looking for the spinach, Charlie had noticed the gears and levers on a scooter that rolled by. Hmm. A video game here in the freezer aisle? I must check this out. And so he did. He climbed up on the running board and reach over to work a few levers. The “nice" lady looked like she would like to run him down.

“I’m sorry m’am. My little guy thinks you're driving a rolling arcade.” I smiled my most winning smile. Charlie grinned.

"Hmmph!" The scooter occupant glared and sped ahead to the frozen dinners.

Whoops. I guess we need to add that to our list of shopping behavior:

1. Put your hand on the hood of the car while you are waiting for everyone to get out.
2. Don’t climb the toilet paper display
3. Don’t play on occupied mobility scooters.

(Charlie's list of grocery store ettiquette is so different from the rules that that I c…

Now and Then

How Do You Envision Your Marriage in the Future? This is the question for Marriage Monday. I wanted this to be a long and eloquent post but my answer is so simple that a few sentences will have to do.


I walked into the office and found Stuart on the computer. “What are you doing?”

“I’m looking up the inflation rate.”

“What do you need to do that for? Just walk into any store! The price of everything is going up!” Snap.

“I just want to know!” Snap.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t need to jump all over you. That wasn’t very respectful of me.”

“It’s OK. I forgive you.”

This is what I want us to be doing tomorrow and thirty years from now, what we are doing today. I want us to be quick to see when we stray from the peaceful path. I want us to be quick to recognize when we use words and tone that do not convey respect. I want us to encourage one another and build each other up. I want us to be serving until we draw our last breath.

It starts today. If I want to be respectful and kind and to reach out my hand…

Culture Shock

We pulled up to Wal-Mart today and walked across the parking lot in the blistering heat. High above me, I noticed a chair on a stand enclosed by a railing and supported by thirty-foot metal legs propped against the storefront. Some of you already know what this is. Maybe most of you do but I did not. What is that dunking booth doing in the outside display area? Is a carnival coming through town? Or maybe it’s an announcer’s chair or a referee's chair. Football season is starting. Why would Wal-Mart sell announcer's chairs? There's only two schools in the area. Surely they wouldn't stock chairs for just two high schools. OOOHHH! It’s a tree stand. Leave it to The Land Flowing With Milk and Honey to sell tree stands at Wal-Mart.

We were at a cookout last weekend. Most of the conversation centered around dove season. How hunting season is just around the corner…the best places to hunt doves…how many doves the hunters got last year. I did not join in this conversation. I di…

Contests

Stuart and I were walking around the block in the dark the other night. We talked about the events of the day.

"Hey Hon, did you know there's a blog that is giving away a 37"inch flat-panel screen TV from Best Buy."

"Really?!"

"Yeah, but if I enter to win, I have to write about it on my blog. I don't know if I want to do that. Besides I just won two awesome books on ornithology and the history of the twenty-first century from another blog."

"That's great, babe."

Silence. Well, mostly silence, except for a weird raspy squealing sound at our feet in the darkest stretch of the walk. I reached for Stuart's hand but he was startled and jumped away.

"What was that?!"

"A cicada maybe. Or a bird. Could it have been a bird?"

"I don't know. What kind of bird makes that kind of noise?"

When our hearts stopped racing:

"I want you to enter that thing."

"Well, if you really want me to."

"Yeah…

Rules, Rules, and more Rules

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, not your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 19:8-11

This is what God has to say about the Sabbath. The Pharisees took these three verses and turned them into thirty-nine rules with a subset of rules beneath each main rule.

For example:

No plowing was a chief rule. Dragging a chair on soft earth and thereby leaving furrows in the ground was listed in the subset of rules under no plowing. Dragging a chair on a hard surface however would be allowed. (2 )

A Jew could only walk a short distance from his house. However if he planned ahead the day be…

Confidence

It’s midnight. I’m nestled among my covers and pillows. The light on my side of the bed is on. My body is comfortable but my mind is uneasy. Pages are spread out over the top of the covers. I’m reading first hand accounts of slavery. Smallville is situated in the middle of cotton fields, fields that were once tended by slaves.

In the 1930s, historians realized that the number of people who had been held in bondage by the chains of slavery was dwindling. Interviewers circulated among the remaining ex-slaves and recorded their stories. Their voices come to life in my mind. I can picture old Turner crying, heartbroken over the death of a kind white woman. I close my eyes after reading about a slave whose hands and feet were nailed to a board after running away. Closed eyes do not shut out the image. Anna, the daughter of a slave and a slave owner’s son reminisces about the good old days. For Anna, slavery was better than freedom. Frank described how after the war his master was reluctant …

In Sickness and In Health

“I, Kathleen, take you, Stuart, …for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…” And with those words, I married a songbird.

Stuart whistles. He is cheerful and contented and he whistles. I hear his car hum into the driveway in the evening after work and he whistles his way up the walk and into the house. The house is happier when he’s home.

But one week he didn’t. One week there was no whistling. Stuart was scheduled for simple outpatient surgery. We formulated Plan A. The kids and I would drop him off at six in the morning and pick him up when the nurse called to say that he was ready to come home. There was no Plan B.

The phone rang around eleven. “Your husband is out of surgery. He’ll be ready to come home in about an hour.”

I packed the kids in the car for the second time that morning and made the return trip to the hospital. We tiptoed in to pick up our charge. The nurse tried to help Stuart to his feet. He almost passed out and had return to the bed.

“It will just be a few more mi…

Look Up

“I see one!”

“Look! There’s another one!”

“Wow!”

We had just moved from the suburbs out into the country, away from the streetlights. The sky lost its orange nighttime glow. Out here in the chilly air, the sky was black and the stars sparkled like white diamonds. Beautiful.

It was December 14th. The earth was passing through the tail of Asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Meteor Shower Geminids sprinkled the sky with 50 shooting stars per hour. We had been waiting for this day for months. We had studied meteor showers in Exploring Creation with Astronomy. I should have written it on the calendar but I forgot. We were busy with packing and moving and unpacking and by the time December 14th rolled around Geminids was not even a thought. Not a thought until I was outside in the dark with the children because they wanted to study the constellations in the black, black sky. Suddenly a white ball of light shot across the heavens. The largest shooting star I had ever seen. And then another.

“Hey, Guys! I thi…

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

Claire and a hen named Bob
To those of you who know how much I wanted chickens when we moved out to the country: No. Bob is not ours. We're sad. No chickens allowed in our neighborhood.

The Child's Story Bible

I have recommended the following book so frequently that I think a post is in order so that I may recommend it to the world.

In the early nineteen hundreds, when my grandparents were growing from children to adults, when they were meeting and marrying and making ends meet during the Depression, Catherine F. Vos was at work. She had been out shopping, looking for the perfect children’s story bible. The Christian bookstores of the day must have had the same unsatisfactory fare for young children that they carry today. Her standards were high as she was the wife of a professor of theology and she could not find what she was looking for. So she started to write. The results of her writing, The Child’s Story Bible was first published in stages between the years of 1934-1936. It’s been republished in every decade since that time.

My grandparents had my parents and they met and married and had me and somewhere along the way I acquired a Bible. I read from the book of Proverbs from time to tim…

One Sentence Challenge

Kathy has posed a question at her blog. Why do you follow Jesus? The catch is you have to answer in one sentence. Of course I didn't follow directions. I wrote one question and one statement. Go visit her and leave an answer.

Balloon Relay

"Okay, everybody. This is what you're gonna do. See those chairs down at the other end of the field? You're gonna run down there, put your balloon on a chair, sit on the balloon and pop it."

"Okay. In a minute, we'll hand you a balloon. No, not yet. You don't get a balloon yet. You'll get one when it's your turn to run to the chairs. One little boy reaches into the bucket and pulls out a balloon. "Well, okay, you can hold your balloon. Just don't pop it. All the three-year-olds crowd around the bucket of balloons and help themselves. "Well, alright, you can all hold your balloons." The children look down at the balloon in their hands and do not look up again.

"Now, I need to divide you into two teams. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Oh, that's not an even number."

"I'll play."

"Okay, Miss Helen, you can be number eight. Miss Helen is about seventy-five.

"Now we're gonna divide into…

Director's Notes

A rooftop scene. Use the wide angle to catch the stars. Zoom in on Jesus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

Film Nicodemus' troubled face. "How can this be?

Capture the patience on Jesus' face. Record the lengthy explanation that He gives and at the same time make the near silence of Nicodemus seem deafening. Zoom in again to catch the puzzled expression that Nicodemus wears.

Insert a brief scene. Wide angle this time. Show a conversation between John and his disciples but leave the audience feeling unsettled about the last scene. Will there be resolution? Will Nicodemus see the light?

Follow Jesus and his disciples down a dusty road, heat radiating and distorting their image. Film their backs and mute the conversation.

Zoom in again on Jesus. Hot. Tired. Alone at Jacob's well. Pan out a bit to catch the approach of a woman. Pan out farther to show that she is a solitary figure. Zoom in to expose the wariness in he…

Wordless Wednesday

A Thoughtful Response

Alana at A Kiss, A Hug and A Squeeze is married to Rich, a Christian artist and a Professor of Art. She sent him a copy of my post and he wrote such an excellent response to yesterday's post Artistic Expression and Faith that I couldn't bear to keep it hidden in the comment section. Please visit Rich's blog, The Shaper Fables. I think he intends to carry on this conversation there.

Here are Rich's words:

Aforementioned Husband here,

Kate, a very intriguing post. I too wryly smiled at the glowing Jesus remark. I teach at a Christian College in Missouri and I often have these discussions with my students. Unfortunately I believe that the depth of commercial Christian Visual Art is reflective of the spiritual depth of the average Christian. It is so sanitary and safe, an oversentimentalized unattainable ideal, irrelevant to unchurched individuals. We live in an A-Christian society. I was raised in a church. I get the visual flannel-board vocabulary and understand its nuances…