Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why 60?

This summer we have been cutting, gluing, marking, assembling.  We chose to repeat last summer's mission project, but double the number of parachutes we made.  Here is my fictional account of why we sent out sixty.

There once was a little girl in the green jungle of Columbia that loved the color red.  She had raven black hair that flowed down to her waist and no ribbon with which to tie it.   She daydreamed about red ribbons when she was suppose to be stirring the beans, and they burnt.  She daydreamed about red ribbons when she was suppose to be tending her baby brother, and he skinned his knee.  She even daydreamed about red ribbons when she was suppose to be washing her muddy flip flops in the river, and one floated away.

She knew her mother would be angry to find her with only one flip flop so she followed the river in the hopes of her flip flop got trapped in the brown rocks at the washerwoman's basin where she could retrieve it.  It was along this route she spotted a circle of white entangled in a flame-colored bush.  She forgot about her lost flip flop and went to inspect the mysterious object.  Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the white circle was attached to red ribbons.  Her joy made her fingers work doubly quick to untangle the red ribbons from the bush.   When she released it, she the hugged the fabric parachute to her chest and lovingly thumbed the texture of the red grosgrain ribbons.  Her heart was a rush to get home and cut those beautiful red ribbons and tie them in her raven black hair.  Therefore, she failed to remember the reprimand her mother would give her for losing her flip flop.   In fact the little girl left her companionless flip flop sitting by the miracle bush.

Her mother was hanging her only tablecloth on the wire line by the door of their small house.  She wished she had a new tablecloth that didn't have so many stains and a ragged edge and the hole where Uncle Luca placed his cigarette.  Her heart was to teach her daughter and son civility and beauty in the war torn jungle.  She knew a clean tablecloth would lift her spirit like nothing else.   It was a wish that came up empty like her two-year-old son fishing in her cast iron sink.  But still she wished.

She heard the gurgle and slurp of her little daughter's bare feet in the mud.  Where are those girl's flip flops?  But before a harsh word could come out of that maternal mouth, her little daughter was at her side showing her the treasure she found.  "Look, Mama!  Look!  Red ribbons for my hair." 

Indeed, the mother saw ribbons but their color was insignificant to her.  Her eyes were tearing up because she saw a white fabric tablecloth from the parachute material.   It was the perfect size for their small household.  It looked so clean and there wasn't even a hole in it.  It had words neatly written on it in blue.  "Dios es Amor." She had heard of the God of the Bible years ago when she was a child on the lap of her abuela.  How amazing that her new tablecloth bore such a message.  Where did it come from?  God?  God must indeed be love since he sent her the very thing she would have asked for if she thought he would listen.  The spiritual seed in her heart was beginning to sprout as she helped her daughter cut the ribbons from her white muslin tablecloth.

Some hours later, a man dressed in fatigues and carrying a rifle sat down wearily by the miracle bush at the side of the river.   As he stretched his blistered feet,  he noticed a dingy blue flip flop that looked about the size of his daughter's feet.  How that soldier missed the swish of his little daughter's long raven black hair as she ran to greet him.  He had been gone from home the last 14 days.   He wanted to enfold his family in his arms again.  They were all that mattered to him.  Of course, he looked tough and seemed hard on the exterior, but he was only a vulnerable youth internally.  He had been forced into the guerrillas sometime after he had learned how to read.  He secretly regretted that his chance for schooling had been taken away when he was thrust that very same rifle he now held.   FARC soldiers mocked book learning as propaganda of their class enemy oppressors. Nevertheless, he wished he had a book of his very own.  He would hide it carefully so it wouldn't get spit on or torn or worse yet, used for toilet paper.  He would bring it out when he was alone in the jungle and read and transport himself to somewhere where people treated each other differently.  He fingered the flip flop absently and decided he might get home sooner if he took less breaks.  Oh, but he was bone tired.

As he struggled to his feet, he saw a flash of silver in the interior of the bush's flame-colored foliage.    He reached into the miracle bush and pulled out a clear plastic bag with a metal grommet that scintillated in the low beams of the fading daylight.  The shiny grommet had a few red threads dangling from it, but he didn't notice because inside the bag was a brown book.  His heart beat faster and his hands felt big and clumsy as he unzipped the bag and pulled out his heart's desire.  A book of his very own.  He opened it at random and read: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

And so began the working of God in the jungle of Columbia as He prompted 10 little hands in the States to not have an idle summer.

This is not the end, this is THE BEGINNING

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Camp Here I Come

Drinking from a public water fountain entails a whole new danger.

Goofing off before drop-off.

The Queen of Puddle Glum


Medieval night, Emily is beside Sleeping Cutie

Energy, enthusiasm and the welcome to Pine Cove.

The buffalo are camouflaging for the hunters.

Alex and the Great Hambino

 My lumberjack must of forgotten his blade.  I think I see facial hair.

The focused one at the end of the line.

Fritz and That's All

The last bow.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dynamite eyes


Happy 8th Birthday, dear girl with the penetrating gaze.  You are fiercely sweet, intense, and courageous.  You are my most changed child and loved by God.  I can't wait to see how the Lord uses your generous heart coupled with your steadfast will.  You serve the Living God who put dynamite behind your eyes.  May your life be an explosion of grace and gratitude. 

(Thanks, Jen, for the photo shoot.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

3 Peeps

are in the house...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Little Bakers

My affectionate Jane baked herself a lovely chocolate cake with blue sprinkles for her sixth birthday. If my memory is correct, when I was a little girl, my mom turned out a seven or eight layer cake for each of the years of my life. Each layer was a different color, the delight of this child. I remember the cake being very tall and it required multiple use of the cake pans. Poor unknowing Jane only had three layers. Good thing she doesn't read this blog.

Friday, June 01, 2012

We are the soil (Part 1)

Yesterday was the last day of school.  The award ceremony started at 9 and went to 12:30 for the first to sixth graders.  It was the most amazing display of teacher love and an intentional, deliberate, all-consuming Christian education experience.  The headmaster equated the school with a "green house", so that despite the withering heat and the freezing cold, our young men have been in a protected, loving environment to ensure their spiritual and mental growth.  He encouraged me, as the parent, that I am the soil for my children.  The soil's condition is intrinsically attached to our relationship with Christ.  As we grow closer to the Lord the soil is richer and our offspring planted in our homes benefit from the godly nutrients in our lives.

 Having the most amazing garden this year has reminded me that raising children and gardening are much alike.  There are always weeds that grow up and are easier to address when they are small.  There are external threats like bugs and kamikaze birds.  There are choices along the way: to neglect the plants when I feel depleted or water though my soul seems parched.  There are days when my eyes feast on the beauty of each of the individual blooms in my garden and there are days when I don't.  There are waiting days that turn into months and expectation coupled with disappointment.  Gardens are a work in progress. There is always more to be done.  There is always a test of patience and a choice of prudence.  But best of all there is HOPE FULFILLED.    Yesterday was one of those hope-fulfilled days.
Here's why.  When we returned home I read the double-sided letter Fritz's teacher wrote.  I have to share it because as a parent my heart is bursting with gratitude and privilege that my son could be in this soft-spoken, truth-living teacher's class.

I give you back your child, the same child you entrusted to my care last fall.  I give him back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature than he was then.  Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it was my happy privilege to watch his development.  I have been thrilled at each new achievement, each new success, each new expansion of self.  I give him back reluctantly; for having spent nine months together in the narrow confines of a classroom, we have grown closer, have become a part of each other and we shall retain a little of each other.

Ten years from now if we meet on the street, your child and I, a light will spring into our eyes, a smile on our lips, and we shall feel a bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.  We have lived, laughed, loved, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year.  I wish it could go on forever, but give him back I must.  Take care of him for he is precious.

Remember that I shall always be interested in your child, whoever he becomes.  His joys and sorrows I will be happy to share.

I shall always be his friend.

Here is the other side of the exceptional letter, handwritten to her "little darlings":

We are the soil (Part 2)

As some of you know I was very reluctant to send my eldest son to school. Alex is my close friend and a prized pupil.  Teaching him was a joy.  I missed all the books we would read together and all the creativity he brought to our school lessons at home.  I spent more time with him than anyone else in the last 12 years.  Therefore, this past year was bitter sweet.  I released him to learn in a different environment.  There were times he was puzzled by his talkative and inattentive classmates and I'm sure his studiousness puzzled most of them.   For so long I taught Alex that we master something before we move on and he being conscientious and hard-working continued the tradition. He is never content with 97 when he could get 100.  He loves to learn and has a fabulous memory for crazy, detailed things.  He is analytical and firm in his convictions.  I am so proud of the man he is becoming.  He is tender to God and self-disciplined. 

Well, Alex was the very last of the 120 students to cross the stage yesterday (being at the end of the alphabet requires patience).  He looked so grown-up and handsome.  He was ramrod straight and all I could think of is his comportment reflects his character.  He won't compromise his standards in a relative society.   Because of all the years of my investment in him, I was doubly proud when unbeknownst to me he was valedictorian. 

For all the derogatory comments I have received about homeschooling through the years, I delighted that Alex is a testimony that homeschooling works.  He came into the school reading harder books, working at a higher level of math and significantly more mature and thoughtful than his peers.  I had one person who kept asking for Alex's transcripts, because it seemed they had a hard time believing he could do so well without ever attending "real" school.  People are constantly shocked that a home schooled kid, who doesn't have the classroom advantages their kids had, can actually attain more in a shorter period of time.  My premature baby, who didn't talk till he was three, has done things late, but always well.  He has been a tortoise among hares.  And I am proud of his work ethic and integrity.  And I know we are entering a new period of life, because when I asked Alex to do a chore the other day it was so out of character when my young man quipped, "I'm sorry, your call has been disconnected."  I laughed, because, of course, yesterday's telephone operator is out mowing the lawn today.