Thursday, September 25, 2014

Flag Confusion

Recently Teddy believed that all the flags around our house were China flags.   Ben told him that the China flag is red with yellow stars, and he seemed very surprised that it wasn't red, white and blue.  There's such a lot to learn for a new American citizen. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Slowing Down the World

 Reading is my way of slowing down the world.  The pages wait for me to turn them.   

 How do you condense the tears of a ninety year old? How do you allow strangers the peek into your most horrendous heartaches? Somehow this book was tender and miraculous without being weepy.  A mother waits her entire life to see her first-born daughter, adopted at infancy.  Only God could write such an ending.

The poor of Mozambique have seen the richness of Jesus.  Heidi and Rolland Baker are an amazing missionary couple that believe with all their hearts that Jesus is always enough.   They live out the sufficiency of Christ in a radical faith and away from the physical bounty of the first world.  I have a deep respect that they are not victims of impoverished spirits.  They are abundantly joyful where they are stripped of everything to rely on, except Christ. 

N.D. Wilson has an intellectually stimulating, but refreshingly light writing style.  You may find this book a bit scattered, unless you are already a dreamer and see the world with wonder-lit eyes.  However, the book's crazy whirl encourages you to look at the world with curiosity, ask questions again, and savor mix-ups and messes.  All the pieces (even the ones I wish weren't) are the telling of Christ's unique story in my life.  Wilson writes in confidence that Jesus puts all things right in the end.  People who live like this can never be bored.
G.K. Chesterton could have written the forward to this book with his succinct quote, "The world will never starve for want of wonders but only for want of wonder."
Why did I read this?  Ben and I love John Piper.  Sadly, his son seems to currently struggle to be his father's son.  This is a melancholy rambling book that really came to no conclusions and offers little resolution.  I could understand it quite well without being a pastor's kid, because what Barnabas observed is more universal than the ministry (even though he might not know it).  All young adults go through a growing up stage that is painful.  They question their spiritual identity, the expectations set on them, and the values of their parents.  Everyone wants to be valued for themselves rather than who their dynamic relatives are or what their kinfolk think.  Paradoxically, it is often the young adult with the most to be thankful for which struggle the most to have grateful hearts.  In another decade lived, Barnabas probably would have found a better topic to write on.  His heart bleeds with wanting to be understood, but it seems he hasn't quite come to the place of beauty and security where he is fully known and loved in Christ and where the wound of human disappointment is healed. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Life Happens in Little Moments

A plastic horse found buried under 4 inches of dirt.  I'm sure it has a story to tell if it could.  Fritz' blurry focus is perfect for its blurry origins.

New erasers are prized around here and diminish faster than almost anything else.

Never loses its surprise factor.
Emptying the shavings from a pencil sharpener.

 Eaten by the ants but retaining its glorious wings.
Just born but barely alive.

 Grown to be eaten.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Certified letter & cinders (part 2)

The anticipation of what was in that certified letter caused a loss of appetite.  That night Ben and I slept poorly with our empty stomachs and full thoughts. 

At half past two, our pillows heard our mutterings. 

Maybe the neighbors didn't like that we rolled our trash can to the vacant lot to be collected because our side of the subdivision was inaccessible due to road repairs.   Trash does stink.  What stunk worse was that we were growing more miserable with each guess.   In our anguish of soul, we talked about listing our home the next day and finding one where no homeowners' association can ruin another dinner conversation.   We were betrayed by our intimates.  We were kissed by a Judas, and yet we only had nine neighbors.    We wondered why they couldn't come to talk to us directly rather than get nasty with a certified letter.   If you have something to say, save the 4 bucks and ring our doorbell.   We are almost always home.

In the morning light we were inclined to think Tevye, in Fiddler in the Roof, was right, "As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face."  

We must have spit somewhere and now it was landing in our face.  Dreading the bad news, but inclined to wipe it off our face as quickly as possible I went to the post office when its doors opened.  I signed for the evil certified letter.  I handled it gingerly as if the green and white sticker might bite.  Venom almost pierced my hand and heart, but I looked more closely.   The stickers' fangs retracted.  The letter that I had just signed for was not for me.   The letter wasn't for Ben, Alex, Fritz, Emily, Jane, Teddy, Chuffy or I.Q. either.  In fact, the post office had gotten it all wrong when they said the letter was FROM our homeowners' association on that peach slip. The letter was addressed TO our homeowners' association, and in my joy I can't recall the sender's name.   It wasn't for us and that was enough.

In our fair city where the birds chirp and the neighbors smile, a postal worker is blissfully ignorant that his clerical error made us wish that our hard-work pies turn to cinders in some recipient's mouth.  And if you don't tell him, he will never know.

Why might we have received a certified letter for the homeowners' association?

I come to find out that the president of the homeowners' association use to live at our address.  That letter holds a grievance that has festered for 12 moons.  The moral of the tale is let not the sun go down on your anger, make apple pies often and never send them by certified mail.

Certified letter & cinders (part 1)

It all started late one Monday afternoon, when I found a peach slip in our mailbox.   The post office had tried to deliver a certified letter and I wasn't home to sign for it.   Anybody who has gotten certified mail before knows that your stomach drops to your toes (no matter how tall you are), because inevitably certified means someone is certified crazy mad at you.   Well, the post office had the courtesy to warn us it was from our homeowners' association.   We had twelve plus hours till the post office reopened to rack our minds for any grievances our neighbors might have against us.   What made it worse was that we had spent most of  Saturday making homemade pies for all the neighbors and had delivered the last ones Sunday.   We were regretting not baking the pies a week sooner.  The only thing that consoled us was that the neighbor, who had ratted us out to the homeowners' association, would make the perfectly seasoned apples and crisp strudel topping turn to cinders in their guilty mouth.   We were at our Biblical best...doesn't Scripture say that if you show kindness to your enemy it is like pouring burning coals on his head?   You have just viewed our unedited humanity, but I won't pretend that those were anything but inexcusably vindictive thoughts.  

We worried if the neighbors were upset that our orchard needed mowing, the orchard where I gathered all those delicious apples for their pies and got chiggers in the process.   Perhaps the neighbors hated the weeds in our lawn that waved proudly with the wind and promised to encroach on their pristine yards.  Maybe the neighbors didn't like that our dog chases the geese in the pond or slurps water from their sprinklers when he passes by.

While delivering a pie, my newly aquainted neighbor confided she thought I was blonde. Strange.  A day in a half later, it all made sense .  Ben jokingly suggested she filed a complaint to the homeowners' that her neighbor is a polygamist.  We tried to laugh at the absurdity, but our hearts hurt too badly.

-to be continued-

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Unexpected Gift


Came home from a walk with Chuffy to a doorstep gift from a thoughtful neighbor.  The dark master called and I had to take a sip before I photographed the fun surprise. Be it known that prior to twisting the lid, my whole being was filled with sugary cheer.  Life is utterly sweet when shared.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

When Belonging Leaves a Mark

 Several months ago, Ben noticed someone had keyed his auto paint.  He followed the line to the front of his truck.  There he discovered the word DaD etched in the finish.  Well, Ben showed me and we pretended to guess which of our five dear children defaced his truck.   You might say our brains worked fast that day and we knew who the culprit was in less than a second.   Ben turned to me and said, "At least he is a good speller."

Belonging is suppose to leave you stronger and more intact, but sometimes belonging etches deep, and it is painful sweet. The boy who doesn't look a smidgeon like his DaD is going to make sure the world knows that DaD not only has a blue truck but a little son who can spell.  He belongs.  Read and see; the orphan is a son.

Please don't tell Teddy, but the truck has never looked so pretty.