Friday, August 31, 2007

A Little Something

I've been lurking around the myriad of Catholic Mothers out there Blogging, many of them having lots of babies, many of them homeschooling, all of them very pious and holy. And the great fad seems to be this widget baby thing you can post up showing how big your baby is getting, day by day, and how many days to go. So, in honor of the very nice person who encouraged me to 'keep gestating', I thought I'd put one up myself, even though I'm not catholic, nor that pious. Enjoy.

Children in Conversation

E (with doll stuffed in shirt): Come on Spiderman. Its time to go to the hospital and have a baby.
A: Ok, Cinderalla, let's go.


A: Tomorrow we will go on a bear hunt.
E: That will be scary. I will take a doll.
A: Yeah. I will have to bring a sword. Bears are everywhere...If I kill the bear, the bear will be killed, right?
K (friend of us all): That's right.
E: You know who is really strong? God. Even Mommy. And I can take care of my dolls.
A: I can take care of the bears.
E: I think that's God's job.
A: I want to take care of the bears.
E: Well, maybe God needs a helper.
A: I can kill all the bears.
E: No, that's too much of a job.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gathering Storm

It feels like its a hundred degrees, even though apparently it is only 80 something. We're waiting for a storm to come in but it seems to be taking its own sweet time. We're all at angles and corners. A spit part of his lunch out and so, in consequence, is sitting in front of his bowl, still. He could have gotten up without eating it all but the spitting ruined that option for him. He is moaning. E carefully hid our nice Alphabet Flash Cards, presumably for some game or other, and so she is not doing anything fun this afternoon, but is wandering around looking for the last five.

'Look in the places where you hid them' I've said 36 times.
'Oh' she says each time.

If she finds them maybe she'll have some chocolate milk, but at this rate it will be tomorrow before that happens.
And the baby is hot and cranky. He's crawling around, his hair completely on end, exhausted because he woke up at 2am and then his nap was interrupted by his siblings shouting about something.

In all this moaning and shouting, I've been keeping a distracted glance on the Anglican TV live stream of the consecrations in Kenya. I've seen pictures of the cathedral from my mother who has gotten to sing there on occasion. My parents don't go often, I think, because traffic and crime are prohibitive (its no accident that the litany included something or other about safe driving).

I'm strengthened and encouraged by what I've seen, even the Kum Ba Ya (heh-reminds me of the strange experience of hearing a fancy Ivorian choir sing 'Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, Alleluia, Gloire au Seigneur'-Praise ye the Lord, fully expected them to stand up and sit down, but they just stood, at the Basilica in Yamasoukro, but that's another story). The storm continues to build ahead of September 30, and Lambeth and beyond, but these men (and women, shocked to see so many women clergy) are walking headlong into the thunder and lightning, their faces set.

I'm encouraged to keep going myself. I will admit. I've been anxious. I don't want the whole communion to come unglued. I don't want, potentially, to have to walk away from our church building, this house, this neighborhood (God willing, we won't have to). I don't want to deal, any more, with an apostate and heretical "church" flinging itself headlong into spiritual death. But I've got to keep walking forward, into the storm, even though I don't want to. I've got to and I can, with God's help. That Africa, and other parts of the world, in the face of slander, racism, condescension and loss should continue to chart a way forward, should continue to trust in God and do the hard work of spreading the gospel, should be able to stand up to the west and its lies, well, I can pull it together and stop moaning myself. God is in charge. He has a solution to this whole mess. He is on the other side of the storm. For heaven's sake, he is in the storm.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Not in anyway to get away from the subject of preaching, but I've been wanting to post about my Summer Sunday School project for some time and I've finally got the pictures off my camera, so I wanted to put them up and describe a little bit of what we did. For those of you who missed the post way back in June, we have serious Sunday School ALL summer, for adults and children. This arose in part because Matt just kept teaching the first year, and we had so many new people in the church that it didn't occur to them to take the summer off. And of course, all the adults having educations meant that the children had to have something as well. I've been insistent that Catechesis of the Good Shepherd not go on all year-everyone needs a break-and so every summer we cast about in a panic about what to do with the kids. One year we read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe outloud. Another year we sat around in a hot room and read the book of Judges. This year, in a fit of exasperation, I prayed about it (imagine! Prayer!) and then went to AC Moore to think about what might be interesting. And within an hour I had filled my cart with every manner of good things and concocted (although I suppose that would have to be God) an idea to go with it.

The first week they got a box to paint. Here is one.

And mine

The week after they got a little wooden booklet sort of thing to paint. I took the flimsy paper out and cut nice thick paper down to size. Each Sunday they got an object to paint or draw or glue and a verse to go with it. They had to copy the verses themselves into their little books.
Here is the outside of my book. As you can see, I had a theme going.

The verses they got to go with that first week were Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 119:105; Psalm 119:11; and John 1:1.
After that we did the Law with Deuteronomy 6:4-6 and they got a little wooden heart to paint.
Then the Cross, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and a cross to paint.
Then Light and Salt, Matthew 5:14-16. This was a favorite. They got a candle holder, a candle and a little jar which they themselves filled with salt. I had thought they would just paint the candle holder but they painted everything-candle, holder, salt jar, cork, everything.
For Communion, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, I found little cups and plates which they took out and sprayed gold and then some painted on top of the gold. These also turned out beautifully, and the business of going out and spraying gold paint everywhere was a huge success.
For the True Vine, John 15, they got little pots and glued little mosaic pieces onto to them (or painted them) and then a packet of seeds. I had thought to hand out dirt, but didn't in the end, and it was just as well. The glue was fairly messy.
The Good Shepherd, John 10:11-14, was little boards onto which they drew or copied a Good Shepherd icon picture. I had a bunch they could choose from. Some where really detailed, others more plain, but all turned out well.
That was a lot of scripture so then they got a book mark on which to illuminate their favorite verse from the summer. Last week was a puzzle/synthesis. And this coming week they will get get small cards and envelopes to write something to God, a final note to put in the box and then they can take the lot with them.
Then I have a week off before Catechesis kicks off again for the fall. Gasp.
So, here are two of my favorites. These two rarely missed a sunday and spent plenty of time on detail. They will both get a prize for a full box, and should they (or anyone else) choose to memorize the verses, they will get an enormously special and huge prize. I have two that have set out to do this, so we shall see.
Here is one full set (up to this last Sunday).

And another.

I'm going to post this as it is and put more pictures in another post for fear of loosing what I've got. Anyway, it was a fun project that kids responded VERY well. It was exactly the right age for this sort of hands on work (6 to 12). If you're casting about for something to do, I recommend this highly. Smearing paint around and dwelling over some important scripture can't be beat.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

preach something real, for heaven's sake

Matt pointed out to me last night that I haven't written anything interesting in ages, other than vignettes of family life and vacation and this and that. Point well taken. I haven't really had much of a mind for anything lately. At his, Matt's, behest I have tried to lay aside the endless stacks of PG Wodehouse novels (to which I have been devoting myself utterly and completely) and read a book on preaching, expository preaching to be exact. It is actually an excellent book, when I can read more than three lines without falling asleep. So far it varies from my seminary education in one major way-namely, that the preacher's exegetical work should stick out in the text of the sermon, so that everyone can see it, rather than being worked seamlessly into the sermon's own 'narrative'. The author (hang it all, I can't remember his name, and I'm too pudgy to get off the couch at this particular moment and find the book; I'll try and post it later) believes that the hearer of the sermon, over time, should be trained to be able to test and evaluate the preacher's exegesis themselves, because it is evident in the sermon itself. This approach does move the sermon over and out of the camp of 'experiencing a narrative moment' (what I have heard called "The Preach Moment" (if this doesn't alarm you, nothing else I can say will) and into one of 'teaching', which is, frankly, not at all a bad thing given the state of most Episcopal churches in America today. Every Sunday an empty experience that makes the hearer feel like they've been fed, when, in fact, there was nothing there. On the whole I agree entirely and am even determined to finish the book.

However, it saddens me that things have gotten so bad in the church that I would have to let go of my beloved narrative poetical sermon style. I'm good at it, I'll be honest. I love the process of study and writing and the narrative that emerges. I was considered a fantastic preacher in seminary and my ego grew accordingly. It can be a beautiful experience, both to write and to hear a narrative style sermon and I've been fed by the real substantial narrative preaching of some Episcopal priests who were good at this model. However, it really doesn't work in the ordinary life of the parish. Its too wispy. I've become wispy, I think, in my preaching. It can't all be blamed on the style, of course, I keep having babies instead of doing good solid exegesis, but that is certainly part of it. The church needs more substance, and needs to be able to check the preacher's work against the Scriptures, and needs to be involved in the process of the sermon itself. It has reached, practically, crisis proportions.

Never the less, letting that go and moving onto the greater and weightier task of expository preaching, in the wake of Matt who is, frankly, getting to be excellent at it, will be my task once I have regained some serious lung space and gotten some good sleep. I will keep you posted as to how it goes.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy Anniversary Again!

Happy 40th Anniversary to Matt's parents, Doug and Shawn Kennedy! Matt informed me today that they have been an exemplary model of a good marriage for him, and he is abundantly grateful for their witness and life together. I have heard that they celebrated at the very restaurant at which Matt pleaded with me to marry him. I agreed, of course, only to put him out of his own misery (just kidding). Anyway, I had quail that night. I think Matt had duck. I am longing to know what Shawn and Doug had. May the next 40 years be even happier than the last!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

I would like to wish my mom and dad a Very Happy 33rd (I think) Wedding Anniversary! They, I am jealous to report, are have a nice few days in Brussels next to the Grand Place and are eating a lot of nice things-Moules, frites, muscadet, chocolate-everything, indeed, that I long for. In honor of them I have just made two loaves of brown bread, one full loaf of white, two small mini loaves and a pan of buns and a large bundt of Monkey Bread. May the next 30 years be even happier than the last!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Babies and Cake

In honor of my birthday, and because I'm really only a few weeks away from delivering this baby, we lugged all the children to the doctor this morning to see the ultra sound. I generally try to go alone to the doctor because I don't like to scare first time mothers with a lot of children. You can see their eyes widening when you walk in with a whole bunch and imagine what they must be thinking--same thing I thought when I was on Baby #1, 'boy, that woman has a lot of kids, she must be exhausted, hope I'm never that tired'. But today we braved it and were duly rewarded by some great shots of this baby's face, chubby cheeks and all, and an excellent looking spine, and all the limbs in the right place. God is so good. And then A, in awe and wonder, taking his finger out of his mouth and gasping, 'I love G so much'. Even R was swept up in the moment, shouting loudly and unintelligibly.

So, the days are flying by, and I have been admonished by the doctor not to imagine that I will make it all the way to the 14th of October, but to plan on the arrival of this baby rather sooner. No complacency for me. So Matt had better high tail it home from the HOB meeting the end of September-It will be such an exciting week for So Many Reasons.

Also, in honor of me, he (Matt) baked his first ever cake. He has mastered food of every kind, but never ventured into baking. He turned out, after much thought and consideration, Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf, covered in whipped cream and baked to absolute perfection. Honestly, the heavenly host of angels probably wishes they could eat this cake. This after setting out sausages and mashed potatoes and peas for dinner (hey, its my favorite, I was born in England). All that was missing was a packet of brown sauce.

And, I was given a sleek new camera, so here is a picture of the cake.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Joy Cometh in the Morning, Blast It

In honor of my birthday tomorrow, I waddled down to the DMV to renew my driver's license. I could have sent in the form a month ago after having had an eye test, but I lost the eye test form and forgot about the date and completely mucked it up. So it occured to me that going in person Before the day it expired might be a good thing, which I did.

I found an out of the way little known DMV in a tiny room of a large city office building inhabited by one extremely competent DMV person and a short line of people. I lumbered in and stood in line for a second and then sat in one of the two available chairs.

A nice friendly gentleman asked me when I was due.
'Mid October' I said.
'You're first?'
'No, this will be my fourth'
He staggered backwards. 'You have more courage than me' he said.
Then another large pregnant woman came in (such a lot of pregnant ladies for such a small space) who there upon made me feel like a wimp by standing while I sat.
Anyway, when it was my turn in line, it took me a total of THREE Minutes to renew my licence! Amazing. I got away in 25 after having paid 2 hours for parking because I figured it would take that long. Happy Birthday to Me!

Which brings me to my first deep Blog reflection about having a birthday. I know, we all have them. For Matt, his birthday is the best day of the year, aside from Christmas. Apparently, in his youth, he ate ice cream all day and opened presents and was perfectly happy (this is his own account of the past). I have never been able to live up to this kind of happiness.

My birthday was always and consistently the day I had to report back to boarding school. Even if I didn't make it back to school on that exact day, it was always within the week, looming like a black depressing cloud over the whole business of getting older. As time went by, I became antagonistic towards the day of my birth and felt that it was the one day, sent by God, to teach me that life is a veil of tears and all flesh is grass and we are but dust and to dust we shall return.

Later, in college, I tried to reclaim a sense of joy about being alive and getting older by celebrating my birthday for the whole month of August, so that the one day wouldn't be the focus of any attention, happy or unhappy.

This practice, however, of celebrating myself for several weeks rather than being distraught for one day, runs contrary to every fiber of the Kennedy being. Matt, his mother, probably all of his sister and his cousins and his aunts, expect that one's birthday is a cause for joy and happiness.

Matt, just now, leaning over, inquired what I would like for breakfast on my birthday. Well, according to my sin nature, I ought to eat oatmeal and then work really hard for the up building of the kingdom. I refuse to get all expectant and happy, no matter what.

However, reviewing the situation from afar, objectively, as it were. I do have every cause to celebrate. I've done an awful lot in a relatively short time. I'm about to have my fourth child. I have two degrees. I am happily married. I have a interesting and rewarding job in the church. I know how to cook and bake. I'm not sick. I have too much stuff. I have lots of family and friends. And, apparently, I'll be having a nice breakfast in the morning. Oh, and my roses are still blooming. And my mother is coming in two weeks. And my cat has forgiven me for going away. And I don't have to share a computer with Matt. Wow, the blessings are wildly abundant.
Anyone want to guess how old I'm going to be?

Monday, August 20, 2007


The children are cold, or feigning coldness. After complaining about being too hot for three weeks, they are now too cold in 70 something degree weather. E has dug out an ancient and tiny coat she used to wear (it was her favorite then and appears to be her favorite now) and is wearing it over her sundress. Matt is mowing the lawn in a dedicated and devoted way. I'm supposed to be unpacking, but I can only work for about 10 minutes before I have to sit down and rest for 15. So far I've put away my toothpaste and shampoo, jammed some flowers into a jar, changed all the children's bedding, and read every conceivable blog I can get to. Its going to take me all week to get things put away, sigh.

However, that is really my only unhappiness. We came back to an energized and enthusiastic church yesterday. Amazingly, for the first time in this job, no crises arose in our absence and people did Ministry! Not just keeping the floors clean and toilet paper stocked, they've taken spiritual care of each other and various visitors and guests who came each week. So encouraging. And there are a plethora of ideas floating around for the fall. Along with unpacking this week I'm going to have to sit down and sort through all the options and plan what all we can do.

And our garden grew. So surprising. I've heard that if you put seeds in the ground they come up, but I've never experienced if first hand. I've got to figure out a way to take pictures.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Home Again. Home Again. Jiggidy....

Its nearly 10pm.
We're home in Binghamton. I had no intention of taking such a long break from blogging. My last post was from San Antonio and I had thought to post again the next day in Corpus, but the wireless options were highly limited, such that if I wanted to pilfer a connection from the neighbors I would have had to perch in an odd position in the bathroom-awkward for me in my present physical condition, and awkward for anyone who wanted to be in that particular room. So after a day or so I accepted my wireless computerless fate as one inflicted by God and did other things.

It amazes me that life goes on without the Internet. Amazes Me! I didn't even miss it as much as I thought I would. There were lots of other things to do. I spent some good solid lovely time with Matt's Mom and then later his sister and her kids. We went to the beach for a couple of days. We went on Sunday to a very fine Reformed Episcopal Church (I have notes of the sermon which will be forth coming in a day or so). We went shopping for school clothes and supplies. We watched the baby FINALLY walk (August 13th, 4pm in the afternoon). We watched E and her cousin, J, and A play with Transformers, Super Heroes and a large luxurious doll house all at the same time. And we watched cousin C lustily call for food and help. C, by the way, loves to eat, which is a great gratification for those of us who love to cook.

I would happily sit here and tell you all about it right now, but tomorrow is Sunday, and that means Church, which means getting up early and doing all the work that God has given me to do. So, I will not indulge myself. I will go to bed and tell you all about it tomorrow.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Children and their Shoes

So I've swung from being up far too early to being up far too late. I really can't think straight. I'm sitting in a fabulously comfy chair in my sister in law's house watching these amazing pictures of the bridge in Minnesota going down. Various people are being interviewed about where they were and how they got out. Interesting the number of times I've heard the words 'luck' and 'coincidence'.

While the residents of Minneapolis were coping with this amazing happenstance today, we (by that I mean Matt's Mom, Shawn, and sister, Megan and all the children excepting Rowan who was left miserably home with Matt for the day, since no one really wanted to lug him around) went School Shoe Shopping.

Quite far from luck, really more in the category of Divine Providence, was the playground directly in front of the shoe shop. So we took the kids in one by one to try on shoes instead of everyone going in together spreading chaos and mayhem abroad. And then lunch, and then ice cream, and then home to recover. I was interested in the process of trying on shoes. A went first and was weepingly dubious about having his feet measured. But then recovered and solemnly (the child could have been at the altar rail for all his piety) tried on three pairs of shoes, walking around in each one, finally picking the first pair. All, essentially, without words. E was next and requested to try on all the pink shoes, ended up not liking any of them and finally settled On Her Own on a pair of plain blue sensible Mary Jane type shoes. When asked why she wanted those ones, she replied that she liked them, 'because they are A's favorite color'. Very curious. Then she helped me pick out baby shoes for Rowan-sensible blue.

So now, given that they are all in bed and asleep, and my eyelids are sliding together, and I don't want to see any more of these pictures but would rather go and pray for all those who work or watch or weep this night, I will put this aside and go to bed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On the Road Again

Meant to get up at 5 to pack so that we could be on the road by 8am. But its now 6:37 and I'm still basically comotose, working through a tepid cup of tea. Really, let's be honest, I blame Matt. For some reason, since a horrible moment in Nashville when the handle broke off one of our two mugs, Matt has felt that I am to have this broken mug every morning, while he has the one with the handle, rather than trading off every other morning. So, at 5 am, when be brought me the broken handle mug full of tea (and let's be honest about that too--I ran out of good tea when we got to Dallas and I've been drinking something that vaguely tastes like dishwater ever since), I just couldn't cope and rolled over and went back to sleep. So, I don't imagine that we will be leaving by 8, particularly since before actually getting up, I have to confess my sins AGAIN and try to be a better person. Of course, I could be grateful that Matt brings me tea at all, but since when is gratitude one's first response in the morning, if we're going to be perfectly honest about it? If its yours, at least wait until this afternoon to let me know, when I'm awake and and holy.

More from San Antonio!