Friday, September 28, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHAWN!!!

We forgot and we feel terrible and we love you very much!
Here is a picture from E and one from A wishing you Happy Birthday!


I did the weekly article, instead of Matt, for Good Shepherd

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I had the splendid and joyful opportunity to be with the Finch family in the hospital as they awaited the arrival of the latest baby Finch. First off, it was a real pleasure to be in those nice delivery rooms, Not as the person who is in the uncomfortable position of giving birth, but as an encouraging spectator. They are really nice rooms. Second, I was able to witness in another person something profound that I have experienced myself, namely, setting oneself in motion to bring another life into the world. This decision for life is a sacrificial and overpowering task. At its most basic point, you, as the person bringing another life into the world, have to make the decision to go ahead and do it. However much you may long for the child, however much it is inevitable, at that point, to give birth, a moment of decision arrives—I’m going to do this, even though I am anxious, even though its going to be difficult, even though its probably not going to happen the way I want it to, for the sake of another person, I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do this now. The decision has to be made.

I remember this vividly when it arrived for me. And I saw it in Liz’s face this morning at the crucial moment.

For those of us who are Christian, when this moment of decision comes, and we choose to go ahead and do the difficult thing in front of us, two important things happen: one, the grace and love and power of God comes in and gives us what we need to do the job, and two, we get to see what it is that God did and does for us on the cross.

The first part—the grace, love and power of God giving you what you need to do the job—is called Providence. God promises, when we put ourselves in his hands and trust in him, to meet our needs. I was getting ready to pray for someone this week and they said, ‘Oh, I don’t like to pray for myself. I don’t want to be selfish.’ This stance of self reliance is actually an extra hassle for God. He went to the trouble to make you. He knows you inside and out—when you lie down, when you stand up, when you go out of your house, when you come in, when you think, when you rest, when you work. He’s more than equipped and willing to meet your needs. You do yourself a great disservice when you try to solve your problems yourself without consulting God. More than likely you will mess things up and then have to call on God anyway to fix it.

Trusting in God’s providence means going to the source of all things Right Away, without waiting. When you’re facing something difficult, go to God first in prayer, lay out the trouble, ask him for strength and courage and the skills and resources to do the job in front of you.

The clearest most powerful example of God’s providence in our lives is the cross. When we mess things up, when we sin, when we rebel against God, it is the providential work of Jesus on the cross that saves us and makes it possible for us to live, be healed, forgiven and whole. This providence is, of course, first and foremost available to us when we accept, by faith, the work of Jesus and accept him into our lives and hearts to rule and transform us into his own image. But as you live as a Christian, the depth and richness of the cross will continue to provide and to nourish.

One way this happens is through the experience of suffering. Suffering, pain, difficulty, trials, all are ways to enter into and see what kind of sacrifice it was that Jesus made. Essentially, he put his whole self aside for the sake of you. He laid down his glory, as the Son of God, his Authority, his power, and his own body, so that you might come into his family and have a relationship with his Father. Any time you experience suffering, you can take that to the foot of the cross and lay it next to the suffering of Jesus, and in so doing, you get to see what Jesus is like and what his work means.

The cross is essentially life-giving. Jesus did not just die, the way we die—to no purpose and effect, our bodies in the ground, our spirits with God or in Sheol. His death, his dying in his body and his soul to himself, for the world, was a life giving event, for the sake of another, in order to give you life.

Another way to enter more deeply into work of Jesus is, as the writer of last week’s collect (Sunday prayer) says, ‘to love things heavenly’ and ‘to hold fast to those things that shall endure’. This is completely contrary to the way American culture currently orients itself. As we go about our daily lives, there is very little that tells us to fix our minds on the things of God. When I bustle through the grocery store and try to think what on earth I am going to put in Emma’s lunch box day after day, there is very little that orients me towards God. I’m not generally thinking about what God wants or what he is doing in the world. But by allowing myself to be distracted, by not grounding myself daily in the presence of God, I do not maintain a heavenly perspective. I become limited in my vision and scope and I miss what God is doing in the world and in my own life. This lack of vision and focus allows me to believe the lie that I am in charge of my own life and can provide for myself, that I do not need God’s providence.

One practical way, however, to begin to develop a mind and heart focused on heaven, on things that last forever rather than fade away, is to find, in your morning reading of scripture, one short line that you will keep for yourself, and say it over and over again as you work and run and keep up with life. My one line, lately, has been, from 1 Kings 17:12-16, the story about Elijah the prophet and the Widow of Zerephath. This woman was destitute and there was a famine in the land where she lived. The day Elijah met her she was gathering a few sticks together to make a fire, and then she was planning to go home and cook the last of her food—flour and oil to make a small cake or bread—which she and her son would then eat and then wait to die of starvation. At precisely this moment, when from a worldly perspective all seems lost, Elijah come to her and performs a miracle. Instead of eating the last bit of food herself, she gave it to Elijah, and then, for the whole time there was famine in the land her ‘jar of flour did not run dry’ and her ‘jar of oil did not run out’. These two lines I say to myself often as I go about my business. However busy I get, through God’s providence and mercy, I will not run out of time for the things that are most important, my time jar will have enough in it to get me through. However tired I am, I will not run out of energy for the things God wants me to do, my energy jar will have enough. However poor I feel, I will not run out of money and resources for the things that are most important, God always puts enough money in my money jar. By saying these lines over to myself throughout the day, I am able to know and be reminded that it is God who provides and cares for me, not me who provides and cares for myself. It might be a different line of scripture for you, but I encourage you to find one, for today, and carry it with you.

The key in all things is to keep God, and his work in Jesus, front and center as you work and rest and live your life. In other words, to love things heavenly, to hold onto the things that last forever, to trust in Jesus’ work on the cross, and to seek God’s will in all things.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Down to Weekly Dr.'s Appointments

Baby transverse and stubborn. Only has a few weeks to turn. Please pray.

On my way to get Matt at the airport

You can't have a minority report if you voted yes. So, maybe Bennison could put out a minority report. Heh.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

E joins TEC's House of Bishops

Nonni: Well, E, did you have chapel today?
E: Yeah, we did.
Nonni: What did you do in chapel? Did you sing songs?
E: I guess so. I forget. We had a story about three things … a girl stole stuff, and then she died.
Nonni: She died!
E: Yeah. You know what? When I get home I’m gonna’ hide all my stuff.
Nonni: Who are you gonna’ hide it from?
E: From the Big Bad Wolf! I’m gonna’ put my stuff in my suitcase.
Nonni: Is your suitcase big enough for all your stuff?
E: Yeah. ALL my stuff. The Big Bad Wolf lives in the woods, and he stole my brown bunny. But someday, he’s gonna’ go on a trip FAR AWAY, and then we’re gonna’ go up to his door, and go in, and get our stuff back. And my brown bunny too.
Nonni: Are you sure your brown bunny isn’t at Tatchi’s house.
E: No. The Big Bad Wolf has it. And when he’s gone, we’re gonna’ go to his house and take HIS stuff.
Nonni: But wouldn’t that be wrong? To steal his stuff?
E: No. God telled me to do it.

Anne's New Comment Policy-don't worry, its not as bad as Stand Firm, although possibly more ticked off

I've been lying here on the couch, trying to sleep a few seconds longer (A got in my bed at 3 am, E at 5 and Baby sometime after that, each causing me to sin in my thoughts and prayers to God) and have finally been wrenched back awake by three phone calls, the dog wanting out, and trying to pick over the news online.

Matt pointed out to me last night, about 10:30, that I'd been linked from T19 (thank you so much!) and that's why so many of you, besides my mother, have been reading me today (There's no way I got 200 hits out of her alone). And I'm gathering, from a couple of comments, that some of you are on the opposite side of this ecclesiastical divide. To you I say Welcome! Glad you're hear reading.

Please leave the condescension behind, though, if you comment. Lots will be going on today. I'm sure we'll be trolling around for news and information. Lots of ridiculous and unbelievable things will happen. You probably won't agree with what I have to say about them, and I welcome such disagreement. Please offer your thoughts. But if you condescend to me, I will pitch over the edge today, which will be another source of sin in my life, which I don't need.

So, that's the rule for today, maybe tomorrow will be different, we'll see.
Bring on the News from New Orleans!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Communion Chaos

I have just learned today, for the first time, that my calm, older, beginning to be rational child is now gone a chunk of the day, leaving me with two not yet rational, hyper, beginning to be competitive children of a gender I don't understand (namely male). That two such small bodies should be able to generate so much noise is astounding.

One has been shouting all morning to listen to Balafon music on youtube.
'I want to hear the balafon, with the picture.'
'In a minute, A, I have to read this first.'
This being the next set of remarks from the HOB meeting this morning. And now the comments.

R is just shouting. He may be trying to say something, but Lord knows what it is.

Anyway, first, here is Matt's telephone call to E last night, more on the subject of Adam and Eve.
Matt: How was Church?
E: Adam and Eve ate from the tree and then they had to hide and then they had to find leaves because they were bears and didn't want Jesus to see them.
Incredulity on the other end of the line (couldn't hear what Matt was saying).
E:Yeah, they were hiding and then they knew a baby was going to be born and be Jesus, like us.
Silence, probably Matt asking some clarifying question.
E: Because, she becided it!

I'm dying to know what is going on in E's head to make sense of all this. So fascinating, the study of scripture.

Second, it occurs to me, after these many months and years of Anglican Conflict, that while all of us have been taking this seriously-pouring over documents, trying to understand the Windsor Report, the Dromontine Communique, the Dar Communique, various letters from Rowan Williams, Camp Allen Statements, and now resolutions in the HOB-these Bishops HAVE NEVER TAKEN THIS SERIOUSLY. If they've read any of the necessary documents, they haven't bothered to understand them. If they've listened to advice and counsel from Primates and others, they bothered to HEAR. In other words, this has never been a real engagement. They've never been serious about the communion. Even this morning, after Matt's careful study of Howe's Proposal, and we, reading carefully and considering and praying for God's will, these Bishop's Never Considered the option before them.

I don't know why I didn't notice before. I guess, if you can't take the time to take the Scriptures seriously, why would you take the Communion seriously.

I leave you with my two Favorites from the meeting. These I am tucking away for the sake of generations to come.

From the Bishop of N. Carolina: "Also, shouldn't we quote scripture somewhere in this text?"
And
"Roskam: I would hope that we will make mention of these extraordinary stoles that we have been given and that maybe we should have a separate document for this purpose"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Conversations

Anne: So, E, what did you in Sunday School today?
A: We sang, 'If your name is E, stand up. If your name is Jesus, stand up.'
E: 'If your name is Nonni, stand up.'
Anne: What did you talk about in Children's Chapel?
E: We learned about Adam and Eve.
Anne: Oh, that's good. What did you learn about them?
A: They were obedient.
E: No A, they were disobedient.
A: Yes, they ate fruit from trees.
E: And they had to go out of the Garden.
Anne: The Garden?
E: The Garden of AEDAN.

On a descriptive note, I celebrated for the first time in several months, today. Not the most practical time to get back to work, given then I only have 2 or 3 weeks left before baby. I didn't fit any of my vestments, and I wasn't able to breathe particularly well, BUT, I was totally delighted to look out at the congregation and see E and A, bolt upright in the third pew from the front on the right, books open. They sat through, with the exception of children's church, all the service and came up for communion together, by themselves. And they sang loudly throughout. I haven't been able to dislodge them from the nursery, not that I have tried very hard. But they really have needed to start coming to church, particularly as the nursery is about to be filled up with babies this fall (one coming this week-not mine), and because children ought to be in church.

E Going To School

E shouting from the back seat of the car as Nonni drives her to school:
E: I need you not to talk. I need to you pay attention.
We’re all gonna die. We really, really don’ wanna die, but we hafta die because … because our mommies and our daddies are sinners.
Pause
I’m talking about dying a lot today aren’t I, Nonni.
Nonni. Yes you sure are.
E: (laughs) I’m jus betending I’m a speacher.

Qualifying note from me (Anne): The child, in general, gains an understanding of death between ages 4 and 5, which puts E exactly on target. This is why, in Catechesis, some key parables that are presented are the Grain of Wheat and The Good Shepherd (who lays down his life for the sheep).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More from the Home Front

Well, we've all helpfully gotten sick, since Matt is gone. Actually grateful he left in time to escape it or he would be having a miserable week.

Baby is unhappy and looking at us like its our fault, his nose running and his eyes red. Emma insists she is not sick AND, may the Lord be praised, comes home every day from school to write letters on the board (we have a chalk board in the living room, just in case) and tell us what they are. Aedan finally ate his broccoli this morning and then had a banana and some mango cobbler and a cookie and a number of other things. Decided to forgo the broccoli battle this evening and we all had pancakes. Just seemed like the necessary thing in the middle of a cold and the disintegration of the World Wide Anglican Communion.

I've been hitting refresh at Stand Firm and calling Matt trying to get him to tell me stuff. But so far there hasn't been anything to tell. What's the point of being married to someone THERE if you can't get news a few minutes earlier? I imagine they must be frustrated, trying to track down bishops and news and having everything be so managed. Just speculating, though, don't have any inside information At ALL.

Finally stopped hitting refresh and climbed into the attic to seek out baby clothes. Was able to find most all of E's beautiful pristine baby dresses, except the very smallest size, which is what I was looking for, along with a large ugly grey woolen pregnant dress which, unfortunately, I will probably have time to wear before giving birth.

I am surprised by one thing. I'm probably about 3 weeks out from having this baby, and for the first time out of four, I'm not impatient at all. This is not the right moment for a baby, and I'm basically sure I will know the right moment. This is a curious experience for me. All the other times, six weeks out I just wanted the sucker out (I'm not a very tall person, six weeks out there's usually just no more room). This time, I feel pretty good. I'm horribly uncomfortable and large and my feet are swollen, but for whatever reason, I'm also perfectly content. I don't want this baby to arrive before its supposed to. I don't want to rush anything. I am basically happy to keep plugging along until everything is in order.

I wish I could transfer this new calm to my feelings about the Communion and the Church and all that is going on in these coming days. If God is really in charge, which he is, than everything will happen as its supposed to. Its so easy to write that down and so ridiculously impossible to believe it. However, I am trying. We (my mother, me, my kids) have stopped and prayed several times today that God's will will be done.

This morning we also read about Cain and Abel (I have been trying to read about Jesus, but Emma has been wanting to hear about Adam and Eve, so we continued on from yesterday's disastrous events in the Garden of Eden).
'Why didn't Cain bring what God wanted him to?' E wanted to know.
'I'm not sure' I said, 'I think he probably didn't stop to find out what God wanted. But what could Cain have done, when God wasn't happy with his gift, instead of killing his brother?'
'Well,' said E,'He could have brought something else. If Jesus wants to borrow my bunny, I will lend it to him.'
'That's very nice,' said Nonni (my mother), 'I'm glad to hear you'd be willing to share your bunny'.
'Time to go to school,' I said.

And now, its time for me to stop hitting refresh and go to bed. It will all still be here in the morning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Home Front

Matt got off safely this morning, and arrived safely mid afternoon, in New Orleans, despite my usual horrifying night before dreams about air travel and whether or not it is really safe. I've spoken to him sternly three times already about the lack of news so far. I have been reading various threads all day but am longing to hear something real rather than speculative.

My mom and I are doing our best to hold things together here. We discovered, today, that a household really needs a man. All the children are in out and out rebellion, testing everything to see if the rules still apply.

After having eaten broccoli without any fuss many times before, this evening, faced with ONE small broccoli tree each, they gagged and whined and wanted to go to the bathroom, and fussed and then A finally decided to have his for breakfast. It was perfectly ridiculous. Hopefully, having won tonight, tomorrow will be a bright new and happy day.

So, we are hitting refresh at Stand Firm but will probably go to bed early and try to regain some sanity.

Oh, and Matt, I walked Maggie AND brushed her, and gave her her pill and patted her, and she still is looking at me like I am a Bad Thing. Also, I couldn't get her leash/collar off. I had to loosen it and pull it over her head. Does it always jam so badly? I hope you will have plenty of interesting news up in the morning.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Catechesis and its Arrangements Generally

Yesterday was the official launch of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the year. As usual I'm running desperately to keep up. For those of you who aren't doing a lot with children or aren't doing this program, the two posts below will not be that interesting. Right at this moment I'm trying to put my albums back together. I picked them up and ALL my pages fell out and got mixed up, so now I have to piece them all laboriously back together. Then I'm hoping to set out a good solid plan for the fall so that if I should, horrors, give birth over a weekend and miss a Sunday, someone will be able to fill in.

I miss the atrium over the summer. It was very restful and rejuvinating to be back into that life. I look forward to a fruitful and interesting year with all the kids

Catechesis and its Arrangments Two

This is the prayer table and Level Two area. I'm still filling in a lot of materials, but there's a lot of room to put things, so as I get them I'll have a place to put them. We ended up doing prayer together between the two groups this Sunday which didn't work that well, so that part is going to need some tweaking. As you can see, I have yet to put together my Blue Strip, so I have some serious work ahead of me.




This is a sort of shared bookshelf supply area that is shared.


This space is reserved for my older/junior high class. Techincally this ought to be Level Three, although they're a touch too old. But I haven't been trained yet and so essentially I'm doing an Old Testament survey. I only have girls in this group, so far, and they love to paint and make books, so they have each had to pick a person from the OT (they all picked women) to do a project on (make a book, sculpt something, do a box like they did over the summer etc). They will have half the class to work, and the other half we will cover some event or person, hopefully hitting all the main highlights over the course of the year. My class has no knowledge of the Bible and wasn't in Catechesis that long, so I'm basically starting from scratch. At Christmas and Easter we will take a break and cover those major events. Plus, I'll probably have them do some of the timeline work that Level Two will be doing, since they haven't had it.


Here is our plant/practical life area.

Catechesis and its Arrangements One

Here, as promised, are pictures of my atriums. This is the Level One Atrium. I used to have my Level Two in this room. We had a minimal amount of materials and mostly borrowed from Level One and also shared work space with them. But now I am doing two groups in the larger space, so the little ones are in this tiny postage stamp room. However, it has a lot of light and is very serene. Pictures of Level Two will be in another post above.



Friday, September 14, 2007

Counting Things Out

One Vat Peanut Sauce for supper
(one jar creamy no addatives peanut butter,
one package chicken,
5 fresh tomatoes,
3 inches tomato paste,
1 inch fresh grated ginger,
one large onion,
2 cloves garlic,
1 tub home made stock,
simmered together for an hour, plus rice)

Seven chocolate covered strawberries

One crying boy not wanting to share the final banana (I wanted the whole banana. I wanted the last bite. I don't E to have any banana-at least he's perfectly honest.)

One wiggly girl twirling and making up poems-long, long, long complicated poems.

One frustrated baby, unable to leave the computers alone, even knowing he will constantly be in trouble, weeping, smacking the keyboard-a poignant and desperate picture of the compulsive sin nature we all fight against, or should be.

One Micah
One Great Aunt Katherine
One blogging husband
One organized and energetic mother
Five computers (4 laptops)
Three large hot cats
One dog
Bed, there will I be, if you need anything.

as one too tired to blog, and yet, I keep blogging

Have got to have some kind of morning nap.

A is sticking letter stickers on Percival, the Knight in Shining Armour (Veritas Press' Phonics Museum). We just read the story, the Museum Quest and A was far less interested in the letters than who Percival was prepared to fight and when his horse would appear. He also really desperately wants a cookie. He can't believe that I'm not passing out cookies before 10am, my internal decision that the breakfast hour is officially over. He still has an hour to wait. Its been hard for him, the last few days, without E. The baby takes long naps and so he has to just be with me.

I still have to finish up these cupboards, do the bulletin and make up a bed for my Beloved Great Aunt Katherine who is coming to spend the weekend. My mother is actually going to drive down to NJ to get her and bring her back.

I need to pull myself away from the computer, but I'm obsessively checking Stand Firm and T19. Matt has gone into the Tunnel of News before any big event (that Big Event being the House of Bishops Meeting next week in New Orleans, for those of you who aren't following Anglican Communion News). Every now and then I'll get an IM from him asking if I've read such and such, which, of course, usually I haven't. So now that I'm here, planted in front of this machine, I'm loath to get up and walk away for fear of missing something. Matt and I don't usually speak to each other when something big is on the horizon. We IM and email mostly. And then Sunday afternoons we have a talking binge after church.

Anyway, enough blogging. A is weeping that the letter stickers are hurting him. I don't know how on earth such a thing would be possible. But if there's a way to be hurt by something, A will be the one to find it. Yesterday I caught Baby (I really need to start calling him R) smacking A and taking his toys. A was weeping instead of defending himself. This surprised me, given that A is twice the size of R. But what do I know. So many find babies intimidating and scary, I guess A falls into that category. Maybe I should send R to New Orleans with Matt. I'm sure a punch and a bite from him will show KJS and the ABC how things ought to be . Honestly, someone stop me, this could go on for hours!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pizza, then later the House of Bishops

Pizza for Supper, I should have taken a picture.

I made one regular pizza dough (Joy of Cooking Basic Pizza Dough) with tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni—not something I would usually do, but we were cooking for people in the church. And then for us I substituted one cup white flour for whole wheat and, having run out of tomato sauce made a b├ęchamel with the left over cheese and topped it with feta, basil, fresh thyme, some of the rest of the pepperoni and a little bit of cheddar. My main fault was getting tired and using all the whole wheat dough on one pizza. Should have done two, but other than that it was (I thought) delicious. My mother keeps insisting its not really pizza with a b├ęchamel instead of tomato but I’m sure someone in Italy, at some moment in time has done what I just did, surely (even though I’m not Italian at all).

Managed also to move baby out of the nursery in with the other two kids by entirely taking apart the crib and putting it back together. They’re all in there together shouting happily. Hope they decide to sleep. This allows me a dedicated nursery for the next baby to scream it out in, when that auspicious moment arrives.

So now, I’m sitting here trying to decide whether to go to bed (its 8 o’clock and would really be a good idea) or whether to read more comments on Stand Firm, or start work on this Sunday’s bulletin, or keep shoving things in cupboards, or read some sort of news or politics online.

It occurs to me that no amount of reading or speculating quietly to myself will have any impact on the House of Bishops Meeting next week. None. What a depressing thought. I could pray about it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

complaint

I'm cleaning out my cupboards. I'm sickened by the amount of stuff we've managed to jam into this house in a short 5 years. We have so much furniture you can barely walk through the house, and every closet and cupboard is jammed. I have three enormous bags of paper I'm throwing, and there are bags and bags of clothes I want to get rid of, and really, I'm ready to start putting the furniture out on the curb to be taken on garbage day.

There are all kinds of spiritual conclusions I could draw from this, and I invite you to go ahead and draw them.

I am going to have a cup of hot milk and go to bed. Perhaps in the morning all this stuff will look different and I will long to keep it all.

Vanity, thy name is

I was staring at my little profile picture last night and it was making me irritated. Its a good picture (if I do say so myself), one of my best, which, of course, is why I picked it. But I'm 8 and something months pregnant and I don't look that thin right now and so looking at me all skinny day after day is starting to get on my nerves. The picture now there is of Blenheim Castle. I believe I was 10 when I visited it with my parents and we had our picture taken out front. Rather think it looks like we own the place. Much more restful to look at (for me). We'll see how long that lasts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now, what is the gospel about?

Matt posted this morning on Stand Firm an excellent articulation of the Gospel, made all the more timely by this very telling (heh) quote from Elizabeth Kaeton at Telling Secrets (hat tip Matt via Captain Yips)

“If Christ Jesus wasn’t crucified because he was being true to his authentic self, so that we, like him, might be able to live our lives with integrity, then I have completely misunderstood the message of Jesus and I have no right to call myself a Christian, much less an Episcopalian in the Anglican tradition.”

Well, yes, absolutely. Couldn't have said it better myself. I commend Matt's article to Ms. Kaeton and hope that it will clear up her various misunderstandings.

More Conversation with E

On the way home from school

E:Today I went to art class.
Nonni:You did? What did you make?
E:I made a picture and I had to fill up the whole page. The WHOLE PAGE.
Nonni:What colors did you use?
E:Blue, and red, and yellow.
Nonni:Aha! The primary colors.
E:Why are they PRIMARY?
Nonni:Because if you’ve got red and blue, you can make purple; and if you’ve got red and yellow you can make orange, and if you’ve got blue and yellow you can make green. So with three primary colors you can make three more.
E:Oh. I didn’t finish making a present for your daughter.
Nonni:You didn’t? Who’s my daughter?
E:MOMMY! She’s your daughter! Didn’t you know that?
Nonni:I knew that. I was just checking to make sure we were both on the same page.

A Small Remembering

Matt and I had been married exactly one month six years ago today. Generally we got up and turned on the news and got ready for classes at Virginia Theological Seminary, where we were both studying (about 5 minutes from our townhouse in Alexandria). I remember looking in the mirror, one month after fitting into my gorgeous and tiny wedding dress, and thinking 'wow, I'm really thin, this is really great' or something like that, and shoving myself into a pair of tiny trousers and a periwinkle colored blouse and feeling fabulous. Anyway, we didn't turn on the news. We just got ready to go and got in the car and started driving in towards DC to the Dominican House where we had a class that morning. We'd been in the car maybe 55 seconds when I turned on the news and we heard the live reporting from NYC. Two or three minutes later, once we were actually on 395, we heard the Pentagon get hit and then all the aftershocks (thought the whole city was being bombed) and were immediately routed off onto Quaker Lane. We wended our way back to the seminary and watched TV for the rest of the day. Late afternoon there was a service in the chapel, at which the dean and some student only wore black cassocks. Weeks after there was arguing over whether or not they should have worn white surpluses over the cassocks. Wanted to scream every time I heard this discussion going on.

I think a lot changed immediately. The seminary, already divided politically and theologically became polarized. Matt and I spent more and more time together in our apartment studying. And we decided to have a baby right away, which was a shock and horror to the seminary community as well. And since that morning I try always to listen to or read the news before leaving the house. One never knows.

Morning Thought From E

Getting in the Car to go to school

E: I’m not coming home tonight.
Matt: Why?
E: I’m staying over (at school)all night.
Matt: Well, I think it’s a regular day. I think you’re coming home tonight.
E: That’s not quite what I was expecting.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Growing Up

Well, we're officially parents. I know this news probably doesn't shock many of you, given that we're about to have our fourth child. But it has come as a shock to me. We went to the first Parent's Open House at E's school this evening. She's been in school nearly a whole week and has been coming home day after day in a complete fog.

'How was school, E?' I say every day.
'Good' she says.
'What did you learn?
'I learned to read and write.'
'Oh, well, that's wonderful' I say. But beyond that she hasn't been able to tell me anything (it is a LONG day-8am to 2:30pm). So we've been kind of in a cloud of unknowing, wondering what she does all day and hoping its what we signed up for.

But it turns out that all is well. She is learning many things and will over the course of the year.

She has a wonderful teacher, a Mrs. Rising, but we really know her best as Miss Wising. And a nice colorful class room full of mostly girls and only three boys (Caleb, Caleb and Giovanni-I can't wait to meet this young men, what a wonderful gift, Caleb, Caleb and Giovanni). And, for me, a whole new set of responsibilities-the blue school shirt for chapel day, the gym clothes for gym days, the Friday packet and homework, the lunch each morning, the upcoming parties for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Valentines' Day, and a lot of things I've already forgotten.

But most of all, I'm profoundly grateful that E is in a nice school where she will actually learn something, rather than at home with me, the two of us struggling day after day over letters
('What's this letter, E?'
'A' says E
'What sound does it make?'
'Pppp' says E
'E, seriously, you think this A makes a Pppp sound?'
'Hah, no, it says Ahhh'
'E, do you understand why you would want to know what this letter says?'
'Oh yes, so that I can read. But I already can read, so we don't need to do this.'
And other such conversations).

I've come to view the schooling of my children much like child birth. The main thing is to make a lot of plans and figure out how best it ought to happen, and then as soon as you get into the thick of it, chuck all the plans and do something that's really going to work. And then, having chucked the plans and had things go very differently than you intended, rejoice and give thanks for a healthy child, or a child learning to read, or whatever it is, and not feel guilty about it. That's what I'm doing tonight. And hopefully I'll still be doing it in the morning when I wake up at the despairing hour of 6 o'clock to make sure there's a lunch packed and a decent breakfast and launch into the battle of E having to wear the ugly blue chapel shirt instead of the nice pink blouse with the creamy buttons and the tucked sleeves. God help us all.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rearranging the Furniture

I'm flipping my atriums.

I mean, I'm not buying a cheep atrium and fixing it up and selling it expensively, heh. I'm moving the 3 to 6s into the small room and the 6 to 9s into the big room. And of course, its like a sauna bath up there, the third floor of the church. I have two amazing and wonderful catechists who are there EVERY Sunday and who put up with my controlling and managerial attitude. So the three of us, and my mother, shoved book shelves and parables and infancy narratives around and I coerced my mother into looking at all the materials I've made over the last couple of years.

I'm deeply frustrated that my feet are so swollen so that I cannot run around and do all the shoving of furniture myself. So, both to comfort myself, and to become more holy, I'm going to start reading my mother's lovingly worn copy of Gold By Moonlight by Amy Carmichael.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Update on Change of Plans

Well, I'm really too hot and tired to blog. The computer is too hot. Everything is too hot and sticky. We're waiting for another storm to roll in and while we wait I continue to sin against God and my neighbors in the vast area of having a very very short temper and being less and less able to cope with any adversity at all. I've been reading other women post about how gracious God has been in giving them patience in the care and nurture of their children, but even just reading posts about patience puts me in a bad temper.

So, thank heaven's! my mother arrived safe and sound, just in the nick of time. She's exhausted with jet lag and surprised also by the heat, I think, but full of patience and all good things, including chocolate, and small wooden Swedish horses and a real genuine Malian Balafon for A (pictures forth coming-I know I keep promising that).

All I want to say tonight, is THANK YOU, all of you who prayed for our friend. He was released from the hospital today, in tact, better even, than before, with a long road of recovery ahead of him, but SAFE and Sound. Thank you. Part of the reason I haven't posted all week is because Matt and I have been over to see him a few times and have been fielding calls of inquiry about his well being. God is good and we're so grateful.

So now, really, this keyboard is too hot for words. I'm going to shove away this large furry cat (Seriously, Micah, come get your cat, four hot cats is TOO MANY) and go lie in front of the fan.

Monday, September 03, 2007

a change of plans

We've been trying to clean this wretched house all day. Its been hot, and we had to go out and get groceries (blessings of blessings, Matt pushed the cart all over the store and got everything while I leaned on it and wondered whether the baby was just going to drop out of me or not), and we're tired as we always are on Mondays, and well, we just haven't been able to pick up and clean.

And then, around 4 pm, just when we thought we might really get up and do it, we went instead to pray for a beloved friend and parishioner who is facing a serious surgery tomorrow morning and to bring him communion and just hang out for a bit. We prayed and talked and got to see his wife and baby and just be there. And then we got back in the car and realized that there are a lot more important things than a clean house. And that rather than going home and cleaning we should go and pray some more and talk to our kids and pray some more, and if we go through the week with a messy house, well, so what.

I hope you will join us in prayer tonight for this man, our friend, his family, his wife and baby and for our whole church. God is good. He will make all things well. We pray this tonight, with our whole heart and soul.

Threads and Loose Ends

Today and tomorrow are my last days to sleep in, probably ever. E starts school on Wednesday and has to be there early, seemingly the crack of dawn (8am), and its far away. So I will begin a long year of waking up early to get her there in tact and prepared. I don't know how its going to work out, obviously only by the grace of God.

Some of you know that I tried to do 'some preschool' with E at home last year as a testing of the waters of homeschooling. I'm deeply grateful to God that I tried this out because it turns out that E and I drive each other crazy and that the chances of her learning anything at home, let alone reading, writing, arithmetic, and the love and grace of God, are very very very low. So she is very excited to go off and has clothes for it, and supplies for it, and a lunch box and can't wait. And I am grieving and wishing she weren't already 5, and digging out my books to try my experiment again with A, who seems to be a very different little person than E.

So this week everything changes for us, even as the march toward Baby # Four drives relentlessly on. I was so tired after church yesterday, Matt got in the car and looked at me and said, 'wow, you're really pregnant,' in an amused way. Wanted to hit him but didn't have the energy. Which brings me to the real reason I was going to post this morning, and that is to link his sermon, which he has helpfully posted himself on Stand Firm. I've been trying not to constantly link to SF on the assumption that all of you who read me read there first anyway, but I was planning to post his sermon and he beat me to it.

The last few weeks, as I've mentioned before, I have been moved and fed by Matt's sermons-a surprising happenstance, especially when I've read the sermon ahead of time, as I did this week. I'm posting this one because many threads came inexorably together as I was listening to him, winding themselves into the firm tight Point that it is now time, more than ever, for me to Count the Cost. I've been counting the cost in vague and disorganized way. I go about my life at church and home knowing on some level that things in the wider church are getting hotter and messier, but basically not worrying about it too much.

But yesterday as I listened to Matt I was thoroughly bowled over by reality. This isn't going to get better, right away any way. The communion stands to be unraveled. The American church is on the edge of dissolution and destruction. Good Shepherd has been and will be affected. Me, I am in this mess also. I've written these things down before, but today, somehow, they seem real.

So, we're going to clean the house seriously today. And get some groceries in. And get my mother's room ready for her. And make sure E has everything she needs. But also, today, as I do all these routine things, I'm going to seriously count the cost, and ask God to show me what is required, what I must do, how I must be, even as he judges the church and my own small heart.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

HAPPY Birthday!


I want to wish my dad a very Happy Birthday today. I think he's still gallavanting around Europe with my mom, getting in some nice holiday before school starts in Nairobe in a few days. I've been reflecting all day on what, if anything, my father has taught me and have concluded that 1. he has taught me a whole lot and 2. the most important of which is to try always and in everything to have as good a time as possible. So I hope he is having a very good time today, and I also miss him very much and wish he would opt for a good time, cut class, and come back to Binghamton with my mom. Happy Birthday!