Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Matt is away for an hour so I am steeling the chance to use a keyboard that will allow me to use 'i', 'k', 'm' and some other interesting letters. I am able to read email on my little long suffering laptop and that's about it. BUT help is on the way. Patience is all that is required of me.

In light of that, I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year.
Last year I resolved this:
1. I'm going to loose the weight of 2 babies plus.
2. I'm going to pray and read the bible 5 days out of 7 (of course, 7 would be better, but if I make it to 5, then I can aim for 7)
3. I'm going to read 6 books. And I welcome suggestions on the books.

I think I did pretty well. My prayer life was so amazing I blew through a journal in a year and two months. I lost some weight (down to that last hardest five pounds) and I read six books except that it was really the same book over and over.

I'm sitting here thinking of what to resolve for, well, that would be tomorrow wouldn't it. But my son has just put his new battery powered train in his hair and tangled it all up. So I'll do that and go to a tutor meeting in a few hours and clean my kitchen and consider What Would Make Me a Better Person in 2009. Some of you probably have some very clear ideas already. Also forthcoming as time and a keyboard allow, an immense list of thanksgiving.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

We're all wandering around in a food laden stupor, covered in fabulous toys and, how shall I put it, snot. Either Everyone has a cold or Everyone has allergies. The effect is the same, no one can breathe.

The thing I am Most Grateful for, as I sit here, is that we put all the toys away a week ago and so in the children's rooms there sit cool clean empty shelves in which to stuff all these toys. So far Elphine (see some previous post or other) has only been able to remember two toys that were put away. Plus, they were So Grateful yesterday, breathless even, to receive such beautiful things to play with.

We are about to waddle out to walk off some of the pounds we gained yesterday, but I wanted to tell you what we ate before we go. Matt completely out did himself, and remember, he didn't cook at all five years ago, except Ramen Noodles.

Here's what he cooked
Roast Goose
Roast Duck
Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Here's what I cooked

Yorkshire Pudding
Nigella's Perfect Roast Potatoes
Persimmon Pudding

The Duck was also according to Nigella, boiled for 40 minutes, roasted an hour at top temperature. The Persimmon Pudding was from my dad who got it from his mother.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Women are so funny. Men are too but I wasn't talking to a man. I was talking to another woman, whose name I don't even know, and this is roughly how it shook out:

her: what are you knitting?
me: a little dolly scarf. I'm really behind. There's no way I'll have this done by Christmas (notice the self deprecation, the subtle put down of myself, doubtless based on my own insecurity and anxiety that CHRISTMAS IS COMING)
her: Oh, I'm totally on top of things. I do everything way in advance. I mailed everything out last Tuesday and my cards out today and I'm baking 10 dozen cookies tomorrow out of this book (shows me the book).
me: Oh, that's very nice. I'd love to be on top of things but it just didn't happen for me this year.
her: Well, I'm a very organized person.

At which point I began to knit furiously and try to examine what about Her would make her feel so insecure a to want to put me down. I so enjoy these little moments of self awareness.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jesus and maybe Santa are Coming: Get Ready

In light of this, and the fact that we have now reached a moment where the clutter, crumbs, toys and laundry have become too much, my children are carrying ALL THEIR TOYS, except two each, down and we're packing them away until after Christmas.

It has come to the point where all we do is clean. We wake up and clean, clean all morning, eat lunch and keep cleaning, clean well into the evening. And its not fun any more. So, extreme as it is, we're putting as many of our worldly belongings into the basement as we can fit there, and then maybe there'll be room for a Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Sermon for this Morning-Psalm 126

I don't have time to put it in a better reading format. Here's how I preach. Enjoy!

For the last several weeks, well,
lets be honest, months,
I've been gearing up in anxiety and worry towards this last Friday
which, was the first,
hopefully not the only, hearing in court
regarding who owns this property.
I have moved around a lot in my life.
The last six years in the rectory here in Binghamton
is the longest I have lived anywhere in one place
in one house.
Indulge me, for a minute,
while I describe to you the most beautiful house in the world.

Its way off the beaten path,
a kilometer or more off of the only paved road in the whole land,
over a stream with a dubious bridge,
a stream that floods in the rainy season
and dries up in the dry season,
a road that is really only a foot path.
The house itself is now a series of mounds.
If you didn't know what you were looking for,
you would miss it.
In its glory,
it was a string of six mud huts with thatch roof—
a kitchen, office, living room, bath hut, two sleeping huts,
joined in a semicircle
around a dusty courtyard
shaded by a glorious mango tree covered in red ants.
This is my first house,
the home I long for.

Matt, when he visited Farakala for the first time,
walked out to it with me
and we managed to find it,
and the ruins of the original village.
In a horrible desire to modernize,
the whole village of Farakala elected to pack up and move
to the paved road.
Now they have a store and a telephone
four butchers and a mosque.

I remember the night I went into exile from my home.
We sat around eating supper under the mango tree,
candles lit,
ants falling onto the tablecloth.
I was going to have to go to boarding school.
The house itself wasn't going to last.
My parents were going to move nearer the road
with the rest of the village.

It is the same grief, all these years later,
that I encounter as I wander around the rectory,
filthy as it is.
If you came over after church
you would walk in to an enormous pile of laundry that needs folding. And R and G took a bag of sugar
and carefully sprinkled it all over the living room,
dining room
and kitchen.
My children are facing exile from the home of their little hearts.
They eat their meals by candle light
and pray that if we have to move,
God will 'not make it a struggle'.
Those are E's words.

So, these two griefs have wound themselves together
and finally this week I kept thinking,
'When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then we were like those in a dream... of the Negev...
shouldering their sheaves...
what is that verse,
where is that verse?'
It kept breaking in
and playing over and over
like a cool refreshing breeze.
So when Matt needed a break from the grueling work hours of this week, I clicked open the lectionary page and there it was,
Psalm 126,
you can find it in your bulletin, or in your Bible,
one of the 15 poignant Psalms of Ascent—
the songs pilgrims, ultimately,
would sing on their way up to visit the Temple in Jerusalem.
But this is really the song of the one returning from exile.

When the Lord restored the Fortunes of Zion,
then we were like those in a dream.
We couldn't believe it.
We had lost everything,
they are saying to themselves.
Because that's what happened to the people of Judah and Israel,
after they had sinned so much,
they had rejected God so much
and they weren't going to repent.
God had called them to over and over and over and over
and it just wasn't going to happen.
And he,
had promised that if they didn't obey him
and worship him alone,
he wouldn't let them stay in the land he had given them.
So finally,
after several hundred years of being patient,
he carried through
and the Babylonians came in
and carried the people off
to a horrible strange place
with with a horrible strange language.
And they could only remember their beautiful comfortable houses,
the lush land,
their fields which they had worked with their own hands.
And finally they were sorry
and they turned back to the Lord.
They repented.
They turned around and grieved and were sorry.

We have,
over the last five years
undertaken a similar grief on behalf of the Episcopal Church.
A church that has been stubborn in its going away from the Lord,
from God's word.
And we've undertaken a corporate repentance,
even as we daily confess our own personal sin.
Part of that corporate repentance
has been to stand firm on the unchanging truth of Scripture.
That decision has had consequences,
in this case,
very probable exile from this building
and the loss of the things in it that we have come to love.
And if you are grieved,
its a reasonable place to be.
The people of Israel,
walking their sorrowful way to Babylon said this
“By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept, yea we wept
when we remembered Zion.” Psalm 137.

For all the difficulties of daily life,
the places where we live matter to God.
For one thing, he put us each where we are.
He has provided food, shelter,
usually a vast deal more than we need.
Compared to my dream huts,
the house I live in now is a palace
even though the layout isn't,
how shall I say,
and the basement leaks.
God gave it to us
and we have made our home there
and have been content.
Even more so with this building
where we worship that same God.
Its a quirky building.
Its not big enough.
We could sure use a bigger parking lot.
But God gave it to us
and we've been content for 130 years.
It is heartening and fascinating to read back over the minutes
from the original vestry,
how they called their first few pastors,
the miraculous work God did to build this church,
and then build it again when it burnt down.
People have faithfully worshiped God here all these years.

But all that time,
like an errant and unrepentant Israel,
the larger church,
indeed, much of the church in the West,
stopped paying careful attention to the Word of God,
started devising clever ways around it,
began catering to a culture that wasn't interested in God or his will.
And, as part of a larger body that began to go astray
and then refused to repent,
we are living with the consequences of that greater sin.

But God is gracious, and clever.
for those of us who believe in him and love him,
is not sent for our destruction and despair.
Almost the moment the people of Judah arrived in Babylon,
they began to get back in gear.
They started paying attention.
They began to see God again and take him seriously.
They began to long for the temple in a way they never had
when it was right next door.
Their sin clouded minds and hearts were cleared out
and they were able to look back and see the amazing work
God had done on their behalf.
It is in the time of captivity
that we read the steadfast witnesses of people like
Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel and his friends.
And, many of the psalms.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then we were like those in a dream.
When God let us go home,
when God gave us a true place to worship,
walking up these steps to the temple,
because thats where this would have been sung,
on the way up right up into the temple itself,
to be with God in true fellowship and love,
then we were like those in a dream.
We were so happy.
We couldn't believe it.
We laughed and sang.
And all the nations around us saw the amazing work of God,
who took a people out of the land
and brought them back safely.

That's what God is doing with this church.
He's bringing us out and bringing us back in,
He's restoring us,
In the middle of trouble and trial
we have begun to grow.
God isn't waiting for some perfect setting.
He has sowed the seeds of this current growth
day by day over the last six years.
He has made this congregation deeply curious about the Bible,
for its own sake,
he has brought many different kinds of people together to worship,
he has worked in us to grow and mature us
into real reasonable thinking Christians.
He obviously still has a lot of work to do,
but we're already seeing a harvest.

The work of these last days,
the sowing of the seed, the Gospel,
for many,
has been a work of weeping.
And there is still hard work before us
Some of it will be the work of grieving,
of sowing the Gospel in sorrow into the ground.
But look at verses six and seven, what is the promise?
They will reap with songs of joy.

Nothing is lost out of God's hand.
There isn't any work that we do,
or that he does, to build his kingdom
that disappears or isn't ultimately to his glory.
My mom and dad, this last week,
traveled back to the village,
to Farakala,
for the dedication of the New Testament into Supiyre,
the language they have on worked for the last 28 years.
The sacrifices of comfort, of home,
of sending themselves into exile to Africa for the sake of the gospel
have not been lost.
They are seeing a great harvest of those
who are hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ
for the first time in the language of their hearts.
Our sacrifice,
our exile will not be in vain.
Already our clinging to the gospel over everything else
has brought a small light to this neighborhood.
God doesn't plan to let any of that be lost.

Some of you are already sowing in joy.
But for those of us who weep as we carry out the seed of Christ,
this Advent and Christmas season,
the promise is clear
we will come in again with joy
not only into our heavenly home,
however you hope it will be
red ants or maybe a sprinkling of sugar,
but even now.
God is preparing a beautiful place for us
maybe even right here,
maybe down the road.
Where we worship matters to him.
But that we worship and obey him matters even more.
He has, in his hand, a harvest of joy for us.
We probably won't be able to believe it
We'll be wandering around in a dream, laughing because its so amazing. Amen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How it Went

Matt has written pretty thoroughly how the hearing went this morning. We took the two oldest with us and they were golden and perfect even though we had to wait for a lot of other cases to be heard.

Now they are shouting and running laps and jumping off the furniture and I am googling, of all things, for a Magical Princess Talking Chair which my daughter unhelpfully saw somewhere and appears to have prayed to Santa for. It is interesting that Santa, apparently, can be contacted spiritually, in their hearts as it were, and not in person (they wouldn't talk to him in the mall, or go near him, sensibly).

Anyway, I have nothing to say about the hearing except that I think it is so funny, and a little weird, that the prosecuting lawyer seems to feel so persecuted by the long process we have put him through, as if it isn't his job to do the work he is doing, and he isn't being payed by the hour. I mean, I'm really sorry we didn't just sign everything over and give up. I think its sort of amazing that they expected us to. But I find it a little whiny that he would take it personally. Also, due to the razor like perception of the judge, it is ridiculous that so many of us (well, I was a baby so I don't count) sat quietly by while 1. women were ordained illegally, 2. the Prayer Book was "revised" and 3. the Dennis Cannon was 'passed'. But, God is patient, even with me, and even if it is 30 years late, better now than not at all. Not that we're trying to take it back, but certainly not to prosper it in all its weird and whiny works. As for me and my household, we look forward to our new life in a new church.
Here's the Video

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Day of Preparation

In preparation for tomorrow's Court Hearing, Matt is fasting and praying. And I am praying and making Christmas sugar cookies, donuts, hedgehog buns, and winter vegetable soup and we're watching Miracle on 34th Street. I know its Advent, but I decided to throw all solemnity to the wind and party all day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a sermon I preached today for a funeral

It is an honor to be with you here today, even in grief. I grieve with you and pray that the Word of God, God’s own word, which we will look at together now, will offer you the comfort and consolation that only God himself can bring.

I have just read a portion from the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. You may have heard some of these words before. ‘I am the resurrection and the life’, Jesus said. Or you may have heard of Jesus’ friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Jesus did not have many friends in his lifetime. He had plenty of people who were sort of interested in him, and people who wanted to be healed, and people who wanted him to save the world, but not many who were truly his friends, who loved him for himself. He had his 12 disciples, and Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and maybe a few more.

Lazarus was not very old when he got sick, suddenly, and Mary and Martha sent immediately for Jesus, knowing that he had the power to heal. In the same way that we, when we fall sick, do the best thing, the thing that is most likely to work—go to the hospital, go to the doctor—they sent for Jesus because he was their best bet. But Jesus does something very strange when he hears that Lazarus is sick. John, in verse 5, writes, ‘Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.’ What a strange and incomprehensible thing for Jesus to do. We don’t immediately understand, just reading these verses. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, didn’t understand. ‘Lord,’ she says, ‘if you have been here, my brother would not have died.’

Well, let us try to discover why Jesus might have done such a thing. We know some things about Jesus which will help us.

First, we know that Jesus is God. He always existed. There was never a time when he wasn’t. He was the means by which God created the earth. He is the Word of God. He is God. He has all power and all authority in his hands. He is God and he can do anything he wants.

Second, we know that Jesus is a man. He is human. He isn’t a little bit God and a little bit human, he is completely God and completely human. And because he is a man, he has felt everything that we feel. He has known all that we know. He has experienced everything that we experience, even death itself.

These two things that we know about Jesus are very important for us today, because you, in the grief and loss of this moment are feeling, in your minds, bodies and hearts, you are experiencing an old and ancient and timeless truth—the truth and knowledge that Death is Not a Good Thing.

How many of you here have heard the idea that death is good? That death is natural, it is part of life? It is part of the Cycle of Life. Death and life go hand in hand. That death is good because it relieves suffering and it happens to all of us, and so we need to accept it and celebrate the person we have lost.

But that word, ‘lost’, causes a big problem for the notion that Death is good. That word, ‘lost’, is like a little neon sign flashing what we all feel and know in our hearts—that death is Not good.

Death is not good, first and foremost, because it was not created by God, it was not designed by God. Death was not built into the fabric of creation. Death came to the world after everything, including human beings, had already been created. After God had perfected and made beautiful the earth, and put man and woman on the earth to care for all he had made, that same man and woman took matters into their own hands and decided that they were as wise as God. They rebelled against him. They didn’t do what he asked them and from that moment on, they were bound to die, and all their children were bound to die, and each of us are bound to die. It was a tragic moment, that first sin, and we are living that tragedy today—every death is a part of that first death, every sin a part of that first sin.

Now, I know that most all of us don’t wake up in the morning and say to each other or to ourselves, ‘you know, I’m going to sin against God and that sin is going to lead me to death’. No, I mean that death is the natural consequence of that fact that all of us have sinned, all of us have not done what God asked of us—which was to love him more than anything, to be perfect, to devote ourselves to him, body, soul and mind. I don’t do that, every day I don’t love God more than everything. I love myself, I love my kids and then, when I remember, sometimes I love God.

The trouble is, I was created to love God. I was created by God to live with him forever and love him and do what he asks of me. And so every moment that I don’t do that, I am not living in his life and love, I am separating myself from him, I am living in death, not life, even though my body is alive.

From our end of things, it’s a hopeless place to be. We sin against God, we can’t help sinning against him, and the consequences of that sin is death. Those we love die, and we loose them, and then we ourselves die.

That’s where Jesus comes in, to this hopeless mess. When we are sick, dying in our sin, we send for Jesus, Jesus, come help me. He can help because he’s God, and because he’s man. As God, he has all power in his hands, not one thing happens to us without his knowledge and understanding. As man, the only human person who has been perfect, who did not rebel against God, did not unplug himself from God’s life, he was able to pay the full penalty for sin, he, in his own perfect will, was able to die the death required of each of us. A little bit after going to Mary and Martha, after weeping over his friend Lazarus, he calls Lazarus out of the grave and raises him in his body, to life. Not as a ghost, or an apparition, but as a whole person. The raising of Lazarus was a picture, ahead of time, of Jesus himself. Jesus, of his own choosing, went all the way to the place where everyone hated him most, Jerusalem, and he put himself in the hands of his enemies, and he was killed. He died. And those who loved him mourned and wept, thinking that they had lost him forever.

But Jesus didn’t just die, it wasn’t just something he did, the way all of us will die. He died to a purpose. He died to destroy death r. He died in order to rise again, in his body. And in dying, and rising, he has opened a door for us. For us who were in the dark and hopeless and in sorrow. Jesus died and rose and opened the door to everlasting life.

What is everlasting life? It is something all of us know about instinctively. You may have said to yourself in this difficult time, ‘I’m going to see Mike again.’ Or ‘I know he’s watching over us.’ Or ‘I can feel him here with us.’ And you’re right. Mike is in everlasting glory. His body lies here, but he is not dead. Death was destroyed forever by Jesus on the cross. For each of us, our souls will live forever.

But that is not all. The news gets better and better, that’s why its called Good News. Jesus, who right now, in his body, sits on the right hand of God his Father in heaven, Jesus is coming again. And when he comes again to the earth, we each get our bodies back. Mike will get his body back. His soul and body will be united again and he will walk around, the way Lazarus and Jesus did, and each of us will.

There’s something you can do, this afternoon, to begin to live now the everlasting life of Jesus, to live for life and not in fear and sorrow of death. And that is walk through the door that Jesus has opened for you. You can pray here and now, and ask Jesus to come and make his home inside of you, to heal you and comfort you and make you whole. You can begin to devote yourself to him, body, mind and soul.

Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.’ Death no longer has power. It has been destroyed. And though you grieve for a moment, for a time, the time for weeping will come to an end when Jesus shall reign on the earth in power and great glory.
Pray with me.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Smatterings of Explanation

I have intimated, once or twice (I think, not wanting this moment to bother to look back) that blogging has lately been difficult due mainly to busyness. But it hasn't really been busyness. I've been too raw, spiritually and emotionally, to write about anything-the mundane details of life which are the bedrock of this blog, food, announcements about the new communion, the funny and ridiculously difficult trip home from Chicago involving a snow storm and three flu ridden and vomiting children-anything. Its a bit like living in the end times, I would say, these dreadful days of Advent. The day of the Lord, that is, our day in court, is fast approaching and we're trying to Get Ready mostly by praying a great deal, lingering over the Bible in the morning, trying to enjoy every second we have in this house and in the church and mentally packing up the house and working out virtual school plans that include packing in short amounts of time verses long amounts of time.

As I implore your prayers for the remainder of this week, but also for the days after while we wait for the judge to make up his mind (I believe he has 90 days) I offer you the following links and hope that you will check them out.

Matt has written here about our long walk towards the court house and our communications with the diocese.

At a Hen's Pace has written beautifully here about the service beginning the New Anglican Church in America.

Ten O'Clock Scholar has hosted (many days ago, SORRY!!!) a second annual Advent Carnival which is well worth the time.

I'm really grieved to find it so difficult to write. I hope, soon, that the flood gates will opened and I will be back daily writing and wasting all of your valuable time.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Where We Are

So we're all here with Matt, in St. Charles, just outside of Chicago. Well, when I say 'with Matt' I really mean 'in the general vicinity of Matt doing completely different things'. He has been working very hard doing something or other, and the children and I have been living in the lap of luxury. Well, when I say 'lap of luxury' I really mean 'creating mayhem and chaos everywhere we go'. I exaggerate. Its probably somewhere between the two. This morning we found a Denny's, that bastion of fine dining and elegance, and ate enough eggs and pancakes to feed a small hungry town somewhere in the world. And then we went to the teeny tiny St. Charles History Museum to look at all the stuff. And then to a grocery store for milk because to buy milk in this hotel practically means selling away our souls.

We're so lucky, I mean blessed, to be able to come. Tomorrow is the launch of the new province and then Thursday we drive home, hopefully in one straight shot.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Day of Prayer and Fasting

If you're in the Binghamton area, please come join us today from 10 to 4 for prayer and fasting. You can find all the details here and here. And, if you can't make it, please remember us in prayer today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

But I don't want to be too tired

I shouldn't really be blogging. Matt's wonderful and devoted parents arrive the day after tomorrow, so I should be cleaning, and there's a deal on turkey at Wegmans, so I should be in the shower and shoving us all in the car to go over there and avail myself, and its Friday so we should be doing school, and its nearly the weekend so I should be doing the bulletin....So blogging is the obvious choice.

We're trying to wean Romulus (see some previous post or other) off the bottle. Its ridiculous that our two year old and one year old are both wandering around with bottles hanging out of their mouths. Two days ago the two year old announced that he was 'Not A BABY!' so I replaced his bottle with a sippy cup and have been regretting it ever since. This morning he pried the pillow off my head and waved a bottle in my face, nodding his head and winking roguishly.

'No' I said.
'No,' I said, 'you can have milk in a sippy cup. You're a big boy'
'I not big boy, I not baby. No siccup. BOTTTLLLEEEEEE!'
'No,' I said.
This his brother, whom from henceforth I will call Alouiscious ('But I don't want to be called Alouiscious,' he said, crying. 'You'll be fine,' I said, 'you'll enjoy it') began to weep because his father left for Bible Study this morning without saying good bye to him.
'Will I ever say bye?'
'You say bye all the time.'
'Yes, but will I eeevvvveeeeer say bye?'

So I went to the doctor yesterday complaining of extreme fatigue.
He fairly laughed at me.
'Pray more' he said, 'and God will give you humility.'

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

there it went

If you missed it, maybe they'll play it again this evening or have it in the archives. Here is the Family Life Network Website in case you'd like to check it out.

Good Shepherd in the News

Matt was interviewed and I think it will be broadcast soon here.

Monday, November 17, 2008


'You know why I think there should be ten children in The Family?' said E (let's give her a name, shall we? Even though most all of you know her name. Let's call her Elfine, as from Cold Comfort Farm) just now.
'No, why?'
'Because it would be a lot faster to clean up if there were ten children' she said.

I guess, but it would be a lot of work to have, as in give birth to, ten whole children. Elfine has been obsessing about The Family-how many of us are in it, what we're going to do next, the rules under which we all operate.

I've been obsessing about everything else, most particularly the future. This, combined with the absence of a reasonable computer, has inhibited my blogging abilities, or rather, completely hobbled them.

Much as I know I ought not be anxious about anything because my Heavenly Father cares for me so that I lack nothing etc. etc. bla bla bla, it is a trial and struggle to live every day as if that were true. I achieve it by moments, fleeting smattering moments interrupted by long periods of anxious worry.

The fact of the matter is, I don't want to put all of this in cyber space-'THIS' being the subject that concerns us day by day.
Are bishops good or bad?
Does God like bishops?
Will we Win? or will the bishop Win? (accompanied by pictures of sword wheeling bishops in front of castles with dragons and churches and black clouds)
If the bishop wins, what will happen next?

I could relate all of the questions, and their possible answers, and all the conversations and pictures drawn...but...I don't want to.

As we struggle along day by day in school, dining room table scattered with books and timeline cards and paper and crayons, and tea, honey, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal cookies, toast, bananas (what is it with the FOOD that has be consumed while studying-one vast tea break lasting from the end of breakfast to the beginning of supper), crumbs, blocks, knights and princess scattered far and wide over the floor, R (let's give him a name too, shall we? How about Romulus. These, of course, are subject to change as my whimsy takes me.) lying full length on the dining room table as we try to work, marker in hand, waiting to write and read and speak.
'What's that?' he points to my book
'A Book'
'What's that?' he points to my hair.
'What's that?' He holds up a cookie.
'A Cookie.'
And so the long day wears on.
And the laundry piles up and the snot rolls out of all their noses and we wait and wonder what will happen next.

In the meantime, we'll probably go out into the snow and wind to buy milk, eggs, butter and juice. And later I will get to that tag (sorry I'm being to slow). And after that I will start making Christmas presents. And this evening I will start trying to butter Matt up into letter us go with him to this

(h/t Matt, Anglican TV, the whole world who woke up and got there before me)
And then I want to get to that question from long ago, about what we do for prayer in school. I've been trying to get my wretched machine to spit out the nice little cards I worked up to help us with this. I intend to post them and talk about our very nice Morning Payer routine. But right now I'm going to go look for a sweater because the snow has come upon me Too Early.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Morning

So I'm trying to take a day off. Its been a few weeks since I've actually taken our day off and not worked. But that means, unsurprisingly, that I'm trying to shut my eyes to the deep and abiding layer of dog hair that is coating every surface and the layer of toys over that and the sprinkling of cinnamon roll crumbs over that. As I sit here I can hear some small suitcase being drug downstairs. Perhaps someone is preparing to move out. If we don't pack everyone up and get out of this house for the afternoon, I'm going to start cleaning and that will ruin everything.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Another Week Ran Swiftly By

I can't keep up.

Part of my current troubles include a computer that is so slow, it might as well sit down and give up. Every now and then I open it with the ridiculous idea that I'll get some pictures uploaded, or check my email, or do the bulletin, or just even open Firefox, only to enter into hysterical despair as it veerryy slooooowly considers to itself whatever it is considering. Then, children screaming around me, I slam it down mid application and go on to the next thing. If you're wondering what machine I'm on now, its Matt's and only because he is cooking dinner and not sitting here in my way.

Also, my wearisome children expect to learn more than my little slips of paper and various curriculum guides tell me they require. They want to 'do school' all the time, skipping play time, skipping rest time (well, I Will Not skip rest time), and of course skipping clean up time. I don't say this to brag, I say this as a mournful complaint because I'm having to work harder to keep up with them.

And then, as we all know, there was the election, upon which we spent time, emotional energy and much conversation-discussing the candidates, whether they are 'good' or 'bad', whether or not they will do 'good' or 'bad' things, why we elect a president instead of making ourselves king, what an honor it is to vote etc. etc. etc. etc.

And then Thursday, E came out in spots which I immediately, and mistakenly, assumed were chicken pox. They were all over her, little tiny red spots, and they itched, so she had a baking soda bath and that seemed to cure it.

And then today, just as our best hour of school was taking off, I had to stop everything and take the babies to their well baby appointments and shots. What a joy. What a great way to spend two hours. Anyway, they're totally healthy. And no, G's legs are not too bowed, they are supposed to look like that at this age. Matt, are you reading this? She's fine.

I've written whole posts in my head, in the absence of the computer, about the end of western civilization, the failure of the church, the demoralization of the republican party, the unhelpfulness of evangelicals who didn't support McCain because they don't think women should dwell in the public sphere (I was going to link someone here, I WAS, but, well, you've probably already found her), the unhelpfulness of McCain himself who seemed determined to loose...but I didn't write any of them, and considering the breakneck speed of the days ahead, I doubt I'll get to it. There is some small consolation, and that is the Sovereignty of God who is not surprised by anything.

We have finally learnt by heart this song.

Right now, A is wandering around, holding a tiny spiderman and singing
'then he had Shealtiel who begat Zerubabel who had Abiud who had Eliakim. Eliakim had Azor who had Zadoc who had Akim....intent to form a new nation, intent to form a new nation, intent to form a new nation'
If God could still bring Jesus into the world, even out of the mess of his lineage, well, he can probably still come back, even though we've elected such a nice young misguided man to be president.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Sermon from Yesterday: All Saints Year A

When Matt gets the podcast up I'll try and post it. Enjoy!

All Saints-Matthew 5
Open with me to Matthew chapter 5, beginning in verse 5.
‘Seeing the crowds’, because if you look up a few verses, the crowds had been coming fast and furious, ‘seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down.’ The Sea of Galilee is just off what was once the Great Trade Route of the middle east in the first century, the Via Maris, or way of the sea—
a road visible from Capernaum and the house of Peter. So, on the one hand, you have the out of the way Sea of Galilee and its bustling, but, provincial, fishing towns and on the other hand you have a Very Strategic location. The whole known world, walking over that Road, would have heard of Jesus from people going by and could have walked over to see him, if they wanted.

Some went out of their way out of curiosity. On the information highway, its always nice to see that Latest thing, the Thing of the Moment. Jesus was the thing of his moment. Others came out of desperation. They were sick, or knew someone who was sick. The crowds grew and grew. Like an ER waiting room, or the Walk in at Flue Season, so inwardly tuned from pain and affliction, just coping with reality, they came and waited and hoped to be healed. The crowds became so great that Jesus went up onto a mountain. His disciples, fresh from being picked out of their boats and their lives, came to listen to him. The crowd filtered in to ‘listen in’ and find out what all the fuss was about.

When many people in the crowds of life think of Jesus, they vaguely like him.
They profess, sometimes, to like his ‘teachings’ which we’re going to look at here. They don’t often like the people who follow him, that would be me and perhaps many of you here this morning. They might say that we are fanatical or that we have ‘corrupted the message’. Let’s look at this message, some of the ‘teachings’ of Jesus and see what we shall see.

Matthew says, in verse two, that Jesus ‘opened his mouth’. When God opened his mouth and spoke, the Word, the only begotten Pre-existent Word from before time and for ever, brought all things came into being. The Word, Jesus, has power. His words overturn the world.

Jesus opened his mouth and said, ‘Blessed’ or ‘happy’ or my own version, ‘Well’ as in, ‘it is well with my soul’. There is no good English word for what Jesus is saying. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.
The poor in Spirit is the one who knows his or her need of God. For those of you who believe yourself able to get on without God, yours is the Kingdom of the Flesh, this world. Your reward is the pride of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps and trusting yourself to get you through this life. I hope none of you find yourself there this morning. No, the Poor in Spirit, the one who knows he cannot draw breath apart from the mercy of God, who knows she cannot eat except God provide bread, who cannot be saved unless God comes to earth,
the poor in Spirit is poor in pride. Pride is a meager foundation; the World of the Flesh is a glittering glass bauble that will shatter in your grasp. If you think you are rich in yourself, you are deceived.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’.
‘Mourning’ here is not just mourning over a loss. Those who mourn, in the time of Jesus, would have been anyone who was in need, material, spiritual, or in need of healing. Are you broken? Do you grieve over your own sin? Over a great loss? Over the waywardness of your children? If you look at Jesus and grieve, or mourn, or do not have enough, and then, and here is the key, do not rush in to fix it yourself, Jesus will be your comfort and your solution, your salvation.

‘Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’
Jesus is not saying, blessed are the ‘mousy’ or ‘happy is the pushover’ or ‘blessed is the quietly speaking person who never causes offense’. Meek means humble, one not constantly standing up for their rights, or out to get what’s ‘rightfully theirs’. The earth, as it stands now, belongs most generally to the rich, the powerful, the good negotiator, the person with a little penny in their pocket who can cut a good deal. But, it will not always be so. The one who meekly, humbly throws his full self onto the mercy of God in all things, this person will ultimately, remarkably, rule the earth with Christ in glory.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied’.
God is righteous. He is Right about everything. He is perfectly just. He is good. If you are hungry for righteousness, for what is good and holy and true, your hunger will lead you to God. If you hunger for God and find Him, because if you seek him, you Will find him, all will be well, you will be in a good place, you will be blessed. The opposite bears out. If you are not hungry for goodness and truth and beauty, if you are caught in darkness and your soul doesn’t yearn for that which is greater than you, for God, you will not be well, you will be hungry, thirsty, tired, worn thin, unblessed, unhappy.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’
Mercy is the centerpiece of the Gospel. God didn’t have to create us. When we sinned against him, he did not have to set into motion his great Plan of Salvation, beginning with Abraham, culminating with Jesus. He did not have to become a human being. He did not have to die in our place. He did, out of Mercy. What business do we have not letting each other off the hook?
If you, having been forgiven, do not turn around and show mercy, do not make every effort to understand and make excuses for, do not go out of your way to help someone who doesn’t deserve it, why should God go on being merciful to you? Forgive and you will be forgiven. Be merciful and you will be given mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’
Like righteousness, purity is a characteristic of God. Jesus was pure, perfect, holy, he was the pure unspotted lamb required for sacrifice. There wasn’t anything wrong with him. He didn’t sin. And in not sinning, he wasn’t cluttered by the ugliness of grief, brokenness, rebellion, and trouble. Purity of heart and mind comes from hungering after and seeking God. Purity makes you an uncluttered person. Imagine that your body, soul, and mind are a wide room.
You can clutter up your room with many things—sin, busyness, gossip, rebellion, attitude, anxiety. Your windows become dusty and foggy; you cannot walk from tripping over some wretched problem. Purity of heart requires that you clear out all the junk. You confess your sin, you trust God and let go the anxiety and worry, you exercise mercy and grace towards other people, you do not allow the junk of this world to clutter up your mind. Then you will be, on a very practical level, better able to see who God is and to follow him, rather than tripping everywhere, or becoming distracted by the bright glittery junk all around you.
This is one reason why Jesus encourages us to become like children in order to better enter the kingdom of heaven. Not because children do not sin,
or are not in frequent open rebellion against reality, their parents and God, remind me to introduce you to my children after the service, but because they haven’t had as much time to clutter up their lives with sin and trouble. The small child is best able to see God. That is why Sunday school is So Important for the littlest of our church family. Bring them here while they can still see.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’
Peace is a necessary byproduct or side-effect of life with God. God is the ultimate peacemaker. He, through mercy, grace and power, overcame our rebellion and sin by dying for us, allowing us to make peace with him. This ultimate peace allows us to make peace with each other and with ourselves.

And finally, if you haven’t been paying attention, Here is where the World of the Flesh, which as been gradually tipping, blessing by blessing, is finally turned all the way over. Verse 10,
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad.’
I imagine that the crowd, after this remark, began to thin. Jesus goes on, from this moment, to say many more difficult things to his disciples and all the people about divorce, lust, anxiety, fasting, anger. Most of the crowd, after being healed and eating all the free food, decided that the teachings of Jesus were too hard.

Not much has changed. Just about the whole world has available to it the Teachings of Jesus. Missionaries are everywhere. The internet is abundant with good information. You can find a free Bible, if you really want one. If you are curious or broken or hungry or tired or sick, Jesus will be of interest to you.
But it’s easy to be apart of the crowd, to have your hand out for a good thing, closing it again quickly against the sacrifice of yourself, your pride. That is what, I’m sorry to say, is at the heart of these few verses we have walked through together. The cost of following Jesus, of knowing him and being known by him, is your pride, yourself. I encourage you to count the cost. If you’re willing to give up yourself, your pride, the world of the flesh, I congratulate you, you are well, you are blessed, indeed you are Rich. You have gained the everlasting Love,
Grace, Mercy, Peace, Righteousness and Purity of the Kingdom of God.
Sure, the world won’t like you any more. You might be called a fanatic, or be passed over. Some, remembered on this day, have even been killed. But mortal death is a small measly price to pay for the perfect presence of God and the everlasting community of believers from every time, every place, every language, every nation who worships around the great throne, the throne of the Lamb who died so that you might live. Amen.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Quotes from the Week

I was sorely tempted to do a Saturday on the Links: Highly Infuriating Blogs that Make Me Want to Jump Out of My Own Skin and Run Away Screaming but that seemed awfully negative. So instead I offer you

Quotes from the Week
Me: What is Promised in the Covenant of Works?
A: (thoughtfully) A Turkey

Much Later, Picture in Hand
A: This is a picture of Columbus. He's crying because his shirt is on the wrong way and his tag is scratching him. He is on one of his trips and he is sitting in a chair next to a table. What does he look like?
Me: I'm not sure.

And finally, Matt, in frustration: Anne, you're your own Pharisee. You tie up heavy burdens for yourself and then refuse to carry them.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday in Review

I'm sitting here in a veritable stupor. Even though everyone slept until 7:30 (are you paying attention? 7:30!!!! Not 5, not 4, not 6:45, 7:30), having to actually get out bed and stumble down to the kitchen to make my own tea facing down hoards of miniature shouting angry people (by that I mean my own children) is still daunting.

I deeply appreciate all the prayers for Matt's safe traveling. However, I neglected to ask for prayer that Matt would take the right set of keys with him.

Yesterday morning, having woken up at 5 and spent what seemed days preparing and organizing for our morning with Classical Conversations, I experienced sheer terror at precisely 7:50 when I took the keys off the hook and found them to be the wrong keys. I called Matt in hysteria and then remembered that, by the grace of God, one of the families in CC lives four blocks from us. I called in her in a fit of apologetic embarrassment and she very graciously agreed to come get us on her way.

So the morning progressed without other incident. Except that my own son could not see his way to sitting in his chair even for the slightest amount of time and eventually, by the end of the morning, was standing up in it shouting and weeping about the melting of the snow. Then he shouted and wept when I took his star and he lost the opportunity to pick a prize out of the prize bucket.

I was so shattered by the whole mess that when we got home I let everyone watch Curious George and Word Girl while I tried to figure out what to do about choir. Because there's also choir on Wednesdays, which requires a car with a key. After much phoning and gnashing of my own teeth, someone from the choir with a van volunteered to come get all of us.

Really, there's nothing like taking four small children to choir practice at night in winter. I bathed them all, stuffed them into warm pjs, stuffed them into coats, and then plonked them in front of this

while I filled bottles and found snacks and looked for the list of music. Choir itself involved holding the baby (first on the back and then the front), moving E closer to and then farther away from the heater as her internal temperature dictated (she sat with her eyes shut and her hands folded in holy contemplation. Later I discovered she was thinking about how much candy she expected to receive and not about the music, or God), catching my boys by their collars as they ran laps around the church to tell them to NOT run laps around the church, finally forcing them to sit in the library because they couldn't Not run laps around the church, only to hear one wail (loud enough for everyone to hear) "It hurts my feelings when you make me sit in here."

So I am sitting here in a stupor. Pretty soon I'm going to move my stupor to the school table where I will wrestle my children into learning whatever it is we're supposed to be learning today. And then I'm going to make them Clean!!! NOW, no don't dawdle, no stop touching your brother, CLEAN!!! because Daddy is coming home and if he delays at all, well, we'll see.

Oh, and if you're in Binghamton and you're planning to go to the Noon Eucharist today, its canceled, because I can't get there.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The snow is snowing all around

If you have a moment, I'd be SO Grateful if you'd pray for Matt who is driving through an unexpected snowstorm. Due to global warming (ha) it is unhelpfully cold and snowing, even though its only October and usually we don't get snow until January, unless we're trying to fly somewhere around Christmas time, and then it snows at Christmas. I have all our curtains shut trying to keep the wind out of this creaky old house, and am digging out a space heater for the school room. Meanwhile Matt is trying to drive on roads that haven't been plowed because no one thought it would snow This Much.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Rev. Dr. Robert Carlson

I'm sorry, I'm going a little nuts with the pictures. Here is my dad being ordained by Archbishop Nzimbi in the Cathedral in Nairobi. Looks like it was a beautiful day. We're so jealous that we weren't there. As you can see, there are various bishops (whom Matt and I met at GAFCON) and my mom and dad and the church. Just for the purposes of needless bragging, Matt and I met Archbishop Nzimbi (I'm sure he doesn't remember) by the Sea of Galilee at the place where Jesus is believed to have reinstated Peter. We were on the same bus on our day around the lake. I dabbled my toes in the water and thought that it must have been an awfully huge relief to be out of Jerusalem after all the madness, eating breakfast and having Jesus say that he loves you. His Grace was very pleasant. I am particularly enamored of his beautifully embroidered hat in the picture below. And my dad's hat is very fetching as well.

A Little Fuel for the Fire...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Before the Closing of the Day

I have been angling for a moment at the computer ALL DAY to congratulate my dad (without his permission) on his ordination today, in Nairobi, to the deaconate.
I googled him just now and found this nice picture.

Congratulations Daddy. Joyce stood up in church today and told everyone all about it at the 10:30, and she's had everyone sign a card, which I have unfortunately misplaced. As soon as I find it, I'll send it to you. We look so forward to you coming back and doing an extensive time at Good Shepherd while we (and by that I mean I) go on vacation (just kidding).

In honor of you we've had a normal and unremarkable Sunday. E continues sick and so stayed with her favorite person in the world while the rest of us went to church. After church, having missed all the festivities, she sat with us on the couch while we debriefed about the day, offering strong and basically sound opinions about everything.
"If people don't come to choir practice" she said, "than we should go to their houses and practice them there."
"Everyone should come to church. Its an important and meaningful thing to do."
"Everyone should love God."

I am watching anxiously for signs of sickness in the rest of the brood. R looked pale this afternoon and A complained of a light tummy ache. Matt, OF COURSE, will be gone all week on some vital, if badly timed, affair. I can see it already-the long nights, the unannounced projectile vomiting, the weeping and moaning. "When are we going to die?" asked A this afternoon.
"I have no idea" I said, "Hopefully Jesus will come back tomorrow and we won't have to think about it."
"But if we do, we'll go to heaven for a while" he said.
"Yes, we'll go to heaven until he comes back to earth and gives us all our bodies back" I said.
"My tummy hearts" he said.
Well, a tummy ache can be bad. Hopefully not THAT bad.

Friday, October 24, 2008


And there goes another blog free week! Wow.
As I sit here, trying to gin up the moral fiber to shove two babies into clothes for their day out with their favorite people, and listening to the gentle whine of older children having to work when they don't want to, its hard to remember even what happened all week.

We did eat well.
Monday (or maybe Tuesday?) I made apple cake, apple dumplings, apple sauce and apple muffins.
Monday evening I made Curried Haddock and cauliflower. The haddock was so divine. I have no idea how to cook fish, really, so I liberally sprinkled it with breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and generic curry powder, shoved it in a pan seriously filled with butter, let it go about a minute on both sides, lathered it with cream, let it go another minute and a half, sprinkled cilantro all over and then tried to resist eating half before it made it to the table. The cauliflower I also lathered in curry powder and steamed (well, I didn't really bother to steam it, I just put a little water in the bottom of the pan and put the lid on and cooked it desperately until it was tender). I quietly ate the cauliflower all by myself all week, without mentioning to Matt that there was any left.

The children, on the other hand, have been veritable pills. Tuesday, in the course of school, they (by that I mean E and A) both began to weep over the thought that they might have to someday leave home and go to college. I can't even remember how the subject came up. I'm flattered, of course. But I also have no idea how to explain to a six year old and a four year old that 1. college is a good thing (basically) 2. honestly, they don't have to go if they don't want to but now is not the time to make that decision and 3. what exactly college is and why so many people actually leave home to participate in it. I also had several moments of panic that they might never leave home.
E: I'm not ever going to leave you, mommy.
Me: I'm so glad to hear that. Do you think you might ever get married and have a family?
E: Of Course. I'll have a husband and 10 babies and we will live with you.
A: Me too.
Me: Oh, well, that will be cozy.

Thursday at 1:30am E woke up with a fever, woke up her sister also, and suckered me into sleeping on the end of her bed, baby in arm (isn't one a little early for all out temper tantrums in the middle of the night?). Needless to say we didn't do any school yesterday. A listened to the memory work cd all afternoon per his own request. E sat on the couch wrapped in a blanket and looked soulful and pale.

I doubt she'll be up for much today but thankfully the fever is gone.

And, of course, I'm very discouraged by this news. It doesn't make things at all good for the rest of us in the state of New York. So, I will be fighting that anxious thought done all day while I try to focus on this moment and the various piles of laundry and dishes it holds.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Psalm One

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

This is the first psalm I remember memorizing as a child and I still derive endless satisfaction from drawing boring looking trees and tracing the words over and over. Sometimes I try even try to make the words themselves into a tree. The simplicity of the picture-the restfulness of the water, of a tree that doesn't go anywhere, isn't dashing after better water or a different kind of water-endlessly sustains me.

The Tree hearkens to the True Vine. The True Vine, Jesus, is the perfectly righteous man. He never walked in the council of the wicked, slowing to stand around and discover the allure of the way of the sinners, finally sitting to scoff. He was never moved. He was always righteous, always perfect. The True Vine is strong, eternal, changeless, planted.

And life connected to the True Vine is sure, planted, sustained, not hustling here are there, distracted by every small thing. Sometimes, by the end of the day, I am thirsty. I haven't stopped to drink water all through the afternoon, and I haven't stopped to pray. I have run after too many things and sin and wickedness have crept in. Sometimes, in my thirst, I drink the wrong thing-irritation, impatience, dissatisfaction. But because I am found in Jesus, because he is the source of my life, even though I may always be trying to run away or move too much, Jesus himself keeps me planted. He has fixed me to himself. He helps me to stand upright, sure, faithful, rooted, rested. In this small daily moment by moment work, Jesus blows the chaff out of me. He helps me to stand under his judgment, rooting out wickedness and sin, bringing me into the congregation of the righteous.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday in Fall

So we didn't read Alfred the King, in spite of our best intentions. Well, E's intention was NOT to read it and I became distracted from my tireless pursuit to make her read it. Thing is, she's reading, rather well actually, but without any interest at all. The whole point hasn't clicked and I'm gathering that I can't make it click, no matter how much I talk about how exciting and wonderful reading is. Amazingly, she would rather read lists of words on boring pieces of paper than an actual book with pictures. Such a strange child.

Meanwhile, E and A are retaining vasts amounts of disconnected information and enjoying it very much-the timeline, the english grammar facts/definitions, the dates and history sentences, the timeline, the catechism, the bible verses, the parts of the body, the latin. To be perfectly honest (I hate it when people say that), I'm totally surprised. I'm more than surprised. I happened to glance at my IHip today (I can't even remember what IHip stands for) and found that we are on track for where I planned to be, even though I feel like (feeeeeeeeelings, nothing more than feeeeeeeeeelings) we're always behind.

As I just said, it surprises me. I'm surprised, shocked even. I guess I just imagined it being so Awful and so Hard. When you say something like, 'Well, we're homeschooling this year,' to someone who knows you have four small children and a 40 hour a week job at church they look so Appalled, so Afeared for your sanity that you go home thinking, 'I must be crazy, this was a terrible idea'.

This very thing happened to me this week. I wondered to myself, 'How am I doing this?' And I discovered the following things about our life.

A. (because we're learning the alphabet). We're very focused on the things that are really important to us, like: home made bread, home made stock, home made food in general. So a day in the kitchen is essential to the functioning of the household through the week.
B. the children are perfectly capable of cleaning and picking up after themselves so I will not waste time doing it better after they have done a bad job. I will just sit down in the chaos and ignore the veritable desert of crumbs on the floor, admonishing them that they will have to do it tomorrow since they did not do it today.
C. Church is more important that sports. So we are not probably going to do a lot of sports. Maybe a little here and there, but basically its going to be a life lived in church. E, actually, is having an hour of ballet a week and loving it. But basically, because we're not running all over creation, we have time to help clean the church, worship in the church, make pies for the church, play in the church and color pictures all the live long day in church.
D. Classical Conversations is SO HELPFUL. Its keeping us on track and providing structure for the difficult things like science, art and music.
E. E and A are recovering the very good relationship they lost a little last year when she was in regular school. They were glued to each other before that, but, after a year of being endlessly on the bus, exhausted from relating to so many different people, they seemed unable to get a long. Now they work together, play together and pray together and are glued back at the hip, only now they have little ones to include and love and its very pleasant to watch.
F. Being with your own children for the whole day is not as awful as one would expect.
G. I'm really glad we dispensed with the whole counting thing. If a child can come at '3' or '10' they might as well come right away. Of course then you have to teach counting another way.
H. Some days are better than others but every day that we do school all day is a good day.
I. I can count well enough for a first grader.
J. I'm a better singer than I thought.
K. I can play the tin whistle better than a four year old on my first try.
L. I'm a lot less lazy than I was seven years ago.
M. My children will be a lot less lazy when I'm through with them.
N. Sometimes its easier to remember the timeline when you're dressed up as Spiderman.
O. Babies are a serious pain when you're trying to delicately glue little pieces of paper together in exactly the right way.
P. It is imperative that everyone goes to bed early on friday night so that I can watch that repulsive program The Soup. There, I said it, I watch TV sometimes, even bad TV.
Q. We actually have more order and structure than we did with a regular school routine. I am not required to get up while it is still dark to make lunch and stand out in the cold waiting for the bus. I can slowly wake up and start school at a reasonable hour when the sun is up and everyone is in their right mind.
R.If Matt didn't cook on the weekends, I would loose my small mind.
S. Homeschooling IS a sacrifice but I can't remember what we gave up to do it. Must not have been that great, whatever it is.
T. I thought I would have to give up doing all the stuff I do at church, but actually, I just needed to do more work in less time (as in being less lazy, see above). Surprise.
U. I really enjoy making charts and books. I don't enjoy reading the Math text to find out what we're doing next.
V. I don't have the energy to read Any books at all except for Calvin and Hobbes.
W. I didn't need to worry that Matt would never read to the children in the evening. It turns out, he just wouldn't read boring things. Now that he's reading them Narnia, he Never forgets and rearranges his whole life to be there at that moment.
X. I probably don't need to worry at all, although its such an essential habit for me, I don't see giving it up this year.
Y. Probably more people could homeschool if they put their mind to it, just like more people could go to church if they put their mind to it.
Z. Gluing leaves to pieces of paper is a legitimate art project and it doesn't need to wait until I know what all the leaves are before we do it.
Well, isn't that a nice cliche, I made it all the way to Z.

Various Notes Leading in no Direction

1. For those of you waiting on my ordination story/thingamabob, I was stuck for a while, but I started writing again last night (only by hand, stupidly) so its back in the works. I have no idea how long it will take me. Its turning out to be enormous so I will have to spend a long time editing.

2. The baby is screaming after pouring cheerios all over her head. She turned One on Wednesday. I will have pictures sometime this weekend of the fabulous present she received. (Thank heaven's she's reached the magical age where she's fully "human" and Peter Singer can waltz in to do her in-as if a month ago she wasn't "human" or is somehow "more conscious now". What malarkey.)

3. Matt still hasn't helped me move that blankityblank dresser and so E's room is turning into a veritable mountain of clothes as we stagger through baskets of clean clothes trying to find things to wear each day.

4. I will shortly be posting about homeschooling and how its going, only not right now because the baby is screaming (see above).

5. I've started writing small reflections on my psalm each day. My hope is maybe post some of it here, but again, lots of editing required. AND, if you're not interested, well, never mind, when have I ever let that bother me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Columbus Day

The leaves are really peaking today. This year is by far the most beautiful since we've been here. Its just stunning.

My house, on the other hand, not so stunning. I let the boys eat cinnamon buns on top of me in bed this morning, which means at 10 o'clock tonight, or whenever I happen to get to bed, I'll have to strip all the sheets off because there's no way I'm living with all those crumbs for a whole night. And the kitchen is a wreck because at 5:30 Matt and I decided that we HAD to celebrate Columbus day with meatballs and cheesecake.

And the baby is teething horrendously (you can search back to my posts during Holy Week for my thoughts on this matter). She continues in abject misery.

E, after being told to pick up the living room, said, 'I'm having a bad day'.
'No you're not' I said, 'You're having a perfectly fine day.'
'Oh,' she said.

So, I'm sitting here next to this brilliant red tin whistle, ream of papers in hand, ready to go. By morning I will be playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to perfection.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The 10th of October

tree by Joyce Carlson

It is my considered and unscientific opinion that the fall color always peaks on October 10th. Obviously, some years are better than others and sometimes the effect is delayed But I will always insist on the tenth, that the color is peaking.

The 10th always sticks in my mind like an unhinged anniversary, one of those dates of no significance that is so significant.
It may be that it was the day that half the boys in our senior class were expelled from boarding school. They were doing something awful (its hard to remember exactly all these years later) like listening to very bad rock music. Maybe they were smoking pot too. I think, chiefly, they had bad attitudes and didn't want to be in boarding school (as indeed we all did) and so they managed to get themselves removed leaving the grand total of senior boys in our senior class at Five.

Subsequently, I have always connected this event with the leaves peaking in the Southern Tier. For a long time I thought Matt's birthday also was on the 10th. I kept passing by the 7th and finding him looking reproachfully at me, 'Aren't we going to celebrate my birthday?'
'Yes! Absolutely, on the tenth'. Very difficult of him to insist on its being on the 7th.

So, in commemoration of this important day, Matt and I went out to a fancy restaurant last night and to coffee afterward. I had duck confi and Matt had monk fish with shitake mushrooms in a red wine sauce.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Dragon and the Lady

I found this interesting arrangement this afternoon. I think it shows remarkable perception into the nature of all things. I don't know from whence it came (as in which child). But I've left it, for the moment, as a cautionary warning to us all.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Rain is Raining All Around

This is the problem with leaving blogging till the end of the day. Too many different things have happened. Too many different thoughts have flittered through my mind.
There are a lot few Obama signs around here than I would have expected.
I'm really homesick for Oregon. Its raining gently. Its balmy out. And I just caught the end of NPR's From the Top whereon the Portland Youth something or other were playing Mozart something or other so beautifully. I have gone on for several days feeling that I am continuing on in a strange land, this strange Northeastern land. I've settled down, basically, and look out at the same sky line day after day, but it will never be my "home" in the way that heaven is, or Farakala or Multnomah Blvd in Portland. What is so strange is that This is my children's home. This will be their fixed mark when they consider what is most normal and basic and wonderful in the world. All the places that are my home will be a wilderness for them.
The fruitfly thing works SO WELL!!! Thank You!!! We're collecting vats of them all over the house. I even went out and bought bananas, knowing there is now an escape.
I'm really glad we're homeschooling. Six weeks in, I couldn't be happier. We're ticking along, basically, trying to keep up with all my various lists, and its so nice. Its remarkably interesting to spend all day every day with my own children. And, so much like the Herdmans, I can see that the youngest child will be the smartest, having learned all that the other children have to offer.
I've got a kitchen full of groceries to put away, and then a large mug of hot milk with a drizzle of Brandy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Happy Birthday

My older and wiser husband is turning....really old today. His hair is already half grey and he has to eat less and work out more to keep his boyish figure. But he's far and away handsomer than the day I married him.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday was made for...Jesus

It has been on my mind for some time to describe for you an average Sunday. Many years ago there was an advertisement on TV showing comfortable middle class people, probably a couple, sitting at a comfortable kitchen table drinking designer coffee and eating something healthy and reading…the New York Times, back, assumably, when people read the New York Times. There was probably some comfortable music in the background and then a voice coming through the TV announcing to all us schlops who didn’t know yet that ‘Sunday was made for the New York Times’.

Our Sundays are so far opposite of that commercial that it’s hard to believe that we’re on the same planet, certainly not of the same world view.

So here’s how it normally shakes out, starting, of course, with Saturday.

Saturday morning Matt and I are always under the mistaken impression that we can sleep till 7. We desperately hang on, fending the children off with bananas and bottles of milk, but eventually its just not worth it and we all give up and, well, Matt gets up while I drink tea. Then suddenly, inspite of having woken up so early, I’m late for Bible Study and flinging myself and two or three children into the car to get to church. It is Always my intention to print off the bulletin after Bible Study, but instead I usually hang around gabbing and then decide, foolishly, that I’ll “come back later in the afternoon” because “I just need a small lunch” and a chance to “do a few things”. All of which means that I come home, eat some delicious sandwich that Matt has invented, fall asleep on the couch or get stuck catching up on blogs I missed during the week. About 3 or 4 in the afternoon I suddenly realize that the house has become wrecked and supper is almost upon us and that “it would be better just to get up early on Sunday and run over to print”. Matt recklessly agrees to this idea almost every Saturday afternoon. As supper is in progress I generally simultaneously start making some new item for the atrium, organize clothes and shoes for the morning, make various lists, trim bangs and do baths (although sometimes I’m able to manipulate Matt into doing the baths). Then I’m up late painting little wooden people, or finishing up flash-like cards, or gluing bits of things together, all for the atrium. Matt and I fall late into bed.

So you can see what kind of morning we are set up to have. There’s no “reading the paper” or “enjoying a cup of coffee” or “eating breakfast”.

Matt wakes up at 4 to practice and fine tune his sermon. He always has milk all lined up in the fridge the night before and when he brings me tea at 5 or sometimes 6 when he forgets the time, the tray is laden with milk for all the kiddos. Milk in the morning, for children, is like coffee for grown ups, if it’s not the first thing, the day starts off Very Badly. More often than not, its 6, not 5, at which point I am in a total panic, lying in bed under the pillow, staring at the clock and thinking, ‘if I don’t get up in the next 3 and a half minutes, I’m going to be in serious trouble’. I manage to fend of reality as long as possible by pouring one saucer of milk for Frances (E’s cat), sleeping while she drinks it, pouring a second saucer of milk for my cat, sleeping while she drinks it (because I wouldn’t want to disturb either cat by pouring my own milk), drinking my own tea, and then running around hysterically waking up and dressing all the children. Meanwhile, instead of calmly and reasonably finishing up his sermon, printing it out and getting ready for church, Matt often rewrites whole sections, or stops to admire and play with the children so that very often 7:30 has come and gone and we are Not in the car breaking the speed limit to church but rather still finding collars, collar buttons, hair bows (because I picked the wrong one out the night before and everybody is crying), lists and Sunday school material. And of course, when I haven’t printed the bulletin the night before, and haven’t gotten up early, I’m madly and desperately printing and folding while the 8 o’clockers arrive.

That is the critical moment. If I can get all the bulletins done and the readings printed off, and the 10:30 bulletin humming out of the machine by 8am precisely, the service starts and calm rolls down like an ever rolling stream. The children ride around the parish hall in cars and push toys eating bananas, toast, the rest of the Friday Morning Men’s Breakfast, and strawberry wafer cookies. The best person in the world pours boiling water over 3 bags of tea as I emerge from the office, successful in my efforts. I fuss with my Material and eventually wander up to the atrium.

This morning, as I read ‘God Who Has No Hands’ to my class I listened to E and A arguing loudly with each other about the nature of the Good Shepherd. Their argument displayed perfectly the difference between a 3-6 year old child and a 6-12 year old child.
A: The Good Shepherd is a Boy! He is a Boy!
E: I know he is, but my friend Julia is like him.
A: No, because she is a girl and the Good Shepherd is a boy!
E: Yes, but she is kind, like the Good Shepherd, and she cares about many things.
A: No, she is a girl.
At which point the catechist intervened. E should really move to level two but she would be all by herself. I think I will read her ‘God Who Has No Hands’ this week.

After Sunday School I am told many things by many different people which I try to write on One piece of paper, so that will remember later. Things like: next Sunday evening I will need to go to church to help make 25 apple pies for the Harvest dinner, or one EM has had to stop that ministry for a season for health reasons and it would be really great if we could train the three new people who want to learn This Week sometime so that we don’t run into trouble, or everyone should go take as many well ripe bananas as they can from the church kitchen with which to make banana bread, if they want to. At the same time I am trying to hustle my own children into the service, make my way to sing with the choir, count the congregation, encourage Someone to turn on the heat in the building, get the tween girls sitting quietly in the front row poised to take notes for the sermon and make eye contact with Matt that we are all on track. This morning someone removed the healing oil away from its spot so that before praying for anyone during communion, I had to wander around looking for it, dragging an angry toddler behind me. I managed to sing half the communion hymn. After the service I am told many more things by many people but usually there is cake, and another blessed fresh pot of strong black tea.

We generally make it home between two and three in the afternoon. Today we went to visit a lady in the nursing home on the way home, all six of us. And then all the children stood on the fireplace and loudly sang ‘Jesus in the Morning, Jesus in the Noontime, Jesus in the Evening’ or something. They heard another chapter of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and went to bed. And now I’m lying here waving away fruit flies, stupid stupid fruit flies which are Everywhere in Every house in this town like some vile plague. I’m going to post this and go to bed. Sunday is not made for the New York Times.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'm Back, I Think, I'm Pretty Sure

Hello All
I know its been a crying age since I've posted and I vastly appreciate the emails and comments and phone calls, even, inquiring as to my negligence and, how do you call it, laziness?, in regard to this blog. There's no great interesting reason for my absence. I sort of got busy, and then when I realized how long it had been, it became daunting to know where to start, and so the days have flowed gently by while I've looked every morning antagonistically at my computer, sometimes not even checking email so that I wouldn't have to lay my eyes on my woeful and reproachful blog.
So, I'm back. I've just handed baby an ancient and well loved china doll to keep her off my computer for a moment. She is sitting singing 'dadadadada' and poking its eyes and then laughing. She is walking everywhere now, throwing herself headlong into the world, bowlegged and apparently intoxicated (not really, she just would never pass the walking in a straight line test).
The rest of them are looking for their Good Shepherd shirts so we can all go to the church cleaning day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Morning Fog, or A Cloud of Sick Complaining

A thick blanket of fog is sitting over our house. We're all (except Matt) lined up on the couch breathing laboriously from our mouths, stuffy, eyes running, noses running, complaint filled and moaning.
A: Tell him not to talk to me!
R: Noooooooooooo.
A: I don't want him to touch my knights.
R: Noooooooooooo.
A: Tell her not to come here!
Me: If you can't be down here nicely and share your knights, then you need to play alone in your room.
A: It makes me sad when you say things like that.
Me: I'm sorry, but you need to be kind to your brother and share with him.
A: It makes me feel like you don't like me when you say that.
Me: You're welcome to come over and sit with me, but you have to be kind to your bother.
A: He might touch me if I sit over there.
R: Nooooooooooooooo.
A: I really love her (G) but I don't want her to touch me.
e: Please come sit with me and stop whining.

Its going to be a long day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My sermon for this morning: Proper 20 Year A

Turn with me to Jonah, chapter 4.
You may remember that Jonah was a prophet of the Old Testament, called upon by God at a particular moment in time to go to the great city of Nineveh to preach the impending judgment of God because, says God, ‘their evil has come up before me’. ‘Repent’ Jonah was supposed to say, ‘because otherwise God will destroy you.’ Upon hearing the word of the Lord, hearing that he was supposed to go to a foreign city, an enemy city, a city full of people who had gone out against Israel on various occasions in horrifying, stomach wrenching violence, Jonah rebelled against God and went away in the opposite direction from Nineveh, taking a ship to Tarshish. Jonah heard God’s voice, knew the character and nature of God—that he is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love and that if the people of Nineveh repented, God would spare them—and so he ran away. He did not want the gracious mercy of God to spread over his enemies.

But God, being sovereign and merciful, sent a storm against the ship. The pagan sailors were afraid and cast lots, a kind of drawing straws, to discover the cause of the storm. The lot fell to Jonah and he, at his own request, was cast into the stormy sea so that the ship could be saved. You should all know the next bit. A large fish swallowed him, saving his life. Prefiguring Christ himself in the grave, Jonah is in the belly of the fish for three days and nights wherein he cries out to God. You can read his moving prayer in chapter two, again, describing accurately the character of God as merciful and gracious, ‘You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you’.

The Lord appoints the fish to mercifully spit him, or rather vomit him on dry ground where he is given a second chance to go to Nineveh to warn of God’s looming judgment. This time, sensibly, Jonah goes, but still not with a desire to see God’s forgiveness and mercy at work. Jonah ran in the first place not from laziness or ignorance. He ran because he knew God, he knew what God was like, look at chapter 4 verse 1, ‘but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’

It is very easy to look at Jonah from the comfort of a pew, in church, indeed in a church that is becoming known for its evangelistic efforts, a church that welcomes everyone and goes out to bring people in, to sit back and say, quietly of course, ‘Oh how awful. Can you believe how unloving he was? Thank heavens I’m not like Jonah.’ I have this reaction almost every time I read Jonah. I think, quietly to God, ‘well, I really want everyone to come to you, even and especially my enemies, because, of course, Jesus has told me to love my enemies so please, let everyone come to church.’ And in so doing I, and perhaps you, stand in judgment over the text, over Jonah himself and pass on easily by.
Instead of doing that, then, let us do the hard thing, let us zero in on chapter 4, and begin with God’s question to Jonah.
And the Lord said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’
Jonah did not answer the Lord but instead went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth or a tent for himself there. He sat under it till he should see what would become of the city, hoping, ostensibly, that God would go ahead and destroy the people of Nineveh for their sin instead of having mercy on them.

Do you do well to be angry? This is a very interesting question of God’s, to Jonah. The right answer to this question, obviously, is ‘no’, Jonah had no business being angry, no business being angry after disobeying God, no business being angry after disobeying God and then being shown mercy. But even though Jonah is not justified, this is not a righteous and holy anger, God, in his mercy and grace, continues to work with and discipline his wayward child, and the process of discipline here is very helpful for us.

I want, as you look at your text, to consider Jonah’s anger. ‘Do you do well to be angry’. What on earth did he have to be angry about? Anger against God is a normal, albeit totally unjustified state, in which almost every believer sometimes finds him or herself. I spent many hours trying to think of some light funny examples of how I have been angry at God to show you how this is not a good thing. But this part of my sinful nature I was unable to find in anyway funny. The times that I have been angry, angry enough to die, God had to rend me open, had to break me open to deal with it and it wasn’t fun, or pleasant, or funny.

It is easier, I think, to look for a minute, very briefly at the gospel reading, Matthew 20. You don’t have to turn there, we just heard it read. The master of the vineyard goes out and calls people to come work, that’s any of us who have been called by God, justified and saved, we have eternal life, we believe, we are workers in the vineyard. After a while the master finds that he wants more people, there’s still enough work to do, he goes out and gets more but promises the same wage. And so on through the day, until at the end of the day, those who worked a very little, and those who worked a great deal are all paid the same, they all receive eternal life with God, the blessing of the Father. It’s easy to be fine with God’s mercy when we’re talking about eternal life. But our anger comes from our expectation of how God should operate, how he should manage his kingdom in keeping with our agenda. Jesus ran into this constantly with his disciples. They planned for him to do one thing, he did another. They wanted him to give them power, he gave them humility. They wanted him to be a king and he died a criminal. God does not meet our expectations, does not deliver on our own agenda in a thousand small ways, and numerous big ones. And anytime we find our expectations, our plans unmet, indeed thwarted by God, it is very easy to go build a little tent, or carve out a little emotional space, and plunk ourselves down, entrench ourselves and be angry, sometimes even angry enough to die. Not many of us would be angry about someone repenting and coming to the Lord, but I’ve been angry that more people don’t come to church. Not many of us are angry that God hasn’t rained down fire on the wicked of the world, but I’ve been angry that Jesus hasn’t saved the people on my list. Or perhaps you’ve faced an illness, or a trial or something that wasn’t in your plans, wasn’t on your agenda, and when God didn’t do something about it on your schedule you retreated to your booth to be angry.

Do you do well to be angry? God’ asks. Well, no. God is not obligated to save anyone or do anything. Everything thing we have is grace—food, clothing, breath, a clean house, family, any friends at all. God does not owe us the vine.

God is gracious, and merciful, abounding in steadfast love, and so when you are angry, or in sin, or have a bad attitude, God works with you, he disciplines those he loves. In this case he makes a vine grow up over Jonah’s booth to give him some extra shade. And Jonah is happy about the vine. Which, again, let us not pass over. The weather itself is a cause of friction between us and God. I have been hot enough, sometimes in Africa, to wish I could just lie in my own grave. And the snow here, in New York, has made me plenty angry on occasion. Shoving my hoard of children in and out of their coats and boots for months when the weather in Oregon is so reasonably cool without being hot All Year. Do I do right to be angry about the weather? But why am I? Because I’m the center of my own universe. I want God to cater to me. It’s the small things that lets the anger creep in. Left to our own devices that anger would grow enough to maybe hurt someone.

But we are not left to our own devices. After growing the beautiful vine over Jonah’s head, God appoints a worm to eat the vine and leave Jonah scorching in the sun, angry enough to die. Do you do well to be angry about the vine, Jonah?

No. Jonah didn’t make the plant grow. He didn’t do anything to deserve the shade. It was a gift, the grace of God. He did not have a right to be angry. He didn’t build the city of Nineveh and fill it with people and much cattle. God did.
God will have mercy on whom he has mercy. God will do what he is planning to do.
He is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. That means that if you belong to God but are sitting in a booth, a cacoon of anger or rebellion or disobedience, this morning, out of sorts with God, out of fellowship with your neighbor, part of God’s plan is teaching me, and you, and Jonah that its All Grace. That we have nothing to hold over God’s head. God is God and we are not.

This is really a sweet truth, though sometimes a hard thing. A life lived with anger and discontentment is not all that pleasant, I can testify myself. Once God has pried our selfish limited expectations out of our angry balled up fists and knocked down our carefully built anger insulated booths, life in his vineyard, serving him freely, living every day with his mercy and grace and abounding steadfast love is better than a thousand days in a hot lonely anger infested booth. In a world that calls out for ‘justice’ and ‘fairness’ and ‘rights’, life in the vineyard is all about mercy and truth and never ending love—you cannot come to the end of God’s love. You cannot come to the end of his grace. You do well to seek him, this morning, and let go of what was never yours. Amen.