Monday, August 25, 2008

A Harvest

E is collecting apples for an apple pie. The neighbor's tree hangs over into our yard and is well laden with green apples turning slowly red. But you have to climb into the middle of a large bush to access the branches. E has spent all day in the middle of the bush, nearly to the top, picking and picking. She brings the apples in and lines them up along the counter, counting them each time. Now she says there are one hundred and one apples on the counter.

Later we are going to sew. The church, in an alarming and graceful fit of generosity gave me a fine new Brother Sewing Machine (XL5500) and some cash to go with it. And there was cake (a large portion of which we brought home) and a song. So thrilling (Thank You!!!!). I came home from church and fussed with the machine for a long while, trying to get it to sew. By nine o'clock I had whipped out the skeletons of Two Tea Cozies and organized spools and pins and scraps into various boxes. I need to go find stuffing for the cozies. I'm thinking about ripping up a pillow, rather than going to the store. I have too many pillows anyway. Its very hard to sit on this money and not rush out and fling it to the far winds on fancy shiny material and pretty thread. But I think it would be better if I knew what I wanted to make first, and if I could make it, and then go buy the material. We shall see how my will holds up.

This has been an historically lucrative birthday. Besides all the apples and the sewing machine I am in the possession of a large blackberry pie (well, I was in the possession of), a creamy single pearl on a delicate chain, a pair of embroidered and healed mosque shoes and a vast array of new clothes that make me look extraordinarily thin. Its a real shame all the festivities have come to a close. And the Olympics are over. Matt mentioned that the Democratic Convention is leaping in to take its place, but I'm pretty sure it will not fill the Olympic Void. I suppose instead I will have to go to bed early, from now on, and get enough rest, and do a reasonable amount of work every day, rather than groping around in a stupor.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Favorite Thing

I'm sitting here because I can't bear to watch my children slowly clean the living room. I did not wreck it, so I am not going to clean it. But as they wander around vaguely picking up little toy knights, socks, paper dolls, crayons and tea towels, every fiber in my being longs to cry out to Hurry Up and then rush in and do it myself. So I've come down here to get out of their way. I know, from experience, that they will do an excellent job, and it won't even take them that long, but I can't bear to watch.
Instead, I'm watching this.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm so young

Matt: How old do you think Mommy is today?
A: Open a Present! Open a Present!
Matt: How old do you think Mommy is today?
E: Three months, No! Sixteen.
Anne: Thank you. That's a lovely thing to say.
E: No, seventeen.
Anne: Still, that's very generous.
Matt: No, Mommy s 32.
A: That's Really Old.
Matt: I know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Week In Review

As so many of you have pointed out, I've been seriously not blogging. BUT I have been working very hard on my house. I have emptied out most all the cupboards, continuing to throw and throw and throw and reorganize. I have two rooms left to do. I've been working over my calendar and to do list trying to hammer life down, as best I can. I've been on the phone nearly all the time (not something I'm very good at). I've moved Matt out of his office and helped make him a new one. I've painted his old office and made it into a school room. And, I've colored with E and discussed the nature, purpose and being of the Tooth Fairy.

Its true, she has lost her first tooth. I wasn't prepared. None of my life up to this point has prepared me for this moment. Not only do I not know the Size of the Tooth Fairy (is she very tiny? how does she carry all those teeth? why does she collect teeth? what does she do with them?), I did not know the going rate on teeth, nor how to extract a tooth from the tight fist of a sleeping baby girl who refuses any longer to call me 'mommy', instead tipping her chin up and saying 'Mom' with an unnecessary tone of authority. And I don't know how to cope with the fact that she is 6 years old and she's only going to get bigger and more beautiful, and I am only going to get smaller and more shrivelly. (By smaller, I mean shorter, I will probably continue to get wider.) I couldn't go to sleep several nights this week worrying about where she would decide to go to college.

And, tomorrow is my birthday. As a present to myself, I'm going to lay around in the morning with my kids and then probably make them pancakes. May God preserve me through this next year.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Note To

He Who Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills (presumably God and the blessed person working for Him)

Thank You

Friday, August 15, 2008

As if I had time

She's ten months old today, and she appears to be inching across the floor on her two feet, which could be, I suppose, construed as walking. Just what we need, a minute infant walking around the house instead of sitting down or lying on her back like a sensible baby.

So much is changing so quickly. E, in a fit of gender identity, decided this week that she could no longer share a room with her brothers but that there should be a "Boys Room" and a "Girls Room". Taking the posture and attitude of the Persistent Widow, she wore us down. Matt moved a big grown up twin bed into the nursery and E, quietly and disobediently, has been moving stuff into the room before I can make place. Its now almost impossible to walk the the door. I was under the mistaken impression that I would have another year or so before we had to make this move.

Regardless, she is having the time of her life. She wakes up and plays with the baby in the morning keeping them both occupied. She picks out matching clothes for them to wear and then shoves her screaming and unhappy sister into them. At night she goes in and wakes her up trying to be companionable. Meanwhile the boys fight and shout in the other room.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

When Sin Enters In

I didn't mean to cease blogging for a whole week, but I happened to fall into sin and its completely preoccupied me. I have literally (in the most cliched way possible) been Freaking Out all week. The nature of this sinful freak out? I, generally the most Mary of women, turned into a raving frothing Martha. Its been coming on for a while. While daily reading the scriptures, reading great posts like this one, praying, ostensibly "seeking the will of God" I was Actually setting record unreasonable expectations for myself and my house, for my husband and children, indeed, for God himself. Each day of the past month they have reached ever higher until today it all crashed down about my fat ankles. I was reduced, this morning, when my plans were snatched away from me and I was forced to consider alternatives for my very Important Day of organizing my house, to hysterical whining on the phone to Matt about how bad my life was.

Needless to say, God and everyone had had enough and I was pulled back into reality, complaining wildly. I exaggerate, a little, not too much. Mostly I'm meekly grateful to have some perspective restored, and, unsurprisingly, some real progress on the house. When I finally stopped complaining, and started working, I ended up getting something done. Tomorrow I will return to the Kingdom of Blogging, as I leave aside the Kingdom of Anxiety. Goodnight.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Just a few years

I'm desperately trying to find something to wear. Matt is under the mistaken impression that just because I have a closet full of clothes, I therefore have something suitable to wear to a fancy restaurant, or anywhere for that matter. Also, I'm desperately trying to find some carpet cleaner because the kitties (this is not the official blog post on that subject, believe me, there is much to tell) out of fury and anger, relieved themselves in Matt's suitcase in our room (oh, they knew it was his, they're very smart cats). I know, we've been home a week and we shouldn't still have suitcases out, but I haven't managed to unpack them yet, so they're still there.

So, we've been married seven years. Matt thinks that he married up, but really, there's no way I could endeavor to deserve him. And to celebrate that fact, we're going to a new restaurant in Binghamton, a fancy one. We'll see. And I'll tell you tomorrow about what an interesting and lovely person Matt is, but for now, I've got to get my hands on that carpet cleaner or I shall veritably loose my mind.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Sermon for this morning: proper 14 year a

The second to last day of our trip to the Holy Land all 1300 conference attendees went in buses up to the Sea of Galilee. Matt and I were profoundly moved to be in the place where Jesus walked, ate, taught, and spent time. That of all the places on earth that God would choose to live, he choose this place, this view. Our guide opened the Scriptures to us, unfolding the plan of salvation before our eyes.

Late morning the bus pulled up near the lake itself and we were sent down to waiting boats. I was delighted. They have literally thought of everything. What amazing conference organizers, how thoughtful and wise to bring us all here and push us into these boats and onto the Sea.

Youngish surfer Israeli dudes helped me into the boat. Matt and I were invited to sit up near the front so that the baby wouldn’t be overheated in the unrelenting sun. We arranged ourselves and gazed out over the water, mesmerized by the Incarnation, by God breaking in and showing us his face in Jesus, forgiving us of our sins, loving us first so that we might love him. Matt took some pictures. The boat eased away from the doc and drifted out over the water.

And then piercingly, the calm was shattered. The surfer dudes popped a tape into their little boom box, one with surprising sound capabilities, turned the volume up, pressed play. And what was the nature of the music they played? Was it music such as Jesus would have listened to, or music of the early church, or contemporary Jewish music? It was none of that. It was someone standing in front of a microphone shouting, ‘Come on all together let’s just praise Jesus now’ and then launching into something like Shine Jesus Shine. It couldn’t have been more out of context. The surfer dude stood in front of everyone clapping his hands over his head encouraging us all to “get up and dance”. The response of the our boatload was tepid. Some sang halfheartedly, out of obedience. Others, like me, gazed out on the water pretending there had been no instruction to ‘get up and dance’.

As we went further out over the water towards the other boats, I began to get angry.
I didn’t want to listen to this music in this place. I didn’t want this guy to spoil ‘my’ experience of God. I wanted to sit quietly and contemplate the grace and mercy
of our Lord. Why couldn’t somebody do something to make it stop?

Turn with me, if you have your Bibles, to Matthew chapter 14 beginning in verse 22,
“Immediately he” that’s Jesus, “made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds”. Let me just pause here and say
that these men knew a couple of things about this lake.

First of all, they had all been in a boat before. They knew how to make a boat go,
how to fix the boat when it broke, how to catch fish from a boat, how to stand and sit in the boat. And, therefore, They knew the Sea of Galilee itself. They knew how big it was, how long it should take to get across, when was a good time to get into a boat and go out on the lake and when was not. And they knew, for instance, that at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon the wind whips up and flies across the lake, making the waters choppy and difficult at that time nearly every day. They knew also that this wind could whip up unexpectedly at any moment and cause serious storms on this relatively small piece of water. So when Matthew says that Jesus “made the disciples get into the boat” it may be that they didn’t want to and he had to really shove them in and send them off. We know that Jesus told them to do something and that they were obedient and did it, but not all the conversation leading up to that obedience.

Consider, also, that the disciples, like Jesus, have put in a long day. As he taught, they helped manage the vast crowds. When everyone was hungry, they helped distribute food and settle everyone down. When people needed healing, they brought them to Jesus
and organized the line. But at the end of they day, when they were tired and small in their understanding of God Jesus makes them get into a boat.

Look with me at verses 23-25 and observe with me four points. First, the disciples were obedient. They did what Jesus said. They may have fussed about it, but they did it. I can’t emphasize this enough. IF, or rather When, God gives you and me a job,
or wants us to stop doing something, or wants us to reach out to someone, even when we do not understand why or do not see how to do whatever it is, We must Be Obedient.
We must Say yes to God And then Take steps to do whatever it is. We must Get in the boat. Why is obedience so important? I will say from experience, and I am backed up in this by Jonah, That, very simply, its less painful in the long run. The sooner you do what God wants With as little fuss as possible The richer and more joyful your Christian life will be. Not easier but more joyful.

Second, their obedience led them straight into a storm. After being obedient to Jesus, they did not have a happy party time. They were sorely pressed and feared for their own lives. If you have walked with Jesus for a long time, you could probably come up here and give a list of how often God does not work according to our own expectations, How often, having done a hard work, or endured a hard thing, the believer flies into the face of the next storm without rest and recovery. Why is this? Well, I think we find the answer in point number three.

Which is that the disciples did not look for Jesus in their distress. They had no expectation that he would save them. They did not remember the feeding of the five thousand. They did not remember all the healings. They did not remember the words of today’s psalm, about God being in Charge of the Weather. They did not seek Jesus
or cry out to him or trust that he would take care of them. They panicked. Did they need to panic? Of course not, God himself was on the hillside next to them praying.
He was enough in himself to feed the crowds. He was enough in himself to calm the storm. But they didn’t ask him. This is a question of habit, a matter of reflex,
of instinct. When things go very badly, when you are in a difficult space, what is your First Thought? To whom do you run first? Most of us, after panicking, consult a variety of unqualified and unhelpful people—relatives, a boss, the person at the meat counter, our favorite Blogs online, that’s my weakness. What does so and so do in this situation? Not, what is God doing. We don’t go to God first when the storm rages, we go to him as a last resort if at all. The disciples, here, don’t go to him at all.

Which brings us to Point Number Four. Jesus did not leap up immediately to calm the storm. Notice that he begins to pray in the evening, perhaps the first watch of the night, and he prays on through the night until the fourth watch, between 3 am and 6 am. Why didn’t he come immediately? Did he not know that there was a storm? Did he not care? Was he just mean? Of course not. No, Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and earth,
the face of God, the redeemer of the world, was more interested in the disciples learning to Trust him, learning to Obey him, learning to Cry out to him, learning to see Who he is, that he has mastery over the weather, that he is God, that he can Handle it, than he is interested in their being comfortable or getting enough rest.

If you find this is a hard lesson to face, do not despair, most all Christians don’t prefer this lesson. It is a matter of perspective, of habit, and ultimately of Gratitude over Panic. When you see clearly that God is in charge, when your habit is to call on God first in all things, then, whatever your situation, whatever your trouble, whatever your broken and wrecked expectation, you can say honestly to God,
I praise you, I thank you, your grace is enough for me in all things.

But if this morning, you are in a boat of trouble and you don’t feel Thankful, if you are unable to Rejoice in the face of adversity, then the next part of the story is for you.

In that terrifying deadly hour before light, Jesus came to them walking on the water.
They don’t even recognize him. So great is their panic, so small their memory and wisdom and understanding, they don’t even recognize him. But Jesus calls out to them, “Do not be afraid.” Do not let your heart be troubled. Take no account of the storm, which, you notice, is still raging, Jesus is here to save you. He can handle it. Trust him. In other words, even if you are not looking for God to help you, Even when he seems silent on the hillside, and you don’t think he is listening, He Is.
He knows your trouble. Do not be afraid, he is looking for you, even when you are not looking for him.

Whether your faith is small or barely alive, whether you understand what God is doing or not,whether you are in the middle of a raging storm, or struggling to walk in the path of obedience, Jesus has the power and grace to pick you up, to put you on the right course, to continue to teach you, to rescue you in the midst of trouble.
All this, because he loves you because he wants you.

But there’s a catch. Its not going to be on your terms. Its not going to be on your time table, on your agenda, on your plans, in your boat. With your sound track.
You have to let Jesus be in charge. You have to say Yes to him.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Sermon is Coming! A Sermon is Coming!

That's what I keep telling myself. Its almost all there. I'm just missing one final pull it all together link. So I'm going to go call my kitties inside (remind me to BLOG about my kitties later because, boy, do I have plenty to say on that subject), make Matt's coffee for the morning and go to bed.

I would have finished this special little sermon Earlier in the day, however, I drove our car to Rhinebeck, NY pulled it carefully into the middle of a major highway trying to do a U Turn, found that the Reverse Option had failed utterly, panicked as oncoming traffic approached and drove it carefully and agonizingly partway into a ditch so that one whole wheel was spinning breezefully in the air.

Fortunately, or rather, Providentially, several very kind and enthusiastic red blooded American men rallied around, first trying to push the car out, then calling police and tow trucks and so forth. And the lovely and much missed people I had gone to see came and rescued me. I had a very good and pleasant day after all, enjoying myself far too much so that now I still need to focus on that sermon.

At some point we will probably have to go recover the car, though we'd much rather pretend that it doesn't exist any more, or perhaps give it as a special "gift" to the poor unsuspecting Auto Repair Place at which it now resides. Perhaps we could even give them some money or a cake to accept this "gift".

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Temptation to Blog

I am eschewing it BECAUSE all four children have mercifully been taken away to pick blackberries and I have two Or three hours to do a whole lot of work. However, for all those of you who have emailed or left interesting and questioning comments I have Not forgotten you and I will be getting through my email box. And I am half way through writing my Call Whatchamacallit (I need some kind of title) and will spend some more time on it today. So it is coming, I promise.
I'm sure, when all the children are home and after I have made a delicious blueberry pie, I will have Plenty of time to blog. Ha

Monday, August 04, 2008

Catching Up

E explaining to her cousin J all the important things that have happened to her this year: First our church was broken into by Robbers!!
J: Cool.
E: T- came to church and discovered that there had been robbers. She found all the glass and that mommy's office was Wrecked!! And A and I solved the mystery. We discovered that there was a ladder and that the robber came in through the window in my Sunday School Room.
J: Cool.
E: And then a bishop sueded my daddy!!!!
J: What's a bishop?
E: A bishop is someone who rules with the president.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Home, to where the work is

"We would never forget Anyone, not any of you three!"
"You mean four? Any of you four?"

And so Lambeth comes to a smashingly disappointing, though not at all surprising halt. The only good thing about it is that it is over and Matt gets to come home and we can all be together again. I've missed him enormously. And not just because I'm very tired of all the little children. Its been a long two weeks without getting to really talk to him or know how he's doing.

This afternoon we're driving back to San Antonio for one last hurrah with the cousins. I need to gather up all the bits of toys scattered all over this beautiful one level house, fling them into suitcases, and start mentally preparing myself for a house full of stairs (my house) and general clutter and many projects and a long to do list. Before you know it we'll be home.

I find it symbolically fitting that I spent Lambeth here, in the place from which I watched GC03-that first thread pulled that has rent the whole fabric asunder. Now there are threads unraveled all over the place. You can't even really see what the threads, all gathered, would look like. There have been so many times they could have been woven back together, the tear could have been mended, Something could have been done. But all those chances are lost and gone. We can only trust to God's mercy and grace, which is what he's been asking us to do all the time anyway.

And so, I will go home and go on in the same way as we always having, reading the news as it comes, telling people about Jesus, calling people to remind them to come to church, cleaning my vast cluttered house, trying to teach my children to read and do math and be obedient to God in all things.

Maybe, to console myself, I'll try to convince Matt we should have another baby.