Monday, June 28, 2010

Growing up, and other appalling happenings

The hardest part of moving a year a and half ago, or whenever it was, besides the actual moving, was leaving behind our amazing and lovely neighbors who, within six months of our moving into that house, embraced and practically adopted our first child and all our children thereafter. They, for reasons we have never fully understood, thought our children were interesting and wanted to play with them, despite being older. 

By the grace of God, however, just as we moved, their oldest learned to drive and has become our life saving baby sitter, followed by her brother. They are each able to handle all five our children with grace, skill, wisdom and love. 

A page is turning, however. K graduated from high school this weekend and is headed to an impressive and, thankfully, only an hour away college in the fall. Her graduation party yesterday involved a Bouncy Castle, a Snow Cone Machine, a Cotton Candy Machine, an ENORMOUS pile of cupcakes, and soda pop. "No," I shouted at Alouicious who was nagging me to let him have a coke, "have a snow cone and some cotton candy!" Matt spit his own coke out in a fit of choking laughter. The boy walked away with a coke. There's a time to party and a time (now and for the next four days At Least) to abstain from sugar. We will miss K so much we will probably have to pop down to surprise her at school and sit in on her fancy theology classes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We're very very busy and we've got a lot to do...

We are in possession of an amazing and wonderful Refrigerator Box (and the Refrigerator that goes with it--even more amazing and wonderful. Pictures forthcoming). So clearly we will be busy all day. We have to find a place to put The Box and then probably every toy in the house will have to be shoved into it, or something. I am being hounded to arise and get a move on so that the feasting and joy may commence.

For our further pleasure, we will be listening to this (thanks SF) which is so awfully catchy and awesome.

Is anyone else praying for North Korea to survive going home after playing so badly? However, Cote d'Ivoire has to be them too as to move on to the next round so I'm not praying for them to win, obviously.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a note for my mother

Happy Birthday!
Many Happy Returns of the day. 
For your birthday, we'll be baking and eating a cake (with candles) as well as a variety of other delicious items. And we're going to watch Nigeria play South Korea and read some stories. And of course, we miss you very much and wish we could be there for a proper party.
Here is a flower from your very own garden as a present.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Blog Haze

I'm seriously considering making this blog all about my hair. Thank you for all the comments! more than I think I've ever received for any other topic. Its all been very informative and helpful. I carefully tucked my grays in yesterday for church, but this morning they're flying all over with impunity. Matt says he "likes them" but he also says a lot of other stuff I know not to be true because he's nice and a good husband. (stuff like, "you don't look fat in that dress" and "it doesn't matter what you wear, you always look gorgeous" and "you're good at Everything you do!")

Maybe I'll start taking up close shots of my hair and documenting the graying progress. Or something.

In the meantime, I want to alert you all to the fact that Simcha Fisher is blogging again. Praise the Lord! If you want to know what kind of person I wish I was, you can read her. Along with Mark Steyn, I stop everything to read anything she's written, beating off children and work for a moment of quiet.

Also, I meant to link this post ages ago but forgot. Jessica took a class in something interesting and fabulous called Target Focused Training. Money quote, "Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is the answer, it’s the only  answer.” Going to look around for something like it here on the opposite coast.

And then, gratuitously and because its my blog so I can say whatever I want, here is the conversation I had with Romulus during the Prayers of the People yesterday. He was sitting on my lap, his enormous head pressing into my shoulder, wiggling and whispering too loudly.
R: Can I wear that.
Me: what?
R: that (pointing to my engagement ring)
Me: sure (putting it grudgingly on his fat index finger).
R; What is it?
Me: a diamond ring.
R: What is it for?
Me: Its pretty. See how it sparkles?
R: What does it do?
Me: It doesn't do anything, its pretty.
R: Does it have power?
Me: um? the power of love (laughing hysterically on the inside), not the kind of power you want
R: like a superhero?
Me: No
R: (deeply disappointed) oh

And now I will go try and fix my part of Leaving Home Part 4. I think its fine but Matt says it needs work. See! There are so many things he says that aren't true (see above).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

my gray head in sorrow to the grave

I have more than two gray hairs.

I've been hiding the two pretty carefully for the last few years, but this morning, just now in fact, there were definitely more than two. And it didn't matter which way I combed anything, I couldn't hide all of them.


What kind of person should I be? Should I enter the realm of everlasting dye? Should I decide, in humility, to clothe myself in good works rather than vanity? Should I carefully blacken each hair with shoe polish?

I'm pretty sure that my mother doesn't have any gray. She's pointed it out to me several times. Of course Matt is almost completely gray, but he's a man, and so he looks awesome (when he doesn't wear his phone on belt).

Help me out. I need some serious pros and cons. Feel free to wildly quote scripture if you want.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tea, its possible to get it right (partial repost)

This was posted yesterday on Stand Firm.

I'm thrilled that seminary education in America is FINALLY getting down to basics. 
Anyway, it reminded me of some early brilliance on my blog, a post I called 'Manifesto'. Here is the meat of it.
Matt’s must be brewed and hot as he is waking up, so it is timed (at home the beans are ground at 3:55am and the hot water hits the newly ground beans at 3:57 and he pours his first cup at 4am exactly. On occasion I forget to put the pot back in place the night before and the coffee brews all over the floor). Can’t imagine what it would be like if he didn’t have his coffee in the morning. May God, in his mercy, preserve us.
I don’t drink coffee. I only drink coffee under duress and when it is heavily laced with chocolate. So of course, when I met Matt’s family for the first time, and the awful truth came out, the household was thrown into mayhem. In the intervening years various efforts have been made. Matt’s parents now own a total of 5 teapots. They have an unheard of variety of teas. On our arrival, there is always half and half, cream, three kinds of milk and bottled water on hand. And, very importantly, there is in residence a new and efficient hotpot.

The trouble, of course, is that this is a nation of coffee drinkers. The fabric of national identity and purpose is woven through and supported by coffee. The drinking of coffee and the mishandling of tea is a point of pride, an under-girding means by which the people of this great land continue to live.

And so it is impossible to get a decent cup of tea unless one makes it oneself. And here is the source of the real trouble. As one drinker of tea in a land of coffee, I inspire real fascination and curiosity. Women especially think, ‘oh, that’s so cute, we should have a tea party.’ By which they mean a tea pot with tepid water, a bag on the side, a wedge of lemon (or something), some ‘cute’ cups and a cookie. And then we all sit around and talk and feel cozy. There are books to go with this experience. I saw one today called ‘A Cup of Comfort’ and a couple of other soupy looking items.

Well, all you fascinated and curious coffee drinkers, That Is Not a Cup of Tea.

First of all, tea Like Coffee, provides caffeine. Tea Drinkers drink it to survive, not to feel ‘cozy’.

Second, it has to be prepared properly (see below).

Third, drinkers of tea already have everything they need—pot, cups, cozy, hot pot and Tea. Giving a tea drinker a lot of fancy fluffy paraphernalia is a nice thought but probably misguided. For example, knowing that I drink tea, Matt and I were given a total of ten tea pots at our wedding. No dishes, no tableware, no household items (well, a few very lovely things) but really, overall Tea Pots. And almost 20 tea cups. Even though I was already properly equipped at the time of my marriage owning a sensible pot and cups to go with it.

So, here is how to make a cup of tea.

Fill a tea kettle or hot pot with cold water. Turn it on. Let it come right up to the boil. Take it off. Pour some blazing hot water into a pot. Swirl it around. Let the pot become good and hot. Put the kettle back on. Dump the water out of the pot. Put in the tea (loose, of course, is best, but don’t be above a good bag—At Least Two for a full sized pot, probably more if it’s bad tea). When the Kettle is back up to the boil, pour it directly onto the tea. Clap the lid on Immediately (don’t leave the lid across the room and wander around looking for it while the tea becomes cold). Put a cozy on the pot or wrap it in a couple of kitchen towels. Let it sit for about 3 minutes. Drink it. Either with milk or milk and sugar or lemon. Whatever you do, don’t heat water a little bit and the pour it on a bag in a cup. If you’re going to do that just go ahead and drink water.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Blog Haze

I've always found it most annoying when people change the look of their blogs, in perpetuity, while never actually blogging. Unfortunately and hypocritically, I fell into this very trap this morning--its been nearly a whole week since my last post, and here I am fussing with new templates and trying to figure out if I can add a facebook 'like' button under each post (so that the masses of you can all 'like' this on facebook) and updating my blogroll and rearranging the elements....
But other than being thwarted from watching the world cup and trying to beat off a horrible rash on the poor baby's tiny derrière (caused, doubtless, by the Abidjan like humidity and the insane rate at which she is teething) and letting the office descend into mind numbing chaos through disinterest and sloth and driving to Ambridge, MA for Bp. Murdoch's instillation and coming home to a posse of children single-mindedly devoted to the idea of a lemonade stand, well, I just don't have anything to blog about.
So I will end this farce of a post and go waste time reading about disastrous rumors in the Anglican Communion and maybe indulge in a little actual work looking for a Latin teacher for Soli Deo Gloria Classical School. Anybody interested?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

clean up clean up everybody everywhere

We've reached another level of awesome something. Yesterday Elphine got a bee in her bonnet to load the dishwasher and did a Remarkably good job, and then she wanted to feed the baby a massive bowl of banana which went all the way down the baby and not anywhere else (AMAZING), and then she ran the dishwasher and unloaded it. She was thrilled with herself. "This is so fun," she said.
"I'm glad you feel that way," said I, "would that you always love to clean the kitchen."
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Because," I said, "someday you'll wake up and you'll have to do it and you'll start whining, just like you do when you have to clean your room."
"Na-huh" she said, "I'm always going to like it."
"Ok, I'll remind you in a few weeks that you said that."
Meanwhile, her brothers were lying on the floor picking up one tiny cheerio at a time moaning and moaning, "I'm so tired! Picking up cheerios is so hard. I need to eat a lot of food. Can I have a Popsicle?"
At the same time Gladys was raging around telling everybody what to do, "Clean up!" she shouted, "Mooooooooommy, Womulus isn't cweaning up!"
She anticipated the baby needing a change and brought me a diaper, wipes and a plastic bag. "I'll change her," she bellowed condescendingly.
"No you won't," I said, "but thank you for the diaper." She took the wipes out and handed them to me one by one. I felt vaguely managed and therefore rebellious.
"I can get wipes out myself."
"No," she said, "I'll do it." She's like a tiny Attila the Hun, ready to conquer the household if we don't beat her off. Later she came in with a page full of addition sums and a pen. "Now I will do my maffff, "she shouted.
"Whatever," I said.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Sermon from Yesterday: Part Two on the Holy Spirit

[This is a collaborative effort, a sermon by committee if you will. Matt wrote it twice and then I rewrote it and then I ended up preaching it. The sermon starts with several examples of how people talk about the Holy Spirit. Can't remember what I said to introduce it.]

"I visited that church and the sermon was biblical,
and the people were nice
but I just didn't feel the Spirit there."

"Have you been filled yet?
Have you received the second blessing?"
Well, I think so, I trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins.
"Well, that means you are going to heaven but if you had received the second blessing then you would speak in tongues. Do you speak in tongues? No. Well then let's pray together that you can be filled with the Spirit."

"My wife and I felt called to this mission three years ago. Lots of people have spent lots of money to get us here. The people of this village have built us a house but we've been praying about it and just don't feel that sense of peace that tells us the Holy Spirit still wants us here. So we're leaving. God's plans are obviously not our plans. Our ways are not his ways."

"The Spirit does seem to be saying to many within The Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God’s good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones."

It has become increasingly common
both in mainline denominations
and in some (not all) radical charismatically inclined bodies
to blame just about everything on the Holy Spirit.
For all the contemporary talk of spiritual gifts
(and there are indeed spiritual gifts)
and spiritual power (which is real)
and claims of being spirit-filled
(every believer is filled with the Spirit)
the Holy Spirit is often reduced to a religious euphemism for
“what we want to do.”

Not only so,
confusion about who the Holy Spirit is
and what the Holy Spirit does
leads not only to very bad teaching on the corporate level
but in a very personal way
to broken promises,
ruined relationships
and radically selfish behavior among individual members
of the church.
Our task today is to clear away some of the confusion.

But this is not going to be an easy six part way
to know who the Holy Spirit is
and how to know he is working in your life.
While this subject is eminently practical
every single solitary human being who knows Jesus,
loves him
and trusts in him has the Holy Spirit living inside him or her
you can't get more practical and personal,
we're not going to go at it from that angle.
Rather, you'll find much of our ground familiar,
and that's because the problem
most people and churches have
with the Holy Spirit
is the same problem
they have
with everything that has to do with the Christian life,
and that problem is the Bible.

If you cast your mind back to the examples above,
you will be able to see that in each case
the Holy Spirit is separated out
and examined
and used Apart From Scripture.
That in each case
the Bible is over here
and the Holy Spirit is over here
and sometimes they relate to each other,
but sometimes they contradict each other
and that when that happens,
the Holy Spirit wins.
Or rather, the desire felt to be associated with Holy Spirit
So the missionary couple feels free
to break their oaths to their colleagues and supporters because they feel peace about it
and confuse that peace with the Spirit.
So the Episcopal Church is free
to depart from the clear teaching of scripture
about sex and marriage
because the Spirit speaks more clearly
through the majority vote of a small denominational gathering
in North America
than he did through the apostles.
So the person who speaks in tongues,
which is certainly a gift,
assumes that he has a second,
greater blessing,
a higher standing in the Spirit,
than those who do not,
despite what scripture clearly says about the divine distribution
of different gifts in different ways.
In each case,
the Holy Spirit is autonomous from,
sometimes even contradicting Scripture.

This is madness.
As we saw last week in our discussion of the Trinity,
the Holy Spirit is God.
He is not a breath of air or an energy field or the force.
He is the third person of the One Godhead
and completely
and everlastingly
relating in self giving love
to the Father
and the Son.
He cannot be divided from the Father and the Son
and so, necessarily,
For this reason,
and for another equally important one
he cannot be divided from Scripture.

Turn with me to the Scriptures to see how this is true.

Let's start with Jesus.
Turn to John 16:13-14.
Jesus is with the disciples
on the night before he will be given up to death
and he is instructing them,
comforting them,
trying to clue them in to what will be happening.
Jesus says "When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."

First of all, let me disabuse us all of the idea
that Jesus is talking to all of us
when he says
that the Spirit will guide you into all truth.
The 'you' is the 12 disciples
those who they confirm
and those who saw the risen lord
and were called directly by him to be apostles
Mark, Titus, James, Paul for example.
The 'all truth' is the truth recorded and revealed
in the books that make up the New Testament.
The Holy Spirit will supernaturally 'guide' them,
so that as they teach
and write
they will,
by the Holy Spirit,
speak and write the words of Christ.
They won't be making it up,
they will be helped and guided
by the Holy Spirit
to write Scripture.
The New Testament was authored
both by the men who wrote it,
and by God the Holy Spirit
who lead the apostolic authors into all truth.
Who, in that collaboration,
is stronger?
Who has the power?
Who has the wisdom?

Just to grind this point into the ground,
the apostles,
not you,
sitting out in the woods with your good thoughts,
not me,
will be lead into 'All Truth'.
Thats all done.

Ok, Jesus goes on,
'he will not speak on his own; he will speak what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.'
The Holy Spirit will be acting in perfect unity
with the Son
who is perfectly obedient to the Father,
when he superintends the writing of the Scriptures.
He won't be making it up.
He will only speak what he hears.
He's never never never going to say something
that is counter to the will,
and desire of the Son
who is perfectly obedient to the Father.
Its not going to happen.

And finally,
"He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."
The Holy Spirit's mission,
his goal,
his reason for being is to glorify the Son
whose purpose,
whose reason for being,
is to glorify the Father.

So, the Holy Spirit is the author of the New Testament.
He cannot be divided from it.
But what about the Old Testament?
We find the answer also in the New Testament.
Turn to 2nd Peter 1:20-21.
Peter is explaining how the OT came to be
and how we know it is trustworthy.
He writes,
"Above all you must understand that no prophesy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophesy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
The exact same process that produced the New Testament, produced the Old.
The Holy Spirit carried along,
he breathed into the minds and hearts
of the writers of the Old Testament
what they were supposed to say and remember and write down.

Furthermore, in 1st Peter 1:10-11,
Peter points and attributes the words of the Old Testament
to Christ.
He writes,
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and the circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing."
They were waiting for the Christ,
the Messiah,
they were looking for him,
pointing toward him,
reaching out to him.
It was his words that came under their pen.

The individual Christian,
the Church
cannot separate the Holy Spirit from the Holy Scriptures.
The scriptures are the words of Christ,
the Son,
and it is the task of the Holy Spirit to glorify the Son
by taking his words
and making them known...
not undercutting them.
The Holy Spirit is never, therefore,
never going to contradict the Holy Scriptures.

On the contrary,
if you want to hear the voice of God,
if you want, in your ordinary day to day life,
to feel the presence of God,
to know him,
to be guided by him,
to find out if he loves you and how much,
to figure out what to do with yourself,
how to relate to the people around you,
if that is what you want,
then there is one place to go
and that is the Bible.
And that is because for the believer,
the Holy Spirit's task is not reveal to new revelations
or new truths to astound our friends,
but to illumine,
to help you understand what has already been so carefully
and perfectly revealed.
He does that supernaturally
through your personal study,
through teachers
through preachers,
applying those words to your life and to the life of the church.
Let me try to very briefly outline what this looks like.
Earlier in the week, Monday in fact, I indulged myself in some panic about the future. We're commanded by Jesus not to worry, 'don't concern yourself about tomorrow, sufficient for the day is its own trouble', there are enough disobedient children and piles of laundry and emails to answer today, why worry about what you can't accomplish tomorrow? Nevertheless, I let myself go there, and in going into the Kingdom of Anxiety, I put aside any trust or interest in God I should have had. Nevertheless, tomorrow came, even though I didn't want it too, and, because over a long time of many many many days I have developed the habit of reading scripture, I turned to that habit thoughtlessly. I flipped open my laptop, clicked on the assigned readings for the day, pushed the little audio button, closed my eyes and tried to drown out the arguing of children and attend to the nice voice of the man reading the Bible on the computer. It was a psalm. Can't even remember which one. "Can God set a table in the wilderness?" the psalmist asked. Clearly no I said to myself and then tried to move on the next passage, but I wasn't really awake and so I accidently pushed the audio button and heard the whole thing again. "Can God set a table in the wilderness?" No, honestly, no. I mean, yes he can but no. A third time, against my will, I pushed the audio instead of moving forward. "Can God set a table in the wilderness?" I was completely undone.
Let me return, for just one moment, to something I said at the beginning. The Holy Spirit's ultimate purpose is to glorify the Son. He did this perfectly in the authoring of scripture. But he goes on doing it by bringing to life those of us who were dead in our sins, by bringing our lives up against the Scriptures to rebuke, guide, save and sanctify us, to make us Holy. His life giving breath makes it possible for us to do what our ultimate purpose is, and that is to glorify the Son.

Friday, June 04, 2010

7 Fly By Quick Takes

The baby has two new teeth, blast it.
The baby is trying to crawl, blast it.
The zucchini, of course, radishes, of course, are coming up, but the foxglove seems to be dead or against me, or something.
Good Shepherd's Block Party Summer Ice Cream Health Fair Extravaganza is Saturday. Hope you'll all be there! We're going chiefly for the awesome pony.
Alouicious decided to read three books yesterday after whining about reading for almost a whole year. Strange child.
I just found David Mitchel's Rants done back in January. How did I miss these before?
Matt is preaching about the Holy Spirit this Sunday. In light of all the wretched heresy the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations embrace concerning this member of the Godhead, it should be a good and enlightening day. You can always tell the Holy Spirit is at work on a given Sunday, at Good Shepherd, by the sheer insane energy that "permeates" (heh) the space and people.

Go check out Jen.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

I think maybe she really wanted to go to the party after all

I am way sleep deprived which is allowing me, strangely enough, to feel a modicum of pity for the Presiding Whatchamacallit of the Episcopal Organization (to borrow freely from MCJ, who, by the way, just provided a bitingly sarcastic fisk). I mean, let's be honest, we all really want to be Anglican. Whether or not any of us believe in Jesus, or love the Bible, or know what the 39 Articles say, none of us, not a single one, like to be criticized, however mildly and even for something that's true. And so for his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury to vaguely suggest that perhaps we have determined, maybe, possibly, to consider walking in a different direction for a time, well, its a wretched blow. It would ruin my day. Especially as there's been no indication all along that his Grace felt this way at all. On the contrary, he's been doing everything humanly and politically possible Never to have this be a possibility. Its like finding out your BFF has decided to dump you and go to the mall with the person you hate the most. I mean, I'd be royally ticked off too particularly if I'd had no warning.

It has been my considered opinion for many many months that this isn't really about theology, its about personality. I don't think Rowan could stand being around Akinola--he probably just grated on his nerves. But then, over time, poor KJS turned out to be just as grating. She's too American. Her trousers are cut badly. Her voice is faintly mannish. And worst of all, she can't take a hint or engage in the gracious and beautifully hypocritical political dance so mastered by her predecessor. Of course Rowan did his blessed best to overcome the cringe factor on both sides, and of course he doesn't want a single solitary province to walk away (except for maybe bits of Africa, but just the really annoying bits), but when he finally came to the election and consecration of Ms. Glasspool and the horrendous dance of all the nations, after having tried so hard to accommodate the US in every way, after waiting and waiting and hoping and hoping that some side would give in, in other words, when all of the work lead no where and no behavior was changed, a grating and pushy and entitled personality probably helped push him over the finish line. I mean, no amount of money can make an unbearable person bearable.

Which is deeply and pathetically sad. I hate being dis invited to anything, or finding out that there was a party carefully organized with no reference to me. KJS and TEC LONG to be in the club. That's what this whole mess has been about all these agonizingly long years. Trouble is, the church, however hard it tries to be, is not a club. And none of us get to have exactly what we want because we're not in charge. God is in charge. He will do what he will do. We can lie and deceive ourselves and write carefully worded letters but eventually the Holy Spirit, whose poor name is so unmercifully bandied about these days, will reform and purify the church, the love and body of our Lord. But it hurts, and so today I'm going to pray that KJS has time for a nice latte and a green muffin and some time with her favorite lawyer and maybe a little yoga and that maybe, just maybe, the pain of this moment will crack open a window for the truth to blow in.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

If you don't have anything to say, don't say it.

I've been trying to think of something to blog about for the last few days but, honestly, nothing exciting has happened worthy of mentioning. Well, other than our car dying completely. I could mention that, but its too sad to dwell on. We're waiting for a second estimate and then we'll have to decide whether to bite the bullet or not.

Other than that I'm just anxiously watching my garden in hopes that it will grow.

In many ways, I am frequently grateful when I have nothing of note going on. It means nothing bad is happening and that is always a reason to rejoice.

So, have a good day. I have to go feed the hungry hoards of children roving over the horizons like mastodons.