Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm supposed to be reorganizing my linen closet because matt has done ALL the laundry in the whole house but instead...

Matt just posted this at Stand Firm.
But personally, as a young adult (I guess I'm probably on the end of being able to say that about myself, ouch) I prefer this:
(warning profanity, vulgarity and the possibility that you will be deeply offended)

I'd say, for those of you trying to understand Anglicanism, this should really just help everything fall into place.

Friday, February 26, 2010

7 Quick Takes

One
There is SO Much snow and its still coming down at a good clip. Have been thinking all kinds of snarky things like, 'Al Gore must be in town', and 'Praise God for Global Warming' and....well, basically just how much I hate cold weather and that its not that pretty. No one else shares my feelings. All my children are in love with it. Yuck.
Two
Spent Thursday entirely in bed entirely in pain. My left ear has always had something funny about it but usually this sort of thing only happens when I fly. (Maybe its climate change! heh) Amazed to find myself feeling really lonely for my kids, but not so lonely as to assemble them around me. Poor Matt coped with everything and listened to me complain, by text.
'Pain Horrible, require soup' and
'Pain Horrible, please remove child from me' and
'Can't cope with pain, don't you care at all?'
These were just some of my many texts all day.
Three
Am having an increasingly hard time listening to NPR. Offended almost every day. Whatever day Terry Gross was talking about the Tea Party Movement I had to turn it off. Of course, of course the best way to understand something you strongly disagree with is to get someone who agrees with you to explain it to you. Then the two of you can wonder and be amazed that anyone, like a Tea Party supporter, could be so stupid. Turned off Morning Edition just now because of the manner in which they were talking about James Dobson, again with wonder and disdainful disbelief. Oh, and yesterday the evening program had a whole segment about 'Fundamentalist Christians' in Congress and how they have a special house or something to meet in. Its the tone of voice I can't stand, and the stupid questions asked, and the underlying premise. Need to just plug in the ipod in the morning instead of turning on the radio.
Four
Felt angry with MCJ for not posting one day this week. Rely on him to Post Every Day, especially if I'm suffering through trying to listen to NPR.
Five
Had a long two hour showdown with Gladys on Tuesday. She looked me in the eye and said, 'Get me more milk, Anne.'
To which I replied, 'You call me Mommy. You say, please may I have some milk, Mommy'.
She then dissolved into an immediate and sudden tantrum. I shortened the requirement to just 'Yes Mommy'.
'Say Yes Mommy' I said over and over while she screamed.
'Do I have to say Yes Mommy?' She would scream. 'Maggie is in the kitchen.'
'I know Maggie is in the kitchen, say Yes Mommy.'
Round and round for hours while she cried and pointed out unhelpful things.
Finally won.
Six
For Lent Matt signed us up for Netflix so that at night we can sit side by side with our separate computers watching separate movies. Its so cool. I love Lent.
Seven
I did give something up, though. I gave up the very addicting game on my phone. So now while I'm listening to the Bible in the morning, I have to play plain old Majong. I'm really loving Leviticus and Numbers. The list of gifts for the consecration of the altar in Numbers 7 is so soothing.

Go check out Jen's site for more quick takes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the snow is snowing all around

The snow is pouring out of the sky. I should have listened to school cancellations just to comfort myself. Trouble is, I really need to go see a doctor, the sooner the better. I've got a profound and unrelenting ear ache and I'm pretty sure its an infection. But I really don't want to drive out in this muck....so clearly I'm left with just blogging.

And trying to get through a day of school since we missed so much last week (what with being sick). I seem to remember this sickness theme from the last time I was nursing. Somehow, by mid February, I just succumb to everything.

I'll stop whining and go take some more motrin. Enjoy the snow! if you happen to have it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Part Three

Part Three of our on-going series Leaving Home is up at Stand Firm. I would stay and write more but I should already be in the shower and getting ready for school. Enjoy! Stay warm if you're in this part of the world. More snow seems to be falling.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

conversation and a sermon

Alouicious has just made an astounding discovery.
"Why don't we all sleep in here as a family? We all fit!"
As Matt says every morning trying to escape the thronging children, "Its just what I've always dreamed--a cat, a dog and five children in bed. Oh, and my wife."
Clearly a queen size bed is too big. Our pediatrician is right. He says that by child #5 a No Child in the Bed Policy breaks down from sheer tiredness. "You won't be able to do it," he says, "eventually you'll be just be too tired to kick them out and they will overtake you." Like the Mongolian hoards I always add quietly to myself.

Anyway, that's not what I intended to post about this morning. I'm posting Matt's sermon from Sunday. I managed to hear the whole thing and was thoroughly helped. I recommend it to you strongly. And now once more into the fray...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning Haze

The weekend was pretty uneventful and I'm not doing anything right this moment of note, so I'll just bung up some pictures.

Here, Gladys is trying to put on Elphine's dress and is very angry. I further enraged her by taking this picture. In a minute I'm going to make it my facebook profile picture.

Here, Gladys is tickling the baby.

Elphine dressed them both for school. We did an entire day of school with this ridiculousness.

The baby is constantly, when she's not screaming, trying to laugh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Week in Review: my unasked for opinions about Ash Wednesday and Stuff

We seem to be on the tail end of the Binghamton Plague/Crud. Four out of seven of us got it which isn't too bad. There is a huge pile of laundry and other cleaning to be got through. And we missed three days of school work because I couldn't move. And I had to muddle through Ash Wednesday services on my own because Matt was too sick to move.

Don't think I completely blew it but don't recall ever having done the service myself before and so was constantly being taken by surprise (I must always be dancing at the back with a baby instead of paying actual attention). Like that long moment of silence before the distribution of ashes, wish the Prayer Book would specify how long its supposed to be. Knew, of course, that I was supposed to be praying but was too nervous to actually pray (thought I might be over come by the Holy Spirit and forget to stop). Tried counting to 100 but got lost in the middle.

And then the different absolution prayer--gasp. Completely mangled the words both times. And then was frankly annoyed with the short litany. For whomever is revising the Prayer Book it needs to be seriously beefed up--too much 'I'm really sorry for being frustrated and angry with myself' and not enough 'I'm really sorry for actually committing real sin; please God, don't strike me'.

I didn't intend this post to be entirely liturgical. But I've been gently dipping my toes back into the working pool of church since this last baby and have discovered three things.
1. I really love being up in the thick of things with Matt.
2. I don't much love doing it by myself.
3. I'm immoderately attached to this latest baby. I'm not what you could call a 'clingy mother'. I should probably more clingy, But, I'm totally bewitched by this baby. In fact, I sometimes pretend to carry on feeding her when she's actually gone to sleep so that I don't have to put her down and move on to the next thing.

And speaking of the next thing, I shouldn't be sitting her blogging when there's such a mountain of laundry and school.
ps. I'm making free to blog as much as I want because I've finished my part of the next installment (Leaving Home) and Matt's the one that's holding things up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bleh

I was up throwing up all night (I and Alouicious) and am still lying here imploring God that everyone else will stay healthy. So, since I can't think to do anythhing, and am falling asleep every few minutes, here is an email Matt sent out to the Parish this morning.

Dear Good Shepherd,
Someone recently sent me the archives to our old website. On it I found the following Good Shepherd Update from August 2nd 2004.
This was the update I wrote shortly after a significant number of people decided to leave Good Shepherd, mostly due to the decision we took with regard to human sexuality but also because of the new focus on scripture. I mention 15 departures, but by the end of the year, it had risen to 30.
It is difficult to look back on that time. I remember my worry and fear. I remember how close we came (I thought) to not making it. It was a dark time.
But I pass it on as a lesson in God's grace, power and love for his people. He provided all that we needed and carried Good Shepherd through that time. Comparing this letter to our circumstances now evokes a deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving and, I pray, will encourage us to more fully trust and obey the Lord our God who protects and provides for us beyond all that we can ask or imagine.

Here is the letter.

I remember Matt writing this letter and agonizing over it. It felt a little bit like Job, "though he slay me, yet will I praise him," and its a good example of the way we, as Christians, are called to take action in preaching the gospel in the midst of feeling anxious and worried. And now, I hope you all will take action and pray desperately that we don't all get it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Smatterings

Ok, so I didn't write any of the next installment this week, nor did I blog. BUT, three of five children have rich bubbly colds and we plugged snottily away at memory work all week.

And
the baby rolled over (in a fit of screaming rage because she didn't want to be on her tummy at that moment)

and
Gladys stopped calling me 'mommy', started calling me 'mom' for a day, and now calls me Anne. Its the most exasperating and obnoxious thing ever.
"Anne, you need to change me!"
"Anne, the dog is barking!"
"Anne, I need more milk!"
Keep in mind that she is only two. I can't really remember, but I think, at two, Romulus was saying things like, "ahhhhhh, moo muk".
And how do I respond to this tiny autocratic insanity?
"Don't call me Anne. I'm your mother and you can let the dog in yourself."

And
Every time I try to go ahead on my daily Bible readings, something happens to interrupt me. I appear to be allowed to listen to that day's allotment and no more. Its uncannily weird. I keep wanting to go ahead but someone (I'm going to assume its God) isn't letting me.

And finally,
I don't know what to do for lent. As usual, I'm nursing and so I really can't fast. I'm actually thinking about giving up this stupid little awesome game on my awesome phone because I realized I was playing it and trying to pray at the same time. And when I say "trying" I mean failing miserably.

Monday, February 08, 2010

A fridgid Monday Evening

Part Two of our series Leaving Home is up at Stand Firm. Part One is here. We're well on our way into the third part so hopefully we'll be able to finish it this week. I'm going to be taking the hour I usually spend writing here writing on that project, although I do hope to post as best I can. I'm finding the process of writing more and more fun and interesting and its a pleasure to write with Matt, something we've never done before on any scale.

Also, there are several blogs I've been intending to link here and on my side bar, so hopefully I'll get to that this week. Over all we're continuing to pitch headlong through each day. Its 10pm and I can hear the boys singing to each other. And the cat is walking up and down over my legs. And the baby is sucking desperately on her plug trying to go to sleep.
Goodnight.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

My Sermon for This Morning

We're continuing with the next two verses of 1 Thessalonians 5, if you would be so good as to turn there. Let's pick up from verse 13. Paul writes, 'Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone."

For those of you who weren't here or who, even worse, weren't paying attention, we've spent the last two weeks walking through the role and place of leaders in the church--how if we properly and rightly understand the labor with which they labor on our behalf, then we can properly and rightly esteem and respect them. On a practical note, if you're curious about the kind of work Matt does, take me out to coffee and I will let you see the underbelly of an average week. He labors for you, he fusses over you, he prays for you. If you are desirous, he is there to lead you daily in the study of the scriptures (its called Morning Prayer). And it is largely because of his faithfulness in his work that we as a congregation are at peace with one another.

Peace, if you remember, is the bridge between verses 13 and 14. Rightly esteeming the leaders of the church and the list which we're about to examine in verse 13 are the two strong pillars that support a peaceful common life. So let's look at this second important pillar that supports peace amongst ourselves and sometimes with the world.

I want to say two things quickly to set the stage.
First, all of us go through times of idleness, faintheartedness and weakness. And so two, if you are in one of these places this morning I hope you will wake yourself and be encouraged to go forward out of them. And if you're not, I hope you will remember what it was like and go from there, because its likely that you will circle back round.

So, I urge you, brothers, writes Paul, admonish the idle.
Admonish means to warn earnestly, to express warning or disapproval but
listen carefully
especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner. In other words, not like a mean judgmental sledge hammer. But pleading, earnest, sincere.

The word 'idle' in greek means out of order, out of place, not in proper order. It is used to describe a disorderly, insubordinate soldier--someone for whom life is supposed to be defined by discipline and control. In such a context disorder is very problematic. The disobedience and disorder of one solitary soldier could set the whole mission in disarray.

I don't think many of us are this moment about to go on an important mission to war, so what might disorder look like in other contexts?
I've used this analogy before, but imagine that your heart is a well appointed living room. Everything is in its right place. There are no trails of crumbs and corners where dirt has piled up. The cushions are all on the couch and not spread all over the floor. The curtains hang nicely and let the light in.

But I have a little raging hoard of order wreckers. I can work all day long to clean my living room and every moment that I'm working, there are five little people working equally hard to disorder what I order.

Sin is a force much like children. It is a disordering and destructive force, and if you are idle, if you give in, it will wreck the order and beauty of your heart. Now, I must not be idle in the ordering of my house or my children will utterly destroy it, so likewise, I must not be idle in the ordering of my heart and mind.

A disordered heart and life would be like this--work, then children, then your spouse, then God somewhere near the bottom. This is a life and heart that is a complete mess, and sin is everywhere able to make further chaos. The Christian is like an orderly and obedient soldier, an ordered room. God has your complete and primary allegiance. You attend to the scriptures and pray first in your day, before you do anything else. Then you concentrate your spouse, then your children, and finally your work. But usually we put knickknacks in first, then pictures and books and plants and lamps and then finally the couch, on top of it all and so, of course, nothing holds together. We try to add the most weighty and important thing in last, but God is too big--he is the walls of your house, the furniture, the source of your life. If you do not put him first your efforts will be in vain.

I don't want to belabor this point, but there is a reason that the word 'idle' has as its roots 'order' and 'obedience'. Spiritual idleness is the result of putting yourself first, and then your work and then your children and then your spouse. You then have nothing left for God and so you become lazy about the things of God. Its just so hard to get to church, the day was too stressful and so you can't go to Bible Study. You can't be a teller or serve in nursery or be on the altar guild or teach Sunday School because you don't have any spiritual energy. You have not attended to God and his family and his house and so you will always be running on empty, always. You're trying to do the work of God, which was by the way, the original problem of Adam and Eve.

So, let me admonish you, let me urgently and eagerly persuade you to rightly order your life. Do not be idle. And if you see this unfortunate chronic state in those you love, pray for them, encourage and persuade them to the things of God. Don't yell at them, don't exasperate them--parents, fathers especially, cajole, encourage, gently warn with kindness, humility and love.

Ok, the next building block on our pillar is to encourage the fainthearted. This is pretty strightforward. All of us at one point or another go through a rough patch, and sometimes its too much and we loose faith a little, or become discouraged. I was fainthearted this summer. I was really grieving over our old house, and I was exhausted by loosing a cat, searching for a cat, recovering that same cat, and having the cat sin all over my house. Then my mother's health required a trip to Kenya, and while I was in the air coming home on a big horrible 13 hour flight from Dubai to JFK Matt had to make horrible and grievous decision that my own cat, my only cat whom I loved was in too much pain and would be happier in the arms of Jesus. So when I got home, for a while I was seriously faint of heart. One grief too many. Many of us are in that space--so wounded and troubled we just can't go forward. Let me be very clear. It is not ok for serious brokeness and pain to go uncomforted. We are a body. If you know someone really suffering, or, and I say this as a pastor, if you are really hurting and are not telling anyone so that we cannot comfort you, then the whole body is broken. The Thessalonians were in a place of deep hurt. They were 3 weeks old, cut off from their families and worship community, they faced persecution and some of them had died. They needed to comfort and strengthen each other. We must pray for each other, daily, and greet each other at the peace and take each other meals in times of crisis, and take a few minutes to catch up at coffee hour. Uncomforted and unhealed chronic pain in a body is not ok. It affects the whole body. Do you see why idleness is not ok? Everybody has to pitch in to pray for, to love and support the whole body. Matt and I can't do it on our own. There are too many of you, praise God.

Next, Paul says, help the weak. This same word weak is used by Paul in a couple of other interesting places. He says in Romans 5:6 'you see, just at the right time, when we were powerless' when we were weak, Christ died. And again in 1 Corinthians 1:27 he says 'God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong'. All of us are weak. Apart from God we are all dust without breath. He sustains and preserves us, he builds us up and uses us to build his kingdom in the world. But some of us our weaker than others. Talking about the body in 1 Corinthians 12:22 Paul says that 'those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indespensible.' This is completely opposite from the world. In a few hours many of us will sit idly and gluttonously (seriously, who among you is not really in love with the super bowl for the food) celebrating strength, physical perfection, mental keenness and brilliance. You don't make it on to one of the top football teams in the country through being weak. However, if you are weak, and unaccomplished, and not that bright and not that gifted and kind of not sure what to do with yourself and not super well loved by very many people, well, then the church, the very body of Jesus Christ is looking for you. We're prepared to recruit you and give you an amazing offer--actually no money, But purpose, gifts directly from the Holy Spirit and an eternal and perfect relationship with God himself for ever and ever and ever without end. In our various weaknesses, God uses us to help and strengthen each other, practically, spiritually, emotionally, physically.

And then, the clincher, Paul says, 'be patient with them all'. Now, patience, like peace, is usually completely misunderstood. Patience does not mean putting up with everything for ever until you die. With small children patience doesn't mean indulging and putting up with and not loosing your temper. Patience is akin to faithfulness. It means dealing consistently, honestly, truthfully and lovingly all the time with everyone. Its only possible to be patient if you are rightly ordered and God is your strength, your hope, your love, your purpose, your desire. If you are spiritually idle, you won't be able to any of this.

Alright, I've used up my allotted time, and you've been very patient. I wanted to get to not returning evil for evil, but do not be troubled, it means exactly what it says. Let's pray.
Amen.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

not writing today...

I'm not any kind of writing space (as in, I'm trying to help write Part Two of our long series and its a lot harder than you might think) so I wanted to just point you to this excellent post. Enjoy.

Monday, February 01, 2010

What happens when all your institutions fail

I recently blogged about how the more children you have the more 'programs' or 'institutions' you have to have to keep yourself afloat, just like with a church. However, sometimes everything breaks down and you spend the requisite amount of time preparing for your usual program/routine and nothing happens, or rather, Everything happens and breaks into pieces. Then you end up with a morning like ours yesterday.

2am Feed the baby
3am Feed the baby
3:15 am two children try to get out of their beds
4am Feed the baby, Matt gets up and goes to practice his sermon
5am Feed the baby, Matt stops practicing his sermon and copes with water in the church for the next hour and 45 minutes
6am Feed the baby, start muscling kids into clothes which ends up taking TWO HOURS, ruining your plan to be in the shower by 7.
7:45am All the children are dressed and ready to go except that you (by that I mean me) are still trying to blow dry your hair and find a big enough sweater to keep our the unrelenting and miserable cold (WHEN, I ask God, When will Global Warming finally make its appearance in Binghamton). On your way up from the basement at 7:47am you discover that the baby has thrown up on Elphine and they both need a complete change of clothes. Desperately redress them in less that a minute and a half. Everybody out the door (except you) by 7:51. You make it to church at 8:05 and miss the sermon Again but do pull your Sunday School lesson together by 9:15 while feeding the baby. The baby doesn't eat again until 1:06pm.

Fortunately, God is bigger than my tiny programs and plans and so church went off brilliantly (due largely to the fact that we had a delicious and fabulous international potluck after church AND the fact that I have a new Sunday School room AND the fact that we have a fabulous new choir director/organist who caused the choir to process for the first time since Christmas and sound lovely). Also, I just want to recommend the preaching of my excellent husband who has been preaching through Thessalonians for the last two months. His attention and care of the scriptures has been a comfort and strength to me personally. I find it extraordinary that I can be fed by his preaching Sunday after Sunday 1. because I know him and 2. because I generally read the sermon before he gives it.

And now, I'm going to go try to impose order on the basement/laundry room. Have a great afternoon.