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What Makes a Handful?

"You sure have your hands full!" said the older woman in Target, watching me try to corral four independent-thinking and adventur...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Few Images from the 2010 Mountain State Fair


Miriam and Jill take on the motorcycles.


Jane and Mary, finally tall enough to ride the MoonRocket--a roller coaster that goes completely upside down.


Yes, my child is up there.


Looks like a good time was had by all. What a thrill!


Emma and Elizabeth getting in some practice for their learner's permits.

A Tribute to Childhood Friendship


From the time they were old enough to talk, “Jay-ub” and “Meee-umm” were the best of buddies. More than once we heard that the two had to be separated in the nursery for fighting. They grieved the separation far more than the wounds inflicted.

“Miriam, will you play nice at nursery today?” we would ask each week.

“Oh, yes!” was her happy reply.

“Miriam, are you going to hit Jacob?”

“Oh, YES!”

And so it went. A rough-and-tumble fellowship of diaper-clad tots, each able to take it on the chin and come up smiling.

Then came the dreadful announcement about two years ago that Jacob’s family would be moving away. How much can a three-year-old really understand about the depths of friendship and the loss of it?

I daresay the answer is that the understanding runs deeper than we give them credit for.

I will never forget the going-away gathering our church held for the Caines family that summer. While the adults and older kids were providing the audience for a series of amateur performances—skits, poetry readings, sing-alongs—to honor and “roast” the family, little Jacob got up, walked across in front of the entire group, and held out his pudgy little hand to Miriam. No words were said, but she just extended her own tiny hand to take his, and the two left the room together. Both smiling sweetly at each other, he led her down the hall and into the nursery playroom. We all watched them go, and I found myself thinking, “I wonder if he’ll come back for her again just that way in another 15-20 years.”

This weekend, we were blessed with a too-short visit while Sarah and the kids were traveling through.

Miriam, now five, got dressed three times in anticipation of seeing her friend again. First, she chose a casual but nice outfit. That lasted about a half hour. She then decided that she wanted to “look pretty for Jacob,” and so she changed into a lovely dress and had me braid her hair. For the next hour, that was satisfactory, but Miriam will be Miriam. Just before time to leave to meet them, she rushed to her room once more and came out in old jean shorts and a shirt reserved for crafts and gardening, unmatched socks, and her old sneakers. With her chin held high, she announced, “I changed my mind. I want to play HARD!”

That’s my girl. Don’t miss out on life by trying to impress with beauty that is passing. Remember to “play HARD!”

It was so good to see our friends again, and to see “Jay-ub” and “Meee-ummm” still friends, though maybe not quite as focused on each other as they were at one time. I know the day is coming when he’ll likely find girls icky and want to surround himself only with other little boys. My mother’s heart hurts a little thinking ahead to that, but I would venture that with a little more time passing, he’ll likely get over that and come to his senses again.

They say that true friends can always pick right back up where they left off, no matter how much time passes between them. I know that to be the case in my own experience. And a part of me is really hoping it will be that way for them, too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Confidence

We were looking last night at Luke’s gospel, as Christ is on the cross. My Captain pointed out that in the words recorded here, when Christ speaks, he shows his utter confidence in eternity. There is no doubt as he is there, dying. He tells the thief next to him with certainty, “This day you will be with me in Paradise.” And just a few sentences later, at the very point of death, with confidence he commits his spirit into the Father’s hands.

I noticed that sandwiched between those two proclamations of confidence was a description of the time when this occurred. “When the sun had failed,” it says.

Huh.

I don’t know about you, but if there’s anything at all that I would say I put my confidence in, it’s that the sun is going to be there doing its job every single day, in summer and winter, in springtime and harvest. I get up, it’s there. I watch it slip away behind the trees out back, but I know it’s still there, doing its thing and we’ll come around to it again the next time. Even the moon gives evidence that the sun is still working.

Nothing in my experience yet has caused me to question the sun’s reliability. No amount of cloud cover, no eclipse. It’s the SUN for heaven’s sakes. You can depend on it!

But at the very time that God was actively fulfilling his promises to save his people, the sun failed. The very sun itself not only pales in comparison to the reliability of the promises of God. It actually fails. There is nothing in the universe that we can count on with more certainty than the reality of the future, in which God’s word is fulfilled. The sun may fail, but there will come a day when those who put their trust in the work Christ did on the cross will be with him in Paradise.

So for this moment, who am I not to commit into his hands with confidence the day in which the sun still shines?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not Forsaken


My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
From Matthew’s gospel, the words of Christ on the cross, near the end.
It rings of total despair and abandonment. It’s a question some have considered troublesome for the Christian faith. Can God forsake himself? If Jesus is God, then he’s all-knowing, right? So how can he ask this question of the Father?
It occurred to me tonight that maybe the question is asked by Christ for our benefit—so that we will arrive at the answer ourselves.
God gives us the example of human marriage in part so that we can understand his triune nature and his relationship to us, the believers he collectively refers to as the Bride of Christ, in personal terms.When a man and a woman get married, if they use traditional wedding vows, they will say of their union something like “forsaking all others.” The intention is that the relationship that is being established won’t be divided by another's interest in either of them. Unlike the Godhead in its perfect unity, human unions must strive for harmony of will and direction and for mutuality in love. But even so, the unity of the couple is sacred and the two are committing to protecting their oneness from division by other people. It’s a lifelong process for most thriving marriages. The symbolism is used to show how the people of God are related to Christ—as the bride to the bridegroom.
But we strive for a unity with a spouse on earth which will never fully reach the unity Christ already enjoys with the Father and the Spirit. He understands the complete oneness of communion.
My pastor has given an example of what happens to two people when they become divorced. He takes two pieces of paper and glues them together. After a time, he then tries to separate them again. He likens the separating of two who have been joined as one to this process of separating the glued pages. They don’t come apart cleanly. There is tearing, there is pain, there are open wounds. Neither is left intact.
When Christ on the cross took onto himself the sin of the world, he had to separate from the Father. He had to carry those sins and the punishment for them far away from us and from God. He took them into the ground for purification. But the separating from the Father was a rending of their total unity. Oh, how it must have hurt! To be ripped from the bosom of the Father, the place he had held from eternity.
And even as he cried out in the anguish of the moment, I think his cry was not so much a question he needed to have satisfied as a question he desired for us to fully understand.

Why, my God, did you forsake him?
And the answer, is “for you.”
God chose to forsake his own son. The son chose to be forsaken. Because of me. To include me in communion with them, God had to tear himself apart.
It is completely incomprehensible that something so perfect as the communion of the Trinity would be rent on my behalf.
Just who does God think I am?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

He Is There and He Is Listening

Today I got a message directly from God. Again.

It happens. Just often enough to keep me firmly in his grasp. Always just when I begin to fall away into the lie, believing that he doesn’t really want to hear from me, that I can’t possibly hope to “avail much” with him. Just when I begin to think that his unknowable will is operating on autopilot or something, he does it again. Just reaches down and reveals, as if he touches me on the forehead, as if to say, “Here. The little bauble you’ve been asking for. I’ve been waiting to give it to you.”

I’m always a little ashamed of my surprise. But never ashamed of my joy when I see that all the time I was praying, he was already working.

What a delight it is to be allowed to know that you prayed in his will, and therefore he is pleased to grant your request! My response is a more fervent prayer life, thanking him for including me in the inner circle. Bringing before him with new diligence many of you on whose behalf I’m already making petition regularly. It’s such a blessing to be allowed a place at the boardroom table, or so it seems. To see the outworking of a larger plan, orchestrated by the master, and be able to say, “Yes! Go with it! I’m with You!”

Leaves me a happy girl.