Another Advent is here! I love this season, full of mystery, longing, hope and anticipation.
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What does a hen do all day? Nothing but walk about in endless circles, pecking at this or that--yet she is one of the most creative and productive of God's creatures.
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Another Advent is here! I love this season, full of mystery, longing, hope and anticipation.
--The younger three kids were in a musical and I never even mentioned it here, even though B15 was cast in the leading role of Peter Pan! Chicklet played a lovely, green-haired mermaid and B9 was appropriately cast as a dirty-faced, tousle-haired Lost Boy.
--Papa Rooster got roped in (pun intended) to "flying" Peter Pan backstage, which turned out to be one of the most strenuous things he's ever done! B15 is a solid 150 pounds, and even with the magic of physics cutting that number in half, 75 pounds is a lot of weight to lift with a single rope. He destroyed a pair of good weight-lifting gloves on the first night, letting Peter Pan descend quickly a couple of times, and he had to order the kind that special forces use to slide down ropes out of helicopters. He still isn't wearing his rings yet. His fingers and forearms were so swollen that week, even though he was constantly icing them.
--He said though it was way harder than he thought it would be, he also had a lot more fun than he thought he'd have! The only sad thing was that he never could watch the show or take any photos at a dress rehearsal. I need to try and get some images from the professional photographer to do a picture post, eventually...
--On All Saints' at Light of Christ, we received 8 new members and baptized 4 children from one of the new families. It was such a wonderful morning!
--A new session of theater began this week. I'm happy to be teaching Drama 1 to a large class of 16 kids, many of them new to our program, and I'm super-excited about the script I've been working on for our final project, based on one of my favorite children's books, The Phantom Tollbooth. B15 is taking Improv, Chicklet12 was thrilled to make it into an audition-only dance class called Project Dance, Jr., and B9 is excited that in his Musical Theater class, they are doing songs from the same Hercules that I helped direct a year ago, and they are going to wear the same costumes!
--Auditions for the winter show, Beauty and the Beast, are this Friday!
--Our Classical Conversations-based co-op is going well--such a nice group of families. However, it was starting to feel like more time than it was worth for Chicklet and me, and I was considering quitting. But there is no one else who can teach the grammar and writing classes that I teach. It was a huge learning curve for me last year--the grammar, especially, is a huge amount of material to present in 45 minutes for a multi-level class, and the curriculum leaves it up to the teacher to decide how to do that. I've had to find or create my own examples, worksheets, games and more.
--They will have to figure something else out for next year, but for this year, they proposed that instead of coming for the whole day, I just come for the classes I teach in the afternoon. (And for lunch, right before that, so we can still socialize!) A friend brings Chicklet in the morning, and another mom stepped in to teach the Fine Arts class I had been teaching in the morning session. We're tried it for two weeks, and that extra morning in my week made a bigger difference than I thought it would! I am so grateful.
--This weekend I am hosting a Golden Birthday Party for Blondechick, who will be 22 on the 22nd, and a baby shower for a friend from church. My goal this week is to deal with remaining boxes and piles of stuff I've unpacked but don't know what to do with. I may end up shoving them all in the attic until next summer.
--One silver lining to not finishing the attic yet is that we can use it as an attic! A couple weekends ago, our strong young men plus a couple of their friends helped us move many boxes and some furniture out of the basement and into the attic. The basement is still a huge unorganized mess, but we're getting there.
--Finally, our decrepit garage was showing signs of not making it through the winter. A few weeks ago, the garage door stopped going all the way up, and we realized it was because one corner of the garage had sunk alarmingly and the garage door track was now at an angle. We knew from the housing inspection that the garage was in trouble--all the sills, which were laid directly on the ground instead of on cement--are rotten, and they can't just be replaced because it's impossible to get jacks underneath the garage walls because...oh, it's too involved. Everyone thought we could wait till next spring to figure it out--but apparently not! A friend who's a builder came yesterday and started work on a temporary fix to save it till next summer. It won't be as simple as just building a new garage, though, because we would not be allowed to build a new garage on the same spot--it's too close to the lot line. I'm just glad we can kick the problem a little further down the road, for now!
--Off to defer more difficulties till next summer...I've got to go select stuff to shove into an attic. ;)
My dad is turning 80 next week! We HAD to get together for such a momentous occasion, but finding even one day that we could all be present--in Ohio--during the school year--proved impossible. Our overlapping day ended up on a Sunday, so Father Rooster could not be present (having just taken off two Sundays in a row earlier in the month). Blondechick and Bantam19 had to leave in the mid-afternoon to be back for work and school Monday morning, but the rest of us were able to adjust our schedules to travel on Saturday and Monday--even Professor Brother and his family, all the way from Kansas!
It was a whirlwind, but it was totally worth it.
For one thing, we were able to take a first-ever photo of ALL the grandchildren! We have previous editions...but either some grandkids weren't born yet, or we were missing some of the young adults. Here they ALL are!
And here they are looking more like they normally do.
One with Grandma and Grandpa...
...and one with me, my brothers, and my parents.
On Sunday morning, we all dressed up and went to the First Baptist Church, where my family has attended for generations.
B15 can't pass a piano without trying it out. :)
Well, I keep thinking, it's an interesting time to be us.
So I blew right by my baby girl's birthday! She was 12 on September 6. (We celebrated on Facebook. She enjoyed all the comments!) I think I'm in denial that she's really getting that old.
|B19 took this awesome photo of his little sister|
We all love her so much. May she continue to grow in wisdom and stature (well, not too much or too quickly...I'd like to keep her in pants that are long enough for awhile) and in favor with God and others.
Last night, I heard an older, wiser priest say that in his ministry, he's seen two blocks to the work of the Holy Spirit: unwillingness to forgive, and unwillingness to give.
I've thought about the need for forgiveness to clear blockages in our lives before, so my mind instantly went to his point about giving. As I held it up before the Lord, wondering if there was something He wanted to unblock there, or a ministry He wanted us to give to...I was surprised to hear Him say, "You're doing it already. It's your house."
I guess it's apparent to my readers that I've been wrestling all summer with the decision we made to buy this house, and I'm still holding it up before the Lord. I know we bought the house He indicated. I know we are exactly where He wants us; I've received confirmation after confirmation. It's just that I wouldn't have picked a house that needed this much work, especially when we're not the handy types who can do stuff ourselves. (Although Papa Rooster did actually take apart the framing around a pocket door last week to get it back on track, which was a project of several hours, and it's almost as good as new, except for the shrieking the door makes as you close it the last four inches or so. It's our early warning system, telling us when the half bath is occupied.)
I felt God asking me to view the money we're investing in this home differently, to see it as an investment in a ministry He has prepared for us. Among other things, it's a ministry of hosting and hospitality, which we've always done, no matter where we've lived. We've often had college students live with us, especially back in our Illinois home, and right now, we have a young man living in our basement. On Saturday, we ended up hosting a meeting of 16 leaders here, when our reservation on a room at the Kemper Center got bumped. It worked out so beautifully, I was amazed!
This house also seems like it's a place that ministers all by itself. The view alone soothes the soul. Every day Lake Michigan looks so different; it reminds me of the infinite creativity of God. But the house itself has a warmth and a peace that is palpable. A neighborhood teen, a friend of the young man living in our basement, visited us for the first time one night, and he said to me, "You know, your house is a warm house. I noticed it when I was here for the estate sale. It has a very warm feel to it." He's not the only one that's made similar comments, but it was interesting because he didn't know our family, and he sensed it in the house before we ever moved into it.
I have to admit that I get concerned about appearances, though. Investing in my own home doesn't look like sacrificial giving; I get to benefit by living in a spacious and beautiful place. But I would gladly have bought the tiny cottage two streets over! For my frugal personality, it's hard to spend money on myself. I can gladly write checks to missions, but to have to write a large check for a roof--just a small roof, at that!--just for maintenance; there's nothing that feels like ministry about that. The Lord also knows how much I'd prefer the security of money in the bank, not invested in a house. But He's saying, "Trust me for the future. I'm asking you to view your home as something more than a place for your family to live. This is My work, and I want you to invest freely in it. Do not fear the judgments of others. I understand how this is a sacrifice for you."
It was my idea to sell our old house and downsize, so we could more easily live on less. It was practical. It's what we needed to do, if we were going to transition to a full-time pastor's salary and have some financial security. It was an old and dear friend, a priest who visited us from another state, who challenged us, ""But did God tell you to downsize? Maybe God doesn't want you to downsize." And he was right. God asked us to do something that, for me, was even harder.
It all starts today: public school, our classical homeschooling co-op, the worship school and theater classes!
B9 has friends in the co-op too, which is the main reason why he didn't want to go to school. But I have a feeling that I'm going to be pretty distracted with house projects, at least for the fall, and I'm afraid I just won't have much patience or energy to sit with him and make sure he does his work. It's very tempting to delegate that task to someone else! Also Chicklet will get more done without him around, and she needs to have a good year, being in sixth grade, her first year of middle school. On the other hand, he will have homework, and there will be school communications and deadlines to stay on top of, and lunches to make and pay for, and all those things add up to a big chunk of time also.
I had trouble sorting out all the pros and cons, but couldn't get away from the feeling that it might just be a good thing for him to go. It will probably be more of a challenge for him than what I would be able to commit to providing this year, and I think he'll benefit from being pushed by someone other than me. A little positive peer pressure never hurt either, and he's quite social. We met his teacher and saw his classroom, and now he's pretty excited to start. We'll see how it goes!
So. There is a newish roof on the main part of the house, but this balcony had some issues, we knew.
It's a good thing we decided to go ahead and take care of it before winter, the roofer said. It was pretty wet underneath the tin.
They cleaned and dried everything, then put down a new layer of fiberboard.
Then new roofing material rolled out over that, and the seams were heated and melted together.
Since the balcony was in deep shade when they finished, I thought I'd wait to get a nice sunny picture of the new roof in the morning. But it's raining! Guess we got the new roof on just in time.
The new white metal railing will be installed next week; then the roofers will come back and lay flashing around each post to make sure all is water-tight.
The roof is an extra-thick rubber membrane with gritty sand-like stones as a top layer. It's fine to walk on and put patio furniture on, and hopefully light enough in color that it won't be too hot. We'll probably get an indoor/outdoor area rug or two, next spring, plus we'll need some more chairs. Always something!
But so glad we did it now.
It has been a stressful summer.
Sold a house--very emotional and grief-filled.
Lived with friends--fabulously wonderful! (More on that.)
Bought a house--also very emotional, and a decision that was--and continues to be--faith-stretching.
Trying to get settled in new house--hasn't been easy. We keep getting distracted by house projects--floors, plumbing, kitchen, have to do something about the chimney and the tin roof/balcony--and can't seem to get unpacked. Plus some rooms don't exist yet--where do we put those belongings now?
So how am I doing, really?
And the answer is...
I feel quite well, considering everything. Though I am easily overwhelmed with all there is to do, I can only do what I can do in a day, and the rest can wait till tomorrow. We have the whole church coming over for a house blessing on Sunday afternoon. We still have boxes everywhere, and piles of stuff that I don't know where to put or haven't had time to sort, but it's okay. The house can be blessed, friends can visit and rejoice with us, and I'm not hiding the fact that this is my life right now!
Although the summer's events have been emotionally draining and I am mentally and physically very tired, I am buoyed up by a strong sense of rightness about it all. So many little confirmations make me believe that God is leading us down this path. It's been a rocky, uneven path, with overgrowth that we have to stop and clear away at points, but He keeps beckoning us to keep following, even with the occasional smiling reminder that He never promised it would be an easy path, but that it would be worth it in the end. He's used so many people to confirm and encourage us.
Here's one example--the friends who invited us to live with them while we didn't have a house. It ended up to be about 7 weeks total, and those weeks exactly coincided with the wife's recovery period from a sudden and serious abdominal surgery. She wasn't allowed to drive or go to work, and as a strong extrovert, it would have been a very difficult time for her. In her own words:
Your family's presence saved me from the loneliness and false sense of uselessness that would have hit me hard during my convalescence had it just been [my husband] and me. You also saved him from being overwhelmed by having to meet all of his wife's needs for socializing. Although he has never complained of being overwhelmed by me, I think I could have approached the limit. When I was home on maternity leave with [her son], I became a garrulous maniac that made store clerks run the other way - really! God was definitely providing for everyone.
For our family, staying with this couple felt like several weeks in a vacation condo with them! They have a beautiful, large, restful home. Our kids loved their dog, their neighborhood, their jokes and their food. They both love to cook, so every day we'd make meal plans early enough for someone to pick up groceries, and then we'd all help chop, prep, bake and/or grill. The husband is a massage therapist, so we took advantage of his conveniently located office (in the next room over from our bedroom), and the wife is a psychologist, which made our mealtime conversations extra-stimulating. The two husbands began most days with morning prayer together, and the wife and I have one of those friendships where we never, ever, run out of things to talk about, so it was fabulous for us both to have so much free time at the same time. Our time there was such a gift, and the timing was a strong confirmation that we had done the right thing to sell our old house when we did.
Another huge stressor this summer has been a situation at church. It has paralleled our move in some ways--emotionally draining, filled with grief, and faith-stretching. It's been the same kind of rocky, uneven, obstacle-ridden path, but God has been continually sending us the encouragements to hang in there. People we've been praying for have started coming to church, have started asking the right questions about their relationship with God, are being transformed in huge ways! Visitors have come--and come back! There has been a new freedom in our worship and in individual expression and gifting. This Sunday, one of our disabled youths is giving the sermon!, in partnership with an elder. There have been so many encouraging things alongside the challenges.
So I am well. Exhausted, but well. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 comes to mind: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
The previous verse also applies: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
It is the Lord who is sustaining me, empowering me, working through me and encouraging me!
It's funny to me that I ended my last post with a paragraph about how this house feels like a gift. "Gift" is on my mind again today, but with a whole different set of thoughts, so I'm glad I already gave some context last time!
I was speaking to the Lord this morning about His gift, and wondering if He knew that it would require a good bit of maintenance. I suspect that He did, but one can't help but have a few mixed feelings about a gift house when one is expecting a plumber for the sixth workday in a row. At what point is it okay to look a gift house in the mouth? ;)
So we had this tiny leak in the basement. Just a few drops. It would get a little worse, then seem to dry up. We had plumbers here giving us quotes on the third floor attic project, and one of them spent a little time looking into it and gave us his free opinion that it must be the second floor shower drain. Probably the pan under the drain was made of lead--typical of an old house--and typically they crack.
He didn't get back to us about actually doing the work, so we called a friend's cousin that we used before in our old house. He came over and agreed that could be it, but he suggested we gamble that the lead pan was replaced in the 60's when the bathrooms were updated, and instead we try the much cheaper option of resealing the grout, which needed to be done anyway.
That didn't stop the leak, but in the process, he figured out it couldn't be the pan. It looked like it might be a bad pipe, though, so it would be a simple fix to just replace it--very accessible, right there in the ceiling of the basement.
Okay, I wasn't home for this part, but the pipe? It was a boiler pipe, not a plumbing pipe. Oops. It began to shoot out water and awful black sludge that had built up in the system that we never would have known about otherwise. They had to move boxes and stuff in a hurry and they ruined a couple of my towels, but hey, in a plumbing emergency, who's going to call their wife and ask where the old towels are, right? (I've been rehearsing this regularly as part of my forgiveness process. :)
Anyway, it was a providential mistake in the end, because it meant we got the bad pipe replaced and the boiler flushed out too. But the plumber was stymied as to what was causing the leak. He found a sink drain problem in the half bath that needed attention, but it wasn't causing the leak. He finally had to open up a wall to see what was going on. Yes, he had to cut a hole--not one but two, as it turned out--in my 111-year-old plaster dining room wall. I couldn't watch. At least our new access panel will be covered up by bookshelves for the foreseeable future.
But there was nothing! Everything was bone dry where he expected to see water damage.
So they moved the fridge again, because the leak was directly under it, just to contemplate--and this time, they noticed a tiny bit of dampness around a crack in the vinyl tile underneath it. A little digging revealed that the subfloor underneath was completely rotten. It appeared that the fridge might be leaking, but we couldn't feel or see any water coming from it. Our plumber feared one last possibility--that "some redneck plumber" may have put plumbing where it didn't belong, under the lower cabinets. Since we were about to put in a new floor, he had to rule out that possibility, so he cut a little hole to investigate that and found no pipes. It had to be the fridge. (Later, after it was pulled out, it began leaking in earnest. It was nice to know for sure, finally!)
And that is why I had to buy a new refrigerator and a new floor. To put in the new floor, he had to move the 50-year-old stove out, and he begged me to just buy a new one already, especially since the warming oven above the stove didn't work. But I knew if I bought a new stove, I also had to buy a new range hood or a microwave to put in the gap where the old warming oven had been, so I resisted for awhile. Our renovating budget was supposed to go to the third floor project, not the kitchen! But after his dire predictions about how much it would cost to fix the old oven and how much longer it would last (not long), I gave in. God must want me to have new appliances.
Fridge, microwave, stove--check. I picked it all out in about 15 minutes, based on price, size--there were only about 3 refrigerators that would fit in our space--and the sales guy's recommendations. It all happened too fast. I had looked forward to planning my new kitchen! I thought I'd have lots of time to read appliance reviews and play around with ideas for the floor, countertops, backsplash and wall paint color. I've gotten better at winging it in many areas of my life, but I still enjoy planning, so I struggled with feeling a little out of sorts about the whole thing. I went to bed exhausted, worried that my quick decisions would not be good ones, wondering what God was doing with the rearrangement of priorities and refusing to think about the plumber's bill.
As it turns out, I'm thrilled with my appliances and my floor, and the plumber, an acquaintance who has become a friend after six days in our home, practically donated most of his services. Another gift!
In the midst of all this, I got a note from a friend who had spend a Sunday afternoon with us recently. She wrote, "Now I can see why God gave you guys that house. As we were driving away, our daughter said, "I never wanted to leave that deck." She spoke for all of us. You both have such a miraculous gift of hospitality--and I can't imagine any better setting for it. The wide Lake Michigan vista backdrop and the sheltered "secret garden" backyard--the vast and the protected together-- the two archetypes that speak most deeply to my heart, and I imagine I'm not alone. And I can't think of anyone who would use it better than your family."
Another friend, not normally a guy who speaks this way, told us in the midst of all the plumbing problems (and getting disappointing news and quotes on other work that needs to be done) that we should not let ourselves be discouraged, that we should still believe in God's purposes for us in this house.
Between the two of them and the Lord speaking to my own heart, I'm in a good place again. Even though the time spend on the kitchen set me back another week in the unpacking--and we scheduled a house blessing for this weekend! There will be boxes everywhere, but I'm eager to dedicate this gift back to the Lord, for His purposes and plans.
|Old fridge and flooring|
|New fridge, new floor|
|Old stove with oven above|
|New stove and microwave (electrical outlet for microwave to be installed soon!)|
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So we have a new house. :)
Yes, we are living there now. We had to wait another week after we closed on July 14, to have the floors refinished and then wait for the fumes to diminish. We still have barely any furniture moved in, though--just beds, our dining room table, a couch and various chairs.
We've been gradually getting everything we had brought with us to the garage and basement of the friends we were staying with, plus I have most of my kitchen and pantry items out of storage and mostly unpacked now. But we still have three storage units full of the rest of our stuff that we need to bring in to the house! One more week till the floors are fully cured, so we tell ourselves it's probably better to wait and not cover them with boxes yet anyway. And hey, we've already paid for the storage.
What you really want to see is pictures.
Probably not smart to post a photo here of the front of the house, but here's the back. The part under the sloped roof is the original 1903 brick Victorian. The part under the balcony is a 1965 addition. This back side of the house faces east, toward Lake Michigan.
This is the view across the front of the house, standing in the living room, looking across the foyer into the dining room. That's a smaller foyer leading to the front door, to the left, and between it and the dining room there is a roomy closet. In this photo, the floor guys had just sanded the living room floor.
|Our 111-year-old floors are old-growth Oregon fir.|
A few more "afters"--
Here's the finished dining room, with the original 1950's wallpaper that I'm keeping, for now!
The living room (we're keeping the blue for now)...
and the other bedrooms.
|B23 will get the smallest bedroom. No wallpaper, faces the lake.|
|Chicklet11 and B9 are sharing this room for now. Rosebud wallpaper, faces the street.|
|Everybody loves the wallpaper in the bicycle room! B19 and B15 are sharing this room with a lake view for now.|
One last photo. While we were waiting on the floors, we had a friend pressure-wash and stain our deck!
This was taken at 9:30 a.m.--we have dappled sunlight on it almost all morning. (Isn't our neighbor's house beautiful?) We've spent a lot of time out here already.
The second floor balcony is going to be a great outdoor space as well, once we deal with the peeling paint on the tin roof; we've been consulting on that too. We think we'll cover it with plywood, a rubber membrane and indoor/outdoor carpeting. But first we'll wait for the dormer in the roof above to be completed, since they are likely to set up equipment on the balcony during construction. Dominoes!
So many dominoes! I don't want to move a lot of stuff into the basement until we have shelves set up, and I don't want to set up all the shelves until the floor is swept, and I can't sweep the floor until.... It's the same story with the garage, the mudroom and other areas I'm trying to organize.
So I'm off to organize! But first let me say how thankful I am, every morning, for the gift of this house. That word--"gift"--just keeps coming up for me, tied to the house and this whole move, in so many ways that I am still unwrapping and receiving almost daily, so to speak--it seems like there is more to this gift than I even imagined, and we are receiving gifts related to it, too. Our kids feel it too, even the ones who were the most reluctant to leave our other house, who were not excited about us buying an old house--they are falling in love with this house, the neighborhood, "Lake living," and something intangible about being here. I think it has to do with being where God wants us. Add a Comment
|He took this lovely lady (a friend from his church) to prom on his 19th birthday!|
|Blondechick performing her own song at the Songwriting Showcase|
She’s a little unsure as to what comes next for her. She doesn’t want to return to college—she has no career goal that requires a degree, she really didn’t enjoy taking classes, and the college environment was not a good one for her. She’s nannying three days a week this summer and working part-time at a law office too. She hopes to be able to afford a small apartment, and see what God has in store for her! She and B19 have been attending the church that is affiliated with the
That was the sound of me kissing my dear little blog after a week of not being able to access it.
Let me just use the power of the internet to say I am not happy with Google, who owns Blogger now. For the past week, every time I tried to log on to my blog, I got a message--from Google--that said they were working hard to restore my access; try again in a few hours.
Days went by--not hours--and no change. So I posted my issue on a Google/Blogger Help Forum and got no response.
More days went by--still no response from Google--and finally I figured out on my own that the issue might be that somehow Blogger thought I was my husband, because somehow his account has become linked with mine on my laptop, and I noticed his account was marked the default account. I kept signing in as a different user, but apparently it wasn't signing him out completely. After some poking around the internet, I ran across a list of Google products that do not support multiple users, and Blogger was on the list. After a bit more searching on how to change the default account, I was able to completely sign him out and log myself on, and finally--it worked!
What a relief!
It's making me think hard about transferring my blog to another platform, though. I've been happy with Blogger for a long time, but not with Google. I hate that Google links users--why?? I hate that with Google it's impossible to switch my primary email on my profile--I am stuck with an account I didn't even mean to create, never used, never will use. I hate that they link products--why do I have to sign in to Google to sign in to Blogger? And if my son comes along to check his Gmail account on my laptop one fine day, then I will have TWO other Google profiles linked to my account. And they have products--like Blogger--that get confused when you have multiple users!
Nope, not happy with Google. But thrilled to be able to access my blog again!
I do apologize to my blogging friends who are not also my Facebook friends--in all the press and pressure of the last couple weeks, I didn't even post a short update! But it has been less than a week since we heard, on the same day that we closed on our old house, that our offer was accepted! We will close July 11 on the house that I mentioned in my last post. It's weird--I still wonder what we are doing buying this house--but the experience has been like getting caught up in a river current carrying us inexorably in this direction, and along with that current of events has come a peace and reassurance that God is the one moving us along. The house doesn't seem like a final destination--it's more like getting started on the right road. I'm just eager to see where it leads!
My heart is so full! What a glorious Holy Week it was.
Wow! What a wonderful Easter Vigil service! Jumpin' priests, clappin' deacons...and bells and alleluias everywhere! Praise God for his love and mercy!
Easter Vigil at Light of Christ is always a powerful experience, and last night was no exception. Particularly moving to me was to witness the baptism of a girl who recently came to faith. Charlotte Mason wrote, "What a thought of joy at the baptismal font, of consolation throughout life amid the tossing of the waves of this troublesome world, is this of the divine Spirit coming to us, also, in the likeness of a dove." The divine Spirit came last night - in the baptism, in the prayers, and in the worship. I know I did not bring Him - I found Him there. He brought to my mind a vivid remembrance of the day when I was 16 years of age, sitting in my room, and I came to faith. What an indescribable gift, and one that is renewed every day.
The little girl referred to is Chicket's friend. What a beautiful moment. It was so wonderful to have her whole family there!
Every Easter Vigil is wonderful. Each one has its own golden moments. Last Saturday was no exception.
|This year we had welcome gifts for visitors!|
|The altar on Easter Sunday morning|
Here is the teaser video I put up on Facebook of my two sons in rehearsal for the Ezekiel reading, in the valley of the Dry Bones:
And here is a little more. Let's just say that when they actually gave the reading, B18 had a black folder in hand, not an iPhone...!
I wish I had recorded snippets of others. All went so well. I was so pleased!
Finally, this moving excerpt from a parishioner's journal about a previous Good Friday service at our church. I loved it because I had a similar sense of joy and love fill me this year at the veneration of the cross, when we place the cross on the ground and invite everyone to come forward and pray, with their hand or head upon it.
"_________ preached. He stressed how Christ paid for us completely, with no merit or contribution from us. Normally at Good Friday, I feel that I am to feel sorrow for Christ's suffering, or sorrow for my sin. I feel that I am to be somehow sad, dressed in black.
"At the veneration of the cross, I walked up to the cross, knelt down by it, and touched my head to it. I was at the base of the cross. In my mind's eye I looked up towards the top of the cross. I saw the cross not against the rug but against a clear blue sky with sunlight streaming around it.
"The music started. Instead of sorrowful tunes, it was a light and happy piece. I felt the joy well up in me that was supposed to be reserved for Easter. Good Friday is the black and sad day, but I felt warmth and joy. The sunlight from my image of the cross seemed to radiate directly to my heart. I felt as if Christ’s love was complete. I held up my hand to receive the streaming light. I remembered my confession from today. I felt the light stream back to the situations where I had sinned. I felt Christ’s mercy wash over me and cover each of those sins completely.
"__________ sang Rock of Ages. The joy and delight in my heart was complete. It was in the cross that I found the perfect joy of Christ’s love. I understand now why Catherine [of Siena] said that this love should motivate us to serve God completely – she basked in that love every day.
"Then we said the confession. My normal mood is to focus on sorrow for sin and humility. I make myself feel sorry for my sins. I wear it like a weight, like pouring ashes over myself. Suddenly the words of the confession seemed to light up on the page, as if the letters were actually in gold. The words were pure joy. I saw that I was 'lucky' to pray this prayer. It was a feeling of good fortune. It was like winning the lottTery – to say these words was to enter into the fullness of Christ’s love and mercy. I wanted to laugh. I almost whispered the words. Confession as the sweet and joyous pleasure – because by being nothing, I had the great reward – Christ and His love.
"The images were so real to me – I knew I had consolation from God. I knew I would forget it – so I had to write it down."
If anyone else wants to draw my attention to a social media posting that I missed, or send me their impressions, I would gladly add them!
Wish I had time to write more. We had so many little hitches in the first part of the Easter Vigil service, for example, but Father Rooster took lemons and made lemonade with them in his wonderful Vigil homily. Even the mistakes gave glory to God!
Praise Jesus! He is risen, and by his stripes, we are healed! Add a Comment
Where to start??
It's been an exciting Lent so far!
That's not one of the usual adjectives to describe Lent, I realize. But it's been true this year. As a church, we've been calling our congregation to pray very specifically this Lent for Kenosha and our church's role here. We take our name, Light of Christ, literally. We long to be Christ's light dispelling the darkness of a depressed city and of lives that are shadowed by darkness and hopelessness.
We have been meeting in groups throughout the week to pray. Though I haven't been part of all these meetings, it's been exciting--there's no other word for it--to hear how God has been leading folks to pray, and how He is answering those prayers!
I can't tell other people's stories, but just in the past week, several things happened that I can share. On Sunday, one of Chicklet's friends came to church with us. Afterwards, she told Chicklet she had never been baptized and she wanted to be! The next day Blondechick21 talked with her about what it all meant, and prayed with her to commit her life to the Lord. The odd thing was, we weren't praying specifically for this little girl; we had never even thought to invite her to church before, I must confess. But we had been praying specifically for God to send another friend for Chicklet at our church, since one of her church friends had moved away. On the same Sunday that this new friend came, we found out that Chicklet's one remaining friend at church is also moving away, which would have left her the only girl her age at church. But now she has this new friend, if her parents allow her to keep coming with us. And even if they don't...look what praying that specific prayer for Chicklet brought about in her sweet friend's life!
Then at Campus Life this week, at the public high school that B15 and B18 attend, a whole bunch of kids gave their lives to the Lord. It was a move of the Spirit--the leaders just invited people to come forward if they needed prayer for burdens to be lifted. Kids started pouring forward, to the point that the guitarist, who was just strumming, asked B18 to take over so he could go help pray for people. I can't help but wonder if B18's ministry in music, then, became a factor, since I believe when gifted people are operating in their gifts, the Spirit's power is poured out! (And it's become clear recently that B18 is not only musically gifted, but also spiritually gifted to minister through music--another exciting thing to see!) Our sons never heard an exact number of kids who prayed to receive Christ, but they both say "it was a lot."
Another incident this week was a conversation I had with a mom who didn't know if she had ever been baptized. Should she be? She had never really thought about it. Her kids weren't baptized and she didn't know if her husband ever had been. I told her different denominations have different beliefs about sacraments, but that just as most of us all agree that taking communion is important (though we may not agree on how often), baptism is the other sacrament that most denominations would agree is important, if not necessary. We talked about what the Bible says about it, that it goes hand in hand with salvation. And like Eucharist, if the Lord even just strongly suggested it...why wouldn't you? She sounded eager to discuss it with her husband, and--who knows?-- maybe that whole family will be baptized now, because of that conversation.
Finally, our house. Along with all this prayer going on, there has been a sense of preparation for the things God is going to do at our church, including the provision for how to pay a full-time rector. (Hearing last week that one of our key families is moving away did not seem like a step in the right direction, either!) But it's not a time to act, to plan, to figure it out; it's a season to pray and to prepare. The fulfillment will come later.
In prayer, we decided not to take action with our house right now either. We were going to list it with a realtor this weekend, but we will wait till Lent is over and list on the Friday after Easter. It is still informally for sale by owner--I've listed it on Craigslist and on Zillow, and we've had about one showing a week through those avenues--so if God wants to bring us a buyer during Lent, He certainly still could. But during Lent we won't have that flurry of activity and stress that comes when you first list a house, and I'm praying that it won't be needed at all--that the right buyer would come along before then, and that we would be able to sell with the bare minimum of effort and stress on our family. In any case, we invite you join us in prayer for the right buyer to come along in exactly God's timing, especially when our next house, which I know God is preparing for us even now, is available!
Meanwhile, we have a little more time to chip away at projects that need doing in the house. Why does it seem like no matter how much I get done, the list stays the same length??
Thank you, Lord, for the encouragement of seeing You work! May others be encouraged also, toward prayer, toward trust, toward faith in You..
Oh my. I really am in trouble if I'm down to once-a-month posts!
You know you're neglecting your blog when...you miss two family birthdays!
But his big gift was one he bought himself, from a friend--a secondhand XBox 360 and a subscription to a gaming site. He has been waiting a long time for this, and he's so excited.
After he and his friend had the hang of them, they jacked them up to the highest setting, about 4 feet off the ground. He was doing fine until he tripped on a folding chair leg, stumbled into other folding chairs and finally fell forcefully into a glass window. He bounced away from it as he hit it, but the window shattered and he was cut on his hand and arm and just nicked his chin. Fortunately, it was right at the end of rehearsal, and I was only two minutes away. (I often send B23 to get them, but this time I was the one coming to pick them up--thank the Lord!) There were other parents there too, arriving to pick up their kids, including a nurse who was helping to stop the bleeding when I arrived. We went to the ER and determined that he did not need stitches. We deferred an X-ray on his sore knees--at worst, he might have a patella fracture but it seems more likely that nothing was broken.
This fall I decided to try making a photo record of the books we've read for homeschooling. I am always asking Chicklet11 and B8 to keep a list of books they read, which they never do, and I haven't been much better myself. This is the first year since we started homeschooling that I am not keeping detailed records of everything we do each day, since I consider the Classical Conversations (CC) program and curriculum comprehensive enough, with our added math program; what I've done at home is flesh out the CC memorized concepts. So if I had to show someone what we've covered, it's all there in the CC manuals. I have to say that it's given me a new freedom to follow our nose on whatever threads we are most interested in, and since we're not doing daily workbooks, the kids think it's a treat when I have an appointment and I leave them a list of workbook pages to do!
But I did want something to remind me of all we've enjoyed together, and I was inspired to take a photo before I returned a bunch of library books. Then I tried to remember what we had read previously and gather those books together too. I haven't photographed any of the kids' free reading choices, but these are most of the books we've read together.
The Usborne Book of World History is a great pictoral, summarizing resource that we've used on and off for years. I am really impressed with A Child's Introduction to Poetry, which came with Chicklet's virtual school curriculum last year. It has a two- or three-page spread on each major poet or poetry type, with sample poems, explanations of vocabulary and images, whimsical illustrations and includes a CD. I especially like how it delves into what a sonnet is or what a limerick is, giving lots of examples.
Tales of the Not Forgotten is a favorite with my little mission-minded girl. The tales are pretty long so we break them up, but I tend to take breaks in between each one. I'm not sure I really like The Everyday Bible. I heard it recommended as a good Bible for younger kids to read aloud because it's written at a 6th grade reading level and the vocabulary is aimed at brand-new Christians, but you definitely lose beauty and familiarity of language. We've been reading Mark aloud, taking turns reading, but we're going to switch to one of Paul's letters after the semester break, to see if I like it any better.
And before we move off of science, I must proudly record the fact that we dissected owl pellets this semester. They were sent to us by Chicklet's virtual school last year, but we pulled out before we got to that unit. Though she kept begging to dissect them, I kept putting it off. This year we decided it would make a perfect family presentation for CC--and it was!
B8 loved Days of the Knights, an Eyewitness Reader with lots of sidebar information and detailed drawings. Medieval World is another Usborne Book; I like to flip through it and point out things we've memorized for CC and help them see how it all ties together. (It's a nice pictoral supplement to A Child's History of the World.)
But my favorite resource in this photo is Tales from Shakespeare. Written in 1807 by Charles and Mary Lamb, they retain the Shakespearean vocabulary and turns of phrase while abridging and explaining the story for children (and fortunate adults--this is such a great way to enjoy Shakespeare!). The sentence structure is so complex that they can be challenging to read aloud--but I enjoy them more for that.
I would encourage anyone who is homeschooling (or "afterschooling") to supplement curriculum with these types of picture books, even if your kids are reading chapter books. First of all, they are a nice length to snuggle up with and read aloud for a short period, even if it takes a couple sittings for some of the longer ones. Even older kids enjoy the pictures, and the images help them remember facts. Also, there is no better way to introduce or review complex history or science, I think, than in a kids' book that highlights the main points so you easily recognize them as such. I love the Usborne and Eyewitness books for that reason.
We are eager for second semester to begin! I have a basket of books for us to choose from. Add a Comment
In Sunshine and In Shadow (Mark Helprin)
This may be my favorite novel by this wonderful author. It's about an unlikely New York City romance between a wealthy blue-blood singer/actress and a young Jewish man returned from the war to find his father's leather goods factory on the verge of financial ruin. There is something exquisite on every page of this book, whether it's in a character description, a circumstance, a well-crafted metaphor or a poignant moment. Fresh and so beautiful.
A Red Herring Without Mustard
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Alan Bradley)
I have a soft spot for 11-year-old detective Flavia DeLuce, a smarty-pants chemist who lives on a British estate her father can't afford to keep up. Her private lab, inherited from a dead ancestor and located in an unheated wing of the huge old house, is the site of her precocious criminal investigations. Especially delightful read aloud by British reader Jayne Entwhistle.
The ABC Murders (Poirot)
And Then There Were None
At Bertram's Hotel (Miss Marple)
Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple)
Halloween Party (Miss Marple)
When I'm in a hurry at the library, I grab an Agatha Christie for my audio selection. They are so reliably enjoyable and well-written. We listened to And Then There Were None on a road trip--my favorite of the ones I read this year--and the kids (the younger three) were totally engaged and intrigued. We didn't quite finish before the trip ended, so we sat around in the living room and listened to the final CD for another hour after we got home. (Unheard of!) Then we had to go research on Wikipedia to find that there are multiple film versions, and we wanted to watch them all. (Hmmm, we should get going on that project!)
La's Orchestra Saves the World (Alexander McCall Smith)
Set during World War II, this is a delicate story about a young woman, forced by circumstances to leave London and move to the countryside, who does what she can to support the war effort; she raises vegetables, works for a chicken farmer, and starts an orchestra.
O. Henry's Complete Short Stories
I love short stories, and O. Henry is a master. Deft character development and a surprising climax are features of most of his delightful tales of love, family, life, death and villainry.
Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens)
This delightful classic is a nice length for kids. Listened to this (a second time) on a short road trip with the younger three kids and they really enjoyed it the characters and story.
By The Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Farmer Boy (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
We are slowly getting through the Little House series! We keep taking breaks to read other books. I enjoyed Farmer Boy more this time around. It was so interesting to see the contrast between his family and Laura's, especially the comparative wealth and variety of food and clothing options that a stable farming way of life could bring. Makes you realize how much poor Ma gave up to move all over the West with Pa, starting over again every few years.
Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
I grabbed the audiobook of Tom Sawyer at the library because our theater group was performing the musical version. I ended up listening to most of it alone, and I decided to follow it up with Huck Finn, which I had not read since I was in junior high, when I didn't enjoy it a bit. I think I was just desperate for reading material at the time, and I was probably too young for it. It's more of a convoluted tale than Tom Sawyer, and a more serious work. Tom Sawyer is tighter, more light-hearted and a better read for younger kids, but there is more meat for discussion in Huckleberry Finn.
Redemption series (Redemption, Remember, Return, Rejoice, Return)
Firstborn series (Fame, Forgiven, Found, Family, Forever)
Sunrise series (Sunrise, Summer, Someday, Sunset)
When Joy Came To Stay
Obviously I was on a Karen Kingsbury kick here for awhile! I had read the Firstborn series before--it's about the director of a youth theater group patterned after the one my kids are involved in--and I had always meant to read the Redemption series, which came before. So I snapped it up when someone offered it to me, and then I had to re-read the Firstborn series and follow the characters on through the Sunrise series. These are moving stories about believable characters facing real-life tests of faith and family. I was not crazy about The Chance--seemed so contrived--but When Joy Came to Stay was a well-framed story about mental health issues (depression) and the power of transparency before God and man.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Ian Fleming)
The three younger kids and I really enjoyed listening to this on a road trip. It was interesting to compare the book with the movie and discuss why the film makers made some variant choices in order to make a better movie than if they had stuck to the book.
The Art Thief (Noah Charney)
This audiobook was near the Agatha Christies in the library, and I took a chance on it because I enjoy art books and mysteries, and this was both. As a mystery it was just okay. But since the author is a professor of art history and an expert in art criminology, and he managed to lecture a good bit one way or another, I found it an interesting read about art, artists and art thieves.
The Little White Horse (Elizabeth Goudge)
For years I've had this little gem on my shelf and never read it! So glad I finally did. I can see why J.K. Rowling called it her favorite book that she read as a child. There was not much about the horse--to my slight disappointment, since I loved horse books as a child--but it's a most satisfying fairytale filled with wonderful characters, a castle, a cottage and more. Delightful; I can't wait for Chicklet to read it.
The House of Dies Drear (Virginia Hamilton)
Another road-trip audiobook. The younger three really liked this because of the ghostly hauntings and the mystery aspect; I thought the treatment of blacks in 1968 was well-described and thought-provoking. Educational and entertaining--a win-win.
Five Children and It (E. Nesbit)
Another one of those children's classics that I've owned and never read until now. What if you could be granted a new wish every morning, one that would disappear at sundown? And what if things kept going wrong with your wish? Clever, funny, thought-provoking and very enjoyable.
An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
This is the autobiography of a clinical psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of bipolar disorder, who has the disorder herself. Informative, intriguing and sympathetic.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Jen Hatmaker)
Nonfiction has to be pretty entertaining for me to get through a whole book. I do fine with articles, but it takes me years to finish nonfiction full-length books. I read this one in record time, though, because the author--a pastor's wife and popular speaker and blogger--is hilarious, and the topic really resonated with my own philosophy (which I am just beginning to articulate and apply to more and more things in my life) that "less is more." She picked seven areas to limit, for a month at a time. She gave herself only seven food choices, allowed herself only seven clothing items, only spent money in seven stores, fasted from seven media types, gave away seven things a day for a month, adopted seven "green" habits to reduce waste in her life, and mutinied against stress by observing seven "sacred pauses" a day (basically praying the liturgical hours). Entertaining and thought-provoking.
Though Mountains Fall (Dale Cramer)
This is the sequel to Paradise Valley (which I read last year) about an Amish community that forms in Mexico, loosely based on the author's own family history. I enjoyed both as audiobooks, something to listen to while cooking.
Spy for the Night Riders (Dave and Neta Jackson)
The Trailblazer books feature famous Christian historical figures. This one was written from the perspective of a young student/clerk of Martin Luther's, who accompanies him to the Diet of Worms where he was accused of heresy, and is with him on the return journey when Luther was apprehended by friends and whisked away to live in safety at Wartburg Castle, where he translated the New Testament into German. It was quite exciting, with every chapter ending in a cliff hanger which had B8 and Chicket begging me to keep reading, and it dovetailed nicely with our history studies of the Middle Ages for Classical Conversations, which included mention of the Protestant Reformation. We own a lot of the Trailblazer series, but the older kids never ate them up. I think it's because I never read them aloud and it seems that is the best way to enjoy them!
The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)
I've read this, I've listened to the radio drama, but the best way to experience The Screwtape Letters is to listen to John Cleese read them. (I have it on cassette tapes, but I just googled and discovered it's on YouTube now!) I think this is one of Lewis' finest books, giving such perspective on the role of the church, God's love for his creation, His plan for mankind, resisting the devil and recognizing his machinations, even re-casting death's role in life--all with such clever humor and logic! A remarkable book.
The Whipping Boy (Sid Fleischman)
Listened to this children's book with just Chicklet in the car, somehow--oh, it was driving back and forth to Hercules rehearsals, while B14 preferred to listen to his iPod. She loved this story of a spoiled prince and his scrappy whipping boy who end up running away from the palace and living on the streets, where the prince finally learns to behave like one. It was a nice addition to our history studies of the Middle Ages this year.
Pullman Car Hiawatha (Thornton Wilder)
This one-act play really impressed me. I'd love to direct it somehow, somewhere. Our Town has always been a play that deeply moves me, and PCH seems like a precursor to Our Town, with seeds of ideas that Wilder developed more fully in later plays. It takes place on a train traveling across the Midwest. One of the passengers dies, and then in Wilder's magical realistic way, we pull back and see the event from a geographical, theological, cosmological, meteorological perspective represented by characters like a farmhand in Ohio, a hobo living under a bridge that the train passes over, and the planets.
Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (Clyde Fitch)
This three-act play was in the same anthology of American playwrights as Pullman Car Hiawatha, and I thought it a fine little light-hearted Victorian romantic comedy.
Entwined (Heather Dixon)
This audiobook was on last year's list too; I thought Chicklet and B14 might enjoy it in the car, as we traveled for the holidays, and they did. It's a well-embellished retelling of the fairy tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, with a lot of other interesting characters besides the princesses. (I have a dream project in mind based on this book--I think it would make a great musical for our youth theater group!)
Sister Wendy's Book of Meditations (Wendy Beckett)
Sister Wendy, art critic and Catholic nun, meditates on the themes of Silence, Love, Joy, and Peace, illustrated by a beautiful piece of artwork on each page. This book has taught me how to appreciate abstract art more than I ever could have on my own, and the meditations always settle me into a place of peace and joy.
Though I can't say I read any of them entirely, I also read, on something close to a daily basis, the Bible, Jesus Calling, the Divine Hours, Reader's Digest, and The Week (the magazine), plus many articles and blog posts recommended by Papa Rooster and my Facebook friends.
The kids and I did a lot of reading together as well, and I am working on another post covering our explorations of the Middle Ages and other topics covered in our Classical Conversations curriculum this school year.
Overall, it was a good year of reading! For more book lists, visit Semicolon's special edition year-end booklist round-up! Add a Comment
Eight years ago on New Year's Eve, I started this little blog.
Christmas in lands of the fir tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright.
Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o'er brave men in the thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all;
No palace too great, no cottage too small.
It's Ash Wednesday, and we had a somber, silent service. We are in the season of Lent now.
But last Sunday, it was a joyful celebration as we ordained one of our own to the office of deacon.
Here he is, with his family--and with our new Bishop, on his first episcopal visit to Light of Christ!
But none of the kids were shy when the Bishop asked them for a group hug!
The Light of Christ clergy team with their bishop. (Father Rand, on the far right, has his own church now, a seedling plant out in Big Rock, IL, but he's been a partner at LOC so long--he comes faithfully, once a month or so--that we still happily claim him!)
Deacon Luke will be ordained Father Luke eventually, Lord willing...and then who knows where God will take him? But for now, we are so happy to have him serving as deacon at Light of Christ!
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