Monday, May 23, 2005

No Drain Hose?

I thought that it would be ok. After all, the instructions said "install drain hose, if available". So that must mean that it is possible to accomplish the task without the hose, right? So I knelt beside our poor tractor, determined to minister life-giving fluids. But first, "out with the old"! So, I found an alternative - a long orange funnel. If I put it's lip right under the plug, it seemed that the dirty oil would pass by the "clean" tractor, spill right down the funnel and into the waiting drain pan. At least, I was pretty sure it would. The angle was a bit flat, but what the heck! The procrastinator was actually accomplishing something, and she wasn't about to stop now. I slowly loosened the plug and then jammed the funnel underneath.

As you've probably guessed, my plan backfired. Literally. The oil was coming out way too fast and backflowed all over my poor tractor and onto my (thank you Lord!) cardboard that I had intelligently placed under the tractor before surgery. I kept telling myself "don't cry over spilled oil".

No drain hose? Don't despair. Just buy up all of those truly wonderful blue shop towels :-) (And while your at it, when your kids leave their milk right by their elbow, just get used to having towels handy. They'll learn more quickly when you smile and toss them a towel).

I used nearly all of the blue shop towels (did I tell you how wonderful they are?). And I am happy to report that when my dear husband came out I was just finishing up the breathing filter operation. A tractor needs such a thing - it's awfully dirty out in the country :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Whom have I in Heaven but You...

I often sing these strengthening words from Psalm 73. Right now my Dad is in the ICU and many other family members are struggling with health issues, and it reminds me of how frail we really are. These temporary dwellings called bodies are not eternal, and when they begin to show signs of wear, we all need a little strengthening!

Asaph, the writer of this beautiful Psalm, was a Levite and a leader in King David's choir. I love to imagine him serving God in the temple and worshipping the Lord with all of his heart. As a Levite, God was truly his "portion forever". And He is mine also, in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 73:25-26
25Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hand Over Mine

After a conversation with a friend recently, I dug up this article I wrote a few years ago...

???Mommy, put your hand over mine.??? Demanded my 3 year old son to his surprised mom. We were making cookie dough and I was reluctantly allowing him to participate. I am one of those moms who dislike messes and I tend to stress out when my kids help me turn a messy job into a REALLY messy job.

???Mommy is always working, and I want to be working too!??? This so well expresses the toddler who hovers near his mother in the kitchen, always wanting to be involved. This same toddler may many times be redirected by his mother. ???Go and play with your toys.??? She might say, thinking of her agenda for the day and how in the world she is going to accomplish everything that needs to be done. Over a period of time, when consistently redirected thus, a child will begin to lose interest in the tasks of his mother, preferring instead to play with his toys. This child is being trained well. ???Mommy will do all the work. My job is just to play.??? When he is a little older, it may be difficult to change this child???s worldview. A mother may think that her child is old enough now to begin doing chores. She may approach her 7-year old, or her 9-year old or her 12-year old with a job he or she is now responsible for. She may be greeted with a blank stare, or an incredulous look or outright rebellion. But certainly not the delighted participation which a toddler exhibits. Training your child to stay with you is so important. To slow down, escape from your agenda and simply delight in his presence and efforts is difficult if it is not your habit. But the alternative will leave a mother in shame (Proverbs 29:15). Jesus set for us the perfect example in the scriptures. He said ???My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.??? There is nothing more wonderful in this life than to participate in the Father???s work. To let Him put His hand over ours and help Him. Let us not deny our children the same joy.

As God began to teach me this truth, I asked Him to loosen me up. One day we were in the kitchen making cookie dough and He really answered this prayer! We ended up using our fingers to mix the dough and the mess was unbelievable. But mommy was cool and the delight of the children was contagious. IT was sooo worth it!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Alphabet Birthday Weekend

David turned 7 on Thursday, and what a party it was! Our good friends, the Shavers, traveled 5 hours from Illinois to see us. They arrived just before the party, at about 6pm. The Rogers also joined us, and altogether we had 13 children ballooning about. We began the fun with an alphabet treasure hunt, traveling all over the house to find the next letter and a clue. When we got to 'P' there was a present waiting for David and throughout the hunt were unexpected Smarties candies, to give brain-power for the hunt:-) At letter 'V' James was stung by a wasp on the veranda (he said it felt like he was pricked by a porcupine). Victoria and James tied for first place. Renee won the coloring contest. And everyone had a balloosterific time!
After the kids were in bed, we played a game called Fluxx where the rules are always changing, and we stayed up far too late talking. It was so great to hang out again after so long.
The next day was spent mostly outside, exploring the yard and the park. We had a wonderful time eating a picnic lunch, and were graced with a parked car which serenaded us with some sweet classical music. We explored the trail by the pavillion and the trail by the lake, played in the sand, and eventually went back home to make homemade pizzas. The children watched Finding Nemo together and played Bible Charades. The adults watched Star Trek (which was apparently very very bad) and stayed up to eat ice cream and talk (again until Midnight).
The Shavers left after French toast this morning, and I am currently blogging to avoid my other responsibilities:-)
All in all it was a wonderful weekend with friends that we will not soon forget. Here are some pictures....
The kids were hard to contain, knowing that friends would arrive soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Reality Check

Lately I have been doing some soul searching. My thoughts have centered on my faith and how uncentered I was for so long. When I came to believe Jesus Christ 15 years ago, it was a joyful reality, like being born. And my life changed outwardly. I became a church goer. I became a Bible-study attender. I became a "prayer". Don't get me wrong, I believe that I was really saved; But in reality, deep deep down I knew that I was still me. I was still ruled by the desire to eat cookies for comfort; prone to depression; critical; enthusiastic about starting but not about finishing; unable to rise up to the high standards which I had set for myself; wanting to just throw aside the body that seemed to weigh me down. And even in the midst of "Christianity", I began to search for that wonderful truth that would set me free. I searched in prayer groups. I searched in seminars. I read books. I prayed and fasted. I memorized large passages of scripture. But I continued to be in bondage to one degree or another.

It wasn't until I returned to a simple faith in Jesus Christ two years ago, that I realized He alone was the road to freedom. The path that He traveled was meant for me also. When He died, I died. When He was raised from the dead, I was too. This was different from the ticket-gospel I had embraced at salvation. This put more stock in the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, not only for my salvation, but for my sanctification. And it opened my eyes to the fact that there are a lot of the world's "self-help" ideas within the church, cleverly disguised with spiritual jargon. Since that point, Jesus Christ has become my lifeline, my only hope. I think before I had hope that some action that I could take would lead to deliverance and a miraculous change in my behavior. Like I could pray myself , or fast myself, or memorize myself into freedom. I am so thankful that I don't believe that anymore. There is nothing that I can do to be free from the sin that so easily entangles, not only because I am incapable of crossing the chasm, but because God has already opened the door of freedom. He will not make another way. The ONLY WAY to be legitimately free is to walk according to what God says is true, believing God. And to trust in that alone. I have heard it described like this: a precious, valuable gift is given in love, and when the receiver attemps to offer a paltry sum, it is insulting to the giver! "Just receive, my child!" I can hear God saying. We feel like we have to put up some kind of performance in order to be worthy to be in God''s presence. The truth is, we will never be worthy to be in his presence. Period. Christ is the only worthy one. It is only when we believe that we are really part of Jesus Christ, that the miracle of true fellowship with God exists. Halleiluia! God, You are so perfect.

Right now, I am in a state which seems degenerative. I've been noticing some character flaws that just won't seem to go away. I've been distracted by cookies and having some very stressed out Mommy moments. In general feeling like a failure. But I will never again wonder, "how can I be free of this mess I seem to have made of my life?" I know that there is only one answer, despite my itching ears. Jesus Christ. And I will hold onto him with all of my might, because without Him, what's the point, really?

"Buried with him by baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead." Col. 2:12

"And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:9-14

Sunday, May 8, 2005

To the Zoo and Beyond...

We met our good friends, the Rogers, first thing Saturday morning, and traipsed through the zoo together, stopping to play and to eat. About two in the afternoon, it was unanimously voted to leave the zoo (only the adults voted), and we continued the fun in the Rogers backyard :-). The men stayed inside working on a project while the women sat outside in back, watching the children survive the perilous tree branch (we had to saw it off), the homemade 6-person swing, toddler traffic jams and the inevitable clashing of wills which will occur with 8 youngsters playing together. Here are some pictures...

All of us together, minus me :-). I had lots of fun with the camera today. What appears to be a twirling hat atop Nathan's head is actually a roof in the distance (I think).

Here are David and Victoria, being eaten by a giant hippo...they were buddies today, and will no doubt remain friends forever after having survived such an ordeal :-)

Joshua, petting the friendly goats. One of them came at me and pawed me, before turning to the side and twitching at me until I brushed his itchy spot! The only thing Josh said at the zoo was "woooooaaaa" when he almost fell. He was enthralled the entire time.

Rebekah, in all her glory!

Deborah, Ranee and Rebekah, hoping the goats will rub their horns on their shoes.

David, in a rare moment of inactivity.

Deborah and Ranee, working in their pretend garden. Pardon me - REAL garden. Deborah corrected me :-). Everything in the wagon is apparently edible ;-)

Josh and Benjer, very different, but destined to be friends...

Monday, May 2, 2005

One Step Closer to You

Today is Nathan's birthday. He is 33 years old. I kept telling him how marvelous it is to be 33, but I don't think he believed me until today. Just kidding! The Italians believe that there is something special about turning 33. They refer to it as the Anno de Cristo, the Year of the Christ. According to folk tradition this is a year reserved for revelation, being Christ's age at his death. For us and many other unworthy individuals, revelation is already present with the understanding of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But there is always room for deeper understanding. Who knows? Maybe Christ will pour out more grace on us this year :-)

For me, birthdays are wonderful, for the sole reason that they bring us one step closer (from the physical perspective) to being with the Lord forever. And there is something precious about that step! It is a step of faith in many ways, to take it eagerly (like children! :-)). To run toward death, eagerly embracing that which has already occurred (see scriptures below) is to bring a smile to the face of our Lord, for without faith it is impossible to please Him. And pleasing Him must be our goal, or really, what's the point?

"We are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." - Romans 6:4

"For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God" - Col. 3:3

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." - Heb. 11:6
Daddy\\\'s Birthday