Whew! I took an unexpected hiatus from blogging this past week. We were snowed in much of the week and since Chris had the computer with him in Chicago, we were an internet-free house. It was sort of nice to be "disconnected" for a bit. I thought up a lot of blog entries, but I'm not sure I remember any of them now!! Oh well...
While Chris was gone for two weeks, I went on a total Jane Austen binge. I watched Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility (the mini-series), and Pride and Prejudice. I re-read Persuasion and am now working on Sense and Sensibility. I've even read a couple of essays on her works! Although, sometimes I think the essayists miss the point. I mean, how do you really know what she intended in her writing when she's been dead for almost two hundred years? Anyway, I was thinking about packing up the fam and moving to a sprawling manner house set amongst the lush green fields and forests of England. I was also thinking of instituting a wardrobe change in the Regency style of clothing. I think my boys would look pretty cute in breeches! :-) We could learn to ride horses, take long walks through the countryside, sit around the parlor and play cards, and throw down some pretty cool moves on the ballroom floor!
And then, as it will do, reality set in. I realized that the reality of my Austenality would not be a sprawling manner house, but a small smoky cottage with a moldy thatched roof. Instead of living it up in early 1800's splendor, I would be bending down scrubbing floors and disposing of the "toilet water". My children would be digging in fields and my husband would be bringing home squirrels for dinner. Yeah, maybe not really the life for me. Thank goodness God knows what he's doing! "And who knows but that you were put here for such a time as this?" (Mordecai to Esther, trying to get her to appeal to the king) I think I'll stick with this present age.
Embrace your reality--God put you here for a reason!!
One of the best parts of blogging is being able to "meet" amazing people from all over the world with hearts set on furthing the Kingdom. One such person is Big Fat Mama. Her blog, Cooking Up Faith, has been feeding people spiritually on a daily basis. Now, God has shown her a way to use her blog to feed people for REAL.
Check out her new program, A Meal in the Mail. A Meal in the Mail allows us to send meal gift cards to families in need during times of illness, loss or crisis. Not only are we providing a spiritual need for those families, we are letting them know that they are not alone, that people they haven't even met are surrounding them with love and prayer.
THIS IS CHRIST IN ACTION!!!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!!!!
Big Fat Mama already has two families in need on her blog. The first is Joel, a little boy who has been battling cancer the past nine months. He is one of four children, with another sibling on the way. Needless to say, between doctor's visits and kids, there's not a lot of time left to think about food. Sending them a gift card for a meal would go a long way.
Second is Joanne, a 38 year old mother of two who just suffered a massive stroke. Joan is currently in a coma and her family could use the support of meals through this time.
A great feature of A Meal in the Mail is that you can link up your blog with Big Fat Mama's to put even more names of families in need on the list.
This is SO SIMPLE!! Please, PLEASE become a part of this ministry!!
As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, I'm struck by the fact that so many prophetic voices throughout history have been suddenly and violently silenced by those who oppose or fear the truth of the message they bring. Dr. King was just one of those voices. He spoke the truth of love and justice, of equality for all and of the evils of racism and poverty. His message echoed the message of Christ who called his disciples, and still calls us, to love, to serve, to witness. I belive that it is our responsibility as Christ-followers to fill the silence of those prophets who have been taken from us.
I've included a video of U2's "Pride: In the Name of Love" which I showed in my English III class last year. Take some time today to remember Dr. King, to remember the countless others who have given their lives speaking the truth, and consider what God is calling you to speak.
Our area received about 4 inches of snow Sunday night, which means our rural schools are shut down until the thaw. Living in the Southern Midwest, we're not as apt to dealing with above an inch of snow as our Northern neighbors. For life truly lived in snow, check out my friend Angie over at Messy Cars and Muddy Shoes. The first day we got up late and the boys, upon seeing the snow, immediately ran to grab coats and head outside. Mama sort of squelched the initial enthusiasm by telling them that we first had to get dressed, put on boots, and find gloves and hats. We played for awhile, the boys blanketing me with snow. Stephen had never had a big snowfall before, so he was literally throwing himself into the drifts and rolling around! Hot chocolate soon followed, as did baking, neighbor visiting, story-telling and cuddling.
The second day, I gave up all pretense of productivity and simply spent the day engaging with my boys. We played all day, both inside and out. I was in awe, again, at Garrett's imagination. The kid can literally create an epic story from a pencap and a chopstick! As we sat down to dinner that evening (my husband is in Chicago for two weeks at school), I looked at my boys' bright faces and smiled. "We had a lot of fun today, didn't we?" I asked. "Yeah," Garrett replied. "We did have a lot of fun."
Sometimes, as a parent, I miss the "having fun" part. I do the laundry, give baths, pour juice, redirect, but I don't always have fun. I don't always just bask in the joy of my children being the wonderful, high-spirited, imaginative, rambunctious kids they are. My kids are my biggest gift. I should't just wait for a snow day to enjoy it.
Blessings and Peace,
P.S. My friend over at The Domestic Fringe has opened an Etsy store. Check it out! And while you're there, stop and read a bit. You won't be disappointed!!
I'm in the process of re-reading Jane Austen's Persuasion. It is, perhaps, my favorite of her works. It is a novel about second chances, and who doesn't love a second chance? I found a quote last night that stuck with me, for it is absolutely true to life. Mrs. Croft, an Admiral's wife, is discussing her life lived at sea with her husband and remarks, when the idea that women are too delicate to live life aboard a naval ship is presented, that "none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days." One of the problems with living in the human world is the absolute human-ness of it all. Life can be challenging, unexpected, scary and even cruel. There are times in each of our lives where the waves begin to swell and swamp us and we feel like we're going to capsize.
I remember a time in my life several years ago when I felt I was on the verge of capsize. I remember the exact moment, sitting on the edge of my bed, tears streaming down my face, when I envisioned myself flailing about in a raging sea. I even remember the words I cried out to God in that moment--"I'm drowning here! You have to help me. Throw me a life line or something!!" In the months that followed, God not only sent me a life line, he sent me a new life! You'd think I would have learned a little something about trust and the "power of the Almighty to do great things for me". Yet, the reality is, when life gets rough, I still find myself calling to God to save me from drowning.
The disciples found themselves in a similar boat, quite literally. Jesus wanted to cross the sea. While he slept, a storm developed and the boat became unstable. Needless to say, the disciples freaked out. They ran to Jesus and pulled him out of his sleep. "We're going to drown!" they cried. Jesus, in true Son of God fashion, said nothing but rose from his rest and calmed the storm. It was over in a matter of seconds. The water calmed, Jesus turned to his disciples who were huddled together with their mouths hanging open and said, "Don't you have any faith?"
Don't you have any faith? I am struck as mute as the disciples in the face of Jesus' words. It's convicting, isn't it? To realize how little faith you actually have in the Creator of the universe to see you through the storms of life? The truth of the matter is that God, our FATHER, is not going to let us drown. That's not to say that life won't throw in some pretty good punches. We'll lose our footing, lose our breath, maybe get a little sea-sick, and we will definitely have some water to bail, but God, our God, who formed us in the womb and has counted each hair on our head, will NOT let us drown!!
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will NOT fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging...The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress..."be still and know that I AM GOD..." Psalm 46
There are situations that come into our lives that we are powerless to handle. The disciples could do nothing to stop the storm, but they ran to the One who has dominion over both heaven and earth. Likewise, when we feel the waters rising around us, we are to turn to that same One who has dominion and power and authority over all things. God will not only keep us afloat through our storms, he will build us a whole new boat in which we can ride it out secure, dry, and sound.
I took down the Christmas tree yesterday. There was no real thought in the decision to do it. I was simply looking at it and realized that I was ready for it to be gone. My husband thinks, as much as he hates the trappings of Christmas, that the bareness from the decorations being gone is a bit sad, but I like it. It is winter and I am ready to abide in the sparseness of it. It is time to pull out the fleece blankets and hunker down.
This time of year in the liturgical calendar is referred to as Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time consists of the weeks surrounding Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas. Typically, there are 34 weeks of Ordinary Time throughout the year. The color for Ordinary Time is green. Don't ask me why. Maybe green was an ordinary color for the Mediterranean men who created the church calendar. Personally, I would have chosen brown. And, while Ordinary Time does not have the pomp and circumstance of Christmas and Easter, it is the time in which we live out the majority of our lives. How ironic, then, that we would call it ordinary! The early church fathers were, of course, almost a full millennium before Thornton Wilder's Our Town in which the deceased heroine is granted one more precious "ordinary" day on Earth and cries out before departing, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?"
The truth is that the Ordinary Time in our lives is, in fact, the sacred stuff life is made up of. Kathleen Kenison, in her book The Gift of an Ordinary Day, refers to these moments as "charmed moments, all the time, in every life and in every day, if we are only awake enough to experience them when they come and wise enough to appreciate them." (pg. 224)
It is the peaceful quiet that comes in the early morning or late night hours when you can hear the gentle breathing of your spouse, your children and your pets safe under one roof. It is the time spent together around a dinner table, noisy and rambunctious as toddlers would rather play than eat, but time together, nonetheless. It is a deep breath of crisp winter air that expands the lungs and clears the head. It is a hot shower, it is the smell of warm yeast bread baking in the oven. It is time shared with friends and family to celebrate nothing except the fact that we enjoy one another's company. Our Ordinary Time is, perhaps, the most beautiful gift we are given in this life and we should live each of our "ordinary" days in gratitude for it. We need to, as Kension writes, "pay attention to what's worth caring about, to read the sacred in everyday life..." (pg. 207)
Yet beyond our gratitude for our "ordinary" days, we must learn to live each one with the purpose for which it was intended. As the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2, "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." As the majority of our lives are lived in Ordinary Time, so the majority of our work to build the kingdom of God should be done in this time as well. It's easy to be generous at Christmas time, but is it as easy in March or August? And, are not these ordinary times the times that people need the most help, love, support, care? As Christians, we need to take the gifts of our "ordinary" days and give them to those we meet along the way. They are simple gifts to give; gifts of presence, gifts of time, gifts of food, gifts of acknowledgment, gifts of comfort, gifts of encouragement, gifts of love.
Ordinary Time is our time to realize life while we live it--every, every minute--and to share that life with those around us.
Just received word that my dear friend Penny over at Living Above lost her husband Thursday in a hunting accident. I am deeply shaken and saddened over this news. John was a pastor at a church in New Orleans and he and Penny have two very young children. Please pray for them all that they would find strength and comfort during this time.