Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Beating the storm

Like all of you, we are in the frantic week-before-Christmas rush and my big plans for the new blog are on hold. Write 5 times a week? No way. But aside from Christmas activities, God once again provided and I have been busy with a new job--a very welcome job and I am grateful for it. Our friend Kim has a friend who needs research assistants. He is a professor in St. Louis working on his PhD and needs people to read and code congressional hearings. So I have been giving all my free time to that.

In spite of all this, we took a break to go to Lancaster to see a Christmas show and stay in a free Marriot (a bonus for signing up for a credit card.) We eagerly looked forward to our winter getaway until the Midwest ice storm was heading our way. We had heard about this severe storm for days, causing power outages and even deaths. It was predicted to hit our area in the early morning hours the very day we had to drive to Lancaster! I was in a panic. You can drive on snow but not on ice. What could we do but cancel our plans? But Fred was not deterred in the least.

We decided to wake up at 5am and if for some reason the storm had not arrived, we would head out. The plan worked. Nothing was going on when the alarm rang. We got the girls up, loaded the car and hurried out the door in the darkness, expecting the storm at any moment. We drove swiftly on the back roads through the silent Amish countryside. Still no storm as we drove through the empty streets of Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand usually bustling with tourists, but no one was out this day except a few lone buggies. Then a light rain began to fall.

It was 7am. Time for breakfast! We chose our old favorite--Cracker Barrel. We've been to just about every one of them along 81 in Virginia, so we could even pretend we were far away from home on the way to Grandma's house.

Fred was a little anxious over the long stretch of time before our 4:30 show. What to do? I was anxious about the hard, pelting rain coming down now, freezing instantly on our windshield and leaving icicles hanging from everything around us. Amazingly, the roads were just wet. What a great town--the salt crews must have been very busy the night before. Besides the Amish, Lancaster is famous for its outlet malls, so shopping is popular, especially in the winter when you can't visit the farms. Poor Fred, he was forced to shop all day. The most interesting store we visited was Walmart. Every clerk we saw there was Mexican and they would shout loudly back and forth to each other in Spanish. But roaming the aisles of the store were quiet Amish women in black pushing babies bundled in scarves, sweaters and boots. Bearded Amish men pushed carts with tools and hardware.

We were a little early for our show so we bought big coffees and sat in the parking lot of the theatre to wait. The freezing rain had stopped. It had been a wonderful day spending time together and the storm that hadn't caused any problems at all.

The musical was called "Voices of Christmas" and was a wondrous celebration of our Savior's birth. In drama, song and with many instruments, the impact of the Christmas story over countless generations and through many characters was portrayed on stage. From Charles Dickens and his timeless story to St. Francis leading people into the woods to view the nativity for the first time to the writing of Stille Nacht. The story of Handel writing Messiah was especially moving. We caught the joy. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

We returned to our fancy hotel. We had the pool to ourselves on this wintry night. Fred and the girls swam and I pretended to be lounging on the beach with a book. We left Lancaster refreshed and thankful for so many things, but most of all, for God's gift of his Son. Merry Christmas Family and Friends!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Winter near

Dominic cut down a dead tree behind our house on Black Friday. It had a big, fat vine running up the trunk. But everything was dead outside. I didn't think poison ivy. But I did Dominic's laundry and two days later woke to that old familiar itch. It must have been a virulent vine, potent with poison. Dominic, whom I believe has never been afflicted in his life broke out in a rash. Fred rarely gets poison ivy and he got it too, even though he was only outside supervising. And me--I'm terribly allergic. Blistery, red sores ALL over. The itch alone will drive a person insane.

Anyway, I finally went to the doctor and she gave me 9 days worth of Prednisone. Good drug--the itch is gone and the rash subdued. I feel powerful and invincible. Bad drug--I cannot sleep. Every night my mind races for hours. I seemingly need no sleep.

I'm trying to take advantage of this time to use my energy to clean my house and finish up projects. At night when I lie awake I'm praying for everyone I know. "The Lord will hear when I call to him...when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." Psalm 4:3, 4. The solitude has refreshed me more than sleep.

On Sunday morning we awoke to ice and snow. Fred got up early and rekindled the fire in the woodstove. We came downstairs with our coffee and sat in front of the silent flames. Peace. Yes, there is much trouble in this world but this moment of quiet will sustain us and prepare us for whatever is to come. With a grateful heart, I praise God for his many blessings. Winter will be here soon. I love this time of hibernation and family time.