Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not again!

We are in the midst of another blizzard. It has been snowing all day but the weather people are saying it is going to get even worse tonight. Enough snow!

I'm not tired of winter. I really like spending time inside with the wood in the stove burning and the girls' projects and school work scattered on their desks. But I wasn't happy to hear about more snow and more shoveling.

This morning a friend of mine sent me a youtube link to Katrina Kenison and her video, "The Gift of an Ordinary Day." I tried to paste it here so you could just click on it, but it wouldn't work, so you can try to find it. We old moms will get teary-eyed watching it. So...because of this video today, our adventure in the snow was a little different than it might have been. Thanks, Helen.

We did a few hours of school and then the principal (Fred) said school was out for the day. Hurray! The girls started suiting up for playing in the snow. I reluctantly went out and shoveled the deck and then tried to go back inside. Fred said, "Aren't you going to play with us?" Arielle said, "Mom, we want you to stay outside with us." I really wanted a cup of hot tea and peace and quiet, but because of that video I decided not to miss an "ordinary day" and pass up this opportunity to be with Fred and the girls.

The snow was great for rolling balls, and we rolled and rolled until they got so big they were too heavy to move. We laughed and fell and got wet and played in this beautiful snow. We made the biggest snowman ever! Then we made two more snowmen. We searched the yard for adornments to bring them to life. This one in the picture has bamboo hair. We had great fun together as a family. Isn't this what life is about? Just an ordinary day turned into something very special. It is a precious gift.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We're still reading

Fred and I are very diligent about our Bible reading this year. I realize, though, that if you try to read through the Bible in a year, there won't be much time for in-depth study. I work hard just to complete the five chapters (usually) each day. We finished Genesis and Exodus and all the drama there. We found some troubling ideas, objectionable customs, loathsome people, and even words of God we wrestle with and struggle to understand. I have to remind myself of the cultural gap between people today and those who lived thousands of years ago. But I also always keep in mind that these words are still the inspired Word of God. I have to pray and ask for wisdom and discernment to learn from them.

I think we also need to read the Old Testament with an eye on Jesus. The words and the stories all point to him. When we read of warnings and threats, we better understand God's demand for holiness and how our sin separates us from him. The atoning animal sacrifices that are abhorrent to us today are a foreshadow of God sacrificing his son on the cross to take away our sins. The multitude of laws, that people could never fully obey, were fulfilled in Christ. He alone lived the perfect life God required and became victor over sin and death. We read about Moses and how he interceded for the people, praying for them and telling them what God had to say. We better understand how Jesus is our intercessor who reveals God to us. Jesus said to his disciples, "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. (John 14:7)

One of the major themes of the Old Testament is what God repeats over and over, "I will be their God and they shall be my people." The promises made to Abraham were fulfilled in Jesus. Those promises become our promises. Through Jesus, we become God's children, along with all the privileges and responsibilities. We are able to speak directly to the unapproachable God of the Old Testament because of what Jesus has done for us.

It is encouraging to me to read the Old Testament and the failings of flawed humans. Those people were imperfect--just like me. But God used sinful people to achieve his purposes, and he can use even me. Through these characters we can learn lessons of wise choices and guard against foolish ones. We become more aware of the consequences of our actions, the immediate ones and also the far-reaching ones.

As we read, we must use caution not to create God in our own image. God is not our very best idea of a god. We shouldn't say, "Well, if I were God, I would do this and not allow that." God is who he is. So as we read these stories, we might not like some things God does. Isn't it enough to acknowledge that since we are not gods, it is just possible that some things are beyond our understanding? A child does not understand everything her father does, and in fact, is not capable of doing so.

The God of the New Testament is also the God of the Old. He is Jesus. Jesus says, "Whoever has seen me has seen the father." (John 14:9) But, as C. S. Lewis cautions, "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion." God is powerful, merciful, and faithful, but he is not tame, predictable, or controllable." He says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." Isaiah 55:8.

We press onward...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The day after

It's sunny, Fred fixed the snow blower and Liana stopped coughing. What more could we ask for? We shoveled out one final time and then enjoyed the rest of the day. The snow is beautiful, isn't it? Yesterday I kept thinking, when will it ever end? Yet this morning I went outside in my robe and snow boots to capture the beauty of the colors and breathe in the crisp air.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snow and more snow

It's Tuesday afternoon. We wait for more snow. We had a blizzard Saturday. I measured 16 inches of snow in our backyard. As much, or more, is coming in the next couple of hours. I don't think my arms and shoulders have recovered yet from hours of shoveling over the weekend. But I'm not complaining. I am thankful Fred and I are healthy and strong enough to shovel snow.

We did our preparation for cozy family time. Fred brought in stacks of firewood to feed the stove tomorrow. I returned library books that will be due in the next few days knowing we can't get out. I took Liana to the doctor to check on a nagging cough. There is nothing scarier than having a very sick child and being stranded. It happened when Arielle was a baby. But Liana is fine, the doctor said. Then shopping. People always act like they won't get to a store for a week when there is a storm coming. But really, don't we just want good snack food when we're cozy in our homes with the snow flying? The girls chose some board games and videos and we settled in for fun.
***It's now Wednesday evening. We've had no cozy time today. Fred and I are exhausted. The snow is very heavy and we got out early in the morning to get a jump on the shoveling. I helped the girls with their lessons and then we shoveled the rest of the day. The snow blower broke, and we know we will still be shoveling in the morning because it is still snowing! It's been snowing for over 24 hours and, for awhile, our weather forcasters said it was snowing 2 inches an hour. Fred and I would clear an area and then turn around and start again. If we'd just waited until the storm was over, it would have been even harder to remove all this snow.

Liana is still coughing. We let the girls go outside briefly, but I don't think Liana is fine like the doctor said. I'm worried out her. This was a difficult day.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Lessons from Corrie

A friend of mine and my mother have both been passing along books to me about the Holocaust, some fiction, some autobiographies. It seems several have been published recently. Why now, I'm not sure. Even Arielle has become interested in this time period and has read several books written for children her age. A week or so ago I remembered the classic, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I read this many, many years ago. I decided I would like to read it again and ordered it from the library.

The book is now filled with scraps of paper marking pages I want to return to--to remember and to ponder. I realize I am not just reading about the ten Booms, I am learning about God through the faith of Corrie and the rest of her family. As Corrie's sister Betsie says, "Tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here."

For those who don't know, Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman who, along with her father, the town's reputable watchmaker, and her sister, hid Jews in their home after the Germans invaded Holland. The book tells of remarkable faith, miracles, courage, and tragedy.

On the eve of looming disaster for Holland and for Corrie and her family, Corrie was going to bed one night. "Childhood scenes rushed back to me out of the night, strangely close and urgent. Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do. I didn't know then--nor, indeed, that there was any new future to prepare for in a life as humdrum and predictable as mine. I only knew, as I lay in my bed that certain moments from long ago stood out in focus against the blur of years. Oddly sharp and near they were, as though they were not yet finished, as though they had something more to say."

One of Corrie's memories was when she first started school as a little girl. She did not want to go. In fact, she refused to go. Her sisters and her brother ended up leaving her behind when they headed off that morning. Her mother told her to hurry or she would have to cross the street alone. Her father intervened, "Of course she's not going alone!...Corrie is going with me."

Corrie writes, "And with that he took my hat from its peg, wrapped my hand in his, and led me from the room. My hand in Father's!" She recalls happy times with her father. Then, "But this time he was taking me where I didn't want to go! There was a railing along the bottom five steps: I grabbed it with my free hand and held on. Skilled watchmaker's fingers closed over mine and gently unwound them. Howling and struggling, I was led away from the world I knew into a bigger, stranger, harder one..."

That's enough for me to ponder this day.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Birthday Soup

Liana turns 10! Here is her favorite soup and appropriate for her birthday. The Chinese eat it in hope of a long life. I like it because it is quick and easy.

Longevity Soup

4 tsp. cornstarch
2 T. water
1 T. sesame oil
2 quarts of chicken broth
3 T. soy sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb. thin spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
1/2 pound cooked ham sliced in thin strips
4 green onions, chopped

Combine cornstarch, water and sesame oil in a small bowl.
Bring broth and soy sauce to a boil in large pan and then stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until slightly thickened.

Reduce heat to low. Pour eggs into hot soup in a thin stream, stirring all the time. Cook briefly and remove from heat. Add ham, cooked noodles and green onions. Serve in big soup bowls. Practice eating those slippery noodles with chopsticks!