Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Following my calling and rejoicing

Fall is in the air, Gentle Reader!  Around my home, that means the gardens are getting leggy and overgrown, the air is tinged with the smell of roasting green chile, and I am busy planning for classes. Today I spent hours on lessons plans and standing at the photocopy machine making copies.  And the weird thing is, I love it!

Some people can't understand why I would love these tasks, but the truth is, I am called to be a teacher.  I love thinking about those young minds and hearts, and trying to come up with ways to sink the truth deep into them as I teach them various skills.  I love the interaction with my students, the challenge and creativity called for when you are leading a class, the amazing places of the mind and the heart, and the privilege of helping to develop both in the lives of my students.  What could be a more important job, after all?

Now, my sweet husband is not a teacher.  He does sometimes teach, but he doesn't love it, and it is not what he is best at.  Give him a detector with interesting stuff on it, and lots of data, and he is happy as a clam.  Or better yet, let him go and collect the stuff before it goes on the detector!  He has a different calling than I do, and I'm glad he does.  He rejoices in the chemical world, and I rejoice in teaching humanities, and when we each follow our calling, between us much is accomplished. Having a calling brings focus and joy to my life.  What a beautiful plan God had when he called each of us to follow after Him, and to follow our bent. I don't have to feel guilty that I am not analyzing stuff, or doing anything else.  I can just follow my calling, and rejoice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Taste and see...

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
~Psalm 34:8-10

The honey bees have made a comeback in my garden, and have been very busy on my sunflowers.  It's amazing that something regurgitated by an insect tastes so good (honey).   But it certainly does, once you stop thinking about it, and get it in your mouth..

God's goodness is not always evident on the surface, either. Sometimes you have to really taste it to evaluate it.  Those of us who have been carried by Jesus through times of loss and disease, trials and heart-break, have tasted deeply of God's goodness-- not despite those difficulties, but in and through and because of them.

If you've not yet tasted to see that the Lord is good, Gentle Reader, don't wait another day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Got gas? We do!

 Here is the hole that was created to check for gas leaks in front of our house yesterday.

 It was quite a production! And the street was even closed.  I wish I'd taken a picture earlier, when the gas was blowing, or when the firemen were all around, or when the high-pressure welder was burning the gasas he welded the fixture.  It was sort of exciting!

 The utilities guys worked into the evening, resting in the shade under our front tree and chatting with us.  And the neighbors came to watch and visit. It wasn't quite the day I had planned, but I am grateful that we were kept safe, and by the evening, we had a new gas meter and working water heaters again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The joys of home ownership...

It's been a warm week at our house.  Our evaporative cooler decided to have a mind of its own last Sunday, and turn on by itself while the switch was off, and short out and trip breakers and lots of lovely stuff.  Dave searched everything he could, and we finally had a visit from the electrician yesterday.  The bad news:  whomever put in the swamp cooler jury-rigged the thing: no ground, reversed polarity, wrong gauge of wire, and it is a providential blessing that we haven't had a fire.  However, repair will require a new cooler (or at leasy new motor and pump), complete new wiring, and a new hole in our pro-panel roof.  The electrician estimates 2 guys for four hours.  Yikes! Do you know what electricians cost these days, Gentle Reader?

Then this morning, I returned home from working out at Curves to find a back hoe and two utility trucks in front of my house.  They told me they were repairing an electrical fault that was affecting someone else, but was located in front of our house.  Well, in the process, they ripped through the natural gas supply line to our house, sending gas steaming and smoking into the air, and we soon had 4 more utility trucks, along with an ambulance and a firetruck, and our street blocked to traffic.  What excitement!  They now have a huge trench in the street in front of our house, and we, of course, have no gas (so no stove, oven, or hot water.) But the welder is on his way to put a new fitting to the main, and then they will relight everything for us.

At times like this, I long for the home where things don't break or wear out, where the Builder does everything right and with the best materials.  Can't wait for that kind of home ownership!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Being safe for sad people...

Thanks to my friend Randy over at Somber and Dull, I listened to a wonderful lecture here  at Gospel Coalition today. It was a workshop given by Nancy Guthrie, whom I don't know anything about, but who gave an excellent workshop on how to minister to those who are suffering, and the marks of a church that accomplishes such a ministry.  It is challenging and true.  I challenge you, Gentle Readers, to listen, and examine your own heart.  May we be safe friends for sad people, and have churches that are safe for sad people.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The importance of husbandry...

This was the lovely crop from my little garden this morning: tomatoes (grape, cherry, and large ones), some lemon cucumbers, a meal's worth of green beans, and a bag full of beets.  It feels so productive to pick things in the cool of the morning!

One gardening regret that I have this summer, though it is a small one, is that I never went out and thinned the beets. (Thinning, for those of you who have never gardened, is when you wait for the little seedlings to emerge, then pull out any that are too close together for the plant to develop.) Now my beets are a tangle of plants, too crowded to develop fruit correctly.  So I am pulling out some small ones and hoping to give growing room to others.  This would have been so much easier if I had done it when the leaves were just sprouting and I could see what was what.  But instead, I am lookin through tangles of big beet tops, trying to select the ones big enough to use and still make room for others.  Sometimes I'm successful, and sometimes not.

So I find here another great life lesson from the garden: when the proper thinning and pruning is neglected, the fruit that results will suffer. If it makes a difference whether or not I thin my beets, what about pruning in my heart, where the seeds of virtue and Christ-likeness can become tangled and overhwelmed by other things that will keep my fruit from developing? Husbandry-- in the garden and in the family and in the heart-- is a very important discipline!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sabbath Songs

This morning I awoke with this spiritual on my mind.  When I sang in the Chorale at the University of Maryland, the little soprano solo at the end of one of the verses (He's a shelter in a storm.") was my first solo.  But more than that, as I prayed for several people this morning, I was reminded of what a weary land this can be, and what a rock our God is!

My God is a rock in a weary land,

Weary land in a weary land,
My God is a rock in a weary land
Shelter in the time of storm

Oh Yes!
I know he is a rock in a weary land
Weary land, in a weary land
I know he is a rock in a weary land
Shelter in the time of storm

Stop and let me tell you bout chapter one
When the Lord God’s work had just begun
Stop and let me tell you bout chapter two
When the Lord God written his Bible true
Stop and let me tell you bout chapter three
When the Lord God he died upon Calvary


Stop and let me tell you bout chapter four
When the Lord God visited among the poor
Stop and let me tell you bout chapter five
When the Lord God he raised all the dead alive
Stop and let me tell you bout chapter six
He went to Jerusalem and healed the sick


Stop and let me tell you bout chapter seven
When he died and he risen and he went up to heaven
Stop and let me tell you bout chapter eight
When the Lord God he standing at that golden gate
Stop and let me tell you bout chapter nine
When the Lord God he turned all the water to wine


Friday, August 19, 2011

A moving experience

 I helped Elsa pack up, paint, and get their house on the market in Bloomington earlier this month.  We packed and repaired and painted while Ben was in training in Peoria already.  Elsa was amazing.  Below, she hung new blinds in their kitchen.

 Amazingly, after two weeks of hard work, we were ready to hit the road.
 This was the view of the back of the car as we began our 1700+ mile trip.  It all went so smoothly!  God was very gracious to us in the whole process.
 On the other end, we met up with the moving truck being driven by Elsa's dad, and help was waiting in the form of Elsa's sister Bethany and her husband Erle, and Dave.  We unloaded, unpacked, and ...
 ...enjoyed a relaxing Sunday afternoon together. 
 What a blessing family is!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Emma is 1!

We had the pleasure of celebrating Emma's first birthday at the tail end of moving Ben and Elsa earlier this week.  She is over 19 pounds and 30 inches tall, and it is hard to believe that just one year ago she was 5 pounds, and couldn't yet eat.  God has been so gracious to give us this little girl!  I trust you will join me, Gentle Reader, in thanking God for her, and in enjoying some birthday pictures.

Music in Palestine

Mt friend Melissa has remarkable children, one of whom is Lauren.  Below, you can see what Lauren did with her summer.  Well done, Lauren!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Being spoiled

Today was a day of great blessing.  We got everything loaded into a truck that I thought was too small, finished cleaning the townhouse, and set off to the west. Elsa and I are having a mini-vacation at a lovely hotel in Effingham, IL, and her dad is driving the moving truck.  We hope to rendezvous in Peoria, AZ on Saturday, Lord willing.  But today, everything went just about perfectly, and we were exhausted and needed a practically perfect day. 

And I had the privilege of wonderful talking time with my sweet dil. What a treat! We also changed a brake light in a WalMart parking lot: another "I am woman, hear me roar" moment.  As a matter of fact, a woman passed us in the parking lot and said, "Just look at you women. You go, girls!"

Tonight I am very grateful to God for manifold blessings, and to my dear husband, who is spoiling us from afar. Can't wait to see  him on Saturday!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Things I didn't know I'd be doing this month...

Stealing my dil's idea here, this is my version of the list of surprises...

1. Moving someone else
2. Painting everything in sight
3. Putting up a handrail on a staircase by myself, prompting me to want to sing, "I am woman, hear me roar..."
4. Being incredibly proud of my dil for doing the impossibly hard with grace and perseverance.
5. Watching a budding electrician born (see dil's post above)
6. Really missing and appreciating my sweet husband and the way he takes care of me.
7.  Going jogging/walking or to Curves 5-6 days a week despite doing what for me is hard physical labor.  I didn't know my poor old body could do this any more.
8. Looking forward to an almost 1300 mile drive as if it is a vacation, because it will be compared to all we have been doing!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A Shower for Femto...

This morning I had the honor and privilege of giving a devotional at Elsa's shower here in Bloomington.  Her friends and hostess Carol were wonderful, and it was a lovely time.  Following are the notes I spoke from.

What a joyous occasion this is: and I feel particularly blessed to be here for this shower, and to join in celebrating God’s goodness! Many years ago, when I first discovered that I was expecting my first baby, my husband and I began praying not just for that un-met baby, but for that baby’s spouse and children. We prayed that God would provide a remnant to serve Him always from among our family until He returns, and so, after more than 23 years of praying, we discovered that the spouse we had prayed for was Elsa. And now, as the fruit of more than 27 years of praying, and as a living symbol of God’s amazing faithfulness, this new life is entering the world.  This is a time to rejoice in the God who answers prayer!
 When that first baby of mine was born, Elsa’s husband Ben, we used verses 3 and 4 from Psalm 127 on the front of the birth announcement we sent to family and friends.  The whole psalm is just four verses. Let me read them to you. Psalm 127:
 Unless the LORD builds the house,
   those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
   the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
   and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
   for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
   the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
   are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
   who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
   when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
 There are many exciting times ahead of you, Elsa, and this psalm addresses many of the things that motherhood will bring your way.  Each of us who become a parent for the first time discover that we have a God-given capacity to love that is deeper than we ever thought possible.  We also find our hearts can be more crushed and broken than we ever thought possible.  We discover new heights of joy in our children, and often more depths of sorrow.  We are amazed as our children show child-like faith, and discouraged as we see our own sin become their sin.  We have hopes and dreams for our children that overcome us and that can overcome them if we are not careful.
  But the first thing I encourage you to remember as you encounter these strong and amazing emotions of motherhood, is that this baby is not really yours at all.  This baby belongs to the Lord, and you will only be entrusted with this little one for a short time.  Unless the Lord is building your house, and building your family, you are laboring in vain. Give this baby to the Lord every day, beginning right now.  Remember that God has dreams and hopes for this child, and give him or her to the Lord over and over again, and wait patiently for God’s dreams to be fulfilled..
 One of the great temptations that comes to every mother is anxiety and worry.  We worry about health and development of our baby, about intelligence and education, about acceptance and opportunity, about our own loss of freedom and independence, about a million different details concerning this little child.  But when we worry, we are denying that this child belongs to God.  No matter how hard we work to bring about perfect opportunities or friendships for our children, or try to protect them from danger and evil, the plan of God is truly perfect for their lives.  If we labor day and night and let anxiety rob our sleep, we are usurping God’s place, and laboring in vain again.   As it says in verse 2 of Psalm 127:
It is in vain that you rise up early
   and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
   for he gives to his beloved sleep.
As we depend on God, we learn to release our anxiety and trust Him with these precious little ones, who belong to Him and are beloved of Him.
  Verse 3 of this psalm, possibly the best known in it, tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord.  They are our heritage that comes from the Lord, but more than that, they are His heritage: they belong to Him, and your first responsibility as a mom will be to teach your child about Christ, and to show him or her what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus.  This baby will learn everything you show her—those things you try to teach, as well as those things you would rather she never saw in you.  I challenge you, Elsa, to watch your walk with the Lord, and live it out before this little one in faithfulness.  Be his example of how a child of the King behaves, and set carefully chosen priorities in your family that will always remind him that he is a heritage from the Lord.
 Verse 4 tells us that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior.  As you train this child to be a follower of Christ, she is a weapon you send into the future.  She will begin at your side, but she will fly forth and go places you have never been and will never see.  Never forget that you are preparing a warrior for Christ, to stand for Truth in a broken and hurting world, and to speak love and redemption there.  But for our children to perform that task, we have to let go of them, and let them fly as the Lord has ordained them to go.  The real job of a mother is to put herself out of a job, by remembering that she is training the next generation of Christ-followers. And loving this baby with a whole heart will mean sending him or her out from you to follow Christ’s calling.
 So, Elsa, I will be praying for you as you embark on this great adventure, as I’m sure every lady here will be.  We will rejoice with you when you rejoice, and weep with you when you weep, and we look forward to watching God’s plan for your family and this little one.  May God indeed raise up this child to be His always, and may there never be a day that this child does not know and love Jesus as his savior and Lord.  And may this be one of many little Finnegans to be Christ followers! 

Friday, August 05, 2011

Did you know...

That from Bloomington, Indiana to Peoria, Arizona, it is approximately 1720 miles, and takes about 28 hours of driving time? And it will be going through hot territory.  What an adventure...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Indiana Update

Well, Gentle Readers, things are moving along here in Bloomington. Dil and I, with a little help from friends, have repainted all walls except the kitchen, and I hope to work on that tomorrow.  We are putting up towel bars and switch plates, and beginning to put the townhouse back together instead of tearing everything apart.  What a relief!  We hope to have the townhouse ready to put on the market next week as we leave for Arizona. Elsa is a real trooper: her hubby gone, her last week of work, and she can't get rid of her mil, but she is cheerful and industrious, and I'm very proud of her!

Meanwhile, in Peoria, AZ, Ben has found an apartment and will move in with his suitcase on Saturday (we hope to be there with more stuff the next Saturday!) He is prepping and writing syllabi for his classes (6 5th grade classics sections, and one each of 7th and 8th grade Latin).

And my own sweetie is holding down the fort in NM, keeping our boat afloat, and keeping the world safe for democracy.  I sure do miss him, and long for the day when we are in the same place at the same time.