Words and Un-words

It seems to be a trend in recent years to choose a theme word (or un-word, as it may be) for the year.  This method is meant to narrow one’s focus; to help in sorting through what to strive for and what to let go; to simplify.

I’m just going to say, I’m not doing that. I really admire people who are doing it. I kind of wish I could do it.

In recent years I’ve almost gone the other direction when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, goals, and the like.  I’m in my mid-thirties now; I’m pretty certain of what I need to be doing, and it’s my goal to get better at doing that.  I’d also like to quit trying to do things I’m bad at.  It’s the doing and the quitting that is my full-time job.  Some days I am better at the doing than others.  Recently I’ve been trying to do more of the quitting.

Like I just said, I’m trying to get better at doing and doing the quitting.  See why I can’t pick one word?

It takes a certain amount of trust in the Lord to understand that I’m gifted in some ways and very definitely not gifted in others. The trust comes when I’m able to leave it up to someone else — or, as the case may be, nobody else — to do those things I’m not gifted at, or not called to.

Do. Quit. Do Quit. Do.

Long-Expected

A Table Blessing

Last Wednesday, as the temperature dropped into the twenties, we hosted an informal outdoor service of Thanksgiving.  It was a bit chaotic — what with children trying to keep warm and make s’mores and parents keeping toddlers from lurching out of their strollers into the firepit — but we had an opportunity to verbalize thanks for blessings and sing some songs.  Then we all ran inside to warm up and chat.

I read this passage from Robert Farrar Capon’s The Supper of the Lamb:

May your table be graced with lovely women and good men. May you drink well enough to drown the envy of youth in the satisfactions of maturity. May your men wear their weight with pride, secure in the knowledge that they have at last become considerable. May they rejoice that they will never again be taken for callow, black-haired boys. And your women? Ah! Women are like cheese strudels. When first baked, they are crisp and fresh on the outside, but the filling is unsettled and indigestible; in age, the crust may not be so lovely, but the filling comes at last into its own. May you relish them indeed… May there be singing at our table before the night is done, and old, broad jokes to fling at the stars and tell them we are men.

We are great, my friend; we shall not be saved for trampling that greatness under foot… Come then; leap upon these mountains, skip upon these hills and heights of earth. The road to Heaven does not run from the world but through it. The longest Session of all is no discontinuation of these sessions here, but a lifting of them all by priestly love. It is a place for men, not ghosts—for the risen gorgeousness of the New Earth and for the glorious earthiness of the True Jerusalem.

Eat well then. Between our love and His Priesthood, He makes all things new. Our Last Home will be home indeed.

Postcard From Halloween 2013

Scurry, scurry.  We are getting ready.

I tackle the impossible task of making excited children stay on task.  If we are going to have Halloween, we need to _________________.  “Halloween!” their little brains hear — and nothing else.  Laundry?  Cleaning up?  Schoolwork?  Piano practice?  WHAT?!  No no no no.  We can think of costumes, friends, s’mores, and candy…and nothing else.

We emerge from the early afternoon weather-beaten but no worse for wear; we begin stacking wood, arranging chairs, hanging lights.  The neighbors were freaked out by the long dark driveway last year; let’s make it brighter.  The older boys arrange the cider cups into what they call Napoleon’s Imperial Castle.  I fiddle with the motion-detector light that never works right.

And then I say the words they’ve been awaiting: “It’s time to put your costumes on.”  They bolt upstairs while I go to the kitchen, wondering — why am I bothering to make dinner again?  Everyone will live on sugar tonight.  I guess we might as well get some whole grains and protein in while we can.

Dusk falls as we eat; we hurriedly throw paper plates away and rush outside.  Time to light the fire.  I grow more nervous about this task yearly as I have experienced scouts in the family now, but my pride says I must do it myself.  I need to keep up with them somehow.  My hobbits are climbing trees and sweating in their wool sportsjackets and flannel cloaks.  Merry falls out of the tree and hits his head pretty hard.  Eowyn helps him with his icepack.  Napoleon’s Imperial Castle has blown all over the driveway.

WHEN are we going trick-or-treating? comes the inevitable question, over and over again.  We await Dad’s arrival home from work to spring us on our way.

As we move from house to house, questions come to my mind:  Are all those kids his?  They seem too close to be siblings.  How are all those people related?  How long did it take her to make those extending batwings?  How do I not know more of the people who live around me?  And of course…why do you have your porch light on if you’re not giving out candy?

Dark is upon us and I begin to understand how the hobbits’ cloaks kept them safe.  I can’t see the boys at all.  We have Eowyn’s bright white dress to guide us home, where the fire is blazing and friends are gathered.

Kids head inside to watch Charlie Brown and raid their candy sacks while parents sit long by the fire and talk church, kids, and work.  Eventually funny childhood Halloween stories come out.  We laugh some more.  I am thankful.

Wish you were here.

Violet Tulip Olympia Beijing

Your brothers wanted to call you Violet Tulip.  They thought two flowers for a girl’s name was beautiful.

Since you came during the opening ceremonies to the 2008 Olympics, on the luckiest day in China, 8/8/08, I thought we might call you Olympia Beijing.

Despite all these great ideas, Maddie fits you better.  Happy 4th Birthday to our most favorite daughter.  We love you!

Stars and Stripes Forever

This will probably come as a great shock to all of you, but in my opinion the number one Independence Day celebration in the country is in Boston.  I have only attended one time, but that’s enough to cross it off my bucket list.  I’d love to take the kids sometime when they’re older.

After an entire day in the sun, everyone’s brains were a little fried, so by the time Keith Lockhart wrapped up the 1812 Overture (with real cannons over the Charles River — yea, and verily the same river that was there for the first battles of the Revolution!) and the first strains of Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” echoed over the Esplanade, the entire crowd went ballistic.

Here’s a taste:

It’s probably the best day of the year for piccolo players.

(Here are the original lyrics)

And here’s a fun version from a supermarket on the Cape last year (don’t miss the trombones over the balcony at the end):
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
I Peter 2:16 ESV 

Brain Dump

Just some thoughts I felt the need to unload:

1.  When a kid is yelling at the top of his lungs from the deep end of the pool, “OH, I’M DYING!  I’M DYYYYYIIIIING!” it’s a pretty sure thing he’s not.

2.  So far I’ve learned that owning a pool means:  having a lost-and-found box; endlessly hanging up towels; and forgetting when it was the last time your kids actually showered.

3.  Jonathan is on the verge of really swimming.  We are very excited about this development, because it will bring us up to 80% proficiency.  Andrew decided that he was done being scared of deep water about two weeks after we opened the pool.  One afternoon he just jumped in and that was that.

4.  As usual on Father’s Day, I made a bunch of Mexican food and David watched the US Open whilst yelling at the television in a Scottish accent.  We are nothing if not multicultural.

5.  Before the golf yelling started, David and I both went in the pool and then laid on towels in the sunshine.  I don’t think we’ve done that since our honeymoon.  It was weird.

6.  I’ve been really loving Sara Groves‘ newest offering, Invisible Empires.  Here is one selection from the album which Sara wrote for IJM.  On the album, it begins with an inner-city youth choir singing the original  “Eyes on the Prize.”