Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Apple Picking


The infamous Grandma Allison is visiting, and we are trying to enjoy every bit of the much too short week she has with us before she heads back to Alaska.


Although it is admittedly late in the season to be apple picking here in Virginia, we decided to hold off until Grandma came. We love picking apples – it is one of our favorite family activities. The mountains are beautiful, the fresh air is exhilarating, and the children are free to run (or cry) without being slowed down or shushed. As we usually opt for the cheaper (and more easily accessible when you’re only 2 feet tall) ground apples anyway, we figured the lateness of the season wouldn’t hurt us too badly.



Monday we woke up to a gorgeous, sunny, crisp fall day (very welcome after the weeks of summer we had just experienced!). Ethan checked our usual orchard’s website to determine the availability of the apples, and we crammed into the van to travel the 1½ hours of pretty drive. “We’re almost there!” we kept telling the kids. And then, finally, we were there, where a large “Orchard Closed” sign forbad us to go any farther.


Fortunately for this cranky, crammed, hungry group, there was another orchard less than a half mile away. “We’ll try there,” we promised. And this time, we were not disappointed. The lady owner welcomed Ethan with a large grin and told us to pick clean her orchards, free of charge. We were the only pickers there…an entire orchard to ourselves. The children ran, dragged their feet, laughed, and cried in turn. Edee (9 mos.) delighted in riding on Grandma’s back. Benjamin (5) and Lily (3) delighted in showing Grandma their finds. Abraham (2) delighted in biting into an apple, yelling, “EWWW!” and spitting it out with great drama, over and over and over. Miriam (2) delighted in finding no delight. We chomped on delicious Stayman and Red Delicious apples, wavered between sweatshirts on/sweatshirts off, took pictures of the five children on an apple bough, and went back to thank the owner by purchasing some cider. To our surprise and wonder, the cider was fresh and unpasteurized. This is a rare thing to be able to find in Virginia, and it is scrumptious! We also purchased some very low-priced local honey (raw and unheated), and then she had each of the children pick out a free pumpkin.



After this, we finished filling our bellies at a local ma-n-pa-Cracker-Barrelish restaurant/store, called The Apple House. We were treated to delicious pork barbecue sandwiches (roasted in an apple sauce); and we wandered the store, exclaiming over quilts, lotions, Very Badley (ahem) priced quilted purses, and specialty sauces and candies.


It was wonderful.




Thursday, October 25, 2007

Senior Sermon RELIEF


After the long, frustrating nights…


And the writing and writing…


And writing and writing….


And throwing away and starting over…


And writing and writing….


And rewriting and reworking…


And driving in the pouring rain, water gushing down as he tried to read obscure street signs in the dark, straining to hear me on the cell phone as I gave equally obscure directions from the Internet…


And finding a hotel that wouldn’t break the bank with a bed that wouldn’t break his back…


And waking early to practice and pray and practice and pray…


And me waking several times last night to worry and pray and worry and pray…


It. Is. Over.


I got the call a little after 1:00 this afternoon. “Well,” I gulped. “How’d it go?”


“It went better than I thought it would.” [A most unusual phrase to come from my husband’s mouth.] “They had a few suggestions and some very kind comments.”


And even the suggestions were gracious: the Greek professor thought the text (the Scripture portion he chose) could have been shorter to allow for more Greek exegesis; the homiletics professor argued that the text could have been shorter to allow for more application.


Glowing words of praise, even if I do say so myself.


And I do.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Senior Sermon

CarpeBanana indirectly gave me the idea to reward my husband's recent long, long nights of sermon preparation with an uplifting T-shirt. Not only is my husband preaching his senior sermon on I Corinthians 10 (albeit a few verses before the one on the shirt), but an encouraging word from the grave (even if it's only attributed to Martin Luther) can be quite comforting. Especially when it involves the words "beer," "sleep," and "heaven."


Ethan has finally left for South Carolina (7-8 hour drive) to preach his senior sermon. I told him I couldn’t wait for him to leave so he could hurry up and get back. He’ll only be gone for two days…he preaches his sermon tomorrow and then comes home after that…but it’s the exhilaration of knowing this headache-inducing senior project is OVER. Ethan’s no stranger to preaching – God’s providence has seen fit to provide him with plenty of preaching opportunities at nearby churches in our denomination – but the thought of having professors and students grill him afterwards is more than a little exasperating.


He has done a good job of taking it all in stride. He has tried not to think of this as some kind of measurement of success or application, but as another sermon where he shares God’s Word with His people. My prayer is that the students and professors will view it that way, too, and offer constructive criticism and encouragement. He has worked hard and long hours on this text, and it’s a good thing I’m not going. I think I would have a few choice words that were, um…not-so-godly, if anyone dared to criticize him!


This way, he can phone me with the results, and then I can cool off for 7 hours before he gets home.


And I’ve heard the sermon. And frankly, he did a darn good job, and I won’t believe a word to the contrary.




Sunday, October 21, 2007

Quote of the Day


"Of COURSE moms should work outside of the home. You know, like mowing."


(Benjamin, 5)




Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pencil It In

There were a few stock stories that circulated regularly when we had guests. These were the stories that you just knew were going to be told at some point during their stay. There were certain signs that the moment had come: Mom’s dark eyes would light up, a barely suppressed smile would squirm over her mouth, and her hands would begin rubbing briskly. Sure signs that a story was coming.


One such story that my mother could be counted on to share was the Joni story. When I was about four years old, my hero was Joni Eareckson Tada. Our church had a movie night when they showed “JONI,” and I was mesmerized. I loved that movie. I thought Joni was beautiful; and more than that, she was tragically beautiful. Left a quadriplegic after a diving accident, she wrestled with God’s sovereignty and omniscience and ended up a beautiful singer, broadcaster, and artist. I was intrigued by her ability to use her teeth to control a pencil or paintbrush, creating gorgeously detailed pieces of art. She could sing. Before her accident, she rode horses. She swam. What was there not to love?


Timmy was not convinced. He lived over thirty minutes away from our kindergarten, and my mother would take care of him after school until his mother got off from work. We played GI Joe. We played Cops-n-Robbers. We played Cowboys-n-Indians. We played House. And, after that fateful church movie night, we played Joni. To Tim, even House was better than Joni. Playing Joni took a great deal of imagination and little else. I would pull out two chairs, and we would sit there. I was a stickler for details: you could sing, talk about God’s work in your life, or fall out of your chair. You could NOT fly, run faster than a speeding bullet, or use your legs for anything other than floundering.


Not exactly thrilling, to Timmy’s way of thinking. After about twenty minutes of this, he would start asking when we could be finished to go play with the tools in the shed or go to the park or get a snack or do anything other than sit in the chair motionless. Complain, complain, complain. And one day, I had had enough of his complaining. My mother remembers peeking in on us only to find me, exasperated, breaking my own rules to get up from my chair, grab Tim’s pencil with my functioning hands, and shove it in his mouth, yelling, “Shut up and draw!”


I never understood why this story was in Mom’s Arsenal of Stories to Illustrate, Educate, Pontificate, Contemplate, or Entertain(ate?). But it was. And the guests always laughed, shaking their heads at me and sometimes repeating the last few words: “Shut up and draw, oooh, hooo, that’s a good one, shut up and draw.”


Some people just don’t know what fun is.


Monday, October 15, 2007

State Fair

Alpacas, piglets, puppies, ducklings.




Carousel, roller coasters, slow train cars, slides.




Miriam screaming violently on "caterpillar coaster." Ride stopping early. Miriam being lifted from ride by worker, who is saying, "I know you're scared, baby." Miriam being handed off to Ethan. Miriam looking at Ethan, wide grin spreading across her face, and an excited, "That was FUN!!!" blurting from her mouth.




Dancing wildly for Grandma and Grandpa in front of the Indian flutist and Neil Young cover artist.




And a quiet, sleepy ride home.





Grandparents Resting

Monday, October 8, 2007

FREE Debate

Due to a generous donation, Covenant Media Foundation is offering the Greg Bahnsen/Gordon Stein debate for free ... well, almost free. Each copy costs 1 cent. And shipping is free.


Go! Get one! Go to www.cmfnow.com  and follow the very well-marked links for the free debate.


From their website:

"This is the famous formal debate between Dr. Bahnsen and atheist promoter Dr. Gordon Stein held at the university of California (Irvine) in 1985. Hear how hard it is to deny God's existence and how intellectually rigorous the Christian position actually is."


Dr. Bahnsen was an incredible theologian who excelled in Van Tilian apologetics. And you don't have to understand that last sentence in order to enjoy and benefit from this debate. CMF is offering it in MP3 downloadable format and CD format.


I am especially excited about this because I actually bought this at full price a little over a year ago.


So when I found out about this, I went and purchased two.


But that's just my 2 cents.


Saturday, October 6, 2007


drying laundry 2


I have recently been reminded of the truth of spiritual warfare. For me, this warfare seems to morph into hologram-like images -- here now, gone now, a bit shifty and evasive now. Just when I think I've grabbed ahold of it (Aha! This is the battle! This is the fight!), I find myself being attacked from behind, and the ugly monster in my hand is laughing.


And these are the good days. The other days? The more frequent days? Those are the ones that find me surrounded by the enemy, yet so unaware of any ongoing battle that you might even assume I was comfortable with it. Or, worse, fighting alongside the enemy. On his side.


 I have read the phrase "sacred and profane" so often that my mind jumps over it. Yes, yes, there is no secular... But the truth of that has been thrust at me this week. Nothing I do is secular. Nothing I do is neutral, blank, without loyalties. Nothing. Not hanging laundry, not checking email, not doing my daughters' hair, not scraping dishes. Because no matter what I am doing, or not doing, I am there. And I am not neutral. I was once profane but now am sacred. I, who once trembled at the blazing fire and darkness and gloom and tempest and the sound of a trumpet and begged that no further messages be spoken to me,  yes, even I, now come to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (see Heb. 12:18-24). 


Ethan reminded me that Philippians 4 admonishes us to think on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise. And if we are not doing this, we are not being obedient. But what of ugly things? There are ugly things in this world. Painfully ugly: torturous, murderous, horrific, wrenching. And equally ugly: cantankerous, smarting, snapping, wasting. But these ugly things? These things are only in this world. Colossians 3:1-3 give the antidote to this ugliness: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."


That's where my mind is to be. On things above. Even in the midst of the ugliness, I must look to find what God's Word says, His Word from above. He knows of the ugliest things: torturous, murderous, horrific, wrenching, cantankerous, smarting, snapping, wasting things. But He has overcome.


So how does this fit in with my hanging laundry, checking email, doing my daughters' hair, scraping dishes? When I do all of these things, do I do them with a misguided sense of duty? Is my mind scrambling for the next thing that needs to be done, the next item to cross off the list? Am I fuming with a misguided sense of merit, angry that I, even I, seem to be the only one doing these things? Or is my mind fixed on things above? Whose side am I on?


This is where my subject line (finally!) comes into play. I realized that my mind, when I did try to fix it on things above, was flopping flabbily about, vaguely slapping on some Sunday-schoolish generalities. Umm, think on things above. OK, God is good. I'm glad I have a family. I'm thankful for my house. And while these are valid thoughts, I felt I needed to rise above the level of the first-grader's Thanksgiving prayer.


And I realized that constant, diligent, purposed memorization of the Scriptures has been absent from my life for quite some time. How can I meditate on His Word day and night if I don't have it hidden in me? How can I fix my mind on things above if I keep forgetting what they are? This really hit me between the eyes when I was talking to a friend and explaining how I had providentially read a verse that helped me keep my mouth shut at the right time. "It was in Proverbs 19. Wait...Psalms? Oh, Psalm 6. Or Proverbs 5. Or Psalm 2? AARGH!" (I did eventually find it, by the way, after a LONG search...Psalm 5.)


So here is my first chunk:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (II Peter 1:3-9)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Country Life

Abraham and Miriam


Lily and Benjamin





But alas, all good things must come to an end...

Sad Impatience

Monday, October 1, 2007


We own a gate-leg kitchen table. I will not here go into the immense (and usually unattainable) amount of patience it takes to deal with said table, nor the fact that my husband deems it valuable for the very reason that it requires patience to deal with it. Suffice it to say that it is a …trying… piece of furniture. Adding to the frustration of dealing with this table is that the floor that it sits on is not straight. If you put a six oops eight-legged gate-leg table on a crooked floor, you will have several legs that do not actually rest on the floor. You can try and wedge folded pieces of paper under the floating legs, but this will only work if you remember to guard these wedges of paper when your 8-mo. old is crawling in the kitchen.


So it is not unusual for the table to vacillate gently before deciding on a resting spot each and every time someone sets a piece of silverware down or bumps a leg. It is unusual for it to vacillate wildly and unrhythmically amidst a chorus of giggles. So when this happened, I turned to see Miriam (2) with one hand firmly on the edge of the table, shaking it. “Stop that!” I said. “Stop shaking the table!” She looked at me with twinkling eyes, unphased, and continued shaking. I briskly walked over to her, put her face in my hands, and got down to eye level. “Miriam,” I said in my deepest, most serious voice, “if you don’t stop shaking that table, you will get a spanking for disobeying.”


And this is the mark of true effectiveness. She instantly stopped shaking the table, stopped giggling, and threw her head back, still in my hands. And then she laughed hysterically. I could see all of her little teeth, and tears were started to form in the sides of her eyes. Tears of pure joy. I was so mad at her blatant disregard for the gravity of the situation that I just started laughing right alongside of her. “Now, Miriam,” I choked, trying to recover all nonexistent dignity, “I mean it. Do not shake the table.”


She looked at me, gave a post-guffaw sigh, grasped the table firmly with her hand, and shook her bottom violently.


I have GOT to work on The Look.


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