Saturday, July 26, 2008

Family Adventures

Outside our new tent from Grammie. All five of us slept together in it a couple of nights ago. You can't see the whole thing in this picture, but it has a really nice little screened in area and two rooms inside. And, you can stand up in the whole thing, there is a ceiling light and the door is on a hinge. Not your grandma's tent folks!
New haircuts. It took 2 hours to do all 4 (Eric included). Mommy the barber didn't get paid but everyone is much cooler for summer. It was painful (for mommy, love their curly locks) but everyone looks better.

Elijah was setting up dinosaurs in our room while I got ready Tuesday morning and I heard him saying, "Look into the future T-rex, what do you see... and you Brontosaurus, what do you see? They're all looking into the future Mommy... see?"

Uh huh... OK.... Yeah, they're looking into the future. Isn't that a pretty abstract thought for a 6 year old? Shouldn't he be making them eat one another up or something?
AND, Eric dearest eating the first garden tomato. Elijah snatched the 2nd and Micah the 3rd. Isaiah and I both passed on our opportunities. I'll take mine in a salad or sandwich.

Too Many Drummers

An entire post dedicated to my good friends at "Too Many Drummers." Amazing musicians, incredible talent, meaningful lyrics, and genuine hearts who work to be excellent for the excellent One. God must be pleased with these men who are using their gifts and talents well. Check out their next gig right here in Nicholasville. The price is right (free) and you'll hear some great tunes.

Friday, August 22, 2008 - 8:00 pm
Main and Maple Coffee House
Intersection of Main St. and Maple St., Nicholasville, KY

Monday, July 21, 2008

Family Shabbat- Part 1

I don't remember hearing many sermons on how to "honor the Sabbath and keep it holy." My understanding up to this point (until hearing JD and Tiffany teach on subject that is) pretty much came from what I learned in Sunday school eons ago- God rested on the 7th day and so should you. Interpret that as you wish.

So, we do what we see practiced typically, and this is a short list of what I've seen practiced in my childhood family or among close friends' families:
- Don't mow the grass
- Don't go grocery shopping
- Take naps
- Eat at a restaurant
- Don't eat at a restaurant (this forces others to work thus dishonoring their Sabbaths)
- Don't play cards
- Play games with family
- Go to church
- Eat a big meal after church (never mind that the lady of the house always cooks and cleans up this meal... how is her working any different than the waitresses at a restaurant?)
- Spend time with family
- Refuse participation in sports leagues that travel on Sundays
- Incorporate travel sports league time into family Sabbath time
- Relax
- Relax while watching sports
- Relax while reading a book (preferably the Bible)
- Relax while reading a book and watching sports but then fall asleep in the recliner
- Serve someone else or cook meals for others and invite them over
- And when I was a kid, some of my friends weren't allowed to have me over on Sunday because it was family day. What a massive paradox of messages!

I've been thinking a lot lately about how our family observes the Sabbath- what it looks like now and how we'd like it to look. What messages will we send to our boys about observing a weekly day of rest and worship?

First, I love the idea of "feasting" on the Sabbath (and not just with food). JD talked about this last fall and one of the things I took away was that we don't do feasting very well sometimes because we don't fast well. If I treat myself (or my children) to ice cream every time the notion strikes us, is it really a treat anymore? And the same could be said for eating out, watching a movie, eating in front of the TV, drinking soda, taking a road trip, going to the mall and probably hundreds of other things. If I want to experience the joy of the "feast" on the Sabbath, I have to be willing to fast- to refrain, to deny satisfying every sense at every moment on a daily basis.

Secondly, I love the idea of not working for one whole day. This is a hard one for me. I love to work. It doesn't matter really what kind of work- employment, church work, school work, house work, gardening- I just like to be active with my mind, body or both. Truly enjoying a Sabbath involves working hard all week- taking care of all of my responsibilities in 6 days. Again, going back to fasting and feasting, if I "take breaks" for long periods of time during the week, I can't expect to feel refreshed on my day of rest. More than likely I'll end up feeling pressured all day on my sabbath about all of the things I haven't gotten done that week. I need to work hard all week and then take serious rest time for one whole 24 hour period.

Eric would confirm that the resting part is harder for me than the working part. When I drug out the vacuum cleaner this past Sunday he said, "I thought you weren't working today?" I smiled and said, "But what if I find vacuuming enjoyable?" He said, "You don't enjoy vacuuming; you enjoy accomplishing, and the Sabbath is all about abandoning your need to accomplish." Hmmmm, wise words. I'm still chewing on that one.

So, I've been doing some reading and I'm learning some things. I'll share those in a later post, but for this week anyway, I'm going to work hard and save some things that I really enjoy for this Sunday. We'll see if I can avoid accomplishing anything next Sunday. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Brother

Is there a church out there for my brother?
He is skeptical of everything from the existence of God to the reliability of the Bible.
He doesn't necessarily need answers; he needs people who are willing to ask questions.
He works with his hands; he needs to see the church practically meeting needs.
He needs relationships with other guys like him- guys who go snowboarding, play paint ball, enjoy concerts, and love the outdoors.
He doesn't need pressure to look or act a certain way.
He needs the freedom to ask questions where no one gives pat answers or gets defensive.
He needs to see with his own eyes why spirituality matters.
He needs opportunity to serve others.
He is 26 years old, lives with his girlfriend and has the kindest, most selfless spirit of anyone you'll meet.
He drinks occasionally.
He used to smoke.
He drives fast and really likes his car.
He likes Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, and The Hip.
He looks after our mom.
He worries about money and having enough of it.
He loves animals.
He can fix almost anything.
He respects the planet and recycles.
He owns his own kayak.
He already has lots of good friends.
Is there a church for him?

Monday, July 14, 2008

So much to tell...

So little time.
I really need to be off to bed; it's late and we have a flight to catch in the morning. But, I had to post a run-down on our end of vacation activities before we leave this place and return to the routine of life.

Overall, it's been an amazing trip to New Brunswick. I got to know my boys, my mom and my brother better all over again. I reconnected with old friends and relatives and soaked up every ounce of beauty that this place has to offer. I said goodbye to my beloved Grammie and reminisced with my cousins, aunts and uncles. I missed my dearest like you wouldn't believe, and was overjoyed that he would make the long trip with our friend Tom to spend little more than 48 hours here. (Thanks a million times Fuersts for your willingness to make the long trek to NB on short notice.)

The boys have done amazingly well being shuffled around from church to grave site to reception to my aunt and uncle's house and back to Mom's tonight. We fly out in the morning and will actually arrive back in KY before Eric and Tom, but hopefully only by 6 hours or so.

Besides the funeral, which was a wonderful remembrance of a Grammie's life and faith, we've been busy soaking up NB sun.

* Uncle Garth took us out on a houseboat that he helped design. It was windy but we all still had a good time. He also let the boys shoot his paint ball gun. Oooooo Ahhhhh :)

* Yogi Bears Campground provided a full afternoon of waterslide fun. Elijah was tall enough to go down all by himself, so he had a blast.

* The slip and Slide in Grammie's back yard was entertainment as Micah and Elijah perfected their dive down the hill.

* An old riding lawn mower behind Grammie's shed was another fun diversion.

It's hard to say good-bye, especially when we know it will be such a long time before we visit again, but we've had a wonderful time and I've fallen in love with this place and with my extended family all over again.

I am so blessed to come from such a loving, accepting, God-honoring family.
Ya'll come on down to KY anytime! :)

Ugh, pictures won't upload tonight. I'll post some soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally at Peace

I wrote the post below late last night, and we got the call this morning that Grammie had passed from this life on earth. She is no longer broken and grasping at life; she has the best existence imaginable at this very moment. I will miss my Grammie, but I'm glad she is at peace.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Meannes of Death

My Grammie is dying.
She is my mom's mom and was definitely the closest grandparent I had growing up. We spent many many nights at her house; she baked the best homemade brown bread you've ever tasted; she made stewed rhubarb with fresh biscuits, and fiddleheads with fried salmon.

She prayed for me every day and often shared about what she was learning from the Bible. She made certain that my way to Bible camp was provided for each summer, and she sewed dresses for me every spring. My favorite blankets, to this day, are the ones she quilted for me out of pieces of old pajamas and scraps from my spring dresses. She was lively, spirited, hard-working and oh so kind. We were a lively bunch of grandkids, and I know we frustrated her at times, but her scoldings were mere tisk-tisks and seasoned with unconditional love. She was the picture of grace.

Today she is lying in her home, in a hospital bed waiting for death. It will be near her quickly now, and as we've visited over the last few days, watching her pass from this life to the next, I'm reminded of the meanness of death. Certainly death is not what God originally designed for Adam and Eve in the garden. There is no treatment to be given, no hope of recovery, no medications to reverse the illness, just waiting. Death steals dignity. It reduces mankind to our weakest state and makes us beg for mercy. Pain medications dull these final days for her, making her more comfortable, but one can't help but ask for death to have mercy and come as she gasps for air and chokes on every breath. Somewhere in there, her eyes recognized me just 5 days ago, and today there is nothing- just a glassy stare.

So my prayer tonight is that God would take her home to be with him. We love her and we will surely miss her, but oh how she deserves the loving arms of her Father.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


We went to the 4th of July fair in Houlton, ME today. The boys loved all of the rides and rode them numerous times since it was all-you-can-ride day. I finally had to cut them off to go and eat or we would have been there, riding the same 8 rides forever.

Some highlights for Garth, Jodi and I were:
- The welding truck was there for the first hour after our arrival. They were making repairs to the ferris wheel. We didn't ride that ride.
- We judged the "newness" of the ride based on the number of unbroken lights we could count.
- The animals at the 4-H tents smelled better than... everywhere else.
- Apparently not all screws, bolts and parts are necessary for every ride- please see photo evidence below. That dark spot is a pile of spare parts in the middle of the merry-go-round.
- And of course, seeing the elated boys' faces oblivious to anything but pure fun.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Only In Carleton County

I have always heard about the hospitality of residents of Carleton County. In fact, the sign upon entering Woodstock says, "The Hospitality Town." Today I may have become a believer in that statement.

The boys and I packed up the truck for a day at my high-school friend, Kelly's, house which is 2 hours away in St Stephen. We loaded a cooler, swim suits, towels and stroller into the bed of the truck we're borrowing and took off.

I'll pause here to tell you a bit about New Brunswick roads. The new 4 lane Trans Canada highway has just been completed through our little section of the world, and although it had me totally confused for my first day or so in NB, I find it quite convenient now to be zipping along at 110km/hr instead of following farm tractors until I can find a suitable passing zone. Aside from this new highway though, everything else, including the road where I grew up, is full of the biggest pot holes you've ever seen in your life. Trying to drive around them would look something like those car commercials where a professional driver swerves tightly around bright orange cones, only I'm in a Ford pick-up and I'm no expert driver, and the cones are actually craters that could swallow me whole.

So anyway, back to my story. We've survived a 10 minute section of country road driving. I'm now cruising along on the new highway, finally relaxing my grip on the steering wheel a little, when a gold Chevy Impala speeds up beside me (115KM at least- that's like 75 MPH or something), flashing their lights and honking. I look at them, thinking maybe they think I'm my dad since I'm borrowing his truck. So I wave to be friendly and notice that they're a man and woman, unusually old to be driving so quickly.

The gray-haired lady in the gold car proceeds to role down her window and then gesture wildly toward the rear of my truck. I must have looked confused because then, holding her glasses on with one hand and her white sweater closed with the other, she yells, "YOUR TAILGATE IS OPEN!" I nod and mouth "Thank you" then pull over to assess the damage while they continue on down the highway.

There is a soft top cover on the bed of the truck, and amazingly, none of our things flew out on the highway or on the bumpy country road. Thanking God for the provision of the gold impala couple and the presence of our things, I climb back in the truck and continue our drive. But that's not the end.

About 5 miles up the road, I notice that a gold impala has pulled over on the shoulder of the highway. As I draw closer, there is a gray-haired lady in a white sweater standing behind the car with her hand up to her brow, looking back in the distance behind her, one hand on her hip as though she is waiting for something to appear. Upon recognizing our truck, she begins to wave and smile, and as I pass, she climbs back in her car and her husband pulls out onto the highway behind us. Too stunned to even wave back, it only then occurred to me that she must have been waiting to make sure everything was OK. Right? It certainly appeared that way. Even now I'm trying to think of some other reason they may have needed to stop and look behind them on a barren stretch of highway.

I come up with nothing except that they were our angels today. I would certainly have driven the 2 hours with the tailgate down, eventually losing our lunch and probably damaging my dad's truck in the process. So wherever you are tonight lovely, gray couple from Carleton County, thanks!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Canada Day!

There is just something about being with family. I have lots of friends that I've made from lots of different places. And some of those friends are as close as relatives, but very few. There is a kind of unconditional acceptance that goes along with being related. We celebrated Canada Day with my mom's side of the family.

Even though I barely know most of my 2nd cousins and my 1st cousins (those who were present- I missed you Dillan, Andy and Sarah) are significantly older, it is still a comfort to be among them. I know that I'm accepted and loved even though I have never done anything to deserve their kindness toward me.

I've not been there to babysit their kids or attend their graduations. I haven't given Christmas gifts or even attended any Christmas dinners in the last 12 years. I don't send cards, and I've never called any of them just to see how life is treating them. Yet, they are glad to see us, they welcome us and make a special effort to get to know us on the rare occasion that we do see them. No guilt trips about not visiting enough. No judgments. No criticism. No disapproval for moving so far away. Just kind words, hugs, pictures and laughter.

I listed to them talk about the father, husband, grandfather and uncle they'd just lost. They mention my uncle freely and remember him well. They are free with their thoughts, feelings, words, affection and laughter. What a blessing- and I do not use that word lightly- to be a member of such a clan.

Simile Metaphor Collection

Elijah after running: My heart is beating like a coconut rolling down a hill.
Elijah on urination: Pee is like horses galloping out of the gate. Once they get started you just can't stop them.
Elijah: If school were a human I'd give it a wedgie.
Elijah: I am like a hot rod and I just want to be a plain old Ford
Elijah on the fruits of the spirit: I've got them all covered except self-control. Its like a tiny green tomato and the rest are all big ripe ones. Especially love. Its like the biggest tomato we saw in the garden tonight.