Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Refreshed (part 2): Quiet waters

I love water.  I love to look at it.  I love to paddle on it and swim in it.  And I love to drink it. Which is a good thing...my life depends on it.

On our retreat we learned the reason for the distinction of quiet waters.  For there are treacherous waters nearby to be avoided.  The sheep don't know the difference.  They  only know they are thirsty.  They will drink from the wildest of waters. But the Shepherd knows.




Have I mentioned lately that it's been winter here?  Yes, it has.  How is it that all these trees can look so completely dead for so many months, and then in only a week's time spring back to life in all its glory?  They have literally been storing up life, in order to be restored.

I can get so down on myself when my soul feels barren. But I have discovered that barrenness can be a clean slate. There is so much of God that I do not see.  The best way to get a better look at something big is to take a step back. I do not like the feeling of that space between myself and my God.  I do not like the fact that the appearance of the new facets of him that I had not seen before make him somehow unfamiliar.

But when the unfamiliar settles in, I love the new perspective, and the sense that I have grown. I love my Savior with more of my mind...and my heart, soul and strength follow.

Barrenness can be purposeful,  the restored soul stronger and more beautiful than before.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Refreshed

I had the privilege of spending this past weekend with a very sweet group of women from our church on a retreat.  The retreat center was a beautiful, serene setting, and although rain was predicted, we enjoyed a full day of warmth and some sun on Saturday.

The theme of the retreat was the twenty-third psalm.  Though the psalm is comfortingly familiar, we were given many insights and experiences to help us understand far more deeply the significance of its beautiful imagery.


I didn't realize what a desert region the Psalmist was describing with the reference to green pastures.  We think of the lush green fields you would expect to find in, say, Ireland.  After all, the promised land was flowing with milk and honey, right?

Well, it turns out that there was enough for those sheep to eat, but really, just enough for today.  The sparse vegetation could sustain the flock, but the flock must be on the move.  But the shepherd always knew where the next meal would come from!

And very much like that, God meets all my needs.  If I am worrying about how tomorrow's needs will be met, well, he won't be too likely to concern himself with handing me the map to the next pasture.  Why would I need a map, when he's going with me? He wants me to keep my eyes on him, to trust him, and follow him.  He knows where he's going.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April showers bring...

indoor fun. All it takes is a

and some


Ben enjoys the process



If you're really good, you might end up with




And if Cat's Cradle is too subtle in its alliteration,
add to it some cards

for

As you can see, the sun came out.  The kids were having too much fun to notice.  We sent them out later.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Heavenly Day

Today our weather was 72ยบ worth of gorgeous, 
so we decided to have a picnic supper by the lake.

The landscape is still a little barren around here,


but there are glimpses of color



and plenty of signs of life.


It turns out that we brought along some color of our own.

Our kids' meals supplied us with some lovely clappers

which doubled as musical instruments

and a picture frame.

Uh oh.  Better square it up!  There.

Yes, it WAS heavenly!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Glorious!


We had a great Easter!  As you can see, I had a hard time deciding which pictures would illustrate that best.  There was the egg dyeing, which is always one of my favorites.  My only complaint this year is that I think I only got to dye two.  Will someone remind me next year to cook extra and hide them until the kids are finished?  They just took over, as though this whole thing was for them.  Ahem.

Then there was church.  We went to Maundy Thursday at our church, and then a Good Friday drama at a big church in our area, and Sunday morning we took part in both of the services (a perk of being involved with the music).  The kids really paid attention, and it seemed like they were able to take in way more of the meaning of all of the events of the week than they ever had before.  Worshiping with them was such a blessing!

After church we went to my sister's for dinner and the annual egg hunt.  But wait!  This was no traditional egg hunt here on the tundra because of something unprecedented:  we were OUTSIDE!!  Oh, Easter was GLORIOUS this year!  It truly was.  I'm exhausted.  And very satisfied.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reflections on the Cross


Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 
Who, being in very nature God, 
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 
but made himself nothing, 
taking the very nature of a servant, 
being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man, 
he humbled himself 
and became obedient to death— 
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8

I'm so glad we have a God who goes to great lengths to get our attention. He has been tapping me on the shoulder a lot this week, it would seem. 

I have noticed that from the different books and videos we sometimes use to recall what Jesus went through at the time of the crucifixion, it is easy to come away with a real disdain for the people "responsible" for Jesus's death. It is easy to be angry with them for treating our Jesus so hatefully. It is easy to think of Jesus as the victim--the perfectly innocent victim.  

But in the midst of all this, it is easy to forget that Jesus was obedient to death. He didn't go down screaming, "It's not fair!", even though it wasn't. Jesus himself said of his life, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." The book of Hebrews says he did it for the joy set before him.  The joy of bearing for me the weight of the consequences of sin that I was unable to bear. The joy of restoring his relationship with his people. This was no passive sacrifice, but an active one.

It's easy to get passionate about the cross. But this week I am reminded to be passionate about the right thing:  about following Jesus's example of giving up my rights, my agenda, in order to joyfully serve. 

Lord, by your grace and your power in me, let it be so.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mix and Match


I went out over the weekend and did some shopping, mostly for Bethany as it turned out.  I was excited about the good deals I got, and how well the different pieces mixed and matched. The best part was that she really liked what I got her, and it all fit! She's about set for summer.

So of course, after the fashion show, she wanted to pick an outfit to leave on. Which two pieces do you think she picked?


Do you have any colorful characters like this at YOUR house?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kid Connections: A Wall of Fame


A couple of weeks ago I posted about our family's "Wall of Fame" where we put some of our best work on display.  Today, I want to put some of YOUR best work on a bloggy "Wall of Fame"! I do hope you'll play along and tell us what you do, or have done, to make special connections or memories with the kids you love. There are so many ways of doing this, and we can all get some new ideas as we stop around to visit one another.

You can link up to a post you did especially for this Wall of Fame, or to a previous post. Either way, just click on that post's title, copy the url from the address bar, and paste it into the url on the Mr. Linky. It's never too late, to link up, so go ahead and invite your friends to join in.

Have fun, visit each other for some new ideas, and be sure to take a minute to say hello! And on behalf of the kids in your life...thank you!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Benjamin's Box


“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8

It's Holy Week. The time we turn our focus to this life giving good news, and the sacrifice by which it came to us.

I was so grateful when I found the book Benjamin's Box by Melody Carlson. I loved that its main character was a boy who shared our son's name. The story is about this boy's fictitious encounters with Christ during the week of his passion. After each encounter, the boy puts a tangible remembrance of the experience in his special box so he will never forget Jesus and all the love he showed.


The book gives instructions for gathering corresponding items for a box of your own. Each item goes in a specially colored egg (we numbered ours) to be opened at the appropriate time in the reading of the story. We hide the eggs and hunt for them before we read it. It has been a very sweet time.

One thing has surprised us as we have observed the Easter season with our kids, however. This is not a story that could be rated G. Many of the stories and movies are way too graphic for little eyes. (More about that here.) We felt that this book was among them. So Lee took care of that...

Even so, I would really recommend waiting to use it until your kids are at least five or six years old.

We like to read the story anytime during Holy Week, really. But we usually try to do it before Easter to prepare us for the great celebration.

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:14-15

Friday, April 3, 2009

Unintimidated

One day while the kids were on break, Ben wanted to make some muffins for breakfast. When he was finished, I asked him if he was also going to make the napkins. He got busy right away, creating for each family member a design to go with their birth month:  a sunshine for Bethany (or perhaps a ladybug, in the end), a shamrock for dad, a flower for mom, and a pencil for his early September day.  He had so much fun.



Bethany decided she needed a turn too, so she got busy with a shamrock of her own.

It makes me wonder. Mine are not the kids whose artwork you can pick out a mile away on the classroom wall. In fact, there have only been a couple of times their pieces have been chosen for the art teacher's display. And yet, it never even crossed their minds to think they couldn't cut a shape out of a paper towel.  

There are other things that do intimidate them, however. There are things that intimidate all of us. Why is that? Why are we afraid we won't measure up in some areas? Why does it not matter in other areas? Is there something we could do to help ourselves or our kids approach our world unintimidated?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Miscellaneous

1.  So here's what happened when the kids discovered my April Fool prank.  Not the best ever, but not the worst.  It would have been a lot more effective on sleeves. Keep in mind that Bethany was in the middle of a meltdown because she was not getting her choice of where we were going to eat before church.  Not a great setup for a practical joke.

video

Next year I am trying the one Caroline mentioned in the comments of my post. Hilarious!

2.  I went to school to volunteer in Bethany's classroom today.  When I arrived, her teacher was in the front of the classroom with her back to me, surrounded by the kids in the middle of a very active lesson--having so much fun just teaching her heart out.  I just watched for a few minutes before they ever noticed I was there because they were having such a good time learning. Way to make my little heart go pitter-patter!  I LOVE teachers!  But I am a little biased.

3.  The best thing about April snow?  It doesn't stay.  All's clear for now.  But there's more in the forecast...

4.  Don't forget to link up your favorite post (or a new one) about something special you do to connect with the kids in your life, next Monday, April 6!!  Click here for more details!