Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Five Days...

...not that I have an obsession or anything...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

7 Quick Takes-T-shirts, Books, and Movies

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen. And, no, I don't have one of those fancy Amazon accounts that lets me earn money when you click one of these links and buy the book. I just share my opinions on books for free because they aren't worth much more than that.


First this link, because it is more important than anything I have to say. My amazingly compassionate, loving, beautiful friends are in the process of adopting a daughter (or a pair of siblings) from Ethiopia. They already have three biological children, and they are opening their home to more. They are selling these super cool shirts to raise funds. Visit Cortney's blog to buy one. If you aren't convinced, read her story of being called to adopt. Start at the beginning or just read this post.

I have actually been making myself take time to read lately despite the insanity that surrounds me. I just finished The Alchemist, and though I don't think it was a consistently profound book, I did love it. It had many, many beautiful nuggets of truth in it, and it was a wonderful tale (fable? semi-allegory?). I think I loved it for the places it touched on Christian truth in the way I love a good movie that has glimpses of the truth in it. It's a quick read, one that had been on my list forever, and definitely worth it.

I am also finally trying to get serious about this idea of homeschooling and buckling down to read The Well-Trained Mind. I love the idea of classical education, but I am not sure I would love the practical working out of it. Anyone have any experience or advice on this? It seems so heavily academic at such an early age, and that scares me off a bit. Since my boys will already be in Chinese Kindergarten in the mornings, I don't want to overdo it. I'd love to hear from other moms of young ones who have started classical education at home.

For something less deep but just as wonderful, I just finished Adriana Trigiani's Very Valentine. I love her Big Stone Gap series and all of her books, and this new book did not disappoint. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.

If you are interested in China or good travel/culture books in general, you can't beat Peter Hessler. I highly recommend every one of his books, including Country Driving, of which I have only read the first ten pages. He is an incredibly talented story teller/writer/weaver of words, and you will not regret picking up one of his books.

On to visual media...We have been loving Foyle's War in the Two Square household. We get the episodes through Netflix and have gotten my husband's whole family addicted to this fantastic British murder drama set in World War II. The history is fascinating and the characters are lovably British. (Why DO we Americans have such an obsession with all things British?)

On the personal front, for those who care, we are...well...still really busy and traveling and trying to sell our house (or rent it...what to do, what to do) and making phone calls and sending letters and praying really hard that we can get to Asia by November at the latest. If you are the praying sort, please pray with us!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And Also With You

"Calvin, you can't say those words to Auntie S. Words have meaning, and when you say that you don't love her you are saying what those words mean, even if you don't really think you are. You need to apologize and tell Auntie S that you love her."

It seems we have this conversation a lot with our boys. We tell them that we don't say words like that in our family, that we love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. We stress that these are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.


Some say that the very repetition of the liturgy, Sunday after Sunday, renders it meaningless, but I don't agree. The words I say matter, not because of how I feel about them, but because the truth in them has power to change me. Every Sunday, as I recite the Nicene Creed and pray the prayer of confession and offer the "Peace of Christ" to those around me, those words mean something.

Whether I have conjured enough faith in my heart or paid enough attention to each word that Sunday matters little. I have chosen to say those words and those words have meaning. By saying them, I choose to be transformed by them and to join the community of the church, both in that building on Sunday and throughout all of history.

Some Sundays I am distracted by children or exhausted by life and go through almost an entire liturgy without thinking about what I am saying. But it never fails that one word or phrase or prayer jolts me out of my distraction and reminds me of the cosmic reality, the meaning behind those words.

"The Lord be with you."

"And also with you."

We say these words every Sunday during the Eucharistic liturgy, as the priest begins preparing the table. So often I have said it and only half thought about it, but this past week, as I looked at our pastor and dear friend who was serving the Eucharist, the meaning behind what I said moved me to tears. Suddenly I knew, beyond any doubt, that I truly wanted the Lord, in all of His fullness, to be with our rector and with that beautiful group of people gathered to commune around His table. Because of that moment, because of the meaning of those words, my soul was changed. I am certain that when I am halfway around the world and remembering that liturgy, even as my church family is saying it aloud together, my soul will be knit to theirs. I know that, because the Lord is with me and also with them, we are united in His love.

Words have meaning, and when I say them I am transformed. When we say them together, our souls are united in worship. No matter how alone I am feeling in a foreign country, no matter how much my faith may whither, I can speak the words of the liturgy and know that there is a greater truth than how I am feeling. The Word, who cares about my feelings and my struggles, meets me in that liturgy, and the strength of the community sustains me when I am too weak to say the words alone.

We love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. These are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our spiritual parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.


And so Calvin and Hobbes say the words of apology and love, sometimes sincerely and sometimes still protesting in their hearts while they repeat what we have said. But they say them because those words have the power to transform them, to remind them that they do love, to unite them to a truth greater than their own emotions.

"I love you Auntie S."

"The Lord be with you..."

Monday, August 2, 2010

It Can't Be Helped

As I cuddled with Calvin on the couch Sunday night, the night before his sixth birthday, I said, "Don't turn six, Calvin."

"It can't be helped," was his reply.

His answer was so very Calvin-like, with his uncanny ability to toss out grown-up or antiquated turns of phrase at the most unlikely of moments. But lately those grown-up ways of speaking seem to fit him more and more. He is really growing up into a boy-man, and though there are traces of those emotional meltdowns and tantrums of his preschool years, he often tries really hard to control them. I love watching him discover his gifts and passions, seeing him learn to take responsibility, and following him along this path to greater independence. He stays up way past his bedtime reading old Hardy Boys books, he takes care of Linus with great attention, and he can occupy himself with Legos for hours on end. He is one amazing kid, and I am privileged to be his mommy.

I have not been a great mom to preschoolers, but if what I see of Calvin is indicative of the future, I think I am going to like the boy years. It can't be helped.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Boys vs. Birds

This lovely picture was taken by my youngest sister-in-law. So was the one in my header.

We survived our back-to-back vacation weeks and even managed to have fun. Now on to some seriously intense prayer and support development and a big push to try to get to Asia soon. It doesn't look likely to happen in September, and we are just trusting that it will happen when God wants it to. Prayers are appreciated. I think I need to start really blogging again for the sake of my sanity. We'll see if it happens.

I hope you are all having lovely ends of the summer!