Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1000 gifts: old photos, dreams, life and death

7-year old "Serious" asleep in the church foyer

April this year began for us with a funeral, as B.'s mother passed away at the end of March. I'm only now able to write a little bit about it, and share the gifts God gave us to cheer us a little during this hard time. These gifts  are part of my 1000 gifts list.

818. Going through old photos and B.'s baby book
The whole family spent an evening going through a lifetime of photos, to create a slide show for the funeral. I caught this photo of my daughter Serious asleep next to the TV playing the slide show, at the moment when her own picture came up, with her Grandma holding her as a baby.
My father-in-law also gave me the baby book Joy had made for B. when he was a baby/toddler

819. Star's dream of darkness and light
Stars flew to South Dakota for her Grandma's funeral and shared a dream with us: she said it was a warning to stay close to God for protection from the darkness surrounding her. This is the first time in a long time she's said anything about God...

820.  the book "Sailing Between the Stars" - a beautiful chapter on death and eternal life
I'm planning a whole post for this book by Steven James. But here is what I read, somehow (not coincidence!) the same day that Joy died: "While some cultures deal with death better than others, I'd say that overall, as a species, we pretty much stink when it comes to handling death in healthy ways. I think it's because the human heart was never designed to experience this kind of grief. In the beginning, God created us to celebrate life together with Him, not to mourn the loss of each other. Death and decay weren't in the original game plan. They came when Adam and Even thought God was holding out on them and decided to take things into their own hands rather than leaving things in His.... Our souls weren't fashioned to handle the razor-sharp shards of a broken heart.... never meant to be pierced with the pain of saying a final good-bye... Without God at the center of the universe, with this smile on the edge of dawn, life would all be vapor and mirage. But when He's present, all life becomes drenched with possibility; every moment becomes lined with purpose. The thief comes to steal meaning and moments away, but the Son comes to fill empty lives with the wine of God's presence. "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness" (John 10:10).  And there's the gift of eternal life, too.

821. a week without work unexpectedly paid for
B. doesn't have a benefited, so he wasn't expecting to get paid for the week we were in South Dakota for the funeral. But his company did pay him for that week after all, what a blessing!

822. Deuteronomy 30:20: clinging to God
"that you may love the Lord your God, that may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and length of days" - ever since I discovered the full meaning of "waiting on the Lord" in Isaiah 40:31 (hoping in, binding yourself to) and found hope for getting through times of depression by clinging to the Lord, I am struck by any other verses that speak of clinging to the Lord

823. taking communion again
Our first Sunday back home again after the funeral, Blaze surprised me by taking communion; she hadn't taken it at all so far this year because she said she didn't know what she believed anymore. Now she says she believes in Jesus, that He died for us; my heart is so encouraged. 

824. tea,  tea sandwiches, and scriptures
Had a couple of dear friends over for tea (Nicole and her mom), continuing the tradition... they have both had me over for tea and talk about God's Word many a time. We got to share our "wonderful things" from the Word with each other (such as Deut. 30:20, above, and 2 Samuel 22, from last month). The girls helped me make three different kinds of tea sandwiches to go with our tea, and I got out some of my pretty teapots (one made by my mother-in-law, one given by my dear friend Karen, and one made for me by Nicole's mom as a wedding gift almost 15 years ago!). Dreamer fell in love with the dainty little sandwich squares (cream cheese and cucumber, cheese and tomato, and cheese and pepperoni) and has started making them on her own.

825. A wonderful book hangover (Daughter of Smoke and Bone series)
Definition of book hangover: "when you've finished a book and you suddenly return to the real world, but the real world feels incomplete or surreal because you're still living in the world of the book." I just finished the last book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, by Laini Taylor,  and I'm going through a bad book hangover. I don't want it to be over! I want more mythical creatures, more clashes between our world and Eretz, a fantasy parallel world.  I want more of the characters: Karou and Akiva and Liraz, Zuzana and Mik and even Fake Grandma and the White Wolf. I want more of Prague and Morocco and Rome, and the Kirin caves and Astrae and the Far Isles. Chimaera and seraphim, Stelian and stormhunters.

826. my Australian saddle
It's getting to be good weather for riding again, and B. and I rode Tuffy and the Black up into the hills behind our house. We saw a little group of mule deer "sproinging" (bouncing on all four legs). Never get tired of the view up there and the moody spring sky, stormy in the distance. Love riding in my Aussie saddle, it makes me feel so secure, even on a still-jumpy young horse like Tuffy.

827. Nerf gun wars
B. got into a shooting match with the girls, and giggles and screams were heard through out the house! Serious got especially "serious" about hunting B. down. 

828. whoopie cushion
Dreamer bought a whoopie cushion at the dollar store and even more laughter ensued about the house as all four girls "passed gas" as noisily and as often as possible

829. our family style dinner conversation
One night while B. and I were making dinner, B. asked me if should add more milk to the mashed potatos and I said no, I like them thick and substantial. "Kind of like me, right?" he quipped. Grin. Then I opneed the microwave and discovered a bowl of canned peas, and slammed the door shut. "I did not need to see that!" B. just shook his head: he cannot fathom my fear of canned vegetables (I need mine to be fresh and raw).

830. My dad: "Hold on, I gotta slow down for the corner"
This is what my dad quipped when I was helping him navigate the hallway with his walker. I love it when he gets into the mood to quip like this; he seems like his old self again. Here are some of his other quips from over the years that we still hear every now and then:
"See you later alligator... after a while crocodile"
"Up to the lips, over the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
"See you around the pool hall"
"Let's make like a tree and leaf (leave)"
"I feel like a million bucks... all wrinkled and green"
What he says to the girls when they ask for a cookie: "It'll cost you a dollar."

831.  Worst end-of-school-year mom ever
I about bust my gut laughing while reading this post by Jen Hatmaker. I can so identify with this, but with everything else in the post too...!
We are limping, limping across the finish line, folks. I tapped out somewhere in April and at this point, it is a miracle my kids are still even going to school. I haven’t checked homework folders in three weeks, because, well, I just can’t. Cannot. Can. Not. I can’t look at the homework in the folder. Is there homework in the folder? I don’t even know. Are other moms still looking in the homework folder? I don’t even care.

832. There is A Redeemer (by Keith Green)
An old favorite; I asked our church to play it the week after we got back from Joy's funeral.

There is a redeemer, Jesus, God's own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One
Jesus my redeemer name above all names
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah oh, for sinners slain

Thank You oh my Father for giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit 'til the work on Earth is done

When I stand in glory I will see His face
And there I'll serve my King forever in that holy place

Thank You oh my Father for giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit 'til the work on Earth is done

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Trying to teach a Holy Week

Many years ago I read a book set in Greece and it really struck me how Easter is a huge time of celebration to them, much more than to us in America, much more important than Christmas. Which makes sense, since Christmas is about a promise - Christ being born; but Easter is about the promise fulfilled - Christ defeating death and rising again to life, so that we too can have hope of victory over death and eternal life. In Greece, everyone has a limited fast all week, with services and traditions every day, culminating on Saturday evening:
The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination of Holy Week. The whole of Greece, it seems, attends church for the midnight service and the lighting of the Holy Flame. The Priest passes the Holy Flame throughout the congregation and all light a candle with cries of Christos Anesti!- Christ is Risen. Fireworks are then let off in celebration. The people take their lit candles home and make the sign of a cross with the black from the candle flame in the doorway of their homes before entering. They break their fasts after midnight, starting with Mageiritsa – a meat soup, and red-dyed eggs. Feasting continues all day Sunday. (from the Greek Reporter, full article)

We have started some of our own Easter traditions over the years to try to emphasize everything that Christ went through for us this week. Some traditions have been more successful (longer lasting) than others. The kids, of course, always insist on dying Easter eggs and doing an egg hunt, and every year I remind them that the eggs are a symbol of the tomb, being broken open to bring forth life.

One tradition we've done every year is putting up a six foot wooden cross in our yard on Friday, with a black cloth hanging on it symbolizing Christ's death, and then replacing it with a white cloth Sunday morning.

Here's some more things I tried during Holy Week this year:

Palm Sunday:  we made tissue paper "stained glass" with palm leaves (well, sort of palm leaves) and read Luke 19:28-47 about when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.

Monday:  We continued reading in Luke about Jesus teaching in the temple, and started this "wheel book" that is divided in seven sections for the seven days leading to Jesus' resurrection. (I recently discovered lap books and mini books as a great way to make home school a little more creative and hands on).

Tuesday: We made the scrolls above with verses inside from the reading in Luke today

Wednesday: Added to our wheel book about the seven days

Thursday: read the verses about the Last Supper and Jesus praying in the garden and being arrested; the girls helped me make dinner and we walked around our garden at night

Friday: read the verses about Jesus' trial and crucifixion; set up our cross outside

Saturday: dyed Easter eggs and opened the Resurrection Eggs set our church made for all the kids last year.  

Sunday: took away the black cloth from our outdoor cross and replaced with a white cloth; went to church; did egg hunt and my plan was make these empty tomb rolls with crescent rolls and marshmallows with the girls, but I came down with a cold (on Easter of all days!)

Next year I think we will study different Easter celebrations from around the world (including Greece) during our holy week.

My favorite verse from reading Luke this year was Luke 22:37:  "It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."