Christmas Travels

A few hours from now, I’ll be on a plane to Colorado. It’s been a year since I’ve seen my parents and over a year since I’ve seen most of my nieces and nephews. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to spending time with them, meeting my sister’s new German Shepherd puppy Gretel, reading good books (my brother-in-law always has a good supply of them), eating lots of food, and taking goofy pictures with my nieces and nephews. Last time I was there, a huge wildfire got started. I don’t think that’s liable to happen in the middle of winter, so I’m hoping for a less eventful visit in that regard.

One of the aforementioned goofy pictures...
One of the aforementioned goofy pictures…

One thing I’ve especially enjoyed about being an aunt is filling up stockings for nieces and nephews. If you haven’t shopped for stocking stuffers before, you really should. It’s tremendous fun. The last time I was in Colorado for Christmas, we couldn’t find the Christmas stockings. After searching high and low to no avail, my dad and brother-in-law volunteered their own socks for the cause. (They were freshly cleaned.) Aesthetic appeal lost out, but a good time was had by all.

My dad is the ultimate stocking-stuffer guy. He was the one who shopped for my brother and I most years. He was never content merely to fill stockings. He had to wrap each object before it went in. And when I say wrap, I mean wrap—colorful paper, tiny bows, and the whole nine yards. Nothing, not even a pack of Black Jack gum, escaped the treatment. Throughout the years, I unwrapped tiny packs of Kleenex, chapstick, boxes of Boston Baked Beans, Good and Plenty, and trinkets of all sorts. Stockings were my favorite part of opening presents and I usually saved that for last. In fact, I am of the mind that one never gets too old for stockings. Did you hear that, Dad? Hint. Hint.

At any rate, Tuesday was my packing day. Who am I kidding? I just finished up about ten minutes ago because I’m that disorganized. I approached it in the most disjointed fashion. I had clothing strewn all over the bed, trying to make sure I didn’t forget anything important. I tend to forget important things like pajamas, toothpaste and the like.

I wonder how much bigger they'll look?
I wonder how much bigger they’ll look?

I should finish up here because I need to clean up after the packing mess, throw another load of laundry in etc… But before I do, I wanted to mention that I’ve been posting videos of me singing Christmas carols every evening, and I intend to do that until Christmas Day. I hope they are a blessing and an encouragement to you. Hopefully next week, I’ll write and explain how the idea came to me and why I decided to do it. In the mean time, enjoy!

When We Are Rude

Grumpy_learning_Thai_cultureA few days ago, I got in my car and drove to the local Discount Tire store in Benton Harbor. I had been putting off the inevitable for quite a while. The car I bought last summer had some worn-out tires on it. After slipping and sliding round during the first two snowfalls of the season, I decided I needed to buy all-season tires. So off I went with my laptop in tow. I knew I’d have a long wait, because there are always plenty of poor suckers like me who don’t think ahead of time and clog up such places of business at the last minute. So I decided I’d work on a writing project while I waited.

I got in line, waited a while, talked to the nice man at the desk, and sat down to wait for my car’s turn for service. It was a very long wait. About two hours, in fact. The guys in the garage were doing the best they could, but they had too much business to keep ahead of. I was far from bored. I had my work to do and sailed along just fine until…Mrs. Crabby-Pants walked in. I shall call her MCP for short. MCP had been in earlier, dropped her car off, and gone away to do some errands. She was scandalized that her car had not been attended to yet. She regaled all of us in the sitting area by raining caustic comments at the poor service man at the front desk, which he handled very well.

MCP: Where’s my car in the line up now?

Guy at the desk: You have four cars ahead of you.

MCP: What!

Guy at the desk: Well, I did say you’d have quite a wait when you came in this morning.

MCP: That was an hour and a half ago. You said it would be an hour and a half.

Guy at the desk: Actually, I estimated two hours.

MCP (huffing): Well…

Guy at the desk: It shouldn’t be too much longer now.

MCP: You should have more people working in the bay.

Guy at the desk: We’re kind of at capacity.

MCP: I only saw four guys out there.

Guy at the desk: There are more than that, but they do a lot of running back and forth to grab parts. That’s probably why you aren’t seeing more all at once.

MCP: Well…

At a loss as to how to proceed after all her favorite objections had been thoroughly answered, she turned to the guy sitting next to me and tried to engage him in a friendly conversation. He complied, and we had a few moments of peace. I returned to my writing and nearly tuned out of the conversation going on to my left until a few words sparked my attention.

MCP: I kept hearing this voice telling me to turn around.

Dude: Seriously?

MCP: Yes, and I wouldn’t do it because it felt so silly.

Dude: Then what happened?

MCP: I finally turned around and felt something whizz by me.

She finished her story by saying that the voice commanding her to turn around had saved her from certain injury or death by a flying, blunt, metal object of some sort. She began to nod her head sagely, while the dude expressed proper amazement.

MCP: God is good.

Dude: Yeah.

MCP: God is good ALL the time.

Over in my seat, I had to choke down an overwhelming urge to laugh. I wondered if the notion that God was good all of the time had suddenly occurred to her while she was inconvenienced at the tire shop, or if He was only good all of the time when He kept her from injury. I had my answer a few minutes later when she approached the desk and made her complaints known all over again.

The wheels began turning as I contemplated what had just taken place. I had heard a self-professed Christian first make life miserable for about twenty minutes, then I heard her give praise to God, and then, not ten minutes later, begin complaining all over again. If the irony of the situation made me, a Christian, laugh and shake my head, what was it going to do for the professed atheist, the skeptic, or your average I-don’t-know-what-I-believe-just-pass-the-beer Joe on the street? If I were one of these, I wouldn’t be able to take her seriously or listen without a smirk when she told me I needed to repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. I’d probably say something about cognitive dissonance if I were some kind of intellectual. If I weren’t intellectual, I’d just tell her she was a big, loud-mouthed hypocrite.

And then, I began to think about my own cognitive dissonances–the many ways that I profess one thing and live another. As a matter of fact, as soon as I got back home, my brother and I got into a heated “discussion” concerning our differences (we’re pretty much polar opposites) and had to apologize to one another afterwards. Sigh.

I guess the point of all this is that when we use Christ’s name in connection to ourselves, we become His ambassadors whether we like it or not. Because of that, people get a very distinct impression about who He is by the way we behave. That’s a frightening and sobering thought. Mrs. Crabby-Pants at the tire shop painted a very poor picture of Christ’s beautiful character, and frankly, the picture I painted when I went home was pretty ugly too. My behavior either exalts or lowers God in the eyes of everyone around me. Thankfully, He can still glorify Himself when I fail and even through my failures, but I should always aim as high as I can for Him.

 

 

 

 

It’s a Cold, Cold Day

imageIt’s a cold, cold day in St. Joe and a lot of other places. The wind is blowing icy breezes off the lake and it’s been snowing most of the week, though not much is accumulating here. Drat this fall! There are still a whole bunch of leaves on the trees in our yard and a whole bunch on the ground under a thin layer of snow. That should be fun to clean up. I had hoped the snow would hold off until late November at least. It couldn’t be bothered to wait my convenience, though. Oh, well. My brother’s little house is stout and warm and doing an excellent job of staving off the wind and cold. I am glad of that. Last winter, the apartment we lived in was cold almost all the time. Makes me shiver just to think of it! Houses are so much nicer.

Last weekend up until today was very busy in a good sort of way. I had the unexpected pleasure of hosting my older sister from Friday until this morning. Pastor’s wife and mom of six kids, she saw a brief opportunity to visit us and took it. I haven’t seen her in the flesh since the summer before last, and it was so nice to have her here even for a little while. We all had a lot of good talks and a lot of encouragement in the faith. Plus Monica got to attend one of my orchestra concerts for the very first time.

Speaking of which, the concert went so well. As I said last week, it was one of our hardest programs. Not THE hardest, but definitely difficult. Our soloist, Jun-Ching Lin pleasantly surprised the violin section by joining us to play the Stravinsky in the second half of the concert. This after giving a stellar performance of Prokofiev’s first violin concerto. That was fun! So now I have one more major violin part more or less under my belt, which is satisfying.

Sunday and Monday, I got to spend a lot of time relaxing and visiting with friends and family. I haven’t been able to do that in a very long time. After being this spoiled, I’m having a hard time getting back to normal. But I must! I have a Conciliar Post article to write and not a clue about the topic. Time to brainstorm.

Until next week, stay warm and don’t be grumpy about the weather!

 

 

Relaxing Happenings

Last week was so full, I was tired going into this week. Not that it was a bad kind of full. I had people over to my house and made dinner for them, taught lots of lessons, had some more people over, went to two fall parties and so on and so forth. Still, being the introverted soul I am, I have felt in need of some peace, quiet and solitude. Although this week has been busy in its own way, I still had some opportunities to unwind. I hope you don’t mind if I relive them for you here?

Relaxed happening, number 1: On Tuesday, I  didn’t have to teach until 3:30 in the afternoon. So, instead of driving my car around to do errands, I rode my bike. Off I went to downtown St. Joseph’s post office in search of some international postage for a letter I needed to mail. On the way back home, I was peddling my bike along the brick roads and through the leaves on the ground when I heard the church bells close by playing a hymn. I admit it was a bit cheesy because manual church bells aren’t that versatile. It was most likely some mechanized version of bells. Still, it was a lot of fun, whistling along to the familiar tunes as I peddled along. Next stop was the bank where I deposited a check. Money going into the bank has such a cheering effect on me.

Relaxed happening, number 2: On Tuesday evening, Justin and I sat down to watch Beyond the Next Mountain, the story of Rochunga Podaite. I’ve watched the movie close to ten times or more from the time I was a little girl until now. It never seems to get old. In my opinion, it was probably the first independent Christian film that was actually done right. The writing was amazing, the camera work was great, and the soundtrack was absolutely beautiful and fitting. A very surprising treat coming from the 1980s. Besides, the true story it contains is so inspiring. I realized just that evening, how much the film has effected me, my outlook on life, and the way I write. The full movie is available for free on Youtube. In fact, I think so well of it, I’ll embed it here so you can find it easily! The quality isn’t so awesome, but the overall experience is great.

imageRelaxed happening, number 3: While watching the movie, I began a project I’ve been wanting to tackle for a while–teaching myself to crochet. Yes, I know an obscure form of lace-making called tatting, but at the age of 29, I still don’t know how to crochet. So, I looked up a tutorial online and went at it. Here’s my first finished granny square. As you can see, it’s a bit gnarled at the bottom there. Still, I’d say it’s not too bad for a first effort. I have recently discovered the charm of granny square blankets. When I was a little girl, I used to think they were superbly ugly. But then again, all I had ever seen at that point were the ones in my grandma’s house. From the earth tones, I’m guessing they were made in the sixties and seventies. A change of color can work wonders, I’ve found. Now, granny squares just look comforting and homey. Perhaps, I’ll keep at it until I have enough to make a blanket to cover my bed!

 

Well, all the above have been the highlights of my week, thus far. And now, it is time for me to get ready for my three hours of teaching this afternoon. Until next week…

Nearer, My Savior

imageSometimes, I go back and read through my old journals. This can be both encouraging and discouraging. On the one hand, I can often see how I’ve grown as a person and a Christian. On the other hand, I can see how in some respects, I haven’t really grown at all. The weaknesses I dealt with ten years ago are the ones I’m still battling. Hopefully, a little less, but they’re still there. I have a generalized lack of trust and contentment. But God is still working on me.

Today, I stumbled across an entry from January 26, 2010. I’m going to share it here, because I did find it encouraging.

“Dear Journal,

A few weeks ago while at a Bible conference, I was standing in the middle of a crowd of young people, singing. The words to the song were projected onto a screen in front of us. It was one of my favorite hymns. Without much warning, the truth of it seemed to overpower me and soon my voice wouldn’t work. I stood there, looking up at the screen through misty eyes, listening to the people singing those beautiful words.

The hymn was, “Nearer, Still Nearer,” and it has effected me that way more than once. I am not a poet. But I have a great admiration for a poet who can speak the truth in such a way that is goes far beyond simple facts or, even worse, worn-out platitudes and clichés. But when he can present that truth, so that immediately I think to myself, “That person has felt the same way I have,” that’s what makes the difference. The words are powerful because of the experience of the author behind them. At the conference that day, there was not one verse of the song that did not directly apply to me.

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart

Draw me, my Savior, so precious Thou art

Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast,

Shelter me safe in that haven of rest

Shelter me safe in that haven of rest.

I run all day. I get up in the morning, hurriedly read a few chapters in my Bible, get ready for school, and rush out the door. I go to classes, do some studying, and drive to work. After work, I rush home, find something to eat and study some more. At the end of the day, I lay my weary head on the pillow. It is then that I realize God hasn’t entered my thoughts since I left the house in the morning. My mind flips back to all the times I allowed irritation and frustration and anxiety to get the better of me. “Draw me, my Savior…” If He did not draw, no one would come.

Nearer, Still nearer, nothing I bring,

Naught as an offering to Jesus my King;

Only my sinful, now contrite heart.

Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart

Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

It is after a long day of failures that I feel my bankruptcy most. All I have to give my Savior is a sinful, stubborn heart that will only come to Him because He draws me. I come asking Him to “grant me the cleansing…” because He promised He would not cast me out.

Nearer, still nearer, Lord to be thine!

Sin with its follies, I gladly resign,

All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride

Give me but Jesus my Lord crucified,

Give me but Jesus my Lord crucified.

When He forgives me and gives me His cleansing, I see the foolishness of my sin. I see the foolishness of me because I know that some time in my pride, I’ll do the same, stupid thing again. I am amazed at the love of God, that even though I am so foolish, He still loves and forgives me. He will take me back a thousand times. I know it because He is the one that draws me back. “Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.”

Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last,

Til safe in glory my anchor is cast.

Through endless ages ever to be,

Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;

Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee.

If it were not for Christ’s promise that He would finish what He began in me, I would lose hope. But I know that I am nearer and farther along than I was before because He draws me. He will draw me until I reach Heaven. There He’ll hold me up as a trophy of His grace, and I will finally have what I’ve always wanted, what I’ve fought against my human nature for. “Through endless ages, ever to be, nearer my Savior, still nearer to Thee.”

At Present

From my leaf collection!
From my leaf collection!

I am sitting in my room at my desk by the window. I think it’s marvelous that the window sill is wide enough to park my cup of coffee there without any fear of spillage. For the past several weeks, I have been getting my head wrapped around my new fall schedule. It does seem like life speeds up rather dramatically the day after Labor Day when I would most like it to slow down. That is the life of a music teacher, I guess. At this moment, I would really just love to be outside, walking the streets and looking at all of the reds, yellows, golds, greens and browns painting the tree line. Fall is my most favorite time of year. But duty calls and here I am writing, trying to complete my weekly update before it’s time for me to hit the road for the music studio twenty minutes away where I will attempt to instill musical knowledge in my students. I hope you’re grateful. Just kidding. I enjoy this, too.

Orchestra rehearsals began a few weeks ago. So, in addition to the next Union Gospel Press assignment I’m working on in the cracks, I am embroiled in Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Debussy and Poulenc. For my brother’s sake, I’m glad he has been out of the house whenever I practice the Stravinksy. Squeak! Squawk! Smack. In context with the rest of the orchestra, it sounds great. But by itself, it’s truly dreadful to listen to. Regardless, I’m looking forward to performing The Rite of Spring in November. That piece is a true accomplishment for any orchestra.

Besides practicing violin, teaching, and working on the Union Gospel Press assignment, I’ve been cogitating over my script. I finished the rough draft several weeks ago. Overall, it’s good work, but the beginning has some issues. So, I’ve been pondering how to fix them this last month. It seems like my brain works that way a lot. I often write things, look at them askance, set them aside for a long time, pick them back up and then, click, things all falls into place. I’m hoping the same thing happens with this script.

In spite of all my heavy responsibilities, I’ve still found time to enjoy the season. The other day, I went searching through my thick books for the fall leaves I’d pressed between their pages last year. My collection of dried, colorful leaves is getting larger every year. I like to hang them around the house so I can sigh in satisfaction when I look at them. I’m not sure Justin is entirely pleased with my decorating sense, but he tolerates it. Hey, it’s the small things in life that make me happy.

It is now time for me to attend to more business. I have a list a mile long which I will attempt to shorten before I leave for teaching today. I wish you all a Happy Fall!

Trip to Dixon

The theater before anyone arrived
The theater before anyone arrived

On Saturday, I found myself traveling to Dixon, Illinois for a showing of The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club. I’d known about the showing for quite a while but didn’t think I would be able to make it. At the last minute, it turned out I could go after all. Dixon, for those who may not know, is the hometown of President Reagan, among other things. Those other things include a beautiful historic theater, which is where The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club and The War Within played. The Petry family organized the whole event, fed us dinner and lunch the next day and gave us the pleasure of their company. Although the showing wasn’t as well-attended as the Petrys had anticipated, we still had about 75 people there or so I was told. During the showing, I heard little kids laughing quite a lot which is always a good sign.

The Reagan boys' bedroom
The Reagan boys’ bedroom

One of the things that really stuck out to me about Dixon was totally unrelated to the movies, though. Before the showing, Justin and I had a chance to tour Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home. I enjoyed that so much. It’s interesting to me that there are only a few presidents in America’s history that are spoken well of by people of completely different political persuasions. Of the handful that come to my mind immediately are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Personally, my favorite is Ronald Reagan.  He wore authority well, but he was kind. His eyes radiated with kindness.

imageHis house was relatively small and very simple, even for a house built in the eighteen hundreds. Downstairs was a kitchen, a sitting room and a parlor of sorts. Upstairs were three bedrooms and a bathroom. Ronald shared a simple bedroom with his brother who liked to snitch Ronald’s pennies. He was compelled to hide three of them under a tile in the hearth downstairs!

imageThe elderly lady that guided the tour told us that the Bible sitting on the chest of drawers in Mr. and Mrs. Reagan’s room was the same Bible Ronald held at his inaugural addresses. On the wall beside the room was a little plaque that said the Bible was left open at 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I stood there and stared at that for quite a while, thinking within myself, “I wish we would all just do that.”

Thinking back on all the violence I’ve read about in the news at home and abroad, as well as the news of rapidly spreading disease, I’ve been doing a lot of praying. Praying that God would help us, protect us. But I always preface the prayer with the words, “I know we don’t deserve this, Lord, but could you please help us, anyway?” We don’t deserve protection because we, as a nation, have sinned. By law, we have protected murder through the abortion industry. By law, we have protected those who abuse and take advantage of God’s gift of sexuality through the pornography industry. We call good evil and evil good and then wonder why people run into their former places of work and attack helpless women with knives.

So, when I pray for my country, I pray that God would help me to turn from my own sin, and I pray that more and more people in America will have the courage to turn from theirs. Healing can only begin with repentance. So much evil would dry up at the root if there were simply no market for it. It would seem that Ronald Reagan understood that.

After we came back downstairs the elderly tour guide showed us around the kitchen and shared interesting trivia and pointed out objects of interest. She concluded her remarks by pointing out the magazine she was reading. “I’m reading about Marco Polo! They think he might have been to America.” We all sort of blinked, smiled and chuckled. Justin and I left her sitting at the kitchen table engrossed in her article and went off to buy some Jelly Bellies. In honor of the president, of course.

Photo credits to Justin Barber for all but theater picture at the top.

That Day

Sept. 11I was sixteen. My brother and I were sitting in the living room, trying our best to learn American sign language by signing along with the lady on the video we were watching. I think the video stopped working or something. For one reason or another, we took it out and fooled around with it. As soon as we took it out of the player, we saw that NBC news was on. I was aware of New York City and a lot of smoke. The TV pretty much stayed on around the clock after that for the next several weeks.

I had so many questions. What was the World Trade Center, anyway? I’d never heard of it. What was going through the minds of the people I saw jumping from the towers to their deaths? Why were the news stations showing Palestinians dancing in the street? Was it true? Were people really so happy that American civilians were dying? Who did this? Why?

It had all of the surreal qualities of a really bad dream. As I learned more and more, I felt more and more shocked and numb until, like a dam breaking, the tears came in torrents a week later as they did today when I remembered. Thirteen years! Has it really been that long?

Now my generation has its own personal Pearl Harbor. And like Pearl Harbor, it changed everything, colored everything. In a matter of hours, we all knew that nothing would ever be the same again. I’m used to it now. I’m used to America collectively looking over its shoulder to see what might be coming next. Welcome to the rest of the world.

Three years after that day, Satan made a terrorist attack on my soul. One moment, I was content in my faith. In the next instant, all assurance of God’s love, all confidence in His Word was wiped away. It was years before it ever came back, and I’m still dealing with the residual skirmishes. In retrospect, I think 9/11 made me susceptible to that attack. In the aftermath of the towers, well-known, intelligent people began to speak out against religion in general as a hateful, destructive force. And anyway, why would a God who loved allow such horrors to happen? I couldn’t really blame them for thinking that and asking that question. They set out to discredit all religion because they were afraid of what it could do. I was the collateral damage along with many others. I faced several years of nearly crippling fear and uncertainty. Though September 11, 2001 was a fearful day, it was nothing compared to the fear that gripped me concerning my faith.

God, are you there? Would you please come closer? I can’t feel you. Would it be strange to tell you that I only found peace when I rediscovered the evil in my heart? But it’s true.

The Bible said that long ago, in a beautiful garden, a woman named Eve took something that did not belong to her. Listening to the serpent’s persuasive speech, she chose to eat a piece of fruit that God had said she must not eat. She gave it to her husband, Adam, and he ate it too. Nothing was ever the same after that. A hideous sickness began its reign in their hearts and spread to the very ground they walked on. Thorns began to grow and choke out the lush vegetation, and Adam was hard pressed to keep ahead of the thorns his sin had caused. Innocent animals were killed, skinned, and used to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Driven from their beautiful garden, they faced a world forever contaminated by one sinful choice, destined to spread the disease in their hearts to every new born child. There was one hope. God promised to bring relief through a descendant of Eve, free of Adam’s taint. Through the seed of the woman, a child would be born who would crush the serpent’s head and be bruised for his efforts, bruised but not destroyed.

When I again saw the unmistakable evil in my own heart, the evil I had inherited from Adam, I could finally breathe easy. It meant that God’s Word was true. And it pointed me towards that other day when a perfect man, the descendant of Eve, nailed to a wooden cross, gasped out his last words, “It is finished.” The earth shook as he bowed his head. It was a day that changed everything, colored everything. Because of that day, there is a remedy for the evil in my heart.    In dying; Eve’s descendant, the second Adam; passed the test. He crushed the serpents head, laid down his life, and took it up again. The bruise all healed, he went up into Heaven and he waits until the appointed day when he will come again. The disciples knew that nothing would ever be the same again. They went out in boldness and spread the word. They lived their lives in suffering. Most of them were put to death, because the sickness in the hearts of men caused men to fear and seek to discredit a religion that seemed to be turning the world upside down. Such a strange upside down, too, when men will die for their faith instead of kill for it.

The serpent is already crushed. He did not win a victory on September 11, 2001. He did not win a victory when he attacked my faith. Jesus determined the outcome of history at Calvary. The world may seem to get worse and worse, but it is only the birth pangs of an old world giving way to the new, where the lion will lie down with the lamb and no one will be afraid. In the meanwhile, there is mercy for me and mercy for the terrorist and everyone before and in between and after. There is time to claim it before He comes. But even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

 

A Quiet Week

IMG_0226[1]I have no excuse for writing this late in the week besides the fact that when Thursday rolled around, I just didn’t feel like writing. It’s been a quiet week, mostly. But since I know my life will get much busier after Labor Day (I’m starting a lot of new music students when school starts) I decided mostly to do things I really enjoyed. So, I worked on some sewing projects, started reading a new book, made some curtains for my room and stuff like that. Last week I finished a crocheted rag rug for my hardwood floor. That should be nice when the Polar Vortex comes swirling back in a few more months. Here is Cora sitting on it.

And here are my new curtains. Or at least, one of them. There is nothing fancy about either the rug or the curtains, which is exactly what I like. They make me feel at home.

IMG_0228[1]I dream of having a little house out in the country some day, full of rag rugs, homemade curtains, a dinner table with chairs that don’t quite match, topped off with a red and white gingham tablecloth. There would be a cat curled up on the sofa and a big dog laying in front of the fireplace to make me feel safe. Of course, a big, strong husband and a lot of kids would be nice, too, but you can’t go out and buy those.

Well, since this is my week to do fun stuff, I have decided I will make this a short blog post and go bake chocolate chip cookies. I have the time. Why not!

Until next week. Perhaps I will have more profound thoughts than idle day dreams rolling around in my head.

 

Blessings and Sorrow

A ray of sun...
A ray of sun…

What a chilly morning it was! I had to break out my cozy sweater and my fuzzy socks. It is a beautiful morning, though. The sun is shining brightly through my window as I sit at my desk and type. It feels so nice and warm on my face. I’m looking forward to sitting here on crisp winter mornings. At the apartment, the sun never shown directly through any of the windows and I missed that. Living in a house is so nice.

It’s been an odd week, full of blessings and sadness. Every day I wake up in this quiet, pretty house, in this relatively safe country. I feel privileged. And then I sort of feel guilty. After all, I’m not yet running for my life from people whose only goal is to kill me. It was a sad week as I thought about how many thousands of people have died from plague and war. Yesterday, my older brother and his two oldest girls came over and chatted for a while. In the course of conversation, my brother remarked that North Korea is starting to fold. It’s sort of a mess and they won’t be able to hold it together much longer. To my great sadness, my young, teenaged niece remarked, “Seems like every place is a mess right now.” How true. And if it’s not a mess now, seems like it will be shortly. What a world she has inherited.

How merciful God is. How merciful that He has not ended this story of the world yet. He is not willing that any should perish (eternally) and that all should come to repentance, even those killing minorities in Iraq. I would not make a good god. I would squash them like so many bugs over there. In fact, pretty much everywhere would get a leveling, since we’re all pretty awful when you come right down to it. But God is as patient and longsuffering as he is holy and full of wrath. How that works, I don’t really understand. While we pursue our sin, He pursues us. He keeps after us for years and years, giving us chance after chance to forsake our wicked ways and follow Him.

In the meantime, I have been trying to focus on good things. (I have a tendency to see all the bad and none of the good and behave in a morose fashion.) Here are a couple of neat things that happened recently. As I am always excited at spotting wildlife, I’m always on the lookout for places I can walk quietly and happen upon animals.  There is a railroad crossing less than a block from my house. The other day, I followed it to the office of Duke Street Productions. Following the train tracks shaves quite a few minutes off my time. Anyway, as I was walking there, I heard a rustling to my left. What looked like a small dog ran past my peripheral vision. Instead of disappearing, though, it turned around and looked at me for about ten seconds and I realized it was a coyote. So there we stood, staring at each other. Then it ran into the brush and vanished. Last night, I took the train tracks in the opposite direction and came across four deer—three bucks and one doe. They just stood there like perfectly carved statues while I walked towards them, and they didn’t run away until I had passed them. I’m interested to see what else I can find along the tracks in the future.

That is all for now. I must get to work on my latest Union Gospel Press assignment.