29 September 2009

Up To My Knees in Everything

Can you believe September is almost over? It's like we went right from August to October in about two weeks' time. Life has yet to slow down. Two weeks ago, we went to Lancaster County (near the Amish) with some friends who took us to visit his parents, who live in a place called Mount Joy.

Lancaster is known not only for the Amish, but for shopping in general. There are outlet malls here like North westerners have never seen. There are family general stores and handmade furniture stores, quilt stores, country "stuff" stores, antique stores, and junk/yard sales all over the place. There is a museum of farm equipment, an amusement park called Dutch Wonderland, as well as a made-to-scale version of the Old Testament tabernacle, to name a few tourist sites. There are lots of retirement centers, lots of hotels, and lots of tourists, which is why we tend to avoid it like we tend to avoid the Jersey Shore in the summer time. Big crowds are not a big reason to go someplace, in our estimation.

But thankfully, our friends' parents live far enough away from the "circus" that is Lancaster that we spent a lovely and enjoyable day with them seeing why people love to live in that area. They treated us to a delicious lunch, showed us their favorite places to buy bulk foods and fresh eggs, and we admired their lovely home and beautiful vegetable garden out in the peaceful countryside. And we came home with five-dozen eggs ($.80/dozen), 50 lbs. of whole wheat flour, 100 lbs. of high-gluten bread flour, and a few other snacks and goodies too wonderful to pass up. While all the flour is resting in our box freezer for a couple of weeks, we are preparing to make room for 1/2 of a pig which is due to be delivered to us (already frozen) on Saturday.

On top of all that, yesterday while Enoch was off from school because of a Jewish holiday, he harvested all of my thyme, basil, and mint from the front garden, pulled out all of the tomato plants from the back garden, and most of the beets. And to top it all off, three of my four children are at varying stages of a sinus cold (everyone but Tristan); the baby seems to get croup when he gets sick, just like Tristan used to, so he's not sleeping real well either.

So suffice it to say, I'm up to my knees in everything, including my usual laundry and dishes and housework. And we hope to go apple picking and pumpkin picking this weekend, weather permitting and depending on when the awaited pork arrives. I love this time of year, don't you?

17 September 2009

The Seatbelt Law, and Grace

A few days ago, I was driving two of my kids to the pediatrician's office for a check up. While coming up to a stop light, I noticed the car beside me. What immediately caught my attention was the baby, close to my own baby's age, sitting on the lap of the person riding in the front passenger's seat. Immediately I was shot full of adrenaline, and my mouth popped open. "I can't believe it!" I said out loud in my own car. "What are they doing?" I was angry. I was scornful in my heart. I considered saying something to them when we came to a stop. I began looking for a police car in the area, and saying, "Lord, I hope they get pulled over. I hope they get caught."

I looked more carefully at the car. Should I call 911 and follow them? My own baby has a doctor's appointment; I can't do that. I noticed the license plate was different. It said something about a disabled veteran on it. "So they feel entitled!" I began to mutter. "Some people!" I looked into the car more carefully, and counted heads. The baby was the sixth passenger in a five passenger vehicle. I could offer them a car seat, but where would they put it? They were turning left (in the direction of a hospital known for its trauma center), I turned right.

For the next 10 minutes as I drove down the highway, I was talking to God about the situation. I was grumbling at first, but then began to think about some things. I didn't know them, nor did I know their circumstances. But my immediate reaction was to cry for justice. I wanted them to be punished for breaking the law. And they deserved it, right? Regardless of their circumstances, if they had been pulled over by police, they would be found guilty for breaking the law, plain and simple. And what would the outcome be? An expensive ticket. Possible arrests. The car could be impounded. The child could be taken and placed in protective custody. But how horrible if I wished that on them and they were on their way to the hospital to visit a dying relative or some other heart-breaking story! But that baby was in someone's lap in the front seat, wearing no seat belt.

So my mind wondered: what would mercy look like? Mercy would be, well, you get pulled over, but the police gives you permission to go free--to have a second chance. Well that hardly seems fair, but certainly seems much kinder. But would that stop them from doing it again? And then my mind went to the ultimate extreme: what would grace look like? Well, grace would be something like this: they get pulled over, but then I willingly come along and pay the fine, have my own car impounded and my own children taken into custody, and they get to go free--in my 7-passenger van (with a car seat).

Not only would this hypothetical act of grace satisfy the requirements of the law (a fine must be paid, a car impounded, etc.), but it would supply the law-breakers with everything necessary to continue in their circumstances but without continuing to break the law (because they would have my van to ride in).

I was ashamed at my own initial reaction to cry for justice and to be merciless. As I realized my unwillingness (or inability) to offer grace to them, I realized what an amazing God I serve, who offered grace to me. He satisfied the requirements of the Law that I broke when I sinned against Him. He paid the price with His Son's blood, and gives me new life to live in the power of His Spirit. I hope that in the future, when I have an opportunity to offer His grace to others, or to demonstrate it in practical ways, I would be humble enough to do it because of what He did for me.

15 September 2009

First Day of School Photos

14 September 2009

The end of Summer 2009

Composed on August 29th...

Well our busy summer has quickly come to an end. The last week of August was more eventful than I can even record here, and it came and went so quickly! Enoch's Dad and brother Cyril came for a short visit. So short in fact, that I didn't get a picture! (I'll have to get copies from them...) In anticipation of their visit, I decided what better to do than schedule a Tomboy Tools party in my home as a favor to a friend, to force myself to clean it as best as possible? So we scrubbed and shampooed, wiped walls, and even cleaned behind the refrigerator.

Looking its best

And I sent out my invitations. I even called some people. As more and more people declined, I began to send out general invitations on facebook, for the brave and spontaneous people out there who live within driving range of my home. Apparently, only one such person exists. I won't expose her identity here online, but she knows who she is, and I am very grateful that she came on such short notice. And we did have fun, even though she was the only one to show. Maybe in another two years I'll try throwing a party again. I'm sure I'll need to clean behind the refrigerator by then.

Although this has been (yet another) humiliating experience, it has also been a good learning one. One thing I learned is to have my guest list prepared before picking the party date. It takes time to fill out invitation cards and address them, especially when you know you have outdated addresses for nearly half of your people! By the time I got all that done and the invites sent, it was maybe a week's notice at best. People out here tend to need at least two weeks notice to do just about anything, it seems. I also learned something I already knew about myself: I like having people over. I don't need a party as an excuse to entice people. I can entice them with my willingness to cook for them! And having people over is a good motivator to keeping my house clean. So if you haven't been for a visit and want to come, let me know and we'll schedule your visit soon!

It's Not Over Til It's Over

I am very much aware of the fact that it's been nearly two weeks since I last posted something on my blog. I tend to take a while to adjust to major changes. Going back to school is a big adjustment. Now I'm home all day long with a nearly-three-year-old and a newly-one-year-old. WHO IS WALKING NOW, BY THE WAY!! (That just happened...um...four days ago, so it's still new news.)

It's not that I don't have things I could write about. I do. But I try to limit my blogging during times when the kids are sleeping--so that's before they wake up, nap time, or after they go to bed. But now I have lunches to make every day, and that happens in the morning, which cuts into my computer time. I've noticed that when lunches get made before I have to nurse the baby and before the others get out of bed, I have a much more relaxing approach to that hour and a half daily routine. And if anyone decides that they want to rebel and need my loving discipline during that time, it's best if I don't have to stress myself out about getting lunch made. So those are my excuses for not blogging lately.

Now I should just post pictures.

Pictures from our day trip to the Benjamin Franklin Institute--like a giant kids science museum and adult science museum in one.

Lunch in the cafeteria was interesting. The folks on the right side of the picture were visiting the Star Trek exhibit. Or maybe they worked for the museum and were on their lunch break. Don't know and didn't ask.

Julien pulled out his front tooth by tying one end a string to his tooth and the other to a shoe, and dropping the shoe over the stair railing.

It worked!

One last little hike in the woods before the first day of school.