Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Memory is not what the heart desires

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:8-9)
I read this passage out loud after telling my kids that their only living great grandparent (my Mam Mam) went home to be with Jesus today. My 4 year old, Mary Grace, said of the verse, "Momma, dat means dat if we die, we will be wiff God, and if we don't die, den we will still be wiff God." True comfort, indeed.

Thinking about the loss of my last living grandparent has naturally caused a flood of memories in my head. Most of those memories having me sitting at her kitchen table as she busied herself with fixing coffee, frying potatoes (in leftover bacon grease), watering the violets on the window sill, welcoming and caring for the loads of company that came through that kitchen, loving my Pap, always working, never complaining, and yet always giving of her time and attention. When I want to go to 'a safe place' in my mind, I picture myself right there in that kitchen.

Thinking about memories calls to mind one of my favorite passages from The Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship has just left Lothlorien and Gimli the dwarf is openly grieving, having to leave behind the peace and beauty of such a place. Legolas tries in vain to comfort Gimli with the words, "...the least reward that you shall have is that the memory of Lothlorien shall remain ever clear and unstained in your heart, and shall neither fade nor grow stale." Gimli replies, "Maybe...and I thank you for your words. True words doubtless; yet all such comfort is cold. Memory is not what the heart desires."

As much as I treasure the memories I have in my grandmother's kitchen, I find even now that those memories come with an ache rather than a comfort. Memory is not what the heart desires. Our hearts desire reality. And so I find true comfort in the verse above and in my 4 year old's interpretation of it. I also find great comfort in the words of Jesus in Revelation 21, "Behold, I am making all things new," ...even memories that ache.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When the kid to adult ratio favors the kid...

The other day I decided to have Christopher and Sarah do a little P.E. in our family room before bedtime. After doing leg lifts, crunches, stretches and whatnot, Sarah got up and started doing jumping jacks. Christopher joined her and I remarked on how well they did their jumping jacks. Sarah replied, "Yeah, but it kind of hurts when you need to poo poo." Christopher fell to the floor laughing....

One night at the dinner table, the girls were all proclaiming how much they loved chicken legs. "Oh mommy, these are the most delicious chicken legs...I just love chicken legs...Could we eat this every night?...These are the legs of a chicken...that's why it's called a chicken. leg." I broke in and said, "Aren't you glad these aren't human legs? I mean, we would need to get bigger plates." They were all silent for a moment until Hannah (4) broke in and said, "But we wouldn't like human legs because they would taste...disgusting." Sarah (7) then said, "Here Mommy, cut off my leg!" Then Hannah said, "Yeah, cut off all of our legs!" Then Mary Grace (3), in a very matter-of-fact voice, said, "If you cut off our wegs, we would not be able to walk." Christopher chimed in with, "But we could jump!" I tried to explain that you can't jump without legs, but realized that I had lost control of the conversation a long time ago.

Last night, John's parents watched the kids for us while we went to a Christmas party. Hannah got out of her bed and waltzed into the family room where Nana and Pop were watching Andrea Bocelli. Hannah asked, "WHAT is he singing?" Nana answered, "He's singing a song in another language." Hannah then declared that she could sing songs in other languages as well. Nana said, "Well, go ahead. I want to hear you." So Hannah got up into a chair and started singing, "Cock-a-doodle-doo..."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sabbatical reflections...through a rhyme

For ten years, John has ministered and preached to all of you...

So the elders all agreed a sabbatical was long overdue.

A time to rest, read and renew without the pressures of ministry,

As well as some much needed down-time to spend with his family.

So instead of boring you with details of how we spent our time,

We thought we’d entertain you with some highlights through a rhyme.

We decided to stay home and lay low throughout the month of July

Deep cleaning and organizing our house, otherwise known as, “pig sty.”

At the end of the month, we packed our things and kids of young ages

Driving north in our van until we reached our good friends, the Gages.

After spending several fun days with our dear friends who moved away,

We packed up again and made our drive eastward to PA.

For the next two months, we settled down in Mindy’s mother’s house.

Though I wouldn’t describe our stay there as being quiet as a mouse.

While you were all in Texas, suffering in the drought and unbearable heat,

We enjoyed lush green landscapes, cool weather, and soft grass under our feet.

There are many beautiful places in Pennsylvania, we’ll have you know.

For instance, Longwood Gardens is a place to which we like to go.

For all the beauty that is found, there’s one place that Mindy holds dear,

The mountains of Central Pennsylvania, where she spent her early years.

September came, we camped near Rickett's Glen State Park,

a favorite spot of John’s.

We stayed in a cottage with a lake...
...and some really aggressive swans.

Ricketts Glen has 26 beautiful waterfalls, however, we saw only two.

You try hiking down steep, slippery rocks with this inexperienced crew!

The next weekend we drove to New Jersey to visit our friends, the Yohannans.

Doubling the household from six to twelve requires some serious plannin’!

The next day we drove south to see friends from Mindy’s college days

We then went home to celebrate the 3rd birthday of Mary Grace.

The next weekend we toured the city of Washington, D.C.

The White House and the monuments, and those museums that all are free.

The next two weeks we decided to relax for all that it was worth

Since we would drive south to spend a week at the ‘happiest place on earth.’

At Epcot we went “Soarin’” among other rides, and visited countries with our brood,

One favorite was “The Seas” with Nemo...
...where fish are friends, not food.

At Hollywood Studios we loved the Toy story and virtual Star Wars ride,

Eating at a restaurant and meeting more Disney characters inside.

Magic Kingdom was the kids’ favorite, they’ll proclaim with lots of vigor

Mary Grace loved the Winnie the Pooh ride, “’Cause you get to bounce wiff Tigger!”

Don’t forget the Peter pan ride or Pirates of the Caribbean,

Or flying Dumbo, riding roller coasters, or all the characters we’d be seein’.

At Animal Kingdom we saw animals from Komodo Dragons to tall giraffes,

We even met King Louie and Pocohontas, and got their autographs.

To stick to a schedule at Disney with 4 kids, you have to run faster than a jog.

When really the kids were content to hang out at the cabin to catch the frogs.

By the time we got home from all our adventures, our own beds felt like heaven.

We also thought we’d better tell you that our family of six will be seven.

We discovered this news way back in June, and our heads began to whirl.

It wasn’t until we came back to Texas that we found out it’s another girl.

This Thanksgiving we are very thankful for the for the 4 months we had together

For returning to our beloved Trinity family and to Texas in cooler weather.

John is thankful for time to read and pray and get closer to the Lord,

So that he can return energized to preach and minister the Word.