Sunday, November 30, 2008

A few more of those fun family pics:

Max and Anne's beautiful farm.

Everybody loved holding baby Grace.


They made all these place cards for us before we arrived - all 29 of them! So elegant, and I loved the fall leaves on each one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Okay, just a little teaser:

We're back from our fabulous Thanksgiving Holiday with family in W.Va. Many thanks to Max and Anne for hosting all of us, and for their hard work. Here's a photo we took after Thanksgiving dinner. So if we all look chubby, you know why!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sorry no post

I'm being a naughty blogger. Actually, I was just trying to make it to the Thanksgiving break. And now I have. I am soaking my feet. And the family cooking/visiting/singing/cooking/eating/dishes/cooking/eating hasn't really even started yet.

I'll check back with you all in a few days.

ALL of you are required to take at least 3 naps between now and next Monday. That's an order!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mining for Gold

I've thought much lately of the effect of one man's sorrows on his friends. This happens so often among us, that we overlook it. And John Donne's "Meditation 17" washes back into my mind again and again. You certainly have heard the famous words from that brief text: "No man is an island, entire of itself." He speaks of our dependency on one another, and since Donne was a man of the church, he is referring to how the members of the church body are inextricably connected.

But the point of connection is his topic: we are connected through sorrows. One man's sorrows can be utilized by others for their benefit:

"Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction."

Well enough. We know that sorrow can change and improve us, if we humbly accept it. But, another man's sorrow, become my treasure? How does that work? Donne describes hearing the death bell tolling in the street, indicating someone's impending death:

"Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security."

Hard and callous as this assertion may be, it is true. Learning from others' misery is an important skill to acquire. Mining the bullion from their sorrow, and turning it into useful spiritual currency is, Donne asserts, a way of redeeming it, even if the sufferer himself gains no benefit.


Our pastor was back in our pulpit this morning, which is a good thing. He has been inactive in his profession, but attending to his wife, for over a month. As I heard him tell someone this morning, it's not necessarily a good thing to have an extended "break" like that, to be inactive. It gives too much time for thought. He rendered a soul-breaking message from Job about how we should handle trials and loss. I think he has come through many stages of handling his own troubles. It is good to see him up before God's people again.

Adam is gone this afternoon to a funeral at a nearby church where he's preached twice lately. A prematurely born baby girl, after struggling for several weeks with a weakened heart and not strong enough for the surgery she needed, died and was buried today.

Tonight is a community Thanksgiving service. This has been held for many years, and gathers our church and 4 others from various denominations. Adam will attend, but I must take Philip to Hickory for his trumpet ensemble rehearsal. They will have at least 2 performances during the Christmas season (one on Christmas Eve, late).

Only 2 days of school this week, before we have a BREAK!! I've been looking forward to this time off school for SO long. Basically, we only have 3 weeks of classes before it's all over for the semester. Sweet relief! I won't really teach again until past the middle of January, since I'm taking a student group to England.

But today, we are doing the difficult task of blending thanksgiving with grief.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Four Christmas Books

I've already bought four books for myself for Christmas. I'm saving them to give to myself on Christmas morning, and I'll start reading them on the break:

1. A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. I've wanted a copy of this book for many years.

2. The Lady in the Palazzo by Marlena de Blasi. I enjoyed her "1000 Days in Tuscany."

3. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Her books come highly recommended and apparently she is a novelist who actually has a little learning and intelligence.

4. A Vineyard in Tuscany by Ferenc Mate. Read about it on Amazon. We'll see.

Today, I:

*enjoyed the cool weather and the definite feel of a holiday season (i.e. VACATION) in the air.

*did a little Christmas shopping. It's amazing what you can find at Bath and Body Works.

*watched my hubby and the kids put lots of Christmas lights up on the eaves of the house. Adam's been wanting to do this for years.

*fought with our son about improving his essays for his college scholarships.

Yes, fought. I had to shoo one of his friends out of the driveway, to keep him from going to a party. His two, lame essays would not get a bat of an eyelash from anybody reviewing them for scholarship quality.

Somebody...please tell me this is normal. The boy is gloomy and grumpy. His dad is VERY grumpy and wondering if he even has the maturity to go off to college at all!

I'm trying not to over-react: get the essays done, in some semblance of order, and send them in. Then see what happens. But I tell you, this process should not be like pulling teeth. I'm thoroughly tired of it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Little Mexican

The four goofballs. For some reason, we were all fairly happy last night.

These two are best buds.

I zoomed in on Peter from across the table.

Daddy is happy as long as he's sitting by Mama.

Probably our last year to have all of them home together. Boo hoo!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guess Whata!!??

I JUST found out (and I want all of you to be the first to know...) that my son, Philip, has been accepted to Covenant College!

My alma mater!

And the only college he really wants to go to!


NOT that we ever doubted that he would be accepted there.

Oh no...

We just wondered if the boy would ever get AROUND to completing all the multitudinous steps necessary to completing the application process.

Finally, the MAMA had to step in, take the bull by the horns, and do the thing that all men hate to do: namely, finish something.

(Alright, so I admit that was an uncalled-for, blind-side attack on half the human race. Still, we women know that there is a modicum of truth in it.)

Forgive me. I'm just so excited.

Now comes the hard part: paying for it. That's what we're up against next. He's applying for two hefty scholarships. The good news is, that any child of an alumnus automatically gets 40% knocked off tuition. Very Good News.

So, we're going out to eat Mexican tonight to celebrate.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

(answering annie)

Hi Annie -
If you lift up your top lip, you might see the skinny strip of tissue that runs under your lip, and attaches to your gum. Julia's was very thick and ran from her top underlip, between her two front teeth, and attached behind them. In order to get rid of the gap between her teeth, it had to be removed. She was a trooper!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Michelle's Tree

When we lived in Alabama, a number of years ago, a dear friend gave me a little Norfolk Pine Tree, in a little pot. The tree was about 6-8 inches tall, I think. Here it is now:

It lived in NC for a couple of years, and then in Massachusetts for a very chilly year, and then back in NC. See how big he has grown! Thanks, Michelle :) He gets decorated for Christmas each year and is happy to participate in the celebration.

Julia sits next to it, to give you a sense of perspective on his tall he is.
Speaking of Julia, here is a picture of her teeth now. You may recall that she had to have two teeth pulled, have surgery to remove a thick frenum between her front teeth, and then have her bite corrected. Tada!!! Now look at those straight teeth. The orthodontist is almost finished with her.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

I did take my camera. And, as usual, I took about 7 very bad pictures (this is the best one) before it ceased functioning. Ah well.

After helping serve supper to 200 people and doing many dishes, I sat limply in the back of the large hall nibbling on a piece of cake, minding my own business. This was a fund-raising event for the senior class, complete with a short & silly drama, a magic show, and a ridiculous vote by the audience. They chose one person that they wanted to see made up in a chicken beak/hat/glasses, and dancing the chicken dance with the seniors up on the stage. Whom did they choose? Innocent little me! I should have slipped out the back door. But I did it, and I made Philip dance with me too. Then another student sprayed me with that sticky, silly spray, but I got him back later.

All in all, it was a fun evening, and much lasagna was eaten. I hope they raised lots of money for their project.

Now I'm resting my feet. Philip is out with all his friends, watching the new Bond movie.

Autumn Shots

I've been wanting to take this picture for a while. We have a curtain of ivy on our retaining wall, and this fall, some grape vines have begun to grow on it as well. I like the contrast of shape and color.

Here is our patio wisteria vine. It's grown so much in 2 years. We want to train it up over the pergola, when Adam builds it.

This year, our holly trees have lots of red berries! So festive - I can't wait to bring the holly and the ivy inside, and sing to them :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's a good thing the company was great,

Because our evening in Hickory was a bit of a disappointment.

We've had a long, tiring week (well, as usual, and who hasn't?), and it's going to be a rather long weekend (7 hours helping tomorrow with the high school's mystery dinner theater, then Adam preaches again on Sunday),

So, we decided we'd go have a snack of dinner together, and a toodle around Barnes and Noble, before doing the grocery shopping.

El Chapala Restaurant in Hickory was a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT.

Now, we absolutely love our El Chapala Restaurant in Brevard. It's just about our favorite. Great Mexican food, served hot and fast, at unbeatable prices.

Before I could even situate myself on my chair, the waiter this evening asked what I wanted to drink. I said I really didn't know yet. He didn't come back for about 15 minutes. And we asked to be moved away from the annoying TV. Maybe that miffed them.

But the noisy Hispanic family behind us (happy, but noisy) got absolutely gorgeous food. When I saw the mom's large, crispy quesadilla, with a heaping mound of bright green avocado dip next to it, that made up my mind.

When mine came out, it was small, undercooked (some of the tortilla wasn't brown at all), and I had a pitiful little dribble of pale avocado across the lettuce.

The waiter didn't speak to us again until he came to carry my plate away. And when he asked if my meal was fine, I told him no, it was not. And I told him why. He just smiled. We won't be returning.

In WalMart, I reached between two ladies to open the cooler for a quart of half-and-half. They were just standing there, looking at the cooler, so I thought it was fine to reach between them. A few minutes later the younger one (the daughter?) elbowed me abruptly as we were getting some eggs. Later, the mom actually spoke to me rudely. So, we spent the rest of our shopping time, nervously trying to avoid this family of 5 in each aisle.

Just not a happy evening.

But I was with Adam, so the company was good in spite of it all. And Barnes and Noble was still a good stop. They have nothing, absolutely nothing, in the store about Old English. But I still found 2 books for myself for Christmas. Adam bought a copy of Herodotus's The Histories, for $7.

And in case you couldn't tell, my friends, I just got all that off my chest. I feel better, my little guinea pigs :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More good news!

I bought gas for $1.99/gallon today! Yippee! I'm trying to remember when we bought gas for under $2 a gallon - who remembers?

I filled up our van's tank for less than $30. Wow.

I'd be fascinated to find out exactly how much the cheapest gas is, where you live. So, if you read this blog, if I know you or if I DON'T know you - leave a reply comment, and just tell me how much your gas is now - thanks!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh Gloom and Doom...

We've all heard a bit of this lately:

People from all over the country are bemoaning the end of life as we know it. For the liberals (especially as long as Bush is still in the White House), the country is falling apart, the economy is on a permanent nose-dive, no one has a job, all construction has come to a dead halt.

Well, I beg to differ. If it's bad where you are, in liberal New England, or socialist Massachusetts, well there's a reason for that!! If this cheers you at all, please know that not the whole nation is descending into the pit. Here in our medium-sized town, lots of substantial construction is going on. The local college is building a large, new building. A local veterinary added on a huge,lovely wing. And one local businessman is building an impressive restaurant and pharmacy (so rumor has it - I know there are too lovely buildings with very nice stone-work). These folks all found credit to build. One housing development in town can't keep the houses very long; they're selling too fast. Granted, many people who speculated (the operative word here) on land or housing starts are not seeing a return on their speculation. That's the reason it's called speculation.

But the liberals aren't the only gloom-and-doomers. A lot of conservatives I know are sure that life as we know it is over (for at least 4 years), because Obama is soon to be in the White House. One erroneous email forward claimed that a famous Christian speaker predicted America would soon enter into a physical famine, because of our sin. I have friends and colleagues who send emails saying that our lives are going to become very difficult, we will lose freedoms, the America we know and love is doomed. Many conservatives feel this way. Prepare for persecution.

I'm not happy that Obama is the president-elect. But I don't think it will destroy our nation. Unfortunately, I think Americans themselves are accomplishing that without any help, but it is a slow death, and although the next 4 years may not help to slow our decline, we can hardly blame one man for a nation's ills. If Bill Clinton didn't kill us in 8 years, I don't think Obama can do it in 4.

On a side note, we were listening to NPR yesterday morning. The commentators were bemoaning the sorry state of the economy that Obama will be inheriting - as if everyone didn't know this 3 weeks ago. They began to question how much he will really be able to accomplish, with such a huge economic challenge facing him. Then one man said this, "How important do you think it really is, that Obama actually keep the promises that he made in the campaign?"

How important?

3 weeks ago, if anyone had actually questioned (let alone someone on NPR!) that Obama could do anything short of save the planet, he would have been ostracized. Now it is simply assumed that those promises were empty words, not likely to be kept. What about the weeping women after his speeches? What about the staunch supporters that said he was a new type of leader, one who could hurdle trade deficits in a single bound?

I do think he will face huge challenges, which he will not likely be equal to because of his well-known lack of experience. And those economic challenges we cannot blame Bush for, or the Democratic House/Senate for. When Americans progressively learned that they could vote people into office who would open the public coffers and spill out all those tax dollars, the beginning of the end occurred. How far along we are toward that end, only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A boy's best friend

Isn't she sweet? Peter loves his dog. She's 9 years old now, and getting to be a rather old dog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Monday evening

I will be grading papers. Here they are.

However, I wish I were doing these things: reading Victoria, eating the chocolates Adam bought me, and perhaps spending an hour reading more in King Lear. I wish.

The fireplace is lovely. Julia lies on the floor, writing. Peter reads on the couch. The fire crackles.

Our house smells vaguely of mulled cider, thanks to this candle from Walmart. I have one in my classroom, and the students breathe deeply when they come in.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Attacking Julia's room

I've done about 6 loads of laundry (I've lost count) and I have 2 to go.

I've sorted, washed, and resorted so many clothes, and given about 4 trash bags full to Salvation Army.

So Many Clothes.

Poor little girl, no wonder she couldn't manage her room. The clothes had taken over, and she was only sleeping there.

We are hoping she will now be able to manage. I've removed all out-of-season clothing, and she's left with a few manageable items in each drawer.

Of course, we weren't done until we'd looked through all Anna's old clothes that Julia has grown into (and a few, of course, that she missed altogether, because who liked to dig into the old-clothes-bag? I mean, really?)

On top of that, Adam spent several hours today doing plumbing which is the thing he detests the most. I'm sure he'd rather be ill than do plumbing.

But we will still have pizza (YAY!!!!) Consolation.

Friday, November 7, 2008

To use an old family expression,

We are "worn to a frazzle" this week. I've been tired for about 2 or 3 days now. I think I haven't yet recovered from the time change last weekend. If I can't handle GAINING an hour (which throws me off just as nicely as the other), how will I live through the jet lag of traveling to England in January? I'm not looking forward to that.

I took in 20 rough drafts for research papers on Thurs/Fri. And 23 American lit. tests. Crunch time in that class, since I only have them for a semester, and we have a lot of material to squeeze in by December.

Julia's room will experience a major overhaul tomorrow. She has evolved from merely having a carpet of clothing on her floor, to also having mountains of clothing and blankets, toys, etc. Tomorrow, I remove all clothing from her room, and allow her to pick out only a certain number of shirts, pants, dresses, etc. The rest will go to Sally's. Her disorganization is killing me. And she is that way in school also. Constantly losing assignments, not turning them in, losing recess privileges. Heavy Mama Sigh.

On the plate this evening: Clementine chicken, rice, salad and homemade rolls. Then Adam and I will drag ourselves to WalMart for the weekly grocery shopping, so that we don't have to do it tomorrow.

And hopefully this time tomorrow, we will be a little recovered.

Sunday? Adam preaches, then drives a van-load to a small ARP church in a nearby town, and returns in time for our evening service, and then drives Philip to Hickory for trumpet rehearsal. After that Sunday, he may be thankful to go back to work!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some of his mysteries

As you know, lately we've been watching our pastor's wife deal with cancer. She's been dealing with it for ten years.

Now, I know that human sickness is a result of the fall, as all evil things are on this planet. So, Bev has a physical manifestation of sin, growing in her body. That is a sobering thing in itself. Bev is also a Christian. That means that the Holy Spirit resides in her - that her body is also a temple for God. I became amazed a while back at the seeming impossibility that God, who cannot tolerate sin, would be willing to reside in our bodies, riddled with sin as they are. How can that be? Can a holy God just shrug and say, "Well, whatever . . . I'll hold my nose and bear it." I don't think so. What would induce Him to live in such a spiritual pig sty? Well, love, yes. He does love us. But beyond that, what would make Him able to justify to Himself the soiling of His holiness by such residing? I think God must have a goal in it - a way of redeeming and compensating for such an offense to His spirit. I look at Bev's body and wonder, "What is God's Spirit doing in that body, with cancer eating away at it?" He can cure the illness, of course. He can also remove the Christian's soul from such a polluted place.

It reminds me of the patience of God in the Old Testament, how He seemingly overlooked the sins of so many, how He also took into heaven some who had sinned. This seemed wrong on His part - how could a holy God overlook their sin? He seemed to have soiled himself with it. But he was vindicated on the cross, when He showed that it was His plan all along to pay for those sins. His holiness was maintained.

And it is his plan in Bev, to show all the universe why He can unite His Spirit with her corruption, why He could unite His Son with a body of corruption in the incarnation -- He has a redeeming plan, even for our bodies.

The fall was a devastating hammer blow to humanity. I often contemplate how God teaches us spiritual truths by giving us physical realities as analogies. The corruption of the body is one -- the human body is attacked from violence without, and from disease within. Isn't it so with our souls as well? Temptations assail us from the outside, hit us broadside. But more insidious and slow are the sins from within, like a cancer eating quietly at the soul. How thankful I am that a healing physician can cut to my heart and heal. How can we think we can conquer sin on our own? That is as ludicrous as Bev determining she will perform surgery tomorrow and remove her cancer.

Okay, now I've cleaned my brain out of those thoughts.

Picking up the pieces

This morning in my first block class, I had to reassure a student that it will not likely be more dangerous for her to travel overseas in January, since Obama has been elected president. She is afraid that terrorist attacks may increase. Although I couldn't tell her that that won't happen, I did say that it's unlikely they will use that tactic again. Airline travel is generally safe. And although Bush has been quite vigilant to defend the nation against terror attacks, and Obama seems less concerned with this risk, I'm hopeful that no great shift in our immediate safety will occur.

But my students were concerned this morning.

So I reminded them that God is in control just as much today as He was yesterday. And since He is fundamentally a REDEEMING God, He can take any bad situation, or any bad person, and use them for His own ends. Thus, although it is our duty to vote for the candidate we feel is best for the nation, in the long run God can just as readily use one president as another to accomplish His desires for this country. Having Obama in the White House is no obstacle to God.

Will I pray for Obama? Yes. I'll pray that he is heavily convicted for his sin of supporting the murder of babies, and encouraging their mothers to be their murderers. I'll pray that any initiatives he wishes to enact that would harm our country, will fail. I'll pray that the faith he claims to hold will become powerful in his heart, and convince him to rule in a way that is honoring to God. I'll pray that the racism he's sometimes expressed against white people will not be evident in him, while he's in office. And if he continues in his bad policies, I'll pray very sincerely that he is not elected again.

God can use any president for His ends, but the process can be more painful, or less, for the country, depending on who is in the Oval Office. If God uses a wicked man to oppress and convict the nation, we will all feel the pain of that conviction. It's very possible this is what God has in store for us.

And is that grace? Yes.

My children aren't perfect, but...

every now and then they are really sweet. Especially these two -- here's Philip teaching Julia how to play "Heart and Soul" on the piano. He has to get in those big-brother moments before he heads off to college (boo-hoo!). They have a lot of fun together.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Political thoughts

It's 9:51 on election night. I'm not going to stay and watch the bitter end - I'm rather certain that Obama will win the presidency. I feel rather similar to how I felt when Clinton won the first time. Sad - sad for the country.

I would love for a good, qualified black candidate to be in the White House. I think many white Americans feel the same way - especially Americans in my generation. I call this the "feel good factor." It would make me feel REALLY good to vote for a black candidate; Adam said he felt that way when he (was REALLY young and) voted for Jesse Jackson. He didn't think much of ideology, but the race issue, and the guilty-white-person issue were so strong, that he soothed his soul and his conscience by voting for a black man.

But I won't vote for a man because of the color of his skin; if the whole civil rights movement taught me anything it was that - don't judge a man by his skin. I look at Obama and I see a liberal, a very thorough liberal. A man who aggressively supports abortion. A man with an agenda to move our country toward socialism in its health care system, in its international policies, in its taxation practices. I look at Obama and I see a man with little political experience. Even though he will likely be surrounded by a Democratic house for a couple of years, he will face huge challenges. He will not be able to keep his promises, anymore than other presidents have. His promises of change will largely go unfulfilled.

I look at Obama and I see a man whom crowds support because they desperately want someone to believe in. He has become that man. I'm afraid it is a false hope - a bubble waiting to burst. Americans can be temporary romantics, but after the honeymoon period, they will want practical change. The presidency simply isn't designed to produce that kind of thing. I heard one deranged woman interviewed on TV right after an Obama speech. She actually said that she would not have to worry about her mortgage any more, or about filling her gas tank. Obama would take care of it all for her.

I am not a McCain fan either. This was an election in which neither candidate appealed to me. If anyone had told conservatives 2 years ago that John McCain would be their BIG HOPE, they would have groaned. The man is a centrist. And the Republican party has not done well lately. Bush had 8 years of uphill challenges and many failures: some self-imposed, some not.

But the Republican party could hardly have done a worse job. If they had designed a situation in which to hand the presidency to a Democrat on a silver platter, they could not have done it better. An unpopular war. Huge expenses. Poor communication with the country (as usual). An unpopular incumbent. A dead-pan GOP candidate who has never appealed to their base. And then a financial meltdown at absolutely the worst possible moment.

So, when Obama wins in a landslide, it would be well for both sides to remember that he didn't have much of a challenge to overcome. The Republican opponent was a house that had already fallen from within. And if Obama's candidacy seems like a golden, surreal experience, remember that every light looks bright in such a dark place.

Bed time. It may be a long 4 years, but Rush Limbaugh will be busy again. And I imagine (although I may be wrong) that Republicans will make a comeback in a couple of years in the House/Senate. This nation does not like to give free-rein to any party for very long. It's dangerous.

An autumn beauty pageant for you:

Monday, November 3, 2008


Finishing Chaucer's Canterbury Prologue with my seniors. Examining Chaucer's attitude toward the church.
Doing more vocabulary and reading comp work with my juniors. This is a weakness for students today. And they think the reason they need to improve is so that they will test better on SATs, etc. Oh dear! What is the world coming to? I reminded them that tests are merely assessment tools for their superiors to use. The reason they should improve in these areas is so that they will be better readers and writers.
Met with colleagues and a struggling student to reassure him that we are working with him.
Stopped by Salvation Army on the way home. A thin, old wool blanket I bought on Saturday had a matching one that I did not buy. I liked the first blanket so much over the weekend that I returned to buy its mate. The old wool blankets are so superior to modern synthetics.
Now we sit in the living room, a chill in the air, a fire in the fireplace. I need to grade essays. I need to read a unit introduction about Realism and Naturalism. I need to revise a test for this week.
I need to watch the fire.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Real Life, Real Grace

That was the title of Adam's sermon this morning. Now, if you don't want to hear about sermons, this would be the time to click a button somewhere on your computer :)

When Adam speaks about grace, he speaks from his heart. There's an erroneous notion out there, that defines grace as the absence of discipline, the absence of punishment, the absence of consequences. We see this at school, often. A students breaks an important rule. Some assert that he needs to feel the consequences of that act. Others are shocked; "We must give him grace," they argue. They cannot conceive of GRACE as anything other than a hug, and "let's just forget all about it."

Adam talked about Peter. Peter, whom Jesus told that he was about to hand over to Satan, so that Satan could "sift him like wheat" -- i.e. put him through the temptation ringer and see what his faith was made of. A similar sifting happened to Job. Jesus doesn't tell Peter, "But I won't let Satan do that to you!" No, Jesus tells Peter that he will go through it. And the only help he offers Peter? To pray for him. (That, BTW, is pretty good help, from Jesus.) He also tells Peter that he will repent of his failure, and that when he does, the purpose of the whole situation will be evident: Peter will be in a position to edify his Christian brothers.

Is this grace, from Jesus? You bet.

Peter's failure is painful to see. He denies Christ 3 times, and the 3rd time, Jesus's and Peter's eyes meet as Peter is doing it. He agonizes over his failure of faith. He is humiliated, especially after his arrogant assertions of faithfulness to his Lord. Forgive and forget? Is that grace? God does forgive. But forget? Peter's failure is recorded in Scripture for all to read...for 2000 years (and counting).

Is that grace? Yes.

Later, Jesus approaches Peter, after this horrible event. Does he put his arm around him and say, "Hey guy. No big deal. Let's just forget about the whole thing." Hardly. Jesus asks that biting, digging question: "Do you love me." After denying me, do you love me? After deserting me, do you love me? Jesus almost seems to rub Peter's nose in it, but all for Peter's good. He asks his question 3 times, one for each denial. What a painful reminder! Scripture even notes that Peter winced as Jesus asked it the third time.

Was that grace? Indeed, it was exactly grace.

This is the grace we get in real life. Pain, loss, failure, agony, fear. Sometimes it is our own sin; sometimes trial comes unbidden. We need real grace, tough grace, for real, tough life. Jesus's grace to Peter was grace that made a man of him, enabled him to live a stronger life after Jesus's departure. Jesus's grace did not leave Peter, content in his sin. It demanded he renounce his sin, and use his sin -- and Jesus's grace -- to edify others.

Our painful trials are only of value if they can be redeemed. Only God can redeem; that's his job. He is into metamorphosis. Our failures can be resurrected from the stink of death and used to encourage others, who later go through trials of their own.

When Adam stands and preaches these things, he's speaking from his own experience, and people listening know it. That's power - that's grace. I don't think Adam would trade any trial he's experienced, if it meant losing that grace. That kind of grace is God's insignia, his handprint of ownership, on one's person. It is a most precious possession.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Hair Generation --

Has lost one of its most beautiful members.



That's not all he did...

He also mulched up the leaves in the front yard and put them into our beds (flower beds, that is). Needless to say, he's little stiff in the joints after all that!

We have no striking fall color in our yard, but our dogwood trees are a lovely purple rust.

Mulched beds. He's all excited about mulch.

Peter and Julia played a little soccer.

The oven door

Hmm. Okay, so for some reason, my pictures are being uploaded here in backwards order. I'll just have to put my thoughts in reverse:
Here is the lovely wood we'll be burning tonight in our firepit. It came from the HUGE, WHOPPING BIG log that Adam has had sitting in the yard for weeks, intending to cut it into his oven door.

And here is the oven door, so far. He split the huge log, got his sections generally square, and planed the door a bit. He's attached it to the oven with these big hinges. Later, he will curve the top of the door, and plane it some more, so it will be more flush. Don't want any of that precious heat to escape!

After the wood splitting.

He was able to get 2 doors out of the log, actually. This is the "spare." He'll keep it until the first one bites the dust. Good, old oak. Each of these door sections weighs about 35-40 lbs., he says.