Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Blog Recap Carnival

Some bloggy friends are doing a walk-through for 2012, recalling the high points of the year. (Click on the cute button at the bottom of this post, to find the others.) I thought I'd participate, since it's been a banner year for the Christiansen family. First, I want to remember a family member who's no longer with us:  Tasha, my mother's Corgi.
When 2012 started, we were living with my parents in their lovely home outside Brevard, NC. They are such dears! And good-lookin', I'll add.
During 2012, the Willows Trio continued their around-the-world trip. Thank you, Pom! The Willows are finishing their journeys abroad in New Zealand, and will soon be back home again in Colorado.
Early 2012 saw Adam and me visiting a small coastal village in NC. He'd preached here a couple of times and continued to do so. We were smitten with the beauty of this place, but could not imagine we'd ever be blessed enough to live there.
We had only two kids at home.
Anna came home from college fairly often. I enjoyed seeing her mature so nicely at school.
As Adam and I visited Oriental, the church seemed to like us, and then they told us they were considering Adam as a pastoral candidate.
Adam continued to tend his bees.
I continued crocheting.
In the spring, Adam, Julia and I visited Chattanooga to see Philip and hear him sing in a few concerts.
In May Peter finished high school, looking classy as ever.
The dear church in Oriental decided they wanted us! We were thrilled! But it meant saying good-bye to this precious group of knitting ladies.
We also said good-bye to the mesmerizing mountains.
We moved to the coast, and soon Adam was being installed as a pastor, ordained at last!
They have continued to welcome us beautifully.
Philip and Anna came to see where we'd landed. Philip stayed for the summer, but Anna had to go back to work.
We experienced the ferry and the beach. What wonders!
I decided to try out the farmer's market. What could it hurt? I liked it very much. I started with one basket of soap and a few washcloths.
We dashed back for Peter's graduation.
We were happy to get back to the most beautiful undiscovered spot on God's earth. Well, we think so.
And I found a new group of knitting ladies! Isn't God good?
I helped Peter pick a college. Yes, that makes three college kids.
I watched my little girl become a young lady.
Adam and I are happy, very happy. He has a job he loves, and I have a husband who's happy. That's a recipe for a good life.
Philip worked for the summer and went back to school.
Anna went back to school in August too.
Peter hugged his dear grandma and went off to college too. When I got back home after delivering three kids to three colleges, I said I would not leave again anytime soon. And I haven't.
Adam discovered that yes, he does love sailing.
Among other fun activities, Julia took some very beneficial art classes.
I could write about dragon boat races and watermelon-eating parties and parades and Croakerfest and regattas and so many thrilling local events. In the quiet of my mind though, I often considered my children. Especially the boy who'd just left, and what a precious blond-haired munchin he used to be. I missed him.
Peter eats a pan of fresh strawberries on our steps at Cono in Iowa.
And my youngest. It seemed just yesterday that I was wrapping a green towel around her shoulders and cutting her long, wavy hair for the first time. My life changed a lot this past year, my roles and habits. My children are growing up and leaving, and although my job with them is shifting quickly, I also have the joy of seeing the fruits of my years of labor.
What should I do with myself? Teach again? No ... instead I opted to crochet, make soap, lip balm, and hand lotion, and hawk my wares to the public. And I thoroughly enjoy it!
All through the summer and fall and now the winter, the precious little church has continued to be a joy to us, a comfort, and a great fellowship. If you're lonely, find a loving church. If you're still lonely, you need God too (of course) and be sure your church helps you meet Him.
So, God gave us a beautiful place to live, and new friends, and a wonderful job and hobbies too. Then, as if that weren't enough, he added a free boat.
And He brought all those children (plus one!) home for Christmas, safely.  I'm very blessed!
He has blessed us with a sea of diamonds when we did not deserve any of it. We are very, very thankful.
Good-bye, 2012! You've been an amazing year.
2012 Recap Carnival with Musings of a Housewife

Good Friends

I've waited to write this post. But I have a new happiness in my life, and I'd like to share it with you. It's a new bloggy happiness. You know I've moved to a new place this year, and it's been a place to make new friends. Sometimes it's hard work, having only new friends, and having all your old friends far away. Friends are important.

In the past few years, I've read other people's blogs, and after a long while of doing that, you tend to gravitate to a few blogs (or a few dozen!) and you almost feel you get to know those bloggers. I found that other ladies "of a certain age" (like me) were blogging too. Christian women. Readers. Thinkers. Lovers of beauty. Various kinds of artisans. We commented and used each others' bloggy nick-names. I found myself visiting their blog homes in the far west or even overseas, and slowly ... very slowly ... getting to be friends.

And then one of these ladies asked if we should start a group.
This is not us.
And we did. A small group. We decided to keep it small, only six of us, a manageable number. It could easily have been ten or twelve, with all the wonderful blog ladies out there. Perhaps God knew we needed the friendship we've found. But I must tell you this:  it's been a blessing and a comfort, and these ladies are such a treasure to me. We've shared our lives, our dreams, our families, our disappointments, our goals, and our accomplishments. We don't criticize or fuss or compete. I think we all instinctively understood that this small, warm circle of friendship was no place for those things.

Real, precious, warm friendship can be found online. We have not met each other, and we may never. But I know -- I know -- that if we did, we'd have lovely conversations and laughter and share food and secrets and a fireside. We tend to love the same things, our Lord most of all.

If the online world feels to you like an impersonal, callous, argumentative place, I just want to say that it doesn't have to be. There are so many lovely people out there. Find them. Introduce yourself. And if you both feel comfortable, make a real friendship with last names and addresses and Christmas cards and maybe even, someday, a visit. It's really no scarier than the stranger living down the street.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mormon Questions

In a conversation with Adam recently, he noted that the difference between a religion and a cult is (among others) that a religion will tell you honestly what their most bizarre beliefs are. A cult will not. Religions like to take their craziness and put it on the front porch, as it were  -- make a holiday of it. Cults conceal their craziness and lure folks in with deception.

And I found this interesting.

We were talking about this because Adam recently had a lengthy conversation with some Mormons, two young, trained missionaries and two retirees who'd been in the church a long time. Adam listened patiently to their spiel without interrupting, and then had a few simple questions for them.

I wonder if Mormons try to anticipate which questions will get thrown at them. Will they ask about the holy underwear?  Or Will they ask about polygamy? Or Will they ask why we believe the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri?  Yeah, Mormonism has some big craziness. Only ... they never talk about that stuff.  Like, um, that Joseph Smith was 14 when he first started having his revelations from his god.

We can have a one upmanship contest with the Mormons all day long about beliefs. You want to know what sounds really crazy? That a being who is a spirit, and is the Divine Creator of the universe, would decide to be a baby, born in a filthy sheep pen to a poor, underaged mother. I'm sure that plan of eternal salvation wasn't on Satan's radar screen!  But really, have you ever hear anything more ridiculous? Well yes, in fact, there is one more ridiculous notion:  that a man would be murdered, and himself predict that he would come back to life, zombie-fashion, three days later, and that millions of people actually believe sincerely that this did happen, and will stake their lives on it. Over and over. Martyr-like.

We Christians aren't ashamed of our crazy beliefs. Instead, we make our two greatest celebratory holy days about them -- Christmas and Easter! I'm speaking here of orthodox Christians, not of those who've jettisoned the church's traditional theology. Do I believe God created the world in 7 days? Yes! Do I believe He flooded the whole earth? Yes! Do I believe in miracles? Yes! Do we hide these beliefs? No, we plaster them in stained glass all over the massive walls of our massive churches!

Adam could have smacked those Mormons with their own silly craziness, but he didn't. He's so gentle. Instead, he asked them two very ordinary questions: 1) Do you believe that God the Father was ever a man like we are? And 2) Do you believe that Jesus is eternal, or do you believe that he had a celestial father and a celestial mother, who conceived him as a baby in some sort of celestial relationship, i.e., that he didn't exist, and then after that, he did exist?

To the second question, the young missionaries hemmed and hawed, not wanting to address it, but the older couple (who didn't know to conceal their craziness) exclaimed, "Yes! He had a celestial mother!" (By this, they do not mean Mary, who was his earthly mother.) The elderly couple were excited to proclaim their beliefs to a stranger. The two missionaries, on the other hand, had been trained to conceal and soft-pedal such things.

The first question, even the missionaries could not evade, it was so simple and straight-forward. Yes, they believed that God the Father was once a plain old man, just like us. Period.

What was Adam's point? To note that if you become a Mormon, they will love you and affirm you and draw you into their very caring community. They will provide for you and make you feel wonderful. And you'll worship with them. But you should know up front (because they really, really won't tell you this!) that you're not worshiping God when you worship with them. You're worshiping a creation of the Mormon church who does not bear any resemblance to the God of the Bible, of the Christian church. They've attached the same names, and they use the same words, but you have to dig a little, and force them to answer, not the crazy questions, but the hard questions. They won't want to. They'd rather you ask about the holy underwear.

And, for your enjoyment, here's Bill Maher interviewing an ex-Mormon. Ignore Maher's usual annoying traits, and listen to the content:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rowing 'Round

Today was chilly but clear, and a good day for Julia to continue practicing her rowing in the creeks. So we loaded the Minuet in the van and went over. The marina is such a peaceful, lovely spot on God's earth. There was a bit of wind tide (translate: the water was blowing strongly in one direction consistently b/c of wind, not because of tidal movement), and Julia did a good job of mastering her boat.
She toodled in the marina for a bit, getting the feel of the newly positioned oarlocks. Then she went up one small creek, and then around the point into a large creek. She was so excited, she didn't get tired.
Sandy went along too, and I got a very cute picture of her. She had to go to the end of each and every pier, watching Julia row by.
While Julia played, I sat in the Nocturne with a blanket on my legs, imagining what it will be like to sit (on a warmer day) in the little boat, on the river, while Adam sails us along. I can't wait for warmer days! C'mon, March!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26

The candles of Christmas are burnt out.

"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

Old Books, New Books

Is there anything friendlier than a stack of books to read?

These are my Christmas books. Well, some came on Christmas and some came a bit before, but when you're my age, who's noting such things?
I'm reading The Hobbit now, as you know. This is a copy found in a thrift store because all our family copies had disappeared. More accurately, they had gone off to college with various children, I think. We used to have four. I'm keeping my hands on this one!
French Dirt by Richard Goodman, from Buckhorn Used Books. A decent book, but not nearly so good as other South-of-France-Living-in-Italy type books I've read. I'll finish it, but may not keep it.
A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L'Engle, bought new from Amazon, recommended by some blogging lady friends. (I may hereafter call such people BLFs, for short.) I glanced at the first page or two. I like L'Engle's voice. Her theological/philosophical views are sometimes pretty wacky. This appears to be more of a family memoir, which I hope I'll enjoy.
From the Journals of M.F.K. Fisher -- also from Buckhorn. I love Fisher's voice. I have so much of her work already that I'm nearly certain all the contents of this book are already on my shelves, and I've read them sometime before. Sigh -- I could not resist. This is a tome of vignettes and stories, and she is so very good at this. I'm hoping this gets me back into her writings again.
West With the Night by Beryl Markham, from Buckhorn as well. I happened upon this book and was intrigued by Hemingway's assessment of it, on the back cover. He says, "She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words .... but she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers." Well! Who could resist a book so praised? (BTW, it's about a woman pilot in Africa in the early 20th century.)
Gift from the Sea by Anne M. Lindbergh, also from Buckhorn. I admit it. I bought this lovely little book simply because I didn't want to be without it. I already have a nicer copy. I don't need it. I don't know anyone who does need it, although I imagine I'll give it to a friend or family member when I remember to. It cost a dollar. Some people rescue dogs and cats. I rescue books. What can I say?
Clementine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain. I blush to admit I already owned this book also. But this is an older hardcover copy, from 1963, instead of my paperback Barnes and Noble copy. It looked sad there in Buckhorn, among hundreds of other cookbooks who were unaware they were in the presence of royalty. My paper copy will sit with my cookbooks, and this one will live in my bedroom shelves. One day, I'll give one of them to Anna.
And so I confess that of my Christmas books, only three have I not read before, and only two authors are new to me. Old stick-in-the-mud, that's me!  And only The Hobbit is fiction ... that is, if we concede that Middle Earth does not exist, which I'm not sure some of us will concede. I'm off to read!

Hobbit Notes #4

This is the last of the Hobbit Notes for PJ's first movie. I finished reading chapter 6, "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire." Generally speaking, PJ stayed rather close to the story line, except for the following:
1. Again, there are No Orcs. And the goblins that are present, do not ride on the backs of Wargs. Azog the Goblin (whom PJ makes look like a Saruman White-Hand Orc) is, of course, not present either.  However, I was very wrong when I said that Wargs are not mentiond in The Hobbit.  They are. Wargs are just large mountain wolves. In the movies, however, PJ really makes them look very little like wolves --
-- and much more like hairy wild boar, or warthog. I mean really -- how does this look anything like a wolf?
Tolkien says that his wargs are wolves. "The evil wolves over the Edge of the Wild" are what he calls them. They should look just like wolves, and perhaps just behave in a more evil way than some.

2. Bilbo does not save Thorin's life, thereby enlisting his gratitude and friendship. In fact, three times in this chapter Bilbo is tail-end Charlies, so to say, and only barely makes it with the group as they escape danger. He appears suddenly among the group when they escape the goblin gate (as PJ shows), he only barely makes it into a tree before the snapping wolves arrive, and he's rescued by the eagles only because he grabs onto a dwarf's legs. He is no hero in this section of the story; he's hungry as only a hobbit can be, after not eating for a couple of days.

3. Gandalf and his magical moth -- this is pure fabrication on PJ's part. Gandalf does not send for help, and the eagles only show up because they see the fire (which Gandalf does set), and they wonder what's going on with those wolves. The goblins come along almost as an afterthought and set up the dwarves' trees as a kind of bonfire. Tolkien even says Gandalf is about to hurl himself down upon the goblins and wolves in a fiery attack which would (Tolkien says) certainly take his life. In the book, Gandalf is not nearly so all-powerful and god-like as PJ makes him out to be.

4. The pine trees do not fall off the cliff. Thorin does not hug Bilbo. They're all taken back to the eagles' eyrie where they cook themselves supper and sleep soundly. And from this perch they do not see the Lonely Mountain.

I found this chapter to be plenty scary enough in the book, as it is, and I wonder why PJ decided to take such grand departures. His departures seem designed to reconfigure the characters -- to make Gandalf more powerful, or Bilbo more heroic, or Thorin more angry. These adjustments taken together can change the story line considerable, and change the relationships in it. Again, just remember always -- the very best Hobbit we'll ever have is between the covers of Tolkien's book.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Boat Work

Adam is still working on The Minuet. She's launching tomorrow, Lord willing. Today he epoxied on the rub rails, which strengthen and protect the boat's edges. Another thin board is attached to the edge with clamps and epoxied until it's ... permanent.

A friend has loaned us his oars to use with the boat.
Another boat project he's working on today is his new sculling oar for The Nocturne. He dislikes using the motor, and wants a large oar to use off the back end of the boat, to get in and out of the slip easily.
He bought 6 boards, each one is 1x3. He epoxied 3 of them together, sanded them down and then reduced each to an octagon on the edges. Honestly, I'm not sure how all this will turn into a sculling oar, and I'm eager to find out!
He did some of the work using our two trash dumpsters as his "table." I do think this will be an improvement to the noisy, stinky motor.
UPDATE: The launch of "The Minuet":
Adam designed the boat (well, he chose the plans) so that it would fit in the back of our mini-van.
 Here's the marina where the launch occurred. Now, the boat has been launched, but that doesn't mean Adam's done with it. He'll still paint it, mount oarlocks on it permanently, and put on a mast and sail.
 Adam and Philip carried the boat to the water.
 She floats well.
 It took Julia a while to get used to the feel of it. She's done a little canoeing, but no rowboat work.
 She had fun. This was just a test run to make sure it's seaworthy.
 She rowed down to the end of the canal and back.