Thursday, June 30, 2016

Heritage and Hope

Our new house in the country has precipitated an overhaul of my habits. I've always enjoyed staying in bed for as long as possible in the morning. Since we've moved I've woken up at 5:30 am almost every morning. Did everyone catch that (all 5 of my relations who read this)....5:30 AM...It's like this, the morning sun rises red and the gleam of it crimsons the walls of my bedroom. I try to will myself back to sleep, but I know, that outside there's a gauzy mist over the marsh. I know that all the birds are going crazy for sheer joy. I know that bunnies are hopping around on the lawn. I know that a fawn may creep up to nibble on my bushes and if I'm in bed...I'll miss it all!


So up I get. I spend a half hour reading the Bible in front of the windows. I marvel at the light, the leaves, the song of the morning while I pursue truth. Then I go out into it. Just for a short walk before another day needs to be opened.


Recently, while reading in the Old Testament I came upon a list of leaders. They were the division leaders of the army, there were 12 of them, one division for each month of the year.

"The third army commander, for third month, was Benaiah son of Johoiada the priest. He was chief and there were 24,000 men in his division. This was the Benaiah who was a mighty man among the Thirty and was over the Thirty. His son Ammizabad was in charge of his division." (I Chron. 27:5-6)

I noticed as I read the list of commanders that I recognized names. These, like Benaiah, were men I've read about before, men that stood out for their bravery and courage. And now their sons were being identified by the names of their brave fathers. This short passage showed the grandfather who was a priest, the father a mighty man, and the son in charge of his division.
Uncle Jon and Aunt Sandy, who serve God and our Country faithfully with joy and wisdom
Last week was VBC at our church. Avonlea and Grant worked with me in first grade. Rowan attended the camp and Rose stayed home with Ma Glo to save herself for her ballet recital. I was standing in the foyer with Rowan after VBC one day when a woman walked up to me and said, "Your son is so sweet and polite. I had to look at his name tag to find out who he belonged to. I saw it and said, "Oh your a K---!" She said our last name, said it like it fit in a sentence with the words "sweet and polite". She recognized Rowan by his heritage, his family name. Something stirred within me as we walked away.
Uncle Mike....a man of courage and faith.
We bought Avonlea a concert harp several weeks ago. Her teacher tried to explain to me what to look for in a harp. She said, "You don't want it to be too old since the nature of harps are to self destruct. The pegs pull the strings taut one way and the wood pulls them another way. At some point it falls apart and you use the pieces to make a lamp or something."

Sometimes I think this is the nature of family as well. The world pulls hard against our children. Their own inclinations, peer pressure, and a constant stream of other people's thoughts, ideas, and morals join in. And as a mother, a father, we pull the other way. We teach them to follow Jesus, to love selflessly, to give generously. In this tension, they play their song and live their life.

The "sweet and polite" ness that Rowan possesses is a taut string that sometimes breaks under the pressure. But as parents, we don't let up, because we know for certain the world never will. So we train and we pray and we teach again, and again, and again, because we can see the grandfather a priest, the father a mighty man, and the son in charge of his division. We know these things are passed down and passed along and built up through the ages.



"... it was homemaking that mattered. Every home was a brick in the great wall of decent living that men erected over and over again as a bulwark against the perpetual flooding in of evil. But women made the bricks, and the durableness of each civilization depended upon their quality, and it was no good weakening oneself for the brick-making by thinking too much about the flood." (Elizabeth Goudge)


So I wake up early to rosy red light and I spend my time in the Word, because the older my children get, the clearer I see the battle that rages for their souls. I see the tension of the times in which they live pulling against the timeless truth that we have taught and I listen in awe to the music that the tension is creating. I try to express to them the heritage they have been given. Your grandfather is a man of courage, your father is a man of integrity....

...and you my child...you have a song that this world desperately needs to hear.

When I start to despair, when the actions of my children overwhelm me, I remember who else is pulling on our side.
The One whose hands caress the stings and ease the tension into beauty.
He is the reason the red sun rises and the reason the harp doesn't self destruct.

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:17)


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Welcome Home

We spent 3 grueling days moving all our belongings from one town to another.
Actually, we had movers, and I can only imagine how exhausted they must have been after our move because I was exhausted and I didn't actually lift anything.
When I told them Dave decided not to take the pool, one of the movers actually thanked Mary.

Avonlea played for the movers as they worked.
Mom showed the movers how to blow the Shofar. She told them scornfully, "THIS is what you are going to hear when Jesus comes back NOT trumpets."
I'm glad she set them straight on that point. Hopefully it made the back breaking 3 day move worth it to know what musical instrument to be listening for.

Day after day we unpacked. How in the world had we accumulated so much stuff! A third of it was re-gifted to the antique store or the thrift store. The other two thirds (which consisted heavily of books) was slowly distributed through our new home. I have a bathroom cupboard filled with books. However, there are still 9 boxes of them up in the hall that stick their tongues out at me when I go past.

I had noticed this house for sale in the fall. I noticed it particularly because it had a garage apartment and we needed a place for mom. I had told my realtor that we were interested in going to the open house on a blustery Saturday in December. Then we prayed. "God guide, please."

This is Ma Glo's house above the garage. She makes everything lovely.

When we walked into the house out of the storm, an agent we had never seen before, greeted us with these words, "Hello Dave and Annie. Welcome home."

We stood there dripping in the entryway with our mouths hanging open like fools. Apparently our realtor had told this agent that we might be coming by and they took a gamble and called us by name.

 The first room we walked into, when we recovered from our surprise, was the office. I looked around and then I looked at Dave and said, "This is the room I've always dreamed of." It was smallish but beautiful, with cherry bookcases and a built in desk. There was a fireplace surrounded by green marble. Cherry wood is my favorite type of wood and green marble my favorite stone.



After that initial viewing there were two months of praying and talking and debating before we made an offer. Over and over we prayed, "God we want what you want. If this is it, please show us." And He did. And we are still a little stunned. It's such a good gift and we are so undeserving. But He's a good Father and He knows that if His gifts were based on our merits we'd have nothing.



So all we can really do is say "thank you" in our words and actions and thoughts.
We can say thank you by standing in the entryway and opening the door, by calling people in out of the storm, by calling people by name. And mom can teach them how to blow the shofar.


Welcome Home!



Monday, March 28, 2016

Home

As my kids have grown older, my life has changed.
There are the usual changes: wrinkles, random gray hair, decreased metabolism.
And then there are other changes. A reaching for prose before poetry. Laughter that takes more work to come. Talks with teenagers that exceed my bedtime.

When we moved into this house almost 14 years ago, we said we would never move.
We loved it and it was home.
We walked to the park almost daily. We walked to story time at the library. We walked to swimming lessons at the pool. We held ballet lessons in the basement. Spanish classes as well. There were recitals under the trees and on the patio. Pony rides in the yard on birthdays. Blazing fires on winter nights with hot chocolate and books. Always a piano playing. Or a violin. Or both. Children playing dress up in the basement. Cookies in the oven. Kids sleeping in the tree house.

A never ending round of friends and family. Ma Glo walking up from next door. Natalie stopping by to pick up her milk and stay for tea. Julianna, Sarah, and I eating cherries on the porch. Tobi coming at the moment I happened to be delivering kittens. Dayna teaching me to can peaches in the kitchen. Jim and Nancy helping great grandma and grandpa up the steps to come in for dinner.

This house has been more than a house, it's been a home.


It will be hard to leave.

We have one more week in our home and then we move.

It is good. We are moving to a house that is close to everything I do with the kids. I will no longer have to spend half my life in my car. This is a huge blessing.

The house itself is lovely. Symmetrical. Solid. Well planned and lovingly maintained.

Ma Glo is moving with us. There is an apartment above the garage where she will perch. We couldn't do without her.

Ma Glo at her surprise birthday party that she almost slept through.

As my kids have grown older, my life has changed.
Some of these changes have caught me off guard.

But not one of them has caught God off His guard. He has led very obviously and we are so thankful for His clear direction.

So we are leaving our house, but we're taking our home with us.
Because our God, this family, these friends, they're coming, too.

And only God knows what other surprises are in store....

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Door and the Light

There is a door in the wall.

Last year when Dave and I went to Haiti to build a house, with a team from our church, we saw the door closed.
The community that was adjacent to that side, known as the Grand Ravine side of the seminary, was riddled with gang initiated violence. The shooting of a seminary watchman closed the door.
When Dave and I built last year, we built on the other side of the seminary. There have been over 30 houses built in that community. As the workers gave physical shelter the seminary students built relationships in the community. People have, and are, coming to Christ. Although the sights and smells were shocking to me last year, they were also alive with hope. People in the community smiled and sang with us, they nodded when we talked about Jesus. You could see God's Spirit at work.

This year we ventured back with our four children. We had heard that the gang leader from the Grand Ravine had approached our friend Mason, who is a missionary at the seminary, and asked him to begin building houses in the Grand Ravine. We rejoiced in this yet we were a little surprised when Mason told us we would be building on that side. Remember the four children part of this story?
We flew into Haiti on Monday and began work Tuesday morning. There were about 15 Haitians working on the house, plus Mason and our family. The first thing we did was make a human chain to transfer 100 concrete blocks onto the foundation to begin the walls. I passed a block to Rose and she promptly collapsed. The blocks were as heavy as she was and my only defense in handing her one was my optimistic nature. Rose was out. Then, I saw Dave pass a block to Avonlea. I saw all color drain from her face. Avonlea was out. We finished the block and the girls had better luck spreading mortar.

Rowan with some of his friends from the Grand Ravine

Dave and Grant holding the ladder

Rose washing her own clothes in the sink!



Jennica, our first friend in the Grand Ravine
After two hours Rose announced she was done. As I walked her back to Mason and Lauren's house to play with their kids, she asked, "Why are all these African Americans in Haiti?" Ummm. She wasn't quite ready for that history lesson.

The rest of the day was spent hauling block and concrete, playing with the kids, and building concrete frames.

At night we had dinner and hung out with Lauren and Mason. They were wonderful hosts.

The second day was more of the same. We built relationships with the children. I was amazed at the difference between the two sides of the seminary. The children in the Grand Ravine knew none of the hymns I tried to use to engage them. When I talked about God they shook their heads in confusion. The door into the Grand Ravine was open, but the darkness persisted.

Throughout the day I noticed a change. We taught the kids a Teen Mission song called Walking In the Light. We taught them This Little Light of Mine. We played and laughed and sang. The seminary students walked around and talked to people, sharing the gospel. I could see the Light starting to penetrate. As we left that day the children held our hands and accompanied us out of the door while we all sang Walking In the Light. Praise!

The house before the roof went on

playing with the kids

The Grand Ravine

Rosy's favorite friend Venessa

Thursday we went to Merger to see our sponsored children. Merger is a slum town where our church partnered with a national pastor to start a school. We played on the playground with the two little ones. Our older student, Ricardo, took us to his home. We had a translator and had a good conversation with him. Then we prayed over him. Rose first, then each of the children in succession of age, just like we pray at home. Dave and I prayed a benediction of Light over him. I was crying as we left. At lunch, we were told that one person in the Grand Ravine had responded and accepted the gospel while we were gone in Merger. Praise!

Merger kindergarten class

Rose was surrounded by cuteness

Ephraim

Schmide

Rose was a little overwhelmed by the love
 Thursday night at 2am (Friday morning) I woke to incredible pain in my stomach. It felt as though my insides had been put in a Vita-Mix. This frothy concoction was anxious to exit through any possible channel. I was sick. At 3am while still excreting, the generator quit and the lights went out. I was in totally darkness, directing my vomit toward what I believed to be the general direction of the toilet. The darkness, the pain, the smell (later I found there were dead mice decomposing under the sink) were other worldly.

Share.My.Pain.
Rowan was sick by 7:30 am. All of us took antibiotics. Rowan and I stayed in bed all day Friday. We missed the key ceremony and house dedication. We missed breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a last night of fellowship with Mason and Lauren. But by Saturday morning, we were able to board a plane and head for Florida.

The scenery in Florida is beautiful but it doesn't hold a candle to the beauty of Haiti. God's creation is lovely, but the people He created are loveliest of all.
Oh the beauty of them!


This trip was a great gift. I was able to hold and love beautiful children. I was able to watch my children interact with all types of people. I could see the fruit of unconditional love in them, an acceptance of others no matter how dirty or naked. I was given a period of sickness to taste, for a bit, the darkness and despair of those around me without Christ. I was given fellowship with my husband and our friends, Mason and Lauren. I was given a front row seat in watching God open the door.

Walking out together

The door.
The door in the wall is open and the Light is pouring in.

Praise!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Family Knots

Night time reading to my children is one of my favorite parts of momhood.

The kids cuddle round and I exert myself to read with expression and clarity. It's kind of like performing a play. And I get all the parts. Rose likes to brush and style my hair while I read. There is usually a boy laying across my lap whose back I get to scratch while performing my play, truly taking multi-tasking to a new level. I wrap up a chapter and there's a moment of stillness as we try to re-enter reality. Last night was a little different.

Rose decided to take the comb to the bottom of my long hair and roll it up all the way to my scalp. She then tried to pull it out. It didn't work.

The family gathered round. Consultations were held. Ideas were tried. Bits of plastic comb went flying through the air as they tried to cut it out. I was told I had two options:1. Wear the remainder of the plastic comb in my hair for the rest of my life or 2. Cut my hair off at the scalp above my ear.

I replied that I would not choose either option (although if pressed, I was leaning towards 1) and that they needed to get the comb out no matter how long it took, and I would read to them while they did it. Rose gave it a try and I proceeded with Little Women.

And something prodded my heart while I was reading. A nudge to remember this. Just this. A family reading together while trying to get out the tangles. A family that cuddles and shares and laughs at the same spots even though there are extenuating circumstances. A family that keeps doing what it knows no matter what.

We finished the chapter and Rose triumphantly showed me the freed hair, most of it laying on the couch, some of it still attached to my scalp. I said, "Yay! Good job Rose!" We buzzed into PJ/teeth-brushing mode, and I smiled. These are good days. We encounter glitches, snarls, mistakes, and we consult, with each other and God, and then we stay true to the path we know. We continue to move forward into what comes next. We may not come through any given situation unscathed, but I believe we will come through.

I believe in family.
I believe the bond created between these 6 people is strong.
I believe the foundation for our family is unshakable; Christ the Cornerstone.
I believe that unconditional love is molded right here in our home.
I believe that every hug, every smile, every washed dish, matters.

So tonight, I will hand Rose the comb with a grin just for her. She will style my hair while I read. There will be a boy stretched across my lap and an older daughter drawing. There will be dogs sprawled on the carpet when they're supposed to be in their beds. I will navigate the octaves trying to make the characters real.

Because we're family, and this is what we do.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Waiting in White

Christmas and New Years and a white world.


We wake up to the sifting of frozen precipitation on our cottage.
Wide eyes and wider smiles greet the morning and jammies are exchanged for snow pants with amazing rapidity.


There was sledding, cross country skiing, down-hill skiing, snow ball fights, and snow angels.


I watched the comings and goings of the kids and Dave and various friends.
I watched from the inside. Somehow, I didn't have the strength to battle elements.
I needed the beauty of a white world from the comfort of a warm cottage.


After a week of watching I finally ventured out into a 19 degree morning. I walked a circuit that normally takes me 20 minutes. It took much longer as I had to fight for my steps through the deep snow. My exposed face ached with cold. I was tired when I came in but not exhausted. My week of rest held me in good stead and gave me an understanding of the coming year.


Soak in the beautiful.
Don't rush out just because everyone else is.
Venture forth in the right time, rested and ready for the challenge.
Engage the path and learn from the experience.

Mostly, I learned again what the cottage teaches me in every season.

Listen.
Slow down.
Watch carefully.
Feel deeply.
Engage.
Give thanks.
Love beautifully.


"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
      They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
               I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
        it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

~Lamentations 3:22-26

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Love Story

Christmas always catches me not looking.
Like a baseball in the side of the head.
I'm absorbed in a million other thoughts and relationships and activities when suddenly I realize that one of these things is not like the other.
I sit in front of a huge sparkling tree. An attempt to decorate nature, which surely doesn't need my help. A frumped up version of God's simplistic beauty.
This is my incline.

I lean toward the covering. I am a daily Eve sewing the fig leaves together to hide the starkness of myself.

I learn again. And again. That God desires to do the covering that He tells us to "put on" love over every other virtue. He designs the clothes, He removes the self-made inadequate rags, He dresses us in love and a bevy of other good garments. This is grace. God's grace that I don't deserve. God's grace celebrated in the form of a naked baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, provided by His Father. .

When the boys hit me in the side of the head with a baseball I get mad.
When Christmas hits me I get very sad, because it tells me that I wasn't looking in the right direction.
As the boys say in self-defense, "If you would have been watching us, you would have seen it coming." And they're right, where are a mother's eyes supposed to be if not on her children.
Or her Father.

But I'm hopeful. Jesus came and He brought us hope. I hope that one of these years, Christmas will catch me looking in the right direction.

And yet...
Even in my immaturity and inattentiveness...
He loves me and shows me His love in tangible ways.
Through my loving, prayerful husband.


Through my laughing, whining children.



Through divine protection.



Through the love and support of friends, far and near.




Through the quiet hours with books that reflect Him.




Through the celebrations of life.



Through the ability to serve others and the joy of doing so.


Through the gift of laughter.

Avonlea's latest crochet project.


 
 

I asked Avonlea how she liked one of the fiction school books she had to read this semester.
She looked at me with a frown and replied, "It's alright but there's too much love in it. It's about Robin Hood's men and they should be thinking about other things."
I laughed and replied, "Did you know the Bible is a love story Avonlea?"
She rolled her eyes and got out of the car. She knows a baseball when she sees one. As she ran into piano lessons I rolled down my window and yelled, "This whole life! Everything! It's all a love story!"
And there can never be too much love in any story....Christmas proves that.



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