Strays for Thanksgiving

Friday, November 28, 2008

One of my favorite things to do is to pick up strays for Thanksgiving. Mom is always careful to clarify..." mean...well, umm. You mean people you know right?" Yeah. It's always people I know who for one reason or another don't have anything to do on Turkey day, but there have been years when I was tempted to just pick someone up off the street. Never truly brave enough, but tempted :-) I can't always find strays to bring home on Thanksgiving, but this was a truly blessed year and we had some FANTASTIC ones!

April and Matt were missionaries for a year in China and we love getting together with them over good food, or tea, or board games anyway. What better day for all of the above than Thanksgiving?

Then there's Miss Beth.
Could she be any cuter? Beth is a sign language interpreter at Juniper Elementary (a vocation that I find really fascinating for some reason) and also my dear "Michla's" new roomie! She had other invitations and chose lucky are we? She did end up on the losing Taboo team, however. I hope she won't hold that against us :-)
But we had one other stray this year, and I'm sorry to all my human friends, but this particular one...was my favorite.

This little love is my new friend "Fluffy". Yes. I know Fluffy is a ridiculous name for a dear, and I was actually teasing when I started calling her that. She just stood outside our back window all afternoon in her fuzzy winter coat. She would never run when we came out or made loud noises, but just stood there looking longingly in. So as I stood at the kitchen window doing dishes I started to talk to her, like I do the strange "bird" characters that Mom and Dad get at their place too. "Oh hi Fluffy. Fluffy! You're just standing there so lonely. I'm going to call you Fluffy. Fluffy you can be my pet...are you hungry for turkey Fluffy?" And that's when the idea struck me. I grew up out here and we've had deer in the yard all my life, but never once have I had the inclination (or opportunity) to try feeding one (on anything but the newly budded spring tulips). But this little sweetie was a stray on Thanksgiving day. I couldn't resist trying. Opened the door, tossed out a carrot. She took it gladly. Tossed out another, then one more on the deck this time. By the fourth carrot I was sitting on the deck reaching my hand to her. She had the tiniest little teeth and wouldn't just snatch the carrot. She would put her little nose in my hand and lick me a few times. She likes me. The boys got to feed her a couple carrots too, but she wasn't as crazy about them. You shouldn't feed wild deer. It makes life dangerous for them around hunting season. That's sad. But I have a feeling this one has been fed before. And still, she chose our house for Thanksgiving. We were very glad to have you, Fluffy!

I'm a blessed girl, i am!


Friday, November 21, 2008

If you send your boys out for Friday morning coffee and they arrive home with these... makes you think maybe you'll send your boys out form morning coffee again next week!

Something about Forgiveness

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I read something in Oswald this morning that sort of stuck with me. He was talking about how if we think God forgives us because He's just so good hearted and kind then we've sort of got it all wrong. The Bible doesn't support that idea, Oswald says. He says that the thing to keep in mind about forgiveness is that Christ sacrificed His life and God forgives us based on that alone...not because He's a cosmic "nice-guy". I don't deserve God's forgiveness, but if he doesn't offer it to me now, after all that was spent, it's His own Son's precious sacrifice that He's devaluing more so than even His "kind" Heavenly Father character. He will not devalue His Son's sacrifice, and so He forgives me over and over and over. Always will. Because Jesus paid. I think that's a really beautiful idea and I was glad to ponder it this morning.

And as usually happens when God's thoughts find my heart in the morning, I needed this idea by the end of the day. I have to forgive the ones who hurt me over and over and over again, daily in fact. And quite frankly, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of them. I'm sick of the pain. It's really hard to forgive someone who isn't sorry, who thinks they did nothing wrong and to keep forgiving over and over. It seems like I should be able to at least wait to do all this darn forgiveness work until they say they're sorry or at least until they stop hurting me. "But He demonstrated His own love for us in this...that while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us." Leave it to Jesus to set the bar high (grin). He paid the forgiveness bill before I was ever sorry for what I'd done. And I'm expected to at least try to be like Him, at least to try.

So there it is. I am called upon to forgive again. Somedays I'm all noble and lovely and I can say that I truly want to forgive them simply because that's the person I want to be and Christ will give me the strength. Today I can't say that. I don't want to forgive. I don't. I'm weary and I want my sorrows to vanish as if they never were at all. I feel like hating, or at least rolling my eyes in disdain. So I sit thinking I might do that for a little while (as if I'm contemplating indulging in just one more brownie) and then I remember about Oswald and how God quickened those ideas to my heart this morning. And I realize that if I decide not to forgive now, I'm not devaluing my own character or niceness as much as I'm devaluing the sacrifice of my dear Jesus. And gosh, I can't bring myself to do that, at least not on purpose. He paid so, so much to buy forgiveness, so that His Father could give it freely, so that He could give it freely, so that I could give it freely.

My Jesus, I forgive today because you do. And I'm grateful that you didn't consider it too much to pay even though I wasn't even sorry yet. I'll put your purchase to the best use I can. Today I'll forgive them because of who You are.

hope deferred

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Monday night I went to a small girls get-together at Tina's house. A decorator moved up from Texas with a house from the "Victorian" magazine. All pink toile and chandeliers. There were little cucumber sandwiches on silver platters and petite lemon bars covered in powdered sugar that made you cough when you accidentally took a breath while biting into one. A couple of sweet voiced guests including a 5 year old named Eleanor, and a beautiful ballet staged at the Paris Opera house playing on the little TV in the corner. That's how I know Tina. She is one of the lovelier ladies that I dance with on Thursdays. I've been dancing for a little over 3 years now and most faces come and go fairly quickly, (ballet is hard...) but Jen and Tina and I have been regular for some time ...and of course always there is the sweet encouraging face of DeeDee, our beloved teacher.

DeeDee went to Malta in October and none of us were quite sure where that was so we insisted when she got back that we would all get together to hear stories and yearn over the pictures. It turns out Malta is an island in the Mediterranean...actually the island where Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked, a little fact that I find SO intriguing! We looked at tourist books and pictures for a good 2 hours and if there wasn't enough to adore about DeeDee already, I now want to travel to amazing places and share quirky cultural experiences with her too. Oh the amazing interesting things I learned about Malta, and about DeeDee too, I guess.

As the evening wound down and the other guests left, it was just the 4 of us "ballet girls" sitting crooning over those phenomenal pirouettes and gran jete's the little French ballerinas were doing for us on the TV in the corner, and the discussion turned, of course, to dance. Dancer's feet, to be more specific. I guess a pointe ballerina's feet are quite ugly. All knobby and torn up and bunyon-y, according to DeeDee. It makes sense. They're spinning and balancing on the ends of their toes for hours at a time every day wearing nothing but a few scraps of cardboard and satin ribbon and really now, feet just weren't made to do that. I asked lots of questions, because frankly, I've never looked closely at a real dancer's feet and I've never tried on a pair of Pointe shoes. So I'm told that dancing, the really beautiful kind of dancing is a painful, bloody, sacrificial kind of business. Not just anyone is cut out to do it and apparently the dancing through the blisters and injuries is part of the refining, weeding out, "do you really have what it takes" process of becoming a Company dancer. These days there are better shoes, gel inserts, all sorts of things that could help improve the lives of those little feet in Pointe shoes, but no "respectable Company" would allow any of that. The blood and pain is a necessary rite of passage for a real dancer, as I understand it.

It's my secret dream to dance Pointe someday...with no one watching of course. I just want to own a pair of the pretty shoes and dance something really lovely, maybe just once. Just for the mirror, and maybe my Best Friend, the one that gave me the feet in the first place. But man, who knew it would come with ugly feet and blisters and medical tape to keep from getting my pretty shoes all bloody.
That was Monday night.

On Tuesday night I had another little event to attend. This was actually just the storyline culmination for my precious little kindergartners. They were doing a play about the Owl who was afraid of the Dark. Too cute to miss. It was short, only 45 minutes tops. But there was something else about Tuesday night. Something in no way related to my kinders, but a very small thing about the event that gave me a very small reason to have a very small hope about a long and difficult sorrow that I've had to face bravely for what feels like eternity. So like I always do, I let hope have it's little morning in the sun. I hoped for the best. And I was disappointed, not surprisingly. My faith and questions don't do their topsy-turvy whirlwinds anymore like they used to do every time my hopes were dashed. More often now, my Jesus and I just talk things over and that's what we did on the way home.

"I trust you. This is the way things are and I accept them Lord."
"I don't like the way things are any better than you do, Jennie" he tells me, "but keep on trusting. I'll work this all out. Do you trust me?"
I nod sincerely. "I don't want you to take any shortcuts at all of this just because it's hard for me, I want you to have your way," I tell him honestly, and probably more courageously than I actually feel.
And then He gives His peace once again and I go home and instead of crying myself to sleep this time, I pick up a nice little novel called "Sundays at Tiffany's" and read my self-absorbed thoughts away. It's a nice little far, i guess.

As I'm washing up for bed I'm quoting to myself one more time the verse from Proverbs. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." I don't know why I quote that one, but it always gives me a strange sort of comfort. It doesn't really fall under the category of "Godly wisdom" and doesn't offer any sort of advice about how to handle the crummy situation or anything. It just hears me and acknowledges me..."yeah, you have a sick heart because your hope was deferred one more time. I know. I know," it tells me. And somehow the fact that it's written there in Proverbs makes it ok that my heart is a little sick today. That's when I remember the conversation with DeeDee about the shoes and the blisters and what it takes to be a real dancer, the kind that can perform the dances that make you cry at the strength and beauty of them. I've been the silly girl who cried watching the ballet before, I know. And I've come to believe that this deferred hope is the same sort of thing. It's like blisters and bunyons and bloody toes, sometimes sprains and bruises and I have to just tape them up, put on the pretty shoes and keep right on trying, right on dancing...If I'm ever going to be one of the girls who's "got what it takes."

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday I will go be with a group of amazing, fiesty high school girls and I'll have to lead them in a discussion about relationships...How God wants our relationships with our families, specifically our brothers and sisters to look.

Boy. This never gets easy...But then I told him, I don't want Him to make it easy just for me, didn't I?

A whole series of random thoughts

Sunday, November 16, 2008

They've been rattling around my head for some time now but won't discipline themselves into a coherent whole. I haven't the time to discipline them myself and since I'm tired of their rattling I shall place them here. Perhaps some other kind soul will cohere them, add to them, laugh at them or leave them here for another day as I am doing.

A thought on Balance:
Balance is about strength. Maybe this is a "no-brainer" for most of you, but I didn't know this until I started taking ballet about 3 years ago. I've never taken ballet before, never tried standing in sur le Cou-de-pied on rise before. I suppose I thought balance was some sort of brain skill, a trick of the inner ear maybe? I don't know. But now I know it's about strength. I won't be able to hold those poses until I've trained the muscles involved and given them enough bulk to stand there in these positions my body never knew possible before. Beautiful poses. Hard poses. There is spiritual application here. Balance is about strength. I'm growing stronger. Hard times do that.

A thought on Expectations:
I came across a book title the other day. I adore books and am a sucker for a good title. This one was called. "Do Hard Things: A teenage rebellion against low expectations". Yay! I haven't read the book yet, but I must. I have been working with teenagers for 15 years at least (yeah, I started when I was like 10 ;-) ), and I've always said this. The only reason they aren't changing this world is because we don't really expect them to without our micromanaging the whole thing...which is a problem because we don't really know how to do it. "Kids always rise"...a quote from the lovely Ms. Pederson last June. "The question is only whether or not we can rise with them." I love that the title of the book is "Do Hard Things!" Yes! Thank you someone. Thank you for expecting teenagers to take your challenge. (And the real beauty of the whole thing? The authors who want to expect more of teens...they're 2 teenage brothers. Someone must have expected more...) Love it.

A thought on Tunnel vision or choose what to call it:
Kevin's a great pastor. He really only has one message as best I can tell. I don't mind it, because it is my heart beat too, but I think it irked a lot of people that it was all he had to say and so they left. That's alright, I think. (I just wish they'd been nice about it...since they bear Christ's name too). But I love it, LOVE it when Kevin speaks his message on a Sunday morning. He get's really passionate. What's his one message? "Know Jesus...oh and by the way, if you know Him, you'll act like him and He helped widows and orphans and the poor and sick and outcasts. That's how He acted. Know Jesus and do that." That's Kevin's message. I suppose it's an unusual thing to find a man with just one message these days. (Don't get me started about the vast array of ideas and titles to be found at the Christian bookstore ...I don't go there if I can help it. sorry to the loyalists.) But I suppose it reminds me a lot of Paul, "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified". ICor 2:2. I hope we have Kevin with us for a long time. I hope that he will stay resolved to know nothing among us except Jesus Christ and His life spilled out for each of us.

Thoughts on my Strangeness.
I am an enigma. Among todays evidences are: 1. That I have never owned a cell phone and 2. that I have no intention of ever reading "The Shack". lol. EVER. blecchh. don't bother sending it. thanks.

I have more thoughts. But at the forefront in this moment is, "will the children come to save King Tirian and Jewel from the wicked clutches of that ugly monkey, Shift?" We've come to Lewis's "Last Battle" at last. I look forward already to starting the whole series all over again! But right now, it's story time at my house! The pictures I wish to post of our pie baking escapades today must wait...unfortunately. I'm dying to see them too!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My To-Do list really is quite long today.

One of the items actually is to update my blog...which...I've got something in the works, just haven't had a spare moment to finish the thought.

Another thing on the list was to call April to reschedule our tea date this morning and I forgot to call and stood her up. Doggone it! So yet another item is to get my Day-timer out and back in commission so that I can stop being so crummy! So sorry sweet friend.

And so as I was cleaning out the old papers and things, I came across this quote. I want to throw away the paper, but don't want to lose the idea. And it's inspiring, so I'll kill a couple birds with one stone and blog it!

It says:

"Sometimes God allows very difficult things in our lives because his mercy extends that far!"

I don't actually have any idea who said that. It is just scribbled on the bottom of a list of publishers I once made when I though it would be fun to publish my duck story. (A list I probably ought to keep somewhere, I guess).

His mercy extends that far. It's a really comforting way to think about the difficult things in my life. I'm always telling him, "I think you think I'm stronger than I am!" He doesn't. He just knows how strong He is. And it is such a relief to realize that the things that come into my life are not based on my ability to handle them, but His. Not only that, but that some of these things come simply so he can show me how far his mercy actually extends. His mercy truly extends so much further than I ever understood. He is getting bigger and more amazing to me every day. I've been reminded lately to keep a grateful heart. Dear Jesus, I'm grateful for that!
And now...back to the lists.