Monday, December 22, 2008

Scribbled Thoughts by Light of the Tree

My older brother, Sam, is flying in tonight. Little-big brother and mother dear just left for the airport to pick him up. I would have liked to go, but I must stay here and be ready to be another brother's ride from work. But Sam will be here for somewhere around a glorious week, I think, and I'm looking forward to many quiet cups of tea, good conversations, and watching the new Pendragon film with him.

Our Christmas tree lights are LED, blue-white, and very bright. I like them. I also like our live tree, about 5-feet tall not counting it's potted roots.

Earl Grey and Panattoni bread go wonderfully with black-and-white Robin Hood episodes.

This is turning into a thankful post. Why ever not?

Our cat, Bella, was meowing very insistently to be petted, and proceeded to be quite lovey, without a bit of her usual propensity to lovingly bite.

Oh, and books! How could I forget?

There's Dickens, for starters. I just finished Great Expectations yesterday, and though I still liked Bleak House better, any Dickens novel is bound to be brimming with hilarious, lovable, ridiculous, and despicable characters, not to mention such writing and wisdom!

Though tempted to go straight into A Tale of Two Cities next (on Muglin's recommendation), upon studying my bookshelves my eye landed on Five Children and It. I read somewhere recently that Lewis or someone else I admire was fond of its authoress. I love a good children's book, so into its pages I fell. What a treasure! A bit of slight language is all I've seen wrong with it so far. The sparse, naratorial style of children's experiences reminds me much of Lewis, with plenty of common sense tucked into the tale of five siblings and their encounters with the sand fairy. Hilarious, charming!

And whilst my dear mother finished a project, I found it a perfect opportunity to read aloud to us both from Lorna Doone. Now there's a good book! A whole post, or series of posts, ought rightfully to be dedicated to this epitome of the manly virtues. It doesn't take us many pages to grow heartily attached to the refreshing, honest, young English farmer, and I for one want my boys (if I am so blessed with them) to grow up to be very much like John Ridd. But the merits of the story go far beyond even that of its main rough-but-humble character. Adventure, romance, and humor of some sort leaps from every page. We've been eating this one up.

Aside from devouring good stories, I have been so blessed to have brothers come home, and to be able to help cook for them, and fix their coffee (almost regularly) in the mornings, and to be able to drive to the duck pond with Little Big Brother in an attempt to catch "wee beasties" in a jar of water for his observation under the microscope. One a quiet day, I never imagined how much noise scores of lively ducks could make only by thapping the water with their feet!

About time now to get the Next-youngest Brother from work now. Littlest just called, and said the airport is crowded. I'm thankful the Lord of all Mercies is watching over all the travelers this
(Added Later) Because I hate posting without a picture, and I'm woefully inept at keeping batteries in a camera and said camera handy along with necessary card reader and all such accouterments... here's another lovely old painting from my computer files. Isn't it pretty? To tie it into this post, I'll add my long hair to my thankful list. Mine may be just a hair shorter (ha ha, that was painfully lame) and sometimes wavier, but as often as I've been bemoaning it's sameness, I should just be nicer to it and thankful it can grow this long. :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Frozen Fingers

This morning I drove out to some friends' house (who have been out of town) to feed their animals, and was greeted by freezing temperature and a cold wind. I hurried to feed the goat, sheep, chickens, chicks, and dog, having to break the ice in their water containers, and hauling water from the house because of the frozen pipes outside. I often long for a farm and critters of my own... but I seem to forget about this side of chores. I felt like whining like a little kid about my stiff and throbbing fingers, they hurt so badly from the cold! My fingers still ache, twelve hours later.

Over the past few years, I've noticed something strange. I love this season, this month of December, but I find myself wishing the day itself would not come. It's always disappointing. Christ is born, yes, for which I rejoice! But the pain remains. The waiting is what tears my heart, and draws me to a glorious hope, fulfilled in part, but still waiting. "Rejoice, rejoice, Immanuel has come to thee, O Israel!" If Christmas is a time of hope, we still wait for something not yet here, and we will keep waiting after the presents are opened and forgotten.

It seems fitting to celebrate our hope in the cold and dying year.

Lately I've felt keenly my failings, my sin, my stubborn refusal to grow and mature. Like the silly guinea, shrieking, running against the chicken wire and the corner of the barn as if it could sqeeze through a hole two inches wide. As if it were a camel desperate to fit through that needle's eye. Foolish and rebellious enough to think everything's against it.

Left to myself, I run the wrong way constantly, going from one wrong extreme to the other, driving myself into desperation and constant worry. Fear drives out hope, hope for the husband and family of my own I long for, hope to have the character of a noble, wise, godly woman, hope to make a difference for eternity in at least one life. Left to myself, I wander off into mindless distractions. Left to myself, I am alone and dying

But now, in the cold darkening nights, remember! In the shock of cold, in the bitter pain of frozen fingers, remember! In the selfishness and grasping around me, which creeps into my heart and leaves only loneliness, remember! Remember that into the humblest of families, in the lowest of places, the God of the universe came down as Man. The Word came in humility to whisper in my ear, "You are not alone."

My Maker knows, and sees. And He did not leave me to freeze into stone forever. The change is started, and the pain only proclaims it. His death rescued me from Hell, His life rescues me even now from my sinful flesh. He left, but will come again. And with that final coming, neither fingers nor heart will ever freeze again.
Look up, you whose eyes are fixed on this earth, you who are captivated by the events and changes on the surface of this earth. Look up, you who turned away from heaven to this ground because you had become disillusioned. Look up, you whose eyes are laden with tears, you who mourn the loss all that the earth has snatched away. Look up, you who cannot lift your eyes because you are so laden with guilt.
“Look up, your redemption is drawing near.”

Something different than you see daily, something more important, something infinitely greater and more powerful is taking place. Become aware of it, be on your guard, wait a short while longer, wait and something new will overtake you! God will come, Jesus will take possession of you and you will be a redeemed people!

Lift up your heads, you army of the afflicted, the humbled, the discouraged, you defeated army with bowed heads. The battle is not lost, the victory is yours—take courage, be strong! There is no room here for shaking your heads and doubting, because Christ is coming.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saving by Organizing

"Instead of thinking of staying at home as a prison sentence, think of it as another job to help save you money, reduce family stress and add more family comfort."
This quote is from the article The Cost of Clutter, which I came across through the LAF website. I'm still working to be better organized, and this is very motivating. It explains many of the practical ways I count staying at home as a job. An interesting read!

Monday, December 08, 2008

What Am I Up To?

Isn't this a painting by John Everett Millais lovely? I personally love seeing autumn leaves on the ground. I don't get tired of them until, oh, maybe February or March.

For those of you who might be new to my blog (dare I hope I might be attracting new readers, with my pitiful irregularity of postings?), and just 'cause for others, I thought I'd do an update on what I'm doing with my life these days.

I consider my main job to be helping my wonderful mom, artist and homemaker, who is single and teaches Latin at a small Classical Christian school. She's done more than her share of housework raising and teaching me and my five brothers over the years. Now I'm glad to be able to help out with the endless dishes, laundry, cleaning, cooking, errands, and keeping house for her and my three brothers still at home. With two brothers still not driving, I also get to take them to school, work, and church and sports stuff. I have so many hats which I'm still learning to juggle, and sometimes it turns into a humerous mess! But what better practice for being a patient wife and mother of a big family someday! ;)

As to cleaning, I should mention I don't do this nearly as much as I should - mainly enough to keep things in somewhat decent order. So I'm not in too much danger of being like Mrs. Joe (see previous post) just yet, except in attitude, as when I just cleaned the bathroom mirror to find it covered with with water splatters! Tell me, reader, if you have ever cleaned a bathroom mirror or metallic faucet, do you not sigh just a little to see the shine covered with spots?

Once a week I help out with a Bible memorization program for kids at our church, called AWANA, and have enjoyed getting to know my group of third-grade girls this year. After the Christmas break, I'll be helping with a Good News Club, which involves sharing the gospel, Bible stories, missionary stories, and songs at a public school after classes once a week. I'm excited about that!

Aside from reading and writing, I've been doing all sorts of fun and crazy things, like learning how to make a kilt when my bagpiping brother needed one (those things are tricky to make, but so expensive to buy!), sewing tea cozies, making my family cheesecake just because, and helping my youngest brother compose a limerick about Spam for his teacher. :-)

I never know what I'll be called on to do next with such an artistic mother and creative, off-the-path brothers!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Wrong Sort of Clean

I've just started reading Great Expectations (after a disappointing disguised-as-fantasy-but-actually-a-"Christian"-romance book, which I stopped halfway through). This will be the second longish book of Dickens for me to read which is not for a class. I like it already, though it does start out drearily. Poor little Pip. He's an orphan, and his older sister and husband are bringing him up, though she's not the motherly sort at all. She's a good example of what I do not want to be like, either as a housekeeper, sister, or mother. She says some very mean things to poor Pip, but here's a quote I found convicting regarding housekeeping:

"Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and some people do the same by their religion."

~Charles Dickens~
Great Expectations

I must remember that the very purpose of cleaning house is for the comfort and blessing of those around me. Sometimes I forget. And my life lived to God should also be a blessed and joyful thing, as inviting as a welcoming house which, though best kept clean (or godly), must firstly be filled with love.