Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hard Ground in Late March

Winter's hold is present in my world this morning. The earth outside my door has not yet been induced to soften and yield. It yet maintains a frigid state, awaiting the long hours of spring sunshine which will bring warmth, releasing it at last from the grasp of winter cold.

The gardeners are longing to get started, but it is not yet time. The hardness of frozen earth is not workable; it cannot be readily penetrated. One cannot plow, one cannot overturn rich soil for the planting of seed which will one day bring a harvest.

But the gardeners have hope. Spring will come.

The rays of the springtime sun, less distant than the winter sun, warm the earth; the length of spring days increases. Soft, nourishing rains return, washing away the frozen, white blanket. Slowly, the hardened crust gives way to tenderness.

The warm rains penetrate and rejuvenate the rich soil, awakening hidden roots and tubers which have laid dormant throughout the winter season. Renewed life breaks through what was once hardened soil. All the earth shouts for joy!

An environment of growth is created, making the earth ready to receive new seed from the gardener's hand. The plow is set, the soil is turned, and good seed is sown.

Seasons come to an end. This much we know. For those of us waiting for the return of spring here in the North Country, we understand that. We also understand that we cannot induce its return, we cannot pinpoint the day of its arrival. We can only look for signs, wait patiently and joyfully (lest we squander the day at hand), and plan for its arrival in absolute certainty that it will come.

And come it will. The soft, warm rains and the springtime sun will come. And life will flourish once more.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Costume Shop Work with Cinderella In Mind

Boxes, labeled and unlabeled, some with tops missing, holding hundreds of pairs of shoes were yanked from the shelves. Most of the shoes were sorted; some were out of place. Men's loafers, women's ankle boots, oxfords, women's MaryJanes. On and on. Finally, I found containers filled with kitty-heeled shoes and slippers. Pink grosgrain, teal satin, gold leather, silver sparkled, and lavender. These just might prove to be useful!

Blouses with ruffles and bows were hunted. A handful were discovered -- women's blouses that I hope will fit some of the guys. After all, in mid-1700's, men wore ruffles and bows.

Pink, bright green, brown, and silver-gray wigs in tall womanly updo's and manly ponytails. Pearl chokers, burgundy colored beads, rings and things, buttons and bows. Yup. This is the fun stuff that will finish the outfits off.

I hung shirts, sorted tights, located military jackets that will probably be too small anyway. A new vest or two in fabulous silk foulard or paisley were found. I imagined gowns with different skirts, necklines with additional lace, and always new sleeves of elbow length with lace galore.

And I've only just begun. Care to join me next time?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sharing Home

As I rolled out pie crusts she watched and asked questions. When I tossed the apple slices with flour and sugar, salt and cinnamon she commented on always wondering how the filling was made.

"What will you do with that?" she asked as I gathered up the leftover fragments of pie dough and set them aside.

"Oh, this will be yummy -- I will fill it with butter and cinnamon, or maybe some jelly and butter. Always butter."

"What can I do to help? I will be glad to do something."

"Hmmm," I replied. "I know! How about the green beans. Wash them and snip the ends. Put them in the Dutch oven pot. I'll steam them a bit then saute them with garlic and almond slices."

She was an eager helper, a happy observer, and pleasant company as I whizzed along, making baked ziti, green beans, and apple pie.

And that is how simple it is to invite someone in to enjoy your home and family! She joined us for dinner and a birthday celebration. As she left she gave me a warm hug and thanked me for letting her be a part of the traditions we routinely enjoy.

"I am so happy to have seen how this works," was her comment.

So many young people haven't experienced the joy of home and family. Jesus' idea of covenant, marriage, and children is really a pretty good one after all. It is a source of joy, refuge, and stability. I am privileged and happy to share what He has given to me.

"Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee." Acts 3.6

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The History of Music

Emo is a style of rock music typically characterized by melodic musicianship and expressive, often confessional lyrics. -- wikipedia.com
That is a description of a recent genre of pop music. Emo has come to be associated with depression, suicide, self-injury. The blues gone bad, real bad.

Actually it's the same ol', same ol', same ol' stuff -- merely repackaged. Hardly can it be considered fresh, certainly not new, definitely not novel. It is mankind plummeting the depths of his despair and getting high on such emotions. So high that when he falls, he plummets. You know the stuff -- passion, unrequited love, depression, suicide, etc. In a nutshell, self-absorption. But it's a rerun. It's last season all over again.

Upon what do I predicate such a statement?

In our home we are studying The History of Classical Music, a curriculum that introduces us to different styles of music and some of the most well known composers. We are currently exploring the Romantic Era.

Consider the following excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Music by Max Wade-Matthews and Wendy Thompson:

One of the most potent examples of literary Romanticism was Goethe's epistolatory novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther), published in 1774. It was inspired by Goethe's own unrequited love for a friend's fiancee, and the news of another friend's suicide as a result of disappointed love. Werthers had an enormous influence on European youth, and the theme of frustrated passion became a common one in the literature of the period.

This was the climate which produced the great musical masterpieces of early Romanticism. Among these are Schubert's song-cycles Die schone Mullerin (The Miller's Daughter), in which the brook becomes an equal partner in a drama of rejection and suicide; and Winterreise (Winter Journey), in which both singer and accompanist paint a vivid picture of wintry desolation, mirroring the bleak emptiness in the betrayed protagonist's soul.

The other hallmark of musical Romanticism was its emphasis on the individual -- either the composer, fighting a lonely battle against incomprehension and intolerance, or the performer.

This is art with self as the object, a preoccupation with oneself or one's own affairs. Self-absorption.

Art that is wholly inculcated with self-absorption encourages the practice of self-absorption. Whether found in the current "emo" genre, or the Romantic Era, or in a myriad of other time periods and locales, it is detrimental to individuals, families, society, and culture. It breeds hedonism...or perhaps hedonism breeds self-absorption. We could debate this "chicken or the egg"conundrum, but I will pass for now.

Suffice to say, I continue to love studying history. It never fails to reveal the weaknesses of mankind; it underscores the need we all have for God and reflects the glory of those who live for His purposes.

Even in the history of music.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where Did the Weekend Go?


Friday afternoon rehearsal. Staged the opening of the ball scene. The Prince must choose a bride from one of these ladies. Fun abounds as they push and fall, flaunt and hide, find and chase. This will be enjoyed by all!

Then I dropped kids off at dance lessons and headed home to feed two little grandsons and settle them for bed. Oh, and picked up one daughter from GED test site later in the evening.

All of Saturday morning was spent watching grandsons and son play basketball. From there I scooted and picked up the same daughter from session #2 of GED testing. Next: two and a half hours of tap and musical theater style dance classes. Sweaty and tired but happy, we ran a couple of errands in town before heading home. A few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches later, and the day was gone. Whhooosshht!

Sunday. Start out by losing a hour. That sure doesn't lend to lengthening the weekend! Church for the morning, lunch out at a Chinese buffet with 11 dear people, a prayer time at a newly purchased church building, and home once again.

The evening will melt away quickly, I've no doubt.

Gone. Officially. The weekend is over. Can anyone say "Boogie through the weekend, Dar!"

Monday, March 07, 2011

Job (as in the Bible) Thoughts

Elihu, the young man amongst them, has listened long and patiently. Now, with utmost respect, he speaks up. But respect does not include dodging truth; he calls a spade a spade.

What man is like Job, who drinks scorn like water?
For he has said, "It profits a man nothing that he should delight in God."
Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do wickedness.
Surely God will never do wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice.

Elihu is reciting the foolishness of this man, and of any man, who would charge God with wickedness.
Who gave Him charge over the earth? Or who appointed Him over the whole world?
If you have understanding, hear this; Listen to the sound of my words:
Should one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn Him who is most just?
Job is challenged. His friends are challenged. The young man in their midst sees the bigness of God, recognizes that He is just and true, full of mercy and grace, not to be accused.

Elihu illuminates truth in the situation. Elihu enumerates His greatness.

On Sunday we were reminded of the immensity of our God -- our pastor acknowledged his inability to truly capture and describe infinite greatness (indeed, how can it be done?) -- and it is staggering. We contemplated our continent, our planet, the Milky Way galaxy, our solar system, the universe that is home to our galaxy, the "known universe" versus the "unknown universe".

The obvious conclusion? Neil Armstrong had it right when he looked at the earth from the moon. We are small. We need to know that we are small. We don't like to be small. We prefer to think that we are big, that the world revolves around us and our feelings, that mankind is in control. But we are not, thank God.

Yet this is also true: we have significance. Why? Because He created and loved us.

God finally interjects His power and infinite wisdom and speaks to Job out of the whirlwind.
Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me:
Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
What a question. It is a question that God alone can ask.

I rejoice today that no one can remove God from His place of judgment and power. He is Love itself. And we are the object of that Love.

May Job's lessons benefit all of us today.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


I'm trusting in Him.

Finding eagle's wings.

Soaring when I stay there.
Crashing when I don't.

Then returning to the shelter of His wings, where I find my wings once more.

Waiting on Him alone.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Heidi's Telling

I read two pages of Heidi to my young grandsons tonight. Their mama had the page marked where I was to resume. It was the part where Heidi returns to Grandfather. She told him how the grandmother had said that when people abandon God He leaves them to themselves and the consequences of a life lived apart from Him.

Grandfather assumed that once you turned your back on God you could not go back. Heidi assured him that not only did the grandmother say that wasn't true, but she herself recalled a story she used to read about a son who ran from his father's house only to experience that life without him was nothing but empty sorrow, and so returned to his father. His return was celebrated with feasting and great joy. If that son, upon returning to his father, was met with not merely acceptance but welcomed with celebration, then how much more could a son of God return to Him as well. And with great celebration!

It is actually a beautiful telling. I was a bit teary when the crusty old grandfather sneaked up into Heidi's room after she had been tucked into bed. He looked at her innocence and saw "something he liked". After looking long, he knelt before the Lord, acknowledged his sin, and asked to be not only forgiven, but received once again. And two big tears spilled onto his cheeks.

He had come back home. Home to Father's house. And he had been welcomed.

I was so glad to read Heidi to my little grandsons tonight. May they always know that one can return to Father to find open arms of love, waiting to celebrate their return.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Chicken Soup and Sledding

I couldn't wait to get home. There I was with the opportunity to hang in Manhattan, spend another day even, and I passed. I skipped Manhattan and the extra day. I just wanted to get home.

Why? Some of my kids were sick. I wanted to make chicken soup. So I did. Daughter #7 set the poultry "a stewing" so the stock and meat were ready for me when I arrived home in the afternoon. In no time onions and celery were chopped, a full bowl of carrots were "pennied", and soup pasta was added. A bit of generous seasoning and, voila!

I sent some soup to Daughter #2 and her family because she had been under the weather. Daughter #1, who had a cold as well as her kiddos, headed her crew this way for soup. And Daughter #5, down with the flu for several days, was well enough to join us at the table.

And today I sent some of the soup to a young man down the street who is also showing symptoms of flu.

So, the soup was made. Hooray!

I also was happy this morning to see snow falling. Spring was bursting on the scene in New Jersey with rain and mild temps. But not here. We had giant snowflakes filling the air outside my window. And why, you may wonder, did that make me happy!

I called out to Merrick, "Hey, buddy! Have you been sledding at all this year? I was sad yesterday when I realized that we hadn't taken you sledding!"

"Nope! Not this year," came his quick reply.

"Well, this afternoon. It's a plan!"

So Rick and I donned our wintry garb, filled the vehicles with snow tubes and saucers, gathered grandkids from hither and yon, and went sledding! Up and down the hill, carrying little Aubs with me. She wouldn't wait for a sled; instead she all but catapulted herself down the hill on her tummy! Sun in a blue sky, packed snow crusted with ice, plenty of sleds and happy faces! What a blast!

Who needs Manhattan when you've got a soup kitchen in Madrid and the best Big Hill ever!