Thursday, November 1, 2018

All Saints' Day

Today is one of my absolute favorite days in the church year.

All Saints' Day. Every November 1st, we get to celebrate those saints -- those who died in Christ -- who went before us.

And when I sing (pray, meditate on) the words of this hymn below, I am almost always reduced to tears. What an example the saints are! They lived their lives -- not perfectly, not without sin -- but they lived their lives with Christ at the center and forefront. They lived their lives fully for Christ. Every Sunday, as we commune, we are united with the saints who have gone before us. Every Sunday, heaven and earth meet as we share Christ's body and blood with those at worship with us, all Christians on earth, and with those saints who are living with Christ in heaven. How beautiful!

Take a moment to read the words below and think about the saints who struggled as we do, who fought here are earth, who never lost sight of Jesus. Those who died in Christ have won! They are brave again, their arms strong. These faithful warriors have been given rest in heaven with Christ. What comfort this gives us! Those who have gone before us -- both "famous" saints who inspire us with their lives of bold faith as well as those quiet saints who lived among us. . . friends, family members. They are in paradise with their Savior!

My dear friends, I have tears streaming as I ponder these words, because they are written for us too! Someday, as our warfare has run long, and our fight has been fierce, a distant triumph song will be in our ears too. And soon, soon to us - His faithful warriors, will come rest. Eternal rest in Christ.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

"For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest"

by William W. How, 1823-1897 
1. For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
3. Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
4. O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
5. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
6. But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
7. From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
8. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Live Blogging it, Instant Pot Version

4:30  Decide we will have dinner in the brand new Instant Pot (which I purchased for a fabulous low price at Kohl's of course).
4:31  Commence reading all the directions.
4:32  Feel terrified that the house will blow up due to exploding pot pressure
4:40  Feel vaguely competent and begin looking for a recipe.
4:42  Gather ingredients for mexican chicken recipe.
4:46  With great trepidation, begin the Instant Pot cycle and pray we live to see tomorrow.
4:46:05  Adjust cycles several times, re-reading non-user-freindly directions and searching fruitlessly for an apparently misnamed function.
4:50  Watch the steam valve spew steam, and remind all the children to give the Instant Pot a wide berth at all times, lest death occur.
4:55  Approach the Instant Pot, being certain the valve is in its low, resting position.
4:56  After removing the lid, attempt to shred meat and find it is done, but not at shreddable done-ness.
4:56:05 Feel frustrated.
4:57  Add two more minutes to timer and hope for the best.
5:01  Attempt to speed along the valve-dropping process, touch the valve (as the directions say can be done), and jump backward a mile when steam wails out of the valve.
5:02  Take deep breaths and remind myself that I am in charge of the Instant Pot.
5:03  Pour myself a glass of wine.
5:04  Attempt to remove the lid and find that it is stuck.
5:05  Listen to ridicule from my eldest son. Stick my tongue out at him.
5:06  Re-read the directions AGAIN to see what is wrong.
5:07  With great fear and trembling, mess with the valve thingy and let out the rest of the steam.
5:08  Finally open the lid and give great thanks that the meat is shreddable now.
5:09  Shred meat in kitchenaid mixer (one of its amazing uses!).
5:10  Serve dinner to family.
5:11  Call the Instant Pot a qualified success.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Stack 'Em Up!

Two months.  That's how long it has been since my eldest girl left for college.  Two months of getting adjusted to life around here without her.  Two months of her getting adjusted to her new life.  I've missed her terribly, but I've also been surprised that I've been doing all right in her absence.  I'm so proud of her. . .she's working hard - at her job, her studies, her extra curriculars, making friends, and keeping her faith nurtured while away from home.

And like I said, we are finding our way as a household of six.  Getting out six plates instead of seven. . .me and the kids being able to fit into our teenager five-seater instead of needing an SUV. . .moving  two of the kids into new bedrooms and reorganizing. . .'circling up' to say our morning prayer with six instead of seven. . .the list goes on.

BUT - this weekend, we got a brief few days to be all together again.  My girl had a long weekend and came home, and it was glorious.  She helped out in my classroom, she hugged and loved and played with her siblings, we baked cookies and bread and made chili (until the power went out - for 24+ hours 😐 ).  We watched movies and cuddled on the couch, she flopped on my bed like old times and talked to me at bedtime, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.  It was good for my soul.  Saying goodbye today (while not as hard as two months ago) evoked a few tears from both of us.  Having everyone home just feels right.

And I remembered what I blogged about a year ago (you can read that blog post here). When my kids started driving, I had them enable the Find My Friends app on their iPhones, allowing me to see their location.  I only look at it if I have a concern about someone's late night drive or arrival time, but it's very comforting to have when someone is running late etc.  And as I blogged about last year, when everyone is home, the little circles with everyone's pictures on them are stacked up neatly together, right on our house.  Oh - how I love seeing them all here!

I know my kids leaving the nest is exactly what they should be doing; it is what we have been preparing them for.  We want them to spread their wings and fly.  But I cannot tell a lie.  When all the circles are stacked up at our house on my little iPhone map, my heart soars.

When all of us are home together, all is right with the world. 💗

Monday, October 8, 2018

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Last night, on the drive home from a lovely wedding, my husband said this to me:

"I was looking at you tonight, and you looked so beautiful".

I told him thank you and pondered his words.  I was so appreciative to hear them: I never take for granted those kinds of affirmations.  I try always to take those declarations to heart  -- not because my husband doesn't say them often enough, but because I know that with each compliment, he is showing his love for me.  

Last night in particular I was thinking about beauty.  I am not beautiful by worldly standards, but my husband thinks I am.  And why is that?

I thought about it as we drove home, and realized I could apply the same thought to how I see my husband. Objectively, he is a handsome man (I know I can't exactly be objective, but I KNOW this to be an objective truth! :).  Yet as I was thinking about his face, I realized how beautiful it is to me.  You might look at him and notice he is good-looking, but I get to see so much more.  I see his lovely features and easy smile but I also see our shared history:  I see our children, our years together, all our moments - both the good and the bad.  In his beautiful face I see our commitment to each other, the marriage that sustains our love.  I see him as the selfless father he is, giving and giving to our family, no matter his exhaustion level.  I see in his face his deep desire to lead the people of his flock to Christ, and his commitment to truth.  I see his integrity, his honesty and his wisdom.  I also see his weaknesses and areas of struggle, and I love him all the more for them.   

Through the window of his face and physical body, I see who he is.  And many of his close friends could say the same of him to some degree.  But I am grateful and blessed to see more.  To look into his face and see things that no one else is able to see.  God gifted me this man, and through him I am able to see true beauty. Through him and our marriage, I am able to see a little glimpse into heaven.  

And it's beautiful.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Week in Pictures

A visual sum up of my week:

Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" with my preschoolers!  We've been learning about the color blue in preschool, and this week we watched a little snippet of an old favorite series of mine - Baby Einstein. My children cut their teeth on Baby Einstein, and watching the 2-minute segment of Baby Van Gogh instantly took me back to those years!  My little preschoolers were mesmerized by the images as we talked about the color blue.  Then, after seeing the Van Gogh painting in the video, we went on a field trip down the hallway to see the real thing hanging on our school wall.  Later, we painted our own version of the painting.  They loved exploring the color blue!

My experience with Hello Fresh.  After some research (mostly via Facebook, not gonna lie), I decided to use the coupon I had and try Hello Fresh.  I spent $11 to get two two-serving dinners - not too bad.  However, when the package arrived, the ice packs were completely thawed, and the meat was cool at best.  The picture above shows one of the brown bags filled with ingredients, which broke apart as I pulled it out of the box.  Everything was damp with condensation.  I had to pitch all refrigerated items.  I contacted the company right away, and they gave me a credit for another shipment.  I still have to pay shipping for the new shipment, so I am debating trying them again. The good news? We did get a teeny tiny bottle of white rice vinegar out of the deal, so there's that.

A different take on the beautiful Proverbs 31 passage.  I love Proverbs 31, and I aspire to be that kind of woman (though my children have yet to rise up and call me blessed), so I have mixed feelings about this little spoof.   It completely sums me up, but it feels a little too irreverent to me.

Readers!  Yes, my dear friends, I have to admit that I have succumbed to reading glasses.  I have had them for less than 24 hours and they have changed my world.  I am not even kidding. I had no idea that my phone, medicine bottles, the computer and book pages could be so crisp and clear!  It is seriously unbelievable.  I have had a lot of trouble with my eyes this year, and to have a success like this makes my day!  $9.99 at Walgreens for the win!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Growing Pains

I recently ran across a list of words my youngest mispronounced when she was very little.  And oh - my heart was transported back to that little girl -- the one who asked hundreds of questions every day, the one who gave me a heartfelt blessing each night. . .the one who talked to popcorn at Target.

How quickly the time is passing with little K.  She is growing into a lovely little lady, a third grader who loves to read and learn about robotics and sing and dance.  She is a joy to all around her, and I love the kind heart we see blossoming in her.

But as I read over this little list, my heart ached a bit for the sweet little one she once was.

Wash Mouth - Mouthwash
Scunscreen - sunscreen
Cupcapes - cupcakes
Glubs - gloves
Kineapple - pineapple
Christmas presidents - christmas presents
Oktoberfestible - Oktoberfest
Dentister - dentist

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.
Winnie the Pooh

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Golden Anniversary

My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary last week.  A few stats:

18,250 days together

2 beloved daughters

8 adored grandchildren

3 houses

1 hometown

lots of laughter

many sorrows shared

plenty of compromises

much love and grace

Fifty years is a long time to be married to a person. When you're married that long, every moment isn't always full of roses and rainbows -- sometimes there is hurt, anger and frustration.  But in a solid marriage, with Christ at its center, those moments are overcome with a firm commitment to the vows they made to each other and to God.  And in the case of my parents, nothing could be truer.  Through hard times and good, happy and sad days, their marriage remained strong and sure, rooted in Christ.  

I am grateful for the example they have shown me, and I pray God grants them many more years together.