Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday Morning

Its far earlier than I ever plan and intend to be up. But I am, and the children are not, and I daren't turn any lights on or do anything to wake them up, which means my only option is being on the computer, being, as it were, a light source.

While the fate of the Network was being mulled over in a nice large room at St. Vincent's Cathedral, yesterday, I was a few steps away in a very nicely equipped nursery, maneuvering my computer into various awkward positions trying to get more than one green bar so that I could get the live stream up and hear what was going on. The children played wildly and impassionedly (having been so long in the car, and in hotel rooms) with all the wonderful new toys. E, particularly, found a large blue plastic elephant which she forthwith named 'Alan' and carried around and sat on and talked to and organized.
'Why is the elephant's name Alan?' I asked her.
'Because', she said condescendingly, 'that's his name.'
Felt very stupid for not getting it. We don't even really know anyone named Alan. Am continuing to wrack my brain.

I DID manage to watch all of Bishop Venebles talk in the afternoon and was so encouraged and moved.

I do think that I, personally, have at various times erred and strayed like a lost sheep throughout this Anglican mess. It has essentially encompassed my whole time in the church-we had been in our job exactly one year when GC2003 hit us all like a train. I was glancing back over my journal of the last four years and realizing how little (if you watched or read Bishop Veneble's talk) I have kept my eyes on Jesus. Oh sure, every now and then I glance at him and ask what to do. But more often I'm plunging headlong into the next crisis or job or idea on my own steam and with my own plans. Not to say that Jesus can't fix it-he has, over and over. And I think over all the work I, and we, have done in the church has been good and is bearing fruit. But I need to let go of the power struggle. And I need to accept the fact of various persecutions that lie ahead, and not try to avoid them. And I need, more than anything, to trust God to sort this out in the long run.

In a cosmically spiritual way, its interesting to be in the noise and chaos of a nursery, surrounded by bright red plastic and shouting children, while important and Godly people, only a few feet away, discuss and confer and take votes and pray. I can watch it going on, in a distracted way, and pray for it, in a distracted way, and hope for the best. But its entirely out of my hands. Its ridiculous to imagine that I had any 'control' over the proceedings. And yet, day by day, I, in my life surrounded by red plastic and shouting children, imagine that I have 'control' over the plans and works of God, who cares for me and can handle everything without my help. So, that is my lesson for today. And a good thing too, because a child has just woken up shouting for MILK and BEAR, which means that everyone will be up now.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday Morning

It appears to be 10 in the morning, and E, A, R and I are back in our hotel room, in the cool, being quiet while R has his nap. Matt is in the first session of the Anglican Network Council Meeting, here in Fort Worth.

We managed, miraculously, to get all up and dressed and out the door in time for Morning Prayer and Holy Communion this morning. However, the kiddos only lasted through Morning Prayer before succumbing to the desire to yell loudly in a quiet space. So Matt hauled them off while I sat and enjoyed Bishop Iker’s short talk. After that we wandered around looking for the Press Room, which is conveniently placed far away from any happenings and goings on. If all goes well, we (by that I mean me and all my children) will go back for lunch and then maybe try and stay and play for a bit. But that means the baby getting a good solid nap and me regaining my wits.

It is pervasively and overpoweringly hot outside. One wilts, essentially. So we are not setting our sights too high for going back and forth.

Yesterday we worshiped at Christ Church, Plano. David Roseberry preached one of the best sermons I’ve heard in a long while—best in the sense that it hit me right smack between the eyes. Realized, again, the spiritual weariness of the last few months and how much we need a good rest. Not just a holiday, but a spiritual pause where we (I should probably say I) stop and rest in the grace and mercy and love of God.

So, here we are, for today and tomorrow, and then Wednesday back in the car to go South and to Mimi, for whom we all long.

‘Are we at Mimi’s?’
‘No, A, this is a gas station. We still have three more days before Mimi.’
‘First we have milk, then Mimi?’
‘You may have some milk, if you like.’
‘Can I see Tatchi (another very important person)?’
‘Tatchi is 5 days back in the other direction. Are you sure you want to drive all the way home and not go see Mimi?’
‘I want to see Tatchi and Mimi.’
‘Well, yes, and you will be able to when Jesus comes back.’
‘When we rise again?’

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We’ve made it to Dallas!

Amazingly. We had originally planned to stop in Little Rock last night, but then we were just tired of being on the road and wanted to get here.

We spent a very nice afternoon in Nashville, celebrating R’s birthday. We found, without trying, a Cheese Cake Factory, and thinking that it was a sort of relaxed place, sure to have Cake, we herded everyone inside. It turned out Not to be relaxed, but very very Nashville Fancy with painted walls and ceiling and a cohort of Waiters. The food was delicious and some nice person brought R a banana without us even thinking about it. So for his birthday lunch he had banana, bow tie pasta with butter and a Large Straw Berry Short Cake. E picked the desert, since all three of them were going to eat it, and I must say she chose well. It looked very festive and birthday like, all piled up with whipped cream, and R turns out to love strawberries. He stuffed himself until he began to look bilious and we made him stop.

Then we drove around looking for our hotel and ran into what I imagine are the fancy houses of Country Music’s ‘People’, not the actual stars, but the people who make the stars happen. I may be wrong, just my own speculation—very grand houses. We were particularly impressed with the churches in that part of town. There seem to be rich luxurious churches on every corner—Church of Christ, Church of God, Baptist, Methodist etc. (no Episcopalian that we saw), all with perfectly kept grounds, enormous facilities and fancy signs. And so many! There have to be far more churches than people. Matt observed that probably Everybody Has to go to church And give money, whether or not they believe anything at all. Now that’s a lifestyle I like—culturally enforced church attendance and giving. Ha. That I should live to see the day that happens in the northeast. If only we felt God calling us to minister to the needs of the spiritually poor Country Music Star. Well, I say that, but probably it would drive me crazy. There’s nothing like money to muck up the church.

We spent the afternoon swimming and trying to play Pick Up Sticks which turned out to be a bust. Felt bad leaving out baby Who Really Wanted to Play!, especially since it was his birthday. So we just let him mess up the sticks and try to eat them.

Yesterday was long indeed. 10 hours in the car. The children were basically golden. I would only note that a striking difference between E and A presented itself. E loves a public restroom. She wanted to see every bathroom at every stop and try it out, whether or not she really had to go. A would rather die than use a restroom of any kind. We had to plead, cajole, insist and finally bodily carry him in to go. He asked many many times if we couldn’t just go home to Binghamton so that he could go potty, instead of driving further and further away from home. Poor child. It made each stop fraught with emotion on both sides.

Towards the end of the day when everyone was tired, we had the following exchange.
A: (weeping) E called me a bird!
Anne: Are you not a bird?
A: (weeping) I am not a bird. E called me a bird.
Anne: E, did you call him a bird?
E: No. I asked him if he was drawing a bird.
Matt: There, A, E did not call you a bird.
A: (weeping) I am not a bird.
Matt: That’s right. You are not a bird.
A: I’m A.
Matt & Anne: Yes, you’re A.
A: I’m A and I’m a Shinning Armor.
Matt: Yes.
Anne: Shinning Armor?
Matt: Yes, just go with it.
Anne: Oh, Ah.

So now we’re in Dallas, in a nice cool hotel, gazing out at the heat outside its only 8:30 in the morning, but we’re all feeling like its 9:30 because of the hour difference, and there is agitation to go out to the pool. I suppose it’s probably already hot enough. If you need us for any reason, that’s where we’ll be.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Rowan!

That's right. He's a whole One today, and more of a baby than ever. He says a total of 6 words: mama, daddy, aedan, cookie, gentle and down. Cookie, as you can imagine, is the most easily distinguished, along with 'Aedan'. He's not walking yet, as I mentioned before, but he is enjoying this long car ride pretty well. He sits between Emma and Aedan, hunched down like King Saul, and when he is very angry we turn music on very loud and he sits, subdued and angry, but throwing javelins.

So, in honor of Rowan, we will drive to Nashville and spend the afternoon and evening. Then tomorrow we will go on to Little Rock, and the next day to Dallas.

We've made up special charts by which the kiddos can earn stars for a prize. They get stars for Noticing Things, Asking Interesting Questions, Being Helpful to Baby and a number of other things. So far the incentive for stars is keeping the dreaded, 'are we there yet?' and 'when we will we get there?' at bay.

Two other minor thoughts. One, there are far too many trucks on the road. I say this with all admiration and respect for people who take on the task of trucking. I know they drive impossible hours, in difficult weather and conditions, are away from their families too much, and don't make enough money. All of which to say, there ought to be a way to do something that would allow the economy to continue growing, provide the requisite number of jobs, and make it safer for small cars on the highway. Perhaps by the end of the day I will have thought of something.

And two, though the Anglican Communion unravel before our very eyes, yet Christianity has not. After madly reading the various news on Stand Firm and listening to Matt's thoughts on the issues, discouraging though it all is, I am convinced, in the long run, that it is not ultimately all won or lost by the various leaders around the world. Really the next battle front is in the faith of our children, and whether we pass it on and under gird it and give it substance. Because that's really the problem, isn't it? The American Church has lost a whole generation of Christians and continues to flounder. So, even as we plan consider the real nature of Anglicanism, the questions coming from the back seat of the car are just as, if not more important.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

the miles go by

I'm snatching a moment while Matt is away from his computer to give a dinky update on our trip so far.

We left yesterday AMAZINGLY, at 10:00am on the dot (I called it-Matt insisted that we would leave at 9, but I know us better than that). The car is packed to stuffed, as you can imagine. Its so much more complicated, packing for three people that have opinions about what they take, rather than just one. I let Emma and Aedan spend most of Monday negotiating with me not only about the contents of their bags, but which bags they would take. Matt was surprised and unhappy to find that everyone has Their Own Bag. Nobody is sharing. Yesterday evening, apparently, when Matt was piling a cart high with all our stuff to come into the hotel, someone had the audacity to laugh at him. Heh. Sort of wish I'd been there.

We've just spent the night in Lexington, VA. I really want to get off the main road and see the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Matt really doesn't want to back track, so we stopped here instead of going all the way to Roanoke. Although as I look out the window it is pouring rain, so it will be a gray morning in the mountains. I'm bewitched by all the signs for 'Historical District', but Matt says every town in a America has a 'Historical District' and that we must not be suckered in. I guess we'll be choosing our detours carefully.

We have had our mishaps. Thought we only had one car sick child whom we managed, all day, to keep from throwing up (poor child). But it turns out we have two. Aedan managed to keep it together all day, and then threw up everywhere within 5 minutes of being in the hotel room. So we didn't go out to dinner. Matt ran around and find Chinese food (I know, come all the way to Lexington and eat Beef Broccoli, but the children love rice) and everyone had a bath.

This morning the children have watched, to my horror, Higgley Town Heroes, learning that the bridge builders and backhoe operator are Heroes. 'That's not true, Emma', I pointed out, 'You don't get to be a hero for doing your duty'. 'Not everyone is a hero'. Will have to bring it up again in the car. Honestly, the mediocrity, the political correctness, the insipidness of it all.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. The arguing about how far to go must Commence!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Matt's Sermon from This Morning

It is my custom, at this point in pregnancy, to do as little as possible during services on Sunday Morning. I teach Sunday School, shmooze during Coffee Hour, do various jobs in the office, run up and down the stairs lots of times (Those Who Don't Think With Their Heads, Run With Their Feet), and a myriad of other odd jobs. So by the time the last service comes round, I position myself grandly in the rocking chair next to the choir and sit, not usually even getting up for the Peace. I miss preaching and being on the altar and the physical acts of worship, but this time I have really enjoyed sitting and letting it all happen, without having to be in the mix. AND, lucky for me, Matt has hit a groove in his preaching (there's a lot to be said for preaching many Sundays in a row, rather than switching on and off), and I've been able to listen and be fed, which can be hard, when the preacher is your husband. Anyway, this morning, as a result of this very fine sermon, I was able to stop and take inventory of my own work and service in the church, my motivations and intentions, my emotional stake in the whole enterprise, and my own willingness to sit at the feet of Jesus. I hope you all will take a moment to do the same.

Mary and Martha
There are a lot of workers at Good Shepherd. People here are always busy doing something for the church and it’s a wonderful thing to see. I was so impressed at our last work day at the number of people who gave their time and effort. But there are times when service, even in the church, displeases Christ. Our Gospel lesson this morning provides an example of one of these times and a principle that can be applied to everything that we do both in church and in the world. So let’s open our bibles to Luke 10:38-42.

At first Martha does everything right. She’s unwilling to let Jesus pass through her village, Bethany, without “opening her home to him.” She welcomed him. Martha and Mary may already know Jesus. They figure prominently in the gospels as supporters of his ministry. But whether they know him or not, Martha was certainly being hospitable. So far, so good.

But then, in verse 39 we’re introduced to Martha’s sister Mary. Mary we’re told, “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” To first century readers of this gospel, Mary’s repose at Jesus feet would have been considered extremely inappropriate.

Jesus having accepted Martha’s hospitality enters her home and begins teaching his disciples. The proper thing at this point would be for the hosts, Martha and Mary, to prepare a meal. This is especially true of Mary since she seems to be the younger sister. Martha, not Mary, “opened her home” which indicates that Martha held authority. So if anyone should be sitting at this point, and really no one ought to be sitting, it should be the elder sister Martha. Instead it is Mary. She’s not serving her guest, her Guest is serving her and she’s letting him. Shockingly inappropriate. By verse 39, 1st century readers would be expecting Jesus to commend Martha and to rebuke Mary.

And my guess is that if some of us had been there we would’ve had the same inclination. Jesus Christ is in the house. If you labor to prepare your home for regular guests, imagine the level of preparation if Jesus were coming or if he were sitting in your living room waiting for dinner. And here’s Mary sitting.

All the while, “Martha,” Luke tells us, “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” The Greek word translated here as “preparations” is, in fact, the word for service. So this text literally reads, “Martha was a distracted by all the service.” And she wasn’t just fussing. Sometimes people just fuss around. There’s nothing really that needs to be done but they need to be doing something so they just find things to busy themselves. That’s not what is happening here. Preparations “had” to be made and Martha was making them. She was working her fingers to the bone.

And as she does this and as Mary sits, Martha’s attitude begins to change. We don’t want to read anything into this text that’s not there but if I step into Martha’s shoes for a moment I can imagine two things that may have been going on in her mind because they would have been going on in mine. First, I can imagine her thinking: “Here I am again, doing all the work. If something were to happen to me, this house would fall apart." “If it weren’t for me doing this and if it weren’t for me that then nothing would get done.”

And, no doubt, while it would certainly sound like a complaint if we heard it out loud, there’s also a little vanity, a little pride here as well. Search your heart honestly. In those moments when you’ve said or thought similar things: thinking of yourself as the key person, the hard worker, the one who gets things done, the doer, there’s been a little self-satisfaction there, a little pride. So I imagine there’s some pride here in Martha and that comes out later.

Second, I bet that as Martha worked she assumed that Jesus would notice and appreciate and recognize her service. And the longer she served and the longer Mary sat and the longer Jesus seemed not to care the more frustrated Martha became.

I always know when Anne is getting frustrated with my laziness. I’ll be downstairs on the computer and gradually the noise of pots and pans or whatever it is she’s doing grows perceptively louder until it is obvious that noise is being made purposefully. After 5 years of marriage I’ve learned that this is a signal and it means that I better get up off my duff and go help if I know what’s good for me.

But Jesus not only ignores Martha's work, but he’s just fine with Mary sitting there doing nothing.

Finally, after who knows how long, Martha loses it. She can’t contain herself anymore and out comes this complaint: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself. Tell her to help me!”

Now, I hope you’ve noticed what’s happened here. It’s subtle but important. Martha has, in her mind, gone from servant, from serving Jesus, to master. Her words are accusatory and commanding. They’re the words of someone who feels entitled.

Martha has used her service as a means to establish her authority and control. People do that in the church all the time. I do this much work, I give this much money, so things better go my way. In Martha’s case, she’s let it go to the point that in her mind, her authority extends even over God’s only Son. “Tell her to help me.” That’s not a request or petition. That's a command.

What Martha has refused to do from the moment Jesus entered her home, is to sit at his feet and listen to his Word. Jesus is not an ordinary guest. The indignation building up in Martha’s heart would be excusable if Jesus were an ordinary guest. But he’s not.

Mary got this. She may have had her faults, but she knew that despite custom, despite tradition, despite what her older sister wanted her to do, this man, this Jesus was different and his words, his teachings far more important than getting the dishes done or the floor swept or the roast in the oven. And she was right.

When I first came to this church some very nice ladies came to me and said, "well we’re a church full of Martha’s not Mary’s so don’t expect to see many people at bible study." And then, later, I was told by a very fine gentleman, "Whatever you do, don’t preach over 10 minutes. There are so many other things to do on a Sunday morning that sit in church." And the idea behind both of these friendly warnings was that some people are workers and get things done in God’s kingdom and others go in for all the religious stuff. We’re the workers. We're the Marthas. Somehow, at some point, work and service in the church had come to serve as a rationale for neglecting the Word of God.

That’s not the lesson of this text. Jesus does not say, "I suppose I should stop teaching so that we can go into the kitchen and help Marth work." Martha is rebuked.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.”

Service of any sort both in the church and in the world is always secondary in priority to the Word. Our work as believers cannot replace but rather must flow out of our study of Scripture.

Don't get me wrong. Jesus not saying that it's good to sit around on the couch 24/7 reading the bible. He is saying that the Word rather than the work is what is “needed”. Jesus does not need your work and service. He can do anything through anybody. No one is necessary or indispensable in the church. God can use me to preach his word or he can use an ass. I’m unnecessary. He wants to use me and he wants to use you, but he doesn’t need to use me and he doesn't need to use you. And, in fact, in order for us to be useful to the Master we must first know him and know what he says and know what kind of work he wants otherwise we’re running off in 25 different directions like Martha “distracted” by many things while neglecting what is necessary.

Walk into a dying church, and you can find them all around, and you’ll likely see that the few people there are good people, industrious people. You'll find that the grounds and facilities are clean and well cared for, the garden watered, but that the church is dying all the same. Why? More often than not the people have worked their fingers to the bone but ignored or neglected the careful study of God’s Word and obedience to it.

Make no mistake, when the next bake sale or bazaar comes around that church will be abuzz with energy and earnestness. But when the Word of God is preached, the people go to sleep. If the pastor dares start a bible study he finds himself alone staring at empty chairs. The bibles in the parishioners’ homes are thick with dust.


Being Martha is a lot easier. If you haven’t opened your bible in years; if you’ve never sat at Jesus’ feet and become familiar with his Word, then when it’s taught or read, you feel stupid and a little out of control and no one likes to feel that way so you avoid it and rationalize your avoidance with service. "Oh no, I have no idea what the bible says about this or that. I don’t really go in for that stuff, but I do serve on the ladies auxiliary." "I do take care of the grounds." "I do maintenance." "I vacuum once a month." "I serve as an usher" And meanwhile, the church dies. And all of the industrious work of the church is reduced to the work of an undertaker, making the carcass look good on the outside while inside it’s full of dead bones.

Service, especially in the church, is good and the Lord certainly calls us to it, but only one thing is needed and that is the word of God. Work without a prior commitment and devotion to God’s Word is a recipe for death. The word of God is the Word of life. Bible study is not one ministry among many, it is the necessary ministry that informs and under girds and gives life to worship and fellowship and service. Unless you know the Lord and know what he’s like and what will please him, how can your service be useful? Service means nothing and accomplishes nothing unless it is set under and born out of devotion to and dedication to the Word of God.

So ask yourself this morning. What role does scripture play in my life? Is it your benchmark, your guidebook, your measure, part of your daily walk with Jesus, is it the means of God’s nourishment and encouragement and comfort and conviction in your life as it should be or is it your paperweight? Is it nicely displayed on your mantle but never read? Do you get excited by the thought of Harvest Dinner and bored by the thought of bible study? That is the recipe for spiritual death. There’s no replacement, no exchanging, no excuse for neglecting the word of God. As believers and as a church we must sit at the Lords feet and listen to his word because that is the only way that our work will be pleasing in his sight.

odds and ends

Just wanted Again, to say a huge thank you to all of you who are continuing to comment. I figured out how to have comments directly to my email, and so I've been able to read what you all have been saying, even though I've been too wildy busy to really get on and blog.

Yesterday Matt married a young couple who, though very much taken with each other, were not particularly organized. Heh. I ended up stuffing myself into my black cassock (couldn't quite button it) and waddling back and forth between the Narthex with the bridesmaids, and the library where the groom men were trying to pull it together (whoever knew how complicated it could be to sort out a boutonniere). Anyway, after launching the bride down the aisle I went back to the office and kept hammering out bulletins and inserts and other mundane details. Very nice people periodically brought me large plates of food from the reception downstairs, so I ended up waddling home as well, at about 8pm.

So, I've now ironed various clothes, and am going to lay my hands on some Salt, some Tracing Paper, and some Seeds, for Sunday School. VERY excited about our lesson for this morning--everyone is going to get a little candle holder to paint, and a candle, and a little tiny jar in which to pour salt. I'm working busily on my own box, and as soon as I have a working camera, you will find a long photographed post with all the things we've done.

And finally, one clarification. Matt, after reading my last post, thought I meant, by 'samosas' something alcoholic.
'Why are we going to be drinking in the car?' he asked.
'What?' I said.
'Samosas', he said, 'orange juice and whiskey (or something, can't remember what exactly he said)'.
'What!', We're not taking whiskey in the car.'
Anyway, he wanted me to clarify, that by 'samosa', I mean little Indian pastries filled with potato and spices. This just shows how really I ought to have applied myself better to spelling.

Have a Good Sunday of Worship. Blessings!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The List Gets Shorter

Took baby round for his Well Baby this evening. (Some lovely commenter asked if Baby is a he or she-he's very much a he, a shouting vigourous he.) Have a very interesting pediatrician. He's Russian Orthodox with a long Orthodox beard and a lot of Orthodox children (6, plus one on the way-due at the same time I am). And very pious. Its a pleasure to take the children to see him, because he glances at them, pokes and prods them, and then talks about the church (especially when Matt goes). Tonight, after looking in Rowan's ears and mouth etc. he took me through a maze back to his own computer to show me pictures of the chapel/church he's built in his yard. Its all done on the outside and they're working on doing frescos on the inside. His church/congregation is worshiping there now, so on Sunday's (and every other day-the orthodox are so much more pious than we indolent lax Anglicans) he has only to walk out of his front door and across the lawn to go to church. Noted that Good Shepherd, lovely and beautiful though it is in its own way, looks like a liturgical homeless shelter in comparison.

Anyway, so that's one more thing off my Giant List of Things to Do Before We're Allowed To Go on Vacation. Still remaining are the wretched bulletins I put off doing today, a wedding, sorting out Sunday School, Arguing with Matt about how much stuff we each get to take, and HOPEfully making bread and somosas, if I have time. I probably won't, but wouldn't it be nice to have fresh bread and fresh cold somosas in the car while driving all those many miles? Isn't that what ever Road Trip calls for? Am aiming high.

pastors and their children

I'm supposed to be running around getting bulletins started and cleaning the bedrooms and calling various people (given that I have a few minutes of all the children going off in various directions doing fun things with other people) but I did just want to link to this article--very interesting and insightful, given all the discussion that's gone on in recent days about children, and the church, and the clergy. Hope you enjoy.
If I'm very good and manage to get on top of things this morning, I'm going to allow myself a computer spree this afternoon. But then, things never go the way we plan, do they. So, on verra!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Step Up

Baby just will not take steps for me. He's taken steps in the church nursery, in the other room for Matt when I was just around the corner out of view, and for other various people. But when he sees me, he sits down and refuses to take steps. Even tried the old stand by-Matt holding cookie and moving back to keep baby walking. THIS baby won't walk for a cookie. This baby becomes utterly frantic for cookie and screams so loudly and so longly, that we just give him the cookie. Lay on the floor laughing while baby hyperventilated for the cookie and Matt tried to get him to at least stand up. After two cookies (unearned), baby ate an egg and a handful of Cheerios and part of a banana. Went to bed looking chubby and laden. But no steps. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2007

On all that has gone before, and what may be to come

Many of you have noticed, perhaps, that it has been a whole week since I posted in this space, and that I have been uniformly silent on other various comment threads (although I will be perfectly honest, I have been unhappily hitting ‘refresh’ over and over on a number of sites, wanting, and Not wanting to see what people are saying). This silence has, for the most part, been self imposed. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before, and I tend to be a touch (though not extraordinarily) headstrong and impulsive. So, for once, I wanted to seriously stand back and survey the landscape and reflect on what happened, what is happening, what it all means and what a proper Christian response might be.

There remains one problem with my strategy in this case. I had hoped that in a matter of a week (a whole week, a long week, you wouldn’t believe how long) this matter would have found some conclusion. Matt and I, the blogoshere, everyone would have discovered the matter resolved and therefore over. This, however, appears to not be the case. Ms. Kaeton, having returned from her missionary endeavors in Belize, apparently feels persecuted.

I have three carefully considered thoughts.

First of all, as I said last week in the thick of shock, I am not angry with Ms. Kaeton for her words with regard to the murder of my children. Matt and I have forgiven her. We bear her no ill will. We all say things that we do not mean or even things that we fully intend but know that we shouldn't. We are all sinners.

Second, we continue to worry for the integrity of our family because Ms. Kaeton has not, up to the time of writing, withdrawn the threat of calling in the authorities to review our home and our children. Should Ms. Kaeton publicly withdraw this threat, it would go a long way toward bringing peace between us. I encourage her to do so and pray that she will.

Third, I will not clutter up this blog space, which I love and enjoy, with any further posts or material concerning this matter. I have, over the last week, been keeping careful account of all that has gone on, as well as all the delightful things that my children are doing, all the regular stress of life, in my private journal (as, indeed, I have always done), and should the moment ever be right, some of that material may find its way here, but not until this is sorted out. I do not know, at this moment, the extent or content of any posting in the days to come. I am trying to spend more time praying than being on the computer.

I want to say, finally, how much I appreciate all of you who read and comment and call me on the phone to tell me you’ve read my posts. This is a new kind of communicating (as so many have noticed). It is dynamic, immediate and interactive. With a few clicks of the mouse, I can let you into my living room and into my life and show you all that is going on—all that God is doing, all my sin, all my joy. And, as we’ve noticed, that dynamism and immediacy brings with it some dangers. For example, anyone can read, anyone can think anything they like, anyone can draw any conclusion, some of those conclusions damaging and bitter. However, for me, and I suspect for many of you, the creativity and delight of this communication far outweighs the dangers and sin. And so, in short order, you will find me back here, inviting you into my kitchen, my atrium, my life.

In the meantime, please continue to pray for me. I rely on your prayers. This has been, with careful measure, the worst week of my life, and I don’t know that the days to come will be any easier. Please hold me in your prayers, my children and Matt as well. God is so great, so good, so loving. In the midst of the darkness of sin and danger, I will praise Him, I will bless Him, I will seek His glory and his triumph and His grace. He is my Rock and my Salvation. He is my Glory and the Lifter of my head. He holds all things in his hand and in his love, and this Thing is not too big for Him to handle. And so, as I rely on Him and trust Him to show me the way through and sustain me, pray for me. Thank You. May the Lord Bless each one of you, even as He is pouring out His blessing on me, moment by moment.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The sun is beginning to set in a haze of heat. All five of us have been holed up in our bedroom, next to the air conditioner, reading all this mess online, catching up on email, the children playing with blocks and games and dressing up and eating Popsicles in an effort to stave off the heat. After a crazy week and a long Sunday, its been nice to have our feet up and have some quiet time, if not quiet for the spirit, at least quiet for the body.

Matt ran out and bought some tubs of Indian vegetable curry and we've heated up some divine samosas (sp?) from our neighbor AND, I'm gazing at a beautiful summery bouquet of flowers from a person who obviously knows what the soul needs on days like these. AND, another knowing person dropped off one of those super fancy cakes you can buy in the bakery section of Wegmans-the really beautiful one with all the fruit carefully arranged on top. I have read stories to the kids and Matt at this moment is praying for them and singing (Jesus Loves Me for Aedan, and the Sanctus for Emma-their choices). As soon as he has done that we are going to very quietly and happily cut into this cake and try to eat it so that no child will hear and interrupt us. And lest you think we're very evil to deny our children cake, that is certainly not the case. They have been sucking on large crab shaped lollipops all afternoon. That's enough sugar to last them through at least until tomorrow.

I wanted, in the closing of the day, one more time to say how thankful I am to all of you for your prayers and thoughts and all the wonderful things you've said about me and Matt. I know there are cries for a proper apology on Stand Firm, and here, but in my heart of hearts it really doesn't make a difference one way or another. I bear Ms. Kaeton no ill will whatsoever. Matt and I have chosen the hard narrow way of the cross with our eyes open. We've made sacrifices, financially, physically, and in a host of other ways, not because we're on some kind of crusade, but because we love the church, we love our kids, and we love the work we're doing. We couldn't fathom doing anything else.

So thank you.
Having said I was going to blog all day, I'm actually going to step back and not post anything for a while until I've had time to think and pray, both for myself and for Ms. Kaeton. I have half a post written about feminism, and some other bits I was working on, but its all going on the back shelf until things have cooled down. Thank you all for your prayers and comments and kind words. This is a very bizarre way to spend a regular Monday off.
Sunday Conversations
Matt: So what did you learn in Sunday school?
Aedan: We learned that the man had a stick and he hit the people with the stick, like this (demonstrates).
Matt: Stick? What stick was that?
Aedan: The man, he had a stick.
Emma: Pharaoh.
Aedan: Yeah. (Waves his hand) Let my people go.
Matt: Oh, so Pharaoh had a stick, and he hit the people?
Emma: Yeah, and then Jesus came and made frogs and locusts and a river of blood.
Anne: Jesus did that?
Emma: Yeah, it was Jesus. And the red river divided.
Matt: River or Sea?
Emma: River.
Aedan: Yeah, hit it with a stick, like this.
Anne: Was there anybody named Moses?
Emma: Moses?
Aedan: Yeah, and you shouldn’t kill the cow.
Matt: What cow?
Aedan: The cow, the cow.
Matt: Was there a mountain?
Emma: Yeah, a big mountain.
Matt: Was it called Mount Sinai.
Aedan: No (sarcastically) that’s silly. It was a big mountain.
Emma and Aedan drift off to do other things. Matt and Anne resolve to read the Exodus with them as a bed time story. I suppose, as I read this, that the cow must have been the golden calf. I’m still somewhat confused.
So I've been gazing back over my various posts from the last few weeks and the comments under each one, as well as the drama from last night and today, and I think there are three main issues that I would like to address.

1. Feminism and Men
2. Feminism and Children
3. Feminism and the Church

I don't propose to write long essays on these three points, and I don't think I have the linear wherewithal to deal with them one by one, but it might help to order my thinking, and perhaps yours, on the current crisis in which we find ourselves.

For example, when I stand next to Matt at the altar and turn the pages over for him as he prays the Eucharistic Prayer, or when I stand and pray the prayer and he rocks back and forth as if he has been rocking a baby all night, and mouths the prayer along with me, I think there are a variety of things going on.

For one thing, Christ is being made present as we raise our hands together in supplication. For another, Matt and I are unified again in our calling and purpose together as ministers of the Gospel. The unity that we experience and model on the altar would not be possible if either of us were arguing all the time about who gets to be in charge.

Break to get all the children Popsicles.
So first off I'd just like to link to a blog I check every day. The larger website is called Large Family Logistics and if you're interested in having lots of children, like the woman on this site, you can find all kinds of helpful information about how to run a household. But more than that, right now, her newest baby is in need (like so many) of much prayer, because he was born many weeks early and is needing very special attention and care. Every morning, after checking my email, Stand Firm and NRO's the Corner, I check to see how this baby is doing and pray for him.
For some reason, Blogger is not allowing me to put titles on Anything. I was wanting to post a big THANK YOU at the top of this, to all of you have commented on here and Stand Firm over the night, for all the prayers and kind words of support. In such situations as these, one doesn't particularly know how to respond, or even If one should do so, and I am very appreciative of the couple of admonitions to let unkind words lie on the ground, rather than to take them up. On the other hand, Ms. Kaeton speaks, in her post, about a variety of subjects that are important to me, and about which I have given much thought.

So, I thought, since I had been planning to have a whole day blogging anyway, that I would post on some of these issues and topics, and at the same time lift Ms. Kaeton up in prayer to God. And I would, also, like to pray for her grand daughter, who has, at such a young age, recognized one of the greatest riches of life-the great abundant rich gift of children.

So stayed tuned.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I am taking the whole day off tomorrow to blog. This week has been a marathon run and I'm going to sleep. But for a taste of upcoming topics, go over to Stand Firm and read this.

Monday, July 02, 2007

the weather's cooling off, I might be able to blog...

The weather is cooler and I am gradually emerging from my funk. Today was downright chilly. I pulled a blanket over my expanding girth for my mid afternoon nap. I am so grateful even for just one day of cool, but it looks like tomorrow and the next day will be rain. So I praise and thank, as it were, the Lord.

And the cool is giving me a chance to think and reflect.
One such reflection is about Emma's recent adventures in dancing, which you can read about here.

Other things are mulling around in my head and hopefully will formulate themselves into posts as the hours, more likely days, go by.
For one thing, I am, in a vague way, trying to put words to answer Susan's questions about the Eucharist (technicality: don't know why all the comments don't show up unless you click on the full post, hmmm). For another, I've been thinking about terrorism and Islam, and this ridiculous Episcopal priest who appears to be confused about a number of things, the creed being one of them. And for another, I've been directing my thoughts back to the Atrium, and the spiritual life of the child, and what draws and sustains a child's relationship with God. I was giving a brief tour of my atrium this weekend and was asked, 'You light candles? In here?' and it hit me like a brick that yes, we do. We light loads of candles, and put them out and light them again. So, I am thinking about all these things, and wondering in a vague way where some paper or other I wrote in college is. It occurs to me that it was very badly written, and that the professor must have been a real drip to give me an A, which she did, and that I ought to go back and work it over and fix it. Just because. But instead of doing that, I will fold laundry, because if I don't do it now, before I go to sleep, all will be lost. ALL.