Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Here we are with all our lights on and Even with some leaves left on the trees. The basement is dry and safe and the children are now deeply grieved about having a normal day of school. I say, 'Praise God for Normalcy.' And for those who are mopping up the flood waters this morning and waiting for power, we pray for a quick return to regular life.

I always think I want an exciting and adventure filled life, but whenever anything disrupts my regular routine I'm so snippy and irritated I know in my immortal soul that I Am Really Not That Flexible.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

all hunkered down

The children are supremely irritated because this is Family Movie Night and here we all are, watching The News. If the power had gone out, that would have been cool. Or if we had water in the basement, that would be exciting. But here we are, barely any rain And Still No Movie.

As for me and Matt, we...well, Matt has gotten everything off the floor in the basement and everything out the yard--no mean endeavor in the light of the children throwing everything down wherever they....feel like it, both outside and in. I have only exerted myself to fill our big pots with water, vacuum, bake three loaves of bread and make my bed. And still the weather remains very very calm. Ominously calm.

If we loose power we have a small camp stove to use in a shivering way on our porch, we have candles and flashlights, and we have good insulation. We can take turns holding Fatty Lumpkin to keep warm. And I guess I will have to dig out an actual pen and an actual piece of paper to keep track of things. Hopefully, however, I'll be cheerfully blogging away in the morning.

A safe and prayerful night to you all. Pip Pip.

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 quick takes

We appear to be out of cat food. I can tell because the fat black cat sat on my chest all night patting my face and chewing on my hair. I feel very tired and also creeped out.
And that being as it is, I think this is a morning for all the ends of the bags of Weekend Sugar Cereal because I don't think I can remember how to make pancakes or oatmeal or anything.
And then we'll spend the morning practice testing for real state testing. Its such a cliche that every child is different and unique but also true. Alouicious has loved the practice so far. Asks every day if he can do some more. Elphine, upon hitting one question she didn't know the answer to, disolved into a puddle of tears and insecurity and we spent the rest of the time talking together about test taking and whether we would ever be ok again.
Anyway, mercifully, the cord arrived for her laptop so she is back to listening to history, writing stories, and making her own Word Searches. She doesn't really play much any more. All her time is spent trying to make the little red spell check lines go away. Join me in never showing her how to right click.
And join me in praying that Alouicious' Halloween Knight Costume comes in time. May God have mercy on my soul. May God have mercy on me.
Really wanted to dress the baby up at Yoda but figured if I spent money on it, she would hate it and be obstinante, and there isn't really anything better than an angry child in the Bee. So it will be Cleopatra (may God be praised we dispensed with the Warrioress idea), A Knight, Captain America, A Butterfly, A Princess and A Bee. I was going to be Michelle Dugger but I think I'm just going to wear Glady's Wolf Hat.
Providing there's not a hurricane. That sounds fun, doesn't it? Sopping exhausted cold hysterical children up way too late and then work and school the next morning. Yay.

Go check out Jen!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

children's books with an edge

Tired of the soupy sweet repetitiveness of Children's Books? Longing for something with a little bite? Here are two of my favorites.

Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear!
by N.M. Bodecker
illus. Erik Blegvad
If you don't mind a little nasty feminism, this is a lovely book. Mary has so many things to do to get ready for winter--bringing in the harvest, winterizing the house, mending warm things, and finally (spoiler alert) placing a pot of tea over the head of her husband who hasn't lifted a finger to come to her assistance. While you're telling your sons not to marry a floozy, you can put a word in the ear of your girl child not to marry a man who might order her around. Worth the horrified snickers of children who know in their immortal souls that its very bad to pour tea on other people.

Cinder Edna
by Ellen Jackson
illus. Kevin O'Malley
Who among us hasn't wanted to trip Cinderella as she ascends the steps of the Palace to be swept into the arms of her Prince Charming?  Ellen Jackson provides a charming outlet for those of us who live on the darker side of Disney. While Cinder Ella sits in the Cinders and whines, her neighbor, Cinder Edna, after catering to her evil Step Mother and Step Sisters every chance whim, doesn't want the hassle of constantly washing ash out of her clothes. Edna rolls up her sleeves and cheerfully adds to her collection of jokes, perfects her repertoire of Tuna Casseroles, and earns money mowing lawns and cleaning bird cages. Her true love turns out to be a man who loves hard work and kittens. On the whole, this book offers a cheerful and friendly alternative to the nauseating idiocy of Disney Love.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the final countdown

As I've wholeheartedly joined with vast swaths of Americans swinging wildly day by day through the Political News Cycle--obsessing over Daily Tracking Polls, watching as stories rise and fall in importance, reading pundits who despair and then rejoice, despair and then rejoice depending on what's happening at that particular moment--I've noticed every day a greater and greater sense of frantic impoverishment. Not in myself, of course, but, as it were, in other people. Imagine! A whole society of people operating from that deep well of loss, anxiety, possible bitterness, worry....oh wait, I've just described every human society. 

So anyway, this is what popped up in my Daily Scripture Moment (because I, at least, read a few verses of Holy Scripture before settling myself down comfortably in the mire of The Huffington Post, Drudge, Hot Air, The New Republic, Ace of Spades, The Daily Kos, The National Review, bla bla bla),
Haggai One

4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
God is enormously irritated because He's just delivered Judah out of Exile and brought them back to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. And its not as if this sort of regularly happened in the Ancient World. You wouldn't normally have been taken into exile and let to grow into an even stronger flock and then sent back to your Home with a lot of gold and helpful letters telling everyone to lay off and let you rebuild. It was the work of God and everyone on every side recognized his Providential and Mighty Hand. So when Judah got home and re-paneled their houses but at the First Sign of Discouragement slacked off not just fancying up but building at all the House of the Lord, He was understandably ready to smite them all again. But he didn't have to smite them because the natural result of neglecting God is poverty of spirit and person.

So we only have twelve or thirteen days left until this madness can be put to rest for another three months until It All Starts Again, but perhaps the coming days could be characterized by God's care and providence, rather than foolishness and insanity. Or whatever.

Monday, October 22, 2012

another month goes swiftly by

October appears to be nearly over. We have one more birthday and, of course, Halloween, and then we can seriously devote ourselves to The Christmas Pageant. So anyway, we did go Apple Picking. We picked the very last apples off the trees and also gathered in one large pumpkin.
 The baby was no help and Romulus, after picking half a bag of apples, lay on the ground and moaned that he was too exhausted to do any more. Fortunately he was able to gather his strength to play in the little playground before we left.
  And here they sit, still not made into anything, except a one pie. Maybe tomorrow I'll get to them. But really, someone needs to lend me their clever apple peeling/coring/slicing contraption. 

     Oh look! A baby caught in a ray of light, pushing herself along on her little bike. 

Gladys turned five last Monday. She felt that the day wouldn't go well when we insisted we had to go to Wegmans or we would not be able to eat for the week And Then we made her go in the play place by herself so that we could be alone to each buy her a present. She cheered up only when we gave her a large doughnut and a large pink balloon. Unfortunately for all of us, her wretched sister Marigold sat on the balloon On Purpose and popped it and so, as you can see, life goes on being a veil of tears. Here is her new bike, with bear sitting in the front. And then the bike with matching pink outfit and red boots.


 And then Wednesday was the Harvest Dinner. A brilliant time was had by all. The food was fabulous. The company was scintillating. And then afterwards the dog got locked in Marigold's room, and very foolishly, when I was running around in a panic looking for him, I sent Alouicious up to check the rooms instead of going myself. We searched the neighborhood for half an hour before checking upstairs again. Next year (note to myself) I'm scheduling in the Harvest Dinner as a Day Off from school. Better just to plan ahead instead of trying to pretend you're going to do something that clearly you're not going to do, like school.
 I realize that these pictures are grainy and uninteresting, but I was waving my phone around in no clever attempt at true picture taking while keeping children from smacking into the tables, trying to convince them that they would eventually be allowed to eat food but that, no, they couldn't be the first in line, and that, yes, they would have to run back to the house and have a piano lesson in the middle but that, no, the piano lesson would not ruin everything and that therefore, they could stop crying and just cope with the reality that exists in the present, for, says our Lord, Do Not Be Anxious or whining, but in everything Give Thanks.

Marigold is especially thankful for this cool new shirt that her Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather (GGPa, GGMa) sent her. The shirt says '100% GOOD 10% of the TIME' and is exactly the right expression of her immortal soul right now.
This morning she, Marigold, came crashing down while it still seemed very very dark and shouted, 'Turn On The Light. Its So Annoying!'
And finally, here we have the baby trying to break my computer. She was properly dressed and ready to be taken somewhere and in about 30 seconds she stripped everything off and got in my bed and started smacking the keyboard with her fat fat fat fists.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

seven quick takes

We seem to be getting up later and later in the mornings, one because of the cold, and two because we keep not sleeping. Elphine broke the plug on the laptop she hauls into her cubby every night and so we were confronted not with throw up or bad dreams but an inconsolable ten year old who couldn't go to sleep and who, at 3am clumped down to try to sleep on the couch. Her not sleeping produced not sleeping in Marigold who screamed from ten to eleven in some kind of rage. "She won't let me turn off the light," complained Elphine.
"What is she? In charge of this room? She's not three yet. You're ten. You don't have to do what she says." This seemed a totally novel idea and I have no idea if it will go on to impact our future life together.
Wednesday was Good Shepherd's 112th Harvest Dinner. I sometimes wonder what our children would be like without this dinner. It really defines who they are as people--the acquiring of vast plates of food with no reference to me, the pie, the juice, the army of friends to careen around the church with. Three or four ladies were shocked to find me Not Pregnant. Laughed with them about how crazy it all is.
The Harvest Dinner and then it being our Shepherd's Bowl week totally ruined our school life. Last night, while not sleeping, took a dismal and irrational look at my ability to succeed in life and discovered myself to have failed at everything. Finally read news headlines to make myself feel better. I mean, at least I'm not Brittany Spears. So there's that.

Or Honey Boo Boo. Whatever that counts for. If yo don't think we're in serious civilizational decline, meditate on the phenomenon of Honey Boo Boo and the ubiquitous nature of the Styrofoam coffee cup and start saving for that generator after all.
Maybe feeling more apocalyptic than usual because I just finished Ezekiel and Daniel this week. Can't read Daniel seriously because of The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn. And also, was so distracted during Ezekiel that came away feeling the book was sort of a mess. Obviously need to go back over it with a concentrated mind.
Wish Matt would preach through Ezekiel.  But he wants to preach through the New Testament before he dies, so he really doesn't have time to take on Ezekiel. Although we're finally going at a break neck speed through Mark--20 verses last Sunday, 20 or so this Sunday. Probably only another year and a half in Mark.
I will say, Sunday after Sunday, I'm so grateful to be married to a man whose preaching I enjoy. In boarding school all the staff took turns preaching and on particularly bad days I would watch the wife of the foundering preacher and wonder what kind of encouraging and helpful feedback she could possibly offer. Would imagine all sorts of possible conversations. I'm such a bad person.

And on that note, I guess I'll brave this rain laden day and see about breakfast. Have a lovely weekend and don't forget to check out Jen!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

the season

This Election Season is going to be the death of me. Here we are at 7:30 just now trying to wake up and grope towards life giving elixir ( of milk.....). For the first time in ages Matt and I catastrophically disagreed about the outcome of the debate last night. As far as I can tell he stayed up all night discouraging himself reading NRO who always believe the worst no matter what. I thought the debate went pretty well. Discovered that I don't mind a little blood letting in the midst of the fray (unlike, apparently, all Independents and all Women). Maybe I should watch Homeland.

I went to bed at midnight instead of listening any more to various "Independents" in Frank Lunzt's "Focus Group" (he always wears too much blush) swing wildly back and forth as they convince themselves and each other of totally opposite outcomes in the same breath. Wonder if they get snacks as they watch the debate. Surely they don't sit in that formation for 90 minutes?

Anyway, thinking of putting out a Homeschoolers Guide to Surviving an Election. It would include things like 'How to Lower Your Standards Enough to Meet Them Because You Got No Sleep' at 'How To Read Life of Fred and Surf the Internet for New Polls on Your Phone At The Same Time' and 'How to Convince Your Children That Breakfast Is Not the Most Important Meal of the Day.' I'll let you know how #3 goes later because that's immediately in my future.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

pie for breakfast

I can't really type because I stabbed myself yesterday while trying to remove some unnecessary and insane piece of plastic from the handle bars of Glady's new princess bike. I had to lean over the sink for quite a long time trying not to pass out even while my husband insisted it wasn't that big of "poke" and why was I pretending to swoon. "I'm pretty sure I stabbed through to my bone, you Horrible Person," I wept. Now I am holding my wounded pinky in the air like an insufferable snob, and moaning to myself about how difficult life is.

Although not that intolerable because I made so much pie yesterday everyone just had two quarter-sized pieces for breakfast. With tea. And now everywhere is smeared with pie and puddles of tea are flung far across the wide expanse of my red table. And children are roving over the face of the house coloring on the wall with marker, whining about having to do school, roaring, and taking ice out of the freezer to build an ice mountain on the floor, respectively. So I guess I won't laboriously upload birthday photos and write a nice long post. I guess I'll go shout at everyone to get to work and see about rescuing some of the pie.

Pip Pip.

Friday, October 12, 2012

some takes or whatever

Gladys overate and threw up at 3am Wednesday going into Thursday. She came down shouting and hysterical, convinced that she was deathly ill. None of us slept for the rest of the night. Discovered that I can no longer be sleep deprived. It just can't happen. Everyone needs to sleep through the night, no exceptions, not even for being sick.
As I struggled up to cope with the vomit, I discovered that Elphine has moved all her bedding into the cubbyhole in the wall. She's set herself up with blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and a laptop with The Story of the World on iTunes.
Gladys turns five on Monday. She is turning out to be a complicated little person. She is very fussy about what she wears. She's very fussy about how and under what conditions she can engage in school work. She is very fussy about which spoon she has with her tea in the morning. She is very fussy about how her pony tails are when she has pony tails, or her bun is when she has a bun. She likes her ham sandwich with just ham and cheese and not butter. If you accidentally butter the bread, everything turns out badly. She plans to be a butterfly for Halloween but I think something a little edgier would be more in keeping her with her soul. Not that I have anything in mind.
I shouldn't be blogging. I should be writing my Quarterly Reports pour le gouvernement. Am I  already at the end of the first quarter? Wow. That's what comes of starting in August. Seems we've done a lot of work all these weeks. What a deep eand profound thought.
Should have written them last night instead of watching the VP Debate. Couldn't look at the screen anyway, what with Biden giggling and laughing and talking over everyone. So weird. All the pundits afterward speculating about what The American People want and like just capped the whole unpleasant experience off. Wished I had the evening back as I struggled the baby back into bed. She joined us half way through, chewing on pepperoni circles and spitting them onto the floor like we were in some second rate bar.
It appears to be raining again. Explained to Matt on Wednesday, a day it also rained, how grateful I was that we got out to pick apples on Tuesday. We picked the last apples off the trees at a nice farm with a playground and an amazing view and there was no rain, only sun, and we also managed to get a pumpkin.
"Ew" he said, "I hate it when the sun shines in fall. It should be gray and raining, otherwise there's no point."
How can anyone possibly think this?!?
I have pictures of the apple picking, and of a pork cabbage stew I concocted this week, and of the dog stuck in the couch but they will have to be for another day. Now, blast it all, I'm going to go write those quarterlys. Go check out Jen!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

laundry--the quixotic years

Being in a wise and sagacious frame of mind I thought I would bequeath you all some of my vast experience and knowledge on the subject of Household Management, particularly in the realm of Laundry. I'm sure you're all sitting fretfully at your computers or on your tablets, or scrolling down your phones and thinking, 'what on earth am I going to do about my Laundry?' and wishing that another exasperated MommyBlogger will just post One More Time about this important matter. Perhaps you're casting about for some scripture or spiritual insight, in which case, go read the Gospel Coalition. Or maybe you wish you were reading Simcha, in which case, go read her. But just maybe you thought, I wonder how Anne manages her laundry, in which case, read on.

My first piece of advice is to have a baby every other year so your mother will feel sorry for you and come bail you out for a month. This is important because your mother will be appalled at your table linens and the awful stains on the fronts of shirts and how many buttons are missing and things like that. She will exhaust herself selflessly on your behalf, working diligently away on laundry problems you hadn't even noticed. When she eventually prepares to go home you she will anxiously guide you through your once familiar laundry room and impress on you the importance of Doing Your Laundry Every Day and spraying Krud Kutter On Everything. She will have reorganized your whole system to make sense and work smoothly. You will weep as she gets on the plane.

So my second piece of advice is, after your mother leaves, cry for two weeks and four days until your husband notices and, in a desperate bid to make you dry up, takes over The Laundry. He will do it masterfully and consistently and you will notice, after six months, that you seem to be getting fatter and fatter. Then you will Realize that he has shrunken all your sweaters, and washed all the boys Sunday Shirts with a pen mixed in so they can never be worn again. But then he will say, I really like doing the laundry because you seem so calm and unhysterical and you will decide you don't care about your sweaters.

My third piece of advice is to watch a season of the Duggers and discover that the reason you are struggling with your laundry is because you had a bunch of children and that if you didn't have any children at all, you wouldn't feel badly about yourself because of your inadequacy about The Laundry. Keep watching and discover that the Duggers keep all their dressers and hanging things in The Laundry Room. That very day move every single clothes storage option into your laundry room.

Now you can properly address the following problems.
1. Apparently its too hard to take something off and fling it on the stairs for the person whose job it is to carry The Laundry into The Laundry Room. Everybody is exhausted and troubled by other things and has to be reminded to
2. Apparently its very difficult to find something to wear and to remedy this problem, all one's clothes have to be flung all over the floor of the Laundry Room and carefully stirred into the pile of dirty things so that there is no longer any way to discern what is Clean and what is Dirty.
3. Apparently its very difficult for the person whose job it is to carry The Laundry into The Laundry Room not to take a detour through the basement dropping socks and shirts and trousers and skirts and unmentionables in a line as if making a way to get back home if left in the forest by an evil Step Mother.

Decide, after reading a lot of blogs, that your mildly spacy ten year old should be given the task of gathering up all these scattered clothes and sorting things by color into bins. Know, in your heart, as you prepare to train her for this New Important Task, that you are setting yourself up for a whole new world of frustration and rage because Children Are So Incompetent. Decide that you're going to do it anyway and that maybe God will have pity on you and come back today, or tomorrow at the latest.

Monday, October 08, 2012

my sermon from sunday: mark 5:1-20

Here is a link to the audio. And here is Matt's really excellent class--Part One. More to follow through the month. Enjoy!

Last week, you might remember, Jesus calmed and rebuked a great hurricane of a storm raging over the Sea of Galilee.The day before, Jesus had preached for a whole day,and then the storm was during the night and now, as the night is giving way to day they arrive on the other side of the lake in Gentile Country.

I know what I'd be thinking as the boat hit the land. Coffee, for heaven's sake, and some delicately fried fish.You know that quiet restful meal in the aftermath of a crisis.So grateful to be alive, that the dawn has risen, and the sky is rippled with pink and golden and stillness. And yet, we do not have perfect peace. As the boat slides up on the beach, though the wind and waves are calmed, the disciples, are living with the new sure and terrifying knowledge that the person in the boat with them,Jesus, is the person of Psalm 89:9 who controls the weather, who speaks and all creation obeys him. He is the Lord of Creation. Nobody in the boat really wants to find out
what else he is Lord of as they climb out of their boats, stiff, exhausted, relieved, casting the eye about for breakfast.

Mark tells us that Immediately, as Jesus stepped out of the boat, a Man with an Unclean Spirit came suddenly towards them. Matthew and Luke both recount this event. Matthew remembers two men
but doesn’t tell us anything about the second. Luke adds
that the man "for a long time had worn no clothes." All three gospels make the special point that, 'he came from the tombs.'
So here you are, a straggler on, following Jesus. You've just nearly died. And as you step on to sane dry ground, a crazy crazy man,
completely naked, comes racing down from the tombs. You don't want to really be here anyway in gentile country, and you notice there are foul unclean pigs everywhere and so on top of being hungry, worn out, and afraid of your good friend Jesus, you’re calculating in the back of your mind how long it will take to ritually purify yourself once you get back home, but the straw that breaks the camel’s back is this man running maniacally towards you, covered with a stench of death.
Naked, crazy, living in a cemetery—and not like cemeteries where we might go and walk around and picnic on the gravestones—no this is a cemetery of open tombs hewn out of the side of a hill, tombs you could walk into where bodies were laid out to decompose and then all the bits gathered up and put in a box. He lives there. The word is to dwell, to settle down.
And he's crazy. Mark says that he had been previously bound. Over and over again the community had tried to restrain him. What kind of person do you try to restrain? A person who is out of control, who is dangerous. Matthew says he was so fierce no one could pass by that way. you restrain someone who is ruining everything, hurting people, hurting himself. There's an indication that he has been becoming more and more violent and out of control because they used to restrain him, but they no longer do. He became strong enough to wrench the chains apart, to grind the shackles.

And now, he lives among the tombs, and, verse 5, 'he was always crying and cutting himself with stones.' 
 We don't really have this in this culture, but where I grew up there were people who we called 'fou'—crazy. There was a woman in my village who wandered from place to place moaning and carrying on.
In the towns and cities you would often see a single solitary man or woman, filthy, dressed in scraps from the trash heap, shouting or carrying on. You wouldn't stop and greet a fou—they live in a separated way, outside, crazy.

In cold countries we incarcerate people like this, but this man, this man seems like the hulk. He can break chains, he's super human. And that's exactly the point. It’s not just him, he has what Mark calls an Unclean Spirit. And not just one unclean spirit, because look at verse 9, Jesus says, 'What is your name,' and the man doesn't answer, a spirit inside him answers that the name is Legion 'for we are many.' 

As unpleasant as it is for us sitting quietly in this place with nobody screaming or yelling, we need to deal with what this Unclean Spirit is. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6 verse 19 …do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? Remember that when you come to faith in Jesus, when you give yourself to him and trust in him for everything—for salvation, for the needs of the body and soul, for the renewing and transforming of the mind—he comes to live in you through the Holy Spirit. All of us are a body with a mind and a soul,
but within us can live Jesus, through the Clean Pure Perfect Holy Spirit, God. When you give yourself to Jesus, he gives himself to you, he lives in you. The Holy Spirit has power over you. Anyone who is in Christ has had the many supernatural—that is, not natural—experiences of sorrow for sin, of joy, of gratitude in the midst of things being kind of a wreck, of peace, that is, knowing that everything is going to be ok even when all circumstances suggest that nothing will ever be ok again. The Holy Spirit has power in our lives
to make us do what we would not naturally do.

This man had a Legion of Unclean Spirits living in him. A Legion is like 6000 Roman Soldiers. It’s a way of indicating a very large number. This man is overrun by filth, depravity, brokenness and hell. He is naked. The first act of bringing sanity and forgiveness to Adam and Eve in the face of their sin was God's slaughtering an animal and covering them with the skin. This man is naked and wounded. He has been cutting and hacking and destroying himself. The spirits in him are the complete opposite of the Holy Spirit who lives in you if you belong to Jesus. The spirits in this man are from hell. They belong to Satan who rebelled against God, who was cast out of heaven, and who is allowed to roam over the earth, joining with us in ruining God's creation. These spirits can take up residence
bringing their power and devastation into the human mind, heart and body. They can, and they do. They have in this man. They have made hell alive in him.

It might not be too hard for you to see hell in the news and the ruined lives of others but if you look very far down, into the depths of your heart, not making excuses, not blinking or turning away, you might see some very ugly things in yourself. I looked at myself this week and found that I was really angry about some things. Am I justified in being angry? Not so much. Has God given me his own self? Then I do not do well to be angry. And yet, that blackness is down there, abiding deep. We have to look hard to find hell around here, this man, it was all over his poor broken body.

I read this week that this man had it worse than Job. Job lost everything and was sick, but he had a long conversation with God.
This man is not even allowed the use of words. The demons,the Legion, speak for him. 

They propel him toward Jesus and fling him down on the ground, the word is for worship, for obeisance to someone greater, of kissing the hand, and when Jesus speaks to the man, they answer. In fact, as soon as they see Jesus, they become hysterical and screaming, 'what have you to do with us?'  And they try to force Jesus into an oath--'I adjure you'—not to torment them. They are asking for Jesus not to send them into the Pit, the place of waiting for the ultimate and final torment of hell. He has the power to send them there, but they beg him not to, and then they beg him not to send them out of the region, for, says Mark, 'Jesus had been saying',
that is, he began saying and kept on saying from the moment he saw the man, 'come out of the man.' They know they've got to obey.
They are trying to buy time. And so Jesus, verse 11, lets them enter into a herd of pigs. 

Now, some of you might be thinking, poor pigs. And others of you might be thinking, why didn't he cast them into the pit. For those of you upset about the pigs, well, there's no answer that will make you feel better. Jesus is Lord over heaven and earth, over the waves and the wind and over the demons. Just as he has the power and authority to rain down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, the power and authority to send his people into Exile, just as he has the power and authority to dispatch any of us this morning, he has the power and authority to consign these pigs to the devil who hurls them down the beach to their watery grave. What can I say, it’s not pc. This is not going to be the place you go to make Jesus relevant. But I think our worry for the pigs very often eclipses our compassion for the man.
Look at the visual of all that evil coming out of the man. You can see it. It takes up a vast herd of pigs—That’s how much evil was in this man. And then it’s gone, in one word. 

Now to those of you upset that Jesus didn't just send the demons into the pit. This is the great mysterious providence of God, isn't it. The fact is that God let Satan in in the first place, knowing that he would ruin everything, knowing that we would plight our way with his,
knowing that it would culminate in the death of Jesus himself. And yet he allowed it. He not only allowed it, he uses the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against him to sharpen and hone us, to test us like metal is tested or tempered in fire. He allows Satan to persecute those whom he loves so that we will be weak, so that we will be forced to depend on him, so that we will not be able to take credit for the work that he does in the world and in our lives. Which takes us back to the man.

This man is so broken, he is so wounded and there is no pulling himself up by his bootstraps to clean himself up and come into church. He doesn't have any bootstraps. He is nekked. He is bleeding. And this is where I want you to stop identifying with the poor sorry disciples clustered together in sheer horror, nor with the pig herds who are pulling pigs out of the water as fast as they can to haul off to market, and making ready to run to town to tell everyone what's happened,nor Jesus. Don't put yourself in the place of Jesus—
because that's what we like to do, isn't it? Look at that poor sorry hellion over there. Let me go help him put on some clothes and stop cutting himself. No, put yourself in the place of the demoniac. 

Before Jesus saved you, you were on the road to hell. You may not have had 6000 demons making themselves comfortable, but you were in the dark, you couldn't make it better, there wasn't anything you could do to climb up the long sides of the pit you were in. And then Jesus just spoke, he made you alive, while you were dead, while you were a sinner, while you were his screaming naked enemy, he breathed into you gave you a desire for himself and clothed you, and gave you your mind back. Look at verse 15, he was clothed and in his right mind.

And that's when everyone is scared out of their boots. The whole town is here now. The pigs are still being hauled out of the lake. And this man, this crazy crazy wounded man is sitting, like a reasonable person you could have inside for dinner. Just like the disciples in the boat are more afraid after Jesus calms the storm, the people in this town are more afraid than when they had a crazy guy living in the tombs. They beg Jesus to go away. Get out of here. We're happy with the evil we know and love. You, you go away.

Don't be upset when people utterly revile and reject you and are repulsed by your love for Jesus. Don't take it personally. These people beg Jesus to leave. And he does. He gets back in the boat
with his probably now totally hysterical disciples. And, verse 19, he doesn't let the man come with him. Here, even before he sends out the 12 and the 72, he sends out this man. This is the first man who's allowed to talk about what Jesus has done for him. He says 'go, tell your family'. And this man goes to all ten cities of that region. He goes to every market, every dinner party he can get invited to, and he tells everyone about Jesus. Can you imagine the story from his perspective? You should be able to. What has Jesus done for you? Did you used to be awfully angry? And now you're still angry but you feel really bad about it, and it’s getting to be less every day? Were you dead but now you are alive? Jesus is the Lord of Creation,
and he is Lord over Hell and the Power of Hell.

Let's pray together as we close.
Lord Jesus Christ, cast out the works of darkness and destruction in our lives. Clothe us in your love, transform and renew our minds, fill us with yourself. Amen.

Friday, October 05, 2012

quick quick takes

I have now gotten the drift, what with being really slow on the technological end of things, that blogger has been acquired by Google and its name will be changing along with lots of other things--like the format and look of everything. I know this is just one more sign of the end of all things, but in the meantime, am feeling anxious about my little blog. Read some random techy blog that said, 'if you are a serious blogger (Cough) you should own your own...' can't remember the word...platform? website? I guess if I can't be bothered to remember the lingo, I don't deserve to really freak out.
And also, since I downloaded (or whatever its called) the update on my awesome phone (worrying, of course, that this would be the update that obliterated the coolness of my phone because of Apple winning everything in the world) I've been obsessed with the amazing voice search thingamabob. "What do you want to know?" I keep hassling Matt.
"I don't know" he says, "whatever."
"Nightlife in Binghamton" I speak authoritatively into my phone. And then Google perfectly hears my voice and comes up with a total of 5 things going on in Binghamton, this very night. Except that, shock to all our souls, none of them look interesting.
Really wish I was smart enough to think of more things to inquire of Google. Maybe my blog will be ok after all.
Honestly, the distraction of technology fully explains to me why so many westerners are completely uninterested in God. What I don't understand is the atheist who also refuses to own an amazing phone or a fantastic computer or tablet or something. If you don't have Google or Apple giving you meaning in life, and you don't have God, honestly, what do you have?
I suppose you could live vicariously through your children. But that wouldn't have worked out for me this week. Suffered a week of complete and total annoyance from every single one of them. Not a single one escaped standing on my nerves in a regular and exasperating way. Yesterday however, after staying up way way way too late watching the debate and all the spin afterwards, sat down in the school room with a vat of coffee and played solitaire while the children did school. Should have thought of it earlier. I was there, letting the boring boring conversation waft over me, and yet, I was also awake because of the solitaire.
What an amazing debate! As so many have noted, to get through ninety minutes without leaving the room even one time in mortification and embarrassment, What A Gift! Was astonished to read a long article on NRO about how Romney actually prepared. Wow. (You might think I'm being sarcastic but you would be terribly wrong. Never have I been more sincere.)
But also dreading getting through all the rest of the debates this month. As if we didn't have anything else going on, like three birthdays, the Harvest Dinner, and Halloween....gak. Elphine wants to be a Warrioress (her word) and wear a long red dress with chain-mail over the front. Gladys wants to be a butterfly. Romulus wants to be Captain America. He purchased the shield himself and then, ever the defender of freedom and the American Way, threw it really hard expecting to destroy some kind of bad guy. Tragically, he missed the evil villain and struck Glady's face by mistake (or so I was told in the appalling aftermath). Her little eye is purple and black and yellow and some other shades of pain.
And now, I hope you'll go check out Jen because it sounds like I have to break up a brawl downstairs and after that I need finish making some little party food and wrap a present for a lovely baby shower and then vacuum so that I won't be mortified when my friend comes this afternoon and also make the children do their school and clear off my desk and finish gathering Sunday School lessons together and change laundry over and pick out Sunday Clothes and take a walk, probably, and what was that other thing? Oh Yes! Finish my sermon. As a birthday present to Matt, I'm preaching on the Demoniac in Mark for him. Been thinking of all kinds of great jokes. Maybe you could add to them here. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

our big tree--phfr

 The leaves are really glorious this year. We happened to go out to say goodbye to someone and on the way back up the walk got caught by needing to make a pile of leaves.
 At first it was only a matter of throwing them up in the air as impressively as possible.
 Even the baby finally figured it out.
 Then I made the mistake of trying to get them all to face me.
 Nobody could seem to get it together, least of all me.
 Least of all the baby.
 Are they all sort of looking at me? Almost.
 And then its gone.
 But I still didn't have the sense to cheese it.
 Fatty Lumpkin
 Romulus, big enough to wear this nice shirt that I always liked so much.
 Elphine who has lately been insisting on wearing this sort of Amish/Mennonite get up. I'm all for modesty, Believe Me, but this was not my idea. She is very well satisfied with herself.
 Nobody will hold still. So irritating.
 Somebody told Fatty Lumpkin not to take leaves out of the pile but rather to put them in and she took grave offense. It wasn't me, though. Don't blame me.
 And then a final  moment of throwing leaves.
 And falling down in them.
 And then Elphine had a melt down where she wanted to build back up the pile and not only would no one help her but it seemed they were deliberately taking leaves out of her pile to through in the air.
 She became more and more angry and hysterical and shrieking until...
 I ended all the joy by announcing we had to go in. Then everybody was mad.
No amount of promising that maybe we could come out again because, if you notice, most of the leaves are still on the tree and its possible they'll fall and there will be even more leaves on the ground, would console those who had been enjoying themselves So Much. That's autumn--so beautiful, so short, so tragic.
Go check out Like Mother Like Daughter!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

a season of election

Not that one,
this one.
Not that it matters, as Matt points out. Someone will eventually have to make a decision.
I remember back in the bad old days we used all wait and long for a saving word from Lambeth Palace, we used to sit in bed late at night and parse every turn of the head and eyebrow move and have hope. Ah, the innocence and stupidity of youth. Of course now we know that if someone suitable were picked, God's strength and sanity wouldn't have an opportunity to be made perfect.

And on that note, I am going to stop reading the internet and do something else. Cheerio!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

a strengthening thought

I'm still mired in Jeremiah and Lamentations as I climb the mountain of Reading The Bible Chronologically--well, not reading, listening when I'm still half asleep in the mornings, or listening while I'm trying to cook which means shouting 'Will You Be Quiet' every few seconds.

Anyway, where was I, oh yes...I'm particularly struck this time round, and this is the result of blowing through a whole book in a day or two, by the contrast between the dry straight forward narrative accounts of the kings and politics of Israel and Judah in Kings and Chronicles over against the deep well of emotion in the prophets, particularly when God is speaking directly (Jeremiah, of course, is really unhappy, but not more unhappy than God). I've known this intellectually and frequently fight it off on the level of the heart. Its one of the big claims of Christianity brought into stark embodiment in the Incarnation--our God is a personal God. He is personally invested in his creation.

Which, of course, is not what we want. We want something mechanistic and malleable in God, something we can really 'get a handle on'. Nevertheless, instead of cut and dry revelation from God whereby we and he can reach our stated objectives, we are given long long long passages of poetry wherein God is disappointed and angry with us for rejecting him and determined not to let us win but to save us anyway. It is tempting to rush forward to the summery narrative cut and dryness of the gospels where Jesus does stuff, says things, but doesn't seem so Emotive UNTIL you realize (by coming to all the services in Holy Week) that all the words of the prophets, all the deep grief and anger, are the words of Jesus in his passion. He not only absorbs all the sin and destruction of his creation on his cross, but all the words, all the emotion are his.

Its so messy. Its like watching the news versus spending time with someone in their grief. Everyone can do the first, none of us want to do the second.

And on that note, I'm going to turn that smile upside down and go make breakfast. Have a cheerful day!

Monday, October 01, 2012

les crepes

Matt needs to buy me a new crepe pan, but in the meantime, I'm making do as best I can. We don't really call these 'crepes', we call them 'fancy pancakes'. Alouicious always has them for his birthday. If you want to quadruple this recipe, and why wouldn't you, you need
8 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup water
2 cups milk
a large pinch of salt
don't bother with any sugar because then you can't take them right out of the pan and rip off a hunk of steaming pork, wrap it in the fancy pancake, dip the pancake in the saucepan of gravy and eat it right there when nobody is looking, and that would be a real miss for you.
While you're flipping your crepes in your good crepe pan, using plenty of butter in between each, drinking a glass of wine, and slewing batter everywhere because you haven't positioned all your utensils correctly, you can cook two apples into a pulp with more of that Manzanilla that you now always have on hand because it goes so well with everything, again, with no sugar because the apples are perfect without it.
Then you roll each crepe with a dollop of apple and a dollop of mascarpone and stuff them into a baking dish so that everyone at least will get two each, although more is better because there will be a real sense of real loss when they were all completely gone. Drizzle Lyles Golden Syrup generously all over the top and let them warm in a 275 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then spread a whole lot more mascarpone over the top as if it were butter and eat them, either with your hands, or with a spoon, or with a fork, or, as Marigold did, with chopsticks. Of course, more apple ladled over the top would be delicious, if you happen to think of it.