Sunday, March 31, 2013

Week in Review, 3/31/2013

Alleluia!  He is risen!

I hope you had a blessed, wonderful Easter Sunday.  Ours was great, and even a little relaxing.  But more about that in a bit.  Looking back, here are the highlights from our week:

I mentioned it in a post a couple of weeks ago, but my camera course started Monday!  I will likely be posting many more pictures here in the next ten weeks as I try to practice, practice, practice.  So far we have just been getting our feet wet, becoming accustomed to sharing our work and being on a study schedule. 

The real work starts tomorrow.  I already appreciate the push to get out there with my camera, though.  I am carrying it everywhere, and even though I haven't worked up the nerve to take it out all the time I am taking a few more pictures than before.

The boys had a successful trip to Orlando for the band and chorus festival.  The middle school chorus took second overall at the festival, which they were quite excited about.  I was excited to have them back home.

Last week, winter held us in her grip for one last lousy week.  By Tuesday it was only in the low 40s for high, with tons of wind, and that was the day that Darcy and her class went on a field trip to the Explorations in Antiquities center.  If you are within a couple of hours of this little museum I would say it is worth coming to see.  They have recreated several living situations from Bible times, both Old and New Testament, and their guides have tons of information they love to share.  The kids love it but it was just so darn cold!

Darcy and her friend wearing head scarves, just like shepherds in the desert.
Cooking bread over a fire.

Don't let the sunshine fool you--it was cold!
I got to make a little detour on my way home from the field trip to check on my new kitchen cabinets.  Here's one:

I was so excited to see it!  Right now, though, I've been packing up the kitchen like crazy and I'm just worn out.  My main thought right now is, "This better be worth it!"

We didn't have school on Friday, so Paige had her sweet friend Anna come over and spend the night on Thursday.  We attended the Maundy Thursday service at our church and then went out for ice cream afterwards. 

The next day the girls slept in--actually, everyone slept in--so I snuck off to Pilates from a quiet house.  They were almost as quiet when I got back! I wouldn't have believed it, but somehow we really need this break.  We are tired.

The girls helped me do some counter shopping (literally--we looked at counters for the new kitchen) and then we did a little shoe shopping.  Both girls have graduated to wearing the very smallest women's sizes.  That has made shoe shopping so much fun!  We took a detour by Bill's office and then headed home. 

Friday night was the Good Friday service.  The service ends with these words in a bare, dark, quiet sanctuary:  "Behold the life giving cross, upon which was hung the salvation of the whole world."

Saturday Jack had a track meet.  In spite of being there AT THE SINGING OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM we missed his first event.  GRRRR.  I have no idea how that happened.  Later we got to attend an Easter Egg Hunt at a friend's house--tons of kids!  Tons of eggs!

And then we all went out to dinner to celebrate my dad's birthday at a local Japanese restaurant:
Happy Birthday, Dad!
What a great day.

Finally, we got up this morning and headed off to church bright and early to get our Alleluias out of the box.  My absolute favorite part of celebrating Easter as a Lutheran is saying Alleluia over and over again on Easter, after taking the word out of our vocabulary during Lent. 

We had a long, relaxing, yummy lunch at my mom and dad's, but since I've just uploaded those pictures from the camera I'll just leave one for now:
Now I just have to finish packing.  Changes are coming.  Everything in the kitchen should be removed tomorrow.  Oh, here's a couple of updated pictures of the laundry room:

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Being a Christian in a Post-Christian World

The world isn't Christian.  It doesn't even pretend anymore.

This is a major shift from when I was growing up.  Christian was the default choice, and of course everyone went to church on Sunday mornings.  When I got to know some Catholic kids and found out they actually went to church on Saturday night, that rocked my world.

More importantly, there was an understood source of morality.  Of course not everyone adhered to it--this is post 1960's, after all!!-- but the underpinnings were there.

If you're a Christian, I have news.  It's over.  That is bad, and maybe also good.  I think this is the first of several posts I'll end up writing on this topic, because I am just now realizing the magnitude of the shift, how vastly different the world my children will live in is from the world I grew up in.

Right now it feels bad.  I think that many of the religious institutions we are part of are still equipping kids to live in 1989, possibly minus the big hair.  (Hopefully they will miss the grunge phase.)  Instead, we need to be preparing our children to be different, to understand and be able to articulate what being a Christian really means, in our day-to-day lives and not just on Sunday.

And that means that being a Christian must actually show up in my day-to-day life.

That is hard.  And scary.

I never in my life thought I would be called hateful for believing what the Bible says about marriage.

I never would have believed that we are the weird ones for not wanting to participate in sports events on a Sunday morning.

I never thought that I'd be openly mocked for believing that a Jewish man in a Roman territory was crucified, died, and was buried, only to rise from the dead and change the world.

I read this article yesterday and it has weighed on me.  Everyone wants to have family, a home.  And young people, in droves, are substituting friends for church.

On the one hand, they are on to something.  We were created to live in community with each other, in an accountable and loving group where we feel important, and where we make others feel important.  But they are missing the One who put that desire in us, and who can unite us in ways that no worldly friendship can.

God commanded the Jews in Deuteronomy:
Hear, O Israel:  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.  Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.  Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  (Chapter 6, verses 4-9)

Tell your children.  Tell each other.  Don't stop remembering.  This is so important in Jewish tradition that it is part of the Passover meal every year.  Tell what God did for you.

In the article, only a tiny fraction of these gatherings will include some sort of reference to the Easter story.  No doubt that some of these people's parents went to church, at least on Easter.  No doubt they knew some stories.  But they weren't important enough to share with their children.

Now the children have no stories to tell.  So they are making up new ones.

Today, what is important to me about living in a post-Christian world is remembering to tell my children what God has done.  What He continues to do.

My children need these stories so they will not have to make up their own.  They need to be part of the community of believers who will talk.  They need to share the history and see how their lives fit into the history that God has laid out for us.

Today, I will recite and talk and bind the words and write them.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Week in Review, 3/24/13

Late, yes.  Okay.

Last week was a blur.  Coming out of our amazing clinic at the farm, I headed out of town for an event connected to my church for FOUR days.  Crikey!  I had a ton of laundry to do before I left, but I have to say my husband did an absolutely amazing job holding down the fort while I was gone.
The one time I went to the beach at Pawley's Island.

The week in Pawley's Island, South Carolina, was incredibly productive.  We came away with many, many ideas to think about, along the explicit instructions from the organizers to do NOTHING but sit with our new ideas for a little while.  Sit with something?  I can do that!  Ha.  I'm looking forward to getting to use some of what we learned, but for now I am just letting things settle and reading a few books.  Stewing, I suppose.

While I was away, my boys left for Orlando!  The school choir and band, seventh and eighth grades, left on Thursday and are due home this afternoon (Monday).  They had festival performances on Friday and then enjoyed Walt Disney World on Saturday and Sunday.  So far I've gotten two phone calls of 38 seconds and 2 minutes, and four text messages.  From both boys.  That's it!  I miss those boys and am really looking forward to picking them up.  Two more hours...

The weather here in Georgia has taken a turn for the disgusting.  It poured all weekend and is terribly cold for early spring--only 39 degrees right now, midday!  Not the kind of weather that makes you want to do anything at all outside.  We still have a few more days of this and then the weather might--MIGHT--be over sixty by Easter.

Because of the weather, we didn't go to the lake this weekend.  Saturday we braved the elements to head downtown for some shopping.  The girls needed Easter dresses.  I'll just say that the state of pre-teen fashion is ABYSMAL.  Want me to beat a path to your door?  Open a dress shop of non-tacky dresses for nine- to fourteen-year-olds.
You can pretty much tell how much fun we were having.  BTW, these are Lily Pulitzer dresses--NOT tacky!  But Paige hated hers.  So did Darcy.

And here's an update on the laundry room:

This is probably the worst picture I have ever taken.
There's a roof.  And walls.

Here's an interior shot.  I think I'll start including these because the changes should start coming inside soon.
Honestly, these are bad pictures.  The color is terrible!  What is up with my iPhone?  I thought people made great pictures with them.  That orange up there is possibly the color I'm painting the laundry room.  It is a Benjamin Moore color, "Mango Punch."  It is much cuter than it looks there.  It looks sick there.  Yuck.

Have a blessed Holy Week!  Do you have any special plans for this weekend? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week in Review, 3/17/2013

I guess I'm a day late or so with this, but our Saturday bled right into Sunday this weekend so here I am.

Matthew and I got to go see Oklahoma! on Sunday together.  We haven't done anything, just the two of us, in forever.  Our date to the high school musical was a lot of fun.  Every year I am amazed at the quality of our school productions.  What amazing talent and enthusiasm the kids have.

Bill and the other kids went over to the farm and did some work.  We are very fortunate in that the work we have to do over there is more like playing, because our friends who live there take amazing care of the place.  Jack hung out with Moe.  It occurs to me that I haven't posted a picture of Moe in a while, so here you are:

I was a single parent most of the week, as Bill went to Germany for a trade show.  He sent me some interesting pictures:

Shoe tub, anyone?
Horizontal Shower.  Yes.
And we had this text exchange:

(Yes, I also posted it on Facebook.  I'm just including it here for posterity.)

Paige and her friend continued to get ready for Math Olympics:
Paige told me later that she thought we laughed more than we did math.  I like that.  She might be right.

Matthew had his Confirmation interview with our church's leadership committee this week.  I didn't stay to listen, but it sounded like it went well. He is one step closer to this big milestone.  Confirmation is in May.  It seem like yesterday he was baptized.

Of course, sometimes it also seems like a million years ago.  Life is funny.

Friday was a momentous day for several reasons:

Paige got second in her Math Olympics!
Darcy decided to go swimming for the first time this year.
 Bill came home.  (No photo necessary.)

Saturday was tremendously busy, and thankfully the weather cooperated in full.  Spring in Georgia is funny:  we get a couple of absolutely gorgeous days, then some deadly cold, and then some days that are a little warmer, then some cold and rain, and then some really beautiful days, and then the pollen.  We had the really beautiful days on Saturday and Sunday.

Jack had a track meet, which I wasn't able to get to.  (And I didn't get any pictures from.  Boo!)

Matthew went over to the home of a member of our church to do construction work. 

Our friends' son, who was injured in a car accident (you can read his story), has decided to move back into their house.  To accommodate Justin's wheelchair, a bunch of handy guys from church are helping to modify several rooms and the entrance.  I love that he can hang out with a group of men of all ages and be useful and have a great day. 

We had a clinic at the farm all weekend.  Richard Watson, an internationally-known dressage instructor, spent the weekend at the farm giving lessons.  It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about my own riding and how to approach the sport in general.  We had so much fun!  Here are just a couple of pictures.

It was a little more stressful than it needed to be because I handled the lunches for all the clinic participants both days.  Lunch was tasty but I need to be better organized next time!  (Famous last words.)

Saturday night the boys and some friends went downtown to eat at a Brazilian steakhouse.  They weighed before and after:
Obviously, my husband's idea.

Coming up this week, the boys are headed to Orlando!  The school choir and band are going to festivals at Disneyworld.  I have some things that I am mulling over, ways to change the organization of my home, that I may share later.  When everything is in disarray I find myself craving organization books and ideas.

Speaking of disarray, my laundry room got started!  Monday we were here:

And Friday we were here:

My contractor assures me that I will see more progress next week.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week in Review, 3/9/13

We are firmly back into some sort of post-vacation routine, although I can juuuuust see Spring Break from here if I stand on my tiptoes.

Paige and her classmate Connor continued their daily preparation for Math Olympics.  It takes a bite out of the morning but we really are having fun.  Math Olympics is THIS Friday, so we just have a couple of days left to learn everything.  EVERYTHING.
On Tuesday I got the unexpected treat of lunch with two of my aunts and uncles at my mom's house.  It was my Uncle Ed's 74th birthday!  So, so good to get to see them.

We finally had enough good weather to ride twice this week.  The girls and I had a great lesson on Tuesday, and then on Thursday night I took a lesson with a guest trainer who has competed internationally in dressage.  He is giving a clinic at our farm next weekend, so I suppose this was his way of checking the place out, LOL.  Here's just one picture of Richard with another friend who rode on Thursday--you can tell the weather was just spectacular!

This weekend Matthew and Jack both participated in DNow, a county-wide youth retreat.  They spent the night at someone else's house and took part in group worship, music, and service projects.  Actually, our church used their service time as a fundraiser for their mission trip, and they painted the fence at our farm!  From the looks of things it was a successful afternoon, and our fence looks much prettier.
Not all the paint made it to the fences...
...but most of it did!
If it's a weekend in the spring, that means there's a track meet.  While Jack didn't do so well in the pole vault, I got some great pictures (and he did pretty well) of the triple jump.  He posted a slower time on his 3200 meter run, but he was feeling kind of sick so I think that had something to do with it.

We also had a cook-out at the barn on Saturday, just a little one to mark the one-year anniversary of Shady Oaks and also our trainer Sandra's birthday!  No pictures, but a good time was had by all.  The weather has finally turned delightful, and so it just felt luxurious to spend so much time outside on Saturday.

Possibly our biggest news for the week is that the boys may have decided to quit Scouts.  I mean, I think they have decided to stop Scouts.  Between school and sports and music and church, Scouts seems to not have a place in our lives, and it has become a constant source of guilt.  ("Have you worked on this badge?  Gotten that advancement?")  It makes me sad, because I truly believe in Scouting, but for our family I think the decision is for the best.  

It looks like I'll be a single mom for most of this week, and we'll end with Math Olympics and then the clinic at the farm.  From our home to yours, have a great week!

Friday, March 8, 2013

An excuse to post more mountain pictures.

Morning in Montana
Never really blogged about our stay in Big Sky.  So I will now!

This was our third year staying in the same house on Low Dog Road, and our second with our friends Bill and Kat joining us.  And our third year having a great time skiing the ridges and peaks that make up Big Sky Ski Resort, and yet still somehow not having time to ski Moonlight Basin, just over the other side of the mountain.  I guess I found our reason to go back.

Our ski days are roughly the same:  in the driveway putting on our skis by 9, ski down the road to Thunder Wolf lift and get started.  Break for hot chocolate and french fries around 11, then a late lunch around 2, and try to be the last lift up in the afternoon at four.  If we hit the 3:59 lift then we would ski down Silver Knife back to our house around 4:20.  Then we'd hit the hot tub, fix dinner, play a few games, I'd fall asleep, and then bed. A single-minded, awesome vacation. 

Kat pretending that stretching will help the soreness later in the day.

Reading also made the agenda.
Kat and Darcy discussing breakfast possibilities.
Jack trying to will us to hurry up.
Bill and Jack planning that day's attack of the mountain.
Bill skiing down a little slope on Middle Road.  Kat is above him in white.
Matthew and Paige in the bowl.
Paige, Matthew and me huddling for warmth.  Look at that Blue Sky!
 We went out for dinner a couple of nights.  One night we were at the awesome Buck's T-4.  They specialize in wild game.  We had duck (roasted and bacon-ed), trout, elk, red deer, bison--a real carnivore's delight!
Jack enjoying his duck
Bill and me.
The two-hour time zone and a big meal made it hard for Darcy to keep her eyes open!

Another night we went to Montana Yurt.  This was a FUN excursion.  We met at the base of the resort and boarded snow cats for a trek up the mountain.  We even rode on the roof!  It was snowing pretty hard so I didn't get any pictures of that.  Once we arrived, we packed into a toasty, candle-lit yurt with about thirty of our now-close friends for soup.  Then it was back outside for sledding!

Inside the yurt dinner continued with beef tenderloin, salmon, and lots of yummy sides.  We finished with dessert but with all the great food earlier I have totally forgotten what we had!

After skiing for three days straight, we did take one day off to rest.  Everyone slept in, had a long breakfast, and then some of us headed into Bozeman for a little shopping.  They have some wonderful places for Western decor that is really hard to find in Georgia!  Since our basement is done in a cowboy theme I like to pick up a couple of things.  But then we were right back to the slopes on Thursday.
Jack's awesome new pants!
More french fries.
More game playing.
One knock on Big Sky is the cold, and, no doubt, it can be really cold.  You could see some of the blue, blue skies we had, and while the temperatures were often in the high teens, the wind can be frigid.  Helmets are good for warmth as well as protection!  The trade-off is wide-open slopes and huge terrain, especially for skiers.  None of us are great skiers (except Kat and possibly Paige) and Big Sky offered plenty of blue and green slopes to keep us happy for a week. 

Our last night we had a power outage!  We were without power for ten hours, so we made a fire and the kids camped out around it.  It was a cozy, if inconvenient, way to end another week in Winter Paradise.
Thank goodness we could find the candles!
One of the best parts of our vacation is sharing it with our friends.  Kat and Bill moved away a couple of years ago.  Before that, every one of my kids had had Kat as a Sunday School teacher along the way.  And we were in a small group in our church that became very close. 

C.S. Lewis talked about friendship and heaven in one of his science fiction novels, about how heaven would likely feel very much like a warm evening, glowing fire, good friends, a glass of wine and laughter.  Of course he said it better than that, but when we're together I can't help but feel like we are getting a little glimpse of heaven.  (Kat, when you read this I KNOW you'll know what I'm talking about!)

We awoke to six new inches of snow on our departure day.  Big, chunky flakes, like living inside a snowglobe!  But those freshies weren't meant for us, and we had to say goodbye for another year. 

Looking down Low Dog Road as we left.

Thanks for reading!