March 30, 2010

Brian's Haircut

It was that time again. That's right, Brian needed a haircut! It's really rainy and we've been inside all afternoon. So I decided to do it myself. I had to consciously practice compassion when he was pitifully weeping about how itchy he was feeling all covered in hair. (I really wanted to keep snipping at the fluffy hair at the back.) You're a trooper buddy!

Earlier today:

Now:

March 27, 2010

The Shadow of Death

Yesterday, the sister of one of my college roommates died after a brief and sudden illness that caused cardiac arrest on Monday. The disease destroyed her body in less than a week. I'm overcome with sadness for my friend, her family, and for this young woman's husband and his family. In addition, another friend is observing the one year anniversary of her mother's death; my friend is here and her family is in the southern hemisphere. My heart aches for her and her family, as well.

As I was trying to process this yesterday, I turned to the Bible and looked up 'death' in the concordance. This verse caught my eye. It's from Ecclesiastes, one of the wisdom books, and it reads like this:
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:2
This verse reminds us that death is part of real life. We can't imagine it away; being near it keeps us mindful of our frailty; and it causes us to look outside ourselves for meaning.

I don't know about you, but when someone is suffering, it can feel so awkward, trying to figure out what to say or what to do - or what NOT to say and what NOT to do. In the short run, I think it's easier to run away, or send a card and think we've done our duty. It is HARD to be near to those who suffer, not because they are difficult, but because suffering is what it is: painful, agonizing, reveals our weakness, etc.

But then there's Jesus, the Word. The believer must turn to Him. He gave up the heavens for a while, to enter into our broken world. He came to save people from sin and (while he experienced some popularity) was regularly, misunderstood, unthanked, hated, and finally killed. In prayer this morning I was reminded of the verse in Isaiah that reads he was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. God knows what it's like. We can come to him in and with our pain. Psalm 34:18 reads, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Not only does He know what it's like, but He did something about it! Jesus came to bridge the gap. God is the source of life. Man disobeyed and fell into sin. We are all left under that curse that separates us from God, leaving us dead. And we are powerless to restore the relationship. Ever. So guess who took care of it? Yes, God Himself! That is why Jesus came. In Matthew 1:21, Joseph is told to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. And Jesus later says, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 6:24)

None of this makes light of suffering, asking us to buck up, smile and simply trust God, pretending our heart isn't breaking. In fact, it very much acknowledges how awful death is and how it is not what God intended. And God is not afraid of it; He endured it. It doesn't offend or scare the God of the universe when people cry out to him in the agony of loss, pain, or suffering. He experienced death, that we may have life! He is no distant God, our ever-present help in help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

I still don't know exactly what to do for my friends, if I even need to 'do' anything. But I know that Jesus called His followers to love God and love their neighbor. May He enable us to love our neighbors (anyone around us, friend or foe) in a life-giving way that brings Him glory. I sure know I can't do it on my own. Lord, have mercy. And come, Lord Jesus, we look forward to watching you make all things new!

March 24, 2010

Fashionista

Elizabeth picked out Brian's outfit today. The t-shirt and shorts were together in the cupboard, tags still on, because I'd just purchased them last week in celebration of the warm weather. But the knee socks she added on her own. It is chilly outside today, but our apartment is generally between 76 and 80 degrees, so this outfit's perfect for a morning inside.

March 23, 2010

You Never Know What You're Gonna Get...

I got a bonus gift on the bottom of one of my vegetable cans tonight;
Market Basket never disappoints!
It was cinnamon.
(Now you're wondering if I chewed it, aren't you?)

March 20, 2010

Friday with Friends!

Friday we spent almost the entire day with good friends. What a treat! It's crazy to think that we have at least 7 years of history together, post-college history. Amazing.

The plan was to spend a lovely morning at the Arnold Arboretum taking in the first signs of spring. With five kids between the two of us - we were watching another little girl for a short time - the lovely morning quickly deteriorated into muddy bottoms, chasing after kids headed to mud puddles, tumbles on the asphalt, etc. All of this terminated after about an hour and only about 200 ft into the park, with Elizabeth taking a hard tumble and scraping her face. Fortunately, no teeth were broken or knocked out and we made it back to Jenny's without any more incident. Some photos from our brief time out in nature:

A blooming tree!

Should we take this path?

Off the path again!

Rock collecting?

Signs of spring!

Snack time!

The kids (and at least this mom!) all seemed very at ease with the boundaries that 4 walls of a house provide. We had a nice lunch, played, the kids took a rest, and Jenny and I got to catch up. Then, since it was a most brilliant day, we gardened in their fully sunlit front yard. What a delight and a perfect kick off to the first official weekend of spring!

The big boys!

The big girls!

Watering to make the dirt pellets expand.

Planting the seeds!

Ahhhh, sweet spring!

Jenny instructs the wee gardeners;

and they get to work!

Happy spring to you all! Could we be in for our first and only real spring in Boston? I wonder.....

March 18, 2010

It Rained Here

Prior to our beautiful weather this week, we had a weekend of rain. And by rain I'm referring to 6+ inches in 3 days. R-A-I-N, rain! Our playground transformed into a pond or swimming pool, and Monday morning I couldn't resist taking the kids out in their (quickly rendered useless) rain boots to find the deepest puddles. Boy, did we find them! Our friend, Inka*, caught the action in photos from her balcony.

Really, it's not too bad.

Let's go check out this corner,
it seems to be the most flooded.

Elizabeth headed further in to our left,
while Brian and I continued straight ahead.

She ended up with boots full of water;
we rescued her from a park bench.

This picture best displays the depth of the water on that far end of the playground. You can just see the tops of my boots.

Even more amazing: the playground was mud-free the following day and many moms and kids were out enjoying the 50 degree weather and sunshine we'd missed having over the weekend!

*All rights reserved on these photos. Please do not copy, unless your name is Inka, you love photography, you have two adorable children, you speak Polish, German, & English, and are my neighbor! Yes, Inka is one amazing woman.

March 15, 2010

Testimony

The Background Story
This year, I have been leading a women's Bible study on Tuesday mornings. It a study I've been attending since the fall after Elizabeth was born, making this my sixth year. When I learned I was pregnant, I was so excited to get to Bible study, since I would no longer be working. I love this group! There are a few who have overlapped with me the entire time I've been there and many who have come and gone. This is a very transient area with the universities and hospitals bringing people in for brief windows of time. How good it is to see God bind us together by His Word, allow us to pray for one another, and give us friendships that will last forever, even if here and now we move to new cities and new adventures.

When I started going we were often freezing, because the heat never worked very well and the insulation and windows were terrible. And we took turns caring for the children, because the budget didn't allow for childcare. But we consistently studied the Word, prayed together, cared for one another, drank coffee, and ate snacks! My friend and our leader, Meda, kept us focused on God, His promises, His goodness, our need for His grace. Thanks, Meda, for steering us away from so many rabbit trails!!

Now, as I think about how the group has grown an changed - how our children have grown up a little, how many new babies have been born, how the church can afford to pay three women to care for the kids, how warm it is with new windows and good heat, how wonderful the big, new coffee machine is, how many women have come and gone or stayed, how Meda's moved on to a different leadership position, how I'm now leading - it fills me with joy and amazement at how God works.

Earlier This Year
Last summer I began studying the book of Joshua which you can read about here and here. I was also planning to begin homeschooling in the fall and anticipating moving out of Boston at the end of 2009. Throughout the summer there was some talk of me stepping into Meda's place and leading on Tuesday mornings. I really wanted to do it, but didn't want to commit to something, not knowing what homeschooling would be like and not wanting to leave part way through. Then, one morning I got a call from pastor Rick asking me if I'd lead the group. Hm....

I said I'd talk it over with Colin, my dear sounding board. I knew he was concerned I'd get in over my head if I took on more responsibility. But he also knew I was really excited by the opportunity to lead. So, he supported me taking it on. Since I'd been studying Joshua, I told Rick I'd be happy to lead if studying Joshua would be okay, given that I already had my head in it. He agreed and helped me find an appropriate study guide. We started up as usual, at the beginning of September.

What's Happening Today
We did not move away in 2009 and we'll be staying through the end of the school year! It has not been that difficult to balance teaching Elizabeth and leading on Tuesdays. And, we just concluded our challenging study of the book of Joshua a couple of weeks ago. What joy it brought to my heart to hear women share about how God has been weaving things we've been learning into the fabric of their faith. My prayers for the group are feeble and sporadic at best, praying mostly that God's word would take root in us. He is faithful and doing just that, far beyond my weak expectations. Thank you, Father!

During the last few weeks of the study, I realized that I needed to figure out what we were going to do next. There's not really enough time in the year to start up another full-blown book study. I was feeling at a loss, asking God for some inspiration, and talking with the group. Then one morning, (Jan 29 my journal tells me), the inspiration was given. We should tell our stories, give testimony to how God called us from darkness into light and how he's changing us as we walk with Him! It fits so well with Joshua, too - God making and keeping promises to give His people an inheritance. It opens up opportunity not only to get to know each other better, but also to worship and praise our gracious God!

So the journey continues. God's Word and faithfulness endure through all generations. To Him be the glory for ever and ever.

March 12, 2010

ZOO!

We went to the zoo today! Elizabeth has been learning about mammals and what distinguishes them from other creatures, so we took field trip.

Brian, when we arrived.

He livened up quickly when he saw the animals.


This goat was very loud!


This guy always puts on a show;
we've never visited without hearing him growl.
His name is Christopher.
video


Brian wasn't sure if he should be interested or scared of this guy.

And he wanted to give this fella a hug,
or at least a good chase!

Lunch!

Tractor!


New Animals!

I decided to take my chances and not take the stroller. Brian did a lot of walking. I did some carrying. Today was not a popular zoo day, so he was able to wander free and really enjoyed himself. Here he is running; he sure can run!

video

Clean up! Clean up! Everybody! Everywhere!

This week has been full, full of many good things, but still quite full. Last night, I had to tackle a large mountain of dishes. Do you ever have a 3-dish-rack kind of night? Had one of those here last night, including hand-drying 3 or 4 larger items!

Exhibit A
to the right of the sink

Exhibit B
on the other side of the sink
Wire cooling racks with a dish towel underneath are great makeshift drying racks!




Inside and Outside

A little morning coloring tutorial from Brian.

Step 1: choose a color wisely

Step 2: remove any debris from the coloring surface
(e.g. your sister's arm)

Step 3: create!


We've been outside a lot this week. We've discovered that these little mats are great for picnicking.

The kids have been delighted to spend so much time outdoors. Mom, too!

March 8, 2010

Las Chicas and Brian

Countries present at this play date:
United States, Singapore, Chile, and Iceland

I'm hoping this little guy
sleeps like a log tonight.

We spent a ton of time outside today.

My cheeks are sunburned.

Sweet!

March 6, 2010

Into the Woods

It's too early to say "spring has sprung." We do, after all, live in New England! But man, it sure has been invigorating this week to see crocuses popping up and to romp around outside in 50 degree weather. Once I saw the weekend forecast, I knew I had to get into the woods this weekend. It is perfect hiking weather and it's been a long time since we've been able to enjoy nature without donning snow pants, hats, gloves, and puffy coats. We went a little north of the city to the Middlesex Fells Reservation, specifically to Bellevue Pond. I have no map of the trails, but we made our way up, down, and around some of the Skyline Trail, getting directions back to Bellevue pond when it was clear we were heading too far away from where we wanted to end up.

Sadly, Colin could not enjoy the weather with us. He has a committee meeting this coming Thursday and is working away. Prayers are much appreciated, for all of us, but mostly for him, his work, and his sanity. We may be looking forward to the end of graduate school. Maybe. Just a little....

In the meantime, here are some photos from our excursion.

The pond in the background is still frozen.

There are a couple of swings by the pond.

Our trail blazer!

Testing out some walking sticks.

Brian would NOT look at the camera!

Strange rock circles.

A bridge over a babbling brook.

I'm thinking there may be another hiking trip on the cards for tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to the woods being full of life again as spring nudges her way in, leaving winter behind her!