Monday, January 23, 2012

just thinking about the weather

Some ambient music to begin this post: 10,000 Maniacs.

My son is obsessed with the weather. This morning, he asked me to turn on NPR so he could "hear the weather report." (I know. I'm going to have to buy him a sitting chair, some spectacles, and a pipe for his next birthday.) Most mornings, when the weather comes on, Israel suddenly perks up and, once it's over, he repeats back to me everything it just said. On good days, I get a replay of some other station's weather from a friend who really and truly just likes to call and talk about...the weather. We know the 5-day forecast around here.

Never missing an opportunity for some sort of lesson, I've been teaching Iz about the weather. Beginning when the leaves started to turn, we watched videos and talked about the tilt of the earth and how it makes seasons. We've learned that different places in the world have different seasons. We've learned that we have four seasons. (I just realized I'm including myself. "We." I already knew this, of course. He's the one learning. And maybe Eden, but she hasn't become involved in our discussions yet.) He's played computer games, putting leafless trees in the winter scene and green trees in the summer scene. He's dressed cartoon characters in seasonally-appropriate gear. He knows his stuff.

But this is a really bad year to try and teach your preschooler about seasonally-appropriate weather. We've had rain, thunderstorms, and 50-degree temps just like the rest of the midwest this year. (Of course this started to happen right after I explained to a friend who just moved here how much worse our winters are than winters a couple of states south.) So when we've been able to go work in the "garden" outside or put on just a T-shirt and hoodie before heading outdoors in the middle of winter, Israel has been thoroughly confused. There's been a bit of a progression in his understanding of what's going on.
It started on a sunny, warm, winter day:
"Is it summer?"
And continued on a mild, wet day, after a few wet days:
"Mom? What season is it going to be after the rainy season?"
And, on the day it thunderstormed and melted all the snow:
"This weather is CRAZY! It's winter! It shouldn't rain in the winter; it's apposed to SNOW."

I agree. (Maybe because he was largely repeating things he's heard me say.) I usually make fun of people who think Indiana weather (or Kentucky weather...or everywhere else's weather) is some sort of crazy anomaly. But THIS? This is the strangest weather I've seen yet. I haven't put much stock in predictions about the end of the world. But I think the Mayans might've been onto something. This just may be the end of our calendar as we know it.

And now, a closing song by R.E.M.

Back to helping my 4-year-old make sense of it all...or not.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"[Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed -- the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were."
Romans 4:17

God calls things that are not as though they were. He gives life to the dead.

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.' Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead -- since he was about a hundred years old -- and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God."
Romans 4:18-20

Abraham believed and hoped against all hope.
Without weakening in his faith.
He looked the facts square in the face.
And he believed the promise of God, anyway.


When Pat and I were officially NOT dating (that totally awkward time after we told each other we knew we were supposed to be married when he broke up with me and dated another girl...) I kind of hated thinking about the promise God had given me about Him. It just made me mad. It didn't line up with the facts. And I faced the fact of no relationship with Pat just about every day, since we studied together every day in a group of about 12. One day, at the end of class, he met me in a doorway, looked at me, and said, "Hope."

I could have killed him. How dare the one killing, or delaying, or preventing, or stepping all over the promise ever think he is in the right place to demand hope of me!

Still, it was the right thing to do. Even though it hurt. Especially coming from him. Hope. Not try and make it happen. Not figure out how to make it sound good on paper (or on a blog entry). Just hope and believe and wait in the face of the facts.


This advent and Christmas season, my thoughts around Jesus were taken over with the story of my friend's little girl, Lia. I've never met her in person (since she lives far away), but I have known her through my friend's blogs (click to read it) since she was a newborn and Eden was kicking around in my belly. Lia has had a rough time from the start, with surgeries, lung problems, G-I problems, developmental anomalies, and all kinds of things no one understands going awry in her beautiful little body. I want for my friend's daughter everything I want for my own daughter and it is hard to see her robbed of her own health.

Lately, she has been losing weight and is losing many of the abilities she had worked so hard to gain, such as speech, walking, being alert, and eating. And no one knows why. What we don't say outright is that we are afraid she is just wasting away and will die without ever being given a fighting chance. Test after test yields no result and no diagnosis. It feels hopeless in terms of her longevity.

One night, I laid in bed crying and praying for her and I felt like God had something to say to me about the situation. It wasn't a promise that everything would be just as I'd like. It was a directive to pray believing that God CAN make everything just as I'd like. Not because it's important that God can do my will, but because it's important for me to recognize that I pray to the God who can do more than I can ask or imagine. To that point, I had been acting as though His power in the situation was pretty much the same as everyone else's. But it's not. When I pray, I'm praying to the God who really can give life to the dead and call things that are not as though they were.

More often than not, I try to hedge my bet in prayers and assure myself with reasons why it will still be okay and I will still trust God when He doesn't come through like I want Him to. But I found myself faced with a decision one day. I was looking through pictures of Lia when Israel eavesdropped and decided to make her the topic of a string of questions. And I had to decide: Do I introduce this girl to my kids? Do I encourage them to pray for her, as we do for others we know who are sick? What if she dies? What will my kids believe about God then?

I realized then that I was trying to hedge my bet. It's not my job to explain or tidy up God's plan for the world. And why would I think it's a good idea to keep my kids from getting to know anyone they may lose in life? Are we only supposed to pray for things we know are going to turn out alright, anyway? No! This precious little girl and her family are people. They are people who hurt and who laugh and who fight and win and fight and lose just like we do. They are people of prayer and courage who need prayer and people of courage, which is just what I want my children to be. So we're not going to hedge our bets, here. We're going to pray for them and stand by them however we can.

The God who can raise the dead, who can intervene to make anything any way He wants meets us as we walk in through the door. He says, in the face of despair or pain or death that only He has the power to obliterate: Hope.

So we do, even though it may hurt and even though it could be dangerous...especially coming from Him.

We hope against all hope
trying not to weaken our faith
we look the facts square in the face
and we believe in the power of God, anyway.


I am not the world's best pray-er. And I don't have the world's strongest faith. At all. Those facts don't change just because I'm writing this blog entry about prayer and hope. But if you're not perfect like me, I hope you'll be encouraged even as I have been encouraged.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

family pictures

Christmas is a great opportunity for a family photo. Everyone's together and happy. So we take a picture of everyone together and looking happy. We woudn't want to miss a shot of everyone...all together...looking (at the camera)...happy! It's one of life's simple treasures.

But let's be honest. Here's the real story of this year's family Christmas picture.

It was more of a quick-fix upon realizing that we hadn't taken a picture when we actually were enjoying Christmas together. So we called Brandon and Sarah to dress nicely and come back over. The rest of us managed to cut Israel's hair (which disappointed his Aunt) and give both kids a bath, fix their hair, and put on nicer clothes ourselves (even my pretty-sick father!) in not much over half an hour. Friends/in-laws showed up just in time to witness the event. My lovely daughter has broken the flash on my camera (which I don't like using, anyway). Dad found and set up a tripod. I arranged the lamps in the room just-so and took a test shot before involving any children. You know, to save needless chaos.

Yeah. That was about right. Re-arrange the superfluous furniture...add the rest of the people, and check the formation:

Wow. I couldn't tell on the small screen everything that was wrong with that picture, but the shadow people were creepy.
So we had our friend, Tim, hold the table lamp up at an appropriate height for the rest of the shoot while his wife, Robin, held down the shutter, per my instructions. I didn't know that my camera would stop taking four shots in a row, preferring to take a shot every 2 seconds or so. This made all the pictures completely unpredictable. I could hardly believe it when I took a look through over 50 pictures to find NONE of them fit our criteria of everyone together, looking their best, and smiling. But I think this is its own kind of better. Here's a real picture of family pictures. Enjoy them more than we did then and as much as I do now! (They may be best viewed by clicking on one of them and then seeing them in succession.)
Not bad...we just need to ALL look at the camera.
and not be hysterically happy...

or silly
whatever it is, Brandon, stop it!
alright, except for mom...
Too crazy. Swap kids.
fix Eden's hair...
...and if we could just get the adults to cooperate...
Eden, just sit still with your hands on your lap!
...but not like THAT.ugh. ISRAEL!
tell the kids to sit STILL!but also to smile... but not a silly, too-big smile....
And then I lost it.

Oh well.

Family pictures.

Is it only like this for us or does this sound like your house, too?