Friday, March 30, 2012

finding things to celebrate

Last year, we purchased the lot next door from our neighbor. It has a pole barn/garage building (which we will not use for our car for a few years...) and all kinds of various things on it. We've been tearing down all the stuff and trying to clear the lot so we can have a yard and garden. Our neighbor did a lot of gardening, but you know how life gets sometimes when you get digging. You find all kinds of stuff that needs cleaned up. (Did I mention the lot used to be some kind of service garage for cars?)

When we were visiting my friend Rhys, she sent Pat and I out on a walk with her camera lens to go find things worth a picture. It is a dark time in her life -- darker, perhaps, than people should have to experience. When your toddler is pronounced terminally ill, it doesn't leave much of a view for whatever else may be going on in the world. There wasn't much of a view of the world from the house they're in temporarily, either, but I started from their front porch and worked my way out into the world, looking for things to celebrate. It was a good 20 minute life lesson for me.

I am convinced there has to be beauty to be found in even the most dire of circumstances and that part of my job is to find it.

My yard is certainly not the most dire of circumstances, but even so, I thought I'd apply myself to finding things worth celebrating in it, especially since this working season leaves me prone to complaint. Spring has offered a few small bursts of celebration, even in my own yard. I thought I'd share them with you.
one of the cherry trees in bloom

the serviceberry bush we transplanted from next door
(it's beautiful in the fall, too!)

yes, even the dandelions, which have provided some tasty springtime food for us.
and they don't look too shabby, tastefully taking root in a border with the daffodils.

blooming apple tree

the last daffodil standing (it is time for the tulips, after all.)

What are some of the things worth celebrating in your very own (literal or metaphorical) backyard?

Monday, March 19, 2012

learning about the back door

My son.

I was working the chili cook-off when he came up to me to ask to buy something from the adjacent bake sale. He poked at me and said:
"Mom? I was wondering it I could have...could I" He stopped to collect his thoughts. Then he began, "Hey, Mom? Fifty isn't very much money."

Upon finishing lunch today, he said, "Mom, I'm still hungry. Could I have something else?"
"Yes. Would you like some pineapple?"
"No, but that cake looks really good."
It took me a second to keep from laughing at the casual way he tried to just throw that in there. "We're not going to have cake right now," I said.
"If I don't want pineapple, what else can I have? What else can I have if I don't want pineapple? Do you hear me? What else can I have?"
"I'm not talking about it right now."
"Oh." I got about 5-10 seconds of reprieve from the boy asking about more food. Then he put on a big smile and piped up: "Mom, I love you," and kissed me on the cheek.

This is a boy who knows how to get what he wants. I don't ALWAYS give it to him...but sometimes I do.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Salt in the Mountains

God made the earth. We live in it. We fill it up. We use it. It is a gift. Sometimes we think about being stewards of it, taking good care of it; sometimes we don't. There are all kinds of groups that talk about the use of land, but we don't often see the church involved in the discussion -- at least not the church as such. And I think that's too bad. Individuals in the church may participate or have opinions, but often we think of ourselves as people with opinions instead of as God's people who are given a distinct role as the salt of the earth in the places where we live. Given that we believe earth itself was the first of all the good gifts God gave us, we deserve a place to encourage, pray about, and give thanks for the land we call home.

Anyone I know who was born in Appalachia, no matter how long ago or how far they've been removed from the area, considers that place home. If Mary and Joseph traveled back to Bethlehem for their census, we'd travel there. It is the place we answer to. It is also a place we will answer for.

Because Christians have personal relationships with the creator of the universe, it makes sense that we would have a uniquely valuable voice in conversations about the blessings He has given us. And, though we often praise God as creator, the image conjured up (at least in my mind) is often of the entire cosmos. Just as it would be strange for me to praise God for his overall goodness without praising Him for his specific goodness in my life, so it is strange to praise God for his overall creation without praising Him for the very land we call home. This is a relatively new idea to me, though it is a very old idea -- from as far back as our relationship goes. Maybe it's an idea forgotten to many, since I have yet to run across a forum on the subject. And so I begin the discussion. Well, not I...we.

I have started a new blog: God's Mountain People. I have a couple other contributors already and we are excited to work together on this project. We hope you'll join us. Together, we will be celebrating our heritage and God's gifts that are unique to Appalachia. We welcome all God's Mountain People to join in the discussion. I will be happy to edit and post your stories, thoughts, and words of praise as their own entries to the blog. We welcome all interested in learning more about what it means to be a Christian from a particular local place and time to listen in and comment away! Please share the link and tell your friends. We want as many readers and participants as we can get!

Friday, March 2, 2012

dreams take flight

We are working on adjusting to the time change we will encounter in Idaho. It feels a little surreal that it's actually going to happen. We're to the final preparations stage. We are almost better -- just a lingering cough for the kids and lingering sinus issues for me. They have a few days to go away. Please pray that they do.

I'm told Zaya is planning a party. There is much to celebrate.

Eden is content knowing Lia and Zaya have toys they will share. The girl has her priorities in line.

Israel is busy finding every scrap of paper he can to cut it to bits and make it into a "collage" for Lia and Zaya. It's his latest invention. Every one of them looks like a small firework stuck to a single piece of clear tape. Every one of them is actually some really specific thing with specific parts to do specific jobs that are dreamt up after the collage is assembled.

So many pieces have come together to make this possible -- anonymous people giving their bits (or chunks!) of money, prayers, and other assistance to make such discussion possible.

After so much blunt honesty with the kids about Lia and her condition, I was initially hesitant to talk with the kids about the trip. For it little while, it seemed Lia might not be around by the time we could visit her. Maybe she would still be in the hospital. Maybe not. But she's home and as well as she's been in quite some time. I was also afraid that perhaps the money might not come in and I knew there was no way we could make up any deficit. Then I realized pieces were coming together to make it work. This bit stuck; that piece landed just so. One bit was a friend asking the kids about the trip before I had told them about it. That was the push I needed to go ahead and let the kids know this is something I believed would happen, but wasn't sure of yet. (I wish we didn't need to teach our kids about faith; it's scary. Ah, well. Someday that won't be necessary.) With the whole thing being assembled, we are now free to dream up exactly what this will be, leaving plenty of room for the artistic freedom of the other dreamers. These days, part of us lives up above the clouds. We talk about what it will be like.

Thank you.