27 January 2007

Soul Surgery

My Bible Study group is going through the Sermon on the Mount, and we're just getting into the "Blesseds." "Blessed are the _______, for they shall _________."

I am struck with the sense that in order for me to be blessed, I first have to realize how in NEED of that blessing I truly am. To gain the riches of heaven, I must first comprehend that I am completely impovershed. To grasp the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, my own spirit must file bankruptcy.
Humility. Teachability. Soul surgery. That's what I need.

These are huge truths for me to ponder over the next several weeks. Truths the Deceiver would have me believe to be lies. Truths the Pharisees suffocated with red tape and loop holes. Truths to which I am somewhat numb as a result of my own consumption, gluttony, materialism, self-righteousness, and seeking the good life.

The 'ol iPod is going to be quite busy over the next 6 weeks, reminding me of my neediness, my poverty, the blessedness of being without my own resource. Now I can be filled up!

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and
"sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this,
they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy
who need a doctor, but the sick.
But go and learn what this means: 'I desire
mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but
Matt. 9:10-13

Aarin freephoto.com

I'm sharing several of my soul surgery tunes with you to the right, if you'll just press "Play."

23 January 2007

Sugar at My Doorstep

Robin, got the idea from someone else, who got the idea from someone else (probably)... to post a picture of the view from our front door. Well, of course I thought that was a brilliant idea, especially since it had just snowed so I had quite a lovely powdered sugar view to offer you.

I'm a few days late with this post, but it's better than never posting at all!

Looking one way

And looking the other

My sugary snow babies

16 January 2007

The Doves, The Deer, The Monarch and Me

Our yard in Texas was large for the neighborhood. Mature crepe myrtles lined both sides of our long, L-shaped fence row. Red tipped Photinias marched along the back fence, maintaining our privacy from alley traffic. I was the self-designated lawn mower for our family. A job I adored, except during the months of July and August, when no one in their right mind wants to be outside past 9AM.
My yard in Texas was also a haven for doves. Doves are habitual in their nesting patterns- the same boughs and branches are occupied year after year after year. Doves are also known for the way they protect their nest. When danger approaches, they sit as still as statues until the last possible moment, hoping to go unnoticed until the danger passes on. Only their fight-or-flight instinct can make them leave their eggs. By my calculations, this fight-or-flight doesn't switch to "flight" mode until the danger is approximately 6 inches away.

Which makes it a bad idea to mow the lawn or play with the kids under the trees if you have a heart condition.

Many a day I spent chiding myself for not remembering the doves' nests as I mowed. My heart racing, my neighbors wondering at the screamy squealing they just heard, my palms sweaty. It would take me at least 5 minutes to recover from the fright of having a winged creature wobble- fly 6 inches from my face, cooing its gargly coo. They were frightened. I was frightened. We were all frightened. I just never could remember exactly where they nested in those trees! Makes mowing the lawn exciting.

Now I've moved to an area of the country that is heavily populated with deer. Watching the deer from my kitchen window is one of my new fascinations. I've observed that the deer browse according to a loose schedule. They frequent my yard for 3 or 4 days, then move along to let the plants refresh and regrow for a week or so. Then they're back. (This is probably old news to the naturalists and hunters out there, but I am a suburbanite through and through.)

Driving along the farm roads, I have also noticed that the deer have certain paths and crossing areas that they use. Passed down from generation to generation. Imagine what that would look like from the sky- vast networks of deer highways criss-crossing the landscape. I'm imagining the old Family Circle comics that follow Billy as he meanders around his neighborhood on some long-forgotten errand for his mother.
One particularly warm day last fall, the girls and I were eating a late lunch in the grass. Our backyard makes a gentle slope down toward the woods, and we lay there looking up at the clouds and the trees, watching the wind. We saw a Monarch butterfly flit by. Then another. And another. And another and another. Over the course of an hour, we counted THIRTY Monarchs. All flying the same direction- southwest. All heading to... Mexico.

Frankly, I was ecstatic. I'd learned about the Monarch migration when I was in elementary school, but that information was just "out there" in my consciousness. Until last fall, when I got to experience it for myself. I was awestruck. How do they all know where to go? How are they sustained for such a long journey? How do they know when to start their fluttery journey? How do they battle the winds? How...?

Somehow, seeing it for myself made it a reality. It was a reality before, of course. Just not one that I'd experienced.
For every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know every bird in the mountains,
and the creatures of the field are mine.
Psalm 50:10-11
And then there's me.
I build my nest and protect my chicks. I browse my world and wear down my paths by trekking back and forth over the same ground. Running the same errands, having the same conversations, thinking the same empty thoughts, doing the things that mothers do. I flit from flower to flower, from joy to sorrow, from delight to frustration. Migrating my way toward heaven.

Do I dare to think that Jesus doesn't see me? Doesn't know the paths I take? The paths I wear down from daily use? Do I really believe He doesn't know where I make my nest? Do I think He is unaware of the flowers I flutter to, the joys that light my eyes, the sorrows that dim them? Do I comprehend the care, the organization, the joy and elation He feels as He watches my heavenly migration?

These all look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.

When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.

When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.

When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.

Psalm 104: 27- 30, 33-34

12 January 2007

Only SIX?!

Heather tagged me to reveal six of my weirdnesses. Oh, how shall I ever winnow it down to so few? I've got weirdness oozing out of every pore. (Ewwww! THAT is just right straight outta The Outer Limits.)

Ok, we're off!

1) I used to think that"the Greek system" at colleges and universities was for actual, literal, people from Greece. Why are they so special that they get to have their own "system"??
I was once on a youth group beach trip and heard that it was "Greek Week" where we camped. I was just shocked to see that there were so many dark skinned people of Greek origin! Assuming there must've been a mass migration of North and West Africans to the Greek isles at some point in history, I rationalized it away.
Only to figure it out later that "Greek" refers to the sorority and fraternity lettering system, and the dark-skinned Greek Week I witnessed was a gathering of all the local African-American fraternities and sororities. (Still cracks me up!)

2) I have a penchant for making posters and charts about my expectations in life. Lately, I've called this, "Ten Commandment Syndrome." Somehow I think that making a pretty poster and taping it to the wall for all the world to see is the equivalent of making a change in my life. "Erin's Kitchen Clean-up Chart" "The 25 I-Will-Never's of This House" "How to Load the Dishwasher Properly" "Rebekah's Obedience Chart"(complete with stickers and happy faces). "32 Steps to Self-Control" I walk right by those suckers and never give them a second look! So much for change.

3) I love orange juice.

4) I always get into trouble at art museums. The guards don't like how close I stand to the paintings. But I want to know how the artist laid down his paint. I want to see the detail of the highlights on that pearl ring. I want to discover the colors he blended to get such a rich violet for the sunset.
Those-a guards, they don-a like-a me too much. I-a breathe on their-a precious masterpieces. That's Italian mafia-speak, just for Heather.

5) I am an artist, yet I can't choose paint to save my life. Something misfires when I stand at the paint counter at the DIY store. I know exactly what I want. I buy gallons and gallons of it. I take it home. And it's all wrong.

6) The longest I've held a full-time job is 3 1/2 months. I hated it! (I was a floral designer, which I loved. Just hated employment.)

10 January 2007

Who ARE You People?!

Heather over at L'Chaim is talking about the ability to choose our own identities in the blogosphere.

Puts me in mind of a game. (You know how I love word verification!)

1) In the comments section, type your own name or blogger ID.
2) Use your word verification code as an acronym to create your alter ego in the blogging world.

Here's mine, using my word ver. code from Heather's site.

World-Acclaimed Quilted Leather Technician and Cosmologist (waqltc)

02 January 2007

Signed, Pithy

I don't have anything touching to say about our Christmas holidays. We had a wonderful celebration. We got to spend some lovely time with relatives. We worked a little around the house and knocked out some of those "honey-dos" that kept pestering us for all of 2006 until we got a free moment.
I don't have anything pithy to write about the new year. "Hey, it's 2007, ya'll! Golly day. It's going to take me 3 months to get the date right on my checks." That's about as pithy as it gets over here today.

So, for lack of pith, I thought we might take a stroll down the romantic lane of my memory and go to France. In 2001, Steve and I took our two little ones for a 5 month work assignment and lived in the heart of chic fashion and haute cuisine- Paris.

My French experience is a fond memory, but it is not the memory of a 2-week-tourist-with-a-guidebook. Doing France with young children means most of the typical tourist haunts of quaint Parisian cafe's are OUT, and mapping the city according to park and playground locations, is IN. Surprisingly, Paris has more parks and playgrounds than you can shake a baguette at. Betcha didn't know that, did you?

Here is a brief, and I mean brief, tour of our stomping ground in the City of Lights.

The corner of our street, Rue du Ranelagh.

Another house on our street. C'est magnifique!

Steve and the girls outside the Louvre. Plan about 3 full days to walk through their collections. And that's if you walk FAST! (Sorry, no DaVinci codes to be found.)

A bonding moment at La Tour Eiffel.

This is one of those amazing parks. Pay a few francs and ride your horse on a lovely, meandering "trail" through the pastoral landscape of the Bois de Bologne. Each horse is complete with whinnies and trot-to-gallop motion. Beats a carousel anyday!

Paris at it's chicest.

View of Paris from Sacre Coeur

(You can't see much other than that Paris is HUGE)

When you spend a lot of time doing this...

... you spend a lot of time doing this.

Looking at the Arc de Triomphe from atop the Eiffel Tower

My intrepid, touristy, Francophiles (atop the Eiffel Tower)

On a very, very sad note, I made a point to journal about all of our visits and escapades, and to E-mail those stories to my friends in the States. This was before blogging exsisted, mind you. My fool proof plan was that all my tales would be documented in my "sent" box and preserved for posterity.

Sacre bleu! Something went awry and all my excellent stories got flushed down the cybertoilet. (I almost made Steve stay in France over that one. I mean, if you marry a computer nerd, he's supposed to rise to the occasion when your French computer freezes up... right?!) Well, those beautifully crafted missives are gone. If any of you have been reading my E-mails, and for some unfathomable reason SAVING them, for 6 years, I'd sure like a copy of those stories I relayed.

They were so pithy too! It's enough to make you cry in your croissant.