Monday, May 30, 2011

Art for Memorial Day

Dodges Ridge by Andrew Wyeth (1947)

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.

Billy Graham

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Trash 'n' Treasure

I'll be honest and tell you I DO NOT BRAKE FOR GARAGE SALES.  In fact, I dislike them because it all appears to my eye as so much junk, which I need like a hole in the head.

However, today I was a captive audience because all four of my kids were helping with a garage sale to raise funds for a summer trip. OK, I will sheepishly admit I came home with a bag of, ahem, treasures BUT I am pleased to tell you I got rid of more than I gained :)

Would you like to peek into my bag?

  • half a dozen pretty padded clothes hangers
  • a box of flexible drinking straws for smoothies
  • a white Corelle serving bowl
  • hanging shoe organizer
  • a brand new mandoline slicer
  • pretty bows for wrapping packages
  • new shelf lining paper
  • a partridge in a pear tree (naw...just makin' sure you're still listening)
That's quite a lot of treasure for $10.00 !!

Friday, May 06, 2011

My Mother's Day Story

Everyone has a story worth telling. Here is mine. If you know me, you have heard this story. I will never tire of telling it.

The first 8 years of my marriage I was engaged in career and church-planting in partnership with my husband. Starting a family was on the back burner.

But somewhere in that 8th year, the longing for children emerged. Why wasn't it happening?

Medical tests revealed no problems. As we consulted with physicians regarding our options, it became apparent that continuing on the path of medical intervention would require us to center our lives totally around the goal of having a baby. It would demand both our money and our time. It didn't feel right. We decided to stop medical procedures and just wait on God.

We prayed. We relinquished our desires to God. We hoped.

I made the personal decision during those years to live a fruitful life regardless of whether or not God chose to grant my request for a child. But emotions sometimes run counter to the decisions of the will. Before coming to a state of peace and restful acceptance, I would struggle through tears and entreaties. Scripture brought great hope, but the hope seemed to be dashed monthly. Then the emotional cycle would start over.

As time passed, my emotions stabilized and then I would think, "I have conquered this thing." But occasionally the wound would be reopened, like when I visited new mothers in the hospital, or when a circular would arrive in the mail advertising maternity clothes. Then the grief was fresh in me again.

This phase of life lasted about 7 years. Toward the end of that time, we decided to attend a seminar for people wishing to adopt children. As the date of the seminar neared, my husband uncharacteristically changed his mind about going. There was a pressing ministry concern that he felt took precedence. I was crushed and very, very angry.

The same week of the seminar, as I was delivering meals-on-wheels to an elderly client, the woman greeted me with excitement. "I had a dream about you last night!" she said eagerly, "I dreamed you were pregnant!" I was a little taken back by this. I barely knew this woman. She was foul-mouthed and had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Not anything like the Gabriel that presented Mary with her good news! But like Mary, I pondered these things in my heart.

Another out-of-the-ordinary event happened a little later. We hosted a small gathering of believers in our home to listen to a missions report from Bulgaria. Pretty routine stuff for a ministry couple. But my heart was pierced. As I viewed the pictures of sweet little Bulgarian children attentively listening to the gospel message, I knew I had to go. If I couldn't have my own children, I would go to these and share my love with them.

My husband was in absolute oneness with me on this.. He had the same strong urging to go. We immediately began preparing for our first mission trip: passports, applications, training, videos, etc.

And then the day came for the required medical exam and immunizations. As I answered the routine questions that were a part of the exam, it became apparent that my cycle was askew. Would it be OK if they did a pregnancy test? I explained that I had been infertile for 15 years, but if they needed to do a test, fine.

The test was positive. At the age of 36, after 15 years of marriage, I was going to have a baby.

I laughed all the way home from the clinic; but the minute I walked through my front door into my husband's arms I dissolved into tears. Could such a gift truly be ours? It seemed surreal.

Our God is a super-abundant God. He blessed us with four children in quick succession between the years of 1993 and 1999 .

"He settles the barren woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord." Psalm 113:9

Book Review: Brother Bosch, an Airman's Escape from Germany

 Photographic Print: Robert Hunt

"Brother Bosch", an Airman's Escape from Germany", was a free e-book I downloaded on a whim. My knowledge of WWI is shallow, so shallow in fact that I did not realize that the reference to "Bosch" in the title was a derogatory term used by the British to describe the Germans. "Bosch" or, alternately, "Boche", is a slang word from the French. Loosely translated it means "head" or "cabbage", and so came to be associated with the idea of pig-headedness or stubbornness. Thus, when the Brits desired to put the "kibosh" on the enemy, it meant they desired to stop or squelch them.

I love learning history via first-person accounts, and Gerald Featherstone Knight has an exciting story to tell. He is winsome in the telling, somehow managing to make the adventure a huge romp rather than a grim war story. By turns, he is both humble and proud. Humble, when recounting his own feats relating to his escape from a German prison camp, but proud when speaking of his English heritage. He has a very obvious sense of superiority over the Germans, often expressed humorously:

"..we reached Hanover and were marched off through some of the main streets to an unknown destination. The town is all right; it is the people that spoil it."

"The Germans put an illuminated Christmas tree in the dining hall, but unfortunately counteracted their display of good feeling by decorating the large portraits of the Kaiser and Hindenburg, who stared down at us from the walls and quite spoilt our already nasty food."

As you might ascertain from those quotes, the humour is typically British: subtle sarcasm that "jabs" the enemy. I am quite sure that Mr. Knight's humour just might have been his saving grace, being one of the weapons in his arsenal to keep despair at bay and ultimately deliver him mentally unscathed in spite of harrowing circumstances.

The author's prison camp escape required a long journey, mostly traveling by night and hiding in the daylight. He swam canals, took refuge in hay stacks, endured the elements, and suffered privation. Here he gives the recipe for eating the last of his rations:

"I sat down and dissolved my last Oxo cube in a mug of cold, greenish canal water. The meal is prepared as follows: First suck your middle finger until it tastes clean, then stir the Oxo until it is dissolved (this usually takes about half an hour). Before drinking the concoction it is necessary to remove any dead fishes that may be floating on the surface, and also make certain that none of the Oxo is wasted by remaining underneath the finger nails."

Ultimately, his surreptitious journey and its accompanying miseries ended when he crossed safely into Holland. In the final account, he gives a nod to God's role in his escape, but even God does not escape his humour:

"Of all my escapes this was the most inexplicable. To what was it due? Certainly not to my own initiative alone. Man's extremity is indeed God's opportunity. Supreme in the world of red tape, far above the ken of misguided mortals, lives an omnipotent being--the Censor. In imagination, he sits in a huge armchair, wreathed in tobacco smoke, casually sorting, from piles of manuscript, the sheep from the goats. The former are destined to be smothered in official stamps and coloured inks, while the latter are cast ignominiously into the gigantic waste-paper basket. Though this little sheep, in particular, may have a little of its wool shorn off, I trust that it may eventually avoid the rubbish heap."

I suspect the sensibilities of some modern readers might be offended by Knight's racial superiority, but if you can forgive that fault you are in for a interesting read. This is a short memoir, less than 100 pages. It is a human adventure story that merits the time it takes to read it.