Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ Has Risen

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind us of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood-
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets
East Coker, IV

Monday, March 25, 2013

Welcome to Spring (It's Snowing Outside)

Sorry, but we had a very full weekend. We visited with out of town cousins Friday night and Saturday morning, the kids had a play date with a school friend Saturday afternoon and yesterday Truman the dog (and his humans) visited. I'll try to catch up on the blog later in the week.

Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Reasons I Know I'm a Wee Bit Stressed

1. I downloaded Plants vs. Zombies on my phone on Saturday night and promptly lost at least 12 hours this week in the massacre. It is an amazingly creative game, but very addicting. You know, like Angry Birds, the game which, in less than 2 years, has taken over my son's life. And, as I am writing this post, I can still hear the music in my head. Scary.

2. I forgot to post this trailer from my new favorite-movie-that-I-haven't-even-seen-yet!

I've already told everyone that I'm going to see it every night for a week when the film opens. However, it's in limited release on June 7 (Marshall's birthday) but wide release on June 21 (our anniversary). This is all fine and good but we're supposed to decamp to San Diego on the 25th or 26th, which will put a serious crimp in my plans. Limited release usually means NYC and LA. I know I live in NJ, but NYC is at least 90 minutes away. If it was only opening in NYC, I would make a special trip to see it once. But if it's going to play in the movie theatre a mere 15 minute drive from my house, I'll wait a few weeks and see it there, several times.

One of my other crazy goals was to have the play memorized by the release date. That's not going to happen, but don't be surprised, if you happen to see me in the theatre, to see the glow of my phone as I follow the text during the film.

And while we're on the topic of Shakespeare, my darling and clever husband found The Old Globe in San Diego, and during our vacation 2 years ago, we enjoyed performances of Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest. This summer, we want to see Merchant of Venice, Midsummer Night's Dream and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead there. I am seriously considering extending our vacation so that we have enough evenings with which to see the shows.

And, locally, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre is opening their own Much Ado About Nothing and Othello this very month. I'm waiting to see if the reviews make the performances sound like they are worth a trip into the city.

3. I've completely run out of my supply of York Peppermint Patties, which I keep in the freezer for my daily chocolate intake. I can't remember the last time this happened. I had to settle for plain chocolate chips this morning.

4. I have started to regard my To Do List as a member of the realm of Oppressors-Who-Must-Be-Avoided-At-All-Costs and haven't done a whole lot this week that didn't absolutely have to be done. Which is why I've had all this free time to play Plants vs. Zombies.

5. If you missed this from yesterday, here it is in all it's glory

(Not only have I learned how to embed You Tube videos, I just did it twice! Of course, I asked my husband how to do it first and he looked at me as if I was crazy, assuming, like usual, that he knows everything. He told me to look up the directions and figure it out myself. Well, what he said was RTFM. Same difference.)

To recap, Veronica Mars was one of the best television series ever. I mean, Buffy comes first, but Veronica might be next. I know, I know, Firefly and Farscape are in there somewhere, but I digress. Well, in less than 24 hours, Rob Thomas raised $2.5 million to "kick-start" a Veronica movie. To be shot this summer.

Probably my favorite television theme song ever. Well, maybe not ever. I still love M*A*S*H.

6. I've been thinking of taking the several hours required for updating my 2013 movie wish list. In fact, I'm going to see Oz the Great and Powerful with my mother-in-law tomorrow morning. (If you hadn't noticed, I'm writing this Thursday night because I promised my honey I wouldn't play any more Plants vs. Zombies tonight.) She picked Oz over Jack the Giant Slayer. I didn't offer her Dead Man Down; I'll go see that by myself.

7. There's a tennis tournament being played in California this week, but the only television footage I will be able to watch is the 8 hours this weekend ESPN has programmed. Don't worry, my DVR is primed to record, with plenty of overage. (Stupid March Madness.) I never thought I would seriously be considering upgrading our Comcast service to include the Tennis Channel. Something is wrong with my brain. This tennis obsession doesn't make any sense. The only tennis fan in my family is my Canadian uncle, and we're only related by marriage. Too weird.

Oh, and did you hear? The Catholic Church has a new Pope. :)

Friday morning:

For the record, after I finished this post last night, I spent the next two hours watching Veronica Mars videos on You Tube. Still, it's better than killing Zombies with vegetation.

Here's Jen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

7 Quick Things (Plus 20 pictures from the Philadelphia Flower Show)

1. The week just past is very blurry. Alex was home sick all week, so I didn't get out much. It was a nasty viral thing that kept him not himself for 8 days. Marshall had part of it so he was home Monday and Tuesday and I've been trying to shake it off ever since.

2. Of course, staying up late multiple evenings reading 4 books this week didn't help, I'm sure. I read Mortal Sins, Blood Magic and Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks (World of the Lupi books 5, 6 & 7) and Spindle's End by Robin McKinley. And Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs arrived on Thursday although I haven't opened it yet. I gave up on City of Glass, though. Cassandra Clare is just too inexperienced a writer to keep my attention.

3. Easily my favorite things from the Philadelphia Flower Show (visited a week ago, Sunday) were the pressed flower landscape designs. I wished there had been professional photos of them done, for cards or a calendar or something.

4. To tell you how bad the week was, 3 days in a row I had to get clean clothes out of the laundry room for Miranda to wear to school. The washing got done; the folding did not.

5. Probably one of my other favorite exhibits was all different kids of clematis, wrapping itself around this shrub and that. I'd never seen that many varieties all in one place before. Absolutely gorgeous.

6. It did help that the ladies who clean my house came Friday afternoon, so we started the weekend with a clean house. That always helps.

7. If you want to see 308 of my 341 pictures from the Flower Show (the ones worth uploading), you can see them here.

Here's Jen.

Friday, March 1, 2013

10 Reasons I Love Working in Youth Ministry

1. I know, I know, it's supposed to be 7, but I missed last week, so I'm giving you 3 bonus takes because it's been 2 weeks since I posted anything. I spent last weekend in the Poconos with the High School group from church and so Thursday and Friday were spent getting everything ready for me to leave and then Sunday and Monday after my return were spent in recovery. Somehow, and I don't know how this happens, I never get enough sleep on these retreats.

So, Reason #1 is the opportunity to get away with High School students and leave all of my problems at home (with my children, in my house, with my exceedingly patient and generous husband).

And, by the way, I stole all of these pictures from Briana Graves' Facebook page.

2. Reason #2 is the privilege to watch young ladies grow and mature over the course of 4-7 years. It's really cool to meet them as short little sixth graders and then bless them as they finish high school, seven years later.  I cry a little every June when I finish the graduation cards, but that is the nature of Youth Ministry.

3. Reason #3 is that spending time with these young women challenges me to be honest and come to them with a lack of pretense. Control is an illusion; a relationship with Jesus is what really matters.

4. Reason #4: Many of you know I spend a lot of my time during the week writing postcards to these young women. Often I print my own cards with scriptures on the back and they are always passages that God is challenging me to meditate on even as I share it with them. Example, this week's focus was Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG):

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The phrase that has stayed with me all week is "learn the unforced rhythms of grace." You could spend a month on this idea alone and not run out of useful ways to let it change your daily life.

5. Reason #5 is that loving other people, especially these students, changes my life. Real love, love that comes from God, is sacrificial. I become less concerned about my own stuff (less selfish) and more generous with my time and energy through my love for them.

6. Reason #6 has to be the huge amounts of time we spend laughing together.

7. Now I realize why Jen only does 7 Takes; I'm running out of brilliant ideas.

Prayer! Right. Prayer is always good for filler. Right?

Reason #7 is the encouragement the students are for me to be in prayer more as I remember them and their needs as well as my own.

Not exactly a perfect visual inspiration for prayer, but still, an amusing picture.

8. Reason #8 piggy backs on #1 and #5, (I know, I know, more filler), but spending Sunday evenings with the Youth Group not only gets me out of my house, it pushes me to adjust my focus so that my children don't become my whole world and reason for existing. Big thanks to my Honey who so ably takes care of things while I'm gone.

9. Reason #9 is the encouragement to accept the challenge to live more like Jesus, in public. Hope Church defines Discipleship as the process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ for the sake of others. When we accept Christ we accept the challenge of being conformed to his image as well as encouraging others to do the same. And often the easiest, and hardest, way to do this is to live this way, every day, in front of other people. Which reminds me all over again of "learn the unforced rhythms of grace."

This picture was just too beautiful not to share. It was supposed to snow on Saturday but it rained instead, making everything soggy and muddy. But the frozen pine needles were gorgeous, for a few hours.

10. Reason #10 is the joy of meeting young people like the ones pictured here. Their energy, their hobbies, their ups and downs cheer me and break my heart regularly. A huge part of my heart would be empty if I didn't get to spend time with them every week.

Here's Jen. If you missed it on Facebook earlier in the week, here is Simcha's hilarious post on How to Get Up in the Morning.