Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Little Hopping Going On

It's beautiful in East Tennessee this week.  We enjoyed dinner outside in the backyard, and then just couldn't bring ourselves to go back inside again.  So after the regular yard toys had run their course, we moved to the driveway for some sidewalk chalk.

I drew this hopscotch thingy (what are they really called?), after which Jonathan informed me is not really the way it's supposed to be made.  But Hannah was thrilled, and immediately started jumping from box to box, doing first position then second position, first position then second position - just like in ballet class.

Then she studied my drawing with great intensity...

...and proceeded to draw her own grid.

 Hers was made with circles.  They each had a letter in the center. 

They were all first position.

Of course, Lydia had to get in on the action.  She played along by rolling the egg-shaped chalk down the driveway.  

Ahhh...nothing like a little lesson in inclined planes on a warm spring evening.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

An Easter Baptism

I guess it's one of the perks of being the pastor...Jonathan and I were talking about how it was about time to baptize Lydia.  I asked when he wanted to do it; really it could be any time at all.  He said, "How about Easter?  That would be cool." 

And it was!

Remember those matching Easter dresses I sewed?  Lydia didn't wear hers to church.  Instead, she wore the family baptismal gown. 

(By the way, we didn't leave Hannah out of the pictures.  She's there (above), behind the baptismal font.  You can just see her elbow below the flowers.)

This is the gown that Hannah wore when she was baptized.  And I wore it too, although not when I was a baby.  It was my wedding dress.  I cut it up (gasp!) and in the ultimate refashion, made it into a wee heirloom. 

I know that some people are horrified that I would dissect my wedding dress, but when I got the dress, I intended to make it into a quilt.  I still want to, and while the best parts of the bead work went into this gown, there is still a sizable amount of fabric waiting to be stitched into a lovely quilt.  As a matter of fact, instead of a guest book at the wedding, I had everyone sign pre-cut cotton squares with a fabric pen.  Those also sit, pressed and waiting to be the quilt's back.  One day, it's going to be a really neat remembrance of our wedding.  Maybe a ten-year-anniversary project?

The dress is sewn from a purchased pattern, which apparently I don't have any more.  When Hannah was baptized, it was very hot, so she didn't wear the jacket.  I tried to make it as unisex as a wedding dress can be, and in a large-ish size, so it would be suitable for girls and boys of a variety of ages (and sizes).  I don't know whether or not any future grandchildren will wear this, but I wanted to make sure that all of my kids would fit.

The actual baptism was a very nice event.  The real perk of being the pastor is not choosing the coolest day, but being able to baptize your own child.  I was able to baptize Hannah, and so today was Jonathan's turn.  We told Hannah she had a very big job of being the Big Sister, but she wasn't fooled.  Thrilled by the chance to get up in front of the whole church and show off a little, she stood on tip-toes and peered at the water, did loop-the-loops around the font, and finally settled in the front row next to a friend.

Not to be outdone, Lydia almost toppled a flower arrangement before she pulled off Jonathan's lapel mic right in the middle of the prayer.  But not a tear was shed, and she even seemed to enjoy the water.

Well, on to Easter.  We did all wear our matching dresses to the church Easter egg hunt.

Hannah was thrilled by the amount of candy that was strewn about, just waiting for someone to pick it up - like manna in the desert.

 Lydia took the first opportunity to snitch Hannah's basket and see what all the fuss was about.

 All in all, a very good day!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

You Can't Take It With You

Even as a baby, Hannah had boxes of books to unpack after a move. 
You should see the rest of our bookshelves...

 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.
Luke 18:18-23 (NIV)

I've been thinking a lot about stuff. My lots and lots of stuff, to be exact. I really love my stuff. Do you love yours?

Remember the story of the rich ruler? This rich man asks Jesus how to gain eternal life. He's been a good person, and followed all the commandments, he says. Jesus tells him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The guy is sad because he's so rich, and he goes away. He can't do it. His stuff counts for too much.

Shortly after we were married, Jonathan was studying this, and he called me at work to say, "I think this is a really important verse. What if Jesus said that to us? That we should sell all we have and give the money away?"

As you know, I'm practically Mother Teressa, so I said, "Of course, dear. When's the yard sale?"

Yeah right.

I said, "We just got a queen sized mattress. Are you nuts? I'm not giving away my stuff. Besides, by some standards, we are poor. Maybe someone will give money to us!"

Well, it's some years later. I still very much appreciate our larger bed. But Jonathan's question has stayed with me all these years. (He, on the other hand, doesn't remember the conversation.) I often wonder what it would be like if we had less, if we lived more simply, if less of my life was dedicated to the acquisition of and care for THINGS.

I knew a woman who was called to overseas mission work, and she sold or gave away almost everything she owned. She reduced her entire household to a trunk filled with only the most important mementos: some things that had belonged to her parents, and a few precious keepsakes from her children's growing-up. Could I do that?

On the other hand, these things that are so important to us may not be treasure to anyone else. I recently watched the TV show Hoarders for the first time, and was amazed by the real, emotional attachment people had with their stuff. I'm not a hoarder - you can even see the floors in my closets - but I really do have a deep attachment to many of my things.

As I was pondering all of this, I remembered someone we knew whose husband had a really impressive library. The kind of library I dream about, with floor-to-ceiling shelves full of books. A whole room of books. Just think about all that knowledge! It makes me excited just thinking about it!

The man died, and his wife was left with the task of doing something with all those books. She called the public library, and they came and took many volumes for their shelves. The she called us and offered any books we wanted. She thought we'd be interested because he had a large selection of books on religion. And she was right. We left her house with boxes of books. And she was disappointed because it looked like we had hardly made a dent. What was she going to do with all those books?

(Jonathan reminds me that in a few years, my dream of a home library will be obsolete, and our kids will think I'm nuts because I collected paper books. I would hit him over the head with a Kindle, but then I remember how expensive it is to move...27 boxes of books during our last transition.)

The point is, this man spent a lifetime accumulating books, which he read and enjoyed, but the library was important only to him. No one else wanted it in its entirety.

What about all the things I love so much? A porcelain piano figurine I bought in Spain, but is now broken and in box in the attic? A piece of needlework my grandmother painstakingly stitched, but looks too 1970's to display? A shelf of music books that I used to love to play, but now sit collecting dust in the bedroom (the only use our piano gets these days is from the Disney Movie Songbook)? No one wants that stuff. I'm not even sure if I want that stuff. But it's my stuff. I've moved it eleven times. I need it, right?

No, I don't need it. But, I want it. I recently discovered this wonderful advice from William Morris: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." My mementos are beautiful to me (even if only to me). The man's library was useful to him...and in small doses, to others as well.

I think that this matter, like so many others, is about balance. I want my house to be full of useful and beautiful things, so that doesn't mean narrow it down to a steamer trunk. It simply means to eliminate the fluff.

I think I would be happier with less fluff.

Now excuse me, while I go rearrange my bookshelf...
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