Friday, September 28, 2007


The rolling thunder and the sweep of chilled rain are the backdrops for my Bible-thoughts just now. The sweet earthy smell that rises from the pavement and lawns after a swift downpour fills my senses and quickens my desire to live for the now.
The parable of the sower and the seed was read by the Hull Homeschool Academy this fine morning, and a certain passage has been turning over in my mind:
"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." (Luke 8:15 NIV)
I certainly don't have the gumption to label my sometimes wayward heart "good" or "noble", but I can press towards that goal by heeding Jesus' practical prescription.
The first step is fairly straightforward: hear the word. I can do that on a Sunday merely by attending a good church. I can "up the ante" by reading God's Word every day, attending special services where the Word will be preached, joining a Bible Study, listening to Christian radio or tapes, and surrounding myself with strong believers that put their money where their mouth is. In other words, they stand by what they say because their speech is undergirded by God's Word.
The second step given by Jesus takes more inclination: retain it. My, my. That gets harder as the years go by, doesn't it? Looking over my notes, re-reading a passage, meditating on the Word throughout the day, memorizing scripture, and doing a word study really helps me retain what has begun in me. I will testify to this: if I don't work at it, it won't automatically happen.
The third step takes time: by persevering produce a crop. I see two requirements here. One is perseverance, and that is a quality that cannot be substituted. The back inside cover of my favorite cookbook has a handy chart called "substitutions." For instance, if your cupboard is lacking bittersweet chocolate, you can use cocoa powder and cooking oil instead. No buttermilk? Try stirring a tablespoon of lemon juice into regular milk. This chart has saved a trip to the grocery store a number of times. But there is no substitution for perseverance! Not burning zeal, not good intent, and not a sorrowful heart, although these are desirable things in their place.
The last part of this step (sorry to use another cooking-term!) is "the proof-is-in-the-pudding principle". Eventually, perseverance will produce results. Jesus said so, and it is so true.
These thoughts will accompany me to Star Lake, where the women from church will be enjoying each other's company and spending time in God' presence. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the best years

There is a rhythm that comes in a bigger household. Mornings, I sit in the corner armchair and listen to scriptures with the kids. We talk over our devotional reading, vocabulary, literature, and biology. I read aloud for about thirty minutes, if my voice holds out and our attention span allows. We try to ignore phone calls.
Afternoons find me running errands, returning phone calls, cleaning the house, checking on school progress, encouraging (someone say harassing?) the kids to finish their assignments, and catching up on my own reading for school. Homeschooling is an education for mom, too!
By mid-afternoon, foggy thoughts about the dinner menu need to crystallize into something obtainable. Add three young adults to the usual family members around the dinner table, plus a pleasant young man from Spain, and (for a few nights) our beloved Grandma Janet....and what do you have? Well, you have dinner for nine. That translates to two casseroles and 18 ears of corn. Luckily, Grandma Janet brought dessert: a pumpkin spice cake with fudgy frosting that looks delectable. More importantly for this cook, it doesn't need any prep time.
Evenings find us gathered 'round the table. If schedules allow, we linger long and laugh hard. Tonight, three of us travel to church for the annual worship team kick-off. The rest will bemoan the loss of our presence, I'm sure. (Hopefully, then will bemoan while they clean up the kitchen.)
A new experiment will make it to the dinner table this evening: fresh home-made white grape juice. We will quaff it well-iced and savor its straight-from-the-vine flavor. There is absolutely nothing like it.
Sorry, Welch's.

Monday, September 24, 2007

pinball thoughts

-this being a perfect day to be outside, I am conniving how to get an hour on the water. Between grocery shopping, teaching school, preparing dinner, a trip to Madrid, a dentist appointment, choir rehearsal, and various phone calls, it's looking doubtful. But you never know!

-Pride & Prejudice is a difficult read. The Victorian language is so stuffy and convoluted, and the subject matter so one-track (getting a husband), that I'm thinking this may be my one attempt to appreciate Jane Austen. Unless I watch the movie, that is.

-as I approached the entrance to Hannaford this morning, I thought to check my appearance. What I found made me laugh out loud: a blue hair band, a black tank top under a peach tank top,
old jeans, a pink zip-up sweatshirt with holes down the front, and borrowed red clogs. My flowered purse completed the ensemble, leaving one hand free to carry my trick-or-treat bucket. For goodness sakes!

-Boys that have stitches on their knuckles cannot practice their violins. And their moms can't do a thing about it, either.

-The exact shade of yellow that will grace the Big White House in Madrid is up for grabs. If anyone wants their opinion to count, see me this week. This coat of paint will tide us over until we do the major remodel.

-The crimsons and burnt oranges are coming out in the treetops, for sure. My one concern is this: the raggedy and mottled state of the leaves themselves. Is this the effect of acid rain, global warming, or the dry weather we have experienced this season?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

another Sunday

sunlight etched onto lawns and meadows
apple cake with raisins that only 1/3 of the household appreciates
a bible chock-full of outdated bulletins
a great Sunday School class that made me think
a video presentation about giving that left me teary
a missions fair that featured neither clowns nor midway rides
a whole wheat bagel with a shmear of strawberry spread
a long walk
two boxes of grapes, one concord and one white
24 pints of grape jelly
a house that smells quite grapey
a pot of chicken noodle soup consumed by 2 crowds
a conversation around the kitchen table in two languages
another Sunday of loving God
just another blessed day of loving God.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

all present & accounted for

Friend #7 is sewing in the kitchen. The smell of ironed cotton hangs in the air and the companionable whir of the sewing machine fills our kitchen with a sense of purpose. She is making a silk purse from a sow's ear. Rather: she is creating a lovely purse from a pair of cotton pants which were rescued from the Blessing Shop. She is making it for me because she found me crying the other night, although she insists that was not the reason.

Friend#37 is building a picket fence at the Madrid properties. He will add this skill to the list of things a real estate investor needs to know. The recycled wood he is utilizing was reclaimed from the porch they ripped off this week. He will dine at the Hometown Cafe for lunch, where he will be unable to ask for seconds. I hope they pile it deep and high for him.

#1 Daughter is watching a movie while lounging on the couch. She is recovering from yesterday's busy social calender. Over the course of the day, eight girlies came a-calling with get-well gifts and compassionate hugs. She is feeling better every day!

#1 Son is helping with the picket fence and giving his two-cents opinion into every decision Hubby is making about the latest project. He will also eat diner-food for lunch, probably a deluxe
cheeseburger with all the trimmings. Every time he works, I send him out the door with the admonition: "Be careful of your fingers!"

Our Spanish visitor is spending the day in Syracuse with our pastor's family. They will surely visit a sweet baby and her parents, but I would imagine also hit the Carousel Mall.

Friend #12 is heading to a track meet at the Norwood-Norfolk High School. Her brother is competing there. She spent the morning splitting wood. What a girl.

Hubby is overseeing the project at the Big White House in Madrid. Everything is full steam ahead there and he is in the best mood about this week's progress.

As for myself? I delivered a humble meal to the Little Yellow House this morning and then threw my kayak onto the Grasse River for a paddle. I visited the work crew, gave solicited advice to the foreman about trim and such, and then headed home. Swedish Meatballs are stewing in the crockpot, and before the thunderstorms come, I may squeeze in a brisk walk.

We may get a visit from one of our favorite families this afternoon, especially if the horseshow down the road gets rained out! Friend #55 is always welcome to invade our home with his kids in tow.

Friday, September 21, 2007

no more of that

This is a short post with the purpose of catching up.
On Wednesday, I spent the day with #1 Daughter in the doctor's office and then the ER. By 5:30 pm, they were wheeling her into surgery for an appendectomy. Hubby commandeered the waiting room while I hoofed it over to Missions Night for a presentation on Spain. Then I packed an overnight bag and headed back to the hospital. She is home now, recovering slowly but surely on the family room couch.
In other emergency news, Friend #12 needed 7 stitches on Tuesday, after she dropped something sharp on her leg while working at the Madrid properties. I accompanied her to the Madrid clinic. An hour later, #1 Son cut his finger (also while working there) and needed 2 stitches. This kind of news gives gray hair to violin teachers....
While the doctor was threading the needle, David LaFaver fell off the Madrid property roof and landed on his back. He insisted "no damage done". Excepting the moderate heart palpitations the onlookers experienced, he was correct in his assessment.
As for stitches, accidents, and emergency surgery, we're all done now.
Thanks for praying for us!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'll eat health food tomorrow...

The cooler weather of September and October, coupled with the spoils of the local harvest, inspire a certain cuisine. This time of the year, you will regularly find soups and stews, baked butternut squash, and applesauce on the menu at Chez Nancy. One of our favorite fall recipes is Pumpkin Chip Muffins. (#1 Daughter is particularly partial to this treat and requests it year-round, but I like to keep things seasonal for variety's sake.) You might think that chocolate and pumpkin are a strange mix, but not so! Warning: this recipe does not fall under the category of "health food".

Pumpkin Chip Muffins
(serves 24)

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
16 oz. can pumpkin
3 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Combine all in a large mixing bowl. Pour into greased muffin tins (not paper muffin cups).
Bake for 16-20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Monday, September 17, 2007

sidebar on the side porch

The side porch is a good spot for hard thinking. I settled on the top step with a tart apple and a smear of natural peanut butter this afternoon, called it "lunch", and took a breather in between chores.
We are welcoming a young man from Spain this evening; Hubby just departed for the Montreal airport to fetch him and another Spanish friend. They will live among us for three weeks, soaking up the autumn air and the busy doings of home-schooling families and general church life. I took time to pray for them today, that their experience here will be simple yet rich.
I thought about Missions Night, two days hence. My family will help with two presentations: the trips to Spain and the Dominican Republic. This involves organizing the sharing, videos, slide shows, and eating slice after slice of Sergi's pizza. This annual event is one of my family's favorites, and I took time to pray that it moves our hearts for the nations.
I thought about today's phone conversation with Friend #112 (a.k.a. "D.P.", a.k.a. "Aubrey's Daddy). Baby Aubrey is doing well and she has been weaned from supplementary oxygen. Her progress inches forward slowly, but her parents are encouraged. Her mommy is able to be with her baby now, and is hoping to ease her into nursing.
"We won't stop praying, Daniel," I assured him.
I think about all these things, and many others.
The side porch is quiet. The scent of freshly cut grass hangs in the air, a chipmunk nibbles on a grape in the garden, a neighborhood dog barks in the distance. I tossed a few apple peels onto the lawn for the thieving chipmunk and wiped my palms on my apron. I told God "thanks" for giving me a few moments to contemplate all the things that make up my life today.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

stirring, confessing, & encouraging

" Jon with Sausage"

Drying on the Porch Swing

Fall Decor

Seasonal Cuisine

"Many hands make light work" is the theme of the day around here. We are hosting some international students for dinner at the request of Friend #37. To comply with such a request is our pleasure, for certain. A crockpot and a kettle are full to the brim with savory sauce and the kitchen is brimming with the scent of garlic, onion, tomatoes, and fresh bread. Everyone pitched in--even the boy that doesn't live here.
The house is finally properly appointed to greet the harvest season. Last evening, while the sun was settling deep into the western sky and billowy breezes were gently tossing the grapevines and raspberry canes, Friend #7 and I cobbled together some seasonal decor on the side porch. While she gamely chugged along full steam ahead, I shadowed her progress and made dubious suggestions.
"Um, shouldn't we put some gourds on the window sill, too?"
"Sure." "
Aren't those candles too tall for those hurricane lamps?"
"Could you put some more color in this basket?"
Honest-to-goodness, I don't know how she puts up with me.
Other things are simmering on the back burner around here, at least in the heart of this here blogger. Thoughts of a sweet baby girl hover just beneath my sometimes furrowed brow. A long wooden spoon reaches deeply into a thick sauce to fold in meatballs and sausage, and a scripture springs to mind:
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Yesterday, my dear pastor exhorted me to keep a "bold confession". Today, I am doing some stirring. Tomorrow morning, we will eagerly gather to raise the rafters with songs to our great God. Let's throw a liberal handful of encouragement in the mix and call it a weekend well-lived.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Although she was born only yesterday afternoon, and is yet not quite a whole day old, she occupies a large place in my heart and in the hearts of many.
Her mother recuperates from an emergency c-section here in Potsdam. Her father stands watch over her little bed in Syracuse. A team of specialists hovers over her, minutely concerned over a speeding heart rate and its effect on her tiny body. Family and friends accompany them all, praying, believing, loving, and just being there.
I am thanking God for her life --that she is fearfully and wonderfully made, according to Psalm 139. I am thanking God for the strength that comes through the Body of Christ. I am standing watching, waiting. Expecting a miracle. will give you the latest updates. Thanks for praying.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

pure, mostly

"Heavens they're tasty, and expeditious. Give shy persons the strength they need to get up and do what needs to be done. Made from whole-wheat raised by Norwegian bachelor farmers, so you know they're not only good for you, they're pure, mostly."
(Powder Milk Biscuit Ad -Garrison Keillor)

While The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is the type of reading that fuels my hubby, articles like this one are more up my interest-alley. Making healthy changes in our diet is definitely in the "mom" department, and fall is a great season to explore wholesome options. While I don't imagine to cure my family's sweet-tooth (sweet teeth?), I can at least take the edge off their dessert cravings by gracing the table with more whole grains, fresh vegetables, and condiments free of monosucrohydroglycerides. I made that word up.
If my family's worst habit (consuming boxes of what I call "junky-cereal") could be ever rectified by whole-wheat pancakes and fruit smoothies, I guess it is up to the the chief cook-and bottle-washer to provide such. Which takes foresight, extra effort, and a few less winks of morning sleep, to which none I am naturally inclined. Let's admit it, though: breakfast is the best place to start a healthy regimen.
While typing this entry, the powder-milk biscuit ditty from Prairie Home companion looped through my head. Although there is nary a shy person around these here parts, we all know a few souls that need to get up and do what needs to be done.
May I have some sugar-free jam on that biscuit, please?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

autumn surprise

See what the mystery vine in my abandoned garden has yielded: miniature white pumpkins! What a special treat for the "gardener on hiatus".

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

families of 3108

According to the St. Lawrence County 1870 census, (which can be found online) there were nine people living in our humble brick farmhouse, over one hundred and thirty seven years ago. Albert was the father, Eliza the mother. Six children (down to one-year-old Lizie!) played, learned, and worked here. Frank probably worked alongside his father on the farm. Sandford and Ida walked to the one-room schoolhouse a few miles up the road. Mary and Rufus most likely learned their letters at home until they were older. I have a hunch that 75 year old Betsey was their grandmother, but she could have been a family friend or even a retired domestic servant. Their lives were very different than ours, I am sure. But they lived, loved, and laughed within these very walls.
Fast-forward to 2007. There are now seven people calling 3108 home. Father, mother, two children. Three young adults. Some work, some study. I can testify that we all laugh and love here, and pretty loudly at that! Sometimes we cry, other times we fret. We pray for each other. We aggravate each other, too. (But not usually on purpose.)
What prompted me to think about such things? Two thick packages that contained the deeds and titles to our Madrid properties arrived in the mail today. Thumbing through them, I was struck again by the string of years and the procession of lives about which old documents can tell us.

Monday, September 10, 2007

more with less

When the fruit flies begin to organize into small armies, it is time morph those over-ripe bananas into banana cake. I was removing the brown peels from the fruit when I remembered this story. The More-With-Less Cookbook is a favorite around here, not only for the healthy and economical recipes, but also for tales that challenge the way I think about food preparation and my attitude towards serving it.

"Traveling in India we could toss the banana peels out of the bus window without concern for littering. Momentarily a goat or a cow would wander past and dispose of the peel in a single gulp.
One day two small children retrieved the banana peels our family discarded. The girl, about eight years old, wore a ragged saree. Her little brother of four or five was clad only in an oversize shirt. They were not beggars but watched for banana peels because they saw me coming from the fruit stand. As four peelings landed on the dusty road the children pounced.
The girl brushed dirt from the peels. She handed all the peelings to her brother, pulled a grimy square cloth from the folds of her saree and smoothed it out carefully beside the road. She and the boy sat down.
Meticulously, the girl pulled the soft portion of each banana peel away from the outer skin and placed it on the cloth. The outer tough portions she tossed aside. She gave half to her brother. They began to eat.
Whoever says that hungry people eat like like animals when they have the chance did not see that Indian girl serve banana peels to her brother."
-LaVonne Platte, Newton, Kansas

Sunday, September 09, 2007

all things considered

Yesterday was a day not to be wasted: a golden Saturday at summer's end, sunny, breezy, and warm. Friend #12 and I dragged the canoe down the hill and into the grassy water's edge. Our goal was to paddle as far as the river would allow, up to the shallow waters of the Morley Bridge. We ate our lunch in the shade of cedars, we admired flora and fauna along the banks, we drifted alternately in silence and in animated conversation. We talked about God. We forgot to bring sunscreen.
Later in the afternoon, I tossed a quilt into the patchy shade under the apple trees. I armed myself with a large pillow and a few books while the red squirrels chittered at my invasive presence. I took time to wonder about this:
"Sometimes people say they cannot believe that, if there is a God, he would take interest in such a tiny speck of reality called humanity on Planet Earth. The universe, they say, is so vast, it makes man so utterly insignificant. Why would God have bothered to create such a microscopic speck called the earth and humanity and then get involved with us?
Beneath this question is a fundamental failure to see what the universe is about. It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself. And he says it for us to learn and enjoy -namely, that he is infinitely great and powerful and wise and beautiful. The more the Hubble telescope sends back to us about the unfathomable depths of space, the more we should stand in awe of God. The disproportion between us and the universe is a parable about the disproportion between us and God. And it is an understatement. But the point is not to nullify us but to glorify him."
Don't Waste Your Life -John Piper
Not only did I invest in physical activity and mental gymnastics yesterday, I also thought the time was right to invest in a pizza from Sergi's. Friend #37 agreed, and thoughtfully arranged his schedule to oversee this activity. Too bad Hubby and kids were away (Hubby in PA for a marathon, kids at Camp Overlook) and couldn't partake in our half Hawaiian/half margarita extravaganza.
A little night music brought this day to a close. My selections were also half and half: worship tunes for this morning's rehearsal and selections from Bach's Well Tempered Clavier.
I don't mean to brag, but it was a pretty good day.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I love to read.
Friend #7 and I were walking and talking the other day, and I waxed eloquent on my personal history with books. The first time I cracked the code of 26 letters was with P.D. Eastman's classic, "Go Dog, Go." I was four years old. The tree house party fascinated me to no end. I wanted to be personal friends with those dogs. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why the boy-dog didn't like the girl-dog's hat! These thoughts, and many other ruminations, germinated quickly into a love for the written word that has never left me.
My mom still tells the tale of my fifth birthday party. She invited the whole kindergarten class to our home and then was left to entertain them without me. I was in the corner devouring a stack of new books, the wrapping paper still dangling from the bindings. To this day, I see nothing wrong with this picture.
Reading aloud is one of life's unsung pleasures, and I try to read aloud every school-day to my little darlings. We are presently in the thick of "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, which has challenged even my patience in its attention to detail. I blame it on too much TV, which in my particular case, is not much at all. Once I remind myself that a classic novel doesn't serve the same purpose as Oceans 11, I can relax and enjoy myself. A bag of Fritos doesn't serve the same purpose as Duck L'Orange, either.
What else are we reading this fall? "Pride and Predjudice", which I must admit is my first delve into the world of Jane Austen. Women authors are great favorites of mine, (Willa Cather, Madeleine L'Engle, Isak Denisen) but Jane is a stretch. I am finding things to admire though, and so are the kids, I hope.
Any book by John Piper is worth cracking. We are reading "Don't Waste Your Life" and I highly recommend it.
Every morning, we listen to the New Testament on CD. This week? The Gospel of Matthew.
As soon as our Dover order comes in the mail, we will start Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". That way we can thoroughly enjoy the National Players upcoming performance in October.
The texts of our science and math books hardly seen worth mentioning, but they involve reading, too. This fact reminds me that reading is a discipline, not just a pleasure-seekers hobby.
So, what are you reading these days?

Friday, September 07, 2007

#5 takes the stage

We let him pick his own number.
Anyone who rolls into the driveway, car stuffed to the hilt, bike strapped on the back bumper, shirt irregularly buttoned, is automatically awarded that privilege.
Anyone who comes for a five minute goodbye but then stays to serenade us with original songs on a borrowed guitar deserves even more than that. One would think that such a person should be offered birthday cake with whipped cream and a candle, at the very least. We provided such, along with the requisite (albeit belated) birthday song and advice for the year ahead.
Off he goes now, shirt now adequately fastened, to the New England coast where a ferry awaits him. He promised to let me know when he is famous, so see this space for the breaking news.
Friend #5, you are my biggest fan.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Creative writing doesn't have to be tedious. Nor does it have to be over-curriculated. (Curriculized? Curriculumed?)
The schoolmarm at the Hull Homeschool Academy cracked open her lesson planning book yesterday with a gleam in her eye. She pulled a new trick from her pocket to try out on her bush-eyed and brighty-tailed students. The assignment: re-write one of the Puritan prayers of teacher's choosing from the devotional, "The Valley of Vision" in your own words. Regular readers of this here blog will recognize this little book, as I have quoted it with increasing frequency.
My ten-o'clock-scholars balked only minimally (as they knew they wouldn't get much leniency on the first day of school) and then completed the task with panache. -Such panache that today's reading aloud of the assignments made mom cry.
Isn't it generous of #1 Daughter to allow me to share this?

The Trinity in My Own Words

God above, favored Son, forever Spirit,
I cherish you as One Individual, One soul,
for accepting sinners into Your home and Your domain.
Father God, you have loved and cared for me
and sent Your Son to free me.
Oh Lord, you have loved me and understood my nature,
gave Your life to put my sins aside.
Clothed in honesty to cover my unworthy acts.
Spirit of God, You have treasured me and have come into my heart,
rooted everlasting life,
and showed me the wonderful works of God.
Lord Jesus and Spirit, I anoint You and worship You for love so incredible,
so inexpressible, so astounding, so mighty to redeem the lost
and raise them to triumph.
God, I thank You that with Your love,
You have given me to Your Son
to be His precious child.
Jesus, I thank You that with Your love, You have taken me for who I am.
Spirit of God, I thank You that in Your love,
You have revealed Jesus as my Savior, put faith in me, softened my stubborn heart,
and made me one with Him for eternity.
Oh Lord, hear my cries.
Jesus, Your hand is drawn-out to take my pleas.
Spirit of God, You are happy to assist my sicknesses,
to give me words to cry to God,
to give me strength that I might not faint in question.
Oh Trinity Who rules the universe,
You have commanded me to ask and learn about Your Kingdom
and my soul.
Let me live and pray
as one baptized into the Trinity Name.

Monday, September 03, 2007

packing it in

Yes, I know that the last day of summer is a ways away on the calendar. Tell that to the morning chill, the burnt orange leaves, the raspberry bushes that need a tarp over them at night, and the homeschooling mothers that stand in clusters after church and talk "shop".
What things filled my "last day of summer"?

-An early morning walk.This hour-long lope took me over the crest of the hill, through the maple grove, and past the green barn where fresh cedar posts are neatly stacked.

-A load of laundry.

-A thorough cleaning of the downstairs bathroom.

-A kayak trip on the Raquette with Friend #32. We talked a lot and drifted a little, but we still had a workout worthy of a cup of coffee and a bagel afterwards. As we lunched on the table outside the Bagelry, we were spotted by Hubby and Friend #12. They parked the truck and joined us with their PBJs. As an added bonus, the sun came out. You can't arrange such things; only bask in them.

-A trip to the grocery store.

-An afternoon of corn. We bought a sack of local corn from a farmer-friend that would make Santa Claus look like a sissy. This was one sack-o'-corn, people. #1 Daughter shucked it on the side porch and yours truly blanched it, cut it from the cob, and stuffed it into freezer bags. When various members of the household come in the door tonight, they will detect the distinct aroma of a veritable corn-factory.

Dinner is on the back burner: spicy lamb stew which we will eat with couscous and chase with iced tea. Then, while our mouths are still aflame, #1 Son and I will attend choir rehearsal on campus. Although I am really there to sing, I will also double as rehearsal pianist. It's all good, though.
Tomorrow is the first day of school around these here parts, so wish me the best and rejoice with me that I made the most out of my "last day of summer".

Sunday, September 02, 2007

give me more of it

An excerpt from my daily devotional, The Valley of Vision:

"Destroy, O God, the dark guest within
whose hidden presence makes my life a hell.
Yet Thou dost not left me here without grace;
The cross still stands and meets my needs
in the deepest straits of my soul.

There is no treasure so wonderful
as that continuous experience of Thy grace
toward me which can subdue
the risings of sin within:
Give me more of it."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

campus ministry

Upon alighting from my car, a stream of amplified sound greeted me immediately. My hike from the parking lot to the campus union gave me time to guess which faces stood behind the keyboard, electric guitar, and bass and which mass of wild curls sat behind the drum set. Batches of students drifted along the campus sidewalks; some looking quite at home (upperclassmen) and others looking falsely confident. I remember being you, I thought. I remember the crisp autumn air, the smell of new textbooks, the industrial carpet in the practice rooms, and the dizzying feeling of my whole life looming ahead of me like a gaping chasm. That was over two dozen years ago and only parts of me are the same person. Here is proof of the transforming work of God: me. The way I think. The person I have become. The very things that motivate me. The mysterious workings of His grace shook me many years ago on these well-worn campus pathways, and the vault from which they sprung is never exhausted. His unending supply of riches are here for each generation, and that is a cool thing to ponder on a college campus.
As I rounded the last corner, my heart leaped at the sight of our church's worship band. Here, on a secular campus, beating out the gospel message. Here, amidst thousands of students with thousands of questions in their heads. Here, lifting up God's name unashamedly and with unbridled joy. After greeting some kindred spirits, I stationed myself on a bench and exuded happiness amidst the blast of music. Oh, I was as content as a bug-in-a-rug. The contentment that comes after a season of heartache is the choicest kind.
Never mind the season of heartache. Things that rumble around in the deep parts don't always show on the surface, and that's okay. Now that the furniture has been moved around and the junk has been carted away, this tent of mine is ready for the next season. His grace and mercy shook me even as I sat there, the throbbing music swelling up into my limbs and lap, filling my lungs with praise that would make rocks cry out, and rousting the last vestige of the dirt and ashes from the dustbin of my soul.