Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year in Review (a bonus for all you subscribers)

This morning in our church there was a time for open mic sharing-- what has the Lord done in your life, reflections on 2007. So I think I will reflect and say some of the things that I didn't say in church this morning.

January: We watch my mother get weaker and weaker as the cancer spread to her brain. Sh remains fiercely independent, only accepting the most minimal of help.

February: Avery is born on the snow-storm weekend. She is a delightful little girl who wins our hearts immediately.

March: We recover from Avery's birth and dig out of snow. Grandma gets to hold Avery a few times. She loves her granddaugher but hates having to talk to hospice workers.

April: Mom dies on April 16th in a special room of Methodist Hospital set apart for hospice patients. Many of her relatives see her before she dies, but she waits until Dad and I are with her to die. Her last act in this world is to acknowledge "Mom, do you see Avery?" She nodded that she did and made some kind of noise.

May: We put our house on the market and it sells immediately, for more than we ask. We feel confident that God is in this. We continue to look for another home, stumbling across an old farm at the end of May. It has almost 5 acres and looks like a possibility for us.

June: We buy the farm. There are complications early on (financing falls apart on moving day, propane tank goes empty at the end of the first week before we even own the property, some wires get crossed and the well stops working the next week, etc. etc. etc.)

July: We work hard on our outdoor services business and also begin to recondition the house. Much scraping, priming and painting happens in July. We also try to adjust to living in the country.

August: Rain happens. Lots of rain. We are amazed and thankful that we put up gutters on the house in July when it was dry.

September: Evan and I discover "commuting", an activity which I have not participated in since high school. We realize that living in the country isn't all romantic. Also, the goats come to live with us, three of them. We learn about goats.

October: We are in rehearsal for _The Miracle Worker_. It is a complicated show, but we feel like we can do it.

November: Rehearsals intensify. I begin to wonder if the show is going to turn out. I defer almost all life activities to another month.

December: The show ends on December 1, and it is not a disaster. God chooses once again to bless us, though we don't deserve it. I begin to recover from the show. Then everyone gets sick; Avery becomes quite ill, and it is discovered that she has staph, strep, and roseola. She is hospitalized and we pray along with our church family. She is released two and a half days later.

We celebrate Christmas as a family with Grandpa Herb and then later with my side of the family. The holidays seem more relaxing than normal because we don't try to travel anywhere particular.

We also go caroling at St. Mary's on Christmas Eve and celebrate our 9th anniversary the day after Christmas. The following week we have lots of people out to our house. It feels very social. I also spend lots more time with the kids than I usually do.

Today the skies are gray but we know sunshine will come again. Our hearts will revive and our lives will continue to have meaning because God through His son has called us out of darkness and placed his love in our hearts.

Blessings to you as you reminisce and look forward to 2008.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Snow Sculpting

Wow, I am finally almost healthy again after 10 days of various illnesses. It feels so good to feel good.

Last night I wrote our Christmas letter. I guess if you read our blogs, you wouldn't have to read the Christmas letter.

This morning my school kids in grades 7-12 had a snow sculpting contest. Some of them got into it and others just ate donuts and drank coffee. Some of the faculty are also competitive and also got into a little more than I did.

Tara nearly scared me to death by cleaning and reorganizing the house (it looks great) and by calling a plummer to come out and estimate some of our nagging water issues. We have nothing desperate happening, but a lot of plumbing issues like leaky faucets and low water pressure are ongoing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Help, Adulthood Is Killing Me!!

On Thursday morning, Tara brought Avery down to show me some sores on her skin... one behind her ear, another in the fat crease of her little baby legs. Turns out she had a staph infection, a strep infection, and roseola (sp?) all at the same time. So Avery got to spend Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the hospital waiting for the anti-biotics to do their thing and kick out these infections. She came home last night but still isn't really herself.

The nice thing about being 9 months old is that you can just clear your calendar without a struggle. Except for church, Avery hasn't missed any scheduled activities!

Meanwhile, Tara and I are trying reclaim sanity in the midst of our challenging life. Tara doesn't get nearly the sleep she needs because Avery is so needy. I don't get any breaks anywhere because everyone and everything else is so needy. It is a vicious cycle at this point. :-)

So adulthood is killing me.

Of course, if you think about it, it's adulthood that kills everyone. At least all those who make it to adulthood!

My dear friend Goldie turned 97 today. She was alert and pretty lucid for our conversation this morning. It's too bad that we weren't able to make more of a big deal about her birthday, but we had Teen Challenge doing the service at our church and our senior pastor is away on a trip to see his daughter in South America.

Apparently adulthood hasn't killed Goldie yet.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Two Found Frozen to Death in Garage

Yes, two were found frozen in one of our auxiliary garages. But take heart. They were only guinea hens.

Part of me doesn't really see it that way. I know, they were only guinea hens, but they froze to death in full view of their 9 or so friends who also live in the garage and peck enthusiastically at any birdseed-like substance you bring to them. They froze to death because I didn't have the time (or perhaps the right intuition or preparedness) to insulate their shelter and make sure they had everything they needed. Because obviously they didn't.

It also brings me up short because of the realities of life and death. Farming, or playing at farming, which is what I'm doing, is a lot more incarnational than anything else I've done. I have built water purifiers, packed granola bars, sold used items, and taught young people. Nothing has ever died on my watch. But these guinea hens, next door to worthless, remind me that if I were depending on them for my livelihood, I should surely be in trouble.

I am getting my life back after the play. This last week has been filled with gracious words from many people in our school community about how much they enjoyed the production and how they can't wait to see another one. I suppose I will, if God grants me the strength to continue everything. I seem to be doing well in spite of the myriad of demands on my time.

A story about cookies: I arrived at school on Friday, put my lunch away, and noticed that there were chocolate chip cookies on the staff table. So I had a few. Later in the day I ate two "grandpa cookies" that my wife had packed for me. After that, there will still chocolate chip cookies in the staff room, so I had a few more. Then Cindy, one of the parents, handed me a whole plate full of peanut butter blossoms at the end of the day. (The women weren't going to use anything peanut-butter based because of the epidemic of peanut allergies.) So I had a few of those. In the evening was the Christmas concert, a fairly glorious affair at our classical Christian school. While mingling afterward, I had a few more cookies at the cookie-and-cider reception. My estimate is that I must have consumed approximately 15 cookies yesterday.

I do not think I shall try to do this again.