Stories and Snuggling

March 2, 2011

I am a reasonably affectionate person. I must say, though, that it is not really my personality bent to hug friends excessively.  I’m not averse to giving friends a hug when I see them, but I really don’t need a hug from people, if you know what I mean.

With my children, it is a lot easier to give plenty of hugs and touches.   Human development classes  and child-rearing books reiterate how important, even crucial it is to give plenty of physical affection to children.  I’m realizing though, that the older my children get, it feels a little less natural and comfortable to grab them and hug, nuzzle their cheeks, kiss their foreheads.  My little Bridget?  I can hardly keep from constantly sweeping her up in my arms to hug and tickle and squeeze.  But Lucy, my sweet, lovely 12-year-old… well, it just doesn’t flow as naturally.  She’s just about as tall as me.  It just feels different. And yet I know it’s still so important.

Recently, I’ve hit upon a good way to ensure that plenty of snuggling happens.  Reading aloud, side-by-side, on her bed with a blanket tucked around both of us.

Lucy is an amazing reader.  The child devours books like a flame devours a dry stick of wood.  But, who really gets too old or sophisticated to not enjoy being read to?  So, I’ve been reading the Jonathan Rogers’ Wilderking Trilogy to her recently. Right now we’re on the third installment, The Way of the Wilderking.

She loves this time.  And I do too.  She is resentful and annoyed if one of her sisters comes in while we’re reading.  “This is Mom and me time,” she informs them airily if they intrude.

Not only is this cozy, slow-down and snuggle time, but the content of this good story is helping us to connect in new ways too.

We recently listed our house for sale and Lucy, of all the kids, is the most reluctant to move.  She dislikes change, she loves having her own room, she worries about the future.  So, while I read aloud and come across passages like, “You do what you have to do.  We all do.  Life in the canyons isn’t what I had expected, but it’s a very good life in its way,” Lucy and I look at each other meaningfully and talk about how this truth applies to our lives.  In the book, the silly and profound and hilarious character of Dobro, a “feechie” in the story (I can’t explain, just read the book!) keeps retelling an old feechie tale that ends with the words “Time to leave these neighborhoods.”  Lucy and I have begun saying this to each other whenever selling-the- house-talk comes up, or when we’ve looked at some townhomes we might try to purchase.  It’s softened the blow, a bit, to have this shared story to laugh about and apply this little saying to our situation.

The power of Story!  And the magic of snuggling!  Even snuggling a somewhat-awkward-but-still-awesome-kid-who’s-nearly-a-teenager.

Stories and Soul-Work

January 10, 2011

It’s been said and discussed so many times, and by so many more eloquent people than I, but it bears repeating: stories, the right kind of stories,  are so fabulous for growing character and enriching the soul.

I’ve been reading aloud the Chronicles of Narnia to Bridget recently.  (I’m also reading a book series aloud with Lucy – The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers [highly recommended] and we’re reading the Harry Potter series aloud with Phoebe.  Although Dave usually beats me to the punch with that read-aloud.  In fact, he’s reading it to her now, even as I type!)

As I was saying, I’m reading the Chronicles to Bridget and she loves them.

We just finished The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week and as I read a section near the very end I had to pause and wipe a few tears away.  Why?  Reepicheek.   This valiant, chivalrous, heroic Talking Mouse had spent the days of his life always ready with his sword to challenge injustice or to protect someone’s honor.  This noble Mouse, as he prepared to go on alone in his tiny coracle in search of Aslan’s country, “took off his sword (‘I shall need it no more,’ he said) and flung it far away across the lilied sea.”

Bridget was listening with rapt attention.  It was an interesting part of the story.  But I was nearly undone.  I think in my life, sheltered and blessed though it’s been, I’ve seen enough pain and misery and heartache to more fully grasp that idea that the Land we’re all seeking will be one where swords are no longer needed, safety and honor and dignity and peace will prevail.  And that longing… how does C.S. Lewis capture it in so few words, so simply?  So profoundly?

Though Bridget was not shaken by this idea like her blubbering mommy was, I hope and trust that the idea of the courageous Reepicheek no longer needing his sword in Aslan’s country will stick with her. She already beautifully grasps the notion of Aslan being a sort of Christ-figure.  And again, these stories are helping to shape her idea of what this God is like.

We’re on to The Silver Chair. Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum have “muffed” three Signs so far, Signs that Aslan Himself gave Jill at the onset of their quest.  I closed the book after finishing the chapter where they’ve arrived in Harfang, the giant’s castle, and asked Bridget what she thought of it all.  (I really try NOT to spoon feed my children these notions.)  She said, “I think Aslan is going to come to them.  And He’s going to say it really kindly.  But it’s going to be bad.”

How much more is she grasping the fact that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory…full of grace and truth”  (John 1:14), than if I had tried to sit down and explain that verse to her?

Few things fire me up like learning soul lessons through a good story.

Mockingjay: some thoughts

August 29, 2010

Not a full review, just some thoughts.

First of all, the context for my reading of it:  My littlest daughter woke up and I took her (still in her nightgown) to Target to buy the book.  (I left a note in case her sisters woke up while I was out.)  (They didn’t.)

I then proceeded to read, almost non-stop, until the book was done.  It was about 7 hours.

I really liked it.  It was the engaging, page-turning, fascinating story I had hoped for.

*SPOILERS*

I was intrigued by the fact that District 13, while a safe refuge from the Capitol, was not the warm and cozy refuge that everyone seemed to have hoped for.  I liked that Katniss was still the stubborn, non-conformist girl who tended toward selfishness but took on the mantle of leadership when it was placed on her shoulders anyway. I appreciated that her character was “mentally disoriented” and that she seemed unstable at times.  I think that is in line with reality.  When people are severely traumatized, it takes its toll.  I liked how, almost in spite of herself, Katniss was just what the rebels needed to overthrow the Capitol. Unlike the conniving, scheming Capital and the conniving, scheming rebels, Katniss seems unable to do anything but “the next right thing.”  And she has a remarkable depth of character to know what that is: Her spontaneous compassion on the hospital victims.  Her honesty about her own weakness and inability with the gunman in District 2.   Her insistence on the people whom she wanted to have immunity in the war, demonstrating her loyalty and instinct for helping others.  Her condition that she must be able to hunt, knowing that fresh air and nature would act as a restorative.  Her willingness to consider Johanna’s plight.  Her tenderness for Finnick.  Her coming clean with Haymitch about where they both failed Peeta.   All things that, in a confusing time of war and conflict, kept her as centered as was possible under the circumstances.

I appreciated the complexity of war as it was presented in this book.  The necessity of killing some “for the greater good.”  Beetee and Gale were not evil, but placed in a role to strategically kill and destroy the enemies.  Gale’s strong sense of anger and injustice fueled his willingness to create traps and snares for people, and that was needed to overthrow the evil government that created The Hunger Games.  But it sickened Katniss to see this brutality in her friend.  Likewise, it grieved her to see the conditions under which her old prep team had been kept.  Katniss implicitly grasped that there are nuances to understanding evil and control, and that the prep team couldn’t be expected to entirely sympathize with what the Districts had gone through.  And the complexity of reality, that though they had “aided and abetted” the Capitol, they weren’t entirely to blame for their actions and attitudes.

The whole situation with Peeta was so tragic.  And yet, I liked how he, also, grew.  He had to look at things logically, carefully, to know what was true, instead of just following his almost-too-good-to-be-true heart of Books 1 and 2.  He saw Katniss more realistically in some ways in this book, and he worked at controlling the poisoned thoughts that wanted him to believe that she was completely evil.  Again, the book celebrated the ideas of nuance and complexity so well.

I couldn’t believe it when Katniss announced that she agreed that the Hunger Games should be instituted for the Capitol children.  I am certain that this was the moment she realized, without a doubt, that Panem under the rule of Coin and District 13 would be just as brutal and evil as under Snow.  And she complied with this vote to have The Hunger Games in order to not arouse suspicion in Coin.  And Haymitch, who always thinks like Katniss, knew just what she was doing. And I loved her brilliant solution of shooting Coin instead of Snow.

I loved Haymitch in this book.  Again, a character who has been broken, whose life is a wreck, who acknowledges freely his crimes and frailty.  And yet who has a goodness and kindness under all the debris that wants to do the right thing.

I just love people who are a mess and are honest about it.  I think they are so much more free to do good in this world than the cookie-cutter, “got-it-all-together” hero.

Maybe postmodernism influences my thinking too much here.  I’m not sure.

I thought the ending was lovely.  Going home, taking a day at a time, opening up herself to the process of grieving by creating a book of memories.  I loved the sweet epilogue.  I feel like I’d like to re-read those last couple of chapters and epilogue again but Dave is busy reading it and I don’t think he’d appreciate me ripping the book from his hands.

Lucy (my 11 year old) read it and was disappointed by it.  Even mildly traumatized about it, which made me feel like a bad mother for letting her read it.  But we ended up have a good, long, hard hug while she held me and shed a few tears, and a good, long, hard talk as we processed through it together, and I think I redeemed the situation fairly decently.  We spoke of how people are all capable of hurting and harming others, she and I as much as some of the characters of the Hunger Games.  Such a book shows us so clearly our fallen nature, our need for grace, and ultimately our need for a Savior.

There are other things I would like to process about the book, but those are some initial thoughts.

Hutchmoot 2010

August 9, 2010

Dave and I just returned from Nashville, where we attended Hutchmoot 2010. My mind is full and my heart is warmed and I want to capture some of my initial thoughts before they fly away.

1. The company was awesome. There were about 100 of us, and I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone, but everyone I did meet was warm and interesting and a pleasure to talk with. My fears about feeling awkward or out-of-place were unfounded. It was a warm, gracious community of thoughtful Christians committed to Story and Art and Truth.

2. The literary sessions were satisfying. To hear people talk in glowing terms about some of my favorite authors (George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Walt Wangerin) felt like my inner nerd’s dream come true. I don’t often think about how few people in my day-to-day life share my interest and enthusiasm for these authors, but, oh! was it delightful to be amongst fellow fans who “get it.”

3. The authors and musicians there were wonderfully real people. Andrew Peterson, Andrew Osenga, Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Jason Grey, Ron Block, Pete Peterson, Jonathan Rogers, Eric Peters, Randall Goodgame. Some of their work was familiar to me, some not so much, but I frequently tend to be intimidated and “star struck” by famous people. Not here. These people are real, honest, vulnerable, approachable, humble, willing to confess confusion and weakness and insecurity. And also willing to share their talents to inspire and encourage fellow Christ-followers.

4. The food was phenomenal. Evie Coates catered the whole thing. I have to confess, I was skeptical that home-made food for such a large number of people would be anywhere near edible. Boy was I wrong! This was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life! Some things I took little samples of to be polite, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I did not try anything I didn’t like. Mmmmm…. my mouth is watering just thinking of the burritos, rice salad, gazpacho, morrocan spice chicken, sweet potatoes, tomato relish, desserts….

5. The music! Andrew Peterson’s Counting Stars release concert on Friday night was so fun. To see him live, to hear the stories behind the songs, to watch the banter and camaraderie between the musicians. All was delightful. The second night, the Square Peg Alliance concert was a totally different feeling concert, but wonderful and moving.

6. The keynote speaker. Walter Wangerin. Wow, was it more inspiring and interesting than I would have guessed. He gave tips for being writers and “shapers” of stories, for being “pilers onto piles” and “heapers onto heaps.” He wove his own stories into the “lecture,” illustrating what he meant so seamlessly. I’m still digesting many of the things he said, and have some thoughts planted like seeds in my mind. I intend to give them water and sunlight and see what grows!

7. Nashville itself. Beautiful. Green. Lush. Trees everywhere! Heat and humidity. It just felt like a different world, and it reminded me how nice it is to travel and get away from normal routine.

Wow. Can you tell I’m on a “high” right now? I’m ignoring the unpacking, laundry, and cleaning up I need to do so I can just rest in the memory of the Hutchmoot. I love my life, and I feel all charged up for doing what I do – mothering and homemaking and a few little creative ventures here and there.

And I can’t wait for Hutchmoot 2011.

Reading

August 3, 2010

I’ve been busy.  Painting rooms in my house (Dave’s and my bedroom and the girls’ rooms), going to birthday parties of children, the usual cleaning and laundering and meal-preparing, and reading.

In preparation for this conference Dave and I are going to, I’ve been reading Frederick Buechner for the first time.  Why did I wait so long to discover his work?  I’ve read The Sacred Journey and The Son of Laughter in the last few days.  The Sacred Journey is his autobiographical account of his early years, and it is told with such careful wording and beauty that I found myself completely caught up in it.  Somehow he captures the wonder of ordinary things, and reveals himself in such an honest and profound way that I felt like he was revealing myself to me, as well.

The Son of Laughter is the story of Jacob.  The story of the old patriarch comes alive in this book.  Such a great story, even in the sparse words of Genesis…the story of Jacob and Esau and their conniving mother and Isaac their father, and on through Laban and Leah and Rachel and the whole mess of birthing sons that would be the fathers of the twelve tribes, and the tale of Joseph and his dreams.  Buechner tells it and the characters come alive, and he infuses in it something of the wonder and mystery of God, whom they call “The Fear.”  I feel like I don’t have words to describe the experience of reading about The Fear in this book.  It moved me, astonished me, and gave me a fresh glimpse of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The God of us all.   Highly recommended book.

Can’t wait for our trip!  Dave and I are so excited; a little tentative as to what this conference will be like, but excited nonetheless.  And the opportunity to be together, just the two of us, for four days!  Away from our normal routine and duties.  Yay!

Lilith

July 12, 2010

Well, I missed yesterday for my blog-a-day attempt.

Oh, well.

Today I wanted to talk about Lilith by George MacDonald.  I’ve read this book several times before, but decided to re-read it, as it’s on the “recommended reading” list for the Hutchmoot conference Dave and I are going to in a few weeks.

The book starts out kind of agonizingly boring and obscure, with much talk about riddles and paradoxes…”dying into life,” etc.   These discursive conversations are really wearying to me.  I wonder if old George set it up that way, though, to present the enigma in a wordy manner, then go on to show in the story what truths he’s really trying to communicate.  He does it WAY better in story form, because the very points he’s trying to make in the beginning of the story make little sense to me, but once the story unfolds, I grasp the riddles and paradoxes in very real ways.

He shows through the story of Lilith an idea that he articulated in a sermon.  “The one principal of hell is ‘I am my own.’”  To me this sounds confusing.  But when you’ve read his account of Lilith, the legendary first wife of Adam who shunned her duty of childbearing, you see how evil this idea is.  We are essentially created beings, even though everything within us wants to be our own source and creator and master of our lives.  To veer away from realizing ourselves as creatures leads to evil and selfishness and misery.

Another thing that struck me about Lilith this time I read through it is: Lilith seems to be a vampire.  She lives “by the blood and lies and souls of men.”  She drinks the blood of the main character, as well as a few others in the course of the story.  I have read the Twilight series, and also see “vampire” literature everywhere, so maybe that’s why I clued in to this dynamic.  I googled “Lilith vampire” and came to find that she is, in fact, considered to be the first vampire.  Interesting.

Two of my children have been playing around me and talking to me and each other as I’ve written this, and I fear that it is not clear and that I said a lot of “nothing” in this post.  If so, sorry. But I’m trying to do a blog a day.  :)  Maybe I’ll come back to this topic and explain how it affected me a little later.

This morning in my Google Reader, I read this post which pushed me to actually sit down and type out a blog post.  And I’m going to try to do one every day, for, let’s see… how about a month?  And we’ll see how it goes.  It’s not so much that I have hoards of people reading this blog, waiting for me to deliver humorous stories, poignant truths, and breath-taking observations about life.  I need to do this for me.  I need to express myself more regularly.  I need to create.  I need a reason to notice things in the world.  I need waking. And the discipline of writing something everyday will hopefully help wake me up.

I’ve been reading Annie Dillard, in preparation for Hutchmoot, a conference Dave and I are attending next month.  I’ve always meant to read Annie Dillard, but never got too far.  Now I have some motivation, and I have to say, she’s an amazing writer.  This passage took my breath away:

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed?  Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts?  Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms?  Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with widsom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?  What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered?  Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love?  We still and always want waking…”    (from The Writing Life).

For some reason, amidst lots of fun and activity and joy this summer, I’m fighting the feeling of meaninglessness.  I feel like a creature set down here bewildered.  And instead of embracing that sense, I find myself recently wanting to numb myself, to escape into a coma of checking email and facebook and overindulging in sweets and junk food.  I want waking.  I want to see “beauty laid bare.”

So here goes.  Probably much of what I’ll write will be boring and mundane.  But I want to try to capture my life and pay attention to my life, both internal and what I see around me.

Today we’ll go to the second day of swim lessons for all my girls.  The weather continues to be cloudy and cold.  I just looked out and it’s actually lightly drizzling.  Not exactly pool weather, but we never get much of our “summer heat and sun” until late summer – September and into October.

I can’t for the life of me think of anything else interesting to say.  See you tomorrow!

I just finished Cyndere’s Midnight, the second “strand” in Jeffrey Overstreets’ Auralia’s Colors series.  I loved it.  I have to confess that I started it awhile back and had a hard time getting into it, the details of the first book feeling vague and fuzzy in my mind.  But when I picked it up this time and made my way into the story, I was astonished by the great storytelling and the “mythic” moments that gave my heart that familiar tug, and lastly by the imagination displayed in the story.  How do people come up with these things? Amazing.

I was thinking today  that I only blog about books when I like them.  I thought of Anton Ego, from Ratatoullie, when he says if he doesn’t like food, he doesn’t swallow.  I think I am like that with books.  If I don’t like them, I either don’t finish them, or if I do, I’m done with them; no more thoughts or reflections necessary.

I don’t really want to try to summarize the book, just to comment on the amazing feat that I think Overstreet accomplishes:  he creates a brilliant “God-figure,” called the Keeper.  In the guide to the characters at the back of the book, the Keeper is described like this: A massive, mysterious beast who appears in the dreams of all children, and some say the adults as well. It is perceived by children as a benevolent guardian, but most determine that it is only a fancy, probably imagined out of a need for comfort.  Some believe it appears in dreams because it is real and moving about in the wild with vast powers of perception and influence.

The Keeper is a thing to be both feared and trusted.  Those who trust and love the Keeper have comfort and protection from ultimate harm.  The herione of the previous book, Auralia, offers a prayer that is recounted at the beginning of this book, and I’ve flipped back to the page several times, because, somehow, for me, that prayer captures some insight into the deeper, more real world:

Guard me from danger, guard me from lies, guard me from claws and from hearts that despise.  Guard me from nightmares, threats to my health.  Keeper, come rescue me, yes,  from myself.

Auralia is an artist, who uses color and beauty to enliven the grey world around her.  She claims she was sent by the Keeper for just that purpose.  That is the main story in the first book, but her colors and artistry awaken a beastman (a tribe under a curse of being like powerful, evil beasts).  Cyndere’s Midnight tells the continuing story of this beastmans’ transformation and his gradual rejection of  the cursed life he was born into.  That theme of continual renunciation and rebirth (that so many good fairy tales employ) is another way that this book captured my attention.

I loved how Auralia was used by the Keeper to awaken people, engage their senses, and cause them to wonder about and pursue the Keeper.  And how was she used?  By her gift of art.  Of color.  I don’t tend to mark up books a lot when I’m reading, but I actually had to underline this sentence about Auralia (in a green pen, no less.  It was the only one I had with me).  “Beauty had made the people stand still – the poor and the powerful, the dreamers and the dangerous.”  The idea of beauty arresting our senses, of awakening in us a longing and greater understanding of who we are.  This is a worthy goal to pursue.  And I’m sure God wants us to stand still and catch a glimpse of His eternal glory and reality when we see beautiful things in this world, and beautiful things his creatures have made.

Yikes, I’ve blabbered on about all this and never mentioned the main heroine in this story: Cyndere.  She’s really cool, too.    Read the book if you want to learn more!

A post with no title.

May 12, 2010

Warning! Stream of Consciousness blog post:

So, I had a great Mother’s Day. Dave was so great; he arranged for us to hang out with our mothers on the two days preceding Sunday, so the whole day on Sunday could be restful and focused on…MOI! Gotta love that! My girls treated me to all manner of homemade cards, bookmarks, letters, drawings, and lots of hugs and proclamations of love. Really sweet.

So why, two days later, do I feel grumpy and impatient?

There is the obvious answer – sin and selfishness. And I do have the sense of needing to spend some time just resting in God’s tenderness for me, grieving the fact that I’m not in control of the people or circumstances in my life, and generally re-orienting my gaze upward and away from myself.

But there is a less obvious answer, and I want to explore what it is and where it’s coming from.

I derive a lot of satisfaction from being a good mom and wife. I try to keep our household running fairly smoothly, but I also try to inject some joy and thoughtfulness into the minds and hearts of my children. The monotony of laundry, dishes, errands, pet care, kid care, helping with homework, playing boring games with a preschooler, and schlepping kids to various activities gains meaning when I remember that I’m “doing the work He has given me to do, in beauty and truth, and for the common good…”

That little phrase in the Book of Common Prayer has helped me through many a tedious mother-day.

I don’t have huge career ambitions right now. Maybe one day, when my children are up and grown, I’d want to reach outside of the home for my main vocation. But for now, I’m grateful to be a full-time mom and homemaker.

Except for when I’m not.

Speaking of the prayer book, our family has been trying to go through the Catechism at the end to help our children gain a good grasp of Christian doctrine. The first section on Human Nature states that being made in His image means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God. What a list!! The”loving” and “living in harmony” are the things that seem to require most of my attention in my mothering and homemaking. But I sorely feel that the other elements of what it means to be made in His image are clambering for attention.

To create. I LOVE making things. I love doing art projects with the kids, so I have an excuse to make stuff myself. Colors, paints, clay, sidewalk chalks, embroidery, paper crafting. Creative expression feeds my soul. Even creating a good meal satisfies some part in me. (And according to my family, I’ve become a pretty darn good cook!) Musically, I’ve rediscovered that I really love sitting down at the piano and playing songs. My mom bought me a sewing machine for Mother’s Day and I’m so eager to figure out how to make stuff with it. But oh, the messes of creating. There is the reality that me creating = me cleaning up another mess. Or in the case of playing music, it means telling my kids (especially Bridget) to just BACK OFF and let Mommy have one minute to herself. (Whoa, that one is a little fresh. Just today, I spent literally all day with Bridget, playing with her and having fun with her, and she was sulky and resentful when I got a whim after dinner to play “Simple Gifts” on the piano. She kept putting the jar of ladybugs that she’d captured right in front of the music until I finally banished her from the room. She went to the stairs and just watched me with big, reproachful eyes.) Aaarrrggghhhh.

To reason. Another facet of being created in God’s image is to reason. And I hunger for this. I listen to audio books and podcasts to keep my brain from turning to mush as I do all the boring tasks of household management. And thank goodness for Dave, with whom I can have mentally stimulating conversations. And I have some friends that will get deep with me, trying to plumb the depths of some mystery or talk through some ideas. But I feel lonely in my mind, a lot. I long to learn more, read more, discuss more. Just today, I took Bridget to see How To Train Your Dragon. And I enjoyed it. But there was a nerd part of me that thought, “Huh. This movie reminds me of that Postmodern trend to have the “excluded other” become the champion of the story. That the high “virtue” of tolerance shows us that all we used to think is absolutely wrong. That dragons, with the exception of one (the fearsome Red Death) are good and want to be our friends and helpers.” I somehow don’t think Bridget would like that conversation, though. She just wants to recount the fun details of the flying dragons, the funny scenes, etc. I want to talk about this with someone, to compare it to other literature I’ve read, to see if anyone else thinks this is interesting.

This is just one tiny example.

And this is one reason I impulsively signed Dave and I up to attend the Hutchmoot. I read the Rabbit Room blog. I often intend to enter the conversation in the comments section, as soon as I get my thoughts together and sit down to reason out something that makes sense. Usually I just end up being a “lurker.” But this gathering intrigued me. I’ve admired the songs and writing of Andrew Peterson and others that write on the blog for a couple of years. And when I read today that Walter Wangerin was going to be attending, I hesitated no longer. It’s supposed to be a group experience to enrich the life of the mind, to help feed that drive to reason and create. I’m excited and uncertain as to what to expect.

I told you this was going to “stream of consciousness.” I can’t even think of a title for this.

Update

April 7, 2010

To break my blogging silence, I will offer this brief update on our lives:

1.  The children are on Spring Break. I’m watching the dynamics between the sisters change as each grows and matures in different ways.  (More on that in another blog post.)

2. Dave is busy trying to finish his 100 Thing Challenge book.

3. We’re getting ready to plant our garden.

4. We had a lovely Easter, complete with crazy 7.2 earthquake.

5. I’m reading Where Is God? by John Townsend.  Very good and thoughtful and encouraging.  I recently finished The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.  They were amazing, and I see potential for some new literary OCD as the new book comes out in August.  I’ve already dabbled in reading some theories and speculations as to what’s going to happen in book 3.  Reminds me of the good old days of waiting for Harry Potter books to come out.

Oh, heck, why don’t I just write about the girls right now?  Bridget is almost five, and her sudden articulate-ness is astonishing.  She also seems to have learned some new methods of being an annoying baby sister, esp. to Lucy.  But then again, that may be because Lucy is growing up too, and has some pre-teen mood swings and less willingness to sit on the floor and play with Bridget for endless hours.  So, I don’t know what is coming first – chicken or egg?  Is Bridget just driving Lucy crazy and therefore Lucy doesn’t want to indulge her so much?  Or is Lucy exuding some “rejection” emotions, causing Bridget to react with sadness and increased whiny-ness?  Sigh.  It’s sad to see, because Lucy could always be counted on (as far as Bridget was concerned) to be like a second mom, but more patient, more fun, and more willing to play with Schleich horses.  Now, she’s changing.  And Bridget is growing up too, and I hate to say it, but she can act like a spoiled-brat-entitled-baby-sister at times.

Have you noticed that Phoebe has been conspicuously absent from my description of this dynamic?  I used to worry about her, because the other two would happily play and hang out, while Phoebe seemed on the fringe.  Lately Phoebe has been playing with Bridget a lot – rough, loud, fun Phoebe-style play.  And Phoebe’s been doing a lot of chatting and laughing with Lucy.  The middle child who melds with who she’s with.  Just when I think I’ve decided which child I need to worry about the most, pray for the most, and work on their character the most, they emerge as the most well-adapted one!  That’s Phoebe in my mind, lately.  Likely that will change.  Sigh again.

Last night as I was praying for my girls, I was reminded of a sweet prayer in the Book of Common Prayer.  It’s listed in the Compline section, to be prayed before you go to sleep at night.  And here it is: “Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

Amen, indeed.

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