That’s Our Girl!


This is a post that is a little late. The photo above was taken nearly a month ago, when Evangeline competed in a regional Christian school speaking competition called “The Speech & Word Festival.” Back in November, she won for her grade and category at her school, and in January, she went to the regional competition. The festival has several categories: illustrated story telling, Bible memory, poetry, dramatic reading, etc. She competed in poetry. She recited a Shel Silverstein poem that I knew of from my youth called “Bear in There.”

Bear in There

There’s a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire–
He likes it ’cause it’s cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He’s nibbling the noodles,
He’s munching the rice,
He’s slurping the soda,
He’s licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he’s in there–
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.

After the students finished competing in different rooms around the host school, everyone gathered in the auditorium to await the judges’ decisions, and during that time, several students who were selected by the judges perform for the entire group–“showcased” as it were. The top photo shows Evangeline during this time of the day. After about 40 minutes passed, we heard the results. Evangeline tied for first place in her category. She was beaming. I admit, I was, too.

Here she is with her first place ribbon.

Evangeline with her first place ribbon

Girl Meets God – Quote 2

Here are some of the thoughts on baptism that jumped out at me in reading Girl Meets God. Oh, by the way, just because I include something here, doesn’t mean I agree with it fully. It is just “food for thought.”

Child-like faith (my heading-jh)
At All Angels’, I teach the 5 and 6 year-old Sunday school class. One day, we sit in a circle on the dusty green rug and talk about the Eucharist. “Then Milind stands up and prays for a long time. He gives a long speech, doesn’t he?” I ask, referring to the consecration of the bread, when the priest tells the story of the Lord’s Supper. “What do you think is in that big goblet?”

“Apple juice,” cries out one student, swayed by months of Sunday school snacks. (She may also think the Eucharist wafer is a graham cracker.)

“I know,” says a boy in a daringly pastel T-shirt, “Milind is giving everyone wine to drink.” That was the correct answer, of course, but I kept calling on students.

“I think,” says a pensive girl with black corkscrew curls circling her face, “that Mister Millind is pouring God into the cup for us to drink.”

That, I think is what Jesus must have meant when He said we need to be like children. He was talking about this very corkscrew-curled little girl, who doesn’t care about transfiguration or consubstantiation or substance and accidents. She just knows that the priest pours God into a communion cup.

Communion and the Body (my heading-jh)
It doesn’t sit well with our modern sensibilities, the idea that you could be excluded from a group, asked to leave, shut out because you didn’t believe something, or hadn’t been doused in the right water. But there is something fitting to the privacy of members-only eucharist. The Eucharist is intimate. Watching it is a little like spying on a couple making love. This may be the place where Christ loves us best.

Holy Communion is another name, and there are good reasons to speak of taking communion. Those words remind us that we are not only drawing near to God, but that we are doing that most basic and social thing, we are eating together, we are drawing near to one another. This has been a long, slow lesson for me. I am just starting to learn that the people I take communion with are the people who count.

I didn’t like most of the people at Clare College chapel. I loved my priest. And, I loved Becky, my godmother; Anna, the ordinand sent over by her seminary to be our priest-in-training; and Helen and Olivia, two short-haired eighteen-year-olds with lively minds and brassy giggles. Other than those few, the people at chapel weren’t people I would have chosen to socialize with. They weren’t up to my standards. I didn’t think them clever enough, entertaining enough, whole enough. Mostly, at the Clare chapel, I met broken people, needy people, people who were in church for a reason.

In fact some of the chapel people repelled me. They were pale and pasty and watery drips of people, inarticulate and shy and nerdy and downright tedious. I had nothing to talk about with any of them, though Lord knows I tried, not even theology, a concept that seemed foreign to these students, students for whom everything about Jesus was perfectly clear-cut. “These are not,” I sniffed to Jo, “people I would invite to a dinner party.”

Jo, in her wisdom, didn’t point out the obvious fact that I was, indeed having a dinner party with them every Sunday morning. She pretended to sympathize. She pretended to be every bit the snob that I was. She said whole days elapsed where she had to speak , hour after pastoral hour, to people she did not like very much or find terribly interesting. “There aren’t too many people around here like you,” she admitted conspiratorially, as though it were just us two charming ans sophisticated Christians pitted against the rest of the sorry, benighted church. Then she sighed and said, “But I realized awhile back that if I built a church filled with my friends, it would be rather small and homogeneous church.” I blinked. “Dull really,” said Jo.

So much for sympathy.

The day before I left Cambridge for good, I saw Paul and Gillian, two of the most annoying Christians, on Clare bridge, and I hugged them. I said I would miss them. I thought I was lying, to be polite. But I wasn’t. I have missed them. No one else I ever meet will have pledged to support me in my life of Christ, which is exactly what Paul and Gillian pledged at my baptism. My Village, the friends with whom I chat about post-structuralism and Derrida–those people didn’t witness my baptism. They didn’t cheer at my confirmation, they didn’t pray with me every Sunday for two years, they didn’t hand me Kleenex when I burst into inexplicable tears in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. They aren’t my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are merely my friends.

Girl Meets God – Quote 1

A while back, I posted about reading Girl Meets God. I finally finished it last weekend, and I wanted to share a few of my favorite parts. A review is likely in the future, but for now, here’s one part that jumped out at me:

Regarding liturgy and its benefits:

  • Sometimes, I think I have come up with something poetic. One day, when I was full in the flush of agony about what I should do with my life, whether I would always be alone, whether I should become a nun, whether I should drop out of graduate school, and other high-pitch anxieties, I heard, reverberating around in my brain, “Go out to do the work I have given you to do.” The work I have given you to do. The work I have given you to do. What an ingenious sentiment, I thought. I can’t believe I dreamed that up. Maybe I should drop out of grad school and enter a poetry-writing Master of Fine Arts program. All day, all week I heard those words, the work I have given you to do, heard them and was deeply consoled by them, sure that God had given me work to do, that He has sent me out into the world to do it, that He had even woke me up too early in the morning to do that work, it was mine, I was consecrated to it, and it was given of Him. I heard those words all week, and I felt peaceful. Not only had God given me work to do, He had given me poetic snatches of reassurance, too.
  • Then I got to church on Sunday. We opened with a hymn. The crucifier and the priest processed in. We prayed the collect of the day, we read three passages from Scripture. Milind gave a rousing sermon about forgiveness. We sang some more, we prayed the prayers for the people, and exchanged the peace. Milind consecrated the Eucharist and we received it. Then we said the prayer of thanksgiving. “We thank you for receiving us as living members of your Son.” And there, in the middle of that prayer, the words God had given me all week: “And now, Father, send us out to the do the work you have given us to do.” It was the liturgy that had lodged in my brain, words of the liturgy I barely noticed Sunday to Sunday when we said them, but here I was, noticing them raptly, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, when I needed them most.
  • Habit and obligation have both become bad words. That prayer becomes a habit must mean that it is impersonal, unfeeling, something of a rouse. If you do something because you are obligated to, it doesn’t count, at least not as much as if you’d done it on your own free will, like the children who says thank you because his parents tell him to, it doesn’t count. Sometimes, often, prayer feels that way to me, impersonal and unfeeling and not something I’ve chosen to do. I wish it felt inspired and on fire and like a real, love-conversation all the time, or even just more of the time. But what I am learning the more I sit with liturgy is that what I feel happening bears little relation to what is actually happening. It is a great gift when God gives me a stirring, a feeling, a something-at-all in prayer. But work is being done whether I feel it or not. Sediment is being laid. Words of praise to God are becoming the most basic words in my head. They are becoming the fallback words, drowning our advertising jingles and professors lectures and sometimes even my own interior monologues.
  • Maybe St. Paul was talking about liturgy when he encouraged us to pray without ceasing.

Serving and Being Served

We just got back to St Louis after spending the weekend in New Hampshire, where Mark spoke at a Bible conference yesterday.  As shocking as it may sound, we went on this trip alone–without children.  Two different families watched the kids.  One family picked them up from school on Friday and kept them through Saturday afternoon.  The other family had them until this evening when we got home.  Now, these are what you call friends, people.  The first family has 4 little kids — ages 6, 5, 2.5, and 9 months.  The second family has 6 kids, ages 10, 8, 6, 5, 2, and 8 months.  But from all accounts, everyone did fine.  When we walked in our house tonight, the only one who was really thrilled to see us was the dog.  (Oh, and our friend Justin took care of Simon for us).  So you see why we don’t get away alone too often.

Mark spoke on Ephesians yesterday, and he really did an excellent job.  Yes.  I am his wife.  I am biased.  But the Lord can still use him to speak to me–to convict me of things I need to work on. 

Here’s the main theme I took away from the talks–God puts us in relationships with other people to change us and make us more like Christ.  We learn to submit to Christ by submitting and serving others.  There was a lot more meat to it than that, but my notes are somewhere between Detroit and St. Louis.  When they arrive tomorrow, maybe I’ll write more.  But, if you are really interested, I could hook you up to buy the cds of the lectures.

One great thing about these lectures for me was that while I was sitting in pleasant surroundings listening to good Bible teaching about needing to learn to serve others in the body of Christ, I was being served by my friends back in St Louis.  They came alongside us and cared for our dear children to allow us to spend some time alone together.  I was also being served by the church that hosted us.  They put us up in a nice hotel, they took us out to eat at some nice restaurants, and they gave us free time alone.  We also enjoyed a vibrant worship service with the saints there this morning, a pleasant meal at a great restaurant afterwards with a large group from the church, and great conversation and fellowship on the way to the airport.

I am glad to be home.  It is nice to come back refreshed and blessed by the service of others.  I am praying I can be of better service to those around me after our little time away.

The V-Day Post

I see many of my blogging acquaintances are posting about Valentines Day. I felt I must get in on the action.

So as not to be a copy cat, I won’t tell you how Mark and I met, but I’ll post that some day. It has some interesting elements.

I will say that I like Valentines Day because it reminds me to be thankful for a good husband who loves me and our 4 children. It also reminds me to be thankful for the 4 children, themselves. These 5 people are the loves of my life. I praise God to have loves in my life because I know many people don’t.

Most Valentines Days in the past, I have tried to make it a family night, with a “fancy dinner” (anything I make served on china with a table cloth and candles). Our girls really like this sort of thing, and the boys tolerate it. We also usually give the children a little gift. Well, circumstance has made the “fancy dinner” hard for me to pull off this year, but we did manage to get the children small gifts to remind them they are loved. I also made the trip to school to be a party mom for one child’s party. Evangeline and the third graders in her class were the lucky recipients of my children’s party skills. Valentine Bingo anyone? (BTW, I sign up for one party and one field trip per kid per year if possible. I made the party circuit this year, but the field trips haven’t worked out as well.)

I may not have a dramatic love story to tell, but I do feel blessed by the love and loves in my life, which is worthy of a blog post every now and then. Happy Valentines Day to everyone–especially, Mark, Calvin, Nevin, Evangeline, and Charis.

Library Elf

I came across the library elf on our local library’s website.  This is a great service if you are a parent who takes your kids to the library with any regularity.  It is a free service that links to libraries across the country and tracks individuals accounts to help you keep track of all those books, videos,  etc., that the whole family has checked out.  It sends you e-mails or text messages to remind you when items are due.  You can choose how far ahead of the due date you want the reminder.  You can also choose to get one reminder or daily reminders until the items are returned.  What makes this better than tracking accounts on the library’s website is that it lists the entire household’s checked out items.  Just go to your library elf account and it’s all there on one page.  This is going to save us time and money!  Woo-hoo!

Now, if only I could finda free laundry-elf, cooking elf, driving elf, cleaning-elf,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

New Blog Added to the Roll

I just wanted to note that I just added our young friend Justin Donathan to my blogroll.

Justin is a student at Covenant Seminary who we met briefly in Oklahoma before we moved to St Louis.  Even though we barely knew him, he helped Mark drive our moving van from OK to STL.  That alone earns him a spot in my blogroll.  Since he has been in St Louis, we have shamelessly asked him to help us with a variety of things at our house, and he has almost always said yes.

His blog is pleasant to look at and filled with much more erudite content than a lot of blogs out there.  If you like to read and think, his is a good place to visit.  If you like to pretend that you are a reader and a thinker like I do, you’ll enjoy visiting his blog, too.

Angie’s Tag Game

My friend Angie over at bloggindasz tagged me earlier this week, and since the first questions is about the Super Bowl, I thought I should post my answers before the game:

1. Are you rooting for the Patriots or Giants?
a. Go Giants!
b. Go Patriots!
c. No strong feelings either way, but should be a good game
d. The what?

I really didn’t think about it being Super Bowl time until last week when I heard something about the Patriots playing. So I am really rooting for neither.

I grew up as a big Steelers fan and even trading football cards with boys at school. But the NFL has not been a part of my life much as an adult. Of course, if there is ever another SB with the Steelers, I’ll be watching. If there is one where the Steelers are playing Dallas or Miami, I will be hosting a SB party requiring all attendants to wear black and gold.

2. Seven choices of vacation. Pick one:

a. Beach house, white sand, great waves
b. Condo in the mountains; view of snowy peaks
c. Nice hotel in New York City with tickets to the latest Broadway show
d. Tour of historic sites and museums in Greece and Italy
e. Bed and breakfast with time for antiquing
f. Home–sleeping in, hanging out, and doing stuff you don’t usually have time to do
g. I prefer not to take vacations.

Vacation, what’s a vacation.

Seriously though, of the choices above, C appeals to me most. I would love to spend a week in NYC in a great hotel with tickets to more than one Broadway show. What would be really fun would be to have a week there with my husband, and then have a second week with my kids there to see all the great sites there.

3. Coffee drinker? If no, why? If yes, sugar, cream, or neither?

Definitely a coffee drinker. I used to drink it black, but a few years back when I was on the Atkins diet that allowed half-n-half in coffee, I started using it to give the coffee a little substance. Now, I drink one cup a day with half-n-half. If I have more, I drink it black.

4. What’s the last book you read (or are you in the middle of reading)?

I just finished Lady’s Maid by Ellen Forster. I reviewed it a few posts ago, so I’ll mention that I am in the middle of Girl Meets God, a memoir by Lauren Winner, which I am enjoying immensely. I plan to share my thoughts on it here soon.

5. You’re at the grocery store, waiting in the check-out line with a cart full of stuff. You glance over your shoulder for a moment, wondering whether you should have picked up an extra package of waffles. When you turn around, you notice that a lady has cut in line in front of you. Your eyes meet. She glowers and starts to put her items on the belt. You:

a. Grumble to yourself but don’t say anything out loud. You dislike scenes.
b. Say, “Excuse me, ma’am, but I was next in line.” That’s about as far as you’d take it, though.
c. March over to the belt, push her items onto the floor, and tell her that she and her cream of mushroom soup can go get in line like everybody else.
d. Grab your cell phone and snap a picture of the lady, thinking “Yes! I’ve got something good to blog about!”

I would probably choose b. I hate to be cut off, whether it be in the grocery store line or on the highway. I have been known to be a little more in your face than choice b indicates, but I am trying to be more charitable toward people in these kinds of situations.

6. Please share two or three links of things that made you laugh. Out loud. A blog post, a cartoon, a YouTube clip–whatever.

Lots of the posts on bloggindasz make me laugh, and I always get a chuckle from Annie’s stories about her crazy boys. My link takes you to a page of her blog where you need to scroll down to the entry called, “Speaking of Gifts.” “Adventures in Grocery Shopping” from Because I Said So was another great one I laughed at last fall.

Now, I tag: Angie D., Jennifer C., and Brandy.

The Annual Ground Hog Day Post

In honor of my Pennsylvania roots and my native Punxsutawney parents, I am obligated to wish everyone a Happy Ground Hog Day. According to the news, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and that means 6 more weeks of winter. Of course, if he doesn’t see his shadow the other option is “spring is just around the corner.” Well, that’s a fairly undefined expression, so it doesn’t make much difference if Phil doesn’t see his shadow. Six weeks, around the corner:it’s pretty much a wash.

Still, a small town in Pennsylvania gets its annual day of fame and boosts its economy with the events of February 2. So, Happy Groundhog Day one and all.

This photo shows our girls with the statue of Phil in Punxsutawney. The building behind the statue is where Phil is kept all year. There are statues of Phil all over Punxsutawney.