Monday, April 27, 2009

Pictures

Here's a picture of Code-man reading to his brothers at bedtime. Awwww! How special.

I am finally almost done with a project I've been working on for someone I love--now I'm just waiting for a detergent bottle to be emptied so I can finish (intriguing, eh? Wouldn't you like to know what it is and who it's for?). I've enjoyed doing it, but it just feels like it's taken forever, and actually, thinking about it, I think it's been almost a year since I got the materials. Isn't that just the way? Projects take at least twice as long as you think they're going to...

On Saturday, Code-man raked a path through our front woods to make a bike path, because, you see, when you "get some air" (jump) the pine needles are quite slippery to land on. He also did some digging on one of the jumps and eliminated another one so that he could set up for the big jump. He didn't want me taking his picture jumping, so he went slow whenever he saw the camera, and I'm just not talented, or sneaky, enough to hide the camera until he's already committed to the jump.
During the course of the day, Cody decided to get out the go-cart that Grandpa made for the boys and try it in the woods. He kept going slow, though, keeping his feet on the ground, even though I told him that with the resistance from the dirt and the shallow slope he wouldn't get going nearly as fast as on the driveway. We really need to put some breaks on that thing.Isn't this a great picture? They're all looking at me, and mostly smiling.

Code-man's friend Derek came over, and after trying the jumps repeatedly, they decided that they wanted to dig. I told them they were welcome to dig in the garden area, as long as they filled the hole in when they were done, and as long as they promised not to do that after we actually plant stuff in there. They ended up digging two holes, which were quite deep, almost to Logo's waist, and definitely at least as deep as the retaining wall.Bubby decided to start cleaning up the front front yard, where the lake had been. This year there are quite a few sticks left over from the flooding. I don't think Caleb quite understood the concept, though, because he would pick up a stick, and then transport it to another area where he would drop it off and pick up another. Such a cutie-pie!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Earth day, geocaching, medication, and granola

On Wednesday, Code-man's Cub Scout pack planted 25 trees to complete the requirements for their Conservation award. It worked out well that Wednesday was also Earth Day. Since it was supposed to be a nice day, our family decided to picnic at the park first. Turned out to be the wrong park, but it was a nice place to have supper.

While we were eating, a man arrived, alone, and started lurking suspiciously about. At first, I thought he must be up to no good, but as I continued to watch him walk back and forth in a wooded area, the realization dawned that he must be looking for a geocache. Sure enough, as I watched, he surreptitiously glanced down at the hand he had just taken from his pocket, using his body to shield whatever it was he was looking at from our view. A GPS, I was sure. I watched until he left the area, and then said to the boys, wanna see if we can find that geocache?

So we wandered around in the same area, back and forth, checking out a few promising possibilities. We made it to the river side of the park, and I turned around to look back toward where we had come and saw...Mr. Geocacher (he was back)...standing by a tree...that had a branch coming out toward me...and a hole where the branch connected to the tree. I sent the boys to look in that hole, and...it wasn't there. Turns out Mr. Geocacher had found it and was waiting for us to go away so he could replace it. By the way, Mr. Geocacher told us that the one we had been looking for last April with Uncle Robb, that turned out to be under water, had been replaced and that he had just found it (if you see Robb, let him know, would you?).

As we pulled up to the park in which we were to plant the first 20 trees, we noticed a black car sitting at the curb and in it was...Mr. Geocacher. Which makes me wonder where the cache in that park is. I'm guessing in one of the sewer gratings, since there isn't much other cover there (hence the planting of the 20 new trees). It was so funny to see him there. I hope he didn't think we were following him.
. . . . . . . . . .
So, if you know me, you know that almost 3 years ago we discovered that I have a small benign tumor on my pituitary gland. It shrunk, then grew much larger while I was pregnant with Bubby, and shrunk again after he was weaned and I started taking medication again. That was a year ago, and my blood tests have been good since then, so I've decided to try to stop taking my medication. The doctor gave his OK, so here I go...we'll be checking my blood again in 3 months. When I was first diagnosed, the doctor told me that I may have to keep taking the medication for the rest of my life--I sure hope not!
. . . . . . . . . .
Here's a recipe for granola cereal that I got from my mother in law--so yummy:

In a large bowl, mix together
4 c. oatmeal
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1 c. chopped peanuts
(hint: you can buy most of these things in the bulk ingredient aisle of your grocery store)

Bring to a boil:
1 c. honey
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 T cinnamon
(hint: measure out the veg oil first, then the honey, in the same measuring cup--the honey will come out more easily)

Pour honey mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir to coat. Spread on two cookie sheets. Bake at 325 for 5 min, then stir, then bake 5 min, stir, bake 3 min, stir, bake 3 min, and allow to cool undisturbed.

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it's so easy to make substitutions. I routinely leave the sesame seeds out and add more sunflower seeds. If you're peanut allergic, you can leave the peanuts out and add more of something else. This past time I added sliced almonds to the mix. I've noticed that if it's humid on the day you prepare the granola, it becomes soggy, but you can crisp it up by putting it back in the oven for 5 minutes. I think the key is to put it in an airtight container as soon as it's cool so it doesn't have time to absorb moisture from the air.

Here's a recipe for granola bars that I got from my sister in law (whose son is peanut allergic)--also very yummy:

1/2 c. butter or margarine
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 c. crisp rice cereal (like rice krispies)
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. dried fruit bits
1/2 c. sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350. Coat a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Melt the butter or margarine in a large pot over low heat. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the sugar, honey, flour, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to the baking pan. Using a sheet of waxed paper and the palms of your hands, press the granola firmly into the pan, packing it to a flat and even thickness. (hint: if the waxed paper sticks to the mixture, spray it with cooking spray first)
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden grown. Allow the granola to cool 1 hour in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16-24 rectangular bars.

This one is easy to customize, too. I usually reverse the amounts for the fruit--I use dried cranberries--and almonds (1/2 c. fruit, 1 c. almonds). You could also use different nuts if you don't like almonds, sunflower nuts, for instance. We like to wrap these separately in aluminum foil or snack size ziplocks, for an easy on-the-go snack.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Trampoline, part two


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So this is the last one. Scroll down to the first and enjoy :-)

Trampoline


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Taken this morning...Cody insisted that I post it today.

Slipper

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Slap, slap, slap...Caleb has big shoes (or slippers) to fill!

Egg hunt


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Found one!

Slide


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One, two, three!

Happy Birthday


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The obligatory birthday video...

Go State!


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Here's Logan showing his Spartan heritage. He's had at least 5 relatives attend and graduate from Michigan State, three of whom are in his direct line. On the other hand, the only ties to University of Michigan that he has are two parents who were accepted...

Speed Demon Grandpa


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At least Grandpa was willing to try it out to...after Scott figured out that if you steer using the ropes, you'll turn too quickly and go careening off into the rocks on the side of the driveway.

Speed Demon Cody



True to form, Grandpa has once more risked life and limb of his grandchildren by giving us the prototype of his newest toy. Actually, this time Scott was the one who got injured...


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Cody & Tyler


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This is Cody swimming with Tyler the dolphin. Actually, Tyler's doing most of the swimming, Cody's just along for the ride...

Mac-n-cheese


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When we were in Florida, we had leftover night. This is Caleb, trying to make sure that everyone gets enough.

Lil' Squirt


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I had to show this one to y'all because of the intensity with which Caleb squeezes the fishie.

Painting


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As you can see, painting is serious work.

Snow trucks

Remember, when viewing the videos today, scroll down to the bottom and work your way up. This is the first one, taken in late February. They're on a mission...
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PINK!

Well! The men who visit my blog have weighed in on my new background. I would like to remind them that they were invited to "comment on how cute it is...", not how much they don't like it. See, because it's not for them. The correct comment would be, "gosh, T, that just expresses your personality beautifully." Or even, "T, I'm so glad that you're happy with your new background." Love you all, though :-) Can't really expect y'all to get the subtext there without more explicit instructions.

Have you noticed my recent love affair with pink? I don't think anyone who knows me could have missed the whole fuzzy pink slipper episode (that's when it started), and my husband thinks that my new pink polka dotted PJs are...well, we won't say what he thinks of them, and now the blog...

I was never really a girly girl. I have an older brother whom I absolutely idolized as a kid (I still think he's pretty nifty), and so I tried to do all the things he did, like wander through the woods, climb trees, and jump down from high places. I even tagged along to his Cub Scout meetings. And for most of my life, my best friends have been boys.

My favorite color has always been blue. I'm not sure why, I just like it, but lately, the pink. You see, I am thrilled to be the mother of 3 boys. I didn't really feel qualified to teach a daughter how to be a woman, and I feel like I dodged the bullet on that one, giving birth to three sons. I love being married to my husband, too. However, that is a whole lot of male-ness in my world. Pink is one way that I set myself apart, reminding myself, and my children, that I am a woman, and as such, I am a different creature (hubby, however, needs no reminding of this fact). Pink is just the first step in teaching my sons to respect, revere, and protect the women in their lives. And so, yes, I may be going a bit overboard on the pink, but it's for a good cause, yes? And it's just so cute!

Videos tomorrow. Yee-haw!

New look

So, my brother said he didn't like my new blog layout (I took that to mean he didn't like the background--my creative interpretation), and I already mentioned that I wasn't too sure about it by the time I actually got it implemented, so my brother's comment was enough to send me into a flurry of redesign activity. Rearranging my blog is almost as satisfying as rearranging furniture, but much easier physically. I still would like to do something different with my header, but it'll do for now. Feel free to comment on how cute it is...and I would like to point out that there are still polka dots, and they are pink (sort of)!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Drive in

Whew! It's been a rough couple of days in my blogging world. I've been working on that garden post since Friday, but couldn't manage to publish it until Sunday, either because blogger was being slow or I was being limited by my slow internet connection. I decided it was time for a change in my layout and template, but that, also, was hampered by the same slowness. It seems to have passed for now...I'm not sure I like the polka dots any more. At this point, though, they're staying. I worked too hard for those dots to give them up so easily (I think if they were pink we'd be in business).

So my husband and kids did something Saturday night that they have never done before. We went to a drive-in movie. Cody had heard from a friend of his that they "chucked footballs at the screen," so he wanted to do that as well. He had to content himself with chucking the football at his dad and brother in front of the screen. The two older kids sat on the roof of the truck, their feet dangling through the moon roof, and Caleb crawled around on his parents, pushing buttons, changing the station on the radio, and generally getting in the way of our "date" (at least he's not strong enough to honk the horn--yet). We were thrilled to discover, after having the radio on, but the engine off, for the duration of the movie, that our vehicle started when we wanted to leave. I just can't imagine sitting through three movies and having your car still start...how do people do that?

Anyway, I can't imagine how this important experience could have been unfortunately left out of my husband's upbringing (so deprived!), and I was thrilled to be able to fill the gap for him by introducing him to the exciting and mysterious world of the drive-in movie. Now, I think I'll have to find out if he's ever been served by a car-hop on roller skates...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gardening

There is something so satisfying about being outside playing in the dirt with the sun shining down. Even though I don't like getting dirty (I absolutely despise having dirt under my fingernails), and even though Caleb has decided to commandeer my gardening gloves, there is a certain contentment that comes from subduing a little slice of nature and bending it to my will: a satisfaction that comes from being the instigator of a miracle. For the past few weeks Caleb and I have been spading and raking, raking and spading, our little garden plot whenever the mood strikes us. Cody and Logan join in when they're around, and we dream of eating fresh vegetables, we scheme of ways to keep the deer away.


We've just about doubled our space this year, deciding to plant the entire raised bed of which we planted just half last summer, and we will plant pumpkins, watermelons, zucchinis, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and green beans, along with two varieties of sunflower, zinnias, morning glories, and cosmos. Right now, it's just an empty patch of dirt, but with hope and anticipation, we wait for its inspired transformation.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Suckers

I'm one of those "suckers who lent the government significant interest free money to the IRS this year," mentioned in my brother's April 15 blog. I am every year. We already have many more withholding exemptions than we have people in our family, and I found myself, this year, when faced with yet another large federal tax refund, contemplating going to 15 on our federal W-4. And then I thought, what does that even mean? Who claims 15 exemptions (besides octo-mom, that is, who doesn't have any income and therefore even she doesn't claim 15)? Does the table even go that high? What do I have to do to get the government to stop over-charging us?

Now, I have to admit, it is nice getting a large infusion of cash every April, but it would be so much nicer to have several hundred more dollars in our pockets every month, along with the interest or investment income that would result. Any suggestions?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our weekend

What a busy weekend we've had! Friday was good, because the kids didn't have school (that's why they call it good Friday). We went to the Lent Event at our church and had a great time. Cody and Logan made several crafts and collected jelly bellies at each station, while Caleb played with trucks, and stared at the jelly beans suspiciously. The thing everyone looks forward to at Lent Event is the egg hunt at the end. The boys each found their 4 eggs, and then delighted in opening them and eating the candy. Caleb found one of two special prize eggs, and won an Easter basket full of goodies.
Saturday was Logan's 6th birthday. Yikes--he needs two hands now to show how old he is. We started with a construction themed party with 5 of Logan's friends (two others couldn't make it). Have you ever tried to herd 5 and 6 year olds? Let's just say we now have a new dimension in our respect for Logan's Kindergarten teacher.
After the party someone convinced Logan that he should try riding his bike without training wheels. So he did.
Later that night we headed to St. Paul to watch a professional lacrosse game: it was the Minnesota Swarm versus the Portland Lumberjacks. The Swarm lost, but we had a lot of fun at the game. There's a lot of scoring in lacrosse, and the game is very fast paced--I found myself getting tired just watching the players run back and forth. In addition to the game itself, I found the announcer quite amusing, and they had a guy they called the Toyota professor (so called, because evidently Toyota sponsors the team), who, from time to time, would explain a play or one of the refs' calls, which really helped us to understand what was going on.
Sunday, we headed to church for breakfast, followed by Worship. When we returned home, we discovered that the Easter bunny had paid us a visit, leaving some candy-filled eggs for Caleb, and a set of clues for Logan and Cody, leading to a treasure. This was Caleb's second egg hunt (the first being on Friday, when his brother Logan helpfully located, picked-up, and placed the four eggs into Caleb's bag), and he wasn't quite sure what to do, but he caught on quickly. It was fun to see our two oldest children working together to solve the clues. E.B. did a good job hiding the clues :-)
Now, my three oldest boys are canoeing down the river (where, while we were dropping them off, we saw a bald eagle, a loon, and a crane, along with 6 little fishies that someone had caught), the little one is sleeping, and I plan on joining him as soon as I'm done here. We'll go pick up the river riders around 5, have dinner, watch Amazing Race, and then probably collapse into bed after this very busy and fun weekend.

Sunday

For Jesus' disciples, all of their hopes and dreams had died and were buried right along with Jesus. But today, we proclaim:
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen, indeed!
And because Christ is risen we have been given eternal hope.
Amen. Alleluia!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday

Today I think of Jesus' friends. We know that the disciples still didn't understand what was happening--they still didn't quite "get it" until after Jesus' resurrection. We have the benefit of knowing the end of the story, but what must they have been thinking and feeling on that dark Sabbath day, the day after their beloved teacher's death? Confused? Abandoned? Scared? Wondering what comes next? Where they will go? What they will do? These men and women had literally left their old lives behind, to travel with Jesus and to learn from him. They left their jobs, their homes, their families...all of that, just to have it all end with such sudden and crushing finality.
In the church we attended during my teenage years, it was a tradition to strip the altar at the end of the Good Friday worship service. The congregation would sing the verses of "Were You There?" slowly and ponderously, pausing between each one while someone would read one of Jesus' last words, and more items would be taken from the chancel area: the big Bible, the candles, the altar cloths. After the altar was bare, it would be draped with black cloth, and a crown of thorns would be placed on the draped cross. After each verse of the song, more lights would be turned off, so that it would be completely dark by the end. We would leave in silence, in the dark. It was an extremely moving experience, a loving act of remembrance.
Do you know that hymn?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
As I would leave the church's sanctuary, devoid of light, seemingly devoid of hope, Jesus' last words echoing in my mind, it was easy to imagine that I had been there, witnessing the horror, the blood, the pain, the cruelty. And, in a way, I was there. Every one of us was there, because our sins were the nails driven through Jesus, into that cross, and it was Jesus' love for us that kept him there.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama
sabachthani
?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken
me?" Matthew 27:45-46

It feels so right to me, that the sky became dark, because this was a dark, dark time. Have you ever felt so utterly, completely abandoned? Oh, it makes my heart ache. Horrible. Even worse than horrible. In fact, that is the definition of hell: being completely and eternally excluded from the presence of God. This exclusion from God's presence is the consequence of sin. Jesus, bearing the sins of the world, experienced this, on the cross, so that we would never, ever have to.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his
spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top
to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. Matthew 27:50-51


Do you understand the significance of the temple curtain being torn? In the temple, the curtain separated the holy place from the most holy place. No one was allowed to go into the most holy place except for the priests, because that's where God was. In fact, the priests wore bells on their robes, and a rope was tied to their ankle, so just in case the priest died while he was in there, they could pull his body out without entering the space containing God's presence. The idea was, if they couldn't hear the bells tinkling anymore, the priest must not be moving, and must be dead. With the curtain torn in two, there is no longer a separation. Jesus made it possible for each of us to come directly into God's presence.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:54

Surely, Jesus is the Son of God!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

'Bye Daddy

When we lived in West Virginia, Cody, and then Logan, after he came along, would stand on a table by the window in their bedroom to wave goodbye to Daddy as he left for work. Just recently, they've taken up the practice again. We love you, Daddy!

Thursday

In the night in which he was betrayed...

It's Thursday, the day we remember Jesus' last meal with his disciples at the Passover feast. Jesus began the evening celebration by washing his disciples' feet, something which normally would have been done by a servant--just one more example of Jesus' complete counter-culturalism. In fact, Peter was horrified, at first, at the thought of his Master washing his feet. Jesus told them,

"I have given you and example to follow. Do as I have done to
you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master...."
John 13:15-16a


After supper, Jesus went to a quiet place to pray. He "began to be filled with horror and deep distress" (Mark 14:33), and told his friends "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me." (Mark 14:34)

He went a little farther and fell face down on the ground. He prayed that,
if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him pass him by. "Abba,
Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of
suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine." Mark
14:35-36

I'd just like to point out, here, that saying Abba is like saying Daddy. Can you imagine a 30 year old man calling his father Daddy? That, more than anything, demonstrates to me the sorrow and distress, even despair that Jesus was feeling. Luke reports that
He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat
fell to the ground like great drops of blood. Luke 22:44
Once again, I love this picture of Jesus. It is so easy, amidst the miracles and healings and teachings and throwing out of demons and walking on water, to remember that Jesus is God. And it is so easy to forget that he was, at the same time, fully human. I think we just gloss over that part sometimes, because it's so difficult to understand how he could be both, God and human.

And yet, here he is in the garden. Jesus knows what he has to do, and, quite understandably, doesn't want to do it. It will be difficult. It will be humiliating. It will be painful. It is beyond words, what Jesus will go through. But Jesus, because he loves us (US!), does it anyway. Jesus has free will, too, we all do, and he chose salvation for the world, redemption for us all, in exchange for his life.

When I was younger, I never really understood why Good Friday was called good. I never understood why Jesus had to die. It seems to me that the day on which Jesus died was awful, horrible, terrible, anything but good. I guess I didn't understand salvation at that point, or how God can use even the most horrific situations to fulfill his purposes.

It is no accident that Jesus' sacrifice came during the season of Passover, the time when Jews remember the angel of death passing over the Hebrews' homes just before their escape from slavery in Egypt. If you remember, the Hebrew people were to slaughter a lamb, a perfect lamb, without blemish, and smear its blood on their door frames, which would signal to the angel of death that this household was to be spared. Jesus, on this night in which he was betrayed, became the perfect passover lamb, once and for all, and his blood is smeared over the doorways of our hearts, sparing us from the horror and the grief, the agony and distress of death: the slavery of this imperfect, sinful life.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday

Continuing in our journey together through the week before Jesus' death, this actually happened Tuesday (two days before the Passover Feast), but I'll talk about it today (since nothing is recorded in the Bible for Wednesday).

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the
chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid
of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas,
called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests
and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray
Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He
consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no
crowd was present. Luke 22:1-6
The rat! One of the Twelve, Jesus' most trusted inner circle! How dare he? How could he?

Let's back up a bit to an incident that happened the previous Friday in Bethany. Mary (of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus) took a jar of expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus' feet, anointing him.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
"Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was
worth a year's wages." John 12:4-5
Why, indeed? Read on...
He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a
thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put in
it. John 12:6
Oh. Gotta love that commentary from Jesus' favorite disciple. And then Jesus responded:

"Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a
beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can
help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She
did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare
for my burial." Mark 14:6-8
In John's gospel, this little incident is reported in chronological order, so even before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but in each of the others, it's recorded right before Judas heads to the chief priests seeking to betray Jesus. I don't think that's a coincidence or a mistake. It seems that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all felt that the perfume incident was a direct antecedent to, and perhaps even a catalyst for Judas' betrayal.

I feel a little sorry for Judas. He gets a bad rap, but I think he honestly thought he was doing the right thing. He must have thought Jesus was a little crazy after the thing with the perfume--he must have felt like his teacher was losing it, and going to the chief priests, allowing them to take Jesus into custody, probably seemed like a prudent course of action. If Jesus is going insane, Judas must have thought, then it's for his own good that he be taken off the streets before he can hurt himself or others. Of course, it didn't hurt that the religious leaders were willing to pay Judas for his betrayal, given what we know about Judas' money habits.

Then there's this: yes, Judas had free will, we all do. Yes, Judas chose to do an evil thing. It was all Judas. But! God made Judas, created Judas from nothing, and God knew Judas' inmost thoughts, God knew what Judas would do when faced with that situation. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him and placed him in his inner circle anyway, because that was what needed to happen. The son of man needed to be betrayed, so that we all could receive forgiveness for our sins. It needed to happen, and Judas was the one chosen to do the deed. It was Judas' destiny. Now we can get all tied up in a discussion of predestination versus free will, but quite frankly, I don't want to do that right now. The point is, God knows each of us better than we know ourselves, and God placed Judas in that place, at that time, so that the scriptures would be fulfilled. I feel like, in some ways, we owe Judas a debt of gratitude.

Judas was sorry for what he had done. Matthew reports:

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned [to die], he was
seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and
the elders. "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."
Matthew 27:3-4
Judas had no idea that Jesus was going to die as a direct result of his action. I like to think that God forgave Judas his sin. We know that God uses all circumstances, good and bad, to honor and glorify God, and it is certainly the case here. God used Judas' betrayal, his sin, to redeem the world. Thanks, in part, to Judas, we've been washed in the blood of the lamb, and made clean. We have been set free from the shackles that bind us to this imperfect world, and we are free to live the life of perfect communion that we were made for. Out of the devastation and destruction of our sins, the most beautiful things can happen. Only God has the power to do that.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday

This week, that we call Holy Week, in which we remember and celebrate the events that happened in the week before Jesus' death, is the most well-documented week of Jesus' life. If it was me, with all this stuff going on, my mind would be reeling. I just can't get my brain around the impromptu parade of Sunday, followed by cleaning house at the temple and teaching all week, all while one of your closest associates is plotting with your enemies to get rid of you. I can't imagine how the tide of public opinion could shift so swiftly, that they were shouting praises to a king five days before shouting even more loudly for his death.

So, today I want y'all to think about something that our children's timeline Bible says happened on Tuesday of that week, but the other Bibles just say happened sometime between the triumphal entry and the last supper. Jesus was teaching in the temple, and the religious leaders thought he was dangerous and stirring up trouble (true, true), and so they were looking for a way to get rid of him, and they sent a spy to try to trick Jesus. Let me just stop here to say, what a smart man Jesus was. He knew they were trying to trap him, which, really anyone could have seen, but he knew exactly how to transcend the situation, and not get snared in their trap. Amazing.

Anyway, the spy asked Jesus if the Jewish people should pay taxes to Caesar. This is a no-win question because if Jesus said they shouldn't pay taxes, the Roman government would be upset, and accuse Jesus of treason, but if Jesus said they should pay taxes, the Jews would be upset, and not just because they didn't like paying taxes. I'm a little vague on this, but it was something about graven images being against God's law, and, of course, the coins used to pay taxes contained a graven image.

So what did Jesus answer? He asked the spy to show him a coin, and then asked the man whose image and name appeared on the coin. "Caesar," he replied, to which Jesus answered, "well, if this is Caesar's, give it to him, but make sure you give God what belongs to Him." (that's the Step-by-Step Bible wording, you've probably heard it with renders and untos in the past). The religious leaders were "amazed" by Jesus' answer (me too). They were so sure that they had caught him, but there was nothing they could say to that. Stay tuned, though, because those religious leaders just don't give up...

I've thought a lot about the second part of Jesus' answer: "make sure you give God what belongs to Him." It gives me tingles to read that, because the Roman coins were made in Caesar's image, with Caesar's name on them, but we, flawed and imperfect as we are, are made in God's image, and God's name is written on our hearts. Sure, the Caesars of this world can have their money, but God...God demands all of each of us: everything that we are, everything that we do.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sleep

It is frustrating to me that I can't sleep. I am so tired, pretty much all the time, but when the time finally comes that I am able to lie down and rest, sleep proves elusive. Grrr. Then I'm even more tired the next day. So maybe I should tell you what's been on my mind lately--at least then I'll have something to show for my crankiness tomorrow.

My Sunday morning women's group has been watching and discussing a series of mini-lectures on Revelation by Dr. Craig Koester, to parallel our pastor's preaching during Lent. I've come to view Revelation in a different way through these seven weeks. I think most people think "fire and brimstone," or "gloom and doom," when they think about this last book in the Bible, this myth perpetuated by popular culture, but I find it extremely comforting and hopeful: after all, the good guys win in the end.

Dr. Koester points out that the book of Revelation is not linear, and cannot be understood linearly, instead, it consists of a series of spirals. The visions of Revelation pose challenges and then bring the reader back into the presence of God, over and over again. Many of John's visions are difficult and unsettling, but these ominous visions are followed by encouraging visions of heavenly praise. Revelation begins and ends in the glorious presence of God and of the Lamb. It is no mistake that Revelation begins and ends with God and the Lamb saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." The implication is that none of that other stuff matters. Or, the other stuff only matters inasmuch as it points us back into God's presence. We know that our final destination is into God's presence. The end of time, Dr. Koester said, is not an event, but a person, God.

Last week, Ruth Ann preached to us in bumper stickers. She said all we need to know about Revelation is contained in these three statements:

1. Revelation is a letter. Revelation was written at a specific time to a specific set of people. Yes, it can inform and inspire us today, but its intended audience was the people of those seven churches in Asia, who lived and died almost 2000 years ago. I don't know that John realized that his letter would become a part of the Bible, read by millions, through the years.

2. Revelation is a book of Worship. Over and over in Revelation, we are treated to visions of heavenly worship. It's less about the battle, less about the evil, than it is about us coming back to where we belong: into the presence of God in worship.

3. Revelation is a prophecy. A prophecy, yes, but not in the way most people think of prophecy. Rather than predicting the future, laying out specific events that will happen exactly as written, this prophecy shows us how God is moving, how God operates. It's the sort of prophecy that allows us to predict, in general terms, how things are going to go. This prophecy shows us that God always triumphs over evil. Every time. For all time.

Now honestly, people, what's so scarey about that?
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Logan lost another tooth this week. No, I mean he really lost it. He went to bed with the tooth in his mouth, and when he woke up it wasn't there anymore. And no, we're not going to be looking for it (or, rather, having not found it in his bed or his brother's bed, or on the floor by the bed, we will not be looking in any other locations for the tooth). Logan wrote a nice little note:
Dear Tooth Fairy,
I really lost my tooth. Sorry. Please give me money.
Logan B.
And, the next morning, the note was gone, and there were 2 quarters and a looney (that's a Canadian dollar) in its place. I think the tooth fairy couldn't see too well in the dark...
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I need to buy new shoes. I absolutely dread buying new shoes. I can't, for the life of me, figure out how anyone could possibly actually enjoy buying new shoes. Well, I suppose those people's feet probably fit into common sized shoes. See, the problem is, I have very wide feet. This is a good thing evolutionally, because wider feet mean better balance, but it's not so good societally. Right now I have exactly three pairs of shoes that fit me (I also have snow boots and hiking boots, so if you count those things as shoes, I have five pairs. Yes, my husband has more shoes than I do). One is a pair of black wedges, which are horribly out of style and a bit awkward for me to walk in, but they do fit, although they're beginning to look a little scruffy. Another is my black casual shoes, which I wear pretty much every day, and are pretty much falling apart. The third is a new pair of tennies. Yes, after months of searching, I finally found a pair that kind of fit me. When I brought them home from the store, my husband said to me, "do they fit?" and I said, "they'll work," and then he said, "but do they fit?" and I said, "they'll work." We repeated this a few more times. See, what my husband doesn't understand is that for me, finding a pair of shoes that actually fits is unheard of. For me buying shoes consists of a series of compromises: if I get shoes that are wide enough for my feet, they're way too long, and if I get shoes that are the right length, I can't even get my foot in them. Scott says that when I find a pair that fits, I should buy two or three pairs, and I will, definitely, if I ever find a shoe that actually fits me, I'll buy every pair in the store. Heck, I'll buy every pair in the metro area.

I've been looking for a pair of sandals for a couple of years now, and I was devastated when my old ones fell apart last summer. Yes, I actually shed a tear or two (and now you know why). I don't even bother looking in the women's section for sandals. No way are my toes going to make it anywhere near the end of the shoe, or even past the straps, even if I do happen to find a style that comes in wide sizes. Luckily, men's sandals have been trending toward the feminine lately. So I've been trying on men's sandals, and I discovered that in order for the sandal to be wide enough for my foot, I have to go up to a size 9.5. No WAY am I going to buy the same size shoe as my husband wears! My foot is two inches shorter than his is!
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I'm getting a little tired of people saying, "these days, we can't afford to be wasteful." I, for one, have never been able to afford to be wasteful. I mean, what were these people doing in the good ol' days when they could be wasteful? Buying a new car every four years as soon as they'd paid off their previous auto loan? Buying each and every new and improved gadget, even though it's obsolete by the time they get it home? Running up thousands of dollars of credit card debt because "I deserve it"? Throwing away half their dinner because they don't like leftovers? Paying for services and features they don't need or want because it's a better deal if you bundle? Running out and buying every single accessory known to man for their new hobby and then abandoning said hobby the following week? Buying shoes because it's fun? Oh yeah, right...that's exactly what they were doing, and that's exactly why now they can't afford to be wasteful. It wouldn't offend me nearly as much if they'd just drop the "these days" from that statement.
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Today is Monday of Holy week, the day that I traditionally think about Jesus going into the temple and overturning tables. I think this actually happened on the same day as the triumphal entry, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday, but today is the day I think about it. I love to think of Jesus that way. So often we view Jesus as kind of a pushover. That's not exactly the right word, but do you understand what I'm trying to say? Jesus was and is perfect. And he was always telling people to love one another and to serve one another, and that the last shall be first, and to turn the other cheek, and you kind of get the idea that he's not going to stick up for himself, and that we shouldn't stick up for ourselves either. But I love that picture of Jesus losing his temper and driving the money changers and dove sellers out of the temple. It reminds me that yes, Jesus is fully divine, and yes, Jesus is perfect, but that Jesus was also fully human. Just like me (except for the part where I'm not anywhere near perfect). Jesus faced the same fears and anxieties and temptations that we all face. If he could triumph over those, that gives me hope that I can, as well.
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