Wednesday, October 31, 2018

More Thoughts on Marriage

Thinking about what marriage is.

God knew from the start what a marriage would be. And He still guided people to get married when he knew there would be deep betrayal. The marriage does not retroactively become a 'mistake'. None of it was wasted. He has not forgotten, not overlooked, not neglected, not been sloppy.
God promised “I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you”
It is, was, and will be, true.

Maybe God's purpose for us marrying someone, wasn't as happy as we thought. Maybe it was to carry a cross of horrible illness with someone, watching dementia claim their mind, or to spend the next 40 years caring for a blind bomb-shredded limbless brain-damaged hero-husband who marched off young, strong, and intelligent, to war. Or carry the cross of shame of imprisonment with someone, visiting them in their prison. Or to fight for someone's soul—even if prayer is all we can do as we wait—and they run off in self-destruction.

God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts, his ways than our ways.

In the end, none of it will have been wasted. God holds our hand, bottles every tear, hears every prayer. What He knew our marriage would be on our wedding day, may not have been as happy and wonderful as we had thought—but He will make it beautiful, far more beautiful than we can imagine this side of the Jordan. Because He will be with us every step, every second, every moment, holding our hand, giving us strength.

And He never wastes anything.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Marriage---What Is It?

Marriage---what are we signing up for?
Is marriage about rights----love me/be faithful to me/have a godly home/provide for me, or is it more like a binding oath to a kind of “war buddy”, that lasts as long as you are alive, to help the other person be sanctified, become more like Christ, enter the new Jerusalem---no matter what happens?

We get married expecting it means children, buying a home, retiring together, studying Bible together, reading stories together, going on family camping trips, kissing etc, and being old people going on daily walks together with an umbrella.
I know that is what I expected.

But there are lots of wonderful people I know/know of, whose lives didn't turn out that way.

Because there are lots of other things we don't expect. We don't expect our smart, emotionally supportive, fun-to-talk-to husband to go through a brain trauma that renders him a needy child. Or a freak accident to a 27 yr old man at work that renders the marriage a chaste one for the next 40 years. Or to be young, and suddenly, widowed and alone, raising kids without their father.

God knew on our wedding day what we were signing up for. We did not. We can't know. But He knew all along. He knew from the first date. And He holds us. “I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you” (Isaiah 42:16)

We don't get married expecting to have to turn our husband/wife into the law, and visit him in jail the rest of our lives. Or visit him on death row. Or every day raising the kids alone, and each day, faithfully praying for someone who has abandoned you for another(s).

But is that what is being asked of us? To not stand on our rights, but to carry the cross?

Parenting, what are we signing up for? If your kid did the unspeakable things, would you still love them? Would you cut ties and find another kid? Or would you visit them on death row, praying for them every day?

What is being asked of us?

I think that is at the crux of what so much of this argument about marriage comes down to. What do we see it as? What is it?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Of Ancient History and Baseball Birthdays....

There's been a lot of poring over history books at our house lately. And Mommy scrambling to try to answer a lot of interesting questions, like....should they have stabbed Julius Ceaser? And do the Greeks still not wear any clothes at the Olympics?

Sarah (or Mariam?) had bumped her head. Jenny made a little bed with a pink blanket and a pillow, and made a sign, designating it as a place for recuperation: “Baeby Hospitl”
They constructed a longboat. I wasn't sure if it was Saxon or Viking, but they had lots of fun with it. I think it was Isaiah's idea, and he wanted them to hang their shields on the sides.
This picture was taken on a “low” day for me. As evidenced by me evidently giving in to the kid's requests for dry Ramen noodles and Mariam helping herself to a chunk of cheese. She is very pleased with herself for climbing into the babyseat/throne by herself, and possessing the independent riches of a hunk of cheese and dry ramen. She even has an adoring supplicant.
(Sarah got cheese immediately after this picture was taken.)

I love this next progression of pictures, I was just trying to get an idyllic shot, and only later did I realize the little drama that unfolded. Its so representative of the kids personalities.
Picture #1, idyllic scene of Isaiah reading to Mariam. Keziah looks bored.
Picture #2, Keziah livens things up a bit.

Picture #3, Jenny enters the scene, supporting Law and Order, and very aware of it. Keziah switches back to angelic smile.
A couple years ago, I had tried to make my recycled ice-cream buckets (now holding flour, etc) more classy by spray painting them cream color. But then I ran out of spray paint, so a few of them still sport the logo “Party Pail” with garish colors.
I came and found someone had scribbled a girl and a flower on one of the painted ones. Jenny explained “I was sad this bucket did not have something pretty on it like the others. So I decided to make it pretty for you”

Later, she colored some hearts and roses on my carefully poster-boarded over white book boxes, “to make it pretty for you, Mommy”
Jenny went through a brief nostalgic phase where she wanted to take pictures in black and white. This is a tree, she explained, as my initial reaction was I thought it was a nuclear mushroom cloud.
Keziah and Mariam decided to “make a Greek Soldier.”

They were very proud of their creation.

Aunt Sarah came to visit for Isaiah's birthday, which pleased him greatly.

Among his loot, he got a gladius, a Star Wars book, a Phillies shirt, a minecraft maze book....

...and a Baseball Cake. He was very excited about the cake.

Keziah was also very excited about the cake....

He was very happy.

Note in this  next sequence, Sarah is being read to by Grandma, when she recognizes an interloper...

And attempts to keep the book to just her and Grandma.
Thankfully, Grandma keeps reading, and Mariam moves to be able to still see the book.
Sarah still looks smug.
Bubbles fills Keziah's soul with joy. She wants me to photograph her bubbles, she is so proud of them.

Right after this idyllic picture, Isaiah opened his mouth to reveal chewed up carrot. I think that plan had hatched in his mind in this picture, given the gleam in his eyes.

Isaiah is extremely creative when putting together costumes. Often, the elements he sees as important in replicating something are not the ones I immediately see---he forgoes his Greekish-looking dress up helmet, and uses a yellow construction hardhat and red Megablocks to get the right silhouette.
He turned down the scale-mail (plastic) gold breastplate in search of something more authentic to the Spartan soldier on the CD cover for Sabaton's “The Last Stand.” He hunted around for a “Greek breastplate”---- the solid bronze breastplate with the muscle-shapes wrought into it. Coming up with nothing that satisfied him, he said, “I know, I will take off my shirt, and my chest can be the Greek Armor”
....he then cleverly decided to use his discarded red shirt as his cloak.
Keziah was inspired by our discussion of the Roman tortoise formation, and how the Roman soldiers would overlap their shields to make a kind of 2nd century tank. She decided she was going to wear ALL THE SHIELDS.

She was very very proud of herself.
Mariam, ofcourse had to photobomb.
(I don't know what is up with the pointer fingers in pictures. It was really a thing this week)
Isaiah loves his red clip on tie. At bedtime, I found he had added it to his pajama ensemble.
Isaiah pulled out his own tooth. Jenny was so proud of him, I think she was more excited than he was. She got a sharpie and a bag, and decorated it with her version of “The Tooth Bag. Isaiah. 7 yrs old”

Isaiah was reading, or at least recounting, to his sisters the fireman story from “What Do People Do All Day”.

While wearing his fireman hat. (They re-enacted the story later, with Mariam being Huckle needing to be rescued by Isaiah being Smokey the Fireman).
Josh found Keziah filling up little toy teacups with water at the sink to carry away.
You can't do that” he told her.
But we need to baptize the Duplos!” she explained.
Josh went into the living room and found Jenny waiting with the unregenerate toy characters. He learned from her that they meant to sprinkle them.
Our children are evidently Presbyterians” he told me.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Of Mars, and the Twelve Dancing Princesses

Hi, um, we are doing science and still alive.
So many interesting and fun things have happened, but I just haven't got around to putting them up on the internet. I wanted to post about all the adventures that I haven't yet, but the backlog is so great, I'm just going to try to post every week or so, with what's going on now.

Josh got a telescope to look at Mars with the kids. Josh takes them out, one by one, to go out to look at Mars with Daddy.
Isaiah has really warmed to this.

 The girls love the Barbie movie "12 Dancing Princesses", its a surprisingly good movie, with sibling love and teamwork, a very sweet future-brother-in-law (very nice to little sisters), and a talking Indian parrot who is very funny, with a soundtrack with a lot of Felix Mendelssohn in it and even 30 second's of the sisters singing Byrd's heavenly sacred choral music (best part).

Anyways, the girls really love the film. They will hum the theme, while twirling about in their sundry dress up dresses with their hands over their heads, attempting a ballet stance.
Jenny takes her role of older sister seriously

Sarah, at 18 months, dragged a dress up dress to Josh, and when he put it on her, started off-key humming and trying to twirl around with her little arms over her head (her arms are short enough they were stuck around her head). She almost immediately fell over, tangled in her dress up dress, but it just about killed me with the cuteness factor.

Speaking of the 12 dancing princesses, we are well on our way, as baby #6 IS A GIRL!!!

Our daughters, in addition to loving dress up dresses, make frequent use of the football pads I picked up at the thrift store. Keziah explained to me "I am a girl who fights BETTER THAN THE MANS. And they don't know I'm a girl because I cover up my skirt with my shield. And I fight better than all the mans"
(she was wearing a skirt that time. Here she is wearing her armor at another time, doing heroic deeds in the name of Gondor and America, evidently)

I tried to subtley influence the kids into agreeing to a Lord of the Rings theme for Halloween this year, by drawing pictures of them in various outfits. Here they are, poring over the pictures of themselves.

They loved the pictures, but it appears that Disney Princesses and the Roman Army have won their hearts for Halloween this year. Maybe my grand LOTR theme will happen next year.

These pictures are from July, but my awesome little sisters got to visit. Here are some pictures of them.

My baby sisters, all growed up. Sniff, sniff. So proud.

The kids loved hanging out with their aunts, and wanted to do everything that they did. Here, it was working out with a new app on Mali's phone.
I love how Mariam is carefully copying her.

The girls were also very excited about Mali's ability to take selfies of them, and then decorate them with the virtual "stickers."

While the girls were taking selfies, Isaiah hung out on the couch. He loves being near everyone, although selfies weren't enough to motivate him to join the crowd. Snapchat that turns your face into a dog with a huge tongue might have.

Mariam's natural default is laughter. Even when she's frustrated at something “Mom, its NOT WERKING”, and I come over and show her she was trying to put the wrong foot into the shoe, or screw it on backwards, or something, she will burst into a musical chuckle at her mistake “Oh, hahahaha...”. She laughs so much, at herself, at life, at everything. She's a little ray of sunshine, a sliver of the joy of heaven.

When my sisters were here, I finally got out my sewing machine and sewed the first thing this year, this Eowyn-inspired dress for my awesome Rohan little sister.

I will post a longer write up on her dress (which was a dream come true for me to get to sew) HERE. (link will activate when I actually write it)

Isaiah burst out with “I am so excited that soon I will be A MAN!”
He also asks me on a regular basis when his voice is going to change. With his head reaching my armpit, I wonder where the time went.

Sarah Grace has got a loud, stubborn, dramatic disposition. If I am handing out treats, she will yell with a size-defying volume until she is properly included. At 13 months, she started toddling over at toothbrushing time months ago to get her 8 teeth ceremoniously brushed, beaming all the while. Then at water-time right after prayer, she will throw down her bottle she was drinking a minute before, and toddle over, yelling, until she gets a sip out of the cup like the big kids. It's a status symbol.

When she started walking in earnest around 13 ½ months, she started making this smile, bursting with pride at her accomplishments in life. She toddled around throwing away stuffed animals, and throwing toys in the recycle bin, relishing her new-found autonomy.

At 15 months, she had mastered climbing onto the kitchen table, and trying to go over the back of the couch. Thankfully she had a lot of siblings who were good at grabbing onto a limb when Mommy was out of reach....

She started before she was a year old, and continues at 18 months, to pat me on the back for about a minute after I take her out of the crib every morning. There's something about a tiny little hand patting me on the back that just about melts my soul.
She has also started to give spontaneous kisses.
She also enjoys slapping people in the face. We're still working on that....

Sarah beaming at me as she climbs the table...again