Tuesday, November 27, 2007

bridges, natives, and thanksgiving

First, I have a photo from our family Thanksgiving gathering in Alabama. This photo is of Grace and Alana (her cousin who is five weeks older) outside of my parent's home. Can you tell how much fun these two have together? They are constantly laughing and giggling through the day. We get asked if they are twins when we are out together because they seem so connected. Just one of the million reasons I have to be thankful.

I really should post more often. These catch up posts are stressful. The past few weeks have been extremely fast paced. I can't believe I declared October the busiest time of the year for our family. November 2007 may have just surpassed that mark. No complaints though. Mostly good things have happened this month.

Dave went out of town on business for two weeks. We missed him horribly, but I can honestly say that we appreciate him more than ever now. During that two weeks I accepted a part time position with our church and managed to make it to all the pre Thanksgiving school activities. I've enjoyed my new job. I am helping manage and market some projects which include several counseling centers and mission efforts. My manager is actually my minister. That's been a little different to the other jobs I've held. The flexibility is beautiful...and with our crazy family schedule it seems the right fit right now. I struggled with wanting to work a fast paced position in an advertising or media agency downtown, but honestly I could have barely made it to pick up everyone before bedtime. Traffic is a bear around here so I really count this new job as a blessing. I'm hoping to take a few extra contracts from time to time.

One of Jordan's classes held a Bridge Breaking Competition. It was truly one of the most exciting school events I have been to in a long time. Each "company" of four built a bridge out of toothpicks and wood glue. It was mounted on a board in a certain way which allowed the teacher to hang a bucket off of the center of the bridge. The teacher then added sandbags of 2 lb., 1 lb., or half pound increments. Another teacher kept up with the results on a big tally sheet. We were all gathered around in the media center watching each team's creation reach the breaking point. One held 4 pounds. Several held 17 or 18 pounds. And the highest was 25.5 pounds...until Jordan's team, The Bridge Busters, managed to hold 38 pounds! The teacher ran out of weights at 33 pounds and makeshift weights had to be used for the final verdict. It was so suspenseful. If you look very carefully in this obscure photo you will see Jordan in a red t-shirt with her back to the camera and the famous bridge between two chairs in the background.

The next day William's kindergarten group celebrated with a Thanksgiving Feast. In addition to the thanksgiving food served in the lunchroom his class made butter, bread, cranberry cubes, and pumpkin pie together. They were all so cute in their Indian vests. William choose Little Fox as his Indian name. (And yes, that is a corndog on his plate...apparently it was the popular alternative offered that day. I can't ever recall having a choice in my old school lunchroom, can you? Especially on Thanksgiving!)

Did I mention that Grace fell while we were at William's basketball practice and needed three stitches? Dave missed every bit of that excitement. Never a dull moment, right? ;-)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

stand by or stand with?

I've been offline for a few days due to Comcast and other comedy of errors. One blog post which struck me tonight in my reader was this excellent piece by Mike Cope (see link at right). History is an excellent teacher to the present day and this is a fresh look at both old testement and new testement ideas.

Published by Mike Cope on November 8, 2007

The story of Obadiah begins in Genesis 25 with the birth of the twins: hairy (Esau) and heel-grabber (Jacob). Rebekah was told that two nations were in her womb — more, I think, than most women are wanting to hear. The older would serve the younger.

Fast forward to Deuteronomy (2:1-8; 23:7) and you learn that this relationship still mattered centuries later when the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land after the exodus. The Edomites (descendents of Esau) were to be treated respectfully, because they were relatives.

This area of Edom was just south of the Dead Sea — about 70 miles north-to-south and just 15 or 20 miles east-to-west. It’s a hilly area that felt to the residents like secure protection.

One famous Edomite in the New Testament was (apparently) Herod the Great. His father, Antipater, was an Idumean, or an Edomite. Herod married into the Jewish royal family and kept the Jewish law. Ok, some of the Jewish law. He had minor lapses like the propensity for killing off family members.

Despite the warnings to treat the kinsmen Edomites well, when you move ahead many centuries later, the Edomites are roundly condemned. Check out Psalm 137, Lamentations 4, Ezekiel 25 and 35, and Jeremiah 49.

There’s something vile the Edomites did when Neduchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. But what was that?

It’s in Obadiah that we find out.

For the most part, their sins were not sins of commission but of omission. While Jerusalem was attacked, they kept their distance from the south, up in their mountainous crags, and cheered on the defeat of Judah. They are the nanner-nanner-nanner people of the Bible.

Their central offense appears to be that they stood by when they should have stood with their relatives being attacked.

If that’s true, then could this, the shortest book in the Old Testament, be a piece of prophetic literature that has a fresh word for the church today?

It invites us to ask how we are standing by rather than standing with. Wasn’t that what offended so many religious types about Jesus? He kept stepping into the messes of the world. He refused to stand at a distance condemning.

The conflict at his home town synagogue (Luke 4:16ff) was over his examples of how God wants his people to move beyond their own safe, gated communities. His story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16) highlights the evil of standing by while another is in need. (Note that there’s no evidence the rich man was actively doing harm. He just stood by.) When he talked of judgment (Matthew 25), the key questions weren’t about obtuse questions of doctrine but about standing by or standing with. When you see him naked, thirsty, hungry, and in prison, what is your response?

Obadiah says that the moutains of Seir would not protect the Edomites: “‘Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the Lord.”

Apparently God takes this seriously. His final evaluation isn’t based on the edict: “Do no harm.” It goes beyond that: when we see Lazarus . . . when we see the person beaten along the road to Jericho . . . when we see someone hungry, hurting, or lost — what is our response?

Do we stand by? or stand with?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

thursday was not so fun though

There we were in the mess that Halloween creates trying to get back to a "normal" week...when Dave inadverdantly found out that the sewage pump for the basement had burned out. When anything with the words "sewage" and "pump" tear up you know that is going to mean big trouble! Thursday was spent in emergency mode with people like the plumber and servpro restoration services. Long story short, we have a basement which has been sterilized and had most contaminents removed (carpet cut out and other fun stuff). We are now onto stage two which involves replacing whole walls, flooring, and a set of cabinets. Honestly, it could have been worse, but the resulting damage will take us a while to fix. Looks like we'll become best friends with the contractors soon.

Dave is back out of town for two whole weeks starting tomorrow night so I do realize how much worse this could have been without him here to keep me level headed. Poor man, he just went to the basement expecting to pick up his laptop computer and discovered the overnight disaster once his feet were wet. Ewwww!

William tried out for basketball this morning. It is the first year that he has qualified for the league. Up until now he has only taken the intro to basketball classes during summer camps. The age category was U8 and that meant that my tall little baby boy was mixed in with 7 and 8 year olds who had played for two years or more. I was so proud of William. He didn't do everything perfectly, but he held it together and managed to do each of the drills requested in fine manner. I could not believe the amount of parental interferance I saw with even the older boys. Some boys would not even take a shot at the basket without looking for their parent's approval nod. Certain dads kept running onto the court to offer advice between turns. For one moment I had the image of those boys as college aged kids trying to make decisions and failing because they had no idea of how to do things on their own. William looked over for a few "thumbs up" motions from me, but other than that he was completely in tune with the rhythm of the drills. I was pretty proud of my new 6 year old.

Today I became aware of just how different the next few years may be with Jordan. We had a hard headed standoff over the need to change clothing for volleyball and the color of a headband. (Her clothes were ones she fell asleep in on Friday night!) Sigh. I suppose I should pick my battles more carefully. In the end she wore a red headband to symbolize her distress with me...and tonight she changed back to a regular headband color before going to dinner showing that she was not mad anymore. Double sigh. Only my eldest child would pick symbolism to show her independance while we were running late to the ymca.

Enjoy that extra hour tonight!