Saturday, June 22, 2013

five . . . and loving him all the way

Our baby is 5 today. Incredible.

Easton's first ride on the tag-a-long bike with Dad!
It's hard to imagine a more delightful kid than Easton. He's so utterly adorable, so funny and eager to learn. He's a joy to parent and so full of love.

He's been thinking long and hard about what he wants for his birthday. After much consideration, he settled on a BIG HUG. :) We've been practicing all week so we can get it right.

A friend of mine from seminary is embarking on a journey as a foster parent. She blogged this week about the challenges of learning to love and let go. Her words are priceless. And she reminded me that none of us know how many days we'll have with our children. They are on loan to us from God. We have to chose between holding back
and loving them "all the way," no matter what the future holds.

One of Emma's classmates underwent a 3-hour surgery on her skull yesterday afternoon. On Tuesday the girls were playing softball together. No issues. Today Addy is hospitalized and recovering from major surgery. We just never know what will come our way. We just have to love them while we can.

Easton started out in a sleeping bag on the floor,
but this is where he ended up.
As I wrote this last night Easton was upstairs, giggling with Emma in her room, where he had a "sleepover." I don't think they talked long. The last thing I heard was ...

Easton: I need my "birthday sleep"!
Emma: I need my "beauty sleep." Goodnight, birthday boy!
Easton: Goodnight, beauty girl!

Happy Birthday, Easton! I'm so thankful I get to be your mom!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Tidbit: Goldingay's Gospel

I'm halfway through John Goldingay's 3-volume Old Testament Theology (this is no small feat, considering that it totals some 2600 pages). Volume 1, Israel's Gospel, is especially captivating. I wasn't actually required to read it carefully, just skim it, but I couldn't put it down. Goldingay takes readers through the narratives of the Old Testament, weaving them together in his winsome way and punctuating his prose with profound insights into the ways of God. It was well worth my time, and would be well worth yours -- whether you are a student or not. Goldingay is known for his refreshing honesty, his refusal to flatten the Bible to make it all say what we expect it to say. He acknowledges the tough stuff, muses over apparent contradictions, and then invites us to look at it--and at our great God--with new eyes. For this scholar, the Old Testament is a treasure trove of grace, a place to encounter the gospel again and again. It's no wonder that Israel's Gospel won the 2004 ECPA Gold Medallion award.

Volume 2, entitled Israel's Faith, explores the prophets and poetry of the Old Testament, where faith in Yahweh is expressed most directly. It is arranged topically, but engages closely with the text. It is not as gripping as volume 1, but once again Goldingay's insights into the text make it worth the read. I'm really grateful for the Scripture Index so I can find these insights once again when I need them for my own research and teaching. Here's a taste of what this book has to offer:  In a section on Israel as Yahweh's "Home," Goldingay describes Zion as a place with no "inherent beauty," but a place that has "become beautiful because God resides there" (see Psalm 50:1-3). He goes on to say,
"The city of God is not a place in heaven or even a place on earth insulated from its pressures, but a place within history and its conflicts where God is at work putting down opposition. The challenge to the people of God is to believe that this is so and to live in history with confidence, yet without thinking that we are responsible for fixing the world's destiny or for bringing in the kingdom of God" (Israel's Faith, 242).
Sometimes in the messy day-to-day of life we lose sight of this. We forget that God is at work here, bringing about his master plan by fighting for us. His kingdom is advancing. A battle is being fought and won. Though we participate, we are not responsible to make sure it happens. Instead we are invited to "believe that this is so" -- that Yahweh is the true king and that he will win in the end -- and to announce that his kingdom is here. Now that's good news!

Monday, June 3, 2013

the memory we (almost) missed

Danny often takes the kids camping without me so that I can have an entire weekend of uninterrupted study time while they make memories together. He's a hero! But over Memorial Day weekend, we had planned to go as a whole family. We all love camping. We love the fresh air. We love the trees. We love hiking and biking, resting and reading, playing games and sitting around the campfire. And when we get to do it all together, we're delighted.

But three days before our trip, Danny hurt his shoulder playing basketball. He collided with another guy, heard a "pop", and groaned in pain. By morning the pain was still pretty intense, and Danny's right arm was basically useless. He got on the internet to see if we could cancel our reservation. Sigh. It's hard to find a long weekend that works for all 5 of us and even harder to find a decent camping spot on a holiday weekend. What should we do?

We decided to take the plunge. If we left the bikes at home, we could still camp without so much heavy lifting. So we went. And, boy, were we glad we did. The weather was ideal, the scenery beautiful, and the kids cheerful. We played round after round of our current favorite: Monopoly Deal. We spent hours around the campfire, watching the flames. We went for a short hike, during which Easton spontaneously launched a frisbee off the cliff into the river, prompting a daring rescue by yours truly.

On Sunday morning, Danny checked the forecast and then broke the news. "We're supposed to get a major thunderstorm tonight," he told me. "Starting at 3:00 there is a 30% chance of rain, and that goes up to 60% by 6:00. It's supposed to rain all morning tomorrow, too, right when we're packing up. Should we pack up early and go home?"

I was bummed. Nobody likes to pack up in the rain. Everything would have to be set back up to dry when we got home. But I wasn't done yet. I wanted more games. More campfire. More hiking. More downtime. We decided it made the most sense to go home.

But then, a couple of hours later, about the time we'd need to start packing up, I had a thought. All the best camping memories I have from childhood are when something dramatic happened. Like the time when Dad's truck slid off the highway, or when it got stuck in the middle of a river, or when it got hung up on a rock, or when it barely fit on the narrow
mountain road with a steep cliff on one side. Or the time when it was so windy that Dad was afraid the trailer would blow off the mountain so we packed up and drove home in the middle of the night. If we avoid the rain, will we be missing a memory?

And so we stayed. It rained a little, but then it stopped and the sun came out and the air was fresh and clear. We decided to take a hike while we had the chance. Partway through the hike the clouds moved in again and it started to sprinkle. We picked up the pace, but kept going farther down the trail because we hadn't seen the waterfall yet. Just after we got there, it started to pour. We trudged back through wet grass and muddy trails for about a mile in the pouring rain. By the time we got back to the van we were all soaked to the skin. Our shoes squished and squeaked. Our clothes clung to our bodies. And everyone was happy.

It rained again the next morning, precisely when we were packing up our pop-up camper. The kids stayed dry in the van, but Danny and I were soaked again. As we pulled away from our camping spot, I saw some other campers wearing rain ponchos. "Now there's a good idea!" I said out loud. We had forgotten our umbrellas, but ponchos seemed even more practical. And then it dawned on me. We have ponchos, too . . . safe and dry in our camper! So we laughed and made a mental note for next time.

When we asked the kids later what the highlight of the weekend was, it was unanimous: The "rain hike." We did the same hike a year ago and the kids complained the whole way. This year they giggled and splashed and spurred each other on. Memories are funny things. We can be so intent on trying to make them "just right" that we miss them altogether. In this case, I'm glad that a busy schedule, an injured shoulder, and a dismal forecast didn't stand in the way.