22 December 2009

The Coming Christ - mas

I have thought that I should write something profound since Christmas is approaching, but, my thoughts have been too jumbled amidst the preparations for my family. I have three married children and their spouses who are travelling across different parts of the country to be here. I, as usual, am not sure what to give the people I love. I want the gifts to "mean something". And right along with the "Christmasing" are the routine things of appointments and school that must be attended to.

 I used to be more organized. Really, I did. But these days thoughts of what needs done rush right out of my head at almost the same instant that I think them. So there is nothing new that I could say about Christmas that you don't already know.

God the Father promised the coming of Messiah, way back in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:15

It is obvious from Scripture that Eve understood, because she hoped the promise was fulfilled with Cain and then seemed sure of it with the birth of Seth. But we, if we have ever heard the Christmas Story, know that Messiah did not come until the time when Rome ruled the known world. And that God flawlessly fulfilled every single prophecy regarding Him including the young virgin mother and the very difficult mandate to travel to the place of their ancestors and pay taxes. Jesus was born in a tiny town of no great significance that was filled with people who had to be there to give their money to Caesar.

It was important for us that every single detail be carefully tended to. Important, because we do not always believe God. He did not have to give us all the prophecies pertaining to the birth of Christ, but He wanted us to know that He is able to fulfill every single one. If even one thing was missed or forgotten, then God would not be God. And there was more than Jesus just getting here at "just the right time". He had come to break the curse.  You know......the curse that happened in the Garden.

When Man broke fellowship with God.

 When Man chose Death over Life. 

 The God-Man came to break the Curse of Death and bring Life back to mankind.

"[Christ Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Philippians 2:6-11 NIV

Jesus came to die.

For You.  For me.

To take the punishment for our Sin.

 So that we would no longer be enemies with God, but could become the children of God.

We celebrate His coming as the God-Man. We celebrate His suffering for us on the cross.  We celebrate His victory over Death when God raised Him on the third day. We celebrate the Assurance that He is coming again to take us with Him to be with Him forever.

Christmas is not just the adoration of a baby in a manger.

It is amazement that the God of the Universe would have such Love that He would become one of us...

...in order to die for us.....

... in order to have us with Him.

Just the thought that He would want us......that He created us......that He chose us......just because He wanted to...astounds me.

His preparations for His Child (Jesus) ....for His children (You and I who belong to Him)......are flawless.

Mine, for my children, are frenzied and imperfect and not always coated in absolute love and grace. They are often harried and impatient and lacking and unfocused.

The Father's focus was absolute......On Christ.......for us.

Our focus must be .....though, often redirected........On Christ......for Him.

I wish for you, this Christmas, grace and peace from the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

14 December 2009

A Sense of Place


This is the house we lived in for two years...




It was a humble farm house, but it was
 my dream house.  



It was one of those funny old farmhouses that was added onto again and again as it was needed. 

09 December 2009

Let the Cold stay Outside

today is a cold, blustery day that conjures up images of Winnie the Pooh 

the sky in the north has been very dark... promising more of the same


the trees bend and the snowflakes swirl with no place to land


that's all outside.....where it should be....


Inside there are candles glowing and hot chili simmering.....


children laughing and scuffling and....arguing???


and a sore throat is throbbing....and body aching.....and mood is darkening......


no.

not here.
not inside.

let the cold winds blow outside.......keep the heart fires warm inside.......


as it should be





"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

01 December 2009

Call Me Cordelia


If you are familiar with Maud Montgomery's 
Anne of Green Gables, 
you will recognize that line.  






After discovering that the Cuthbert's didn't want a girl, but rather a boy, Anne Shirley was asked her name. She replied, "Will you please call me Cordelia?" 
 After which, was a discussion about whether or not that was her name. 
Finally, she reluctantly agreed that they could call her by her real name, Anne, but only if they spelled it with an 'e'.


Cordelia was a "perfectly elegant" name and Anne, was a mere orphan whom nobody wanted. Cordelia was wonderful in Anne's imagination, while Anne, herself, was just plain unromantic 'Anne Shirley'.  
Anyone who has read the books, or seen the movies, knows that there is nothing plain at all about Anne Shirley. 

Still, it was how she felt about herself at the time.  

However, Cordelia, I have read, comes from the Latin and it means 'heart'. 
 Of which Anne's character has an abundance.


Sometimes, a person wants another name. 

 All of my children have gone through phases where they wanted to change their names. 
Sometimes, they change the nicknames we have for them or sometimes they begin introducing themselves to other people by their middle names.  Often, they will use their full given name as a sign of maturity and, sometimes, they have even used the equivalent of their names in another language. 

They are searching for a new, unique identity. 

Not the one given to them by Mom and Dad, 
but their very own. 
The one that describes who they want to be,
 or who they feel that they are.  

A name that shows another part of themselves, that shakes off the sameness of every day...

that lifts a cloud that has lingered too long.




This idea of being "called" another name that is not your own is actually biblical. We see it over and over again in Scripture.  

Lazarus had a sister who was "called" Mary. 

Mary, whose root is mara-which means bitter. Don't miss that one because she is the one who sat at Jesus' feet which was the "better choice".  

There was John, also called Mark, whom we call John Mark or just plain Mark.  

There was Joseph who was called Barnabas because that means "encourager". 

Saul who was called Paul.  

James and John were called the Sons of Thunder- does that name describe them or their father?  

Simon who was called Peter.

 Levi became Matthew. 

Even in the Old Testament,
 God changed names of people. 

Abram became Abraham. 
Sarai became Sarah. 
Jacob became Israel.

In the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew, it reads "...Jesus, who is called the Christ." 
matthew 1:16


And in the book of Acts, we read that "...the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." acts 11:26


In Revelation, we are told that Jesus has a name that nobody knows yet. 

Isn't that wonderful? 

He has a name that has never been defiled by the mouth of Man. 
revelation3:12 

You are probably called other names besides the one you were given at birth. 
Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Sis, Bubba...

While looking at old family photos I came across one that was labelled 
"Aunt Sister".  
Everyone in the family called her Sister and then it was Aunt Sister...
I thought that was rather odd, but names become part of you.




Your name becomes your identity.....
or your identity becomes your name.......
it depends.....

Lately, I've been thinking I'd rather be called something else...not because I dislike my name but because being me can get tiresome. 
Especially, when difficulties arise and I'd rather not deal with them, or I wish I were a better "me" who knows how to deal with them. 

I know that there is a name that Jesus has for me..a new name, the Bible says.....
and nobody will know it but me.
 revelation 2:17
  
That's exciting to think about....the perfected me, with the perfect name..


...but until then, 
 I can't seem to think of anything that seems to me to be "perfectly elegant" and I'd be afraid to be "called" something that fits my personality or my mood this week....

so, I'll just use one that's already been suggested......

"could you please call me Cordelia?"

Oh, and by the way, there really is a Cordelia in my family tree, so I actually have a claim to use it, don't you think? 

Here she is, (on the left)... don't you love the hat?









photos: sunsets on the north shore of PEI, smoky mountainsTN, family archives (c) deborah richardson

27 November 2009

Loving Lainie

She is twelve.    
She is excited to be twelve.   
Twelve means she can ride in the front seat of the car.      
Twelve is almost thirteen.  

Twelve is a milestone.

Twelve is not the number I rest on......it is nine.

Nine and a half to be more exact. 
That's how long I've known her. 
That's when life changed for her and for us. 
She is closer to nine than to twelve and yet I try to balance the chronological age with the age of her understanding....
...it gets more challenging each year.


When I saw her for the first time she was a tiny 2 1/2 year old screaming, head-shaking, under-no-circumstances- do -I- want- anything -to -do -with -these- people scrap of a person with
hair cut too short,
 clothes too small,
 and feverish mosquito bites all over her. 
Non-verbal except for that squawking noise and a few baby babbling words in Russian. 
I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into. 
 I was soon to find out......


I was an experienced mother of six children.....for sixteen years.......tough cookies, some of them.......but I had never encountered a person who had learned to be a survivor by the age of one......who deciphered her world in bits and pieces....."who knew what she wanted and how to get it" as our interpreter commented......


A child touched by neglect....illness....disabilities....poverty........
one who was picked up and taken from the only world she knew and  put down on the other side of the world into another "orphanage" where nobody did anything the way she was used to or spoke the language she had learned to interpret......
for "orphanage" was what we were to her for a long time, 
I am sure of that.

I remember telling her over and over that I was her Mama.....
but in the orphanage, 
every woman is called Mama.
I had to re-direct and claim my personal possession of her...
"you are MY girl......you stay with ME".....
over and over...."look at Me......look in My eyes".

I remember watching every odd behavior and trying to figure out if it was neglect, fetal alcohol, orphanage behavior,
 or just her personality.
I remember thinking that I was not ready for this assignment.
I was failing.


And then, I found it.  

The newsletter from a ministry that we'd supported. 
They had played a side role, but a large  one in our adoption.
 I had saved it because we had sent money for baby formula. 

There had been no milk for the babies and they had been feeding them sugar water. 
As I read the letter of thanks from the missionary, (a woman I now knew and had visited in her 'flat'- who was a big part of our adoption), she described the children who were helped.  

She listed the locations of the orphanages where the formula, "the best money could buy", had been sent.  Listed among them was one I recognized. 
I had been there.....in that "baby house"....
with the director, a physician, who mixed up her own medicines because they had none....
with the workers who had loved Leanichka......
who were washing all the clothes by hand because their only washing machine was broken.....
who had cried tears of gratitude over the instant oatmeal we left because they had nothing to feed the children for breakfast......


This had been one of the orphanages to receive the baby formula before we'd even known we were adopting. 
 What was the date of the letter?
  Wait.  
When did Lainie get there?  
No way. 
Couldn't be. 

Yes......it was true..........she had just gotten there when that baby formula was delivered.  

Before we thought about adopting and before the amazing series of events that ended with her in our home, we fed her. 

Because there was no milk for babies, we sent money......before she was even there, it was purchased and after she had just gotten there, it was delivered........

He had prepared the way........
the path we were now walking in...
even the path I stumbled in.........
through my questions and my tears, 
He had already been there....

Today she is twelve.

She is no longer a screaming, manipulating little scrap of a girl shaking her head at the speed of her no's.


She is a pretty girl who loves Jesus and loves reading her Bible even though it is a painstaking process to de-code every word of the third grade level translation. 

She works very hard to learn and to remember things. 
She practices words and keeps trying even when her tongue tangles up the speech sounds. 

She wants to be "big" and learn to do "grown-up" things like cooking and knitting.  

She enjoys doing her PT exercises to strengthen weak muscles that are causing her back to curve in scoliosis. 
She loves writing letters and calling her friends on the phone. 
She loves the teasing over the fact that she might have "turkey cake" or that everyone will be too full of Thanksgiving dinner to eat birthday cake. 
She laughs when we tell her that she used to think Thanksgiving was a holiday in honor of her birthday.

We are still walking down that path that He has set before us. 
I, fearful at times and unsure of the outcome, 
and she, trusting, holding my hand and running eagerly ahead. 

 I don't know the time she was born. 
I do not know what she has been through.....
but I know that He was there.....
and is there......
teaching me about what real love is all about. 
 That love is an action and not a feeling. 
That love is of Him. 
Agape.

Today she is twelve.

It is a milestone, indeed.






26 November 2009

Grasping Gratitude: a desperate act


disappointment.

decisions.

disillusion.

depression.

death.

disabilities.

disorders.

disease.

these are things that we face every day.....they come unbidden.......      unwelcome.......      unwanted.......

How are we to deal with these things? What are we to do?

Analyze? Synthesize? Anesthetize? Sympathize?

I have pondered and prayed..... considered the truth that how we think and act are intertwined.......considered that gratitude leads to greatness of faith......and decided that it is necessary to obey God's command to give thanks even if one does not feel thankful at that particular moment......because the alternative is bitterness. 

I will write down my things to be grateful for......thankful for......no matter how small......small things are easily overlooked and they make up the bulk of my life anyway, so why miss life waiting for something large to be thankful for?

The large things are obvious.......salvation, husband, children, home, food, family......

....the small ones, not so much....

.....remembering the sound of that letter........pronouncing that word correctly.......ability to bend a finger that might have to remain crooked.......the loan of an exercise ball for therapy......children who love each other....grandparents who go out of their way to help...

stopping. noticing. writing it down.

I'd like to say it was my idea. I'd even like to say that when it was introduced to me, I jumped right on it and said, "what a great idea".  But no. I think that when you are dealing with the "hard things" so often, it becomes sorta like looking into a microscope. You see things that others can't see....but you have to see them and deal with them......you forget that if you step back from that microscope you can see the whole object in a different perspective.


That is how gratitude becomes a desperate act......it is necessary for survival....for life........for abundance.

It is not easy to "see" things to be thankful for.......but with practice, it becomes easier.......natural......nay, supernatural....because it forces you outside of yourself. 

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
 Psalm 28:7 NIV


16 November 2009

Things I Want to Learn


Why is it, that when you decide you will put your thoughts out there for others to read, 
you can't figure out what those thoughts are? 
 I will just blame it on "mommy brain"......
or fatigue.........
or stress.......
or too much sugar.....
whatever.  

Honestly, after I started this blog, I began to look around here in cyberspace a bit and I have found some wonderful places. 
There are many out there who have so much wisdom and wit. 
Oh- and what about all the unique blogs out there. I have found a few gems,  
.....which made me a bit keyboard shy.

Mostly, my experience with my computer has been limited to one email address (well, there is another that I rarely check), one Etsy store, a few trips to Ebay Land, and a Message Board of faithful friends, 
some of whom I have never met in real life. 

There are searches for things I want to buy or learn about and a few dips into topics that interest me such as homeschooling, genealogy and photography. 

But, until now, I have never written a blog.

It's intimidating.

Okay.....so, in my distracted and nearly-middle-aged mind , I have decided that all of the fragments that swirl in my head all have one thing in common.

 They are new interests.  
They are things I want to learn.

 Recently, I was browsing around on Facebook (forgot to mention that one) to see what my grown kids are up to.....
umm, I do talk to them on the phone, 
but I can't see photos of their vacations on the phone....
anyway, one gal who is a very young twenty-something was making a Bucket List.  

I don't think she needs to worry about that now, but there are some things that we think about doing, and then, oh, a couple of decades or more fly by and we've never given them another thought........

I don't have a Bucket List, but lately, there have been a few things about which I have thought, 
"I'd like to learn how to do that."  
Some are expensive and some are not. Some require a little practice and some will require more years than I probably have to master.  
All of them are creative, artsy things.

 I don't have much time to create things with my hands. I read and read and read.....but usually to find information that I need and I rarely have time for my mind to just... think...and meditate on what is important in this life.

I think that we all have the ability and yes, even the need, to create things. To fashion something that wasn't there before. Something that brings beauty to our lives and others.Something that meets a need.  Something that makes us appreciate that someone had to slow down and put forth an effort. Something that took thought and maybe a bit of planning.

I like to make things. I like to feel the satisfaction of seeing something old and ugly become new and attractive (even if only to me). I want to know if anything rational and interesting can come out of the jumble of thoughts swirling in my head.

So, here are a few things that are on my list of Things I Want to Learn.

I'd like to learn how to upholster furniture.

I'd like to finish the research on my house and make a glossy photo book about it.

I'd like to do the same on various branches and people in the family.

I'd like to learn how to make books and journals out of various things and for various purposes.

I'd like to learn how to get my music onto paper so that I can share it.

I'd like to learn how to play the cello.

I'd like to learn how to lay tile.

I'd like to learn how to hook rugs.

I'd like to learn how to write a blog.

So far, I've found several books that can help me learn many of  these things. I have learned how to do many things from books.  Books are friends. Well, the good ones are.  And I have a new folder in my "fav's" that is titled Things I Want to Learn. I also have software to help me do some things like writing music, but I'm still doing the beginning baby steps.  I do not have a cello. But I know where I can find a teacher.

 And, I have figured out how to write something for you to read when I thought I had nothing to say.

Okay, now it's your turn.
What would you like to learn how to do?
  Let me know and maybe we will all be inspired by the new act of learning something new.

photo: north shore of prince edward island, Canada (c) debbie richardson

11 November 2009

To All Veterans, We Say "Thank You"



  


On Sunday,
 I attended a special Veteran's Day service and listened to a stirring cantata given by the choir. 
During the service, each veteran and active service member stood and told his or her branch and duty.  I especially appreciated this part of the service because I knew most of the veterans present but did not know of their service to our country.

     
In the days following the horrible attack at Fort Hood Army Post in Texas, we are reminded once again that the sacrifices of the few provide blessings to the many. 

During the memorial service yesterday, this was demonstrated in a poignant way when each fallen soldier's name was given during the roll call.

In the silence after each name was called I thought of the families who would no longer hear those voices.  Each military family gives their best and brightest to a nation who, regretfully, is not always supportive or grateful.

We must remember that those who can spread the hope of freedom are those who have enjoyed its benefits. 

     If you do not feel gratitude for the liberty you enjoy, it is time to look around you and observe exactly what you have been given.  

Make a list of all the things you are free to do that were paid for by the blood of patriots before you.  

And then say "Thank You."  

It is important and I daresay, it is, at the very least, our duty.

 To all of the great men and women who have given themselves in service to this country, 

I thank you.
      
 To the soldiers in my family, 
I am proud to know you.
       
You are great Americans.



photos: American flag at Ft. Campbell, KY; brother's saying goodbye;   101st Airborne 1-502 return from service in Iraq 2006
 (c) debbie richardson

10 November 2009

What Does Age Have to Do With It?

     The last few weeks have been very hectic in my household. 
I mentioned earlier that my children were participating in co-ops this year and that this was really something we had not been able to do much of over the years.  
All of this running around is beginning to tell on me. 
 I'm feeling it and I'm not liking it.

      Last night we had two committments back-to-back. They were both quite fun, but I was definitely feeling the fatigue of it all. 

Then a conversation about the fact that I was wearing my contacts instead of my glasses 
(no-line bifocals.....did I really just admit that?) 

was the cause of not being able to see what I was doing, 
led to one of the mom's mentioning that she did not want to get bifocals yet, 
which led to another mom saying something that caused me to say.....
"You're not even thirty yet are you?" 

"Not 'til next year"....and then the first mom mentioned that she would be forty soon..... Sigh.  

I'm the old mom. I'm forty-six. One of them said, "Oh, but you have so much wisdom!" 

     This morning the thought came to me that when I had my first child, 
this "not 30" mom was 4 years old and that
 when I began homeschooling, 
she would have been about eleven! 

Yikes! 

Why does my mind insist on conjuring up these facts for me?  
 Forty-six doesn't really sound too old, but I can remember when I was the youngest mom in nearly every social situation.
 I started my family in my early twenties and I kept it up.....so, now my "littles" are the same age as these mom's "olders". 
It's disconcerting to me, especially since I feel older than I suspect that I should.

     The fact is, eighteen years is a long time to do anything (especially homeschooling) and I am finding that sometimes it is just a matter of will to get this gal to keep going. 
At the same time, my "babies" are not babies at all, they are "tweens" and teens......geesh! 

Am I that old? It's weird because I'm doing things with other moms whose "oldest" kids are the same ages as my "babies".

     I understand that I have emotions that want to surface when I see these young moms with their "littles"......

What do I call my "littles" since they are no longer little?

I realize that I'm in a new "stage of life" (I really don't like that phrase at all) and that it won't be too long until I get to the "grandma stage" and all the wonders of grandchildren.  

But for now, I'm still one of the homeschool moms driving her kids to homeschool group activities and wanting nothing more than a long uninterrupted sleep.....for say...... a week for starters.  

For example, this last week alone we have left early in the morning and not returned until late at night several days in a row which has led to another time-tested reality that I'm really beginning to feel the full force of its existence.

      I have stated and will re-emphasize that I am a Homebody.....
I like to be home. 

It has been a long and established fact that when a person is not at home all day, little faeries enter the house and wreak havoc everywhere.  
They unmake beds, throw dust all around, pile up trash and throw clean clothes and dirty clothes in baskets together and dirty up the sinks.  

You would think that the old stories about elves finishing the shoemaker's work were true ones, but I'm sorry to say they are not. 
There are only wicked faeries who come in and mess everything up especially when you have to be gone for several days in a row. 
Of course, they also eat all the good things in the pantry and fridge knowing that you will be too exhausted to shop for groceries and will settle for toast or whatever odd thing you can concoct.

     I did find the energy to make a list of all the cleaning duties that need to be accomplished to get things back in order. 
But, I'm afraid that is as far as I've gotten. 
 I know all about the wonderful websites that will organize your life in 15 minutes a day, but I am not wired that way. 
I have to go all out and get it all done or it will nag at me. 
I'm not talking about entering the dark recesses of the closets in this house, 
oh no, 
I'd just like the clutter to be out of sight and I don't have the stamina to look at it much longer.

     It is another known fact that clutter is simply "visual  noise".  I don't tolerate noise well these days and everything in my line of vision is 
simply screaming.

 It must be stopped! I suspect that much of the fatigue I'm feeling is the actual drain of seeing so much to do and trying to muster the energy to attack it. 
Talking about what needs done is not always helpful, but writing about it in a public forum just might do the trick. 
 I seem to work better under pressure.  
If you'd like to come over for coffee,
 I am sure that I'd find the energy to clean it up in a heartbeat.......
but I'd still be exhausted and pay for it with aches and pains later.

     I know that I have to come to terms with this "stage" of life.....
I'm in my forties......
I haven't been the young mom in the group for a while.......
I know that I may have more wisdom now than when I was younger, but I can't always remember exactly what it is and I definitely don't want gray hair to prove it.  

I know that like every other stage of life, there are survival techniques that must be implemented.... and for now, I have to work out a better arrangement for staying on top of things if we are to be running hither and yon all the time. 

I know that you have to grow your own "good faeries" who will help you keep things in order and training them young is of vital importance. When my good faeries grow up and leave I will be in big trouble!

 Along with age comes health issues. We can't ignore them. We can't wish them away. We have to learn to work with them and try not to be bitter about what they take from us, like our feeling of youth. But such are common to Man. 

So we have to push on.

     Thankfully, the activities for this semester are winding down. I am glad. Because we all know what is lurking coming up around the corner.....Thanksgiving and Christmas! 

     I think  it is time for Home Ec.....where are those dusting rags??