Friday, April 15, 2016

Weekend Wit 9

“Certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’.” J.R.R. Tolkien

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them...

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Mundane Affairs of Men and the Providence of God

My dad's family lost their farm during the depression.  My grandmother was sick for about a ten year period and required expensive medical care.  My grandfather borrowed the money from a brother in law.  There was some kind of misunderstanding about the  money being paid back and my grandma's  brother  kept the deed to the farm. My grandparents became share croppers and moved around to the surrounding counties.  I think they chose to keep the relationship instead of squabbling about the farm.  I am not sure I could have done the same thing.

The little rural community where their farm had been was always home to my dad.  Daddy had whims where he would want to visit  an uncle or a cousin. Off we would go across back roads and as a child I would have to sit quietly and uncomfortably in a strange house as my dad visited with people that were virtual strangers to me.  One of the cousins even had a spider monkey that wandered freely about the house. A genuine surreal experience for a little kid in unfamiliar territory.

Daddy also liked to go to the family reunions that were held every August on the grounds of the little white church that had been built by both sides of my daddy's immediate family. The church fellowship is still in existence today, although I do not know if the little white church building is still standing.
My dad is second from the left on the back row.  He here with some of his cousins who came to the reunion one year.

He had dozens of cousins.  Several of his dad's siblings married siblings on his mom's side of the family.  So he had a number of double cousins.  I could never keep straight who he was talking about when he was discussing cousins. Throughout his life he would go to funerals of this or that cousin. It did not seem possible that one man could have such a steady supply of cousins to bury, but he always to took the time to pay his final respects.

Daddy would drag us to the Unity Community reunions on those hot August Sunday afternoons after church.  We were always dressed in uncomfortable church clothes and had already been to Sunday school and church that morning.  Dinner was served on  long tables under the shade trees and big aluminum tubs were packed with ice and glass soda bottles.  I really did not know any of these relatives on a personal basis.  They would smile and pat my head.  One cousin resembled Loretta Lynn and was always very smiley and friendly. There was always an assortment of middle aged men with little paunchy stomachs and women with tightly rolled curls and sagging skin sitting around in lawn chairs.  I can remember Uncle Tom, he was one of my grandma's only living brothers out of the seven that she had.  He was a lean looking man with wispy white hair who dressed in sear sucker.  He usually stayed seated in the shade appearing to be a few steps from being comatose.  
My grandma is on the first full  row, second lady from the right.  Uncle Tom is on the back row, second from the left.  The other older men are my grandma's brothers.  The women are probably their wives.  

My sisters and I grabbed a  chicken leg, a deviled egg, and a soda and entertained ourselves by walking around in the church cemetery that was literally littered with our relatives.  Daddy knew everyone and he sat around and chewed the fat with his cousins, being filled in on the family news.  Family was super important to my dad and he enjoyed himself immensely.
Grandma's brothers when they were young.  

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, we would get to go home where we promptly passed out from heat exhaustion and were unable to function until the next day.

As a kid, all I wanted to do was go home after church.  It was terribly boring to walk around the graveyard in the broiling sun, but we lived in a different time.  Our wishes were not really considered all that much.  If Daddy wanted to go the reunion, then we went to the reunion. If that one cousin had brought the spider monkey, it would have notched up the entertainment factor, but in 1967, spider monkeys weren't invited to family reunions.

I look back now and I really am grateful.  I know some of my family history and I have a visual on the little place where my family put roots down.  I have often wondered how my life would have been different if my grandfather had been able to keep his farm.  I seriously doubt that my dad would have married my mom if he had stayed down on the family farm.  He met Mama because share cropping to took them to the Dunn's Mountain community. It is possible that Daddy might not have married.  He was 35 when he married Mama.  A few more years and he probably would have just chosen to be one of those single men who used to fade into the background of life.

In this life there are things that happen that can seem unfair, like the loss of a family farm, but I am not a deist.  I believe God rules in the daily affairs of men.  His purposes are always accomplished.  I believe that my parents were supposed to marry and that I was suppose to be born.  The odds were stacked against it.  My dad was approaching permanent bachelorhood.  My mom was almost killed in a car accident a couple years after Mama and Daddy married. She still went on to have four children with me being their last ditch effort to have a boy.

 None of us have perfect circumstances or even what appears to us to be a fair shake in this life. What we do have is a perfect Father, who supersedes our personal circumstance and has the ability to turn those circumstances into a thing of beauty and purpose. It would be wonderful if I could grasp firmly, that in every circumstance that my Father is present and at work.  I would love to tell you that I have internalized that truth.  The truth is that I often whine and complain when I don't like something that is happening in my little mundane world.

I can quote Romans 8:28 but what I need to do is fully believe it.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Daddy passed away in his mid nineties.  He had been in an assisted living for about five years.  He outlived most of his cousins.  At the viewing two older nicely dressed gentlemen showed up.  They were two of Daddy's remaining cousins.  I have no idea how they learned of his passing, but they came to show their respect and to say good-bye.   Daddy would have been so pleased.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Weekend Wit 8

Of the Future
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

There have been a few quiet moments in my life when I have experienced what I believe to be the very presence of God.  There is nothing to tell you except that the thoughts of being with Him forever fills me with longing, unbelievable peace, and a holy dread all at the same time.  

Of Our Present Sorrows
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Of Religion
Never settle for religion, only life in Christ will do!

Of Prayer
True prayer will probably lessen us and exalt Jesus!

Of Our Healing
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. 

Of Our Father
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Of Guiding Principles and  Success 
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.

Of Guiding Principles and Boasting
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Forsythia and Sock Monkeys

The 5th grade painted these forsythias.  I found the inspiration on .
We used tempura instead of water colors.  We also added the Chinese characters for flower and for spring.

 The second grade drew these sock monkeys and painted them with tempura.  They cut them out and glued them onto red construction paper that they had designed.  I found a version of this project on  Each monkey seems to have a personality. I find that whimsical.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Bunnies

The kindergartens drew these bunnies today.  We used green construction paper and oil pastels.  It was a guided drawing.  After drawing and coloring the bunnies we added grass and flowers to the background.  The bunnies made me happy on my first day back after spring break.  The  guided drawing for the bunnies comes from

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weekend Wit 7

Of Wicked People
Wicked people will always exist.  There's a reason we are to be shrewd and innocent.

Of Rest
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Of Fiction
Most movies, television shows, and books are works of fiction.  Characters are often presented as being really good people and choosing the right way in the end, even though the habitual practice  of their lives is evil.  We must not give into the foolish idea that we will get the same results with the same practice.  A person must be upright in the small things or it is highly unlikely that they will be upright in the big things.

Of Following Your Heart
If you follow your heart, you may find yourself walking off a proverbial cliff.  Many have followed their heart to their own demise.  We have been given a brain and a heart, but more importantly we have been given the Scripture to guide us in the way we should go.

Of Hope
The only Hope we have is found in turning to the true revelation of God found in the person of Jesus Christ.

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson

Of Our  Rotting Culture
I personally am pretty weary of a culture that continually chooses to drink from the sewer and is then confused by the permeating stink around us.

As a culture we are so proud of our scientific advancements in technology and medicine, but unless we deal with the evil within, those same advancements will not be used to promote life, but death and cruelty.

Of Living Life
Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved. Winnie the Pooh (my favorite philosopher)

Of The Future
Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear, and with a manly heart.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Of Faith
The only way we can have genuine faith in the promises of God, is to believe that He speaks truthfully to us from His most holy and righteous character.

Of a Sense of Humor
Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.  Francis Bacon