Sunday, December 30, 2012

Three poems about death.

These are three lovely poems with really contrasting attitudes about death.  Jane Kenyon is almost welcoming death (in the image of evening) as a gentle friend. I believe that she was fighting cancer when she wrote these poems.
Dylan Thomas was a fighter and he fights death in his poem.  I have a cd of him reading "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" and it is fierce.
Christina Rossetti has a very accepting attitude towards death.  She is very matter-of-fact and practical in her poem.
The differences in images and attitudes fascinate me.
Let Evening Come
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Christmas looked like this year.

No snow, no cold, no sweet little boy.
But he got some new pajamas in a Christmas box from us!

He looks pretty happy, doesn't he?  He is thriving as he waits for his forever family.

New traditions in a new place.

Sweet children in our new church singing their hearts out..especially this one little sweet girl.  The boys?  Not so much.  They had the total deer in the headlights look.

Some of the Evergreen Group sang "Jesus Loves Me" in Chinese."

The Four Chinese Tenors?

Body worship-those of our friends will recognize this kind of singing and dancing that is so Chinese!

The Sunday before Christmas, we had four baptisms.  They had sweet testimonies and were so joyful when they came out of the water.

Great food, of course!

A new tradition of driving to the coast on Christmas Eve.  We drove to through the snowy coastal range and had a beautiful day at Cannon Beach.

Old traditions-our tree.  It was so wonderful to have a fresh tree and to get out our ornaments that we have seen in four years.  Some of our ornaments are from when Paul and I lived in Germany in the late 80's.  

New tradition-getting our Christmas tree in the pouring rain.  Welcome to the Pacific Northwest!

Ancient tradition-the Advent wreath that we light each week of Advent as we anticipate the coming of Emmanuel.

Family tradition- a movie on Christmas afternoon.  This time it was Les Miserables.  I desperately tried to finish the 1200 page book before we saw the movie.  I got up to page 500!  The movie was simply wonderful-an amazing story of redemption.  Go and see it...and read the book.  I am still engrossed.  The story is compelling!


Grace and Peace to the few who still keep up with my random blogging!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Some things change and some stay the same.

I am working pretty much full time now at a small language institute that is on the Concordia University campus in North East Portland.  It's a beautiful little campus with a lovely library to work in.  Statues of Martin Luther abound!  I am thrilled to be working but this job has quite a steep learning curve for me.  The teaching part is fine and good.  But this is a very different kind of program than I am used to. It's an accelerated program and students come in one month cycles. The one month cycles go very quickly and we are suddenly at the last week of my first month.  I am really sweating to be sure I have done everything right and given all the right tests and quizzes and graded them correctly with the right scale and weight.  Now I have to transfer my grades to an Excel web-sheet and then upload all my grades by Wednesday for my electives and Thursday for my speaking and structure class.  For those of you that are technically minded, this kind of thing may not seem like such a big deal.  But for me, it's a big deal. Technology is not my friend and I would like less of it in my life not more.  I love teaching and students and language.  Testing and technolgy?  Not so much.
I do walk back and forth between the main building of the language institute and the campus.  There are beautiful homes there and it's a lovely walk.  I caught this unusual flower on a tree.  I wish the picture was better because it was so lovely.

Some things never change.  Paul loves fun and will do anything for a laugh.  Our youth leader had to be out for some pregnancy complications ( we are so thankful for the early birth of her sweet little baby).  One night before teaching the Bible, they kids played throw the cheerio's at the shaving cream.  The guy to the left of Paul won but there may have been some minor cheating as they placed Cheerio's instead of throwing them.

I went to Seattle a few weeks ago to see some dear friends and to see Elisabeth.  We went by her dorm room afterwards and I got to see the $1.00 couch that they bought at a used furniture store.  It was so good to see her that weekend and then again over Thanksgiving.  She is flourishing at Seattle Pacific and we are thrilled.

For Thanksgiving, we had a really good time with my youngest brother and his family.  Among the odd things that are missing from our storage unit is our carving knife.  So Paul carved it with a cleaver.  It worked!

I knit our foster son a sweater a few months ago.  The minute I took it off the needles, I realized it was too small.  So I made him a the same sweater a few sizes larger.  The first sweater was knit in a few days.  This one (even though it was identical) too forever.  I just made mistake after mistake and had to rip it out over and over again.  Next time- circular needles so I don't have to seam it!  It wasn't perfect and one sleeve may be a little longer that the other but hey, it's my first sweater and it was knit with love.  It went off in a box to China a few days ago.

I also made him these socks which were a pleasure to knit and I love them.

I was walking on the Concordia campus the other day and looked up at this tree and saw this....

Doves!  So lovely.  In the afternoons, I teach on the third floor of the Luther building and I can see Mt. St. Helen's in the distance.  These little touches of beauty are God's grace to me as I am really struggling in our new life. We have had so many losses in the last six months. I feel loss and pain and joy all at once.  I've always been fairly optimistic and upbeat but I feel fairly broken and fragile.  I've lost my sense of competency and my sense that I have something to share with people.  It's all part of the re-entry process and the only way through it is through it.  I am glad for small glimpses of grace and beauty.

Last year, I taught 13 middle school students how to knit.  Their first project was to knit a square that I then whipped stitched into a blanket.  We had all levels of knitters with different gauges and each of the squares was really a different size.  With quite a bit of maneuvering, I was able to get in into a blanket shape and then gave it to the  same foster care program that we foster through.  Here is the little sweetie that it went to.  That picture just makes my heart full.