Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Emily Dickinson: Autumn

I always think of Emily's autumn poem this time of year. You know the one, which ends:

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

Can't you just picture her in her long white dress, primping before the mirror with a mischievous smile? Not to be outdone by the dazzling colors of the New England autumn landscape, she reaches into her jewelry box for a favorite pin. I always imagine it as ruby red or golden amber. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

We Get To Love One Another

I've been on a long marching road of work, more work, and a little more work recently. I've given up trying to disentangle the thread of the kinds of "work" I do, some of it paid, a lot of it not, some of it fulfilling and satisfying, the kind of work that can almost feel like play, and some of it just one foot in front of the other duty. I've been trying instead to remember some of the many blessings involved in work, such as: I've been given it to do, and as long as I have health and life I get the chance to do it faithfully and lovingly, even the parts of it that can feel like sheer drudgery.

One of the things that blesses my heart no end is that we've been put on this earth not just to breathe and exist, not just to eat and live and love and laugh and worship (though I'm so thankful we get to do all of those things) but so we can love each other. Isn't that amazing? We get to love one another. Some days it's easy, some days it's hard, but it's part of God's call to us, God's gift to us. We get to love one another. Wow.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Daybook: J.I. Packer ("Mercy from first to last")

Just came across this quote I jotted in my journal a couple of months ago, and thought I would take a page out of the daybook to share it here:

"Even when (the Christian) cannot see the why and wherefore of God's dealings, he knows that there is love in and behind them and so he can rejoice always; even when, humanly speaking, things are going wrong, he knows that the true story of his life, when known, will prove to be 'mercy from first to last' -- and he is content."  ~J.I.Packer

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Elephants and Pluto and November....oh my!

It's been a crazy-busy few weeks of regular work and school with some new things coming down the pike in our schedules.

Last week the sweet girl finished up her fall Irish dance class and thoroughly enjoyed trick or treating, dressed up as our town (complete with clock tower hat). This week she's finishing up a paper on Pluto (to her great surprise, after doing all her reading and research, she discovered she agrees with its "demotion" to dwarf planet status).

I've been working on an article proposal for a children's magazine which has had me reading about the fascinating world of elephants, most specifically elephant intelligence. The books have intrigued S. to the point that she thinks elephants may be her next learning craze, the Apollo space mission craze having momentarily died down. Hooray for learning trails!

In writing life news: I'm continuing to do a lot of web content writing, and I'm grateful it's there, but I'm really excited because I've just been offered a contract as a youth curriculum writer with a Sunday School publishing company. I'll be contracted to write lesson plans for teaching various Bible passages to 7-12th graders. It's a neat looking approach to teaching the Scriptures (incorporating interactive and kinesthetic approaches) and I'm happy that the company has brought me on board to do some projects. Right now I am praying for the time and creativity to do the lesson planning justice -- my first two deadlines are in December.

And in teaching life news: I just started working with my Old Testament class (online, for an adult ed. institute I sometimes teach for) and have contracted to teach the Anglican Ethos course I used to teach online at the sem this spring. That last was a happy and unexpected surprise, as the course hasn't been offered in quite a while -- I've only taught it as an independent study for the past several years.

Throw in homeschooling, afterschool arts, church school, missions committee work, and several other things I'm not immediately remembering, and this has turned out to be one of the busiest autumns I can remember in years. It's all good, but sometimes tiring.

We're struggling mightily with an income shortfall this month (we've had months it's been tight, and things have finally caught up with us, most especially my lack of steady work this fall) so while I am praising God for new work opportunities in winter and spring, I know it's going to be a while (January - March) before most of my work outside of web content writing generates anything. We are trying to find ways to continue to pay down our debt without defaulting while still doing things like eating, keeping the lights on and gas in the car, and finding ways to pay for D's meds. All of this would be tremendously anxiety producing if I let myself stop and focus on it, but it's so much easier to keep opening my hands and looking up and saying thank you. Plus there's only so much you can do....when you really can't pay bills, you just can't pay them, and you move on and keep working as best you can. You keep your eyes on Jesus and trust him for what you lack. You also trust that you will meet patience and understanding and kindness even in places where you don't expect it, and that somehow there will be enough for the day. And not just "enough" materially, but "enough" in all the ways that matter.