Monday, December 19, 2011

Wow. What a week I have had. On Monday, things looked so great. I woke up with energy! That was, well, abnormal and amazing. So, thanking the Lord for the temporary power boost, I put it to good use. Twelve hours later, things took turns for the worse…. I think the word they typically use to describe it is “flu”. The fact is, I’d never had it before. At least, not like this. It would be much better described with a title like “The Wretched Anguish”, or “The Despondent Misery,” or “The Wannabe Black Death". Having been hit hard, all I can really articulate is that Monday night = Worst night, physically, that I’ve ever had. Ever. Severe back pain set in a bit later, because clearly my muscles aren’t used to working for eight hours straight that hard….. So the next twelve to eighteen hours were spent half conscious on the couch, with a heating pad, moaning and groaning and pretty much only aware of misery. You’ve been there, I’m sure. Next day? similar, just less pain, and less sleep. (not that what I was getting could really be called “sleep”) I start to think I’m fine, then I sit up. Pass out, sit up again. Ringing in the ears, more moaning and groaning, then as things go more gradually black, ending up on the floor and wondering if someone will bring me ice water.
Three days later, I went somewhere. And ate real food. Yes. That is how pathetic it’s gotten. What’s more, I was actually excited to do that. *sigh*. Having lost more weight than I planned on or wanted, I’m quite ready for, oh, a steak or two. And a giant, triple or quadruple shot, extra hot, extra foam, extra caramel macchiato by tomorrow.
There are benefits that come out of it. I shudder to say those words in connection with the WBD, but it’s true. First off, you are reminded in a very real, in your face way, to pray for friends who suffer from chronic illnesses. I spent time in between bouts of sickness praying for a friend who has a bad stomach thing going on, for the last year, and the doctors don’t know what it is or how to fix it. Also time praying for a couple different people I know who have severe back pain. It’s terrible, and there’s nothing so fervent as prayers born of empathy. Always, I feel sympathetic, but when you are suffering, even temporarily, from a similar malady, you are much more stirred to approach the throne of Grace on behalf of others who have no respite in sight.
Anyway. After (mostly) recovering from that, I had a pretty busy weekend. Christmas parties are fantastic on Friday nights, and I had a grand time with the people from Emmanuel. Saturday morning the kids were here. Even though I’m convinced they are the reason I got sick, I was still happy to see them. Gabriel is becoming quite the conversationalist lately, and I’ve found that philosophizing with a three year old can be scarily on my level. Rebecca came up with this-- “Hey Emilie Edwards, do you believe in Santa Clause?” Carefully, I asked, “What do your parents say?” She frowned, and held out her hands, “Well, I don’t think they do… But I think I do. I mean (punctuated with a frown and shrug), he’s Santa Clause.” I left that one alone….
Zoo lights: new experience. I would love to do it sometime again if 1) I had no time constraint {we did it on a Saturday night, and that’s never the best time for me} and 2) on a weekday when there are less people. Lots of lights, some animals. Cold.
Scrooge the Musical: Amazing and well done. Negatives first: This sounds terrible, but the only things I didn’t like about it were the few small attempts at Christian-ization. Gasp! It was put on by a church, but it’s the sort of church that is more prosperity, Jesus-lives-to-make-you-happy-so-let-him-in-your-heart kind of thing. Near the end, after an emotional build up and song about “changing”, they paused in the production to have all three giant screens light up with a video plea from the pastor to “pray this prayer” and welcome Jesus to your world. Oh goodness. I had never actually seen that sort of thing in action before. Honestly, it was horrifying. I felt like it should’ve been called “How to mislead hundreds of people about salvation in two easy steps.” Literally, he had them repeat after him. And yes, at the end when he wanted everyone to stand up and shout “Merry Christmas”, I was the only one in the audience who was still sitting. It’s not that I don’t like to have fun and relax—I mean, I’ll yell with the best of them when a tractor pops a wheelie at the Enumclaw Christmas parade—it’s just that I can’t bring myself to shout phrases after someone who earlier who had tried to talk everyone into saying a canned prayer that had absolutely nothing to do with the gospel, repentance, sin, or any of the essential facets of Scripture. My mother was horrified… “Really. You didn’t even stand up with the entire rest of the auditorium?” My dad, however, would’ve been the second person to stay seated. At least I didn’t say anything, though I wanted to. Phrases like “Over my dead body, you heretic” were running through my mind.. . . 
Positives: Some fantastic songs were thrown in, and one in particular was sung very well by a man and woman who I could’ve listened to for quite a while. Plenty of dancing is fun to watch, and the costumes were good. So many lovely dresses! They did a phenomenal job with the orchestration aspects of it as well. Several french horns, trombones, trumpets, and pianos. What they didn’t have in strings, they made up for with around 5 keyboards. One man running two keyboards provided lots of good string ensemble background music for the creepy parts. Snowfall, random pyrotechnics, beautiful set —Fun evening!
Anyway. I am exhausted from all these random fun things, and Christmas isn’t even over yet. Hopefully I’ll be rejuvenated enough to enjoy the Christmas coffee hour this Sunday, and maybe even get up extra early on Christmas day! Optimistic thoughts indeed.

Friday, December 02, 2011

So this is Christmas…

It’s come to our home! Take out several bins of mysterious looking lights, bright colors, glass ornaments, frosted ribbons, and this is what comes out of it…..


Every year, I love to be up in the middle of the night, while the rest of the household sleeps, and sit cozily in a living room only lit up by the Christmas lights. There’s a peacefulness in the atmosphere that can’t be reproduced by a bedside lamp or flashlight. If I happen to have cocoa and marshmallows, that’s an added bonus…


Those were from the living room. Our kitchen, however, is a tribute to….

Santa Clause. Shocking, I know. Living room attempts to stay elegant and relaxed. But the kitchen becomes one giant whim of fancifulness. A wreath with Starbucks ornaments, lots of peppermint colors, bright green glittered signs of “Merry Christmas”, and a giant sign that says “Believe!” Unfortunately, the face of Santa clause is directly behind the sign. I’m not sure what we are lobbying for….

And everywhere, there are lights. Last night alone, we blew a fuse three times. This Christmas season is going to alternate between twinkling, glittering brightness, and the pitch black punctuated by someone yelling “It’s pitch black in here! Somebody go reset the fuse!”




But the best addition to the decorations this year is one that will stay all year ‘round. Something I’ve waited for a long time, and might be enough to keep me living in my parents house for way too long….


Yes. It came. Last night we got the call… “We’re on our way with your piano, and it’d be great if there was a latte waiting.” For that, I’d buy a thousand lattes! (I might anyway, at the rate I’m going).

Baldwin, 5’2”. An original Baldwin, in quite decent condition. Model M.  AH! Real ivory keys, true sostenuto…. Having already spent hours playing on them, yes, I can tell a difference. It surprised me, but there is definitely a better feel to them. You have more control, your fingers don’t slip at all, and therefore you can be more accurate, especially while playing faster.

Anyway. Mom and I spent quite a while laughing and giggling like maniacs last night, just looking at it. It still weirds me out to see a grand piano in our living room. I love it. I cannot remember the last thing we got that was so exciting! I’d say this makes for a good December. And playing on the church piano is going to be absolute murder now….


Monday, November 28, 2011

Punctuated with Pictures.

My weekend was something akin to insanity. Mental, slightly. Physical, absolutely.

But first, let me cover thanksgiving. Since we don’t celebrate until Friday, I went to a friend’s house on the actual day, which was great. My family had a much smaller one than usual, since the half of my cousins that usually come were over in Eastern Washington.

But Rachel was here with her family…


 DSCF4220-1 DSCF4219-1DSCF4233-1

And of course, we had to walk to the park afterward. Some kind of activity to work off all those calories is good, I suppose.


And on the way home, we played some walking-frisbee… and took some more pictures!


And after thanksgiving came and went, I found myself going Christmas tree hunting.

Originally, I had no clue what all was involved. Vague thoughts of snow and hiking swirled around in my brain, and those were indeed correct. However, in my mind’s eye, I had no vision of what was truly going to go on…..

The setting: Waaaaay up Forest Service Road 74, amidst quite a bit of snow. The characters: A few Smiths, several Larsons, and one befuddled Edwards. To prevent misrepresenting my level of prepared-ness, let me explain… I was quite careful to do some logistical reconnaissance on this mission beforehand. People were questioned closely about what I should bring, what all would happen, etc. Therefore, I was well armed with all kinds of wool and polypropylene layers to go under all the other layers upon layers, and thanks to some military friends, had some pretty decent stuff.

But let me warn you. If in the future, someone hands you a pair of boots with a smile, and says “Here, these are waterproof! Just pop on some wool socks, and you’ll be set!” Don’t believe it. Chances are that, like me, halfway through the day you will find yourself tromping up a hill, amazed that despite being overheated from exertion, you still can’t feel your little toe. The hypochondriac in me begins to wonder, “How long does it take for frostbite to set in?” Then the logical part of me intervenes with, “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not actually that cold up here. Your nose is fine, and that means your toes are fine.” Note that this still doesn’t stop me from cautiously querying about it, then feeling like an idiot as soon as the words leave my mouth. (this is a common occurrence, by the way.)

Getting up to where the actual trees were turned out to be quite complex. It involved…..


Getting stuck several times. Then getting dug out. Rinse, Repeat. It’s not scary, as long as you trust your driver. It’s merely time consuming. But surprisingly, fishtailing on a snowy road can be fun. Nonetheless, I was glad to be in the passengers seat or backseat, and not responsible for the wheel…

Once we landed at the first spot, I was slightly agog at the amount of snow I had to trudge through. And I do not use the word “Trudge” lightly. Let me give you a true description. Carefully I take a step. Happy to find that I am still upright, I let my weight shift a bit. Wham. That’s when one leg goes plummeting into the two and half feet of snow. Finding myself standing crooked and in well over my knees, I sigh, think of how wet my feet are getting, and try to step halfway out of the hole I’ve created. BAM. I fall on my face. Reset—This time I have my feet further apart in a convoluted attempt at weight distribution. “If I lean forward at the right angle while I step…” Smack. Back down into the snow. By now I’ve made it a whole ten feet!

That’s when I look up from my snowy mess that I’ve sunk down into, only to find myself facing a pair of these:



Snowshoes, planted lightly on the snow, not sunk in much at all. It was as if they were mocking me….  If only I’d had some…. Next year.

Anyway. A tree was successfully found, and brought back down. Not by me, but nonetheless, my mother will have a Christmas tree to decorate this year.




I’ll perhaps add more details later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In my mind, there was a lovely plan of sitting in front of a fire with a pot of tea, blogging something beautiful. The trouble is, I am quite out of tea, and there are no logs stockpiled by the kitchen door like usual. I know, the words “You are pathetic” are going through your head right now. It just might be true….. While I do realize that I could tromp out into the backyard, wrapped in one of the guys’ plaid flannel quilted shirts with extra long sleeves (to protect from spiders), and bring in wood from the woodpile, I have good reasons for hesitating. Last year, I was fearless. I pulled on gloves, chopped kindling, and brought in lots of wood. I hesitate now because the spiders have begun to take vengeance on me. I think I got bit last night, and thus have no intention of baiting them further and increasing my availability to their habitat. Therefore, having eaten a large and quite good breakfast (though I do say so myself… ;) ), I intend on stealing  *cough* borrowing some of my brother’s tea, and settling for turning on the heat instead of enjoying a cozy fire. With my current mood, this post was either going to turn out very dark, introspective, and deep, or be a light inane chattery one. Today I am settling for the latter. Consider carefully before you proceed, lest the result of reading be a strange lightheaded feeling.

I’ve gotten to a terrible place of breaking my own rules. Normally, I would never go over to someone’s house in pajama pants and a sweatshirt. Nor would I ever set foot in a store or coffee place while wearing sweatpants or workout clothes. And no, it’s not because I don’t know how to relax. It’s just that I generally do my relaxing at home. By myself. I am not the sort to be comfortable enough in most people’s homes to don comfy clothes. Generally I reserve that for my home sweet home. Sadly, I can’t live up to my precedents. Me and my anemic, low iron, low energy self (yes, I’ve been forgetting to take all my lovely pills.) have been wandering into people’s homes, borrowing pajama pants, and crashing on couches without so much as a by-your-leave. Good heavens.

I also thought I would never put chai spice into a mocha. That one has been broken about a dozen times now…. It turned out to be quite good, despite the shocked and wary looks the barista at Starbucks gave me. They have no tolerance for brilliance and creativity, apparently. Nor did I plan on making my coffee without putting vanilla or some such flavor in it. And yet, multiple times I’ve used only sugar and milk. What is my latte-mocha-frappuccino world coming to? The day I drink black coffee and actually like it will be a dark one, that will hopefully never come. I am too close for comfort already. This must stop….

One of my worst social confessions of last week? I turned on the country radio station. Heavens to betsy. I never do that. If by some freak of radio waves, I happen to catch a twangy note or two, I immediately exclaim aloud, and turn the station posthaste. But this time, I actually did it on purpose. If you know me well, you understand what an earth-shaking thing that is to do. Lest you think me too far fallen, let me assure you—I did not linger for more than twenty seconds. It was like stepping to the edge of a cliff, peering over and pondering jumping. Then, with a sudden return to sanity, being snatched away from the edge and brought back to safety.

This week I am resolved. I’ll be taking my pills, drinking my coffee, staying hydrated, and keeping it all together.

I should be going—I have a game night to plan, some Owen to read, piano lessons to teach, a dishwasher to load, laundry to put away, piano to practice, a caramel party to arrange, and an apple pie to make. I’ll save my deeper musings for another day. (or just throw them away).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I’d just like to remind you that it’s not Christmas yet.

There’s really no way to describe it. It’s one of those enigmas that may remain unexplained for an entire lifetime—perhaps even longer. Creeping up on you slowly, it then startles you with its awful strains, and if you’re the easily captured sort, it snatches you from gloom and showers you with a combination of grimacing, smiling, laughing, and cringing. If you are strong, you’ll make it through three, maybe even four minutes. I can’t make it that long. And that’s why, when my parents came home on Monday, and snuck a cd into the player, turning it up to high volume, I couldn’t decide whether to run or burst out laughing. First I heard Christmas-like bells jingling, then a voice. Sounds like a promising beginning…. Except that the voice belonged to Bruce Springsteen, and the song was “Santa Clause is coming to town.” If you have never listened to it, now is the time to do it. It is definitely four minutes of cultural education that you will never get back. But until you hear it, you’ll never understand. It’s so obnoxiously dreadful, so horrifically off-key, so severely gritty, that it almost is worth listening to, merely because it is so bad as to become entertaining. I think its appeal is sentimental for me, for there can really be no other explanation. But I’m afraid that the sentimentality can only get me through the first two minutes. Oddly enough, at the time they got home, I had been having a rather bad day, and had in fact written a depressing blog post just before they arrived. (Which will remain unpublished.) Yet something about Springsteen’s off key, skewed rhythm, and christmassy sound pulled me out of it. In the face of so much musical  discord and destruction, all you can do is burst out laughing. Then, sixty seconds later, say “Wait, are you serious? We’re going to hear the whole song?”

Thus begins this season’s Christmas music. I know, I know-- I have posted before about how much I abhor the tendency of listening to Christmas music BEFORE Thanksgiving, and I still hold to that. Sometimes, with admirable effort, I can restrain the tide of jingling bells, snowy themes, chestnuts and stockings, red noses, and frosted evergreen trees from hitting our home until after the third Thursday in November, but this year I am clearly fighting for a lost cause. Two more new Christmas collections from Costco have been tossed into the mélange of bright cheery tunes that we already have, and I’m afraid they are about to become the bane of my existence.

Just tell me one thing. Am I the last person left who LOVES Christmas music, but only in it’s season? Is there anyone else out there who understands that the glories of Christmas music are best saved for AFTER thanksgiving?

Answers/Accusations/Proclamations of shock would all be appreciated.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Some timely words from Spurgeon…

“Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God Spurgeon morning eveningwhen friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself,  He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, which are His own handiwork. When “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil? Will not the recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified? There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation, let us must upon it all day long.”

-- Morning and Evening, morning October 7

Friday, November 04, 2011

It’s one of those days. Those horrible end-of-the-week-haven’t-gotten-enough-sleep days. I’m sure you know the feeling—You run into one last hurdle, and it just seems to be too much to jump over. You think of all the things that have happened throughout the week that you didn’t cry over, and are just about ready to burst into tears. Well, at least I am.

This week for me? An odd conglomeration of strange happenings, social awkwardness and moments of random stupidity (on my part, that is…), and just enough sour notes to throw it all into uproar. The strange thing is, I had a ton of fun at various times throughout, and so in some respects it was a great week.

Strange happening number 1: A crisp fall walk turning into a fascinating encounter with a man of questionable sobriety. Also an annoying reminder that no matter how small the town, there will always be someone to provide creepiness.

Number 2: A giant spider attempting to take refuge under my purse and jacket on Halloween. Thankfully, it was killed by a brave soul with more fortitude than I have in the face of such trauma…. But I recovered quickly.

Number 3: (perhaps this one isn’t too abnormal, now that I think about it) One simple question leading to an hour long discussion/lecture about dispensationalist views, covenant theology, eschatology (a-millennialism, pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, pre-trib rapture)  schofield, Grudem, and MacArthur, hermeneutics, the danger of eisegesis rather than exegesis, soteriology and other things.

Number 4: Reversing into a parking spot to get a chair out of an office building may seem like an easy thing for most people, and it usually is for me as well. But this time, I backed into the rather tall concrete barrier instead. Turtle wax concealed some of the damage….

Social awkwardness moments: Too many to number, but we’ll throw out one or two of the best. Just visualize me, not thinking, running on caffeine, and slightly brain dead, making thoughtless comments that may or may not be bringing up the most controversial subjects possible. Yes, welcome to my life.

1: Buying something in QFC, thinking to myself “If I don’t have enough cash, I’ll just write out a check,” then, while facing the poor boy at the cash register, realizing that I don’t have any checks left. Enter frantic digging through my purse, a line piling up behind me, and a red-faced Em finally coming up with the perfect amount of change. I don’t turn red often, but I could feel it this time.

2. Informing the Owner of The Car about aforementioned damage. Wait, it wasn’t me who mentioned it…. It was my mother. “Honey, by the way, Em backed into something and gouged the back of the van.” To which I indignantly respond, “I thought we weren’t going to mention that until I could buff out some of the scratches! And it wasn’t that big!” At which time said Owner interjects with “So what happened? Did somebody hit you? And what kind of damage are we talking?” After explaining that words like “Gouge, crash, destroy, and crunch” are highly overstating the situation, I state that it’s merely a small scratch, and he needn’t even bother coming to look at it… Then race to the back and grab the wax and a rag to do as much paint cleaning as possible. Afraid that I can’t do much about, well, the rest of it.

3. Casually mentioning to The Papa about aforementioned drunk/crazy man. Facial expressions were quite impossible to describe.

Sour notes:

1. Literally. Sour notes. The B-flat on my piano has gone out, and therefore playing Rachmaninov’s “Elegy”, has become much less satisfying. Normally it’s the perfect soundtrack to any little tragedy, but the effect is highly lessened when every tenth note in the bass clef is silent.

2. Sore. Working out might be good for you, but I might drop dead one of these days from it.

3. Normal life stresses. They always add up at the same time! And that is why we have punching bags….

Despite all of the above, I have to say that I am thankful for friends who seem to be able to handle me in spite of all my foibles. Getting a text from someone saying that we just need to get together, is wonderful, especially when we can nail down a for sure time. Catching up with a cousin and going Swedish Meatball searching makes a day much nicer. Suggestions from other friends for an overnight getaway for five of us are like a breath of fresh air…. Autumn walks with a brother make a normal Wednesday evening into a Quite Pleasant Evening. And somehow I still get invited to fantastic comfortable gatherings that lend themselves perfectly to spiced cider, popcorn, doughnuts, card games, and grand company. The Lord provides what you need exactly when you need it! Put that way, this week is weighing in more on the “Half-full” (make that a triple grande caramel macchiato half full!) side.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The miniature updates. That is: updates on adventures that are boiled down to mere paragraphs.


At the end of last summer, I was nearly eaten alive by bees. Yellow Jackets. Well, that might be the slightest exaggeration. (A necessary one, though, so you can best understand the peril I was potentially facing.) I woke one afternoon from a nap, which was an unusual circumstance in and of itself. (not the fact that I awoke—I generally try to awaken after sleeping—but the fact that I took a nap in the first place. However, since that has no bearing on the present story, it may be forgotten) The strange part was a funky little noise (a bit like crinkling paper) coming from the vicinity of my outer wall, right where the two meet, since my room is on the corner of the house. After coming fully awake and out of my befuddled state, I stuck my ear firmly against said wall, and heard buzzing. That’s right. BUZZING. Buzzing and hundreds of crawling little feet, the memory of which still causes shivers to run down my spine. Giving a preliminary shriek, I jumped away from the wall and looked fearfully around, expecting the drywall or ceiling to come down at any moment, swarming with Angry Bees. Further investigation revealed that They were coming dangerously close to my abode by entering through a tiny hole outside where the roof eaves met. Well might you imagine the horror that assailed me upon ascertaining this. Without further ado, we purchased several cans of unhealthy chemicals that supposedly prove fatal to the little beasts. As it turns out, the most effective way to use the stuff was to shoot them directly. Thankfully, this provided plenty of entertainment for some in our household… At my top level of skill, I was able to shoot them right out of the air, a satisfying accomplishment to say the least.

It was bees then. Now, it’s spiders. I have sometimes wondered if all the spiders in our yard will someday come against me in an act of vengeance for the dozens I have slaughtered. Some strange insect-ish act of justice? Envision this: I am sitting peacefully, enjoying writing on my compter, and occasionally arranging playlists for music. The only light shining into the room is from the computer screen. I glance over, and what do my tired eyes behold? An arachnid leg creeping over the belt on one of my dresses. It was followed by the biggest spider I have ever seen inside. Horrid. Gargantuan. Awful. It was practically Shelob. Spiders do not bring out my courageous moments. In fact, they may put me in the most cowardly light of any situation. If I hear a disturbance out back, or a scratching at my window, my reaction is not to scream or pass out or anything like that. Typically I would probably turn out the lights, arm myself, and investigate. If I get exceedingly nervous, I’ll get someone else to check it out. My reaction to oversized spiders is nothing like this.  While suppressing the urge to shriek and scream bloody murder, I stumble away from it, trying not to startle it. After all, if I do that, it might very well run away to where I couldn’t see it. Or worse, run toward me. If that happens, I do shriek. And jump higher than you would believe possible. As soon as I can reach a door or window, I holler loudly for rescue. Any brother in the vicinity, or papa, will hopefully come to my aid. (although if it’s papa, much less sarcasm accompanies the slaying of the spider.) The last time I saw a large spider in my room before I was about to go to bed, my hands were shaking for half an hour afterward.

This spider, though, was on top of my hanger by the time my heroic father appeared. A first attempt merely frightened him out of sight—and that fact alone nearly sent me into cardiac arrest. (Okay, that might be slightly dramatic. But it definitely did get me to glance around nervously and begin startling at shadows on the wall) Enter: Em, the exterminator extraordinaire. Perhaps that’s an overstatement. For when the little beast reappeared, it was the Papa who came and squashed him with his bare hands. The exterminator extraordinaire made her contribution by bombing the room. Bug bombing, that is. That very night, I slept in the guest room while a magical tiny can killed (what I presume to be dozens) of spiders, insects, and who knows what else. The next day I vaccuumed everything, courtesy of my overreaction. The sense of satisfaction was overwhelming.

Thus ends this insect portion of my adventures.

And if you are brave enough to continue to the rest, let me assure you that there is nothing left to creep you out and cause you to jump at shadows in your peripheral vision.

4 AM is a miserable time to get up. I can’t believe it at the moment, but the other morning that’s what I did. Out of bed at 4, and picked up at 5. The reason for this madness? A strange thing called the REI garage sale. As of this moment, I take back (or rescind, or retract: whichever you prefer) my little stab in one of my previous blogs at people who buy tennishoes there. I’ve done it now. Merrell Gortex hiking shoes, marked originally at $110.00. Got them for $30.00!!!! I think it was worth the aching exhaustion that permeated the rest of my day.

That place (which I had never been in before) maintains a culture of it’s own. Arriving at around 6 put us at the end of the line of tents and sleeping bags. After one member of our brave party busted out a Coleman stove, those of us huddled under blankets and jackets got cocoa and scones. Spoiled? Absolutely. The longer we sat, the more fascinating became the observation of other fearless patrons. One was SO fearless that he wore no shoes, no shampoo, and certainly no qualms about wearing shorts despite the cold. What he WAS wearing included dreadlocks, a tattooed shin, a columbia sportswear shirt, and probably a pocket full of all natural organic granola. Man, I wish I was that cool.. . . . .

I’m always surprised at how outgoing people are in public places. When I see a stranger, in general, I must admit that I am not the friendly “come say hello to me and we will become friends because I am just SO happy to meet new people” sort. I am more the “If you MUST make eye contact, I will give you a slight smile, or a nice nod” kind of girl. And most certainly, I am NOT the “Let’s strike up a conversation outside REI at 6 am” character. However, there are apparently many people like that. Dauntlessly arising at that hour turns me into an anti-social, grimacing, frowning, squinting, frazzle-haired, glassy eyed girl who needs nothing more than a hot drink and a blanket. If I’m among friends, chances are I’m enjoying myself (because there’s no way I would risk getting up at 4 a.m. for the possibility of NOT having fun), and I might be able to hold a barely normal conversation. With them. Not with strangers. Do I object to strangers talking to me? No, not really. Do I moderately enjoy a vague camaraderie with strangers? Sometimes, if I can set my suspicious serial-killer-behind-every-door mentality aside. Will I respond coherently at that hour? Absolutely not. That being the case, when a friendly, if slightly brusque, gentleman began randomly interjecting into conversations (or updating us on his latest text message), the most I could mangle out was a smile, and a “Oh yeah! Mm hmm. Yup! For sure.” I tried hard to make the smile extra friendly to make up for the lack of cognizant speech. We ran into one or two people like this. The others, though, were much more bent on elbowing me out of the way so they could get to their eco-friendly biking waterbottle, their Patagonian socks, instant hot water boilers, Katadyn portable purifiers, Vibrams, Bivy sacks, solar powered chargers, Clif Bars, and of course, their North Face jackets. Yes, I had a woman push me, then turn to ask if I’d seen any on sale North Face jackets. To be honest, I had no clue what I was getting into at the start. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it, and I loved that I got a good deal out of it, and had a good time with friends simultaneously. Triple score!

After REI, Cabelas required a visit. Another amazing place. I believe it was my uncle who first said that “It’s like the zoo, but the animals aren’t moving much!” At REI, there is a large clientele who wants to be one with nature, blend in with it, and enjoy it. At Cabela’s, the clientele are more the sort to be out in nature in camouflage, and shoot anything that moves in the landscape before them. “Rocky, I think I saw something move. Shoot it!”

While I was standing in the gun library at Cabela’s, the differences in clientele were driven home. Envision this: A portly, elderly gentleman standing near me motioned towards a gun and looked to his friend, to say “Huh, yeah, that 1861 Colt Navy revolver? I got one at home.” This was followed by a large, loud sniff, and the noisy chewing of something unidentifiable. A few minutes later, a loud HONK comes through the air. Lo and behold, they were having a duck calling contest there that day. That’s what it was like; a short, vivid cultural experience that I would gladly repeat.

Yes, just a bit different from REI.

There were one or two other things I thought to mention, but the lateness of the hour prevents my brain from remembering them. Hopefully the next post will be an excerpt from someone, so I can even out these strange, poorly narrated adventures, with some good edifying material. Spurgeon, perhaps?

A couple more shots…. (the picture kind, not the coffee kind.)

These aren’t artsy—they’re simply a depiction of the weekend. The fabulous weekend. And none of them are edited, for which I apologize.





















Saturday, August 20, 2011

The worst kinds of transitions…

Here’s a scenario for you. Person A says to Person B: “Hey, you should come hiking with me some time!” Person B smiles, ducks their head, and modestly responds, “Oh, I would love to, but really, I am so out of shape!” then gives a cute little self-deprecating giggle. When the time to hike comes, Person B dons their hiking boots (which they of course purchased at the REI garage sale), their designer sweatpants, and sportily carries along a Nalgene waterbottle. Then, to the astonishment of (self-proclaimed “in-shape”) Person A, who fully expected them to be hiking at a slow and laborious rate, Person B goes trotting up the side of a mountain, smiling, talking, and barely getting out of breath. Person A is astonished that they didn’t even have to adjust their normal rapid pace to accommodate Person B.
I am not Person B.
Meet Person C, who didn’t make their way into the previous scenario. Person C hears about hiking, and thinks to herself, “Oh, wow, I would LOVE to do that, as long as there is a view at the top.” Person C vaguely wonders what it would be like to be in shape. She then gets invited by Person A to go hiking, on an “easy hike”, and says, “Oh, I would love to, but really, I am SOOOOO out of shape!” However, since Person C is a trooper, she decides to give this getting-in-shape thing a try. After all, how hard can it be? Surely your muscles can keep working as long as you can breathe. When the time to hike comes, Person C digs around to find her old broken down tennishoes, any available pair of sweatpants, and, if she’s lucky, some socks that won’t slip down into the shoes halfway through the hike. Person A is thrilled to get Person C to come, and firmly believes that Person C can’t be as out of shape as she claims.
I am Person C.
Yes, that was me you saw, falling up the side of a mountain the other day. Why yes, I was the one leaning against the car for more than fifteen minutes after all the other intrepid hikers had energetically pulled away. That girl who was gasping as if it were her last breath, only two minutes into the hike? Me. That chick who barely pushed out monosyllabic answers in between ragged steps? Me.
And yes, it was me who stopped everyone halfway through, gasping out enthusiastically “Look at this VIEW!” Then, after everyone stopped, realized that there is no view from here; there were only thick forests surrounding us. I shrugged, and said, “Well, it’s all so green and pretty,” and stalled long enough to barely catch a breath. After my heart stopped beating in my eardrums, I closed my eyes tightly and started to take another painful step.
If you wondered why I didn’t start stretching immediately afterward, it’s because it was all I could do to merely stay upright. And you know how I wasn’t making eye contact with you? It wasn’t because I hate you for dragging me up the mountain at an unhealthy speed, it’s because my ears are buzzing and my sight is getting fuzzy so I can’t even really see your eyes. I didn’t answer your question, because all I know is that you were talking; it was physically impossible for me to focus on actual words, let alone comprehend a full sentence. Your joke was hilarious, and you thought I only gave a courtesy laugh and grimace… In reality, that weird sounding laugh was genuine, and the grimace was the closest I could come to a beautiful smile. You may have glanced down the trail and thought I was glaring daggers at your back, but really… Oh wait. I was. Getting caught up in agony and gasping and a pounding heart and aching muscles was just enough to lead me to indulge in a moment of anger. Anyone ahead of me on the trail is usually the focus of that irrational ire, especially if they have the gall to be both “in shape” and cheerful.
But actually, I did enjoy the hike. Well, I liked taking a cool shower later, anyway. And I enjoyed the company… for a few cognizant moments. In all seriousness, though, I DO want to do it again. If you are ever one of the unfortunate people who I finagle into hiking with me, you should know that while you are hiking competently, I will be stumbling up the trail behind you, wondering what you would do if I just fell over the edge and didn’t get up again. If you ask me to go hiking, on an easy hike, I might hem and haw. The cause of this? I am severely embarrassed by my lack of athletic prowess, and sincerely regret the inconvenience that experienced hikers are put to when I come along. Those two things are the sole causes of my hesitation.
If you have ever been where I am right now (i.e., very much out of shape), you understand everything I wrote perfectly, and have sympathy for me. You understand all my sentiments, and know what it’s like to struggle towards a goal at the top of a mountain. If not, and you are one of those paragons of atheticism that I so resent, then you are astonished at all these paragraphs of absolute gibberish, and are thinking “What? Hiking is FUN! Going up a steep trail is GREAT! Running down the mountain afterward makes me feel like the picture on an REI ad!”  Hopefully, you are somewhere in between, and have both a deep appreciation for the transitional pain I’m going through, and the triumph I may someday achieve.
I am excited at the idea of getting in shape— it remains to be seen if I enjoy the reality. Someday, you will get on my blog and see a post called “The joys to be found in the outdoors,” (or some such ridiculous title) and it will be full of oozing happiness at the latest hike I went on. Hopefully I survive to see that day...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This from Richard Baxter, via Voices From the Past, via Richard Rushing. :)
I thought this was, well, FABULOUS.
“For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23
Whenever you feel the least motion toward disobedience, meet it with an army of holy graces—zeal, courage, and love to God. Quench every spark that falls upon your hearts before it breaks into flame. When sin is little and weak, it can be easily resisted. When temptationvoices_from_the_past grows strong, grace grows weak and we lack the sense of God’s presence, attributes, and truths to rebuke it. O, do not drift out of the range of God’s voice, straying beyond His call. The habit of obedience will be dangerously abated, if you do not resist quickly the acts of sin. Labour for a clear understanding of God’s will that you will not delay in your obedience through doubt. If you doubt whether sin is sin, this weakens your resolve so that you are willing to draw near to it. When a man is sure of his duty, it is a great help against all temptations. When he is sure a thing is sinful, it is easier to resist. It is the devil’s method to delude the understanding, and make men believe that duty is no duty, and sin is no sin. It is no wonder that duties are neglected and sin is committed. It is almost incredible how much ground the devil takes when he has once made sin a matter of controversy: some are of one mind, and some of another; you are of one opinion and I am of another. If it were ever a controversy whether drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, swearing, stealing, or any villainy were a sin or not, it would be committed more commonly and with much less regret of conscience. By this means, good men themselves are dangerously disabled to resist sin, and are more prepared to commit it. take heed lest the devil cast you into this sleep of carnal security. When you are in a careless sleep, obedience seems a tiresome thing; like a tired horse, you don’t feel the spur. You are half-conquered, and have lost your love for obedience and are in danger to yield at last.
And there you have it.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Hitting the books…

I admit it. When I think “I’m going to sit down and read something edifying tonight"… J.I. Packer isn’t what comes to my mind. He’s a good guy, and has written good stuff, but there are other issues there… However, I recently started reading John Owen’s “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ,” and of course it would be insupportable to skip the introductory essay by Packer. After beginning it, I think I could say that it is one of the finest explanations of Calvinism that I have heard in a few concise paragraphs. (And it’s a good thing he is concise—for I am not!) I’m not going to quote his explanation of the five points of Calvinism, or the historical background he gives, but rather an introductory paragraph, and then his broader picture of Calvinism that I really liked.
“There is no doubt that Evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor’s dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and of equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. … If we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel…..{and so they have begun to preach a newer gospel}  the new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church. Why? We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centred in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do…. whereas the chief aim of the old (gospel) was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and His ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him… The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed…. Accordingly, the themes of man’s natural inability to believe, of God’s free election being the ultimate cause of salvation, and of Christ dying specifically for his sheep, are not preached. These doctrines, it would be said, are not “helpful”; they would drive sinners to despair, by suggesting to them that it is not in their own power to be saved through Christ…. The result of these omissions is that part of the biblical gospel is now preached as if it were the whole of that gospel; and a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.”
Then he presents this, on Calvinism, after explaining the five points. (TULIP)
“In the first place, Calvinism is something much broader than the “five points” indicate. Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world’s Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavour to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of His will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own Word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible—the God-centred outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), Religion (dependence on God as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in God through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form. And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of His great preordained plan for His creatures and His church. The five points assert no more than that God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that He is sovereign everywhere.”
And that concludes my stint from Packer. However, I of course must add something more. I am quite thankful for a father that comes in and says “Wanna read me something good?” To which I reply “I’d love to—what did you have in mind?” And Spurgeon was the pick of the night. As to what particular choice-- his sermon preached on July 5, 1857, in the music hall of the Surrey Gardens. (it’s out of Volumes III-IV of the New Park Street Pulpit series). I thought this excerpt particularly good, and moving. The text was “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” – John xii, 32. The excerpt is in the context of his first point, which is that “Christ’s crucifixion was His glory.”
“Now, the cross of Christ is Christ’s glory. We will show you how. Man seeks to win his glory by the slaughter of others—Christ by the slaughter of himself: men seek to get crowns of gold—he sought a crown of thorns: men think that glory lieth in being exalted over others—Christ thought that his glory did lie in becoming “a worm and no man,” a scoff and reproach amongst all that beheld Him. He stooped when He conquered; and He counted that the glory lay as much in the stooping as in the conquest…..And once again, Christ looked upon his crucifixion with the eye of firm faith as the hour of triumph. His disciples thought that the cross would be a degradation; Christ looked through the outward and visible, and beheld the spiritual. “The cross,” said He, “the gibbet of my doom may seem to be cursed with ignominy, and the world shall stand round and hiss at the crucified; my name be forever dishonored as one who died upon the tree; and cavillers and scoffers may forever throw this in the teeth of my friends that I died with the malefactor; but I look not at the cross as you do. I know its ignominy, but I despise the shame—I am prepared to endure it all. I look up on the cross as a gate of triumph, as the portal of victory. Oh, shall I tell you what I shall behold upon the cross? Just when mine eye is swimming with the last tear, and when my heart is palpitating with its last pang; just when my body is rent with its last thrill of anguish, then mine eye shall see the head of the dragon broken, it shall see hell’s towers dismantled and its castle fallen. Mine eye shall see my seed eternally saved, I shall behold the ransomed coming from their prison houses. In that last moment of my doom, when my mouth is preparing for its last cry of “it is finished!;’ I shall behold the year of my redeemed come, I shall shout my triumph in the delivery of all my beloved! Ay, and I shall see then, the world, mine own earth conquered, and usurpers all disthroned, and I shall behold in vision the glories of the latter days, when I shall sit upon the throne of my father David and judge the earth, attended with the pomp of angels and the shouts of my beloved!” Yes, Christ saw in his cross the victories of it, and therefore did he pant and long for it as being the place of victory and the means of conquest. “I,” said Jesus, “if I be lifted up, if I be exalted;” he puts his crucifixion as being His glory.”
There you have it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life of late… In photos.

This happened! Engaged March 12, and Jacob and Liz got married on June 18. Rache and I were in the wedding…DSCF8989-1

And I took their engagement pictures… :)

And we saw a lot of THIS waterfall lately… Plan to go again on Sunday.
Ate lots of THESE… Mom was experimenting w/ frosting flavors. Irish cream!
Did a little bit of reading… as did the guys…
Went on a vacation—Here are just a few from that.
Took a few drives…
And took a night shot or two.
Finally, of course we spent plenty of time with the kiddos..
And that makes for a pretty good few months, in my opinion.
Now you know the rest of the story.