Sunday, March 18, 2012

Korah and Me

Numbers 16 scares me. If you had asked me a month ago what I remembered about the Rebellion of Korah, I would have pulled up something about the ground opening up and swallowing people. Which is pretty memorable. But other than that, Korah lived in the mental file folder of "whiners being destroyed by the Lord." And then I got to Numbers 16 in my reading plan.

Brief summary: Korah was a Levite. He and his followers/family were Levites. Set apart by God to do holy things. To do God's work. They had a God-ordained ministry. Not happy to serve the Lord in that capacity, they decided they had received the short end of the stick. Moses asks them why they desire the priesthood. Why they have despised the ministry God has given them. They persist, saying they're just as holy as Moses or Aaron, and they deserve this position. And they all die. Actually only some of them are swallowed by the earth. Korah's group, which came to prove themselves before Moses by offering holy incense as a group are blasted with fire from heaven. The censers are collected from the ashes and the bronze melted down to be used in tabernacle decoration, as a warning to others. (p.s. The reaction of the people was just stupid. Reread Numbers 16-17 for a mind-boggling peek into the crazy stunt THEY pulled the next day.)

I can't get away from this story. See, one of my personal spiritual goals for 2012 is to cultivate a spirit of joyfulness in my role as wife and mother. The idea that God is made angry when we are discontent with the ministry He has given us has HUGE implications in several areas. In the past, Korah has washed dishes with me. He has changed diapers with me. He has even put up bulletin boards with me. He had a seat next to me on the pew as an occasional church visitor. How casually I have looked down on the ministries of the Lord that I have been given. I have allowed the world and even the 'church world' to define for me what is a worthy task. And how does this story speak to the roles of women as defined BY SCRIPTURE? God looking down in love on His creation gave us a job to do that pleases Him. 'Submission,' 'service,' 'keepers of home,' 'helpers to our husbands,': these phrases are a sure-fire way for a preacher to kill a church service. I've seen Korah in Women's Church Groups, he's a welcome guest at far too many gals' day out.

If you're thinking right now, "she is so messed up," you're probably right. I have spent the last 13 years trying to recover from what public education told me I "deserved." I fit pretty well into that round hole in the past, but I find Scripture has gradually squared off my edges, and I don't fit so well in the culture anymore. Thank God He has a square hole for me- called truth. And Korah doesn't hang out with me as much anymore.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"What's Moo Thinking Now, Mama?"

I hear this question at least twice a day. It's the kids' invitation for an impromptu account of the thought life of our puppy/dog, Mitzi "Moo." They think she's hilarious. So to make sure that no one gets the idea that this blog has any point in real life, here you go:

A Day in The Life of Moo

6:00 a.m. I am finally let out of solitary confinement (the CRATE). My owners actually call it "IT" or spell it lest I hear the word and go into hiding under a bed somewhere. My morning calisthenics are first priority. This entails stretching full length while leaning up against my female owner. Then into the downward-dog yoga position, tail into the air. Then one good shake all over, and I'm thrown out the back door. This early morning constitutional in the chilly air may last 3 minutes or 3 hours. It all depends on if the ALMIGHTY SHE of the house remembers I'm out here or not. I'm far too sophisticated to whine. I prefer to stand on the porch's table and stare very pointedly in through the window at her. If the blinds are closed, I may knock over the begonia and dig in the dirt for revenge.

6:05 a.m. Hopefully. This is when she lets me in. If Dad is up, I try to eat the hair off his toes without getting smacked. He has great toes! I'm a bit obsessed, I admit. If the kids are in bed, and SHE has forgotten to close their doors, I will jump on their heads until SHE finds out. Plan B: find a slipper and chew. If SHE is having a particularly organized morning, she will throw me a rawhide when I first come in to keep me busy.

7:00 a.m. Schoolbus time. This is most frustrating. There are a gazillion kids out there looking for ME, of course. So I bark and whine and SHE gets mad if the other kids aren't up yet.

7:00-9:00 a.m. Bark at anyone else that happens to walk by. The CAT next door often leisurely struts back and forth in front of the window just to watch me bark. So annoying.

9:00 a.m. Special day. Normally I'm back in solitary for this stretch of homeschooling, but today SHE has gone out of her mind (in a good way) and has decided to take me and the other kids for a hike in Moss Rock Preserve, complete with picnic lunch. I hear the previous dog of the house liked to lie still in the car, presumably from nausea. I attempt to jump from front to back (most disapproved of), and am happiest balanced on two toenails looking out the crack in the window. This is most easily managed on straight roads, in which Alabama is sadly lacking. So I also do a lot of falling. But no worries- I'm quite the stuntgirl.

9:30 a.m. Hike time. This is the woods! Yay- lots of trees to wrap my leash around. I take full advantage of this opportunity. Then I get the idea that I'm to stick to the trails and take the family on a full trot. Why should we cross the bridge when we can splash through the streams? Lovely. Wait! A huge boxer (my SHE is afraid of big dogs) has deserted his owner and is bounding through the woods at us. I'll save her the trouble of dragging me over to meet him, as WE ARE GOING TO MEET. I'll just break this expensive retractable leash in half, no big deal. Oh, and a yellow Lab- lovely. Three's a crowd, so their SHE scoops me up and returns me with a half-hearted 'sorry.' Now my SHE has to short-cut out of the woods and walk back to the car with two hot kids, carrying me like a spoiled infant. Feet in the air and everything. Which I like actually. The wet muddy feet sticking up catch a cool breeze as the human kids trudge along behind.

10:15 a.m. Having successfully completed my first (and SHE says last hike), I collapse in the front seat. SHE sweats away, turning one a/c on the other kids and one on me. We stop for ice cream. She doesn't let me get one. Hmph!

11:15 a.m. Home! I'm thrown in the backyard, something about dirt. The kids have their baths and then shock! I'm thrown into their bathwater. This is the worst part of my day so far. They all stand around and cackle. I can't see them, because the schnauzer cut leaves my eyes covered with hair. They say mean things like, "drowned rat" and "chihuahua" and "hilarious." I spend 15 minutes scraping my head across the carpet getting all the water out.

12:15 p.m. Hear "Up!" This is a bearable command, as it means I sleep on Dad's side of the bed while SHE collapses. She just likes my company. (Editor's note: I just don't trust her to run around while I'm unconscious, for obvious reasons.)

The rest of the day follows suit. I chew and chew some more. CDs, socks, slippers, stuffed animals. I can't pass a small trash can without tipping it over to investigate. SHE does a pretty good job unfortunately of keeping the bathroom doors closed. Toilet water is such a rare and lovely treat. Sigh...

10:00 p.m. Wake up. Discover that SHE didn't shut the crate door well. Smile sadistically to myself. Climb into Sissy's bed which is so much more comfortable.

1:00 a.m. Need to pee. Fortunately, I don't have to wait 'til morning like most nights. Make a puddle on living room carpet. I really DO like my SHE, and I really DON'T like how she treats me when she finds my puddles. Thankfully, the bathroom door is open. I carefully pull out the whole roll of toilet paper and spread it around the floor near my puddle. Maybe she'll see I tried. Chew on a lost crayon. Chew on a toy car. Bite the plastic tiger's tail off. Go back to bed. It's been a long day.

(Editor: the last part of this day BETTER not happen again. It has recently! The first part of this day is today's story. I so wish this story had the appropriate pictures, maybe later. The babysitters who watch my kids say she's sweet, but just like a toddler- into everything!)

Friday, March 02, 2012

"A Lewis Kick"

If I don't blog some of these thoughts poor Nathan will go insane as he endures my "Lewis kick." As in C.S. Lewis. Nathan says, "He's OK." OK?! That's like saying "Tolkien's passable" or "Shakespeare's not bad." Sigh.

OK, so this Christmas vacation, I decided I would enhance my brain cells with some classic literature. I had picked up Perelandra at a thrift store, where it had lived dust-ridden on a back bookshelf for much too long. So I started there, went backwards to Out of the Silent Planet and then forwards to That Hideous Strength. Thus, I finished the Space Trilogy. Thus, I fell in love again with that Christian intellectual (note: I did not say theologian, because he says: "You ask me why I've never written anything about the Holy Communion. For the very simple reason that I am not good enough at Theology. I have nothing to offer." He then goes on to "prattle unseasonably" about that very topic- haha!

Lewis' crazy side drives Nathan nuts. And he has a crazy side. Until you've read his discussion on which animals have souls or his views on hell, you haven't seen the whole picture. That being said, he was a genius of a thinker, and just reading his writing gives me great thoughts. I can just feel my brain growing and tiny bits of the aforementioned (last blogpost) mommy fuzz flaking off. I read the Space Trilogy, then a book of compiled Lewis quotes (The Quotable Lewis by Martindale- lovely!), and since my favorite quotes came from God in the Dock, I'm now reading GITD.

Here's one of my favorite quotes:
"The way for a person to develop a style is (a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and (b) to be sure he is saying exactly that. The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him. I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right the readers will most certainly go into it. . . ."
Although he was referring to writing, I think communication in general can be full of open gates. It's a dangerous world out there ;o)

A quick review of the Space Trilogy:
1. Out of the Silent Planet - main character Ransom captured and taken to Mars (Malacandra), escapes, lives with lovely Malacandrians, saves them from the evil guy from captured him, comes home. I would say mostly science fiction. Not as heavily allegorical as some of his others. The "silent planet" is Earth, and Ransom has come "Out of the Silent Planet."
2. Perelandra - The Eldils' (super-angels?) word for the planet Venus. Ransom is sent there to affect the beginning of Venus. Evil doctor gets there under his own steam. First part of book describes floating islands until the point where I promise you your sofa will begin swaying. Pages and pages (did we mention 'prattling unseasonably?'). Then begins a long allegory of Adam and Eve's choice in the garden. The evil doctor becomes demonically possessed, and spends the rest of the book chasing Ransom all over the world trying to kill him. He eventually falls into a lava pit, and Ransom is saved. Back to Earth he goes.
3. That Hideous Strength - Longer and stranger yet. I only finished this one because I was feeling stubborn ;o) Weird, weird, weird. Full of social critique of Lewis' times. The book starts off sounding like nonfiction, and gradually turns into a rather macabre nightmare. Merlin is resurrected (as in the magician Merlin) to save the day. And by the way, he was the last of the Numenoreans (think Tolkien's Aragorn)- so I assume he and Tolkien were collaborating a bit at this point. Also full of the allegories that Lewis LOVES. This book is not for the faint of heart!

Voila! Just in case you were looking for a review of the Space Trilogy today... ;o)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

"We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry."
E. B. White

On New Year's, I wrote down "finding the joy in what I do" under the spiritual goals column. I have a very specific reason for that goal: Kathryn. I want to model for my little girl a woman happy to be doing the will of God, even when it involves dishes, mopping the floor, doing the laundry. I certainly don't expect her to remember a cheerful Mary Poppins (more on that in a later post perhaps ;o) floating around the house with a song on my lips as I slide up and down bannisters. However, I also don't want her perception of homemaker to include the culture's idea of drudgery, a lazy mind or mournful sighing.

Something jumped out of Scripture a few months ago and stuck to the rather fuzzy corners of my brain. (Contrary to modern science, I believe motherhood causes a specific kind of brain fuzz which looks suspiciously like lint from the millions of loads of laundry.) Wandering... OK, we are to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. The general thought is that His purposes will be accomplished on earth. But what stuck with me is that little word "AS"- how IS His will done in heaven? Anticipation, joy, praise. These words describe the angels' attitudes as they wait upon the King. And in serving my family, I am, too, waiting on the King. My variation on the Lord's Prayer for this year has become: "May I do Your will on earth just as joyfully as it is done in heaven!"

Lowering certain expectations (shock! my child will survive if I don't do X), raising those that matter in eternal significance (a zero tolerance for sin in my heart and in the hearts of those under my charge), taking specific steps in a joyful direction (associating the sound of little feet with the muscles of my face that make a SMILE)- these are just a few things I've been doing lately.

Along with reading C.S. Lewis and listening to E.B. White, and P.L. Travers. Along with backing up the Audio CD when my kids lose the plot to the giggles. Along with baking cookies for bedtime snacks with milk. Picking grapes and sorting laundry, I suppose.