Sunday, December 20, 2009

snow

Today, well this morning, we had snow! These are pictures taken on our walk to church.
Our front garden.
Freezing!
A wee little windowsill snow man!
graveyard
The Palm House in the Botanic Gardens

Saturday, December 19, 2009

one good thing

about going home in January...

There's a giant hot water tank and I can lie in on cold mornings without fear of a cold shower!

Friday, December 18, 2009

for Lacy

a perfect poem for the ending of a year

video
~ e.e. cummings

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a happy Christmas package!

My mom informed me on Monday that she had sent my Christmas package and that it would be arriving by Saturday. I woke up today thinking this is the first day I could reasonably expect it to come. But I was trying to talk myself out of expecting it as, let's face it, most packages arrive later than you think/hope they will. But then, around 1:30, there was a knock at the door and what to my wondering ears did appear, but the sound of Sam talking to the postman!

So here is the contents of my happy Christmas box! I didn't know what to expect because I didn't ask for anything and the only clue I had was that my mom double checked what size I wear. There was a lovely top from my favorite store, which is on the right. A lovely cardigan which is just like (and in fact may be the very) one that my sister has which I've raved over in pictures on facebook, which is on the left. A bag of candy (!), iTunes gift cards (already spent on a little more Ray LaMontagne and Great Lake Swimmers for my life, which can only be a good thing!), a ginger-ale bottle full of messages and drawings from my sister, and all the lovely wrapping completes the picture. Happy me! (And apparently there's a little bit more waiting to be a welcome home present when I get back to Charlotte in January.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Isaiah 9

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

a Christmas treatsie

As post modern Christians we have a lot of discussions about how to engage with our culture. I think one of the prime examples of how to do this successfully is found in our modern-day holidays. Especially Christmas. The ancient church usually gets a really bad rap for incorporating pagan festivals into the Christianity that they preached. It’s all too easy to pull up fundamentalist rants about how Christmas trees are pagan objects and how, by bringing them into our homes, we are worshipping nature and not Jesus. But lets have a closer look at this…

Festivals of light are celebrated in various cultures all around the world, especially in Europe. The theme of rebirth is one that seems to run throughout these Midwinter celebrations. We are reminded at the darkest and coldest time of the year that light and warmth will return. The days have reached their shortest and now begin to grow long again. The phrase used in Finland to recognize this is “talven selka taittuu,” meaning, “the back of winter is broken.” I can’t really think of a better way to engage with that aspect of ancient culture than to proclaim to them that,

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” ~Isaiah 9:2

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” ~ Jesus in John 12:46

I feel that feasts and festivals, holy days (the original form of holiday), are a very important part of life. The Lord instituted a number of days of remembrance and days of celebration for ancient Israel. It is only natural, and I think right, that as Christianity grew and spread we gained our own. If, as a part of the gospel spreading to new peoples and cultures, their native celebrations were adapted to reflect the truth of Christ, I see no difference between that and what modern missionaries do when they look for a “hook” in an un-reached people group’s culture which allows in roads for the gospel.

I am an unabashed and unashamed fan of Christmas. I believe in celebrating the moment when the Peace of God broke into our human violence. When his Joy broke into our despair. When his Love conquered our hate. When his Light shattered our darkness.

And so, may your days all be merry… and may they be bright,

With the Christ who's in Christmas as your guiding light.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

a happy day!

My sister Emily and her boyfriend Calvin got engaged yesterday!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

i know everyone has been posting this recently...


But it looks amazing!

i never really thought it was such a bad little tree

Straw ornaments from Ikea: 2.50
Christmas tree, lights, and pine cones: found around the house
Tree Skirt: re-purposed pillow cases
A pretty little Christmas Tree: priceless

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"On Quiso, the Tuginda used to teach us that real and actual trust in God was the whole life of a priestess. 'God can afford to wait,' she used to say. 'Whether to convert the unbelieving, to reward the just or to punish the wicked - God can afford to wait. With Him, everything comes home in the end. Our work is not only to believe that, but to show that we believe it by everything that we say and do.'"

- Richard Adams in "Shardik"

the first gift of christmas

Today I received my first gift this Christmas.
A beautiful locket with an excerpt from the poem "Footprints" on the back.

It's a rather poignant gift, although I'm not sure the giver knows how poignant.

I have been wrestling with issues of trust lately. Things haven't played out as I hoped they would during my time here and so I've been a bit disheartened the last few weeks. To combat this I have been reminding myself of the promises the Lord has made me and reminding him of them as well.

During our gathering on Sunday evening we talked about God as Father. We took time to lay our burdens and cares at his feet, reiterating our faith that he is big enough to carry them. As we did this and as we watched Rob Bell's video Rain I was actually thinking about the poem Footprints. It's a classic Christian, slightly cheesy poem. But it conveys a brilliant and life changing truth. We don't always understand the way the Father is at work in our lives. We don't always understand why things don't work out the way we want them to. But we can rest assured that he is at work and that he is working out (and redeeming if necessary) all things for our good.

So a very big Thank You to Jim and Eileen for this meaningful and beautiful Christmas gift.

psalm 25

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

We must not portray you in king's robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.

Once again from the old paintboxes
we take the same gold for scepter and crown
that has disguised you through the ages.

Piously we produce our images of you
till they stand around you like a thousand walls.
And when our hearts would simply open,
our fervent hands hide you.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

spiritual econometrics

Go HERE to watch some life changing teaching from my little sister.