Though all love originates in God and is for that reason God's own love, yet we are permitted to catch and reflect back that love in such manner that it becomes our love indeed, in much the same way that sunlight reflected from the moon becomes moonlight. - A.W. Tozer

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Hands of Jesus - But Ladylike

These hands belong to some of the most amazing women (and one baby boy) on the planet, and the secret is that they're just women. Just moms. Just wives. Just people. They don't pretend to be Superwomen. They would never tell you that they have it all figured out, and everything is easy. But they are amazing, nonetheless.

These are the hands of some of the precious ladies in our homeschool community here in Nevada. Every month we meet together to laugh and cry, to rejoice, pray, and sympathize with each other. We plan field trips together, we share our new curriculum finds, and we ask each other questions about anything and everything.

I wish everyone had a group of people like this that they could turn to for advice and compassion. If we all did, life might not get so overwhelming. This is what communities should be, and used to be at certain places in the space-time continuum. Some of these mothers have 9, 10, or 11 children of their own, some of them have only one or two. They have had vastly different experiences in their lives, yet all come together without judgement or criticism to lift each other up.

The hands in these pictures have hugged, cooked and cleaned, wiped tears, written poetry, bandaged wounds, carried everything under the sun, and even delivered babies. They can accomplish anything, and they made me believe that I could too. There is no job too big for these hands, because each and every one of them is held firmly in the grip of their Savior. There isn't a women in the group who wouldn't tell you that she survives each day because she has a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

I will miss these women and all the support they represent. I will miss their encouragement and laughter, and I will miss them when I am afraid, and want to cry on the shoulder of someone else who knows exactly what I'm talking about. They have made me a stronger and more confident mother, and they have taught me more than I could have imagined.

I love you, ladies. You took me in and made me a member of your families in the space of one meeting, and three years later you are still just as wonderful as you were the first time we said, "Hello."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Preliminary Goodbyes

We are still in Missouri, but have already had our big farewell at church. We'll still be attending for these last few weeks, but we've officially handed off our Sunday responsibilities as it is getting more and more difficult to find things on Sunday morning amidst all the boxes and detritus of relocation.

Our farewell service/dinner was a lovely day, and everyone was very kind. We were able to tell the congregation what we'll be doing in the coming months (years?) and why. As always, they were very accepting. My children's church kids gave me flowers and cookies (The cookies may have all been eaten already. No admissions.)Then the church listened to our rambling, sang with us, prayed with us, and ate with us, because food seems to be a natural follow-up to emotional expenditure.

We had a baptism after the service, and it was a perfect picture of our little country church. We all gathered at the Pyle home, where there was a huge green field and a lovely pond, perfect for new life. Our pastor, who is game for anything, waded out into the fish pond, braving the nips of its hungry denizens. He lost a shoe to the cause, but there was no regret in his smile. Anything is worth the knowledge that two more people have decided to tell the world what they believe, and why.

Deerfield Baptist Church was one of the nicest things about living here these last three years. They accepted us into the fold at once, and we knew that we were at home with them. They treated us like family, and we did our best to return their kindness when we had the opportunity.  Of course, some jobs were easier than others.

Teaching children's church was not such a stretch, because I've taught young children since I was myself a child, but being the second-string piano player for this last year has been a challenge I did not know I would be facing. I've enjoyed it very much, although I can't speak for the poor, long-suffering parishoners who had to listen to me stumbling my way through the chords for all the songs I could find in the three keys with which I am familiar.

So many people - friends, neighbors, work colleagues, church family - have blessed our lives these past three years. If I could find a way to honor all of them, I would. As it is, I can only use my words. Thank you, thank you, for all your love and for who you are. God sees your love for others, and others see God's love through you. May you be blessed in the same measure that you have blessed our family.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Boxes of Memories

This weekend was our last big garage sale. It was exhausting, but definitely necessary, and really quite a bit of fun. Set up was tiring, and the pessimist in me always fears that nothing will sell and I'll have to find something to do with all these things I've dragged out of the house and organized. But by Saturday afternoon, we were down to only a few boxes full of rejects, which I'm choosing to call a great success.

Aaron started the weekend with five tables full of tools and other manly odds and ends. We attracted quite a few men, and it was fun to watch them all bargain over things I couldn't explain to you if you paid me. I'm so glad he was home for the sale this time, because I wouldn't have had the slightest clue about ratchets, wrenches, and drills.

We only have one major regret from the experience. We decided to sell Aaron's classical guitar, since the neck is too wide for comfortable chording, and Spanish guitar proficiency is probably not in his future. It was difficult to part with, since it was my wedding gift to him a mere fourteen years ago, but we decided that a musician who would love and care for it was better than letting it languish at home. However, the guitar was purchased by a grandfather (for his grandson, maybe 10 or 11 years old), who handed the guitar over to the child to carry as he walked down the street on his way to more sales. Watching that guitar walk off into the distance in the hands of someone who will probably break it within the next week was heartbreaking.

That being said, though, we felt great about getting rid of so many things that had just built up over time. Some of them were used and then no longer needed, others were purchased because we were just sure they were exactly what we needed, only to discover we were mistaken and overly optimistic about our own industry and creativity. Many of the things were actually used constantly, and loved very much, but just too big/awkward/heavy to put into an RV.

Now it's time to take our sad little leftovers to the thrift store, where they will find loving homes soon, I hope. The books will go to the homeschool library for our friends and future Nevada homeschoolers to use. Several of the items will go to specific friends or family members. (Apparently Nevadans aren't interested in cookbooks about Sushi, Artisan Bread, or Sriracha, for example, but I'm sure we can find someone who would like those.)

This means we're one step closer to launch day, which is still unspecified at this point, but needs to be sometime in the next three or four weeks. It's a bittersweet feeling.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

That Time of Year

Even if I didn't have a calender, I'd know that it was a special time of year for our family, because these crazy pink flowers are blooming again. I've heard them called "resurrection lilies," "surprise lilies," and "naked lady lilies." I haven't decided which name is the most official. Everyone has their favorite. Whatever they're called, quite a few of them decorated my wedding cake, and that's what I'll always think about when I see them.

Fourteen years ago today, Aaron and I were married in our church in western Oklahoma. We honeymooned at a nearby lake where a friend let us stay in their little cabin, because as 19 and 20 year old college students, our funds were limited. Very limited. We purchased a 1969 mobile home in Stillwater, and lived in that little trailer for the next three years while we finished school.

Our lives went, more or less, according to our plans at the time. Finish college- get jobs- have kids- live in a bigger house. (Did I mention it was a trailer from the sixties? It really was all that you might imagine from those words.) Little by little, as we went on through our days, weeks, years - our plans changed. Now we find ourselves on the brink of living in something that is even smaller than our first home. It's much smaller, actually.

I wouldn't have believed you if you'd told me about this crazy scheme on a sunny day fourteen years ago, as we ran around the church making sure everything was ready for the afternoon's ceremony. There were relatives to visit, cakes to frost, punch to thaw, lights to check, flowers to pin, friends to hug...So possibly, I wouldn't have even heard you.

But I'd like to think that even then I would've told you exactly what I say now. Aaron is one of the most wonderful men on the planet, and I trust him as much as any human being can reasonably expect to trust any other human being. If he is with me, I'm not worried, period, no matter what we face in the future.

More importantly, I believe that getting out there and doing whatever God sets in front of us to do will be the most rewarding experience we've ever had (you know, bar the birth and raising of our children). No matter what the future holds (and I'm an imaginative pessimist, so if you're worried about it, I probably am too) I will be holding onto the hands of my Savior and my husband. Together we'll figure it out.