Monday, June 15, 2009

Camping, Again :)

Some people would say that we are gluttons for punishment. After a busy week of VBS, we loaded up the car for another weekend of camping! We went with our equally adventerous friends who have 2-year-old triplets (after raising 3 babies at once, I imagine camping doesn't even cause them pause). Despite the fact that the weather channel was predicting a warm, sunny weekend up until a few days before, it was actually raining and even thunderstorming most of Saturday morning. Regardless, we really had a good time, and were even grateful for the coolness that came with the rain, as a hot weekend would have been much more uncomfortable than a drizzly one. At one point, just after a burst of thunder and lightening, we all piled into our friends' minivan for about 30 minutes and let the kids watch a video. Other than that, the adults hung out under a huge canopy and the kids ran in and out of the drizzling rain carrying their little buckets, and loving the mix of dirt, rocks and water. When the rain let up, we went swimming at the little camp beach. My favorite part of the weekend was roasting and eating unlimited numbers of marshmellows/smores and talking until late in the night around the campfire. Sleep was sort of the exception, since we all stayed up to almost 1:00 am Friday night and our kids were up with the sun at 5:15. Saturday we were more tired so we crashed before midnight. (Our whole family took naps together after we got home from church on Sunday afternoon.)

I can't put my finger on exactly what I love so much about camping, but there is something special about being so much a part of the outdoors from the time you wake up in the morning until you go to sleep at night. In a weird way, I also love smelling like campfire smoke, having frizzy hair, not wearing make-up and NOT EVEN CARING how bad I look. It is very freeing to let go of the expected effort to be attractive, even just for a couple of days. Even though it is a lot of work getting there and there are moments why we wonder what we were thinking, I'm still sitting here the next day looking over the calendar for when we can go again!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

Many, many times during my life, I have wished that I did not feel things so intensely. But that is how God made me, and unless he chooses to intervene, I imagine I will go to my grave vascillating between the heights and depths of strong emotion. This afternoon, I am grieving for someone that I don't even know. Her story was relayed to me by a close friend. It is not a new or surprising story; in fact it has been told many times before, but that does not diminish its pain for everyone involved. It is the story of a marriage destroyed by one person's belief that happiness is attainable by discarding his original life partner for a new one. My friend described to me the devastation that is occurring in this family, and I have spent some time reflecting on this all-too-common scenario.

I think the root of the problem is the belief that we are entitled to our hearts' desires. Most Christians would agree, at least in an intellectual conversation, that no person should have all or even most of his or her wants fulfilled. But when it comes right down to it, we are in the habit of self-gratification. When we want a new "toy", we scrounge up the money to buy it. Even if it takes a while, we still expect to get it eventually. The culture of our nation boasts that anybody can achieve and attain anything with the right combination of ambition and hard work. The Preamble to our Constitution describes the "pursuit of happiness" as an inalienable right. "You deserve it, so do what it takes to get it," seems to be the status quo.

Back to the family I mentioned in the the midst of this culture of desire/strive/attain, it is no wonder that when confronted with the potency of mutual attraction, many people barely attempt to deny themselves. Even in the church, we lack a healthy dose of "I'm sorry, but no matter how much you want it, this may never be yours." Whether it is the desire for a career, a child, a status, a house, or a relationship, we often view its pursuit as good and respectable. We fail to realize that, sometimes, giving a desire to the Lord and accepting its indefinite unfulfillment is the higher calling.

Since I have been meditating on this weakness in our culture and in my own life, I am convicted of the importance of practicing self-denial as a spiritual discipline. I think restarting an old habit of regular fasting is a good place to start. I also want to amp up my efforts to teach my boys to handle unfulfilled desires on a daily basis. (They give me plenty of opportunity for this since it seems like I listen to a steady stream of requests from dawn to dusk.) I pray that the Lord will teach us all that He is the only one who can truly fulfill the longings of our heart.

Sorry for the sermonette, but every once in a while I cook one up, and since I'm a woman in the Church of Christ, this is my only preaching venue :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Veggie Garden!

I'm so excited to finally have a first since I was a child. (My dad kept a pretty big garden and we ate fresh vegetables for many years when I was growing up.) The fact that we finally have one now is thanks to a friend who gave me a book called Square Foot Gardening. I read it cover-to-cover in a few days, and I couldn't wait to get started. The basic concept is that you plan your garden based on 1-foot-squares rather than the traditional rows, resulting in a much lower-maintenance garden, no wasted space, and just the right amount of harvest for your family. If you have any interest in gardening, but have been held back by space or time concerns, I really recommend this book.

I chose to go with a raised garden box on my deck. The deck gets plenty of sunlight, and there are very few bugs since it is a long way down to the yard and trees below. Also, the kids and I spend at least an hour out there every day, and so it doesn't require any change in our routine to water and maintain the garden.

Saturday was our marathon gardening day. I had already planned the dimensions, materials and location for the garden, so we started the day with a trip to Home Depot to buy the supplies (one of 3 trips that day). I bought the wood and had it cut, and then brought everything home for Marcus to build the box. While the kids napped, we put the 2'x8' box together and up on the posts. Mixing the soil in the raised garden was the most fun, especially because the kids got to participate. We "made" the soil based loosely on the formula in the book (combination of garden soil, peat moss, compost and sand). We opened bag after bag and mixed them together by hand. The kids loved being up to their elbows in dirt, and I have to admit Marcus and I had a lot of fun with it, too! We ended the day with baths and a final trip to Home Depot to buy some transplants (I'd already bought seeds). Sunday afternoon, we planted the garden. Now there is okra, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, cilantro, basil, oregano, and best of all, strawberries, all growing on my deck! I am SO excited, and I will let you all know how the harvest turns out :)