We had a really nice Easter weekend. While holidays are simpler here, they are fun. You can sort of do what you want without feeling pressure to match the level of festivities of those around you. I enjoy holidays but am definitely more simple in my approach to them. Less is more. With the exception of food. I’m always up for more food.
We teamed up with Halle’s classmates from Australia for an egg/candy hunt. I brought our real, dyed eggs along with lollipops, gummy bears and chocolate candy. The eggs got all slimy from moisture on the ground and ended up in the trash can at the mall afterwards instead of my planned egg salad. Oh well. Our friends have a playground on the roof of their building so we hid the goods all around that area. They also got to wear “treasure finders” beforehand.
As you can probably imagine, Lacey cared not one bit about any of it. I tried to get her to pick up some eggs, but all she wanted to do was pour water from a giant bottle into cups and make a huge mess. She kept throwing her basket down and running after the water :).
This was the best I could get on Sunday morning pictures!
Obligatory pic with mom.
Our family picture! I already posted this on Facebook but it’s worth sharing again because we’re all looking at the camera!
After church we had lunch with some of our other friends. They made delicious taco salad. Honey-baked hams aren’t exactly rolling in abundance here so we felt taco salad was a nice substitute for the traditional fare.
In the midst of all the candy and fun I tried numerous times to talk about the Easter story with Halle. She’s really into Jonah and the big fish at the moment so it was hard to get away from that, but she did seem to get the gist of it. Kids are so funny with what they are fixated on. I have to hand it to her, she is nothing if not honest when it comes to all matters spiritual. She says what she thinks and doesn’t aim to please, and that will only serve her well as she grows older and seeks understanding of the deep and hard things of life. Last night I was tucking her in bed and started singing “Praise Him, Praise Him,” and she held up her hand and said, “Stop, Mommy. Go praise God in your room. I want to sleep.”
Now here is where a more theologically savvy parent would say, “Now, Halle, if we don’t praise Him then the rocks will cry out.” But I was slightly shocked (and amused) and just did what she said–left and finished the song in my own room! This one is going to be the kid who is asking questions about whether Adam and Eve had belly buttons :).
As for other things, Halle had her final swim lesson. We are sad to see them come to an end. She actually almost went all the way underwater, which is a huge deal for her. And the kids had a special popcorn snack afterwards!
Since March is coming to a close, here are my March reads! There might be something for the book nerd out there so here are my thoughts along with some of my favorite quotes.
History was my favorite subject in school and still a huge interest of mine. I read several history books a year, and Jared likes to joke that I belong in a book club with men in their sixties. It might be true–sometimes I do pass along recommendations to my friends’ dads and even my own father-in-law. But you need not be a man nearing retirement to appreciate history. If anything reading about the past can provide a healthy dose of perspective and make you realize that worse things have happened in the world than either the Don or the Hil becoming president (not that I’m commenting either way because I do NOT write about politics on here…haha).
Anyway, this book is the story of the American West conquest. It covers everything from the Mexican War to the clashes between American settlers and Native American tribes to major explorations to the Civil War. Quite a bit of stuff. At the center is the legendary mountain man, Kit Carson. His story is intertwined with all kinds of tales from other major players during that time period. The book frequently jumps from different perspectives: Carson, Fremont, Washington people, major generals, Navajo, etc. This is a sensitive time in history, but I found it to be a pretty objective telling of the period. The atrocities of all sides are shown, but as I’m not an expert I don’t know if they are shown fairly. The author does seem somewhat favorable to Carson, making him look better than he should have when it came to his role in certain conflicts with Native Americans (this is according to some reviews I read–I don’t know enough to make an informed opinion). This book is long and parts of it are action packed while other parts drag a bit. I liked it but didn’t love it. Still a great read if you are interested in this sad, troubling, yet formative part of U.S history. If nothing else, it is really fascinating to read about what it was like to be either a settler or an explorer during that time.
Washington’s first war of foreign intervention had cost the lives of more than 13,000 Americans–the highest death rate per fighting soldier in U.S. military history–with the Mexican toll soaring far higher, perhaps as high as 25,000 dead. The victory did not come without stout reservations and pangs of somber introspection among many American leaders who could not ignore the war’s darker imperial shadings. Ulysses S. Grant, to name on prominent doubter who actually fought in the conflict, would call the Mexican War “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” Even Sen. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, who at first so staunchly supported the war (as a way to extend slavery), began to have his doubts. He told the Senate: “A deed has been done from which the country will not be able to recover for a long time, if ever; it has dropped a curtain between the present and the future, which to me is impenetrable.”
Barboncito then explained to Sherman his aversion to the prospect of moving to a new reservation in Oklahoma, an idea that the government authorities had lately been floating among the Navajos. “Our grandfathers had no idea of living in any other country except our own, and I do not think it is right for us to do so. Before I am sick or older I want to go and see the place where I was born. I hope to God you will not ask me to go to any other country except my own. This hope goes in at my feet and out at my mouth as I am speaking to you.”
Jerry Bridges recently passed away. His books have been a great source of encouragement for numerous Christians, and this one is probably his most famous. This was actually a re-read for me, but the theme is relevant to some part of my life at the moment and I knew I would benefit from digging into it again. I was right. The book is basically the result of a long Bible study Bridges did on trusting God based off of three of His attributes: sovereignty, wisdom, and love. The doctrine of sovereignty is especially challenging, but I will say this is the one characteristic of God that always brings me the most peace. The book covers all kinds of situations from natural disasters to governments and politics to sickness and physical disability–showing from a biblical perspective how God can be trusted through all these things. It is a book every Christian should read. It would also help anyone who wants a better understanding of the age-old question, “How can a good God allow so much suffering?” (from a Christian perspective, of course, as other faiths have their own views on this topic).
Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelms us.
While it is certainly true that God’s love for us does not protect us from pain and sorrow, it is also true that all occasions of pain and sorrow are under the absolute control of God. If God controls the circumstances of the sparrow, how much more does He control the circumstances that affect us? God does not walk away and leave us to the mercy of uncontrolled random or chance events.
The eternal God who is infinite in His wisdom and perfect in His love personally made you and me. He gave you the body, the mental abilities, and the basic personality you have because that is the way He wanted you to be. And He wanted you to be just that way because He loves you and wants to glorify Himself through you.
I’ve been wanting to get into this series for awhile and I finally read the first book! Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series is said by some to be the greatest historical novels of all time, which is right up my alley. They tell the story of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, a member of the British Royal Navy and a doctor, who become friends and have many adventures during the early 19th century (the time of the Napoleonic Wars). The first book kicks off with the unlikely pair meeting during a concert. Later, Jack finds out he’s been given command of a brig and he invites Stephen to be the ship’s surgeon. The book starts a bit slow. The author writes in the style of the period despite the fact that this book was published in 1969, he’s just cool like that. The writing is really good, the characters memorable, and the book is actually quite funny, but it took me awhile to get into it. There is a lot of terminology I didn’t understand, but towards the end it sort of came together and I enjoyed the action scenes of the ship battles. While I’m still kind of in the dark about all the naval stuff, I was at least able to explain to Jared the difference between a commander and a lieutenant while we were watching a show with ships from this time period (unrelated to this particular story). I figure by the time I’m half way though the series I will be able to sail a 19th century British man-of-war by myself, which is a noble skill we should all aspire to. Ha! This was a fun read, but it takes some work and patience that will reward you if you stick with it. I can’t wait to read the next book!
“My dear creature, I have done with all debate. But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either MY COUNTRY, RIGHT OR WRONG, which is infamous, or MY COUNTRY IS ALWAYS RIGHT, which is imbecile.”
“The pleasant thing about fighting with the Spaniards, Mr Ellis,’ said Jack, smiling at his great round eyes and solemn face, ‘is not that they are shy, for they are not, but that they are never, never ready.”
Stephen could remember an evening when he had sat there in the warm, deepening twilight, watching the sea; it had barely a ruffle on its surface, and yet the Sophie picked up enough moving air with her topgallants to draw a long straight whispering furrow across the water, a line brilliant with unearthly phosphorescence , visible for a quarter of a mile behind her. Days and nights of unbelievable purity. Nights when the steady Ionian breeze rounded the square mainsail–not a brace to be touched, watch relieving watch–and he and Jack on deck, sawing away, sawing away, lost in their music, until the falling dew untuned their strings. And days when the perfection of dawn was so great, the emptiness so entire, that men were almost afraid to speak.
My final read of the month! I’m not a big fan of memoirs, but this was on sale for .99 so I snatched it up. It’s still on sale for kindle, fyi. This is the story of a Canadian intellectual and skeptic who discovered Christianity while doing her graduate work at Oxford. It appears to be lightly modeled after C.S. Lewis’ spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy. Despite this not being my favorite genre, I enjoyed this book a lot. The writing is brilliant in its description of Oxford and the author does a great job describing her inner wrestling with questions of life, faith, and doubt. Since she’s a literature student, she weaves lots of poetry and great literary quotes into her story, which is also a pleasure to read. My only complaint is that the actual dialogue and cast of supporting characters (mostly her friends and professors at Oxford) are a bit too good to be true. I have no doubts that Oxford folks are brilliant but sometimes reading about her exchanges with her peers felt like watching an episode of Dawson’s Creek. Everyone had the perfect, witty, equally deep yet equally vague and metaphorical response to everything she asked. It was a bit much, but that is forgivable because the rest of the writing is so good. I also appreciated how she described the painful cost of adopting the Christian faith, mainly how it alienated her from certain relationships and family members who did not understand what she was going through. This is a great read if you enjoy this kind of book! I especially recommend it if you’re an academic type as you will love the descriptions of life at Oxford, but you don’t have to be. I’m not and I like it!.
The morning after I heard the gospel, however, I woke up with what felt like a hangover. Little would I know it was of the spiritual kind that accompanies the inevitable dawn of realization that life is not perhaps, what we previously thought it was. And we cannot go back to pretending. What a headache to be caught in that liminal space! Literally.
We can lean into the human fear, acknowledge it, and move through it to the larger vision, or we can remain crumpled by it, crumble to it. I had been more sharp than rough, I would say, around the edges. And yet, through His grace, here I towered, all the height with none of the vertigo, a sparkling diamond in this everlasting crown placed so that I could appreciate other diamonds. Admiring the works of His hands.
So there you go, April is around the corner, time for spring! I feel it here as the rainy season is ending and so much change is coming. Hope everyone enjoys some fantastic spring reading, outdoor walks, and allergy relief!
Btw…sorry about the formatting issues with some of my quotes. I’ve tried to fix it but can’t get it to work. They are not one excerpt, but each paragraph is an individual quote.