State of the Household, October 2016

You don’t really know who you are until you know where you are in a physical sense.

– N. Scott Momaday

We are now less than seven days away from our move to Vermont. I recently ordered studded snow tires, a cord of dry wood, and called the local internet company to get us set up so I can work from home.

We are all excited, though sad to leave family and friends. Sad to leave what is familiar. But thankful it is within driving distance.

Although, when I mentioned our pending move to Talia the other day, in one of her weaker moments, she said, “I don’t want a-go a-Mont!” I think she just didn’t want to travel in the car for six hours at that particular moment.

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I’ve recently been writing a good deal about wrestling through faith, beliefs, doubts and all the logical (and illogical) questions that flow from such ideas. I do it so as not to think in isolation. But I’ve been realizing, even though such thoughts might provoke good discussions one-on-one, these thoughts are also probably better expressed one-on-one. Because they are not the finished, formalized thoughts of one who has wrestled and come out on the other side with depth and joy to share with others.

I’ve also been realizing that I often write as a way to communicate what bothers me, rather than goodness, truth and beauty. And I don’t want to be known for what bothers me, but rather, for my love. Love for God and love for others.

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My twelve-week, twelve-dollar subscription to the Wall Street Journal recently ended. I am grateful to the Journal for this trial, and for extending it a week beyond expected.

I decided to not continue the subscription, but to give The New York Times a try. I was turned off a little by the Wall Street Journal, I must confess, not because of the content, but because of the advertising. It seemed very targeted towards people who are extremely wealthy. And maybe that made me feel a little hoity-toity. I’ve only been receiving the Times for a few days now. Less hoity-toity, perhaps, but more biased politically it seems.

The Economist also has a twelve-week, twelve-dollar special running, so I signed up for that, too. I just got my first issue yesterday. It’s okay so far. I mean, good, informative, well-written content, but I think I’m looking more for publications that inspire, nurture and provoke joyful creativity. There’s enough free news out there. And news, while necessary, can be a little discouraging if it becomes too consuming.

So we’ll see. We are receiving Taproot, too. A Vermont based publication, which publishes more creative content and stories, written by everyday folks like you and me.

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We recently started reading Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series to our children. I thought they might be too scared of the witch, but when I last asked Emeth, “Do you want me to stop reading?” he said, “She is a little scary, but I want you to keep going.”

We just finished The Magician’s Nephew, and are now entering The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Every time I read it, I think, “What a genius Lewis is.” It’s so incredibly well written. So joyful to read aloud. I’m amazed he could write so engagingly for both children and adults. It’s an evening tradition we all look forward to.

Thankfully last night Talia fell asleep before 7 PM, which is amazing. Normally she’ll conk out in the middle of day. Maybe. Then be up till after Rache and I lay down. What I mean is that after we turn the salt lamps off and say our good-nights, and finish our thousand other evening routines and rituals, Talia will get up several minutes later, sneak over to our bedroom and try to get in one last snuggle.

Last night she got up at midnight and snuck between us. I don’t mind too much. Our little ‘cutie cat,’ as Annie says. I thought it was 4 AM, so I was going to let it ride. Though after being kicked awake several times, and realizing it was indeed not 4 AM, I took her back to bed.

*      *      *

Some of the other content I’ve been enjoying is John Robinson’s Honest to God, and several of Richard Rohr’s Lectures downloaded from Audible. Sermon on the Mount, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of St. Francis, and Great Themes of Paul. He communicates ideas which are new to me, but also very orthodox in many ways. More orthodox than the kings of orthodoxy themselves, Luther and Calvin. Though, I suppose, it depends on who you ask.

Generally speaking, I find it helpful to listen to and read counter-cultural voices, and to ask myself as honestly as I can, “Is there anything good in what he or she is saying?” And if there is, if there is Truth, to embrace it and let it nourish my faith. To trust that the truth will set me free.

I see it as an opportunity to embrace those who are different than me. And that’s something I always need practice in.

*      *      *

Yesterday we disassembled the playhouse and spent some good, quality time with Grandma, Aunt Becca, Uncle Dave, Aunt Krista and the the cousins.

Roof off. Kids trying to help.
Giving the bricks back to their proper owner.
With Matthew and Aunt Becca.

My mom was a whirlwind on Friday, packing up several boxes of things we don’t need right now. Our plan is to make a packing plan for each day, so that gradually, come Friday when I pick up the moving truck, we’ll be ready to load it.

We’re excited, though realize it will be so different in many ways. Quieter. Darker at night. Less busy. No traffic lights. More snow. Less convenience.

But we are ready for this new season. It’s been so good living here in Jersey. Hard, of course, in many ways. (But life will never be entirely free from pain and difficulty.) Though it is not the hard things that surface when dwelling on the past. In fact, it is the hard things that actually bring sweetness to it. The physical weariness of having four children back to back. Caring for, nurturing and nourishing them. The mental weariness of working in a cubicle for six years. The emotional weariness of depression.

The challenge of working through difficult questions together. Questions of how to raise our family, how to educate our children, how to wisely use our resources of time, energy and money.

But ultimately, there has been a movement towards more and more freedom in Christ. En Christo. Union with Christ. Union and freedom that frees us to want to walk in the Light, and to want to be Light in this world.

Chain saw all tuned up and ready to go. This baby was made in West Germany.
Emeth’s painting from yesterday. From left to right: Goat, Bear, Bat.

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