I have realized that with all of my ramblings of things inside my head, family news has gone by the wayside. So here it goes, a sort of belated Christmas newsletter.
James' first term working at his Masters went well. For the most part, he has thoroughly enjoyed his reunion with the scholastic environment. There have of course, also been refreshers of certain aspects of school that we'd happily forgotten. An exciting possibility on the horizon is that James' project for his thesis is located in Bali, Indonesia and it looks like he'll have to spent a good portion of the summer there. Of course, I wouldn't find this very exciting if there were not the distinct possibility that all four of us can go. We should be hearing back about funding for this in the near future. So here is a new prayer request... pray that we can all go to Bali as a family!
As many of you know, James is also an extremely dedicated creative writer. He has seen a lot of his work get published in this last year and was also recently nominated for the Push Cart prize. These are all short stories, but he is also working on a novel or two (which I look forward to seeing in print!).
As for myself, shortly after writing that last blog post, I was given special permission to register late at the University and I am enrolled in a Chemistry course and lab starting in January. I admit to being a nerd in that I LOVE chemistry and that I am looking forward to a happy reunion with it. Like I said last time, I'll slowly peck away at the courses that I need, and refresh the other ones that I have forgotten. When that is done (probably one year), we can reassess the situation, see how things are going, and first and foremost, wait for God's direction.
I am also working on a Music Theory course, mostly independent. I plan to write the exam that I should have written 10 years ago and then I will be registered to teach. So I have spending hours refreshing things that I have not thought about it those 10 years. In the process, I have decided that music is an archaic language (rather like Latin) that has somehow managed to maintain its form over the years and not be changed into something that is more logical that makes more sense. Don't get me wrong, I do love it. But lets face it, the way to write and play music was developed way back around the Renaissance, not the most "efficient" time (just how many clefs and scale types can you have anyway?).
Anyway, all that to say that I think music theory is overly complicated and would probably be much easier if it had been developed today. Then again, that being said, I suppose the same could be said of most languages. Chinese and English in particular (very inefficient!). And if I am not careful I will make myself sound like modern snob who would happily do away with old and beautiful things for the purpose of efficiency and speed... definitely not me.
Ari and Jude continue to develop and amaze us. Ari's new thing is to stump me with very hard questions. Its not that I don't know the answers, its just that I don't know how to explain them to a 5 year old. The problem is that my instinct is to try and explain the science behind something. But I suppose that there is a reason that they don't teach science in Kindergarten! (a conclusion I came to when I found myself trying to show Ari with my hands how techtonic plates work).
So I have to find a balance. To the question, "Where do babies come from", I am not content to say "Because when a Mama and a Papa love each other very much..." etc, etc, etc. But I don't believe in telling him too many details at such a young age either. So I have settled for telling him about cells and how they work and how they grow and multiply and become different parts of the baby. I think this gives me a number of bonuses. 1) He thinks it is interesting. 2) It is the truth. 3) It skips the part that he is too young to understand and would probably turn into inappropriate jokes and lots of giggling (he is at the stage now where he thinks that certain body parts are VERY funny - what can you do?).
However, I realized on one occasion that I probably need to be either more clear or less detailed when explaining things of a scientific nature. Ari spent one morning blasting me with question after question and (to his credit) listening very carefully to my responses and asking intelligent questions in return. As such I thought that he was able to follow most of what I was saying. Interestingly enough, the discussion started off with him asking me about my tumor (how it got there, how it grows, why it makes me sick etc.). He already knows about cells, so I explained to him about "good" cells and "bad" cells. After exhausting this subject, he then started asking questions about babies, and again we talked about cells.
In the end of the discussion, he looked at me all confused and said, "So babies need tumors to help them grow?" I knew then that somewhere along the way I had messed up badly. But seriously, what else are you supposed to do when you are bombarded with hard questions and you don't want to brush them aside? I could say, "It just IS", or "you'll understand when you are older" over and over again, but I know Ari well enough to know that this would not satisfy him. Then he would just pester me until I got angry with him (also a bad option).
Jude is also showing remarkable perception. A number of times, I have watched a movie with him that he had never seen, and he was able to accurately predict what would happen in the movie before it happened. He doesn't watch that many movies, so this is not an indicator of his familiarity with filmography. Somehow at his young age he is just able to read events. He also has an adorable lisp with his missing tooth and listening to him talk is very funny sometimes. Some of this more memorable sentences in the last while... "Mommy I am a football team", or "Ari if you have a bad dream you should just think about biting a giant frog".
And now for one final reflection before signing off. This Christmas was a little chaotic in the realm of health. We've had a bad flu/cold go around all the members of our household, and this has coincided with a severe drop in my White Blood Cell count. I, of course, caught the illness (and more) which made for a very stuffy headed, bile-taste-in-mouth, and hungry Christmas. What got me through it without being cranky was a wonderful thought that I had one week ago.
I was sitting and daydreaming a little, thinking about what my life would be like if God healed me. As I thought about it, I suddenly became a little panicked when it occurred to me that I would have no idea what to do with that experience. If God were to give me such an amazing gift, what would I do with it? Would I be able to glorify him the way that he would deserve? But quick on the heels of that thought was this one. "Would God be more deserving of glory if he healed me than he already is now?"
Joy and relief flooded me when I realized that whether or not I am healed, God is deserving of glory. Hand in hand with that is that God WILL be glorified... whether or not I choose to give him glory. God's holiness and his glory is not dependent on my circumstances. That makes me feel two things. 1) Relief - thank goodness it doesn't depend on me, and 2) Jealousy - its kind of like being told that an awesome party is going to be held and you are invited to join, but that if you decide not to come it is going to be an awesome party.
I WANT to be there. I WANT to sing God's praises, not just because of all that he has done in my life, but because I want to be part of the chorus that sings his praises. I loved knowing that this Christmas. That whether or not I feel "Christmasy" (what is that anyway?) and whether or not it is even Christmas, Jesus IS glorified.
In closing I wanted to send out a thank you to a number of people who sent little gifts either for us or for the boys. Whatever the gifts were, it is the thoughts that count the most. I am thinking particularly of a woman in Winnipeg who I've never met and didn't even know my name that sent me a scarf in the mail and a beautiful encouraging letter. You know who you are! I was very touched. Thank you very much, and yes, the "reindeer" made it through the postal system in one piece!