Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Brain Overload

My husband and I are currently in training for new jobs which we will soon start. The training is intense, with many seminars and sessions each day as well as reading assignments and all sorts of self-assessments to do in the evenings. I feel as though I'm back in college. There has been no time to read for pleasure (AAAAAARGGHH!!!) or for blogging. On the positive side, my brain feels very active and engaged, as though the cobwebs have been swept back and the gears oiled, revving into high gear. I know I mixed metaphors in that last sentence, by the way. I haven't had to process this much information in this short amount of time since I was 22--and that's a LONG time ago. Although I wish I had more time for writing, I do know that everything we are learning is necessary and valuable, even if we are overwhelmed with our own ignorance.

Pray for us.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Lake

Nearly fifty years ago my husband's grandfather, Harold Woodard, bought a property on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. It's about halfway up the lake, just north of Lodi Point State Park. There is a comfortable two-story cabin, a dock with a boat hoist, and an incredible view up the lake toward Geneva, NY. On the far south end of the lake lies Watkins Glen, which I posted about yesterday. The lake at this spot is about two miles across, and it is 40 miles long from north to south.

What makes this spot my favorite place on earth is hard to put succinctly into words. There is no telephone here, no television, and only this year is there internet access. What there IS here is total relaxation. A day at the lake proceeds like so: get up whenever you wake up; eat breakfast; read, swim, play games, talk, exercise, go for a stroll; sit on the dock until you are too hot to stand it, then jump in the cold lake until you are shivering and your lips turn blue, then get back out on the dock; eat lunch; repeat the morning acitivities in the afternoon; eat supper; have a campfire; make s'mores; go to bed. On rainy/windy/cold days there are plenty of places to visit in the area, so there is always something to do. It is a routine which fosters family togetherness while still affording each individual plenty of choices for activities. It offers plenty of time to catch up on books that have gone unread, personal devotions, conversations that need to take place, and spending time with family.

I have been coming to the lake for seventeen years now, since the summer I met my husband. He's been coming almost every year since he was born. We spent our honeymoon here. We look forward the rest of the year to our week at the lake. The cabins on either side are family-owned also, so the adults there are my in-laws' age, and their children are now adults like we are, who are now having the next generation. Everybody knows each other fairly well from summer after summer of close proximity. My children have grown up knowing this as their best vacation spot. The love swimming, playing on the shore, and going "tubing" behind the boat. When they are older they'll learn to water-ski like my husband. (My one attempt to learn resulted in a popped blood vessel in one of my eyes, so I've learned to enjoy riding in the boat or being the one staying on the dock to help.)

The physical beauty of this place also factors in to it being my favorite place. The pale, clear light at dawn, the deep crimson of sunset, and the expanse of sky to the west are simply reminders of God's greatness. And the lake: clear and still, or softly wavy with a South wind, or pounding in on the dock and shore from a North wind,--no matter how it's behaving it is beautiful. The sound of the waves at night is anesthetic. Then there is the pleasure of sitting by a fire on a cold, clear night, watching the other fires spring up around the lake, leaning back to gaze up at the stars and identify the constellations.

Now, some people may think that I like it here because when I'm here I am away from other obligations--homeschooling, running a household, church responsibilities, etc. Well, I'm sure that's part of it. Surely a vacation spot is treasured primarily because it's just that--a vacation spot. But even here I must help with the cooking, cleaning, laundry, discipline, and other main responsiblities which I face daily no matter where I am. No, I just think that the combined factors of real relaxation, being with my husband and children, and the beauty that God created bring about a sense of peace for me when I'm here that I haven't found elsewhere. The Lord has blessed our family with being able to come here. I praise Him for it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Watkins Glen

Today our family walked up Watkins Glen. This river-eroded narrow canyon is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. It ascends 530 feet in a mile and a half of trail that rises from the street level in the town to the top of the bluff overlooking Seneca Lake. There are multiple waterfalls, pools, rock walls, ledges, and steps. It is quite the work-out to climb! What kept overwhelming me was the sheer beauty of God's creation. What is interesting is that in a set of old post-cards that are here in the cabin, from 1919, this is what it says,"...beautiful scenes of breath-taking beauty which must be seen to be appreciated. They are never-to-be-forgotten scenes, and one cannot but be filled with awe and wonder at the magnitude of the handiwork of the Creator." In contrast, all of the signs and educational materials about the Glen today refer to it as the work of Nature; millions of years of evolution of the planet. There is no mention of God--far from it. It is just seen as an accident, a freak result of geologic forces. What does God's Word say about this?
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:18-21 NKJV

It's amazing to me that people can see such incredible rock formations and NOT believe in God.

Recent Readings

While at my parents' house recently, I read two different books--VERY different books. Now, I didn't take notes on them, and I wish I had. Trying to write about them in retrospect is difficult. One, Civil War Poetry, was a basic anthology of just what the title says--poems about the Civil War (the War Between the States, or as it's sometimes called in rural Georgia, The War of Northern Agression :) ) Standouts include Julia Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic and Walt Whitman's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd among others. I read the whole book expecting to be moved and touched, especially after our trip to Gettysburg, but, maybe because I had many distractions (3 whose names come easily to mind) during the reading, I wasn't too impressed overall.

The other book I read (actually re-read) was C.S. Lewis' God in the Dock. I was impressed again by his quickness of mind, agility with words, and prowess with the pen. His facile construction of an argument and clear explanation of logic is truly amazing. This series of essays, transcripts of speeches, and short articles is worth the read. However--a few disclaimers lest I be accused of being an ignorant Lewis-worshipper. C.S. Lewis could not bring himself to say that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. He explicitly states that he cannot discount God choosing to save people by other means. (He's not referring to Old Testament times.) I had read this book back in college and didn't remember exactly what he wrote, but upon reading The Last Battle again as an adult, I began to wonder about his view of salvation. He has a character in The Last Battle who is a young Calormene who has served Tash the false god his entire life. Aslan tells this young man that whatever he did for Tash that was good, was credited to him for Aslan. Basically this sounds like universalism to me. Would Lewis have said that if someone did good things for the sake of Buddha (which lots of nice peaceful Buddhists do, by the way) that these things are credited to them as having been done for Christ?

Also, Lewis held to the Anglican belief that the Eucharist is necessary for salvation. This is an un-Biblical stand.

On a positive note, Lewis writes arguments which absolutely refute evolution, self-centered Christianity, and materialism. His sense of humor was dry and yet a tad sarcastic. For example, he asks why he should ever listen to someone who believes everything is here by accident. He says that since evolutionists believe they are an accident of nature, then anything they say is also an accident of nature, and therefore not provable. Very well-said.

Now, it is not up to me to determine if C.S. Lewis was saved or not. (Thank God.) But what can I learn from this? Do I hold any beliefs or cling to any practices which are un-Biblical? How can I determine this? It makes me think and pray and strive to align myself so closely with Scripture that the Spirit may show me where I need to change and grow.