Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ginger-Peach Tea and Chestnuts

I had one of those days... those days when all I want to wear is my comfiest sweatsuit and fuzziest socks, and all I have an appetite for is ramen and tea. Jayne's back from her 2-week pilgrimage, so I'm at her house, listening to Pam's iPod shuffle of Christmas music. Yes, Christmas music... being flooded with nostalgia from the many renditions of "Chestnuts," and lulled into peaceful half-consciousness by "O Come, O Come Emmanual." It's so soothing to my anxious spirit.

I think God's been working really hard on soothing my spirit today, now that I think about it... This morning, Prince Michael ran to me and hugged my legs, so I leaned over and kissed the top of his curly head. His sweet affection is so precious to me, but this time after I kissed him, I realized my lips felt slightly greasy and menthol-ated... cool and refreshing... what did his parents put in his hair?? Whatever it was, I patted his cheek and he rewarded me with the sweetest smile that warmed my heart. A little later, the families went out, and my computer wasn't working, so I leaned back and enjoyed the silence with my book. Then in the afternoon it started to rain, which is very relaxing, too. And then tonight was ramen noodle dinner and two cups of hot ginger peach tea while listening to music in a house that smells like pumpkin spice.

It feels like I've been trying to be anxious and worried about things all day, and God keeps kissing me on the top of my head and saying, "Just relax! I'm in control, and I love you enough to take care of all the details. So let go, let me do my thing, and peace, be still!"

Well it's 9:30pm, and the tea, the music, and the assurances of my Father are finally helping me to do just that... And so I'm offering this simple phrase, to kids from 1 to 92: Peace, be still!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

As "The Little Mermaid" plays for the hundredth time...

Prince Michael has this funny obsession with running into the kitchen, scrambling around noisily for a while, and then coming back to the living room brandishing a fork. Sometimes they are regular dinner-sized forks, sometimes they are baby forks and sometimes he manages to uphold one of those big, two-pronged forks that you use to check steaks on a grill... not sure why we even have those kinds of forks, as no one in our house grills out or eats steak... Anyway, tonight I realized that this obsession was born out of another obsession, one I like to call "The Never-Ending Little Mermaid." This Disney classic plays constantly at our house all hours of the day and night. As Ariel swims defiantly to the surface to show Scuttle her new treasures, he explains that the fork she found is actually a "Dinglehopper" that makes great hairdos. So Michael loves to go in search of - not merely a fork, but - the world's most fantastic Dinglehopper. Thank you, Disney. I hold you fully responsible if this kid pokes out an eye.

I have very mixed feelings about The Little Mermaid, and the more I watch it and hear it, the more mixed my feelings become.

On the one hand, I realize the themes of the movie actually encourage
1. Teenage rebellion against parents - but hey, it's because she's in love, right? She's sixteen years old, and she's attracted to a population that eats her friends!
2. Making stupid selfish and impulsive decisions - but hey, it's because of love, right? Never mind that she will completely cut herself off from her family and friends forever, never mind that she is making a deal with the enemy of her family...
3. Jumping right to kissing a guy as fast as you can - three days? Three days?! The poor guy is trying to be a decent gentleman and just find out her name, and she's frustrated because he hasn't kissed her yet!
Not good things for kids to grow up on! Parents, pay attention! Sheesh.

On the other hand, I can't ignore the obvious picture of the gospel and of reconciliation in the movie...
1. When Ursela captures Ariel in her own selfish choices (which was her plan to begin with), the result cannot be undone - it is a legal contract that condemns her forever. But Ariel's father knows there is one way to save his daughter - to take her place, to write his name over her own. I love that the whirlpool thing is sucking Ariel down when he makes this move, and it instantly takes him down instead. Isn't that what Jesus did for us?
2. Ariel tried to find joy and love her own way and made a royal mess that almost took her life. But when it was all over and her father took her place in punishment and then was restored to his power, he was the one who was able to give her what she was looking for in a far better way. We are all looking for love and joy, and it can only be found in knowing Jesus.
3. There are undertones of racial prejudices  and stereotypes that lead to divisions and hatred - the merpeople versus human world thing is more than it appears. So Ariel could be considered a hero in that she broke through the stereotypes, reached out to love someone who was different from herself, and in the end brought reconciliation to the two groups (as is evident in King Triton and Eric bowing honorably to one another at the wedding).

Wow, that explanation was long... Obviously I have spent too much time with Ariel, Flounder, and Sabastian lately. But at least I have the comic relief of watching Michael play with his Dinglehopper and hearing Lian in the kitchen in the mornings singing "Under the Sea" with a great Burmese-Jamaican accent!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Crochet Club

My Chin-Zo family came home last night to find me at the dining room table with my latest blanket-making project spread out, alternating between feeling proud, exhausted, and doubtful.

Lian and Thang Ngaih generously praised my work and then looked over my stitches closely. I know they are both experts - at least much more experienced than I am - in crocheting, so I asked them what they would recommend for a certain part of the project I was struggling with. Thang Ngaih showed me what she would do, and I said, "I did that! But it comes apart!" She laughed her sweet loving laugh and patted my shoulder, "Oh, you, you not strong!" She spoke the truth as kindly as humanly possible. Then she proceeded to rip apart my flimsy seams (with my consent, of course) and then offered to redo it for me. My pride wouldn't let me, so I asked her to show me and then I would do it.

I worked at it for another hour, re-stitching as best as I could and kicking myself for giving myself a project that highlighted my weakness. Couldn't I have thought of an easier way to express my love? Thang Ngaih was gracious enough to let me struggle until I was ready to surrender, and I really struggled. Finally I stopped, my hands shaking, my arms aching. Thang Ngaih gently came over and said, "You want help now?" I nodded, and she took my project from me and sat down.

In half an hour she did twice as much as I did and it looked better than mine. But she smiled and visited with me while she worked and I rested. Little Esther was visiting, and she made little pom-poms and braids with our scraps of yarn. When Thang Ngaih finished, I thanked her, and she sweetly said, "We do together?" meaning the rest of the blanket.

I think she really likes having something to do with me, and it's nice for me to have someone to crochet with too. Maybe I can do the parts that don't require much strength while she does the heavy-duty work. The job will get done faster and more efficiently, and we will have some special times to spend together. I might just called it my "Crochet Club"...