Friday, January 29, 2010

Relational Truths and... my cats.







((Houdini, the adorable black ball of fur. Blizzard, only his head is showing in the corner. This picture was taken when we first found them))







Ok, go with me on this one... I had an epiphany last night concerning our two cats. We have Blizzard, who is the super outgoing, curious, fearless cat. We also have Houdini, who is scared of everything, always on edge, never quick to trust, always an arms length away from anyone (most of the time).

Last night, as Blizzard climbed all over me and Houdini sat (much to my dismay) on the other end of the couch, it really got me thinking. Blizzard was being annoying (and usually is any time I sit anywhere) as he was desperately pining for my affection. Climbing all over me. My book. My computer. It's really irritating at times. Because of it, I hardly ever pet him. It just seems like he is always there. Houdini, on the other hand, it seems like I am always going after that cat. I travel into the cold basement to coax him out. I use a high, sweet voice to set him at ease. I purposely walk on the other side of the room so as not to startle him if he looks frazzled. Josh and I give him treats. We hold him and pet him. We approach him slowly, tenderly so he doesn't run away. We want to be near this stinkin' cat! and yet... he is so distant. Only recently has he finally started warming up to us.

So like I said, it got me thinking. This is a very typical scenario for relationships. For example, if you are a guy and there is a girl who is all over you, always around you, incessently talking to you and desperate for your attention... it is highly unlikely that romance will bud. However, if there is a girl who has mystery, who has kept you at a distance, who doesn't feel the need to flaunt herself and isn't desperate for your attention... she is almost irresistible. Playing "hard to get" is almost always a sure bet that attention will follow. Now in a marriage setting, I think playing hard to get isn't the best idea. Sure, maintain mystery... but don't play games. However, in dating and courtship, it's a sure way to get someone's interest.


Now please excuse me, I haven't seen Houdini all morning and I want to go find him...


(Blizzard, of course, is rubbing his head on the corner of my computer screen)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Things I'd like to do :-)



Dreaming makes winter everything better...
Here are a few of mine I've been mulling over the last week or so.

#1. I would like to acquire a tandem bike and ride around town all summer on it with Joshua:


((Wouldn't that be the cutest/dorkiest/funnest thing ever?!))


#2. I want to live in and raise my children in a house like this:



or this:


#3. I would like to learn calligraphy.
and to write letters and cards to my dear friends and family.
To tell them of my affections for them.
To remind them how deep the love I have for them really is.

#4. I want to write them using these:


#5. and I want them to be on bright and colorful cards
that immediately make the person receiving them feel warm and happy.
Like these:



#6. I would like to dress up more often.
Literally "dress" up. As in, wear an actual dress.
At least once a week.
(Unless it's a super cold week... Then I shall "pants, socks, and boots" up.)


Some of these are things I can start right now
(for example, the card writing and dressing up).
Some will have to wait.
It's fun to dream though, isn't it?




Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Chance To Die: "He knows about the boats."

Early in Amy's adult missionary life, she sailed the high seas to Japan. She learned the language, served, and ministered to the people there. It was a short season of her life, but helped to shape her future.
A group of missionaries had decided to take a long journey to another part of the island of Japan. It required several days of travel by foot and wagon, as well as several days on a boat. The land part of the journey went very well. They arrived at the harbor where they were to board a boat to be on their way to minister to another part of the island except that....

the boats were delayed....... for days.

No one had any knowledge of when they would arrive. The friends in their little traveling company were getting quite impatient that the boat was not there. The boats absence was interfering with the Lords work!

Until one gentleman, their leader, said, "God knows about the boats." With that, they all fell into silent obedience. Amy found herself another life motto to live by. She found herself reassuringly saying "God knows about the ______" for the rest of her life.

For Amy, God knew about the children. He knew about their need for food. Their need for financial support. Their need for help. He knew about the difficulty they faced every day as they poured out their lives to serve and raise hundreds of children.

This quote has stuck with me. It has attached its truth to my heart. Already it has given me great comfort. For example, Josh was traveling to Kentucky several weeks ago with a group of teens. The roads were terrible when he left. I was worried. Then I remembered, "Hey Leslie, God knows about the roads." (On an interesting note, that morning the group headed to Kentucky DID get into an accident. One van rear ended the other. But that doesn't mean it was a surprise to God, right?)

oh and just today, our cars are dying. (Correction: Josh's died on the way to church this morning...) Another quiet self reminder, "Leslie, God knows about the cars."

God knows (and he cares) about the challenges we face. He knows about that big test this weekend. He knows about your desire for a husband. He knows about the big move to a new town. He knows about the bills. He knows about how difficult it can be to feel alone.


He knows.
He knows.
He knows.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Honoring a Soldier. A Friend. A Hero.

One of Brian's (my twin) best friends from high school was killed in Afghanistan last week.
Sergeant Lucas Beachnaw

He was in a shootout with members of the taliban.
He was shot 3 times.
Got up after the first bullet.
Kept fighting.
Tried to get up after the third.
Could not.
(Recalls one of the men who fought with him that day.)

His body was flown into Grand Rapids today.
There was a processional to Lowell.
People lined the streets to welcome him home.
It was tragically beautiful.
(mostly tragic, to be quite honest)
Sometimes the most beautiful things in life come with the saddest things in life.

Here are pictures.
Feel free to cry.
Or write an encouraging note to someone in the military.
Or pray for our military
Or pray for his family.
(Please pray for his family...)


At the airport.

Coming down the hill into town. Flags everywhere.

Crossing the bridge.



Just past the bridge.
(My family is the first little group on the right side.)







Local businesses honoring him.

Such a proud community.

(These pictures were borrowed from the facebook page created in memory of Lucas)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

She bangs, she bangs!

So..... I was feeling brave the other day....

aaaaaaaand... I got bangs.

(For the first time in my life!)

aaaaaand I kinda like 'em

Cheesy self portrait below!





(Note: The red lip stick was just a fun afternoon trial in this picture. It's not something I wear normally. I just thought I'd give it a shot today.)



Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Chance To Die: "Never about, always to"

The "family" that Amy was a part of (that she started) was comprised of herself, a variety of different workers, and children. Many, many children. Mostly young girls at first, but it grew over time to be a home for little boys as well. All of whom were children in desperate need of a home, of love, and most importantly a Savior.
There was much work to be done, and everyone contributed to the effort. They were a family. Not a community, not an organization, a family. Amy made sure that they acted like a family too; that everyone did their part. Most importantly that they, above all things, loved one another.
A large part of that affection was trust. Trust and loyalty are very important aspects of love. The richest loves are full of trust and loyalty (even in the midst of great trial and mistakes). Amy knew this and in order to fully trust and love one another, instituted a short but infinitely wise motto in their family:

"Never about, always to"

Meaning, if you had a problem with another person, you never talked about that person, but you always talked directly to that person. In other words, no gossip. No talking about each other behind backs. Always bring conflicts and issues right out with another person.

It seemed quite obvious to Amy. How else could they fully trust one another? How else could they truly love as a family?

Amy said it best when she wrote, "How can you pray -- really pray, I mean -- with one against whom you have a grudge or whom you have been discussing critically with another? Try it. You will find it cannot be done."

Oh that I could have the courage to live by such a motto! Not to mention the wisdom to know when I should confront, when I should forgive quietly (sometimes without being asked), and when really the problem lies within myself. (One of my favorite quotes is, "Often, in times of relational difficulty, the Lord is highlighting areas we need to fix, not highlighting areas of other people's problems.")

So. I'm going to try this. I know I'm goingto fail, but if I can succeed just once.... I think it will be worth the effort.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Poison and Wine

For Emily, to add to your music collection :-)

A terrible, sad week.

So much sadness this week.

In the midst of tragedy, there IS joy. Josh's parents are in Haiti on a mission trip right now. Fortunately, they are on an island off of the main island so they are safe. They felt (and are feeling) the earthquake and the tremors, but they are safe. Now we're just praying that they will be able to get off of the island safely and quickly. They are supposed to be flying back on Saturday.

Pray for them, please.

and, this might make someone angry, and if it does, then I'm sorry. But I hate it when people say "R.I.P. so-and-so". What does it even mean? Rest in Peace? Rest? Really? No, they aren't resting. Isn't that what is put on Halloween decorations? Often, it seems like another way to seek attention on facebook and say, "someone I know died". If I die and someone makes a facebook group that says "R.I.P. Leslie McCracken", please delete it. I won't be resting. I'll be in the Presence of my Savior, jumping and leaping and dancing and celebrating. Not resting. It's not sleep, it's death.

::sigh:: I'm sorry, I suppose I should try to be sensitive to the fact that in times of immense sorrow self expression is nearly impossible and often, we can't find the words to properly fit our emotions. When words escape us, cliche's embrace us.

I'm just.... sad today.




"Life is full of light and shadow
O the joy and O the sorrow
O the sorrow
And yet will He bring
Dark to light
And yet will He bring Day from night
When shadows fall on us
We will not fear
We will remember
When darkness falls on us
We will not fear
We will remember
When all seems lost
When we're thrown
and we're tossed
We remember the cost
We rest in Him
Shadow of the cross"
-David Crowder "Shadows"

Monday, January 11, 2010

"A Chance to Die"


I'm currently reading an incredibly inspiring book called "A Chance to Die. The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael" - written by Elisabeth Elliott.

It has changed my life.

Amy Carmichael was a woman who loved Jesus and devoted her life as a missionary in Japan, China, and finally in India during the turn of the last century. She spread the gospel to people who had never heard the name of Christ. She did it passionately. Humbly. Reverently.

She started a community in India for "Temple children". Children who were sold to the Hindu temples and used in whatever horrific way temple leaders wanted. They were never allowed to leave. Amy set out to save as many as she could, and along the way gave a home and love to hundreds of children. She also set out to change the face of Christianity in India. She was exhausted and discouraged by "nominal" Christians whose lives were far from a reflection of Christ's own life and love.

It has immensely humbled me.

It has encouraged me to love others better.

It has inspired me to pour out my life and to not count the cost (or look for any praise).

It has spurred me on towards Christ like few things ever have.

and I am so excited to share about the things I'm learning.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mexico!

Our friends Kenny and Nicole got married on July 24. They decided to wait until it was very very cold to take a very very tropical honeymoon to the Mayan Riviera, Mexico.

They also decided to invite us!

We were so very thankful and excited to go with them. We left here January 1 (drove through a (near)BLIZZARD to get to Chicago, seriously) and returned on January 9.

We flew Mexicana, which was an incredible airline. They actually gave us food and drinks AND refills! It very much exceeded my expectations for any flight.

We did lots of fun things like:
sleep
read
snorkel
play dice
swim
go for walks
dance
eat
Consumed two jars of Nutella
drew closer to each other
and (infinitely more importantly) closer to Jesus.
we rested
rested
rested
rested


I learned some things that I seem to have forgotten to notice about myself. One thing being that I have a silly snap atleast once a day. I get really quite funny and giggly and rather witty once a day.

There's no telling when the extreme silly snap will occur.
But it does occur.

(When I'm rested and my heart is at ease and I'm looking for it, I guess)

I will try harder to rest more here so that I can be that silly person
God clearly created me to be.


oh, and I turned 24! Yikes!
It was my first warm birthday ever.
and my first birthday ever being away from my twin brother.
Joshua made it special.



(Me on my 24th birthday!)

It was so fun to be on a trip with Kenny and Nicole.
With friends who laugh and know exactly what we mean when we tell them that we put a sock on the door of the hotel room which is actually an effective and humorous means of communication. fyi.


Here are a few photos of our adventures:


This is Nicole putting a sock on the neighbors door. Our neighbors had very small children and they were in two rooms that were across the hall from each other. Each morning both rooms would open their doors and let the children run, screaming, through the halls. We did not like them (especially because Josh asked them nicely to not let their children run wild in the cavernous, echo-y halls) Thus, they became the scapegoat of our trip. Anything that went remotely wrong was their fault (in jest, of course) and we put a sock on their door. It was the perfect prank. Of course the sock receivers would think it was the other room, who would of course deny it thinking the sock receivers were themselves playing a joke. Oh the humor of it all! (surely thought of in a communal silly snap!)

The resort had flamingoes.


and crocodiles.
This is me smiling at one.
Mostly because I'm so daring.
("Never smile at a croc-o-dile" pish!)




Kenny and Nicole


The love of my life and myself


Great view, eh? :-)


Ah.. la mer!


It was SO much fun and SO completely wonderful for my heart. It was also SO nice to come back to family and friends and a community of believers who we love.