Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

8.28.2009

Introducing the Next (Toothless) Itzhak Perlman!

I have a new student, and one who is preparing to take the music world by storm: Jonah Adam.
Jonah's career as a musician began this July with a trip to several Portland violin shops to hunt out the perfect violin. He ended up with an adorable 1/8 size violin that is his treasure and delight! This is only the stepping stone, however, to much bigger plans (and instruments): playing the viola.
This is the story, then, of the birth of a musician, and Jonah would love for you to follow how he began his journey into music this summer.

He couldn't wait for our first lesson! Here Jonah is concentrating very hard to make a "perfect bowhold" for y'all!


Behold: a bowhold above all bowholds--this is the gold standard by which all others are judged!

A model violin student, my little brother is standing straight and tall in an excellent demonstration of rest position.


He's a seven year old boy. What else can I say?
(He also informs me that his birthday is in approximately 9 1/2 months and 9 days! I'll have to start thinking about my gift!)


I love teaching Jonah, and it has definitely been great sibling bonding time. As we work through proper position, the parts of the violin, and how to play Twinkle Twinkle, we are also having the best time ever together!
And, according to the virtuouso himself, the best part about learning the violin is "that I'll get to play it soon!" Who could say it better? And it sure is a good thing you don't need those front teeth for the violin, Jonah, 'cause we all think you're pretty cute without them!

8.25.2009

And The Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Back Row l-r: Mikaela, Lauren, Mama, Melanie, and Papa
Front Row: Jonah, Micah, and Susanna

Last Wednesday we packed up and left town around 8:30 for a very special destination. When I think about it, though, perhaps it wasn't the destination that was so special. Certainly, camping and hiking around Winthrop, WA (est. population: 200) promised to be as picturesque and quaint as they come, but the occasion was the special part. Three out of five siblings (Papa and his two sisters), their spouses, and their children were uniting over dirt, nylon, fire, sweat, marshmallows, and little sleep in celebration of Grandma and Grandpa's 50th anniversary. It was going to be an exciting weekend!

Camryn (3) and Jonah (7)

Thursday was the actual day of Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary, as well as Uncle Joe and Aunt Hiedie's 16th anniversary. Memories flew as Grandma marveled at her age when she got married (she was 15 and Grandpa was 19) and recalled learning to drive after getting fed up with toting two young children to the doctor on the bus. Rebecca, Lauren, and I as well as another cousin (Aimee, who wasn't there) are all within 6 months of each other in age, and Aunt Hiedie bravely drafted four toddlers as her flower girls 16 years ago. That of course sparked another round of memories--I recalled being miffed that I had to hold the bridesmaid's hand. Imagine! I was all of three, and I was certainly capable of trotting down the aisle by myself!

Grandpa and Grandma still in love after 50 years!

After breakfast, everyone headed out for a 1.5 mile hike, exclaiming at the beauty all around us.


After getting back to our campsite, we promptly sat in the 1-ft deep river for a solid hour in an effort to cool off in the 95+ degree heat.

Fajitas were on the menu for dinner and our family was on dinner duty each night! That's Mikaela (left) and Lauren (right) above, frying a ginormous pan of onions.

Toasting our sparkling cider in celebration of what is becoming an increasing rarity in modern culture: 50 years of marriage! My grandparents certainly aren't perfect, but it has been such a blessing to see them grow exponentially in the Lord in the last five years. Their willingness to learn and their commitment to their marriage inspire me to strive for such a testimony.






On Friday, we headed to the grand old town of Winthrop, which is set up in a very cute, Western-themed design. Shopping, a picnic lunch, and ice-cream kept everyone busy for several hours!

Back Row: Melanie, Susanna, Mikaela, Rebecca, Lauren
Front Row: Micah, Jonah, and Camryn

Patiently holding out our hands for the next Jellybelly.
Friday night was full of surprises, planned and unplanned. Everyone for miles around lost electricity due to a fire nearby. Because the camp had its own wells requiring pumps, we lost all water too. It was those flush toilets and warm showers that kept things bearable for me, but when we had no access to those, I began to seriously wish for the comforts of home. ;-) As it was, we endured 24 hours of no water or electricity before everything came back on again the next day. However, we can now say that we were truly roughing it!
We forgot all about the electricity troubles, however, when Aunt Hiedie entertained us all with her ingenious game requiring us to guess Jellybelly flavors. She handed out 18 different flavors, which we had to identify based on a list provided. Then we had five more "advanced" flavors which were combinations we had to recognize and name (no list provided). We are all Jellybelly experts now, hardened to the former charm those sweet nuggets once held for us after indulging in more Jellybellies than one should ever have.
Back Row: Rebecca, Susanna, Mikaela, Melanie
Front Row: Lauren, Micah, Ryan, and Jonah



Lauren astride "Paleface"
Saturday morning was spent on a 4 mile hike. After an hour recovery, we all headed out for an extra-special treat that was the highlight of our trip: a Cowboy Cookout. Everyone over 8 saddled up for a 45 minute horseback ride while Camryn and Jonah rode in a wagon with Aunt Vickie (one way) and Mama (heading back). For city-slickers like me and my family (most of us had never ever ridden a horse), the experience was a learning curve as we learned how to handle the horses. Everyone was exuberant, however, and the evening was delightful!




After arriving at our destination--an old homestead--we were treated to a steak dinner and charming sea chanties from an authentic British sailor and western trail songs from an experienced cowboy.

The whole group!
Back Row: Grandpa, Uncle Larry, Papa
Middle Row: Micah, Grandma, Lauren, Melanie, Aunt Vickie, Mikaela, Mama, and Rebecca
Front Row: Susanna, Ryan, Jonah, and Camryn




Sunday we all had to pack up and leave, but before that happened, we got together for one last group shot. Quick, everybody! Straighten up, suck it in, look at the camera, stop talking, smile, and say cheese!




On the way home, we stopped in Leavenworth, a Bavarian village, and enjoyed a few hours of Bratwursts, shopping, ice-cream, and gigantic knights. ;-)



We arrived home late Sunday night tired and dirty, but grateful for a wonderful time with our family celebrating an amazing milestone in my Grandparent's marriage.



Pictures taken by Mama

8.21.2009

If

One of my all-time favorite poems, it should be read out loud with some inspiring music in the background. If we took up this noble charge, we would truly be people to reckon with!
As for the picture, don't you find little Rudyard adorable in his new suit?

If
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!



Picture from http://www.squidoo.com/rudyard_kipling

8.18.2009

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Do you remember “Elastigirl” from Pixar’s movie, The Incredibles? She was incredible because she could take whatever the villains threw at her. She was flexible, she was elastic, and she was so “go-with-the-flow” that she was practically a stream. Now picture me, next to Elastigirl. Take a few moments to fine-tune that image into focus. Got it? Great, now erase that image from your brain because I have a confession to make: I am Elastigirl’s antithesis. It’s true! The Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) defines flexibility as “not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others.” Somehow, though, I remain as flexible as a California Redwood tree, and I resemble an icicle more than I do a flowing creek.
With this in mind, you will laugh a long, sinister, evil, “you-knew-you-had-it-coming-to-you” kind of laugh when you hear what happened on Friday, August 7th around noon. I got a voicemail from the dean of my college—which is generally not a good sign since deans don’t seem to have a habit of calling long distance to “chat.” Sure enough, when Lauren called him back, she learned that a combination of events had conspired to shut down the music program. Immediately. (In case you were wondering—as I was—immediately somehow means right now, not five years from now.) Thus, 1 ½ years, thousands of dollars, and who-knows-how-many all-nighters were suddenly thrown into limbo. If I did not make this perfectly clear to you in the beginning, let me reiterate: I HATE LIMBO! And I had a jumbo-size all-you-can-eat buffet of limbo. After calling the director of the music program to straighten this whole mess out immediately (in this case immediately has a time limit of two seconds) and discovering to my chagrin that he was not in, I did what any self-respecting, red-blooded girl would do (at least one who is not related to Elastigirl): I cried. Then I found, claimed, and meditated intently on Proverbs 16:9 which says, “A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” All evening I did that. All Saturday, I continued. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…this was getting to be too much! I wondered if the director had proven Magellan wrong, discovering that the earth is indeed flat, because I was sure that he had fallen off the edge.
It was tempting to take matters into my own hands as I worried and agonized over my degree. I was so sure that this degree was what God wanted me to do! I still felt that it was, with no apprehension ever creeping in until this armed robber in the night came in and walloped me over the head. With the semester starting on August 20, time was fast running out, and the dean of the college, the director of the music program, and the director of an entirely separate music program needed to get together and make some decisions.
Then on Tuesday and Wednesday, God brought everything together. He caught the music director, revived him, and placed him back on the flat plane of the earth (with access to a phone, no less!). He brought all three men together for a meeting. Moreover, he gave the director compassion to agree to stay on until Lauren and I finished our degree. All is as if nothing ever happened, so to speak. Except me. I, you see, look much like that favorite stretchy shirt you own that has been worn by a slightly bigger person, emerging saggy, wrinkled, threadbare, and altogether stretched beyond its limits. I was stretched beyond my limits, you see, but I was not stretched beyond God’s limits—He had everything in control all the time.
I am learning, therefore, ever so slowly and feebly to be an Elastigirl, or a trampoline, or a shirt, or whichever confused stretchy analogy one can think of. Ultimately, I am learning to rest in God. I am internalizing the words of Colossians 3:2, which say, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Such a way of life is truly a blessing. It is less stressful, more faith growing, and much better for my health. Nevertheless, please, please don’t cancel something with me last minute. I’m not sure I could take that just yet!


Background picture property of http://www.cherylspelts.com/blog/images/2006-05-08-calla-lily-0167.jpg

8.14.2009

A Toppled Pedestal

I was first introduced to Hannah Hurnard when I was about ten through the book Hind’s Feet on High Places. It packs a wealth of conviction, challenge, and insight between its covers! More recently, Mama discovered a stack of Hannah Hurnard’s books that belonged to my Great-Grandmother. Excited to read them, I chose one called Hearing Heart and dove in. I devoured this book, which candidly told of Hannah’s journey from a miserable, rebellious non-Christian to the point when she finally submitted herself to God. She emphasizes listening to God and being willing to trust and obey Him unconditionally. Once again, I loved her writing.
It was then that I realized that I knew nothing about Hannah Hurnard. Of course, I headed to my research center and typed her name into Google. I almost wish I hadn’t.
I soon discovered that this woman was Quaker, but throughout the first part of her life she adhered to traditional evangelical doctrine with which I would agree. She even wrote some wonderful, doctrinally sound books.
Then, something began to change. She began to believe in universal salvation; that is, that God would not stop loving someone who died without accepting Him. Therefore, she believed that God would save non-Christians after death. She embraced reincarnation and other New Age philosophies, becoming a vegetarian because of these new mystical beliefs. She even believed that Jesus was essentially an angel who somehow became the Son of God. As the sad end to this sad story, she died in 1990 after refusing conventional treatment for her cancer.
I must confess that I was shocked, confounded, and even depressed. My first impulse, in fact, was to mourn. How could this woman, who shared a genuine conversion in her books, a love for God that was deeper than mine, and a relationship with her Lord that seemed to surpass any earthly tie go so wrong? I almost felt that, if someone as great as Hannah Hurnard could fall prey to such lies, what hope have I?
My hope can be in one thing alone: Scripture.
Hannah listened to Satan and allowed herself to be led away from Scripture by His lies. She knew that universal salvation was against Scripture, but she was taken in by a twisting of Scripture. Isabel Anders wrote in Standing on High Places,“In the later years of her life, Hannah herself ceased to attend church. Her lifelong conviction that God would speak to her personally, giving her deeper and deeper insights and ‘light’ that was to be widely shared with others, led her to believe that there could be no spiritual authority over her or her speaking and writing except the Lord Jesus Christ himself” (pg. 170). This sounds wonderful, but she ended up putting words in Jesus' mouth and falling for lies. Proverbs challenges Hannah Hurnard as well as myself when it says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life….Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of you feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil. My son, pay attention to my wisdom.” (Proverbs 4:23, 25-27, 5:1a)
250 years ago another writer echoed those thoughts in “Come Thou Fount:”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The character Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress made a sign to warn others not to be tricked by the Giant Despair as he had been, and “many, therefore, that followed after, read what was written, and escaped the danger.” Likewise, the story of Hannah Hurnard stands as a warning sign to all those who will take heed. So I stand at Hannah Hurnard’s warning sign, mourning the loss of the Hannah I had imagined for myself, the one I had put on a pedestal only to find out she was human and weak after all.


Picture from: http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Frederic-Edwin-Church/Broken-Column,-The-Parthenon,-Athens.html

8.11.2009

In My Own Little Corner

This clip is from a 1957 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Julie Andrews (of Sound of Music fame) as the title character. This production was filmed live for TV (think: stress and demands of a play multiplied by thousands of viewers, television cameras, and no lip-synching). Enjoy!

The world needs men and women who are willing to risk their lives in the jungles of Africa, but it also needs just as many who are content in their own little corners. Whether you are an exotic heiress with silkworms, a mother, a missionary to Africa, a student, a milkmaid, a mermaid, or a businessman, God has a job for you! Find joy in your corner today!

8.07.2009

Love, Your Great-Great-Great Grandmother

I hold in my hands a part of the past. A scrapbook, the tale of Elmira Meadows' life. One page brings uproarious laughter, but the next draws tears. There is a newspaper clipping from when Teddy Roosevelt was president (1901), a report of the casualties of the Spanish American war in 1898, obituaries from 1894, and, towards the end, something from 1929. Elmira passed this precious book down to her daughter, Edna, who passed it down to my Great Grandmother, Irene.

My treasure trove is not all black and white, as my Great-Great-Great Grandmother filled the pages with carefully cut Victorian flowers, emblems, and stamps. Above, the first page, gives instructions for a superior scrap-book paste made of cornstarch and water. "It is said to be the kind used by all daguerreotypists on gem pictures." The right page contains the announcement of Elmira's wedding to Mr. Jesse O. Meadows in Wallowa County, Oregon. It thrills me to imagine their quiet romance and the hard but sweet life they led!
Only the next page over, though, I feel her tears as obituaries tell first of her parents' deaths, and then of her beloved husband's. "He leaves a wife and five small children to mourn his loss" the obituary says. It also adds, "The family were unable to attend the funeral on account of being under quarantine for scarlet fever."
She still knew how to laugh however, as she carefully pasted in a column of small town news.
"Mr. Tracy Whittaker, of Pearisburg High School, came home to spend the holidays, but after wearing out several telephones in trying to talk to his best girl in Pearisburg, he decided that it was cheaper to stay in that place and returned several days ago.
"Mr. C.L. Eaton added much improvement to his already good looks by getting a new hair cut last week." This is attributed to "Tootsy Wootsy."
(-:

Another clipping reflected on the things that have happened on Fridays. "Lee surrendered on Friday. Moscow was burned on Friday. Washington was born on Friday. Shakespeare was born on Friday. America was discovered on Friday. Lauren posts on her blog on Friday." (Whoops! How did that last one get in there?)

The pages are stiff, thick, and yellow. They report Mrs. Grover Cleveland's taste in dress, and the fact that the "whitest, worst looking hair, resumes its youthful beauty and softness by using Hall's Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer." A quote informs us that "a steel thimble is as good as a gold one for a girl who cannot darn her own stockings" while another article deviously lays out tricks to play on Grandpa.


One yellowed page informs about the reprehensible tradition of throwing rice at brides, and it speculates that the "next device will probably be a rice shower, arranged on the principles of stage rain." As I flipped through the pages, an article entitled "Being a Good Sister" caught my eye and my heart. It urges that "it takes brains, heart, conscience, womanhood, to be a good sister....There is no nobler missionary work on this planet than to give [your brother] at least a good sister. You can make no grander contribution to the world's treasure....Every time you add to your worthiness or independence, you add to the capital of the race and the quality of your future."

It is only a book, yes, but from it I learn of this woman who braved the rough life of the West over one hundred years ago. From the clippings she saved, I learn that she was a noble woman and a true follower of Christ.
I am favored with a glimpse into the life of this woman whom I would otherwise know nothing about, and I can't help but wonder if she looked into the future. I can't help but wonder if, as she rocked in front of her fire one cool night or helped her husband on their land one sunny day, she thought about her great-great-great grandchildren.
I do.


8.04.2009

How Washingtonians Spend Their Saturdays

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, with weathermen all around threatening us with 90 degree weather and above. Thus it was that everyone unanimously vetoed the blueberry picking idea (we made up for it yesterday by picking 39 pounds) and unequivocally (except for Mom, who opted to stay home) voted to go hiking. I had had my eye on a certain hike since June, so we packed up and headed for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in search of the isolated and ominous "High Rock Lookout."


Upon arriving at the trailhead, we were treated to an amazing spectacle over our picnic lunch..."You mean we're hiking there?! To that itty-bitty little house balancing on tiptoe at the top of a sheer 600 foot cliff?!"

l-r, back row: Melanie, Lauren, and Mikaela
front row: Susanna, Micah, and Jonah

With Susanna smiling so angelically, you can't tell that we were being annoyed by the worst "herd" of flies we had ever experienced. We felt like horses as we constantly swatted and slapped, killing three or four with each hit.


Papa!






Almost there! Melanie certainly seems to be enjoying herself, doesn't she? ;-)
The hike is 1.6 miles one way with a 1300 foot elevation gain--very vertical, to say the least!











We're there! High Rock Lookout is one of only 3 remaining fire lookouts in the Gifford Pinchot Forest. Built between 1929 and 1930, it was used by the Forest Service to locate fires each summer. We discovered a plaque which said:
"In loving memory of Johnnie T. Peters who packed materials by mule from Mineral in 1930 to build namely this lookout, High Rock, and 10 others in the Mineral, Packwood, and Randle District. 'At home in the hills.'"









Occupancy (i.e., residing in) this house is now forbidden because it is a lightning hazard. Hmm...it's the highest point around...I can't imagine why?






Micah helpfully pointing out the trailhead for your benefit. See the little tan spot right on top of his finger? That's where our car is!







"I have never liked the notion that the world is round. It makes me feel so giddy." ~Miss Matty in Cranford (explaining why she can't teach Geography)









l-r: Lauren, Micah, and Mikaela






After finishing the hike and glorying in all of the natural beauties, we reluctantly headed for home. We did, however, stop at Mineral Lake to cool off. Jonah, Susanna, Micah, and I jumped in, clothes and all--how refreshing! After such a glorious day, I have to wonder why anyone would want to live anywhere else?


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