The Lord YOUR God

But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” (Gen 27:20, ESV)

(Image: Isaac Blessing Jacob, Govert Flinck, oil on canvas, 1638, currently in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.)
(Image: Isaac Blessing Jacob, Govert Flinck, oil on canvas, 1638, currently in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.)

I find the specific choice of words, “the LORD your God” to be troubling, especially as a parent.

I want my children to have a personal faith of their own. I don’t want them to think of the Lord as “That God my dad worships.”

Actually, I want them to have a more real, personal faith than I had at their ages—living and tempered by both love and righteousness, by faith and reason.

It would be quite a long time before Jacob could truly call the Lord his own God, not merely that of his father.

Diligence

I want to brag a little bit about Naomi.

Naomi's Five-Pocket Poster for her project on Annalee Thorndike
Naomi’s Five-Pocket Poster for her project on Annalee Thorndike

This is the finished result of a multi-week school project. It’s called a “Five Pocket Project,” and has a number of interesting features, but that’s not what this is about.

On Tuesday, after a full day of school and two hours of dance classes, NaNi got out her zipped organizer binder to work on her project, and was distressed to discover that all the work from her project was missing. She looked everywhere, and made phone calls, and thought carefully, but was resigned to the fact that she wouldn’t find the work: The questions she had to answer for the biographical part of the project, and all the research she’d already done were gone. I expected she’d find it the next day in school, but she never did.

That evening she started rebuilding her research, getting the questions-to-be-answered from a classmate by phone, and digging in to the unpleasant task of redoing the significant research she’d already completed.

She continued this Wednesday evening.

Thursday was a long day. She had a full day of school, then an after-school dress rehearsal for the school Variety Show, then 2 1/2 hours of dance. Getting home at 8:30 last night, she dug right into the work, as the project was due this morning.

And work she did. There weren’t enough hours to make up everything she’d lost in a reasonable manner, but that didn’t stop her. She took small breaks to eat, but stayed at the task, finishing the research questions and biographical data first, and then moving on to the already-mostly-complete artistic portion of the project.

She did all this without a single complaint or whine, or even the loss of a smile.

When I gave up and went to bed at 12:30 am, she was still at it. I think she finished around 1:00. She set her alarm for a little later than usual, but still early enough to get up, make some last minute adjustments to the poster, get dressed, and get out to the bus on time.

I am very proud of her.

Beaten by Children

Each Friday evening I take a class in Mandarin at the Chelmsford Chinese Language School. After that class, I go to chess club, while Naomi studies Chinese Folk Dance. I wrote this at the end of last year.

Carissa is quietly contemplative. She keeps her body movements still, with a level of concentration that seems incongruous with her age. She looks disarming. Yet she plays chess with such aggression that I find myself doing nothing more than react to her constant attacks the entire game, with no chance to implement a winning strategy of my own.

Jeffrey is “all boy.” Every time he makes a good move, his whole body shakes with elation. He laughs with glee every time he puts forth another reveal, or forces me to choose which of two pieces I am going to have eaten by his.

I am 42. They are both just seven years old. In addition to their age, they have one other thing in common: They absolutely destroy me at chess.

But the children weren’t the only ones who learn and improve. I go back every week, and I get better.

Building a Future with LEGO: My Nephew Andrew Roberts

(Excerpt from the Community Advocate Newspaper, Friday, February 3, 2012, article by Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer.)

Marlborough – Prior to November 2011, Andrew Roberts worked for County House Research performing in-court background checks. By the end of November, though, he retired to pursue his lifelong passion, building Army tanks with LEGOs.

Lego tank and APC, designed and built by Andrew Roberts.
A sample of the many tanks that can be built with Andrew Robert’s LEGO kits.

Roberts’ love for LEGOs began at age 5 when he was given a big bucket of the brightly colored building blocks as a gift, and he has been playing with them ever since. About two years ago, Roberts heard about a man who was building World War II tanks out of LEGOs. Intrigued, he decided to build his own LEGO tank which he then put on eBay – and it sold. He made another and it sold as well, snowballing into something bigger than Roberts could have anticipated.

… Read the full article at the Community Advocate Newspaper site.

Andrew Roberts poses with a Lego M1 tank he designed and built.
Andrew Roberts has made building with LEGOs a full-time business.

To see or purchase any of Andrew’s sets or instructions, visit his eBay store: http://stores.ebay.com/Battle-Brick.

See You Later, “New Dad”

Five years ago my Mom remarried at age 80, several years after the death of my father. “New Dad,” as I generally referred to him, was George Fortini, a sweetheart of a guy who proved (along with Mom) that being crazy-in-love and romantic wasn’t just for young people.

The five years he and Mom had together were marked with many of the typical struggles of octogenarianism, but they took care of each other with love, grace, a large amount of very good-natured ribbing, and constant delight with what God had given them. George demonstrated that God’s grace was just as attainable and life-changing as falling in love still was.

Mom and "New Dad"
Mom and "New Dad," George Fortini

Their story of finding each other has brought a smile to the face of every one of the many people with whom I have shared it. Their obvious, genuine affection has been just as inspiring.

Most of our family attended their wedding. Mom and George were neighbors, and a path had been worn into the front lawn between their two houses. (George refused to move in with Mom until after the ceremony, insisting that he wanted to “do things the right way.”) New Dad was always grateful that our side of the family accepted him as readily as we did.

How could we not?

Late last week, George was admitted to the hospital with some internal bleeding from an ulcer. Efforts to stop it were unsuccessful. He was moved to hospice on the weekend, and passed away quietly and peacefully, while holding his daughter’s hand, at around 10:30 last night.

Although our reunion in Heaven will come, now we feel the sorrow of missing him especially sharply.

How could we not?

From We to Me

An involuntary divorce is, quite frankly, a terrible event. I doubt that will surprise anyone. There are dozens of expected perils and adjustments. It is tragic, and painful beyond belief.

But that pain does, eventually, well and truly end. One adjusts. Balance returns. Life becomes fabulous again.

But occasionally, there are bits of adjustment that are just plain odd or unexpected.

The one of these, with which I struggle constantly, is whether to use the plural first person pronoun, we, to describe events in the past that were performed when there was a we. Do I say, “We always wanted a daughter, and had the name Naomi chosen for many years,” or should it be, “I always wanted …”?

As the time passes, I still find myself waffling on this one. Some weeks I strongly lean toward, “I will describe things as they were,” and other weeks I think, “No! I have to be clear that I’m single. What if some unmarried Nobel-prize-for-science-winning* supermodel missionary gal is eavesdropping on this conversation and mistakenly thinks I am married?”

Anyway, these are the kinds of post-divorce things that nobody talks about.

Cheers.

*No, the Nobel Prize for Economics does not count. (I have standards, you know.)

(And, yes, I know that I am not using parallel structure in the title. The rhyme seemed more appropriate.)

Minecraft

We became involved with Minecraft early in its beta development cycle. Frankly, it’s been amazing and fascinating. We operate our own server at home, modded with Runecraft so we could make teleporters (generally it’s up from early evening until the morning), and have started to add more users to the system. There are still some open slots, if you’re interested in joining us.

The new addition of powered rail boosters has gotten us rail-and-rollercoaster-crazy.

My Little April Fool

When I got home yesterday, I discovered that NaNi had put her snow day time to very good use.

R2 looks a little different. But he does have a huge smile.
"Dad, please lifted up the helmit."
Under the helmet ...
NaNi did some redecorating.
"Hay, you. Kiss me, please."
"No. Well, just one. I love this!!! Happy April Fool's Day. I love you, Dad. "Thank you for the kiss, you kind Jedi."
I love the details. Lipstick attached to the phaser.
... and matching shoes.

Dance Macadam

Naomi had been very, very sick for almost 10 days—double ear and ear canal infections, that we finally got under control. Even though she stayed home from school, she hadn’t had a fever all day, and I let her go to ballet. (Isaac took care of her while I was at work—my first day back in the office in a while. I am very grateful that Transparent Language has such excellent work-from-home infrastructure.) So I went home, got her ready for ballet (tights need help), and off we went. Gate City Ballet is pretty much on the same street as my job, so I normally drop her off, go back to work, and pick her up at the end.
Naomi with her artwork.

On the way to ballet, we stopped at the school department offices, where one of her pieces of artwork is being displayed. Naomi was thrilled to see it.

Naomi's Art on Display at the Nashua School System Offices.
Naomi's Art on Display at the Nashua School System Offices.

We got to ballet (on time, even—everything in Nashua is close and convenient), and she exclaimed, “My ballet bag!”

I said, “No problem, you can see if they will let you start in your stockings,” and I went home to get the bag. I picked it up, and realized there were no tap shoes in it. So, I hunted around her room to find tap shoes, and put them in the bag, and delivered them to ballet.

“Dad, these are my old tap shoes. They hurt my feet if I wear them.”

I laughed. “Okay, I’ll be back in a bit.” Back to the house … play the “find the real tap shoes” game—not as easy as finding the wrong pair. Back to the ballet studio. Along with a sweater she forgot to pack.

I hold up the correct shoes and the sweaters. Naomi beams and blows me a kiss.

I am in Heaven.

It's two years old, but this is still one of my favorite ballet photos of NaNi.
It's two years old, but this is still one of my favorite ballet photos of NaNi.