Monday, May 28

Family Picnic

This will be mainly a picture post :)

This is my cousin Kamiah on the left :) She's about a year old now.

Brooklynn on the right. I'm not exactly sure how old she is; probably 18 months or 2 years. But she is one independent little girl :)

And this is Faith Ellen. She just turned 3 recently. Here she's showing off her new pet caterpillar.

This is Philip :D He's really sweet and funny. And sometimes when he talks he sounds like Eeyore. I think that he's around 5 or so.

Here's Christian standing on a slide that he's about to jump off of. He's the daredevil of the family :) I think he might be 7 ish.

Over on the right we have Hope, who was, I believe, trying to rollerblade on one rollerblade that was much too large for her foot. Kamiah's oldest sister, Kenya is in the corner of the picture.

And finally, me and Brittany. She's about 14 now and loves horses- especially hers :) She told me that she was going to get to work at a summer camp where she boards her horses up in Rhode Island (where she lives). Peter, Brittany, Hope, Christian, Philip, and Faith Ellen are all brothers and sisters if you couldn't tell from how similar they look in the pictures.

And those are just a few of my younger cousins that I saw at our family picnic. I didn't get a picture of Peter because he was off with my brothers and another cousin. I also missed getting pictures of Jules (Brooklynn's older sister), Cierra (Kenya and Kamiah's sister), and Michael (an older cousin). It was a lot of fun to be able to see everyone again.

Monday, May 21

New Pets

The Thomas family is known for its odd variety of pets. Dogs? Cats? Those are for normal families. No, we go for the more unusual and exotic domestic companions. While we have had some fairly normal pets like fish and hamsters, our list of pets past also includes such things as ferrets, snakes, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders. What, you ask, are the mysterious new pets of the Thomas abode? To answer this question I believe I shall tell a little story.

This morning as I was eating, I noticed a squirrel out on the railing of our deck. I had heard my other family members tell tales of this notorious squirrel who seems to have caught a taste for the peanuts we leave in the yard for it. I went to get my camera and slowly, quietly, sneaked back to the sliding glass door, hoping not to scare it away before I got my camera ready. Instead of scampering off, the squirrel seemed to perk up a little bit. I began to take snapshots and was amazed to see it leaning towards me and not scurrying off. "My what a bold little squirrel we have here," I thought to myself.

I put my camera down on the table and finished breakfast, still thinking on the funny little squirrel we've apparently befriended. I finished eating and was about to go about my day when I heard a thumping sort of noise come from the deck. I went to the door and saw, much to my surprise, a squirrel hanging onto one of the frames of the sliding glass door! Shocked, I grabbed my camera, but too late. The little squirrel was spooked and jumped back onto the railing. I stood in front of the door hoping that it might return. He did not seem interested in coming back for a second round with the door, so I began to turn away, but was stopped by what I saw in my peripheral vision. A second squirrel had decided to pay a visit.

I watched in wonder as this daring little squirrel meandered right up to the glass door that I was only inches away from. I began to take pictures, hurriedly at first because I thought he might lose courage and dart away. I soon realized that my fears were unfounded as I watched this audacious animal stand on its hind legs and plaster its paws on the glass. Then it leaped up onto the door frame by the door handle, looking at me expectantly. To say that I was surprised would be a mild description. The squirrel must have decided that he was not being properly rewarded for his feat of climbing the door frame because he eventually hopped back down onto the deck and reverted to pawing at the door hopefully.

I've decided that these new pets should be named, and when I relayed the events my brother Stephen, he dubbed the first squirrel Skippy. I have yet to think of a good bold name for the second squirrel. And just for clarification, we do leave peanuts and sometimes corn out in the yard for the squirrels, but we never feed them up on our deck or near the house.

Saturday, May 12

Heavenly Father

This past semester I really enjoyed my 18th century literature class. It was a little bit like a book club, except that we had quizzes, tests, and papers to write. But essentially what we did was read the assigned reading, go to class and discuss what we liked about the reading, what we didn't like, how the reading was characteristically 18th century, how the writings impacted people during the time they were written, and what we could take away from the reading for ourselves today. Quite often, the class discussion took interesting turns with slight detours only remotely connected to the original topic at hand.
One day in class we were discussing Samuel Johnson and parts of his novella Rasselas, which I will eventually go back and read in its entirety. Rasselas is a story about a young prince who has been confined to a valley of sheer entertainment and is unsatisfied with the aimless life he lives. Because of his discontentment with life, Rasselas, his sister, a philosopher, and others they meet along the way, set out on a journey to observe different aspects of life to find out how true happiness may be obtained.
Somehow while discussing Rasselas and his quest for true happiness, the topic of heaven came up. We began conversing about what heaven would be like and pondered where on earth the idea of sitting on clouds and playing harps for eternity came from. We imagined all of the amazing things that we'll be able to do in heaven, and we thought about all of the questions that we have about life and God and how we'll have all of eternity to learn about these mysteries. My mind ran wild with all the possibilities that eternity with God holds.

Then, my professor began to paint a picture for us of our Heavenly Father. I'll attempt to recreate the picture he placed in my mind.
Children love to display their knowledge and creations to their parents and hope to find approval from them. Anytime they create or accomplish even the slightest thing, they run to show mom or dad. "Mom, see the picture I painted today!" a small child shouts while waving the still wet pape
r with colorful markings. "Dad, come see my fort!" the young boy says while tugging his father's hand, pulling him toward the array of couch cushions, blankets, and chairs. Every child wants to show their parents what they've created and excitedly displays their masterpiece in hopes of receiving the approval of those they respect and love most.
In heaven we will have the opportunity to have this kind of relationship with God. While exploring
the multitude of galaxies filled with God's creations we will have the chance to learn about the intricate details of life, to create wonderful masterpieces of music, architecture, and more. We can enthusiastically reveal our latest accomplishments and discoveries to our Heavenly Father who is anxiously waiting to see what we've done or learned and smile with pride and joy at his children and their delight. And we will be able to spend time with God while He explains and shares His thoughts on His creations- why He made certain things, how they work, what He was thinking while He made it. We will be able to enjoy an intimate relationship with our Father unlike any other relationship we've had before.
Even while I'm writing this, words escape me. I cannot begin to describe or imagine all that living with God in heaven for eternity will encompass, and this short description of one facet of the personal relationship we will have with God doesn't come close to defining what our experience in heaven will be. And just think, if we are willing, God wants to begin this relationship and experience with us now, here on earth.

The Real Deal

Many times have I heard the question asked, "Why is it that when you blow in a dog's face, it gets mad, but when you put it in a car, it sticks its head out the window?" This is only one member of life's most confounding questions, and usually I ignore these questions because they aren't really meant to be answered. However, the other day as my father and I were driving around, we saw a dog sticking its head out of the window of a car, he asked the question, and for whatever reason, I decided to answer.
"Well, you see..."

Generally, when these are the opening words of a statement of mine it implies that something absurdly ridiculous will follow which is intended to incite laughter and not to be taken seriously. As I answered life's boggling question of why dogs like to stick their heads out of the windows of moving vehicles, I realized that though the intent was to be silly there was perhaps something deeper that could be drawn from it.

"... they prefer to stick their heads out of the window because then they can feel the wind full force; when you blow on their faces, it's like a teaser and they don't want a counterfeit-- they want the real deal."

In Acts 2:2, the Holy Spirit is referred to as a violent wind which filled the room the disciples were in. Other passages referring to the wind also hold deep meaning for God's people.

"He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants" Psalm 104:4
"In speaking of the angels [God] says, 'he makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire'" Hebrews 1:7 (Paul quotes from Psalm 104:4)

The Holy Spirit is often represented by wind and fire, and when God's disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit, powerful things happen to glorify God. We, as disciples of Christ, are called to be God's messengers, sharing His love and taking it to the ends of the earth. God deeply desires us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, with the violent wind and fire of His power. He wishes to make us messengers like His angels, willingly ministering to others on earth through the power of His Holy Wind.
Maybe its time for us to learn a lesson from God's canine
creations. It's time that we stop allowing ourselves to be satisfied with quick, sporadic encounters with God and instead immerse ourselves in Him, letting the wind of His Holy Spirit blow on us full force. It's time for us to experience the real deal.

Wednesday, May 2

Forgotten Pilgrim, Flying Disc, and a Bach Carousel

I am quite fatigued; however, it is a completely enjoyable sort of fatigued. I was able to have quite the amusing dinner with Thomson, Christy, and Carol where discussion ranged from difficult, sleep-prohibiting finals to Bunyan's forgotten character, Mr. Decision, with a quick dip into the waters of nursery rhymes. As you can see by my brief description, it was indeed quite the dinner. Following this I was able to play frisbee with terribly fun people (Also known as Ivan, Joel, and little Christen)!! Yay for round discs hurled through the air at friends, especially with a bit of math added in, free of cost :) However, it might have been more pleasant without the itch-inducing grass. I suppose it's a good thing Ivan and Joel attempted to mow the lawn while we were playing.

No sooner had I completed this tiring task than I discovered a message on my phone from Kelsey! She was calling to check about the much awaited and anticipated walk we had been planning. Our walk turned out to be quite extensive in conversation and scenery, and was a most delightful event. We were able to hear a chorus of frogs enchant us with their melodious and uninterpretable hymns of praise, although one attempted to escape the choir and go solo. After much discussion of multiple subjects, we ended up at the playground. Here we rediscovered the many joys brought about by motion; more specifically, swings. We noted that it's quite amusing that humans can be so entertained with something as simple as moving back and forth, suspended in the air. Unfortunately, children's swingsets were not designed with 20 year old college students in mind, and soon we opted for the more comfortable tire swings. This was an experience worth noting indeed. Mostly we went round and round at a rather fast pace and lamented the existence of our semicircular canals. Then, as we controlled the pace and slowed it to a comfortable swirl, we decided that it would be our carousel and we began singing a little ditty sort of tune which was at least on the surface somewhat carousel-worthy. On this particular visit to the carousel we discussed the possibilities of Bach being blasted from the apartment above hers next year, and we also created a new aerobic workout, tire swing edition.
All in all, I would have to say that today could not have been much better. I believe today was a day in which God allowed me to count my blessings in the form of friends. I can't wait to see how God is going to top this day with tomorrow's blessings :)

Tuesday, May 1

To Do...

*Opening statements... Happy Birthday to Emily!!!! And Happy Birthday to Grandma :)
It's amazing how much one's list of things to do can change within a few days. Not too long ago my to do list looked something like this:
Read She Stoops to Conquer, Write term paper, Read pp. 1020-1026,1036-1041, 1064-1065, Prepare for Marxist presentation of Hamlet, Finish Portfolio, etc...
Just a few minutes ago, I was making a new to do list for this week. Here is a sampling of what it looks like:
Return books, Give money to Joanna, Write birthday cards, Thank you card, Get a wetsuit, Write a letter, Shave, Figure out what to do with fridge, Climb tree with Karissa, Walk with Kelsey, Blog, Write a poem, etc...

I love being done with finals and I wish my to do list included things like walking with friends and climbing trees more often. And I think that all too often I write my list of things to do in my planner and the amount of work I need to get done seems so overwhelming that I can't schedule in anything like talking with friends, going on walks, and writing letters. However, contrasting these two lists has made me think. I get so caught up in finishing my list of things to do and scrambling to get schoolwork done that I don't think to schedule in time spent with friends; they seem to be random events that brighten my day if and when they happen to occur. And also, in regard to my relationship with God, I wish that I spent more time with him that was intentional. I have my morning worship and then set my mind to finishing tasks of the day; throughout the day I pray and think about God, but I don't prioritize and intentionally schedule time with God throughout the day. It seems to be a bookend sort of thing, begin my day with worship, reflect and pray at night. Perhaps its time for some reformation in the scheduling world of Kristin.