Wednesday, January 19, 2011

“Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~1 Peter 1:13

Inadvertently, I left my laundry dangling forlornly from the clothes line tonight. I hope it doesn’t snow.

“Did you see what I did?” exuded my dear Mother, pointing to the hanging file on the study wall. I paused, noting the empty bottom section. “Did you do the budget?” She nodded, her smile stretching across my face. “You did it for me last week,” I protested. She nodded again. “I miss it.” She what?! For how many years did I watch her performing that hated task, groaning over mistakes, pecking at the computer keyboard, face-palming when an account didn’t balance properly. Not because she can’t handle money, but because she hates computers. I shook my head to be sure I’d heard her correctly. “I miss cooking and cleaning, too.” She added.

As Lydia and I changed into our dusty, dirty, saggy, baggy, stained and distressed mode of dress for an afternoon of outdoor enterprises, she commented, “This outfit makes me feel like I’m ten. Because this is how I dressed when I was ten.”

I looked her up and down, taking in her puppy-covered fleece sweatshirt and faded denims before I responded. “This outfit makes me feel thirty, because this is how I dressed when I was thirty.” I tossed my classy flats aside and pulled on my no-longer-white tennis shoes.

Lydia rolled her eyes and let out a huge chicken squawk. A very good one, in my opinion.

I raised my eyebrows. “A chicken?”

She snorted. “A chicken laying an egg.”

“Because,” I tried that one on for size, “that’s how you dressed when you were a chicken laying an egg?”

Some things are only funny to sisters.

In the next instant she’d drawn her hair up into a poofy bun. “Who do I look like?” she asked, critically eyeing her reflection in the mirror.

I made a very reasonable attempt at a guess. “A chicken?”

“No,” she rolled her eyes again. “It’s a sticktight.”

I blinked. “A sticktight?”

“Well, no,” she huffed. “That’s not the right word, but it’s like sticktight.”

I blinked a second time. “Like sticktight?”

She made a helpless gesture. “You know. It sounds like ‘sticktight’ but it’s a different word.”

If I only blinked twice in the course of a conversation, my eyes would get very dry, so I blinked again.

“It’s like when a person is stuck in a box.”

And the light came on in the dusty attic of my brain. “Oh, you mean a stereotype?”

Pleasure oozed out every pore in her body and she beamed at me endearingly. “Yes! It’s like a stereotype holiness hairstyle.”

My mind came alive with a mental image—a sticktight decked out in a poofy, holiness hairstyle. “Sticktight, huh?” I said, and we cracked up again.

If you’ve never been a sister, you just wouldn’t understand.

The barn claimed our attention, as Papa attacked the stored lumber with a vengeance, throwing boards down from the rafters which he deemed “old” or “decrepit.” Discrimination at its finest. “We need to saw them up for firewood,” his voice drifted down from ten feet in the air. Dutifully, I trudged off for “my” pathetic corded girl-size chainsaw. Salvaged from a broken pole-saw. Plugging it in, I primed the engine and fired it up. It gave two wheezing moans and sank into a deep slumber out of which I was unable to rouse it. “Try the Skil saw,” Papa suggested, as another board clattered into the dust at my feet. The Skil saw made more promising noises, but after chewing through a couple of pieces, I heard Papa’s whistle far above me, in the world outside my hearing protection. I stopped sawing and looked up. He looked pensive, a dimple peeking out from the corner of his white goatee. “Why don’t you pile those up and I’ll knock ‘em off with the chainsaw in no time.”

A very sensible idea.

“Were you singing while you fixed supper?” Mom’s voice broke into my thoughts as she handed me a sudsy plate. We’ve been hand-washing the dishes most of the winter this year. Short Josiah, we just don’t make enough mess to merit running the dish-washer.

A second was all the time I needed to make a quick reconaissance into recent history for the answer. “Yes.” (“Lamb of God” to be exact. Before I drifted off into a brown study running mental facts and figures to test the wisdom of drop shipping and web-marketing and supposed success rates. This is undoubtedly the reason that food sometimes gets better done than could be desired, when I am cooking.)

She pointed toward the condensation beading up across the window. “Well, you steamed up the windows.”

In other news, I finally have arrived. At my long-awaited goal. From across the dinner table, Mom plaintively commanded Lydia to stop growing. “You just look so grown up these days!” she complained.

Lydia looked pleased.

“That’s because she’s wearing my clothes,” I reminded the family. Only half a joke.

Papa looked over his plate at Lydia, who had discovered how deliciously distracting the potatoes were, their flavor enhanced by too much attention to herself. “It’s true,” he added his opinion. “They make her look sophisticated.”

In retrospect, perhaps it is not I who have arrived at the goal: sophisticated. It could be Lydia. But at least it is because of my clothes.

Jacindarella’s study of First Peter inspired me, and I made a quick read today. This man’s life and legacy stand out to me as a stark contrast in strength and fragility. From a work-man’s standpoint, I see Peter as the strong, brawny, hard-worker. From a religious stand-point, he was unlettered and untrained. He had a Galilean accent. He smelled like fish. But he was humble. Pliable. Passionate. And devoted. Even though his mouth ran ahead of him like a herald, he meekly took rebuke and sought restoration time and again. Once upon a time, he said, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man!” Later he declared, “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” In this letter, he pleads with believers to keep in mind the precious blood of Christ and live in holiness. Stop and consider how personal were his words, “The precious blood of Christ.” Peter, the fragile stone, who slept while this precious blood dripped from the body of his praying Lord. Who stood beneath the cross of his Beloved Master, agonizing over his denial, as this precious blood dripped away Christ’s life. Who raced to the tomb and found it empty. Who was restored by the never-ending grace of Jesus and charged to “tend my lambs.” I want to take a closer look at it, drawing the parallels between Peter’s admonishions and the lessons Christ taught him.

For isn’t this what Christ told him? “After you have turned, strengthen your brethren?”

The enemy demands to sift,

Yet in this, is God’s gracious gift,

For Satan, fueled by hate for man,

Is still within God’s sovereign plan.

And God, in kindly love and grace

Has granted Satan time and space

To sift the chaff and purify

That man, his God, might glorify.

For when God turns him back from sin

His soul’s a battle God will win.

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