Friday, December 6, 2019

Why Cy?

We thought some might be interested in the story of the Biblical Cyrus, who inspired our Cyrus's name.  Also it's a good excuse to share more baby pictures.  I asked Tim to write it, since he's our history buff.

He doesn't answer the why of his name, but his name was chosen for the blessings and good things said about Cyrus in the Bible, and for the good that he did.

Who was Cyrus? According to the generally accepted histories, this is his story.  

Cyrus’ story begins with his grandfather dreaming that a great flood would come and overrun the whole land of Media and that it had to do with his daughter.  Being a somewhat more principled man than others who had heard of possibly prophesied usurper relatives, he had her married off in to the ruler kingdom/satrapy of Persia.  This settled the man’s nerves for a while, but then he had another dream.  Again the land was overrun, and it seemed linked to his daughter.  This was too much.  So he had her brought home, to try and deal with her son, as soon as he was born.  He went to someone he thought, ‘would just follow orders’ and instructed him to go and steal his grandson, take the boy to his own home, and then kill him.  The grandfather had the generosity to say that the officer could do it how he wanted.  

The officer, being aware of the royal will, went and stole the boy, and took him to his home as ordered.  Then he called for a shepherd.  But he did not want to ‘just follow orders’ because he was aware that the daughter, whose son he had stolen, might become the ruler, and she would surely give someone else orders.  So he instead had the very scared shepherd take the boy to the mountains, with orders to kill him.  The officer had come to the conclusion that as long as he did not kill Cyrus, Magane (Cyrus’ mother) would not kill him.  In my opinion the officer had a low opinion of Magane’s intelligence and capacity for revenge.

The shepherd arrived in the mountains to discover that his pregnant wife’s baby had died while he was gone and she was giving birth.  He had been very scared when ordered to come, and it is suggested that she had been so afraid that it had been one of the reasons the baby died.  The shepherd now returned and just knew what he had been ordered, but his wife made sure that he did not obey orders, and instead they used their dead baby to fool the messenger sent to confirm the murder.  So Cyrus lived, the shepherd and his wife were happy, the officer and his wife were happy, and the scared grandfather was happy.  Magane was not happy, but she eventually just returned to Persia.

Ten years passed and Cyrus was showing all the marks of being special.  Then a noble’s son went out to the countryside to play with the peasant boys.  This was a mistake and what might be called the inciting incident to Cyrus’ rise to power.  The boys were playing king, and Cyrus was the king.  He ordered the noblemen’s son to do something, and when he was disobeyed, beat the noblemen’s son.  This of course had them in a fuss, so the nobleman himself went to the king for justice.  Presumably, this is because those peasants were directly under the king’s protection, though this section is unclear in the version I read.  

The ten year-old Cyrus was then brought before the king and he impressed him enough that the king looked more closely into the matter, until it was revealed that he was the boy meant to be killed.  Did the king kill him?  No, his wisemen and soothsayers said that now that the boy had played at being king, the prophesies were fulfilled.  So the king had him welcomed into the fold and reunited with his mother.  Then he killed the officer’s son, and tricked the officer into eating his own son.  I retract my earlier comment about the grandfather being principled. 

Cyrus though, according to accounts, grew up as a good mix of Median and Persian ideals, learning how to be honest, tough, and also how to survive in his father’s and grandfather’s courts.  After a few years of growing up, the officer who had been forced to practice involuntary cannibalism, planned for long term revenge, and began inciting Cyrus to take the throne, which he did.  

There was another king, the king of Lydia, Croesus (who has his own extensive backstory) who decided to invade and fight against Cyrus.  He came to restore the grandfather to the throne, and perhaps also to expand his own territory at the expense of the king he came to rescue. He had a mathematician of some standing in his employment, which was a way of foreshadowing who would win.  After digging a new trench for the river Halys at the orders of the mathematician, the Lydian army was in Persian territory.  

He engaged Cyrus in battle, and after a day of fighting, both armies stayed put in their camps, and then the Lydian king decided to go home, and come back to the campaign in the next year.  He retreated, and started to disband his troops, when he found that the Persians were upon him.  Gathering up a rushed-together army he attacked them, but Cyrus used his camels and that scared the Lydian horses, so that they ran though their own lines and forced Croesus’ army into the nearby city.  It was well fortified and seemed secure, being built with walls on a hill.  However, the rear of the hill was less carefully guarded because it was a nearly shear cliff.  Some soldiers went up and took the town, and the king with it and Cyrus was now master of two empires, or very near to it.

As he was leaving to subdue Babylon for himself, he discovered that Lydia and the governor he had appointed had revolted, so after dealing with that, placing the officer who had been forced to commit paternal cannibalism as the new governor, Cyrus came to deal with Babylon.  The city was considered perhaps the most impregnable of its time.  According to Herodotus the walls were over 300 feet high and 80 feet thick.  Except Cyrus invaded under the walls, after diverting the waterways, and was inside the walls, interrupting Beltshazzer’s feast.  Or at least that is what Herodotus says.  Here, I think it is better to ignore Herodotus and go with Daniel, as he is inspired and know that at least for a while that Cyrus was not involved with Babylon.  It is best to recall that Herodotus was inclined toward telling a ‘good’ story and that we know he entirely leaves out mention of Cyaxares who Xenophon discusses as a joint ruler with Cyrus for a while.  Which suggests an entirely different succession than the Herodotus viewpoint.  

This brings to mind the words of a book referenced in a podcast, “The story of Persia…”  It also brings to mind a statement made by Jacob Abbott, “In a word, the real Cyrus is now a far less important personage to mankind than the Cyrus of Herodotus and Xenophon, and it is, accordingly, their story which the author proposes to relate in this volume.”

Some time after the uncertain events in Babylon, Cyrus allows the Jews to return from their exile in Babylon.  This is prophesied in Isaiah (44:28 and 45:1). This was prophesied in roughly 150 years before Cyrus was actually born and these passages Cyrus is described as ‘anointed one,’ a shepherd for Israel.   One who would have the foundation of the temple relaid, and have Jerusalem rebuilt, even though at the time of prophecy it had not been destroyed.  

This is actually carried out as described in Ezra, Daniel,  and

2 Chronicles.  

It is worth pausing on Cyrus, a gentile, being called a shepherd of Israel.  This is a much more exalted title then those who don’t know the Bible would guess.  Moses shepherded Israel, David shepherded Israel, and to hear that type of high language applied to a non-covenant member, is shocking.  Further, the same thing applies with the language of the ‘anointed one.’  The word for that is anglicized as Messiah.  And that is a very high title.

What was the end of Cyrus?  Some say he died peacefully in Susa.  In others he dies, fighting war elephants against the Indians and their allies.  Others (Herodotus) say that he fought a warrior queen of a barbarian nation in the north.  He loses, dies in battle and the warrior queen finds his body, and pours blood into his mouth, demonstrating her views that his war against her was unjust.  

Something to remember is that Herodotus is a Greek playwright.  He was writing to entertain a specific audience and that audience was very pleased with him for showing them in a good light, and for the play over all.  That audience was Athens, and Athens of this time saw Persia as an enemy, and while Herodotus is showing the buildup of the Median Persian empire that nows threatens Greece, he is also painting their arguably best king as tragic figure corrupted by power, until he starts unjust wars and dies disgraced in an unjust war. 

People then and people now take the facts, the rumors, and the opinions of their day and try to process them into their own worldview.  With Cyrus he is seen as the genius child, corrupted by the despotism to which he was raised to, or the child raised to the top of the empire he had built, and he died peaceably at the top of that empire.  
So who was Cyrus?  

The author, our own Timothy P. Young.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

November 7th, the Tension, the Terror, and the Triumph. Thankful!!!!

 You know you've landed in Maine when there's a moose in the airport!
Our family is so scattered right now!  I left Paul and Tim in South Carolina, while I went to be with Evangel for the birth of baby number 2! And, of course, Josh is in college in Connecticut.

It's a tough call to leave the hublet for so long, but his having 21 year old Timothy, who has a new driver's license (Whoo-hoo!!!!!) made me feel better.  I told Tim to help with driving, laundry, and cooking...3 of my areas of help to his Dad.

We didn't know how long I should be away, since we didn't know what type of birth was going to happen.  20 days turned out to be the best because Paul was in Columbia, SC, again, 20 days after I left.

 Such a nice greeting from the family!  My Mom, granddaughter, daughter and sister came to pick me up.  Evangel hadn't started labor yet when I arrived on the 5th.  We asked the Lord for the baby to come the next day, as her doctors were scheduled to induce labor on the 7th since they said baby was overdue.
 Baby did not come on the 5th or the 6th, though she did have some contractions.  We went to the hospital early on the 7th (by 8 AM) and Evangel was given Pitocin to induce labor.  She was excited.  Her husband Ryan was very involved in the labor.  I tried to be helpful, but didn't do much except get more and more fervent in praying as the day went along.

At 1:30, I was wondering how much more Evangel could take, and then her doctor said maybe 5 more hours.  WHAT?!?!  That seemed so discouraging, but Ryan said, "That would be faster than what we planned."  They encouraged themselves, and I was crying (quietly, in a corner, as I remember) and praying.  I did not feel I could last 5 more hours, let alone Evangel!
Happily, it was not so long!  Baby finally came at 3:39, only about 2 hours after.

We were so excited to meet Cyrus Paul Nathan Ford!  He was healthy and well, weighing 8 lbs. 11 ounces or 3.9 kilos.
                                                       Ryan is fascinated with his son.

Evangel began with complications soon after.  Her doctor rushed to deliver the placenta, and it tore, and she began bleeding.  She was rushed into surgery, and it was scary!

The Terror

I had gone down to the hospital cafeteria to tell my Mom and my sister Wendy that it was going to be awhile before they could see Evangel and Cyrus, as there was still some bleeding.  We heard over the  hospital loud speakers an urgent call for a team to room 3015, stat.

That was Evangel's room!  I raced back to the elevator, and up to her floor. The reciptionist wouldn't let me back into the room!  I got one glimpse of Evangel as they wheeled her away to surgery, when she said, "Trust God."

I was remembering her last time I had seen her wheeled around on a hospital gurney, when she was 13 and nearly died of a burst appendix.  She said later she felt closer to death this time, and felt at peace with that.  I'm glad she did, but I wasn't peaceful at that idea.  

Thankfully, though surgery took 4 times longer (!) than they had said it would be, she came through well, with 4 units of blood transfusions!

 While she was in surgery, some of us  (Fords, Youngs, Huntresses, Haynes, and Pastor Storey) held little Cyrus, though not Clarity.  Evangel wanted to be there for that meeting. Aunt Wendy and Great-grammy are thrilled with the new little guy.  They brought him a new hat.
                      I'm frazzled, but thankful!  We were later offered trauma counseling by the hospital.   I was grateful someone acknowledged what a rough day it had been.  Evangel is already talking about "next time".  I guess that's what John 16:21 is talking about, when Jesus talks about a woman not remembering the anguish, after the child is born.  The grandmother remembers.

 Clarity did come the next day, and Evangel was amazingly better already.  She was able to walk around a little, feed Cyrus, and enjoy seeing the historic meeting.
 Evangel and Ryan are thrilled with their little man.

 We stopped here.  Not sure if our attire was "proper".   :- )

 I KNEW Evangel was feeling better when she got going with a photo shoot for Cyrus.  I was inspired by some of the hospital's art in the hallways, so I wrapped my scarf around baby and was trying for some art, but Evangel watched my ineptness and stepped in. I'm so pleased with our results!  I think this one is wall-worthy!  But I'm a little biased.
 On her last day in the hospital, we got the sign organized before we left.  It was a shower gift from Cyrus's Aunt Holly.
 Evangel has known for months that this was the going home outfit if Cyrus was Cyrus.  It's from his African uncles, and says "Your Uncle/My Uncle"  Your Uncle being the bland bathroom uncle silhouette, and My Uncle being the Superman silhouette.
His Grand-mummy brought him this onesie that says "I'm Always Getting Picked Up by Women".  Being a man of virtue, Cyrus is shocked and horrified by this.  :- )

 It was a few days before Cyrus could meet his great Uncle Rick.  He took the John Deere approach to dressing that day.  He went farmer style.
 He likes baths, but not the part when you get out of the warmth and into the chilly post-bath air.

He thinks Christmas looks interesting.

Baby Cyrus came home on Sunday the 10th and is delighting his parents with his every little sign of progress.  He has smiled already!  He's eating well.  All systems are functioning.  Frequently.  

My prayer inspired by Psalm 139:13-14.
You're in control, O God, our Creator.  You covered Cyrus in Evangel's womb.
I will praise you, for Cyrus is fearfully and wonderfully made!  Marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.  

We're thankful for every single finger and toe, and just love his fuzzy hair, and warm, constantly stretching body.  His "big" feet and hands let us know he's not going to  be  a petite prince.  

Pray for this little family.  Baby lives are fragile.  Dad and Mom are tired.  Big sister Clarity has been having some health issues too.  Trust God.  

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Wedding of the Year!

Yesterday was the wedding of our niece Ariel Elizabeth Huntress with her beloved Dayton Craig Haynes.  The lemon flavored birch tree cake was delicious!  

 My sister Wendy and my Mom have been doing prep for this all summer.
Other things had to be done a little more last minute.  

The Flower Girl was a major highlight for us.  Just the curve of her precious.  

 She is 2 years and 1 month and 5 days old, and she did a great job!
And then got wrapped up warm.  It was chilly out there on the beach.  
The stunning mother of the bride, making the groom smile as usual.  
The bride herself!  
 The lighting gave a silhouette effect, but it was just beautiful.  Good snuggling weather.
They each gave their testimonies making us smile, as well as letting us know their stories better.  Loved that part.

And then, in that wind right off the lake, they burned their bridges behind them!  Paper ones, and we all watched to see if the veil would catch fire too!  

The centerpieces 

 The main course was from Panera Bread.  It was YUMMY!  Everyone was exclaiming over the warm soup on that cold day.

 Ariel's friends came to help!

                                                    Family time was wonderful!
The father of the bride will get me if he sees this photo, but he's worth noting.  
The flower girl's shoe had a touch of sand in there.  

A pathetic member of our clean up crew.  

A job well done.  A new family well begun.  May God be praised.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

When You Are Allergic To America

First culture shock in the USA, we hadn't even made it to our airport yet!  We were in Atlanta, with a layover for a few hours, and I went to the Ladies Room.  This Ladies' Room had lights over each door, red if the stall was occupied, green if you could go ahead in.  Wow!  We see that in a few of the ritzy parking garages in South Africa, but not in a bathroom!  America is so amazing.

Other shocks/surprises have followed here and there, but none like the shock of seeing our little granddaughter, and feeling that instant love connection.  Clarity is undoubtedly the cutest, smartest two year old on the least there are no doubts around here! 
My Mom and Clarity

We got to be there for her second birthday, and had fun reminiscing about her mom's second birthday. 

We got whomped pretty hard by jet-lag, but for me it has a new twist this time.  Apparently I'm allergic to something, and I've had swollen eyelids and sinus issues which make me feel like a narcoleptic.  I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat!  Or while my husband is preaching (that's bad! Rude!  Disrespectful!  and sometimes unavoidable.)  Or I can lie awake for hours in the night which is annoying, knowing I'm  going to be bad, rude and disrespectful again later if I don't sleep while the sleeping is good.

So we started off the first Sunday in my home church in East Waterboro, Maine.  That afternoon the church came to us for a baptism.  That was convenient for nacroleptics, and good to see growth in our church.
Some good New Hampshire advice there. 

Paul preaching at the baptism.  I was awake. 

Many there remembered the momentous church baptism in 2006, interrupted by a call from South Africa telling my parents that Cherish, who was 2 years, 10 months, and 6 days old, had just stopped breathing in a South African hospital.  Evangel's future husband Ryan was baptized that day.  It was memorable.  I've always been grateful my parents had the church family there to take the blow with them. 

From there, we've had church(es) each Sunday and most Wednesday nights.  Schools have been filling in gradually, until we've been to 8 schools so far, with one more to go this month.

In between we've been sleeping a lot, spending delightful, laughing times with family, and taking long walks.  We've done some shopping trying to get our wardrobes up to par, and make sure Joshua has enough for his first year at college.  (African MK is learning about wearing shoes every day, and a tie!  Paul just had post-graduate homeschool lessons with him on how to tie a tie.  I had forgotten to put that in our curriculum.)

He's got a Learner's Permit!
We've had to get a working US cell phone, get Tim to the DMV to start work on a US license, organize Paul's stored chalk equipment and order whatever else was needed, and sleep some more. 

We're trying to spend time outdoors to help get us regulated to this hemisphere, and have taken walks about every day.  Paul's been in the lake about every day, with a mighty splash, though it may only be 40 degrees F outside.  He claims the water is warmer.  I feel his skin when he gets out, and he feels like an ice cube.

Paul works on his latest book when he has free time.  I go for family time.  My Mom, sister, daughter, and granddaughter are my favorite uses for free time at the moment.

Paul's book is growing, and someday we will have it to offer to others who want to do chalk talks.  He's also looking forward to having his notes in print so that he can use them himself on some of chalk talks where he actually looks at notes. 

Clarity calls us Big Grampa and Mimi to distinguish us from her (5!) other grands.  When I ask her, "What does Grampa say?"  She says, "Bzzzzzzzzzzz Sting!" for a little game he plays with her.  She loves to be chased and "stung."  She likes for me to sing her own song about her name.  We could just sit and watch her and listen to her for hours.  Such a sweetie!

I am thankful for how it worked out with Joshua at his new school.  He is in Connecticut, nearly 4 hours away from the Camp where we are staying, but we've still had opportunity to see him twice this month because we had meetings near him.  He is adjusting well to college life.  I asked him what was giving him culture shocks, and he said the way some of the guys used water was jolting to someone who has lived through drought in Africa. 
Guess which one is ours. 

We should see Josh next weekend too, when we pick him up for the wedding of the year as far as our family is concerned.  My niece Ariel is to marry Dayton Haynes on the 4th of October.  We are just squeaking in for that one, departing for Pennsylvania the next day, not planning to be back in New England until December.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!

Each meeting has been special (even the school where I stayed in the car and slept with my nose in the air)  and some are worth sharing.

Dublin Christian Academy is always a treat to visit.  I was a student there from 1980-1984 so the memories come flooding back when we visit.  Their upgrades delight me, and finding faculty and staff who are still there also delights me.

We had a missions conference in New Britain, CT, with Tabernacle Baptist Church.  It was so good to get to know the new pastor and his wife, and to meet other missionaries each evening, and learn a bit about their ministries in the States.  We're in a needy world, and it's good to share our problems over snacks  and feel them grow lighter.

Nute Ridge Bible Chapel is another one that comes to mind.  It has memories for me from way back in 7th grade, but we made a new one this year.  Paul got feeling very low between their morning services, and when I mentioned it to the pastor, he whisked us downstairs to introduce us to ladies who took over and cooked Paul a second breakfast---eggs and English muffins!  It gave him just the lift he needed.  I got a mint Oreo with Double Stuff!  I had forgotten those things existed, and it was nice to get reacquainted. 
Tim finding out how Clarity feels.

Of course, Central Baptist Church in Southington, CT, gets a mention.  They have a beautiful prophet's chamber for people like us to use.  We used it when Paul preached at their schools and church, and they let us use it again for the Missions Conference.  It's a favorite any time, but even more now since Josh is there in New England Baptist College. 

This past weekend we had a family conference with Tri State Bible Baptist Church at the corner of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  That was encouraging!  Young families, oodles of children, and people taking Biblical commands seriously was refreshing!  Timothy preached twice there too.

We're soon to swap families for Paul's side of the family, and that will be nice too.  Thankful!
Sunset at Square Pond