Monday, December 31, 2012

Living the Kyrie

As you venture into the new year, open yourself to its endless possibilities. Think back to the past year - to the joys, the trials, the things that filled your soul, the things that left you drained and empty, the people and experiences that lifted you up, and the things that beat your down or held you back. What did the year give you? What did you let go? 

Now think about the new year. Where do you hope it leads you? What do you want it to feel like? Will you be letting go of something or do you hope to welcome something momentous into your life? What one word comes to mind, describing what you envision this new year being for you? Grab hold of that word and focus on it through out the year. You'll be amazed where it takes you. 

As I was singing the Kyrie a couple weeks ago, I came to a realization. Too often in life we get caught up in, well, life. We're too busy to think, nevermind to invite God into the picture. Our thoughts are too hung up on paying bills, managing our time, and acquiring things to remember to live our lives as Jesus taught us. When this happens to me, I feel lost, disconnected. I needed something to help me center my life "in the water and the Word." I wanted the new year to bring opportunities for living out truth, justice, and grace - to focus on friends, family, peace, love, and faith. To live the Kyrie. 

And there it was. As simple as that. My word for 2013. Kyrie.

Kyrie Eleison as I venture into 2013 doing my best to not just sing and pray the Kyrie every day, but to live it.

"Kyrie Eleison?", you say. Isn't that a catchy Mr. Mister tune from the 1980's? Why yes, indeed it is.

But that's not quite what I'm talking about, although I love that God has mercy on me on the road that I must travel, even in the darkness of my nights.

The Kyrie to which I'm referring is this:

We sing this many Sundays at worship. My youngest holds this Kyrie dear to her heart and is sad when we don't sing it. I've found that I do, and am, too.

Lord have mercy on me as I deal with health challenges, my marriage, my ever-growing children, and all the activities in which my family is involved. Lord have mercy on us all, as we work for peace, unity, truth, justice, and grace- as we strive to make the world a better place. Lord have mercy as we work and as we play, and as we move gently or boldly through our day. Lord, remind me to have mercy on others, and mercy on myself. Kyrie eleison as I open myself to the Spirit. Help me trust as She guides me to make the right decisions and leads me to the God-things that provide infinite inspiration. 

Not one for making resolutions for the new year, I'm going to do my best living the Kyrie throughout 2013. 

I wish everyone a blessed new year full of inspiration, dreams come true, and love spread to all those around you. May the Lord have mercy on our world and on our way. 

Many Blessings,

Amanda and the rannygahoots

P.S.  What's your word for the new year?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas, a week before Epiphany, was a morning filled with pageantry. (You sang that to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas, didn't you?)

The scenery is set. 
Angels are flitting about the sanctuary.
The shepherds are all trying not to hit each other with their staves, or at least they're trying to appear as if they're not trying to hit each other with their staves. 
Mary and Joseph are sitting quietly.
Jesus, in baby doll wrapped in a white pillowcase form, is hiding in the hay.
Jesus, the older version, is sitting confidently, his lines memorized.
And it starts: a Christmas pageant with a cast of a dozen and a half, ages 3-73. 

"It Wouldn't Be Christmas Without"

We learn through people sharing with each other; through Isaiah, Micah, Jesus, Mary, and even Boniface; through the angels and the shepherds; and through Christmas hymn after Christmas hymn, the real meaning of Christmas. 

It wouldn't be Christmas without candles, right?

It wouldn't be Christmas without music, right??

It wouldn't be Christmas without a tree, right???

It wouldn't be Christmas without presents, RIGHT????

Well, maybe. But it definitely wouldn't be Christmas without Jesus. 

I learn something more, too.

It wouldn't be a Pageant without crooked halos and angels who speak softly yet sing powerfully.

It wouldn't be a Pageant without costume pieces made from pillowcases, knee-highs and pipe cleaners. 

It wouldn't be a Pageant without missed cues, forgotten words, and all the little things that make for a memorable morning.

It wouldn't be a Pageant without the music we hold most dear, sung with gusto by young and old and in-between. 

And it wouldn't be a Pageant without the Light, the Song, the Root of Jesse, the Gift. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

That Love Built

This is Alia.


This is Alia unwrapping a gift.

This is Alia hugging the gift that she got for Christmas.

These are the mermaids named Splish and Splash that are the gift that Alia got for Christmas.

This is Alia wearing the mermaids (on her front) and a Vamplet (on her back ) during worship on Christmas.

These are best friends who shared the gift - Fi taking Splash and Alia, Splish - that Alia got for Christmas.

This is the friendship that love built. 


Friday, December 28, 2012


As the year draws to an end, I find myself revisiting life through my posts over the past year. I've shared thirty of them in this post - some of my favorite memories and messages and silliness. 
Reflection of my husband's eyes =
Captain Jack Sparrow eyes 

A year ago I was Looking Forward to 2012. Things didn't turn out as I'd hoped. My health is worse now than it was at this time last year. My brain isn't functioning normally - my memory is horrible. Some of the things I'd hoped to accomplished proved more difficult that I could have imagined. Yet some worked out better than I could have dreamed. I have to trust that everything worked out exactly as it was supposed to.

In January I learned to live With These Hands.

In February I had One of Those Days while trying to live with RA, which didn't quite happen Like Magic

In March I promoted Child-Free Vacations, relived childhood memories, and discussed such things as suicide, Prostitutes and Whores

April brought out the Heroes among us and asked How Do You Feel?

Beware! An Inflammatory Blog Post Pitting Parents Against Parents appeared in May. What's the Point? But I tried to round things out so I could Put a Rainbow In Somebody's Cloud

The Summer months brought The Lowest Point, I was really Losing It, sometimes asking Where Is God In All Of This?. I Hate This ... it's not as bad as it seems and not all my posts with seemingly depressing titles were sad at all. Assume Nothing. After all, my Kid is Defective, so give a break.

The Writing on the Wall in September gave way to A Most Upsetting Thing

Good News! The Autumn brought Sanctuary and Pain Relief because it's Not Just Arthritis, you know. It also brought the Unexpected, both in the Full-ness of life, and the vibrant emotions of Home.

Moving into the new year, I can see there are going to be many changes ahead. I'm going to have to let go of a lot in order to encourage my physical and emotional health. I'm going to have to rethink and rework many aspects of my life and my family's life to make things better for us all. I'm going to have to work at my health harder than I have before. 

I am blessed to be going through this with all of you - and with a house full of rannygahoots!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oxygen Mask

I don't feel well. I have a scratchy throat. I'm more than exhausted. Every joint is unimaginably painful. My fingertips are KILLING me. I just want to curl up in bed and sleep all day. On top of it all, Christmas has exploded all over my house - there's packaging and wrapping paper and boxes and bags and instruction books and toys and ... all over my house. Apparently I'm the only one who can see it, who trips over it, and whom it bothers.  And I'm not even allowed to be sick because my husband has to work and there are these five children who insist I take care of them. 

But how am I supposed to take care of children, a house, and all that comes with those two things when I feel this way? How can I be an effective parent when I'm this miserable? I just want to cry. 

And then I remember the oxygen mask. 

When you get emergency instruction on an airplane, they always stress that parents should put the oxygen mask on themselves before their children. You can't take care of your child if you don't take care of yourself first. That goes for daily life, too - yet sometimes we forget that.

As he does every morning, this morning my husband brought me a rice sock for my back, made sure I took my first med of the day, and brought me coffee. Then he brought me breakfast so I could take other meds. I took more meds than usual, to assure I can make it through the day. Instead of trying to jump into housework and errands that need to be done, I've spent the day so far in bed. I've cut my to do list down to figuring out what to make for dinner and defrosting something if necessary and curling up with a good book while my kids play the video games they purchased with their Christmas money yesterday. Eventually, if I feel up to it, I may get some housework done. If not, it will wait ever so patiently to be done tomorrow. 

In this world of do and get and be ... of taking care of everyone else ... of dealing with chronic pain and illness ... of striving for normal, whatever that is ... we often forget to take care of ourselves. If we fail to take care of ourselves, we don't - we can't - take proper, joyful, care of others. We can't enjoy life to its fullest. We can't see even the merest possibility of normal. 

When life overwhelms you, remember and use your oxygen mask, whatever that might be - a nap, a "day off," going out for a cup of coffee with friends, therapy, meditation, prayer ... whatever refreshes your spirit and renews your soul. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What I Got for Christmas

I got to spend early Christmas Eve morning listening to Christmas music in a quiet house while baking for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day breakfasts and wrapping last-minute gifts.

I got to spend Christmas Eve morning snuggled in bed with my kids watching silly holiday movies.

I got to enjoy Christmas Eve brunch with four generations - from my 93 year old grandmother to my 4 year old daughter - with delicious food, good conversation, and lots of love and laughter shared by all.

I got to do Advent devotions with my family and see the joy on my kids' faces as they unwrapped their Christmas Angel gifts.

I got two wonderful head scarves made by my eldest, who was also my Christmas angel. 

I got to attend worship not once, but twice, which is a good thing since Alia spent part of the sermon during the earlier worship asking me if, when she's an angel in the pageant, we'll attach her to a rope attached to the ceiling so she can fly all over the worship room.

I got to listen to precious children sing.
  I got to nourish not just my soul and my spirit at church, but also my body, eating dinner with church family between worship services. 

I got to sing a joyful song to the Lord during eight o'clock worship, and read the words "for to us a child is born, to us a son is given..."

I got to sleep later than expected Christmas morning, with a bonus snuggler in bed for the last hour or so.

I got to wake up to a dusting of snow - just enough to make it look pretty outside without compromising our drive to church.

I got to see the joy on my kids' faces when they opened their gifts.

I got to spend an entire day with my family focusing on the important things: our Savior's birth, people we love, good food, good company, and the joy we can add to others' lives.

I'd love to say I got a nap ... but I didn't. At least Papa did!

I got two beautiful shirts from my husband and a meditation jar from Coren.

I got Dee's (gluten-free bakery) money of my very own from my parents, along with other fun and amazing gifts. 

And most importantly, I got love. 

I got the gift of a Father's love for all His children - the gift of His son not only that he might die for us, but that he might teach us how to live for others. 

I got the gift of my family's love through hugs and snuggles, laughter, food prepared especially to meet my needs, understanding of my limitations, and allowing me rest.

I got love from friends and strangers at worship as we shared the peace. 

I got just what I wanted - and needed - for Christmas. 

And it isn't over yet!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

An Abundance of Angels

A Christmas Angel dropped by today, bearing more than gifts. She presented to me a box overflowing with memories, its contents to be shared with my children so more wonderful memories can be created. In essence, she shared part of her family and her husband's family with mine. Their gift to me - their gift of kindness, love, and grace - has filled my heart and soul to overflowing. 

How do you thank someone for passing on to your family something their family held so dear? There aren't words big enough, good enough - so instead we'll pay it forward however we are able. 

And then...

Needing a few things at the grocery store, I drove around and around the parking lot. The young man who was retrieving carts saw me - and a car backing out of a parking space fairly close to the store. He motioned to me to come to the next aisle over as he ran to the parking space. He asked a person who signaled to turn into the space if they would mind if a handicapped person parked there, and the kind person nodded happily and continued her search. By the time I parked and pried myself out of the car, the young man, who always has a kind word for me and helps me with my groceries if needed, had gone back to collecting carts. Putting in a good word for him with the stressed-out store manager put a smile on both the manager's face and mine. 
And then...
I went to the thrift store mostly to just browse and have some "me" time before our busy Christmas Eve and Day. While I was looking at coffee makers, a gentleman in the same aisle struck up a conversation with me. I happened to mention that the coffee maker at our church is missing a piece and I was wondering if I could happen upon the same model to get a cheap replacement part instead of the church needing to purchase a new machine. Heading in different directions, we exchanged Blessed Christmases and went about our shopping. Upon checking out, the cashier put a bag containing a new coffee maker in my cart, saying an older gentleman said to make sure I went home with it.  
Thanking God for the abundance of angels in my life, I headed home to surprise my eldest daughter with a new dress, wrap the last of the Christmas gifts, and share some of the love that has touched my life in plenitude.

May your life overflow with memories and friends, may angels grace your life with heartfelt treasures...and may you bless others as you have been so richly blessed. 

"You can never have too many angels!" 
~ Reverend Wayne P. Gollenberg 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Love Can Open Your Eyes

Driving, alone, this morning, I realized that there's something missing from Advent for me this year. Something I was having a difficult time putting a finger on. As I drove, I breathed, I soaked in the relative silence, enjoyed the dancing snowflakes, and prayed. Prayed like I do every day. Invited God into that moment and every moment of my day. Asking, for the million and tenth time this year, I'm sure, for help, support, for peace.

And then I knew what was missing. 

During Advent, I usually have a feeling of getting closer to God as we draw closer to the celebration of Jesus' birth. As I listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, attend Sunday worship, and make my way through Advent devotions, I center my life more and more in the water and the Word. As December days grow shorter, I find myself in greater anticipation of the celebration of Jesus' light entering the world.

But this year has been different. That hasn't happened. Don't get me wrong - I've listened to the music, watched the movies, done the devotions, and diligently attended worship. My anticipation of the Birth has grown. But gotten closer to God? That just hasn't happened. At first this thought was disconcerting. Is it because of how difficult this year has been? How painful? Have I somehow gone astray? And then it hit me:

Over the past year I haven't wandered away, I haven't grown more distant from God as can sometimes happen when you're no longer focused on His earthly arrival - or when you're living a rollercoaster life physically and emotionally. This year life hasn't gotten in the way. This year I haven't gotten in God's way...well, not too much. Through my ups and downs, I have grown in my faith and felt God's love more now than ever before. 

This year love has opened my eyes. I let go - of expectations, of control, of everything - ok, almost everything. I lived life, and loved life, day by day. I prayed. I waited. And sometimes waited a little more. Some really amazing answers appeared along my path, and even when I stumbled or felt let down, I felt love lifting me up, opening my eyes to life, to good, to God. 

Love opened my eyes to its reflection in a child's touch, a pastor's words, and a stranger's smile. In caring for others, in laughter, and in tears. In pain, in the darkest night, and in a caretaker's hands. 

Love opened my eyes to His reflection  in a child's touch, a pastor's words, and a stranger's smile. In caring for others, in laughter, and in tears. In pain, in the darkest night, and in a caretaker's hands.

So let love open your eyes this year - to wonder, to peace, to the little things, to the big picture, and to a lifetime of surprise. 

"Our world is aways changing.
Every day's a surprise.
(Live a lifetime of surprise.)
Love can open your eyes.
(Brother, look around)
In our world.

When night lays sad upon you
Go watch a simple sunrise
(See wonder in your eyes)
Love can open your eyes
(Welcome, brother)
To our world."
In Our World/Brothers by Paul Williams


Fourteen. He's fourteen.

He is my only child born in the 1900's. That means he must be old!

He is my first ...well, my first living child. 

He taught me volumes about love, about faith, about mothering, and mostly about myself.

But there's no way he can be fourteen, is there?

My wondrous child who started walking on Christmas Day just after turning one was reading books to his baby brother by age two ... and hasn't stopped reading since.

There are things that haven't changed about Alex since he was a toddler. He's always had long hair, surrounded himself with books, and tried to subsist on peanut butter, pasta, and pizza. And dessert. And potato chips. He's always liked been obsessed with computers and video games. And he's always had an awesome sense of humor. 

Alex has gone through a lot of changes this year. His voice has gotten deeper. He's had a major growth spurt. He's (shhhh...don't tell anybody) almost as tall as me!

He's gone through a creepy monster phase.

And a zombie phase.

And a fire-conjuring phase.

Many days he appears quite normal.

And then there was the... uh.... well....

Lately he's been going through a pensive phase.

And finally, one of his greatest accomplishments this year: 
Epic Family Portraits

Alexander, my kung fu pumpkin head, I love you. Even if you are fourteen, which makes me feel old. Now stop that - I heard what you thought and you can just keep that comment to yourself. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

little sleep, lots of pain, need coffee

Today I was trying to find something I posted earlier this year. I have short term memory problems. I have problems with remembering when things happened. On my journey through my year on facebook, I decided to make a game of it, and recorded each status my pointer landed on while I scrolled. Below are the results. 

Who stole my energy?

I'm in need of three things: pumpkin latte delivery service, 2. a nap, and 3. motivation

Today has been brought to you by snarky, uncooperative children.

I need coffee. 

Is awakeish.

Is it bad when the person making your coffee asks if you need a back-up iced coffee for later?

Why am I not sleeping?

Vulcan fishie. That is all.

Need. more. spoons.

Today shall require much coffee.

I somehow don't think I'll be leaving the house in 3 minutes as planned, especially seeing as I haven't yet gotten out of bed.

Alia is singing "...somebody done somebody wrong..."

I need chocolate. Now.

So much to do, so few functioning brain cells.

There's a drum circle going on in the next room. Either that or the natives are getting restless...

Ah, the optimism of a four year old. She's at the window waiting for the ice cream truck. In February. In Connecticut. 

My husband tried waking me up with polka music. Coffee would have been much more effective.

Me, "Honey, there's a bug in my water." My husband, "Then don't drink it ... unless you need extra protein. You're always saying you need more protein."

Painsomnia, Ugh.

I want a new duck.

My legs are covered in star stickers and I want cheesecake.

On another note, my doctor actually prescribed COFFEE to me today. Unfortunately I can't get it in IV form.

I must be tired. I just asked my husband, "Did I show you that thing that I did?" Perhaps I need to be more specific.

It seems we're fresh out of what.

Is completely lacking in get up and go.

I know there are things I should be doing .... but instead I'm watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. 

My house smells as if I set a Christmas gift on fire ... oh, wait....

Most of these statuses can be summed up in one status from early in the year:

little sleep, lots of pain, need coffee

What are your favorite facebook statuses from 2012? 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Just Want the Kids to Go to Bed!

I just want the kids to go to bed.

Not for the peace and quiet it brings.

Not because I need to wrap their Christmas gifts or some other secret Christmas something-or-other.

It's not because it's only then that I get a moment to sit, rest, pray, or concentrate on any of the dozen tasks awaiting me.

It's because there is a gluten-free chocolate peanut butter confection
calling to me from the kitchen.

And I don't want to share. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Horrific things like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School happen and people ask "Why???!!!"

Why do stock photos of school children standing in line
at school elicit such strong emotions?
Why here? 
Why us? 
Why these innocent lives?
Why now?
Why at all?
Why didn't someone stop it?
Why didn't someone know?
Why did he....?

All these are valid questions. All heartbreaking. 

I have questions of my own.

Why does it take something like this happening for communities to come together for the good of their children?

Why, after events like these, do we hug our children a little tighter, hold them a little closer, and tell them we love them more - why aren't we doing that every day anyway?

Why, in a culture that teaches and promotes violence - through video games, movies, media, and otherwise - are we surprised when something like this happens? Why don't we teach peace and understanding instead?

Why do some of us jump on the political bandwagon within moments of the news instead of allowing the families time to mourn ... instead of finding ways to meet the immediate needs of all touched by this tragedy?

Why do we tend to put all the blame on the gunman and his mother, and not so much on our culture, our society, or systems of education and healthcare that don't work for everyone? 

Why does it take an event like this to push us to perform random acts of kindness?  Shouldn't we help make the world a better place every day?

Why do we at first not only feed into the media blitz, but spread unconfirmed "news" via social media? 

Why so we feel the need to know every detail of what happened and every opinion about every aspect of that day? Why not instead turn off the tv, the radio, the computer, and tune in to our families? None of us needs to relive the sights of that day, especially not our children, and you can get a concise report on any news station's website in minutes instead of spending hours reliving the horror. 

Why do we torture ourselves with the what-ifs of the situation? No one can change what happened. No one can go back and get the shooter the care he needed or the school the level of security they needed that day. 

Why do we torture ourselves with the what-ifs of the future? No one can predict when or where something like this will happen again - and it doesn't just happen in schools. It happens in stores, on military bases, in homes, in parks, etc. 

Why do we care more about being right than doing the right thing? 

Why is it more difficult and more expensive to get mental health care than it is to get a gun?

Why do we light only 26 candles? Mourn only 26 victims? Isn't all life precious? The shooter's mother was murdered - why not light a candle for her? The shooter was so lost, so broken, that he did the unthinkable and then took his own life - why not light a candle for him? 

Why do we try to honor the victims with hatred for the killer? Hate accomplishes nothing. Hate changes nothing for the better. 

Let love win. Let love change the way we act, the way we treat people - all people - the way we think about mental healthcare, community, and family. 

If you need to ask why, ask why we don't care more for our neighbors and ourselves. Why we don't love more, give more, and help more. Why we need something like this to happen to care. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Four (almost-five!) -Year-Olds Do

1. Go sledding. A certain four-year-old in my life is into driveway sledding, since we have a very steep driveway. She claims that wipe-outs while street sledding aren't as bad as skateboarding wipe-outs because you wear much more padding in the Winter.

2. Get messy. Four year olds are very good at getting messy. This is perhaps why my daughter's favorite class at homeschool co-op this past semester was Gooey Pre-school Science.

3. Helping the baby nap by pretending to sleep for so long that you actually fall asleep.

4. Defy the laws of physics. Or, fall asleep standing up.

5. Hang out with friends. Everywhere. At home, the park, a friend's house, the theater, outside in freezing temperatures without shoes ... take your pick.

6. Build tall tall towers with your sister.

7. Fetch wayward toddlers and bring them back to their parents.

8. Have mamamilk. Usually in mismatched pj's, but that's not essential.

9. Eat "apple noodles" with your best friend. (Recipe for apple noodles: Use peeler/corer/slicer to peel apple. Gather long strand of apple skin and eat. Stretching it between two friends and munching to the middle recommended.)

10. Jump in puddles with your friends. 

Ok, I realize that one of the activities is not typical of a four almost-five year old. I do admit that she's a little old to be doing it, but it's so normal and natural that I don't interfere. Heck, I'd love to be doing it every day if I could. After all, naps are awesome!