Posts

Showing posts from 2013

It's Time

Image
Sitting in silent shock, I wonder where it has all gone, how I got here, how so much could happen in such a short time. Visions of it all swirl around me as I try to pin down a moment or two that might offer clarity, understanding, or acceptance. 
Another year is gone. Just gone. 
The new year is upon me, and I feel as if so much time has slipped through my fingers over this past year - time that could have been spent nurturing and nourishing my children's minds and spirits; time better spent getting myself healthier; time I should have spent letting everyone around me know how much I love and appreciate them. Time eaten by exhaustion, pain, medical appointments, and concentrating too much on the wrong things at times.
This coming year, things need to change. I need to refocus. 
This year I seek dynamic change in my life. I will strive to be a better steward with my time, spending more time in the moment with my children; with my husband that is not based on talking about day-to-day f…

Hiraeth

Image
It's my birthday. My thirty-ninth birthday. I have a house full of kids ranging in ages from five to fifteen. Five of them are mine. Twenty years ago, when I was nineteen and first met my husband, I could have told you that I'd have a house full of kids - yet I sit here, stunned, that I am mother to five children. I'm just as equally stunned that I've been married for going on eighteen years, am homeschooling my kids, and am living so far out of the box as I knew it twenty years ago that I can no longer see that way of life as a possibility. I love where life has brought me. 

And yet, as I sit and reflect, hiraeth overwhelms me. I yearn to feel the feeling of home I felt as a child. I long to revisit times and places in my past - those great ordinary days with loved ones - which I should have appreciated more at the time. Perhaps I just crave the feeling of being taken care of ... like those elementary school days I would feign illness just so my Grampy could come over …

The Best Gifts

Image
I got the best gifts for Christmas this year ... and they started coming before Christmas Eve.

On the 23rd,  because he couldn't contain his enthusiasm anymore, I got a BEAUTIFUL patchwork skirt made by my husband. The reason I was Kicked Out a couple times. And not only did I get the handcrafted skirt, but time to myself not once, but twice. And not only that, but I got a husband who for days on end exclaimed how excited he was for me to open my gift and couldn't possibly hold out one more day for me to open it on Christmas Eve.



I received one of my five-and-a-half-year-old daughter's favorite dolls, Jett Mae, as a sharing gift, just because she wanted to share with me something she loves so dearly.

I received the gift of music at worship, in the car, at home, in church choir, sung by me, by my kids, in Christmas movies, and in flashmob Youtube videos. And I got to sing with the cutest member of our church choir, who also happens to be my daughter.



A visit to my ninety-four y…

Wrong About Christmas

Image
You have unwrapped your gifts. You've kinda sorta maybe cleaned up the mess. You are enjoying your gifts, sharing holiday related photos online, and living off of leftovers. Jesus is resting peacefully in the manger. Your extended family has left the building. It's time to go back to work, back to real life. Christmas is over. 

But it's not. If you think Christmas is over, you're wrong. Christmas has just begun.
There are twelve days of Christmas, just like the song says. They start on Christmas Day - the First Day of Christmas, and end on Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Just as my family loves to celebrate Advent to the fullest, we also continue to celebrate Christmas in its entirety. 
And no, it's not just another excuse for this admitted Christmas music and movie addict to feed her addiction - it's an essential part of our Christmas journey, culminating, for our family, in our church's Epiphany Pageant. 
But I have a problem this year. Last year I ha…

Last Firsts

Image
There was a last first in our family today. 

When you have kids, life is full of firsts ... their first step, their first word, their first wiggly tooth. Having five kids, we've gone through firsts times five.

Today something hit me when our youngest lost her first tooth. 



She's the last of the kids to have a first time losing a tooth. She was the last one of my kids to take her first steps, to say her first word, and so many other things. While she was having these other firsts, I wasn't thinking about how they were the last firsts. I have to admit it's a bit bittersweet. 

At the same time our eldest just turned Fifteen - a year away from the possibility of a driver's license. Perhaps our first to drive, to get a job, to move out. Crazy, thinking driving lessons and baby teeth all in the same moment. 

How many firsts are already behind us? How many await us? The children are all growing up much too quickly. Time is slipping quickly and quietly past. 

But oh, the joy in …

Awake! Awake

Image
It must be the lack of sleep. Last night seemed endless - both myself and a child awake with too much pain. Restless sleep led to restless mind, and I find myself grasping for firm ground, trying not to sink into the darkness that threatens to smother my weary self.

Entering the sanctuary, I find it difficult to catch my breath, to find my center. Longing for something I just can't get a handle on, I do my best to settle into my seat. 

And then the words penetrate my mind, my heart, my soul, hitting me at my core, planting my spirit firmly in God. 
Awake, Awake, and meet the new morn, for angels herald its dawning. Sing out your joy, for soon he is born, behold, the child of our longing.On this fourth Sunday of Advent; on the morning after the longest night; just two days before Christmas Eve I long for light, and for the Light, to come. 
...music to heal the broken soul and hymns of loving kindness...Ah, yes, the music - the music, especially of this season, to heal my soul, to brigh…

Fifteen

Image
Dear Newly Minted Fifteen Year Old,

It is time again for the obligatory embarrass the teenager mushy blog post professing my great love for you ... or for just being goofy ... or a little of both. Thanks for the great photos I've been able to get of you, by the way. They're very helpful to this post. 

There is no way you are fifteen years old. That would make me ...... old .... and I'm not that old. It would also make you oh so very close to sixteen years old, and to consider the ramifications of such a thing is just insane. 

Where did the time go? Are you some sort of time-sucking alien being who makes the years go by much more quickly than they used to? Before you were born, time didn't pass nearly as quickly. In fact, I quite vividly remember the two weeks before you were born feeling like they took longer than fifteen years since your birth. 


You are growing into quite a taller than me young man, which I didn't think would ever happen considering how insanely short…

Kicked Out

Image
My husband kicked me out. 

He put a bag of food and my purse in the car and sent me on my way. No kids. Just me. Kicked out of my own house. 

So I went to church and left the food there, putting the cold food in the fridge and leaving the other food on the counter with a note indicating why it was there. 

Seeing as I hadn't yet had coffee, I decided to head next door to get some, and paid for the car behind me as well. Why not add a bit of cheer to someone else's day?


Not knowing what to do with myself, I headed to the only logical places - the liquor store for bourbon and the thrift store to just look around and pass some time.

Too soon, my son was on the phone telling me I could come home. My husband did as much of his project- a Christmas gift for me - as he could manage before needing to make dinner. Joining my family for dinner, a movie, and lots of laughter, I was able to relax knowing that should the impending snowstorm stop me from making it to church, my food contribution …

He Sees You When You're Sleeping

Image
He is a thing of nightmares, this zombie Teddy Ruxpin which sat facing the bed in the room in which three of my children slept for three nights over Thanksgiving weekend. I only noticed his eyes - or lack thereof - while packing to leave my grandmother-in-law's house. The song playing in my head at the time ... "He sees you when you're sleeping...he knows when you're awake..." Creepy.

Slow Days

Image
Pajama-clad, curled up with kids, computer, and too many words swirling in my head, I wrap myself in the comfort of these slow December days. There's snow and ice outside. My joints cry out at the thought of leaving this cozy, warm sanctuary.  So I stay, wrapped in the warmth of family. 
Days ago, my husband brought downstairs bins and boxes of Christmas decorations. Pulling out only a few items, I had him put them back in the closet. This year we'll keep it simple, concentrating on decorations precious and meaningful. 

Instead of things, we decorate our days with ritual, love, and time spent together. 

We share, again and again, the most sacred of stories - through Bible readings and children's books; through Christmas hymns and seasonal movies centered on the birth of our Savior and the love and joy that we share with others. We adorn our hearts with anticipation as we spiral in towards Christmas Day. 

Today it's candy and movies and snow-play for the kids and reading, r…

Hurry the Lord is Near

Image
Eyes overcome with tears, a lump forming in my throat, it is difficult to continue singing. Two angelic young voices sing once, then again, "Hurry the Lord is near!" Doing my best to keep it together, I continue singing, "Earth has longed for His approach ..."  And again, "Hurry the Lord is near!"  "Straighten the road, smooth the path..."   "Hurry the Lord is near!
Visions of recent nightly family gatherings float through my mind. Advent rituals over the past week brought to life the need to prepare the way of the Lord, the longing for His coming, and the smoothing of the path to our hearts so we could fully and joyfully celebrate His birth.
And then - a baptism. The young lady's face glows with the love of God, even more than the light of the candle in her grasp.
And then - my heart leaps as the sight of a young man entering the sanctuary. He rarely, if ever, comes to worship, although we see him often at Sunday School. I am so glad …

COMpLain

Image
I don't like to complain. I feel odd when I mention things that are bothering me physically in more than a "dear family, you need to know how much pain I'm in so you can gauge how much you can jump on me / annoy me / etc. today" kind of way. I feel worse if I give my laundry list of ailments on any given day... today it's a throbbing foot, achy knees, an incredibly sore neck, stiff hands, and that's just for starters. Who the heck wants to hear that - or to be keenly aware of every one of their own aches and pains? And so I don't complain much. And therein lies the problem.

When I don't complain, people seem to assume that I'm feeling good. Well. Pain-free. That I have energy and am moving well. How I wish that was the case! I'm in pain every single day. Every one. Even when my psoriatic arthritis is well under control. No medicine can undo the damage that's been done - the damage that causes pain.

Ever accidentally hit your thumb with a ham…

Plan What?

Image
This was the plan today ... let's call it Plan A:
- bake gluten-free cornbread - make gluten-free stuffing - bake gluten-free pumpkin pie cake - (have daughter bake) gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
Not too bad, except for the beginnings of a migraine and a throbbing foot. Then I went to preheat the oven. It wouldn't preheat. It will only go on the "clean oven" mode. 
So I went to Plan B: - panic - cry - look up what might be the problem online - try to fix it - cry when it doesn't work - panic - make snowflakes
That didn't work, so I moved on to Plan C: - look up crockpot recipes for cornbread and stuffing - look up crockpot dessert ideas
And so I found out that I could most likely accomplish gluten-free cornbread and stuffing in the crockpot. Problem solved. But what about dessert? Every single crockpot dessert that looked fabulous enough for Thanksgiving required ingredients I didn't have and looked incredibly complicated and I didn't want to risk them not coming…

Abundance of Blessings

Image
Every night, as a family, we share our highs and lows, we read and discuss a Bible verse, we say a prayer, and we bless each other before bed. It's a most sacred of rituals. It brings our family together physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We share the best and the worst of our experiences and our thoughts - without judgement, without interruption, with support and love. (Check out faith5.org and the book Holding Your Family Together by Rev. Dr. Rich Melheim - they are great starting points for this nightly ritual!)



Throughout the month of November, we've said what we're thankful for each night during prayer time, starting with A, and ending in Z on Thanksgiving night. We've learned that there is so much for which to be thankful...

I'm thankful for Alexander and Alia, who teach me so much about life. For beaches, especially the one at Camp Calumet, for which I'm also thankful. For Coren and cheesecake - both sweet; daydreaming and doctors; everlasting life …

Adorned

Image
A teenage girl sits alone, praying the man she loves won't be angry, won't leave her, when he finds out the burden and the blessing she carries - when she reveals to him that she's pregnant. The baby is not his. She fears he will, as most men would, take back the promises he's made and leave her to deal with her situation on her own.
He considers leaving at first. Instead he stays. 
The two journey forward together, despite the reactions of family, friends, and neighbors. Their love for each other, for God, and for the child she carries prevails.
That must have been a long nine months, and in that time, so much to do. There was a baby for whom to prepare, a pilgrimage to make, their own hearts to prepare to receive this blessed child. How do you prepare to give birth to God? To parent God? How should we, now, prepare for the same birth?
Shopping for gifts for family and friends, baking, adorning our houses in holiday finery, and myriad holiday activities make up the standa…

This Sign is Not Fine

Image
Arriving at Girl Scouts, a Very Observant Child noticed something a bit awry with the handicapped parking sign. I happen to have a handicapped parking permit, and as I've been having issues with my left foot, I decided to use it. It seems, however, that I need not have worried, as I could have parked in the next space over, permit or not. 

Violators will be fine. Fine. We studied the sign - there was never a D after FINE on that sign. Apparently someone thought it was fine as it was.

Fast Forward

Image
[For those of you who read last week's Fast Forward post which contained ... well ... nothing ... it was because my computer decided to fast forward things and publish the post immediately after I entered the post title into the editor instead of merely saving the post. Sorry for the vast array of white space in the post!]


Is life moving on fast forward? Time seems to be racing by - the Summer over in an instant, suddenly vibrant Autumn leaves now faded and falling, Thanksgiving swiftly approaching. There's barely time to catch a breath between birthdays, holidays, classes, meetings, appointments, and life.

November weighs heavy on my spirit, with sad anniversaries mixed with holiday preparation excitement. November brings with it a longing for a change for the calmer, the slower, the more serene. I first turn inward, attempting to sort out my wants and needs, define boundaries, and get my life and my thoughts in order. Then I turn to the bigger picture and delve into deeper con…

Some Days My Heart Hurts

Image
Some days overwhelm me with too much happy, or too much sad, or too much remembering, or too much longing.

Recently there have been many days with too much everything.

Reconnecting with someone I hadn't seen in a while, the mixture of emotions were difficult to sort out. Not sure what to say, all I knew to do was continue to do what I've done since we parted ways - continue loving and supporting while praying everything would work out well in the end.


Reuniting, although briefly, with other friends reminded me of how much admiration I hold for their strength, wisdom, and tenderness. The wealth of knowledge and experience in one room provided great inspiration and motivation, leaving me wanting to learn, do, and be more.

A gathering of women sharing deep convictions, very personal feelings, and lots of love and understanding proved just what I needed to focus in on those things I hold most dear, even though I was completely scatterbrained when trying to get across what I feel so pa…