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Daily Bread

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I nearly laughed out loud right there in the middle of quiet Evening Prayer worship. As I was praying  ... give us this day our daily bread ... the thought popped into my mind: "God must want me to go on a diet!"  Where this thought came from, I have no idea, but it got me thinking.

Give us this day our daily bread - a request for Enough. A request for just enough of what we need to make it through the day every day, like manna in the wilderness. No more, no less - a blessing of the essential. 

It dawned on me that lately I've been feeling like I don't have enough - not enough money to pay bills, not enough medication to take care of the pain, not enough energy to make it through the day, not enough answers to my health questions, not enough left after taking care of my family to nurture friendships. I feel like I'm lacking so much, and losing more by the minute. Perhaps God wants me to go on a diet - to live with less than what I expect, less than what I think I n…

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

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Am I supposed to be having a nervous breakdown midlife crisis right about now? It is my fortieth birthday, after all. What's supposed to happen in a midlife crisis anyway - are you supposed to try to recapture your youth or something? I don't need to do that. I have a sixteen year old whose mere age takes me back there often enough, and a fourteen year old who is too much like me and reminds me that I do not need to go back to those angst-ridden years. My early twenties were spent planning a wedding, getting married, and figuring out what true commitment and responsibility meant.  I relive my mid-to-late twenties, which were mainly spent mothering very small children, often enough when wrangling friends' little ones. I don't see a need to relive any of that - I'm good, thanks.

I don't know how it's supposed to feel to be forty. I'm guessing it's not my current state of wondering if this Sunday will be the day I surpass the mobility issues of my eight…

Christmas Eve on Hoover Avenue

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I sit in a silent house.

This is the first miracle of this Christmas.

It's 7:45AM on Christmas Eve morning. I've made biscuits, sorted laundry, done a load of laundry, prepped some food for later, folded laundry, and done a dozen miscellaneous tasks. A turkey breast is cooking slowly in the corckpot and there's homemade cranberry sauce in the fridge. 

The children are ALL still asleep. All of them. Even the ones who usually get up at 6:30am. 

I put five little gifts next to the tree. Gifts for my children, who will be incredibly surprised when they open them. Perhaps not pleasantly surprised, as they are the gifts that we have been promising since Thanksgiving: a nosewarmer for Alexander, new dart for Zachary (HIMYM reference), holes for Haley (she said she had a (w)hole list of stuff she wanted, so we told her we'd give her holes), coal for Coren (although he may have wanted the Ninjago minifigure, Cole) and a ski mask for Alia. I do have to admit that Alia will most like…

But I Get Up Again

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Disclaimer: This is the strangest Christmas Eve Eve post I've ever written. The songs are not Christmasy, but I do use the word Christmas several times and have a Christmas wish at the end. Please bear with me...



Sometimes you just need to have a good cry and a small nervous breakdown in order to turn things around. Last night, I did just that. 

This morning, I still felt like I was losing my mind. Not a good feeling to have on the day before the day before Christmas. I put on Christmas music. I made gluten-free/dairy-free Rice Krispie treats with my twelve year old daughter. This, by the way, is something that I shall never ever ever ever do again, as the process is to make glue and then try to mix dry cereal into the glue and then attempt to smear this gluey cereal onto a baking sheet and making it stick there instead of everywhere else. I'm still picking Krispies off of myself nine hours later. Come to think about it, somewhere in that mindboggling complex process I started h…

Bleak Midwinter

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In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter, long ago.Some days darkness wins.

Some days, it doesn't matter how hard you try, how much you pray, how much you logically know that somehow, someway, things will work out, depression wins. The weight of life's circumstances becomes too much to bear. Every single task becomes an insurmountable mess.

It's almost Christmas and I'm supposed to be enjoying time with family, anticipating the birth of the Christ Child, and all that happy .... stuff. But I can't. Not at this moment. In this moment, the darkness is closing in and the weight of my illnesses is upon me and the fact that it's ripped my family's finances to shreds for reasons too many to count fills me with guilt. If it weren't for me, for my illnesses, we could pay bills. We could go places, do things, fix our house, and the list goes on. 

I…

Sixteen

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It's just plain scary.

No, not that creature ... the fact that the young man inside that costume is sixteen. Sixteen. 16. He can't possibly be, but somehow he is.

Good thing I told him he's not allowed to drive until he's 35. I'm not sure I could handle one of my children driving. Driving. Being old enough to drive. Sixteen.

I've been preparing myself for this number for a year and it hasn't helped. It's still shocking when I think about it.

He's not your typical sixteen. He's himself. He's not embarrassed to watch VeggieTales with his siblings, while at the same time enjoys being treated as an adult member of the household. He's an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to Magic the Gathering and other things that hold his interest. He revels in being taller than his mother. He has an awesome sense of humor and every once in a while allows his mother to sneak in a hug-like show of affection. 

He's sixteen.



That means I get to kick him o…

Insistent Darkness

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Insistent darkness lingers later each night, its tendrils darkening my mood and shredding my sanity. I'm a mess. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. I struggle with seasonal depression this time of year, and add to that the stress of being off meds and increasingly ill and having no idea what is going on with my body, and all the deep breaths and prayers in the world find it difficult to combat brain chemistry. I am doing ok, really, it just takes work. Hard, tiring work. 
Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  Phil…

Free Admittance

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"My high today is that we got to go see the Christmas lights""My low today was that my brother got hurt.""My high today was spending time together as a family playing games."  "My low today was that people were not treating each other with respect earlier, and people ended up getting hurt."
Each night before bed, my family gathers together to share, to read, to talk, to pray, and to bless. We share the highs and lows of our day. Each one of us puts to words the best and the worst things from our days. Many days, the lows are mere disappointments, but some days they are weighty subjects - the weight lifted from the barer through sharing, talking, and praying. Each of my children don't hesitate to share, which is something I treasure. That my teenagers will freely admit to their darker feelings and experiences in the safety of our family circle is invaluable. That every teen would have such a safe, open place is my dream.

Our nightly circle is a…

Hurry

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Patience is something completely lacking from my being when I was a child. I had none. Zip. Nada. I loathed waiting. Waiting for Christmas was akin to torture to my young self, but there was something magical about that particular type of anticipation which I carry with me today.

While my ability to practice patience continues to be a work in progress, I am in love with the waiting that is Advent. It's just the beginning of Advent and I'm bursting with anticipation. Our Advent Spiral is set up, our Christmas tree created from lots of lights and things found around the house, Christmas books are wrapped to open and read together each morning and our Advent calendar (online this year!) is awaiting our nightly visits during our FAITH5 family devotions time.

It's all so very exciting. We need to hurry up and wait!

It only seems fitting that on our first Advent night we read a book about Jesus as a boy, about Mary telling Him the stories of Love surrounding His birth. About her ex…

People Keep Asking

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People keep asking me what I want for Christmas. And for my birthday - the big 40 - which is five days later. "Something you want, but would never buy for yourself," one friend asked. I honestly have no idea what that is.

So much of what I want is out of reach ... making my home handicapped friendly and adequately organized, a second bathroom, a freezer full of meat so I don't have to worry about feeding my family, a way for me to make money to contribute to my family despite my ever-growing health issues. A diagnosis for my new symptoms and plan for treatment for all my medical issues. The energy to get things done and keep my house clean.

I suppose what I really want is peace of mind. Knowing my house is functional, that I can put food on the table, and that we can pay our bills without struggling.  Being able to purchase health/medical items not covered by insurance without feeling guilty for taking money away from my family's needs. Knowing the possibilities of wha…

Ways to Torture Your Kids, Christmas Edition

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1. Ask them what they want for Christmas. Every time they say something, shake your head about their choice and ask, "What else?"

2. Every few days, say, "You wanted a __insert item child does NOT want here ____, right?" Act upset with yourself when they tell you they want something different.

3. Wrap their Christmas gift early - or better yet,  a random household object - and leave under the tree or anywhere else in the house. Every once in a while, comment about how excited you are for them to open their gift.

4. Wrap their gifts in layers of wrapping paper, yarn, bags, and tape. Make sure the final product is much bigger and a totally different shape than the gift itself.

5. Watch the same holiday movie from your childhood over and over and over and over.

6. Replace all Netflix queues with only Christmas movies.


7. Have Christmas music playing at all times. Well, except when you're watching Christmas movies.

8. Start baking Christmas cookies right after Thanksgivin…

Possessed

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I don't want my kids to get anything for Christmas. No, this isn't the Bah Humbug of blog posts. Let me clarify: I don't want my kids to get any things for Christmas. As their rooms can attest, they have too much stuff. Too much to keep track of. Too much to take proper care of. They simply don't need more stuff.

Now, I'm sure they'd tell you otherwise. Normally I don't particularly care about the amount of stuff they collect, unless I'm tripping over it or it is otherwise causing a hazard. The thing is, some of their stuff has infiltrated the rest of my house. Haley, the baker and soapmaker has supplies in the pantry, kitchen and dining room. There are Magic the Gathering and Pokemon cards everywhere. Legos keep somehow getting loose. I won't even describe to you the jars of internal organs or eyeballs, and all the skulls and bones laying about. 
I've had enough.
It's not the amount of stuff that my kids possess. It's the number of things …

On The Verge

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I've spent most of the past six months on the verge of tears nearly twenty-four hours a day. From sheer joy to intense pain, life lately has been tear-inducing.

Have you ever had a moment when you're going about your day and all of a sudden you're just overwhelmed with ... with...with something you just can't put your finger on. You just want to cry and you don't know why. That's been me a lot lately. 

I was ticking things off my to do list: call so and so, organize this, put away that, update this event on facebook, and BAM tears. They stopped me in my tracks. They came after posting an event page for our church's Tuesday Night Sunday School in a facebook group and being met with two simple words "sounds amazing!" in response. It IS amazing. It's beyond amazing. It's family. It's love. It's doing and giving and believing and learning. It's people getting together and sharing something too deep and meaningful for words, even thou…

Dearest Body

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I am writing to you to request that you please stop trying to compete with people more than twice my age.

It would be wonderful if you could get your act together enough for me to go back to walking unassisted, although I do have to say that my canes, crutches, and wheelchair are now fairly stylish thanks to special-ordered canes and decorative duct tape for the rest. But that's beside the point - walking is good. Really. At least some of the time. And not the shuffle around in a Tim Conway Old Man-esque manner. (OK, that reference just made me feel old!)

A medical professional's suggestion of a walker is a little over the top, isn't it? Chasing five or six or a dozen children while shuffling behind a walker would be a sight, I suppose, but not one I'd like to inflict on myself or others.  Especially since I'm imagining that happening with me in a housecoat for some odd reason. I'd much rather be a cane or crutch-waving curmudgeon.

Also, if you could fix my "…

Breathe Deeply and Pray

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Sleep circles, taunting my pain-wracked body. All I can do is breathe deeply and pray.

My strong fragile child battles migraine and mood. His mood encourages my anxiety, which is already having a field day due to precarious health and unanswered questions. I breath deeply, coaxing gentle words to the tip of my tongue. I pray for relief for us both.
Reflecting on the day so far, it can't possibly be just past noon. Enough has transpired in one morning to fill the entire day. Words buzz around in my brain as it attempts to get a firm grasp on any of them. An appointment with my rheumatologist produced unexpected news: stopping Remicade, referral to a neurologist, the need for a series of MRIs, possibilities including nerve damage and multiple sclerosis thrown about. Unanswered questions continue to pester me as I breathe deeply to calm my nerves and pray in an attempt to hand my troubles over to God.

Soul soothed after a phone call from a friend, surprise catches me once again. Part on…

Dread

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It's almost here. The appointment I've been needing and looking forward to, yet at the same dreading with every fiber of my being. The appointment that will hopefully put me on the path to solving another piece of my health puzzle, but which could also come with life-changing news. I finally saw a neurologist to figure out why I have numbness and tingling in my arms and legs, why I have a constant stabbing headache, why my neck hurts all the time, and why my legs go out from under me without warning. I had extensive x-rays to help determine the amount of fusions going on in my neck and lower back due to ankylosing spondylitis. Now I have an appointment with my rheumatologist to put it all together, to figure out if he has a better picture of what's going on, and to find out how we're going to proceed.

I want answers. Really, I do. But a sense of dread has come over me since the appointment showed up on my calendar. The what ifs are taking over the rational just-wait-an…

Best Intentions

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An amazing woman I know, in a facebook group she set up as a landing place for parents doing their best to parent gently while coping with the many manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder, started something that has turned into a daily ritual for me, and has been life-changing. It's so simple, yet so critical. 

First, two simple words help center me for the day ahead: I Intend...

Today, I Intend: To live in the moment, To be open to Joy, to make it the best birthday party ever for my son by encouraging him to lead the way through the Peabody Museum of Natural History with his friends and releasing any expectations I might hold of what our time there should look like. To be gentle with myself as I navigate the museum in wheelchair or on crutches, listening to my body's limitations, but not letting those limitations affect my mood.Today, I Intend: To center myself in the Water and the Word. To tend to the earth. To be a good steward with my time, talents, and possessions.…

Health-O-Meter

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I wish there was a Health-O-Meter that could let me know what my health is going to be on any given day. Life would be so much easier! You see, on days like today, I never know when my body is going to say enough! It could be that I get up, showered, and dressed with minimal problems. I could even get to the grocery store and do a little shopping. Or maybe a lot of shopping. Perhaps I'll start feeling ill just minutes after arriving at the store, or halfway through shopping, or when I get to my car. Maybe I'll need help getting my groceries in the car, or maybe I'll be able to do it myself. I may get the groceries from the car to the house, or need someone else to do it. Then there's putting away the groceries. Occasionally I'm well enough to accomplish that task immediately upon returning from the store. Mostly I get the fridge/freezer stuff put away and then call it a day ... or a week.

Perhaps I have an after-the-fact Health-O-Meter...

Incredibly Ill: Didn't e…

Making Sense of Worship

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My feet are cold. People are shuffling their feet, flipping hymnal pages, sniffling, whispering, rifling through bags and purses, all while the Pastor's voice echoes off the walls. The flowers smell strange today and there's another scent I can't figure out - maybe some kind of cleaner, or someone's perfume. It's cool in here, but the light above my head is producing too much heat. I think I might need to change seats, but my only options are next to my sister or a stranger. Perhaps I'll stay put. Why do we have to sit in front? All those people behind me and I don't know what they're doing. It's quite distracting. Just to get out I have to maneuver through a sea of them. And there's a high pitched sound coming from somewhere - the sound system or the emergency light things, maybe? Now the vibrations of the organ are rattling my chest and my eardrums. It's so loud! So many different voices assaulting my ears all at once. Whew. Silence. Well,…