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Showing posts from 2017

ADVENTures and CHRISTmas

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We finished our final ADVENTures, which included telling someone five things you like about them, having a Christmas movie night, doing something nice for someone, and attending Christmas worship.
We spent a quiet Saturday watching Christmas movies, making a turkey dinner, baking cookies, and playing card and board games. Our children opened gifts from their great-grandmother before going to bed a bit early due to our busy Christmas Eve day. 
Perhaps my favorite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve worship. Even better for me this year was that the Fourth Sunday in Advent worship was Christmas Eve morning, providing me with two opportunities to worship, to sing Christmas hymns, and to wrap myself in the true meaning of Christmas. 
After evening worship, we went home, heated up leftovers from our Christmas Eve Eve turkey dinner, and opened our five dollar or less Christmas Angel gifts. From a handmade and hand carved Overwatch necklace that cost time and talent to an epic cat t-shirt found …

Nineteen

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As I typed the post title, a voice from the other room said, "how the heck did I get here?" My thoughts, exactly! Nineteen years.

Nineteen years ago, I had no idea what I was doing, really. I was more scared - petrified, actually - than anyone can comprehend. I had only ever experienced labor pains as loss. The fear of losing another baby was nearly paralysing. When he emerged from my body, gray and lifeless, I just knew my worst fears had come true. When I heard that first gurgle, my heart leapt. His first cry was at the same time beautiful and painful. That he was whisked out of the room to Special Care was heartbreaking. I just wanted to hold him, to see him, to know he was going to be ok.

He's nineteen now. Nineteen. Nineteen years ago, they told me the time would go by quickly. In those early, endless, exhausting days of young motherhood, I laughed. Now, I look back and have no idea where the time has gone.

Alexander ... nineteen thank yous on your nineteenth birthday:

ADVENTures in Living

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I'm incredibly behind on my Advent blog posts, but for very good reason. I've been living life, doing fun things with my family and community, and taking care of myself in between. The taking care of myself part means lot of resting and not much doing, including writing. 

Days 17, 18, 19, and 20's ADVENTures included going to see St. Paul Puppet Academy's (SPPA) performance (or being a puppeteer in it), responding only positively on social media, going to a church Christmas Pageant (or participating in one), and putting post-it-notes with encouraging notes on them on restroom mirrors. 

The puppetry performance and pageant, combined with a visit from Olly for early Christmas made for a busy weekend! On Saturday, we had a two and a half hour puppet show rehearsal followed by an hour long pageant rehearsal and preparation session. Then we braved the cold to cut down and deliver a tree to Gramma and Papa's, and stayed for good food and conversation. The Christmas pageant…

ADVENTures in Gratitude

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It's amazing how many people we come across in a day who deserve a compliment - and how many people we pass by or fail to acknowledge in our rush to get things done. Does it really take that much time out of our day to compliment someone on a job well done, on an awesome shirt, or on their good attitude? 

We encounter people every day who greatly impact or lives, but to whom we give little to no thought. Those wonderful Christmas cards and parcels you've been receiving in the mail didn't magically appear in your mailbox or by your door. Why not give thanks to the person who brought them to you. And why stop there? Why not thank the person who retrieves carts at the grocery store, the crossing guard at your child's school, and the person stocking the shelves at your favorite store? 

While you're at it, show those you love how important they are to you by turning off technology and tuning in to what's going on in their life. Ask them questions. Listen to the answer…

Secret Missions and Love ADVENTures

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Our past two ADVENTures have had to do a great deal with love. We left a little secret something for someone who we love - who shares her time and talents with others and (usually) has a good sense of humor about it. And then we endeavored to let someone in our lives know how much we love them and why - by telling them through conversation, letter, or other means of communication.

In thinking about with whom I would have this conversation, it brought to light all the people in my life whom I love and who love me. Honestly, I was having a day during which I was feeling unloved, and not loving myself a whole bunch either. Actually, not loving myself at all. 

I had really messed up our finances. It was my fault. I forgot to deduct things that needed to be deducted. I recorded a deposit wrong. I forgot to postpone a monthly shipment. I assumed money was in our account that wasn't. I discovered all this toward the end of a day following a nearly sleepless night. A day in which I went fro…

ADVENTure Is For The Birds - Smile and Laugh

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It was the perfect day to think about our feathered friends.

Failing to have planned ahead, I called my husband and managed to catch him right before he was heading to the check-out at the store. My request for bird food seemed a bit odd to him, but he understood at the mention of the Advent calendar. He and two children were out before the predicted snowfall, getting some Pokemon Go playing in and running a quick errand. I, on the other hand, was under a pile of blankets, trying to get things done while completely exhausted from an overly busy week. The snow began to fall as they walked through the door. What a wonderful day to offer some food to our neighborhood birds.


Smiling at strangers wasn't so difficult a task to accomplish, as we do this on a regular basis anyway. Our smiling at strangers skills are honed each time we join the Camp Calumet community. There, people regularly smile at each other in passing, and often say hi as well. Perhaps that's why it's one of the …

Passengers

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I can't put into words the impact this play has had on the fourteen actors who wrote and performed it, the director and crew, and those who attended. By the end of the play, audience and actors alike were in tears. Passengers started out with a simple premise and a seemingly just as simple assignment for the actors: You board a subway train with a bunch of other people, you get stranded underground and the doors won't open - what do you do? Design your own character and figure out how they interact with others on the train. 


The actors created their characters: who they were, what they did for a living, what they looked like, their backstory, their opinions, and how they would react to the situation and to what other passengers did. They began this journey September 23rd. 

On September 23rd, there were three mass shootings - shootings in which four or more are injured or killed in one location, not including the shooter - that day in the United States. One of them too close to h…

ADVENTure in Hugging

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One of the best gifts I've ever received was this card stock hug. It came in and envelope with a beautiful note just when I needed it most. People seem wary of giving hugs these days. I was talking to a teacher who was shocked that a couple places I frequent are full of hug-giving people...as in, adults are not afraid to give a child a hug. At church it isn't uncommon for people of any age to greet each other with a hug, or for hugs to follow blessings during our closing circle at Tuesday Night Sunday School. I have had a teenager ask his parent to pull into the parking lot of Epoch Arts because he saw my van and wanted a hug. Hugs are a natural part of interaction there, as they should be. 

Many, many hugs are going to be needed tonight. By the time the actors get to this point in their play, Passengers, half are in tears. There is no curtain call. These fourteen teens aren't the heroes of this story. 


Give hugs today. Lots of them. You'll be surprised at how many peopl…

Expectations ADVENTure

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It seems that we live in a culture in which people expect to be recognized for every little thing they do and don't think of doing little things for others as they move through their days. As a mother, I can attest to the fact that I do not get thanked for cleaning up after other people - and I don't expect to. I'm happy to pick up things here and there, wash and extra dish or three, or fold some laundry. (I actually LOVE folding laundry - just don't tell my children!) 
But ... but what if everyone acted in kindness each day? What if, instead of stepping over someone else's mess, you took a tiny bit of time out of your life to clean it up? What if, when you used a bowl or mug, you washed it - and a couple other things lingering in the sink? And what if you did these things without seeking recognition or thanks, but because it's the kind thing to do? Would the world come to an end - or end up a better place? Perhaps you would appreciate those around you who do th…

Saint Nicholas ADVENTures

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We celebrate St. Nicholas Day in our family. This year, our St. Nicholas celebration at Tuesday Night Sunday School was the day before St. Nicholas Day. Four of us had rehearsal for Passengers, so could not attend, but that didn't stop a few elves from doing a little of St. Nick's work beforehand. The part of St. Nicholas is usually played by yours truly, but since I was at rehearsal, a certain nine-year-old volunteered for the position. She had a wonderful time. 
And, as it happens in my life, between bringing two children to the eye doctor in the morning and three children to rehearsal in the evening, and battling a migraine before, during, and after all of the above, we didn't get to the Advent calendar due to my misery. This worked out ok, as day five worked for day six, which was actually St. Nicholas Day. 
And as for a happy memory and photo...

To my two best friends (Alex and Renee)...
We have shared many amazing memories through the past twenty-how-can-it-be-that-many …

Christmas CARds and Candy Canes ADVENTures

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Sunday's ADVENTure was perfectly timed for going to worship this morning. We chose cards with a Christmas (religious) theme, signed them quite anonymously, and brought them to church with us. Alia had a wonderful time choosing cars on which to leave our cards. 




Today's ADVENTure was not quite as well timed. I'd already done a bunch of grocery shopping before we opened our Advent calendar. So instead, we brought candy canes with us to where we were going, attached little notes to them, and put them on cars instead. 

With all I'm dealing with with my health and other life situations, doing these little acts of kindness really brings the Christmas spirit to my days.

Sharing What We Have ADVENTure

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I just paid most of our bills. I'd say all of our bills, but money is tight and a couple will have to wait. We're making due with the food we have in our fridge, freezers, and pantry until more money is in our account next week.

Then the children open the advent calendar discover our act of kindness for the day is donating food to the food pantry. And so we go through our pantry and realize that we do have an abundance of some things. Even in times that feel like we're scrounging through cupboards for food, we can find things to share. We don't need six cans of beans or five boxes of pizza crust mix or nine cans of tuna. 

In our lives, even when we don't have things to share, we have other things to give. We can donate our time, our talents, our friendship, our kindness. There is plenty to give that doesn't cost anything. And sometimes, when you think you are lacking, you discover that you still have an abundance of blessings to give.

Spiritual Gift ADVENTure

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Lexi,
Thank you for being you...and in doing so, reflecting God's love. Thank you for the Christian example you set every day through your words and your actions. Your compassion for others, the way you passionately speak about and live your faith, and your willingness to share what you believe with others inspires me to be and to do the same. 
Several times over the years that I have known you, you have made a comment or asked a question that made me think more deeply about what I should think or how I should react as a Christian or about how God is acting in my life and the lives of others. 
Thank you for sharing your light with and in the world. You have helped me, and I'm sure others, grow in faith. 
I love you! Amanda

Random Acts of Advent

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This Advent is a bit different for me than most. 

It's busier, beginning with tech week for a play called Passengers that three of my children are in, and involving more activities than we have been involved in in the past. There are friends' plays to see in addition to Passengers performances, a visit from a cousin providing for "early Christmas" before the real thing, an Ugly Sweater Dance Party for the teens, various gatherings at friends' houses, and at least one doctor appointment per family member, some with two or three or four, among other things. 

But some things remain the same. We will have an Advent Calendar once again this year, as in years past. We will focus on keeping Advent holy (and wholly) and centering ourselves in Christ this Christmas.

Each year I make an advent calendar for our family. One year it was online, with a new window to unlock each day containing an image, bible verse, or video. Another year it was in the form of envelopes containing…

Waiting to Wait

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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. I had a dream, he says. Everything will be ok.

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 were angels to guide them, a baby for whom to prepare, their own hearts to prepare to receive this blessed child. How do you prepare to give birth to God? To parent God?

As soon as Halloween is over, my waiting begins. Stores displaying all sorts of holiday loveliness don't help my situation. No, I'm…

The Dark Side

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Life isn't easy for me at the moment. In reality, it never is, but right now I'm really struggling. This is the dark side of chronic illness that no one wants to hear about. People want to hear stories of people thriving despite living with chronic illness, not stories of suffering...but those are the stories that permeate every day of my life.

I have severe allergies and a cold. No big deal for most people. Devastating for me. I took myself off psoriatic arthritis medication until my lungs clear, as I don't want to land myself in the hospital with pneumonia. Between the coughing and the pain, I barely sleep. Every time I cough, it feels like my ribs are shattering. Several times now, the pain from a coughing fit has caused me to be sick to my stomach. Every joint in my body is screaming, and I'm having trouble keeping prednisone - my only hope for reducing inflammation - down. 

Off PsA meds, my body is attacking itself. On them, I might get sicker. Off them, my autoimmu…

Inspiration

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I was off psoriatic arthritis meds and undergoing neurological testing when I went to the thrift store and used my wheelchair to get around. While I was checking out, the person behind me said to me that I was such an inspiration, being out and about in my condition. All this person knew about me was that I was a human being in a wheelchair - yet because I was in public in a wheelchair, I was an inspiration. Or maybe it was because I was cheerful and in a wheelchair? I have no idea. The point is, to me, a person using their body to the best of its capacity in an everyday setting isn't inspiring. It's life as usual. It's like calling a three-legged cat inspiring. It's not. It's just that a cat with three legs can still do cat things, but makes compensations for a different body configuration. Or a person wearing glasses being an inspiration for leading a productive life despite needing the crutch of glasses to be able to function better.

Many people with disabilities…

Haunted

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Welcome to Epoch Arts Haunted House. Before entering, I need to lay down some ground rules. Our actors will not touch you - do not touch them. Anyone found mistreating our actors in any way will be escorted from the Haunted House by someone much scarier than anyone you'll find inside. Do not use your cell phone or any other device to take photos or video of our Haunted House or to light your way through our Haunted House. Our creatures like it dark in there, and we wouldn't want to upset them... any more than they already are. You will enter the Raven's Nest, meander through the Corn Maze, partake in a little Farm to Table, and perhaps buy a souvenir at the Creepyhollow Souvenir Shop. Don't worry - you don't need any money ... although it may cost you your head. Please stay together as a group as you make your way through the Haunted House - we wouldn't want to lose anyone...again. Enter: The Harvest.


And so it began ... over one hundred times over the course of…

Me Too

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As a child, I was given the message that I was somehow less than in reference to boys because I was not allowed to do things such as be an altar boy in church or play baseball with the boys.

I was chased around the playground by a boy who threatened to kiss me, no matter how much or how loudly I said no.

As a teen I was sexually abused.

And raped. 

As a young adult,  I was afraid to walk across my college campus at night, alone.

Men pressed up against me in bars, saying suggestive things - even men who knew I was married.

And things haven't improved as an adult. 

I've had people talk to my husband about me, in my presence, referring to me as "she" and not acknowledging that I am a person, an equal, and can speak for myself. 

I've had men suggest that they need to talk with my husband about things surrounding car and home repairs, as if women are by default lacking in knowledge about such things - and men by default know about these things. 

I've been dismissed by male…