Sunday, December 30, 2007
We always spend New Year's Eve quietly at home. We make something yummy for dinner, this year the Mr. is making pork loin and red skin potatoes. I'm working so he's in charge of supper. Mac is chaperoning a ski trip for our church youth so he's out of town. Jay is staying home with us and looking forward to overeating. Will we watch the ball drop at Times Square? I'm gonna guess no.
For me there is something lovely about being home on such a busy night. It seems luxurious to plan on pajamas and a delicious meal. This week launches 2008 and with it come changes for me that I'm sure I'll be sharing as time goes on. It feels laden with promise, this new year.
Wherever you plan on being with 2007 finally goes to sleep, I wish you well.
As for me, I welcome another season.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
Saturday, December 29, 2007
1. To leave depression behind me, after I kick its butt.
2. To grow my hair out and have a pony tail.
3. To spend more time in the Word.
4. To dance.
5. To go back to school.
6. To trust God and accept peace.
7. To cook more.
8. To lose that rotten extra weight.
9. To have more bowel movements.
10. To answer the calling on my life.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Crying spells, anger, feeling isolated, withdrawn, overwhelmed, unable to enjoy activities that used to be enjoyable, low sex drive, feeling worthless, tired, achy, prone to colds, easily frustrated, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, eating too much or too little, not taking care of yourself, your home, doubting yourself at every turn, wondering why you are not spiritual enough to overcome...
This is really hard for me. Because this is me. This has always been me. This is what I try to hide on my worst days and what fades into the background where I try to forget about it on the good ones. I have had a few clinically diagnosable exacerbations where I took to my bed only crawling out to go to work.
I went to the doctor once for help. To my family doctor. He told me I could try St. Jon's Wort over the counter and that it would probably pass. I told him I had felt this way my entire life and was starting to seriously worry about myself. He nodded his head and walked out of the room. I paid $65 for that visit.
There are worse depressions than mine, I know. I work with people who truly live a life and death struggle. With no tinge of irony I think, there but for the grace of God go I. Really, without the ability to lay in my bed and cry out to him I would not live as well as I do. And I do live well. I laugh and have friends and am loved. I am able, because of Christ who is Truth in me, to know that this mood that wraps itself around me is a lie. It does not make it less real but it makes it less powerful.
This, as Paul would say, is my own thorn in the flesh.
I, however, am ashamed of my thorn. I think sometimes it makes me weak in spiritual places if I admit to it. Stupidly, I can share it in front of a hundred people in terms of past bouts. But when I'm locked in the middle, the depression puts it hand across my mouth and tells me to shut up. It tells me that people will judge me and that I am a disappointment to God. It tells me I am self-absorbed and cowardly. I sometimes wonder if it will finally come to stay, settling in to steal all the joy once and for all from my life. Will this be the time I cannot pray it away? Will I wake up and this time, call in sick and stop going to work?
No, I am not afraid I will suicide because I have at least learned to tell a few people around me that it is here again and so I have people to carry me through. And God who has dominion over my life tells me this is not my lot.
This depression, I believe, has had certain victories in stealing my potential from me and forcing me to redefine what would I could have been. It took my confidence, will power and self-discipline from me for many years making me fat and defying me to go back to college until age thirty four. It made me distrusting and short-tempered leaving me turning my back when friendships became hard to tolerate. It talks to me still and convinces me to stay home from parties, movies and visits. I leaves me wondering who I should have been and who I can be and what I am capable of. It makes tomorrow seem very mean and punishing. It makes life seem over-long and too quick all at the same time.
I am so angry at this thing that I have kicked walls and screamed at it. But it is not afraid of my desperation, it feeds on it.
I am done with it. I am done. I want more, I am hungry for life. I am hungry for the appetite for life that so easily wanders away from me. I am made for something better.
I am not DEPRESSION. I no longer take this lie and tattoo it on my soul as my destiny.
I am going to talk to a doctor and I am going to fight this in heavenly places. I am going to call it out of the shadows and reveal it and then I am going to kick the crap out of it.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Luke 1:69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David...
I'm off to work today and then to my mom's for Christmas. I won't be checking in but I wish you a peaceful and joyous day and that the reality of your redemption is reborn as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries. ~W.J. Cameron
Sunday, December 23, 2007
As a kid, I had two sets of grandparents living minutes away. We would always spend Christmas Eve with The Trents, my dad's parents. And of course my Aunt Kathy, who, by the way, I have never called "Aunt."
They had a book, "The Night Before Christmas." I'm sure you know it. Their's was a big old-fashioned hard cover with pictures that today remind me of the 1950s. Kathy would read it aloud and it was so special only being there to enjoy once a year. My grandma would make her special chip dip and had a cocktail table laden with chips and dip and snacks that was only brought up from the basement at Christmas time. She had a golden glittery bell that hung in the short hallway of their ranch and when you pulled the cord it played "Jingle Bells." A stuffed elf always perched in the chandelier. The kitchen was smallish and Christmas Eve dinner was always served buffet style with meatballs, lunch meats & cheeses and rice pilaf. Oh, and the green salad with vinegar and oil was the essential of all our meals. My grandpa would have gone earlier with Kathy and me to pick up a case of Town Club pop so we could enjoy the ice glass bottles of Cream Soda, Cherry and Lime. For dessert we'd have ice cream shaped like snowmen and Christmas trees. All treats, all there only once a year and so much the better for it.
The Trent grandparents were the ones to buy the luxurious and frivolous gifts amongst which were tucked warm bath robes, Bonnie Bell lip smackers (Dr. Pepper flavored!) and Love's Baby Soft perfume. Barbie airplanes and talking baby dolls in giant boxes made my heart flutter. The evening never started officially until my mom was given her annual Christmas slippers to open. She'd put them on and then the one of us, Amy, Kathy or myself; would begin passing out the mountains of gifts. Kathy would light her Christmas candle collection while Channel Seven Action News tracked Santa's progress on radar.
That little house glowed with Christmas magic.
As time has marched on, traditions have no choice but to eventually evolve despite our wishes for their immortality. My Grandpa Trent passed away many years ago and my Grandma now makes her specialties and packs them up to bring to my parent's home for Christmas dinner.
Christmas Eve, however, remains magical if changed.
It is the Smith evening now, just we four. With Jay's Celiac Disease to consider, we have happily settled into the tradition of Mexican food on Christmas Eve. With hot fudge ice cream sundaes for dessert. The Mr. does not work on Christmas Eve and often I do, so it is his to prepare. I now come home in the cold Michigan evening to my small slowing house, warm and inviting. We eat our Mexican food from a buffet served in the kitchen and still, we watch Channel Seven Action News to track Santa's progress. Usually in our pajamas early, we will be making tacos and scooping guacamole from heaping bowls.
Once we are overly full and content we'll begin passing out gifts. Without ever making it official, we've settled into a rhythm of watching each other open presents instead of tearing in to them all at once. We all take great joy watching the reactions our careful choices bring. The surprise, the smile, the laugh...It is like giving and getting a gift all at once.
This too will likely change as traditions do. Perhaps we will lose our boys on Christmas Eve to the homes of their girlfriends or wives families, they too will have their traditions I am sure. Then again, we will stretch and bend to accommodate the possibility that we can have tacos at midnight or at noon. We will sit back with our own gifts piled in front of us and someday watch our grandchildren open frivolous toys amongst warm bathrobes. And maybe I will hold a baby on my lap again, inhaling their sweet scent as we watch Santa's progress on Channel Seven Action News.
I might worry about the end of our Christmas Eves but in all my forty years, they have changed but never become unmagical. Because it is not the arrival of Santa that we depend on, nor the golden glittery bell that carols "Jingle Bell" nor tacos and ice cream sundaes. It is Christ who comes to blanket us in peace and the announcement of our great redemption that lays the foundation for the decorations we hang on our trees and on our lives.
I wish you a happy Christmas Eve.
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here; Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might, Who to your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times gave holy law, In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem, From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow'r to save; Bring them in vict'ry through the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, O Key of David, come, And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high, And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
2. That I was ten pounds lighter.
3. That my hair was long enough for a pony tail as I am convinced that the source of all my stress is hair-styling related.
4. That I was more Christmasy...baking, card sending, etc.
5. That we were already moved into Gramma & Grampa's house.
6. That the gifts I ordered online were here.
7. That my shopping was done.
8. That Jay could eat gluten so I could make him a million Christmas cookies.
9. That there would be no one in the stores today but me.
1o. That I'd get over myself and remember that the gift most needed is already purchased and that is the reason I am celebrating in the first place.
Friday, December 21, 2007
I was in a group of people chatting when one person launched off into this speech about right and wrong and blah blah blah. It wasn't a religious conversation. It was a group of rather heathen types if you ask me. The person on the soap box looked right at me while he was instructing the rest of us and I thought, "Why the heck is he looking at me? Freak."
About three hours later I was in a situation that reflected exactly what Mr. Soapbox had been waxing eloquent about. Exactly. And although I would've know the right choice, it was like I had been given an extra nudge to remove the inner tug-of-war that can sometimes happen. So I did the right (not the easy) thing. Afterward I left it behind and moved on with my day. I think if I'd not taken the right path, I'd be dragging the thing with me still. Thank you Mr. Soapbox.
There is usually a right choice. Something that just is the thing that God would be most pleased with. It might not be the thing that lines your pockets best or makes people like you more. Sometimes it is a thing that won't even do anything spectacular for you, except allow you to move forward with your head held high. Just being able to close out the day without remorse is the only reward. But that is a great reward in itself.
Just doing the God-honoring thing and knowing that all the rest will fall around you like gentle rain, to nourish the other parts of your life...that's living well.
Gold is where you find it.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Paper
2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial skinny pre-lit. Sigh. Barely can fit a sock monkey on it.
3. When do you put up the tree? The day after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down? January first or second.
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes. Also them eggnog shakes from McDonalds.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Fred the stuffed dog, still have him.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. Was my great grandma's.
8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad.
9. Easiest person to buy for? My kids.
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Weaving kit to make hot pads in first grade.
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, in a perfect world.
12. Favorite Christmas Movies: The Man Who Came To Dinner, Little Women, It's A Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Carol...I basically love 'em all.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Hopefully this Friday.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Keep your eyes peeled for your new weaving kit.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My Grandma Tookie's chip dip.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored big old fashioned ones. Mine are small clear ones. On my pre-lit skinny tree.
17. Five Favorite Christmas songs? Sleigh Ride, Baby It's Cold Outside, Charlie Brown Christmas Theme (Lucy & Linus), Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel, Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel.
18. Most Annoying Christmas song? All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey
19. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home! All the time! Even when it isn't Christmas!
20. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Grumpy, Sneezy, Doc, Harpo, Groucho and Chico
21. Angel or Star on top of the tree? Angel with a dog face.
22. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both.
23. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Working instead of celebrating.
24. Favorite Christmas Apparel? Pajamas
25. What I love most about Christmas? It's when I feel most myself...redeemed.
Pic: The Mr. with the Holy Family (Top Left); Sock Monkeys (Top Right); Dog Angel (Bottom Right)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Book: Relative Stranger (Nonfiction); or anything else i can read including magazines on mission style (decorating!) and the arts & crafts movement. or bowel movements as i never have them, they fascinate me.
Parfums: Sand & Sable or something spicy, like salsa
Clothes: I now wear a L or size 12. Please kill me. i always need socks. or sock monkeys. or socks made of real monkeys. ha! i kid.
Kitchen: I want one of them there deep wok like frying pans what they have at the world market and such. My coffee pot just died. I always enjoy a mug. I think we're out of paper plates and bottled water.
Jewels: I would like anything both silver and gold (means so much more when i see silver and gold decorations on every christmas tree, and also my ears). I would also enjoy silver or/and gold ball earrings of medium size. i used to have silver and gold ball earrings kind of attached double decker ones. they were awesome. what happened to those? charms for my bracelet. watch that is silver and gold, like a rolex. a real rolex would be fine.
Pajamas: I want the red flannel ones with the dog faces from target. a bathrobe that is not pink or purple or yellow. don't need slippers. i asked the mr. for pj and robe but he will probably get me something stupid and not at all what i asked for.
that is all for now.
Pic: My friend Janet
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I've been "writing" inside my head for almost twenty years about a particular topic. I have discussed it out loud more than once. And still, today I hesitate to offend someone. Maybe I'll write it and not publish it.
Publish it. Don't publish it...
My eldest is nineteen years old with a grown-up job and a car payment. His brother is eighteen and a full-time college student. I guess I done raised my babies. There are many things you do in the process of parenting, things you'd do for no other reason than you love your kids. Making thirty cupcakes at midnight for a Valentine's Day party comes to mind. And the day we built a model of a molecule out of candy. And going back to school at thirty five to get a degree in something you don't particularly love because it will enable you to send your children to college. Working over-time to pay for braces. You all have your examples.
In my own life, there is one particular thing that I would do for no other reason than I love my kids, even if I didn't feel like doing it. Even when it was hard to do it and I couldn't always see the results. Even when I didn't quite know how to do it. Even if I didn't make those cupcakes or work long hours or build molecules, there is one thing I'd dare not neglect.
I wouldn't dare not giving my kids Jesus.
And the only Jesus I can give my kids is the one who lives in me.
I know many wonderful parents who coach little league and lead Girl Scouts. They love their children. But how do they dare love them in so many ways and take a chance with their eternity? Equally stunning to me, how do they dare to with hold from their kids the wisdom, peace and guidance of a life in Christ?
I know, people don't always believe in Jesus. My question is the same, how do they dare take the chance that they are wrong on behalf of their children?
I know, people find their own style of incorporating religion into their families. How do they dare make Jesus less than everything else?
Are they very brave? They are more brave than I am.
There are people in my own sons' lives who could have had tremendous Godly influence on them and chose not to. They chose to pursue their own agendas and preoccupations. Daboyz could have had one or two or ten more people in their lives whom they loved and trusted to reinforce the love of Jesus in their lives. But they did not take advantage of the privilege of this love of little children to speak eternity into their hearts. I believe someday they will mourn this lost opportunity.
I am so thankful for those who did sing Jesus into their newborn ears. Who prayed over them out loud when they were sick. Who talked to them of redemption and grace and holiness. How grateful I am.
Write it or don't write it? I don't know which is smarter. I think I'd better write it. To remind us all of how very brave we are if we don't speak Jesus over our little ones. We can be very brave and very stupid at the same time you know.
Mark 9:42 And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Whilst rummaging through my cabinet to put out fresh dish towels, I came across a beautiful crimson table cloth amongst my kitchen linens. I had not put a Christmas cloth on my table as I didn't really want bright red nor did I feel so inclined as to go purchase something preferable. So you can imagine my pleasure at finding this jewel-toned cloth with a deep border. When did I pick this up? No idea. But I'm glad I did!
So I unfolded it and smoothed in on my table and hmm.... The border is only on one side. Odd. Uh. Strange, it seems to have some kind of pocket here on one end as well. I wonder what in the world; oh. I see.
Yes. It is a curtain panel. One single curtain panel.
Which makes me wonder even more why I purchased a single curtain panel and stored it with my kitchen linens. You might think I thought it was a table cloth and put it away? Perhaps. Then again, it was not in the package so clearly at some point I looked it over.
Are you now curious as to what I did with the one single curtain panel?
I put it on my table. With the one bordered edge facing the part of the room most visible.
Yes. My name is Sara and I have a curtain on my table.
If that shocks you, get a load of this. I did not iron the creases out of the curtain I put on my kitchen table.
I have a creased curtain on my kitchen table and I am pretending it is a beautiful holiday table cloth.
Welcome to my world.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Welcome to Michigan!
To no one's surprise, Old Man Winter has arrived! We Michiganders are just happy when he blows in on a weekend and fewer of us are on the roads struggling in to work. As usual, the county road crews requested that we stay off the roads if possible. We Smiths obliged by skipping church, gasp. The Mr. was up and dressed as he goes earlier than I do for band practice. As I sipped my coffee watching the news (knowing full well I was not going anywhere!), I noticed him watching the weather updates. Very soon he had called our worship leader to tell him he was going to do his part to keep the roads safe by staying off of them!
Donny had his first experience with deep snow which he romped through at quick intervals coming inside for a snuggle and a warm up and then back out again. The Mr. did the mandatory snow clearing and I took the opportunity to do some laundry and drink some plum spice tea.
We had plans to meet my sister and her family for my brother-in-law's birthday dinner at Red Robin so we did venture out for burgers and bottomless baskets of fries. Happily, we have four wheel drive so that seemed to make it seem like a reasonable plan. Yes, we felt we could take our chances for cheeseburgers and no, we did not go to church. Just believe that the roads had cleared up a bit in the five intervening hours.
I just love snowy blowy winter days when we can all be home together. No worrying about daboyz driving to school or work or the Mr. sliding home down the freeway. No trudging out to clean off my car in cotton scrub pants. Just taking it easy and letting the snow fall around us.
It's been a lovely day.
Pics: Top Left~The Mr. clears the snow; Top Right~The view from my kitchen window this morning; Bottom Right~The Abominable Snow Dog aka Donny
Saturday, December 15, 2007
2. Going to Kellerbell's baby shower. I bet they'll have that veggie pizza I love. They always do.
3. My skin is very dry so I am trying Dove moisturizing soap today. Will update you.
4. Blizzard rolling in today, I can't wait! Gonna make some chili and hunker down.
5. I am doing really poorly with my Christmas shopping. Can you say ZERO motivation? What's my problem?
6. I can't seem to find any Christmas movies on television. I hate DVDs, it takes the specialness out of catching them "live." I should probably stay home to keep vigil.
7. My coffee pot died. :(
8. I think I need a complete cosmetic make-over. Does such a thing exist?
9. Why did you people talk my into cutting my hair? My kingdom for a pony tail.
10. I do not know who/what Hannah Montana is and yet, it/she/he/they are really irritating me.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It's a decision I do not regret.
My kids, daboyz, were born to four grandparents and seven great grand parents. They knew most of them and can remember them well. I think my husband's grandma in Alabama was the only one they never officially met.
My grandparents were the best. I loved going to their homes where they kept toys just for me. On my mom's side there were four of us grands but two lived in California making it seem like it was just my sister and myself. On my dad's side we were also the only grands until my cousin was born but that was in 2000; so it's pretty much the same deal.
Grandparents can love you and spoil you and send you home. That makes for a great relationship. They don't have to take responsibility for your academic success or your table manners so they can just lavish you with adoration. That's because in visits that are guaranteed to end, anyone can be adorable. They have a little more money because they aren't trying to keep you fed and clothed so they can buy you a Barbie Dream House for Christmas and give you a dollar to spend at Woolworth's. They don't have you wrapped around their ankles while they try to sweep the kitchen so they are thrilled to have you sit in their lap and play with their nostrils. They don't have to beat you into learning your spelling words so they are thrilled to have you read that same sorry single kids book they keep at their house to them for the gazillionth time.
Your grandparents don't have to drag your sorry butt to bed by 9:00 to get you up whining for school so when you spend the night, they let you giggle until midnight and pretend not to hear. They only feed you on occasion so if you want peanut M & Ms they let you have 'em. Let the parents force feed the wax beans.
They say it's great to be a grandparent. I think it's great to be a grandchild. I know, I am one. You see, when you were one you remain one even when you're forty years old. When you can lay your own newborn into the arms of your gramma and grampa, you can see the look in their eyes that must have been there when they first held you. It reminds you of how loved you've always been.
I'm sad for people that don't know their grandparents. I'm glad I had those babies of mine young despite being broke and stupid. That's another good function of grandparents anyway, to provide the money and the wisdom the parents lack. Keeps the parents humble and the babies in diapers.
As I say good bye one by one to the grandparents who loved me so , I am grateful all over again for the grandparents daboyz have. My mom and dad learned well from the examples of their parents. They are the kind of grandparents I had, loving and adoring. Encouraging and tolerant. They never made them take a bath when they went up north so daboyz came home so filthy their bath water would turn gray for three days.
That's the kind of grandparents every kid should have.
Thank you Lord, for grandparents.
1 Timothy 5:4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
But somehow she became this classy dignified woman who knew about antiques, fashion and world affairs. She was a tough act to follow, my gramma.
She would turn up her nose at anything she deemed "common" or "low." This included laughing too loud or dressing too trendy. Too much make up and chipped nail polish was on the list too.
I know how to flip over a plate to find the manufacturer's stamp and thereby judge the quality of your china. I had a gramma wardrobe too. If I happened to be wearing a bright orange t shirt, I'd generally change to a gray, navy or black one before heading over to her house.
Small diamond studs are always a good choice. Ask Martha Stewart.
One should not tease one's hair to Pentecostal heights. However, if one is having a particularly good hair day, one can be presumed to be wearing a wig or at least a hair piece.
One should always be immaculately clean.
If a person is attending a particular occasion, there is a particular style of dress which is appropriate. Black is always a good choice. Understated is always preferable. If one is unsure, one may think to oneself, "What would Jaclyn Kennedy Onassis have worn?" One also knows Mrs. Onassis did not like to be referred to as "Jackie." Jaclyn rhymes with queen. But I digress.
I won't say that I follow entirely in her footsteps, but I appreciate her influence. I won't play humble, I know how to dress. Oh, I certainly swing a little funkier than gramma on occasion but I know when and where to do so. I know how to dress for an interview, funeral or wedding. I know what looks good on this body and what doesn't. I know what colors are "my colors."
I have diamond stud earrings. Although they are smaller than Martha's.
I know what hair color is more flattering as well as what hair style. I do tease my hair for added volume but I stop short of looking like I'm doing a gig at Dollywood.
My grandmother has yanked my hair to check for a hairpiece.
I know how to decorate my home. I don't have the money to do so, but I know how!
I have fine china and gold flatware from my wedding. You may find this frivolous and you may be right. But it is a mark of the finer things that my gramma found worthwhile and for no other reason, so do I.
Jackie O' isn't around anymore to guide our fashion footsteps but I had Princess Diana in my day and gramma assured me this was an acceptable example.
None of this makes any difference in eternity, but I find the lessons valuable anyway. I like these things about myself to be frank. And I like that they are fingerprints on my gramma, my mom, my sister and myself. They are shared amongst us even while we realize full well that the lessons are valuable only to ourselves.
Like our shared voices and eyes; we share the lessons of a mother passed on to her daughter...how best to occupy this woman's body.
And for reasons all my own, I find these lessons to be precious.
Esther 2:12 Before a girl's turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I want God to be my safety net. I do not want to pay my own consequences, that's for sure. Oh, I feel a little better about my mistakes if I pay a tiny price. Kind of like that erases my debt to the universe. But I don't want to pay in any grand way. I accept my too-tight jeans as the comeuppance for my overeating. I do not, however, care to consider the long-term possibility of diabetes, heart disease and early death. God spare me that. And pass the chips and dip.
I want God to be my peace. I want to be able, on my own timetable, to ask for complete emotional relief and receive it. P.S., please make that a gift freely given. In other words, I want PEACE. You know, that passeth all understanding? Oh yeah, that's the stuff. I want supernatural peace please. I do not want to have to do anything or relinquish anything. Just sweep over my spirit and such. In other words, I want God to make me happy all the time. None of this, forgive him and then you'll have peace. Or, do this and then you'll have peace. Or, change that and then you'll have peace. Not for me. Just give me a heapin' helpin' of no strings attached peace. And that means none of this conviction stuff. For goodness sake that is the mother of all peace stealers.
I want God to be my provider. After all, he is Jehovah Jireh, right? Hey, he said it not me. Or David did. Well, somebody said it. I want God to give me what I need. And also the desires of my heart, again; his promise not mine. I want God to give me such a blessing that I can't contain it. So many clothes my closet groans and so much money my purse is too heavy. Well, I'd never say that out loud but it does cross my mind. He's got a cattle on a thousand hills after all and I don't want cattle or hills. I also would like to not have to work any longer. See, that is an ugly trick he sometimes pulls and then he's all, "Oh, I provided by giving you a strong mind and body and a job!" Whatever! If we go down that road, the whole peace thing flies out the window. Think about it, it makes perfect sense.
I want God to be only that which works for my agenda. The question is, does a relationship with this God-In-A-Box remotely achieve a relationship with the real God?
I'll just come right out with it, it does not. This is not a relationship with God. It is a man-centered theology. "God, here's your honey-do. Now do it. And leave me alone."
Rather than ask how to define God, let me be brave and humble enough to let God define me. Unlock me.
How terrifying. How glorious.
Monday, December 10, 2007
That is a lie. In fact, pretty much the opposite is true. And the more inappropriate the situation, generally the harder I laugh. I actually worked with someone who took me aside regularly to tell me my lack of professionalism offended her greatly. This she said as I was making a pair of slippers out of Kotex to tube to my sister on another floor of the hospital.
I love to laugh. I love people who laugh. I love it when I catch someone's eye and we both crack up and nobody else knows what's funny. I love old movies that are gently funny. I married my husband largely because he laughs a lot and makes me laugh. Turns out that don't pay the light bill but whatever.
There's another kind of laughter that is even better. It's the laughter of the saints. If you have never been in the presence of someone so overwhelmed by God that they just throw their heads back and laugh, you've been missing out. If you've never seen anyone throw up their hands in praise and laugh toward heaven, you ain't seen nothing yet.
And if you yourself have never experienced the love and joy of God so great that you laugh and cry at the same time, you need to fix that. God isn't so serious as we've made him out to be. For instance, I'm certain the day my mom got my hair cut into a pixie, he was rolling on the floor.
There's a whole new experience in Christ to those who will let themselves truly rejoice. Let go and laugh with Jesus. I'm telling you, it'll do you a world of good.
Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I remember ordering a book at school as a child by that title and it was basically the lyrics to the old carol with beautiful Rockwellesque illustrations. I hadn't known the song before then but I immediately fell in love with it and old-fashioned paintings. I think I liked it so much because it paralleled very closely my own little life. I've spent many nights going over the side streets and through the neighborhoods to my grandparents' homes; both paternal and maternal. It wasn't much to stretch my imagination to envision horses and sleighs.
My Grandma T. is still alive, and my only remaining grandparent. This is surreal to me. She still lives in the house that I used to visit as a child and for this I am grateful. I cannot imagine strangers living in those family homes that I tend to claim as my own. You know how I am about that.
Now that my grampa and gramma on my mom's side have both passed, that house I used to visit for sleep-overs is no one's home anymore. At least, not officially. My children's heights are recorded with lines and dates on the kitchen wall, the last addition being Mac's final entry the day she went to heaven. When we realized that gramma's time was very short, my husband turned to me and said, "They aren't going to sell this house, are they? Strangers can't live here!" You can guess what came next. Yes, The Mr. and I are praying about buying my grandparent's house.
It's a nice house to be sure. Nicer than my own, I'll grant you that. My friend asked me if I had been thinking of moving to a new area. Nope. I wouldn't be considering moving if it were not to my grandparents' home. Our home. The family home.
Mac is helping my mom caretake gramma's house for now. Last Friday the Mr., Daboyz and I spent the night there. Does that seem silly? It really is I suppose. Four adults packing up to sleep at gramma and grampa's house! Can I tell you that it feels entirely natural for me to climb into that four-poster bed that I used to share with my gramma as a little girl. It's that same bed I slept in the other night. The same creaking floor that knew my feet when they were, ahem, smaller. The same smooth door knobs under my hands. The couch that my grampa sat on and cradled my babies. The wide porch steps leading to the back door that I've had a key to for as long as I can remember.
I made a pot of coffee and drank from the same cups my grampa drank from in the mornings back before I was allowed to drink coffee.
No. I do not care to move into another house. If God permits, I will simply take my husband and my children and move home.
How sweet to rest within walls that know who you are.
Jeremiah 31:17 "So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land."
Pictures: Top Left Grampa, Mymom, Amy, my Dad~Top Right Myself & Amy~Bottom Right Me & my Gramma
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Psalm 13:2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts...
The Holy Spirit is forever teaching me, even when I wonder what there is left to learn. Notice, I am not claiming that I've mastered all the lessons. I've just learned that there are a lot of things that I need to work on.
I have finally put one of those lessons into action. I'll call it the lesson of "Switching Gears." I've mentioned before that God doesn't seem to tolerate leaving me in one place for very long. I'm always settling in and then being drawn into some kind of change; generally against my will. One of the greatest joys of Christianity is being able to look back over time and see the evidence that God's will imposed on man's life always brings blessing. So I guess I could say that growing old gives even more opportunity to be deeply settled in faith, we've so much more to look back over and understand the goodness of Jesus.
Switching Gears. It can be done on a large scale. For me it has meant returning to work after years of homemaking, quitting my job to return to school, starting a new career, accepting a new position. All things I did not really want to do. These were not desires of my heart so much as gentle nudges (hard shoves at times) by the Holy Spirit. Laying down my own agendas isn't easy. In smaller measures Switching Gears has meant simply drawing definitive lines between different areas of my life. This too, is not always easy.
I realized the need for this a while ago. I heard myself having boringly similar conversations with the Mr., daboyz, my mom and my sister. These were conversations about my job. Not interesting ones about specific things I had learned or venting about difficult situations. I was repeating myself with the litany of daily updates which quickly became monotonous even to me. I wondered why my husband's eyes didn't glaze over when I launched into the latest rerun of yesterday's update. That was when I learned to Switch Gears on a smaller scale. I work from 6:30 to 3:00 Monday through Friday. At 3:00 , I am done being a nurse. I Switch Gears.
Unless there is something different today than yesterday, I will just say, "nothing new..." or "same old stuff..." when I'm asked about work. It's over. I did my eight hours. I'm leaving it at the hospital. I have decided that my career is not invited into my home. It would be a sad commentary on my home life if my job was more interesting than my family or church or friends.
Of course, when I arrive at work the morning, I Switch Gears again. Unless there's something pressing, my family does not call me at work. I owe my employer those hours of attention to my work if I am going to cash that paycheck they issue to me. I respect the patients I serve, the hospital that employs me and my co-workers and so I do not give them divided attention while I juggle cell phone calls and family drama. I do not recall ever having a friend call me at work. In fact, I do not even pass out my work number except to immediate family. I am not the wife, mom or daughter at work. I am the nurse. I must Switch Gears in the morning.
There is a great benefit to the lesson of Switching Gears. It takes a great load off of my mind. I give myself a big break when I decide to leave the cares of the hospital at the hospital. I don't lay awake at night and think about my job like I once did. It'll be there in the morning, believe me. I do not check my work e mail at home. I do not call the unit to see what's going on. I do not socialize with co-workers regularly. It is not that my job is unimportant, it is just held within boundaries. I'm much less stressed now that I've learned to divide my life into manageable portions. I'm also a better nurse and co-worker if I'm not preoccupied with trying to remote manage my private life from work. We all know people who are only half invested in their jobs as we work side by side with them. There is a word for those folks and the word is self-absorbed. It is not a respect-winning way to live. On the other hand, my family would resent me if I spent my at-home time babbling about work and forever trying to find out what's happening there.
If you're a little overwhelmed or perhaps have noticed people's eyes glazing over when you're talking to them, consider the lesson of Switching Gears. Maybe you need to leave some part of your life (even if it's your past!) in its proper place and be in the moment.
When you're stuck in a rut, it helps to Switch Gears.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I made a little list in my head of what I remember. I was heavier then. I had not yet returned to nursing school. Daboyz were seven and eight years old. I wrote a poem. All of my grampa's ties had food stains on them. That's pretty much it. Who sang at the funeral? What was said in the eulogy? Who was there, who were the pall bearers? And again, WHAT DID I WEAR?
In eleven years, what will I remember about my gramma's passing?
I will remember that her death was soft. It was what I asked for. I will remember my mom's absolute determination about how to care for my grandmother in her final days and it being exactly right. I will remember spending the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at my gramma's house with my mom, my gramma's first night home from the hospital before the hospice nurse had come. It was not a pretty sight. My gramma was fine, it was her daughter and granddaughter that seemed to be trapped in a Marx Brother's film.
Why can't I remember the details of my grandfather's funeral? Honestly, I think it just does not matter. Funerals are for the living and not for the dead. I did not need his funeral to complete my relationship with him so I think I simply attended but found the memories created in my life with him were much more interesting.
I think also, my attention had turned naturally to my gramma. She was the widow, the surviving grandparent. I do remember worrying over her future and trying to keep an eye on her. Maybe this was a preoccupation that trumped the choice of hymns we sang?
I know that I am a different person today than eleven years ago. I was not unhappy then but I am happier yet today. I know that the passage of time requires me to examine not just the life of the deceased but my own life. I am grateful that I can see progress in myself since 1996. I am more forgiving and less critical (yes I am!) I am happy that I am thinner than I was then and that I completed school. I am thankful that I have now been married 21 years even though there were days when I doubted we'd make it. I have learned to speak publicly and been allowed to share Jesus. I followed the Lord's leading to a new church and it was the right decision. I saw my sons graduate high school with honors.
I know Jesus better.
I am kinder to myself. I am hungry for God. I believe I am forgiven, redeemed and loved by my Creator. I accept the love of my friends with joy and gratitude. I go out in public without mascara.
You might wonder if I'm bragging. Rest assured, I am not. I have far to go. But what is different is that I have learned to look at life as a progressive thing. I do not need to find perfection today, but I want to look at eleven years gone by and see change. I want to have done the things I know need doing. I want to have hugged hard and been hugged. I want to have laughed myself snotty, sung karaoke and danced with my co-workers to Christmas music. Check, check, check.
I want to have told my boys I love them and still held their hands and kissed their faces like when they were babies. Check, check.
I want to look across the room at my husband and rejoice that this man loves me. Check.
I don't know where I will be in eleven years from now. How many more funerals will I have attended? I know, we dread to consider it. This I know, God and He alone has been the bringer of good things and the maker of joy to me. He stood with me eleven years ago, stands with me today and will stand with me in 2018.
I want to be different then. It is the work of being redeemed that promises that I will be.
1 Samuel 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.
P.S. On the day of my gramma's funeral, I wore a black sweater and black pin-striped slacks. I am growing out my bangs so there is no good hair day. But my accessories were fabulous, gray pearls on a cranberry ribbon. Make a note, there will be a test later.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
There is a settling in me that I know is the Holy Spirit washing over me with peace. There is the release of my sadness, burdens and disappointments to the One who loves me more than I can comprehend. And there is knowing that He will take every sorrow and care for it with tenderness.
I think that I am learning more to live in the deep satisfaction of salvation. I snuggle up with Donny the Dog and find satisfaction in knowing that even this pooch is a gift for my pleasure. I do not struggle against my own inadequacies with panic because I am satisfied that God is great enough to fill in when I fall short. When people disappoint me, I am satisfied in Christ because his love is enough to compensate for my frustration.
And perhaps the greatest satisfaction is knowing that my ways are guided by Jesus. Left to myself I stumble through life rather clumsily. But God in me nudges me in better directions. So I am satisfied with my days. Best of all, when I sin, the Lord is satisfied with the blood of Christ as payment.
There is nothing left out of my life as I give it all to the Lord for him to sort and return to me only the best. When he takes away something I thought I wanted, I am satisfied that his wisdom is perfect.
I am not rich, beautiful or wise. I am not talented, strong or brave. But I am right before God through the sacrifice of Jesus which I have accepted. And I am satisfied.
Pslam 145:16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Tuesday December 4 @ 7pm at Faith Christian Assembly in Melvindale, MI, I will be speaking at their ladies' Advent service. My sister is the women's ministry leader at Faith and has invited me to share a devotional. The gathering is also a benefit for Crisis Pregnancy Center so everyone is encouraged to bring a small gift to donate. If you're in the area, come on and join us! Think of it as Lucille Ball meets Joyce Meyer. Well, maybe more like Lucy sees Joyce in the distance but gets distracted by the dessert table.
I'd like to ask you to pray for me as I prepare to speak to these ladies. I love the opportunity to share and teach about Jesus but these last weeks have left me feeling a bit like I'm being pulled in a few too many directions. My usual preparation time has been whittled down and by that I mean Jesus better give me something spectacular but fast! I know that Christ has something to say and I'm just silly enough to believe he'll speak through me. Or in spite of me.
I hope to meet some of you blog lurkers out there who come up to me on occasion and say, "I read your blog!" I hope to bring something worthwhile to Advent and frankly, I hope to bring something away too. If you aren't able to be there, will you please join us in spirit as we settle ourselves before the throne during this sacred time?
Together we will answer the question, "What is hiding in your heart?"
I have been poor. Truly poor. Never living under an overpass poor but that was probably only because I have a family to take care of me. But I have been poor. I was poor partly because we just didn't make enough money and partly because we managed that little bit of money really badly.
I have been so poor I bought a week's worth of groceries on $40. The Mr. used to ask me in this particular tone of voice on payday, "How much do you need for groceries?" That used to send my stomach into spasms of anxiety. What it really meant was, "What is the minimum you have to have to feed us?" To this day, I clench my jaw when he asks about the grocery bill. Thank Jesus for mac & cheese, four for a dollar back in the day. Add tuna; tuna casserole!
I have been so poor I did not have decent shoes in the winter time and wore canvas tennies claiming I like them. I have been so poor I went without a coat on a frigid Easter morning because it was not quite cold enough for my winter coat and that was the only coat I owned. I have been so poor I cried with despair and dodged phone calls from the electric company. I have been so poor the electric company phone calls stopped because my phone was shut off. Have you ever picked up your phone one morning and the line was dead? It is a creeping kind of dread as you realize that your service is shut off. Still makes my scalp crawl to think of it.
We're not poor anymore. We ain't rich but we sure ain't poor. We spend more than $40 for one Sunday dinner out now.
This morning I was catching up the laundry and I was reminded that I used to be poor and now I'm not and I was filled with thankfulness. I have not been doing my laundry for several days because of my gramma's illness and then her passing. So I was folding my laundry and I realized I have many, many pairs of underwear. I did not always have many pairs of underwear. I have had one bra that I washed at bedtime and line dried over night to wear the next day, having no spare. Time was, I could not have gone two weeks without washing my underwear or I would've been living commando.
Now I have so many pairs of underwear that I can go over a week without running out! This is luxury I tell ya!
I know money isn't everything, but it sure helps. Managing it well helps even more.
So today is a day of underwear praise!
Put on your good drawers and get happy!
Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness..
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Mom, "We really are."
Kathy, "I'm right there with you."
The death of my gramma divided people. People I wish I were like and people like me.
There were people I was surprised not to hear from. There were flower arrangements I was surprised not to receive. There were visitors I was surprised did not attend the viewing or the funeral.
Then there were the rest of the people. People who never met my gramma but prayed her into heaven, some from hundreds of miles away. People who brought baked goods and dinners and sent flowers in their absence. People who drove 14 hours to surprise us with their love and support. People who cried harder than I was crying, arrived early and stayed late. People, in short, who served me better than I have served them.
I do not judge the first group of people, I am one of them. I never consider my presence of any significance, always assuming there are people who mean more to stand beside others. I am wrong. What now occurs to me is the dread of considering, how many times have others been surprised at my absence? How many times have families assumed there would be a meal, a card or flowers from me that never arrived? I think maybe I matter more than I realized.
No one means more to me than the strangers who write on their blogs of my family's loss.
No one means more than my posse who, without fail, show up to minister to me despite what a poor friend I am.
No one means more than anyone else. Including the ones, like I have been, who did not know they meant something too.
I am in no way hurt or disappointed by anyone. I am only pausing to learn from the ones who give from a servant's heart instead of waiting for someone else to serve.
I do not want to be the one who stands to the side any longer. God, change me.
Job 34:4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.