24 December 2011

Made flesh

Made Flesh

the white-hot beam of annunciation
fused heaven with dark earth,
his searing, sharply focused light
went out for a while,
eclipsed in amniotic gloom:
his cool immensity of splendor,
his universal grace,
small-folded in a warm, dim
female space--
the Word stern-sentenced to be
nine months' dumb--
infinity walled in a womb,
until the next enormity--
the Mighty One, after submission
to a woman's pains,
helpless on a barn's bare floor, 
first-tasting bitter earth.

I in him surrender
to the crush and cry of birth.
Because eternity
was closeted in time, 
he is my open door to forever.
From his imprisonment
my freedoms grow,
find wings. Part of this body,
I transcend this flesh.
From his sweet silence my mouth sings.
Out of his dark I glow.
My life, as his,
slips through death's mesh,
time's bars,
joins hands with heaven,
speaks with stars.
--Luci Shaw

Merry Christmas, my dear friends!  May your weekend be full of deep joy, peace in knowing that the Prince of Peace deigned to come to earth, so that He might know us. 

21 December 2011

Taking the pressure off

Hey everybody!  I've got some good news that you may not know.  I've been reading lots of Facebook status updates about all the pressure to get Christmas cards, gifts and whatnot delivered by December 25.  Well, guess what?  The Twelve Days of Christmas actually START on Christmas...so you've got until January 6 until Christmas is officially over!  I'm pretty sure that's why they call it the Christmas "season"!  Awesome, isn't it?

But really, I am taking these Twelve Days of Christmas to heart.  I don't think that all my Christmas cards will make it to their final destinations by Sunday necessarily.  But whoever received a card after Christmas and said, "WHAT?! A Christmas card NOW?!  AFTER the 25th?!  Into the rubbish bin you go!"  And what neighbors or family members wouldn't like to receive a treat after the 25th, something to extend the season, as we keep Christmas in our hearts?

I love the days after Christmas, when things quiet and we can really get down to baking and snuggling and reading and creating.  I mean, Christmas comes whether we think we are "ready" or not, doesn't it?  It comes; He comes; He has come!  Welcome Him, whether you are ready, or not.

Don't get me wrong:  we will have all the presents for the children ready and under the tree for Christmas morning.  One cannot deny the delight of coming down the stairs to find the once-blank space under the tree PILED with presents, the joy of opening an overflowing stocking!  I love it, and I want my children to experience the magic of it, as well.  Oh, how glad I am that our God LOVES parties and beauty and simplicity and joy.
        *        *        *        *
On another note, I really met with God this morning as I read Accompanied by Angels:  Poems of the Incarnation by Luci Shaw.  As I read poem after poem, I found myself weeping. I'm not sure why except to say that I met with the Father.  He knows my heart, and knew what I needed and He met me.  I recommend this little book highly.  I might share one with you tomorry.  Yes, I just wrote "tomorry".  That's how some people say it.

Don't forget, Christmas BEGINS on Sunday!

17 December 2011

What what?

Well, well.  What do we have here?  Is this supposed to be a blog of some sort?  One would hardly know, as nothing has posted in the last twelve days.  TWELVE days?!  Mercy.
Well, what we've been up to is this:
John had a birthday.  A big one.  And we had a big bash which was very much fun.  It was so fun that we hardly did any photo documentation at all (kind of like at my 40th birthday party last year!).  All I have to show you is the aftermath.

Then we barreled into the last week of school before Christmas break, which included two Christmas programs, school presentations, school parties, teachers' gifts, food donations, parking tickets, friends in town and general craziness.  Man, was I glad to get to Friday night!
The weekend was slightly less hectic, for which I was thankful.  We got our tree on Saturday.  We tried to meet all of Theo's requirements for tree acquisition:  "it has to be night, we have to go to Mahoney's, and it has to be cold and snowy."  No dice on the snow this year.  But we did go to Mahoney's and it was certainly cold (finally!).  You will see from the pictures that we were not really dressed for the temperature, having been lulled into a warm weather complacency this late fall.

On a different note, why do I always go through a Christmas angst every year?  It feels like every year I struggle with many of the same questions , such as how am I to feel about Christmas?  Is it a cultural holiday?  Is it a spiritual celebration?  Clearly it is both, but I've yet to come to a great settling in my heart.  I hope to get to a place of peace so that I can help guide my family to that place as we celebrate. 
I read this post today.  The thoughts therein REALLY helped me, as did the comments.  I'm grateful for the very real blogging community of which I am a tiny part. 
I also picked up my gratitude journal again this week, to ward off the Scrooge-ishness of my own heart.  Grateful this week for these things:
* clouds backed in pink and gold
* boys running hard at the Christmas tree lot
* really getting through to our kids (for a moment)
* our little porch; it's like a second fridge this time of year!
* God with us, which is Christmas
* twinkly Christmas lights
* a Korean feast at our neighbor's house
* having a car that works
* meeting a friend in the looonnggg post office line
* grace for each day and each season

07 December 2011

A message from the Lord

Today I have a special message for you.  Here it is.

The little card within this frame was taped to the cabinet in my Grandma's kitchen.  I can see myself standing in her kitchen, reading this note, looking at the photos all over her fridge of her friends and acquaintances, while Grandma would prepare a tray of tea and ask me about my life.
When Grandma died in 2004 and all the aunts and uncles and cousins were in her house, going through her things, I knew I needed this note.
I love that the handwriting is a little shaky and that you can tell she used a straight edge to make sure the lines didn't slant downward.  There is even a little bit of white-out on the P of problems; she wanted it to look right.
I love knowing that my Grandma wanted to remind herself of God's care for her, just like I need to do.  I really can't wait to see her again in heaven.
You could make your card with this saying if you wanted, you know.  And tape it on your kitchen cabinet.  
You are loved!

06 December 2011


This is Lucy and her beloved green coat, size 3T.  She keeps wanting to wear it because she loves it, but it really is just too small.  She's six, remember?!  Lucy and I decided that it might be time to pass the coat on to a little friend at church, one who might appreciate such a fun coat.  This friend wears a number of Lucy's clothes, and I love to see the cute girly things getting more life and wear.

Lucy was quite happy to know that her friend, Marlee, will have her coat.  It was the mama who struggled to let go.  John was pragmatic, telling me it's the "circle of life".  Maybe it's the circle of cute little girl clothes?
          *        *        *
Today in the car, the subject of super heroes and super powers came up.  Lucy was the voice of reason.
John:  What about super powers?
Lucy:  Nobody has super powers. Only God has super powers.
John (tongue in cheek):  And Superman.
Lucy:  Papa, Superman is FICTION.

Fiction?!  Are you kidding me?
          *        *        *
Last night, after reading the Jesse Tree section about Abraham and all the nations of the earth being blessed by his seed, the whole family broke out into a LOUD rendition of "Father Abraham".  Do you know this kids' song?  It's the Sunday school version of the Hokey Pokey, with all kinds of motions and repetion.  And, just like the Hokey Pokey, it can get a *tiny* bit irritating after a while.  Walter was mortified by our unbridled enthusiasm.  It was awesome.
          *        *        *
I find Nerf darts ALL. OVER. MY. HOUSE.  In my bed, in drawers, anywhere I vacuum, in the kitchen chairs, stuck to paintings on the wall, in backpacks, in the heating grates.  I don't want to wish these days away.  I don't want to wish for them to be quieter, neater, nicer.  I want to love them NOW.  I want to love that they want to make their own things in the kitchen even though it ends up with hot chocolate dust everywhere.  I want to be patient and teach them, and not just wish that they were more teachable.  I want to see everything that is wonderful about them RIGHT NOW.
Lord, help me see.

Linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky and her Tuesdays Unwrapped.

And also, wanting you to go read Ann's post today because it is what I feel and am trying to say.

05 December 2011

Let all mortal flesh keep silence

Do you know that hymn?  It is a spooky, scary, solemn hymn, and I love it.  We sang it two Sundays ago, on the first Sunday in Advent.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence
and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descended
Our full homage to demand.
I find these words such a strong rebuke to the way our culture wants to treat Christmas.  Everything feels so frenetic and over-the-top, too loud and hurried.  I find myself retreating and wondering how am I to treat this time?  Buy presents or don't?  Instead of buying presents, buy animals and wells for those in need?  Decorate when?  How much?  What does Christmas even mean?!  I know it means Emmanuel, God with us, Love came down, but why do we celebrate it for so long?  Why aren't I filled with peace as I think about these things?
Oh Lord, help my Scroogish-heart!
Ponder nothing earthly minded.
I'm keeping it real here, friends.  Not to worry, we are observing Advent, and in some new ways, too.
This year we have a Jesse Tree and are reading the devotional from Ann Voskamp.  And weekly, we light the Advent candle and read and sing. And daily, we open the little windows, because I just can't resist these lovely European calendars (I bought one, and my mom sent one, too!).
Praying that you and yours are filled with peace in the ways you wait and celebrate.

29 November 2011

Just Tuesday...on a Wednesday

Today I did a lot of talking.  I talked all morning with my children as we got ready for school, and then drove to school and then dropped them off.  There was a lot of hugging before I could get back in the car.

Then I was off and talking more, first with my friend as we walked and talked and promised to pray for one another.  Much has happened since the last time the two of us were together; we had a lot to process.

Then I drove to Bible study with another friend.  More intense talking and processing.  Didn't talk much in Bible study, but really listened and prayed.
Then I had about two blissful hours of NO TALKING as I Christmas shopped ALONE.  No sales people bothered me.  I was alone in my head and with my thoughts, plotting and scheming about Christmas gifts and how to make it fun for all.
Made a stop at the library.  Again, no talking.  This is the best library ever, hands down.  

Then it was off to parent/teacher conferences for two kids.  Another one tomorrow, not to mention doing writing my own report cards...eeek!  Not my favorite part of the job.  
Tomorrow, Thursday, is usually my day of no talking, but three kids have the day off, so I'm quite sure I will do my share of talking. Let us hope it is just TALKING...nice, calm talking...no yelling.   Juuuust talking.


28 November 2011

Being thankful never gets old

Are you so over Thanksgiving?  Our table is still festooned with the harvest-colored flowers and the green pumpkin...and the Advent wreath in the middle of it all.
I've never been one who could switch so easily from season to season; I need to ease into things.  I always marvel at those who have all their Christmas decorations, INCLUDING THE TREE, set up by the Friday after Thanksgiving. We usually try to get a tree up by the 15th, maybe even later.
However, Advent almost always follows hard on the heels of Thanksgiving, so I can't stay in land of burnt orange and yellow for too long.  It's becoming time for the red and the dark green, silver and gold.
We had a great time celebrating with my brother and his lady friend, Robin.  Robin is especially great at entertaining Lucy and will play with her for long periods.  A saint, I tell you.  Sadly, I have NO pictures of all of us together!
Today was a hard, hard day of re-entry.  I read on someone's blog that the four day weekend made it easier to face Monday.  Not so for me or my house.  Four days of feasting and playing and going to bed late made this morning full of weeping and gnashing of teeth (not to mention how the kids were acting).  I woke up filled with the dark dread of morning, but found some comfort in these words in Psalm 119:
I wake before dawn [true dat] and cry for help; I hope in your words.  My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise [and that I may make the lunches...with joy]...But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.
The Lord goes before, He is never asleep and He knows how hard it is to go into the week.  He met me indeed this morning, and meets me even now, in the tasks that come easily and in the tasks that require prayer and fortitude.
So, even if Thanksgiving has come and gone in America, it is always time to give thanks, to cultivate a heart that notices the ways in which we are loved, blessed, seen, heard, held by our Father in heaven.
Giving thanks on this Monday night for:
* sons helping in the kitchen
* foodie son's first pie all by himself!  
* pumpkin spice rolls and the delight they produce in my family!
* pies, pies and more pies
* The Muppets
* just days away from beginning to listen to Christmas music!
* first Sunday in Advent and lighting the candle together
* dear dear friends and all our children together, loving each other
* cooking and cleaning 
* naps under a fuzzy blanket
* encouraging words
* seeing Lucy's birthday joy
* reading Raggedy Anne stories with Lu
* talking to my mom and comparing Thanksgiving cooking notes; she taught me everything I know
* just living, being, enjoying what is now, this very moment

25 November 2011

My baby is 6

How can it be that my baby is 6?  With her birthday always just before, after or on Thanksgiving, this girl may be doomed to always having family-only parties.
Here's how we celebrated her day this year...No one had school, so we were free to laze around the house (except for me; I was in a pre-Thanksgiving cooking and cleaning frenzy) and wait for MORE PRESENTS!
Her request for birthday breakfast was French toast, bacon and melon.  Done.
Around noon time, she was begging for more presents, so the boys gave her their present. They were so cute, fighting over who would carry it to her, and they sang a song of presentation.  It also involved some wrestling...

When she opened the bag, she exclaimed, "Oh my GOODNESS!" and ran to hug each brother.  She loves her new pink (fake) Uggs.

In the midst of the all the pie baking for Thanksgiving, we had to also make a birthday cake.  Not because Lucy wanted cake, though.  She informed me that she is "not a big fan of cake".  So, the rest of the family ate cake and Lucy ate chocolate ice cream.  Love that girl.
 We decided her cake looked like a giant donut.  Doesn't it?
The night was topped off by Lucy's receiving the much-longed for American Girl doll, Josefina.  She was so pleased.

Lucy dear, you are a delight to all who know you.  You are a ray of sunshine, so cheerful, sensitive and kind to all. Also, we love that you are so snuggly! We are proud of you and love watching you grow up.  Like Lucy in the Narnia tales, you are full of faith.  May you ever be so.
Much love,
Mama and Daddy

24 November 2011

Giving thanks

Note:  Blogger is being weird.  I apologize for the strange-looking text in this post.  

Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done
In whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts 
And blessed peace to cheer us,
And keep us still in grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given;
The Son and Him who reigns
With them in highest heaven.
The One eternal God
Whom earth and heaven adore
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.
(text by Martin Rinkhart)