24 December 2011

Made flesh

Made Flesh


  After
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.


   Now
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

Unwrapping

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.