27 December 2012

Happy Third Day of Christmas!

And here's to hoping not one of you receives three French hens as a gift today!

As I have said before here on the blog, I relish the days between Christmas Day and Epiphany/Three Kings Day/Twelfth Night/January 6th because that, my friends, is THE CHRISTMAS SEASON!  If we listen to the radio or watch the ads on television, they tell us that the Christmas season began way back around Halloween, and now it is all over.  
Well, GOOD NEWS!  It's only the third day!  So if you didn't quite get all your Christmas cards mailed out, like me, then you are IN LUCK!  You've got NINE more days!  Wheeeeeee!

I promised last week that I would show you a bit of our first Christmas in Texas.  One thing I didn't see coming as Christmas approached was that we would all feel such a strong sense of loss in not celebrating Christmas in Boston, in the ways to which we had become accustomed over the last 16 years. It took all my fortitude to find and set up the Advent wreath.  Not be sound overly dramatic, but it was through tears that I searched the boxes in the garage, asking God to help me find what I needed and to give me grace to set it all up.  The children wondered how in the world it could possibly be Christmas if it wasn't even remotely cold out?   On that note, does any one have some Christmas-y shorts and flip-flops I could borrow?

I tried to explain to the children that the meaning of Christmas does not depend on the weather.  In fact, as my dear friend in New Zealand reminded me (hi, Carol Anne!), Christmas is a SUMMER holiday for half of the world!  John and I didn't grow up with picturesque New England Christmases.  Our children have been spoiled by living their entire lives in a place that to me, while I was growing up, was ONLY IN BOOKS! It's so hard to change, isn't it?

But Lucy said the sweetest thing on Christmas Eve.  She said, "God gave me a thought!  He told me that even though it doesn't look like Christmas, it still feels like Christmas!"  I love this for two reasons.  One, God speaks to her heart and she listens.  Two, God gave her comfort and reassurance that even though her world has been turned upside down, CHRISTMAS STILL COMES.  God with us.  Alleluia.

The wreath is made from dried chile peppers.

Christmas morning mantle and one very excited little girl!

This is the kitty that adopted us a few days before Christmas.  His name is Navidad.  He is super cute.

Crockpot full of traditional Christmas Eve soup.

Christmas morning feast may be my favorite meal of the year! Cinnamon rolls, bacon, spiced winter fruit, vanilla pear mimosas, coffee... 

Cousins came over that night and they tried out Just Dance 4! Very fun.
Christmas dinner made my John, complete with Christmas crackers and paper crowns.

I do hope, dear friends, that you had a blessed Christmas Day, celebrating the Incarnation of God!  We are spending the next several days of Christmas with my parents, and I hope that we will do some more Christmas baking and go on some good hikes.
Tell me in the comments what you're looking forward to in the remaining days of Christmas!

20 December 2012

These helped me this week

Oh, hello,my dear friends and faithful readers!  It's been so quiet around here.  I had a request from a sweet friend in Boston that I might show you all what Christmas looks like in Texas. I will do so!  
However, today, I wanted to print some links to things I've read on the interwebs this week that have helped me process the tragedy in Newtown.  I still find myself weeping when I think of the children in their last moments, and the families as they face life without their tinies, and the other school children as they soldier on, having lived through the horror and its aftermath.  I am reminded that children all over the world endure unthinkable terrors and injustices EVERY DAY.  It's been hard for me to feel hopeful.
So, these blog posts spoke to me and helped me understand my feelings and helped me to feel hope.  Just a note that a couple of them contain {bad words}.  I don't think their usage is inappropriate in this instance, but I did want to let you know.
I also feel like I need to say that I don't always agree with everything these bloggers write/believe/etc.  But these posts in particular were helpful to me in deep sadness.

Love to you, friends.

Ann Voskamp talks about the flailing tail of the enemy, and the promise that his head IS CRUSHED.

Sarah Bessey poetically expresses the confusion and mess of needs.

Shannan Martin writes about grief.  We are not made for this world.

Rachel Held Evans reminds us that God cannot be kept out.  Amen.

More about our first Texas Christmas and how we are doing to come!

07 November 2012

Change and its benefits

If you're just joining us, my family and I moved from the Boston area to a small town in Texas last summer.  We have lived in our new town for a little over three months.  Much of what I've written on the blog since our move has to do with all that the move entailed: leaving a home and church that we loved in order to answer the call of God.  I promise that I won't only write about that forever.  But that is my reality now, so it figures prominently in what I post.

What follows comes from something I wrote in my journal on October 11, almost a month ago.

What I've found, and what may seem obvious to some, but was nevertheless an epiphany to me, is that we take ourselves and our sin wherever we go.  Moving strips away all the things we used to hide behind.  What we are left with, in any monumental change, is our grief and our shortcomings.  We cannot get away from ourselves and the things that hold us back from becoming who we are meant to be.
When I find myself wishing that we were back in Arlington, in our old life, I realize that the problems I am experiencing now would not disappear.  Rather, I would have the old, familiar ways of making those same problems seem not-so-bad.  I would be able to find comfort in things such as place (my old bedroom, my old walk to the store) or friendships (people who know me and who speak the same spiritual language).  But in a new place, the old fightings and strivings seem amplified, for there is nowhere to hide.  There is no familiar routine for dodging such things.  The problems, they stare us in the face and dare us to do something.
So, we can either stew in our misery and wish for it to go away (it won't).  Or we can face it.  We can realize our weakness.  We call out to God and say, "Help.  We are failing.  We are falling.  Hold us up, as you have always done, only we've been under the illusion that we were somehow responsible for that. Now we know that we weren't."

In removing everything familiar, the illusion of control is mercifully smashed.  We never WERE in control; we only thought we were.

So now, I desperately awake 30 minutes earlier simply to intercede for my children.  To talk with my Father and tell Him how weak we are, how sad, how mad at each other, how grieved, and we are desperate for His joy and His help and His presence. 

Tiny comments become huge victories, like the night at dinner when Walter said, "I really liked the weather today."
Thank you, Jesus.

Psalm 94:19 When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul.

Isaiah 40:11  He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom and gently lead those that are with young.

NOTA BENE: For those of you who have prayed and are praying, THANK YOU.  Nearly a month later, things are so much better than they felt when I wrote these thoughts.  We have more peace amongst us, and God is meeting us. Truly.  If you have been especially praying for Walter, THANK YOU.  He is better.  He is happier.  His heart is softening and we are thankful.  It's not perfect, but it's BETTER. God is here, and you are here by your prayers.  We love you.

Linking with Emily today and the Imperfect Prose community.

06 November 2012

A not-election post for your entertainment

I know most of you are probably watching election returns and either biting your nails or celebrating or maybe, like me, about to go to bed and see how it shakes out in the morning.  
I thought I would provide you some light-hearted distraction in the form of our pictures from the Hollow Weenie.
Theo and Lucy's school had a pumpkin display. Look at this amazing creativity!  I love the Dia de los Muertos pumpkin, done by my neighbor.

I like the Cookie Monster pumpkin!

This was the principal and assistant principal!  They were pretty convincing in those costumes!  
Here we are about to go trick-or-treating.  Vampire, Texas cheerleader, white Vince Young, and white Sean Alexander.  Sweet. 

But I have to tell you that my very favorite Halloween costume of the year was from my friend in Boston.  This woman is CRAZY creative and, in the few years that I have known her, always goes BIG for Halloween.  From this picture, can you guess what her daughter was for Halloween?
That's right.  Little L. was Mr. Rogers!  Her whole outfit is perfect, from the little sneakers to the parted hair to the cardigan.  
Can you stand the cuteness?!?  Look at the trolley!  The characters from the Land of Make-Believe! L's mom MADE all this, people.  She blew me away last year, when her whole family and a friend were Angry Birds.  And now this.  Simply amazing.  Way to go, L's mom!

And that, my friends, is my public service for tonight!  Buenas noches!

NOTE: I did receive permission from L's mom to share these amazing photos.

04 November 2012

A day with my honey

A week ago, John and I took a morning to go explore a little town near here.  We had read an article in the paper about a great new restaurant that was out of the way somewhere, so we set off to find it!
Find it we did.  For you locals, I recommend it.  Cute little place, really good Mexican food.  They have an amazing dinner special going on right now:  three courses for 2 for $20!  Next time, we'll have to try it for dinner.
Oh, and the cute-but-over-priced antique store next door had an adorable pot-bellied pig and chickens running around.  Loved it.
Bandera County Courthouse