God in the Ordinary Day

This week it’s all been about Olivia. Olivia broke out in a fever and a very sore throat Friday night. By Sunday morning she had a rash on her body. She and I snuck into the church just in time to be there for Marc’s installation service and then we snuck out so as not to get her more sick or get anyone else sick. But, really, rashes kind of scare me; so we got her to the doctor first thing Monday morning.

Long story short. A trip to the doctor, a trip to the lab, an all-nighter up with a girl with a very itchy rash, a call to the doctor, and a trip to the ER to get more labs done and see another doctor three days later, and you have another kid home sick for five days. Another kid who wasn’t really that sick, but by this time of winter I really don’t want any kids (mine or others) getting any more sick, so we did what the doctor said and kept her home.

I tell you, Tuesday night just as Marc and I were going to bed when Olivia woke up super itchy from the rash and then proceeded to not fall asleep until 6am… well, that took a lot out of me. Imagine me half-conscious trying to distract Olivia from the itchies by telling her humourous (and what often were not-so-humourous) stories from my childhood. I still can’t believe she was up all night. We’ve never had that before, even when we had babies in the house.

So yesterday, what with being up all night and then the trip to the hospital and Marc going to youth on 3 hours of sleep… well, you go to bed exhausted but really feeling like a champ — like you really did something in a day.

Today… where the exhaustion from the all-nighter finally hit and I could feel myself starting to succumb to the germs that I’ve been exposed to all week so I laid low… well, I go to bed trying to not feel like I was a waste today.

I just can’t get over how much I struggle with this. Even if I go back over my day and do a mental check list of things that I did and the ways (the quantity and quality) in which I interacted with my family and others, and even if that checklist is good, well, I still struggle to feel content.

But aren’t these ordinary days the days I should feel most content, most blessed? I didn’t have to go to the ER today! I did get a full night’s sleep last night. I got to be home, to have a simple, unhurried day and be with my kids and relax with my husband. What is it that breeds dissatisfaction in myself on these contented, ordinary days?

It used to be that I thought these days were meaningless, that I hadn’t done enough. I don’t feel that way anymore. I know now there is wonder and pleasure in ordinary days. Now, I think I simply feel like I’m not enough on these days. It’s so easy to see the ways you could do and be more on these ordinary days because (unlike the crazy, chaotic, emergency days) you are not stretched to the limit.

But I don’t want to be stretched to the limit every day, really. Even if I am better able to fall asleep content with myself on those days. Instead, I want to strive to be thankful for the ordinary day. Thankful that life is mostly filled by ordinary days. And these days are the real blessing. They are the real joy of life. And I trust that God will keep teaching me that I am okay and I am enough even on the ordinary days.

Posted in Family, Life & Faith | 1 Comment

Thoughts on Growing the Oldest

I had a strange and slightly backward realization last week. I had the opportunity to attend a prayer meeting at a senior’s home with a few of the seniors from the church. When we were visiting together afterward, I looked around the table and had this thought:

“What will life be like when there are no more seniors in my life… because I WILL BE THE SENIOR?”

And you know what my thought — my very backwards thought — was? I became sad and wondered how I was going to have any hope when I no longer had any seniors to look up to.

I know most people, and most of society, looks to youth as the source of hope: the new generation to carry on, maybe even get it right, or at least better than what’s gone on before. But for me, hope has always come in the way of seniors: people who have experienced so much, all of the stuff of life, and have made it through. That is so hopeful for me. I am inspired when I think of what those bodies have gone through, what those eyes have seen, and what those hearts have known.

And it kind of scared me to think of a time when there would no longer be that group of people to look up to, to glean advice from, or to merely sit with. What will it be like when there are no more seniors to me because I am the senior?

Maybe this is some backwards way of fearing my mortality. Maybe I don’t think I have what it takes to make it to the senior citizen stage. Maybe I’m (no, actually I am) scared of what life may throw at me in the next thirty or forty years. And I think I look at the life of an older person as something so much more peaceful because they know that they have made it through.

Of course, I just finished writing a paper that touched on death anxiety, so I know that there’s plenty to fear at the end of life as well. But there is something so peaceful and inspiring to me about looking back on your story and your life in old age, as opposed to the uncertainty of looking ahead at what is to come in youth. I know with that “knowing” there is also the keen awareness of one’s mistakes and regrets, but at least you know what has happened. And that certainty appeals to me.

I have some thoughts and fears of my own to work through here. But I was quite surprised at the reaction I had when I imagined a world in which I had no more senior citizens.

Posted in Life, Psychology | 1 Comment

Things that Go Bump in the Night

That would be me, apparently. In the middle of the night last night, Olivia woke up crying in pain from a sore throat. I shot out of bed at her first sound. I got up so fast that Marc didn’t even know I’d gone until he heard Olivia cry again a minute later when I was trying to get her to drink some water.

Marc got up to see what was going on, and as soon as he walked in to her room I felt uneasy. I said, “I just need to go for a minute” or something like that. I went to the bathroom and the last thing I remember thinking was, “I need to go to the bathroom and get back into bed as fast as possible.”

The next thing I know the light is on in the bathroom, I am now sitting on the bathroom, and Marc is in front of me, holding my arms, and calling my name over and over again.. A few minutes before he had, apparently, heard a loud crash as I fell into our shower door and then onto the floor. I laid there for quite awhile, and, even after I started responding to him, it was a few more minutes before I was really coherent.

I tell you… That was so strange. I’d passed out in a somewhat similar fashion a few years ago, but, unlike the previous time, there was really no warning. I did not feel uncomfortable. I simply passed out.

After a while I got back into bed. I told Marc I would just crawl back, but he insisted that I get up slowly and that he would help me. The rest of the night didn’t go so well. I felt just so weak and was in and out of sleep all night. I was also worried about Olivia. Why, oh why, do kids have to get sick on FRIDAY night?!

So far today, Olivia’s sore throat and fever have not become any worse; tylenol, fluids, and naps seem to be handling it. I have felt okay after doing a lot of resting in the morning. Unfortunately this afternoon was Madeline’s birthday party. And because we’d only decided on Tuesday night to have her party today, I had stuff that I needed to do today. Mainly: decorate a three-dimensional dragon cake (which I’d, thankfully, baked a few days earlier). But then I had to make three pizzas and manage the party. And manage to keep sick Olivia out of the living room and resting in bed. Marc helped too, but he had a youth function tonight so he missed the last bit of the party — that part right at the end where inside you’re thinking “Why did I ever decide to throw a birthday party?!”

In the end the party was okay, quite good really. But I am spent. It was a hard and tiring day in a number of ways in our house. In fact, everyone was so remarkably grumpy and unsettled this morning — it was so extreme — that I couldn’t get annoyed. Tomorrow is a big day at the church, as it’s Marc’s official “installation” service, and days like this are just another reminder to me that we are very, very human. And we don’t need to be super-human to be in ministry.

And I’m thankful to be in this place where people are kind and gracious and accepting.

And I’m also thankful to be in a place where the distance from the toilet to the shower is narrow enough that I only have a minor bruise and bump on my head…

Good night all. I think I need to go to sleep.

Posted in Family, Ministry | 1 Comment

Winter Morning Adventure

We spent a very nice morning outside as a family today. Some fresh air and relaxing fun was just what we needed after kind of a long week. It definitely did me good to be out and enjoying this great land we live on.

I know I haven’t taken the time to post much about the farmyard we’re living on, but we love it. It just feels adventurous to live out here, to have so much space and so many places to explore. We really, really love it. (Did I mention we love it?!) I will show you pictures of the yard from today, but I promise in the next little bit to show you some of the family picture we got around the property back in the fall when there wasn’t 2 feet of snow on the ground…

This is the view from our front yard. That’s the church between the trees at the top of the hill and the parsonage where Randall and Lauralea live is behind it. They are our closest neighbours.
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First order of business today was a snow fight:
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Then some posing:
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And a little more posing:
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Tree climbing:
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Then what was supposed to be a walk around the whole property turned into a walk around 1/4 of the property, because… well… you see how much snow there is, right?!
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But Marc will never be deterred from getting the perfect shot.
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So we headed back. By the way, that’s the “guest house” and you’re all welcome to stay there when you come visit. It’s light and airy, mostly because it has no doors and mostly broken windows. (That’s the original house built on the property.)
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Then Marc sprinted down the driveway pulling the kids on the sled. (Note Marc and Luke’s matching everything!)
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I was quite impressed with 200+ lb Marc pulling almost 200lb of children on the sled. Then 80lb Luke pulled 200+ daddy on the sled… and I was almost speechless.
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We headed to the backyard to see if that little bit of hill is enough to toboggan down.
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It isn’t. So we went inside for lunch.

Oh. And I was there too. ūüôā
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Posted in Family, Kids | 5 Comments

The “Fastest” Way to See a Pediatrician

Luke has been home sick all week. Not *quite* how I envisioned the first week back at school for the kids. You see, he has had this strange tickle/cough since Sunday December 23rd. (I remember because I first noticed it during church. It truly is impossible to keep kids quiet during church!) Luke wasn’t sick over Christmas. He just had this cough that wouldn’t go away. It’s not his normal chest cold cough, it sounds like¬†a telegraph machine — a series of small, rapid coughs, like he’s clearing his throat or trying to catch his breath, but he isn’t doing either.

After a while we started to wonder if it might be a tick. I mean, he wasn’t sick. He could stop for¬†a little while if we asked him to stop or to take deep breaths. It usually stops when he is concentrating on something and is worse when he eats or is trying to fall asleep. But, like I said, he hasn’t been sick.

Until this past Saturday night when he said his throat was sore. That’s when Marc remembered that when he had strep throat in June he had a tickle in his throat for a couple weeks beforehand. So that’s where I thought we were headed. We kept Luke home on Sunday and Monday morning I took him to the doctor; his throat was sore and he looked horrible. Labs and antibiotics followed. (I’ll just say it’s quite “interesting” to try to get a 7 year old boy to pee in a cup…) We got a call at 11:30 the next day that the doctor wanted to see us about the labs. But since Olivia was coming home with her friends before 1pm, I had to get into town (which is 20 minutes away) before noon to see the doctor. So we did a whirlwind trip into town and found out that his labs came back a lot less normal than he’d expected. He wanted to make sure Luke was improving with the antibiotics (which he was) and said if he got worse or if I had an intuition that something was different to take him up to the ER at the children’s hospital in Edmonton.

The doctor wanted to see Luke again Thursday morning at the hopsital¬†and¬†there follow up on the labs and have¬†the pediatrician see him. So Luke and I headed out early yesterday morning in the dark on some of the worst highways I’ve seen (but at least there was reasonable visibility so I could see the bad roads) and went to the ER as instructed. We were there just over two hours, in which time they repeated the labs and got the results back. The doctor saw him briefly and told us that his white blood cell count was normal again, but that the pediatrician wasn’t there this morning and we should come back tomorrow (this) morning at 8:30am.

So we packed up all the kids this morning (thankful Marc was with me and that we got to leave a bit later than the day before) and Luke and I got dropped off at the hospital. Marc dropped the girls off at school and did errands. After the errands were done, Marc joined us at the hospital sometime after 11am. We were still in the waiting room. Angry Birds had long since depleted our old iPod’s batteries. We were onto that dot game where you have to complete squares out of lines. (We’d spent the 2 hours the day before doing that one, as I’d forgotten to bring anything entertaining along.)

After two hours we heard that the pediatrician hadn’t even arrived yet. Marc did some investigating and also planned a ride home for him and Olivia (who’s done school at noon) with the church secretary. And there Luke and I sat. For another forty minutes. When I went up to the triage desk again the nurse was shocked that we were still there. (She was also shocked that “Dixie” was my name. “No. What’s your real name?! Really? It’s not short for anything?!”) She then got on the job and a few minutes later we found out that, though the pediatrician had been told he had a patient at the ER and had been paged several times, he had left. And the message that he’d left somehow had not been relayed to the ER.

And so we left. Over four hours later. (I’ll admit it, I had tears in my eyes when¬†the nurse¬†told me. I always get like that when I get tired and frustrated.)

We are to go back Monday at 9:30 am and we are on a list to see the pediatrician (though, we were also on a list this morning!). The doctor we’d seen earlier in the week said that this would be “the fastest way to see a pediatrician.” And at about 11:30 this morning I still believed him. By the time we would drive to Edmonton and back and wait for a scheduled appointment, it would be over 3 hours. Plus who knows how many weeks it would take to get an appointment.

But I’m still not convinced of the doctor’s logic. Nor am I convinced that Luke really needed to be seen that quickly anyway. (Although after spending¬† two mornings in ER I see now that it gets used for all sorts of non emergency cases. I guess I always figured you had be oozing some sort of bodily fluid to justify going there.) I also think 5 days off of school wasn’t called for, though I do understand that a bunch of crazy bugs are going around now. (Though, if the doctor’s worried about the bugs, is 6 hours sitting in an emergency room waiting room really the best place to be?!)

So… looks like he will miss one more morning of school and hopefully that morning off and that fifth trip to town for medical care will be fruitful. I am glad Luke is feeling better, and I hope we get this strange cough thing figured out. And, I did almost get to the end of the awesome book I’ve been reading: “In the Midst of Life — Is there such a thing as a good death?” by the same author of Call the Midwife.

And the ER was kind of a perfect place to read it…

Now for a nap…for me… ¬†why is Luke not nearly as exhausted by all of this as I am?!

Posted in Kids, Life | Leave a comment

Rest in Peace

I walked to my room with the intention of crawling into bed, grabbing the laptop, and writing a post on how I have trouble “resting in peace” each night. This is what I found on my pillow:
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That’s peace right there. And I was tempted to just try to join Olivia in the peaceful, innocent sleep of a child. But maybe some of these thoughts need to be said and heard.

For a long time now — so long I have trouble thinking of a time they did not exist — I have gone to bed in conflict. In conflict with what, I’m not sure. With myself? With my life? With my humanity? With the expectations of others? With my own expectations? Whatever the conflict is, it is not conducive to resting in peace. I now often consciously push the thoughts away and force myself to sleep. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you will also know that I do not “dream in peace” either. (Just go to the “Dreams” category on the side there and you’ll see.) Sure those dreams are interesting and they make great party stories, but there is not always peace in the dreams either.

But, getting back to those thoughts that I have… Here’s the deal. Marc and I occasionally (wish I could say “regularly”) use a prayer book for nightly prayers. I love it. One of the portions of the night office is a confession of sin: “I have sinned against you, through my own fault, in thought, and word, and deed, and in what I have left undone.” Other versions say “in what I have done and what I have left undone.” I love those words.¬† They are exactly what I need to say each night.

But I HATE saying it. It causes me no end of inner turmoil to think that each day I have left things undone. Usually this about how I have done as a mom. Because, let’s be honest, I’ve screwed up A LOT as a mom. But I’ve noticed recently that even after a good, well-balanced day as a family I go to bed still feeling pangs of regret. Even if I’ve spent quality time with each of the kids I feel regret about that time. Like I could have done more.

The other night I crawled into bed after a very good day. There was nothing in it that was exceptionally frustrating or troubling. I had spent a good amount of focused time with the kids and that time was GOOD even (unlike a lot of times when you want to doing something fun and it turns into fussing and fighting). I felt those feelings of regret creeping up on me as I got ready for bed, and I told myself, “No. There’s no need to think those thoughts tonight. I’m not going to go to sleep in regret.” And I actually didn’t.

I would like to start doing that every night. And I know part of this must be locked up in me being a perfectionist even if that’s a part of myself I have been dealing with… or maybe I’ve been suppressing it… or maybe I’ve had it battled out of me after all these grown up years of living in a messy house with the messiness of relationships of spouse and offspring.

Whatever it is, some of you won’t get me. Some of you understand your own humanity and your own limitations. And that’s cool. Really admirable, actually. But I’m still getting there. I think I am getting there… slowly. I know that if I can’t manage these little regrets I am going to have some major problems when the big regrets of life hit. And I know there are nights when I won’t be able to nor should I rightly be able to rest in peace.¬†In¬†the meantime,¬†I still strive to trust that God is present in¬†my big and¬†my little regrets, offering his mercy and love and peace.

Posted in Dreams, Faith, Psychology | 1 Comment

Life Lessons Learned from Childbirth

I was really good at being pregnant and giving birth. In fact, if I were to find myself pregnant tomorrow (well, it would actually be in about two weeks, if you want to get technical), you know what I would immediately do? I would take vitamins every morning. I would eat better. I would exercise every day. And I would know that I was really “doing” something with myself… even if that self felt so exhausted she had to nap twice a day for the first trimester.

I think somewhere along the way I pinned down why I loved being pregnant. And it was that thing about “doing something.” Every part of my body somehow seemed to have meaning and purpose when I was pregnant because it wasn’t just for me anymore.

I struggled for a lot of years to know that the things I did “just for me” (and eventually “just for my family”) had purpose or were important because they were just for me. I don’t think that anymore. I’ve gotten a little better at self care and a lot better at figuring out what is really meaningful in life. But I really did love being pregnant. And in a round about way (teehee… pun!… “round about”…), pregnancy taught me that it’s okay to do things just for me.

Still, you don’t see me taking my vitamins every day, do you? Well, you wouldn’t anyway. But I’ll tell you the truth: I don’t. But I’m getting better at it.

Lesson two is a bit more difficult. With each of my births there were four little words that I promised to never say. And I never said them. “I can’t do it.” Four words with a contraction, technically. (I did it again! Another pun! *Contraction*) Before the births I always thought, “I’m GOING to do this, so there’s no point in saying I can’t do it because I will have no choice. I am going to do it.” So, thinking “I can’t do it” and saying “I can’t do it” were never an option for me. Even during transition. Even during the 2.5 hours it took to push Madeline out. I was going to do it, so why say “I can’t?”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’ve also been afraid a lot lately. I was sick, stressed, and tired for most of December. And I can remember two major breakdowns on Marc’s shoulder before bed in that month. The moments were increasing when everything seemed hopeless, when everything seemed pointless, and I really felt like I just couldn’t do it — any of it. There’s so much uncertainty in every part of life. And I really thought I wasn’t up to handling it.

And do you know what happened right at the height of all of that fear and uncertainty?

The school shooting in Connecticut. You would think that would be the last thing that someone slipping into depression would want to hear. But you know what? Somehow it gave me resolve. It made me want to push through all of the darkness and the fear and the not-knowing. I suddenly knew that love and light and goodness are always there, even when all I see is the scariness.

Madeline and I just happened to watch through all of the Lord of the Rings series when she was home sick the week before. (And she’s never home sick.) And the image that kept coming into my mind as I thought of Connecticut was (spoiler alert) of Sam and Frodo climbing up Mount Doom with nothing but darkness and destruction around them. Frodo can’t remember the Shire, all he sees is the darkness and the evil Eye watching him every moment. But they don’t give up. Sam, finally, is determined to be rid of it once and for all.

And how do you rid yourself of evil and darkness? Well, in Return of the King and in another story you’ll be quite familiar with, you must go right into the heart of darkness and face it and conquer it. You don’t run away from it. The only way to get rid of it is to face it — with a good measure of courage and resolve that there is still something to hope for.

And it wasn’t like that turned everything around for me, but that image of climbing up Mount Doom with the lava erupting everywhere and no light to be found was part of it. And those labour words helped too.

I’ve never been a fan of saying something positive just because it may help yield a better result. I want to say something positive because it’s true. And those words that I wouldn’t let myself say in labour but was letting myself say in everyday life — those “I can’t” words — those are the lies.

Because I can do it. I’m going to do it. I am doing it.

Posted in Entertainment, Life & Faith, Pregnancy/Birth | 1 Comment

Positive Resolutions

Well, happy new year! Last night I enjoyed reading on Facebook everyone’s best wishes and how they were ringing in the new year, and this morning there are many resolutions. I have made resolutions in the past but it’s never been something that I’ve put a lot of stock in. I have occasionally said, “I want to do ____ this year.” But, moreso, I have come at resolutions negatively: “I don’t want to do that again… We need to stop doing that… I hate it when we are like this…” and then usually a lengthy post each new year about how I was really going to try to love my body even though it had somehow ended up bigger than last year. Really I was not making resolutions but rather “never agains.”

I know in some ways those never agains are resolutions, but I really think that intentions need plans, and negative intentions need positive counter-plans. So that is what this year is about. Yes, still in my mind is that big list of “I wish I/we weren’t like this,” but I want to take specific and positive action and think about the positive goal rather than thing I want to stop.

Number 1. I am going to exercise regularly. I have struggled so much with weakness, exhaustion, and illness the past few months that I often worry that if I start exercising I will get sick. But I will start slow and be consistent, rather than thinking my body is something I have to conquer forcefully and violently and then have it collapse. I spent years doing what I thought was just a little bit of pointless and easy exercise, and now I see that every little bit does something. So I will start easy both physically to prevent burnout and emotionally to curb the self-loathing.

Number 2. I want to keep our house and our lives tidy and organized. I think this will involve lists, possibly for each day (which my friend Lisa has been telling me to do for years!). This will be jump started by a good clean, purge, and unpacking of the house that has already started over Christmas now that my school work is over for a little bit. A lot of this is not just about getting things done but about changing my state of mind. Things can start to feel out of control and I have a bad habit of thinking that I have run out of time before something has even started. I’m going to need to work on both, but I’m wondering how I practically come up with ways to stop my mind from feeling overwhelmed???

Number 3. (Because, while I could probably make 100 resolutions, I want to keep this somewhat manageable.) Finally, there are so many things I want to teach my kids. So many ways I want the attitudes that seem to underlie our family to shift. Bitterness, frustration, and smart-assness just come way too naturally for us. I know a lot of this is just human nature, but you look around and see families that seem to legitimately care about each other and want to be with each other. And I know we do too, but it seems to turn so, so quickly into a struggle — of wills and desires.

Really, what I want is for it to be easier. That’s probably a completely wrong desire. There is something in our family that I can’t put my finger on that makes us… oh wait. It’s dissatisfaction. That’s exactly what it is. Nothing really satisfies us. Or we have these fleeting moments of being satisfied but because they’re fleeting, we still end up dissatisfied.

On Sunday I wrote on Facebook, that we were having “Such a good day.” Within minutes of putting that up, the kids were screaming at each other. Marc called to me from another room, “Such a good day, hey?!” And I replied, “A good day doesn’t mean there’s no fighting.” (Obviously I was still flying high from the goodness of the day, but I think by bedtime I was worn down to annoyance and anger over the rest of the day’s friction and conflict.)

So, my plan to combat the dissatisfaction? Stop the fighting? Try to figure out finally and conclusively how to organize everything so that everyone will be happy? (I’m smart, but not that smart.) No, I’ve decided three questions will be asked of everyone each night at supper. This is a very practical yet theoretical step. I don’t know if it will help. But it is a start: “3 Ls.” What did you Learn today? How did you Love today? What did you Lose today?

I know that last one is kind of weird. But currently we ask at supper for each to tell one good thing and one bad thing that happenedm, so the loss thing kind of fits with that. But I’m hoping that when you put the three questions together we’ll get a clearer sense that life does not have to be perfect, it does not always have to go our way, but that we can learn and grow and love through it all.

A happy family isn’t the goal. A loving family is. And maybe the happiness will be a biproduct of the love. Or maybe I will learn not to be so disappointed when people are unhappy.

Anyway, hopefully some practical, positive, and manageable changes to be made in our lives this year that will extend beyond the four walls of this house. A very happy and loving new year to you, your life, and the lives you touch.

Posted in Family, Life, Life & Faith | 1 Comment

Because the rest of the year they look like hobos…

Today is Christmas Eve. It is the one day a year when I force the girls to let me do their hair the way I like. (Why, oh why, Fates, did you give the mom who loves wavy hair two girls who love their hair straightened, or even worse: unbrushed and unkempt?!)

Well, there was a bit of compromise… (For example, tonight Madeline¬†really wanted to¬†have spiky hair like Albert Einstein (!!) so we compromised with her up and some hair sticking up at the back).¬†Anyway, enough about the hair… but you gotta know that it gives me a little bit of joy each Christmas to see their hair done the way I like that one time a year — I am resigned to “letting them be themselves” the other 364.5 days.
Christmas Eve 2012

Today was a good day with the kids opening their presents in the morning after having slept around the Christmas tree last night.
The kids are sleeping in the living room tonight!

We had a relaxing day, playing with toys, packing suitcases, making cookies, eating appetizers for supper, etc. Marc gave a good meditation at the Christmas Eve service. The children didn’t drop their candles during Silent Night. And then they howled loudly like cats the entire drive home (luckily it’s about a 30 second drive) and into the house… where it took them a little while to settle down and where Olivia and I communicated about getting her ready for bed in cat language.

She meowed just before for this picture was taken:
Liv.

Then Luke showed us his Christmas guns:
Luke's Christmas gift to us was two tickets to the gun show.

Then, for posterity, we had to get a picture of the odd sock that Madeline wore to the service tonight:
Maddy.

You see, she received and read a kid-friendly biography of Einstein today and she found out that Einstein didn’t wear matching socks and that he said the following: “It would be a sad situation if the wrapper was better than the meat inside.” (Do I regret giving her this book? Just a little.)

That is true love, right there, letting your daughter wear a crazy sock over her Christmas tights.

Anyway, I have a lot more “Christmas spirit” than I did a few days ago. And I don’t really mind the advent journey into frustration and despair that I had earlier this week. There’s some hope and light and lightness back in the house and in my heart.

So Merry Christmas from the new pastor’s family:
Christmas Eve 2012 family

And the new pastor and his wife:
Merry Christmas from Darc and Mixie.
May you know the blessings and joy of Christmas no matter your circumstances… even if it means looking at it with new eyes.

Posted in Family, Funny Bits, Kids, Ministry | 3 Comments

Christmas Presents

You know why the world is broken? Not because bad things happen. But because the good things don’t make us happy. Or at least the things we think of as good don’t make us happy.

I had a little breakdown this morning. Maybe it wasn’t little. An almost hyperventilating, crying ’til your lips are swollen kind of breakdown. I think I’m over it now. I just needed to get all my frustration and sadness out.

There is so much good in our lives, yet we just can’t stay happy. We don’t know how to appreciate it. We toss aside onto the floor (or any open surface in this house) the things we thought were important enough to spend our money on.

It’s like clutter is this disease that’s snuck into our systems and we can’t escape it because it’s everywhere, everywhere we look, everywhere we sit, even where we lay our heads at night.

And what’s worse is that we have brought this on ourselves and continue to do so. Week after week, parcel after parcel has arrived from Amazon or Old Navy with things that we’ve ordered. It never seems to stop. And we forget about it as soon as it arrives, sometimes even before it arrives.

I don’t want anything for Christmas this year. That makes me cry. It makes me cry because I feel like I’ve gotten to the place where I can’t enjoy the good things that surround me. Because there is too much. That sounds ridiculous, but I think it is a symptom of something very wrong with our culture. And it’s something that makes me very unhappy on the days that I’m aware enough to notice it… to be frustrated by it.

I know there is nothing wrong with gifts. Gifts are good and meant to bring joy. But if I could get anything for Christmas this year, it would be freedom from this horrible feeling I have from my head down to my stomach that these things we acquire only breed unhappiness.

Won’t someone come and turn my world upside down and shake out all of the things that don’t really matter. Shake up my heart so I can be happy in want and in plenty. I want so much to enjoy all the good gifts that are in this world, even the Christmas presents.

Posted in Life & Faith | 3 Comments
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