Saturday, December 30, 2006

5 things others may not know about me....

OK - Julie, I'll play.

1. I have cool ancestors. Really. On my father's side of the family I am descended from Stephen Hopkins who came over on the Mayflower. His son Oceanus was born on the Mayflower. Cool, huh? Then, there's my moms side. Here I am descended from Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas. So she is like some hugely great great great aunt. Yep, my family not only arrived here, there were already here.

2. When my first child was born I almost died. Really. I had appendicitis and they didn't know it. Well, they didn't listen to me. At all. Doctor's know best. I was just a whiny new mom. At any rate, it ruptured, I got peritonitis, and my body started going into shock before they decided to listen and do emergency surgery. I spent a month in the hospital. Good times......

3. I am an introvert. Just can't get out of that rut, hard as I try. I'm just not made to be an extrovert. INFP on Meyers-Briggs. It kind of hinders me in ministry opportunities, but I am trying to push myself out of my box a bit.....we'll see what 2007 brings.

4. I have been in 47 of the 48 continental United States. The only one I am missing is Vermont. Don't ask. But seeing as my daughter just was accepted at Gordon College in Massachusetts I think I will have plenty of opportunities now!

5. Three places I really wanna go - in order -

6. Wait, I thought of a 6th one. I married the brother of my college roommate's husband. Weird, huh? Our kids are kinda, sorta, like double cousins, but not really. And my niece just had a baby on the 28th...:)
OK - that's all.

Now, who can I tag who hasn't been tagged?

A, Darla, Jen, April, Matt

I thought I would feel relief......

I feel surprisingly sad this morning over the Saddam Hussein execution. He was a heinous man, pure evil, and I suppose had he merely been incarcerated he may have continued to control things in some manner. However, this man has no chance to repent. Ever. Who are we to take that opportunity away from him? Isn't that God's privilege? I don't know. The whole thing is way more complex than I want to think about this morning. I just know that I am sad. And evil as he was, I feel his pain, and fear, and how he must have felt the instant he realized there was no way out. This was his last day on earth, his last conversation with a loved one, his last meal. His last look at the world around him. How very, very sad. Is the world a better place today? Safer? Or just avenged?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tis the season to.....Relax!

Christmas at our house was different this year. First, we didn't travel to Florida, or Ohio. Which was wonderful and relaxing. Not that we don't love our families, but it was good to just stay home. It's been pretty low key around here, and lazy. On Christmas Eve we went to Via Christus for church and it was great to get together with our church family and have a candle light service. Christmas day we didn't even get up until 10. Then Chris woke us up - he was ready to open gifts. LOL. I guess they never get too old. Usually we have the gifts under the tree in the living room, but with Cairo that is an impossibility. The entire bottom of our tree is bare thanks to that Aussie's predilection for eating ornaments. He not only chewed all he could reach from the floor, he climbed onto the chairs on either side and feasted there also. Instead of getting too mad I have decided that means I can finally, after 20 years, get new ornaments for my tree next year. :)
Anyway, since the gifts weren't under the tree anyway, we decided to open gifts in the family room which has more seating and is just more comfortable. A good time was had by all. Lots of games, DVD's, books and music. My family rocks. They got me a TiVo. So......all you friends are now put on notice. DO NOT rely on me to tape your favorite shows - I'll be TiVo-ing from now on. :)
After gifts we ate a late snacky lunch - you know, cheese, crackers, sausage, hummus, pitas, salmon spread, spinach dip - yum, yum! Chex mix, chips, olives, pickles. Mmmmmm. After that we watched White Christmas, tho I don't think my kids quite get the charm of old movies. Blankies, jammies, family and old movies.......what could be better? Chris did have to go to work for a while, but when he came home we had Key Lime Pie and played Carcassonne.
Um, Kelsey won. We just played the basic game, but Chris has several expansion sets, so when we get good, it will be awesome.
Today we watched Joan of Arcadia (Kelsey's), read, Carissa messed around on her new sewing machine, and tonight hopefully we will be able to watch Carissa's gift to each of us - a DVD of family clips from the last 23 years complete with music and captions.
Doesn't sound like much, but to us, it was just a perfect, relaxing time. Just what we all needed. Now we are looking forward to our Via Christus New Years Eve service and overnight party!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pray for Rebecca

Tomorrow (Friday) morning at 7:30, my friend, Rebecca, is having major surgery on her spinal column. The surgery, depending on what they find could be 5 hours or longer. She will be in ICU for a few days - some Christmas gift. How do you wish someone a Merry Christmas with that hanging over their head? I did the best I could. Anyway, recovery is 7 - 10 days in the hospital, and about 6 weeks at home. Please, if you think of it, pray for her. And her parents. This is a scary time in her/their life.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I Will Sing a New Song

I found the book Woo Hoo! I ordered it last night....
Here's another example of a meditation in the book, and one that really, really resonates with me:

I Will Sing a New Song

The old song of my spirit has wearied itself out.
It has long ago been learned by heart;
It repeats itself over and over,
Bringing no added joy to my days or lift to my spirit.

I will sing a new song.
I must learn the new song for the new needs.
I must fashion new words born of all the new growth
of my life - of my mind - of my spirit.
I must prepare for new melodies that have never been mine before,
That all that is within me may lift my voice unto God.
Therefore, I shall rejoice with each new day
And delight my spirit in each fresh unfolding.
I will sing, this day, a new song unto the Lord.

Howard Thurman gets it....

Last night I heard a song at my daughters choir concert that was beautiful. I can't seem to get it out of my head today. Apparently it is an old Nineteenth Century Quaker Benediction; a meditation penned by the great African-American theologian and mystic Howard Thurman. I had never heard it before, and I thought I would share the words with you.

The Work of Christmas

"When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…

And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.

-- Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas, 23

While doing a bit of searching on line I found another selection from this book:

Christmas Is Waiting to Be Born

"Where refugees seek deliverance that never comes,
and the heart consumes itself, if it would live,
Where little children age before their time,

And life wears down the edges of the mind,
Where the old man sits with mind grown cold,

While bones and sinew, blood and cell, go slowly down to death,
Where fear companions each day's life,
And Perfect Love seems long delayed.
In you, in me, in all mankind."
The Mood of Christmas, 21

Here's Thurman's reflection on The Spirit of Christmas:

"The spirit of Christmas--what is it? It is the rainbow arched over the roof of the sky when the clouds are heavy with foreboding. It is the cry of life in the newborn babe when, forced from its mother's nest, it claims its right to live. It is the brooding Presence of the Eternal Spirit making crooked paths straight, rough places smooth, tired hearts refreshed, dead hopes stirred with the newness of life. It is the promise of tomorrow at the close of every day, the movement of life in defiance of death, and the assurance that love is sturdier than hate, that right is more confident that wrong, that good is more permanent than evil.

I think I'd like to find and read the entire Mood of Christmas.....

Let me not Keep Christmas....

And here's another great poem I stumbled on ~

Let me not wrap, stack, box, bag, tie, tag, bundle, seal, keep Christmas.

Christmas kept is liable to mold.
Let me give Christmas away, unwrapped, by exuberant armfuls.
Let me share, dance, live Christmas unpretentiously, merrily, responsibly with overflowing hands, tireless steps and sparkling eyes.
Christmas given away will stay fresh—even until it comes again."

-- Let Me Not Keep Christmas . . . . . . . . Linda Felver

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thoughts for a warm winters day....

And so the days keep rolling on - Christmas is one day closer, and I am one day farther behind. Well, not on the important things - the gifts are purchased. Just not wrapped. I am a practical person. Sometimes I just don't see the sense of wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve just so they can be torn apart the next morning. What's wrong with an Amazon box under the tree? Yet, I do love beauty, and tradition and usually paper and bows. How can one little ole person have so much tension within themselves? And then I think - is it practicality or laziness? Like, I love Christmas cookies, but I don't get a lot of joy outta making them. Just a mess and a lot of work. This year was an exception cuz Dana came over and it was a social activity and we had a blast. I like Christmas decorations, but darn it, they really start to bug me by December 26th. And then I obsess about having to get them down, and put away. It would be so much easier if I never put 'em up to start with. Bah. It can't all be the laziness factor tho - cuz I like snow. NEW snow. Peaceful, silent, blanketing snow. I hate dirty, slushy, day old Chicago snow. I like winter for one month. One. December. Then I am ready for spring. I love music, but after a week of Christmas songs on the radio I'm ready for silence. I like getting together with friends, but the Holiday season is over kill. I do not want to go to one more party, or concert, or event. Don't ask me how my Christmas shopping is going, or if I am ready for Christmas - do you really care? Or do you just want me to listen to your tales of woe? I want slippers and jammies and hot cocoa with a blankie and a book on my couch. A good friend to talk to. A good movie on TV.
I guess I like the season, and the traditions. I like what I like. But I don't like the expectations, the obligations, the dream of picture perfection. It's tiring, and disappointing and stressful. I want to be joyful, and give from my heart. I want to enjoy things just because. I want the deeper meaning of the season to resonate deep within, to simmer, and get better as the days pass. I want to share joy with another that doesn't feel obligated to give back. I have a friend that my family wanted to give a gift to. But in conversation with her, I found this would make her feel bad. She couldn't find the joy in just receiving a gift of our love without feeling obligated to give us something in return. It made her feel stingy, and ungrateful, like she didn't love us or something. That wasn't the point. I wanted to give to her. But we respected her feelings and decided to not give the gift. Christmas is complicated. The rules are precise. Angst and hurt seem to find a home in these days of celebration. All over the world people are returning to homes and family only to find nothing is the same, and all the pictures they had in their head of Christmas are just a wish. A myth. (I miss you Jen....)
Somewhere along the way Christmas has gone wrong. Maybe it's just me, I don't know. But I don't think so. I don't know how to fix it, so I muddle along with the crowds. But somewhere out there, that Eastern star is shining brightly- just waiting for us to follow and find the love and joy that we have so cavalierly replaced with busyness and things.

Hail, hail to the newborn King
Let our voices sing Him our praises
Hail, hail to the guiding Light
That brought us tonight to our Savior

Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah

Come now, let it shine so bright
To the knowing Light of the stable
Kneel close to the Child so dear
Cast aside your fear and be thankful

Hail, hail to the newborn King
Let our voices sing Him our praises
Hail, hail to the guiding Light
That brought us tonight to our Savior

Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah

Hail, hail to the newborn King
Let our voices sing Him our praises
Hail, hail to the guiding Light
That brought us tonight to our Savior

Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah

"Light of the Stable"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I wonder.....

Babies are so trusting. So open. And so willing to let you love them. Hurt babies, tired babies, scared babies. They long for arms to hold them. They come to you with arms outstretched in supplication. Hold me, love me, reassure me, comfort me. And, as the adult they seek out, we feel so blessed. So needed. So honored to be the one to bestow love and compassion on them. To feel their tired body relax into yours, and feel yours relax in love and contentment in response to theirs. To let time slow, and embrace the rhythm of rocking. To feel the stress of life subside as you minister to another.

Is it like that with God? Does he feel happiness when we crawl to him in hurt or exhaustion? Does he feel great joy holding us against his chest as we melt into the safety of his arms? Does he hold our tired selves with great contentment, rocking us in his reassuring embrace? Does his heart thrill at our blatant need for love and sing with ecstasy to know we need him?

I wonder.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Blessed is the LORD! for he has heard the voice of my prayer. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped; Therefore my heart dances for joy, and in my song will I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people,a safe refuge for his anointed. Save your people and bless your inheritance; shepherd them and carry them for ever. Psalm 28:7-11

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me, O God of Israel. Psalm 69:7

A funny thing happened....

Yesterday was just a sucky day. I am so glad it's over! I felt miserable, as I 'm sure you could tell from my blog, tired and cranky all day. Unfortunately, my daughter's holiday band concert was a must show event. That made me even crabbier. Bah Humbug. I went home after school and crawled into bed - because it was the thing I wanted to do so badly, and also to see if sleep would fix my headache and crappy mood. No such luck. I reluctantly got up, picked up Carissa from school, made dinner and fought with the dumb dog. All he wanted was exercise, all I wanted was a pillow. So, feeling more and more miserable, I reluctantly got in the car and went off to the band concert. And as I sat there and listened to the music a funny thing happened. It began to seep into my soul, and I began to relax. My headache actually went away and I felt happy again. So weird. always seems to come back in some form to music.
Another funny thing, on my way to school, home from school, to pick up Carissa, and on the way home from the band concert, as I was driving, and mind you, there is time for only one song on those drives, I heard Chris Tomlin's Made to Worship. All four times today. Every time. No coincidence. Worship. Music. Hand in hand. The way I was made......
So, it all comes full circle. Back to my need for music. Tempered by the need to find the balance concerning how I regard music in my life. And, rather than setting it aside as I have so recently done, to still recognize that God uses music in my life in wonderful ways.
OK - that was a little better than the cynicism of yesterday's post.....LOL

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A lump of coal?

Christmas. It should be a wonderful time of year. So, why is it so often the most miserable time of year? I have often wondered about this.
Norman Rockwell bliss. Oh, how high our expectations are! Each year hope springs eternal that no matter how many times we have been disappointed in the past this will be the year of the Perfect Holiday. Why do we keep setting ourselves up to fail? Even in my quest to simplify this year, I find the myriad of things I have to do really puts a damper on my spirits. Why is it that the holidays have to be so darn stressful? I know all the typical answers. And all the psychological answers. But I saw a quote this morning that was interesting and put a little different spin on the answer.

"An old abbot was fond of saying, ‘The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.’

"The supreme trick of old scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim's Almanac

Thanks Darla, for posting this on your blog.

Yes, the stress is real. The exhaustion is there. We push, and push, and do, and do, until we snap at friends and family. We find ourselves cranky, and depressed, with hurt feelings and, often times, anger. The joy is not there. I for one don't want to smile one more smile, or wish one more person a Merry Christmas. I can't eat one more cookie, wrap one more gift, or go to one more concert. I don't want to know if your Christmas shopping is done, and why do you really care if mine is? It's just meaningless conversation. And it's only December 14th.

It makes me think of Martha and Mary. Martha, who was busy doing, and Mary, who was sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning and worshiping and just being. I think most of us are Martha's this time of year. I wish I could learn to be Mary. I want to be Mary. I'm tired of being Martha. I'm tired of running myself ragged in the pursuit of perceived expectations, that picture perfect result, in order to fulfill some unspoken rules of the holidays.

There are things I am still excited about. Being home for Christmas instead of traveling. Being with my church family on Christmas Eve. Being part of a Christmas celebration and dinner for people in the community who are in need. Baking Cookies with friends.
The soft glow of lights on a tree. Cinnamon. Peppermint. Hot Chocolate. Coffee with a friend. Good conversation. Family together - just us, not extended.

In a way, the tension between what I am excited about, and what depresses me is harder to deal with than just being totally scroogy. Being conflicted internally hurts. I just turned off the Christmas music - it's driving me crazy. Hmmmm, this is a totally rambling, crabby, irritable post. Sorry. I've tried twice today and come up with nothing but cynicism and bad cheer. I almost deleted them, but decided to just let 'em be. After all, it took about 3 weeks longer to hit this point than it did last year! Then when things are good - when my world tilts the other way, I'll have even more reason to celebrate. And more to be thankful for.
Right now, I just wanna take a nap.

Synapses aren't firing today.....

Something is bugging me. Chewing at the very edge of my consciousness. I can't get a hold of it; it eludes me over and over again. Whatever it is, it is consuming what little brainpower I have this morning. Interrupting the ability to process, and think about anything logically and with any sense of purpose. I can't settle on any one thought for more than two seconds. I can't read - at least not the things I want to read, because that takes the capacity to understand new concepts and ideas, and decide if I agree or disagree. I can't pray, because I can't settle my mind in any one spot. I can't converse intelligently with anyone - I can't pay attention, I can't listen, and I can't remember what they are telling me five minutes later. Apparently, I can't do much more than sit and stare blankly at the wall, chin propped in my hand, trying desperately not to fall asleep. I keep trying. I open a blog here, and a blog there, but can only read a line or two before I lose interest. I try to read an article about something I am very interested in, but I can't get beyond a paragraph before I realize I am not comprehending anything. Just now I realized I am even staring blindly at the computer screen and haven't written a word in about ten minutes. I keep listening for what ever it is to make itself known. Silence. And the very act of listening, even internally, is hindered by the fact that my ear hurts. That has nothing to do with a quiet, listening heart, but somehow it affects it. I wish I could go somewhere and just try to deal with this, but I am locked into a work environment. Responsibilities. Obligations. A co-worker who stands in front of me in tears over a Christmas that hurts. I can't just get up and go. My eyes are heavy; my heart is too. I just want to close my eyes and escape into sleep. Leave this problem for later. Run from, instead of pursuing this, this, whatever it is that I am suppose to hear....
My head hurts, my ear hurts, but most of all, my heart hurts.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Divine Hours

I have become intrigued over the past few months with the concept of The Divine Hours. But like so many things I get interested in, I'm not sure if it is just interest, or a discipline that I would like to introduce to my life. I thought about purchasing a book, but again, decided I need to wait a bit and see if it is really something I intend to do. So I was really excited to find a website that I can use!
Here you can find information about fixed hour prayer, suggestions, and best of all, the offices themselves. I will definitely be checking this out now, and I thought I'd share in case anyone else had an interest. Enjoy! :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Peace on Earth......U2

Hear it every Christmas time

But hope and history won't rhyme

So what's it worth,

This peace on earth?

Friday, December 08, 2006

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Yeah - I know..

It's been awhile since I posted anything. Sorry. First I was busy, then my internet was down, and then I got sick.....guess it just wasn't meant to be.
Anyway, now I am better and the internet is co-operating again, so I can tell you about my Saturday. It was one of the best days I have had in a long time. This year I have determined to simplify Christmas at our house. Last year was insane. I was stressed and sick, and frustrated and didn't even care if the house was decorated or anything else got done. Scrooge, that was me. So this year I decided that I wasn't gonna let Christmas get the best of me, I was gonna get the best out of it. And that meant simplify. So, no cards this year. Sorry. If you usually get a card from us, we still love you, and are thinking of you, but I had to cut something back, and that was the casualty. Then we only put up the Christmas decorations that we actually liked. Way fewer ornaments on the tree, and lots less stuff just sitting around.
We also decided to not travel at all this Christmas. Every year we travel to either Ohio or Florida, which totally eats up our break and our Christmas spirit. Not only did I want to be home this year, but I wanted to be in my own church for Christmas. That is a rare occurrance since we usually travel. I am so, so excited about that - just to enjoy Christmas with our church family this year.
I also told the kids to be simple with gifts - think it through and make choices, then let me know so I could get it done a little early this year - and they did, and I did. Of course nothing's wrapped, but fewer gifts are fewer boxes to wrap!
Cookies - I was ready to pick a couple and do them, just to have a few, and also to have a good time baking with my girls. But not too many, because that can also be a stressor. And that is actually where this post started. Dana came over on Saturday because she had something she needed my son to do for her. So, since she was coming she said why didn't she bring ingredients for cookies and we could do some baking. She knew all about my holiday simplification plans and was ready for me to say no, I didn't WANT to, but instead I said sure! So she arrived with bags of groceries
and lots of suggestions. After we narrowed it down to about 10 types we realized we still needed some stuff so we headed out to the store. While there we also decided to buy ingredients for tortilla soup. One must keep up ones strength while baking cookies!
And then we started the cookie making marathon.
Dana started with one recipe, and I started another and Kelsey assisted us both. It was quite humerous to say the least. And messy, and silly, and yummy. Before long we had Carissa drawn in too. And by the time we needed to make the soup she had enlisted a friend to help too. Paige was so excited - apparently her mom never lets her cook because....? She makes a mess, or hurts herself, or it takes longer, whatever. Paige peeling carrots was hilarious!

We took a break to eat dinner, and watch "The Reduced Shakespeare Company" DVD and then just kept baking....and baking.....and baking. By the time we were done we had almost 30 dozen cookies. LOL. Yes, we were (and are) insane. But it was FUN! Not stressful. Not a chore. FUN. And now I have cookies for the holidays. :D Believe it or not, when we finished at 11:00 p.m. Kelsey still had to make brownies for lunch at Karen T's the next day.
By Monday, I was sick. Worked half a day, and spent 2 1/2 days down with the flu. :( But no panic - I'm all caught up with my simple Christmas. And I'm much happier, less stressed, not as crabby and beginning to enjoy the season! Awesome!

Friday, December 01, 2006

SNOW DAY!! Snow Day!! SNOW DAY!! sNow daY!! snow day!! SNOW DAY!! SNOW DAY!! Snow Day!! SNOW DAY!! sNow daY!! snow day!! SNOW DAY!! SNOW DAY!! Snow Day!! SNOW DAY!! sNow daY !! snow day!! SNOW DAY!! :) :)

SNOW DAY!! Snow Day!! SNOW DAY!! sNow daY !! snow day!! SNOW DAY!! SNOW DAY!! Snow Day!! SNOW DAY!! sNow daY !! snow day!! SNOW DAY!! SNOW DAY!! Snow Day!! SNOW DAY!! sNow daY !! snow day!! SNOW DAY!! :) :)