Month: November 2011

why the blog?

This is my 30th day in a row of blogging. I don’t think I’ve ever posted this many days in a row before. Maybe back when I was Live Journaling I did, but I doubt it. I successfully completed NaBloPoMo, and it didn’t stress me out once.

I love to write.

I love to share.

I love offering what little wisdom or humor or kindness I can to help someone else.

I love when the most random people, who might not ever comment or hit that handy ‘Like’ button say, ‘ I really enjoy your blog’ when I never would have imagined they read it.

And perhaps even more so, I love reading blogs. And I don’t just read the popular or beautiful ones. I read the obscure ones. the girl who had 13 bad first dates until she met the one. the mom whose baby Sadie was born the same day as my KK and lost her seven weeks later. the homeschoolers, the redneck Canadians, the Established Writers and the amateur photographers… I enjoy the variety. I enjoy learning. I enjoy getting to know people I have little to nothing in common with in ways I never would know them in ‘Real Life.’

I love a story – and I love being connected to it.

The written word is where I find my confidence. Though in recent years I’ve gotten better at speaking through pure necessity, I still fumble awkwardly at times. And sometimes, I have trouble focusing enough to listen as intently as I should.

But… When I write, I am alive and assured. When I read, I am engrossed completely. The bloggy world, even with its occasional ugliness, trolliness, competiveness, how-to-make-a-little-cash-doing-it-ness, is a true comfort zone for me. I love the freedom of being able to write about anything in my heart beat at a particular moment. I love the emotional investment that comes with following the journey of a total stranger.

So that’s why I blog. That’s why I wrote for the last 30 days in a row, and the last 9 years or so, and while I will continue. I will never take for granted that someone is here, reading along what I pass out as somewhat profound or entertaining thoughts. I will always treasure the connection.

unsolvable

one of the most common arguements I have with my husband occurs when we try to edit each other.

Example:
I imply through sighs, looks, gestures, or sarcasm that he should discipline the kids differently, complete a chore more efficiently, or handle something the way I would.

Another example:
He gets exasperated when I express a certain feeling, because it’s not how he feels.

This is not earth-shattering. This is typical Mars vs. Venus stuff. God made men and women differently, so the chances of us handling our stuff in the same way all the time are slim to nill.

Another common one we women like to dish to each other about (at least in my circle of women) is that our husbands often don’t let us vent. We go off about this (perhaps the kids not listening to us) or that (perhaps something that one woman said to us), or we fret about a circumstance (money, our weight, our to-do list) and they think they have to fix it. Bad hair day? Honey, it looks fine. Mad at your mom? Just say something. Kids talking back? Don’t let them. To men, whom God equipped to be strong and decisive, the answers to our complex emotions are often seen as simple.

But sometimes, we are not looking for a solution. Whether we are male or female, sometimes, we see that our circumstance, be it stressful, hurtful, frustrating, sad, is something that, for the moment, cannot be changed. And if we are mature enough, we know that we need to have faith to get through, because we don’t know the whole story yet ~

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

…but because we are human, we might sometimes indulge in a moment of whining. Or crying. Or just being pissy about it. But we’ll be fine. We’ll deal with it and move on.

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And with that lengthy introduction, I have to say kindly, gently, gratefully, that Rod and I are not moving ‘back.’ We don’t see moving back as a solution to our circumstances (nor is the prospect even practical, since our house is rented out, we had it up for sale for a year, we couldn’t find jobs in Chicagoland anyway, and it costs thousands of dollars and a lot of stress to move a family halfway across the country, and we already did that this year.) We might indulge ourselves in moments of doubt or even anger, but we know that we know that we know that we are home, where we are supposed to be for this time, and we have no desire to uproot our kids and our lives back to the midwest.

Well, I do have a desire to have unlimited airfare so I can go back once a week or so and have coffee with my friends, hang out with my parents, kiss my niece’s sweet cheeks, and eat Aurelio’s Pizza or El Cortez, but that’s a different thing.

Our season of waiting, of things not going how we expected or wanted them to, does not equal our second-guessing. And I must apologize if I ever give that impression. We are here because we believe it’s where we are supposed to be. We aren’t sure of everything we are supposed to be doing yet, but we are learning, growing, and trying to calm ourselves while our journey winds around this bend.

’cause I believe the next view is going to take our breath away. And when I see it clearly, you’ll hear me shout all the way in Chicagoland.

how ‘Toyland’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ co-exist

I admit, I still think of Randa and KK as babies. I even call them babies sometimes…

But they are not. They are 5 and almost 4, and they are big kids. They know their letters and numbers. They speak in sentences that are sometimes more complex than mine. They can strap themselves in and dress themselves. They can drink out of regular cups (this still blows my mind a little). They have their own thoughts, ideas, and memories.

As a result, Life is becoming less baby-proofed, and that includes our Christmas decorations. We have a lot of surfaces in our new home, begging to be adorned with snow globes and candles and musical-thingies, and we have set them out, instructing the girls on what is decoration and what is toy.

As you can see, we have our share of Christmas-themed playthings as well. When the lights and garland and ceramic pie dishes are unpacked, so are the mounds of Christmas books and plush toys and the all-time favorites, the Mickey Clock Shop (on the coffee table this year, rather than the mantle) and the musical Advent calendar.

All of these things are set up mainly in one of our extra spaces. We have two in this house, both annexes of the living room. This particular room is probably supposed to be a dining room, but if we stay here for the long haul, the hope is to make it a parlor…teehee, by putting a piano in it. Right now, though, it’s pretty much empty and therefore perfect for the Christmas tree.

It is then also perfect for the girls to turn into their own toyland. KK sits amongst the pile of books, turning the pages and making up her own rich stories. Randa rocks the babies and stares at the clock shop or the Christmas tree like a little JCPenney catalog girl.

And then there’s the calendar.
I love this calendar. It was a Crackerbarrel purchase. When each little door opens, a different Christmas carol is played, lights go on, and Santa dances. The girls love it, too. They spent hours this weekend opening and closing the doors, dancing to the music, and making up their own games to go along with it.

To be fair, I have to add here that KK calls it ‘The Chocolate House,’ clearly drawing on the 2 or 3 additional cardboard, candy-filled calendars they were gifted last year. And Randa told me on Saturday that – just for pretend – Baby Jesus crawled out of the manger to the North Pole.

…so even though we have a non-chocolate daily Advent lesson planned, even though we will read the Christmas story and bake a birthday cake for Jesus, little minds obviously need time to wrap around the many different aspects of this season. And grown-up minds do, too.

We have done a lot of thinking and talking this year about how we keep Jesus’ birth sacred, how we discern and separate the secular celebrations of Christmas (most of which are rooted in traditions far from Christianity), and how we preserve the special wonder of having babies little kids at Christmas for as long as we can.

We will continue to teach KK and Randa what God did for us in giving the gift of Jesus. And we will continue to enjoy the twinkling lights, sing silly songs about reindeer, and watch Eloise at Christmas every other night. I know there is a lot of ‘buzz’ about keeping Christ in Christmas. I prefer to think we are keeping Christ as the center of our lives, and Christmas is a ritual that is part of our lives. That way, we will always see “the forest” – the truth of God’s precious gift – through the tree.

quiet

Our house is back to a household of 4.

Paige returned to Lexington, and we’re all glad she took the extra few days off. We had her here for a week, and she’ll be back for winter break in just three more.

Mom and Dad returned to Chicagoland on Friday, six weeks after the day they arrived. I feel so weird about it. The days they were here were so helpful, so great for the kids, so comforting, and then toward the end, I guess a little tense, as we silently acknowledged that they weren’t staying forever like I’d hoped. Even so, I had so looked forward to them being here, and now it’s come and gone, and it already feels like it was a dream.

We had a really nice Thanksgiving week. It’s like an extra gift that Miranda’s birthday falls the same week. Each day was filled with baking and company, phone calls and presents, decorations and music. And it was in the 70s and sunny outside every day. Bliss.

But now the house is emptier. The holiday season stretches out before us without a lot of plans. We won’t be returning to Chicago for a visit (3 visits from August-October kind of maxed us out for the year). Other than one or two bonus days with some special friends, no one is coming here for a visit. We’re not involved in any concerts or cantatas or projects or cookie exchanges or party-hosting.

Enjoy it? Yes. That’s what we should do. Until things pick up at work, there are hours stretched before me to perform holiday tasks at a leisurely pace. Bake treats for random people. Write personal messages on the Christmas cards. Be intentional in giving gifts, rather than just checking off the names. Catch up voice-to-voice. Maybe find a nursing home and bring the girls there to pass out treats or cards or songs.

And there are the daily things, things neglected or doled out like delicacies for so long, that there is time to do. Take the girls to the beach after school (tomorrow’s plan). Clean the house but good (Tuesday’s plan). Pray longer. Carry on the conversation over a second cup. Exercise extra. Read. Write.

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There will be a day when this season, this quiet season, ends.

There will be a time when this current life, punctuated with activity and obligation and business rather than driven by it, will halt for a new season. There will be a Sunday night not long from now when I will have no problem feeling purposed (as I have tonight), no room to feel lonely (as I do tonight), and no open space on my calendar (which is full of blanks tonight). I will look back on tonight, Thanksgiving Sunday 2011, the day after a very successful, suspended-reality, worry-free week, and wish I had more fully appreciated the naps, the soup-making, the movie-watching, the doing of nothing.

So tonight, I’m asking God for something very selfish. Help me to cherish this time, even in my anxiety, even in my discomfort. Help me to find music in the silence and joy in the discovery. Help me to focus on what we have and what we know, rather than what we’re waiting for and what is unknown.