Monday, November 29, 2010

giving Thanks

Thanksgiving 2010.  A day of love, gratitude, laughter, togetherness, encouragement, great food, awesome drink, and a lot of family time.  Our holiday went from up to down, side to side, back to front, top to bottom and all around on the emotional scale.  There was happy and sad, mad and glad, tears and smiles.  My feelings surrounding holidays are sometimes difficult to navigate. The celebratory waters unpredictable and unstable.  Years ago, when my world cracked in half , what I knew as a "normal" holiday changed.  Since then, an air of challenge and difficulty surrounds most holidays.  We have to manage our holidays in a more rigid manner than I would like, and even though this has been the "new normal" for a while, I still have moments during the day when the "not-fairs" and the "this isn't how it's supposed to be's" rear their un-friendly faces. These faces aren't ever issued a formal invitation to join me, they just show up.  A surprise slug to the stomach reminding me of the pain of loss and injustice; A slap to the face stinging of shame and sadness  of what went wrong and the impossibility of fixing it for those I love.  Thank goodness the slugs and slaps come and go quickly, and soon I get back on track toasting the Holiday with a new half-filled glass.    With strength, prayer and a quick glance through the lenses of truth,  I ignore what is wrong, and instead see what's completely RIGHT with my world.  I refocus my attitude and my eyes to see the goodness, the love,  and the beauty that surrounds me. I see the faces of my beautiful, healthy, happy, "better-adjusted-to-our-new-normal-than-their-mother" children. I see my husband who loves me.  I see my mom who makes every holiday amazing and endures my holiday-grumpies with grace.  I see my sister and brother who I can laugh and cry with.  I see my dad who hugs and supports me.  I see my nieces , my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law completing the picture of Thanks in my heart.  It's never a perfect holiday, but when perfection isn't the goal, it doesn't matter.  What is better than perfection is what keeps us celebrating together year after year.  It's the ribbon of family, tying each of us together with our goodness and badness, our happys and sads all along for the ride.  It's the bonds of  moments we've had in the past and the ones we trust are just down the road.    Its the balance of knowing all about each other and loving each other just as we are - anyway.   For that ... I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Holiday

Tonight, I am blogging from Sidney, Nebraska.  A place where the clock moves slower, the Disney channel broadcasts brighter and the mama is more relaxed.  We've already tested the pool and had pizza for dinner. The kids have staked out their sleeping spots, Daddy's got the newspaper unfolded,  and the wet towels on the floor are evidence that I am on vacation too. We might just stay up all night chillin with the tele fixed on "Hannah Montana".  We are all super happy that we have time together as a family and we are looking forward to more fun and making memories together for Thanksgiving 2010.  We have so much to celebrate.  We have so much to be thankful for.   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tis the season!

The Christmas  music has been playing for about a week now.  I tried to resist the urge to listen to it before Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't help myself.  Last night, we ventured out on a cold walk across the street for dinner the lighting of the big tree showing off in the center of the shopping mall.  Lights, music and festivities.  And COLD!!!  After we got home and warmed our toes, we started decorating the house for the holidays.  We are traveling for Thanksgiving, and we won't be here in our home, so I figured it would be alright to have a few  Christmas lights up to welcome us home from Thanksgiving.  We won't cut down our tree until later in December, so we still have that to look forward to. 

The kids love to put the nativity sets up around the house.  We have 5 of them, so someone always gets to set up two (I'm sure they keep track year to year!). This year, Michael set up the "Little People" nativity.  Oh, it was so cute!  He had Mary sitting with the wise men, Joseph with the sheep and Baby Jesus hanging with the shepherds.  I started to put it all "back together" when the thought struck me that I should be so open minded as my 4 year old, rather than putting the picture back the way it is supposed to look, let it look like Michael set it up.  A nativity scene, not about perfection, but about peace and love among everyone.  Who knew decorating for Christmas was going to be so thought provoking?

I have been listening to Sara Groves' Christmas CD over and over - it's my favorite. ( if you don't have it you should go to I-tunes this very minute!).  She has an arrangement of "O Holy Night" that is quite different than the original version, and because of that it has made me listen to the words of the song more than I ever have.  These words have been there all along, but I think that the song is usually sung slow and I'm always waiting for the singer to belt out that last "divine" so I've missed out on these words.

"Surely He taught us to love one another.  His law is love and His gospel is peace"

"In His name all oppression shall cease."

"The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices."

Maybe it's where my thoughts have been settling lately, but these are some pretty amazing words!!  I could use some peace, some oppression to cease, a thrill of hope!  I just love it when something old knocks you on the noggin completely unfamiliar and brand spankin new!!  These are thoughts for some continued pondering.  I think that there is a theme hiding under the Bethleham stars for me... let Christmas be NEW this year.  Let your little boy's perspective on where Jesus belongs at the nativity teach you something NEW this year, Heather.  Hear the words to familiar songs in a NEW way - don't just sing along without noticing the depth of the musical message.  Make NEW memories, have NEW hope in that Baby Jesus, because He's showing me a NEW way while He hangs out with the shepherds this Christmas.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

She's 12!

Today is one of  "those days" for me as a mom.  Marky's 12th birthday.  She is 12!!!  And now I'm going to sound like one of "those moms" when I say... "Where did the time go??? "  My children's birthday's are always extra special, but there is something really amazing about your first-born celebrating another year of their life.  It is a day filled with nostalgia and memory.  A day where sacrifice, desire and insanity all meet up to remind you that it was the day your life changed forever.  Although there were other people present at Marky's birth, I am the only one who has certain memories.  Memories that were developed under bright lights and sterile cloths; memories that have the scent of clean linens and the sanitized hands of the caring anesthesiologist; memories that were sandwiched between absoulte terror and unimaginaeable excitement.  Memories that have lingered and make that day 12 years ago seem like it happened this morning.  Those are the memories that are uniquely mine.  Embedded into the cells of my soul and the chambers of my heart - ones like my first thought when the doctor first gave me a hint of whether I was decorating with pink or blue.  He said... "Oh , SHE'S peeing."  And my first thought was... Oh! It's a girl!  We are going to have so much fun!"  Flashing before my eyes were all things feminine and girlie, "Anne of Green Gables" and
"Fashion Plates" leading the pink parade of what was to come.  I remember how small she was, and how she smelled so yummy.  I'd never smelled that smell before. It was natural and pure and whole. A scent I woud look forward to 3 more times.  I remember having birthing pains in my body, but being distracted from them because the joy of holding MY daughter and caring for her overwhelmed the pain until it disappeared; a feeling that would soon become familiar as one of the common themes of motherhood.  Becoming a mom on November 11, 1998 changed my priorities, my processes, and my person forever.  Marky was the pioneer for true love in my life.  I had never known love to ache until I became her mom.  I never knew the intensity of being connected to someone so deeply until I became Marky's mom.  I never knew that love could persevere through enormous trials until I became her mom.   I never understood sacrifice and an "I'll do whatever it takes to protect her" attitude until I became her mom.  Every opportunity to hold Marky, hug Marky, love Marky, teach Marky, and enjoy Marky over the last 12 years has molded me into the woman that I am.  She challenges me and amazes me; she is a daughter of God, a disciple of Jesus, a fabulous daughter,  a loyal friend, a fun sister, and a special grand-daughter.  I am so proud of the young girl that she is and the future has no limits for this wise and beautiful girl.  I love you, Marky-moo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Most of my days are fairly predictable.  Few surprises, not many upsets, not much -to- write- home- about.  However, this week has been anything BUT that!!!  I have had one fun thing after another on the calendar, and I am tireder and happier than usual.   Tired because I've been on the go, and happier because more than once, I've gotten to put on my fancy shoes and lipstick,  backing out of the driveway with grown up music playing on my car stereo!  I've gotten to help friends, go on a field trip, hold babies, host parties, toast friends, celebrate birthdays, and the fun continues into the weekend when I get to travel to the mountains for an overnight trip with some new friends.  Its rare for me to go out of town, but boy am I looking forward to it!!!  A month ago, I coordinated wtih Patrick's schedule for him to be home so that I could leave, and the weeks of looking forward to this trip have moved so quickly that I can hardly beleive it's here!

Last weekend, we celebrated Marky's 12th birthday by spending the night at a hotel.  She and her friends had the best time in their own room (with me next door!) playing their music, telling their stories, laughing, putting on makeup, eating junk food, texting other friends, and many other pre-teen time spenders.  We swam and sat in the hot tub, watched a movie in our room and ate yummy food in the hotel dining room.  Saturday we shopped and ate and laughed some more.  Marky and her sweet girl friends were so much fun, and the special time that I got to spend with them was priceless.  Maddie was my shopping buddy for the day, and I was overjoyed to hold her little hand as we walked a few steps behind big sister so as not to "intrude".  I was so thankful that my Maddie-girl is still young.

We are well into the middle of the annual marathon of  acticvity that happens at our house between Halloween and New Years.  Holidays, birthdays, and the schedule juggling that occurs over a very short period of time can cause this mama to want to pull the shades and lock the doors until Valentines.  But each year around this time, I try to re-evaluate my priorities,  remember all that I have to be thankful for, and put on my happy face even when it's not feeling just so. The fun that we have will be what will stick with the kids and I need to make them the focus.  A few days away is just what I need to help me gain that perspective. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Monotony and Glory. 

 Two extremes that are the see-saw on the playground of my everyday.  The monotony of packing lunches, cleaning up messes, doling out consequences, reminding the brother not to hit the sister, driving the well-worn road back and forth to 3 schools, keeping track of homework, reading logs, due dates and appointments.  Looks monotonous through one lens.  Then, I notice something extraordinary peeking over monotony's shoulder and I carefully zoom in.  I see glory starting to come into focus. 

Michael asked Jesus into his heart two weeks ago - GLORY!   
An invitation for a weekend away  - GLORY!
A pre-school field trip to the Farm - GLORY!! 
A sister who volunteers to read her little sister's favorite book to her - GLORY!
A shared laugh with a middle school daughter - GLORY!
Time spent with good friends over a simple lunch - GLORY!
Army guys, lego parts and matchbox cars in my hands playing with my 4 year old counterpart - GLORY!
A surprise encouragement from my sweet mom - GLORY!
An new 80 year old friend - GLORY!
A promise from the book of Psalms to soothe an anxious heart - more GLORY!
The Lord's Prayer being learned by Michael, said in his sweet child voice - GLORY!

When I turn my focus to whats behind the scenes I discover so much  glory tucked in and around the monotony. It's asking for attention if I will just open my eyes, ears, and heart to behold it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More halloween pictures

 I love how Michael tipped his head back and peaked out from his mask every time he said "trick or treat"

New Bible Study!

Whaf do you get when you have a  girl who wants to be in a Bible Study but can't find one that fits her?? Well, first you add a few sweet friends, then mix another couple of girls who are roped (gently!) into coming to her house on Monday nights, throw in Godly wisdom, strong character, difficult life experiences yet joyful perspective and you have...  a  Bible study at my house!!!  I am SO thrilled to be starting this.  I honestly never thought that I would be able to have a Bible study in my home.  I thought that the kids would be too noisy, there would be too many distractions, my home wouldn't be "nice" enough, etc. etc. etc.  Insecurities anyone??  But by God's grace, it is working!!  God has known of the places that He needed to fill up in my heart with this study, with the "yesses" from my friends, with a place to study with like-minded women that fit my season of life.  I am not a risk taker and asking others to join me was so hard, but I am SO glad that I did!  We are going through the book of Ruth via a study written by Kelly Minter.  So far it has been exactly what we have all needed.  By faith, I am choosing to believe that this dear group of girls was brought together for just the right reasons.  I have been blessed so much by them already. Thank you, my Lord and my friends for doing this with me!