Monday, December 22, 2008

Unexpected gifts

After a few back to back snow storms and hectic trips to the mall, the feeling of Christmas has finally begun to stir in the air. I can remember being a child and it seemed that the warmth of Christmas cheer took root in my heart already the day after Thanksgiving. That's when mom began to dust off the glittering decorations and I found myself so eager to hang my ornaments on the tree, help her arrange the Chrstmas village and start to bake some of our favorite treats. I know that my kids look forward to the traditions I've begun in our family as well, but somehow between basketball games, volleyball practices, and bringing every one here and there to spend time with friends, it seems some of the wonder has been lost. This weekend however we got to experience a wonderful Christmas celbration that I'm sure will be one we commit to fuzzy memory as one of our "best ever". The gifts were all a hit, but that wasn't the reason. The weather provided the whitest of Christmases, but that wasn't the reason either. The music filtered through the house, mingling with the scent of hot apple cider, but even as it combined with the glittering tree and sparkling lights - it wasn't enough. Being snowed in together for two days on the farm cut our family off from all of those activities that otherwise pull us away from eachother. There were no plans made with friends from town. There were no practices, games, or concerts. It was just us. Saturday morning as the snow began to fall, before the wind swept it into waves across the oceans of fields that surround us, I stepped outside clad in warm boots and cozy mittens. I took a tiny stroll through my own personal winter wonderland. It's really amazing what the snow does to sound. It's like pulling a door closed on all of the various sounds of creation, save one, the gentle percussion of softly falling snow. It's like being wrapped up in silence. I smiled as the flakes melted against my cheek, as if they were tipping up my chin to help me hear the good news. "You get them all to yourselves this weekend." And as I pulled my boots from my chilly toes and shut myself and my family up inside the warmth of our home, the wind began to howl, but it did not threaten. We spent the weekend just being. We played some cards. We baked some goodies together. We smoked a turkey and ate it by flickering candle light. We watched movies and shared new downloaded music. For two entire days we were all together, huddled happily under the blanket of blustery snow.I admit that the natives eventually did become restless, and once or twice I lost my temper trying to make the new gizmos and gadgets go. The turkey wasn't done in time for the side dishes and so we ended up baking it till it was a bit dry.... but what are Christmas memories with out a little reality added to the mix.My heart was full as we sat down to our Christmas meal, and as we read about the gifts of the Magi from the account in Matthew this year, I could hardly contain how happy I was to receive this gift from God. Not only salvation, though that's the best gift of all, but the gift of life and life abundant. It amazes me that God didn't stop with just saving my life, He also wanted it to be good. Sometimes I don't know what good looks like. And I get that. But this weekend good looked really great to me. I am so thankful this Christmas for that amazing and powerful present. Happy Birthday Jesus. And thank you for the wonderful gift!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Firsts

Taylor came home tonight with an application for his first job. He’s applying at a few places. A grocery store. A hardware store. A pizza joint. It was so funny watching him fill out his apps (asking a ton of questions and then not trusting my answers) and then driving away to drop them off at their various destinations. He’s nervous. I could tell that when he asked what phone number to put down. He wasn’t sure he wanted to list his own. It would really be easier if he could just write mine. If the questions were all directed to me. If I could essentially, get him the job. And if I’m being honest, I would rather have put my own number down as well. What kind of questions will they ask? Will he represent himself well? Will they understand that he’s really just a little boy trying out another of life’s firsts right before my eyes?

The fact is, I can’t live ANY of his firsts for Taylor. I couldn’t take his driving test for him or be there when he went out for that first night with his buddies. I can’t go in and ask his teacher for extra credit assignments or explain that he’s not been feeling very well lately when his performance is not as good as I know it would be. These are not my firsts, they are Taylor’s. Why is it so hard to let him do it on his own? Is it because I really want to take control? Is it because I want to live all my firsts over through my kids? I don’t think so. I think the reason it’s hard to watch him take these steps into adulthood is because he carries a part of my heart around with him everywhere he goes. Wow – Taylor would absolutely die if he saw that – “MOM – YOU ARE SUCH A GEEK!!!!”But, it’s true – he does. Every time he tries and fails my heart bleeds. I get bruised each time I see him hurt. I hate sending him out there to a world I know if full of potential bruising and bleeding.

But… isn’t it the battle scars of life that have shaped me? Hasn’t it been the hardest of times – the times I’ve had to walk through without a parent there to make it better – that have strengthened me? I know that my relationship with Christ wouldn’t be what it is if I had been protected from the harshness of the world – firsts and all.

Even with all of this knowledge it’s hard. It’s hard to watch as he moves closer and closer to the day when he flies completely out of the nest. On the one hand I am ready. I have no interest in holding him back or keeping him down. I am so excited about the idea of the college and marriage and children in his future. But on the other hand I know that this comes at great sacrifice. It means allowing for the battlefield of life to engage my son. The child I look at and can barely recognize as a little boy anymore is a strapping man – all 6’3’’ of him and it’s time for his firsts to be his own. Pray with me will you, that I will have the trust to release him safely in God’s hands towards the life marked out for him. Pray that I will have the strength to begin the letting go… bruises, bleeding and all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I've been considering starting a blog for a while now. Actually I had one for a while a few years ago, but I sort of fell out of it and have really missed it. My kids are sitting around me right now doing homework and they're asking what the point of a blog is. I explained that it's like journaling your thoughts for other people to read. I told them about how much fun I've had keeping up to date with friends and family by reading their blogs. They don't really get the concept being they live and go to school with their friends and family everyday. Still though, their question haunts me... does anyone really care about what I have to say? What will my blog be about? Will it be updates on my family and the quirks and comedy of our lives? Will it be a commentary of my views snd passions on lifes current events? Will it read like some sort of daily devotional, chronicling my spiritual growth? Or will it somehow become a gripe fest on all that's wrong with the world, a sort of throwing up of hands and wishing for change in a hopeless world? In other words, what, essentially, is the point?
The truth is, I don't really know what my entries will look like. I know that some of the options on the list I just metioned are not the things I hope for my blog to become, but I also know that I'm a fairly fickle person - one who's affected deeply by mood and circumstance - and so I realize that my blog will look very different from day to day. I think that's okay. At the very least it's honest and I suppose that's what matters most in an online journal right? But it still brings me back to the orignal question and it's follow up insecurity. What's the point and will anyone really care enough to read what I write? I guess the point is connecting. It's all about putting myself out there by opening the door to my life for all of you to look in and connect if you want to. I'm planning to send out the address of this blog to those people with whom I desire that kind of connection. I guess then, it's up to you if you're interested enough to read or to comment or ultimately to make the connection. I guess blogging is about community. It's about being able to be a next door neighbor with family and friends who you might not otherwise get to see. It's about saying, "Hey if you ever wanna stop by, you're very welcome to. I leave the backdoor unlocked. And if I'm not around just feel free to make yourself at home. Kick off your shoes. Put on a pot of coffee. I'm sure I'll be back soon." So there you go. That's my invitation. I don't get to see most of you as often as I would like. I wish that weren't the case, but if you're ever in the bloggerhood, please stop by. I'll be so happy to see you.
Oh and by the way. I was inspired by a few of you who began this blog fest and have been keeping me up to date on your lives for a while now. Thanks, it's been fun. And for those of you who I might not know about your blog or facebook or some other connecting venue, I'd love to know where to find you. Just let me know and I'll be by.
Thanks and see you soon... I'll leave the coffee on just in case.