Tag Archives: advent

This is Christmas.

A father packs a suitcase.

He tells me this story:

The kids aren’t coming home for Christmas this year.

He’s not mad. 

Disappointed, maybe,

but not mad.

He misses his kids,

this much is obvious.

We used to talk a lot. Actually, we used to be inseparable, you know? They hung on every word I said. Ran home every chance they could. Asked my advice, ate at the family table, counted on me. But times change and, well, you know how it goes. Kids want to explore, right? They challenge the truth they grew up with. They started believing I didn’t understand them anymore, said times were different now, said they wanted their freedom. We talked less and less in those later years until, finally, they stopped coming home at all.

I see them, hear them wandering around life… struggling through. I hate that we aren’t together anymore.

“But you still love them,” I say.

Oh, I do! Absolutely. I still love them. I could never not love them. I hate being away from them. I hate not talking. I hate not being involved in their lives, comforting them when they hurt and celebrating when they’re thrilled. I miss the early days of watching them discover life. I absolutely love them, without a doubt.

And so, in order to show them that I love them… that nothing can change that I love them, that my heart’s desire is to know them and be known by them, that I want a relationship at all costs…

this year I’m going to THEM for Christmas.

He is smiling now.

The biggest smile

you can imagine.

I’m going to surprise them. If they won’t come to me, then I will go to them. I will get low. I will serve.I will be last. I’ll go where they are. I’ll find them where they are. If they can’t or won’t come home, I’ll go to them. It’s a long trip, and I think it may be uncomfortable. But, I’m going.

Because I love them.

I think He’s amazing.

And, maybe a little stubborn.

But certainly determined…

as one is when in unconditional love.

candlelight

Do you see what I see?

This is Christmas… 

the celebration of God coming to us to make peace. The thrill of hope: knowing we are not lost but, in fact, found. That we are missed and loved and sought. That we walked away and He came after us.

With an infant’s cry on a not-so silent night, Jesus started a war for peace- a war against sin. It is the middle of a story that started in a garden and ends on a cross… with an epilogue we truly cannot grasp.

We are no longer lost,

for He has come down to us.

We have a savior; 

we have a savior.

[music]

Merry Christmas, friends. 

• inspired by a stunning monologue

at the 2014 BHBC candlelight service

Advertisements

cleaning house

:: a letter to myself ::

Oh, but they mock me.

The boots in the locker downstairs. They were bought and then used… and then silently exiled to the basement, out of sight and out of mind for all but a couple days a year. Too heavy but too expensive to admit it and now too old to return. So they sit downstairs and I force myself to wear them once a year and chide myself for being wasteful in between storms.

boots

The cups in the bottom drawer. Every kid has tried and used and rejected a different sippy. The opaque metal ones that curdle the contents when moms forget to collect them at the end of the day (week?). The grow-into-me one with the handles that drips too much and explodes when dropped from high chairs. The normal one that loses its valve every. single. time. The almost-grown-up versions, each with a broken handle or missing straw or half chewed-off bite valve. A fifty-dollar drawer full of non-matching, abundant annoyance… taking up space and growing contempt.

The pants that are my favorite but will never fit. Seriously. Like, never. I keep them because they’re perfectly fine but I am not, and giving them away means throwing away money and admitting they were a poor choice.

This tiny shoebox of a house is packed full of haunts that point to quick decisions, bad timing, and waste. I keep them like a penance. Make do, I whisper. Make it work and no one will know you actually want a take-back. That you bought in excess. That you didn’t think it through, didn’t do your research, didn’t use that appliance you thought would change your life.

Or.

Bring out your dead. 

Sometimes being free isn’t about healing childhood hurts or changing careers or making  a counseling appointment. Sometimes being free is about the simple, every day decisions. Guilt and shame hide in corners of our homes that we often deem too minor to dust. By the time we break, it’s that blasted sippy cup staring at you that makes you question your worth. It’s the boots, the scratched DVDs, the wilted veggies in the bottom of the fridge that wear you down. We’re surrounded by a hundred small decisions we wish we could take back, and they weaken our defenses to the greater battles in life.

Clean house.

Gather the rotted, the too small, the ill-fitting and be done. Make room. Do you need permission? I do. I declare a day of amnesty. No explanations, no defense, and cart the guilt out with the over-abundance of crap that has made itself at home thanks to your desire to keep it all together.

Let us be done.

Make room.

There is a child coming, who is a king. THE king. This is no time for distraction or shame. In fact, instead, this is the season of preparation. Clear the way, inside and out, for the Christ-child to arrive. There is no room for excess baggage, so start moving. Old, new, and everything in between that hurts your heart for the wrong reasons. Gather what binds you and send it on its way.

He is coming to set you free- not only from this broken world, but from yourself. However simple or ridiculous or prideful… whatever the reason those objects weigh you down… the best gift you can bring Him this season is a heart with room.

Now.

Who needs some boots?


super-duper holiday list o’ fun

Hello, Friends! Please forgive yesterday’s blog absence.  Abby and I are back from our trip to California, and we are feeling it. Time zones are not awesome.  Ry also woke up this morning with a fever and a very sad face, so everyone’s in jammies and soup is on the stove.

Today, Tif is back with a list of tried and true activities to get you through the rest of this Holiday Season with your littles.  If you have anything to add, be sure to leave us a note in the comments!

Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…

 As a parent, I have found some fun and creative ways to bring the holidays into my home for my children.  We always look forward to the spending of time together…. The crafts, the stories, the fun.  Ever since my children were little, being home was more important to us… than going out. The stay at home activities allowed my son, who didn’t like the hustle and bustle of the holiday, to be in a safe and calm place… and yet it also allowed my other son to experience the special moments of the season.  It even gave us (the parents) the ability to enjoy the joy and fun without getting frustrated or feeling pressure from the outside world.  Many of the activities are simple, cute, quick and easy to plan.  I wanted to share some with you….
Granted, you can add your own traditions…. But these are just some helpful ways to get your home buzzing with activities for the holidays.  Have fun! Take photos! And most of all, enjoy the messy faces, goopy hands, and sounds of joy in your home.  Merry Christmas!

Tif 

Young Ones (ages 2-5)

Older Ones (ages 5+)

Remember: if your child doesn’t hang around for long… let them be.  They may only want to experience it from afar.  Don’t force the activity and time upon them.  Leave your expectations and frustrations at the door… just BE together! 


in which I consider cancelling Christmas

If we’re friends on facebook, you know that Jesus of the Nativity and his two Ceramic Parents met an untimely and Earthly end earlier this fall when Gideon James freed them from their basement storage manger. This left me with a strong desire to start some Mulder traditions but with nothing to anchor the effort.  When this advent calendar went on sale, I pounced. It would be the perfect backdrop for a lifetime of December memories. Yes.  When it arrived in Thursday’s mail, Gus Man helped me carefully unwrap the ark (Boat! Mom! Boat!), all 24 little animals, and sweet Noah.

I was feeling good.

noahpolaroid

The children were in love.  After a brief course in the Ethics of an Advent Calendar (which basically boils down to one rule: No Peeking), the boat was placed on the hutch and Noah was set out in anticipation of his flock joining him throughout the month.  There was much ooohing and ahhing and touching.  I have no delusions of this sitting high on shelf and never being maimed by my children. The Good News is a hands-on story here, Folks. But, MY LANTA, if I didn’t expect for Noah to go missing after 30 minutes.

Y’all. 

Honestly.

By the time Curt got home from work, Noah was no where to be found. I had rescued him myself twice… once from driving a (toy) bulldozer, and once from shepherding in the confines of (toy) barn with a monkey, a giraffe, and a moose.  Gideon James.  Clearly, we had a good idea of who was responsible for Noah’s disappearance, but repeated questioning only resulted in a (very cute but maddening) shrug.

So, Mamma took a walk.  Mamma needed to breathe some fresh air. MAMMA JUST WANTED IT TO BE SPECIAL, PEOPLE. We didn’t even make it to DAY ONE.  I walked out to the garden where the children had been playing tackle. No Noah. I walked to the pole barn, where the shorter child had unrolled the air compressor hose to fix his wagon. No Noah. I looked under the van, on the porch swing, in the dog’s water bowl.

No Noah.

I briefly considered cancelling Christmas. Obviously, my family cannot handle the pressure. But, I rallied.

I gathered the troops… the 2 troops… and squished them together on the leather wing-back chair  next to the boat.

I closed my eyes and put a gentle, non-scary smile on my face.

“Children, whom I love and adore,” I started, “Where is Noah? Think. Think hard. He is here somewhere. I’m not mad. I’m not even surprised. I just want Noah back. WHERE IS NOAH TELLMENOW.”

And, without pause or rehearsal,

Rylie pointed up and said, “Heaven.

while Gus pointed at me and said, “No peeking.

Epilogue

Noah was found

later that evening

 deep under the hutch

with chocolate chip remnants on him

(GIDEON JAMES).

Noah is now permanently attached to his craft

with gorilla glue.

Christmas is still on.

I am in it to win it,

come hell or 40 days of high water.

 


’tis the season

When I was child,

It was just the 4 of us, and we were an ocean away from extended family.  There was a nativity that played music, an advent wreath, and chocolate advent calendars.  There was a birthday on the 19th (Daniel Charles!) which started Christmas vacation, and there were movies and movies and more movies.  There was a real, live Christmas tree with fat, colored lights and silver tinsel, and there was midnight mass and white tights.  There was ONE present… but only one… allowed on Christmas Eve.  There were presents from Santa left out in the open and stockings full to be enjoyed immediately upon waking.  There were wrapped presents from family, but those were not to be touched until the the video camera was ready. There was grace and ham with scalloped potatoes for dinner.  My birthday came 3 days later, when we were usually on a ski slope.  The tree stayed up until January 6th, and there was never any question about who we were celebrating or why… We had waited.  He had come.  And He was welcome.

Now that I am older,

It’s the 5 of us.  Abby starts our season with a birthday on the 15th.  There are extended-family gatherings throughout the month… because we are blessed to live near extended family!  We still have a real, live tree but with little, white lights.  We had a small, ceramic nativity but not anymore (Gideon James).  My small family still opens gifts together on Christmas day.  We still eat ham and potatoes in the early afternoon, and my birthday still comes 3 days after His.

It has been such a struggle for me to get into family traditions now that I have my own family.  This came as somewhat of a surprise to me, given I feel like tradition should be mandated in the constitution.  Long live costumes and stories of yore.  Love yore.  But, you get married and you have a kid and all the sudden it’s 8 Christmas-es later and you realize you have never once made it through an advent season with marked educational or devotional success.  Y’all, I don’t think we even had stockings the first year. We were given an amazing box of tree decorations as a wedding gift so we wouldn’t start with a bare tree, but I have done little to compliment that over the years.   Nothing to encourage us to anticipate, nothing to remind us to await.

Perhaps I thought tradition would find me… that it was one of those things that came naturally, built in-between the lines of marriage vows and hospital nurseries.  Turns out, you must pick and choose and make it happen.  Stunner really, that I am almost 36 and still learning life takes effort beyond participation.

A whole week between Thanksgiving and December 1st this year gave me enough time to do complete an internet Tradition Research & Purchase mission.  We have music to listen to: tradition.  We have stories to read: tradition. We have calendars to open: tradition.   We have ornaments to hang: tradition.  I know it takes time for tradition to grab ‘hold with roots, but at least we’re sowing some seeds now.  We are ready to remember to await.  We will attempt to prepare a space.  To teach, as parents, our children why this time is so special. To remember, as Believers, why this time is so special. It’s on.

Ok, so real-tree or fake-tree, People?

I am firmly in the real-tree camp.

Some resources for you as you plant your own traditions:

books and music and such

calendars and ornaments