Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mid-Christmas Reflection: 5 Things

I consider December 26th Mid-Christmas because I subscribe to the old-school notion that Christmas lasts until January 6th (Epiphany). You know, the 12 days and all.

Anyway, it's a weirdly warm but rainy Saturday and it's a great time to sit and think of all the things I am grateful for this Christmas season. So, here are 5 things.

1.  Caroling with our Sunday School class.  We are a small, warbling bunch but this is our 3rd year caroling at a nearby retirement complex.  It is a beautiful night when you get to be with people  you love doing something good that brings joy to people on the margins of life. Hilde and our friend Aubrey also play violin inside the actual nursing home. When they played in the memory care unit, I almost lost it.  The residents are in all stages of dementia. Most were kind of smelly, they had just eaten and some still had bibs on. One lady was missing a sock.  When the simple Christmas music started they lit up. They were so happy.  It was such a poignant moment that a simple gift of music from 2 teenagers could bring such joy. Totally what Christmas is really about.

2.  Dinner with friends.  We had people over for Christmas dinner and I was in my happy place.  I love people. I love people in my house. I love to feed people.  We shared dinner with old and new friends and had hours and hours of conversation and ate tons of food. It reminded of the saying "Every table is altar." The love and fun that flowed around my table was an offering of gratitude.
Taking joy in friendship and celebration is truly worship that honors God.

3. Christmas Eve service with my family.  Even though it's crazy full, it's such a beautiful service.  Our church does communion on Christmas Eve which reminds me that Christmas only begins the story of Christ. Ultimately, Christmas and Easter are linked.  We worship a God who descends in order to heal. 

4. Food.  Maeve, Hilde and I have a running joke that food is our love language. Maeve has been baking out of a vintage cookbook Visions of Sugarplums by Mimi Sheraton.  It has Christmas baking recipes from around the world.  She made simple butter cookies, Pfeffernusse, swirl cookies and Moravian Love Buns on Christmas.  Hilde has been perfecting her shortbread recipe and this year we purchased shortbread molds.  The molds make it look beautiful and it is was too easy to eat.
Christmas dinner was full of sharing food with friends. My friend Deidra made red velvet cake from scratch and I introduced her to Tuaca.

5. Family.  Maeve and Hilde decorated 99% of the house by themselves.  I would come home from work and the trees would be up and the house was decorated. Another day Maeve worked with Daniel to put up the outside lights.  They did ALL the Christmas baking and made 2 dishes for Christmas dinner.  When they have their own houses, they are either going to go all out or say,"I did that when I was younger, I'm not decorating any more."  I am truly aware of how awesome my daughters are on regular occasions.  They never cease to amaze me.  This Christmas went way beyond normal awesomeness. They made my load so much lighter this year.  The only thing I had to do was order from Amazon Prime and cook Christmas dinner.

5 things.  I could have written more.  My advent devotions this year have me thinking about how the Incarnation affects me today.  Not just that God moved into the neighborhood all those years ago but that I am called to live out this Incarnation daily.  A large part of the process is to open my eyes to the wonder around me.  This Christmas season that's been so easy to do. 


Saturday, September 5, 2015

I don’t make my own lip balm and I am fine with that.

Pinterest for me is either a blessing or a curse. I love that there are so many creative ideas there. I hate that it seems like everyone on Pinterest does everything perfectly. And by everything, I mean everything. It seems like the modern mom has to create inventive food in the shape of cute characters, is the CEO of her household utilizing binders for cleaning, paying bills and tracking her children. All of which are stored neatly in her command center, conveniently located steps away from her craft station. So that when her handmade chalkboard and burlap calendar says it’s so-and-so’s birthday, she swivels in her “Ikea hacked” chair where she can beautifully wrap a batch of her handmade lip balm. (Lip balm made with essential oils and coconut no doubt.)

Lip Balm? I’m expected to know how to make my own lip balm these days? Even if I knew how to make lip balm, I am never going to make my own lip balm. There are two reasons for this.

First, as a mid-40’s full time working mom with homeschooling teenagers, there is simply no time. I can’t even make time for the hobbies I really enjoy let alone find time to make something that is to me a personal hygiene necessity.

Secondly and most importantly, there are people way better at making lip balm than I could ever be. Sure, we can all learn to re-model our own houses, build dining rooms tables, concoct our own beauty supplies, and craft chandeliers from mason jars, but not all of us are gifted and talented in all things. When we think we have to do it ourselves we miss out on an opportunity to value someone else’s true gift. The idea behind a marketplace, an economy is that I have goods and services that other people need. Conversely others have goods and services I need. A marketplace is essentially a building block of a healthy community. It says we need each other. It says that together our community is stronger together. Purchasing goods can be a profoundly connectional experience.

If I made my own lip balm, I deprive myself of the experience of going to the store and standing in the aisle, gaping at the wondrous varieties of lip balm. Someone invented all these. Someone, probably a chemist, mixed ingredients together to form something that will provide nourishment to my cracked lips. People who possess the gift of knowing what ingredients will be poisonous and which ones are safe. I will never be a chemist. However, I can take a moment to be grateful that chemists exist.

The same thing applies to house painters, landscapers, plumbers, electricians. I happily pay for their services because they are experts at what they do. A good plumber’s worth is far above rubies. I think that’s in the bible somewhere.

Most of us have become so jaded about the economy because we live in a Walmart driven world that prizes individual achievement and profit over the common good. Corporations are far removed from us. We have forgotten that an economy can be beautiful; dare I say it, even sacred.  Instead of trying to live independently off the grid, maybe we should try to engage in the economy. We can work toward restoring a sense of interdependence and honoring other’s gifts and talents. That is in the bible – 1Corinthians 12 is all about living life as one body with many parts, learning to live together. 

I know my place in the economy. I am happy to buy your lip balm if you read my article. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Good Stuff for the Day

I am recovering from Vacation Bible School (VBS) preparations. We have approximately 650 kids for the week and I head up the team that sets the stage.  This year we turned a church full of trees and plants into base camp on Mount Everest.  It is fun but exhausting,  I am worn out. Now, I get to be done but VBS has just started.  I have a group of great friends who will get up every day this week and wrangle those 650 kids and the volunteers that go with them and make sure that everyone is safe and having fun. 

Tonight while I worked out I listened to this podcast. Rob Bell's The Good Gift

Every Robcast is my new favorite and this one is no exception.  He talks about being Eucharist.  How we, like the bread and wine, are broken and spilled out as gifts to those around us.  How we can be Eucharist tired. Soul tired from pouring ourselves out. 

It reminded me of all the people along my journey that have broken and poured themselves out for me. It reminded me that I have the privilege of being poured out and broken to be a gift to others. My work, my talent, my passion is sacred and when I use that bless others and to bring healing to those around me, I am in good company because that's what Jesus did. 

It reminded me that maybe VBS tired is the same thing as Eucharist tired because seriously 650 kids all in one place waiting to be blessed and they don't even know it! 

So, tonight while I get to rest and recuperate my prayer is for my friends still pouring themselves out. May they know that this kind of tired is the best kind of tired because even though it's "just" VBS, it is also a chance to bring life, healing and restoration to our small corner of the world. 

Now got listen to Rob Bell.  He's got some good stuff.  


Monday, March 30, 2015

Three Things

Here are three things that have been rattling my world lately:

True story - I got a job.  A real job. Like a more than part time but less than full time job. This die-hard stay at home, sacrifice for the children, mama re-entered the workforce. 
And. nobody. died. 
Really, it has actually been a blessing.  We needed the money and it turns out I am little more sane when I have a full plate.  I realize this flies in the face of conventional wisdom but trust me, I am happier and you know what they say, "When mama's happy...."
The only things suffering are my ability to remember all the things and the cleanliness of my house. Both of which I am learning to compensate for. And we are still homeschooling.  It can be done. Before any calls the truancy office, I check in with my kids daily. They do their work. They want to continue homeschooling. So, as most things in life, we make it work.

It is the first time in a long time I haven't given anything up for Lent. I just couldn't get it together (see point one). Instead of fasting for Lent, I added something for Lent.  I added self-care.  I haven't been good with self-care in like ever, so this is new for me. One the self-care selections I made was buying a treadmill and then actually using it.  My 30 minute cardio also coincides happily with a great podcast series I am listening to.  Rob Bell has theses Robcasts and they are good. I love the way he uses words.  Somehow he managed to be comforting and challenging all at the same time.  I listened to number two tonight. It seemed very timely. The combination of working out your body while working out your soul is very energizing, After I am done, I feel an awesome sense of accomplishment.

Finally, My favorite blogger Leslie Marinelli posted here this week about how something has got to give.  Her family needs her and her writing needs her. In a strange way her post was a reminder to me that I have been missing this blog.  I haven't written in a long time and I can feel it. When I am awake enough to focus, I realize that something is missing inside me when I am not actively writing.  When you communicate through the written word and take a hiatus, after a while something starts to feel stuck.  I didn't want to rust completely and never get back in the habit.  Thank you Leslie for being the impetus for me getting this post finished. Creativity produces joy and gives life,  My soul is happy when I am creating.

These three things have been rattling my world and I am so grateful. Grateful that through it all God is moving and making me the person He created me to be.  My world doesn't look like anyone else's world and that's just fine, I think I like it that way.