Friday, November 27, 2009

God Made Flesh

Advent and Christmas are a time mixed with great joy and sadness for so many. For us, Advent is a time of longing for the second coming of Jesus, of being reunited with loved ones who are with the saints. This year, we long for my Grandma to be well enough to enjoy this (most likely her last) Christmas with us. Her hand is pictured below, with sweet Linus' fingers. So much sadness and so much joy in those moments together, the dying and the just beginning to live.

Newborn and old, living and dying, all come together in Jesus, swallowed up in His coming glory, into a life that never dies. May you enjoy this time of preparing for the Christ child and for His return in glory.

It was a simple question. “Hobbes, what are we waiting for during Advent?”

“For the baby to come. Our baby. Baby Jesus.”

I suppose it was inevitable, with my due date being only a week after Christmas, but we all still thought it was funny that he kept confusing our baby with the baby Jesus. They were such separate things, after all. Our baby was just a simple human, beautiful but flawed. But Jesus? He was Emmanuel, God with us! He was no simple human. He came as the Messiah. He was God made flesh.

God in a womb, with a tiny heart beating, tiny fingers and toes forming, tiny lungs growing. God joyfully kicking a rib cage and weighing down a tired, pregnant woman on the rough roads to Bethlehem. God making His way into the world through the painful work of labor. God born into the meager shelter of a cave with only animals to watch.

Did you ever really stop to think what that means? Our nativity scenes and carols seem so benign, too pristine and peaceful to convey what really must have happened that night. It was a beautiful and sacred moment, no doubt. But it was also a messy, difficult, and terrifying one. Any woman who has been through labor knows that all is not calm when a baby makes his entrance into the world.

I will admit that I wasn’t meditating much on the nativity of Jesus or on what Mary must have felt as I navigated my way through that long Christmas Day of labor. For many of the hours, and certainly in that last painful, violent hour, I just wanted the pain to end. I had a clean room and caring midwives and nurses. I was in a familiar place with family nearby. I had all of the advantages of modern medicine, but it was still an exhausting and messy affair.

But when I held my third son in my arms, so tiny and beautiful and red from the reality of labor, I understood what it meant to be “made flesh.” Maybe Hobbes wasn’t so wrong after all. Jesus and our baby were so very different and so very much alike.

In Christ, God stepped into our world, in all of its messiness and pain and exhaustion and fear. He became flesh, Emmanuel, God with us. The Creator entered His creation to bring to birth that for which creation, and we, are groaning. And just as I longed for that painful day to end and my baby to come, so we all long for His coming, for the end of suffering and the glory of His Kingdom.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." ( Romans 8:18-23, ESV)

For more entries in the Advent Carnival, go on over to Kerry's blog. If you want to know more about how our family celebrates Advent, read here or here or here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Missing Girl

Once upon a time there was a mountain girl who dreamed big dreams. She dreamed of traveling the world, learning three languages, blazing a pioneer trail to some remote village to share the gospel and help those in need, living an independent life, and then returning home to get a PhD in comparative literature, settle down, and have a family. She had passion...for God, for adventure, for learning, for life. She was good at what she did, got scholarships and awards and recognition. She could have made a career of teaching literature and writing scholarly papers. And if she had chosen not to, it would have been because she was called to something even more exciting. Then she graduated college, got married, finished grad school, had a few kids, and lost herself.

What? This is your story, too?

I am feeling a bit lost right now under the pressure of caring for three kids, taking care of the household and finances, and trying to prepare for an overseas move. All of those adventures I longed for and thought I was called to are coming to fruition is some ways, but the girl that I was when I dreamed those dreams is buried...if not lost completely. Now I am going as a wife, a mother, a cook, a maid. I fear that my life overseas will look exactly like my life here. That my ministry will still be limited only to my family. I know my family is my primary work right now, but I long for there to be something more, too.

Invisible. That's how I feel. Anyone else out there ever felt this way? All of the ways I used to define myself are no longer valid. And I have not done a graceful job of accepting my current roles. I am finding myself bitter and tired and angry much more than I would like, and I am not sure how to change things.

I tried the good "Christian" way (at least in some Christian circles) of accepting my vocation as a mother and doing that job well. And it has been very good for me to think through how I run the household and how to order our family life. I am not saying that staying at home and being really good at being a mom is a bad thing. It just isn't working well for me, and the culture around me and my own inner voice tell me that it is because of some character weakness. There are plenty of weaknesses that I am aware of (and many more I am not), and I do want to work on those and become a better woman and mother.

But something tells me that no matter how much God matures and changes me and fits me for motherhood, I will always desire something more. That mountain girl who longed to do something with the brains and passion God gave her is still in here somewhere. Certainly, there are plenty of outlets for using my skills and passions in homemaking and parenting, but my heart says that I am not ever going to be satisfied staying at home. God has called me to that, but He has also called me to other things, too.

I think I am needing some wisdom from you other women out there. Is it okay to long for something more than what I have? Do I need to just learn to be content in the roles I have to play? Is it possible to learn to be content and to still yearn to do more? Will I ever find that girl again? I miss her.

Advent Carnival Coming Up!

The Carnival of Anglican Advent Traditions is coming up. If you want to participate, write a post about Advent, what it means to you, how you or your family observes it, etc. Details are over at Kerry's blog. Posts due November 27.

I highly recommend you participate or at least read the posts. I have met some incredibly insightful and inspiring bloggers through the Advent Carnival, not to mention the amazing ideas I've collected for celebrating with my family.

Go on and write! Hopefully I'll see you there!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

7 Quick Takes-I Miss This Blog!

I miss writing and processing and using this space to help me think more clearly! But life is just so very busy now that Linus is on the move. I'm grateful more than ever these days for Quick Takes on Fridays. Otherwise, I might never get a post up. Head on over to Jen's blog for more Quick Takes.


We have recently discovered Howard Pyle's books here in the TwoSquare household. Have you read him? If you have boys in your home, you really must. (Recommendations for other good boy books are appreciated!) We are reading Men of Iron aloud right now, and Calvin loves it. He walks around all day speaking in this lovely antiquated language. "Nay, mother, I will not do that, quoth he." It's hilarious, except that he thinks it's clever to say "no" to us this way.


We discovered Pyle because we were looking for good versions of the King Arthur legend for Calvin. It seems the space obsession is fading, and we are into all things King Arthur around here. I am excited about the possibilities here. A medieval themed dinner, a knight's quest party for some boys, and making swords with Daddy are all possibilities. This is what my husband has been waiting for since Calvin was born. Considering he owns swords and chain mail, is it so surprising?


It has been raining for three days here, and today is likely to be another one. Over four inches of cold, miserable rain, three days stuck in our tiny house, and a baby brother who needs some bit of quiet to nap made for some restless boys. So yesterday we pulled out the couch bed, popped some popcorn and watched movies for the afternoon. It was SO good for me to just enjoy being with my boys and stop worrying about all that needs to be done around here. SO GOOD. I need more of that.


You may be noticing that these snippets of family life don't include a lot of real homeschooling. I think I am already a homeschool failure. I certainly don't think we are doing what works for our family. I scrapped any plans I had and am starting to pay attention to how we work as a family and how my boys learn best. Unschooling is seeming more and more appealing, combined with some more structured classical learning when they get older. Is that even possible?


One schooling thing that is working is Chinese Preschool. For so long I wondered what we were paying the tuition for, but in the past few weeks, both Calvin and Hobbes have discovered the fun of showing off their Chinese for us. I often hear them singing Chinese songs and using Chinese words around one another, and they are finally willing to speak it for us. I am amazed how kids learn a second language so intuitively. I studied this, so I should know it. But seeing it in real life is so fascinating!


Advent is in less than three weeks. Are you ready? I ordered a few new Christmas books for the kids, and I found a couple of Advent activity books that I may try to use. We are planning to do our usual Jesse Tree and other Advent traditions. Check out this post and this one and this one if you are interested in knowing what we do around here. And this post tells what we do about Santa. Let me know what you're doing, too!


So...not that anyone but me cares....but things aren't looking so good for Tennessee's football players. I have long thought the quality of the players reflected the caliber of the coach, his ability to inspire discipline and hard work and his modeling of a life of integrity. It will be interesting to see if this current disaster is a reflection of the way things are going to be at UT under our new coach. I sure hope not. I'd hate to be ashamed to wear my orange.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Pilgrimage and Some Calvinisms

So, I have a good excuse for not being around this weekend. Saturday night, after nine years of talking about it, I finally took my husband to watch my team at the 8th Wonder of the World. All three boys came with us, and though it was exhausting, it was totally worth it. The weather was perfect, our team won, and the boys loved it. Even Linus was too excited to sleep.

Watching Calvin was even more fun than watching the game. He is definitely excited about football right now, and when we suggested leaving with six minutes left to go and a score of 56-28, he exclaimed, "But we can't go! A LOT can happen in six minutes!" (Fortunately for the Vols, a lot didn't happen.)


I don't have time to write much other than that, what with needing to catch up on my sleep. (Twelve hours of driving in three days, a weekend away from home, and boys off any semblance of a sleeping schedule have done me in for the time being.) So I leave you with some Calvinisms.

Angry at something that didn't go his way: "I'm not just a little bit sad! This is a much bigger sad. I am MEGA SAD!"

When I asked him if he would be warm enough in his t-shirt outside this evening: "I won't get COLD; it's a Star Wars shirt!"

Enjoying the thrills of cable television at my mom's (ESPN, anyway) and watching some NBA clips (which we have obviously never watched before): "Look, Mommy, those hoops are really short!" "No, Calvin, those men are just really tall."

After listening to me rant about the terrible traffic on our drive over Friday: "Mommy, I just prayed for God to get you out of this terrible traffic."


I have so many things on my mind that I would love to write about now, but they will have to wait. Until then, leave a comment, even if you usually don't, and let me know what's going on in your corner of the blogosphere. Peace.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Won't Stop Talking Until Big Coal Stops Blasting

Did you call the President?

If not, you can still send an e-mail. is asking organizations across the nation to join forces today to stop the blasting of Coal River Mountain, a potential source of alternative wind energy and a symbol of the fight between big coal companies and those who think the mountains and Appalachian people are worth saving.

It only takes a minute. Isn't a that worth saving a mountain and her people, stopping one of the worst ecological disasters going on today, and caring for the creation that has been put under our stewardship?

Please, please, please, go fill out the form. Today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wonderful Art Giveaway

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas? My cousin, Beth Stone, is a talented artist. She has prints, notecards, and originals for sale on her site. She is also hosting a Thanksgiving giveaway on her blog. Head on over and see how to enter the giveaway. I especially love her newest murals based on hymns, and I'm thinking of ordering some prints for Christmas presents.

Go on. Support an artist. I dare you.