Friday, December 25, 2009

One Year Ago

One year ago today you made your appearance, and Christmas will never be the same again. Whenever I contemplate the birth of our Savior and imagine Mary holding the tiny King of the Universe in her arms, I will also remember the moment I first held you, wet and red and slippery from the birthing tub. We had no idea then what sort of baby you were, but perhaps the fact that you chose Christ's Mass to enter our lives revealed some of your personality. On the most joyful and quietly beautiful day of the church calendar, you came home to us.

Linus, we could not be more in love with you and your sweet, joyful, and unassuming approach to life. We don't stop often enough to enjoy you. You are so quietly content most of the time, though thrilled when we stop to play with you or take your picture or enjoy your sweet babble. You seem to be saying, "Excuse me, wonderful people around me, I know that you are busy doing something important, but if you have time, I would love to throw this ball to you. I'm equally happy to keep playing here near you, though. This is nice, isn't it?"

You have really started to become a little person in the past few weeks, and it is a gift to see you discover your own abilities. You are learning to communicate with a combination of sign language and your own adorable gestures and noises. You don't really talk yet, and you don't seem to be in much of a hurry to do that or to walk. And you still don't have teeth. You are delighted to let these developments happen as they will, enjoying each moment and not being too anxious to grow up. You may think it is amazing to see this in a baby, but your brother Calvin was the complete opposite of this, always striving, from birth, to do more and to be more than he was ready to do or to be. You, on the other hand, are content just to take life as it comes.

You were born with eyes of wonder at the world, on a day of great wonder for the whole world. May you never lose that, and may it be a gift to our family, to all of us who often take life too seriously and look at the world through anxious eyes.

Words truly cannot express the immense joy you bring to our lives, our beautiful Christmas baby. We love you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thirty-Two

And in the midst of celebrating while getting ready to celebrate the birth of sweet Linus and, of course, the birth of the One whose life has given meaning to those thirty-two years. Planning to have a lot of good family time between now and Epiphany. I may be around, but most likely, I will be back here sometime in 2010. Happy celebrating to all of you who are!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Coming of the Light (Reposted)

I am reposting this post from Advent 2007 for some dear friends who are mourning a sad anniversary today. They are not the same friends whom I mention in this post. Those friends had their own sad news, but the news I heard that day did turn out well. Still, in the midst of the very real goodness of life, there is so much to remind us that this world is broken and that we long for the King to come and make it right. Come quickly.

I just talked to a dear friend today who has some sobering news. I want so badly for it to turn out well and end in joy, not sorrow. There seems to be so much sorrow and brokenness in so many places. The older I get, the more I realize that this world is broken. And the more brokenness I see, the more I must learn to rest in the quiet hope of Advent. While I want all of the problems fixed now, I must sit with the voice that says "Just wait. One day all will be made right. Just wait. One day all the sick will be healed, the dead will rise, the tears will be wiped away. Just wait. One day, the darkness will flee in the Presence of the Light. He will come..."

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4, ESV)

Sometimes in my busy, self-focused life I lose sight of this amazing truth..the dwelling place of God is with man. He came to live among us. He will come back and set things right. God with us. Emmanuel. And so, for my friend, and for all of you, I offer the words of this very ancient Advent hymn. It's language may be a bit difficult to take, but it offers such a hopeful picture of a powerful God who willingly comes to live with us, to feed us, and, eventually, to vanquish the darkness. Let us keep hoping.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wing├Ęd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Friday, December 11, 2009

7 Quick Takes

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen.

Just in case you were wondering why I haven't been around this space...

-1-
We haven't taken off and moved to Asia yet. I am just choosing other things and/or trying to keep my sanity and make it a somewhat meaningful Advent. So far, that isn't going so well. We are having major behavior issues, and chaos reigns. Currently, our Advent wreath is hidden among the piles of books and mail and a laptop on our coffee table, and the Jesse tree banner hangs crookedly beside our TV while the ornaments are somewhere hidden under the mess of our living room.

-2-
Do you ever have times where nothing about any of your relationships is easy? In addition to the above mentioned discipline problems with the boys, I can't think of a single close relationship that is easy right now. Even my really close friends have troubles of their own that make time together for us less than refreshing because neither has much peace to offer. My marriage is not in a bad place but we are definitely having growing pains. And extended family problems always like to surface at Christmas. There have been times when I have been showered with sweet, peaceful, good times of refreshing in so many relationships, but this is not one of those times.

-3-
Even baby Linus is getting in on the action. He is still sweet as ever, but he is a sweet almost one-year-old, which means he is into everything. I can no longer sit and watch him play contentedly while I read. Now he is climbing onto the coffee table and rocking chair and generally trying to give himself a concussion. So even my alone times with him are draining.

-4-
Needless to say, Christmas preparations are not coming along so smoothly. I have a few gifts purchased, but I am far from ready. I was all set to write a post about our handmade gifts for the boys, but now I am just hoping to get them done. I am excited about them. We are hoping to make a bow and arrows for Calvin. (Bad idea, I know.) And my mother-in-law is going to help me paint a mat for driving cars on for Hobbes. It will have all of the places we go (our house, the in-laws', church, school, Nana's, Neyland Stadium...you know, important places in his life) painted on it and roads for his cars to drive on. I had one of these as a kid that someone made for me and my brother, and it is one of the few toys I really remember playing with and loving.

-5-
I didn't mean for this to be a complaining 7 Quick Takes. Really, life is not all bad. Advent is still my favorite time of year. We had our second annual St. Nicholas Day party this year, with 15 kids and 8 moms in our tiny house decorating cookies, learning about the saint, and playing the "toss the gold (chocolate) coin in the shoe" game. It was a lot of fun. And watching the boys, Hobbes especially, as they take in the wonder of Christmas trees and lights all around is still a lot of fun.

-6-
And my boys still make me laugh. A lot. Calvin is really into knights these days and has been reading a lot of King Arthur books. Hobbes is along for the ride, as usual. The other day, Hobbes said to me, "Maybe his name use to be Alot, and then he got a lance and became Lancelot."

-7-
And Calvin, oh Calvin. I swear he will be a lawyer one day. Yesterday, he came up to me with a clever smile on his face and said, "Mommy, if you need to get things done around the house, and I bet you do, you could just put me on the Wii." He thought he was being so clever. I love these boys, even on the worst of days.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Easy Advent Wreath Tutorial



Isn't this lovely? I'm going to tell you how to make it. But first, don't forget the Advent Carnival over at Kerry's blog. I've been so busy catching up from all of the Thanksgiving travel that I haven't had time to sit down and read the entries yet, but I plan to do it today.

Now, on to the wreath. I know many of you already have your Advent wreaths out and are all organized for the season. On the off chance that there are some of you out there who (like me) are still pulling out the Advent candles and Jesse tree ornaments and Christmas books, here's an easy way to make a lovely wreath. Thank you, wonderful women at my church, who organized this wreath making at our Sunday's Advent potluck. Otherwise, we still wouldn't have a wreath.

All you need for this is an aluminum pie plate, a cube of florist's oasis (that green foamy stuff that holds water), some greenery clipped from your yard, Christmas tree, neighbor's garden, or the roadside, clippers or scissors to trim the greens, and candles.

I am TERRIBLE at arranging flowers, and I can do this. I know you can, too.

Soak the oasis to get it good and wet and set it in the pie plate. You want it square, not round, for holding all of the candles. To make the wreath look round, just use shorter pieces of greenery on the corners.

Starting at the bottom, insert greenery in the wreath. It's nice to use bigger stuff on the bottom and alternate more feathery and smooth greenery, but any way you do it, it will look nice.

Insert the candles at the top. (Caution, you only have one shot at this, as once they are inserted you can't pull them out and get them to stay again. The hole will be too big.)

Use smaller greenery to cover the oasis on the top around the candles.

Don't make anything too tall or the candles will burn it once they get low, and the greenery, likely to be dried out by then, will burst into flames causing a major Christmas catastrophe...or something like that.

Keep water in the bottom of the pie plate to keep the wreath fresh. If greenery dries out, you can always clip some more and replace it.

Isn't that easy? And pretty?