It started at the cousin’s school with a live nativity that included lavish costumes and a camel wrangler. There were african american angels wearing tinsel halos and an impossibly young girl holding a baby Jesus doll. And there was an aura of holy over the whole works, because the original cast of characters was surely as improbable as this one, Mary just far too young and innocent, shepherds who could not really begin to grasp the significance of what they were seeing, kings who came to worship in silence and awe. The crazy cast all pulled together perfectly by the ultimate playmaker who watched over all and must surely have bent double in emotion as he watched the unfolding of his plan.
It started for us with a live nativity that we barely squeezed into a crazy week dotted with cookie exchanges and holiday parties. Barely squeezed and almost missed.
(the purple king belongs to us)
It bloomed in our hearts what had been started with our hands for weeks, the wrapping and decorating and cookie making and errand running. Christmas started with our hands, but this night was all about our hearts and standing quietly, breath forming clouds as we watched a listened to the story.
It started with the remembering that nothing we do for Christmas, nothing we buy or make or give, matters more than this: Christ is born. It started with a baby. Christ is born.
This is me being real. In awe of Christ being born. Just totally starry-eyed, can’t make sense of it, in awe.
There are no words to discribe the horror of what happened yesterday in Connecticut. Just no words. Except “come Lord Jesus, come”. And as I sat in horror, riveted to the screen last night after everyone else went to bed, watching images of parents being reunited with their babies, all except 20, I cried out to the Lord to deliver us from this evil. I had to stifle the urge to run far away, with Dan and the Smalls. Run to some remote, can never be found, place and grow our own food and shut our ears and hearts to the pure sin black evil that is. And you’re invited, but don’t tell everyone because we don’t want the whole bad world knocking on our homestead door. Until I think that the whole bad world knocking on our doors is the call of every Jesus follower, so instead of sticking our head in the sand, we have to keep it up and pointed heavenward. And while sometimes heavenward looks like praise and hallelluias, yesterday and today and for months to come it’ll look like tear-stained faces crying out with open mouths and outdoor voices to try to understand and survive and not get wicked pissed that this is the crappy world we’ve got and we’re stuck here.
So, will you tell your children? I think I’ve fallen in the not camp. For this simple reason: there is nothing I can say to them to reassure them that this won’t happen at their own school. We have security; so did they. We have competent first responders and staff and a principal who would in a heartbeat throw themselves in front of a bullet to save a Small; so did they. We have a God who is all over our public school, called there by parents who are trying to follow Jesus and have their kids in public school both; so did they. There is nothing I can say to reassure any of us that we won’t someday face this same horrific thing in our school. Chances are nearly nil, but kids don’t work in chance and probability; they work in this very small comfort zone of what is happening around them, so if I let them in on it, all they will know is that if some lunatic can shoot his way into an elementary school in Connecticut and murder 27 people, then it can happen here.
So I’m choosing to hold them tightly tonight, while I breathe in the smell of their sweet necks and to thank Father that he’s got them. That worry is not part of my job because their future is not part of my job. That when I feel anxiety about what can happen everyday when I send them off to school, I do that in my own strength. And I’m so weak. Because the God who welcomed into his arms those 20 Smalls the instant they gave up their grip on this world will do the same for me and mine. So there is no need to start wearing denim jumpers and becoming a prepper because even though this world scares the socks off me, this is not where my citizenship is. Not mine or my husbands or my children’s. Where we are headed is the place where evil is under the foot of the God who spoke the oceans into calm and healed the lepers with a touch. The God who is in the process of speaking calm and healing into all things, a work that will be completed on the day Jesus returns. Come Lord Jesus. Come.
This is me being real. Wondering how you’re handling it with your children.
It started the way it usually does, with Peter telling his sister that Honey Nut Cheerios are made of bee’s nuts, then me gasping and shaking my finger at the vinegar bottle on the counter. It started with lost socks and underwear put on backward. It started with a computer gaff while skyping my sister. The one that saw me change my status from “online” to “skype me” which then invited no fewer than twelve men to send messages asking for sex within about three minutes. It started with me gasping in horror and my sister frantically pointing at places on her screen, trying to walk me through undoing the damage from thousands of miles away while my fingers shook and I just kept saying oh my gosh oh my gosh under my breath. It started with Lucy spreading hard boiled eggs over ninety percent of my counter and sea salt over the other ten. And then finger painting them while I refused the cyber invites until the counter was unrecognizable and her hands were covered in egg napalm. It started with running out of milk and eggs at the same time and breaking my electric toothbrush and shrinking my sweater. This morning that started out with everything going awry, looked so much brighter at lunch time when I threw my doors open and welcomed in a dear friend and her Small for a salad with bacon and the best darn dressing I’ve had in months and two lovely hours spent sitting in chairs and finishing our sentences while the Smalls built a fort and played Legos. Because most ugliness eventually morphs into beauty, I think. Spring always follows winter. And so the challenge becomes in stifling the urge to beg for spring and to throw open the windows to welcome winter because in winter we hunker down and learn. In winter we are humbled and stilled and Father speaks and moves and, so while spring is so so sweet, I long for spring always, we honor Father when we spend winter on our knees in thanks. Thanks comes easy in spring, those thank words that move off tongue and heavenward with ease, become stuck in my mouth in winter. So, I’m challenging myself, and you too, really think hard about how I thank and how I view this season. Because there will be a day when no one is sitting at my counter smearing eggs and talking about insect nuts and that will be so sad, so sad. So these long days when things seem hard and there just aren’t enough hours, even the worst and winteriest of days will seem like spring when I remember it years from now when the kids are grown. Will you join me in asking for changed perspective? In asking Father for the grace to praise in the midst of chaos and to not wish this time away but to put a bib on and suck the marrow out of it? For the grace to praise over egg as much as I praise over salad? Will you join me?
This is me being real. And listening to the thwack from the basement as the boys sight in their bows in the archery range they’ve made down there. Sure one of them will come up soon with a smirk hiding behind his lips as he tries to convince me he’s shot his brother and he’s bleeding out on the cold concrete floor. Thank you Father for healthy boys who can shoot stuff and build stuff, even if it’s messy and dangerous. Thank you.
Oh, and a little something something for you:
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 small sweet onion
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water, divided
2 t. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
In a small food processor, blend cashews and onion until pulverized. Add half of the water and blend until completely smooth (depending on your processor, this could happen quickly or take a few minutes). Add the rest of the water and the remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and season as needed. Stash in the fridge to thicken a bit before tossing with salad and serving.
Recipe courtesy of Dr. DenBoer
Don’t say I never give you anything.
He turned nine this weekend in a slow sayonara to eight that started with a flag football party on Friday and ended with squeeze cheese mac tonight. He did it despite the nights I’ve told him I absolutely forbid it while I snuggled in bed rubbing his back. Did it with the color green and with glow in the dark things and lots of treats.
Did it at the cabin, helping the men put up wood for the winter and flying around the woods on the Gator with his big cousins. Did it with lunch with papa and the first call from nana (nana always calls first). When asked, weeks ago, what he wanted his birthday to look like, he responded: bacon. Lots of bacon. A plate that just keeps getting refilled with bacon whenever it’s empty and me, playing minecraft for hours with no limits.
So he did it with bacon and minecraft too. Not for hours and not with unlimited strips of bacon, but enough that I put the cardiologist on speed dial just in case.
Did it with a store bought cake-our first one-that bought me the time I needed to prepare for the party and make the cakes for our other birthday fetes and get ready for Christmas cookie day here tomorrow. And yes, my heart did sing when he declared it gross and said he could hardly wait for my gf pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting dyed green with little UofM football guys on it. Sang.
Did it by using said yucky cake as the foundation for a kit kat structure that he then nibbled on before running out for some glow-in-the-dark capture the flag.
And if I was still wondering after all these years, boys parties are so different from girl parties. Girl parties smell good. Boy parties smell like feet and brewing trouble. Girl parties are civilized and neat. Boy parties destroy the house and require rules like: no more jokes with the words toilet, butt or fart in them. Yes Marlo Thomas, you can give William a doll, but he will rip it’s arm off, make a gun out of it and then use it to kill a small woodland creature. I have seen this occur in real life.
So, now at the end of the day, when he is officially nine years old, he is upstairs with his brother making short films with the sound effects machine my sister gave him. I’m here wondering what I ever did to make her hate me so much and rethinking the sweet gift I got her daughter for Christmas. Thinking I might exchange it for a gift card to Justice. Take that.
This is me being real. Thankful for Peter and the nine years I’ve been gifted with him and praying for a thousand more with his brown-eyed self. Because he blesses me, this kid with his snaggly teeth and blue specks and sweet personality. Blesses me deep.