Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

By Friday morning of last week, I was emotionally spent. A friends was suffering and sick, a baby was in the NICU, both of our cars were at the mechanic, and I was about to suffer a breakdown in the front seat of our (borrowed) car when the updates started posting.

A tragedy of horrible, awful proportion. 

How do you even begin to process the murder of children? How do you focus on Christmas festivities when families' holiday seasons will be forever tainted with grief? 

Then the other status updates started. You know the ones. Gun control. Abortion. Keep God out of schools and this is what happens. Ugh. I grieved all over again for the lost state of our world.

How can you jump to politics when there are families suffering? How can you push an agenda in a time of national grief? How can you say this is God's judgment?

My heart couldn't handle it, both the trauma of what happened, and the harsh and tactless responses.

 It's taken me a while to process my thoughts, but here they are: I've learned in the deepest, darkest, loneliest, scariest moment of my life, Jesus wasn't absent. He wasn't removed. He wasn't up on some throne in Heaven, watching my suffering in judgment or satisfaction. He wasn't touting his agenda in my ears: "If only you did this, then maybe your circumstances would be different." 

True love doesn't do any of those things.

No, Jesus was there. In my hospital room. In the ambulance. By my side. In the darkest of times, my Savior showed how accessible and real and involved he really is.

So, where was Jesus when those children were suffering? The God I believe in, the Son who revealed himself to me in a hospital room, my Jesus, was there, in those classrooms. He stood between the man with a weapon and the unarmed children. 

Where was Jesus as those teachers and administrators stood up in incredible bravery? He stood with them, shoulder to shoulder.

Where was Jesus as those parents learned of their children's fates? He stood with them, weeping, arms outstretched to provide comfort and compassion.

The God I believe in, the God I serve, the God who came at Christmastime, Emmanuel, God WITH us...not only is he with us, but he empathizes better than any of us with what happened that horrible day. 

Jesus the young child feared for his life as his family fled King Herod's massacre of young boys.

Jesus the man suffered at the hands of evil men, innocently killed.

God the father lost his one and only son to violent crime.

If anyone can relate to the events of last week, can provide comfort and empathy in a time of great sorrow, it is the Savior of the world. He's not pushing any agenda. He's not standing in judgment. No, my Jesus is weeping with compassion, standing in solidarity, and opening his arms wide to a people that are hurting.

My heart is still hurting. Others are leaping to help out, springing to action. I'm still sitting here, emotionally spent. My human heart has taken just about all it can. Yet deep within, my soul still hopes. I hope in Emmanuel, God with us. It is my prayer that in this time of great grief and spiritual uncertainty, I can speak gospel truth of a God who knows, who cares, and who enters into our suffering with empathy, with love, and with his very presence.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

baby boy: 6 months pregnant

Dear Baby Boy,

You are yet unnamed, by far the longest we've ever gone without a chosen name! We can't rush these things, as we have not quite figured it out, but there is one name I've offered that your Daddy actually might just be the one.

It feels so good to be six months pregnant, two-thirds of the way there, nearly in my third trimester. Just as I finally started feeling better colitis-wise, the pregnancy symptoms are making themselves apparent. I'm tired, oh so tired. And achy. Already my pelvic and hip bones ache in the night, stiff and sore. 

You have settled into some pretty regular sleep and awake times. The hard jabs are turning slowly into more controlled, smooth movements (and my body thanks you!) Your feet still find their way to the mattress as I lay on my side at night, tap dancing away, working on those walking reflexes though you weigh less than two pounds.

I finally had some dreams about you this month. In my dreams, you were fair-skinned and light-eyed with soft, light curls around your face. I hardly could believe you were mine, considering the two olive-toned kids I've got already. But there you were, looking up at me and giving me that feeling of great, great love deep in my heart.

Baby boy, you are going to be so loved. You are blessed with the very, very best big brother and big sister ever. They can't wait to meet you! If they don't smother you with kisses and hugs, and you survive their affections, you'll be well, well-loved. :)

See you in less than three months, beloved!!



Friday, December 14, 2012

Maddie: 71 Months

Dear Maddie,

A few days ago I sent out the invitations to your SIXTH (!!!) birthday. Um, how is that possible? When did you change from a soft and squishy little toddler into this lovely, whip-smart, long-legged word maven? This has been SUCH a fun month. I feel like I'm enjoying you more than ever, relishing in your sweet personality, laughing at your well-timed one-liners, and gazing in amazement at the growing girl before my eyes.

If the half-years are characterized by spinning off course, and the months nearest birthdays characterized by a centering, peace and settledness into one's own, the psychologists certainly have you pegged. It's as if the brightest parts of you are shining right now, like the truest Maddie was shadowed behind some of the fears, hesitations and struggles of earlier months. You are, quite simply, a joy and a delight to be around.

There is so much about you that retains that innocent, childlike faith and wonder at the world around you. For being inquisitive and questioning by nature, there are still many things that delight and inspire you, such as a tidepool full of sea glass, shells, and other small treasures. For as deep and wide as our bucket could hold, you collected things from the beach water, holding up each little gem as if it were made of precious material. I had to personally inspect each piece as you placed in gently into the bucket with the others.

If I had a dollar for every funny joke you told this month, I'd have quite a budget to work with. You are constantly saying the wittiest, most hilarious comments. As always, you're not content to hang out and converse with the kids but prefer to be right in the middle of adult conversations. Your vocabulary continues to impress us and your joy in exploring the English language brings us delight (what, with an English major for a dad and English minor for a mom).

This morning I hoped to snap some photos of you in your hat and scarf before school, because you were just so darn cute. However, against my advice, you left your cozy coat at home on a morning where the first frost covered everything around us. You were freezing and as I snapped pictures your face was cracking me up. You were not as amused, unfortunately.

Thanks for being so patient and loving with your little brother, for being so affectionate and understanding with us, and for constantly reminding us to stop and take time to talk, connect, and just be together. You are such a good fit for our family, and we're so blessed to have you.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sam: 45 Months

Dear Sam,

A few days ago you turned 45 months, just 3 months shy of four years old. And what an interesting month it's been. At the start, we were still struggling through some major behavioral issues with you. Lots of pushing boundaries. Lots of sassy talk. Lots of crazy naughty impulse control things like "water skating" on your pee in the bathroom. (Yeah, can't forget things like that.) By the end of the month, you had completely potty-trained yourself and seemed back to your normal, happy, easygoing personality. Can I just say, PRAISE JESUS!!!

I mean, I'm your mother. I honestly love you, no matter what. But it is so nice to have my sweet, snuggly, mostly agreeable little guy back. You make life so fun and funny when you're not up to crazy shenanigans. And my stomach and sense of smell thank you for finally taking charge of your body and putting all those poops in the potty. We are SO proud of you.

These days you're enjoying building things out of blocks (your teachers call your architecture skills "quite advanced), playing with your new legos (prize for putting all your pee-pees and poos in the potty!), talking up a storm, playing dress-up, and following your big sister.

Every day you prefer to wear the least amount of clothing possible. Nudey is your preference, though we won't post any of those photos here. Suffice it to say, you are expressing yourself in your clothing choices (or lack thereof) these days. If you're not going to school, your outfit of the day is usually shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, and your "army man" (camouflage) snow boots. You love those boots, and wear them any day you don't have school. Unfortunately, they smell like sweaty feet. Yeah.

This week we went to the beach, where you promptly removed your shirt, and then later, your shorts. I hesitated on whether or not to bring a beach towel, eventually leaving it behind, thinking "it's way too cold to go in the water." When, oh when, will I ever learn? The first thing you and your sister did was run straight for a pool of water, right in, up to your mid-thighs, plunging arms deep down to find shells. 

We enjoyed watching you sprint across the sand, those long skinny legs carrying you just as fast as fast can be. You are SUCH a big boy, Sam, and it kills me on a daily basis to see my baby becoming a boy. Your attitude, your abilities, your sentences, your knock-knock jokes, your singing--they all point to the fact that you're growing up. As much as I'd love to keep you small enough to scoop into my arms, I know that those days are numbered.

Every day that we take Maddie to school, when the bell rings I can count on you to call out, "Maddie! Wait! Hug! Kiss!" and she'll come running toward your beckoning call, arms outstretched. I love seeing the two of you so openly affectionate on the playground. This morning I was lucky enough to have my camera handy to grab a snapshot. One day you won't be so open with your love for each other, so I have to document it:

Another highlight of the month for me was finally getting on video one of my all-time favorite phrases: "Mama, you the best Mama in the whole world, ever, Mama." It simultaneously melts my heart and grieves me that you won't always say it, just that way. So I now have it saved for posterity. And blackmail. Just kidding. You are such a loving, affectionate, sweet boy and I never want to forget how you found the perfect way, your own words, to communicate your love to me. Thank you for teaching me the power and joy of a few words, placed lovingly together. We love you, our sweet, funny, sneaky, nudey-loving, castle-constructing, big, big boy.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Week

And....we're live! Hooray! Back in business! First things first: Thanksgiving. A belated post on one of my all-time favorite holidays.

It was so nice to have my parents here for the week. My younger brother Joe joined us on Wednesday. We spent a lot of time resting, shopping, visiting the tree fort, and enjoying each other's company. For Thanksgiving dinner, we hosted at our place (a tradition!) with everyone contributing to the meal. In attendance: my mom and dad, brother Joe, Ben's mom and dad, sister Jennie, Eskedar & Zenebe (family friends), plus us four. It was perfectly lovely!

Maddie's handmade gravy boat decorations:

Almost there...

my little carnivores love them some turkey legs:

A post-dinner walk involved close-ups with local fungi:

Zenebe, Maddie & Eskedar:

A beautiful, wonderful, glorious day! Thankful for sunshine, family, friends and more than enough food for our bellies. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

a question for the bloggers

So it's been pretty quiet around these parts. I'm sort of lazy and sort of protesting. You see, when I went to post my Thanksgiving photos, blogger told me I had run out of free space. Now I actually have to PAY to keep blogging. Ugh. I'm a stay-at-home Mama. We raise support. This has been a fun, free outlet for me for many years. 

So my question is, how do I make just enough money to keep this blog thing running, so I don't have to pay to post pics? I don't want to sell my soul to the advertising devil, but I'm open to any suggestions you lovelies might have on where to start as I venture into this new world.

Comments, please. XOXO