Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas, My Friends

Merry Christmas!

I'm sitting in the quiet - well, somewhat quiet, as we wait for the family to arrive for all that this day brings.  We've got carols playing and the coffee is hot and we were just able to have a quick video chat with Matteo in China.  

It's strange to not have him here, but it's ok.  We're a church worker family so Christmas has always been about everyone being someplace different and arriving at staggered times and then naps once they having a son on a different continent is just a little like that.

Sort of.


This season has been so much harder than usual.  It's me...and I know that.  I just keep waiting for that 'feeling' to come...the feeling of Christmas.  The warmth, the joy, the peace.

I realize much of that is the timing of the actual holiday this year...working through Friday and then boom, here it is!  But still, I've been waiting.

There have been so many parties this year and each one has gotten more and more there has been much good.  The gifts are all wrapped and under the tree and this year there was a conscious effort to keep things simple and smaller...every few years I notice that Christmas gifts begin getting bigger and bigger and we (as in me) need to dial it down.  That this family of mine has everything they need and don't need piles and piles of more things.  

But I do love to spoil everyone just a bit with something they've had their eye on....whether they need it or not, simply because it's fun.


But this year I've been waiting.  And waiting.  Waiting for that 'feeling' to come...the feeling of Christmas.  The feeling of being little again and sitting at my Grandparents with all my cousins. Of the smells and sounds and sights of Christmas past.

But things change when you become the Matriarch of Christmas present.   And the change isn't bad...but the change does bring a bit more organization.  And a bit more menu planning.

And then last night, while sitting in church, I realized.  I'm waiting for a feeling to come...but Christmas is not about a feeling.  Christmas is about faith...and faith alone.  Faith is knowing and trusting and believing without seeing or feeling.

I still want the feeling...but I want the knowing a whole lot more.

This past season has been harder than any other we've walked through.  We haven't shared and we won't, but the last few months have just been hard.  We hold hands, we pray, and we wait...we wait for life to become a little easier.  And still, God continues to throw down hurdle after hurdle after hurdle and then to top it off, there've been walls for us to climb over.  

And we do, one step at a time.  

I think of Peter in the boat and of Jesus holding out his hand and telling him to trust.  That if he does, all will go well and he will not sink.  And so Peter begins to walk and rather than having faith, he begins to doubt and starts to sink...and then Jesus grabs him and all is ok.  But first he gives him a reminder that his savior is always there.

And through this valley we've been trudging through...the one that has felt very long and very dark, we know that Jesus is gently guiding us.  That he is standing, hand out, asking us to trust.

But sometimes, it's just plain hard.

I'm trying to focus on the lights.  And the smells.  And the sounds...because woah, the music has been glorious this year.  Quieter than usual, and that seems fitting. 

My human brain continues to settle into the negatives though and that makes me ashamed because I do know better.  I have so much to be thankful for but it's just been easier to sit in the ugly...even at this beautiful time of year.

And yet there is so much joy and so much laughter and so. many. cookies.

Because as we all know, cookies make everything better.


Merry Christmas, my friends.  

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Yesterday morning, the local buffet place - the one conveniently located next to a 24 hour fitness, opened it's doors for around 50 hardworking school crossing guards.  As a Christmas gift to them, we bought them all lunch and let them rest their feet a bit.

But no one really rests their feet at a buffet place because you just keep getting up to get more food, so it really is like working out and eating at the same time.  Mashed potatoes and stuffing and meatloaf and green beans and banana pudding and enough already...but it was soooo good.  I texted our middle boy while I was there knowing this is his kind of place...all you can eat comfort food.  We'll be back together next week.


And then I got a call from that guy that I like so much, who had an invite from friends for dinner.  Every year at this time I begin to wonder if our schedules can hold even one more event but I can't think of what we'd let go of.  Besides our sanity, that is...but I lost that years ago while raising this houseful of boys.

And oh, how I long to be rid of the piles.  And the dirty tissues because yeah, it's also cold season and while I'm in denial, I'm miserably sniffly and sneezy and (according to my boyfriend) snore-y.  

Because hello, stuffy nose.

I'm continually blessed by technology and the fact that I can not only hear, but see, where my boy lives.  His kitchen is getting fancy thanks to China's version of ebay and he's already said that his wok is the most amazing thing ever.  

It's still a bit surreal...he's lived away for so many years that it just feels like he's the next state over.  We video chat almost every day as he walks to school, I've 'met' his colleagues, I've seen and heard his handsome face.

God is good.  (and please keep him safe.  amen.)

In other healthy food news, I made this sweet/salty frito mix for people to munch on while we waited for the turkey to cook on Thanksgiving.  Heve I mentioned that yet?  That the bird came out and rested and when that guy that I like so much went to carve it, it wasn't all the way cooked?  As in RAW?  Carved it up anyway, threw it in the oven at 425 and nobody was wiser.  Except me.  And everyone else who was here.

But alls well that ends well and it turned out just fine.  But I'm buying a new thermometer.


Anyway, this mix.  Found it here ( and doubled the recipe but only made a single batch of the caramel.  I think it would be too sweet with a full batch. 


And outside the winds are blowing hot, hot gusts while my beloved state burns and burns.  Pray for's so dry here and the fires are burning out of control.  We're way far away but know so many who are right there and it's sad and scary.  


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

When I Grow Up...

 ....I want to be the Innkeeper.

He was doing his thing, running an Inn.  I picture the sweeping of floors, the making of beds, the making of food and drink.  The laundry and dishes...because there is always, always laundry and dishes.

He, I would think, had a partner helping out behind the scenes.  Someone who was chopping wood and onions, spreading hay, feeding animals.  Someone who, when the sun dropped behind the hills and the moon rose high over the fields, would lay down next to him and share in the secrets of the day.

He was 'just' an Innkeeper.  And he was probably thrilled when the decree came to have all return to their hometowns to be counted and taxed because times for most were tough and that ruling meant that business, for a short time anyway, would boom.

And then, into the town of Bethlehem, came a sweet new couple.  They were tired from the journey and probably cold and a little bit hungry.  She was so very pregnant and feeling heavy and maybe a tad bit cranky...or was that only me when carrying my babes?

It was dark and the journey had been long.  They knocked and knocked and no one had room.

But the innkeeper...he saw something.   Or maybe it was that person I envision standing beside him.  However it was, he saw beyond two people and their donkey begging for a place.  He saw two human beings who needed help.

I'm assuming that life hadn't always been easy for the innkeeper because there are so few that haven't ever had to work hard, to figure things out when life was tough, to worry.  He was just an innkeeper after all...not a king or a prince or nobleman.

He knew every bed was taken and maybe even all the couches, too.  He knew that there simply was not enough room anywhere in that little inn, but rather than turn them away, he saw something in them.  They were real people.  He then thought to his stable.  It was warm in there and trampled hay softens to a silky sort of smoothness.  He set them all up, inside and away from the harshness of the weather.

He didn't know anything about them and yet, rather than turning his back, he helped.  He gave his last available space to them for the night.  That Innkeeper didn't know that she was carrying a prince, a king, a savior.  

He just did what he knew in his heart was right.  That Innkeeper wasn't too proud to offer his stable...our Lord wasn't too good to be born in one.

I want to be like that Innkeeper.  I want to throw open our doors of our little house and welcome all in.  I want to close my eyes to the clothes people wear and the cars they drive and the work they do.  I want to greet all who knock.  I want the conversations to be safe and the laughter to be great and the music to be lovely and the food to be plenty.

I don't want to stress about the laundry or the sweeping of floors or the chopping of onions.  I want to honor my savior in the way I open our home.

I pray that those who enter will have a glimpse to the bigger picture of what it is we are trying to be in this little house on this little street.  


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