Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
...when hope and joy and peace reign because of a baby King.
...when giggles come from little girls as they play together and create for hours.
…when I celebrate another year with my man.
…when I’m caught between holidays and a rhythm.
…when I recall the beautiful moments of the months, both the sweet and the difficult.
...when I choose trust over fear as a new year dawns.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The journey of the lasagna began over a week ago. Because I’ve been using the same recipe for four years, my husband suggested we try a new kind of lasagna. You know, something different.
That’s when I turned to The Pioneer Woman. Friends rave about her. But, given my culinary issues, I stayed away until now. I mean, her website screams “I am homemaker extraordinaire!” It scares me. ((shutter))
Last weekend, I gathered my ingredients and looked at the cook time in the heading: 30 minutes for prep and 30 minutes to cook. Easy, right? That’s what it said at least.
On Monday night, I cooked the meat. We had a group of leaders arriving at 6:30pm. It was 5. My husband nervously watched the clock and suggested perhaps I just finish the meat and grab something else before our guests arrived. So, meat cooked on Monday.
Tuesday, Christmas party at church. Wednesday, let’s roll up the sleeves and keep on going. But, then, a horror. There, buried deep in the instructions, were the words “the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes.” In short, we ordered pizza while I finished cooking, stirring, and layering. I completed the layering at 7:30pm and placed it in the refrigerator.
Thursday, a meeting at church. Friday, we finally cooked that layered-bad-boy. After his first helping, my husband said, “I like your lasagna better.”
You’d think I’d be upset after all that work. Instead, I threw my arms around him and kissed him. That compliment was almost worth all the trouble. Almost.
And what am I making today? Another Pioneer Woman dinner because I bought the ingredients last weekend, and they expire today. Who knew it would take five days to get around to eating the lasagna? I plan on starting my soup at noon.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I have to admit stepping into Advent has been hard for me this year.
I’ve been pondering its meaning for a couple of weeks while “all the cool kids” write about it. They seem to know something I don’t, and I feel like I should have this figured out by now.
I asked God to show me. Reveal what He wants me to know this year. And, instead of stepping into Advent, I kind of got thrown. Allow me to share a little about my week.
If you’ve read my recent posts, you know I’m trying to figure out what to do next job-wise. I have a possible project but no start date to go with it. There is no way to speed up the process either. It must unfold. Waiting.
On Tuesday, an organization dear to my heart took a major shift. Many people I love are affected by the change. The extent of the impact is unknown. We don’t know what will happen next. Waiting.
My best friend is pregnant and oh-so-sick. After being on bedrest for days, her husband rushed her to the emergency room this morning. As she takes new medication, all she can do is be still. And wait.
Maybe that’s why I’m not sure what to do with Advent 2011. Our family finally took a big step this year by moving to Kansas. I don’t want any more waiting. I like moving. Makes me feel like I’m in control.
Let’s discuss control for a moment as we think about what happened to young Mary. Talk with unexpected angelic presence in her house? Hmmm. Yeah, that most likely wasn’t on the daily to-do list. Give birth to the Savior of the world who is now growing in her womb? Probably not on her list of life-goals.
Yet, what could she do? Wait. Hope. Cling to her Lord. We, too, cling to what we know and more importantly Whom we know when unknown circumstances come our way.
When the news about the organization broke, I sent an article about the transition to my friend, Heather. Under it, I wrote:
I feel sad about it. But I also know God is so much bigger than this. His plan and purposes will prevail no matter what happens. I/we will be faithful to His kingdom.
Maybe that’s it. Yes, there is waiting. But there is also hope. Because we serve a mighty God who came as a small child. His purposes are bigger than the uncertainties. His kingdom is vast.
We trust in His timing. Not our own. We wait, sometimes with groaning, sighing, or tears, in anticipation for Him to come again. We don’t know when. We don’t know how things will work out now. But we wait. In the presence of lit and unlit candles, we wait.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I’ve managed to talk myself out of a lot of things in the last 31 years.
Take figure skating, for instance. I grew up in Colorado Springs, home of the Olympic Training Center. When I was around age 4 or 5, my mom offered to get me skating lessons. I guess she figured I was in a perfect place for professional training, if I really loved it.
I refused because it sounded scary.
All of these wasted experiences because of fear.
There is one other thing I gave up a long time ago because of fear: writing.
When I was 13 years old, my best friend won a magazine contest by completing the end of a short story by our favorite author, Susan*. Not long after that, Susan came to speak at my middle school. She started asking if anyone in the class happened to know my friend because she hoped to deliver the prize to her personally while she was in town.
I came forward. And do you know what happened? My favorite author picked me up at my house that night and took my friend and me to dinner! Dream. Come. True.
Then, my friend and I became pen pals with Susan. We each wrote her letters, and Susan wrote us personal messages back.
A few months later Susan came back to town for a young writer’s conference. (Did I mention that Colorado Springs is also a mecca of Christian publishing?) For the truly ambitious (me!), they offered a way to turn in a short story ahead of time to be critiqued by a visiting author of our choice. Guess whom I chose.
Unfortunately, the critique session with Susan was devastating. She put her marks all over my story. It was bleeding. Bleeding with ink marks and comments that don’t make sense to me, even to this day.
To top it off, my friend submitted a story too. A few weeks later my fellow budding writer got another letter in the mail from Susan. I did not. In fact, the woman never wrote me again.
For the next few years, I only wrote in personal journals. Because the fear crept in. I believed I wasn’t good and never would be. I was too afraid to try again.
Here’s the thing: fear is exhausting. It makes us do crappy things, such as lying, hiding, being impatient, and feeling sorry for ourselves.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I know deep down that I am a writer. I’ve tried some very creative ways to get around this fact, mainly so I don’t have to deal with the possible hurt that comes with the writing life. In the end, it just leads back to my God-given path.
So, today, instead of fear, I’m choosing courage. Brené Brown tells us in her TED talk on vulnerability, as well as in her book The Gifts of Imperfection that the root of the word courage is cor, the Latin word for heart. (I'm really big into Latin these days, can you tell?) Originally courage meant “to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."
That is what I want to do. It’s what I’ve longed to do. Tell my story with all my heart.
Writers are only human. (I suspect Susan simply may not have known the best ways to help young authors write. She was a new author at the time and had her own journey to take.) But that is exactly what makes us good. We are human. We have passion and heart and blood running through our veins. We have moments of defeat and victory, like everyone. And we want to share it with the world.
I know I do. No matter the cost.
*name changed for protection
Monday, December 5, 2011
I realize this question can be asked in a variety of intonations: fear, hope, exhaustion, or frustration. Mine is hopeful.
And I’m also trying to determine what to do next with my hopeful “what next?”
A few years ago, I attended a vocational retreat with Potter’s Inn. Vocation (from the Latin word vocaré) means “voice.” To hear that voice, one must listen. At one point in the workshop, the leaders encouraged us to think back to what we most loved when we were eight years old.
I loved reading, writing, and teaching. (Well, teaching Sunday School to my dolls that is!) And I loved Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to be Anne of Green Gables. After all, Anne writes and Anne teaches. She also has a fiery passion that can’t be contained.
I want to listen to my own fiery passion. Too many times, I’ve set it aside or stuffed it down. However, it takes that delight to carve out a life of being the person God created me to be.
I’m not talking about a job. Those come and go. In less than two weeks, my job is going. What I’m talking about is a way of life that is in-tune with knowing God’s best for me. It is listening to what makes my heart “sing” and then acting out of that deep gladness.
This week, I have someone helping me work on my résumé. I’m grateful for the opportunity, but I can’t help thinking about how incomplete that document will be when it’s done. It can’t possibly hold all I am or all I may be in the future, with God’s help.
I am not alone in this season. God is with me. He saw the innocent little girl dressing up in long skirts more than two decades ago. He sees me now. Paying attention to my delights brings Him delight. He wants me to know myself more because the more I know of the self He created, the more I will know Him.
Knowing Him all of my days is the greatest life I can imagine. While the road ahead of me might not always be marked with blooming white trees, there is a Voice behind me, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Friday, December 2, 2011
Don’t believe me? Consider the episode a few weeks ago when Jeff asked me to bake a few cookies for a men’s gathering at church. I pulled out some cookie sheets, closed the lower metal drawer, and experienced a flash of light coupled with a popping sound. I broke the oven. Not kidding.
In addition, I’ve been working fulltime for the last seven years. On too many occasions, I bad talk myself because I can’t be at more field trips or class parties with my oldest daughter or rock my little one before her nap all seven days of the week.
I stumble home and convince myself I need to have a perfect dinner on the table at exactly 6 o’clock each night. Then, I snap at anyone who ventures near the kitchen while I attempt to be my own self-imposed version of Martha.
All of this adds up to guilt and shame. I feel like I am less of a mother and less of a wife because I fall short over and over. Not just that. I feel like a failure.
But is that really the truth?
Because I’m realizing more and more that beautifully decorated walls aren’t the best things I can give my family. I’m also learning it’s okay I’m not a super-chef in the kitchen. I don’t have to make amazing dinners to be loved. And, speaking of love, I love my family.
I love my daughters. We read books to each other and bake (burn?) cookies together sometimes. We have family movie nights, dress up for teatime, and take trips to places like the pumpkin patch on the weekends.
I love my husband. I believe in his calling to attend seminary and in who he is as a pastor. I believe in his gifts. And, along our family’s journey of work plus graduate school, I found some surprising ways to use my own gifts in God’s kingdom.
What this all really adds up to is being okay with who I am. Being okay with my strengths as well as my weaknesses. It also means believing that God sees me as no less than His beloved daughter, no matter what is set out on the table for dinner.
With this in mind, I’ve made a decision. I’m going to stop calling myself things like “bad mother” and “bad wife” when I make a mistake or things go wrong. Truth be told, that’s a lie. I’m going to see myself as God sees me: enough and fully loved. After all, I am Rebecca. Not Martha.