Thursday, December 29, 2011

Joy in the Middle

Where do we find joy when joy seems elusive? Where do we find it in the middle of death and financial difficulty, in the middle of natural disasters, betrayal, or sickness. Or just in the middle of the common ache of life?

Perhaps it is not joy that is escaping us but that quick emotional high we get from the feel good moments of life? When those feel good moments vanish, where does joy go?

Joy is there and happiness too. But it it not quite the same. It is no longer a happy that is fleeting and fragile crushed by a bucketful of tragic circumstances.

Yes, it's that happy-go-lucky happy that I'm not sure I can find.

But a deep sturdy joy?

A deep seeded, God-is-here-in-the-midst-of-this joy? An I'm-not-afraid joy that claws its way out of the pit of circumstance?

A die-to-my-own-desires joy, a letting-go-of-how-you-thought-life-would-be-because-you-are-trusting-God's-way joy?

That joy is here. It's not light and fluffy, rainbows and roses.

It is joy that fights its way out from your soul, a form of trench warfare that pits joy against your need for control, your anger, your impatience, and your pride. Joy that does not come as a regal warrior who conquered your heart with one swift move all while atop a white horse. It's dirty and disheveled, almost unrecognizable.

We want the white horse, but joy comes on a swaybacked old mare.

We want fast victory but joy is a long lesson.

We want a powerful hero but joy comes in on tiptoes.

Joy is there; it's just not as it seems.

Find it in the small moments.

Fight for it in the chaos.

Choose to believe it will be there.

Because the divine God is almost always about human contradiction. Humbleness makes you strong. Laying down your life makes your life worth more. Being last makes you first. Sorrow brings you an unshakable joy.

2 Corinthians 6:3-10
But in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Death and Reality

Just a few weeks ago, while cuddling Kenson in his bed for a few moments after bedtime, he whispered to me “Grandpa’s really not coming back, right?” Almost 4 months after Grandpa has been gone and he is still holding out a little bit of hope that maybe it’s not really the way it is. I found myself amazed at his thinking.

But even this big girl gets caught up in how surreal death is. How many times in the last few months have I felt like this was some really bad dream? Until something pricks my heart with reality.

Something like the words of a 5 year old who really wants his grandpa back so they can go feed cows together. It’s hearing someone recount how the harvest got done by friends, listening as familiar last names from my growing up days, names like Myers and Estes, Griebel, Ritchie, and Slagle, all flow out, mixed in with words like combine and auger wagon and corn. It’s seeing new old pictures of my dad, knowing his hair isn’t going to go gray, knowing his face will forever be that way in my mind, a strange mix of the way he was in the most recent photos with the way he was on the night he died, feeling the heavy weight of my brother on my back as he leans in with tears. It’s knowing that if I am in the car alone, without my kids, that the reality will probably crashing down, because when I am alone, when it is quiet, my mind most often goes there.

There just isn’t a fast way through it or an easy way over it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

May you remember the reason for the season, knowing that the God of heaven, the King of all Kings, humbled Himself to become one of us, all as just one tiny piece of the Greatest Love Story the world has ever known.

From Soren Kiirkegaard's The King and the Maiden-

Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden who lived in a poor village in his kingdom. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist-no one dared resist him. But would she love him?

She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know for sure? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.

The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend to her. Clothed as a beggar, he approached her cottage with a worn cloak fluttering loose about him. This was not just a disguise – the king took on a totally new identity – He had renounced his throne to declare his love and to win hers.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Conleigh or Kenson Quotes?

"Mom!  Guess what's in my pants?  Actually, it's in my underwear.  It's a pretend orange!  But don't worry it doesn't have poop on it."

During a conversation on bad smells, "Or you can be stinky like a sweaty boy!"  (Think our kids are the children of a high school boys' soccer coach?)

"Zuuuummmmm!  I'm a Superhero!"-said while running then leaping into the air with not just scissors but also a dinner knife...

D-"I think Grandpa can see you from heaven."
"You do?   You're the smartest person in the world!"

Upon seeing a commercial for Starbucks coffee beans, "I don't want any of those.  They make you cough."  (Say it all slowly...)

After having a child sneeze in my hair, I reminded said child to cover their mouth when sneezing.   The response?  "My boogers come out of my nose not my mouth."  "Yes, and they are probably in my hair."  "What do boogers smell like?"  "I have no idea."  "What do boogers taste like?"  "Really?"  'I think they taste like sausage."

Got any guesses as to who said what today?

Friday, December 16, 2011

'Tis the Season...

For exploding heads?  I have serious felt like my head was in danger of exploding this week.  Waayyy too much stuff going on.  I accepted a short term, multi day sub job which has definitely made my life busier.  I am glad I get to help my friend, Kathy, out by being in her music room all of this week, part of next, and then for a few more days after Christmas break but it means a new schedule and less time to get the normal schedule done.  (As indicated by the gigantic pile of laundry, crumbs on my counters, papers and mail that is everywhere, and the dirty dirty floors and bathrooms.  2-3 days a week is plenty of work for me in terms of subbing so doing a full week is more than what I usually will do.) 

Add to that two church events on Wednesday and Thursday night which meant no extra time after supper and a trip to Norfolk this weekend to celebrate Christmas with D's family and the little time we did have is reduced yet again.  So glad we get to do those things so don't interpret that as a complaint; it's just there's a lot going on right now. 

In addition, there is a ton of mental busyness right now too.  D is finishing up a grad class.  We're still trying to sort out the finances and plans for a house.  We've started the paperwork for another adoption.  Our tax return is being audited and requires additional follow up.  The Christmas shopping is not quite done and I have a few more food items that I need to make for different events.  I have several Etsy orders that I need to finish before the holidays and then will have several new ones to start on once Christmas is over. 

We've been living in the land of loose ends for awhile now and the hectic pace of the last few weeks have definitely made those loose ends seem even looser.  Really looking forward to the weekend, then two days of work, and then a bit of a reprieve.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Celebrate Adoption-Waiting Children HCH

I know it's no longer November.  But I ran out of month and still have some waiting kids that I wanted to post.  (Not that the month really matters...)  Conleigh's orphanage, Haiti Children's Home, has 20 waiting kids right now.  3 special needs girls (Shanaika and Jenny who have neurological issues, possibly shaken baby type disorders, and Kettalaine who I would guess to be severely mentally handicapped with a low IQ) and a whole passel of boys (17!  Many of those little boys came in at the same time as Conleigh and are still waiting for families.  That just makes me terribly sad.  I don't know why but people often want girls, not boys.)  Anyway, here's some snapshots of some of those faces.  Please pass it on and share.



James who has been waiting for a very long time

More of James

Who doesn't need a little guy to get all dressed up in a tie?  This is Jamesky.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Parenting Dilemma #432

What to do with a child who puts things in your drink when you are not looking?

Seriously...3rd time in like 2 weeks where I have left a drink on the table unattended, returned to take a drink, took a swig and found "something" in my drink.  Today it was pizza flavored hamburger from our calzones.  (Which does not go well with Diet Mountain Dew.)  The other day it was wheat from a candleholder.  Time #3-I'm sorry to admit that I don't know what it was.  But there was definitely something in there.

I'm pretty sure I know which child is responsible.  But I have yet to catch her....

Friday, December 2, 2011

And the stockings were hung...

Not my actual stockings.  Those bloggy people, who have a lovely post and lovely pictures that they have taken of the actual item being discussed, amaze me.  That requires a lot of planning...and a better camera than what I can muster up.
We drug the Christmas things out from the basement this week, much to the delight of the children.   (I love that the morning after we put the tree up Kenson came down the stairs and was slightly surprised and utterly thrilled that the tree was STILL up.)

Then, when I picked the kids up from school today, I overheard them discussion their plans for afternoon play.

"Wanna play Santa after we rest?"

"Yeah.  Ho, ho, ho!"

And sure enough, after lunch, rest time, and snack, they were ready to play.  Conleigh won the role of Santa and Kenson played the child.   He was sequestered upstairs while Conleigh carefully selected items to place in the stockings.  Then, after many minutes of my itty bitty chocolate girl ho-ho-hoing to herself and much yelling...

"Are you done?"

"Not yet."

"Can I come down?"

"Not yet." was finally time.  And they both proceeded to joyfully reach into their stockings and pull out the gifts Santa had left, all items from our toy room.

Let's just hope the Santa who visits on Christmas Eve is a better gift giver than the one who was here today.  I'm guessing an empty egg carton, a lidless dried onion container, and an assortment of fabric fruits are not what my children are wishing for.