Sunday, December 13, 2009

De Ja Vue

Today I watched my childhood dancing in a field clinging to a kite.

My second born, Jordan, is looking more like me each day. We have the same hair type and color, the same distant expression when lost in thought, the same body that is way to flexible and prone to aches and pains. While she is clearly her own person with great uniqueness, I can see pieces of me hiding within her complexity.

But today was something more than just watching my own child play. Today was like watching an old home video of 31 years ago. I cannot tell you what memory I was feeling ~ the details have been lost through the years ~ but watching little Jordan today, running through a field clinging to a kite took me back to somewhere.

For all the times I have watched her play, for all the times I have been caught up in her joy, never before have I felt this connection. Perhaps it was her corduroy dress, turtleneck shirt, and new bob haircut with bangs ~ a combination circa 1978. Perhaps it was watching her interact with Daddy as he told her to hold on tight. All I know is that I have been in that moment before, 3 years old, lost in the joy of a beautiful afternoon and in the company of my Daddy.

I didn't have my camera today to capture the moment, but I know that the images written on my heart are far more beautiful than any technology could create.

Friday, December 11, 2009

25 Days of Christmas

Every year since having children, I have ended the Christmas season with regret. I desire to make it fun, magical, and meaningful, yet every year all my good intentions are lost in a sea of shopping bags in a vain attempt to make meaning out of materialism.
But this year, I am hoping things will be different.
I have always loved the idea of advent calendars, but I wanted more than just little doors to open with candy inside. So this year, we made paper chains to help count down the days to Christmas. The girls cut the paper and Kaiden wrote the numbers on each slip of paper. (Homeschool hint: you can practice odds and evens with the red and green alternating days!) Then I wrote an activity on each slip of paper. Each morning, the girls cut the next link of the chain and find out the Christmas activity for the day. Now we truly celebrate Christmas for 25 days!
The great part is the simplicity. Some days, the activity is nothing more than watching a Christmas video or setting out the Little People Nativity set. Some events are more involved, like decorating cookies or making gifts for friends. And while I planned out all the events on a calendar ahead of time, I am not bound to follow the plan. If an activity for the day is too daunting, I just replace it with another slip of paper and a new activity. (Now if only I could get Kaiden to quit reading ahead!)
In planning the events, I have tried to keep with the advent themes for each week (Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy). So for example, on the Love week, we have activities like making gifts for friends, buying groceries for the needy, and buying presents for Angel Tree kids.
Here are some other fun events from our 25 days of Christmas:
Christmas Oatmeal (with red and green sprinkles!), painting toenails red and green, driving to see Christmas Lights, wrapping presents, singing Christmas carols, lighting the advent wreath, decorating their bedroom for Christmas, making Christmas cards, having the neighbor kids over for a Christmas tea party, and having a snowman party on the first day of winter.
What a joy it is to have Christmas last all month!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Shrinking Buts

I have been blogless for a while now. And when I am not writing, it means I am not processing life. And when I am not processing life, then something is amiss. Right now, it is my health. I have lots of symptoms and few answers, but mainly my health problems are all related to complications from a ventral hernia (above the belly button) and pancreatitis. And those two things are the result of 4 pregnancies in 5 years.

In the past 5 years, through hurricanes, babies, deployments, deaths, and a thousand other moments of pain and joy, I have found a strength which I never new was mine to hold. But that strength has been tested at a whole new level these past months. Every previous trial I have faced has felt like something outside of myself. But this trial of health is within. With other trials, the more effort I put forth, the stronger I become. Now, the greater I fight, the weaker I am. Other trials have caused me to value each day, not knowing when I may have to say goodbye to someone. But this trial has caused me to value each day because I am coming to grips with my own mortality. I doubt these problems would take my life, but just knowing that significant parts of my body are beginning to fail has caused me many sleepless nights.

I am embarrased to admit the panic that my health has caused in me. After all that I have endured, can I not withstand the complications of a weakened body? I find myself once again saying "Lord use me, Lord refine me, but just don't...." I want to believe that He can use me, but I keep finding there is always something I am afraid to let go of, and right now, it is my health.

There is always a "but" somewhere in my faith. So here is a little humor - my ailments have greatly restricted my eating, and as a result, I am losing weight. So if this trial keeps up, my butt will get smaller, now if only my restricted diet would cause the "but" of my faith to shrink!

Okay, that will be my new prayer -- Lord, please shrink my "but"!