I picked up my fourth-grader from school yesterday. Excitement radiated from her as she shared about her purchases at the Knight Bucks Store, a shopping venue set up with donated items. Students used their incentive dollars, Knight Bucks, to buy gifts for friends and family and then maybe select an item or two for themselves.
There were even people wrapping presents, and they were professionals. They didn’t just tie a plain ribbon around the present, but they used scissors to actually curl the ribbon and make it all fancy.
I don’t know what that says about the wrapping skills in this house, but I was grateful for the teachers and parents who took time to man the store and the wrapping station. I was thankful for the fancy, because through the eyes of my child, it was exquisite.
I got a present for Collie.
Now, Collie is her sister’s stuffed dog who has a personality and a voice all his own. In fact, there is a whole subculture in this house revolving around Collie and Bessie. It made complete sense that when the gift was opened, it was a cow.
From what I gather, Collie was nourished on Bessie milk as a pup.
To be honest, I always felt uncomfortable to hear them talking about Bessie milk, because it sounded like breast milk in their high-pitched, slow-talking animal voices. I realize as I admit this, that breast milk is what all of my children were nourished on, and that the crunchiness-level in our house should make phrases like Bessie milk a non-issue, but triggers abound, and awkwardly using the correct words for body parts and functions continues to remain one of mine.
It’s redemptive that I can push through and allow my children to use correct words for body parts and functions, even though I inwardly cringe.
The excitement that younger sister felt about bringing a gift home to older sister’s treasured stuffed animal was sweet to behold. The joyful playfulness they shared by the light of the Christmas tree, acting out voices of each animal was quietly witnessed by me as I prepared food in the kitchen.
My heart wanted to expand, and at the same time shut down. Hence, the resistance.
I don’t have fond memories of myself at the age of my girls. I don’t look back and feel sweet or fun or generous. When I think of myself at ten and beyond, it’s not with kindness, especially in relationships with my siblings. To witness and focus on the kindness of my girls and the friendship they share at this age offers an invitation to taste redemption.
Sometimes I taste it, and it’s sweet. Other times, it’s a bitter pill of grief that I struggle to swallow. This redemption that shows up in strange places is an invitation to participate in the process. It is an offering of light brought to scatter the darkness.
This was posted to my Facebook wall by child number one back in November…
Sooooo… Here is my affirmation for your day! Addie (author of “When We Were On Fire”) is starting a Christmas Mindfulness series on her blog and asked for small (paragraph or less) submissions for the ways we practice mindfulness throughout the season. Here’s what I said:
“One fun thing about Christmas is getting all of those Christmas cards in the mail. Yes, my siblings and I would fight over opening them, especially if the card was from our cousins or closest friends. However, our parents helped us practice mindfulness during Bible time each night by cycling through the cards during prayer. We would each get a card, and we’d hold it and pray for those who sent it. As I look back, I realize this was meaningful to me, and a way to keep me mindful of others during the Christmas season!”
She replied and said:
“I love that! What a great idea. I’ll definitely be sharing this for the series…and incorporating it into our family life this year. Thanks so much for sharing!”
So yeah, just wanted to remind you that you do have great ideas that create great memories. Love you!!
I feel grateful that there are good memories associated with traditions and that a child has memories of seeming intentionality during a season of my life that is, honestly, a blur. We had Bible time each night?
I am rather sentimental about Christmas cards and pictures and letters that come in the mail. I put last year’s in a scrapbook to look through and remember (oh yeah, and pray over ;))
As I was removing the cards from around the entryway mirror this week and glancing back through them, two letters in particular caught my eye. Sentences in them, really.
The first was from a couple 15 years or so ahead of us with a large family themselves. They are in a season of grandparenting while still parenting children at home. They have married children and independent adult children and dependent middle school children and grandchildren.
Our marriage has been particularly sweet over the last year and a half.
I am encouraged by the hope of a particularly sweet marital season ahead while living in the midst of the chaotic family struggles of now. I long for that sweetness. These days are salty.
The second was from a couple 28 years ahead of us that knew my parents as newlyweds and me as a baby. Maybe I met them in person as a small child, but our connection has been strictly Christmas card exchanges over the years. They always add a handwritten note to their letter showing interest in our family.
Our 50th wedding anniversary. How we praise and thank God for these precious years together.
They went on to talk about the simple celebration that they held over a weekend in May with family at an Indiana state park. A count of the children and grandchildren that they mentioned being there is 24 or so. One of the families couldn’t attend.
I am so thankful for those travelers ahead of us on the journey. What a sweet blessing to be encouraged by their words and pictures of God’s faithfulness.
Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance. Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands, your little daughters will be carried home. Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy, Isaiah 60:1-5
At the beginning of the month, when I decided to focus on walking in darkness, seeking the light, I didn’t realize how literally dark and quiet the blog would remain. There is simply too much life happening to stop and write and post and then wonder if anyone cares.
There are real-life people around me needing and doing real-life things. I am engaging in real time which means that cyber-time waits.
There is a lot to ponder and keep in my heart and process and wonder over.
There are places in my home that quietly shine with the reminder that though the darkness grows longer and deeper these days, the light shines sines in the darkness and the darkness is not overcome.
The light above was a gift from a friend who has since moved on and away to a different leg of her journey but who walked with me through some dark places in mine. She was my phone-a-friend as we mothered a batch of babies together (my second, her first) and met for coffee dates and took a class together.
She bought this for me on an outing one fall, and it brightens my dark upstairs hallway each night. I call it the light of friendship.
I received her Christmas letter and picture the other day, and waves of tears crashed over me, a reminder that choosing to love deeply and engage as fully as possibly, opens one up to the pain of loss.
And as I grieve losses such as that, I rejoice as adult children begin to gather from (literally) all over to reconvene for the Christmas season. There is great joy in being all together under the same roof if only for a few days or weeks.
Enjoy this beautiful music this morning. The light IS coming!