12/20/2010

good news, not-so-good news

good news - We enjoyed a month of restful waiting as we celebrated Advent with dear friends, lighting candles, singing carols, feasting, philosophizing. Four candles light the darkness, holding the Christmas Crazy at bay. (You know, the rush of shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning, etc. we associate with the holidays.)

not-so-good news - Our abstinence from Christmas Crazy means that until Saturday, we didn't even have a Christmas list. And we have a lot of people to celebrate with.

good news - We figured out our Christmas list. Yay!

not-so-good news - We have a list of people, not necessarily gift ideas to go with them.

good news - We are smart, creative, and resourceful. We can figure this out!

not-so-good news - We only have three days left before Christmas, and lots of stuff to do in the meantime (work-work, housework, administrative tasks, appointments, events)

good news - There are Twelve Days of Christmas, so we don't have to have everything figured out right away.

not-so-good news - The toughest to buy for people are the first ones getting gifts.

good news - We have eggnog, cider, candy canes, Christmas movies, and Christmas music to keep us jolly during all of the Christmas Crazy.

not-so-good news - Stations keep playing things like The Christmas Shoes or that Paul McCartney song that gets really annoying after awhile.

good news - Regardless of where we are at in the Christmas Crazy, on the evening of the 23rd we're meeting friends for a showing of White Christmas at a local old theater. This will be MM's first time seeing it! How fun that it will be on the big screen and with friends.

more good news - Afterward, we're going to take all our friends to go look at our favorite neighborhood Christmas light display.

really good news - And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And really, in light of that news, none of the Christmas Crazy matters much.

Happy Christmas, friends.

12/17/2010

still waiting

Advent is a season for waiting; we wait for the coming of God. We need him to come. Our world is messed up and we are messed up. We lament our condition and long for God to set things right, to make us better. So we pray and watch for signs of his presence. We do all we know to do so that we are open and ready. In the midst of hardship and disappointment, we continue to wait. We wait in hope. We believe that something is happening in our world, something is taking shape in our lives, something large, light-filled, and joy-giving. Even in December's lengthening darkness, this seed of joyful hope grows within us. We are pregnant with it. In our waiting, we are enlarged. God is coming!

~ Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God

12/16/2010

wakens my ear

The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens
--wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
~ Isaiah 50:4


Read these words this morning, and want to chew on them awhile. How good it would be to know how to sustain the weary with a word. The way to do this, of course, is to stop talking. The tongues of those who are taught are silent. Those who are taught, listen.

12/14/2010

scenes from a weekend - gifts

Well, this week my excuse is that I sat down to do my morning reading, writing, thinking, praying, etc. and fell asleep. For FIVE HOURS! Yowza! So here are some scenes from our weekend...

Friday

The sound of snoring that drifts from our room as my dear friend retreats under homemade quilts and releases her cares for a time. Her five year old son has had five brain surgeries this last month. She is exhausted, but understandably, she can rarely bring herself to leave his side. It was indescribably good to watch her allow herself permission to rest. This is a long road.

Glimpses of the city - an elegant matron in her bright coat and scarf speaking into the speaker of an apartment building; the last of the colored leaves drifting over the streets and swirling around pedestrians; Christmas window displays in tiny shops and grand hotels - as I drove to a much-needed massage. I felt rich!

Saturday

A long, slow, easy morning with MM, filled with love and endearments and silliness and laughter, and shoulder rubs for both of us. The whole morning felt like grace.

The rumble of over a hundred Tubas blasting out Christmas carols and patriotic songs in a beautiful, old auditorium. My father-in-law got his euphonium on, so we went to cheer him on and soak in the joy that only TubaChristmas can bring. Before I went to my first TubaChristmas years ago, I never would have guessed that those instruments could bring tears to my eyes, but we were all moved several times during the concert.

Purple inland fog through which we glimpse a glorious, firey sunset across the Bay. WowWowWow! Closer to the city, we see that firey sunlight, reflected on the windows of homes and offices built into the coastal hills. Mingled with Christmas lights, the hills look ablaze. WowWowWow!

My handsome husband lit up by the sparkly lights of Union Square. He'd turn and smile at me, and make my heart stop. Every time. Then a bit later, warm hugs all around as good friends joined us for cocktails above the sparkle. We swapped stories behind the Y in Macy's. (Next year, we stay the night!)

Sunday

The twinkle in my husbands smiley eyes as we snuggle in the early morning light, recounting last Christmas and the early days of our love story. We still marvel at the speed and miraculous of it all. What a year!

The twinkle in my nephew's smiley eyes as he makes poop jokes and shows us how to operate his flashing Mr. Worm toy. Five brain surgeries take a toll, but in this moment he giggled and teased like any other goofy little boy. Even with his head covered in bandages and tubes sticking out everywhere, he sparkles.

The double blessing of another friend's son, alternately sharing deep wisdom and hilarious, rambunctious joking on our third-candle night of Joy. This guy doesn't often comment during our readings, but when he does, its absolutely on the money. And he seriously cracks me (and himself, apparently) up! Joy, indeed.

My husband's hat on the dashboard and the feel of his hand on mine as he thanks God for our lives and our loves and the gift of it all. All of it. Surgeries. Tubas. Cocktails above Union Square. Reduced income. New jobs. Painful backs. Christmas lights...

We are thankful.

12/07/2010

tuesdaybook - dishes and twinkle lights

For today I am:

Seeing... A pile of dishes and various sticky somethings on the floor, table, counter - evidence that a whole lot of fun has been happening in the Little House on the Tree-lined Street in Fake New Jersey. But the sun slanting through the windows thrills me even as it lands on things I must clean.

Hearing... The ticking of the kitchen clock and the occasional neighborhood sounds (dogs barking, birds twittering, leaf blowers... (Oh, the leaf blowers! We are in a deluge! The one minor drawback to the Tree-lined Street is the noisy leaf blower brigade this time of year.))

Wearing... Jammies, mommy slippers, fuzzy white bathrobe. Amen.

Tasting... Coffee. I know! I KNOW! (MM, your wife is weak!) And steal cut oats with cinnamon and blueberries. I'm celebrating Tuesday.

Planning... Dinners with people and outings and trips and such that have been floating around must land somewhere on our calendar today. I'll do some preliminary emailing and see what comes of it.

Working... My project ended Friday, so I am doing a bunch of personal/household admin stuff. Lots of paperwork to address, bills to pay, budget spreadsheets to update, etc. Tax season is coming, and I'm a little freaked out after our crazy year of me freelancing and us marrying and combining households. It will be an interesting April. We need a Tax Guy!

Creating... Sewing some pillow cases; working on scarves; downloading photos from the phone and printing some, etc. The big thing I hope to do this afternoon is work on our website designs. :)

Learning... Working on some scales and chords for piano today. And some new CSS tricks for the aforementioned websites.

Reading... We're still working our way through Anne of Green Gables. :) Among other things, I'm reading the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. (Comics? I don't always know the difference.) Weird. Occasionally funny. Comic nerdiness. We saw the movie for free when it came out, so I'm actually following along pretty well. Its another fun chapter in the cultural exchange between my husband and I. Its been cool to enter each other's worlds of music, movies, books, etc. We have four giant book shelves to work through and a huge Netflix queue. Love getting to know my man this way! :)

Pondering... My future. Heavy. I know, right?

Remembering... Christmases Past. This year I'm still in waiting mode, which is peaceful. I remember many Christmas seasons crammed with activities and to-do lists and projects and stress on top of work deadlines. I'm doing less stuff this year, but enjoying more of what I'm doing. Almost every night MM and I hit Starbucks and then drive around looking at lights. Last night we walked hand in hand through our favorite neighborhood and kissed under a tunnel of orange, red, and pink twinkle lights. Magical. Sooooo much better than burning my fingers with a hot glue gun at 11pm after a 10 hour work day and an evening slogging through the mall. :)

Thankful for... Twinkle light tunnels. The carpet of maple leaves in front of my little house. My fuzzy white robe. Sunlight glancing off the ornaments on our little tree. Our vacuum. Time to write and think and pray.

Off to wash dishes, etc.

scenes from a weekend

Meant to post this yesterday, but got derailed with a craft project. Sometimes a girl just needs to play with glitter. (Sorry, MM.) So, here it is...

Friday

My husband opening the door to me when I got home from my last day of work. He made a hilarious joke (which I can't share with you) that had me howling with laughter before I'd even set my stuff down. Then he wrapped me in his arms and gave me the best hug. Lovely start to the weekend.

Later, the cool, Midtown indie/hipster kids just outside the window from us at the restaurant, telling stories, sharing philosophies, probably talking about bands I've never heard of. MM and I love the vibe and energy of our old stompin' grounds

Saturday

Examining thrift shop doodads and trinkets and funky whatnots, as the owner chatted and joked with several other patrons. The place was lively and bustling and fun. Beautiful evening gowns for $20. I left with three decorative matchboxes for $1 a piece. Darling!

Three pony-tailed little girls selling apple cider for 50 cents a cup outside their parent's store. "We need money for Christmas presents." I'm a sucker for kids selling stuff off a table, so of course I bought some. Too cute! As I sipped my drink, I watched them, after a brief consultation, give a cup to a homeless guy for free. :)

Holding hands with MM as we talk things out after an afternoon of hurt and misunderstanding. The deep feeling of grace as we make amends and reconnect. We spent the rest of the evening in that grace with mac'n'cheese and Christmas lights and lots of hugs. "We're OK."

Sunday

A cup of coffee in our friends' warm, sunny sitting room, connecting for the first time in a month, as their little son showed us his Lego creations and pretended to be a kitty that needed to be scratched behind the ears.

Later, at the dinner table, another young friend (9) offering her mother bread "broken for you" and juice "shed for you." One of the loveliest communion moments I've seen. We are so blessed to get to share Advent with this family. To mingle deep questions with laughter and music and tacos...

Still later, snuggling MM as we drift off to sleep, warm and cozy.

So thankful.

12/01/2010

belated daybook

Happy December! It is beautiful and cold today. Homemade turkey chili (Oh, Thanksgiving dinner how we have loved you this past week.) and cornbread for dinner. (Although with that menu, I feel as though I ought to call it supper.) I didn't do a daybook yesterday, so here's a belated one. For today I am:

Seeing... Glorious color, still, on the maple tree in the front yard.

Hearing... The air stirring in the heater, the chili bubbling on the stove... and Max out on my porch goofing around with our musical snow globe. (Every day when he gets home from school, he comes to our porch and turns on the tunes. Today he brought his sister over, and they are out there singing along. So cute!)

Wearing... A brown scarf, a fuzzy brown sweater, a read long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans, and brown knee-high socks that my Sweetie got for me at Target. When he comes home, I will bust out a pair of Christmas socks. Sexy.

Tasting... Leftover shepherd's pie and fresh, unfiltered apple juice, a hosting gift from the friends who came to celebrate Advent with us.

Creating... Knitting scarves out of my leftover bits of yarn. Right now, a lovely dove gray.

Working... Finishing up my techwriting contract. Tomorrow its screenshots, and a SME interview. Friday, its compiling and unit testing. And either Friday or Monday its, turn in the files, computer, and key card.

Learning... Dug out my piano books and am attempting to re-start learning the piano. Eventually I will get a teacher, but for now, I'm using books and my friend YouTube.

Reading... MM and I are reading aloud together the Anne of Green Gables series, and it just cracks me up every time he bursts out laughing at something in the story. He's genuinely enjoying the book! :) Fun!

Planning... Nothing really. Taking this week off to rest and wait. Next week we'll start Christmas prep in earnest.

Pondering... Hope. Anticipation.

Remembering... How life (and Christmas) was before MM, and I am still amazed at how rich and deep and full and beautiful he makes everything. I remember sitting and holding hands with him at a Christmas concert last year and marveling at how magical the world felt.

Thankful for... A warm scarf and coat; warm socks and gloves; a warm sweater; a warm bed; a warm home. Many live without these things, and I am mindful that my life is all gift.