thursdaybook - long johns rule!

For today I am,

Seeing... Piles of dirty dishes and laundry and unpaid bills and a floor that needs desperately to be mopped... a flurry of tissue paper snowflakes dangling on the mantle and the overhead light... colored lights glowing on our tree... sunlight peeking down the hallway

Hearing... Cars and trucks pounding down the freeway... leaves whooshing off the carefully raked piles and down our street... the occasional clunk of our ineffective wall heater... the tick of our broken clock... the thrum of the washer and dryer and the whir of the gas oven roasting spaghetti squash for lunch

Tasting... Coffee

Working... My neglected house needs some TLC today, and of course it's Advent and there's always Christmasy things to do. A bit of shopping and wrapping and secret projecting

Reading... Just finished my Mediocre Christian Fiction book and am casting about for a new fiction piece. I'm thinking of dipping into some literature. Doesn't cold weather seem to beg for Dickens? Or Wuthering Heights?

For our read-aloud, we've begun Christian Smith's book on Biblicism, The Bible Made Impossible. Very much looking forward to this. And, we've decided that in 2013, we're going to plunge into poetry. We've scores of poetry books and probably 4 or 5 complete Shakespeares, but we've yet to read any! So, perhaps the word for 2013 will be Poema. :)

Learning... Hmmm... I don't know. Today is mostly work. But we are going to do some due diligence research into various organizations for our Christmas donations. I expect to learn a bit doing that.

Creating... My house is cold. I think today I will create some banana bread. And then eat it, spread thick with butter. And wash it down with tea. Yes, today is good for baking.

Dreaming... Of that banana bread. Of all those piles gone and in their place, freshly ironed tablecloths of Christmas plaid spread out. Of candles lit and gleaming warmth into my little house. Papers filed or burning in the fireplace. Of dinner bubbling in the crockpot.

Pondering... Like everyone else, I suppose I'm thinking about guns and fear and politics and what the hell do we do next. I'm trying to figure out how to sort out the cacophony of emotion within and without. How to discern which responses are primal/human ones, which are American ones, and which are Kingdom ones. What are my ways? What are God's ways? What ways and weapons should I use to stand against darkness? How do I help heal the broken? How do I love people in the face of such fear? Both theirs and my own. What does it mean for me to be a peacemaker in such a time as this? What does it mean for me to be a protector and defender of the helpless and vulnerable? How do I open the eyes of my heart and see the things I am blind to? How do I walk circumspectly, for the days are evil?

Thankful for... My appliances (even the mostly ineffectual wall heater), my long johns, my scarves, my future banana bread, my man - oh how I love him.


thankful tuesday, moldy oldy edition

It's Thankful Tuesday over at Micha's. And today, it is especially good to count "Thankfuls":

- My space heater. Oh, man. Old houses. Yeesh!

- Lysol wipes. I try to be all eco-friendly-hippie-style with my cleaning. But its winter. Old house. Mold. Wiping down the window sills with these babies helps a ton.

- Hot coffee. And hot tea. We have peppermint and rooibos (which we put vanilla in) and organic chamomile (which we put honey and Bushmills in) to make things a bit more festive. It is good to have hot things to drink when you live in old, cold, moldy houses. Lately we've been heating up water in our Baptist Coffee Pot and using that to make our French press or tea or cocoa. Easy peasy.

- Our Christmas tree. Oh, I just love it. We both do. Every now and then one or the other of us just hollers out, "I love our tree!" Its just the tiny fake tree that I bought back when I lived in my tiny apartment in Fake New York. Since we spent our first Christmas as a couple mostly at my place, its sort of our First Christmas Tree. We have colored lights and only hang ornaments with a memory or a story or a particular awesomeness about them. It sparkles and shines and makes us happy.

- Ibuprophin. The fallout from last Friday's tragedy for me was massive pain flareup. Sadness, stress, etc. etc. all comes to rest in my jaw, neck, shoulders and upper back. Blerg, blerg, blerg. So, I am thankful for the ability to take the edge off till I settle down.

- Our fireplace. Aside from the extra heating, I love being able to give myself some extra cozy when I need it. Sunday I lit candles and burned through a whole box of wood while I cut out tissue paper snowflakes and listened to Christmas music. That crackling flame just speaks peace and rest to me. Love firepits in the summer and fireplaces in the winter. And because we have no central h/a, we can light a fire whenever we want. Yippee!

- Our stockings. I hung both sets. The fancy, velvet, matchy matchy ones - very lovely. And in front of them, the traditional tiny ones. This year, MM made me embroider my name on mine too. I'd resisted b/c I'm not very good at embroidery. And it takes a long time. And my tiny stocking already had a cutsey design on it. But after all the snowflakes, I popped in North and South and added my name. It does look nice, despite my lack of skillz. And MM feels like things are more balanced. (Only thing is now I want to add something cutesy to his. Maybe next year...)

- Santa's workshop. We are moving more toward making gifts and tokens for people instead of buying things, and I am so stoked about this years project! We did our prototypes yesterday and they turned out pretty good for our first ever try. I'm hopeful that our idea will work!

- I'm thankful for stripey tights and chunky sweaters and my super cute new boots!... for neighbors who put up Christmas lights or open their windows so we can see their trees... for clean dishes and folded laundry and the smell of banana bread baking... for MM who rubs my back and holds my hand and hugs me close and acts like Buddy the Elf when he rides escalators in San Francisco... for a sky that's half sunny/half cloudy behind lacy branches that release the last of the autumn leaves to flutter to the ground.



Today is Gaudete Sunday. To our Advent lineup we add the candle of Joy. Often pink or light blue instead of the darker advent color like the other candles, it symbolizes that the Light is growing in the midst of the darkness. We've passed the halfway point. Christmas is almost here. The wait is almost over.

"Gaudete" is the imperative plural form of the Latin verb gaudere (to rejoice). It is a command ordering us to rejoice. And in the various liturgies the emphasis is on rejoicing always. No matter what.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

A lot of people are finding it tough today to light a candle of Joy while we mourn another shooting. But the darkness we're feeling so keenly makes the command all the more important, I suppose.

In between all the rallying cries for gun control and vehement declarations of "my cold, dead hands," my twitter and facebook feeds had quiet reminders to just let all that go for a bit and grieve. Mourn with those who mourn. Acknowledge that we are in a dark space filled with all kinds of evil and that it hurts to be here.

Many people called out, like the earliest Christians, "Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!" We often say that as a plea for rescue, "Calgon! Take me away!" We pray, essentially, "Come on Jesus! Come in Glory; Kick some ass; and GET. ME. OUT OF HERE!"

But, of course, it doesn't work like that. We don't just get to snap our fingers and make it all go away. It's not about kicking ass. It never has been. And we don't get to just stick our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, and La-la-la-la our way out of this mess. We, and our broken hearts, have to somehow live in the wreckage.

And, apparently, rejoice. Because the Lord is near. Especially to the brokenhearted.

And not just the mothers in Conneticut, but the ones in Darfur.

And Detroit.

And Haiti.

And Palestine.


The miracle is not that He rescues us out of this world someday, but joins us in it now. In our pain. In our confusion. In our fear and darkness and despair. He weeps with us and suffers with us. Now.

Other people in my twitter stream quoted the only O Antiphon we still sing, which ironically includes a command to rejoice because God With Us shall (has) come. I've always liked this song. The key sounds sad and majestic to me. Perfect song for this Gaudete Sunday.

Come Lord Jesus.

The Lord is near.


 ~ ~ ~

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


between the merry and the jolly

Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Time that all
The children call
Their favorite time of year.

Pandora's Indie Christmas and the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack seem to suit my holiday mood this year. A touch of silly and jazzy to soften the somber. Someone (and not Kathleen Kelly) referenced that Joni Mitchel song:

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
Singing songs of joy and peace.
I wish I had a river I could skate away on.

I don't really want to skate away on a river, but I do find myself needing more quiet these days. Time away from the bustle and noise. Time to listen. Time to feel and to process what I'm feeling.

Even though my paleo cinnamon rolls were a total disaster, Organized Craft Day was great fun. I got to see some of my girlfriends I've been missing. Oh, how I needed that. We're hosting another event on Saturday - an afternoon coffee and cookies party to celebrate the joy of Tubas. :D

But in between these parties is the Advent week of Hope. One candle in the dark of winter. A reminder for me that in between the Merry and the Jolly is the work of quiet. It's the only way I know to make my jagged edges smooth.

This week I'm gonna lay low. Bake some cookies and sing along with Sufjan and Zoe and the Peanuts Gang. Light that candle every night during dinner and pray simple prayers that speak of hope.