Tuesday, November 20, 2012

thanks and giving and joy

One day earlier this week as the kids and I were driving across the bridge, we passed two slow-moving trucks, flashers on, precariously overloaded with Operation Christmas Child boxes. It was such an unexpectedly exciting moment when we realized they were on the move from the church where we had donated ours. I actually wanted to honk my horn and wave like a crazy person, "Hey! We filled some of those! It was so much fun -even when Katie threw that tantrum in the dollar store over the flashlight that she wanted to keep for herself! We dreamed about the kids that will get them and prayed for them and hoped for them and tried our best to package love for them and here you are carrying it to them by the truckload!"
Right, how exactly do you say all that with a honk and a wave?
Oh but I wanted to.
Instead I just turned down the music and listened to Tristan go on happily about his box and where it might go and how long it must take to get there. They were all smiles, my sweet kids.
Here it is Thanksgiving week, I have been bemoaning the fact that we never got around to making our thankful tree when I realize I am witnessing one of the best displays of real thanks and giving I could ask for in my kids. They relished the filling of those boxes, cheerfully choosing, giving, sharing. And to top it off? Each of them at that moment in the mini-van had a crinkled five dollar bill in his or her pocket freshly pulled from a plastic money jar in order to go Christmas shopping for cousins. They never questioned the use of their personal money to buy presents. They ran to grab those bills chattering all the way about what they would buy and how they might need to help Kate (lest poor cousin Joey end up with a Lalaloopsy doll.)
So it was with joyful hearts that we went shopping and the kids again chose to cheerfully give. We came home and made waffles for dinner and the rest of the evening was a mess of crayons and stickers and wrapping paper and curly ribbons and a tired mom trying hard not to lose her cool over grabby hands and misplaced tape -and almost missing the blessing exploding around her.
Lately, in the midst of real struggles with bad attitudes and ugly habits, I've been fretting over their little human hearts and how I might fix them when I should just be giving them the same grace that keeps falling on me and my brokenness.
I should be saying thanks more, running cheerfully towards giving and giving more.
I should be more like these little children of mine.
Oh I love them so.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

in these quiet spaces

sunlit lanterns
There are words I wish I didn't hear myself saying to them quite so often.
Maybe later, we'll see, just wait, I am busy, I am busy, I am busy...
In other words, I don't have time for you right now.
I am having my coffee, I am buried in laundry, I am reading this email, I am cooking dinner, I am editing this photo, I am cleaning up this mess, I am, I need, I want...
In other words, my comfort is more important to me right now.
But I need to let it go. I need to let go of so many things so many times so many days. And just when I think I've let go of all I can, there is more there is more there is always more letting go.
There are little things (clean the kitchen now or let it wait while we take that walk, answer those questions, play that game..?) and there are big (buy for us what we want or fill boxes with things others need?) But whether the moment seems big or little, my actions are speaking loud. My choices are being watched. They don't notice the dirty floor but they notice the tone in my voice. My ways in so many ways will become theirs.
In other words, shouldn't I be more worried about the characters I am shaping than the house I am keeping?
I have to let go of my selfish desires because the day is coming fast when I will have to let go of them. My example will be long-set in stone as they set out in the world to make their own choices. Will they go as servants? Will they give until it hurts? Will they follow the God who made them and has a perfect plan for them? Will they love?
Did I?
Oswald Chambers wrote, "The majority of us cannot hear anything but ourselves. And we cannot hear anything God says. But to be brought to the place where we can hear the call of God is to be profoundly changed."
But where my spirit is willing, my flesh is weak. Day by day, hour by hour I choose- Whom will I serve? What will I worship? How will I live? And I find control of me isn't mine to hold.
In other words, I am letting go. I am listening.
sunlit lanterns2

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In Pennsylvania...

I explored Maplehurst, the new/old beautiful home of my sister and her family, in all it's Autumn glory. Three year old Beau, in his purple boots, was an excellent tour guide.
walking with Beau
I got to meet seven week old baby Elsa. She is teeny-tiny and oh so sweet.
sweet Elsa
We took driving tours of the Amish countryside where horses and buggies shared the road with gawking tourists (i.e. me), exclaiming over laundry lines as one would lovely Christmas decorations. We hunted for covered bridges and warmed ourselves with shepherd's pie at an English pub in horse country.
in lancaster county, pa
We watched hurricane Sandy's winds blowing through one-hundred year old maples taking both yellow and green leaves, and a few limbs for good measure. We were thankful for the blessings of power and water and sturdy storm windows.watching Sandy2
I realized that I have never spent time with my nieces and nephews without the chaos and disruption that cousins can bring. It was fun to be just Aunt for a little while- chasing Beau down the driveway, sharing my jacket with silly Thad, and taking pictures with Lily (though yes, I did very much miss the three that make me Mom and continually found myself thinking how much they will love visiting this place.)
I even got to spend time with my own mom and dad, visiting from Kansas, and also delayed by the storm. Our three quick days together turned into six long coffee drinking, bakery going, cozy-by-the-fire relaxing days!
yiayia at the bus stop
Grandad and Yiayia enjoyed cuddling with grand baby number twelve (Twelve! In nine years!) I marveled at the fact that my own baby Kate was the same size as Elsa (for about two days) almost four years ago. Four. Sigh.
Also, I found the coolest flower ever at Longwood Gardens.
Just before walking outside to see these amazing Water-Platters. Amazing.
giant water-platters
And that pretty much sums it up. Great trip. Thousands of pictures.
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