Category Archives: Christmas

Eleven.

Holding IanMy family carefully hung each of Ian’s ornaments, placing his treasured, tacky yellow Big Bird at the very top of the tree, right next to the angel. The ornament is an eyesore that I’ve always hated and hidden on the back of the tree when Ian wasn’t looking, but this year I allowed Big Bird a place of prominence. The absurd irreverence of Big Bird and an antique angel adorning the top of our tree together belied the heaviness that everybody felt.

Christmas hurt.

Unwrapping presents without Ian felt hollow—joy is elusive when the only thing in the whole world that you want is for a curly head to burst through the front door. He has been gone for eleven months today, and eleven months later I am still quite certain that at any moment, Ian will come back. Eleven months later, my heart still adamantly refuses to believe that he could really be gone. There are brief moments when understanding begins to dawn, and my heart starts to comprehend that there will be no more Christmas mornings with my brother. No more birthday candles, no more kitchen dances, no more songs. Not here. And suddenly, it is once again February 27th, and I am stumbling away from my little brother’s body all over again.

Grief feels like sprinting exhausted through a marathon, only to discover at the finish line with gasping lungs and screaming legs that somehow, you haven’t even started yet. Eleven months later, I find myself still at the very beginning of grief, wondering what to do.

Over Christmas, I found myself thinking a lot about Mary. Mary, who knew with absolute certainty that God had favored and chosen her. [After all, He’d sent an angel to tell her just that.] How must she have felt after arriving in Bethlehem at long last, only to discover that there wasn’t so much as a place for her to stay?

I’d always glossed over the stable, but this year was different. I pictured her. Shaking, too exhausted to stand. Filthy from her journey to Bethlehem. Emotionally spent from nine swollen months of a watching community disdainfully condemning her for a crime that she hadn’t committed.

God, after all of this, not so much as a place to stay? Really?

How must she have felt as labor wracked her body? God, this is YOUR child! And he’s being born into filth! Do you care? Do you see?

I wonder if she felt forgotten.

I wondered why God chose it that way. Why He sent His precious Son to be born into filth when it would have been such a small thing to give Mary a comfortable place to deliver. One break for the scared teen aged girl who had so carefully carried the God of the Universe inside of her all of those months.

I thought about Ian. I closed my eyes and pictured my Mama holding his swollen hand and cradling his bald head in the ICU. God, do you care? Do you see?

I wonder if maybe, God orchestrated his Son’s birth to be in a dirty barn as a gentle reminder that even when the world feels like it is spinning madly out of control, it isn’t. He sees. He’s present. He understands. There would be no sterile, safe place for His baby, just as there would be none for so many of our babies that followed. His Son would later be broken, just as so many of ours would. And 2,000 years later when a Mama cried in sterile white room over her broken son, His heart would bleed and crack and ache with hers because He would understand.

Of course He hadn’t forgotten Mary. He hasn’t forgotten us, either.

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Filed under Christmas, Family, God's faithfulness, Grief, Ian

The Family Tree.

My little brother Stephen graduates from college tomorrow morning, and so Kellan and I are hopping a Raleigh-bound flight and heading home for Christmas early! Stephen is only a year younger than I am, but already has approximately eleventy billion degrees, every single one of which I attribute to my graciously allowing him to complete my math homework for me when I had better things to do.

Like talk on the phone. Or eat Cheetos. Or really ANYTHING besides my math homework.

YOU’RE WELCOME, STEPHEN.

[Also, I expect a healthy cut of your salary for my efforts.]

My family has waited for Kellan and I to arrive to decorate their tree, and so I imagine that we’ll spend part of tomorrow unwrapping and carefully hanging boxes of ornaments. We’ve done the same thing for as long as I can remember—strains of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas lilt through the air and the lingering scent of molasses hangs heavy as Dad and the boys string cranberry beads and white lights. In keeping with tradition, the kids all fight over whose turn it is to hang which ornament. There’s the “house” ornament purchased the year that last minute plans allowed us to be unexpectedly, blissfully home for Christmas. There’s a polka dotted bunny rabbit snuck into my red stocking as a little girl, in honor of the stuffed bunny that I carried with me everywhere that I went. Ornaments are handmade and popsicle-sticked, shattered and mended back together after eager little hands dropped bulbs on hardwood floors and a patient Father sat and glued. Some are painfully ugly—treasures found by children and brought home to proudly hang on a tree while a Mama bit her tongue and smiled. Stephen and I have matching blue and pink angels that predate our two siblings, the two of which share custody of the single set of wings left between them. Truthfully, my pink angel hasn’t been great at sharing the wings over the past couple of years.

As Kellan and I decorated our tree the other night and unwrapped our little collection of red and silver ornaments one by one for the very first time, my mind wandered as I imagined our own children unwrapping those same ornaments one day. I’m a story-teller, and I will tell the stories over and over again—you see that gold Santa? That one’s from my Aunt Lynn. She gave us a whole box of ornaments right before our wedding. And the spinning ornament? We had those when I was a little girl! Your Grandpa always made sure that each one hung directly over a light. And that clay house ornament? Your Daddy and I got that the very first year that we were married. We barely had any Christmas decorations at all—we had to wrap bath towels around the base of our tree!

And then, carefully, we will unwrap one more.

Ornament

This was the last time that my brothers and sister and I got to decorate our tree all together. Your Uncle Ian would have just LOVED you.

And I will tell stories. Stories of fighting over ornaments and eating too many molasses cookies, stories of snow sledding in Ukraine and waking up at 3:00 AM on Christmas mornings. I’ll talk about curly hair and belting Broadway tunes while we washed dinner dishes, and I will roll my eyes as I tell them how the girls used to swoon over their Uncle. And every year, we will remember together that even in the face of death, we can still confidently, defiantly sing Joy to the World. We will remember that the world is broken and grief may threaten to overwhelm, but it never, never can because Jesus came and gave a weary world a reason to rejoice.

This year, and every year, I will miss my little brother.

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Tidings of Comfort and Joy.

DSC_0103Snowflakes fall, mistletoe hangs and the tinkling strains of a nearby radio gleefully herald the most wonderful time of the year.

…but what if it’s not? What if Christmas feels a lot less like magic, and a lot more like a frosty nose pressed to a glass window, peering inside as you wistfully bear witness to everybody else’s joy? What about those of us feel like we’re on the outside looking in this Christmas season?

I’ve always loved Christmas—every little bit of it. When I was a little girl, the sheer magic of anticipation used to drive me to wake my brothers up around 3:00 AM. Giggling, we would gather in my room in our flannel Christmas pajamas and sit on the floor with our wide eyes glued to my PollyPocket Cuckoo clock. Resolutely, we watched the blue second hand tick around and around and around until it at long last, it was finally time! We would burst into my parent’s bedroom and elatedly drag them towards the jubilant glow of our Christmas tree, where stacks of pre-sorted gifts [you’re welcome, family!] sat waiting. Dad would read us the Christmas story, and we would light every candle in the house because in my family, special occasions mean Yankee Candles.

This year, Christmas makes me ache because there’s not a thing about it that doesn’t remind me of Ian. As Bing Crosby dreams of a White Christmas and the Grinch’s small heart grows three sizes, my heart feels like bursting from missing my little brother. Everything conjures a flood of old memories, from picking out a tree and carefully hanging ornaments one by one [I always rearranged Ian’s when he wasn’t looking], to the teasing scent of gingersnaps lacing the frosty air.[Oh, he loved them!] Every carol, every wreath, every snowflake reminds me of a little brother who I will never wake up on Christmas morning again.

And so I sit with my nose pressed to the glass, watching happy families revel in the magic of the season as I ache and try to muddle through somehow. Maybe that’s your story this year, too. And as I sit, I think that I’ve never understood-never felt Christmas quite this deeply before. You see, I think Christmas belongs to broken people sitting on the outside. Oh, we aren’t the laughing ones, and you might not catch us at a cookie swap—but we’re the ones that most acutely understand how desperately we need good news of great joy.

My little brother dying of cancer is not the end of his story. It’s not the end of his story because 2,000 years ago, God sent His Son Jesus to live the life that Ian should have lived, and die the death that Ian should have died. Jesus took Ian’s place, so that February 27th in a ICU room would not be the end of Ian’s life—but rather the beginning of eternity spent at HOME with God in heaven. Ian has never really been home for Christmas until now.

I am deeply, profoundly, unspeakably thankful that this Christmas season, there is hope. A weary world can rejoice because in the midst of our pain, Emmanuel [God with us!] came, just as He’d promised He would!  I love how “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” puts it:

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

If you are weary and aching and looking at Christmas from the outside in, you and I can still link arms and repeat the sounding joy because friend, there is a reason to. Jesus really came, and He’s really alive. Our broken stories do not end here—He is redeeming ALL things.

Tidings of comfort and joy, indeed.

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Filed under Christmas, God's faithfulness, Grief, Ian

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

I think it’s easy to get through Christmas, and totally miss Jesus. In the spirit of avoiding that this year, some friends and I have taken the gospel summary in Elyse Fitzpatrick’s “Because He Loves Me”, and committed to reading through it every day. Y’all. This is long, and it’s beautiful. Our hearts need this.

Emmanuel. God with us! Have yourself a merry little Christmas, now. :)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [Eph. 1:3-6]

By the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners. [Romans 5:19]

For there is no distinction;…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. [Romans 3:22-23]

In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. [Genesis 12:3]

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…[was] born in the likeness of men. [Phil. 2:5-7]

Her offspring…shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. [Genesis 3:15]

Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! [Luke 1:28]

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. [Luke 1:30-32]

The time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. [Luke 2:6-7]

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people, For unto you is born this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [Luke 2:10-11]

So by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous. [Romans 5:19]

Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” [Matt. 21:37]

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Isa. 9:6]

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. [Isa. 53:2]

You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. [Luke 3:22]

Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son [as was supposed] of Joseph…the son of Adam, the son of God. [Luke 3:23, 38]

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. [Luke 4:18-19]

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. [Isa. 53:3]

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. [John 1:11]

He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. [Acts 10:38]

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. [John 3:14-15]

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. [Isa. 52:13]

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God….Blessed are you….For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father. [Matt. 16:16-17]

Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me? [John 14:9]

Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. [Matt. 16:23]

Jesus…made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant. [Phil. 2:5, 7]

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. [John 13:4-5]

One of you will betray me. [John 13:21]

You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ [Mark 14:27]

 

“If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. [Mark 14:31]

“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” [Matt. 26:38]

And…he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” [Matt. 26:39]

“So, could you not watch with me one hour?” [Matt. 26:40]

“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” [Matt. 26:42]

He…found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. [Matt. 26:43]

“See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” [Matt. 26:45]

“Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” [Luke 22:48]

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me….Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” [Zech. 13:7]

And they all left him and fled. [Mark 14:50]

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? [Rom. 8:32]

Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. [Mark 14:55]

“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” “I am.” [Mark 14:61-62]

“You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” “I am not.” [John 18:17

“This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.” [Matt. 21:38]

“What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows. [Mark 14:63-65]

His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind. [Isa. 52:14]

“You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world.” [John 18:37]

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace…and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. [Mark 15:16-19]

So jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” [John 19:4-6]

“Behold your King!” [John 19:14]

“Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your King?” “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. [John 19:15-16]

And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. [Mark 15:20]

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull….There they crucified him. [John 19:16-18]

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. [Isa. 53:4-6]

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” [Luke 23:43]

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away…who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? …Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief. [Isa. 53:7-8, 10]

“Woman, behold your son!” [John 19:26]

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Matt. 27:46]

“I thirst.” [John 19:28]

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” [Luke 23:46]

“It is finished.” [John 19:28-30.]

Now…we have died with Christ. [Rom. 6-8]

“Truly this man was the Son of God!” [Mark 15:39]

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. [John 19:34]

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us. [Eph. 1:7-8]

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Phil. 2:8]

It is God who justifies. [Romans. 8:33]

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” [Rom. 4:7-8]

“Certainly this man was innocent!” [Luke 23:47]

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Cor. 5:21]

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. [Rom. 5:6, 8-10]

And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled away a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. [Matt. 27:59-60]

And they made his grave…with a rich man in his death. [Isa. 53:9]

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. [Col. 3:3]

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here.” [Mark 16:6]

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins….But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. [Eph. 2:1, 4-5]

We believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him….The life he lives he lives to God. [Rom 6:8-10]

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” [John 20:15]

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [Rom. 8:1]

“Mary…” [John 20:16]

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Rom. 8:35, 38-39]

“Rabboni!” [John 20:16]

“I will never believe.” [John 20:25]

Christ died for our sins. [1 Cor. 15:3]

“Peace be with you.” [John 20:26]

Was buried…[1 Cor. 15:4]

“Do not disbelieve, but believe.” [John 20:27}

Was raised…[1 Cor. 15:4]

“My Lord and my God!” [John 20:28]

He appeared…[1 Cor. 15:5]

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” [John 20:29]

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. [Acts 1:9]

Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. [Rom 8:34]

We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. [1 John 2:1]

Christ is…seated at the right hand of God. [Col. 3:1]

…and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [Eph. 2:6-7]

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [Rom. 8:15]

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Phil. 2:9-11]

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. [Rom. 8:30]

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and ofhis Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” [Rev. 11:15]

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. [Rev. 19:11-13]

When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory. [Col. 3:4]

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb….No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. [Rev. 22:1, 3-5]

If God is for us, who can be against us? …Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? [Rom. 8:31, 33]

When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. [Isa. 53:10-12]

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who…hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. [Eph. 1:11-14]

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. [Eph. 3:14, 17-19]

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [1 John 4:9-10]

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. [1 Cor. 15:28]

To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. [Eph. 3:21]

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Filed under Christmas, God's faithfulness, Joy

The Smitten List.

Smitten: affected by something overwhelming; to be really taken by; infatuated; enamored.

Right outside of the botique where we found her wedding dress!

Ladies and gentlemen: without further ado-I give you: the smitten list.

  1. 1. Christy is engaged. Christy! Is! Engaged! That boy of hers finally popped the question on a frosty December night under a thousand twinkle lights.  She was positively swooning when she called me at 2:00 AM, and I was so over-the-moon that I sat bug-eyed and upright in my bed until my alarm jolted me back to reality at 6:00! Two weeks later when she flew home, I was temporarily blinded by her ring in the Charlotte airport-an unfortunate inevitability that subsided in enough time for me to help her say yes to the dress. She was so breathtaking that I cried like a small, emotionally disturbed child-it was one of those moments that will spring to her mind later when they ask if there were any signs. Also, given that wedding planning doesn’t necessarily make her heart go pitter-patter, her impending nuptials have given me a fantastic excuse to implement creative ideas like this one:

I promise you that his bride fell in love with him all over again.

On July 7th, Christy Seamon and David Noyd will become Mr. and Mrs-and a crowd of overjoyed former STINTers will reunite. …I just hope we’re a bit cleaner than the last time that we were all together.

2. Have I told you I’m co-leading a women’s Bible study? Probably not, given that the alleged date of my last blog was in November. But now that I AM telling you about them, you should know that they’re the bomb dot com. I am completely smitten with them. Every Thursday night, I sit down over copious amounts of baked goods [diabetics would be well-served to find a different small group] with a group of women who previously didn’t know each other. And we talk about everything. From what color our undies are [okay, maybe not the best first icebreaker question ever] to the pieces of our hearts that God is softening and making more like Himself. They make me want to be a better man.

3. The Fratties. I love them. Even if they do mock me mercilessly every time I wear heels or the color pink. They’ve been systematically trying to shame the estrogen out of me-if you ever pop in for lunch at the office, don’t ask for “Ashley” at the front desk. In an effort to butch me up, they’ve all taken to calling me “Peterson”.

4. I was home for Christmas. There is much to say, but I’ll leave you with this:

http://sermons.summitrdu.com/sermons/?sermon_id=235

It was one of my very favorite parts.  “A thrill of hope-a weary world rejoices!” I think I love Christmas because I love the idea of hope. A reason for a broken, tired world to REJOICE. Praise Jesus for hope.

An early morning in Utah-we were on a ski lift going up a mountain about ten minutes after this was taken. Bliss.

5. I just spent one glorious week snowboarding in Utah with Kellan and his family. There was snow. There was a hot tub. There was the most divine caramel latte I’ve had since August. And there was, as it so happens, one mildly embarrassed, over-caffeinated brunette dragging her bruised hiney around Park City, wondering at what point over the past six years she lost the ability to snowboard.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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January 16, 2012 · 2:42 am

My Lovely Little Sister.

The word “sister” always conjures to mind the “Sisters” song from White Christmas.

One of the most thrilling things to my twelve year old self, upon the discovery that my Mom was pregnant with a girl, was that I would finally have someone to sing that song with!  My brothers were rather thrilled about it as well, given that it meant they had a fighting chance that I would no longer force them to perform it with me.

Their therapist thinks they ought to be coming out of the fetal position any day, now.

In nine days, I’m turning twenty-four. My sweet, twelve year old little sister [who, by the way is still alive, for any of you that are still concerned about this fiasco], snuck a little birthday present in my duffel when I left home several weeks ago.

Which, clearly, I opened and read immediately upon discovery. Patience has never been my strong suit.

My sister. My adorable, precocious, mini-me sister, who sat me down right before I left, comfortingly placed a tiny hand on my shoulder, and explained in all earnest sincerity that if she gets married before I do, I can be her maid of honor.

Dollface.

This from the child that thinks “a good pedicure” is a critical step to readying yourself for international travel.

No idea where she got that one.

The child that without batting an eye, matter-of-factly told the sixth grade boy that professed his undying love for her back in September, to try again in high school.

No idea where that one came from, either.

And this would be the same little girl whose purse is always stuffed to the brim, because you never know when you’re going to need neon glitter glue, a Hello Kitty notepad and no less than eight dollars in nickels.

A girl’s got to be prepared.

My gift was a book that she’d carefully written, illustrated and stapled together. Note the cover-“think pink” is a reference to a song in a fabulous Audrey Hepburn/Fred Astaire movie called Funny Face. While I shudder to think of what Emily has learned about international travel from me, I must say that I have had a marvelous influence on her movie repertoire. [Though I have yet to succeed in convincing her that Gregory Peck is cuter than the Jonas Brothers. I’m good, but I’m not a miracle worker.]

The book goes something like this…

Even though our hair doesn’t always stay in place [Oh, don’t worry. There was a picture of me with crazy, curly hair-presumably to clear up any confusion for those unlucky readers that haven’t seen me first thing when I roll out of bed. Serendipity can be unkind.]

Even though we can and will be picky… [A girl’s got to have standards, after all.]

Even though we may not be able to find something to wear [Illustrated by hangers holding both a ball gown and a t-shirt. I imagine that she was going for a sort of “Ladies who lunch” vibe.]

Even though we may get bord as heck…[I’m maintaining the original spelling to preserve the authenticity of the book.]

Even though we may travel away from each other [She drew a globe. Sniff sniff. Sob. Wail!]

Even though we may be too busy to be with each other…[illustrated by a blank “To Do” list.]

And even though we may fight…[I confess, I did once steal her glitter glue.]

Your [authenticity!] still my awesome, lovely big sister and I’m your little sister

 

…and I LOVE YOU!

 

Happy B-Day Ashley! I love you so, so, so, so, so much! I hope your wishes come true!


Love,

Emily

I love her so, so, so, so, so much too. When it comes to love, go big or go home.

Even when your hair doesn’t always stay in place.

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Of Forest Fires, and Chocolate Covered Anti-Depressants.

This has nothing to do with the story-I just miss the mountains today.

As promised: a recap of our New Years celebration in Dakar.

Given that I was still stuck on that blasted couch, the New Year’s Eve dance party that we’d had planned…didn’t really pan out. [Though Michelle and I DID invent some wildly impressive upper-body moves that you’ll probably be seeing on MTV in the near future.] Midnight found my team and I on the rooftop of our apartment building surveying the panoramic of fireworks displays illuminating Dakar’s skyline. I love fireworks [cannot emphasize that one enough]-and it was breathtaking. Breathtaking, that is, until wayward flames from fireworks-gone-wild fell into trees and buildings, and actual fires erupted all over the city. We watched in fascinated horror as a palm tree burned clear to the ground an uncomfortably close distance from my bedroom window. At one point, a rather panicked Michelle suggested that we call “ les pompiers” [firemen]-…and it was at that moment that we came to several rather startling realizations:

  1. We’re not sure if there even ARE pompiers in Dakar.
  2. If said pompiers do in fact exist, we certainly don’t have the foggiest idea how to get a hold of them.
  3. If by some miracle the stars aligned and there were pompiers and we did get a hold of them, …we’re still in Senegal. Senegal, where everything takes approximately 83 times longer than it ought to. Thus, by the time said pompiers arrived, the entire city would be a smoldering ash heap. Truly, only WE can prevent forest fires.

Dakar is not exactly crisis-friendly.

I ventured out into the great wide world again yesterday-for the second time in what feels like a month of Sundays. [Unless we’re counting the excursions made on my “No Doctor Left Behind” tour. And everybody knows that those are no fun.] The warden Christy finally took pity on me and let me out of the house. Granted, it may have had a little something to do with my repeated threats of flying to Sea World for the express purpose of throwing myself into the shark tank if I spent so much as another second in my living room. [In my defense, the walls were closing in, and I’d started having detailed discussions with one of the roaches currently residing in the kitchen regarding the current political upheaval in Korea. That is one opinionated little bug.] Yes, it’s official: all of this bed rest nonsense has robbed me of the few remnants of sanity I had left.

After listening to Christy lecture me extensively on the perils of “over-doing it”, I was free. Free! I ran hobbled away to the beach and sat on the most beautiful cliff in Dakar [my favorite place in Senegal] and watched the waves crash

Craig and I. And the bear. From that same mountain trip. This was right outside the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory, which according to the study that I just referenced, functions as a pharmacy...

on the rocks for about an hour and a half,  at which point my pansy-little-legs gave up on me and sent me straight back to the couch from whence I’d come. [The couch that I am rapidly becoming progressively more concerned is starting to self-graft to my epidermis. Give it a couple more days and I may need to be pried off with a spatula.]

It was glorious. Glorious, that is, until I came home and discovered that Dayton had taken advantage of my absence and had sneakily done away with Charlie Brown Mohammad Jose.

Take-down-Christmas-decorations-day is the most depressing day of the entire year, I think.

If it were up to me, I’d keep the full regalia of Christmas decorations up in all of their glory until…well, at least Valentine’s day, anyways. [I have a serious aversion to all things heart-shaped. Heart-shaped decorations make me want to gouge my eyes out with a hot poker.]

In an effort to cope with my post-Christmas anguish, I turned to chocolate. I recently read the results of a study that stated that for mild to moderate depression, eating .4 oz of dark chocolate every day more successfully regulates serotonin levels than many serotonin-inhibiting medications. I’m not depressed, but I went ahead and inhaled a pound and a half just to be on the safe side.
A girl can never be too careful.

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