Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

It’s hard to believe another Christmas has come and gone. We moved into our new house exactly one year ago, the weekend before Christmas. I have loved living here. I still walk around this house with its large, open rooms, and its beautiful windows, and thank God that He lets me live here.

We have an enormous Christmas tree this year. This is what happens when I let Dave pick the tree. It’s about 6’ in diameter! I tease him, but it has been fun to be able to have a big tree. We’ve never been able to do that before.

This Christmas was a quiet one. It’s the first without FarFar. That was hard. I kept looking over at the recliner he sat in last year and played Dave’s new ukulele and made us all laugh. I know he’s in Heaven laughing with Jesus, but we do miss him; and half of Dave’s side of the family was out of town this year.

We were supposed to have my side of the family over on Christmas Eve, but that didn’t happen. Dave developed a pretty bad cough and I sent him to the Urgent Care place to get some antibiotics. I was pretty sure he had bronchitis. I’d been sick just about the whole month of Nov and it took two rounds of antibiotics for me to kick it, so I figured we’d better get Dave started so he didn’t miss much work after the holiday. 

Well…the Dr at the Urgent Care place said he had pneumonia! Imagine our surprise! The Dr said that’s probably what I had in Nov (not Bronchitis as I was told) and I gave it to him. So we had to cancel Christmas with my family. It was sad, but they all live here. It’s not like they were in from out of town. We can reschedule.

Christmas Eve was a quiet event. Just the 6 of us. I must admit that my attitude got the better of me that day. We’d planed a fun night and had lots of food and then…nothing. The guys sat around and watch motorsports on TV and the girls hung out in their rooms or the game room. It was very anticlimactic. I’d been fighting it all Christmas season, and I finally just gave into it a bit on Christmas Eve; the sadness that my kids are growing up.

It’s silly I know, but I really do miss the fun of Christmas with little ones. There was no one to do Advent with this year. When we pulled the Advent wreath out of the attic, someone had put the candles in on top when they put it away last year and they melted all over the wreath, rendering it useless. I had to throw away the wreath we’d been using since the kids were little. It was a foreshadowing of what was to come. No one was home to do Advent this year. The boys are so busy with work and school and social lives, the girls too with social activities, Dave often works late. There were many nights it was just me home at dinner time with the kids wandering in at different times, eating when they got home. It is a new stage and I’ve got to figure out how to make the best of it. They do grow up. They do move out. It’s how it’s supposed to work. I was a little grumpy when I went to bed that night.

When I got up in the morning, before all the kids (That’s a first! WE had to wake THEM up!), I saw this under the tree.

I’d told Dave I wanted some chairs like this a few months ago, and he remembered and got them for me.  He also got me a few other things that were really nice. Not expensive or fancy, but things that he knew I’d like.

 The kids also all got me things this year that I really love. Some beautiful candle sticks from one of my sons, a gift card to Barnes and Noble (because I have a Nook) from the other, new Tupperware from one daughter because she’d heard me saying how I really need to go through the Tupperware cabinet and get rid of most of it and get new stuff, and my other daughter got me a lovely little teapot to match my collection.

I don’t mean to sound greedy or materialistic, because I’m really not. I love gift giving. I love to get just the right thing for just the right person. It’s not about the money spent; it’s about finding that one thing that you know is going to put a smile on their face. This year, my kids did that for me. Each item I received from them and my husband was something that they knew I’d love because they were paying attention. They know me. It was a reminder to me that having them grow up is not such a bad thing.

 I didn’t have little boys in matching Christmas sweaters or little girls in fancy velvet dresses and stockings at the Christmas Eve service. I didn’t have kids so excited about Advent that they argued over whose turn it was to light the candle that night and listened with rapt attention to the Advent readings. I didn’t have kids up before the sun to see what Santa left in their stockings. Instead I had daughters who worked in the nursery on Christmas Eve so the young mothers could hear the service. I had boys who went and picked up their grandma on Christmas Day so she didn’t have to drive in the bad weather.  I had kids who really thought about what would make their momma happy on Christmas Day.

Even thought Dave was a bit sick, and there were no little ones squealing with delight; even though FarFar is no longer here with us, and half the family was out of town, it was still a special Christmas. Because really, what do you need to make Christmas special? Jesus already did all the work to make it special, we just have to remember and be thankful. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where There Is Evil There Is No Safety.

We've all had a few days to process the evil that happened in Newtown. Maybe process is the wrong word. It is not really possible to process that kind of horror. It just sinks in, and settles around you like a dark, ominous cloud making it hard to see and breathe. But we’ve come to the point in the horror where we’re looking for the ‘why’. We want to know why so we can make sure it never, ever happens again.

I've seen many ideas from many sides of many arguments on how to make sure we stay safe. More guns in the hands of the righteous, fewer guns in the hands of the evil, more homeschooling, prayer back in school, a nice Christian Republican in the White House. That’ll do it. That’ll fix it.

As if there was not evil before guns. What did Kane use to Kill Able? The Ancient Romans used lions and all watched for sport. Have there been no tragedies, no horrors coming out of the homes of homeschoolers? No, evil is there too. Do we think that because we've legislated God out of our public school system that He was sitting on the curb that day in Newton, holding his head in his hands saying, “If they’d just let me in there, I could stop this.”? George W Bush was the closest thing we've had to a Christian Republican in the White House and 9-11 happened on his watch.

The truth is there is no safety for our bodies on this earth. Where there is evil, there is no safety. We are kidding ourselves if we think there is. No place is safe: not churches, not fast food restaurants, not movie theaters, not malls, not even kindergarten classrooms. There is only safety for our souls.

I am not an evangelist. I try to live my life in such a way that when I am looked at, Jesus is seen. I am not perfect, nor is my family, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I love my Lord and I pray people see that when they see me. I don’t shout from the rooftops “REPENT AND BE SAVED!” but I try very hard to always have an answer for the hope that is within me, because as Christians, we don’t mourn as those who have no hope. Despite the evil that is rampant on this earth, we have the hope of eternal life; we have the hope that this life is not the end for those that know the Savior. And we want everyone to know the Savior. That Savior whose birth we are celebrating in a few short days. That Savior who came to earth so that EVERYONE might be saved. This tragedy in Newtown reminds us of how short life can be. How tragic. Knowing the Savior is our only hope.

It is easy for me to say those things, it was not my child slaughtered by a madman on Friday. It was not my mentally ill son who finally went over the edge and did such a heinous thing; the thing I’d lived in fear of his whole life. I simply cannot imagine the pain they feel.

When something like this happens, in some strange way, I begin to understand those reckless Christians a little better, those who daily risk their lives so others can know Him. Those that throughout history put their lives on the line, some losing them, so more people can know the Lord. I think they really understood, better than I, the fragility of life. They understood that there is no safety where there is evil. Our only hope is that more and more know safety for their souls. That more know The Savior