Monday, December 12, 2011

Moving Week (again? really?)

We are moving this week.

We have started packing.

We are both working this week.

Desperate times, people.
Call in the re-enforcements. You already know I live on coffee and Diet Coke. But now, now we breakout the big guns.

Are you ready for this? I am.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Those who have walked in darkness

I do not know how to blog about this week.

There are so many back stories that I cannot explain. So many people who have been in my life for a very long time, in places very far away, that fell on my doorstep this week.

To keep a long story short, an old family friend's mother was put into hospice over the weekend. My mother drove down with her to Cincinnati this week, to spend time with them, and to help driving.

At the same time, an old family friend's son and his wife (who is my sister's age, who we grew-up with) had their first baby on Saturday night in Ft. Wayne. It did not go well, and the baby (and the whole family), came to the NICU at Riley in Indianapolis.

And this is how, on Monday night, I found myself, with my mother and sister, in the NICU lobby at Riley with people I had not seen in years, who are not from Indianapolis, who I never in a million years thought I'd be seeing here under this circumstance.

Their story is not mine to tell. I will not try to begin. All you need to know is that this pregnancy and baby were perfect. In the last minutes of labor, something went wrong, and then... we were all in the NICU lobby.

There are no classes called "How to Talk to Someone About Their Parent Being Put into Hospice" or "How to Comfort Someone as The Watch Their Baby Die" at Wheaton College.

There is no preparation for this in life.
There is only faith.
And a lot of crying.

I can only write about how it felt to be there. There is no explanation as to why a beautiful, precious baby, born to loving parents, will only live a few days.

There is only faith.
And a lot of crying.

This is not a philosophy blog. I am not going to talk about the problem of evil in the world, why an all-loving, all powerful God allows these things to pass. This is a life blog.

This is a faith blog.
And a blog that involves a lot of crying.

I cannot explain the grief, shock or pain of those grandparents. It was overwhelming. But in that same sadness, I cannot explain how strongly I felt the presence of God. Not of comfort, not in contrast to the pain, not in spite of it... it just prevailed.

This life has some terrible, dark moments. But this life is also not void of our God. And that reality nearly knocked me off my feet on Monday night.

The other reality that knocked me off me feet?

The church is real. And it is not a building. My mother, sister and I are not special. We were just sent. We were put exactly where we were, when we were, to be doing what we were doing in that moment. Not only were we sent to that hospital that night, but I had people who never met these people praying for them like they were their own brothers and sisters. It only took a simple text message.
Jesus was not kidding when said he that he would build his church on himself as a rock and then make us the extension of himself into this world.

This moment of life was much, much bigger than me.

This faith, that our God loves us, was something these people knew. And in that horrible moment, despite not being able
to feel
it, they were trying so, so hard to cling to those truths we prayed over them. When we found words of praise, they echoed them. It was one of the most incredible expressions of faith I have ever seen.

My job? To go. My job was to pray the words. The words that came to me like someone wrote them on a piece of paper and hand them to me.

That our God has saved us
That there is comfort for his people
That those who walk in darkness
will see a Great Light

The baby did go to be with Jesus today. Please keep this family in your prayers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

When did this become my life?

Yesterday, I got something [nice] for free. I was really excited about my free thing. I couldn't wait to go home and wear it.

Then, I realized [with shock]... that I was excited over a pair of sweatpants.

So, I did what any self-respecting panicked girl would do. I called my sister.
"Call them yoga-wear, and it's totally fine." She soothed me. Then we discussed Costco vs. Name Brand paper towels. Yes, we are cool and you totally should be jealous.

You see, I bought Robert's (and a few others) Christmas gifts on Black Friday and Dick's Sporting Goods. And I got a free $20 reward for my purchase. There were lots of Lady's Under Armour items I would have loved for working out. There were super great tennis shoes I could have used. Fleeces that I fawned over. But $20 only goes so far in the world of high end, over-priced sports wear.

I found a really nice, comfy pair of sweatpants on sale that my $20 would cover. They are actually pretty cute, for sweatpants (they are technically called "Fitness Training Pants"). They remind me of something I would throw on over my swimsuit and head to the beach in (in my younger days, when I lived by the beach). They are not something that I would be embarrassed to be wearing if you stopped by unexpectedly. Really, they were pretty nice and lounge-y, not... sloppy.

And yes, I would do yoga in them.
... So, it's okay, right?!
I also bought a pair of bright pink fleece gloves to match my winter coat (super cute)... and to ease the lameness of being excited over sweatpants.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Night with Abram and Jane

Last night, we watched our niece and nephew while my brother-in-law was out of town and my sister had dinner with a friend.

It is always an adventure, and there are no dull moments with those two. And here is what we learned last night.

1. Otis is an endless source of amusement. In the eyes of our nephew and niece, Otis is the silliest, funniest, and most entertaining thing on the planet. If you have met Otis, you know he is actually a fairly boring dog who loves bed time. But everything about Otis is fascinating to them. His tail. His food (which Abram calls "rocks"). The way he scratches with his hind leg (and Abram gets quite put out that I cannot make Otis do this on command over and over again). The way we can share our pillows, blankies, and snacks (wait, NO!) with Otis. Needless to say, Otis loves the kids. Not only does he like playing with them, he knows he will get some extra treats when they are around. I really wish I could have snuck a video of Abram playing "baseball" with Otis, because it was amazing.

2. If you decide to make giant gingerbread men with 2 pre-schoolers, one of them will make it with you while the other one munches on candy. Abram actually enjoyed the activity more than I thought he would, because he got to assemble something to match the picture on the box (like Legos, right?). He loved this. Jane only cared about the gingerbread man's hair. And munching on M&Ms.

3. The only thing worse than being FORCED to eat dinner is bed time. As the adult, you must use this wisely to your advantage.

4. Our house is not child proof. Lamps, laptops, computer mice, papers, scissors, nail files, wires, permanent markers, sewing kits and glass are all something these children got a hold of somehow, at some point last night. None of them were lying out, so they found them in their somewhat stashed away location. These items are now at various and random high locations in our house until further notice. Also, nothing was damaged, including the children.

5. The best toys at Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Robert's house are Otis, Uncle Robert's tablet (when he lets you play with it), the clip magnets on the fridge, the elliptical, the fan, the Porsche car dealership (are you really surprised that's the only real toy we have?), the porcelain cats, and Otis (again). Also, thank goodness for the Disney Channel via Video on Demand.

You may play with the tablet with Uncle Robert's supervision,a s pictured here.

6. No matter how much you beg, cry, explain Mommy lets you do it, or attempt to negotiate, Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Robert will not let you {3 and 1/2 year old nephew who is doing very well at potty training} sleep in their bed in your "big boy underwear". Pull-ups are not optional and you will wear one to sleep. End of story. You will lose this discussion every. single. time.

7. Loving these two is the best thing ever.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent: A reflection of a liturgical junkie and culturally insensitve blogger

Does anyone else's soul long for Advent the whole year round?

I grew up in a church where we did the candle light thing during December and read some nice reading about Advent-something. I remember sitting there and wondered how the families were chosen to be the "Advent families". It was a like a big, random raffle to me. That's all I remember. Needless to say, I did not grow up in a very traditional or liturgical background.

In college, I occasionally attended an Anglican church, and something about the tradition and liturgy filled a thirst that I didn't know I had.

The first time I went to a PCA Good Friday Service, I was stunned. You end in darkness. TOTAL, SILENT DARKNESS. The service is breath-taking. I don't think I can ever not go to that service now that I have experience it.

Then, with the first Christmas Advent, we re-light Jesus into the darkness, candle by candle, moment by moment, declaring a hope that is not realized. I sort of felt jipped for the years I didn't know about this option of Christmas celebration (and I am in no way blaming my parents or unhappy with my church up-bringing. I am actually very, very grateful for it. I'm not even sure I'd appreciate the liturgy if I had grown up with it.).

This put my popping-out-a-Swiss-chocolate-every-morning-for-an-extra-breakfast-treat-advent tradition to shame. And this is what I have learned about Advent.
Week 1
Darkness is so key to Advent. This seems in total paradox with holiday cheer, doesn't it?

In a Bible I had growing up, on the blank page between the Old Testament and New Testament, I wrote these words:

After 600 years of silence...

600 years is a long time, people. I can barely wait 6 minutes at Starbucks, and coffee has nothing on eternal salvation or help in suffering.

600 years between the last prophets and the coming of Jesus. And what did Israel have to hold them during that time? What culture, what church was Jesus born into and what faith did he fulfill? If you don't know much about the Jewish culture, let's do a completely inappropriate reference to Fiddler on the Roof. "Tradition... Tradition!"

Tradition. Liturgy. The practice of having faith in silence, in total darkness, in consuming oppression. Don't get me wrong, it is pretty clear in Jesus' life that these practices got pretty messed up and were on the verge of destroying the Jewish faith (and let's not even get started in the breaks over this stuff between Orthodox Christians, Catholics, and Protestants).

But there is a lesson for us non-denominational-chocolate-eating-adventist out there.

We hope for our light, we do not see it. We pray, but we pray into silent darkness. Our salvation is complete, but not present now.

We hope for our light

And there is something very important about reflecting on this principle. This is week 1 of Advent. Hoping for our light while we live in darkness. Anticipation of justice and redemption.

Stir up your power, O Lord,
and come to our help with mighty strength,
that what our sins impede
the grace of your mercy may hasten.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever

New English translation according to the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. 2010