…..And then…..But then

My little guy Cooter is sick.

He started running fever yesterday afternoon and woke up with the same temperature this morning.  I’m impressed that he’s fighting this on his own–I have yet to give him any medicine and it’s staying steady below 102.  I’m also *ahem* impressed that it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all.  So I’m thinking this is not the “three-letter word” stuff.  Last week that had his sister down for the count and not moving off the couch for two days.  So tonight I’m thankful it’s not worse…..

Cooter woke up this morning and immediately started talking.  I wasn’t quite as alert and ready to converse as he was, but I’m not sure he noticed.  He piled up on my bed and started telling me a story–or was it a dream, sorry I’m telling you I was not fully awake yet–about Star Wars characters, a battle, and some cheese.

I think.

The story moved pretty quickly from one thing to another.  The relaying of it included a lot of excited “…..and then…..and then…..but then…..”

All one run-on sentence adventure.  It was precious.

I was thinking about those words today as I prepared for the magic and beauty of tonight and tomorrow.

and then

but then

We have spent the entire month working our way to Bethlehem.

To the manger.

To the baby who was born to be King.

We read each day from a book about a little bear’s journey, following the star, and this morning he finished his journey and made it to the little baby tucked away in a stable, “no crib for a bed.”

So much preparation.  So much excitement.  So many good things–kindness, listening to others, caring, loving, sharing, giving.

All the way up to the day many of us will celebrate on December 25.

All that kindness, magic, goodness, caring, giving–

and then…..

but then…..

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Tomorrow morning when we get up the first thing that will happen before presents or anything is Cooter will take Baby Jesus out of his pocket on the Advent calendar and place him in his manger, just as has happened each Christmas morning for the past 18 or so years.  We will have made it–the journey to the manger.  Following the Light.

And then?

All of our stories, if we sat and told them as Cooter did this morning, would be filled with lots of “and thens” and “but thens.”   And now that we have seen the best of human nature in others AND in ourselves during this time of waiting and preparing, the question begs to be asked–

And then?

Will we let it all go, this need to share with those who are in need?  This reaching out to other people with kind words, smiles, waves, hellos?  Will we stop digging for quarters in our pockets and looking for the red buckets?

See, people are in need all year long.

In need of quarters, clothes, food, shelter, safety, love

kind words

hugs

someone to believe in them…..

Now that we know, that we’ve had a taste of what that looks like, after we get up in the morning and spend time with those we love,

what comes next?

What will your story be?  How will it continue from here?

 

Merry Christmas!

and then…..

the crack in the darkness

what if

as we sit in the darkness,

trying to figure out how to piece it all back together

again

each time we feel the pain of the losing

 

what if,

as the darkness threatens to envelop us,

and all the light that we cannot see

is just out of our reach

 

what if

the one good thing we can do

the smile we can give

the hand we can hold

the love we can share–

 

what if

that is how the Light gets in?

 

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why i will miss Christmas

come Friday I will be sad

that Christmas is over

few celebrate it all twelve days

anymore

 

my heart will be heavy

not because of the gifts

which will have all been given and received

and not because of things done

and left undone

cookies can still be baked

and stories can still be shared

 

instead I will be sad

over the loss of vision and hearing

that seems so much better

during Advent

as we watch and wait and listen

 

we watch with anticipation

for the lights

in the homes

and in the yards

that mean Christmas is near

 

we watch for the special gift

and the smiles on friendly faces

as we wander through shops

and markets

 

we watch for the lone light

on the back porch that

tells us someone is there,

that we are welcome,

and we are not alone

 

we watch for the colors

that bring cheer to the season,

the colors on ornaments,

sweaters, socks,

paper, and ribbons

 

we watch for the knowing glance

of a dear one we love,

and the smile that tells us we

will always be known

and loved

 

we listen for the sound of delight

as little ones and old alike

catch their first glimpse

of the lights so deliberately strung and hung

 

we listen closely for the words,

for the longing in the voice,

so we can find the perfect gift

we listen better and intently,

seeking clues about those we love

and what they like

 

we listen to the songs

that warm our hearts

and lift our spirits

through the stories they tell,

songs whose lyrics we know

and have sung for years and years

 

we listen to the quiet

and think about that night

in the barn that started all of this

listening and watching

and waiting

oh so many years ago

 

and then, as December comes

to a close,

we tidily box it all up–

this acute awareness–

and we hurry on our way,

back to the busy days

and the to do lists

and resolutions

and whatnot

and we forget sometimes

to listen and watch

and wait

until the magic

of the holiday comes

’round again

and reminds us

 

that listening and watching

and gathering with

those we love

is the greatest gift of all

 

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Joy-Filled Store-Bought Cupcakes

I bought the cupcakes.

Bought.  Cupcakes.

I know to make them from scratch.

I actually prefer them that way.

But yesterday our Princess had to forgo tasting a lovely bakery confection because of her food allergy.  If I can’t guarantee it as 100% safe, it doesn’t happen.

And usually she’s okay with it–she knows it’s important and so she adapts.

But yesterday she got so frustrated and was so disappointed (“I hate my allergies, I hate my allergies!”), it broke my heart.

So today, when I saw the mini-cupcakes with a label indicating they were safe for her, I just about did a happy dance in the middle of the Getting Place.  And you bet I paid what they were asking for them…..they were worth every penny to see my baby girl’s big smile and get her hug and hear her whisper in my ear, “Mama, you’re the best ever!”

My only problem was I brought those in the house just before mealtime.  So my answer to the inevitable question “Can I have one now?” was of course the inevitable “No.”

After we ate I was busy cleaning up the kitchen and then working on Christmas-y things.  Both our Princess and Cooter came in asking for a cupcake.  Seriously, people?  You just ate (or picked at) lunch.  No.  Just no.  Cupcakes can be afternoon snack.  Please at least act like what I fixed you for lunch sustained you for longer than 2.5 seconds.

Finally, after they asked me the umpteenth time, I looked up at the clock from the cards I was signing, and I told them both, “2:30.  At 2:30 you can eat a cupcake, okay?”

And they were off, so happy.  (Note to self–next time set a time for them to watch for before they ask 227 times.)

As luck would have it, at 2:29 I was in the laundry room with my head stuck in the washing machine, digging out the last five items from the bottom of the washer. (It’s a tall washer.  I am not.)  I heard their excitement as they counted it down.  It was cute, but it was not without a little bit of exasperation that I wondered if they would SEE with their eyes that I was a little occupied at the moment and grant me an extra minute or two to get to those much-anticipated cupcakes.

I heard them wondering where I was.  Nope.  They wouldn’t be able to see past the cupcakes when the clock read 2:30.

And before I could get all self-righteous and huffy, thinking, here I am doing their laundry and they can’t just wait…..

I had the wind taken out of my sails.

And I realized that I do that too.

I have my sight set on something–a goal, an event, an item–and all I can think about is that.  Not what the person who can help me with it might be going through or what else might be going on in the world at that exact moment that I want this/need this/anticipate this to happen.  I can’t see anything beyond the “something” in that moment.

It is so easy to become self-centered and focused on something such that nothing else matters.

*sigh*

I quickly started the dryer.  And moved toward the cupcakes.  I had given my word, after all.  They were given out post haste, and the enthusiasm and excitement over them was worth it all.  My girl was tickled to find something bought that she could have.  And they were really quite pretty too.

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Tonight I’m thankful for the reminder that it isn’t all about me.  It’s easy to fall into that mindset.  Way too much so.  And while it’s important for the littles to learn it’s not always about them, it’s also important that I do make it about them from time to time.

And what better way to do that than with lovely cupcakes?

Wishing you all someone to make it about you, and someone for you to make it about them.

That’s what keeps the world turning, I think.  We all matter.

Love to all.

rebuilding and Light

there’s a house with all the Christmas lights

he’s put them up every year except for last

after the trees fell on his house

and he had to rebuild

 

the lights are back this year,

all those lights

delightful

dazzling

enchanting

it’s a winter fairyland

lots of snowmen and Santas

and candy canes and all sorts of joyful scenes

and if you turn off the main road and drive around back

there is a sweet scene of mama and Baby and daddy

and the small group gathered round

along with the cows and sheep

 

and tucked away off to the side

my girl pointed out the sweet angel

and

the

cross

and it took my breath away

 

we see the Baby and the joy comes

only not for all

and I wonder if my heart is heavy

because of those I miss

or is it because all this joy is shadowed by the cross

and all that we know will come

 

and yet each year, after the cross falls

across our hearts

and we are broken,

we rebuild

so the joy and Light can come

again

 

 

Jesus on the Roof

“There’s a house…..on that street over near the DQ on the way home, you know?  Well, they had Jesus up on the roof!  I could scarce believe my eyes…..up on the roof–JESUS!”

“Jesus on the roof, huh?  That’s different.”

“But it’s for Christmas!  I think it’s kind of cool…..definitely different.  He wasn’t all lit up when I passed by this morning, but early this evening, there he was, lights all shining!  I’m betting airplanes could see him from the sky!”

“Airplanes?  Must not have been baby Jesus–they had a grown-up Jesus, up on the roof?  For Christmas?”  The disbelief in the tone of the questions made me realize we weren’t on the same wavelength.  And I laughed.

“Nooooo.  Jesus is on the roof.  J. E. S. U. S.  In LIGHTS.  For all the world to see.  Isn’t that awesome?”

“Well, it’s definitely different…..”

A conversation that took place many years ago came to mind today as I traveled down an old road from the past.  As I turned beside the Dairy Queen, I remembered that house.  And those lights on the roof.  And I wondered if I would remember which house it had been that kept the lights up there all year long, but only turned them on around Christmas.

As I rounded the corner…..was it that one, no, the slant on the roof was wrong, it was just a little further, and then…..

there it was.

J. E. S. U. S.

J. E. S. U. S.

AND THERE JESUS WAS.

Still up there.

For the love.

The leaves from the fading trees helped outline the letters.  I could just make out the letters against the brown roof.

And I smiled SO big.

That right there brought me so much joy.

Something that hadn’t changed after all those many, many  years.

Years of heartbreak and pain and loss and tears and joys and love and light.

Something that hadn’t changed one little bit…..

and looka there–

it’s JESUS.

Still the same.

Right where he’s always been.

Up high for all to see.

Shedding light.

Tonight I’m thankful for the things and people who are constant in my life.  Changes are a part of life, but the people and places and Lights who don’t change bring me joy and peace and also bring back happy memories.

And Jesus on the roof?  I think that’s pretty awesome.  Someone showed a lot of love and skill and Christmas spirit about twenty years ago, and it is still bringing me joy.

May we all do something today that will bring joy to others for years to come…..

Love to all.

 

three little letters

three little letters

when put in a particular order

add so much and enhance every word they join

just as we hope to do with those who gather near

beauti-ful

joy-ful

delight-ful

plenti-ful

it is wonder-ful

what those three letters can do

but if they are moved just so,

organized into alphabetical order,

they become something that

takes away

that hurts

that separates

and causes pain and loss–

loss of the sunshine of spirit

loss of the smiles and the singing

that once filled the air

and leaves only quiet and the sound

of a thermometer beeping

at regular intervals,

and red cheeks and peaked eyes,

and the worry and

glass after glass of liquids

and emptied tissue boxes

it is aw-ful

 

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Our Princess was diagnosed with the flu last night after a long, exhausting day of not feeling good at all.  The last straw was the high fever.  I don’t ever want to see numbers that high on a thermometer again.  What has struck me the most over the last two days has been how lackluster our days have been.  No one changed the Advent Calendar for 18 or 19.  No one has sought after our elf, Christopher Pop-in-Kins.  No one has eagerly rushed to see what the kindness elves offered as a suggestion for the day.  

You don’t miss the sun until it goes behind a cloud…..I have always teased saying she is our sunshine–only with her, we have to wear shades.  Turns out it can be quite gray and gloomy when our sunshine is under the weather.  

As she felt well enough to argue a little with her brother today, I am hopeful that tomorrow will find her with a little bounce in her step…..or a step alone would do.  It’s hard when your children are sick.  

Thankful tonight for catching it quick and for the improvements we’ve seen today.  I give thanks for helpful healing suggestions and offers of sustenance dropped off at the mailbox.  I am thankful for the moments of calm I have felt in the midst of the worry and stress of a baby with health issues.  That’s how I know my Mama is sticking close.  

Love to all.