Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Pretty Goodnight


The view from my front door with our Christmas lights already shining.

I feel like a mother hen.

There is a lot of estrogen in this house.

Poor, poor Alex.

He's a good, good man.

True Love 2

I love this girl.  Mess or no mess.  She's mine.



And I love her new shoes.  They are just so stinkin' cute!  

There's something special about a baby's first pair of real shoes.  Maybe they tug at my heart because they mean she's not much of a baby any more.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More than a baby, Much more

The Christmas season has begun.  Lights are going up.  Wreaths and garland and Christmas music.  It's that time of year that we try to celebrate Jesus' coming more than Santa's, although Eloise already told me she'd rather have Santa than "just a baby."

To her, Jesus is just the baby that she plays with in the Nativity.  And with her little sister annoying her more each day, I can understand how the idea of another baby is not really very appealing to her.  I hope though, that some day she will see Jesus as more than just a little baby.

We went downtown with all the tourists on Saturday afternoon.  The hustle and bustle of everyone was fun even if we we only rode the carousel and didn't see the museum exhibits that Alex and I wanted to see.  There were some Christian tracks laying on the ground.  It was put out by a messianic Jewish group appealing to Jews to consider that Jesus is the Lord and Savior that God has promised them.  We picked it up and read it.  It was a solid, non-offensive track about who we believe Jesus is.

There's no doubt that Jesus lived but there is question as to who he was.  Just another prophet, a lunatic, or really the son of God.  And if he was/is the son of God, why did he die on the cross?  Like the skeptics said, if he was the son of God, why didn't his father save him?

Then we were home and I was listening to some Sufjan Stevens.  Who I think is an amazing artist.  My brother thinks he makes elf music and doesn't like him very much, but I do.  I love him.  I also love The Welcome Wagon, a band that he produces.  The Welcome Wagon is a Christian band.

I was listening to his Illinois album while cooking in the kitchen but stopped chopping when the song John Wayne Gacy, Jr. came to an end.  Because the ending is alarming.  Because the song is sick.  It's about John Wayne Gacy Jr, a serial killer from Chicago who dressed up as a clown and killed and raped 33 teenage boys and buried them in the floorboards in his house.  The song is not an easy listen.

Then Sufjan gets to the end and says this, 

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid

Sick!  No, Sufjan is not a serial killer.  Why would he say that?  I'm sure there has been lots of chatter about this song.  But I have my own ideas.

It has be that Sufjan is a Christian.  And that he knows that the sin that taints him taints everyone else.  And so that we are all in the same boat of evil and death.  We all have floorboards where some ugly is hidden.  And unless there is someone who saves us , we will all drown.  For we are all the same.  Wicked.  We are all wicked.

And that Jesus is more than a baby.  And he did die on the cross for a reason.  To shed his blood so that we wouldn't have to.  I think only with that knowledge could someone say that he was like John Wayne Gacy Jr.

So my day ended with lots of thoughts about Jesus.  And I'm thankful that he is more than a prophet because I don't need a prophet.  I need a savior.  A savior to save me from the secrets in my floorboards.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

True Love

It's been a fantastically restful weekend mostly because we've gotten to spend so much time with this guy.  Not only do I love him with my whole being and can't get enough of his company, but he's also a tremendous help.


Like when the floor looks like this.


And it looks like this at least 5 times a day.  Count: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner.  Should I even bother cleaning it up between each meal?  I ask myself that question 5 times a day.

He gets on his hands and knees and cleans it up.

Sigh.  I really do love him!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tis the Season 2

 


 




Tis the Season

My Thanksgiving has been rich with good friends.  On Thursday we headed to one of my college roomies' grandparents for a family Thanksgiving that puts most to shame.  This is one very large, good looking, and cohesive family!  Jen's grandparents hosted north of 40 people for a sit down dinner in their lovely home.  2 parents who have 7 children who have 19 grandchildren who have 1 great-grandchild with 2 on the way.   Talk about family!  

It was such a delight to be there.

So delightful that I didn't take 1 photo.  I brought my camera (with my new lens attached.  Christmas came early because my parents were as excited as I was about getting my 50 mm f/1.4 attached to my camera body.  Oooohhh it's so beautiful!) but I didn't snap one shot.  When I didn't have a child in my arms, who were both on great behavior but very clingy being a new place, I had a fork in my hand.  Yum, the food was good.  But I really regret not getting a photo of me and Jen.

I did practice with my new lens.  Eloise colored this techno colored turkey while watching the parade.  She loved the floats!


The children were less than excited about my lens, so I practiced on baby doll by the front door.


Friday, I took off alone and headed across the state line to visit my dearest friend Maury and meet her new little addition Charlie.  I held him in my lap as he peered out across the table at the Dean's little girl Susie.  He just sat with me so content.  I could hold him AND hold a fork at the same time.  Those days are long gone with my newest addition Cordelia.



Isn't he the cutest little thing?  I love how little Charlie and dad Justin are matching.  

This country diner didn't know what do with with all these preppy babies in their midst.



Once I headed home, we headed to the attic and then out the door to put up our Christmas lights.  This morning I'm drinking my coffee from a Christmas mug and before I know it, Alex will be downstairs putting on Christmas music.  

Tis the season and I am ready!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve Eve

I'm walking lopsided tonight.  And my back needs to be cracked because this little girl was riding my hip all day.  I even brought out my Moby wrap this afternoon to help me carry the load.  She's sick again.  Just running a fever and is highly irritable.

Poor girl.  And my poor, poor back.



(I took these photos yesterday.  A happier day for little Cordelia.)

So I have a major crick in my neck from doing everything with one hand today, and the holidays have been on my mind, appropriately since it's Thanksgiving Eve Eve.  And I'm nostalgic just like everyone else.  

We'll be here for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  No traveling because Alex is doing the Thanksgiving Day service as well as a service on Saturday.  He'll obviously be working on Christmas as well--Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas (it's a Sunday).

I remember in Vail how the entire local church "worked" on Christmas Eve.  Our church hosted 4 HUGE Christmas Eve services.  The 4pm Beaver Creek service was especially popular because President Ford would attend each year when he was in good health.  People literally sit on the floor for that service.  Hundreds of people in a relatively small chapel to celebrate Christmas and/or see President Ford.  And it took our entire congregation to serve at the 4 services--ushers, readers, greeters, musicians. It was fun because we were all in it together, and we all ate a cheap Chinese restaurant between the services together too.

I remember our first Christmas away from home vividly.  It was Alex's first year on the job and our first year not to visit our families for the holiday.  The kindest family invited us to their house for Christmas supper.  It was the most lovely evening with warmth and cheer shared with their family and several other "strays" for the holiday.  One young man, a vibrant South African Christian man was there as well.  We really enjoyed his funny stories of working on the ski mountain and hearing about the Bible study he started in his apartment complex.  That first Christmas on our own was difficult for me, well honestly they are all difficult for me, but being included in such an intimate family celebration was very touching.

Through the years we've been graciously invited to so many loving homes.  And I'm more than thankful for all the kind invitations.  This year for Thanksgiving we will share our meal with my dear old friend Jen and her extended family.  What a blessing to be with my dearest friend while we're away from our loved ones.

Of course, now we're growing into our own family.  Two kids will do that to you pretty fast!  And we're starting our own traditions.  I find that when I get overly nostolgic and lonely this time of year, empty days only make it worse.  So I start to plan and surround myself with friends.  

Last year we hosted a "Working Orphans Supper" for all the church employees and volunteers that work all the Christmas Eve services.  They host a service, come over for supper for about 45 minutes, and then quickly head back to prepare for the next service.  They literally eat and run.  I didn't even speak with everyone last year.  And I plan on doing it again.  Because 1) I have to eat dinner anyway 2) the idea of them not eating Christmas Eve dinner is depressing to me 3) I don't have to sit home alone 4) they compliment me on my food and that makes me feel SO good.

It's a complicated balance for clergy people and their families.  The holidays are a fantastic celebration of God.  The church is full of life and people and good news.  But for those behind the scenes, there's still an undercurrent of work involved.  I can't speak for all pastor wives because I know there are some very holy ones out there :-), but for me, it's an emotionally complicated time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!
(I hear I'm going to be having some fried turkey on Thursday.  Yum!  And, Go Cowboys!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Raking with a 3 yr old

Is raking with a 3 year old fun or maddening?






Depends on when you ask me.

Right now it sure looks like fun.  Yesterday, it was maddening.  (Except maybe when she started dancing in the street.  Not only does she have moves, but then we could quickly finish the job without interruption.)  

Oh, and by the way, if Cordelia had been awake, none of this would have been possible. Is raking with a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old fun or maddening?  

It's impossible.

Just in case

Just in case you think clergy families are unapproachable, put together, intimidating,


we're not.
Check out our church directory photo.  Cringe.  School photos are the worst!  An uncoordinated and awkward foursome.  I hope this makes us approachable enough.  :-)

And, just in case you think we live in the big city,


we do.
Don't let the wildlife in our backyard fool you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hilarious.

For your Sunday Eve laugh, watch this.  It's only 26 seconds.  It won't disappoint.  And it perfectly depicts our lives as a clergy family.



video


Hahahahahahahahaha!
Eloise and I have watched this video almost 20 times.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lowering my expectations

Today Alex told me to lower my expectations.  Then, he said, I'd be happier.

Why was I so unhappy?  I was unhappy because today I was going to clean our house.  Not pick-up but clean.  Like clean the Cordelia sized hand prints off the storm door.  Scrub the showers, yuck.  Dust my bedroom.  That type of stuff.

How much did I accomplish?  1 room.  My bedroom.  That's all I accomplished today.

Because while Eloise was in school, Alex and I decided to take Cordelia for a quick stroll.  The quick stroll  turned into a delightful 2 hour excursion to get a couple sausage biscuits for our second breakfast.  Returning home, I had to check my email.  Then return some email.  Fix some lunch.  Then I started cleaning the bedroom.

Before I knew it Eloise was home.  And that was it.  No more could be accomplished.  Eloise wants to help...if I'm within 30 yards of Cordelia, she yelps and whines until I pick her up...and I only became more frustrated.

So Alex told me to quit trying.  Just stop.  Let's do something fun.  And so off we went.  To do more fun things.

At least I have a squeaky clean bedroom.  Right?  Forget being a neat freak.  I guess I should just be a Mom for the time being.

With really low expectations, you're sure to have a fabulous weekend.  Have fun!  (-:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Photo Diary

A peak into my life this afternoon.

2:30
3:30
4:30
5:30
6:30
7:30

Notes:
2:30: Cleaning the windows.
3:30: Making Chocolate Cereal.  Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, add cereal, eat for snack.
4:30: Just out of bath.  Long baths make a fun and productive afternoon activity.
5:30: Alex home.  Leftovers or hot dogs.  Most chose hot dogs.
6:30: Alex rocking Cordelia.  Eloise and I headed to bed to read 3 books.
7:30: Alex back to church for meeting.  I'm picking up the contents of my desk that Cordelia spilled every where.
8:30: Blogging.

Good Night!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Build it and they will come

Last Sautrday, when I visited another church's Christmas bazaar, I sat and had lunch with the co-chairs of the event.  I introduced myself and we shared about our churches.  We shared about how they are shells of what they once were and/or have the potential to be.  They noted how terrible their parking situations is.  If only we had better parking people would come, they lamented.

Blame in on the rain, yeah yeah!  I started singing to myself.

Before I go any further with my thought process, I will stop and recongize that yes, having a difficult parking situation can be a challenge to church growth.  Buildings, expensive land, no available land, no parking, terrible location are all challenges to churches indeed.  There are also lots of logistical challenges especially for the elderly, the very young, and the disabled.

There are also lots of lame and not so lame excuses for not going to church.  Some lame excuses that cross my mind every Saturday night: I'm tired.  I don't want to walk a block.  I don't feel well.  I don't really want to see that person there.  I have to get up and out of the house with everyone dressed and be there on time.   Okay, that one is so not lame.  Totally legit.  I'd much rather be training for a marathon.  Oh no, never mind.  I'd much rather be blogging.  Oh yes, that's me.


Some more valid than others.  This is really not a GO TO CHURCH essay.  It's really a WHAT BRINGS PEOPLE TO CHURCH? essay.  It's a WHY GO TO CHURCH essay.  It's a WHY DO I GO TO CHURCH essay.

I don't go to church because I have a parking spot.  Would be nice, wouldn't it?  But all the staff and clergy parking is gone.  And I'm not really staff or clergy anyway, so no, I don't have a spot.  I don't go to church because I'm paid.  Nope, not paid.  I don't go to church because it's cool.  It's only still cool in the South.

I go to church because of that wild card experience I get (almost) every time.  The inexplicable feeling I get when I enter worship with a group of people.  It's the Holy Spirit.  Somehow my cup is filled.  My belly is satisfied.  God uses the Holy Spirit to touch me in some intangible way.

The connections I get with the congregation also keep me coming back.  It's the homeless person lined up behind a law partner for communion that touches me.  It's the family of 3 coming up for communion.  The family of 3 that shouldn't be 3, but with a miracle from God that baby is alive.  It's the intergenerational friendships that touch me in a way the "real world" can't.

Parking doesn't bring me to church.  I think about how we paid big bucks to park half a mile from Texas Stadium and thought that was a good parking situation.  I think of the homeless men and women who walked across a cold city to come to Shepherd's Heart, our church in Pittsburgh.

Blaming parking is a distraction from some real reasons people don't go to church.


Is love and forgiveness being communicated at church?  Is the Good News being preached?  Are we a warm, friendly environment that helps people know God and know each other?

I don't know.  Are we?  Am I?

These are the questions that I want to ask myself instead of worrying about parking or comfortable chairs or something else.  Because these won't bring people to church (movie theaters have great chairs and big parking lots!), but the nourishment of God will.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Parent Tip #367

The basics did not come easy in our house today.  No one wanted to sleep (except me and Alex).  No one wanted to use the potty (except me and Cordelia and Alex).  No one wanted to eat (except me and Cordelia  and Alex, again).

No one held her pee pee for 17 hours actually.  17 hours, people.  From 7pm to 12 pm the next day.

So what do you do when the most life essential activities come difficult for someone?

That's a fantastic question.  If you have any answers for me, please share.  The sleep thing bothered me the most and left me the most exhausted.  The potty thing didn't bother me at all.  I scored big on the eating thing.  Oh yea!  Point Mommy.




I let her eat her dinner with her ballerina tooth picks.  I would have let her use her hands if I thought she'd just put the food in her mouth.  

Tip #367 Change the way you eat.  Make it fun.  Out of the ordinary.

Tip #368 Put sprinkles on it.  I've started sending sandwiches to school that have pink sprinkles on top.  Talk about fancy!  Talk about success!

Right now I'm watching the Duggar family on 19 Kids and Counting because I love that show.  And I feel so good right now because the Duggar children did not listen to their sweet super mama.  So it's not just me, it can happen to anyone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nice?

If you think we're always nice and generous people around here,


we're not.

Vintage Things and Selfless Service

I'm still thinking churchy things today.  

I stumbled upon a great site, The Graphic Fairy.  Adorable vintage images.  Free to download.  Cool to peruse.  Here's 2 of my favorite churchy ones.


And some other fun ones.  Reminds me of someone I know very well...


Hello Eloise!

And isn't this so cute?


This is such a fun site.  Again, check it out HERE.  You will spend entirely too much time there.  It will make a bad employee today.  You've been warned.

In other news, we had an incomplete weekend.  Our Saturday night church dinner was a blast.  They're always super duper fun.  But other than that, I was flying solo. 

I teared up in church today.  Really teary.  My friend's husband is back from Afghanistan.  They were sitting in the pew as a family.  It was so beautiful to see them sitting together again.  I cried tears of joy for his homecoming but was also so touched by his sacrifice.  His return was not guaranteed.  Not everyone comes home.  And I cried because that's so sad.  I know I could never be so selfless.

I failed to recognize Veteran's Day last Thursday.  So, I want to thank you all who have served our country so bravely.  You are my heroes.

Thank you!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sundays are beautiful.






Well, actually, Fridays are beautiful too.  That's when I took these.

It's still very much Fall here.  The trees have been slowly changing.  It's magical to look up through a yellow tree and see the clear blue sky.  The red ones are unbelievably pure.

Saturday was a work day for Alex.  It's particularly difficult when Alex has to work all day Saturday because we have an unstructured day ahead.  Waking up with 2 children and nothing planned is scary.  But I always come up with something interesting to do (and no, going to the grocery store or the park is not interesting).  So the girls and I headed to a local church's Christmas Bazaar to get some lunch and look for goodies.  It was nice.  I spent some time at a Stella and Dot booth.  Amazing jewelry.  It was nice.  But I was reminded again how important that churches are in touch with young people.  There has to be fun things to keep little children occupied so that the parents shop longer.  Think Bubble Bounce.  There has to be vendors that appeal to the young, the old, and the in between.  Quilt and Stella and Dot booths.  Church doesn't have to be an old person place.

I wonder if you have associations with churches.  Are churches out of touch?  Full of old people?  Archaic and Dying?  Are they shallow? Are they boring?  Are they mega?  Are they fun?  Are they graceful?  Are they judgmental?  Are they obligatory?  Are they peaceful, joyful, kind?  Restful or Busy?

If you want, let me know what the church is to you.  I'm curious.  You can be honest.  I'd love to hear.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pretty Things

6:30 am feels so good these days.  I felt as if I was running late this morning.  I crawled into bed at 7pm and read and read and read until I fell asleep.  I'm much refreshed.


It's our Saturday.  Alex is home and we've nothing to do today which is fabulous.  Tomorrow is a different story so I'm enjoying a lazy day today.  Eating leftovers, raking leaves, saving money at Target buying Christmas gifts (in November!) and feeling really good about it.  Watching ESPN.  Oh, no, never mind, that's Alex.


These photos are so pretty.  Just little moments around our house this week.  They make me feel peaceful and quiet.  But just ask my Mom who witnessed a lot of big sister drama this week.  A lot. These really are moments amidst a roller coaster of emotion.  But these are the moments I remember each morning as I wake up to do it again.  If I didn't, I don't think I could get out of bed.


God's faithfulness is on display every single day.  Every new morning is a gift from God, and sign of his eternal presence.

Lamentations 3:22-23