Resolution… I think not!

Resolutions are not for me
They never work
Since I can’t do them all the way, why even start?
I can do nothing on my own
I just beat myself up when I look at how I’ve failed

If only…
I should have…
When I…
I’ll try harder…
Why did I…
Once I…

These are phrases I play in my head, I used to play them with great frequency. I am learning to let go of the negative self talk. I’m learning about grace…
I’m replacing the recordings that play in my head.

Blessed are the poor in spirit…
His strength is made perfect in my weakness…
His grace is enough…
It is what it is…
I am not what I do…
I am powerless…
I can’t fix it, and that’s ok…

Yes, that is much better. So as we approach this new year, I am not making resolutions.
I am: dreaming, praying, thinking, contemplating, planning, and expecting.

I broke up with my dishwasher today…

I’ve had it!
We’re through!
You’ve been nothing but a disappointment to me!
The years haven’t been very kind to you…
You never seem to give what you promised you would…
I’m moving on!

No grand philosophy about being “green” or saving money, it’s just that I’m fed up! If I have to wash the dishes before I put them in and I have to rinse the soap residue off after I take them out; then why use the blasted thing! I washed, dried, and put away all the dishes from breakfast in less than 10 minutes… homemade scones, bacon, fruit, coffee, juice and milk (it wasn’t just cereal bowls and spoons). It just makes sense to do them by hand. Besides, I got these really cute dishwashing gloves for Christmas…a purple pair and a pink pair! Ha!

Watch out clothes dryer, I think you’re next!

Marvelous Monday!

This day is going to be great! I can feel inside. I loved leaving my house while it was still dark, all bundled up and ready to workout. I have been sick for several days, even made a brief visit to the ER. Being able to do the normal things in life like working out, cleaning the house, cooking, etc. is a true joy! I really take my health for granted sometimes… I don’t want to do that. I am so very thankful for strength and energy to enjoy life. It is a source of motivation to make better choices; better food, better activities, better relationships! so here I go facing this day with renewed joy and anticipation of what lies ahead.

Monday’s To Do:

make muffins
clean kitchen
pack away Christmas
menu plan
grocery shop
cook ahead
buy a TV (on sale of course)
play Apples to Apples with the family
catch up on Hulu (on the new TV)

I am not a scrooge… I’m just ready for it to be over!

I don’t understand why, but every December it happens the same way. The day after Christmas I want it all to be put away! I am sitting here typing this in front of the fireplace and twinkling lights on the tree, and my insides are a nervous mess! I should be up cleaning, packing it away, reorganizing something – somewhere. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it is because I plan seasonal events for our church and I was already thinking of Easter before we ever got to Christmas. Maybe it’s because I have been looking at Christmas decor and listening to Christmas music since July. Maybe it’s because I know it is not going to be fun at all to pack it all away and so I just want to get it over with. Or maybe, just maybe, it is because my birthday is next week! That’s it! I love writing my blog, it is so therapeutic! I am always ready to put Christmas away because of the deep underlying fear that my birthday will get lumped up into the Christmas celebration. All of you with birthdays around Christmas say Amen!

No really, I just want to go on to the next thing. The next thing is a clean and organized house. The next thing is days filled with routine and school and housework and budget and exercise and… One year I lounged around and enjoyed the holiday hangover and before I knew it, it was February and we still had Christmas houses out! So call me Scrooge, Grinch, obsessed, or just plain weird, but I am ready to put it all away.

I’m making my list
checking it twice
putting stuff away
all tidy and nice…

well not quite yet, I haven’t been brave enough to tell everyone else in the family what I have planned!

more blessed to give…

It really was a special time of giving this morning. It took over an hour to open our gifts. Oh, we didn’t have stacks of gifts, but we just took our time. Each person would get a gift; no certain order, and we would all watch them unwrap it, look at it, explore what it was all about, and then move on to the next person. No on asked, “is that all?” “do I have another gift?” or “how many gifts did you get?”; none of these young and selfish thoughts. Wow! have they really grown up? What I did hear was, “please, let’s have mom open her gift before breakfast?” and “oh, look! this to you from me!”.

As we sat and laughed with delight at the squeels of an 11 year old who got a box full of Vera Bradley, and the exuberant dance of a 14 year old who received the newest Redwall novel in hardback and its accompanying cookbook; I was deeply moved by what I heard. My 16 year old son looked at me with a huge smile as his sister hugged her gift from him. He said, “it really is more fun to give…”. That was one of the best gifts this mom could have ever received! I know he meant it too, because he has been begging his dad to let me open the gift he and his brother had chosen for me for days now. They had investigated a company that makes jewelry from old skateboard decks and knowing that I love anything unusual and artsy, they pooled their money and ordered me a necklace. It is beautiful and so very special to me. I couldn’t have been more excited about a diamond necklace from Tiffanys! (those of you who really know me, know this is the truth) I will wear it with joy!

check out the company

I can’t sleep, it’s Christmas Eve!

When our kids were younger it used to be a huge problem to get them to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of a morning filled with gifts and family was simply too much for them to handle. They couldn’t slow down long enough to go to sleep. They were past tired, and so were their parents! One year we got them all settled on the sofa in their Christmas PJs and turned on White Christmas. They thought it was so exciting to watch a grown- up movie, a long grown-up movie. The advantage for us, was that it was a little too grown-up and they would soon get sleepy and fall asleep right there on the sofa. Tonight as we watch White Christmas, I can’t help but wonder where has the time gone? Now they all watch the movie, they laugh in the right spots, smirk at the romance, and it’s the parents who fall asleep… Christmas traditions are special for many reasons. One thing I noticed this year is that the traditions show the marked changes in our children. There are so many changes, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the one thing that matters most…we love them and they love us!

Merry Christmas Eve… let the traditions begin!

Guest post by my man. Professional, Expert, Friend…

The Professional, The Expert, and The Friend

“Youʼve got the crud!” Thatʼs what the doctor said to me. The good news was I didnʼt
have the flu. But who wants “The Crud”? Nobody. Hereʼs my doctorʼs cure for “The
Crud”; a B12 shot mixed with steriod and another shot of anotibiotic. The two shots
need a Z-pack to go along with, “just to cover any respirtory issues left unconquered by
the shots.”, said my doc. (My doctor is a character. Iʼll have to write about him
Anyway, it wasnʼt so much being sick with “The Crud” as it was the timing of my health
failure; and isnʼt it always about the timing? My family, I being the leader, was supposed
to help a good friend move yesterday. We were the only ones lined up to help. If we
didnʼt show our friends were going to have to do it alone. I woke with full blown cold
symptoms; body aches, head completely stopped up and hurting, and pain in my throat
like someone had been stomping around in there with a garden rake. Uuuggghh!
Whatʼs a guy to do? Show up. Thatʼs all I could do. So, today I asked myself, “How did
yesterday end up being such a wonderful and meaningful day?”.

First, my wife called my doctor, who is a very busy general practice doc in our town, and
explained my situation. They said they could take me right then if could come on in.
When I stepped into the office yesterday December 16 (the middle of cold and flu
season) there wasnʼt a single person sitting in the waiting area. I mean, the fish in the
fishtank were all lined up and peering through the glass like “where is everybody?” I got
right in to see the doctor and got fixed up. Amazing!

Even more amazing than the doctor, was the fact that I could feel good about leaving
the moving project to go to the doctor. When we arrived at our friendʼs apartment
another friend was already there with his son. As it turns out, this guy happens to be an
expert mover. He had moved, I donʼt know how many times in his military career, but
before joining the army he had worked for a major professional moving company. When
I say he was good, I mean he was really good. He had the straps, the tools, everything.
And, he had full control of the project when we arrived. This moving deal was not just a
project, it was a science. He was the mad scientist asking for “this next, bring me all
those, and now we start to tier everything down to the back of the truck.” He was truly
blessed by the moving gods from on high. Blessed!

Over the next few hours following the shot I began to feel much better and by the time
we headed out I felt almost normal. I rode shotgun in the moving truck for my friend.
During the next four hours we talked. We talked about the paths God has each of us
on. We talked about the church. We talked about that really meaningful kind of stuff
that seems to strengthen even more the already powerful bonds of a good friendship. I
had an incredible time. Incredible!

Yesterday started out horribly. It was headed full speed into the kind of day you want to
bury in your memory to never think of again. What turned it around? Well, Iʼm giving all
the credit to God. I couldnʼt do anything about my physical pain and
God provided a
professional to give a needed shot. I didnʼt have the strength or the knowledge to
accomplish the task of moving my friend but God brought the helping hand of an expert
to take away the pressure. And the bonus for me was that God created a moment with
a cherished friend. One of those especially comfortable, easy moments you get when
youʼre with someone you respect and care about and nothing else matters except to just
be there.
All I could do yesterday was just show up; so I did that and God did the rest.
Sometimes, as a leader you have to only show up and depend on God to work through
others on your behalf. When you canʼt be prepared like you want to be God can meet
you at the crisis and turn things around for you. Just show up.

Day One of the 12 Days…

Last night we started our 12 Days of Christmas Celebration. We ate my c4 soup (for the recipe, see an earlier post) by candlelight and then opened our first nativity ornament. Ethan opened the first box, it was the cow. We sang and later as I prayed we thanked God for coming to such a lowly place just to be with us…Emmanuel God With Us! We finished the evening by watching The Charlie Brown Christmas Special, such a great show. I was reminded that the message of Christmas and its true meaning used to be so widely accepted that even the Charlie Brown special told the real meaning of Christmas. How our world has changed. I am ready to take back Christmas, I am ready to start a revolution. One family, one community at a time, let’s spread the true meaning of Christmas!

Looking forward to Day 2 today. We are having a homeschool “Little House” lunch and story time, followed by cookie decorating and movie watching. Rehearsal for our last “God With Us” performance is tonight. Once we return home this evening, we will open our second box and begin a special Christmas read-aloud. I love Christmas!

The 12 Days of Christmas…Erway Style

Several years ago when our children were small, a dear friend gave us a gift that has forever changed the way we celebrate Christmas. She presented us a small tree, a set of nativity scene ornaments, and 12 small boxes. She encouraged us to place the 12 ornaments in the boxes and the 12 days before Christmas open one box each day. As we place the nativity character on our tree, we tell our children the story of that character’s role in the nativity. How wonderful. How simple. How meaningful! Well, us being who we are, we expanded on that idea (imagine that!). We began with Greg writing a song for the different characters. The donkey is one of my favorites:

A donkey at Christmas
A donkey at Christmas
He carried Mary to Bethlehem
A donkey at Christmas
A donkey at Christmas
I’m so glad he fit in God’s plan

He may not have known just what he was doing
With the mother of Jesus on his back
He carried her without even complaining
It’s in the Bible
That makes it a fact…

You get the idea. So each day we open a box, talk about the character, sing a song, and thank God for coming to us at Christmas. Other things we do for our 12 day celebration include eating on Christmas china by candlelight for 12 days, even if we have PB&J, we eat it on china by candlelight. We also plan a family event for each day. Sometimes there are boxes with clues leading up to the day’s event, or a prop or small gift for that day.
Other years we have paper chains that the kids tear off with each day’s activity written on it. One year a box contained supplies for a family craft night and another, a log and hot chocolate packets in it; this meant we were going to drink hot cocoa by the fire. We have planned activities that range from going to see lights, craft activities, books to read, movies to watch, and even out of town excursions. One of my favorite 12 days activities was when Greg and the kids made reliefs. They are beautiful pieces of art that hang in our home year round.

The 12 days start today but I can’t tell you what we have planned, my kids might actually read my blog! However, I can tell you it is going to be good. I will share some of the highlights as we go along. I would like to challenge you to take some time and really celebrate together as a family this Christmas. Since we are in Worship Arts ministry, much of our time and energy go into creating holiday celebrations for the people at our church. Taking these 12 days to focus on our family helps to keep us from giving our kids our leftover time and creativity. We make our family and faith the priority it should be. I’d love to hear what others do to keep the focus on family during this busy time of year. How do you celebrate Christmas?

the words that turn my hair grey…

Hey hon, do you have a safety pin? Now those may not strike fear in your heart, but to me they are terrible words to hear. I NEVER EVER have those obscure ( ok, so they aren’t so obscure) household items my husband may ask for. It doesn’t seem to matter that over the years that I have made list after list of things he requests, determined to be able to answer, “yes darling, I have it right here” but I fail over and over. Today it wasn’t a safety pin; it was rubber bands. He was organizing a drawer in the laundry room (see earlier post about perfectionism) and he wanted to rubber band the like sized brushes together. Great idea, except that I have no idea where the oversized bag of rubber bands is. Where does a bag of rubber bands go? I think when I die they will find a cabinet full of rubber bands, safety pins, staples, band-aids, nail clippers, paper clips, zip ties, permanent markers,… I know they are all hiding somewhere together. For now, I am going to go shopping. Guess what Greg is getting in his stocking!