Thursday, December 29, 2011

Then Comes the Pang

(Am I the only one having trouble with photos on Blogger?)

Five nights ago, I drove the babysitter home. She lives just a few houses down from where we used to live, back when we lived down a lane and didn't vacuum our kitchen.

It's been almost three months since we moved. I've driven past a handful of times, but mostly I just don't. It's usually not necessary and even though I always believe I'd handle it just fine, who wants to tempt fate? My emotions have blind-sided me before. It happens.

Five nights back, I didn't have a choice. No big deal. I drove down the dark road and I knew it was coming and I felt myself getting a little chattery about it. My poor, sweet babysitter played along, asking me "Do you miss it?"

No, I don't really miss it. I really don't. It's weird. I mean, I miss some things about it, about the house, but no, I don't really miss it.

(My answer went something like that.)

I dropped her off, turned myself around, and headed back down the road. Only that time, I was alone. And that time, I slowed down just a little. I pulled the shoe-box down from its high shelf and I unfolded the old letters, from a long-ago love. I pushed the bruise a little, knowing all the while it was a bad idea.

The porch was all strung with Christmas lights, there was a wreath on the door. It looked so snowy and lovely and I had to wonder, why didn't we ever take the time to string some lights?

Here's why: We always thought we'd just do it next year.

Out of no where, a big lump formed and I pushed it down, down, down, only it pushed back a little and my eyes got glassy-feeling and I cried a little. It confused me.

Didn't I just tell her that I didn't miss it? Do I somehow not know the truth about my own self? Am I playing games with my heart? Overcompensating?

I drove home sad about those strung up lights. I felt the weight hovering over my rental-house bed.

And then, I knew. It's not the house that I miss. It was never, ever about the house. The house happened to be beautiful. It helped us live well. It was comfortable and warm. There was a garbage disposal. It was perfectly me and very well lit. I think about it in that wistful way. Sometimes at night I close my eyes and try to imagine myself walking across the plank floor, looking long out the window at all of the quiet around me. I'm quite fond of the place. I always will be.

What makes me sad isn't the house, it's who I was in the house. Actually, it's who I wasn't in the house (at least in the beginning.)

Back at that house, I was a girl who never felt shaky or unsure about my future. I knew we'd be there almost forever. We would talk about turning the toy room into another living room in ten years or so, once the toys had lost their shine. We daydreamed our future, and it the future happened right there. Of course it did.

Back under that roof, I didn't know what I didn't know. My heart didn't twist up like it does now. I was oblivious about some things and, I gotta say, oblivion can be a cozy companion. It can be free and easy, so easy that you say to yourself, "It's fine. We'll just string the lights next year."

Right now, tonight, there are uncertainties about our future. We should know exactly what comes next, but we don't. We're a little bit in limbo, and limbo's not so cozy. He's kind of a punk.

But here's something I do know. I know that we'll be somewhere. Can't that be comfort enough? We'll not be left for lost. We won't be forgotten or homeless. I'm thankful for that knowing. I took that for granted in all of my la-la-landing.

There will always be a plan for us. It might change and change again, but we'll still be us and God will still be the cozy company we need most.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carry On Christmas

Ruby ran into our room early this morning shouting, "It's Christmas! It's Chriiiiiistmas!"

It was snowing outside - finally - so today must be Christmas, which is a total score considering we just had Christmas Sunday. And Saturday.

It's what I've been praying all month long - that Christmas would find us for the next 364 days, that it would carry on.

We open gifts on Christmas Eve. It's an infant tradition, one we started just last year. I love it. I won't go back. We took our time and made taco pizza for dinner. We drank pop in the middle of the day - the true sign of a celebration.

Haven joined us for church that night and dripped wax on her pants. I loved having her there beside me and I loved even more that I totally saw that drip fall. You can't fool me, Havis.

Our kids each got four gifts and some may or may not have been from the Goodwill Outlet. Ruby's favorite gift, by a long-shot, were the Strawberry Shortcake press-on nails from the Dollar General.

A dollar-fiddy stocking stuffer, and it's what she loved best. I knew she would love them because I knew how much I would have loved them as a kid. (I once found a lone, divey pink Lee press-on nail and wore that sucker out.)

FYI, this photo isn't posed. This is seriously how homegirl walked around. I warned her early that they wouldn't last forever, that the might fall off and get lost.

By taco pizza time, she couldn't track a single one. She was too despondent to hold Silas's hand for prayer and she cut loose at the table with soul-wracking sobs. It broke my heart a little.

And made me laugh a little.

In brighter news, the left pinky and right index finger have since turned up, so she's mostly golden.

I remember, a few months back, wondering if Christmas would be the same this year, in our Betty Draper rental. I was sure it would be dim and crowded, not quite as magical as the last.

You know, nothing makes a bigger fool of me than hindsight. Because now, looking back, it's very obvious that we had something special in store. We had it all along and we had even more coming our way. These are important days being lived in this little house. They serve a purpose, I'm sure of it. And though we may not know exactly what that purpose is, a crowded Christmas holds its own brand of magic. I saw it up-close, with my own two eyes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

In Other News

Friday night Cory and I saw a movie and ate Thai for dinner. Then, with much garlic breath and excitement, we stopped by Staples to pick up the printed-off draft of my novel.

The girl laughed when we took pictures. I cringed at the thought that she might have read the first page. I know I would have.

Editing started today and it's got me nervous as a rooster, but hallelujah, I'm one big step closer.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lift Your Eyes

Feels like your world's crashing down and solid ground is hard to be felt
It feels like the walls are closing in
And the night has fallen
And the sun is gone
Your heart is dry
You need some time to find God

Come on, come on, lift your eyes up. Lift your eyes up to the hills.

Even in the testing fire God supplies every need in your life
And He'll come like the morning star, and wipe away your hurts, fears
And the dark will fall, the light will shine
It's all alright with God here

Come on, come on, lift your eyes up. Lift your eyes up to the hills.


He's right here, because He came. To us. Emmanuel.

Just look up.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


True, it's not snowing and I don't even own that particular spigot anymore, but it called to me from the archives. It was befitting the day, somehow.

We met the goal, friends. We exceeded the goal. Because we were willing to take a risk, make a sacrifice, an entire village will be given fresh, life-giving water. That is big.

I remember the night I dreamed this up. I set the goal at $4,000 and it seemed embarrassingly big and presumptuous. Then God made Himself clear to me - it was time to go all-in. $10k. I scarcely slept a wink that night. It was too much. I'd feel so dumb when no one came along. All the while, the loop played, "Ask for something big. Let God make Himself known in a big way."

I figured, okay, if it takes an entire year, it takes an entire year. One way or another, by hook or by crook, we'll raise the cash.

So here we are, three days before Christmas.

I woke up and saw the total and cried. And the money kept coming in, so I cried some more. This thing, it's not about me. Or you. God gave us an opportunity and we held our hands open, ready to receive, ready to be a part of the best gift of the season.

You prayed, you shared, you gave. You said yes. That's the voice. That voice that you heard, the one who prompted you to act, is the very same voice telling you about that other thing. You know the one. You're saying it's too big, too much. You're saying you're not enough. The good news is, you're really not. So there, the pressure's off. But haven't we seen today how incredible it is when our Creator shows up and saves? Don't we know by now that being used by Him is the best gift imaginable?

Say yes.

So we keep praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. - 2 Thessalonians 1:11

I love you. I really do. You show me that I'm not alone, that I'm not as crazy as I often feel. You help make sense of this heart of mine.

Thank you from the bottom up,

*There's still time to get in on the action. Why not start a second well? Why the heck not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Post and a Shameless Mama Moment

(I have no idea how CMB did this, but isn't it swell?)

We spent our evening taking two Crossing students Christmas shopping. I felt really proud to be out with them. They taught me some things. We all splurged and had dessert at Culver's and I listened with my heart wide open. These moments, they are doing something in my heart. It's an ambush of some sort. I'm figuring it out.

I wrote a guest post for my sweet friend, Hannah. Hannah is one of the dearest people I've never met. She emails me Bible verses and tells me that she loves me when I need to hear it most. She's beautiful in every way. Go meet here. While you're there, you can read what I wrote about Christmas. (Mom, remember, just click that flashing line thingy on the blue text to go to the guest post.)

3 more things:

1. My favorite non-hymn Christmas song of all time. I blogged about it last year at Christmas, too. I listened a couple days ago and got all weepy, because I had never stopped to consider what creation, the mountains and the trees and the animals, did on that night when The Baby came to save us. "Was anyone able to look at the stable and not see a child, but a King?" Slay me.

2. Shameless Calvin plug. I can't not post this every. single. year. He kills me in his little shoes turned sideways and his neck-tie. He was two years old when he sang at our Christmas Eve service at church. I was so nervous watching my little tiny wee baby up there with a mic in his hand. (For the record, my sister loaded the video. I'm shameless, but not shameless enough to publicly declare my child a "genius".) ;) #proudaunt #stillcan'tstop

3. Please go here for a laugh. I lose it right around "sugary snacks".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Hair?

It cracks me straight up to the ends of the earth that I am blogging about a hairdo.

I am notoriously woeful when it comes to hair. My hair is my bane. It has no chutzpah. It's non-compliant and willfully disobedient.

Also, I'm lazy.

I find haircuts to be a waste of both time and money.

As such, my hair has recently reached a catastrophic length.

It should not be so long.

My bangs are down to my bosoms.

It's a bad, bad situation.

Given all of this, it's both strange and wonderful that I invented a new hairdo when it mattered most. I look back and have no explanation. It just came to me.

(Photo courtesy of Haven.)

At first, it looks like this. Is this a real thing?

I'm troubled to say that my mother-in-law has arrived twice in the past two weeks only to find me in this condition. Even worse? She didn't ask.

To execute the style, wash your mane. Rub one smallish dollop of this through, concentrating on the roots. Blow dry your hair (95% dry), then immediately section it off. Twist each section. Twist, twist, twist. Then pin the ends to your noggin.

Walk around the house like that for the next hour or four. Wonder why even your own children no long ask questions or notice that anything is remotely amiss. Say things like, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, Calvin", or, "Haven, you know you're jealous."

Channel Princess Leia. Then La La from the Teletubbies.

When it's time, uncoil each section. Don't disturb the wonky waves.

Put your face on while the curls hang loose.

Incidentally, I just bought a new mascara. It's one of the kinds that has a secret chemical intended to make your lashes grow. I'm happy to report that the placebo effect is already heartily underway. I can just feel my lashes shooting up steroids.

Back to the hair.

Run your fingers through it a little. You might be alarmed by the sheer size of your hair, but push through.

Spray just the tiniest, slightest bit with hairspray. (The waves, they like to breath.)


Or, as I prefer, Viola.

You've got a real 'do. At least for the night.

I can't promise that it will work for hair that is not extremely fine and thin and frayed at the edges. But you know what? All of you thick, luxuriously-tressed ladies have it coming if it doesn't work. We've had enough of your sass. Half-bald homies, unite! We've waited so long for our victory.

Sidenote 1) Something very important that I keep forgetting to tell you: The bathroom in our rental sports the very same wallpaper from my childhood bedroom. #fullcircle #meanttobe #hollyhobbyholdsmyheart

Sidenote 2) I have recently adopted what some may consider the annoying practice of hash-tagging outside of Twitter. #whatchagonnadoaboutit? #thegaff

Sidenote 3) Yes, I do ask Cory to take random pictures of my hair when we're already running late for his work Christmas party. I do procrastinate until I have precisely 12 minutes to get myself ready then shout from the bathroom "Honey, hurry! I need a picture before I fluff my waves!" Yes, it is magnificently fun to be married to me. Why do you ask?

Sidenote 4) You may have noticed, but I have given up on staging proper photos for this here blog. We live in a cave with no natural light and pink bathroom tiles. It has killed my mojo. Or at least partially maimed it.

Sidenote 5) My lovely lady, El-Macphereson-Camino-Mariachi Palmer blogged about the well today! Eeek. I cried. We're at 73%, People! Seventy. Three. Percent. God is so BIG.