Monthly Archives: December 2008

Merry Christmas

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Not quite the Christmas I had imagined….

Who was it that said that life is what happens when you’re making other plans?  A few weeks ago we had plans to come home  and to go see the Christmas lights in Marshall, to make gingerbread cookies and houses, to drink hot chocolate by the fire and watch Elf, to hang out in our pajamas all day, and just enjoy being together.  Instead, my dad’s spending Christmas Eve in a hospital recovering from brain surgery and we’re waiting and praying for a final pathology report to see where this road will lead us next.

My heart and head are full but mostly I’m just tired. It’s not the kind of tired that a good night’s sleep will fix. It’s just a tired that seems to go all the way down past the very marrow of my bones to my very soul. I guess that’s what happens when life as you knew it gets turned upside down over a weekend. It’s a good thing that when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in a way that words can’t express, because quite frankly, I’ve got nothing right now. I am holding fast to what I know for sure: God is good all the time and He’s so much bigger than our circumstances. I am holding on to that and I am bolstered by the sweet emails, calls, and comments on dad’s CaringBridge site.

I may need this outlet to process my thoughts in the days to come. Right now, what I need most is your prayers for my dad.

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Over the river and through the woods and across many states and many miles…

We’re getting ready to embark on Christmas Road Trip 2008. Once again, I’m up way too late knowing full well I’m not going to be able to finish my To Do list. But once again, no one will cancel Christmas because I left a few things undone.  Some time tomorrow, we’ll load up the minivan and start Day One of our Christmas Adventure.  We’re heading to the land of dial-up connection for a few days so I’ll be “radio silent” for awhile.  I hope to pop in before Christmas, but I also hoped I wouldn’t procrastinate and would be ready to go by now.  But then again, I really didn’t want to mop the kitchen before Christmas, but I really do want to talk to you!

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While visions of Sugar Plum fairies danced in her head…

I took The Princess Little Person to see The Nutcracker for the first time last night.  She’s the cheerleader of our family, so it’s not a huge surprise when she’s excited about something. New cereal? “Did you buy this for US?! YAY! I’ve wanted to try this cereal for all my life!!” Her dad gets a haircut? “You look WONDERFUL! I LOVE your hair!” Her brothers are playing Wii? “Woo hoo!! High score!!”  She’s pumped about a trip to Costco, so I knew she’d show even more enthusiasm for a fun, new experience. I found a few videos on YouTube of Nutcracker scenes performed by different ballet companies and she watched enthralled, thrilled that she recognized several of the songs from Classical Baby and Little Einsteins.

However her elation waned a bit the night of the big performance. I had pulled several dresses out of her closet for her to choose an outfit for the evening. As she looked over her choices, she asked offhandedly, “Are you going up there with me?” 

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“When I’m up on stage. Are you going to go up there with me?”

Wow. As gently as possible, I explained that we were just going to watch other ballerinas dance and that we hadn’t been invited to perform anything on this particular night. I should have seen this coming. She took ballet last year and after the dress rehearsal for her recital, she ran to me and asked, “Did you see me?! I was ON STAGE!” The night of the recital, she danced and smiled as if performing in front of hundreds of people was a nightly happening for her. 

She listened to my explanation and when I asked her if she was disappointed she said, “Well, yeah. I thought you said I was going to get to dance. Can we at least get popcorn?”

Popcorn? I’m not a regular patron of the arts, but the few times I’ve been to performances, popcorn was not a refreshment option. I assured her that if there was popcorn, we would certainly buy some but that maybe she shouldn’t plan on it being offered to us at the ballet.  I was glad when we arrived at the theatre that they were selling refreshments in the lobby. She never mentioned the popcorn again and I was glad to purchase a chocolate Nutcracker sucker and some bottled water.

After we’d found our seats, I gave her a brief synopsis of the story of The Nutcracker. She listened intently and fidgeted in her seat a little and asked at least a half dozen times, “So when’s this starting anyway?”  When the curtain rose, she sat up straight with her eyes wide and bright and breathed, “Whoa..” The costumes were beautiful, and the graceful dancers took our breath away. During the performance, I think I watched her face more than the dancers.  

About two songs in, she leaned into me and asked,”Isn’t anybody going to say anything? Is somebody going to sing?” Again, I realized I may not have adequately prepared her as I explained that instead of words, the dance told the story. She interjected several questions and comments throughout the performance, none of which gave me much pause until we came to the first  scene of Act II. In this scene, several cherubs and angels heralded Clara and the Prince’s arrival to the Land of Sweets. When I explained that the dancers in the beautiful white costumes were angels, The Princess whispered, “So is Jesus in this thing?” No, I told her, Jesus would not be dancing in this particular version of the Nutcracker. She looked at me baffled, “Well, why not?” I told her that I didn’t really know but that maybe we should just watch the rest to see what happened next. The show continued without much ado and we clapped and clapped and clapped at the end.

On the way home, she asked me to turn on the radio and we listened to Christmas music all the way home. At one point I turned to look at her and her sleepy eyes were taking in the Christmas lights and decorations along the way and she had an enormous smile stretched from ear to ear. “Why are you smiling so big?” I asked her. She just gave a big sigh and breathed, “I just love this.” I didn’t have to ask if “this” was The Nutcracker or the Christmas songs on the radio or the beautiful lights or a girls’ night out with her Mom. It was all of the above. And I felt the same way.

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This Snoodle’s Gift….

Part 3 of the longest story ever told on a blog:

Not long after the mom watched “A Snoodle’s Tale” she was checking her email and received a cryptic message from her photographer friend  that led the mom to the photographer’s blog.  (Actually the email just had the word blog written 49 times with the instructions “Sing to the tune of Jingle Bells” written at the top. The mom used her intuitive mom skills to figure out she was supposed to check the blog.) Just a couple of weeks before, the photographer had photographed the little people and the mom thought maybe she had posted some of the proofs from that session on her website’s blog. The mom wasn’t the least bit surprised. After all, her children were the fairest in all the land.  So the mom typed in her friend’s web address and this is what she saw:

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She is their blanket to warm them on a cold winter night. She is the food that satisfies their hungry spirit. She is their shelter from the storm, their nursemaid to heal all hurts. She is the wind that lifts them up when they have fallen. She is encouragement that guides them forward. She is the love that brought them here. She is the heart DAILY PRAYING them through.  She is their mother… and lucky me… she is also my friend.        

The mom heard The Stranger’s voice whisper to her spirit, “This is how I see you.”

The mom was so full of emotion she could barely breathe.  She didn’t understand how this picture could have come from that photo session. The little people had been wild that day. When they were supposed to stand, they would lie down. When they were supposed to sit, they’d run around. In the middle of the chaos, the photographer friend told the mom she wanted to take a picture of her with the little people. The mom enjoyed having her picture taken about as much as she enjoyed having her license renewed at the DMV, or ironing, or having the flu, or smelling a dead skunk on the side of the road. She would really have rather taken a math test. She had protested that she didn’t match the kids and she’d barely had time to put on any makeup that morning and she hadn’t even touched her hair. But the photographer friend can be a little bossy when she’s on the job ;), and the mom was a little afraid of her. So she plunked herself down and the little people piled on top of her as if she were their own personal jungle gym. They wallowed and wiggled and climbed and fidgeted. The mom tried to smile, but found it difficult while saying, “Stop that” through clenched teeth. Finally she just quit fighting and decided to just let her photographer friend click away. She was probably only seated with the little people for a minute at the most and she was sure nothing good would come of it. She relished the opportunity she would have to say, “I told you so,” to the bossy photographer friend.

But then what was this? She looked at the three precious children in the picture. Each one of them looked happy, content, peaceful, safe, loved. God hadn’t been wrong to let her be their mom. They were going to be okay. She looked at herself. She looked happy, content, peaceful, safe, loved. And she was going to be okay. For the first time she looked at a picture of herself and saw beyond her physical imperfections. Instead of trying to measure up to an unrealistic expectation of beauty, she saw the beauty that comes from a heart that loves. And she realized that as stressful as her job was, she would rather be a mom than anything else in the world. For the first time in a long time, she was okay with who she was because she knew that her God was okay with who she was. Not because she was perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but because when He looked at her, He saw the girl he had created AND the girl He was making her to be.  Later that year, for her birthday, the photographer friend gave the mom a pendant with the picture on it. The mom wears it almost every single day to remind herself of who she is and who she’s becoming. I wish I could tell you that she never carried any other pictures in her backpack except the true one, but she has to remind herself daily that what others think of her is none of her business.  Her king is enthralled with her beauty (Psalm 45:11), and isn’t that enough?

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This Snoodle’s Tale continues…

Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. (If you don’t get that reference, you have missed out on one of the greatest movies ever.) Seriously, if you didn’t read yesterday’s entry then today’s will be even more confusing than it may be for those of you who did read yesterday’s (and now I’ve confused myself). Feel free to go back and read it now. We’ll wait here.

Okay, ready? So, yesterday we left a sad mom on a couch watching “A Snoodle’s Tale” with her children and realizing that she has much more in common with a Veggie Tale cartoon character than she’d like to admit. Let’s continue, shall we?

 

As The Snoodle’s Tale continues, Snoodle Doo decides that maybe he shouldn’t even be with other Snoodles. He sets off to be by himself and, after a difficult journey, finds himself at the top of Mount Ginches, “alone with the wind, and his thoughts, and the finches.” Except, he isn’t really alone. His thoughts are interrupted by a voice that isn’t his own. The voice belongs to The Stranger, who tells the little Snoodle that the pictures in his backpack don’t look like him at all and He throws the drawings in the fire. The Stranger has drawn a picture of what the little Snoodle really looks like. When Snoodle Doo sees it, he can’t believe his eyes! The Snoodle in the drawing looks strong and confident and has big wings. This can’t be right! That couldn’t be a picture of him! “But I know who you are,” said The Man, “for I made you.”

Those words drilled straight to the heart of the mom, as if The Stranger were speaking directly to her. She remembered a Beth Moore Bible study she did with some ladies from her church. They had read about the day God sent an angel to a hesitant and fearful guy named Gideon to tell him he was going to lead an army to defeat a formidable foe. The angel’s first words to Gideon were, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). Mighty warrior?! This guy was afraid of his shadow! Beth Moore said something about the way the angel addressed Gideon that had stuck in the mom’s head. She said, “God sees us as what He’s going to make us.”

No wonder she was so tired and frustrated.  Everyday she tried to stuff more pictures of herself in a backpack whose seams were straining from the weight. Everyday she consumed all of her energy trying to look like the girl in the pictures. All she really needed was one picture, the one drawn by the One who made her. When she replaced all the other pictures with the one that really mattered, she, too, like the Snoodle, would not only be able to fly, she’d be able to soar. Even before she got a good look at the picture of who she really was, she felt tons lighter just from letting go of every other picture of herself.

Sitting on her living couch, nestled close beside her three precious blessings, the tired, sad mom suddenly felt the weight of God’s love for her. Not His love for all of humanity or all women or even all tired, sad moms. She felt a full measure of His love for her, a specific and necessary part of His creation. He had purposefully drawn her. He loved her. He wanted her. His love washed over her in waves. She was overwhelmed and she began to cry. And not a soft, pretty, princess cry that doesn’t leave makeup streaks and globs of mascara. This was much messier. And louder.  She was bawling all over herself.  The little people found this interesting and perhaps a little troubling. Mom didn’t usually cry when she watched Bob and Larry.  Hallmark commercials? Sure, but not usually Veggie Tales.  

The mom was exhausted from the emotion of the morning, but it was a “good tired.” She felt lighter and freer than she had in a very long time. She had let go of a lot of baggage that she’d carried around that had drained her strength and caused her pain. The release felt good, but several questions lingered.  So how did God see her? What did His picture of her look like? 

 

Hmm….I guess there’s more to this story…

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This Snoodle’s Tale….

This is a story about a girl who received a gift that was even more than it appeared.  To get to the part about the gift, we have to rewind a little bit. (You didn’t honestly expect this to be short and concise, did you?)

Once upon a Saturday, a mom sat down with her little children to watch an episode of Veggie Tales on NBC. Now the mom had been a fan of Veggie Tales even before she ever became a mom. At least now, she had three little reasons to justify her viewing. Together they sat down to watch “A Snoodle’s Tale.” The mom was just as excited as the little people because she had never seen this particular Tale. She had no idea that before half an hour had passed, God was going to speak to her in a big and mighty way through a little cartoon Snoodle.

“A Snoodle’s Tale,” in case you’ve never seen it, is about Snoodle Doo, a lovable little Snoodle who sets out to find out who he is supposed to be. Along the way, other Snoodles give him messages about who they think he is.  They ridicule his ideas of what he thinks he should be or do and load his backpack with the pictures they draw of how they see him. The Snoodle has wings, but he can’t fly very high. He has art supplies, but when he shows the other Snoodles his picture, they tell him he is not an artist. 

The mom sitting on the couch with the three little people suddenly realized that she had a lot in common with Snoodle Doo. Although you might not have guessed it just from looking at her or even from having a conversation with her in the checkout line at Super Walmart, the mom wasn’t really sure who she was supposed to be either.  And her backpack was also filled to the brim with the pictures she’d collected of herself.  Unlike Snoodle Doo, some of her “others” had drawn some really lovely pictures of her, but that in itself somehow presented a problem for her. She didn’t feel like she’d ever be able to measure up to the girl in their pictures. Like Snoodle Doo, she also had some unlovely pictures in her backpack. Some were doodles that others probably didn’t even realize they’d left for her in passing comments or offhand remarks. Some were pictures she’d drawn of herself that shamed and mocked her and served as reminders of everything she wished she’d done or despaired desperately of ever doing. The pictures made for a heavy burden to carry and she felt very, very tired and very, very sad.

The mom kept replaying a line in a book she’d read that seemed to describe her best of all: “I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time.” She wasn’t sweet enough. She didn’t listen enough. She wasn’t pretty enough. She didn’t know enough. She wasn’t godly enough. She wasn’t disciplined enough. She wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t enough for her kids, her man, or her friends. But she was also too much. Too talkative. Too wishy washy. Too needy. Too indecisive. Too weak. Too messy. Too hypocritical. Too opinionated. She just wasn’t what she was supposed to be. 

She felt sorry for her kids. Why would God give her these three amazing kids snuggled up with her on the couch? She was just going to mess them up. All of her neuroses and hang-ups were just going to rub off on them.  During a commercial break, she wondered if while her man saved up for their college funds, she should start saving for the little people’s therapy bills.  She looked at the sweet little faces surrounding her and felt like a great big fake and an even bigger failure….

 

It has come to my attention that no one wants to read blog epics, so we should probably split this story into more manageable bite-sized pieces.  This seems like as good a stopping place as any other, so let’s just leave the mom on the couch wallowing in her misery and we’ll catch up with her later.

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