A Family Tree For Christmas, Part 1

Most of you have already put up your Christmas trees. You’ve strung the lights and hung the ornaments. You might even be sitting and enjoying it right now.

There’s nothing like a Christmas tree at Christmas to make it feel like home. Like family.

We chose, for a number of reasons, to put up a very small tree this year. But in actuality, it’s the third year in a row we’ve used this little thing as our family Christmas tree.

You see, I bought it in the Fall of 2007, just after we lost Felicity and I was going through a major money-spending binge (shock does insane things to you). And then when Christmas came, I was too tired to think about putting up a real tree. Plus, we decided to go on an extensive 4-week road trip at Christmas. (Again, shock does crazy things to you.) We spent Christmas #1 without Felicity in Pennsylvania (in our stupor of shock) among our family and friends there.

Then for Christmas 2008, we had just moved into our current house a couple weeks before and the only thing I had time for (and room for among the boxes) was this little tree. Combine that with having a 4-month old baby, and it wasn’t exactly the right time for me to move forward with any elaborate Christmas decorating.

Now it’s Christmas 2009. Christmas #3. (For those of you living without loved ones, help me out here: do you mark your holidays like this? I don’t feel like I have the same inclination to mark other holidays like Thanksgiving or Easter this way. But at Christmas I miss her a lot, and I feel the passage of time more poignantly.)

Anyway… Christmas #3. Another Pennsylvania Christmas. So I figured, “Why go to the trouble of doing a tree when we’re not even going to be here?”

But Orison had other plans.

In his Christmas excitement, one night after dinner, he’d had enough of this waiting around thing (I’m pretty sure it was December 1) and decided to light a fire under Abraham and I. He came into the kitchen and announced that we were all going to the basement right now and, “Dad, you’ll carry the Christmas tree. Mommy, you’ll carry the Advent calendar. And I’ll carry the boxes.”

“Ready… set… go!” And all of a sudden we were putting up a tree after all.

(And no, we didn’t make him carry the boxes.)

I’m planning a couple more posts about what makes our tree, our family tree, special for me. What makes your Christmas tree special for your family?

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December 9, 2009 at 12:04 am 30 comments

Orison Loves All Things Christmas

Our five-year-old is in love with Christmas. I know he’s not alone, all kids like Christmas. But I realized that his obsession excitement is helping me love Christmas more.

Not that I didn’t love Christmas before, it’s just that it becomes new and fresh and wonderful when you experience it through the excited and eager eyes of a child. That sounded really cheesy, but it’s true.

Last night my mother-in-law lovingly babysat our kids. One thing you should know about my mother-in-law: she has the most Christmas decorations of anyone I know. It’s like a Christmas Spectacular over there. And as you can imagine, for Orison, it’s a-ma-zing!

There are nativity sets from all over the world, lights in the windows, and even a life-size manger for re-enacting.

Orison told my mother-in-law that he was being Joseph and he was taking care of baby Jesus. She wrote a sweet and beautiful post reflecting on that idea.

Most days you can find him playing with his Playmobil Nativity set or with this magnetic doodad he got from… can you guess? His grandmama (the above-mentioned fellow Christmas fan)! He used this magnetic set to do Sunday School lessons for me and Abraham the other day.

He also loves to sing. There have been lots of traditional carols and some non-traditional ones he writes himself:

So if you’re needing a little shot in the arm of Christmas spirit, let us know! Orison would be more than happy to accomodate. He’s got enough to go around!

December 7, 2009 at 12:22 am 16 comments

Laundry Anxiety

I don’t know about you all (that’s y’all for my Southern peeps), but I didn’t do much laundry this weekend.

And now, I pay the price. Folding party at my house tonight! It’ll be fun… really.

Doesn’t she look like she’s having fun???

I realized that my anxiety about starting the laundry is two-fold:

  1. The sheer volume. Heavens to Murgatroyd, we dirty a lot of clothes. (By the way, I think I’m gonna name the lady in the photo Murgatroyd.)
  2. Not wanting to start and then find that I missed something.

I suffer more with the second one. I hate when I try to wash every last stitch of dirty laundry in our house, and then, as if from nowhere, a random dirty sock will appear. When that happens, it feels like it was all for naught.

And then, inevitably… the end of the day comes and there will be more dirty clothes, thus confirming the maddening phenomenon that is the laundry.

You know, you hear about postal workers going insane because “The mail never stops.” But I think more wives and moms would be justified to go similarly batty by the same token.

Okay, gotta go start this exercise in futility. I’ve put it off long enough by:

  1. Pondering.
  2. Posting.

So if you’re slogging through piles of laundry today, you’re not alone. And just remember Murgatroyd. She’s having so much FUN!!! (insert insane laughter).

November 30, 2009 at 12:10 pm 58 comments

Thanksgiving Knit-Up and Wrap-Up

I’m getting this post up during the final minutes of Thanksgiving 2009!

My mother-in-law posted a video of some of our racous family moments today if you’re curious. (Bonus! You’ll see footage of Morrow walking and dancing. Aaand… you’ll get to see my awesome dance moves during a kiddy dance party with Orison and his cousin Grace.)

I mean, who wouldn’t want to see that?

I decided to finish the night quietly, knitting a pair of mittens for Morrow. The weather’s gotten really cold, really fast! So while Abraham sleeps (the lump in the back of the picture) I post on my blog and knit.

I’m thankful for a quiet end to Thanksgiving 2009.

November 27, 2009 at 12:02 am 9 comments

What’s Compassion’s Theology? Answering Your Compassion Questions, Part 1

Before I took off for El Salvador with Compassion International, I asked you guys if you wanted to know anything about child sponsorship. You really rose to the occasion, and sent some really thoughtful questions. So thank you for that.

Initially, I was going to respond to them individually, but as I talk to more and more people about sponsorship, I think the questions and issues raised are more global, and so deserve a more public forum for answering.

Spending the week with Shaun Groves, our trip leader (and an awesome guy), I got to ask all the questions I could think of. He was so gracious and always helpful. Turns out, when he went on his first Compasssion trip, he went as a skeptic, since he had previously been involved with a different childrens’ organization that didn’t use their money the way they said they did. He was won over by Compassion International, and now travels around and devotes most of his career (and a large percentage of his heart) to their ministry.

So, we’ll start with the first question!

Laura asked:

I sponsor a child in Kenya and wonder about the theology that she’s taught. How does Compassion choose which local churches to work with? Are they mostly theologically uniform, or is there some diversity of belief about what might be called “non-essentials” among the projects?

Answer:

  • Compassion International sets up their child sponsorship “projects” through local churches. That’s the only way they do it in every country they work in.
  • In the early days, Compassion had to go looking for church partners. Now, most of the time, churches come find them, because their reputation is so upstanding and the local congregations see the benefits of hosting a Compassion project and want that for the children in their neighborhoods!
  • All churches must subscribe to the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals. No exceptions.

So if this was the burning question you had that’s keeping you from sponsoring, and you feel satisfied with this answer, go ahead and sponsor.

Or if you’ve just been undecided or forgetful or apathetic or confused (really, you can just insert any of those adjectives here & you would’ve been describing me a few months ago)… go ahead and sponsor.

November 24, 2009 at 9:09 pm 3 comments

Reentry Sickness

No matter how much I wanted to, I didn’t wake up in El Salvador today. My week with Compassion International is over, and I’m grieving that.

I got home Friday night around 11pm and woke Orison (our then-4-year-old) and he greeted me very drowsily. In the morning he didn’t even remember it! But when he woke up Saturday morning, he was FIVE! That’s right, I got home just in time for his birthday.

We spent the day pretty quietly together as a family. But Abraham and I were so tired that by about 5pm we both knew we needed to get out of the house or we were going to be miserable until bedtime. In some random moment of insanity, Abraham suggested that we take Orison to ride a few rides at the Mall of America (something he’s only done a couple times and would be totally thrilled by).

So… it was Saturday night at the Mall of America. Not for the faint of heart, my friends. I don’t think we’d ever been there on a Saturday night before. It was so.stinkin’.busy. So full of people with waaaay too much.

As we were talking toward the amusement park area, I told Abraham, “I’m feeling a little sick to my stomach.”

“Literally?” He asks. (All too often I’m actually sick to my stomach, so he has to make sure….)

“No… more heartsick.”

“So, you’re sick to the stomach of your heart?”

“Exactly.”

I mean, the day before I was still seeing tin-roofed, dilapidated shacks that people call homes. The day before I was still in the thick of El Salvador and it’s poverty. And I was still there in my heart and mind. But somehow my body was travelling through the Mall of America.

Walking paradox, no?

I keep thinking about objects in space, and how they have to very carefully calculate how the object will reenter the earth’s atmosphere, or else any number of catastrophic ends will result (blowing up, exploding, catching on fire). Perhaps a trip to the Mall of America wasn’t the best reentry strategy.

I’ve already cried a few times today, my emotions just barely below the surface. I feel okay with that, though. If I were just pushing it all down and refusing to let it touch me, that would be unhealthy. My mentor tells me, “Don’t be afraid of tears. Tears are often a sign that the Holy Spirit’s at work.”

So that, for now, is my reentry strategy. Try to let the tears come as they need to. Remember what I saw. And try to avoid the Mall of America.

My El Salvador Posts

November 16, 2009 at 3:26 pm 37 comments

What do a bunch of bloggers do in the airport?

We got to our gate to wait for our flight out of El Salvador. I went into the bathroom, and when I came out I found this:

bloggers

Apparently there’s wi-fi.

So what did I do? I joined the party!

Seriously though, before we leave El Salvador, I just want to recognize all of you who’ve faithfully read our posts and engaged in this week with us. It’s been such a blessing to me.

You can find all of our posts about the Compassion Bloggers page, or go visit the fine bloggers who have accompanied me this week:

Heather Whittaker

Kelly Stamps

And our wondeful trip leaders:

Shaun Groves

Patricia Jones

And of course our fantastic trip photographer, who has worked like a mad woman this week! All of the photos on my site from the trip have been her work. She is a gracious, hardworking, servant-hearted woman.

Keely Scott

Thanks again to all of you. If there was no one to read and act, there would be no reason to do any of this.

November 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm 7 comments

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