Thursday, December 24, 2015

Weekly Smorgasbord (Christmas Edition)

I know these have been more frequent lately, but I glanced in my drafts and realized I had ALOT of Christmas posts I wanted to share. I don't usually (or ever?) do themes with these, but I decided it would be fun to try. I'm planning on posting our Christmas card and letter tomorrow (it's all ready in the drafts folder!) and then taking a few days off. I'll probably post my weekly baby update on Sunday or maybe next Monday.

I will say there's a lot of posts here with a good bit of sadness. It's been a mostly happy season for me, but I was thankful for such brutal truth telling. 

On Hope:
Posted: 18 Dec 2015 02:23 PM PST
"The pristine, fair-haired baby Jesus and his glowing blonde mother set in glazed ceramic—fragile and beautiful and perched on a shelf—is not an image that helps me see hope in my world. The perfect baby child no crying he makes does not help me when all I have are tears. What causes me to hope is that God incarnate joined humanity in the very worst way. And it is still miraculous."

Posted: 30 Nov 2015 06:58 PM PST
"Then, in those days, we fling the windows wide open even though it's still a bit too cold outside and the wind sweeps into our homes, the cold swirling into the corners. A few short months ago, this very temperature sent us running for our mittens and heavy coats, now after months of deeper cold, that number on the thermometer feels like a balmy day, worthy of t-shirts. We feel a compulsion to clean and to sweep and to make our spaces sparkle like the light. We prepare our homes for the arrival of the light and the warmth like fancy people prepare their homes for big parties. Doesn't someone have a bottle of champagne somewhere? We are all unbuttoning and unwinding and unfurling and then we are tipping our faces up to the light with our eyes closed against the brilliance, still seeing the light through our lids, feeling the promise of warmth and growth and life again."

On The Mundane and Magnificent:
Posted: 20 Dec 2015 10:53 PM PST
"I forget that, like Mary, I am a portal. My body carries Resurrection Life. My spirit is at one with the One and the responsibility and the glory is close. It's here. It's in the kitchen. It's in the minivan. It's bent over before the laundry. The One I am looking for is always ready to meet with me. But I can find Him only when I pause and am present. When I am ready to open the door into Eternity and step across the threshold.
On Fear:
Posted: 18 Dec 2015 10:53 PM PST
"When you hold bravery in one hand and vulnerability in the other, you hold wholeness. The wholeness of true humanity."

On Sadness:
Posted: 16 Dec 2015 08:08 PM PST
"I give the minor key its due because even sadness has a sort of sheen and darkness a kind of insight. Melancholy songs can soothe my soul, offering space for truth telling which allows me to acknowledge that all is not yet well. Feeling it all unlocks something inside me."

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 10:57 PM PST
"This is the paradox in which we still live today—this liminal space of the already and the not yet. Rachel's is the cry of women everywhere who grieve the loss of the children they love because of human greed and the injustice it creates. These women cry out against poverty, preventable deaths, wars in which the poor lose their lives and the wealthy reap the benefits. The Kingdom proclaimed by the Prince of Peace has already begun, but still the world suffers, and we suffer in it. We wait in desperation for the day that Jesus' Kingdom will be revealed in full."

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 01:30 PM PST
"The paradox I'm wrestling with is that finding joy and beauty in this season in no way dilutes the anguish I hold in my heart for this world."
Posted: 07 Dec 2015 10:50 PM PST
"I would have flown to the ends of the earth to dodge the flash of steel that ended my young son's life, snuffed out to satisfy the jealous angst of a paranoid king. Tricked out of a positive identification of his rival by the stealth of the wise men, Herod reduced a precious population of baby boys to a disposable demographic: male child, in Bethlehem and its districts, two years old and under."

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 12:53 PM PST
"We moved into a cramped, loud, chaotic apartment complex. Our upstairs neighbors drove their car into my daughter's bedroom. My husband got a job but it is taking forever to get back on our feet financially. Every month we hope that this time we won't qualify for food stamps, but it hasn't happened yet. My anxiety got so bad my body decided to get depressed in order to "fix things." I wrestled with my book manuscript, but it's hard to edit when you are sad and aren't sleeping and have little people to care for. We became very isolated, partly on purpose, partly because we didn't have the energy to reach out to old friends." I love this blog, in general, for the brutal honesty and transparency but this particular post really struck me. Perhaps because I had a particularly hard time writing our own Christmas letter this year. We've had a lot of really good, happy things happen and it's been a year of great growth, but if I'm honest it's been our (or at least my) "hardest year yet", without question and it was deeply important to me to actually share that with those who will be receiving our card and letter. I'm thankful for talented writers who show me that I'm not alone in this desire. Or in my fear and loneliness and anxiety.

Posted: 19 Dec 2015 01:19 PM PST
"I learned a long time ago that before I can engage in Christmas celebrations, I first need to clear some space for the melancholy before the merry. My faith tradition helps with this. Advent unfolds slowly over many weeks, beginning with the slender candle of hope and growing one flame at a time. In recent years, my church has offered Blue Christmas services around the solstice – a time of prayer and contemplation set aside to bless and comfort those who mourn."

On Tradition:

Posted: 30 Nov 2015 07:57 PM PST
"But sometime between childhood and adulthood, tradition became less gift and more obligation. I realized I have a propensity ­to value the tradition more than the very people the tradition serves to make feel loved and known. "

On Feasts:
Posted: 16 Dec 2015 12:25 PM PST
"No doubt you have been at a feast that was an act of war. Perhaps you didn't realize it at the time, but you have. Anytime you sit at a table with those who share your conviction that Jesus is returning, you declare war on the lies of this world — this mixed-up, passing-away, broken world. You reinstate the truth of creation, joy, and all things made new."

Posted: 07 Dec 2015 07:18 PM PST
"You indict me, no doubt, as an incurable romantic. I plead guilty without contest. I see no other explanation of what we are about. Why do we marry, why take friends and lovers, why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry, or cooking? Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course; but out of more than that, too. Half of earth's gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become. For all its rooted loveliness, the world has no continuing city here; it is an outlandish place, a foreign home, a session in via to a better version of itself—and it is our glory to see it so and thirst until Jerusalem comes home at last. We were given appetittes, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great." [Good grief, more tears. Tired, pregnant SD who has undergone the emotional labor of a ten-ish hour holiday is insufferable.]

On What Our Children Don't Need:
Posted: 20 Dec 2015 01:23 PM PST
"Fun stocking stuffers never hurt anyone, but filling our home with the latest fads and trends only sets a precedence for more fads and trends. Years ago, we missed the beauty of Christmas Eve trying to hunt down that hard-to-find toy that ended up going unappreciated. It only ends when we let it." This is a GREAT list, in my opinion.
On Gifts:
Posted: 16 Dec 2015 12:59 PM PST
"For the young-at-heart spouse who lacks for nothing you can buy on Amazon: Tickets for Home Alone with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on January 3rd or, of course, earlybird registration for The 2016 NYC Mockingbird Conference (now open!)" Young at heart spouses in this family are getting the latter. OMG, can't wait. Can't wait. Can't wait. Pretty sure it's the ultimate item on the list. [The sad part was telling Graves he isn't going to Coney Island with us. Next time, Bud, next time.]

Posted: 07 Dec 2015 06:57 PM PST
Really cool ideas!

Posted: 18 Dec 2015 01:52 PM PST
"Cinnamon Roll–Infuser Water Bottle: For those who are tired of drinking bland, flavorless water, this new bottle from InFuzeH20 features a slick colored-glass design and extra-large infusion chamber to accommodate even the largest breakfast pastries."

Noteworthy Images:


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