Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007

There were 11 of us for Christmas dinner, more than we've had in years. Alan came with Wayneen, his fiancé, and Hannah, who was only here for a few days from her new home in Boise and enjoying her break from three jobs. With Kev's mom here, my folks coming, and Brett home for almost three weeks, it was going to be so much fun to have everyone here.

I made overnight caramel pull-aparts, but I totally forgot to hide the baby Jesus in foil for someone to find! Winner gets to put Him in His manger. Oh well, no one remembered to even take Him out of the manger for Christmas morning. Our traditions are loosey goosey. It's more traditional for us to say, "Oh, yeeaahhh..."

We opened presents, and Jylle was our disburser. We each take a turn so that we can pay attention to who got what from whom. Kev's mom is the most gracious receiver I've ever known. She always makes you feel like you've just given her the very thing she'd been wanting all year. So much love and consideration.

I called a friend I hadn't talked to in months and got an earful. She's gone ahead and consented to a relationship with a married man. She's been quiet on her side because she didn't know if I even wanted to hear what's going on in her life nowadays. But I can't be gotten rid of that easily. She knows what she's doing is wrong. I know what she's doing is wrong, and she knows that I know that. We weren't done talking, but Alan's team arrived. Still on the phone, I opened the door for him and his overladen arms, then went back in my bathroom to finish up and say goodbye. Two minutes later, Kev came in and motioned impatiently for me to come out. I tried, but he came back in a minute later, saying "We need you. We need a buffer."

From here on out, this is the journaling I do to make sense of things that bug me and just to let it out. It's far too long, but this is how things have to come out sometimes.

When I came out I knew something was wrong. Hannah was sitting on the couch plugged into her iPod. Kev pulled me aside explaining, "Your mom said something to Hannah, and she didn't take it well. She said, 'Hi, Jeslyn.' She meant it as a joke, but Hannah didn't take it that way, and it didn't go over well. Now Hannah's hurt, and we need you.' " I woodenly walked over to Wayneen to say hi. She was squatting next to my mom saying her own hello, and as soon as she looked at me she asked, "Are you okay?" I couldn't stand it. Tears ambushed me, and I couldn't stay. I mumbled a weak No, did a 180 and started tackling the dishes in the sink. When I could not get a handle on my emotions, I went out to the garage and sobbed. I saw Hannah through the garage window out with the horses. She stood there and petted Howdy, and I was immediately 16 again, petting my own horse, my own silent therapy in times of personal crisis. It took a minute, but I was able to go back in and pretend nothing happened.

Brett was the first to meet me in the kitchen, and he started telling me something. But when he looked me in the face, he said, "Your eyes are all glassy....." I just smiled a cardboard smile. "What's the matter?" I said I didn't want to talk about it, I just wanted him to keep talking. That seemed to startle him, but he continued.

At dinner, Mom asked Hannah a couple of questions about school and work, and Hannah politely answered but without ever looking at her. I sat between Hannah and Dad, and I noticed that Dad seemed a little more amused than usual at Hannah's conversation, as if to try to let her know that he was interested in her and didn't want to be categorized with Mom.

Lord knows I love that girl. She has a naturally loud laugh like her mama, and she was completely herself at the dinner table, and then again when she was doing dishes. I rinsed and dried while she talked and laughed, all loudly but innocently. Alan finally asked her to take it down a notch, which completely shut her down. Her countenance turned to stone, and she clammed up. I tried to engage her further, but her replies were the distracted kind we give when something hurts inside. Alan told me later that it was a lose-lose situation. Hannah is loud, and that’s how she is. She hurts Mom’s ears because of Mom’s hearing aid. But what happens when you ask a laughing person to take it down a notch—they stop laughing altogether. Hannah’s hurt, and Alan gets the blame for her humiliation.


SOOooo...... other than those two episodes, the rest of Christmas Day was just swell!

Just like on Thanksgiving, we didn't take one picture. Bummer! Just like it could've been our last holiday with Jeslyn for a long time at Thanksgiving, this could've been our last holiday with Hannah for a long time. Somehow though, going pictureless this time isn't the too-bad that Thanksgiving was.

O Lord, we WILL all get along splendidly one day. I wish it could've happened on the day we celebrate as Your birthday, but I know it WILL happen one day. No more fights, no more misunderstandings, no more offense, pettiness, OCD, snarling, meanness, and smallness of spirit. Only You and the All that You are. Till then, Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday. XO

~2 Cor. 9:15

Friday, December 14, 2007

say that again?

I don't know about where you live, but around here, people mispronounce words all the time. That is one of my pet peeves (that and being asked if I washed something yet that wasn't even in the dirty clothes, I mean come ON). Even with a friend of mine who is well-educated, experienced in life, and even cosmopolitan, I have experienced her occasional bouts of what I now deem "syllabaloney."
  • chic - French word pronounced "sheek" not "chick".
  • Washington - It's "wash" with no R in it, see? no R.
  • hunting - not huntin'. Unless you're from the deep South, the "ing" is still there.
  • basil - BAY-zuhl.The only people allowed to pronoune this BA-zuhl (short A) are the British and anyone in Basil Rathbone's family.
  • Aesop - The Greek fable guy. It's EE-sop, not AY-sop. The entire district staff is saying it wrong! Look it up; ask a kid; click here--or here.
  • nuclear - NOO-klee-er. I know even President Bush says NOO-kyuh-ler, but it's not right!
  • grievous - GREE-vuhs, not GREE-vee-uhs; only two syllables.
  • realtor - REEL-ter, not REEL-uh-ter; again, only two syllables.
  • Abednego - ah-BED-nih-go. The lastly mentioned pal of Shadrach and Meshach. Most people say ah-BEND-a-go. Good name for the twisty slide at the Focus on the Family campus in Colorado Springs.
Maybe I'll add to this list if more syllabaloney comes to mind or if I occasion new ones. So far, so bad.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

stuff gets bigger

You know that story in the New Testament about the man delivered from a demon, after which he gets possessed a hundred times worse because he didn't fill his life up with God after he was saved the first time? I liken that story to our nation. We're right with God, and then we fall away. We get right again, and then we fall away even harder. And so on. Every time we fall, we fall deeper and harder until look where we are now. No wonder every generation thinks it's the one that's going to see the end times.

What we're seeing now is the worst morality and crime our country's ever seen. I bet Rome was worse, but that's a different country. I'm talking about seeing this good-then bad-then good-then worse routine for my own self, in my own land, and it's depressing. I'm re-memorizing 2 Timothy, and chapter 3:1-5 nails it: "But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

no condemnation

"How could you?"

The accusation hovered in the air meeting dead silence. What did she want to hear? No reply would satisfy, no words could meet her conditions. It wasn't a question. It was a damning.

Her unblinking stare was like the laser heat of a desert sun. I would die in its intensity if she would not turn away.

I would not defend myself. I would obey You and be silent. I love You, Lord. You must be righthererightnow, the shield of my heart and mind , or I will fail You again.

She stood there and stared for a hundred years, and then finally pivoted away in slow motion. Seeing her through my Abba's eyes, she seemed to be enveloped in a reddish fog, the color of judgment and condemnation. And she smelled bad, too.

Thank you, my lamb. You did what I asked you.

Abba, that was so hard. I thought You would bear the burden. I thought you said your yoke would be easy, and my burden light.

Could you have endured that if you knew I was not rightthererightnow with you?

No, but why was it still so hard?

The blow to a helmet is still felt, even if not fatal. The sound of the wasp is still heard, even if it does not sting. The smell of death is still grievous, even if not your own.

I am filled with pity and grief for this one who accuses so completely, content in her own rightness. My spirit is troubled being around darkness. I would rather be the accused than the accuser, silent rather than defensive, protected rather than threatening. I pray for her and hope He will make her His own someday soon. Not so she won't hurt me, but because I want her to be my sister. I want to share Him with her, this Jesus Who is so knowable and unknowable, so fearsome and lovable. Someday, Daddy......? XO

Monday, December 10, 2007

He's engaged!

My little brother is getting married! He met Wayneen through eHarmony, and they've been dating for about six months. She's everything we've been praying for for him. She's charming, funny, healthy, and she has no baggage into the bargain! I know that's hard to believe, and we thought the same thing, but what you see is what you get. Her parents are gone, and of her two sisters, one is an angry biker chick, and the other is schizophrenic. Neither care for her (which I just don't get). She's humble, thoughtful, generous, witty, and intelligent, and we're all so deeply grateful for this match. They go well together since Alan is all those things too (the good stuff, not the angry/schizo part).

They don't know exactly when the wedding will be, but Alan wants to get married in Hawaii on the beach. Be awfully nice to be able to go, but with the price of gas and airline tickets, we'd have to win the lottery. And that'd be difficult since we don't buy lottery tickets... Anyway, go Brawno! I love you!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I saw “Enchanted” yesterday with a dear friend, and I liked it. I was surprised at the beginning because it was about 10 minutes of that 2D animation of those early Disney movies. Made sense to do it that way though because when the characters got fleshed out, there was this great clarity of contrast, which was quite entertaining in itself.

There was so much unreality in it that I couldn’t help but be reminded that this was a fairy tale. The melodrama, the plot, the clear line between good and evil—all delicious ingredients for a make-believe story.

However, I found myself getting choked up several times during this movie. I thought This is just a fun little story, light Disney fare--where’s this coming from?

It hit me toward the end of the movie that this story was yet another example of our heart’s desire to experience and share in that one story of the ages, the one God tells in His word that crashes against the reality we experience: There IS a happy ending, a happily ever after. It’s true, even if it’s something that we’ll experience after this life when we are really and truly alive. The tale of good & evil, peril & rescue, and that haunting desire we know as True Love is a true story, ever alive in eternity, and deep down, we know it. This is what I felt, and as always, my reaction to it was strong and deep and unexpected.

But I keep forgetting. I keep living like this is where it’s all at. Then when His story, my story, Our story, reintroduces itself, I’m taken aback and hugged full-on by it all over again. It’s rather like loving the movie “Casa Blanca” and going for years without seeing it or even thinking of it, and then having it be the girls night out film one night. It just gets you “right here.” [tap your heart twice]

It was a fun, beautiful time with my unself-conscious friend, and I treasure the memory. I was thinking we were two that day, but that’s never the case, is it? There were precious Three of us… †

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lunch with two friends

I had lunch last Friday with two friends I hadn’t seen in years, Rae two years ago, and Carrie, ten years ago. We met at Chili’s, and I’d have been there ten minutes earlier if I could’ve just found a parking spot! It was ridiculous. Like packin’ a size 12 woman into a size 6 dress—the excess runneth amuck.

As soon as Rae saw me, she motioned me to the table. I gave her a quick but meaningful hug, and I don’t know how else to describe it but I got a large measure of comfort from her beautiful, sweet face. Like going home after a long time away and nestling into your favorite sofa. Carrie stood to greet me, and when we hugged, I felt this swell of emotion rising. I would cry if I didn’t tug it back down. I hadn’t expected to be emotional, just happy. I drank in her face and marveled at how her eyes can still swallow me whole.
We sat down and began the catch-up. How are all the kids? What are you involved in? How was your Thanksgiving? Didn’t take long before we got into what I deem the only thing worth taking time for—Where are you with the Lord, and what are your struggles and joys? More emotion.

Rae and I are doing really well, so what we had to share was mostly about how great our kids are doing and how grateful we are for the downpour of blessing our whole lives have been. I realized afresh that You’ve been washing my feet my entire life. It is not even in me to begin knowing how to live a life that thanks You for that.

Carrie is another story. There is heartache with her family, both extended and immediate, so every time she related a situation, I’d tear up, especially when she did. It’s hard for me not to ask clarifying questions when someone’s relating something. I’m so visual that I don’t get it if I don’t see it. It’s also important to respect someone’s right to finish a sentence without being interrupted. I knew I would leave, and a hundred questions would pop up on the way home. Thank goodness for email.

What blessing in the extreme to have so little time and yet still connect in matters of the heart. What a satisfaction to have communion with two souls I have not been able to meet with in a long, long time. Time and distance have no foothold there in the spirits of those who are His own. Thank Ya, JEEsus!

We talked about our class reunion next year and whether or not we wanted to go. Noneof us wanted to go, all for different reasons. Rae feels chubby, Carrie’s tired of going by herself, and I figure I already keep in touch with the people I want to, so there’s no draw in it for me. However, after getting an email from Jerri Sue saying she’s going, I’m reconsidering. I haven’t seen her in 20 years.

Carrie got the check, her treat. Rae brought a fat jar of jam for each of us. I got peach apricot, and Carrie got strawberry. Wish I could do that from time to time. It’s really such a kind and generous-hearted gift. Me, I brought pics of me and mine, even of the house, the dog, my cat, and a couple of the horses. Cyndi’s friends gave. Cyndi took. Story of my life. I’ll get over it.

Carrie was the first to leave. She wrapped her long coat around her tall, slender body, and I kissed her on her blond head and hugged her to me, wishing for just one more hour. “We should do this at least every six months,” she said. At first I thought That’s so long. But then I realized it was pretty realistic. Six months goes by quickly. My oldest son was just ten, but he turned 21 yesterday.

Rae and I visited for ten more minutes, and I was able to ask her more about her dad, who’s in a long term residence. I love the way she talks. There’s something Cupie Doll about her that’s absolutely adorable. But we both had to go, so she donned her scarlet coat and we hugged goodbye.

I walked away with a full tummy, a full heart, and a mind full of memories, questions, and a couple of comments I’d wanted to share but forgot to. These friends of mine are like rooms in my heart, which is a palace. I don’t enter every room of my palace every day, but I know they’re there, and I can go in when I want. They are beautiful, wonderfully unique, with their own fragrance and atmosphere and decor. The scarlet thread that weaves us together is the One whose presence we are actually enjoying as we pour into and receive from one another the heavenly Sweetness that is His Spirit.

For 90 minutes, I left the land of me-me-me, and my soul basked in tropical trade winds that swept me warmly into others’ far off lands, brought close for one moment. A lovely new ornament of remembrance to savor in their rooms in my heart. Thank You... †

Saturday, December 01, 2007

familiar pub smell

For those Britons who drink in pubs but miss the atmosphere as it was before smoking bans (for example, who may be disoriented by "new" smells that are no longer masked by cigarette smoke), the company Dale Air has introduced, in aerosol cans, a fragrance that it says mimics the musty, ashtray-based scent so familiar to veteran pub-goers. [The Sun (London), 9-19-07]

[Source: Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird]

When I'm accustomed to something and then it changes, I tend to dislike the change, even if it's better for me. A creature of habit, I completely understand how an abused woman might stay in a dangerous relationship. There is hope that he will change, and there is comfort in the familiar--even if it's a deadly soothe. Soooo, I
can’t really shake a crooked, bony finger at these people who miss the stale, smoky smell of their favorite bar, but I can laugh at them for preferring it. I just think that is cattywampus. Call me narrow minded.