Face It

Okay, I give up. Advent wreath? Nightly readings? Lighting the candles as we meditate on Christ’s coming? Who needs it? This ad on the back of my Family Fun magazine has forced me to face the truth that none of those things is pivotal in heightening familial love and unity this holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh sure! You can go ahead and TRY your pathetic crafts at the table and singing ’round the piano. Go ahead and have your face-to-face interaction as you play a hand of cards! Reminesce as you decorate the tree and bake treats!

 

Just remember, though, that if you don’t like game systems or greasy food, you’re pretty much doomed to perpetual alienation. There goes your last chance to be a part of something beautiful. You fool!

 

I’m not sure what disturbs me most about this ad. The wording is rude, the idea is reprehensible, and the graphics are just plain scary. You’ve got a giant Wii vortex, complete with god-like rays of ecstasy, about to envelope a sweet little family of four who are walking hand in hand, apparently unaware of the impending doom. Only one hangs back…a little boy of about six. Perhaps he feels a twinge of foreboding. Perhaps he has noticed the shadow of the console as it prepares to pounce upon him. But no matter. Thanks to the Burger King Crown Card, he will soon be adequately sedated with a steaming pile of french fries. He won’t feel a thing.

 

I, on the other hand, feel not a little queasy.

It Just Doesn’t Cut It

Talking about what we’re thankful for is a common theme at Thanksgiving. Family, friends, and food probably rank first and foremost in one’s mind when asked what blessings they are particularly grateful for. I know they do in mine. But this Thanksgiving, I find myself musing upon a slightly different theme, and one which my heart will not let me dismiss.

 

My trials.

 

Not that they have been many, or particularly gruesome, especially when compared to the collective experience of the population at large, but it’s safe to say that there have been times in my life when I have thought I’m not sure I’m gonna make it. I’m not sure I even want to.

And yet from the other side of the valley of the shadow, I can look back and say Thank You, Lord. Thank You for the trials. For the rough road. For the tempest.

It’s not easy to do. It’s a struggle to open my mouth and say it. Maybe I’m afraid that by acknowledging my gratitude, He’ll heap more of the same upon my head. And I’m not sure that I want that.

 

But then, I’m not sure that I don’t, either.

 

Because I have come to realize that, without the trials, I would never have seen how trustworthy He is. Without the rough road,I would never have learned to cling to Him so tenaciously. And without the tempest, I would never have found how tenaciously He clings to me. 

 

Oh, the sweet peace of that thought! That I can find Him in the darkness, grope for His hand and find it reaching for me. I pray I will not fear the tribulation, but run to meet it if it must come, run to meet Him, in the center of it, arms outstretched in welcome.

 

He is so good, my friends! He makes even the darkness light. And for that, first and foremost, my heart is overflowing with thanks.

Vision

Cowboy X was born with one pupil larger than the other. The pediatric opthamologist ruled out anything dire but declared him to be abyssmally farsighted (unrelated to the pupil issue). Josiah, my seventh-born, wears a patch to jolt his brain into accepting his legally-blind eye into working, so we knew there were these issues in our genetic code.

What I didn’t expect was to leave with a prescription for glasses. Teeny, tiny baby glasses. For my Cowboy. I also didn’t expect to feel so sad about it.

I felt better after talking with my mother, who told me that when my older sister, at age 3, got her glasses, she (my mother) burst into tears. I haven’t burst into tears yet. Of course, the fact that Cowboy X looks so stinkin’ adorable in his new little lenses helps a lot. When we first put them on his tiny noggin, a memory of something niggled in the back of my mind. It took me a minute to make the connection.

Then it came to me.

 

Turtle! Turtle!
  
    
 

Am I turtle-y enough for the turtle club?

 

He’s definitely cuter than Dana Carvey, but c’mon…you gotta admit the resemblance is striking…

In the end, however, I think the nickname Cowboy X has been supplanted by something else, in light of his intensely nerdy new look.

Professor X

 

 

 

That’s Mr. Professor X to you, slacker

 

 

 

I think I’ll stuff his stocking with pocket protectors and protractors.

Noted

You were a whisper
on the wind
into my ear today

 

 

 


November brown
hung all around
and muted shades of gray
      

 

Your life a bud
upon the branch
the bloom I longed to see

 

But you were lost
to early frost
most unexpectedly

 

You flickered
like a tiny flame
a ripple and a sigh

 

 

 

 

I gave you just
a tiny name
but greatly did I cry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear one-year-old
who never was
my heart regards the time

 

A candle glows
a few take note
and I will pen my rhyme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A flower now
in heaven’s fields
you blossom ceaselessly

 

 

 


no earthly vase
your resting place
yet someday I will see

And when we meet
the bittersweet
will all just fade away

 

 

 

 


I’ll smile at you
and hold you too
on that great greeting day.

 

 

 

 

The Shrubyubs, #6

The saga of the Shrubyubs continues…catch up on the action here

 

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The Shrubyubs
By Jordan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is this strange blue creature? Why does it have the wand? Who were the mysterious rescuers in the last comic? Will the Shrubyubs ever find a new home?

More Shrubyubs every Sunday! Stay tuned!

Exertion

It is with fear and trembling that I write this.

 

No, seriously, fear and trembling.

 

Because as soon as it is written and I hit the “publish” button, the testing will come. Make no mistake, it will come. Like a hurricane-force wind, it will come, and it will probably knock me silly.

 

But I’m writing it anyway.

 

Because I need the reminder.

 

So here I go…I’m asking the question…

 

What is strength?

 

We see someone who fights for what they want, and we say they are strong. Look at them, we say. They don’t let anybody push them around. They have such strength.

 

The man who is the ruler of his own destiny, never suffering to be taught by anyone. Strong. The woman who is never satisfied until the plans meet her standards and hers alone. Strong. The spouse who wins every argument. Strong.

 

But what is inherently strong about insisting upon your own way? Does it not come naturally to every one of us? Am I strong when I…

 

spill my guts?

lash out?

throw a hissy fit?

force an issue?

beat a dead horse?

proclaim ultimatums?

hold nothing back?

 

Triumphant I may be, but strong? Doing what comes naturally is not difficult, it is easy. It requires no strength at all!

 

True strength, I suspect, is far, far more subtle. True strength might be

 

holding my tongue

keeping my temper

giving way

considering alternatives

listening to others

being a servant

letting it go

 

I’ve tried these things. They are hard. Really, really hard. It takes enormous…what’s the word…strength…on my part to accomplish them. Hm. 

 

I think a little exercise is in order.  

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“Da-da” babbles my infant son. “Da-da Da-da Da-da!”

My Beloved is so flattered and pleased. He grins and brags that Cowboy X knows what side his bread is buttered on.

 

It is always the same, this First Of All Words. Da-da. Never Ma-ma–not once–not first, not from my children or from any I’ve inquired about. Always Da-da.

Child development experts theorize as to why this is so, but the gloating on the part of fathers everywhere is not diminished by the explanations that “d” is more easily voiced than “m” and thus comes first.

 

I could get my feelings hurt, but I have a dawning suspicion that my babe is not playing favorites. He is instead proving, to my wondering ears, the truth the psalmist proclaims:

 

From the lips of children and infants


You have ordained praise

 

~ps. 8:2

 

God Himself has claimed the first word of every child as His own, and I know He smiles to hear it rising before His throne from the babbling mouths of babies worldwide on any given day. Simple, innocent worship; a recognition of the Abba Daddy, First Father, Maker of soul and body and lips and vocal chords and tongue: all for His praise. 

 

Of all His many names, it is the one upon which we must build our foundation: the Trustworthy One, the One Who Loves Us Perfectly, the One Who Never Leaves or Forsakes. All other names of power and omnipotence and sovereignity must be rooted and grounded in the Love that is Da-da, or they will simply terrify and repel.

 

Da-da. First and best. Cause my heart to remember that infant song, all my days.

We Are Rawther Genteel, You Know

In the One Thing household, every Wednesday is Art-and-Tea Day. That is to say, we create art, and we drink tea. We also listen to classical music, since classical music, as everyone knows, increases one’s chances of becoming outrageously brilliant.

I’ll take all the help I can get, friends.

 

I started having regular tea parties with my older children many years ago, thinking that it would help to instill a bit of refinement and grace in their sadly hillbillity lives. Besides basic please and thank you, we learned important rules of etiquette like always take the cookie closest to you and pass from right to left.

 

Also please don’t sneeze on the scones and no, you cannot bring your battle axe to the tea table.

For some reason, however, the tea tradition fell by the wayside. Perhaps the sheer numbers overwhelmed me (it happens on occasion). When the weekly tea parties began to be spoken of in wistful and nostalgic tones, I knew that would never do. I declared the tea parties reinstated, and there was much rejoicing.

 

It isn’t difficult, having a tea party. It just takes a little effort. Some people like to dress up for them.

 

But others prefer to be casual.

Perhaps a bit too casual.

The naked teabibber is awfully cute, though. Have I mentioned that a time or twenty before?

Other necessities for tea-party-success: china. Matching optional.

My mother-in-law gave me this china set several years ago. She just up and gave it to me! I might have mentioned that I loved it once or twice infinity times whenever I saw it at her house. I think it was a last-ditch attempt to shut me up.

Nagging one’s mother-in-law for china is probably not successful for most people. But most people don’t have my divine mother-in-law.

What? No, you can’t have her! She’s MINE! nanny nanny boo boo!

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes. Goodies. Goodies are very, very necessary.

 

Snickerdoodles.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread.

Freshly-minted (as of this evening!) eleven-year-old.

(Okay, so that’s not necessary, but it’s pretty cool)

And most importantly: Grace and Gratitude, for all of the above.

So go on! Have yourself a tea party of your own. I’ll even share my shortbread recipe, to get you started.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

14 Tbsp Butter (don’t even think of using anything else)
2 Cups flour
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F. Put butter in 13×9 pan and melt in oven. Remove when completely melted and let cool briefly. Combine flour and sugar together and add to butter still in pan. Mix it until completely incorporated, then press evenly over bottom of pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the shortbread and press them down into the batter firmly. Bake for 18 minutes. Eat decorously, with one pinky raised.

Of Family and Food

Thanksgiving approacheth. Did you know? It’s exactly 9 sleeps away. Let me say that again.

 

THANKSGIVING IS EXACTLY 9 SLEEPS AWAY.

 

In my family, Thanksgiving is about laughing, togetherness, laughing, playing cards, laughing, and what’s that other thing? Uhhhh…hmmmmm….oh yes. Eating oneself into a stupor.

 

Let me just be honest here. Food, and its attendant preparation and presentation, has never been my strong suit. I have a giterdun attitude towards meals. I like to eat, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I have never been in any danger of succumbing to hysterical euphoria over a menu plan.

 

Not so my sister.

 

My sister subscribes to Saveur magazine. I buy her cookbooks for presents. She has a relationship with food that I will never understand. When I express my (heretical) question that if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they invent a pill that has an entire meal compressed within, complete with vitamins and calories and necessary nutrients?, she turns pallid.

 

And so Thanksgiving is her Valentine’s Day. A love letter to her extended family, written in green jello salad and signed with gravy.

 

She keeps emailing me updated menus for consideration with regards to the big day, and this is fine with me. I like knowing what I am expected to contribute, and what I can conveniently forget about entirely. However, her precise mathematical formula for figuring out quantities appears to be something like this:

 

Number of People To Feed X 42, plus extra, just in case

And then she asks questions like Do you think this will be enough? Do you think we need another vegetable dish? Are six pies going to do it?

And I reply: We will have 27 human beings in our house for Thanksgiving. Subtract six for pie-haters and those who possess no teeth for pie chewing, and you have 21. I think 48 slices of pie will be enough, yes.

Her power to remember and organize food is borderline supernatural. She senses gaps in the appetizer lineup like Spiderman senses a mugging about to occur, and ensures that justice is done in the name of deprived tastebuds everywhere.

 

In the end, though, I don’t know what I’d do without her. This is the woman who pulled out all the stops to plan and provide my daughter’s wedding buffet when I, in my newborn-fogged, sleep-deprived stupor, was thinking Wedding food? Can’t everybody just eat butter mints and peanuts?

 

I may roll my eyes when I receive the inevitable 2,382nd revision to the menu, but I gotta admit…she puts the Thanks in my Thanksgiving.