Monday, December 30, 2013

Out with the old, hope I don't crap up the new one.

If you live in Colorado and haven't appreciated our state in a number of ways in the last week, then you should really just pack up and head out.  Right now.  Go.  I mean it.  Seriously, between our weather, the Broncos, and compassion of the people that live here, is this not just the best place to live?

Christmas is over, and my honey baked ham is finally almost gone.  She was a good ham, except that every night as I slept, my swollen, throbbing hands reminded me I enjoyed the salty leftovers a little too much.  Billy can't judge me though, because he also enjoyed the Christmas fare, namely pies.  I hope he never has to choose between me or pie, because I know where I stand. 

I always hate when the stash of goodies on my counters dwindles down to nothing but a stale cinnamon roll after the holidays.  I generally need closure in most areas of my life, but saying goodbye to all the sugared joy leaves me feeling a little sad.  We've appreciated so many yummy treats, which not only tasted good, but helped to numb any unresolved issues.  Now that the food is gone, Billy says he's "gonna have to start feeling his feelings". 

Taking down the decorations had a similar effect on our youngest child Will.  On Saturday after Christmas, I told the boys to get up off their butts and help me put this holiday stuff away. (unfortunately that's exactly how I said it) I softened up quickly when I noticed how sad Will was every time he turned around and  something else was gone, such as stockings or the Christmas tree.  His shoulders would slump down as he sighed with a heaviness that about broke my heart.  I tried to remind him that "as believers, Christmas is in our hearts every day"…and blah blah.  I'm pretty sure my sage wisdom was lost on his 8 year old brain that knows his biggest day for gifts is over 360 days away. 

And now we sit here, in what I like to call "the in-between".  The kids are a bit stir crazy, having had several days at home to play with their new things, and the tension levels ramp up every day about 4:00 pm when we've had a lot of "together time".  Like the rest of the world, Billy and I have to get back to real life, working, laundry, and heaven forbid, cooking dinner.  The New Year is only a couple days away, and yet Christmas feels like a distant memory.  I want to sit and ponder the whole year, but instead I'm breaking up fights, and trying to work off a few pounds of gingerbread cookies and white chocolate peppermint bark. 

2013—a whole year has passed and what do I have to show for it?  There are broken relationships, a pulled hamstring, and three kids who have problems that aren't simple and easy to fix with a bandaid and a popsicle.   There are library fines and school loans that don't seem to go away. I learned that being a stay at home mom is hard to balance with being a working mom.  Billy learned that he can't please everyone, and sometimes you have to stick to your convictions even when it doesn't make sense.  There are more miles on our old cars, and even more miles on our aging bodies.  On the flip side, there's a lot of good this past year brought too.  I took my boards and became a registered nurse.  Jack made the honor roll.  Will tried football.  Faith excelled at everything.  And Billy spent almost every morning on his knees praying for us, as we learn to take life one day at a time. 

The time has come to look ahead.  Time to set new goals.  Time to choose to see the positive instead of the negative.  Time to pray our children don't hear about any school shootings.  Time to pray that people can survive natural disasters that have the power to destroy whole cities.  Time to pray our nation finds reconciliation as we all wrestle with topics that make us squirm. 

For me personally, I have goals to be a better wife and mother.  This goal will require me shutting my mouth.  Lofty?  Yes, but possible.  I am going to strive to seek truth in God's Word, not so I appear holy and pious, but so I can continue to daily let go of my old self and evolve into the woman God wants me to become.  In 2014, I am going to "feel my feelings" rather than turn to shopping or cookies.  I will ask my neighbors how they are doing, with sincerity rather than out of obligation.  I will not brag about my pretty feet, and I'll try not to care about my wrinkles.  I will climb a 14er.  I will try very hard to not yell at my dog.  I will ask forgiveness. I will love well. 

Happy New Year. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Merry Christmas Neighbor!

Hey Peeps—

The house is completely silent, with the exception of Billy's loud breathing about 12 feet away from me.  Everyone in the house was dead tired.  It's only Tuesday but after a crazy weekend that did not recharge anyone's batteries, all 3 kids and Billy, hit the hay before 9:00pm.  I'm not too far behind, but when the house is this still, sometimes I feel I must take advantage of the silence for a minute to listen to nothing, and think about everything.   

Christmas is in the air, isn't it?  Well, maybe not if you go to Costco on a Saturday.  Then I'd say there's less Christmas, and more like rage in the air.  Lucky for us, most of the gifts have been bought and my shopping list is finally dwindling down to nothing more than a Honey Baked Ham.  And we've already had a little holiday party with our neighbors.  Now don't go assuming I'm bragging about it—I didn't want to have the party in the first place and if I wasn't "strong armed" by certain members in our church, it may never have happened.

This December our church had to skip our annual Living Nativity due to lack of funds, and an abundance of folks who were too overwhelmed to put it on this year.  Instead they decided to make us all have neighborhood parties to show the gift of Jesus' birth since we don't have any camels to pet. Billy and I were reluctant to have the neighbors over, as they've heard us yelling at the kids in the backyard for years now.  I figured no one would be brave enough to show up at the house full of crazy people, so I agreed to host a get together, secretly knowing we'd end up watching Shark Tank while drinking egg nog by the gallons. 

By Monday I was sitting pretty.  Billy and the kids had delivered all the invitations right after Thanksgiving to all the mailboxes lining our street.  I had a list of desserts to make, and even if no one was RSVP'ing, I was obedient and planned a party.  On Tuesday night the phone rang.  It was a guy down the street who had to decline.  PHEW!  Close call!  We had a nice little exchange and he was very sorry they had to miss, but  "just thrilled you guys were having a party for our street".   Then on Wednesday the phone rang again.  Twice.  Yep, you guessed it.  The party was on for real now, and all my hopes and dreams of a nice quiet night was shattered with two "yes's, we'd love to come".

On Thursday I decided to make a couple desserts ahead of time to be sure I'd have  food to share with our guests.  Even if my attitude wasn't exactly merry and bright, I was going to serve them good food, darn it all.  So I made some lemon bars.  Who doesn't love holiday lemon bars, sprinkled with powdered sugar?  Well, you wouldn't if you had eaten mine.  They looked like cat vomit.  I attempted a pecan pie, homemade crust and all.  I couldn't get the crust to sit in the pan right, and all the edges looked like a Corgi had stuck his paws into it.  Right about the time I was going to throw the pie pan at Billy, my friend Grace came in the door.  She fixed it all up and the end result was a pretty pie! 

By Friday night, the kids were buzzing with excitement as Billy and I sat by the tree discussing what kinds of people might come to the party.  We've lived in our neighborhood many years, and although we love to have folks over, we had to admit, we've never really engaged with our closest neighbors.  Billy came up with some icebreakers (who likes those? No one right? I thought so).  Even though icebreakers are lame, we needed to have some games ready in case there was a lull.  Awkward silences are hard for me, so it was best to be prepared.  We had a game plan, topics for conversation, and food ready to be eaten with merriment and good cheer. 

You will be happy to know the night went off without a hitch!  The neighbors talked nonstop!  There was no need for awkward icebreakers, and I didn't even put my foot in my mouth, which is rare.   Will and Faith entertained the crowd by swapping clothes, and even though it may seem to the neighbors that we are raising "cross-dressers", they enjoyed the kids and laughed at their antics.  One couple stayed way past 10:00 and we loved sitting in our kitchen listening to their stories and how our neighborhood has changed over the years. 

As we cleaned up the kitchen that night, Billy and I decided it was a hit.  We had fun, showed a little hospitality, and a few people living on our street know each other just a little better.  Next spring, when everyone emerges from their cold dark houses into the Colorado warmth, we will greet each other the ways friends say hello.  We will talk about our fun night back in December, and about how our families have survived the cold winter.  We will connect this spring, like we have never done before because relationships were forged.  There's always a lesson isn't there? For me it was realizing how all it took was just one night to reach out of a warm, safe little bubble and be a friend.  Thanks church.  I'm glad you bossed us around.