So How’s Your Day So Far?! OR Being a Roast Goat

Things that should NOT be said to me prior to coffee in the morning – or anytime really:

While I’m attempting to gnaw through the fodder self-described as a ‘healthy breakfast cereal’, the hubby declares the following, “I’m not eating breakfast here this morning (for the 3rdtime this week) – I’m meeting ‘insert fairly believable, faintly familiar name’ so don’t get out the cereal/toast for me.”

Torn jeans, t-shirt and hoodie wearing, hair parted somewhere near the top of her ear, 16-year old asks me, ‘You’re going to straighten your hair, right?!’  Tone, attitude and eyebrow-raised facial expression translate to mean, ‘Seriously Mom, you are not going in public with your hair looking like that are you?!! – thank goodness Dad’s taking me to school today.’  This just after spending the last ½ hour with my hair in hot rollers and thinking I look just shy of gorgeous.

‘Ooooo….are you wearing that?!,’ which depending on who says it and what the tone is and where you put the emphasis in the sentence, can be either good or great or awful.  This morning it came from hubby of the raised eyebrows and narrowed eyes and was accompanied by a series of PG 17 moves designed to gross out the 16 year old and impede me from getting to the car and to work on time.

‘Where is that note you asked me to look at?  I can’t find it.’  This statement was spoken while standing in the kitchen, at the counter a mere 10 cm from the aforementioned note.  Directly.  In.  Front.  Had it been a bear….ok – all the rest of my family finish that statement.  (Honestly – this didn’t happen this morning.  It actually happened last night.  Truly.)

‘I know you’ve wanted some help with de-cluttering the house so I’ve decided to make it a priority.’  Ok – where do I start with this one…nope – can’t do it.  Need at least two cups of clarity before I even begin.

Favorite quote of my day today:  “Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.”  – Johann Sebastian Bach

Here’s my empty coffee cup at work happily anticipating being filled with my current favorite coffee.

“All I want for Mother’s Day is…”

Well, here it is, Mother’s Day eve and I’m finally going to answer the question that has been asked of me every Mother’s Day since my children could talk, “Mom, what do you want for Mother’s Day?”

Every year my reply has been either, “Nothing, I have everything I want,” or most years, “I just want obedient children!” (spoken while under some duress no doubt).

This year, however, I have compiled a comprehensive list to answer that perennial question so here, in no particular order, is a list of the absolutely perfect presents for my Mother’s Day (get out your pen and paper – you’ll need to take notes).

I really, really want:

1. a clean microwave.  Can someone tell me why after scrubbing every square inch of the microwave, inevitably the very next time I go to use it I discover that it appears a cat or some semi-small rodent has exploded inside, a fact that seems to be a total surprise to the rest of the household, as in “Oh, would you look at that!” and “Apart from my science experiment and warming up last weeks leftover spaghetti, I NEVER use the microwave so it can’t be me.”

2. my house to shift by approximately a meter or so.  I think this is the only explanation for why coats are never put in the closet but thrown on the bannister just beside the closet or why dirty dishes are left on the table or right on top of the empty dishwasher or why towels can’t seem to make their way to the towel rack but are found crumpled and damp in the bed/basement/kitchen/under the current paint project or on the floor immediately beneath the towel rack. And some rooms, judging by the mounds of what can be both clean and dirty clothes (who can tell which are which – I swear some weeks I wash just as many clean clothes as not), look like about 74 people were vaporized.  I think it’s just like adjusting the screen resolution on the computer.  The house is clearly at fault here and needs to be tweaked by a few feet or so, then everything would shift those few inches/cms and fall into place – I know it would.

3. a toilet paper manifesto.  Various anonymous family members can lean the new toilet roll on top of the empty cardboard roll but can’t figure out how to take the old roll off and put on the new one!!!  Seriously!!!  People, people, people – this is definitely NOT rocket science!  Do you need a tutorial, a YouTube video perhaps, a powerpoint presentation?  I could fly in an expert – well, no I couldn’t, but seriously.  And the very worst is when I am racing into the bathroom and onto the toilet and I glance over at the toilet roll and SURPRISE, there are the two tiny squares at the end of the roll that are super-glued to the cardboard, and that’s it. But no worries; surely the three extra rolls of TP in the cabinet beside the toilet that I just replenished two days ago are still there.  Revelation #2:  the monster that lives under my bed and eats extra socks has clearly branched out and is now devouring the TP.  That’s the only explanation for why the cupboard is totally devoid of toilet paper.  And it seems my housemates are as shocked as I am as in, “There was lots there when I last looked,” and “I never use THAT bathroom, well only in emergencies.”

4. a repeal of the meal embargo that seems to have been part of my marriage vows. In my perfect world, a person, maybe that guy from the Old Spice commercials, would occasionally prepare an interesting, tasty non egg/tomato soup/Kraft dinner/hot dog from Costco, meal.  Is it too much to ask that literate, seemingly intelligent individuals with education, sense and reason(this is sounding like a Jane Austen novel) who normally figure out new electronic gadgets or computer programs or the mysterious world of Manga, read and then prepare a recipe?  Oh and don’t leave the kitchen looking like it’s a candidate for a government disaster assistance program.

I could go on, but I think I’ll leave all the other ideas such as – making AK-47’s legal for mothers, having a hormone-free zone, or banning any music that quadruples my heart rate without exercise – for next year.  It’s a start though and should be enough for those of you who are interested in making this the “Best Mother’s Day Ever” for me!

Oh, PS – I also really want my girls to know that I am the most fortunate Mom in the world.  Laura, Amy and Molly I am proud of the women you both are and are becoming – I couldn’t ask or want for more.  I love you all and nothing you can ever do or accomplish will ever change or diminish or make you more or less worthy of my love.  And it’s not earned by filling the basket with the above mentioned items…or any other thing.  It just is.  Because I’m your Mom – and I love you to the very center of who you are – no strings attached, no conditions.

Really.

Except for the toilet paper…

On going and coming home

We are coming to the end of our Christmas break and the end of the lovely chaos of a house full of family – our two oldest daughters were “home” with their husbands and one grandson with two more on the way, one very, very soon.  I looked into the hallway the other day and watched these children of mine comparing stretch marks while through the entryway window, snow gently fell and Sting murmured ‘Gabriel’s Message‘ – “For known a blessed mother thou shalt be…”

The blessing of this Christmas has been these moments, pregnant with their own meaning.  New birth, new life, new beginnings sifting like the falling snow around and in us all.  Two of my children, each ‘great with child’, are anticipating the births of their children, and the reality of new roles that may not be so tangible right now:  first-time Mother for Amy, Mother of two for Laura.  Their own perceptions of who they are widening to accommodate these new truths – that motherhood deepens and stretches them toward that perfect Love in ways they have and will experience….for a lifetime.  They and their little families are moving on and away toward these new places, wife, mother, husband, father, lover and parent and toward ‘homes’ of their own expansive enough to accommodate those definitions. Yet on their own faces they also bear the reverberations of previous generations; bone structure of one grandmother, hair color of another, eyes, ears, skin hue, hand gesture, their own fingerprint and place in this cosmos unique but with DNA threads interwoven through a tapestry of ancestors.  I am in awe, as I watch them now as they are – laughing at the oddity of this shared journey of enlarged bellies, indigestion, and baby gymnastics – radiating love and beauty and hope for a future.  I see in them, the strength and courage and resourcefulness of the grandparents they knew well and the independence and passion of some of those that slipped away when Amy and Laura were very young.  The genes my girls carry are a small matter compared to the heritage of faith and agape they were surrounded by and that flowed to them from birth (Deut. 5:10).  They are now moving into new territory with the blessing of that cushioned womb.    

Tomorrow, these two little families will go back to the places they now call home and my husband and I and our youngest daughter will rattle around in the spaces they will have emptied.  Their life stories, their ‘homes’, are here with us no longer.  This is at once the poignant and promising new truth for me.  I am trying to choose and praying to see the regeneration of the lines of living faith that have traveled to them.  As my house empties, I am renewed by tracking their birth stories, by the promise of their futures, by the hopefulness of their children, but also by the ‘true’ homes they are building with solid foundations that reach far into the past and by God’s grace, far into the future.

Waiting for Baby

It’s 2:15 am.

I’m wide awake.

Outside the window falling snow swirls around puddles of light made by the streetlights. The room is dark and mostly quiet. There are murmuring conversations, doors thunking, a faint, distinctive cry of a newly birthed child, the gentle swoosh of air from heating vents.

Another hospital room. A happier occasion than the last – this time I am waiting for a beginning. It’s hopeful, happy, in spite of the current pain of Amy’s contractions, we have all eagerly anticipated this day with her.

But now, a catch.

This tiny child, yet to be born, is in distress. Heartbeat from a heart no bigger than a quarter likely, is frantically sketching Mount Everest hills and Grand Canyon valleys across the hospital monitor.

So we acquire a new line of thinking about your arrival while a team of Doctors and operating room staff abandon the safety and warmth of their beds and home and brave the storm outside, slicing first a trail through snowy streets and now a second through our precious daughter’s tired belly so you can feel safe too.

And so I cry and pray and pray and cry for you our unknown second precious grandchild and for your dear and absolutely courageous mother who has climbed her own Mount Everest today and for your Dad who has been such an encouragement and strength.

This night dear God
Please keep those safe I love and know
Guide surgeon’s hands
Keep tiredness at bay
May each one in that operating room in the early hours of this day, know their job, and do it to the best of their abilities.
Comfort Amy. Reassure her that this is not a surprise to you. Love her as I know you do.
Thank you for David. Help him be your man – first as husband – then as Dad.
And may this little one we have all anticipated and don’t yet know
(already known, loved, formed by You)
Enjoy a lifetime of discovering your love and purpose….
While I wait
In this holy, quiet place
For You…and you.

Day 12 – Advent 2011 – Countdown to Christmas

Sunday was a remarkable day due in no small part to the two churches Greg, Molly and I visited on our way to and from Moncton (we went to help my Dad set up and decorate his Christmas tree).
Church #1 – In the morning we visited Midland Baptist, a lovely church, “happily situated” (to quote Jane Austen), in a valley between Norton and Hatfield Point.  The pastor is a friend and on this third Sunday of Advent, his text was from John chapter 1.  The book of John approaches the birth narrative in an entirely different way than Matthew and Luke.  I memorized part of this chapter a lifetime ago, but the words still sing-song in my head in the slightly obscure King James poetic cadence I first read and learned, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  Below is the version that was read in a translation called God’s Word.  The service was warm and lively and apart from a lovely and very authentic looking stable in the corner complete with a rough manger and lots of hay and chalk donkeys, sheep and oxen there was a backdrop stretched across the entire front of the church that someone had painted depicting a night in the Judean hills that was vibrant and helped set the stage for the Advent season.  The sermon was beautifully crafted and Spirit-filled and the people, as we have always found there, are interactive and welcoming.  Although all of these are stand-outs, one other side note to the morning was what this little church was doing throughout the Christmas season for some of their neighbouring churches.  Each Sunday in Advent this congregation are taking cookies and coffee to diffferent sister congregations located near them.  They are doing lots of other things this Christmas, taking on some local families who have greater needs, supporting overseas missions in Africa and Haiti, to name a few.  But this act of support and encouragement to another church was the living emodiment of the text Alden had read and preached from that morning.  “The Word became human and lived among us.  We saw His glory.  It was the glory that the Father shares with His only Son, a glory full of kindness and truth.”  These acts are the Word lived out with kindness and truth to the people who live in our communities and who are our neighbours and co-workers and fellow travelers. 
We saw it again as we travelled back home in the evening and stopped at Norton Baptist Church (another church with a pastor we are blessed to call friend) for their Community Christmas Carol Cafe, an event that church invests in for the the whole community.  The evening started with this video:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcexJQM8W0.  
What a fun time we had singing Christmas carols, eating tasty desserts, and laughing.  There was so much laughter and excitement, from the children, some dressed in their Christmas best, running back and forth with their friends, to the adults leaning in over their tea or coffee to hear the conversation at their tables.  The room was beautifully decorated, but the very best was the spirit of joy and fun in that place.  The church and pastor did a remarkable job putting on an event that took in the whole of the community and made even those of us who just dropped in feel at home.  I found out about the event on Facebook and felt it would be a perfect event to conclude our day.  It was!

It’s exciting to see the people of God working at the places they are called, wherever that may be, in ways that are innovative and refreshing.  So to Alden and Tracey, Wayne and Angie and all the members of your respective congregations, thanks for living out the Word this week. 

1In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was already with God in the beginning.

 3Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him.
 4He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.
 5The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.a]”>[a]
 6God sent a man named John to be his messenger. 7John came to declare the truth about the light so that everyone would become believers through his message. 8John was not the light, but he came to declare the truth about the light.
 9The real light, which shines on everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him. Yet, the world didn’t recognize him.11He went to his own people, and his own people didn’t accept him. 12However, he gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. 13These are people who haven’t been born in a physical way—from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. Their birth was from God.
 14The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindnessb]”>[b] and truth.
 15(John declared the truth about him when he said loudly, “This is the person about whom I said, ‘The one who comes after me was before me because he existed before I did.’ ”)
 16Each of us has received one gift after another because of all that the Word is. 17The Teachings were given through Moses, but kindness and truth came into existence through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. God’s only Son, the one who is closest to the Father’s heart, has made him known.