Thursday, December 30, 2010

There's always a bit of sadness to see another year come to an end. It seems to happen quicker ever since turning 50. I am sad this year for what hasn't happened and come to be yet in our lives. LH still searching for a position and I living an hour from home. Granted, things could be worse - I could be further from home.
But this is the first time I can remember feeling sad over what hasn't happened rather than what has happened in the year past.
Perhaps losing FIL right before Christmas also plays into this sadness somewhat.
I am not sure how to greet this new year, with trepidation, I imagine. Since 2010 was disappointing in some regards and what I had hoped would happen, didn't materialize, I enter 2011 with trepidation. I know my interim position will soon be coming to a close here and without much on the horizon, we face being incomeless and having no medical insurance.
I try not to become overly anxious and trust in God, but it does get the better of me at times. I am trusting, hoping, believing...even when it is most difficult to do so and takes every tattered shred of faith still within me.
I feel ready for our lives to move forward and onward and we are in this insipid holding pattern, as though forgotten and just circling around and around until the call comes for clearance to land. I hope the fuel lasts until our landing but the tanks are getting empty.
So, I say goodbye to this year, to the joys and the sorrows, the continued dark night, to my FIL, to my garden, to broasting in the apartment this summer, to my family for a wonderful wedding celebration across the pond, and to all that didn't happen, both good and ill.
I pray to greet the new year in faith and trust, open to new adventure, and for things to happen for which we have been waiting and hoping.
May you make peace with this old year and embrace the new year soon to unfold.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The days before Christmas were busy, as usual, making sure the bulletins were done and the power point presentations were together.
On Thursday, Dec. 23rd, FIL entered the Church Triumphant and Eternal, may he be at peace, the peace he didn't have much in this life. FIL had a full life, although not an easy life. These past 2 1/2 months were hard on him and us and offered him no real quality of life. LH and I are mostly grateful that he didn't linger any longer. He will be missed.
Now will come the all the legalities, the cleaning out of his apartment and settling affairs. A memorial service will be planned for spring as all of us will have to travel at least an hour or more or journey in from Canada. That gives us all time to plan the service.
FIL will not be far from us. Every time LH goes on and on about something, he is his father. Whenever, he makes a political commentary, I hear his Dad. We have warm and good memories of times shared together. For such a gentle man who hated conflict of any kind, I wish he had had more peace and a better time of things. He treated so many children for a variety of ailments and illness as a pediatrician, some curable and others, not. But he was ever gentle and ever patient with them all.
LH spent Christmas Eve with me and worshipped at the church I am serving. I was grateful we could be together and enjoyed the company in the van on the drive there and back.
Christmas was a quiet one with phone calls to family and the Boys were happy with their quacking duck toy, little fleece blanket and of course, special doggie Christmas cookies. Jett is doing well and we are so grateful for every month we have with him.
Sunday's service was low attendance, but we had five children present and a continental breakfast followed worship and most everyone stayed. I have today off and it is snowing.
My SIL's will come on Friday and it will be good for them and us to remember FIL, exchange gifts and wish them well for the New Year. Much is yet before them.
I pray that LH would find a position and that our lives could move forward now too. With FIL gone, we no longer feel tied to even stay in the state, but opportunities for full-time calls are not plentiful. We remain faithful and trust God will open a way for us.
As you leave this year behind, and look to all the New Year will bring and offer, I pray God's blessings for you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It is the longest night tonight and the shortest day. It seems like I've known the longest night for a very long time. I have been living it. There is some comfort, for in the dark of the longest night, the stars still shine and I continue to look upward for any glimmer and shimmer the long dark night offers. I can still wonder. I can still laugh. I can still be touched and moved by pieces of scripture, a line of a hymn, and love when it lives around me.
I know not what next month will bring or how we will survive or when LH will have another interview, but for now in this longest night, I still make my way to the manger and long to behold as never before the birth of the One who is Love, Life, Hope, Peace, Joy,and Grace. It's all I need in this long, dark night of my soul. And all I really want or desire or need for Christmas. Come, come to the manger and behold the gift for you, for me, for all the world so desperately in need of all Christ brings...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My 500th post is a day late, but nonetheless, here it is!

Tell us about five Christmas memories you have.

1. When we (my sister & I) were young, K-5th grade, we had to memorize
Swiss and/or German Christmas poetry verses and then recite them on
Christmas. Some were easier and some harder. Never did enjoy it that
much. One year when I was 6, we memorized, "Josef Lieber, Josef Mein".
My sister got to be Mary and I, Joseph. We wrapped the wool african
blankets (my Dad had brought back from his time in Ghana) around us as
cloaks and used the play crib with a doll. We recited the hymn verses
and read the Christmas story from the Bible.

2. One year, when I was about 5 yrs. old, my older sister read the
Christmas story from the Bible. I just had to read something too, and
it was Yertle the Turtle that I had checked out of the church library!

3. My sister and I made Christmas cards from the year before Christmas
cards our family received. We cut off the picture and glued it on
construction paper and wrote in them. We gave them to each other, our
Mom & Dad and aunt. We also made tags for our Christmas presents using
the pictures from old Christmas cards, punching a hole, and tying a
ribbon through it onto a bow. We even used a neat scalloped little
paper cutter to make fancy edges and that was way before all the
scrapbooking stuff ever came into being!!!

4. Every year we helped bake Christmas cookies - mostly traditional Swiss
cookies that we cut out. We also made Swedish Rum Balls that we got to
roll in our hands and then roll around in chocolate sprinkles. Snowballs
were fun and we put a Hershey's kiss inside them. Of course, eating
them made it all worthwhile.

5. After our aunt gifted us with a piano and we had lessons, every
Christmas Eve, we'd gather and do a lessons and carols service
complete with a special Christmas prayer and incorporated
English and German Christams carols. There were more carols than
lessons. Then it was off to church for the late night worship service.
In actuality, we worshipped twice on Christmas Eve, within our family
and then with our larger church family. That was pretty much tradition
in our family. We always enjoyed a special Swiss meal - Pastaetli -
puff pastry filled with sweatbreads or turkey on a creamy sauce with
mushrooms. Of course, we ate in the dining room with china and silver
and crystal and candles. It made for a very special time for our
family. Sometimes, my aunt would join us if she had Christmas off. As
a nurse, she would have to work on some Christmases.

These are some of the memories of wonderful Christmases we shared and which still reside warmly and richly in my heart. I learned the mystery and wonder of Christmas, the gift of the Christ-child, and it still touches me in my deepest places no matter what my life's circumstances are. The miracle of God's love in Jesus Christ still enters in every year and casts its glow of grace and peace within and around me. I am thankful that I have always celebrated Christmas well and knew its wonder and mystery.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It is snowy, bitterly cold, with a gusting wind causing near white-outs.
Since the schools are closed here and along much of the way to the church, I have taken a snow day, myself.
I have done some reading, put the Christmas gift bags together for the church staff, and I feel some homemade chocolate chip cookies baking coming on.
I hope to be able to make the drive into church tomorrow.
The boys are happy that I am home an extra day even as they snooze the afternoon away.
LH is firing up the snowthrower but with the wind it'll have to be done again.
It is too early for such arctic conditions - it's still fall and only mid-December. This is January weather.
I am glad to be in the warmth. The oil space heaters at the apartment take quite a while to heat up and take the chill out of the air. I can imagine it will be close to Dr. Zhivago-esque tomorrow. I have even had to use my grandma's cherry pit sack (heated in the microwave until hot) to slip under the sheets to pre-heat the bed and then slip under my very warm duvet and nestle my feet under and around the cherry pit bag. Nice and toasty warm. Looks like tomorrow night I'll be doing that and bringing in a hot lunch while I eat in my winter coat until the heaters warm up.
There's nothing like being home on a cold, arctic day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


So, for today's Friday Five: What lifts you up when you are low or troubled? Who helps you remember that you are not alone, it's getting better all the time, etc.?
Your five responses can be people you know, people you DON'T know, music, places, foods, scripture, surprises, something you do for someone else. It could be a pair of slippers. It could be a glass of water.

When feeling low these are things and people that lift me up:
1. Swiss milk chocolate and a glass of cold skim milk. Always makes me
feel better.

2. Talking with my sister on the phone. She's my best friend.

3. Being home with LH and the greys, and nuzzling my greys, Jett and Jazz.

4. Listening to Marty Haugen's "We Come Dancing" CD.

5. Snuggling under my duvet, wrapped in warmth.

Bonus: Do you like the song "Jingle Bell Rock?" If you do, who do you prefer to hear sing it? Bobby Helms, Brenda Lee, Mean Girls, Stephanie Smith, Chubby Checker, Billy Gilman, Brian Setzer, Hilary Duff, Thousand Foot Krutch (I am not making this up), oh, there are so many more! I am currently partial to my friend Marco.
Not my favorite but better than many of the Christmas Carols played on the radio where they ruin the carol by singing it in a maudlin way. I don't know who sings the popular version I hear on the radio, but it's ok.
I really enjoy Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas carols much, much better.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

And it came to pass that at the Presbytery meeting last night, we worshipped and we sang. (It was an Advent Lessons and Carol type service.)
And the One for whom I am waiting met me in the old, familiar Advent carol - O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O Come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
In my captivity to this dark night, this exile and banishment I have been feeling, in my hope wearing as thin as a piece of paper, the Great Silence came to me in this song of the season, with hope and reassurance of the coming of Emmanuel - God-with-us, God-with-me. It is the rejoicing part that is so very hard and difficult when the way seems endlessly dreary and bleak and there is no sign of movement toward release and the new thing God is doing and bringing.
I could barely choke out the words for the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes, and had to stop singing. It is precisely for those such I,exiled, mourning, lonely, captive, banished, fearful, anxious, despairing that God came and is coming to release, bring home, set free, embrace, make a Holy Way through and out, and to cause the desert to burst into bloom and hot dry sand to become a pond of cool fresh water. I cling to God's promise, as tenuous as it may seem, as improbable and impossible as it may be. That is the hope of this season of Advent. That is the hope of this season of my dark night.
O Come, o come Emmanuel...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Twenty-three years of marriage we marked on Sunday, and we are as poor as church mice, living apart, just as when as our marriage started. Only this time around, I can be home every week without a 400 mile drive, one way.
This year, I received a bouquet of a dozen red roses from LH. He who never gives me flowers during the year or even in these 23 years, had a dozen red roses in a vase waiting for me as I entered the door.
Yes, I blew up at him earlier in the week, feeling stressed and sorry for myself, allowing fear and anxiety to take hold, not feeling appreciated for the sacrifice I have made, am making for us. I told him so.
And then days later, I walk in from the garage, just glad to be home again and to my shame the dozen red roses sit in a vase on the table.
I have paid for them, many times. But, I zip shut my mouth. Twenty-three years of marriage, and I know when it's best not to say anything, but "Thank you." I am touched and humbled and know that though he won't speak it, he does love and appreciate me.
Afterall, it is for better and for worse, and this is one of the worse times we are navigating in our lives and marriage. It is also for richer and for poorer, and this is one of our poorer times, again.
Twenty-three years and counting...

Monday, December 06, 2010

In this dark night as I deal with the idea of exile and the feeling of banishment, winter has come in full force. It is barely 25 degrees today and snow is falling although not as heavy as it probably is back home.
At my humble apartment there is no heat, only two space heaters and it was about 40 degrees at most. I ate my lunch in my winter coat and rested on the loveseat with boots on, the winter coat, a throw over me and my cashmere gloves. I was still cold. It feels like Siberia in my soul and on my person. I am held in an icy grip of the soul's dark night and wonder when I will ever be warmed again by God's love.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Warm Welcome -

Pondering the scriptures for this Sunday in Advent, and thinking of being welcoming and welcomed, I hold close this memory.
In 1965, my family flew to Switzerland for the first time. Dad hadn't been there since 1951 and Mom since 1956. A long time to be away from your mothers and siblings and family.
Even as a young child I will never forget, driving to my Grandmother's, my Dad's Mom's house and arriving at this chalet on a hillside overlooking the lake. As we entered the upstairs living room, my Grandmother who was sitting at the table, simply said, "W! W!" with such loving delight and indescribable joy, with a warmth that could melt an iceberg and a with a longing finally fulfilled. As if she had been waiting for just this very moment to see her son again. I can still hear the joy, the love, the warmth of welcome in her voice.
How much moreso does Christ Jesus welcome us to him even as he calls our name. I hear in his voice the very same depth of love, warmth, joy and longing finally fulfilled when we come to him! In this season of welcome and being welcoming, that is a welcome imprinted deep upon my soul.

You thought we wouldn't notice how you thinned the paper on the roll to being nearly see-through.
You thought we wouldn't notice how you shortened the square of paper.
You thought we wouldn't notice how you narrowed the roll of TP. My TP holder has lots of extra room width-wise.
You thought wrong.
We did notice. We are not happy. You have taken a good, solid, reputable,
dependable product and cheapened it to the point that you have no where else to cut or skimp. And you have blown your reputation. You are now producing a miserable, cheap, and awful product. More and more of us are leaving you "behind" and finding other TP up to par.
I know this isn't Advent material, but I just had enough with the cheapening of what used-to-be a good product. Now that it's off my chest, I can resume more theological, more focused mindset on Advent, itself.