Tag Archives: holiday

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A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. Ecc.2:24.

Yesterday my hilariously lovely friend Rebecca posted this on my Facebook wall – Girrrrl, you are QUIET!  Now, since I am NOT quiet as a character trait, I remain confident that Rebecca refers to my recent social networking silence.  I have thrown up a few well-deserved Facebook LIKES in the last week, but mostly we have dwelled in a special nook of home-space for the following reasons:

1.  Dreamy Scott was home for TWO WHOLE WEEKS.  Boom.  Family time.

2.  Christmas is an epic extravaganza in the White family – and I love every complicated, busy, overwhelming, expensive minute of it.  Immanuel-God-With-Us envelopes us with an opportunity to worship through togetherness and tradition, both light-hearted and deep.  I get lost in the work and the joy of it.

Making a candy cane shaped pizza on Christmas Eve

Pinata at Scott's company Christmas party

Presents? For ME?!?!

SOMEBODY was a sheep in the church musical. Baaaaaa.

Five Advent candles. Immanuel.

Wrapping baby Jesus in swaddling clothes (get it??)

Riding a pony on our Family Christmas Date

Christmas breakfast

Jesus' birthday cake

3.  After Christmas, Dreamy Scott and I hunkered down, cleaned up the mess, channeled our excess holiday adrenaline and went into what I can only describe as a pathological productivity vortex.  I mean, I think we both expected to relax for a minute, but GEEZ.  We painted our home office, cleaned out the basement and garage, redecorated the kids’ rooms, sorted through every possession we own, reorganized our storage and deep cleaned the house.  GTD.

4.  Steig Larsson.  I read all 1,431 pages of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  Yep, I can firmly confirm that the books are addicting, if (emphatically) not edifying.  Also, I read a biography of Catherine the Great.  Reading is, like, my favorite.  I do not often have time to read, so I drank in some hours on my Nook like a thirsty sponge – while the boys played Skylanders, which is a super sweet new Wii game that was part of our Christmas magic.

So, now that the last gasps of 2011 have died away, our little family emerges from a precious internal space to welcome the newborn year and its yet-untamed challenges refreshed, thankful, zestful – and a bit tired.

Game on, 2012.

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Joy

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Many generations ago, simple shepherds watched over their sheep on a hillside on just another night.  Suddenly, the light of impending Joy dazzled their humble lives – and lit up all of history.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11.

Yesterday we returned from a snow trip to Vail. We are tired, but we hold a new collection of white-dusted memories.  Tonight we light the candle of Joy.  It is a pink candle.  In advent tradition, purple is a somber color, pregnant with heavy meaning.  But pink is exuberant, overflowing with life.

Joy to the world.  The Lord is come…

…Let earth receive her King…

…Let every heart prepare Him room…

…And heaven and nature sing…

…And heaven and nature sing…

…And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

As tiny snowflakes dance over Vail, we abide under the jagged nearness of the Colorado Rockies.  We eat, sleep, play, rest, connect under its untamed shelter.  Nothing sings God’s glory like a wild mountain range coated with falling snow.  Nothing invites childish glee like an expanse of fresh powder.  Heaven and nature sing.  In the midst of Advent season, we roll away together for the simple purpose of enjoying the sweet wonder glowing in a snowy day.  Let every heart prepare Him room.  Snowball fight, flying intertubes, snow angels, hot cocoa, gondola, hot tub.  Joy to the world.

Immanuel-God-With-Us sought us in our heaviness and lifted us into freedom. The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Mt.4:16.  He burst through His own grave to save us from ours.  It is a gift too great, too infinite, to bear on fragile shoulders.  Why, O why do we not crumble back to dust under the weight of it?  Always and only because the Gift is wrapped in Grace.  The proper response to Incarnation is infinite, overflowing, staggering, explosive, rollicking JOY JOY JOY JOY.

…Joy, unspeakable Joy, an overflowing well, no tongue can tell…

We are human, and therefore composed of dust and breath.  We cannot live on the high plane of Joy to which the gift of Incarnation forever beckons.  But we can, and ought, to revel in earthly Joys.  We should pursue them wholeheartedly in God’s name and to His glory.  (Snowball fight, flying intertubes, snow angels, hot cocoa, gondola, hot tub.)  Simple family laughter is a profound form of worship.

…Joy, unspeakable joy, rises in my soul, never lets me go…

What do you do to light the candle of advent Joy?

Martha

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But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Luke 10:40.

We leave for Vail on a ski trip tomorrow.  Today we made these Christmas tree cakes…

…made and delivered several of these Christmas cocoa mixes…

…sorted, washed and folded a lot of these…

…fetched my dog’s vaccination records from the veterinary clinic, shopped at Walmart (a feat of desperate courage during the holidays), packed for three of the four members of our family, washed approximately seven thousand dishes, sat in on Jack’s Christmas program rehearsal.  I ruined a double batch of banana bread.  It was undercooked in the center when the timer beeped, so I put it back and and forgot to set the timer as I scooted out of sight, out of mind in order to discipline a wayward child.  When I finally remembered the neglected loaves, they were tough in the middle and black on the edges.  Bummer.  I just love that recipe. 

The hours of my day slip away in a whirlwind as I strain to check off the list.  I snap at Jack after dinner.

“Do NOT touch that suitcase.  Mommy worked super hard to get that ready; please keep it organized. ” 

“Mommy, you hurt my feelings.  You are kind of grumpy with me.”

Pause.  I want to escalate, to blame.  I force my mind to see the priorities we choose to live.  Relationship over productivity.

“You are right, Jack.  I am so sorry.  I feel grumpy because I have a lot to do right now, but that is not your fault.  I did not make a good choice with my words.  I should speak with kindness to you.  I’m so sorry.  Will you forgive me?”

Competence should not require forgiveness.  I lose my sight when I choose a mere series of tasks to guide my hours.

After the day fades into night, the house settles into the peace of sleeping children and finished projects.  When I look at my list, I rest in a successful day.  But when I look at my heart and the hearts of my children, I feel the loss of missed opportunity.

Lord, I almost completely slipped past who they are today.  My little ones were a distraction instead of a priority.  I spent my day annoyed at their child-longing for my value and attention.  I feel ashamed.  I am sorry.

As I sit here typing, tears well up as my eyes lock on the Jesse tree standing strong on the kitchen counter.  Every day of Advent, we read a Bible story. Together we weave the ancient truths throughout history, tying the threads of Old Testament foreshadows into the profound glory of Incarnation.  After the day’s story, we hang an ornament that represents the daily fragment of grace we just experienced.  Every day, we add another simple laminated square onto a growing representation of God’s unfolding redemption story.

The sight of the Jesse tree slays me.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It is not that the crossed out list does not matter.  But the list should always and only be a means to an end.  The means is productivity; the end is ever increasing faith and joy embedded into the culture of our family.

Advent is a season of waiting and preparing.  It can be a hard season, because waiting and preparing are hard for fragile souls.  Today I did not attune my heart to the echoing call of Incarnation – the why of this precious season.

Tomorrow is a new day.  I will spend most of it in the car on windy winter roads with a beloved friend and five (likely maniacal) children.  Two mommies, five preschoolers, one car, three hours.  You do the math. But…..

Only One Thing is necessary.

Yes.

Eucharisteo

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Giving thanks, this is an awakening — the breath of God upon the face, close and warm. Ann Voskamp.

Eucharisteo is Greek for Thanksgiving.

It evokes eucharist, bread-and-wine-communion, the absorbing and taking in of Christ.  We take communion to remember how He bled His new covenant of grace over our fatal wounds, our slow dying.  Do this in remembrance of Me. Luke 22:19.  Eucharisteo is a life of communion, a face turned upward to glory in forever-remembering.  Remembering has one pure result: eucharisteo, thanksgiving.  Read this, an invitation to be changed by a thanksgiving life.

Sometimes eucharisteo is a flame that burns purifying pain into a broken story.   It can be a sacrifice that feels too great to bear, a deep and holy offering from shaking hands.  I have walked that desperate journey (perhaps will walk it again).  I know, Lord, that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort. Psalm 119:75. 

Then, other times, eucharisteo is as easy as breath.  Sometimes God dazzles us with grace upon grace, a heaping of YES and AMEN.  Sometimes His bottomless mercies shower like rain.  Then eucharisteo is an anthem of joy that rises from a dancing heart.  The Lord your God is with You, a victorious warrior. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zeph.3:17-18.

Then again, sometimes eucharisteo is sweet and still.  Sometimes thanksgiving is entwined within the sturdy fabric of daily rhythms, yearly traditions, simple fragments of a righteous life.  Often, eucharisteo is woven through roasted turkey, spiced cider, pumpkin pie.  The precious rituals of the fourth Thursday in November are not the true Thanksgiving, but they can be the tethers that anchor us to a deeper truth, a richer worship.

I wake early on Thanksgiving morning, linger over coffee and Matthew 1, the whisper of advent.  I grind wheat to make the first of the year’s batches of Christmas bread dough, a rich recipe that tastes like warm tradition.  I shape the dough into cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and loaves – the recipe is bountiful, like the season.  Lucy and I don matching aprons.  She licks the honey spoon, eyes alight.  It is over 60 degrees in Colorado on Thanksgiving Day.  Dreamy Scott and Jack play football and soccer in the unexpected sun.  A quiet heart day, spent readying ourselves for a feast of thanks.

We eat late, as the sun sets, after a day of shining and play.  We pray over the five kernels of corn hidden under the napkins (hidden like so many jewel of grace that we do not see) in our salad bowls.  We remember the pilgrims who died by the scores in the terrible first winter with only five kernels of daily corn.  They still praised God, and He heard their cries, providing a way to future abundance.  True Thanksgiving is always a remembering worship of His Story.  We linger over conversation, pecan pie, mulled wine and football.  The Lord has blessed our family with a mighty blessing, and we remember the God who loves us with an everlasting Love.

Psalm

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Psalm 100

A Psalm for giving thankful praise 

Another family night.  Pumpkin pancakes and cheesey eggs.  Jack reads Psalm 100 to the family – slowly, confidently.  It is the first time I hear Jack read Scripture. His little boy-voice speaking the Words of God fills my soul to brimming.  Eucharisteo.

 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 
 Worship the Lord with gladness; 
   come before him with joyful songs. 


Know that the Lord is God. 
   It is he who made us, and we are his


   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter His gates with thanksgiving 
   and His courts with praise; 


   give thanks to Him and praise His name. 
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; 


   His faithfulness continues through all generations.

After Jack reads Psalm 100, we each choose a bag.  We all fill our bag with fragments of joy, tokens of thankfulness from our home.  We must offer a prayer of thanksgiving before dropping an item in the bag.  Little voices whisper, thank you, Jesus, for my blankie.  Jesus, thank you for Lulu’s book.  Bags of blessings, consecrated with the kisses of family prayers.

We unpack our bags together, sharing the fullness of iridescent grace.  We laugh together, re-discover that we have an avalanche of good gifts that envelope us, like pa-pas (pacifiers), toothpaste, Tim Tebow, spiderman, Juice Plus, Prisoner red blend, Mommy’s tacky Cubbies shirt, iPhones, Mac n Cheese and Pumpkin Spice K-cups.  We pray together. We thank God for our bursting bags, our overflowing hearts. It is there in the posture of united thanksgiving that the Holy Spirit forges sacred steel in this generation.

We are beneficiaries of an infinite luminous mercy – a family bathed in endless grace.

Know that the Lord is God. 
   It is he who made us, and we are his. 

Psalm 100:3.

My heart is full.  My life, my family is a Psalm of thanksgiving.  All is grace.