Monthly Archives: December 2022


“Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die.”
~Charles Wesley~

The boys have been making a fire every night in the school room, falling asleep to its crackles. When Christmas break began, they rearranged the couches and made a sleeping area in front of the fire place. My oldest even moved out there for a few nights around Christmas. All five of them used to sleep together downstairs on Christmas Eve and in the nights leading up to Christmas.

I don’t spend as much time with my kids as I used to, at least not directly. There have been many times throughout this time period where I have wondered whether or not this is God preparing my family to go on without me. All of the adjusting and getting used to me being unable to operate was just his way of lessening the blow. The Lord has no qualms about taking home young people.

And if that is is his will, then there’s nothing I can do about it. Earlier in the month we heard that a family friend from one of our former home churches had lost her battle with cancer and gone to be with the Lord. We had known her from the period of her life while she was still single. She was a vibrant, joyful person who was also a talented piano player and teacher. After continuing teaching in her earlier married years, she gave up teaching to be home full-time with her children.

Besides the shock and sadness of yet another person dying, I felt an odd sense of contempt toward the idea of a woman giving up her talents in order to dedicate her life to her kids. Forgive me as these are not righteous thoughts. Who were these kids and what made them so special? What makes anyone that deserving to have another person love them that much, that deeply?

They always talked about how Satan hates motherhood. The devil this. The devil that. The devil hates marriages. The devil hates families. If there was one way to rile me up, all you had to do was tell me that the devil didn’t like something, and there was my life’s direction and purpose. In some strange way the devil becomes the taskmaster, determining what I will and will not do.

There is a Christ-love in mothering, I cannot deny this. And I suppose anytime the Lord’s lovingkindness and tender workings are involved, the devil isn’t going to appreciate it much. There is a battle that exists between the children of God and the father of lies, but it is a battle the devil has already lost, a victory our Lord generously shares with us, his co-heirs: “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
~Ephesians 2:8-9~

The past two days have been dedicated to Christmas recovery time. I spent half of yesterday resting, reading, sleeping, and catching up on the phone with my aunt and my parents. After blessedly sleeping through the night I came out into the living room with a pillow, blanket, and pile of my stuff. My Bible, my books, my journal, a computer. I still do not have a morning routine.

At least not one I could define and say, “Here is exactly what I do everyday…” This morning I did a 30 minute stretching video by a woman who’s been a dancer since childhood. This particular one focused on hip flexors and hamstrings. It was one of my goals by the time I turned 40 to be in the best shape I’d ever been in my life. That seems laughable to me now, in the most extreme way.

I really am just glad to be functioning, to have felt generally good through these busier days. I don’t know how it shows up in men, but there sure seems to be a repeatedly real phenomenon where women reach this point where their health breaks down in a life-altering way. Your life must be reorganized. There is no choice and change isn’t optional. The old way of life can no longer go on.

I know that isn’t every woman’s experience, but I’d seen it enough times that I tried to prevent it. I thought I was taking care of myself. Doing the self-care, getting alone time, eating decently and exercising my body. But it was not enough to counteract the negative, the destructive patterns in my life. Part of my needed changes included bringing others into what I couldn’t do alone.

It is very hard to change, whether we choose it ourselves or the circumstances of life inevitably force change upon us. Sometimes I feel we try too soon to find spiritual meanings in our afflictions, whether it’s Christian people or unbelievers. And yet testimony after testimony reports a God who works everything together for our good, his word agrees clearly. By his grace I can accept that.


In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, one of my sisters sent the siblings a daily family history tidbit beginning with the earlier years of my grandparents’ families. Toward the end she was sending us journal entries written by my grandpa. He chronicled the time he and my grandma had come out to Illinois from New York one Christmas.

I found myself fascinated by the simple things he wrote down. He put together a riding horse for my littlest brother. My grandma was cooking, wrapping, and keeping an eye on the toddler. Mom was in and out on Christmas Eve getting things ready. He hadn’t been able to take me to the dentist that day because he didn’t feel well.

My grandma says he started keeping a daily journal once he retired. Taking time to record the daily things brought extra meaning to his days. Before their health declined in their later 80’s, they were very active people. My grandma refers to it as living five different lives. There was childhood and the life she lived with her brother and parents.

Then there was motherhood and the life of young marriage with my grandpa. They had three girls. My grandpa was a dairy farmer before he became an agent for the Cooperative Extension. He’d give Saturday morning radio reports from the telephone in their kitchen. That was the third life of them being grandparents. We lived five minutes away.

The fourth life I don’t know as much about, as we were farther away and living our own lives by then. I know she continued in the tradition of being involved with their church, befriending others, and inviting many people into their home. The fifth life is when they both slowed down. I am grateful for the many wonderful ways they blessed our lives.

The snow is mostly melted now. This afternoon neared 50 degrees. Yesterday Josh and the kids went down to the lake before the temperatures warmed and thawed the ice. While they were there they disposed of a deer carcass that appeared to have served as a meal to a pack of coyotes. I met with a friend who was in the area for the holidays.

The kids finished the night sky puzzle this morning. I’m impressed they did it because it was actually pretty hard. I helped, but they did most of it. I’d like to put it in a frame so we can hang it in the school room. I didn’t end up learning then any new constellations, but I still enjoyed watching it all come together, marveling again at the stars.


It’s been a good and busy past several days. After spending Christmas morning at home, we spent the afternoon and evening at my in-law’s house in town. My sister-in-law was there with her husband and kids, as they usually spend at least a week visiting over the holiday break. Last year I missed every night they were here. I’ve been fighting off a cold and am very tired, but didn’t feel it was right to stay home this time.

We had a wonderful time. This year she and my mother-in-law planned a few more activities for us to do on Christmas day. They had gingerbread ninjas for the kids to decorate along with whoever else wanted to participate. We sang through the 12 Days of Christmas, with each of us taking our own verse to sing (my in-laws listened). They had a Rudolf bingo game with prizes in which I won a Santa hat that lights up.

Tonight we had another gathering at the dining hall. My mother-in-law’s siblings invited their kids and families. When my husband’s grandparents were alive, they held this gathering each year on Christmas night. Josh and the kids went down to set up tables and found the pipes had burst in the off-season bathrooms. It’s always something with the plumbing here, but it was still a nice night and the dining hall kept warm.


The kids already finished their puzzle. Today has been one of those cozy, home with mostly absolutely nothing else going on days. They don’t happen nearly as much anymore, though they remain one of my absolute favorites of family life. Yesterday after searching for stocking stuffers and other still needed gifts, I spent some time sorting though bags and wrapping. It seemed by then as though my Christmas spirit had returned.

We did have something to do this morning. Josh scheduled a camp polar plunge for 10AM. I wasn’t completely against the idea, but I wasn’t really super excited about it either. I tend to get nervous when people’s bodies are being taxed, and I don’t find as much thrill in the types of events which seem extreme and unnecessary, though if I were in a different place physically and more comfortable with my own health, I may have done it too.

But as it was God was merciful and sent me his peace. I drove down and had the car warm, both for myself and for anyone else who might need it. A beach fire served to keep others warm also. Each of them did what they had set out to do, and by the time we were all warmed and drinking hot chocolate in the dining hall, I was glad for them. They all seemed to have had a good time.

We also had our first accumulated snowfall of the season. As I type, the temperature is -3 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of -28. I was grateful to be warm and inside again this afternoon. Dad and the kids watched The Santa Clause, as we try to yearly watch many of the Christmas movies. Tonight we’re having pork with oven-roasted carrots and potatoes for supper.


I bought the kids a puzzle today. I thought it’d be something we could do, to have set up over Christmas break. We cleaned up the mud room and set up a card table. That room used to be a lot cozier before it became the catch all room for backpacks, shoes, and everything else. I’ve rearranged it several times since we moved here, each time reflecting the particular season of life. This is the season where I’ve kind of taken a break from decorating the entryway bench.

Before Covid one of the stores I used to frequent was Ross. If I bought clothes, they came from there. It was where I found many of my holiday decorations, gifts, household items, and random trinkets to switch things up from time to time. Their prices were reasonable enough so you didn’t feel like you were spending a fortune, like you would if you bought the same stuff at Hobby Lobby. Anymore the store looks pretty barren and it’s sad. I hardly ever go shopping now.

In Barnes & Noble I also found a “vintage” puzzle of the night sky. I think I bought it for myself, saying this could be a way to study more the constellations. It drives me nuts that I don’t know more of them, and yet I can’t really envision myself taking the time to put together a 1,000 piece puzzle with everything else there is to do. I thought if I had the patience to sit with it that long, to be forced to take it slow while finding each little piece, then maybe I could learn them.


“But the word of God increased and multiplied.”
~Acts 12:24~

God forgives us of many things, but I honestly don’t know sometimes. Some flaws I perceive but do not know if they are worth my confessing, if they count as assaults to my Lord and Creator. Sometimes I feel guilty that I can so enjoy the world he’s made, and yet I pay him no credence. I give him no glory, at least not with my lips. I attribute my pleasure and my joy to a breeze that passes, to a mood that blows in. I can believe all the day long, and yet, I sense more and more, to my shame, in the cavernous way of my failures and faults, my belief does not go far enough.

I know God can handle laments, our wrestling, angers and sins. But can he handle adoration? My worship and praise? Could I handle it passing from my heart to my lips without the holy words burning every secret inner chamber? The angel in Revelation, in chapter 14, flies overhead like all on earth are supposed to listen saying, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgement has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” In Acts chapter 12, Herod is put to death by an angel–why? “Because he did not give God the glory.”

How do I say that if I could kiss God I would? Who do you dance for when there are no eyes? Would they all walk away, or would they leave me, uncovered? If I lifted my voice, my hands to heaven, would you laugh? I know the devil doesn’t like it, but he has lied to me before. “Seek first”, you once told us, “and all these things…” With me I want nothing that isn’t true, good, and lovely, but with you, you take it all, upon the tree for loving’s sake. And again you show yourself, Jesus, born of woman, for every man. In your goodness, your every kindness, you remember us both.


My husband says I shouldn’t settle into just accepting the limitations. I have muscles that have atrophied, tolerances for activity and normal life that have gone unexercised. I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind. Every time I show up to the table, with food prepared that I did not make, that I likely did not even buy or shop for, there’s a voice in the back of my mind asking, “Why is the man with four jobs still doing this?”

I don’t have good answers. As ridiculous as it probably sounds, I am still trying to find my bearings in this present life, in these roles I fill around the house. I was never the type of mom who needed my kids to need me in the way some moms do. As my kids continue to grow, I don’t necessarily find myself wondering what my future purposes in life could or would be without kids. But I do find myself disoriented as seasons move.

Nobody cares that we haven’t made cookies or filled the house with the smell of cinnamon applesauce ornaments. Today I ordered a few more Christmas presents online, slightly aching in my heart and in my joints because of the weather. Dad and the kids went to church last night. One mentioned driving around to look at Christmas lights, another child brought up Dad and I fighting. To that I said, “but we don’t do that anymore.”


We finished putting the lights on our tree this afternoon. It’s been another fuller weekend with church and holiday events. Last night the kids visited my in-laws house for the evening. Josh and I had a faculty party that was held at the homes of one of the teachers. She’s taught at the high school long enough that she had my husband as a student. She’s the last one there of the “originals” that I remember from his stories about school. When you get to know or are getting to know somebody, it’s not just the person you’re getting to know that you are learning about. You’re also learning about the other people in their lives.

We had a good time. The kids kept busy helping my mother-in-law set up her Christmas tree and decorate. It’s been a tradition for several years for the kids to help her with that. I like that it’s something they can do together and make memories with. When we returned to pick them up they were in the middle of Frozen II, which is actually a pretty good movie. It’s hard to pick between Anna and Elsa, but I think I like both of them the same without a favorite. The kids wanted to stay and finish watching but I was ready to be home and get to bed. It’d been a long day by then.

I’d told the kids we could finish watching Frozen II this afternoon if they wanted, though I think we ended up forgetting about it. This evening we watched the season 3 premiere of The Chosen. This one featured Jesus giving his sermon on the mount. Through the rest of the episode there are many instances of his followers talking about the things Jesus said during the sermon. At one point when I was little, I remember Matthew being my favorite book of the Bible, with chapters five and six being my favorite chapters, especially six. I like Matthew because it’s an interesting book where Jesus says many powerful and inspiring things.


Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
~Hebrews 11:16~

The Lord answered my prayers and there were just enough people at Breakfast in Bethlehem that it wasn’t a total waste, but not enough to warrant doing it again next year. At least that is the recommendation I am going to make at our next meeting. It’s hard to know sometimes the difference between laziness and wisdom. I am not a big promoter of busy-work church events. We live in a different world these days and people don’t seem to desire or need more of them.

My papers got done. None of these feel like the kind of thing I would ever refer back to or want to show anybody, but I was proud for having written that much, all 37 pages (4 were a chart). The professor for our family systems class next quarter already sent out an assignment in case we want to get started on it. We have to make a genogram and write a 15-page paper on our family of origin.

The Christmas spirit has yet to arrive here. I say “yet” as if I’m expecting it, though I’m really not expecting it at all for some reason. It’s almost like the time for that has come and gone, or maybe it will just look different. I know in part its because I’ve been so preoccupied with tasks and assignments. But I also do not have the same drive to make Christmas magical or special. I have nothing against it, and I appreciate when it’s here, but it’s almost like that isn’t my job anymore.