glory to God

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were busy days full of presents, family, and food.  We visited with my father-in-law’s side of the family, gathered as a church family for the children’s Christmas Eve service, came home for a few hours until Dad and the kids returned for midnight service.  I slept for two hours until they came home.  I tear up slightly as I type these words, wondering if maybe I could’ve pushed through.

Christmas morning was all I ever, always, hope for.   My husband and I enjoyed each other’s company on our living room sofa, watching our children play with their toys.  We ate our Christmas tree breakfast made of cinnamon rolls.  We changed our clothes, finished our coffee, and headed back to my in-law’s house for the day.  Later that evening, we visited the home of my husband’s grandma.  It was a lovely day.

The day after Christmas I rested a little, but wanted to get the living room back in decent order.  I felt a strange peace that doesn’t typically come on the day after Christmas.  The advent calendar came down.  The tree skirt was vacuumed and put away.  The pile of lights on the floor, the ones earmarked for the outside of the house, all went back to the basement for storage.  One by one I collected the stockings, smiled, and put them away.

Today has been a total day of absolute rest.  I made it all the way through It’s My Turn by Ruth Bell Graham.  I’d expected a longer autobiography similar to that of her husband’s Just As I Am, but it turned out to be small, bite-sized, almost blog like snippets of memories, stories, and insights on life.  There’s something incredibly soothing in the perspective of an older woman reflecting, sharing, and looking back on her life.

The kids have been having a movie day with Dad.  I think it’s good our kids will have memories of things they did with each of us.  We have our special things that we do together, and they have their special things that they do together.  It’s almost like we’re giving one another a gift.  I know he relaxes when things are in order.  He knows I need time to rest, read, and process.  I like the ready partnership of noticing we have.

The other book I started on is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  Between references in podcasts, articles, and several people over the past couple of years telling me I ought to read it, I finally made a point to check it out of the library.  I’m intrigued and committed, but can’t tell yet if I’m going to like it.  I appreciate the book that tells me just how bad the world is, but what sets my soul to sing are those reminders of the good.

 

brand new woman

“I’m ready to accept it that life isn’t perfect.”

I say it to my husband last night before bed.  He, of all people, is the first one to know.  I say it with pride and I say it with confidence and I say it like I’m speaking out loud the very obvious.  He turns his head from his book with a smile and a chuckle.  He isn’t really old enough to chuckle quite yet, but that’s what it sounds like and for that I am glad.

I was trying to be funny.

This feels like a victory I need to announce,

like a milestone I’ve reached on the road to maturity

(a gift we’ve been given to give God the credit)

Life isn’t perfect–and it’s going to be okay.

Imperfect doesn’t mean there can never be magic.

the wintery night

The beef cubes I bought for $7.53 looked to me up close like they were starting to turn brown.  They’re now sizzling on the stove next to the pot of canned sweet potatoes I heated up for some food after not eating lunch.  I wasn’t hungry then, and besides, we were driving. The kids and I were on our way home from an Advent visit, a field trip to take us all briefly back in time, to remember with friends from the faraway lands.

One child threw up in the van on the way down.  We had to make an emergency stop on the way home for another one’s intestinal emergency that had also kept him awake through the night.  They handled it like champs, the one managing to throw up in his Wendy’s cheeseburger wrapper, miraculously keeping the up-chuck contained.  The other boy communicated by the grimace on his face, that no, he could not wait until we got home to stop.  Had the Casey’s General Store gas station not been just a mile or two down the highway, the nice farmer’s cornfield would’ve simply had to serve as a toilet.

My husband wasn’t able to come on the trip. Unlike me, he had to work, and I promise I say that with zero resentment.  I’d already been sad he wasn’t able to come, and we’d had our little short-lived spat about the matter.  I’d already lamented to him and myself the mystery of the two separate lives that we’re living, that someway, somehow are said to be one.  I’d already repented of my part in a text, because by then we had each gone our own separate ways–he in one van, me in a another.  After fifteen years of marriage so far, I rarely communicate “I miss you” in a loving, peaceful, (non)confrontational way.

There’s a crock-pot of bone broth simmering on the counter.  I sent another text the next day, asking if he could take it out of the cold and get it heating.  If there was any more thyme left in the fridge, I asked if he could dump that in as well.  I have yet to figure out a way to make broth that doesn’t leave the house smelling faintly like somebody needs to take out the garbage.  Broth is supposed to be good when you’re sick, yet I’ve a hard time getting the kids to actually drink it unless it’s been loaded with chicken and noodles.

I told the kids the rest of today was for mandatory bed-rest.  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Absolutely no more sugar.  I picked up my phone to find something to read, this time the blog of The Wintery Knight.  This is one of the blogs I found back in the summer when I also started reading the blog of The Transformed Wife.  When I read these two blogs, not only do they produce a kind of cognitive dissonance in my head, they sometimes create an even stronger (angry-ish) reaction in my body.  I keep reading them anyway because I feel like it’s helping me find the words to “think again”.  I still find the subjects of feminism, culture, and male and female “gender-roles” fascinating.

From The Wintery Knight’s More and More Women as Asking Why They Can’t Find a Good Man to Marry:

If you wonder why men are no longer performing in school, and exchanging careers for video games, the answer is simple. Men have realized that young women today, under the influence of feminism, are not interested in traditional husbands during their late teens and 20s. During these years, women are interested in travel, fun, drinking, hook-ups and cohabitation with amoral atheists. This is what I have personally observed. In the minds of young women, the highest value men are good-looking men who have no religion, and make no moral judgments, and are left of center politically – especially on abortion. There are many good men who are romantic about women from their youth, and want to get married. But when they see what young women really want, they just give up on school and work, since doing the traditional male roles has no value to young women. Many good men even give up on morality and Christianity because they want a relationship with a woman so badly…

I’m one of the last men who followed the marriage-preparedness script for traditional men who wanted to marry and have four children and have a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to raise them from birth to graduate school. I find myself now in my early 40s, with a 6-figure income and a nearly 7-figure net worth. I declined to use those assets to play the field with hot bad girls, preferring instead to keep my sexual past completely clean for my eventual wife. However, what I observed in my late teens and 20s and even early 30s was a complete lack of interest in marriage ability, from non-Christian women and Christian women alike. Christian women aren’t learning to value early marriage from their married parents or their evangelical churches. None of the traditional husband skills are valued by young women, i.e. – chastity, gapless resume, alcohol abstinence, undergraduate and graduate STEM degrees, experience nurturing and mentoring others, stewardship of earned income.

I recently caused an uproar on my Facebook page by saying that even if the perfect woman showed up right now to marry me, I would not pursue her because the critical time where the woman could have applied maximum youth, beauty and fertility as a wife to make an impact on my education, early career, health, and finances has passed. A younger woman develops value to her husband precisely by applying herself to him and to her family in these critical early years. Men who have experienced this self-sacrificial love and support are loyal to their wives even after their wives lose their youth and beauty. Why? Because the men know that they are much better than they could have been, having enjoyed that early investment of value made by their young wives.”

There’s a whole other world out there that I, as a woman, know nothing about.  I have also lived a very sheltered life in adulthood.  I never partied or slept around in high school or college.  I didn’t even think people actually slept around like that except for on television shows like Beverly Hills 90210.  I wanted to be Brenda.  I wanted to be Kelly.  But I also wanted to be married and to be a mother and if I was never anything or anybody else in this world besides that I didn’t care.   I married at age 20 and spent the decade of my twenties and early thirties having and taking care of babies.  I am 36 now, and though I have years of fertility left, the time of me having babies has passed.

According to The Wintery Knight, I have done everything right as a woman.  I dedicated the maximum years of my youth, my “beauty”, and fertility as a wife WITH THE HOPE of making an impact on my husband’s “education, his early career, his health, and finances.”  Most of that happened apart from any other human being, including him.  The only reason I emphasize the element of hope is because so many times this life is lived WITHOUT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE that this was, in fact, the “right” way.

I’ve read a few blogs and listened to TED talks about women who feel like they wasted their youth.  All of them thought they had plenty of years ahead of them for marriage, maybe children.  They pursued their careers.  They moved in and out of romantic relationships.  And now they find themselves at 35, 50, or somewhere in between wondering what in fact they’ve done with their lives.  I’m starting to wonder if we all go through this?  It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of life we’ve lived.  We all wonder.

I’ve tried to leave comments for The Wintery Knight, but most of the time I think I come off sounding bitter.  I am sometimes, but I don’t want to be.  We’ve all built our lives around some kind of narrative, and I think, at some point, we need to rethink them.  Life rarely works in the way we imagined, no matter how logical or “right” it had seemed.  The Wintery Knight has made a good life for himself.  Don’t sell yourself short of the happiness in front you because you can’t get over a belief–a fantasy–from the past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent traditions

During the former years at our church, Advent came part of my favorite time of year.  I say the same thing every year at this time, but it was like Christmas, my favorite time of year, stretched out in time to last three whole months longer.

I wanted life to be perfect, and pretty much I still do.

It seems like every year there’s this pressure to make it mean something.  Every Christmas, in the same way every summer, feels like a time you can’t get back.  People talk about the commercialization of Christmas and the extra stress that causes for people.  Besides the normal shopping lists and schedules, this isn’t where I feel the biggest stress.  It has more to do with the spiritual side.  I need to be teaching my kids about Jesus.  We need to be having special Advent devotions.  I feel a nagging sense of guilt when I can’t or don’t keep up.  There’s always this feeling like it’s never enough.

Knowing this, that every year there tends to be the not enough-ness feeling, I’m trying to embrace it thinking back on past years.  Some of the traditions I always hoped I would do with my kids but couldn’t do when they were smaller–the cinnamon ornaments and gingerbread houses–we’re actually getting to do more of now.  Other things, like the Jesse Tree we’ve never yet made, or the Ann Voskamp kid book that barely got looked at, or the felt Advent calendar going days now forgotten, I’m just having to let go of.  There comes this point where there is nothing left for me but to lean into the rest of trusting God’s love and care for my children.  I do my best to pass on the faith, but each one of my children will walk their own path.

I hope that doesn’t sound too much like resignation.  I’m basically saying I can’t do it all, and that will pretty much always be the way that it is.  I’m also not saying that in time every single dream will come true. I’m saying that somehow we learn to adapt.

Christmas shopping problems

Toys R’ Us is closed this year.

It’s not like I bought a ton at Toys R’ Us, but it was, for me, a Christmas place of inspiration–all the toys I didn’t want, that Really Cool Big Thing that tempted me greatly, a train set perfect for under the tree. It’s been a regular stop in my shopping each year. I don’t even know where to go to get ideas now.

Toys R’ Us is now Big Lots so I guess we’ll start there.