(getting) ready for thanksgiving

My husband and I, along with the four youngest, made our monstrous Aldi and Sam’s trip this morning. We dropped our oldest off at school at 7:40, then headed into town to shop. Sams is open early, so we did that first. It was only 8:20 by the time we were done there, and since Aldi doesn’t open til 9AM, everyone except me went into Walmart to look for cream of tartar. We use it every year to make play doh for the littles.

While they were in Walmart, I made the grocery list for Aldi. Walmart didn’t end up having cream of tartar, and since we still had about twenty minutes before Aldi opened, I hopped out of the car and ran into Target.  I’d already been in there earlier this month looking at their pajama collection. It’s a family tradition for the kids to get a new pair of jammies for Advent, and I hadn’t yet found any that I liked for them.  They’ve mostly outgrown the sweet baby footies, and as they get older it’s harder to find the “perfect”ones.  They must’ve had a shipment since the last time I was in there because this time I found matching Avengers pajamas for the three smaller boys. For my oldest two I bought a pair of Avengers pajama pants and a fuzzy grey teddy bear pajama set.

(I would’ve bought this shirt weeks ago but they didn’t have my size)

When we got home from Aldi we took the food over to the camp building where all my family will be staying. The kids helped unload and then helped my husband set up tables and chairs. I cleaned out the old food and then put the weekend food into the fridge. When we all got home and after we’d unloaded the rest of the food there, I gave my husband a hug and a kiss. I didn’t express it in words, but I was feeling very thankful for his help and patience through the morning, and for all the money he’d just spent on food.

I’ve been feeling pretty emotional the past several days. The kids recently pulled up a home video I’d recorded when we first moved here. The purpose of the video was to give my grandma a tour of our house since they were pretty sure they wouldn’t ever be able to travel here to see it. I was struck by how much my kids have changed, in their looks and in their voices, even in the short time since we’ve moved here almost four years ago now. They smiled and laughed at seeing themselves, and were absolutely shocked at how messy the house was. I watched and couldn’t believe the hours upon hours upon hours I have spent trying to decorate, purge, clean, and finally make this house a home. Repeat.

My kids are slowly growing up and it’s happening daily before my eyes.

Every year the holidays feel more and more fragile. Everybody’s smaller and individual families are growing and changing. Life seems to be a process of learning more and more how to hold the things and ones we love closely, but loosely.  If you squeeze those shiny round Christmas tree bulbs too hard, they break. And your hand bleeds.

All the other blood is worth it, friends.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.


eyes on God

My sister is home from the hospital now. They gave her some medicine to be on for a while. I asked her if she cared if I wrote on my blog that she was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She said, “No, I don’t mind. This is reality, know what I’m sayin?”

Yes, I do. I know what she’s saying.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible used to be the one about Peter walking on water. I say “used to be” because that was before all these voices out there got me so self-conscious about seeing yourself instead of Jesus in the pages of the Bible.

I felt like I related a lot to Peter. He seemed to be the one to get himself in situations.  He was eager, but misguided. Determined, but lacking. One minute he tells the Lord to depart from him, and yet another time he’s crying out, “Lord, save me!”


The Lord does not let Peter sink. Immediately Jesus reaches out and catches Peter. To the one Jesus would at one time call rock he says, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

How many of us cannot relate to that story? I can’t afford to worry about the wind, the waves, or the voices out there, I’m calling this one of my favorite stories again.


This is the world we are living in now.

In the real world rocks will sink in water.

The Lord does not let Peter sink.


letters to santa


One of the kids recently asked me why Santa Claus never came to our house. All five of my kids know that Santa isn’t real, so the question wasn’t stemming from feeling overlooked or forgotten by Santa. It was more just wondering how come, in our family, we’d never pretended that Santa was real.

I never flat out banned Santa Claus, I just never made a big deal out of him. He was the guy who came around at Christmas. You’d see him in the movies, on the store shelves, or at the mall. My mom was more of a snowman person, and didn’t like the Santa things as much as the snowman ones, but Santa came to our house.

I think the most honest reason we’ve never done Santa was because I didn’t like the idea of anything Santa stealing the attention from anything Jesus. Doesn’t Christ the Lord need and deserve every single ounce of attention he can get? It is hard to bring up kids in the faith. It is easy to feel like you have never done enough, like there were too many missed opportunities, like you could have done a better job.

I want my children to be catechized, grounded, and filled with the Spirit.

But while the role of the parent is huge, it is nowhere near as important as God’s. There is more to bringing up children than teaching. There is also the trusting they are in God’s hands, and that the weight of their salvation doesn’t rest on you. That doesn’t mean we throw up our hands at any attempt to be diligent or faithful, but it does mean we can rest in the comfort that God cares for all of us, daily, with love.

between two worlds

God was so merciful to continue to let us live among the animals. I was thinking the other day, and I have thought it often since we moved here, how lovely it would be to be able to walk up to the deer and touch them like you would a horse. The problem is deer are easily startled, and they might pause for a moment, but quickly run away. The effects of sin were so severe that either animals are afraid of us, or we are now afraid of them.

But then you have cats and dogs somehow tamed into pets. Gone (I think?) are the days of wolves and panthers, at least in the outdoor lands around here. But you can get close to a dog, and snuggle with a cat. One of the cats joined us on the couch as I pulled out Little House in the Big Woods to read with the child who was sick yesterday. I’ve actually never read all those books. but again was amazed by the wolves and the bears.

The Christmas shopping bug bit me early this year. Instead of starting to buy gifts around mid-December, I’m wanting to get a head start this year. The past few years of hosting/planning the family Thanksgiving and then going straight from there into Christmas has sucked out some of the joy for me. I’ve already been drinking way too much coffee thinking of this and I’m refusing right now to keep doing that to myself.

People talk these days about the emotional fragility of our current generation. I don’t know how to feel about that. On one hand you look around and do kind of think, “Oh my gosh, what’s wrong with us? Seriously, people, it’s just called life!” But then you start hearing about the current depression and suicide rates and you wonder whether everyone getting annoyed with the “snowflakes” is really that helpful, truthful, or loving.

Even I told myself that I didn’t have it in me to cut potatoes today. I then said to myself, “Okay, well so what?” I’ve got them in my pantry and they need to be used, so I cut up the potatoes and laid them out in the crock-pot. The conversation transpired in front of my daughter, and I think, together, we thought it was funny. I had concerns about having liver and onions for supper, so I switched it to the roast we were going to have Friday.

To be fair, liver and onions was probably a little too ambitious.