Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life

Can I just tell you that I breathed a huge sigh of relief this morning to start a new week?

We had a hard week, y'all.

Sometimes that happens.

I have a lot of updates to share, and I'm going to move quickly, so hold onto your hats.  Some good news and some bad news.  Let's just go in chronological order:

Friday Dec 4, morningUltrasound at my OB.  The baby's head had measured large on an earlier scan, so just double checking, to rule out hydrocephalus.  The way my mind works, I'm all but shopping for pediatric wheelchairs at just the mention of the thing.  But it was healthy for me to think through.  "So what if the baby has special needs?  That's not the end of the world.  We will still love him or her.  God is still God, and we'll see how He glorifies Himself in this adventure."

But don't call the neurosurgeon for us just yet.  The head is normal.  The whole baby is huge, but that's fine.'s a boy.

We had planned to wait and be surprised at delivery.  Made it through the first big ultrasound when you usually find out the gender by hiding our eyes.  But the doctor just blurts it out this time, for no apparent reason.  (Not my usual doctor!)  I have no idea why.  He didn't seem too broken up about it either.

Whatever.  It's not like the birth will be boring, even without that surprise.

So exciting!  Yea.  A boy.  That will be fun.

A healthy baby boy.

He will (almost certainly) be named Henry Wisdom, and go by H.W.

that afternoon:  My grandfather died.

My sweet 93 year old grandfather, my mom's dad, died instantly and painlessly at his beloved farm.  On the farm where he was born.  Exactly how he had hoped to die, and what we all wanted for him.  

My mom found him.  I can't imagine her sense of dread, driving out to his farm when she realized he was home late and not answering his phone.  In a tremendous grace of God, he appeared peaceful and comfortable.  I pray that God grants my mom a peaceful remembrance of the event as well.

When I told the kids, Jonas thought for a moment and then said, "He'll be so excited when he wakes up and he's in heaven."

Saturday Dec. 5, afternoon:  Make the decision to take the kids to Oklahoma for the funeral without Justin.  Justin could go Sunday and come back Monday, but I dread making the drive two days in a row and would like to stay longer.  So I need to go without him.  Laundry and packing.

that night:  Betty develops a fever.  Never mind about going to the funeral.

Sunday Dec. 6: Stay home with sick Betty. 

Monday Dec. 7: Sad to be missing funeral.

Abdominal pain and contractions.  Maybe a touch of Betty's virus???

I've had Braxton Hicks, but these feel a bit firmer... and there are more of them...

OK, I think I need to go to the doctor.  Need someone to keep the kids, but can't ask any of my mommy friends because Betty is sick and I don't want their kids to get sick.  Can't call my mom, she is at her father's funeral.  Justin is in College Station; he carpooled with friends and is trying to get here ASAP but it may be awhile.   Justin's mom will be here as soon as she can, but her boss just had a baby two days before so she really can't leave work very early.   I call Justin's grandparents; his grandmother stays with the kids and G-Dad drives me to the doctor.

Admitted to labor & delivery for monitoring.  Very dehydrated.  Very uncomfortable G-Dad, whom I doubt has ever before been inside the labor & delivery unit.

After 2 liters of IV fluids, I feel better and the contractions stop.  Sent home late that night.

Tuesday Dec. 8: Bedrest all day.  Justin with the kids; Betty still has fever.

Huge thanks to Stephanie, Mamaw, and Mandi for bringing dinner all week.

Wednesday Dec. 9: Feeling a little better.  Out of bed some.  Betty's fever is gone.

Thursday Dec. 10: Wake up with red painful right eye.  Feels like someone is poking me in the eye with a stick.  Very sensitive to light; have to drive with sunglasses over my regular glasses (note to self: pick up some prescription sunglasses!) and a scarf around my head Jackie O. style to block out more light.  Except it's Jonas' scarf that I dig out of the backseat, and it doesn't wrap around my head elegantly but rather just drapes across my face, dangling to the chin on either side.

Go to OB for follow-up, am pronounced good as new, except for the eye thing.  Go to ophthalmologist who diagnoses infection from contact lens, prescribes drops.  Relieved it's not pink eye and not contagious.  Home to bed; worn out from driving around all day with a tree branch in my eye.

Friday Dec. 11:  Wake up with a fever.  Are you kidding me???

Consider it the most joyous of good news when the doctor says I don't have to come be seen in clinic.  For the third time this week.

Another day in bed.  Feel lousy all day.  Eye feels better though.

Saturday Dec. 12: Thankfully my fever is gone.  Take the kids out for donuts.  In case you're counting, that's 4 days this week they've been away from me:  two days I'm literally gone most of the day, two other days of bedrest.  Not used to that.  Starting to miss the little guys; the stress is affecting them too.

That night they stayed with Mamaw and we had a fun evening with some friends.  I was glad to get out and officially pronounce the week OVER.


I know God taught me something.  Probably about self-reliance and pride.  Turns out, I really can't do it all.  I actually do need my family, and my friends, and my church.  And it doesn't kill me to ask for help. Bless my sweet husband; he took such good care of me.  He completely turned his schedule upside down this week, and I know it's going to cost him. 

And we're having a boy!  It's starting to seem real now.  7 weeks to go...

I haven't done much of the Advent activities I had scheduled for this week.  But I have been turned toward God, forced to acknowledge my dependence and frailty.  I await His coming....

"...the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
 the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit..."
Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why didn't Mommy give me anything?

So I spent maybe an hour getting the calendar up and the schedule made.  Another hour or so for the tree.  Some time for the blog posts, to "pay it forward" for other families.  The kids helped with the calendar and tree.

All enjoyable time, and I'm glad to do it.  But, you know, a small investment.

When the time rolled around to Officially Celebrate Day One, I asked Justin to talk to them about Advent.  He usually leads out in our family devotions anyway, and I had already set up the tree and calendar with the kids, so I figured it was his turn to do something Christmas-y.  So he explained Advent,  gave them their quarters, and talked about how the quarters meant there were 25 days until Christmas.

They were very excited, and rushed to their piggy banks.

Then sweet Jonas came out with toys that he wanted to put in the calendar.  He had two, one for Justin and one for me.  "I got you a present too!"  He gave them to us, with both hands behind his back ("Pick a hand!") just like Daddy had done.  I got a little toy car, and Justin got a spaceship or something.  "Oh, I forgot Sissy!" And he ran and got a pink paper plate for her.

We told him that was very sweet and thoughtful, and we were glad he wanted to give presents.

Then Betty did likewise, and gifted Jonas with a Lego I think.

Then Jonas looked suddenly sad and hurt, and asked "Daddy and Betty gave me presents, and I gave everyone presents.  Why didn't Mommy give me anything?"


....I think it's safe to say I'll be passing out the Advent gifts tonight.

Advent Conspiracy

In case you thought "keeping Christmas simple" means being a Scrooge. 

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Advent Conspiracy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


We have our first ever Advent calendar!  It's very cute:

I hung it on the china hutch.  It would look nice above the fireplace, but the stockings are there:

(Note to self:  when making Christma stockings, save back some extra fabric in case you have another kid.)

I bought the calendar on Etsy, but it would be easy to make if you were so inclined.  I rushed around to get it up Sunday night, and then realized that it, like most Advent calendars, only had the numbers 1-24.  So December 1-24 it is.  That is a bit confusing to me, when Advent actually started Sunday, but oh well. 

General thoughts on Advent, for the other Evangelical rookies out there.  I'm fairly new at this, and these help clarify the intention of the Advent season:
Our whole life is an Advent, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people will be brothers and sisters.  An old song, quoted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The spirit of Christmas needs to superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world. Stuart Briscoe

   Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
   An old abbot was fond of saying, ‘The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.’
   The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all. Edward Hays

   It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…Fr. Andrew Greeley

     …Christmas celebrates the dawn of the Light of the World. The powers of darkness are overcome by his coming to share our life. The long reign of sin is ended and grace has been poured out upon the earth. The Sun of Justice has arisen, and evil is vanquished."
     Perhaps the hardest thing to remember about Christmas is this. "It celebrates the incarnation, not just the nativity. The incarnation is an on-going process of salvation, while the nativity is the once-for-all-historical event of Bethlehem. We do not really celebrate Christ’s ‘birthday,’ remembering something that happened long ago. We celebrate the stupendous fact of the incarnation, God entering our world so thoroughly that nothing has been the same since. And God continues to take flesh in our midst, in the men and women and children who form his body today. And the birth we celebrate is not just the past historical event but Christ’s continuing birth in his members, accomplished by the power of the Spirit...
     …What we celebrate is our redemption in Christ and the transformation of all creation by the presence of the divine in our midst.  from the Catholic Sourcebook

Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate goes the longing for the final Advent, where it says: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I've observed Advent loosely for several years now, but this is my first time to intentionally walk the kids through it.  As a fairly newbie Advent celebrant, I was at a bit of a loss for what to, um, load the calendar with.  I've seen candy, tiny gifts, or devotionals.  I decided on a hybrid.  We are continuing with our usual family devotions through the season; it worked out nicely because we just finished reading the Old Testament (in this Bible) so we will be doing the Nativity story over the next week and the life of Christ will carry us past Christmas.  It doesn't strictly follow the traditional Advent schedule, but it will work for us. 

(If you are looking for a more traditional Advent devotional, check out Heather's or Kendra's.  For some general ideas about Advent and Christmas, check out Advent Conspiracy.)

In our family devotions we are just reading the Bible in order, as it comes.  No master schedule or anything.  For Advent I mapped out what stories will fall on which days this month and planned to elaborate on them a bit.  For the days of the birth of Christ next week, I planned crafts to correspond.  I think I'll tuck the craft components (or just a piece of paper with a picture or description) into the calendar.  We can open it after dinner most days; I can occasionally do crafts earlier in the day when our evenings are busy. 

The kids always have access to crayons and paint, etc. and use them several times daily; I don't often do an Official Craft Project with them.  But I thought it might help them remember the elements of the Christmas story, and they enjoy making Christmas decorations. General Christmas crafts will be on some days, and Christmas books as gifts a few days.  Other days the calendar will just have candy or stickers or something.

I found this list of gift ideas which has some cute ideas; some are a bit corny.  I pulled a few of them:

December 1 - A quarter! That equals 25 cents. But 25 also stands for the number of days till Christmas, when God gave us His best present. Jesus told about one woman's gift and the way she gave it. Read: Mark 12:41-44

December 2 - Grape Gum! Grapes make jelly and juice, raisins and wine. But Jesus didn't need grapes to perform His first miracle. Read: John 2:1-10

December 3 - Smiley sticker. Here's a smile! A smile usually expresses happiness. Jesus gave us many instructions to keep us happy. Read: Matthew 5:1-12.

December 4 - Gummy fish. Fish! Well, if you were surprised to find these fish, wait till you read the story today! Others were surprised to find fish, too. Read: Luke 5:4-7

December 5 - A birthday candle. As you know, we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birthday. However, Jesus talked about something else that is related to this candle. Light! Read: Matthew 5:14-16

December 6 - Bell.  You could make some noise with this. But it would not have bothered a certain man--until he met Jesus. Read: Mark 7:31-37

December 7 - Goldfish crackers. These would not go very far if you were really hungry! But Jesus could make much out of little. Surely He knew how to multiply! Read: Matthew 14:13-21

December 8 - Cotton balls These cotton balls would be helpful in a thunder storm, wouldn't they? We could use them for ear plugs to muffle the loud noises that thunder makes. But we know someone who doesn't need cotton. Jesus can control the weather. Read: Matthew 8:23-27

December 9 - Part of a map. People needing to use the other parts of this map are in trouble! Don't you get lost today! Read: John 14:1-6

December 10 - It's soap. Do you like to wash? Behind your ears? Washing turned out to be a happy time for a man who met Jesus. Read: John 9:1-7

December 11 - Heart stickers. Wordlessly, they speak of love, don't they? Jesus spoke some commands about love. Read: Matthew 25:17-41

December 12 - Cross stickers. We use the cross as a symbol, representing Jesus. Do you know why? Read: Philippines 2:1-11

December 13 - Ordinary salt. Yes, Jesus related salt to us and our behavior. He also gave us some advice. Read: Matthew 5:14 and Colossians 4:6. (Notice that He doesn't recommend pepper!).

December 14 - Sand.  Don't try to eat this! It's sand. It reminds us that Jesus knows something about architecture, about buildings--and building lives. See His instructions: Matthew 7:24-29.

December 15 - Silk flowers.  Flowers are pretty, aren't they? Jesus used flowers to teach us a reassuring lesson. Read: Matthew 6:28-34.

December 16 - Raisins! Many children are given raisins instead of candy for a snack. That's because they are a health-promoting and delicious fruit. Jesus told us how we can produce good fruit. Read: John 15:1-5.

December 17 - Seed packet. Jesus told a story about seeds that man planted. Then He explained it, revealing its deep meaning. Read: Matthew 13:3-8 and Matthew 13:18-23.

December 18 - Christmas carol. Christmas is just about a week away. And here is an appropriate song. Sing it loudly! Read: Psalms 100.

December 19 - A hard stone! Can you change this stone into a piece of bread? Do you think Jesus could? Jesus was asked to do just that. Do know how He handled it? Read: Matthew 4:1-4.

December 20 - Foil ball. Try to smooth out this piece of aluminum foil and use it as a mirror. It's hard to see your reflection plainly, isn't it? Many circumstances are hard to understand, but someday everything will be clear. Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12.

December 21 - Mustard seed. The mustard seed is the smallest there is! When it sprouts, it grows into one of the largest plants! See what Jesus said. Read: Matthew 17:20.

December 22 - Dove.  We've learned that the cross represents Christ, but do you know what the dove stands for? Read: Matthew 3:13-17.

December 23 - Piece of wool. The threads that compose this fabric came from the wool of a sheep. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know who His sheep are? Read: John 10:7-18.

December 24 - A marble! Do you know what is sometimes called the "Big Blue Marble"? The world. God made the world for us. What does God continue doing to the world? And who is the world? Read: John 3:16.

December 25 - Picture of baby or baby doll. Isn't this baby cute? When he was born, he made a whole family happy. Jesus was born a baby, too. He came to make the whole world happy. Read: Luke 2:1-20. Enjoy your celebration today. Continue to learn about Jesus--and love Him forever! 

Here is the schedule I've come up with for us.  It's a blend of treats, crafts, and devotionals.  Days that correspond to our normal devotional reading are noted; other Scriptures that tie into that day's gift are also listed.  I apologize for the poor typing and formatting; I'm doing this quickly so it's just copied over from my notes.  I'm sure you understand.  : )

Tues Dec. 1:  quarters, 25 days (as Dec. 1 above).
Wed Dec. 2: candy or toy
Thurs dec 3: paper plate angel craft, (read Angel appears to Mary)
friday dec 4: window suncatcher christmas tree craft.  Fold black paper in half lengthwise.  Cut along open edge to resemble one side of a Christmas tree.  Leave paper tree folded in half and punch numerous holes all over tree.  Unfold tree.  On one side, glue assorted colors of tissue paper over holes.  Turn tree over.  Finish decorating with glue and glitter to make garland scallops.  Add a yellow construction paper star on top.
saturday dec 5: birthday candle, matt 5 light of world (as Dec 5 above)
sunday dec : stickers
monday dec 7: read census, journey, birth; do envelope manger craft
tuesday dec 8: read shepherds & angels, do nativity craft
wed dec 9: read wise men, make star w/ pipe cleaners or sticks & wire & paint
thurs dec 10: paint a rock; matt 4 (as dec 19 above)
fri dec 11: book
sat dec 12: stickers
sunday dec 13: bubble bath, john 9 (as dec. 10 above)
mon dec 14: snow globe craft
tues dec 15: dove, read baptism
wed dec 16: book
thurs dec 17: pine cone angel (glue feathers and a halo on a pine cone)
fri dec 18: read fishers of men; goldfish crackers
sat dec 19: read wedding at cana, flowers (silk or real?)
sunday dec 20: book
monday dec 21: candy
tues dec 22: stickers
wed dec 23: candy or toy
thur dec 24: candy

We'll see if I make it through as scheduled...this is way more crafty than I usually am.  If it makes me busy and crazy it will be the opposite of my goal and will have to change.  Gotta go put some quarters in bag #`1!