Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Three Jewels
I stare at my right hand, ring finger at the 3 little jewels in this band of gold. You can catch me doing this every once in awhile – studying the stones. I love jewelry like any other woman does, but this isn’t why I’m staring…why I’m taking in the colors, the shimmer, the uniqueness of each stone. No, these stones represent my children – this is my mother’s ring. Jerry insisted that I get this ring and of course, I’m all for new jewelry so I agreed. When it came in, I almost didn’t like it – sad but true. The stones didn’t fit together, the white gold made my finger look pasty, I couldn’t get used to the order I had chosen for the stones. I didn’t know what finger to wear it on…blah, blah, blah. (You are probably starting to understand that I’m picky and almost OCD about certain things.) After a few months of wearing it, I decided that the emerald just didn’t look right in the setting – it seemed off center. The jeweler agreed and 4 weeks later (after having to replace the emerald 2 times) I ended up with a ring that fit better, looked better, and actually was worth more. This emerald was now a natural emerald instead of lab created – and it sparkled.
And so I stared more intently…I was in awe of how different the ring was – but was it really? Or was I different? These lifeless stones now meant something to me. Each stone representing a child – so precious, unique and irreplaceable.
A deep emerald with inclusions that months after wearing it – I still discover something new. The emerald is my Kayla – and isn’t that true of her? There are layers to this child that I never stop discovering. She makes me laugh, cry, and just love her more because of the unique, intense little girl that she is.
Amethyst for Zach – my zany one. All boy – loud, fast, and multifaceted. He runs laps one second and then climbs in my arms, kissing me and saying he loves me the next. So what I need.
Citrine for Abby – shiny and bright – this stone stands out from the rest. Not because she is better than the other kids, but because she was the gift I didn’t know I needed in my life. Her laugh is contagious, boisterous and I’ll never forget the complete surprise I felt the first time I heard it. She may be little, but she always makes sure her voice is heard.
These 3 little jewels in this twisted metal – tarnished and scratched – gleaming, sparkling, always catching my eye. Reminding me that the gift of these children God gave me not once, not twice, but three times. I am in awe that he would choose me to parent these children.
Oh - I mess up, I yell, I’m impatient, I will never be perfect – yet God still chose me for them. So I keep looking and marveling over these wonderful gifts. And as I admire I thank you, Father for choosing me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Traditions With the holidays right around the corner, this time of year is ripe with traditions of all kinds. While there are the “biggies” – the turkey at Thanksgiving and the tree for Christmas, there are many small traditions this time of year that just warm my heart. Even though we are in a large metro area, the town next to us has a small town feel to it with a park in the city center. Every year they put up a lit Menorah, lights on the big pine tree, play Christmas music, and put up a near life size nativity set. What is so great about this nativity set is that they have a set of wise men that travel through the park to see baby Jesus. The set went up yesterday and as they are every year, the wise men are set far back in the park away from the nativity set. Every week or so they travel to see the baby Jesus. Our kids love this – we drive past the park every few days to see if the “wise guys” have moved. This is such a simple thing that me makes me happy deep inside.

Some other simple traditions we love:

  • Enjoying a warm, wood burning fire and watching the parade on Thanksgiving day. That last few years it has snowed the day before Thanksgiving. There is nothing like coming inside from the cold to the warmth of family and friends in front of a fire.
  • Cutting down our Christmas tree on a farm. We always do this the first weekend in December. Some years it has been sunny and 40 degrees. One year it was 20 degrees and a blizzard. We take the kids and they help pick the tree. One year, Kayla ate icicles the whole time.
  • Eating the largest cheese pizza we can find as our Christmas Eve dinner with wine of course. The last few years we’ve had a 24 inch pizza that barely fits on the table. The local pizza place we go to knows us and our tradition which for some reason makes it more special.
  • Arranging a snack and cookie fest on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This tradition has evolved over the years. It started at my parent’s house where we would cook appetizers and cookies and load up the table. We went to church on Christmas Eve and then we came back and ate and opened presents and stayed up until obnoxious hours of the morning. Nowadays we usually hold the feast on Christmas Day in the afternoon where Jerry’s family (and whoever else is in town from my family) comes over and we graze all day.

What simple traditions are you looking forward to this season?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One Year Ago One year ago, I was a mama in waiting – waiting the birth of our third child – Abigail Anne. I was tired and frustrated and my heart – oh my heart, was not right. I complained. I was large and slow moving (as you other mamas know about this stage). I would sweat on relatively cool days. I was on a strict diet, frustrated by work and generally just ready for it all to be over. But something started to change at this time – my heart began to soften. Thanksgiving was less than two weeks away – a holiday that was relatively quiet to me growing up had really become one of my favorites as an adult. We started hosting Thanksgiving almost by accident when we first moved into our house. Something about a house full of people, warm and cozy with delicious food was really appealing to me. But not that Thanksgiving – we could not host it because we did not know when Abby would be born. Several months before when we found out we were pregnant with Abby – I remember being shocked and then humbled by God’s plan for us. We weren’t sure about having a 3rd child, but in my heart, I wanted Kayla to have a sister. God intervened and there we were. But my heart wasn’t open. I complained, I was in disbelief. I was happy, but tired from being either pregnant or nursing for the previous two years before. I grumbled, I was discontent. About 10 weeks before Abby was due, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes – my frustration turned to anger. “Why? This shouldn’t be happening”, was all I could think. But then there was Thanksgiving…that quiet day with no extended family – just the 4 of us. We cooked, we napped, we ate…and I began to reflect. I read my pregnancy journal that night. I was shocked at how grumpy I had been all those months. I looked at Jerry and said, “Wow, I really just complained this whole pregnancy.” He looked at me and said, “Yes, you did.” I put the journal away, filled with heaviness. “Forgive me, Father”, I whispered. “Who am I to be discontent with this wonderful gift?” I started shaking almost immediately – the first contraction came minutes later. Two and half hours later, Abby was born – the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. One year ago, gratitude and grace changed me. I’m so thankful for that quiet Thanksgiving, for this sweet, almost 1 year old baby girl, for God who was so bold to give me what I didn’t know I needed to have. It’s never too late – never too late to let His grace wash over you and change you. Move your heart to gratitude these next couple of weeks. Stop the complaining and begin thanking him for something even as simple as the sunshine or the warm coffee in your hand. The softening of your heart will change you forever.