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knitIt’s tangerine rosemary tea in my grandmother’s tea-cup on a holiday afternoon
as the sun slants through the front windows
And I lasso time to write
My heart

It’s snowflakes on the first day
Back to work after the holiday
Snowflakes cover the road
Covering my windshield
And my black ballet slippers
Leave a path across the grocery parking lot
For club soda, vanilla bean ice cream
And chocolate syrup
Because my littlest one found the recipe
In an old book
Though I knew the recipe from an old memory
Saucey boy thought he’d discovered something I didn’t
know
And I lassoed time
Because he threw down the gauntlet
To make soda memories

It’s, “Mama can you make my sandwich
‘cause it would just taste that much better?”
Or, “Mom, can you bring by the stapler?”
“Read my essay – did I do the cites right?”
expressing appropriate appreciation in the dry
humor of a miniature snowman
and how repentance grows out of hard lessons learned,
grows into tears, hugs and walking tall
And I lasso time out of the jaws of not enough
of me to go around

It’s the no in healthy boundaries
And faith in the journey of a prayer sent out
It’s decisions not for popularity
But for love
and letting go so that independence with training wheels
can work
For standing when sometimes I’d rather
retreat to “Stars and Butterflies” and “The Militia Marching In”
And I lasso time for grace
because I asked God for these boys and this job
and He grew my heart and the will to fight
for moments with tangerine rosemary tea,
chocolate sodas, the dry humor of a miniature snowman
and an answered prayer come home

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IMG_9410There was a lot of imperfect going on at the Blue Cotton House for Christmas.

I don’t think the perfect gift was in anyone’s stocking – or wrapped in paper. The house kept falling into disorder. We didn’t read The Night Before Christmas – but from Sunday through Wednesday – there were smiles and laughter, hugs hello and good-bye.

The truffles didn’t get rolled and sprinkled until yesterday (3 days after Christmas). Some still need to be dipped in chocolate – and the majeskas? Well, they just didn’t get made.

IMG_9433It was a patchwork Christmas – one son leaving for California with the sunrise Christmas Eve. The oldest making it for Muffaletta Christmas Eve, parting ways for Christmas Eve service – and then there were 3. No mad-cap gift prep because the youngest is 13.

I’m graceless at new things – like 3 home on Christmas Day and no little ones, this moving out of raising boys-to-men to the mom’s role in the life of little-men-to-growing men. The Christmas Tree and table decorations, and traditions like turkey on Christmas Night and muffalettas on Christmas Eve, the music, the movies, the hanging of the “First Christmas” with my husband on the tree – it anchors me in the ever-changing dynamic of celebrating life with 5 sons growing.

Andrea Bocelli’s “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Adeste Fidelis” allowed me to feel what the shepherds must have felt when the angels appeared to them that night long ago.

Our church read the Christmas story – and gave some background information. Did you realize that Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah as high priest was the only church leader who could have given the verdict for Mary to be stoned if Joseph so chose to go that path. Not a coincidence that Zechariah was struck mute, giving him time to understand what God wanted him to do.

My big little guy, all 13 years old, not believing in Santa but believing in our Savior, he wanted me to make my Christmas casserole of hard-boiled eggs, chips, bacon and my cheese sauce. “No onions, Mom,” he asked.

Santa didn’t get a letter from the boy’s this year. The boys have always done one, passing the writer role down from the oldest to, well, the 4th son wrote it last year and the 5th wouldn’t write one on principle.

“I don’t want anything,” the 15 year old said.

The 18 year old wanted clothes – not grunge-looking clothes but clothes that showed a maturing, to go with his short hair cut.

IMG_9366Christmas Morning woke to a quiet. No early risers discovering what Santa brought – just a 13 year old discovering mid-morning a stocking full of coal – because only believers get presents from Santa – non-believers get coal.

“It pays to be bad,” the 3rd said. “You can get a good price for coal.”

There were smiles, new pants that fit just right, and sweaters for swag. There was It’s a Wonderful Life, The Man who Came for Dinner, Christmas in Connecticut, A Christmas Carol, and Ben Hur

and harness bells on the door.

Remote controlled helipoters instead of nerf guns

Merry Christmas phone calls to loved ones far away

Letter B gift exchanges – which is why there is a BIG Darth Vader under the tree

and my grandfather’s ornaments, my grandmother’s Christmas balls and my mother’s wreath because I don’t just like things, I like the story behind them.

IMG_9381Turkey, oyster dressing, a friend’s squash and cranberry casserole, savory green beans, egg nog and unfinished truffle balls – shared with friends and 3 of 5 sons.

It was an imperfect Christmas made perfect through the birth of a savior over 2000 years ago

when angels sang to a bunch of shepherds, shepherds who were so low they weren’t even allowed to go into the temple once a year to present their perfect sacrifice to atone for their sins – so they could be brought into the inner circle of God’s family.

Yet, according to our Christmas Eve service, these shepherds the angels visited were the select shepherds who raised the lambs, raised them without blemish, without brokenness, watched over them so they would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of God’s people.

The angels appeared first to the most lost – and  dropped into their lap the most important news scoop since creation – Glad Tidings, an angelic message, the Inside Story of the greatest story Ever Told – through this baby in a manger, God and sinner reconciled.

IMG_9445How imperfectly awesome is that – Angels announcing to the lowest left-out of God’s children that a savior was born to save them, to wash their sins away that weren’t allowed to be washed away in the daily or yearly – because He would bring the temple to them, and there, in the fields, outcasts by their own, they would in a few years, have the opportunity to have God in them, Salvation in them – and they, too, would be washed white as snow because of the perfect sacrifice of a Savior, born in a manger.

Maybe that’s why I love the shepherd story the best, that the angels sing a message from God – and the shepherds carry it in their hearts to their community:

“Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the Newborn King”

and like the shepherds, I want to take the message to those that cross my path, even if it’s a path that takes me out of our way, even if is to people who think I am not worthy of the message, even if I’ve settled down to an evening under the stars, I want to rouse myself from my comfortable place to live the amazing joy of sharing something so awesome, just like the shepherds.

Between you and me? I want to not just do it, but feel the way those shepherds must have felt.

Christmas Day came for the outcasts, for the broken and the orphaned. Christmas Day came all for each imperfect me and you and everyone.

Wishing you an imperfectly beautiful Christmas Day every day this year!

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desserts2cSometimes I can’t love ’em right
though my heart is full of love
not a taking love
just a giving love

a love bursting
and here I am
wanting to love ’em right
and I can’t
sometimes
no matter how hard I try
no matter the intent

“Love suffers long and is kind” (I Cor 13: 4)

I’ve baked celebration cakes
taken dinners
written poems
asked questions
encouraged
prayed psalms
sometimes even hugs
can’t love ’em right

“love is never envious or arrogant with pride. Nor is she conceited” ( 1 Cor 13:4)

whether it’s with a teen in a stage
a church family member
a kid’s mom my kid wants to play with
a random person
someone who belongs to you
through biology
or belongs to you ’cause
Jesus said so

” [Love]does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor 13:5)

sometimes I can’t love ’em right
and all the love languages in the world
can’t break
the language barrier
but God knows
who He gave me to love

“[Love} finds no pleasure in injustice done to others, but joyfully sides with the
truth
” (1 Cor 13:6)

sometimes when I can’t love ’em right
it’s for a reason
He knows
the pain of unrequited love
that God’s true love
isn’t inactive in the waiting
doesn’t stop existing
though it lives unseen
uncovered
over-looked
not sought-out
like a wrapped gift
given and unopened

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through
every circumstance”
(1 Cor 13:7)

He knows
that sometimes it feels like
I can’t love ’em right
but God’s kind of love never fails (1 Cor 13:8)

IMG_7514

Father’s Day weekend was filled with a few moments where I managed to love some of ’em right – not all of them, but some of them. One son wanted muffalettas for his birthday, chocolate celebration cake for another birthday boy, and creme brulee for my husband- and, well, it was just a sweet easy day. No – sometimes, I can’t love ’em right – not the way they want, maybe not even always the way they truly need, or in a way I know how to love.

I am not omniscient – though my boys at times thought I was

I only know what knowledge I have reached for and grasped – or what God has revealed

“but love makes up for all wrongs, trangressions, offenses, sins” (Proverbs 10:12)

The more I learn about God’s kind of love, the less judgemental, the less exclusive I become – the more I realize how imperfect I do love

and because I realize how imperfectly I love –

the greater the determintaion not to give up trying

and forgiving,

not just others but myself

learning

there is not always an immediate return

maybe not ever

on love

The only thing I can do is love my best

hands-on or hands-off

through prayer, creme brulee or muffaletta’s and oreo icing, hugs, talks, time or a filled-up gas tank

or maybe a no to gas-tank fill-ups, groundings and lectures

the only thing I can do is love my best

even if they think I don’t love ’em right.

meringuefruit

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updated February 24, 2013

lemonade
A few years ago, when one son, whom we call “Bear” got in the car after soccer practice all cold and shivering, I asked him,” What’s the saddest sight in the whole wide world?”

“I don’t know. Your cooking?” he answered. I almost forgot my joke.

“A hairless bear shivering with cold,” I answered.

Now readers,

stop a minute.

Visualize

A hairless bear shivering with cold

I was right!

There really is nothing sadder in the world

than a hairless bear

shivering with cold

if you group all the sadder-in-the-world things that are truly freaky, scary funny

but not truly sad

like

a newborn baby who needs its stomach, which is pushed up into its lung area, put back

or the loss of life, homes, andjobs in Manilla after tropical cyclones wreaked havoc,

or the loneliness and hopelessness without God

lemonsAfter I’d dropped the two youngest brothers off at school, this bear teen and I set off to the high school. He didn’t look happy – and I’d always said growing up his first name should have been Joyful. He wasn’t joyful now.

I dove into my unabashed Q&A – there is something to be said for being one eye more awake than your children in the morning. Yes, only one eye more awake and driving. My Qs resulted in As that bemoaned sitting through classes with students who really didn’t want to be there, who spent their class time just irritating other students or whining.

“Choose Joy,” I said.

“You just can’t make joy,” he answered, only one eye awake.

“Joy is a choice,” I persisted. “It’s like lemons. What do you do when life gives you lemons? Make Lemonade.”

“Bam!” I thought! Grand slam. I was wide awake then. Kind of proud of myself.

“I don’t like lemonade,” he said, sliding his eyes toward me, his lips quirking in a quiet gotcha-smile.

When he got out of the car, reached back in to pull out his backpack, I smiled, “Make some lemonade today!”

Because each of my sons needs to learn that contentment, happiness, joy – requires choice to find the good in hard situations, when life just plain stinks, when it feels prayers aren’t answered and friends aren’t true. Sometimes only through sheer determination, keen look-out – can we make joy where none really exists.

I cried out to God to show me – and I have found joy in a flock of crows, in squirrels nests, in a quirky smile trying to be held back, in 5 acorns on a path.

St. Augustine said that the only difference between the pagan and the Christian, who suffer the same challenges, the only difference is how they handle those challenges. Because we have a God who loves, He provides an opportunity to turn those lemons into lemonade joy.

Choose Joy.

Make Joy.

I texted this son later, “What’s the saddest sight in the world?”

“Your cooking,” he texted back.

 “The Joy of the Lord is our Strength” (Neh 8:10)

That joy and laughter strengthen!  God is so detail-oriented that He not only invented awe-inspiring joy, but tiny pockets of joy, release-valve joy, decreasing pressure and stress  – the invention of unusual places to find moments of laughter that cause joyfulness to bubble up inside, bubbling into a smile, a funny, joyful moment- an indecisive squirrel in the middle of the road, a headless turtle, or a collie carrying the neighbor’s Christmas wreathes – and – yes, even in a hairless bear shivering with cold.

“Life is what you make it; Always has been. Always will be” (Grandma Moses)

Make Lemonade out of Lemons!

Make Lemonade Joy!

I pray you find joy and laughter today, not just in the sentimental, but in the unexpected. I pray that you make lemonade joy out of lemons. What are some unusual places you have found a burst of laughter and a spot of joy? What’s your recipe for Lemonade Joy?

Since a post on Lemonade Joy would be incomplete without some real lemonade, I thought I’d include my recipe. It’s a recipe that tastes better when shared:

6 Lemons
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Quart Water
Grenade
Crushed Ice
Lemon Slices and Blood Orange Slices

lemonade

 


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