Saturday, December 04, 2010

December 3


Yesterday was chaos.  I took the littlest elf to the doctor, had six kids get off the bus at my house, made supper and went to basketball.  Then the girls and I went to a party.  A lady from our church invited them over to watch Christmas movies and play with her daughter’s doll collection.  Everyone had a good time.  Especially Abby and Maren who didn’t stop playing with the dolls even to eat!  And especially Grant and his friend who had the house to themselves girl free for the whole evening! 

I want to share this story with you.  It gave me chills just to read it!  My friend Stephanie and her husband Matt are Village Missionaries out on the East coast.  She’s sharing the condensed version here, but you can read what God is doing with their December on her blog too.

What A Difference A December Can Make

Christmas has always been a time of immense internal conflict for me. On one hand, it’s my favorite holiday. The tree! The decorations! The lights! The snow! The music! But on the other hand… In Michelle’s initial Do December Different post, she vividly described my heart toward December:

“So many people…despise December. They hate shopping and fighting the crowds. They spend too much money. They charge up their credit cards. They are obligated to spend $25 on Aunt Betsy because that’s what she spent on them…”

This is exactly what I hate about December, except we don’t usually charge up the credit cards, because I stay home as much as possible once Thanksgiving hits. For all the talk about Christmas bringing out the best in human nature (that’s a laugh on its own), apparently it doesn’t apply in-store. So several years ago, my husband and I decided that instead of giving to each other, we’d combine what we’d spend separately and get one thing we could both use and enjoy. We don’t have children, so we didn’t need to spend money for that. This year, we finally got my brother and sister-in-law to agree to no gifts for us adults. Woo-hoo! Less shopping! And I could do it all online if I wanted to!

We were sitting pretty, as Decembers go, until the Monday after Thanksgiving, when the phone rang.

After nine years of treating and grieving infertility, we’d chosen to adopt out of the foster system, knowing that as children age in the system, their chances of adoption drop exponentially. We’d seen God look down on us, His enemies, and sent Christ to die for our sins, that He might adopt us. We knew this was His road for us. But we also knew that meant school age children – no babies. It was a battle for me, but the Lord worked in my heart and we were excited to plan and prepare for older children.

We completed the paperwork/homestudy phase of the process at the end of October, and had settled in for a long wait of reading profiles and waiting for a county official somewhere to like us well enough to want to meet us. But apparently, God has different plans: the phone call on the Monday after Thanksgiving was THE phone call. The phone call let us know that two siblings were available in our home county (no traveling!) and their caseworker wanted to meet us as soon as possible.

ASAP meant the very next day, and the “interview” was no interview at all, but rather a face-to-face to hammer out details. Nine years of waiting and grieving, and God was finally doing what I just assumed was impossible, and had not even had faith to pray for: He was giving us children for Christmas.
And not only that.

The children God was giving us for Christmas? Babies. A 2-1/2 year old girl, and a 7 month old boy. I flew into the most confused emotional state I can remember: exhilaration tempered by panic tempered by faith challenged by the temptation to walk by sight. We had not planned for babies. We were not prepared for babies. We. had. nothing. for. babies.

Well, after we dealt with the panic, I flew into a flurry of making notes and lists. The snow flurries outside had nothing on me! We went out that very night to buy the supplies we’d need to child-proof our home. We decided on what furniture needed to be moved or replaced. I began a baby registry. (Even now, as I type that, I still stop and wonder: a baby registry! Us! Never would’ve thought.)

And now I realize that God has done a second impossible thing. He’s gotten me to Walmart between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and He’s gotten me there willingly.

So talk about doing December different! As I write, it’s December 4. Autumn still decorates our mantle. We’re still greeted by a “Happy Thanksgiving!” sign by the back door. Instead of our normal, 7 -foot Christmas tree, we purchased a small 3-foot, pre-lit tree. No other decorations or lights will go up. Who has time? God is giving us a gift. My children are coming home.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

December 2


Today, we went to visit our friend Renee.  The Renee with the lions at her house.  Don’t worry, they are just statues.  When I told Maren we were going there, Annie said she wanted to go too.  So we went after school and in a few minutes, the girls were happily eating brownies and drinking pop in front of Nick Jr. on the flat screen.

Renee grew up in Luxembourg and was a war bride.  She got married at 17 and moved to northern Minnesota.  It was a major culture shock.  She speaks German, French and the language of Luxembourg.  We talked about her family, growing up, and her career. 

We also talked about marriage.  It’s funny to listen to someone who has been married well over sixty years talk about the ups and downs of marriage.  Things like why she went back to work and how it makes her crazy that her husband is rearranging everything in her kitchen.  She shared about the struggles they’ve had over the years.  Sometimes, when I look at couples who have been married for a long time it seems things have been so easy for them.  They are comfortably retired and have a nice family and house.  But that’s not the whole story.

I remembered last week when we had lunch with a couple from church that shares our anniversary.  They have been married 47 years and called us kids.  They too shared about the years that were difficult, stressful and just plain not easy.

I started to realize something that’s important to my marriage.  More important than date night and communication and love languages.  The things these couples show us is real: brokenness, transparency, patience and faithfulness.  As a young(ish) married couple, it’s so important to spend time with people who have been doing the marriage thing longer than we have been alive.  They are a wealth of encouragement, honesty and inspiration.  They’ve been through rough times, trials, death, health issues, financial pressures and survived.  And thrived.   

So maybe our “young married’s” classes or same-aged small groups aren’t the best idea.  Our churches and lives are full of this wisdom but we often write them off as out of date or out of touch.  We need to connect to people with wisdom and experience. 

Even though I went to visit Renee as a gift to her, I was the one that was blessed.  I couldn’t be more thankful for the gift I was given.  As I was leaving, she patted my hand and told me if I ever needed someone to talk to she was there.  And I might just take her up on that.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December 1


Today I woke the littlest elf up from a nap.  It kills me to do that but we had to pick up the other elves from school.  Once everyone was awake and gathered and fed and pottied, off we went.

First stop: Carlton Greenhouse.  The whole place is full of pink and red and purple and speckled poinsettias.  Beautiful.  Even for someone who really doesn’t love nature or flowers that much.



Maren thought the resident dog’s barking was a little loud.  Once they started petting her she was happy as a lark.

We delivered a pink poinsettia to our neighbor.  She goes to our church and is a waitress at the local restaurant.  The kids like bringing her things on their bikes in the summer because she always has Schwan’s Ice Cream treats.  Mike also climbed up on her roof and brushed off her internet receiver.  She gave us candy. 

Then we delivered brownie pops and rolls to a friend who just had surgery.



I just found this recipe in a collection of old family recipes.  They were good and not too hard.  But I had to call my Grandma to find out who on earth Arnold Trote was.  He was my great grandparents neighbor.  And apparently quite the bread maker.

Arnold Trote’s 2 Hour Buns

2 packages dry yeast, soak in,

1 cup lukewarm water

Cream: 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

3 tsp. salt

Add two eggs, beaten

Add: 1 cup boiling water

Add: Yeast water

Add: 6 cups flour.  Mix and knead.  Let rise one hour.  Shape into rolls and let rise another hour.  Bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Makes 3 dozen buns.

I cheated and used my kitchen aid mixer.

We delivered more brownie pops.  This is how the trees looked while I was waiting for the elves.


We made one more stop but they weren’t home.  So hopefully tomorrow will involve delivering this:


And whatever brownie pops didn’t get eaten by hungry elves tonight. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Moment of Panic

In the busyness of Thanksgiving  I hadn’t thought ahead or looked at a calendar.  I didn’t know what was coming in the schedule, but one thing is certain: tomorrow is December 1. 

Yesterday as I was starting the clean up from the weekend I had a moment of panic.  I spent some time filling my calendar with the dates of basketball practice, games, piano lessons, chess club, girl scouts and tried to remember when I let our schedule get so out of control.  I guess with five kids in the house even having everyone in one or two things still makes life pretty crazy.

I’m just a little worried because I was going to Do December Different.  We’ve already been planning.  The girls made our own little advent calendar to keep track of our daily acts of giving.



With stickers.  Because I was going to do this thing right!


I have no idea if we will actually be able to pull it off.  I don’t like trying things I don’t know I can do.  And do well.  How pitiful will it be if we end up too busy to do December different. 

Last night, we got a lot of snow.  I didn’t go running or have Bible study or go the vet which gave me a whole night and day at home.  I’ve got some extra time to get prepare. 

I am looking forward to Christmas more than I have in a while.  The adventure of our little advent calendar is going to be fun.  Even joy in the little things like a snow day.  Hopefully, it will add a lot of meaning to our December.

How about you?  Are you making any plans to do December different? 

Monday, November 29, 2010

On To Christmas

Last week I:

Celebrated our 14th anniversary.

Celebrated my adorable great-niece Rylie’s first birthday.  Maren was so excited for her!


Started dreaming about eating at Old Country Buffett during my 13th hour in the kitchen.  Maren actually fell asleep on the counter we were in there so long.


ran a 5K on Thanksgiving Morning.  I missed the memo about wearing a turkey costume.

served 15 people dinner and they all tolerated it.

played a great game of Outburst.

saw a mind blowing dance routine.


served leftovers to my side of the family on Saturday.

went to Bentleyville with the family and my parents and my nieces and nephews.





was thankful Annie didn’t call Santa a fake to his face.

worked on a school project.

had an adult dinner with our small group.

collapsed into bed and tried to psyche myself up to move on to Christmas.