December My Lovely

Oh, it’s everything, I think. To pin point exactly what it is that has me wrapped around December’s finger, is to lose the magic with which it dances onto the stage just prior to the last curtain call. It is not a perfect month. No. There are things; things and ideas and implications seeking to ruin December’s jubilant mood and benevolent spirit. Hurry, greed, good intentions leading to debt, guilt, and overcommitment. We fill December, packing her with too much, and like a suitcase that simply won’t hold another thing, she is left panting, bloated, and exhausted. And so are we. Unless we treat her well. Embrace her, but don’t suffocate her. Share her, but don’t exploit her. Embellish her, but don’t vandalize her. She is meant to shine, but her light is extinguishable. If we place too many burdens upon her back, she will break her knees, crumple and fall.

When I was younger, in my early twenties, just married, and very determined, December was my way of proving to myself that nothing had changed. That, although I was grown and working fifty hours a week, and my husband was coming home exhausted every night after a full day of school and work, we could still make December the way I remembered her. Do everything. So I turned her into a non-stop parade, marching through her floats made of nostalgia and memory, determined to make her sing for me the way she used to. And when it wasn’t the same – when the parties and decorating and hot coco and baking and wrapping and church services and Christmas movies and trips to the mall didn’t bring back the joy and excitement, I cried. I cried to my husband, poor dear. Mostly I meant well. I simply wanted the carefree, magical season I’d had for all those years. I wanted that moment, etched perfectly on my mind, to remain intact, frozen, untouchable, forever. I wanted the dream.

It’s a hard time for a person, that age between child and adult. We don’t know yet who we are and how to be. We know we are us, the person we’ve been for the last such-and-such amount of years and also the person we’re growing up to be, but we’re a little confused. We’re conflicted. How much do we carry over? Traditions are like a garden we’ve spent years cultivating. But when we move, we don’t know how many plants, flowers, and veggies to take with us and which ones we should probably leave behind where they’ll be more comfortable. The blending of old and new is a delicate process which takes years to perfect. I wish someone would have told me that.

For years I continued to beat the heck out of poor December, determined I must be doing it wrong, so I should add something else. . . . Thank God our brains don’t stop developing until 25. It was around that time I figured it out. It wasn’t more. It was less. It was also being present. Not buying them or receiving them, but being. Little by little my blasted determination weakened, loosing its fist around a choked December. I apologized. I told her I was sorry for mistreating her, for trying to take what she meant to me as a whimsical little girl and make her mean the same thing to me as a soulful woman. She forgave me. Today we’re best friends. True, I only see her once a year, but we make the most of it. Or rather, the least of it. Oh, you know what I mean. I pick and choose my favorite things. And when I’m there, I’m there. All of me. I don’t allow a part of myself to go wandering off, thinking it might be nice if we drove out to the harbor to watch the boat parade. No. Right now, right here, this is where we are. On the couch, holding hands, looking at that gorgeous tree. That’s enough. It’s plenty.

Still, I adore Christmas music, White Chocolate Peppermint Mochas, the lights, and especially the smell of smoking firewood lingering in the air. There are other things, too, subtle and easy to miss if you’re not looking for them: less reluctant smiles from strangers, lightness of foot, and something unmistakably positive in the air, something hopeful whispering through the leaves.

I hope you’re enjoying December. I am. Here are few of our favorite moments this month. The ones that aren’t pictures, however, those were great, too.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Totem

Cards & Fudge

Wintry fun

candy cane lane

Candy Cane Lane

Bella, the sweet and protective

Atti, the playful and curious

Decorating

My love

Facebook, we need to break up, Honey

C’mon, admit it, sometimes you feel this way. A little bit? I can remember the day my husband told me about Facebook. He was still in school, working toward his undergraduate degree. One day I see him sitting at the … Continue reading

Kenya Bound

This morning, my best friend is on my mind . . .

She leaves for Kenya in roughly a month and a half, and will be gone for a whole year. I am bursting at the seams with pride. This woman, this impassioned follower of Christ, is giving up every comfort she knows to lay down her will before His, and serve His people among a third-world country. I will also admit now that, selfishly, I don’t want her to leave. I will miss her greatly. While we do not see one another as often as I would like, Amanda is like the extra rich canister of cocoa you keep in the back of your pantry; you don’t drink it every day, but should you be in need of something satisfying and restorative, it’s there waiting for you. I am thrusting my selfish heart to the floor, zip-locking my sadness, and focusing on the Good and Light, both of which are Amanda and God’s call for her life.

Kenya, in itself, is a beautiful country; the people, the landscape, the culture — it’s brimming with life and vitality. There are pockets of this wild and unindustrialized land that are prospering and thriving. The people are healthy. The children are being educated. Lives are being changed for the better. These advancements have much to do with people, missionaires like Amanda, who generously and selflessly give of themselves . . . for free.

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I Love You

My faith; of all my possessions, none hold more value to me than this. It is sustenance, accommodation, and livelihood.  As a challenge to myself, I don’t often speak directly about my beliefs or the One in which I have devoted my life to following; not because I am ashamed to say so, but because it is my understanding, that if I am being who I am supposed to be, than the need for me to tell others I am a Christian is superfluous. Do I need to tell you I have peach skin, or green eyes, or auburn hair? Of course not. And so my faith should be as evident as the most prominent features — more so! — on my face. However, with tomorrow being Easter, a day in which holds fervent meaning to me, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge Him. To proclaim boldly that yes, I love you Jesus.

I love you with all my heart.

Tomorrow is the Sabbath. For some, this means a long laundry list of “Dos and Don’ts”, for me, it simply means that I will Rest, that I will spend the day with those I love most, but most importantly, remembering Who loves me most, and how He showed that love by laying down His blameless life to die brutally upon a cross.

Even now, as intoxicating scents waft down the corridor of my home, beckoning me into the kitchen where Michael prepares the feast in which we will happily partake, I am tempted toward distraction. Hulking wedges of frosted cake, tender chunks of sautéed tri-tip, ice-cold beer a bottle opener away from relaxation. Sadly, my stomach is often the mentor, when it should always remain the mentee. . . Though it will not come without its challenges, I will do my best to remember that tomorrow is not about the food. It is not about a bunny, either. It is not even about going to church.

It is simply about Him.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20

The Son shall rise.

Happy Easter, my friends. I pray you are able to spend the day with those beloved.

Love, Cara