Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Small Things | His Watch

It's Christmas eve.

We returned home from a family service with Husband's parents, dinner, and looking at lights.  Our hearts are light...but we are tired.  We are thankful all is ready for the morning.

Except the stockings.

I quickly located them in a bag.  I counted out seven big boot sacks.  I mention quickly that I am glad I didn't find my dad's thinking it was in a bag in another room.

Then his fell out onto the chair.  I notice it has some heft to it.  I reach in my arm recognizes the small flags that veteran organizations brought to him in hospice.  My hand seizes something metal and a wave of emotion and shock pulsate through my body.  I look at Husband and exclaim, "His watch!" and the fount of tears comes forth.  I cannot control it.  My girls watch in wonder as I hold the watch tight and Husband holds me tighter.  My oldest begins to cry, too.  Later my middle one says, "I'm gunna give you some love, okay?"  Sweet girls.

My dad was kind of obsessed with his watch.  He pretty much went batty when he didn't have it.  It was one of the first things he requested to have when he left the hospital.  However, he only wore it for a time while in hospice because it became too big for him.  However, it was always on his bedside or he would have it in his lap.

Oddly, the watch is still keeping time and the day is still correct.  The date is off but I think that came from the months with only 30 days and my dad would have to change it to the first when it read 31.

While the discovery was quite emotional...it was quite providential. Healing.  Welcome.

Monday, December 16, 2013

These Days are Marked

These days are marked for me.

They are marked with sweet joy of celebrating advent that leads to Christmas celebrations. Birthdays for two of my girls.  Decorations I love. Family Traditions. Family...

This year they are also marked with incredible Heartache. Loss. Memories.

Around this time last year we were celebrating my youngest's first year of life while facing the fact that my dad was finishing his last.

It all takes my breath away like it just happened.  The days... good and bad... play in my mind.  The pictures are blurred by tears that I cannot stop.

I miss my papa.  Every. Day.  Some days are extremely difficult.  Others are not so bad.  Most probably think that I am doing okay.  For the most part I am don't get me wrong.  On a lot of days I just want to sit and cry.  I have three little ones that distract me and need me to keep going.  My two older ones will randomly talk about him when I least expect it.  On some occasions it makes me laugh or smile and on others I fight back tears or they spill out.

Some people ask about him or how I am doing. Most do not. It's awkward for some. It's okay.  It's true...life is but a vapor and the grass remembers us no more.

It has been strange to not ponder over what gift to buy him this year as he seemed to have all that he wanted. Or he would tell me that what was on his list was far too expensive which generally meant that it was some firearm he wanted. HA!

My gift to him last year was a CD of hymns (he was listening to it when he passed.) In all the years I had with him I don't remember him being quite as grateful as he was for this one.  I can still see him mouthing the words "thank you." to me.  Maybe I'll pull it out sometime... maybe

Indeed, these days are marked.  Marked by hope that came as a little baby under the cover of night.  Hope that grew to be a man of stature and character that would pay the ultimate sacrifice of dying on a cross for my sins.  Hope that rose from the dead.  Hope that promises the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. That Hope is Jesus.  A Hope that Papa has...a Hope that I have.  In this I find great comfort...yes... and joy. Even in my tears.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent | 25 Days of Books

The Advent season marks the beginning of the Church Year, and begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Advent means "coming" or "arrival" and refers to the First Advent of Jesus, the Messiah. The Advent season is observed as a time of preparation, not only for Christmas, but also for the Second Advent of Jesus. This is a time of thankfulness and expectation, for we are those who "live between Advents."

I think that the Church calendar is beautiful.  Yes, I do know it's man made but I am not a slave to it nor is it an idol for me. However, I find that it helps me think through ways in which I center my thoughts, heart, and life to Christ... that is what makes it beautiful.

This year, as most years of recent memory, something (whether good or bad) has turned plans upside down for what I thought our Advent and Christmas seasons would look like.  Things were scaled back quite a bit with our assignment here in California being extended.  I still want this season to look very different than other times in our church life and in our home life.  It's an exciting time with so many opportunities to point our girls to Jesus.  I had planned to do the books of Advent this year even if we had been at home this year.  I'll be honest, the travel out here on the first day of Advent has set me back a bit. Here we are on Day 4 and we have yet to open a book and begin.  Okay, okay... the other part is that I just got them wrapped up last night!  It's all about honesty here, people.

I am still working on a few more books to purchase for the end and to help round out our collection.  I am sure that some of them may even change over the years.  And some years we will need to add more because, believe it or not, Advent does NOT start on December 1 like many believe.  It begins on the FOURTH SUNDAY before Christmas.  So, some years there are actually 28 days in Advent.  This year it just happened to coordinate nicely with December 1.  There is your public service announcement for today.

So, while we're being honest here I am kind of a book snob when it comes to relaying the message of Christmas to our children.  We don't do Santa.  Go ahead and get your "awwwwww's" out and the comments about how we are depriving our children of some great thing.  We tell our children about the man who Santa is based and how that man loved Jesus and had a heart to serve people around him.  They are not missing out.  They do think that Santa is fun and sometimes they say, "Let's pretend Santa is real just for a little bit while we play."  So, they do.  I find that Christmas is already tainted by this world with commercialization.  We don't want to cloud their vision with a "person" that can give them anything when the season is about God who came to give them everything.

With that, here are the books that we have in our collection or will be purchasing.  Some of these books are from my childhood, some we have purchased over the years -- both new or used -- your local used book shop is a great place to start!  Yes, I realize that there are only 22 books on the list.  We started late and I am still trying to find more books.  If you have recommendations leave them here!!

1.  Who is Coming to Our House?
2. The Christmas Story
3. What Child is This? (I couldn't find a link)
4. The Most Marvelous Gift
5. Mary's First Christmas
6. A Charlie Brown Christmas
7. The Tale of Three Trees
8. What Sarah Saw
9. Silent Night (It's the song with beautiful illustrations, I have a different cover than the one shown here)
10. Merry Christmas, Strega Nona
11.The Very Special Visitors
12.The Crippled Lamb
14. Song of the Stars
15. The Christmas Story (different than the Golden Book above, but couldn't find a link)
16. Mortimer's Christmas Manger
17. Waiting for Noel
18. The Nativity
19. The 12 Days of Christmas: The Story Behind a Favorite Christmas Song
20. Humphrey's First Christmas
21. God Gave Us Christmas
22. A Child is Born

**Some of these links may lead to Kindle additions or may show really crazy prices.  I provided links mostly so you can see what the book looks like.  Where your procure them from is entirely up to you.  :)