Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.

Props to anyone who gets the Elf reference in the title!
Okay, if I had to pick one adjective to describe my grandma, it would have to be sweet. Don't get me wrong, I credit her for the salty sense of humor I inherited, so though she is dear and loving, it has more to do with the fact that one can not turn around in her house without bumping into something that would make a diabetic break out in hives.
I have eaten more slices of pie this week than the rest of the year combined. Even her dogs are called Candy and Sugar. They're always running in circles thinking someone is calling their name when really we're just talking about what to eat next.
She is a grand woman and we have a lot of fun watching movies, laughing over coffee in the morning and telling stories.
Every time our family gathers at her house I leave a Which is why I am glad that a pie has a finite number of pieces.
My goal for the next few days is to savor only the sweetness of my grandma herself and restrain myself from the goodies she provides.
Starting tomorrow.
Or the next day, maybe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hi ho, Hi ho

Yesterday I wrote about timing, which I think made God raise one eyebrow. I mentioned that we get paid by time, which for salaried folks is only somewhat accurate. But, since I work from home, I'm accountable for a set amount of account-hours per year so they can be sure I'm not watching As The Days Of our General Lives Turn and eating Dilly bars.
Due to a number of factors, including a life-changing trip to Cambodia, a relocation to the great state of Arkansas, and a few writing related ventures, as well as two weeks becoming a person-of-greater-value to my get the idea.
Even though I spent the rest of the year working like a fairytale dwarf, I was looking at a solid week of work including a half-hearted attempt on Christmas Eve, and then a semi-solid next week. Which was kind of the pits since I like to take some recoup time at the end of the year and focus for a few days on celebrating the birth of our Lord.
Then today, the magic of system bugs, my time had been reporting short. About a week short. Which means, (insert drumroll) as soon as I get my current projects wrapped up I'm free as a (what else is free at Christmas? Cheer?)
So, hats off to the Big Guy, who proved the point that He alone is master of time and that He is most generous with it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three...Two...One...Happy New-Comet!

So, I was reading the Christmas story in Matthew. It's kinda sad to me that it's only two chapters in that book, but, it was a good two chapters once I got past the genealogies. I especially was thrilled by the part about the star and the wise men. I am not an expert at space and it's moving parts, but I've heard smarter people speculate that it was a comet. It could also be a supernova, or a special star built just for Jesus's birth. I mean, some people name stars for loved ones, why couldn't God build one? All the same, my money's on a comet. If I get to Heaven and learn I'm wrong, I'll be okay with that.

So, I got to thinking, when did God make that comet and nudge it into it's path? Ten years early? A hundred? A thousand? Was there a launch party? Did the angels count down like New Year's? I bet they did.

And then....time....passed....and passed...and passed some more.
Until finally the day arrived, Mary had her first angst-ridden contraction, and hours later baby Jesus took his inaugural breath of the air he made.

And the star shone.

They say timing is everything. And in a lot of ways that even they don't understand, I think it's true.
There's a very good chance I'm projecting my own short and long term concern on the Christmas story, I'm just surprised I didn't do this earlier. (It wasn't time I guess. Okay, that was lame...) Our world, particularly the Western bits, are driven by this intangible, uncontrollable force. We get paid based on time, we eat when it's time, we get jobs because it's time, and some of us get married or have babies because its time.

It makes sense. We only get a certain amount to do our living in.

The frustrating part is when things don't happen when we want them to.

Boy, in times like this...I mean, times like that, I'm glad that God knows the exact moment to set the comet hurling through space. Or send me here or there, or even call me home. Being unbound by it gives him the only really good perspective on this thing we call time. So, I don't have to stress about it, not that it helps much anyway. God has got it.

Thanks, God, for Jesus, for the star, or comet, or supernova, or whatever. For the way everything came together perfectly the night Christ was born, a tiny baby already worthy of worship and gifts and devotion. Thank you that through his whole life and mine, you worked all things for the good of those who love you, even the ugly parts.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Do you ever get ambushed by alertness right when you don't need it? Like at 2:46 am?

Clearly, I do. Okay, it was not a total ambush, I did have that Diet DP at 6 when I knew I shouldn't indulge in caffeine. This is a lesson I relearn a few times a year.

But, as I lay in the dark and try to resist starting another novel, my mind wanders. And, oddly it enough, it flutters to rest on Mario, an 80-something year-old vineyard keeper in Tuscany. He wears a wide, crooked grin and a neat Robin Hoodesque outfit, complete with cap.
Every. Day. Except, once a year, he changes the feather in his hat.

When my friend Autumn and I visited Italy a few years back, we had to do a Tuscan wine tour, and the whole thing was grand. The hills undulated beneath the lacy green of grape leaves. Clouds frolicked in an azure sky and the sun was two degrees brighter. The vineyard itself was the ancient castle-home of a seriously bad pre-Napoleon family, and the wine...oh, the wine.

But among the rich, timelessness of that experience, Mario hovers as the star on top of the tree, to use a seasonal metaphor. He lived his whole working life on that land. Loved it, embraced it, was a part of it. He embodied Tuscany. He beckoned strangers into the cellar, brought around seconds of fresh bread to dip in the vineyard's olive oil, and kissed an American tourist full on the mouth.

If I hadn't met him, the day would still shine among memories. But it is the Marios in life that lift experience beyond two dimensions.

So, thank you, Jesus, for Italy. It is a fine piece of craftsmanship. And thank you for the Italian culture, one of joy and passion and legacy. And thank you that I got to sample that, if only for a few far. Thank you, too, for Mario and all the other people my life brushes against, who make this path so deep and verdant. Please bless him today.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's a wrap.

I have done about half my Christmas shopping. I love Christmas shopping. It's so much fun to find something that you know somebody dear to you will enjoy. Especially if they aren't standing next to you pointing at it. But one thing makes giving, and to be honest getting, gifts more fun.
Wrapping paper!
I have purchased two rolls of paper and have three gifts waiting under my tree. They look so much prettier than they would as just a ------, -------, and ------- heaped in a pile. Wikipedia has very little to say on the subject of gift wrap, so to whoever is responsible for this fun tradition that preserves an element of mystery and makes a gift giving an event, thank you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

cookie time!

I'm grateful for kitchenaid mixers! It cuts in half the time to make five batches of sugar cookie dough and three batches of icing.

Thank you, God, for Kitchenaid.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I just closed my blinds because it's night and I live on the first floor. And I thought, "Gee, I'm so glad someone invented blinds. That way I can enjoy the view out my window by day and then have privacy by night."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

100 uses for a...

I love it how everything has a purpose. Like even play-dough. It makes kids have fun and keeps them occupied so they won't chase the cat.

What I also love is how things are useful beyond that intended purpose. Like play-dough makes a salty snack when there are no Goldfish under the couch cushion.

And like the book that is not only a fabulous world waiting to be unlocked, but is also currently a little mini-table upon which my chai tea sits. I don't have to worry that the carpet fibers underneath will sit funny and make it spill, and I can't tell you how distracting that can be when one is trying to write.

One might, if one wished to make this a multi-purposed address (!) note the parallel with people. I want God's will in my life. I want to matter. To discover what my purpose is. For ages I lived with frenetic worry that'd I'd veered off the skinny black line denoting my destiny. What if I was supposed to go to UW instead of GT (go Jackets!). What if I was supposed to go to Starbucks instead of Caribou this morning? I would be hopelessly lost in a dark sea of pointless existence (melodrama intended.)

I don't remember when...I think it was more of a dawning than a bolt, but I came to understand that there is not one skinny road I'm meant to wend my way upon. I don't have one singular, isolated purpose. I'm made to glorify my God, to know him, but that is not a one-shot deal.

I bet Moses did a lot more in his time on earth than lead Israel from Egypt. That alone would be a killer destiny, but for forty years, he lived in the desert. Lived. Not just existed. And after Joseph saved his family from starvation and hooked them up with a sweet property in Goshen, he lived. Lived. Raised kids, sheep, and other stuff.

And I? I'm made to go to Cambodia, have coffee with friends, fall asleep on the couch, shamelessly justify naps as the will of God, write, laugh, travel this beautiful world, read the brilliant stories of others (here's looking at you, Tim Downs. Bugman is heelarious!), make cookies, enjoy cookies, relate to friends, play with my niece, etc. Maybe some day I'll get to lead a people group to a promised land...but I'm not holding my breath. I imagine my life's designed purpose won't clarify this side of the grave, but in between now and then, I'm grateful for the little things that put meaning in life and make a tiny, pale pink mark on the world.

Monday, December 6, 2010

do ra me

I am watching Sing Off, an a capella competition on NBC, while I wait for Castle to get far enough along that I can fast forward through the commercials.

While they're all very good, today I'm grateful for instruments.