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Dec 30, 2013

A House Full of Grace...And Sparkly Nail Polish

This Christmas has been incredible and humbling.  Truly.  I'm just feeling so overwhelmed by the blessing of my family and friends.

Our house has been bustling with activity for weeks, filled with friends and family sharing many meals, drinks, sweets, games, movies, laughs, stories...a house full of people is a happy house indeed.

I see God's light shining through these people, through our relationships. His goodness.  His grace.  They all, each and every one of them, make me feel that when my days are spent, instead of lingering on my failures and shortcomings (which are absurdly plentiful),  I will rest easy knowing I lived a worthy life because of their presence in it, because of their grace and love for me and because of mine for them.

This was my most precious gift this Christmas.  A house full of grace.

And there was some sparkly nail polish too.

My girls took me out for my birthday lunch.

Sam's kindergarten concert.  And his good buddy (and next door neighbor!).

Lena, the red-nosed reindeer.

Some family bowling for Sam's actual birthday (yes, everyone beat me, including Lena).

Crazy faces...always a good time.

Christmas Eve at our place.

Christmas morning at home.

Christmas Day at Lori's.

My girls even came for a visit!

 A house full of grace indeed!

Dec 19, 2013

Books and Naps

While Lena was in school, Sam and I spent some much needed downtime at one of my favorite places in the world.

A bookstore.

I have a recurring dream of being locked in an abandoned library or bookstore for days and being over the moon happy about it.  Surrounded by all those hundreds of books, all those stories and dream worlds and characters and truths quietly waiting for someone to take their pages into their own imagination and breathe life into them, to give their words legs to run through the undiscovered recesses of our minds, to give them hands that can stretch and reshape and quiet and provoke and enliven our thoughts, our beliefs, sometimes the very essence of who we are.

Plus libraries and bookstores would be awesome places to nap. 

It makes me happy to foster within my kids a love of reading and a love for books themselves. To see that appreciation and love growing in them makes me proud.

Dec 18, 2013

Brave, as Interpreted by Lena

Below is Lena's shortened version of the book Brave, including Merida, who looks exactly like a horsy, a dad who punches with old people, the queen who says don't turn into a bear and love you mom, a good guy who turns into a bear too, and an evil wizard who count the bears.

Hmmm, about sums it up for me.

Dec 11, 2013

Wallowing in the Season...

Things have been, as I'm sure they are for every family this time of year, hectic for us since I returned from my road trip. 

We had Lena's preschool Thanksgiving party where all the students dressed up like Pilgrims and Indians and ate goldfish and popcorn (you know, authentic Thanksgiving day fare), then we headed up north for Thanksgiving with Rich's parents, which was super fun and special but far too short.  We threw in a movie on the way home from Chardon and, the next day, had Sam's nearly-a-month-early-monster-themed birthday party. 


All within a week's time. 


Last weekend we had the Wingers (minus Matt) over for dinner, nearly had simultaneous heart attacks with every man, woman and child in the Columbus area while watching the OSU game, and went to Jack's Christmas pageant at their church, which was adorable and all the kids did so well.  And this week Buddy the Elf came to live with us (the kids are equal parts creeped out and amazed, but either way both are on their best behavior = score!).

This weekend is our annual ride on the Polar Express in Newcomerstown, but we have to come home right after because our kids have their Christmas pageant at church Sunday morning and then will be singing some selections from the pageant later Sunday evening at our church family potluck (my band is also performing at both).


Then it's my birthday, Sam's school holiday concert, Lena's preschool holiday party, Sam's birthday, Christmas in Chardon and then the Kraft family Christmas Eve party at our house complete with grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, kids, gross amounts of food and a visit from Santa Claus,  culminating with our church's (and the band's) Christmas Eve service. 

Whew whew. 

It seems like a lot as I write it all down.  And some days it feels like a whole lot more when it's mixed with all the other day-to-day stuff going on at work and the kids' schools and our house.  Fitting in quality time with the kids and Rich, making special Christmas memories, finding time to make good meals, buy presents, address cards, write blogs, and work on the rocking chair I dug out of someone's trash, and, and, and...

Sometimes these dizzying days flash by me too quickly to hold onto any of them as tightly as I'd like, to let the true reason for the season fully sink into me.  And my memory is for shit, so next week I'll forget which kid said what tender sweet thing to the other when no one was watching or that special hug Rich gave me when I really needed it or what Pastor Frank said during the sermon that struck me so true. 

But some moments stick.  Some still quiet moments within each day pull at me, remind me, calm me, center me. 

The simple perfection of reading book after book to the kids in a big overstuffed chair in our living room, all snuggled under a blanket, their little faces illuminated by the lights of the Christmas tree beside us.  Thursday lunches with my sister, catching up and laughing and commiserating and eating and connecting and fostering that relationship because, for me, it's one of the most important relationships in my life.  Sinking into the couch beside Rich every night after we put the kids to bed, feeling his quiet love and strength beside me.  The tingling goose bumps I sometimes get when I'm singing with the band, when we're all feeling the song and the holy spirit fills us and everyone in the room with its palpable presence.  The way the morning sun hits the water of the reservoir, throwing silvery white light in every's so awesome each time I see it that gratitude to God for such beauty consumes me, as do meandering thoughts that include whether that warmth of glistening watery sunlight in any way compares to the light I will surely see when I finally gaze upon His face. 

So yeah, even with my shit memory and our rushed holiday schedule and the speeding up of time as I age (what's with that, by the way?), all is not lost.  Tis the season to be stressed and jolly and crazy and joyful, right?  That's life.  It's up and down and sideways and slantways and longways and backways.  Is it better to have no messes, no noise, no rushing, no stress, no inconveniences, no worries if it means having no friends, no family, no joy, no relationships, no love, no laughter?  Because one doesn't exist without the other. 

Life is messy.  You can either wish it way or wallow in it. 

I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I wish for a day to be over, for a bad day to hurry up and end. 

But I wallow.