Christmas Eve-Christmas Day- Its Christmas Time!

Christmas Eve is a delicious cacophony of papers and recipes; half wrapped gifts, tumbles of brown boxes, Shepherd’s Meal, the every year, hand crafted savory potato soup and crusty bread filling the house, wafting under everyone’s noises and stirring up delight and good memorizes. Zinging the tongue.

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It is the final Advent gather round the table with singing and scripture and candle gleam.

Cookies in tins and small, excited children too tingly to sleep.

Half finished this and that spread everywhere.

It’s A Wonderful Life and The Christmas Carol. Wee hours with wrapping and cooking and candles.

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Christmas Day is Cinnamon Rolls and Egg with Bacon Bake. Clementines in a clear bowl and candy canes. Cookie platters. It is darlings lined up on the stairs and fire crackling. It is gifts and their adorable excited jumping. It is coffee, lots of coffee. It is enjoying each other and enjoying the love and eight siblings in hand-knitted hats.

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It is a Christmas Bunny and red pajamas. It is surprises. It is books, always books. Hand written notes, and hand-crafted gifts.

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It is loading up and packing up- for its off to Grandmother’s House we go-

with Andrew Peterson’s Behold The Lamb, with one amazing Toby Mac CD, with Focus on the Family’s Christmas Carol audio drama-

we’re on our way for Christmas dinner!

And now, its the quiet pause as the year breathes its last. As the new page turn is just days away. Days to rest and soak; reflect and readjust.

I am grateful for this week. This break. This pause. This house, all topsy turvey, needing to be put to rights. Tasty leftovers in fridge and crock-pot.

It’s Christmas Time!

-Rebecca

So many mistakes, I just edited out of this entry. I think its also time for a nap! 🙂

Endless Gifts: Almost Christmas

A blue skies December day with golden light after a day of grey, that sky streaked white and gold close to sunset

Window candles on a timer! Glory!

Hushed mystery gathered around Advent candles

Tutoring opportunities

My bed and the golden coverlet

Two very large TVs.Loving gifts. I am not used to these yet… not sure if I ever will be…but family movie night is surely larger than life now!

A safe butcher for a cow. It is harder to find one if these than I ever realized. But we have found one! Note: it very surprising how many butcher/meat places are truly unsafe for dairy food allergies…even places that do not use any other type of dairy/cheese/etc might use powdered milk!

Discovering December’s Gold. A gold unlike any other season and not found in tinsel or in twinkle lights… but in the incandescent color of the sky. Another blue skies December. Another twilight, caught astounded by the sinking glory, every cloud rimmed in gold and the sinking fireball a goblet overflowing I look up. I look down. Its gone. Finished. And only the heavy indigo clouds are hurrying by. Floating. Like water. Water to water. I ponder. I have pondered long. Perhaps one there will be a poem, a song about the waters. The waters of sky, the waters of earth. The Sky, The water. In the house, I hurry here I hurry there. I hustle. I put my hand upon the blinds to close away the night…and there staring at me, that one unblinking eye my daughter discovered, hovering in the sky. The moon, full and glowing. It felt like an eye. It felt like a huge, glorious, golden gift. Waiting there for me. And I caught my breath at its sight. I did and I actually cried out loud, “O my goodness” and hurried to try, to try to capture that beauty with an inadequate camera and my inadequate technique.Huge and rising. How quickly the night falls, how extravagant the dropping sun ball, how flaming the glorious beauty.  What beauty streaking across the sky…on the days that are blue in December. And all of it imbued with that crisp, cold air…all the promise of snow and Christmas and the waiting anticipation. It is gold, it is gold! for Christ, the King!

Finding blue-sky and gold in December is its own beautiful gift; thankful

Ishtar. And I am sucked completely in! And the cliffhangers! O, how can we be left there!

How she told me she was going to make me rainbows and then, later, I found her picture taped to my bedroom door. Her rainbows.

Gas fire on cold days, gold flicker December

Daddy’s bountiful tent created for his little girls on a Saturday morning. And pancakes. He made pancakes!

Coffee

Writing, and trying to lean in to all this means for me.

That sunset streaking fire out my kitchen window…

his perfect stack of apple cores; I love this man of mine

Me, on the couch, “I’m cold.” I say… and she climbs into my lap with a hug and her cheek against mine and, “I’ll warm you up.” she says. (M) And she did, right to the cockles of my heart. And there she is, tucked up under my chin. And its Snowmen at Night, together.

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A Wise Man on the bathroom sink. A cheery Little People Wise Man with a gold gift in his hand. Just there, all by his lonesome, where some small soul left him. Their little trails of happiness. Christmas Nativity.

How they decorated tiny little Mini Whinnies with bitty stickers… and one was adorned with a small, perfect heart.

And its always, The Story of Holly and Ivy.

treasuring dear friends near and far, email, phone call, and in person

Hot tea, fireside, with a kindred – a Christmas pause-

The Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends; again, again

Time making chocolate chip cookie cups with Joshua; wee girlie hands covered in cinnamon sugar, rolling Snickerdoodles; delighted ones decorating sugar cookies: Christmas- here we come!

It’s almost Christmas. Get ready.(this is for me)

-Rebecca

 

 

 

Delighted: Multiples Illuminated

I am so pleased to share that one of my essays is going to be published in a real, hold-in-your hand book!

My piece Five Years In will be part of  an anthology that is the second in a series. It will be titled: Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years

From their Website:

Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years brings to you 19 stories ranging from potty training twins to helping multiples figure out their individuality; from separation anxiety to inseparable siblings. We have the hilarious to sometimes heart-wrenching, but always honest and relatable experiences from parents who are navigating a minefield of life with kids aged two to 12. 

Find the first volume here

I will also be contributing an essay to be published live on the Multiples Illuminated blog in February. (pray for me?)

Heart-swelling-ly glad,

Rebecca

The Things They Say: Twin Edition

Yesterday, my Aymee stood next to me,

and with monumental

importance

in voice and action said,

“Listen, Mommy!

When Norah is 4, we turn 6!

When Norah is 5, we turn 7!

When Norah is 6, we turn 8!

When Norah is 7, we turn 9!

then her chest puffed out even more… and…

deep breath, gruff little exclamation:

When Norah is 8….we turn TEN!!!!

She chuckled with glee.

The things they say… and O! for the importance of being ten.

The Things They Say: Twin Edition

Recently, Todd had our little girls step on our digital scale. He was surprised to see how close all their weights were. Indeed, they are just about a pound apart. He remarked about “our triplets.” I laughed….and then told him they had all gained a pound. He replied, in his inimitable way, that holiday baking affects us all! Too funny. Not holiday baking, just normal childhood growth. They are all close in height and weight and can wear almost the same size. They share all their clothes.  The twins and little one are 20 months apart. They were all in diapers. Now, they are all potty-trained.

A few evenings ago, I was in my bedroom and these three little girls were playing about in their room and in the hall when suddenly Aymee came rushing in. All bluster and breathlessness and full of importance.

She said, “Daddy’s going to be proud of us! All three of the twins! Cause we cleaned up our room all by ourselves!”

All three of the twins! 

The things they say.

A church Sunday in dresses I bought on special sale when Abi was little. She barely, maybe never, wore them. Our darlings. Little triplets.

“He goes before me…”

Poured Out Life

Hillsong: Touch The Sky

Dark swiftly falling. It’s me and little ones. Son, 8 and my three wee girls. Still little though each turn of day moves us away. Away. Ribs suck. I am missing. Am I treasuring?

I am undone. I have Backpack. Snacks. Coloring supplies. Germ-X. Wet Ones. Purse. Keys. Phone. House is locked. Before that, a quick trip to get shoes for one youth who unexpectedly outgrew their concert black. Pants, shirts, skirt, tie, tights, everything. Found. Organized. Albeit later than it should have been. Every little one in Christmas clothes with photos taken. With grand hopes, we are now heading to watch the older kids in their Winter Recital. I am so unused to being alone with littles, that when I am, it takes the level of concentration and effort required to the next level.

(Note: For anyone who might be tempted to think I am more than I am: I had to leave the recital early. They lasted one hour and 30 minutes and I saw three of the kids and they did not last well for that. These littles reflect my season so accurately. It is unrelenting. Just because I trained their older siblings, doesn’t mean they will suddenly be well-behaved by osmosis. O, sometimes I wish it was so! And sometimes, I just let more things go. And sometimes, I just know when I am at my limit and so are they- and pack up, we go. And I have to think: is it still important to me(little ones who bring rest rather than frazzledness)? I think it is. Help me, Lord.)

Behind the wheel, I gasp for breath. Music floods the car and I am wrapped round.

I found my life when I laid it down

I am caught up in an illuminated moment. One of those anointed “Kairos” moments when everything is clear and the curtain wavers. And in those moments, I am washed in the Presence of God and know myself fully known and realize that in my lost-ness, I am found.

I have entered the busiest season ( I think) of my life.  This past semester has been hard. The Moms, they tell me, it just gets busier. I gasp. What can I do? Hold on for the ride, hold on to the Lord. Give it my best. Pour myself out.

I have resolutely and fixedly always turned my face to the Lord. Again, again. I have welcomed the gift of life in womb, in home. I have treasured with great thankfulness the fullness of my family and my heart. I have chosen to say as the Lord says, always,” Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.” I have never, never chosen to complain about any season. Am I complaining now? To share its hard? To feel the stretch? To live so beyond myself…all the time.

No. But I am saying it out loud. It is hard. And I am pouring out. I am choosing a poured out life. And I have to say it again, and again. To myself. Because I grow weary in my ideals. I grow weary in life. I grow weak. I tire. But I have the choice. With every day, I have the choice in how I am going to respond, confess, repent, re-orient.

And I choose. I choose words of life and words of grace. I chose to fight for beauty and goodness. To draw close, again,again to children who bristle and prick as they grow through their many stages. To be the life of Christ to them- He who pursues me relentlessly. So, I will pursue. Help me, Lord.

And in that moment, in the car. I know. I am found. I choose the poured out life because I find myself when I come to the end of myself. I find myself in You. And me in You is more real than anything anywhere (except perhaps Heaven…all that mystery and beauty waiting for us).

I am still open Lord. I am open to Your Hand. I am open to You. Seasons change. Child-bearing ends.

Mothering never ends. Life-giving never ends. Birthing something new and precious in God, walking in His Spirit, growing in His grace, basking in His touch upon this life is available for every season. The anointed joy of knowing I am walking in Your will and in Your miracles is for me now just as it was in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004,2006, 2008, 2011, 2013. In Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland. Just as it has been all my life, placed in the family I was placed in, schooled where I was schooled, INFP as You created me.

This is the hardest season (of the year) for me and I need this reminder and truth more than ever. I choose to live poured out. I say yes. I still say yes, Lord.

“The High Places,” answered the Shepherd, “are the starting places for the journey down to the lowest place in the world. When you have hinds’ feet and can go ‘leaping on the mountains and skipping on the hills,’ you will be able, as I am, to run down from the heights in the gladdest self-giving and then go up to the mountains again. You will be able to mount to the High Places swifter than eagles, for it is only up on the High Places of Love that anyone can receive the power to pour themselves down in an utter abandonment of self-giving.” Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

 

What does living a poured out life mean to you?

-Rebecca

 

 

 

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For “Mother Culture”

If, perchance, there are any dear Mamas (or Papas..or teens for that matter…) that delight in poetry as much as I do…

I am sharing here a lovely resource. (from the introductory post in the series)

Malcom Guite is new to me.

Each day this advent, a post is featured based around a poetry piece, complete with an audio link where it can be listened to…which is just lovely. There is also a featured corresponding piece of artwork with spiritual reflection.

These posts are featured as a companion to an “in the flesh book” by the author Malcom Guite. The book features literary analysis and spiritual reflection.

From Amazon:

Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation in which the waiting itself is strangely rich and fulfilling. Poetry can help us fathom the depths of Advent’s many paradoxes: dark and light, emptiness and fulfilment, ancient and ever new.

For every day from Advent Sunday to Christmas Day and beyond, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it. In the spirit of the season, he blends the familiar and the new, ranging from from spiritual classics such as Edmund Spenser, John Donne, George Herbert and Christina Rossetti, to contemporary voices Luci Shaw and Scott Cairns.

O, just to listen to some very favorites in British accent! It is delicious!

 

Keeping Christmas,

Rebecca

 

Christmas Ponderings

Here is a little posy, a ribbon wrapped offering

of Christmas- tide treasures:

A sweet and simple Advent reading schedule – I am enjoying this! The Jesus Storybook Bible is poetic and lyrical and wholeheartedly focused on Christ. There is creative license taken with some stories (in my opinion). This free download contains scheduled readings all mapped out and beautiful artwork. I cuddled a sweet girlie on my lap today and we enjoyed this so much.

Golden Hours– This is a delicious blog published entirely in honor of Advent season and Christmas time. It is beyond lovely. So beautiful. Perfect for stolen moments with a steaming mug and some quiet. I have been reading Lanier’s words for many years, now. Her home blog is a treasure. This joint endeavor, a delight. This is a favorite! from Golden Hours: Advent Meditations 1

Sally Clarkson and Kristen Kill on Christmas Traditions – Lovely line-up of books at the bottom of the blog post and a podcast link, too!

Ishtar’s Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent– this series has been an exciting part of our holiday season for many years, now…and Ishtar is new this year! This is a Daddy read aloud and it is challenging to find the time. But..we are doing the best we can.. I was delighted when several children eagerly asked if we were going to be reading these books again this year.

Poems we are enjoying:

In the Bleak MidWinter

Christmas Bells

Stopping by Woods

The Coming

An offering of beauty, my friends! As I started to write, the ideas and books just kept coming… trying to keep this small and simple.

Blessed Advent!

Rebecca

 

Endless Gifts December Eve

Walking into Church and “Come Thou Fount” was playing… and all for the little girl whose heart lit right up hearing “her song” and how the words have driven down deep into this heart weaving their narrative with my own

perfecting her dance move(a lovely little skip) with every step of her “greenway” walk, and she danced the entire way(M)

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my hand in his, my head tucked against his chin, sweet closeness

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my girl, the day after her aunt ( the bunny queen) came and encouraged her and her brother in their care of Pippin and in what a truly wonderful little bunny he is… my girl must have told me at least three times, all aglow… and O, the coos and loves lavished on our little man.  Those words meant so much.

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Brown Paper Packages piled under our tree, to be opened all December long. Read long and soak the season. Yes.

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Piano Guys: A Family Christmas, George Winston: December, Andrew Peterson: Behold the Lamb, Chris Rice: Living Room Sessions- Christmas

Cello. Utter, unexpected gorgeousness.

A clean bedroom and refreshed knobs on all the dressers. Sigh, happy.

Tree up and small girls with hands raised in excitement, dark silhouettes in front of the tree, gentle fingers exploring the treasures

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finding a rainbow heart I colored just for her and she runs and hugs my leg and then…twirling with it… I hear her little voice, “Mommy loves me!” O my darling, yes!

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Holding a sweet blondie on my lap and missing those days… when she needed to be held so much more. Grateful for a tall brother who met that need…but I miss. I miss. She still fits. I tuck her under my chin and sing. Small ones after their bath are so delicious.

Christmas carols round the breakfast table and first Advent candle lit

Pippin the perfect- for our family- bunny.

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Curly hair

Flowers on my table

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A nativity arranged

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Joshua and a sunset romp, wild and free

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the day we were out in the yard and I watched her run and spin and twirl and chase a butterfly and it was just…so like her. So her.

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There is almost nothing that can calm and still my heart and all atwirl-ing mind…like, sitting quiet and going deep and counting grace gifts.Seeing.This fights the darkness and the whelming flood. It fights discouragement and heartache. There is almost nowhere else I feel most alive, most myself, most real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
-Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

 

So, I am going to extend this shy invitation: Keep Christmas with me? Count grace gifts?

Found in Him,

Rebecca