Sunday, December 31, 2006
- From A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, which my dad recited to us every year.
Dove-bird and Ella
Christmas has come and gone and we find ourselves on the eve of a new year. I have relished this season of advent and felt so very blessed. I must admit I am hopelessly nostalgic and sappy when it comes to Christmas and I love remembering past traditions and starting our own. We went to a candlelight Christmas Eve service and I couldn't help remembering when I was little. Every Christmas Eve bundled in our Christmas dresses we would go to a huge church in Philadelphia, Tenth Presbyterian, the church where my parents met. One year particularly stands out; I was about 7 or 8. To me the church was magnificent; large stone columns loomed up to the beautifully patterned ceiling, balconies were on each side, and in the front of the church was a massive tree with a lone dove resting in its branches. From the back balcony came the triumphant sounds of horns and a choir; I thought even the angels in heaven could not sound sweeter. At the end we sang silent night and I looked up at my dad whose chin trembled in the candlelight, and I felt God's presence wrapped around me like a blanket.
I feel like a child every year as I delight in all the charms and novelties that surround the season. Ours was a cozy, peaceful Christmas. We spent most of our day at the Gast's house in Wildwood with family and friends. There was feasting and presents. In the afternoon we walked under the gray Christmas sky to see some miniature horses that live down the hill from their house. In the evening we all read portions of the birth story while our littlest ones were in constant motion trying out their new treasures.
It was in those moments of stillness and quietness though that I marveled at the incarnation. With hands on my own swollen belly I feel my unborn child squirming and kicking. So long ago my God was the very substance of these hidden movements to his own mother. "He wrapped himself in human skin for those who want to touch." What was it like for Mary so young and innocent to carry the Son of God? Did she lie awake at night unable to sleep, achy or fearful of the labor? Did she become anxious when labor started on the back of a donkey with her desperate husband unable to find a resting place? And then how did she feel when the only respite was a stable? A smelly, filthy place meant for animals, yet this is where the King of glory came to be among us. When she finally saw his tiny face all else would not have mattered. And so this is what I cling to, My God who loved enough to come in complete humility, who came with a mission to save, who was born and died and resurrected and who will come again to heal all that is broken. In the face of a world so overtaken by violence, injustice, emptiness and loneliness, the yearning for true peace is deepened. How sweet to know the one who brings that peace and to revel in it.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Happy Birthday to my little brother! I love this boy and am happy to have a day to celebrate him. When we were little I used to boss him around, and he drove me crazy with his sillyness. As we grew so did the bond between us. Often I knew how he was or what he was thinking without him saying anything. He lived with us for a while before he got married. It was lovely to have his presence in our home. Sometimes I miss chatting over tea in the morning and seeing him cycling all over town on his big retro mohawk bike. Sometimes I even miss finding the tea bags of coffee grounds he used to leave around the kitchen. It is pretty nice having him and his wife right around the corner now. Scott is an amazing artist and a carpentar like my dad was. He is a sweet brother and friend and soon will be a great daddy.
Monday, December 11, 2006
That's right. I'm a bike NINJA. I thought I'd let you guys in on a bit of what my commute looks like. Unfortunately it is dark and flippin' cold on my morning ride to work so I am unable to take pictures. Pesky gloves. I am truly fortunate to have my work day bookended by biking with one of my best pals, Matthew P. "Fatt Matt" Monahan. Also, riding through Flintstone, GA is much nicer than cruising (dressed as bike ninja) through the ghetto to my old teaching jobs.
Together Matt and I battle various weiner dogs (with tremendous success, I might add), play the thumb and doob games, and revel/laugh in our daily lives as Southerners and all that this entails. Matt rides a recumbent bicycle. He says it is more comfortable but he really just likes the attention. I told our students that it is a cotton gin. They believe me.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
We've been reading lots of books about the Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph and the tiny baby laid in the manger. We're trying to impress on Juden the reason for the pretty lights, candles, and music in our home. Explaining the anticipation of the birthday of our Savior, Jesus. He listens curiously and seems to be grasping some of it, and is particularly enamored with the angels. I broke out a play mobile navity set someone gave us which has been a nice tangible way to tell the story. He spends hours setting it up and taking apart every tiny piece and trying to stop Ella from making off with the "baa's" as she calls them. She really likes the sheep. I couldn't help laughing when I noticed Mavis the train, Bob the Buider, and some other imposters joining Mary and Joseph at the manger.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Jen and I got our kids all pretty and festive and set about trying to capture that shot to tuck away in Christmas cards. It's always an interesting challenge trying to get three squirmy kiddo's still and cute all at the same time. With the grandparents help we sang and danced and made faces while snapping shots. The outcome was some mighty cute pictures and some pretty funny ones too. Here's a few that won't be in the Christmas cards.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Here is my sweet niece Eden.
Ahh, I love Sundays especially now that we have entered this season of advent. I thought I would take the chance to catch up since my last post. We spent a week in the garden state with my family over thanksgiving. I finally got to see my mom's new place where she managed to transfer the cozy familiarity of the home I grew up in.
On thanksgiving we had a relaxing feast and good conversation despite six children under five in the house, no small feat. We got to spend time in Philadelphia with great friends the Sells, and even got to go on a double date thanks to her family watching our whole crew of six. We celebrated Josh turning 31 this weekend with a house full of friends, food, beer and lots of tired kids. Another reason to celebrate... the much desired painting of Juden has found a home on my wall. My mom surprised me and got it for me, the best Christmas present. I am so thankful to have such an amazing piece of art that holds so much meaning for me. Josh got me the Sufjan Stevens Christmas box set as an early present and I have really been enjoying it. I don't like every single song but most of it is kind of mellow and it's got some traditional hymns mixed in with the Christmas classics. It has some pretty entertaining stories included as well. I definitely reccomend it if you are a Christmas music fanatic like me. I am so looking forward to discovering ways to teach my kids about the deep truths for which we celebrate.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Two years ago tommorow is when my dad went home. In an instant his journey, his struggle, was over and he found himself in the presence of our God in a place I can only imagine. I smile to think of him surrounded by glories beyond my comprehension. Although even with a deep belief in victory over death through Jesus, the devastation of disease and the pain of saying goodbye is beyond words. On a day like today my mind can't help but recall some of the ugliness of death and the overwhelming emptiness of watching my dad's spirit slip away before I was ready. Although I don't suppose anyone is ever ready. To chase away those thoughts, I'll write about some better memories. After all, I just want to honor him and remember all he means to me.
He had carpenter's hands, big and strong and rough, beautiful. When I was little he would rub his stubbly cheeks on mine until they were pink. He smelled like wood chips and Old Spice aftershave. He would add lots of milk and sugar to my tea just so I would sit and drink with him. He had a lovely English accent and every year on my birthday he'd take me on a date. He wore this black pin-striped suit and I thought he was very dashing, just like Cary Grant in the old movies I loved. In the winter he would wear about three shirts and a coat in the house. He liked to trash-pick, and never threw anything away. He belted out hymns one beat ahead of the rest of the congregation. I used to wonder why he often cried when he read the Bible. He loved birds, art, poetry and nature and he made me love them as well. He worked with his hand's, he painted pictures, whittled, built and fixed.
I loved to watch him work, he would make me cinderella steps in wet cement. He grew roses and lots of other things in the garden. He was eccentric and made even the most ordinary scenarios hilarious. He was as hyper as a child on holidays. He loved England and never quite fit in in suburban New Jersey. He liked to travel and lived life to the fullest. He wasn't a perfect dad, but he was my dad and I always knew he loved me.
The other day I walked through a field in Chickamauga where my dad had walked with me arm in arm to meet my groom. I remembered that as I put the finishing touches on my flower crown and wedding dress, I looked up and met my father's deep grey eyes. He had a look of bewilderment, love and pride... the age old story of a man wondering when his baby girl became a woman. A precious moment that I will always hold dear along with thousands of others my dad gave me. How I miss him. How I love him, and how happy I am that he is home.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
So my Mom's B-Day is tomorrow (11/6).
Susan Green could be considered a movement or a phenomenon, as much as she could be a person. I'm quite sure that anyone reading this has known my Ma in one way or another. She is a woman that is like no other. When my Mom worked at Covenant College (something like 17 years) I was forced to share her with a community, as she was the mother away from home for many. These people that shared my Ma are what I still lovingly term "cult followers." This is an affectionate term, really.
Why were these cult followers drawn to Susan Green? The most obvious reason for those of us that know her is simply the comfort one feels in her presence. I can say this with conviction since I am her true son.
I don't want to drag on so I am just going to list 7 adjectives that describe my Mom for her birthday:
To conclude, I'd like to offer a small anecdote that sums up how grande my Mom is and how crappy I am.
When I was 14 or so and learning to play drums I was addicted to practice. The special thing about this was that we lived in a trailer (I was with all my drums on a lil room addition off the side of the trailer, still attached). During one of my marathon practice sessions drumming along with Rush or something my poor Mother wanted to take a nap. I don't know who she thought she was, really, trying to stop me from drumming! So in an angered frenzy I insisted she nap wearing target practice earmuffs, so as to not hinder my creative excellence. She wore them without a fight.
I still feel terrible about it, but I look back on thousands of scenarios (hopefully not as bad as the aforementioned) and thank God for the Mother I got.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
At the end of last week my brother Keith stopped by and told me me Sara Groves was doing a concert up at Covenant that night. He knew I would like it and even volunteered to babysit. My kids have the best uncles ever. I have a couple of her cd's and though her music initially took me a little getting used to, I love her voice and like that her music is uplifting and helps me to worship in the tasks of everyday life. I don't get out much so let me just say this was an unexpected treat. There was no bells and whistles, her music is pretty pure and simple. She talked a lot and told stories. She sang in a strong sweet voice about love, her kids and God; her life put to song with an eloquent grace. It was delightful. Music, like reading so often binds together our humaness and makes us know we're not alone. The heart of a mom came through her music so strongly that I easily identified with the common bond. This song called Beautiful Child particularly rang true of my own feelings about my babies and brought me to tears, though they seem to come more and more easily with each passing year.
Here are the words:
"beautiful child right from the moment you were born
you overtook my heart, my world, my beautiful child
tender and sweet both in your crying and in your sleep
you radiate a sense of hope my beautiful child
and i have seen the most amazing sights
in my travels on the earth
seven sacred pools on starry nights
and other things of matchless worth
but next to you all of the beauty seems so plain
you would think i'd never seen a beautiful thing
and i have seen the most amazing sights
in my travels on the earth
moonlight sleeping on the canyon heights
and other things of matchless worth
but next to you all of the beauty seems so plain
you would think i'd never seen a beautiful thing..."
I guess I have always known I had the heart of a mom. It really is an amazing thing, the love of a mom for her child, so unlike any other love. When you think you couldn't possilbly love anymore, new wells spring up. Those of you who know Juden know he has no shortage of cantankerous moments. But whether he's fighting me or hugging me, snotty-nosed and miserable or precious as he can be, I love him just the same. So much a picture of how God loves us like his child even when we are thankless, distant and fighting him. Even on days Juden makes me want to pull my hair out, if I'm away from him I miss him, even when he sleeps. I love how he says,"I miss you," when you're right there cause he thinks it's the same thing as "I love you." I love how he says,"hold you" when he wants to be held, and how he tells Josh every time he leaves the house,"be careful on bike dada, you'll get boo boo's." I love how he kisses our new one through my belly and talkes to Ella in a super high baby voice.
And Ella, well she is my little angel girl. She's sweet natured and content, affectionate and oh so laidback. I love how she presses her cheek against mine at night when I sing to her.
As for the new one that we don't yet know, she is already so loved. With hands on my belly I pray for her each night while I feel her wiggle around. We spent a week so very scared for this little one after learning she has something called a choroid plexus cyst, which is a cyst in the brain. They are sometimes harmless and sometimes associated with a devasting chromosonal disorder called Trisomy 18, in which babies are often stillborn or die shortly after birth. So many questions whirling around my head. Could I go through nine months of anticipation to be met with such tragic loss? What could possibly be God's purpose in that? Could my faith withstand that? The mere fact that I had these thoughts made me feel guilty. What was my faith if I could think of an instance where it might not hold up. It was a week filled with prayer and contemplation. At one point Josh prayed a prayer ackowledging that God was giving us the exact and perfect little girl for us no matter what was wrong with her or how long he gave her to us. Through these simple words I felt peace and knew that he was right. It's kind of a long story but to summarize, the high risk specialist put us very much at ease and found no secondary signs of the disorder. Most likely our baby girl will be healthy and fine, but regardless we have come to understand that our children never really belong to us, every moment , every breath a gift of God's grace. So to all you mama's that have ever carried a child, given birth to a child, or adopted a child be reminded of what an awesome gift it is. You will forever be a mother. There is never any guarantee, even in those long, thankless, demanding, mundane days, stop at least once to really see your child. Every glory I have ever seen truly does pale in comparison, to the faces of my sweet babies. You would think I'd never seen a beautiful thing.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Since the sun has returned we've been loving playing in this beautiful weather. It makes me smile how despite age and gender differences Meadow and Juden play like the best of little buddies. I watched Juden chase Meadow up a hill in Wildwood. He fell and she ran about half the way back, picked him up and ran the rest of the way holding his hand. She is so sweet. We also enjoyed some of the charms of Chattanooga, the park and the bridge. It is so nice to live in this town with little kids. We also went to the aquarium this week with Mimi and Nana. We saw this awesome blue butterfly in the butterfly gardens that Ella examined with a very perplexed expression. Sometime I need to go by myself since I could spend hours reading and staring at everything in this peaceful place but Juden likes to run from tank to tank.
And to kick off some of the small pleasures of this week we watched Nacho Libre with some people. I know Josh's sense of humor is rubbing off on me because this movie had me giggling the whole time.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
"Now constantly there is the sound,
quieter than rain,
of the leaves falling.
Under their loosening bright
gold,the sycamore limbs
Now the only flowers are beeweed and aster,spray
of their white and lavender
over the brown leaves.
The calling of a crow sounds
that the life of summer falls
silent,and the nights grow."-Wendell Berry
Today is the fourth consecutive day of rain and I'm starting to miss the sun. It has recently begun to feel like autumn in this valley I call home. Autumn is my favorite season, I guess it always has been. Something about the cool stillness, the muted somber skies that contrast the vibrant colors of the trees resonates with me. Autumn holds lots of golden memories for me of apple picking with my family when I was little, jumping in big piles of leaves, the smell of apple cinnamon doughnuts, walking in Philadelphia and sitting in the park in my favorite sweater and gray hat, listening to Simon and Garfunkel. Autumn is the season I fell in love with Josh, and the season that every year after we got married, at least before the wee ones started arriving, he would take me on what he liked to call "romantic rendezvous." These were little camping trips along the Blue Ridge Parkway when the leaves were at their brightest and best. It is exciting for me to be able to be the first one to introduce all the beauty and wonder of Fall to my little loves.
Autumn now holds some sorrows for me as well and in these days of grayness they feel closer than ever. October four years ago we lost our very first baby, hope cut short by a still little baby on a computer screen and silence instead of a heart beat. So now every year when the leaves start to change I think of my little one that I never got to know. Then two autumn's ago were the last days I spent with my sweet dad before he died on November 8 less than three months after he was diagnosed with cancer. Before these events grief to me was a very distant concept. I realized we needed another word much more powerful than "missing someone". And the kind things that people say to you like,"time will heal, and it will get easier," for me could not have been further than the truth. After a certain amount of time you are supposed to not need to talk about it, supposed to stop hurting. Sometimes I feel like I am clinging to movie reels about to be eaten by an old projector. If I replay all those sweet memories over and over maybe they will not become fuzzy. After my dad died I read lots of books on grief. 'A Grace Disguised' by Gerald Sittser was the best. I suppose there is healing in terms of overall acceptance and peace that God's timing is perfect. But with the passing of time, for me the missing intensifies and I have learned that when you experience true grief you carry it with you always and it changes you. But even death is not without some beauty. In my brothers words "we watched the decline of our father's physical body and the absolute renewal of his spirit." My father was at times a rather distinguished English man used to formal Orthodox Presbyterian worship, but in his dying days he worshipped with complete abandon like a man who knew the end of his journey was near. His hands raised in song, tears streamed from his eyes and scripture spilled from his lips, a passion you could feel, a vision of him forever emblazened on my mind. His worship was a gift to me, and since his death my own worship has been deeper and sweeter. So now as green turns to gold and orange I think about my baby, I think about my dad I think about those things in me which need to be stripped ,that need to die, so His beauty can shine brighter.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
A friend who is an artist (Katie Knutson) recently did a thoughtful and beautiful painting of my very own son. I thought for any one interested I would tell the story behind it, because, well... sometimes you just have to testify. It was a Saturday the day before Easter. Mimi and Oak and Meadow had come over to dye Easter eggs and make chocolate bird nests. Josh and I had been up almost the entire night before because of incidents with Ella but I trudged through the day wanting to be a part of the festivities with Juden. Then I went and laid him down for his nap thinking he'd fall right to sleep. A little while later I heard him whining and went to check on him. He looked like he was almost asleep but his room was stuffy and he was all sweaty. It was the hottest day we'd had yet and our window units were not installed yet. Without even thinking twice I opened his window about a foot and thought he would drift right off. I gave him a kiss and continued putting things away upstairs. A few minutes later Josh came through the back yard from a bike ride. Josh was barely in the door when we heard a loud crash. I thought Juden must have fallen out of bed and before I even had time to think Josh was down the stairs and outside. Juden had fallen from his second story window of our tall 100 year old house into the grass. I felt my heart racing but still felt like I could'nt grasp what had just happened. Juden was immediatly getting up and into Josh's arms. He definitely had the wind knocked out of him but as we looked at him we could'nt see anything wrong. He had calmed down surprisingly quickly. We think he got out of bed when he heard Josh come home and must have pushed or leaned on the screen because he busted out the entire screen and frame. I was almost numb with fear of what must be wrong or what might be unable to be seen. We headed to the emergency room. It is difficult to imagine what it feels like to have your child go through an accident of this magnitude and then add the guilt of realizing it was my fault. I felt so much pressure in my chest I felt physically sick. When we entered Juden was perfectly calm and I heard myself saying the words, "He fell about 15 -18 feet out of his window," but I could not believe the words that I was speaking. He was admitted and they put him into a tiny neck brace and they scanned every inch of his little body looking for internal injuries because of the height of the fall. Amazingly every report came back fine. They wanted to keep him over night so they could keep their eye on him. That night seemed like a dream and was my second night without sleep. For a long time I laid next to him in the hospital bed drinking in his sweet familiar scent watching his chest rise and fall. Then I had to leave in the middle of the night to nurse Ella. As I laid a contented baby down I walked into Juden's room filled with moonlight. I could do nothing else but get on my knees and pour out my heart to God. I was exhausted, overjoyed, and incredibly overwhelmed by the grace I had been shown that day. On Easter morning my sweet boy was released from the hospital without even so much as a bruise, on the very day we celebrate God sacrificing His only son. Monday morning Josh went back to work and I tried to get into my normal mommy routine. But I felt anything but normal. I was slow to lose my patience and very quick to hug.
Just waking him up in the morning felt like such a gift. I was weepy and frazzled and incredibly paranoid; it seemed like everywhere I looked I saw a potential danger. I realized that although I was so thankful for Juden's safety I could not be at peace with the guilt of what could have been. I kept telling myself I was entrusted with this child that I failed to protect. I failed to foresee danger and perhaps even caused it. I was questioning everything about my identity as a mom, my very highest calling. I felt like the worst mother in the world. Finally I called Josh at work crying and he came home immediatly. What happened next is something I will forever hold precious in my heart as one of the little signs God sends us on our journey to remind us of his gentle love and care. As Josh watched the kids play in the yard I wandered over and stood under Juden's window. It was painful to bring myself to look up. Then something caught my eye and as I knealt down I saw a tiny sparrow lying where Juden had fallen, delicate and beautiful with no sign of the distress that had caused its demise. I started to cry and at that moment I felt like God said to me, "I saw this sparrow fall and I saw Juden fall And I held him, I didn't have to but I did." This was a very meaningful symbol to me. "His eye is on the Sparrow" was one of my father's favorite hymns and also one of mine. I whispered that phrase in my Dad's ear on more than one occasion while I watched him battle the cancer that took him from us less than two years ago. I had sung it to Juden many a night and maybe to myself as a reminder of God's absolute control and of our incredible worth to him. The hymn is based on Matthew 10:29- "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father." What a powerful reminder of a God that cares for every little creation and how much more He cares for and loves us. So God spoke peace to me through a tiny bird, and every time I see one I will be reminded of the day God held my son and gave him back to me.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
He's such a stinker but he's so darn cute. Juden has been testing me like crazy lately. He has spent quite a bit of time in the time out chair. The other day I heard him up when he was supposed to be napping and opened the door to find him glistening from head to toe. He had emptied an entire tub of vaseline on himself and parts of his room. Man, that stuff is hard to get off. I've been reading Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson and would welcome any other reccomendations on parenting toddlers.
Also, just wanted to thank everyone for your prayers and support for Josh lately. Our joys outweigh our trials and we are so thankful. Our prayer is that God would heal Josh but more importantly that our dependency and trust on Him would be deepened.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
First off, this week we learned that I have Ankylosing Spondylitis!
Basically this means that my spine might fuse together! This explains why my hip joint has felt like utter poo for the past year of my life! Not to mention the migratory, spontaneous pains that have baffled numerous doctors and cost our family thousands of dollars!
Alright, I'll put aside the exclamation points for a minute. Obviously this is...uhm...pretty upsetting. The good (?) news here is that we actually now know what in the world is wrong with me.
You might be having a hard time tearing yourself away from the hunching nude in the photo above. You can all rest assured that I will never become this hunching nude. I might become nude, but never will hunch. At least not as a result of this disease.
This is because I will soon "kick AS" if you will. Most will say that AS can't be kicked, but these people do not know me (Kick AS Green). I'll provide more details about this whole deal as people inquire. Obviously, I need prayer from everyone.
In other news, we went to Rocktown today. It was great. Every time I go up to that place (Pigeon Mtn.) I think about spending just about every weekend of my 13th year of life with my Pops up there rock climbing and generally frolicking around the boulders. It's pretty surreal doing the same thing now with my kids.
We (Infradig- www.infradig.net, www.myspace.com/infradigmusic ) finally got the CD done that we have worked on for two years (it releases officially on HALLOWEEN. We did a CD release show here in town last weekend that was a smashing success. Thanks especially to the old family men (Matthew P. Monahan, Scott W. Gast, David Q. McAlister, and Joseph "Thunderpex" Nichols) for breaking on through to the other side.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Juden has become quite the songbird in our house. His favorites are "Jesus loves me," which he sings, "Jesus loves me, he told me so...", "Jesus loves the little children," and a family lullaby called, "Birdies in the nest." He sings to Ella when she's sad, he sings while he plays and he turns it up and dances like crazy to his cd of sunday school favorites. My husband is something of a musical snob so it's a little funny to me to watch him get used to the whole world of kiddy music. It made me smile to listen to Josh sing song after song at Juden's request last night when he put him to bed. My son has a whole lot of his Papa in him, which makes me happy, but is also exhausting at times. We took the kids to Cloudland Canyon recently and Juden was fearless as he jumped from rock to rock with the same energy and adventure of his dad. So thankful for my men.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
In late April we enjoyed a lovely seaside holiday with the fam in Florida.
Our lil girl, Ella, turned one in June. Here she is now trying to figure out
the whole walking thing.
One more highlight is that we found out there will be baby Green #3 arriving around the time that Juden turns 3 in February!