Sunday, December 31, 2006

close and holy darkness

"Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steadily falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness and then I slept."
- 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

To Scotty James

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

stable imposters

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

photo shoot

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

NJ and you, perfect together

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.