This cold winter

I know you see me
Like some wide eyed dreamer
That just rolled in off a dusty mid west bus
Yeah, on the outside I look fragile
But on the inside is something you can’t crush

Cause I'm country strong
Hard to break
Like the ground I grew up on
You may fool me
And I'll fall
But I won't stay down long
Cause I'm country strong

I have weathered
Colder winters; Longer summers
Without a drop of rain
Push me in a corner
And I'll come out fighting
I may lose but I'll always keep my faith

Rosy as "Mary" in our little homegrown Christmas pageant.

The Holmen grandkids.

A word for 2011

Strong's 5278

1. remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to "remain (endure) under" the challenges He allots in life.
2. to preserve: under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one's faith in Christ
3. to endure, bear ill treatments bravely and calmly

That He may say of me, "and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary." (Revelation 2:3)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..." (Hebrews 12:1)

Not too different from 2010's word, is it?

To my youngest daughter on her weaning day

I remember the day you were born, when you nursed so hard and long that your tiny stomach was hard as a rock and you couldn't even breathe. I remember the day you weaned yourself at 13 months when I put you off once too many and you decided your pacifier was more reliable than your mother for comfort. 

I remember the day I started giving you a bottle because I had to wean your brother so he wouldn't drink my poisonous milk during cancer treatment. I remember the day I took your bottle away and you begged me to nurse you and I couldn't do it because my milk was still poisonous. I remember the day you quit talking and walking and couldn't even hug me back, and I gave you a bottle because for some reason, on that horrible day, the one thing you could remember was how to suck.

I remember the day my milk came in 6 months after I lost my baby, and I cried in the shower, and I cried all around the house, and you licked the milk off my shirt and asked me if you could nurse again. I remember three days later when I decided I would say yes, and I nursed you, a tall 3 year old, and wondered if it was the right thing to do. I remember your next doctor's appointment when the doctor said that you had finally started growing again after not growing for almost 10 months. I remember his sweet smile when I told him I had started nursing you again, and all the things he told me about fatty acids and protein chains and DHA and GLA that you couldn't get from anywhere else, and how that was healing your brain.

I remember a month ago when my oncologist told me I couldn't put off my cancer scan any longer. I remember my eyes squeezing shut, and the vision of that poisonous blue pill, and the memory of how I would feel when I nursed....again...for the very last time. I remember the taste of the sage tea that dries up my milk so I don't get breast cancer from the radiation.

And now the day has come. I nursed you for the last time...again. We giggled together and it just felt perfectly right, like it has all this time, to be nursing you. And totally wrong as the sage tea burns my throat and my heart aches for not nursing you anymore.

But you are taller now - 3 inches taller than you were when I started nursing you. You are learning not to cry when your brain fritzes out, and you are learning to chew and chew even when you hate the texture of the solid food we feed you. You are learning your alphabet again, and sometimes you can count all the way to 8, and you love babies and are potty trained all over again. You are talking, walking, jumping, hopping, squealing, loving, all day long.

I think you are ready. And I know I am not.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.
~ from Ecclesiastes 3 ~

I am thankful for all of it.
Learning not to lose you by making something else my treasure.
Getting to keep you when you walked to death's door...and turned back to us.
Nursing you, despite all the looks askance, with milk for the baby we won't meet till heaven.
Watching you grow up and away.

Everything beautiful in it's time.
December 26th, 2010

Still, still, still

Paintings dry on the window sills as cookies cool on the racks.

Still, still, still
"Salzburger Volkslieder"
Aus Salzburg, 1819

Still, still, still,
Weil's Kindlein schlafen will.
Die Englein tun schön jubilieren,
Bei dem Kripplein musizieren.
Still, still, still,
Weil's Kindlein schlafen will.

Schlaf, schlaf, schlaf,
Mein liebes Kindlein schlaf!
Maria tut dich niedersingen
Und ihr treues Herz darbringen.
Schlaf, schlaf, schlaf,
Mein liebes Kindlein schlaf!

Groß, groß, groß
Die Lieb ist übergroß!
Gott hat den Himmelsthron verlassen
Und muss reisen auf der Straßen.
Groß, groß, groß
Die Lieb' ist übergroß.

Wir, wir, wir,
Tun rufen all zu dir:
Tu uns des Himmels Reich aufschließen,
Wenn wir einmal sterben müssen.
Wir, wir, wir,
Wir rufen all zu dir. English
Still, still, still

Literal English translationStill, still, still,
'Cause baby wants to sleep.
The angels jubilate beautifully,
By the manger making music.
Still, still, still,
'Cause baby wants to sleep.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
My dear babe sleep!
Maria sings you a lullaby
And brings you her true heart.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
My dear babe sleep!

Great, great, great,
The love is more than great!
God has left his throne
And must go by road.
Great, great, great,
The love is more than great.
We, we, we,
All do call out to you:
Open heaven's realm to us,
If we must die one day.
We, we, we,
We all call out to you.

Merry Christmas 2010!

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
~ Isaiah 9:6-7 ~

Dark side of the moon

A whole forest coated in crystal,

A tree laden down with it, these transient jewels of atmosphere and providence.

When the sun hides behind a curtain of glitter in the cold afternoon light,
and the moon flees to the dark clouds, leaving only a trail of it's blue light behind...

I feel it.
The cold.
Deep down.
Surrounded by cold.
And I am tempted to look for warmth.
To look for yellow light and gaeity, to find Christmas morn
safe in her little box of expectation, her little panorama of bliss.

What I see in these scenes, as the fleeting moon flies away and reappears as it dances with the clouds is something amazing: the grass on the hillside, lit briefly by the beams, dark and invisible when the moon flies high behind the clouds - that beauty, that grass, is still there invisible or not.

I've known this so long about God. He is always there, even when I can't see Him.

Now I learn it about something else. We live in a culture that is disposable. Disposable products, disposable relationships. Paper plates go in the trash, and marriages hit the shredder at the courthouse when they are through. It almost seems as if we can dispose of relationships. But it isn't true. Something happens when you love somebody - whether it's the homeless guy you pass on the street and loop-back to bring him a warm, fastfood meal, or the time you spent 7 years getting to know someone and finally calling them best friend. Your life will never be the same because of that relationship. You have been branded by it in your soul. I believe we will see those bonds and beautiful connections someday when we get to heaven.

I've lost friends over the past weeks. Our friendship now is in the shadows of the darkened moon. I can't call them up, or enjoy anything else that passes as friendship in this world. But you know what? The sinews of the Body of Christ are still there, even in the darkness. And someday they will be visible again. When the moon comes out from behind these clouds, I can't wait to see those sinews glistening - the sinew that holds me to you, beloved.

Today, I mourn you. The moon is behind the clouds.

Someday, I'll rejoice with you, for what God has wrought between us no man can destroy.

Down comes the mallet

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful...
II Samuel 1:27

No one can heal the hurts and brokenness of life like Jesus can. Pointing out the superficial layers only intensify the alienation and lack of love that is causing the problem in the first place. Grace gets to the root rather than excusing and ignoring the behavior. It’s a tough job being a part of a community that is tied together by love rather than by performance and appearance. Grace always comes at the cost of self-preservation. Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. (Galatians 6:1-3) from Grace Is For Sinners by Serena Woods
I love how God's lessons for me fit the seasons. Cancer treatment in the bitter cold and desolation of November. A hot summer full of frazzled brain waves and the storms of seizures for my sweet baby girl. Now a December laden with the silence of snow is full of silence...a phone that's stopped ringing, an empty e-mail in-box and a shrinking list of friends on Facebook along with a shorter than usual stack of Christmas cards. I am on the bitter end of the Christian community and it is eye-opening. I have been here before. It makes me cry out for mercy and beg God for justice and for grace. Revelations 22:20 is wrung from my heart strings and my trembling lips as I hide my breaking heart from my kids in the shower: Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

I learn afresh that the more we are alone in this world, the more we are cast on the God who longs for our friendship...finding new sweetness and fullness in the silent conversations of the heart, the quiet of the days, the stillness that is a home with four walls and your own children. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children (Psalm 113:9). I vacillate between peaceful joy in this quietest of Christmas seasons, and heartache and brokenness as I am cast daily onto the Rock. A heart that is beaten is tender though - like the mallet to the steak, every blow breaks down the threads of these heartstrings, and Jesus binds them up in a soft soul beating quietly in His presence once all the tears have been spilled.

The wisdom of the red letters

Remember me on my bathroom floor, curled up in a ball
and not wanting to come out.

Not ever?

I started to wonder.
What would Jesus do in this situation?
How does forgiveness look,
when you are right in the heat of the battle?
In the dark hours after Gethsemane,
did He speak at all?

I heard a preacher preachin' it in the rhymes of his rap,
Jesus came to earth so He could say, "Me, too!"
When I am tempted.
When I am lonely.
When I am weary.
When I'm despairing.

Jesus says, "Me, too. I've been there. I know."

He went before the high priest - his religious leader - 
and Pilate - the government official.

Came in shackles before His accusers.

Just a glance down at John 18 and 19 tells a story of few words.
Powerful ones.
The red letters stand out like flags in the sea of other words.
The words that came right out of His mouth.

In the garden, He said to His captors,
"I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go."

To the high priest, He said,
"I have spoken openly to the world.
I have said nothing in secret.
Why do you ask me?
Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; 
they know what I said."

"If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong,
but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?"

Confronted by Pilate, He asked,
"Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?"

And He pointed out that He wasn't fighting.
That He was born to bear witness to the truth.

That's how Jesus would do it.

This is how I have to be, if I am to imitate Christ.
Spare friends.
Defend for speaking openly.
There are witnesses to ask.
Invite the trial.
Ask the accuser who is really doing the accusing.
Refrain from fighting.
Bear witness to the truth.


Far above rubies

Her children arise and call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:28)

She's the kind of mother who bakes cookies with the grandkids one day...

and frosts with them the next.

The toddlers get their own container of frosting.

And her beautiful hands are always ready to help with the task.

Never mind the mess.

We can clean that up, right?

Even though I'm older now, and I'm better at passing on the compliments swirling around my brain, I'm pretty sure she still doesn't hear it enough...she is the best mother in the world, and has made my life easier, more beautiful, and full of joy.

Thank you for the wonderful weekend, Mama and Papa!