Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ahhhh, Christmas time...

What do you think of when you start your Christmas decorating and other preparations? Of course, as a Christian, I think of the wonderful miracle of Christ's birth, and I do try really hard to not let "stuff" compete with why Christmas is important to me.
But I do love the season, the decorating, the memories from past years, too. Only a few gifts actually stand out in my mind, and that was not so much the gift, and the giver, or the silly things that happened centered the gift. Like begging for my Raggedy Anne doll and the hearing the news reporter on television on Christmas Day telling me that Raggedy Anne was the most dangerous toy of the year, because she was flammable. I thought that meant she would blow up in my bed, and oh, the guilt I suffered because I didn't tell my parents what a dangerous toy they had bought me. I just had a deep, great love for Raggedy Anne, I had anticipated getting her, like a mother waiting for her baby, and I could NOT give her up. Maybe that was the beginning of my mothering instinct, who knows.
Christmas decorating reminds me of the sweet figurines my husband has bought me in the past. In fact, each year, it's he who puts them out. He has a collector appreciation for stuff, and he handles his books and things with the care of a collector, so I almost laugh as he puts out my figurines. It's just one of those things I love about him, that is totally unlike me. I don't have to have something sitting on a table in just the right angle. In fact, I like things messed up a little bit, but I let him do it his way, and I'll always remember these things as the years go by and we get old together.
Christmas reminds me of loved ones I know longer get to spend Christmas with. My grandparents are all gone now, but like most people, the wonderful memories, especially of my grandmother, are still so cherished. My father-in-law passed away 3 years ago, and my mother-in-law has been gone about a year and a half. We had some really special times celebrating with them, too. My MIL always spent too much, bought too much, always went overboard, and sometimes on things were a complete waste of money that she had found. Like the little sewing thread boxes with a yard of thread on each spool? Who used those? But she had fun, and it's the memories that are important now.
We have some pretty high beams in our living room, pretty rustic, you know? My husband used to be kind of a Scrooge about all the Christmas celebration, because of the competition it can bring on why we actually celebrate. One year, he started his own tradition. He brought in a huge tree. So big, we had to put it in a 5 gallon bucket with rocks to hold it up, and he had to wire it at the beams, to keep it from falling. The top went over the top of the open beams!! Was I gonna complain, when always before he was so grumpy about it? NO WAY! I just smiled, as each year he would hall in his oversized tree. Well, one year, his parents came over as we were just getting ready to get a tree. We always get them off of our property, so they went out and cut down the tree. They halled in it in, and I couldn't believe it. The trunk, if it would have fit height-wise in the house, wouldn't even fit in the 5 gallon bucket! Now, they were thinking, "We don't want to haul it back OUT of the house!" So, their solution was to go get the chainsaw! No kidding! The actually brought a chain saw, like a couple of teenage boys, and cut the trunk off the tree by many feet! They just about gassed us out from the exhaust, we're lucky we survived. Had to open all the windows, turn the fan on, you get the picture! I could not believe 2 grown men would be so......well, I won't say what I was really thinking lol. I had sawdust chips to clean all over the living room from that mess!
Life get's like that sometimes. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew in life, in lots of different ways. Sometimes we get served things that are way more than we think we can handle. But we find the strength, we plug away with what we can do, and we learn and grow from it. 8 yrs ago, I had a son who had a terrible drug problem. I didn't even know if he was alive on this particular Christmas, or Thanksgiving. I am very close to this boy, and I thought I would not survive the worry for him. Not because it was Christmas, although it was very hard to have a good time with my other children during all of this pain. I just had a huge battle in my life, believing that God could turn this all out to something good. At that time, I would read the papers, and see all the horrible endings to the kind of life he was living. Not just jail, but death! Or people would tell me he would be brain-dead next time I saw him. It was a battle. I would cry every night, wake up crying, and just start praying all over again. I don't know if you've experienced pain like this. Most of us have had some pretty unbearable pain, but we have found the strength to bear it. Praise God, this year, and all the years since that one 8 1/2 years ago, I have a son who is healthy, whole, of sound-mind and body, who is doing great and has been cleaned of drugs for 7 1/2 years! So, even that Christmas eventually brought something wonderful to me!
This year has been a challenge. My husband builds custom homes. In the economy we're in, not many people are building homes. He usually has people waiting up to 3 years to build them a home! In June, he was just finishing a beautiful home for some people, and he was scheduled to start another in 2 weeks. Well, the lady he was to build for simply got really nervous about building. She is in her 80s, and although she could afford it, she just didn't want to go through the processes of building a home. She called, in tears, to say she had changed her mind. I sucked in the tears and said, "Don't worry at all!" (My husband hadn't expected to need to find work until spring, since he works with only one other builder) We'll be fine! I got off the phone and THEN cried. What will we do? No one usually starts building in the rainy Oregon in the winter! And that's in a good economy! Well, I came to my senses, believed the Word of God that tells us He will always take care of us. And you know what? He has done a wonderful job of giving my husband just enough work to get by. No, we're not living with "extras" so much. But we're paying the bills, we've got everything we really need.
So, this will be a memory-making Christmas, too! We are cutting corners, but having a blast doing it. I'm seeing a LOT more of my husband. He's been needing to not work so hard, and guess what? It happened lol. As soon as a bill comes in, he gets a job and pays the bill! It's been working that way since June, and now, here it is Christmas, and we are celebrating all the goodness we have in our lives. The greatest gift, is the birth of our Savior, in whom we live and breathe and are sustained!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Little Things

I've had in my head for the past month what I want to write in my little blog corner of the world. I'm one who kind of spaces out on things, ok, "reflects" a lot is a better term. I get busy like everyone else. Too busy. Too tired. Too selfish to pay attention to other things around me sometimes because I have a plan for what I want or need to do, and I miss things. But when I find those quiet times, (lots of times in my hot tub outside at night listening to night sounds) or outside (now in the greenhouse because all we're getting here in Oregon is rain), it's in those quiet times that I, like you, "reflect".
We need quiet times. I am a real people person. I love to laugh and goof off with friends. But when I'm around a lot of people I often get this yearning to get off by myself. Mostly because I need to figure out what I think! When we are around people all the time, we can develop their attitudes, their ideas, their habits. We can start to think like them. I've always been pretty careful to try to listen, to store what they say or do away, then when I'm alone, think to myself, "What do I feel about this?" I need to do this so I can remember who I am. I saw a quote just yesterday that said something like, "be yourself, everyone else is taken". I thought it was creative and kinda funny, but really true.
The month of November for me is busy. I teach my kids at home, I have a normal busy laugh, and in this month, I bake a lot of bread that I sell at bazaars, etc. I've done this for 22 years, at least. I've developed a bit of a customer base, and every year it seems to grow. I love going to the sales, visiting with people, seeing some of them only once a year. You can imagine, some of the older ones have even passed away, some that weren't so old then are now. I've built relationships with these people. We even laugh about how important cardamom is! You might know I make Finnish Cardamom Bread. People tell me memories that they have, traditions they've built with my bread during the holidays. I've had people cry and say it reminds them of their grandma. Just like music or other things that trigger a memory, it's funny how this bread has been a bridge to meeting so many nice people.
So, this year, I've been determined to enjoy each and every day of the holiday season. With all the business, sometimes it is just gone before I get a chance to enjoy it. This year, I've told myself to embrace each and every day. That's scary for me in a way, because we don't know what we face tomorrow. And I can tell you, I've hard some pretty hard days and would never ever want to relive some of them, although I know that they have shaped me and challenged me and given me huge faith in what God can do in a life.
With all these thoughts in my head, a friend of mine sent a copy of a letter a man had written to family and friends. His daughter is in Pennsylvania, was in a car accident, and she has been in a coma for I believe 11 days. Just thinking about this makes me have that little pain in my throat that makes it hard to swallow. I can just feel how painful this must be for the family. It almost hurts to read these letters because to me, they are just so beautiful, so honest, so real. In spite of their pain and sorrow and facing the unknown, this family has touched the thing that is really the most important thing in this world. To embrace whatever God has for us and to trust Him. To me, it's a place we will all be in at more than one point in each of our lives, because this life is just so short. But what do we do with our circumstances? Do we get bitter or do we meet the day with strength and faith? Below, is a little taste of one of these letters. I hope you are blessed!

What an INCREDIBLE God we serve!! i somewhat have felt honored that God has chosen this little Yoder family to do MASSIVE things and show His indescribable power. Although the journey has been rough, although she's not fully recovered, although I miss her SO SO much, I've found a peace that truly does pass understanding. I've begun to challenge myself these past few days, to find the LITTLE things to be thankful for. I've realized how much I take for granted..... Things like being able to text/talk to her whenever, give dad a hug at school, eat mom's cooking :), and being able to make future plans. I realized how I woke up every morning expecting those. Now that those aren't here, i found that focusing on the things i DON'T have make my day SO much worse. but NOW....INSTEAD of focusing on that, I've begun to find those little, teeny tiny, every day things that often go unnoticed. For example....How often do I thank God for LIFE?? or for health?? or safety on the roads?? I see all those things through different eyes now. sooo.....be thankful today!!! and ESPECIALLY remember to thank the One who gave it all to you <3 Thank you all for your many MANY prayers!! With a LOT of God and a little of me....I make it through each day <3>
Now, to me, that is what I need to aim for. I'm sure that as you need it, the strength is there, but wow! To me, this is something God has done for ME! I asked Him at the beginning of the month to help me be grateful, to embrace the days, to trust Him in everything, and THEN my friend sends me these letters! I've said before, I'm rich. I am. My husband is currently very slow with work, but we have all we need. No, not in a savings account, but in life. I'm having a blast this month, enjoying each day, so thankful for my family and my friends. I hope you are too!

You might have heard my silly Raggedy Anne story from my childhood. I came across the Raggedy Anne and Andy dolls in the picture and just laughed. The biggest problem these friends have is a lack of clothes, but still, I think they were just adorable. And a very nice Etsy friend I've never met (isn't that what people are?) added them to her blog. I liked her title lol.