Friday, December 28, 2007

little faith

How little we know of the power of God.

Thirsting, we look up at the One who created the ocean, and set its boundaries in place;

the One who invented the roar of thunder and the crackle of lightning, and who sends both skittering madly across the sky;

the One who colors the clouds gray and fills them with moisture, and flings fat raindrops splattering to earth;

the One who forces a bubbling stream to a mountaintop surface, and sends it rushing in tiny rivulets, merging and twisting and growing until it becomes a raging river...

and to demonstrate the great depth of our faith--to prove that we believe He is there and He is able--

we lift a thimble skyward,
and ask, with trembling voice,

"Can You spare one drop?"

Labels: ,


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

7:25 a.m.

I'm pretty sure the last time we slept in on Christmas day, Zac was a toddler and didn't know any better. But that was fifteen years ago. Every year since then, when his internal, 4:00 a.m. Christmas clock has dinged (or Tera's ... he gave her one when she arrived in the Woodward household), our door has creaked open and a little hopeful, expectant voice has asked, "Is it time to get up yet?"

Every year ... until today. Today, Dave and I opened our eyes at 7:00 to a silent house. Tera slept in. Zac slept in. We're up, and we're alone.

So many changes, most of which sneaked up on me. Zac's Playmobile Pirate Island has given way to a microwave, flatware, and towels--items he'll need when he gets his apartment this summer. Tera's Barbie Dream House has given way to teenager fleece boots and an iPod.

But some things will never change. When we wake them (and I'm really thinking we're going to have to wake them), and they stumble into the living room, I'll still steer them, first thing, to the creche arranged on the end table, and ask, "What's different today?" They'll point out that Baby Jesus has made His appearance, finally, after waiting these long weeks in tissue-paper limbo, hidden away in my bedroom.

Dave will pray, just like he does every year, and thank God not only for the blessings we can see--these children, and this home, and the precious friends and family He's surrounded us with, but also for the blessing none of us witnessed--that long ago miracle, when God left the beauty of heaven and came to visit earth in human flesh.

Amy Grant's Christmas album will be playing in the background, just like it's done every year since it came out. Though we live in Washington state, our accidentally official Christmas morning song is "Tennessee Christmas."

Dave and I will watch the unwrapping with twin mugs of coffee in hand, and only open our own at the insistence of the kids. Like always, the best part will be watching them open theirs (although this year, I really can't wait to watch Dave open one particular gift: a set of Rock'em, Sock'em Robots. I had to get it for him. Whenever the subject of his childhood comes up, he mentions those robots, and always with that, "Oh, to be a boy again" look).

When Dave opens his stocking, he'll find new wool socks, smoked almonds, Almond Roca, and Toffee Symphony bars (4), just like he finds most every year.

When the kids open their stockings, they'll find jars of Nutella, and big jars of mandarin oranges, Pop Tarts (which I never buy otherwise), and socks.

We'll tear into those packages. We'll make giant, gift-wrap mountains. We'll ooh, and aah, and hug each other, and say thank you. Later, we'll have biscuits and gravy. We'll nap. We'll go visit family, and start the happy process over again.

Some things don't change. And I'm so grateful for that.

Here's hoping that all your most beautiful habits warm you today, and that you remember that Baby, that miracle, and the Hope that was born in that dark, cold cave.

Labels: ,


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

step by step

Sometimes, when he accepts that second piece of pie or another not-needed cinnamon roll, he does so only to satisfy me. And when he gives in to my urging and accepts a handful of vitamins and a glass of water, he does it to nourish me. So when he stepped back in the house before our walk today, and put on the coat he felt he didn't need, I know he did it to warm me. "It's so cold!" I'd said. "Look at the way the wind is bending the trees--you'll freeze!" The man of steel put on his coat, but he left his hands bare. He has his limits.

I'm not made of steel. So I wore not only my coat, but also a knit hat and my fluffiest gloves.

We took a right at the bottom of the driveway and started off on the trail. Ahead, I could see the Highway 9 overpass still visible against the sky ... but barely. Dusk was rapidly snatching daylight.

We walked quickly, and quickly went through our unwritten lists. We talked about the kids, and Christmas, and an upcoming meeting at church. We talked about Germany, where we'll spend a month this fall, and I planted seeds for a few side trips to England, France, and Austria. "Wouldn't that be great?" I suggested. "As long as we're in the neighborhood, don't you think we should see those places?" He never makes decisions on the spot, but I know that. So I'll keep planting seeds between now and fall.

Somewhere between the overpass and the wide-open spot near the power lines, where the trees drop away and the sky shows big overhead, I became aware of a loosening of my right shoe. The tiny, click-click-click of a shoelace tip against the asphalt convinced me. "My shoe's untied."

We stopped and I began to remove the first of my gloves. Dave saw. "I'll do it," he said, bending down. I watched those ungloved hands as they took my shoelaces in hand, tugged them tight, and tied them in a bow.

"Thanks," I said. As we started down the trail again, I thought about the man at my side--the man who opens all my doors, and keeps my car full of gas, and gives me the best of all he has, and ties my shoes.

Those shoes were at odds as we walked. His was tight--so much tighter than the one I'd tied myself. It was tight like the blankets he sometimes tucks around me when I fall asleep on the couch. Had I tied that shoe myself, I would have stopped and loosened it within a few steps. But I left it just the way it was, and for the rest of our walk, I was conscious of the difference in every step.

One step felt like love.

Labels: ,


Saturday, December 15, 2007

home again

I'm home from a quick trip to San Jose to speak at a Christmas luncheon for "Mothers Together," a ministry of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. This was my second visit, and both times, I've been showered with kindness and welcomed like a friend. That's a beautiful bunch of ladies they've got there. I hope to visit again.

This is a picture of the view from my balcony at the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto Monday night. Below is a picture of that same view Tuesday morning, and one of my room just after I woke up (note the robe and slippers they provided). I could have stayed in this hotel forever.

Though I was only gone a scant 30+ hours, that doesn't mean I didn't pack for a week. We women pack for good weather, bad weather, a change in mood, a sudden dislike for red, or black, or green (these things can't be predicted), and for emergencies. Somehow, in all that planning, I forgot my toothbrush.

I also forgot nylons, but I realized that en route to the airport. So we made a stop at Fred Meyers before we left town and I picked up a pair. Dave tucked them in the front pocket of one of my two enormous suitcases--I saw him with my own eyes--and that was the last I saw of those nylons. Some female baggage handler (please, God, let it have been a woman) down at SeaTac's Alaska Air terminal decided she had to have those nylons for her own. So when I arrived in San Jose and unpacked, and realized I'd been robbed, Heather and Cathy (of Menlo Park) walked me down to Long's Drug Store after a fabulous dinner of Butternut Squash-Walnut Ravioli. Don't even get me started.

I packed books--lots of books, because the ministry team at Mothers Together set up a book-signing table for me. I packed my laptop, of course. And books to read. And my current knitting project. And all the oils, lotions, and ointments I'm currently using in my daily regiment.

I packed a notebook for all the ideas that bombard me whenever I have no paper handy. I packed earplugs, Vick's Vapor Rub, my hair dryer (because I don't trust hotels to plan for my forgetfulness) and my curling iron. I packed three pairs of earrings, because I couldn't commit to just one. I packed several files for my current writing project, although I knew, even as I tucked them in my suitcase, that I'd be too tired after flying to even peek.

And so, once we lugged those two enormous suitcases back into the house Tuesday night and unzipped them both, the detestable putting-away-again began.

It was while wiping emu oil off every travel bottle and jar that had shared a ride in the plastic compartment with my container of emu oil that I began to think of heaven in a new light. I'm ready to go there; I admit that frequently. But I've just realized yet another appealing highlight to that future trip.

"Naked I came into this world; naked I will leave."

I won't have to pack a single thing.



Sunday, December 09, 2007

this new day

I knew, coming into 2007, that I was entering a year full of milestones, most of which revolved around my mother. This past September marked the 20th anniversary of her suicide. And because she died at 46, and I turned 46 in August, I've lately indulged odd, pensive thoughts about life, and time, and what we do with what we've been given.

Yesterday, I was the exact age she was when she died: 46 years, 125 days. I spent a great part of yesterday wondering what it would be like to be living my final day. I looked back on my life and thought, If this was the fullness of my days, would I have been who I wanted to be--who I was created to be? I can't say yes to that question. Given the chance to ponder the past, we quickly find fault. All the detours I took, all the frivolous choices, all the hurtful decisions, loom large over my shoulder.

But the pensive mood of yesterday put today in perspective. I opened my eyes at 5:20 this morning and entered the 126th day of my 46th year. And I found that my slate is clean, and I've been given a fresh batch of minutes to play with. Who will I be, in this first day of unchartered territory? What will I do with the blessings God has poured over me--blessings my mother never availed herself of?

I laid quietly, asking myself those questions, until the words to a favorite worship song drifted into the room.

And for all You've done and yet to do
With every breath I'm praising You

"With every breath I'm praising You ..." I pushed back the covers, rose, and drew a breath.

This new day is His.



Wednesday, December 05, 2007

book winners

And the winners of Cindy Woodsmall's When The Morning Comes are . . . Cora (who entered by posting a comment), and TJ (who entered via email).

Congratulations! Your books are on their way.