Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Where is Baby Jesus?

We have a new game around our house. “Where is Baby Jesus?” With Q everywhere and into everything, we find my whisk in the bathroom, his bath toys under his crib, a kitchen towel in our closet, and a plastic hammer in the pots and pans drawer. Last weekend we set up his small, kid-version nativity scene, given to him by his grandparents as a reminder of the importance of Nov. 30—his baptismal day—and the coming season—advent. And in that nativity scene is baby Jesus. Only every time we go to play with it…Jesus isn’t there. Q has chucked him, put him, shoved him, laid him, smooshed him…somewhere. So we spend the next 10 minutes walking around the house with our hands raised in question asking “Where is baby Jesus?” And yesterday as I did that for the second time with Q, I thought about how similar this is to life. We put Jesus somewhere, usually behind something…a to-do list and busyness, a relationship, emotions, material goods, a job. And then we look around into our difficult situations and relationships and wonder, why isn’t this working? Where is Jesus? Why isn’t He helping?

The good news of Christmas though is that Jesus came to us in a manger in a lowly stable so that he could be everywhere, not just somewhere. He infuses a needy world with his hope, grace, and peace. He is Emmanuel, God with us. Right here.

Where is baby Jesus? In our house, He’s behind the garbage, in the tub, going down the slide, between the couch cushions and under the rug. Rarely is He in the stable. And in our daily lives, He’s not just in church on Sunday mornings. He’s in our dark fears, our quiet desires, our toughest challenges and our biggest hurts. We need only look...not for Him but to Him.  

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, 
And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here 
Until the Son of God appear. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Dartboard

As I weighed the pros and cons of quitting my job and going back to school a number of years ago, a dear friend said something to the effect that there isn’t always a right or wrong answer. That no matter what my decision turned out to be, it hit the target. It made the dartboard. And God would be there.

I think sometimes I fear making a “wrong” decision. That somehow if I decide X instead of Y God will be mad or at least absent in some way in the future. I’m not talking about something we know to be moral versus immoral. I’m talking about quitting a job to go back to school, quitting a job to stay at home with babies, changing jobs, moving across the country, going after one dream while letting another go, or in our case right now, purchasing a home. Good things versus other good things!

Really though, if we earnestly seek God and His will, I believe He will be—is—present whether yes or no, east or west. Not only is He present, but He actually goes before us and paves the way. And knowing that makes me breathe easier. I loosen the tight, fearful grip I have on the decision that needs to be made. We’ll hit the dartboard, and God is already there.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Move Like Jagger

A poopy wipe in one hand and two chubby, squirmy ankles in the other, I was movin’ like Jagger—changing Q’s diaper, singing and dancing to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” because it was making him laugh.

It would have made others laugh, too, because you should know I can neither sing nor dance. I’m doing good if I start the ABCs low enough so that I can actually hit Q—the letter Q—without cracking. Our house has always been filled with music. But since Q made his debut, the music is accompanied by much singing and much dancing because Q likes it…he giggles, he coos, he quiets.

Right after we brought him home, that Avicci song—“Wake Me Up”—was new and on every two seconds. So, I danced around our kitchen with a newborn who quieted to the up and down motion…to Avicci. My showers are now concerts. I belt out “Amazing Grace,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”…anything…because it quiets Q in his little chair should he start getting fussy before I have a chance to shave. We sing the “Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” so many times each day that I finally started writing music, too, creating verses about Q toot, toot, tooting. 

Around Christmas, B, Q and I would dance and sing to Christmas songs…Neil Diamond’s “Drummer Boy” (yikes), “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,”  “Jingle Bell Rock.” The list goes on. And Q would laugh and laugh as our little trio moved awkwardly around the kitchen swaying, dancing, hopping around together.

In the mornings, I hear B sing the German Good Morning song, as he calls it. …Guten morgen Guten morgen. I’m still not sure if B made it up or not, but it’s become a standard melody as we take our first sips of coffee and keep Q calm until he’s fed.

The other night, I was in the shower performing my usual concert and thinking, wow…it was really working this time…Q was so quiet…I peeked out from behind the curtain to discover that B had moved Q without telling me. I was singing to no one. Which is when I got to thinking about how much I was singing and dancing lately.

Everyday, Q and I read a book called Giraffes Can’t Dance. Long story short, Gerald the giraffe doesn’t think he can dance.  His “neck was long and slim, but his knees were awfully crooked and his legs were rather thin.” Through a series of events, though, he discovers that he can! At the end, in front of all of his African animal mates, “I am dancing, I am dancing, I am DANCING!” Gerald cries.

I turned the shower off and finished a verse of “Down by the Bay” to no one. “I am dancing, I am dancing, I am DANCING!” Heather cried. I smiled and realized that motherhood is a bit like dancing. You’re not sure you can and then next thing you know, you’re movin’ like Jagger. 

P.S. If you don’t know “Moves Like Jagger,” have a little listen. I post this in honor of my husband who was recently told he looked like Adam Levine. He later asked me… “Who is Adam Levine?” Maroon 5, baby. I’d also like to point out that Adam Levine, who my husband looks like!, was People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2013. Ha!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Exchange

There’s something funny that happens at the beginning of every get together with my girlfriends. It’s the exchange. The other night we met at a Mexican restaurant, and as we unzipped our coats, took our gloves and hats off, hooked our purses on chairs and listened to the waitress quickly tell us the specials—margaritas half price…the exchange occurred. I slid a breastfeeding book I borrowed from one friend across the table. That friend passed a stack of bass fishing magazines to another—from one husband to the other. A different friend handed me a bag—three books she had borrowed so long ago, I had forgotten she had them. She also had an unfinished knitting project—baby booties—did someone want to take and finish? And the fifth friend passed out Valentine’s bags filled with candy and stuffed fabric hearts to each one of us.

In the past this exchange has included clothes—our own and baby, pictures, food, coupons. Bits and pieces, odds and ends, of our lives and personalities that when shared with one another has made life a little easier, a little better, a little brighter. More often than not this exchange of goods happens silently—no explanation necessary. I know why. She’s knows how. The what is known. And this whole thing occurs as our main conversation begins, food is ordered, and drinks arrive.

As the night came to a close, and we huddled in the entryway saying goodbye where the heater was blowing warm air, I thought maybe friendships are the exchange of life. Dear ones who quietly—amidst babies, devastating test results, cross-country moves, achievements and failures, the monotony of a long cold Minnesota winter—lend different aspects of themselves and their experiences at opportune times. And at their best—no explanation necessary.