Christmas Time is Here…

We’re on that fast train called December, hurtling along, express style, toward 2023.

It always takes me by surprise. One minute we’re in September and I’m catching my breath from the summer, settling into a routine for what feels like the first time all year, and the next minute it’s almost over.

Time presses us, doesn’t it? It heals wounds and brings growth, and it cuts short and signals death. Forty of these ever-flowing weeks brings us to the birth of a new baby while simultaneously carrying me along, ever closer to my end.

But were time and money infinite, we would find ourselves lost in a sea of priorities with no urgency to actually choose any. Instead, they are anything but infinite. We are anything but infinite, and don’t we know it, deep in our souls. And so each tick of the clock is a crossroads, a decision point: what will be the things that matters to us? (There is a Kingdom outside of Time, whose rule is infinite, and investment therein brings eternal rewards. I highly recommend, with each movement of the second hand: choose Jesus.)

*****

This past week we said goodbye to November, full of thankful hearts as we gathered the Sinclair clan for food and fun. Pilgrims and pumpkins were packed away, Diana Krall began her yearly reign from our kitchen speaker, and Christmas appeared.

We decorated, made cookies, prepared dozens of teacher/CFA volunteer gifts, watched Christmas movies, lit candles, got our tree, ironed holiday clothes, and inaugurated the season with the kids’ CFA Christmas concert.

We also got hit with a tummy bug, several days of a fever for Percival, horrible rainy weather instead of snow, had gobs of study for Greek finals, basketball practices, and had to cancel our very first holiday gathering.

Our “tree day” summed up what so much of this fall has felt like: not quite to plan, not exactly how we’ve usually done it, plenty of divide and conquer, with Ryan and I trying to keep the big picture in mind as we work with a new set of variables. And it also summed up the goodness of God I’ve been basking in: years of working very hard to build a family where love, servanthood, and right priorities shape us, and now seeing those values genuinely take root in the lives of our older children. Suddenly a day can seem to go awry and yet stay absolutely on course because we are pulling together, smiling, serving, keeping our eyes on the prize. And so, when that tree was vertical and watered, lit and decorated, and we all sat together eating rum logs, although the day had lacked “magic,” what we ended up with was even better. We had persevered together, repenting along the way as needed… and by George, we’d gotten that tree up!

And so here we are: a month to celebrate well, purposely carving out time to reflect, enjoy, beautify, and create. May we all serve and bless as we go, giving generously, and receiving the small blessings that surround us and the staggering blessing available to us all through the kindness of Christ, our Savior and Friend.

just popping in…

It’s snowing.

Grass, brush, field, wood — all slowly and silently disappearing into white. Horizon, so recently thick with foliage, now hemmed in by bare branches standing stark against gray, thick sky.

Hemmed in.

That is the nature of winter.

Calendar does not reflect any slowing, but here, this Saturday morning, as husband and children sleep a bit extra, wind whistles down the chimney, and silently silently the snow flies outside my window, I still.

This space has been silent, I know. Rare is the moment I sit with my own laptop — it is usually being borrowed by someone for some math/history/writing/something. And my lap is usually non-existent, as laps generally are when one is busily standing here, walking there, anything but sitting anywhere.

More than ever, time and heart and mind are pulled. I knew I was headed here, knew that early years of parenting are physically demanding and slowly the demands become more and more soul-and-life encompassing. I knew as soon as my first precious baby was put on my chest that I was in over my head, and if I’ve ever thought I had the mom thing figured out (which I never have), this is most certainly not that moment. I cannot help but remember every day that I am on a divine mission, and desperately in need of Divine mercy and grace and wisdom and strength. Is there any other way to live? In over my head, yet knowing God prepared this good work for me and will empower me and cause my fishes and loaves to multiply, my scattered seed to bear fruit beyond the time and space I occupy — yes, this wild invitation to the Holy Spirit that my pleading life makes every day, and the amazing ways in which He shows up and moves… Jesus, keep me humble and seeking You every day. Be glorified.

at the seaside

Growing up, the ocean was always a part of summer for my family. We buried uncles in the sand, strolled the boardwalk of Jones Beach at dusk, learned to ride waves with my dad, and collected too many shells that never made it home. My kids have grown up much the same way, visiting their Papa every summer, walking through his lawn to the rocky coast of Maine, smelling the roses and the salt, occasionally driving to a calm harbor to swim and find hermit crabs.

But it’s been a few summers now, thanks to the shifting sands of life. I was ever so thankful when we rather spontaneously decided to make the trek to the shore to spend time with family. The weather was perfect, the family time ever so wonderful, and the beaches were perfect. Thank you, God, for the roaring waves and the steady tide and the colors of sun setting over an endless horizon.

And yes, the ocean is not nearby. We all pile into the van and drive for many hours, and traveling with this crew of kids is one of the easiest things I do. Our drive home was eleven solid hours in the van, and guess who was the only antsy one, as far as I could tell? Me. Yup, my four year old’s contentment challenged me to take a deep breath and just settle in for the long haul. And we made it. And it was so good.

His faithfulness and ours.

Great is Thy faithfulness, and oh, is that ever true! A rock, a narrow path, a guiding light appearing in my soul’s night, a vine full of life-flow, a consuming fire. Captain of the hosts, Intercessor, Shepherd, Father, Word alive forever, Peace, Truth. Defender, Deliverer, Lamb silent before the slaughter. Righteousness like mighty mountain, Love like depth of ocean. My rest, my hope, my salvation.

He makes me stand firm. Makes my arm strong so that I can bend a bow of bronze. Makes my heart soft and my tongue lie still.

His love becomes truer. Is this the reward of the man who perseveres under trial? Truth becomes knowing.

This is how my life goes right now: soul deep in meditation, hands and feet and lips busily serving the precious people God has given to me to steward.

Great is Thy faithfulness — change the sheets from last night’s accident. Oh God my Father — scramble to find red ribbons for 4th of July hair. Search me, oh God, and know my heart — dive into sewing lessons for four eager daughters. Purify in Your refiner’s fire — grab chubby hand for an impromptu adventure in the woods.

Yesterday for a brief moment, I had only two little girls. They were dressed in flowy summer dresses from our outing earlier, and we prepared lemonade with mint and big red strawberries and a vase of flowers, and we sat out under the umbrella and chatted while waiting for our guest. It was special. And they tumbled about a bit while Guest and I talked of things that are heavy in adult hearts but are lost to little girl minds.

God is able to stretch us, to give us hearts to serve by trimming little toe nails and watching “cool tricks” while also entering into the labor of hard spiritual warfare. Faithfulness is a great weapon of ours, and the action of one foot in front of the other is an offensive attack on an enemy whose great aim is to sideline and isolate us. Great is Thy faithfulness — and because He is faithful, I, too, can be faithful. It is my act of worship, warfare, and a declaration of trust.

one small life

Happy July, fellow citizens of Planet Earth. We are living and breathing here in July of 2022, something millions before us have not done. Those of us living and breathing the new life of the Spirit are doing even more than simply taking our turn, populating the planet. We are the remnant of God, His representatives and own special people. We bear His light to the world, a world He desperately loves.

These are strangely big thoughts for a middle aged woman, sitting along at a picnic table, listening to leaves rustle and birds sing. My eyes are puffy from summer allergies, my back creaky because age + sleep somehow does not = refreshed. My planner has exciting things like, “[eradicate] spiderwebs; chicken out; laundry.” I will shower and dress, my energy will continue for a few hours before I begin to flag, and within a quarter turn of the earth’s rotation, I will already be thinking about making it till bedtime.

And yet, somehow, my life matters. It matters not because of what I will do — although that does, indeed, matter as He has prepared good works for me, and that is such a comforting and exciting thought — but it matters because of Whose I am. His breath fills my lungs. His praise stirs my soul. His voice becomes the thoughts in my head. He directs my path.

I’m not terribly bright. My mind is like a sieve. My talents are so mediocre it’s hard to see them as talents. If I think too far ahead my imagination flatlines. If I look around too much, I get overwhelmed.

I am not special or remarkable.

Except, somehow, I am. My soul is loved, held, shaped, washed, restored, purified by a holy God, the eternal King, the Father of all. His eye is on me.

This is my somewhat private rumination. Private because I’m putting this out there, but without any social media accounts to push it, I’m suddenly feeling under the radar, back to 2004 before I had any accounts anywhere. Did I even have an iPhone? Not sure. I’m back there. I can’t even get my current somewhat broken phone to upload pictures except that one, that sweet moment with Enid’s grubby fingernails and little 4 year old fingers, holding up a treasure for Beatrice to capture with a camera.

So, July 1st, hello. It’s a quiet life in many ways, a small life. But it’s a called-forth-by-God life, where every word spoken has the opportunity to bring grace and power, my eyes have the ability to see according to the Spirit, and my every breath can be a praise to the Lord and Father of all.

June: green gardens, green soul.

In no particular order, June so far:

A well done piano recital, Jameson off to D.C. with his high school classmates, evening strolls with Daddy, gardens tended and enjoyed, beautiful daughters, kindergarten completed, 8th finished and a launch into high school, last year’s geranium loving its life as an indoor plant.

Birds in the morning, soft sun on lush green, pollen making my head fuzzy and slow. Pink and green my absolute favorite colors — at least, in June.

Deep in my soul, the Holy Spirit shaping me, tending me, even enjoying me. Digging my roots deep into gospel truth, rivers of grace, letting my leaves unfurl, lush green. Days of quenching dew and gentle sun and a breeze that makes 75* more than perfect — days of dry and harsh heat, or torrents that threaten to drown and erode. No matter that climate around my soul, I am firmly planted, green-leafed, fruit in season as I allow myself to be shaped, tended, fed by HIM.