Everyone is posting phone photo captures of the weather forecast for the day, but I know it’s cold before I even look at a screen. My old lady house has been groaning all night long, her bones creaking and cracking as the temperature falls and falls.

It’s bitter with frostbite warnings and windchill warnings and blowing snow warnings everywhere a person turns, and all I want is to turn over in bed and pull up covers and hide from the chill.

It’s a day of no school busses running, and I know the yard is too snow-full to let me out without a fight, but a neighbour calls and offers a ride and we make the plan.

He’ll stop early on his way to work and he’ll pick up our boy and drop him and his girls at the sitter’s who will get them to school and collect them again after, and the neighbour will bring them all back at the end of the day.

I tell him not to drive into our yard, but to call when he’s leaving and the boy and I will walk out to the highway to wait. And that’s how it all goes, in the still-dark morning.

Bundled top to bottom, eyes peeking out from under furry hats and noses covered by scarves, we stumble through the drifts and wait at the edge of the road, everything magical ice and shadow under the yard light’s glare, and wait.

They come and he goes and I shuffle back. She’s fighting, this old house, to keep her inside warm against the attack of cold seeping through her old windows and ancient doors, and I surrender to the couch and the new, soft Christmas blanket. The morning slips away with sips of coffee, and I catch up on my bible reading and my Facebook and the movie I left unfinished the other day.

It’s cold afternoon then and the bathroom gets itself cleaned and a little laundry gets itself done and I think I’ll make some muffins, even though the kitchen feels like the coldest room in the house. I think maybe some blueberry muffins will be just the thing and the warmth of the stove will help fight the chill, and I put Joni Mitchell on to sing me through it.

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I put on an extra sweater and my warm socks and it’s while Joni is inviting me to come in from the cold, her clear bell voice perfect for the mood, that I finally find my feet in the day. I make peace with my home and I thank her for her efforts to keep us warm, and I forgive her the weaknesses.

For this is my weakness, too. The struggle to stay warm inside and the fight against the cold that pushes at me, relentless at times.

I pick up the whisk and gently and kindly fold the blueberries into the batter and the day is redeemed in grace and beauty and thankfulness.

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I know it’s over. The gifts unwrapped and all, and the butter tarts and cookies all eaten. The big boy has already left and so, yes, Christmas Day has come and gone and I suppose I should be moving on.

I’m not quite ready, though.

Even though I plan to take down the tree and pack away the decorations and even though there is nary a crumb of sweet left in the kitchen cupboards. I’m not ready to let it all go.

It was sweet and simple and, I guess, filling. Christmas filled me just right – not overstuffed, not still hungry – and I want to linger in that satisfied place for a while.

So I am. This year, for the first time, I’m doing the twelve days of Christmas, and on Epiphany (January 6) we’ll feast a little and celebrate the visit of the magi and we’ll find some kind of giving way to mark that.

Really, I’ve not heard much about or commemorated these days in any kind of way in the past. And it won’t be much this year. I’ll spend a moment with Liz each day, and remember the babe for a while longer because heaven knows it will be a scant few weeks and we’ll be nailing him to a cross and thinking about all of that.

I’m lingering and listening and loving my people, thankfully and quietly stealing a few more Christmas days, and then maybe I’ll be ready for the new.

A storm is forecast to hit us hard. Sometime this afternoon, that’s what they are saying. Starting with freezing rain, followed by snow and blowing snow. Winter at her worst, showing her nasty side and there’s not much to do about it except stay inside as much as possible and wait her out.

Waiting. This is a thing I know.

Waiting for kids and husband and paycheques and Christmas. I’ve waited my whole life, it seems, for one thing or another. I’ve learned to be at peace with it, mostly. To wait without worry, mostly. Because it’s true, that thing Luke said about how worrying never added a single hour to a person’s life.

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There’s a part of me, the firstborn one, who has moved on and he’s a hard habit to break.

It’s got me thinking this Advent season about all the waiting. About Mary, of course, full and heavy with waiting on the baby king. And the Jews, of course, burdened and weary with waiting on the prophesied one. And Zechariah and Elizabeth and Joseph, of course. The months of waiting. The years of waiting. The expectancy. The hush before the birth of change.

Truly though, it’s not the waiting I’m thinking about today, with my firstborn moved on, as I said. I’m thinking instead about the Father behind with the child gone on, and I wonder at His letting go and His watching from afar, and His anticipation of the return.

The Father must have missed the Son. Don’t you think?

Because a firstborn son, when you are used to having him around, is a hard habit to break.

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The colour is there, if I make my eyes big to what I see small. There is colour in the faces of the ones I love. In the laughter of friends. In the careful words of a teacher. In fellowship and friendship and family-ship. In sweet homey smells and hard work and quiet rest. In teasing and testing and trying. In three boys and one man and a house to share and time to spend. Words. Food. Kindred-ness. Quietness. Mess. Mornings. Coffee. Hugs. Tears.

These are the colours of my life.

My world might be white, but my life is not.

My life is colour full.

May you see the colour in your life this March Monday, wherever you are.

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We are in the midst of another (hopefully the last!) winter storm. All the highways are closed, and we are stuck at home. I’m baking bread and cookies and doing my best to enjoy the blessings in the storm. And really, I am. Although this is not the day or the weekend I had planned, this is what I have been given. And it’s good.

I’m blogging today at How to Homeschool High School, about the courage it takes to be a parent. I’d love for you to join the conversation there. You can find it here.

The world outside my window is a frozen, still place.

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Quiet. Close. Heavy.

Sometimes, a prison is a sanctuary.

We begin the day, familiar in the tasks of the morning… coffee and toast and eggs, sandwich-making for his lunch, starting the frozen vehicle. At the breakfast table he reports the temperature, minus twenty-two. But there’s no wind, I say. Bright side, silver lining, and all that.

He leaves trailing a list of things for the boys to do. Chores and shovelling, mainly. So much snow. So much winter.

I sit to the coffee, warm the cup with a drop more, and a boy’s door opens. He’s cradling a basket of laundry.

Morning, he says as he passes through the kitchen. I’m starting a load. I’m out of clean clothes.

I smile and sip and I check Facebook on my phone, thinking of all those battling winter today as they head to work or to school. All those status updates about bad roads and stuck vehicles. Busses not running. A small prayer whispered for safety. A moment’s thought about it all. Mom’s taking kids to school or daycare. Friends travelling to their jobs. Everyone clearing away the storm, helping or being helped by neighbours, trying to get to where they need to be. The effort it takes.

He’s back, shaking water from the shower out of his hair and asking for breakfast. I’m slow today, and I ask what he wants.

Pancakes?

I make a deal with him. If he mixes them, I’ll cook them. So we do, and the kitchen soon warms with the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon and hot butter. The other boys make their way to the table and we sit and eat and I read from Exodus, that story of Moses holding high his staff, the fate of the raging battle in his raised arms.

Carter tries to hold his arms up for a while.

It’s hard, he says.

We read of the friends who come to help Moses when he tires. They bring him a seat and they hold his arms for him, and we giggle a little at the picture it brings to mind.

Aren’t they kind of using a loop-hole? says Tyson. I mean, shouldn’t he have had to do it by himself?

I don’t know, I say. I think God is always okay with us needing help. Life is hard, and we all need help sometimes.

We all need help sometimes. In the storm. When we’re stuck. When we’re sick. When it’s hard.

Thankful, so thankful, for a friend who will bring a rock to sit down on when weariness threatens to overwhelm.

Thankful, so thankful, for a friend who will help support the weight when it gets too heavy to bear alone.

Thankful so thankful, for a God who doesn’t make us do it all by ourselves, all the time. Who is there. Who provides. Who cares.

So Joshua and his men went out to fight the army of Amalek. Meanwhile Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. And as long as Moses held up the rod in his hands, Israel was winning; but whenever he rested his arms at his sides, the soldiers of Amalek were winning. Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the rod any longer; so Aaron and Hur rolled a stone for him to sit on, and they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset. As a result, Joshua and his troops crushed the army of Amalek, putting them to the sword.

Exodus 17: 10-13 (Living Bible)

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It’s time to be well. It’s just time.

Because when I’m sick, I’m really only thinking about being sick. I’m thinking about my poor, sad self pretty much all the time, and it’s exhausting. I’m tired of thinking about me.

I’m ready to think about my children. I miss them. I’m tired of living the basics of life with them. I’m ready to return to books and discussions and all the rich extras that bless the day.

I’m ready to think about my home. My poor, neglected space. I’m ready to dust her off and dress her up. She’ll be happier and I will be, too.

I’m ready to think about the Coach Training Course I am going to be taking. I’m ready to be excited about this opportunity. I’m looking forward to diving into the reading and the upcoming training sessions and the times I get to spend with my assigned personal coach. I’m ready to embrace this.

I’m ready to enjoy some renewal time. To fly away for a few days to a beautiful place, to spend time sharing hearts and stories with other women, most of whom I don’t yet know but to whom I already feel a deep connection. The blessing of sisters.

And I’m ready to be writing again. I’ve been word-empty. It happens, sometimes. I’m working on it.

What are you ready for?