Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year In Review

As seen at Inner Dorothy and elsewhere, the game is to take the first line of the first post for every month. So I did it, and if I spread it out and divided it by month, it revealed juniper as one of those stultifying bloggers who pretty much blogs about blogging. Crap. However. If, instead, you read them as one big paragraph, it's kind of ok. And it least it goes faster. For your reading pleasure: 2006 In A Paragraph of Nonsense.

Aren't you already kind of bored of New Year's News - the recaps, the promises for the future, the resolutions - and ready for nostalgia about Christmas? I'm so grumpy. Do you wear a cross? Miracle - My family can't stop watching this since we checked it out from the library a couple weeks ago. Our denominational conference annual meeting coincides this year with the Cinco de Mayo celebration here in Yakima. Memo To: Juniper From: Blog Subject: Abandonment issues. Where were you 10 years ago? I think I've been just a little too attentive to Beauty Tips for Ministers. When we got this dog (Hank, his pound name, has stuck) a month or so ago, my mom expressed surprise. "I just never thought of you as a dog person," were, I'm pretty sure, her exact words. Friends. Here's today's Ordinary Time devotion, (edited very slightly to get rid of some little stuff that's always bugged me about this piece.) I haven't blogged in so long that I've kind of forgotten how.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Prayer for my son

In going back through old posts (Thank you Blogger for the magic of labels!), I found this which I wrote last spring but never posted. I dont know why. Maybe it was too tender then. But for those of you preaching soon on The Boy Jesus, and for all of us wondering about the incarnation, it seems right now.


You were four years old, once.

Did you learn new things every day? Did you take pride in those things? Did you bounce? Did you giggle?

Did your friends hurt you in the careless way of children? Did you cry, then? Did you struggle to make yourself heard - and when heard - understood?

Yes. To all of these, yes. Then you know, Jesus, and understand, better than me (who can barely remember this time in life.) I can see that so much feels out of his control, so much is yet to be learned, so much is frightening, so much is exhilerating. I can't stop him from feeling confused, sometimes, and frustrated. But you can.

Be with my son in these tumultuous days. Surround him and fill him with your love. Help him to find balance in you.

And I ask the same for me.

In your awesome name,

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Five

by way of the Rev Gals, and with thanks to Songbird:

Tell us all about:

1) a dream you remember from childhood
In my late teens, I had a dream about driving across country with a friend and ending up on a high cliff overlooking a sunset on the ocean. For a midwestern girl, it was an incredibly powerful, freeing image. And, 15 years later, it came true when I moved way out west!

2) a recurring or significant dream
The most significant dream I've ever had was when I was pregnant with Eli.
I was walking through a vineyard and saw a kind, beautiful man picking grapes. He said something encouraging to me (cant remember what he said, but later I realized the man must have been Jesus - he doesnt appear in my dreams very often) and I kept walking. I walked fast as I came to and went up the steep hill and did not feel tired. When I got the top of the mountain, I saw a huge statue, like the one ones on Easter Island, of a mother holding a child. Two little blonde boys ran by, one of them pulling a kite, and shouted "What's the name of that baby?" and I answered back "His name is Elijah" and it echoed all across the mountain like "Elijah-ah-ah-ah...."
During my pregnancy, we tried a lot of other names on for size, but none of them stuck. When he was born a month early, we still hadn't decided, but when the doctor held him up and said, "what's his name?," I answered just as clear as in the dream "His name is Elijah!" so that was it.

3) a nightmare
Oh, not long ago I had a nightmare in which I couldnt find my husband or son - it was pitch dark and I was calling for them and feeling panicky. Then I heard my husbands calm voice saying "we're right here - just open your eyes and you will see us."

4) a favorite daydream
My favorite daydream is that I will feel settled somewhere.
I always have the feeling that whatever I'm doing it's just temporary until the next thing comes along and sometimes that's very exhausting.

5) a dream for the New Year
I've been having lots of wonderful, complicated dreams every night (I was in a rollercoaster recently and it was AWESOME, much better than real life, where rollercoasters make me sick) and my dream is for God to continue to speak to me in my dreams.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Get behind me, Santa

There's a slight chance that this whole no-Santa thing at our house isn't really working out like we planned. While we didn't talk about Santa, we hung stockings for small gifts. Although Eli saw us put presents in the stockings for each other on Christmas Eve, his remained empty all day (since his stocking presents were big and would stick out). Alas, we did not try to develop an alternate mythology around them.

Christmas Eve Night:

Mommy: "OK, time to go to sleep. And when you wake up, your stocking will have presents in it!"

Child: "I'm so excited! Tonight while I'm sleeping, The Guys will come into my house and put toys in my stocking!"

The Guys. I'm thinking now that he has either a squad of mobsters or a basketball team or a bunch of aging barflies as his Santa substitutes. Sigh.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Five

Since I seem to be blogging again, (last night I dreamed that David Letterman read my blog and had me on his show, then I watched my computer as my inbox filled up with more than 4000 messages. Heh. Havent had a Delusions of Fame Dream in a while, Christine!)here's the Friday Five by way of the RevGals.

1. Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas.
Well, I haven't had them in years, but Mom's turtle cookies - some kind of sugar cookie with pecan legs and brown sugar/butter melted in a little dimple on top are pretty unforgettably incredibly awesome. And, of course, Martha's Lime Meltaways (esp if made by sister-in-law Norah, The Goddess of All Holiday Baking).

2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)
Well, let's see...
Christmas Eve: I thank the newborn baby Jesus every year that husband Jeff's family tradition was spaghetti, right out of the jar, on Christmas Eve. It lets me feel like I'm doing something really nice for him, while making the easiest meal ever on the busiest day of the year. I do, however, have to eat it with a big apron on to protect my pretty church clothes from splotchies.
Christmas Morning: The Great Big Waffle Open House.
Christmas Evening: No big plans, but maybe we'll have my family's favorite dinner - popcorn, apples and cheese.
Hmm...I guess this would have to qualify as definitely not fancy.

3. Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.

Wassail? No idea what that even is.
Egg nog? First, unintentional drunkenness, at a parent of my friend's Christmas party occurred because of a couple glasses of egg nog. Nothing too traumatic happened as a result, and I still like to drink eggnog (unlike hard cider, which I can tell you about some other time), so I guess it doesn't actually make that great a story. Let's move on.
Hot Chocolate? No thank you. Chocolate is poison. (says Migraine Lady)
Goodness, my holiday beverage answers are woefully lacking in holiday cheer. Try the next one.

4. Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?

I have no opinion about that. Oh dear, this is just getting worse.

5. Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?
Ah, high-carb baked desserts! Now THAT'S what I'm talking about. I've never had figgy pudding, but this summer I got a big batch of fresh figs and made a kind of Fig Crisp out them with nectarines and it was real, real yummy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mary, Woman of Promise

I haven't blogged in so long that I've kind of forgotten how. No reason, just out of the habit. Oh, and December happened. You know.

I started a post tentatively called "every single thing I've done in the last 5 weeks," but all those stories about Christmas movies I've been watching (it's just not Christmas until I've heard "Light the lamp, not the rat! Light the lamp, not the rat!"), trips to the ER for asthsma treatments (tiring but fruitful), visits from my mom (wonderful but...well, just wonderful!), and The Weather (what I usually say, which is "there's no reason to talk about the weather in Seattle because it's always 43 degrees and either raining or not raining, end of conversation" is suddenly SO NOT APPLICABLE. Snow! Wind! Power Outages!) - anyway, all those stories added up to something that read like your least favorite cousins' Christmas letter, so I deleted the post and thought about giving up blogging altogether. Catching up was just too daunting.

Instead of writing, I went dorking around some other blogs, and found this meme where you open the first book you see to page 123, and post the fifth sentence, and then the next 4 sentences after that. "I can do that," I thought.

Uncovered under a pile of papers, the only book on my desk at the moment: The New Century Hymnal. There's not exactly page numbers, but hymn #123 happens to be an advent hymn, one about Mary that I'm pretty sure I've never sung.

It's not just that
1. the theme is totally appropriate to the season, OR
2. there was just this big article in the UCC News about how Protestants are reclaiming Mary (which quoted only former Catholics - hmm, a topic for another time), BUT
it's also the way the sweet words seemed to resonate completely with What I Needed to Hear right now about just exactly what it means to be a woman of faith. In light of possibly big changes that are looming in the distant but see-able horizon for me and my family it felt almost like that freaky thing where you go to the Bible, open it at random and any verse you point to will totally clarify your current situation. It's like magic, or the movement of the Holy Spirit, or at the very least a really fun game.

And I realized, how can I stop blogging now? The world must know of this song! So although it doesn't follow the rules of the meme exactly, I'm including the words to the hymn in its entirety here. (You might want to hear a horrible midi of the tune.) Thanks Mary Frances Fleischaker - you are rocking my end-of-advent world tonight.

Mary, Woman of Promise
Mary, woman of the promise
Vessel of your people's dreams:
Through your open, willing spirit
Waters of God's goodness streamed.

Mary, song of holy wisdom
Sung before the world began
Faithful to the Word within you
As you bore God's wondrous plan

Mary, morning star of justice;
mirror of the Radiant Light;
In the shadows of life's journey
Be a beacon for our sight.

Mary, model of compassion;
wounded by your offspring's pain:
When our hearts are torn by sorrow,
teach us how to love again.

Mary, woman of the gospel;
humble home for treasured seed:
help us to be true disciples,
bearing fruit in word and deed.

This picture of Mother Mary can be found in India and here.