So, it’s been a year

I’ve never been one to make a lot of New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it’s because they are very similar to goals and, honestly, who needs that kind of pressure?

However, if I were the type of person to make resolutions then I’m ahead of the game because I’ve already accomplished something significant and the new year hasn’t even begun.

That’s right. I will ring in 2010 smelling of cucumber and aloe. I felt like I should treat my underarms to the aloe after all they have endured with the Degree Cool Sport for Men for the last month.

It seems that since this is my last post of 2009 that I should write some sort of recap of the year but I don’t really know what to say about 2009. I won’t remember it as a great year and I won’t remember it as a bad year. It’s just been a year. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a lot of fun times and I’ve had more moments than I can recall where I have laughed until I’ve cried. There has been much joy and sweetness.

But in some ways I’ve spent a lot of the past year feeling a little stagnant. I started the year feeling like I kind of knew where life was headed, but then it just seemed to stall out a little. And the truth of it is that I think I’m the one who stalled. I just got tired and lost my way a little bit.

I was reading through Judges the other day (Yes, I’m a little behind in my plan to read the Bible in a year. Don’t judge me. Get it? Don’t judge me? Because I’m in Judges? Just a little nerdy Christian humor.) and came to the story of Gideon in Judges 6. The Israelites have been invaded by the Midianites and they are totally oppressed by them. In the midst of all this, there is a man named Gideon who is threshing wheat in a winepress. Normally, according to the wheat-threshing experts, he’d thresh his wheat out in the open. But he’s afraid of the Midianites and so he is hiding.

And while he is hiding out, an angel appears to him and says “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Oh, how I love an angel who deals in irony. Mighty warrior? Gideon is hiding. He’s threshing his wheat in fear and yet the angel calls him a mighty warrior.

The angel has come to tell him that God is going to use him to deliver the Israelites from Midian. At first, Gideon doesn’t believe it. In fact, he asks God for a sign two different times to make sure he’s heard Him right.

Ultimately he ends up being exactly what the angel called him, a mighty warrior. He defeats the Midianites using only three hundred men. Do you see what God did there? He called what was not as though it were. That’s what God does. In Romans 4:17 it says He is “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”

God sees what we can’t see. He sees something where there is nothing. And, even though I’ve read the story of Gideon and had that revelation before, I read it with fresh eyes the other day. I needed the reminder that God sees something in me that I don’t see in myself. I see all my fears and insecurities and worries and just general yuck, but He looks at me and sees something entirely different. He sees something He can use for His plans and purposes.

Honestly, I don’t really know what that looks like right now. This has been a year of Him changing my heart about some things and keeping my heart hoping for some others. It’s been a year of me wanting to know all the answers, but at the same time realizing that knowing all the answers doesn’t require faith.

All that to say that I want 2010 to be about hearing His voice. Because He sees something where there is nothing and I want to see what He sees.

I wish you all a 2010 full of lots of happy and joy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it another thousand times, this blog wouldn’t be any fun without every single one of you. Thank you.

Just a lot of nothing much

I’m not sure what we’ve done in the days since Christmas, but I know that I’ve spent most of that time being cold. However, this summer when it was 126 degrees for three months straight, I vowed that I would never again complain about being cold. So I’m not complaining, it’s just an observation. And I guess we could turn on the heat, but I’m not a fan of the heat. It makes me feel like I can’t breathe and I’d rather just be cold.

Not that I’m complaining about being cold. It’s totally fine.

(I think the fact that I just talked about the temperature for that many consecutive sentences is a good indicator that I haven’t done much in the last few days. Maybe I should actually leave the house or something.)

I did manage to get the Christmas tree down on Sunday. Normally I’ll leave the tree up until around New Year’s and I definitely would have left this one up because it was my favorite tree EVER, but it had been dead for the better part of a week before Christmas and reached a level of dryness that I felt certain was going to lead to spontaneous combustion.

(I just used a lot of words to say I was afraid it was going to catch ON FIRE.)

(Also, P and his friend George used to take our Christmas tree out in the backyard after Christmas each year, put it in our fire pit and light that sucker up. I always thought it would be immediately engulfed in flames, but the trees would always just smoke and smolder. Highly anti-climatic.)

(I’m not sure that it was legal for us to try to burn our tree in the backyard but that’s before we had a child and needed to set a good example. Clearly we had a lot of time on our hands.)

(I kind of want to make fun of P for setting our Christmas tree on fire, but who was the idiot who stood outside to watch him do it?)

Anyway, I’d hoped to convince Caroline that taking down the Christmas decorations is as much fun as putting them up, but she didn’t buy it. I guess watching me attempt to untangle twelve strands of Christmas lights from a dead tree with needles of death didn’t create a persuasive argument. Especially when I debated just throwing the whole thing out, lights and all.

But, eventually, I got everything put away and all that’s left of Christmas are the battery-operated animals and a few random pine needles that embed themselves in my wool socks and impale my feet. Next year I’m wishing for a male six-plumed bird of paradise.

That may seem like a random wish until I tell you that we watched the Planet Earth movie that Santa brought and learned the male six-plumed bird of paradise is a meticulous cleaner. It’s how he woos his mate. Unfortunately for the bird in the movie, his lady friend was a no-show. I guess she didn’t want to go on a field trip with him even though his house was spotless. She obviously wasn’t a woman with a house covered in the remnants of Christmas.

So that’s what we’ve been doing around here. Taking down decorations and watching Disney documentaries on nature.

(And I don’t want to ruin the ending of Planet Earth, but it doesn’t turn out well for some of the animals. Of course given the way Disney is never afraid to knock off a parent for a good story, it’s hardly surprising.)

On a brighter note for animals everywhere, yesterday was rainy and COLD so Gulley and I took the kids to see Alvin and The Chipmunks “The Squeakquel”.

Spoiler Alert:
It all turns out okay for Alvin, Simon and Theodore.

Of course my ears started bleeding from listening to them halfway through the movie, but that’s not really important.

It’s not like I really need them, except for when I want to hear.

The real question

Yesterday I mentioned that my friend AJ was in town during Christmas. She came over Christmas Eve morning and we caught up on life while I was immersed in completing my baking agenda.

Eventually the topic turned to dating and boys because AJ is a single girl in her twenties and I always feel the need to get in her business and find out if anything is new on the dating front.

Because that’s what married women who are approaching their late thirties do. It’s like a requirement.

On a totally different note, I had a small get together with some of my friends about two weeks ago and during conversation I used the phrase, “As I approach my late thirties…” Gulley stopped me mid-sentence to inform me that I am no longer “approaching my late thirties” but have actually reached that destination.

‘Tis true.

After Gulley reads this later today, she’s going to call me and apologize for how rude that sounded and that she didn’t mean to be rude. And I’ll assure her that one of the reasons I love her is because she will stop me in mid-sentence to remind me that I have safely arrived at my late thirties.

It keeps me grounded. And also reminds me that I need to buy more Oil of Olay next time I’m at the store.

Anyway, I asked AJ about this one boy and she said, “I don’t know. I’m not sure what I think about him.”

Caroline was busy rummaging through the cabinets for cinnamon or more candy canes or a straight up I.V. filled with high fructose corn syrup, but she popped her head out long enough to look at AJ and ask, “Well, would you want to go on a field trip with him?”

I don’t know that any question has ever brought me more joy. While I’m so glad that P is the only one I plan to go on field trips with for the rest of my life, I’m a little sad that I won’t be able to employ “I’d like to go on a field trip with him” as a euphemism for dating.

But I felt that I had to share it with any of the single girls who read the blog. It’s my belated Christmas gift to you.

And honestly I think it’s a good question to ask the next time a boy comes along. Sure he may be cute, but would you want to go on a field trip with him?

Because it’s one thing to like someone enough to sit across from them and carry on a semi-interesting conversation over a nice dinner, but to like someone enough that you’d be willing to ride a yellow school bus with no air-conditioning to go visit a zoo or some sort of farm where you have to pet the livestock just to spend time with them?

That’s when you know it’s true love.