Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When you're glad the year is done

2013 is almost over?

It may be cliche, and it's probably proof I am getting older, but this year feels like a blur - or rather a few blurs of pie chart chunks.

First third of the year: morning sickness blur.

Second third of the year: working on the house blur.

Last third of the year: new baby blur, working on the house blur, living with my parents blur.   (See how that last pie chart chunk combined the other two themes as well?)

I wrote last year that 2012 was one of my favorite years ever.  It was fun.  So fun.  There was so much of freedom and adventure and accomplishment in that year.

This year brought the sweetest blessing of our little Anna, and for that, I love you, 2013.  But in many other ways, 2013 was hard.  So hard.  There has been so much of mundane and conflict and disappointment.

It's the 2013 kinds of years that reveal who I am.  And yuck.  A messy heart has been revealed.  A Lara who spends her days folding laundry over and over again and scraping woodwork over and over again is not nearly as sanctified as the old Lara thought she was.  But, really, who wouldn't be able to shine when you get to hop on a plane to Paris and climb fourteeners and train for a marathon because you have the time to spare?

So, Jesus, here is my 2013 wearied, worn, sinful, proud heart.

Thank you, blurred and heavy year, for exposing me.  You've knocked me down and beat me up, opened up my sin closet and ran away laughing.  But this woman you left, she now understands why weary world rejoices.  That Baby, that Savior - He is a thrill of hope.

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tales of naps and other things

Friends, I am sad to say that I believe parenthood has had a deep effect on my profundity.  Maybe I never had it in the first place?!?  I have some time to blog, and all I can think to tell you is that we started sleep training last week.  Surely the readers are eager for a play-by-play of getting your 8 week old to take consistent naps?


Um.  (Awkward silence and looks away.)

My sister and her family are home for four months!  Can we start the conversation there?  Remember when they left?  And then we went to visit?  And then I went to visit again?  And now they're home.

The littles met Maggie.  They are sincerely impressed by her ability to act dead, roll over, and shake on command.  They are also sincerely wary of coming within the bounds of her leash.  I don't blame 'em.  Have you ever let your puppy accidentally knock over not only your nephew but also your niece?  No?  Me either.

We're all captivated by something, save Maggie who knows the guy in the red shirt has treats.

My sister had a baby three days before I did.  Did I tell you that?  So the new cousins have gotten to hang out.  It's hard to tell if it made an impact on them or not.  

I'm not looking at you.  No way.

Okay, okay.  Have some sleeve.

Other than the excitement of family returning (oh and sleep training!) daily life replays as following: Aaron gets up and goes to work.  I stay at home and take care of Anna.  (Which I really do love!)  Aaron comes home.  We eat.  We go to the New Old House and work.  We come home.  We go to bed.  And...second verse same as the first!  It has been a hard season.  Real life feels like it is on hold.  I find myself thinking "When we move into the house life can continue...".  


In these present days, a sweet baby girl is changing all the time and the maple trees are flaming red and orange and Aaron and I are pushing deep into the ground of longsuffering love, finding a deeper vein than we've had cause to nick into before.  

This is life.  When does life ever match up to the optimal conditions we imagine?   I'm banking that soon, I'm gonna look back and see that the reality was better than the imagining.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three big things

There's so much to say!  This being the case, it's hard to start with one thing.   All the things clamor to spill out first which makes beginning seem tricky.  Hence, long blog silence.

One thing.

Aaron got a job!  That's a good place to start since our jobless state was a heavily dissected topic here.  He is the recruiter/alumni coordinator for the physical therapy department of the university here in town.  It's a great job!  The people he works with are nice; he gets perks such as a company iPhone and iPad; hours are flexible; there is some travel which is actually a plus because Anna and I can tail along.  Praise God.  He answered our prayers most graciously and kindly.

Aaron on his first day of work, which also happened to be the day before I went into labor.  #everythinghappensatonce

Here's another thing.

Anna is six weeks old today.  Six weeks!  The new baby what-have-we-done-slash-this-is-awesome haze has lifted.  Life with a baby is our new normal.  And we LOVE our new normal.  She's sweet, cute, bright-eyed, squawky, and completely kissable.

Look at those chubby cheeks!  
Another thing.  (I'm on a roll!)

We're living with my parents.  So, if you're keeping count, this makes #3 Big Life Change that happened within the span of a week.  We've decided that paying rent is for the birds, so I think we're here to stay.  Hey, Mom and Dad!  Are you excited?

Just kidding.

The house we're remodeling is nearing completion (famous last words), and when that happens, we shall become grown-ups again and start paying bills and cooking food and whatnot.

About half the rooms look lovely like this...

...and the other half still look like an unfortunate marriage of toolbox vomit and abandoned mental hospital.  

Progress, y'all.  It's progress.  Meanwhile Dad and Maggie are having a great time here at the casa, so why rush a good thing?  

Bonus points to whoever can find the sandpaper!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A letter to my daughter

Welcome little one.  Our precious daughter, our first child, our gift from God that we didn't even know to ask for and now receive with wild thanks.  Daddy and I have fallen headlong into the stupor of the sleepless, but oh, what a grace-satiated daze.  We drink deep, and our cup overflows still.

Anna Hope, you were born late on a Wednesday night.  At 4 am that morning, we began to think that this contracting was the real deal, and 20 hours later, you squeezed into the world just before the calendar turned to September 5.  It was hard to get you here, but the claims I've heard from other mothers are now my own too: all the pain was worth the first sight of your sweet face.  

I look at your tiny round face with your dimpled lip and elf ears, and I want to give you the world in all its beauty and wonder.  I want to lay down in front of every barreling truck of pain and take each hit for you.  I want you to believe with all your heart that who God made you is exactly right, to be confident and free in His creation of you and His calling for you.  I want the heart of your namesake to be yours too -- Anna who waited with patience in the temple and wrapped her life around a single hope of the Messiah to come.

You've split my heart wide open, dear daughter, and I would never go back to the days of a one-piece heart again.

I love you.  I love you.  I love you.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

And poof! Then I was gone.

We cancelled our internet.

We're going off the grid, people!  Throwing off the shackles of the 21st century!

Actually, it's nothing noble - we're just paring down to the really bare essentials as we wait on a job.  I could say it's been a very enlightening experiment, and we're totally cool without the interwebs, but really...

it kind of stinks.  I like the internet.

All this to say, the blogging will be sparse for a while.  Just when I was getting my groove back!

Go read Ann Voskamp's blog instead.  She's been knocking my socks off lately.

Love to all you readers!  And hopefully, I will see you soon.

Until then, I will be covered in plaster dust and trying not to inhale lead paint fumes.  Because you know, that can't be good for the baby.  (I've written a little about our current house remodel at the other blog - click on the link to the right.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lightbulbs and maternity clothes

My sophomore year of college, God took my heart and wrenched it for the nations.  I began to see how much He loved the whole world, how His plan for redemption was bigger than Southwest Missouri where I grew up and than Northwest Arkansas where I went to school.  I had a burden to pray for the world like I hadn't had before.  As I prayed, I asked God what His plan for my future might be.  Was He prompting my heart to move overseas and build His Kingdom in forgotten places?

One of the things I mulled over that year was God as provider.  Was He?  All my life, I had been pretty well taken care of.  I grew up in a one-income home, and when I was young, I probably didn't realize how tight the paychecks stretched.  But I had never gone without my basic needs met.  As I read missionary biographies, I saw lives that ignored the economies of men and banked absolutely on God's economy.   George Muller would pray for his orphanage and a check would come the next day.  Amy Carmichael needed funds to rescue girls from prostitution?  She prayed, and God gave.  Hudson Taylor, Corrie ten Boom -- the list is large of these faithful ones who simply believed what God said was true.  No heavy exegesis needed.

I needed to know if I believed the same.  If God had a life overseas for my future, my resources would be much smaller than they were in the US.  Could I live that life of faith? Did I believe that God was big enough to answer that faith?  I thought about what I needed at the time.

The lamp in my little dorm room had a burnt-out bulb.  Well, there's something, I thought.  I prayed about it - sounds silly, huh?  I could have asked Mom for a lightbulb the next time I went home. I could have pawned one off my RD.  And it definitely wasn't an absolute need.  It was the first thing I thought of, so I prayed.  

About a month later, I returned one Sunday night to the dorm.  I had been gone for the weekend to my friend's home in Texas.  As I unlocked the door and flipped the light switch on, I gasped.  There, lined up on the floor (I still cry as I remember this) were lightbulbs of all shapes and sizes, ranging from long florescent tubes to bigger bathroom bulbs to the tiny 40 watt bulbs I needed for my lamp.  There were probably close to 20 in all.

A couple of friends had decided to prank me while I was gone.  They had removed all the lightbulbs they could find and piled them in my room.

But it wasn't just a prank.  It was God.  Answering me in a row of lightbulbs on dingy dorm carpet.  God proving Himself to a young 20-year-old heart, that yes, He could be counted on.  And not only would He give the small thing I needed, He would give abundantly more.

Obviously, I'm not overseas at this point in my life.  In the 8 years since I lived in that dorm room, God has opened doors I wasn't expecting.  Back then, I shouted to my college boyfriend (who was studying to be a pastor) that I could never be a pastor's wife in America!!!  Needless to say, we broke up soon afterwards.  But then, the road curved, and I married a man who had a burden for youth ministry.  For the last four years, I have been somewhat of a pastor's wife.  20 year old self, close your ears, because it has been in America.

God has taught me all manner of things in this land that I love, which is another blog post.  I do love America, but the thing about America - about the strata of America that I live in - is that it is pretty easy to forget who is the Giver.  I haven't prayed much about lightbulbs in the last few years.

We ended our current job in May, and we have yet to find another.  For the first time in our married lives, we have had to get down on our knees together and beg for God to be faithful to us.  We can't come through this on our own.  Our own strength is a pitiful crutch.  It always is, but it sure looks nice when it's wrapped in automatically deposited paychecks.

A few weeks ago, I began to outgrow the few maternity clothes I had.  God reminded me of the lightbulbs.  So I prayed.  (I also looked at and filled my shopping cart with all the things I would have bought if I could have...I'm not perfect. )  :)  It wasn't too long after I began praying my friend offered me some of her things, dozens of cute tops and skirts and shorts.

We may still move overseas someday.  I hope we do.  The dream is still there.  God is showing me though, that the lesson of His faithfulness is just as valid here and now as it will be in the future.  He delights to be our Provider.  He delights when we ask Him about the little things.  The lightbulbs and the maternity clothes.

Isaiah 40 says that He carries us close to His heart.  He will not forget the child pressed up against His chest.  Praise Him that He is a good and gracious Father.  All things come from Him.  How He longs for us to see this with unclouded vision.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thoughts from a quiet afternoon

Last night the tornado sirens started wailing around 1 am.  I'm thankful for Aaron, because I tend to sleep through things like that.  In fact, I stirred a little when they began, and then asked him, "Are you okay?"  When he answered yes, I rolled over.  Great.

But he, being more awake than I, drug Maggie and me down to the basement.  It was Maggie's first time in the basement - no way will she venture down those scary open steps herself.  (And, no, Dad, we are not going to let Maggie stay upstairs and get carried off by the tornado.  Even though I know that's what you think we should do.)

Today is an afterglow of last night's storms.  A day wrapped in the kind of dim light that, at 3 in the afternoon, makes a day feel long folded into dusk.  Thunder is rumbling low, and I have a candle burning.  Candles + thunderstorms = match made in heaven.

On the job, we still wait.  A couple of good interviews have come and gone, so perhaps we will know soon.

In complete honesty, let me say I am grateful for this season we are in.  (Is there a way for you to hear that without the tinniness of corny notes?)   I was reading from Thomas a Kempis the other morning.  My flesh wants the discomfort of this season to pass - and quickly please!  These ancient words burrowed into me:
                Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.
                He has many seekers of consolation, but few of suffering.
                He finds many companions at His feasting, but few at His fasting.
                All desire to rejoice with Him; few are willing to endure anything for Him.
                ...those who love Jesus for Jesus' sake, and not for any comforts they receive, bless
                Him as readily in temptation and anguish of heart as in the state of highest consolation.

Goodness, it feels weird to call this season suffering, because it is slight.  Regardless of how full the cup of sorrow is, it always tastes bitter to the one holding it.  In this present "anguish of heart" I see a face of Jesus forgotten in the blithe seasons.  The Jesus who sweats blood and cries over Jerusalem.  The Jesus who walked lonely and was forsaken totally.  The Jesus who sees every orphan, every injustice, every pain.

Jesus could have given us that job that pays $10,000 more than any other job currently on the table.  Bam.  He could have.  And I would have praised Him, and then likely picked out new curtains, a new rug, and some new maternity tops.

Please know that as I write this, I'm afraid you will hear a false holiness, a sham of humility, or a guilt-trip because you like material comforts, you awful person.  Please believe that is not my heart.  Sheesh, I wanted that job desperately.  If they called back and offered it to Aaron today, I would do a jig.

What I want you to hear is that there is value in suffering.  Whatever your cup, whatever your cross.  Our God doesn't take pleasure in hurting us.  No.  Could it be that the hurt is a kind wounding, a "severe mercy" as Sheldon Vanauken called it?  Because in suffering, we see Jesus more clearly.  We see the treasure He is compared to the other sticks propping us up.  In suffering, we see the world more compassionately.  There is someone whose heart is hurting worse than mine.  What Paul said was true:  our God comforts us "so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

Sometimes, He empties out the house.  We sit in the echoing rooms, and we find that they are filled with Him.  And then...

then we cannot even remember what we loved that once sat in that space.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

He's always been faithful

It's raining today, a light drizzle, but I am glad for it because it's not snow.  It's warm enough again to have the windows cracked, and the screens seem to pull in all that is fresh and lush and full of hope. Aaron is asleep on the couch, Les Miserables on his lap.  (He's almost 3/4 through the unabridged version!)  Magsters, aka Maggie Moo, aka Schmuppy is asleep on her cushion.  It's our day off.  The sacred Wednesdays are about to abort - we only have one left after this, and then our K-Life rhythm is done.  We'll find a new day to rest, but I am a little sad to see Wednesdays go.

So much change up ahead.  Uncertainty.  Open doors, shut doors.  Second-guessing.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.

God has been drawing my heart to Him in such graciousness.  Aaron found out last week that he didn't get a much hoped for job - you probably guessed as much from the last post.  We were crushed for several days.  Our good God allows us to cry out to Him from those places of anguish and doubt.  And now He is gathering our hearts in close, teaching us once again to love the Giver more than the gift.

I'm realizing that how I respond in this situation is setting the standard for how I will respond in other life crises - and I'm sure there will be plenty more if I live a long life.  If I have banked everything on this Jesus, if I have set down the stake that He is all that I have, then how I respond to hard stuff matters.  Not to say that we aren't allowed to grieve or question.  I think we are.  I think He holds us in those days, weeks, years.  But for me, in this place in this story, the nudge has come.  It's time to proclaim His goodness and trust His faithfulness.

And sometimes it is good to realize that the worst case scenario is really not the worst.  We dove to the bottom this morning as we lounged in bed and talked.  Say Aaron gets a job that pays hourly, and we are, by the middle-class standards of our milieu, poor.  We will still have money for rent, food, insurance, utilities, and gas.  We will be rich in love - our baby is coming; my sister and her family are moving in with us for three months in the fall; we are near to my parents and not that far from Aaron's.  And when you compare our annual income to that of most of the world, we will still likely be earning 20 times more.  That is humbling to consider.

He has been so good to us.  Materially, emotionally, relationally, He has truly given us everything we need for life and godliness.  That is nothing to scoff at.  His goodness goes even further: when my heart is stiff and cold, He bends it, shapes it, stirs up dying embers, and He gives me a desire for Him.  To know Him, to love Him, to run hard toward Him.

Whatever He wants to do with these three little Weaver lives, let Him.  We go back to the stake, and we affirm again.  "Yes, Jesus, You are worth it all.  Here we are."

Amen and amen.

Friday, May 3, 2013

When it snows in May

I reach behind the bed to pull up the blinds.  Open my eyes, open blinds higher.  There is snow on our two neat rows of lettuce and snow on Ernie's truck next door, and the ground is a patchwork of brightest green and whitest white.

It is May 3.  The trees have leafed out, and the tulips have come and gone, and was it just two days ago that the house felt so warm we turned on the ceiling fan and Maggie lay right underneath, panting as if she'd never been that hot?

I watch from the kitchen window as the flakes slide big and fat.  Our flat of seedlings straddles the sink.  They're ready for the ground.  This is incongruous, these baby plants outgrowing their small pots while winter rages outside.  Last year this time, we could have grown tomatoes for a month.  This year we wait.

Was it just two days ago that we laughed on our walk and played make-believe?  "If you get this job, what will we save for?"  They felt a little risky, those words, but who can halt the dreams when a heart hopes big?

Yesterday the call came, and we went to bed with sad questions and awoke to snow.

We wait.

What was it that T.S. Eliot wrote? That we hear God in hints and guesses?  The tiny leaves trembling and the falling snow, the baby coming and no job, and we don't speak this language, God.  Foreign sound, this is, this winter in May and a future unknown and void.

David, he knew it too, the mystery of the language God speaks and our struggle to translate.

"How long, O Lord?
Will you forget me forever?"

How long will we slip an extra sweater on when the calendar reads late spring, and how long will provision last, and how long will we wait with no good news?

At the window I gape, as the white blankets thicker and the purple iris by the shed stand shivering straight.

The seedlings stretch toward the light, and I stretch and touch cold pane, the improbable happening before my eyes.  I want the probable, the predictable, the safe rotation of seasons, a plan laid out.   I want to weed the flowerbeds in shorts, to kneel in warm dirt, to smile at Aaron as he comes home from the job for which we prayed.

In May, it snows, and I hold nothing in my hands save 26 words of an Israelite king who wondered what God was doing too.

"But I trust in Your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for He has been good to me."

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Among things that shouldn't happen at night

I'm popping in tonight to share an update with you.  It's been a while since we had to broach the following subject, but I'm keeping you in the know because

a) sympathy is always nice

b) the blog has been super serious lately and I think levity would add a good touch

Last night, I was abruptly awakened by none other than...a squeaking sound.  I gasped.  I laid in bed quiet as a mouse.  (Haha, do you see where this is going?)  Then, as if the squeaking wasn't horrifying enough, I heard a little rustling, dragging sound.

I grabbed Aaron's arm with a death hold.  "Aaron!"  I tried to whisper because we had an overnight guest sleeping in the next room over.

"Huh?"  He groggily batted my arm away.

"I think there's a MOUSE in here!"

On perfect cue, more squeaking.  This got his attention.  He sat up.

"Don't look."  He flipped on the lamp.  (Of course I looked!)

(At this point in the narrative, you need to know that in January, we had another unfortunate episode of the R.O.U.S. which first visited in August.  A mouse actually LEPT out of the silverware drawer as my friend Brittany opened it.  We did what every family with a mouse-fearing woman would do: bought poison and old-fashioned traps and sticky traps.  Hence, a few sticky traps are still lying around.)

There, upon a dusty and forgotten sticky trap, with half of its nasty little body on and half of its nasty little body off, was a mouse.  Loudly sounding the alarm for anyone to save its poor soul.

This is the part where I imagine what dire straights I would be in if I lived by myself.  I could never, never, never pick up a mouse trap with a live mouse on it and carry it outside.  You can guess who took up that task.  (Go Aaron!)

"Make sure you kill it!"  I yelled after him as he galloped off into the midnight air.

Of course, for a storybook ending, today I found our dog eating the mouse corpse in the back yard.  Perfect.

Come one, come all, share your middle-of-the-night moments of terror.  Have you ever been awakened by a mouse?  Maybe a snake?  (That would make me feel better...)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Praying in circles

"God, please be working out Aaron's job.  Oh, Lord, you know we would love Job X; it's the best financially for our family, but it feels like such a long shot. "  (How are we going to pay for a fence at the new house for Maggie?)  "And that's another thing, Father, the fence...if Aaron got Job X, we could build a fence, but if he has to work at Place Y, no money for a fence.  But maybe that's how you want to work in our lives?  Because if he got Job X, it would clearly be from You.  You would be our Provider!  But then what if you what him to work at Place Y so that we have no extra cash anywhere, and then you step in and do crazy things for what we really need?  (Do we really need a fence? A rope might work?)  

That is a live and true excerpt from one of my prayers lately.  I told Aaron this morning I feel like I am praying in circles.  Except for the all-inclusive "Thy will be done", I have no idea how to pray about our future.   I want to ask God for big things, but what if I'm asking out of a selfish place?  I know God gives good things, but what if my concept of "good" is a far cry from His?  And, good grief, what about the people in India that are slaves, and how can I ask for a good job for my husband when they need deliverance and three square meals? 

Please tell me you sometimes pray in these circles too?  

I don't have it all figured out.  That's one thing I can settle on.

The other thing on which I'm settling?  

The knowledge that God IS.  He is, in infinite ways, so much more than me.  More than my thoughts.  More than this world.  When I find myself praying in circles, I come back to this:

"Father, you know.  You know.  Take my heart, take these prayers.  Sift them as they should be."

And maybe it is okay to just pray, 

"Thy will be done."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

O for a faith that will not shrink

I love the words of old hymns.  I didn't grow up singing them.  No, the words of my childhood church memories are largely 80s praise choruses.  Our God is an awesome God, anyone?  Or anything by Dennis Jernigan?

Hymns and I became intimately acquainted in college.  I picked up a discarded church hymnal from a garage sale, and ever since, I've found many words to be an anchor and a compass, scribbling stanzas in journal after journal.

O for a faith that will not shrink.  I found this one last week.  It was a sweet and timely message for me.  If there was a word for 2013 so far, it would have to be change. There are actually just two changes, but added together, they create a large lot of uncertainty in a human heart.  First, the precious baby that was a surprise.  Second, it's our last year with K-Life.

As of today, Aaron doesn't yet have a job past May 16.  There are some possibilities, some better than others.  In the waiting, there have been tears and anger and fist-shaking.  There have also been moments of sweet surrender and peace.

We are growing.  

That is certain.

O, for a faith that will not shrink,
Though pressed by every foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe!

That will not murmur nor complain
Beneath the chastening rod,
But, in the hour of grief or pain,
Will lean upon its God.

A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage without;
That when in danger knows no fear,
In darkness feels no doubt.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Big changes

It is time.

Time to return to ye ol' blog.  Uh-hum.  Is this thing still on?

Well, a lot of life has happened since I last wrote.

Here's the short list:

- We got pregnant.
- I got sick as a dog for almost three months.
- We got a dog!

So yes.  Lying on the couch and asking Aaron to bring me apple juice and toast did not set me up to be a blogging success.  That's okay.  January, February, and most of March were like a big, long showing of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day, and you wouldn't have wanted to read about how nauseous I felt (again!) or how the puppy stole my shoe (again!).

The babe is set to arrive in early September.  We feel blessed, and sometimes overwhelmed, and alternately excited and nervous.  Things will change a lot!  It is somewhat terrifying to know that all the sin and selfishness unearthed in us upon marriage will now be uncovered even more as we give ourselves to this new little life.  I'm so thankful that our God is faithful, and that He travels all roads before us and hems us in behind.

Here's Maggie, the newest canine member of our family.  This is when she was a young spring pup, a fluffy ball.  Now she is gangly and teenagerish, and she barks sassily at us when we're eating and jumps on the couch even though she gets in trouble every single time.  We're happy we have a dog about 60% of the time.  We really do love her, although in this case, I must concede to the wisdom of my father given to me upon all my childhood requests: "Dogs are a lot of work, Lara!"

Hopefully I'll be back much sooner this go around.  I've missed writing!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Catching up and looking ahead

Phew.  We've been on the road for a while, and I am not a good blogger while traveling.

When I got home from Turkey, the Christmas season waited not.  We jumped into parties, gift-wrapping, baking.  There were even a couple of relaxed nights by the fire.  In a late-night moment of inspiration, we bought $5.00 chestnuts from Wal-Mart and attempted to roast them over...what else?  Our open fire.  I thought we'd have a precious memory and a couple of cute pictures to show our kids someday.  "Look, kids, this is when Mom and Dad had enough time to roast chestnuts over an open fire."  But alas, the whole venture was a big fat fail.  Maybe our method was lacking, but I think that we had bad chestnuts.

Christmas morning at my parents' house

Christmas Eve saw us loading up the Honda and hitting the road for two weeks.  We were blessed to spend time with my family, Aaron's family, a dear friend home from Thailand, and our favorite couple friends who left Bolivar for Kansas a few years ago.  I still can't figure out what Kansas has that Bolivar doesn't!  Last week, we drove to Branson for our annual work conference.  And now we are home with a suitcase of laundry and a drooping tree in the corner.  Your misery will end soon, tree.  All in good time.

With Aaron's family on Christmas night 

I told Aaron at some point around New Year's Eve that 2012 was one of my favorite years ever.  It was.  The spring was a season of working, perserving, hoping.  In May we got to go on a trip we'd dreamed of for years.  July and August took us back to our sweet second mountain home.  The fall was a much-needed step away from ministry for me, and I took time to listen.  Early November, we ran a marathon together.   Two days later, I got to go back overseas and be with my sister and her family.

What a year, eh?

Beautiful Kristen, home from Thailand! 

I don't have many resolutions for 2013.  In twelve months, I do want to be able to name it a favorite year too.  We had a lot of fabulous circumstances last year, but there were seasons of drought and doubt as well.  Our Father taught me so much about living FULLY where I am at, in doing the next thing with joy.

I have an inkling that truth will make 2013 another good year.