The Scrawl Vol. 1, No. 31

  

 Maria stylin’ Great-Grandpa Tucker’s boots. She was filled with consternation at the realization that she could not move in them. So since then, she has contented herself with finding tricky things to put in them, generally kitchen utensils. “Oh, Mommy just put a whisk in the dishwasher, she must not need it anymore. I’ll see how well it works in Uncle Freeman’s boots. Yup. Just the thing they needed. Oh, Mommy, why do you want it back? I thought you were done with it!”

  
I caught Freeman making a creepy face at the dietary values, and commanded him to keep it up, at which point he promptly got the giggles. This was the best he could do after I kept my face straight so as to not encourage him.

  

We’ve gotten snow on snow this week (although it isn’t terribly deep), and the temperatures finally dropped. I found out the hard way that hoodies weren’t enough for Baby and I when headed somewhere, even though they were two days ago.

  
I’m not really big on making New Year’s resolutions for myself, because I’d like to make too many, and I’d ditch them all before the month was out. I have done some good ones in the past, though; one year I wrote a poem every day, which was a good exercise (although not much of it turned out well, I did learn to be more aware of inspirations throughout the day), and one year I committed to writing down every day at least three things I was grateful for in my thanksgiving journal (a habit I need to work back in to). This year, Stephen and I are planning to take 30 weeks (or however long it ends up taking, if some of the tasks require more time to work through or our schedule is really overfull or what have you) to work through 30 Days to Calm, a book I’ve had my eye on for some time and nabbed while it was on sale in December. I have not been disappointed by what I’ve seen of it so far. It looks like it will provide the foundations for a lot of good conversations about anxieties and how we can make them a much smaller feature in our daily life. I’m really looking forward to diving in!

  
Goofy times in the car

  

A glimpse of the lovely sunset Saturday night.

  
What to do when Uncle Freeman’s departure is delayed? Take him to Ikea, of course!

  
We traveled north for the afternoon on Sunday, and in the weather with the temperatures hovering around zero, this plant made some pretty huge clouds!

  
I had been wrestling with words, trying to find one that would set a good focus for me for this year. One of my first thoughts was simplify, but I knew that was really just an excuse for more work for me. I mean yes, simplify should mean less work, but at this point, I would be sorely tempted to sort through all our possessions and get rid of ones we don’t need, which would be a huge job. Maybe next year. Then my thoughts turned to mercy. After all, this is the Year of Mercy, and heaven knows I do poorly at receiving mercy and at being merciful. Still, it seemed less of a focus and more of a chance for me to send myself on hundreds more vague guilt trips. Then one day, I was reading a book while nursing the sleeping baby, which in itself is almost a miracle; I’ve not done much reading recently, and don’t often pick up a book that seems with the extra effort and discomfort of reading snippets in the small windows of time I have available for such things. The book was an autobiography, and while I had heard the story before, I was pulled in by the deep agony and the even deeper joy the authors expressed through their trials and triumphs. I wept through much of the book, and when I finished it, lay watching my sleeping baby, marveling over all the love God has poured into my life and the masterful way he has guided our family, and I realized that my heart was brimming with joy. Last year was a good year. We grew so very much spiritually, relationally, and in our various capacities to fulfill our callings. But it was very rough. We spent so much time working to tear out bad habits that we were very raw, very sore, and felt like we were often tearing down instead of building up, such was the work of weeding out the poisonous choking plants so that we could plant wholesome ones in their place. Gradually, our duties became less delightful and were, quite simply, drudgery. We were both doing exactly what we wanted to do, and were not really enjoying it. So we have done something ridiculous, something that often seems impossible. We have chosen to focus on joy this year. To pursue joy, to fight for joy, to revel in joy. Not to the exclusion of acknowledging when a situation is less than desirable, but to go above and beyond that, to choose joy anyway. It’s a tall order. We won’t be able to get it right in one year. But by God’s grace, perhaps we can lay the foundation for a lifetime of joy in his Love.

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