Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Sisters' December Reading Challenge

Charity and I plan to keep our reading simple for December. We chose three challenges that are low pressure but will hopefully enhance our enjoyment of the holiday season. 

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1. Read a Christmas classic.

Charity and I are both choosing The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but you may have another classic you'd like to read or reread. Some options include The Best Christmas Pagent Ever and Little Woman.

2. Read an Advent book.

There are many books with a short piece to read every day until Christmas. Preruse your library or a bookstore to find one that fits your wishes. I'm chose Malcolm Guite's Waiting on the Word, which is a poetry collection for each day of December. I don't read much poetry but I couldn't think of a more counter-culture and defiant stance against commercial craziness than reading poetry.

3. Read a cozy book. 

I haven't chosen my book yet for this category. I might reread a favorite book or pick up a just-for-fun fiction book. After a very busy fall, our December looks rather empty and I'm planning to prioritize a few quiet evenings at home. I'm looking forward to evenings on the couch, reading favorite Christmas picture books to my children, then enjoying my own book for an hour.

If you want some more suggestions of Christmas books, you can check out my book lists from other years.

What does reading look like for you in December?

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Fall Lament

 "The leaves are prettier this year than usual." 

It was a comment I heard over and over. 

"Did I just forget how pretty the leaves are in the fall?" my dentist asked.

"Someone said the leaf color is the best in ten years," said a friend.

Leaf color and brilliance is hard to measure, but week after week, the colors were astounding. I gushed and gaped - as I rushed to the next thing on my agenda. I kept saying that I needed to go for more walks to soak in the beauty. In February I would regret that I was too busy to truly enjoy the leaves.

Now it is nearly the end of November and I look back, wondering why I was so busy this fall. Flipping through my photos, gives me a glimpse.

A few days in Chincoteague, Virginia with two of my brothers and family.

Making applesauce.

Picking squash.

Of course, raking leaves.

Making apple cider with my family.

And potato chips.

Introducing some new Ukrainian friends to canoeing.

Lots of living - with meals, school, shopping, and questions big and small. There were kids' clubs, gatherings with church friends, weddings, crochet classes with Grandma, and playing games with Grandmother.

But maybe when I think back to the fall of 2022, it won't be any of these things that will stand out in my memory. 

Throughout the fall, my dear friend's mom was slipping away. I took night duty a couple nights to give her family a break. Though dementia is different than brain cancer, there were enough similiarities to give me flashbacks. So many people had helped with Ed, and it was an honor to sit by her bed and remember her gift of hospitatlity and all the hours I spent in that same living room.

I love life. I'm grateful that God has given me a rich life with oppurtunities, friendships, harvests, and growing children. 

But this fall, in the middle of a busy schedule with weddings and celebrations and exuberate leaves - I wanted to sit by a death bed. Remembering. Grieving. 

Ecclesiastes says "it is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting" and "sorrow is better than laughter." (Ecc. 7:2-3) I'm not sure what those verses mean. Of course I wish there were never funerals to attend, but while weddings remind me of the dreams and future that I lost, funerals remind me of what I have - memories, a godly heritage, and the hope of the resurrection. 

The leaves have all fallen, and there is a new grave in a cemetery. It is a season to settle into winter, to become comfortable with lament, before turning to thankgiving and preparing for the Lord's return. 

"The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;" Psalms 34:18

The old cemetery I pass on my walk.


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