#Perfect

May I be honest?  The past few weeks have been a bit rough.  Cancer is dying {can I get a hands-raised hallelujah?!} but the chemo rounds are getting tougher on sweet ginger’s body.  More side effects like nausea, fatigue & chemo brain are creeping in. He’s a bit more, let’s say ornery, for good reason. And my patience often feels fleeting.  Cancer, chemo, all of it is just plain no fun!

Now how about we throw Christmas in the mix?  Why not?  I will admit up-front that online shopping has saved the gift giving aspect of the holiday.  I have not stepped foot in an actual brick & mortar since Black Friday.  This has no doubt helped to save my sanity.  And while the boxes are filing up nearly all my adequate hiding spaces, I would say that shopping has come to a close.  That’s the good news.  Cancer cannot win the gift giving battle!

I think what has been getting to me…is all the “perfect” Christmases I see everyone else having out there.  And by everyone, I mean a bunch of people who mostly I don’t even know.  Don’t.  Even.  Know.  And by perfect Christmases I mean the ridiculously faux, staged, photoshop perfected, do-people-even-live-in-your-home posts filling my Instagram & Facebook feeds.  I don’t know most of the folks & I know that there’s no way their homes looks like that 100% of the time.  Yet for some reason my Christmas feels downtrodden and frankly lacking when their homes, cookies, decor, Christmas lights, trees, parties with every ounce of their perfection fill my screen.  Here’s the amazing tree at the nurse’s station on the oncology floor:

The “perfect” tree for the cancer kids of the 7th floor.

For many, who are in far worse circumstances than ours, this is the only Christmas tree that they will be enjoying this season.  It hardly compares to the ones coming across the wi-fi.  And I have spent too much of my recent days a bit on the angry side about that.

OK!  I’ll say it so you don’t have to.  Jealous much?  Yes, I would agree.  There is a jealous covetousness that sits inside of this little annoyance of mine.  Jealous.  Covetous.  Ugly.  Really…I’ll say it..:: I really just want a perfect Christmas, not a cancer Christmas.

A “Perfect” Christmas

What exactly is a perfect Christmas?  From my feeds, I might conclude it’s in the tree, the decor, the food, the parties.  So what to do about that?  I could cancel my Instagram & Facebook accounts.  But I don’t actually think that would solve the root of my problem.  Instead it would perhaps just mask it for a while.  I would say the best go-to is always…wait for it…prayer & the Word.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  And here’s how the story looks this morning.

Yesterday, while feeding the chickens in temperatures that make your face hurt, I was complaining {pretend you’re shocked} about all the frozen poop in the coop {that’s a fun rhyme} it occurred to me that Jesus was born in a stable…basically a big chicken coop.  The poop in that stable was likely not frozen and instead horribly stinky.  And that is where Mary delivered him.  Mary.  What on earth would have gone through her mind if they’d had Instagram back at Jesus’ birth?  All her other friends would be posting full make-up smiles holding precious pink newborns wrapped in striped blankets from clean beds with hashtags like #perfectbundle and #amazingdelivery, while she was holding her precious bundle in some old strips of cloth Joseph found on the ground of the stable and shook off.  There would have been dirty animals, straw & stinky poop in the background of her photo with Jesus.  Not exactly hashtag worthy?

But as I envisioned this, about the King being born in a dirty old barn, I couldn’t help but smile.  Jesus really isn’t interested in our “perfect” Christmases.  His Christmas {if you can call it that} was less than picture perfect.  He isn’t necessarily impressed with our picture worthy Christmas decor or our Christmas cookies or parties or any of the things we pretend are perfect & post for some “likes” and accolades on social media.  All those things I’ve been jealous of lately.  Jesus came for people.  Christmas is about people.  Christmas {coupled together with Easter} is the gospel…the whole story…the perfect story.  Christmas is about Jesus.  Coming to earth so humbly it’s ridiculous. Remembering this, made my jealous rage {yep rage} seem so misplaced.  And rather silly, really.

Mary’s Instagram would have looked absurd.  Imagine it.  Baby Jesus in a feeding trough-#cozy.  Holding baby Jesus while the cows lick his face-#madcowsnotspreadthroughsalivaright.  Selfie with Mary, Joseph & baby Jesus in the barn-#atleastitscovered.  Jesus surrounded by dirty, stinky shepherds leaning in, touching baby Jesus’ face-#strangementouchingmybaby. Mary holding Jesus while wise men bow with amazing gifts-#theybroughtembalmingfliud.  These pictures would have been so foolish by our current Christmas standards but each embodies the Perfect Christmas. And each should have #perfect.

I don’t post this to judge anyone.  Please don’t take it that way.  I think these pictures of trees and decor and parties are beautiful. I just needed to realign my heart, remember what Christmas is really about, and appreciate my cancer Christmas.  When I look at Mary, I can see that this Christmas perhaps is closer to the Christmas Mary experienced…dirty, ugly, less-than-ideal.  But because of Jesus–absolutely perfect.  If your Christmas is not exactly Instagram-worthy, remember neither was Mary’s.  But she treasured up every, single moment.

Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Throw Back Thursday No. 2 {10/7/2009}

Throwing it back six years this morning.  My 3 little Weeds were all of 9, 6 & 4.  Babies!  We were enjoying a weekend away with our Swiss church in the mountains of Leysin, Switzerland.  The weather was gorgeous.  The beauty was breathtaking.

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Happy Anniversary

September 22.  It was a most significant day in the Weed family story.  Right behind the wedding & the 3 little Weed births.  And if not for Facebook, I would have completely forgotten all about it this week.  Crazy!   September 22, 2007 was the day that the five weeds boarded a plane headed east for the adventure of a lifetime.

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At the one year anniversary of that date I posted the following post on the old blog:

1 Year.  1 Year.  1 Year.

In one thought, it seems like a really long time ago.  And in another, it seems like just yesterday.  But either way, it is a marker.  An anniversary, of sorts, to how long we’ve lived in Switzerland.
As I’m typing, the time in Minnesota is 3:11 in the afternoon on Sept. 22, 2008.  As clear as crystal, I can still see Minnesota at around 3 in the afternoon on Sept. 22, 2007.  Sun shining, crisp air, good-byes said, tears momentarily paused, everything we owned packed, storaged or sold.  In our hands we held 5 one-way tickets to Europe.  Fear, excitement, sadness, contentment.  They were all felt on that autumn day 1 year ago.
It’s been an unusual year.  I don’t think I had any idea what I was getting into on this adventure.  But, I knew (and know) who’s in control of the ride and I know it’s going where it’s supposed to go.  (To see how this adventure began, read here.)
I’ve often wondered what I would write when the first year was complete.  I’ve pre-blogged this post many, many times.  Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it is serious, sometimes it’s tear-filled.  It always includes lots of pictures and some music too.  It seems like such a monumental occasion, it seems to need to be perfectly written.  But, I can tell you, it isn’t going to be perfect.
Thinking back to this day one year ago – WOW!  I feel like I’ve come so far in just one year.  I’ve learned to drive on itty-bitty roads.  I’ve learned to grocery shop, paying my deposit on my grocery cart and paying for my paper bags.  I’ve learned to maneuver the kid’s school parking lot (which let me tell you, is no easy task!).  I’ve learned enough French to get by, but not enough to know how awful my French is.  I’ve learned back-roads, great shops, and how to use public transportation.  I’ve learned that America isn’t always right, and neither is any other nation.  I learned to cook from scratch, understand non-American accents and how to rest on Sunday.  I’ve learned that people are people, no matter where they’re from.  I look at this world a little differently then 1 year ago.  I think my children see the world differently and I think that’s a good thing.  
But I think the greatest thing I’ve learned on this adventure is to trust.  There is no doubt that this move was “the plan”.  Although unexpected and not in the play book of my life as written by me, the true Author of my life had it written this way the whole time.  And as He’s perfect, so this chapter was as well.  Easy? No!  Full of smiles at all times? No!  Many, many tears and questions? Yes!  Some unimaginably wonderful times?  Definitely!  (see picture of me, Amy and Bekkah at the Eiffel Tower!)  He has provided at all times.  Not necessarily in the manner in which I was thinking, but always provided for, I have been (that was very Yoda.)
So, would I do it again?  In a second!  In a second!  
But am I glad it’s a year closer to coming “home” than a year ago?  Yeah, definitely.  But I’d do it all again!  
“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. ”  Isaiah 58:11
We’ve been back “home” for nearly 5 years now.  Life is pretty much back to it’s routine American way.  I can drive a massive vehicle and stock my pantry with wholesale sized everything from Costco.  But I think about Switzerland just about every day.  And I “when we lived in Switzerland…” a bit too much still.  I miss it.  In a nostalgic, remembering only the good stuff sort of way.  And I dearly miss the people.  The ones who saved me from loneliness, sadness & madness.  And the food.  I miss the food.  And the slowed down life.  And the adventure.
Happy anniversary!

tiny parts…

I was about 14.  I was a GA at my local church.  We were helping put together layettes for the local crisis pregnancy center.  I remember I didn’t even know what a layette was.  Turned out it was all the cutest of the cute things for babies – onesies, diapers, little bitty socks, binkies, bottles, tiny pink & blue hats & blankets.  How could a 14 year old girl not love sorting through all that cuteness?  We meticulously made little girl baskets & little boy baskets, imagining how fun they would be to receive.

I didn’t know what abortion was.  I didn’t know it even existed.  I had only recently realized that people who weren’t married were having sex & having babies.  Naïveté.  The day we delivered our little blue & pink bundles to the crisis pregnancy center I learned all about abortion & pro-choice & pro-life…anti-abortion & pro-abortion.  There was a line with two sides clearly drawn. No straddling the line.  Pick a side.

You may say that I was “brainwashed”, “indoctrinated” into a pro-life position that day.  Perhaps.  Fourteen year olds are quite impressionable, I would agree.  But I’ve done some research since those teen years, and I still cannot find a way to change my mind on this issue.

To me, that fetus is a baby.  Alive from the very first moment it is created.  I cannot believe otherwise.  No argument will change my belief on that.  None.

Likewise, if you hold a pro-choice position, believing abortion is alright, I doubt you will change your belief on that no matter what the argument.

We have all seen the same 4-D ultrasound technology of babies/fetuses in the womb.  We all have the ability to decide if that’s alive.  We all have the ability to determine whether removing that from the mommy’s womb is killing or something benign.

So here’s the thing, we seem stuck.  A line with two sides.  I’ve picked my side.  You’ve picked your side.  Maybe we’re on the same side, maybe we’re not.  Regardless if we agree, we must still be kind to one another.  We can go about without name calling, without degrading each other, without being cruel.  Both sides. We can.  We must.  This isn’t about who’s a moron or who’s an idiot.  It does no one any good to throw those names around.  No Good.

So, per the buzz of today…

Do I care that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts, if in fact they are? I guess.

But the bigger issue to me is that they have baby parts.  They have baby parts.  From babies.  Parts.

I’m saddened that there are parts.  I’m saddened that in the safety of a mommy’s womb, babies are taken apart.  I’m saddened because I believe these are babies, not just bundles of tissue.  Babies.

Do I believe that tax dollars should fund abortion? No.

So here’s my deal.  I pay taxes.  I have no legal choice to not pay my taxes.  None.  And my tax dollars get all cozy & commingled with everyone else’s tax dollars.  And they pay someone to perform abortions.  These dollars pay for babies to die.  And I don’t want that.  I don’t want to pay for abortions.  I say “defund” simply because of this.  Not because I want women to go without healthcare.  Absolutely not!  I will gladly contribute to women’s healthcare.  But I cannot agree with paying for abortions.  I disagree with abortions.  Fundamentally, from my core.  So deeply is this belief rooted.  I don’t want to pay for abortions.  I don’t.

I think my wanting to defund Planned Parenthood comes from my grief that they are taking the lives of babies, rather than the fact that are possibly selling baby parts.  Tiny hearts and little brains and livers and kidneys and more.  What has been wrong with me?  I should have been outraged already that my government is paying for babies to be killed, regardless of whether the parts ended up in the rubbish or on the black market.  Does it really matter?  What’s better the landfill or a research lab?

But if I truly say that I don’t want to pay for abortions, then I need to look at my consumer dollars as well as my tax dollars!  Thing is, I might be {most likely 100% sure I am} paying for abortions regardless of the feds because I purchase products & services from companies that fund PP.  These are choices.  To have a Starbucks coffee, to buy Energizer batteries…and I’ll have to settle that in my conscience.  And it’s something everyone standing on this side needs to examine & consider before chanting “defund!”  Otherwise, how hypocritical.

To call for defunding, means to look at my wallet, to see where I give my dollars.  Planned Parenthood is funded by all kinds of companies in all kinds of industries.  Not just the federal government.  I must take action, regardless of how inconvenient {heeeelllllllooooo, Starbucks!} if I’m serious about what I’m wanting.  I must also defund.  I cannot be a hypocrite.  Can I eliminate 100% of my choice dollars from going to Planned Parenthood.  I wish.  But most likely some of my dollars will still fund abortions.  It’s an unfortunate part of legal abortions.  But to be aware & make the decisions without blinders on, is necessary.

This is no easy issue.  It’s a “hot topic” for a reason.  It is heated & the discussions surrounding it are intense.  I think it’s ok to be passionate about it, after all it is a life or death topic.  But it must be a civil conversation, no matter the level of heat surrounding it.

done.

It started bad.  Friday morning I awoke to a thunderstorm.  Downpour of rain & flashes of lightning.  Ugh!  Lucky for me the storm ended just in time to get my signs out, just a few minutes before opening. Signs.  Bright pink.  Easy to see.  I was nearly done with placement at all the major road crossings I could find and I headed to the barn to open ‘er up.  Drats!  Left the barn keys at the house.  Flip the car around and head back to the house.  What’s this?  Mud at the barn? What’s this?  Car sliding through the mud at the barn?!  What the what?  Car stuck in the mud!  Can it get worse?  Flip flops on my feet!  Seriously!  But lucky for me goodness really does exist & some nice guy who said he loved to use his tow-strap every chance he could {which my dear hubby said was clearly some weird mid-west pickup line}, was able to get me out.  Let the sale begin!

I sat in a hot, stuffy barn for two days with our worn out, no longer desired stuff in hopes that they would be someone else’s can’t live without treasures.  I did meet a lot of interesting characters with all kinds of stories to tell.  Amazing what strangers share with each other while they’re rummaging through stacks of old kids clothing.  Something intimate & inviting, I suppose, about going through people’s personal belongings that makes you want to open up.  And share. Too much.  One nice lady offered a wonderful critique of my bright pink signs.  She said the people across the street were also having a sale & they had placed a bright pink sign in their yard.  She felt it was terribly confusing that we both had pink signs.  She suggested I change my signs to bright green – less confusion she said.  Sure.  Great tip.  Next time. Better yet…no next time!

But it’s done now.  Everything that didn’t go, is gone off to meet a new family at our local thrift store.  And I’m nearly 100% certain next time I’ll bypass the sale part altogether & just package it all up for the thrift store in the first place.

Never. Ever. Never

The last time we did this I promised I would never do it again.  Ever.  Never.  Ever.  But here I sit, enjoying the peace of the morning with my coffee and the birds dreading the work ahead of me.  Two nasty words…Garage Sale.  Ick.  I now clearly remember why I said never when we finished up the last one.

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in price stickers and sharpies for the past week.  Every single toy {and I do mean every single one} that I pull out of a box, rescue from a top shelf or pull from the black hole pit of the closet of the hoarder child, suddenly becomes the most amazing thing anyone has ever seen & “we can’t possibly be selling this prized possession, Mom!”.  Puppy dog eyes and pouty lips and all.  Serious.  Haven’t seen it since we moved two moves ago, but it is the most important thing in life.  “Do we really have to sell it, Mom?”  Yes.  Gone.  Less is more, my child.  Less is more!

I have very little sentimental attachment to anything.  I actually think it might be a problem and perhaps when I’m old and my children won’t come visit me because I sold the junk at the back of the closet at a garage sale in 2015 thus ruining their life forever, I’ll wish I had kept more than one tote of mementos.  {deep breath}  But as for now, I’m content with just the basics – coming home from the hospital outfit, first shoes, hospital bands, a really nice picture with a hand or foot print-whatever fits in the hope chest on top of my wedding dress.  That’ll have to do when I’m old and alone.

But the garage sale.  Ugh!  The word even makes me anxious.  So much to get done.  Hauling it all out of the house to the barn, setting it all up on tables, pricing it all, watching people pick through it in a barn that’s likely to be sitting at about 150ºF and negotiating for quarters.  Sounds like a delightful way to spend a couple of days.  And in the end, if I’m real lucky, I might have $50 more than I have today.  Yay!  And I’ll repeat “we are never doing this again.  Ever.  Never!”

Hello!

A blank page on a blank blog.  It’s a bit intimidating really.  What if I fill this page, this blog, with nonsense?  What if I say something that’s incorrect?  What if I say something that makes me look & sound stupid?  Or makes you think I’m a dork?  What if my punctuation is wrong and my run-on sentences are too much for you to follow?  {heads up – they will be}.

I lost my voice.  I had it. And then I didn’t.  Back then, I worried little about the words that I typed being wrong or bad or dork-like.  I just spilled my heart onto the page.  Sometimes it was beautiful & sometimes it was ugly & awful. Adventures…everyday held it all.  I wrote.  And learned.  And tried.  Until I lost my voice.  I was overcome with the feeling that the grace of others was inadequate to cover the words I stuck on these pages.  I could hear them {if only in my head} reminding me that I didn’t know that much, that I was wrong, that I was {in fact} a dork.  It was no one really making me feel that way.  Only me.  Me getting all up inside my head and telling myself that my words didn’t matter.  But I was wrong.  I have something to say.

It’ll be beautiful.  Sometimes.  I wish it was all the time, but honestly, it’s going to be hit n’ miss.  There will be mistakes and venting and unbeautiful stuff. Just like life.  Please hang in there with me.  Hear me & hear my heart.  Call me out when I’m being ugly.  And celebrate the beautiful stuff {it might be a short party}.

I’m excited to fill this blog up with me.  With what’s inside.  Chickens and family and gardens and food and running and God.  That’s what I have inside-ready to let out.