Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This is it...


12/31/08. One of those dates bloggers should have extremely profound things to say with their keyboards. The verbiage should be so deep readers can barely wade through the glib use of English. Thick and heavy with theological and philosophical communication.

In the perfect world - which we all know is far removed from what we currently experience - I'd have a painting pictured here. In fact, perhaps there will be one pictured here....I find that in certain emotional states, it is in the brush that I am best able to communicate. Of course the brush, as are my words, is often clouded by hormones and always tainted by my nature.

2008 has been a memorable year in our family - a year which, in its seemingly lengthy amount of days, has truly tested the mettle of the members of the Guis family. We have been brought low and I fear too often that in my feelings of dragging, I have neglected to hold high the One who has held us in the palm of His hand.

In the midst of a potential move....our answers were made clear.

As I sat next to my strapping husband in his hospital bed....we were given more days together.

When children struggled with friends & inevitable growing pains....they continued to grow (far more in trust that I fear I have).

While awaiting the outcome of my father's open heart surgery & his recovery at home....the Great Physician guided the hands of human surgeons & we were granted yet another set of holidays together.

And as we wade through the murky waters of little to no work....we are being reminded that the Everlasting Father cares for His children.

I have been tested in 2008. It's been "one of those years". And on 12/31/08 I pray that I may spend 2009 far more closer to Him and far more removed from the anxiety that I allow myself to wallow in from time to time. I pray for patience, for peace that passes understanding, & dare we all hope - for the return of our King.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

...these are a few of my favorite things...


The Sound of Music graced our television set a couple days ago. There is some tradition involved in the viewing of this movie. Each year I would watch it with my parents, each year knowing the end, each year pondering why my babysitters never sang with me or made me play clothes from my parents' drapes. (Probably because I rarely had a babysitter but that's fodder for another post.)

This was the first year that Madeline sat through the whole thing without being impossibly bored or so drowsy that she left the children with a potential new mother and Maria back in the convent. This year it was all magical and exciting and each song was interesting. By far the favorite involves a 'few of my favorite things' to which she quickly asked "Mom - what are your favorite things?"

In the spirit of the song - "raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..." - I believe the list is meant to include the simple, basic things in life that brings us some form of happiness. So eliminating the big ticket items from life - and perhaps the things that are terribly deep - my list:

~ the smell of Lemon Pledge
~ new Sharpie markers
~ the smell of clean children - freshly scrubbed and dressed in warm pajamas
~ Doris Day, Cary Grant, Myrna Loy
~ a new jar of Jif Peanut Butter
~ dark rainy (or snowy) days which lend themselves nicely to nesting
~ digging in fresh dirt
~ a person with whom I can easily be myself - shoes off, no entertaining
~ new socks
~ paint - on canvas, on walls, on me
~ odd numbers - in groupings, on paper - they feel more random
~ Sunkist oranges
~ "elevator music"
~ singing The Church's One Foundation with a big group of believers

And so, Madeline, these are a few of my favorite things...

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Year of REVOLUTIONS

I don't make resolutions. Quite honestly, I've never known anyone to stick with a resolution all the way through an entire year. Resolutions were made to be broken. In fact, I think they are often made with the breakage already in mind. E

Eating well is fine until, say, February 14 at which time a piece of chocolate (piece - ha!) is acceptable. And it's downhill from there with Easter seemingly equated with chocolate bunnies a whole lot more than it is with empty graves. Eating well is too hard. In this age of organic, grass-fed, nutrition-packed food...oh so 'hard' to eat well. Yes, very very hard.

Saving money goes the same way. Saving is easy until something we want...I mean 'need'....comes along. Suddenly the resolution is something that wasn't meant to be kept as it applies to a new IPod or that tricked out KitchenAid mixer or the $120 jeans that magically make butts disappear and waists shrink. (And believe you me, jeans with that miracle could easily break my resolution.)

And of course there's the "closer to God" resolution. So easy to make - scarily easy to break. "I want to know Christ and Him crucified" is often forgotten - at the very least, after we celebrate His resurrection. After all, the calendar gives us a whole summer 'off' from God-centered holidays. It's like a little resolution break. How convenient.

And believe me, the criticisms can fall as squarely on these shoulders as on any other set of arm holders. I don't make resolutions because the pressure is too great and it's a bit too careful and organized for me. It's the would-be art major coming out in me. Too much order makes me itch.

So instead, why not New Years Revolutions? A revolution turns a world on its axis. It upsets the balance of power. It results in winners and losers even when a truce is made. A revolution creates foot soldiers and, quite obviously, REVOLUTIONARIES. These are the best sorts of people when they are fighting for a cause they believe in. A revolutionary, in her best possible definition, can be labeled "the next (insert name)". Abigail Adams. Susan B. Anthony. Marie Curie. Eleanor Roosevelt. Margaret Thatcher. Elisabeth Elliot. (Believe me that is not an exhaustive list.)

New Years Revolutions aren't easily stopped. Revolutions are not easily placed on a shelf for later use. Revolutions are crazy. They are time-consuming. They make differences that are felt and seen and immediately altering.

This is the year of Revolutions. Resolutions are so last century.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Gift To You On Monday: Laughter

It's snowing again. The wind is, truly, howling in my neck of the woods. Even the evergreens have given up providing that barrier they normally offer up in weather like this. That's not so say it's dreary or stormy - cars continue to whiz by as I can now see them fairly clearly through the trees devoid of leaves. It's a good day to hunker down.

Yet my post today is more about a gift - laughter. I tend to be drawn to people with really well-developed funny bones. I also speak fluent sarcasm though I fully realize that fine line between good sarcasm and just plain immature twitness. Yes, "twitness"...embrace it...it's a good term. Sarcasm is an art not easily mastered though often thrown about by reckless people who believe they have earned their Ph.D. when the reality is they have only earned a B.S.

Did you ever notice that people without that highly developed funny bone have a hard time with those who are big boned in that department? They don't understand 'laughers'. Oh, sure, they laugh and all, but when push comes to shove, their conversations rarely errupt in laughter. Mine do. Too often I'm sure. And I'm 100% certain I make more than a few people shudder. But I have learned to embrace this and chalk it up to who I am - it's a part of my mother still alive and well.

To that end, a brief conversation that occurred this weekend. I won't name the speakers (though if anyone knows what I was doing this weekend and who I was with, they could guess....but it's not really necessary to know the characters). Just appreciate this for the gift it is. A good laugh:

An adult wanted a napkin to which another adult pretended there was a fee involved. You know, one of those corny things a couple of almost middle-aged father do when sitting around.

Another adult chimed in that soon they would be charging for toilet paper in the bathrooms. Five cents a sheet perhaps.

Nine year old girl, having overheard the entire conversation chimes in:

"Well, that's nothing! In the ladies bathroom at the library they charge a quarter for a napkin!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Collapse of Thanksgiving


I have been spending a month now hearing the likes of CNBC and Fox News blaring from the bedroom as my father convalesces in our home. The 'blaring' is thanks to his refusal to admit he needs a hearing aid; the CNBC and Fox News part are because that's the only thing he deems worthwhile on television. I'm not arguing the latter point but certainly would be the first to plunk down some cash toward a MiracleEar or some such gadget.

Collapsing banks and lenders are everywhere. Falling down, it seems, as readily as London Bridges fall down when children sing it on a playground. This time it's a bunch of suited Wall Street types holding hands and singing:

Citibank is falling down, falling down, falling down...Citibank is falling down...There goes my cash.

How easy it is to experience fear and utter loss of thanksgiving in the midst of our current economy. Apart from the members of the Depression generation who are still amongst us, this is one of the darkest periods that many can recall. (And it's equally 'collapsing' to realize that the only reason the Depression ended was due to our entrance into a World War...human lives sacrificed for the economy.)

We personally live on the verge of anger and anxiety thanks to owning a contracting company. This is not the time to be a builder in Michigan. In fact, when we tell people what Mike does for a living it is often met with a very downcast sound like "ughhhhhh". I think many at least think they feel our pain. That's fine - we'll gladly share the feeling with anyone who cares to partake.

Yet I am reminded that in the midst of collapsing economies, we really should not be experiencing the collapse of thanksgiving. Not the holiday, but rather the way of life. Living each day with some form of thanksgiving - of the reality of our blessings - blessings in the midst of the sing songs of the Wall Street crew. "Be anxious for nothing" is very hard to live by...harder for some than others (very hard for this writer - I swear by anxiety as a weight loss aid - it doesn't work well, however...just FYI)

But before the collapsing gets the best of me and my family, I think it's time to resolve a lot earlier than 1/1/2009. It's time to resolve that we all build up thanksgiving and not contribute to its collapse. It's time to see that in each negative we can see a positive. We can see His hand in everything. In ill health that may have resulted in death....but didn't. In times when the cash was tight....but there was still enough for bread and milk. In times when death was a result...but the life up to that point was a gift.

We are going to resolve to fight the collapse of thanksgiving. And I'm going to try something other than anxiety as a weight loss program....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shoes By The Door


Sinterklaas is comin' to town! December 5th marks the day that tradition tells us Sinterklaas worked his magic among children of the Netherlands - filling wooden shoes with various treats, provided said children had been good all year. Does this not sound vaguely familiar? This Sinterklaas, however, is an historical figure - a man of renown destined (obviously) for sainthood and immortality via history books and tales shared from one generation to the next.

This Sinterklaas did not bring I Pods - Nano or otherwise - to 'good' children. Nor were laptops, flat screen TVs, or jeans that cost more than any piece of clothing has a right to cost. Sinterklaas would shudder at the want lists of children in 2008 - good or otherwise. His beautiful, bright orange and chocolate candies would be seen as the appetizer of gifts - not even worthy of the socks that American children hang by the chimney with care.

Well, American children never met Swarte Pete. Egads! If you want to dip your foot fully into the sea of UNpolitical correctness, venture into the world of Swarte Pete - ever present Sinterklaas sidekick. Swarte Pete, it should be known, is a very dark black man. In this world, good is rewarded and evil is punished. Already a crazy notion in a world that now hands out "H" rather than "F" for failing students. Swarte Pete is the un-Sinterklaas. If a child has been particularly bad or ungenerous throughout the year, he leaves coal. Yes, coal.

Shoes are already at the door in our home. In spite of being children of mixed heritage, we will embrace the history and complete lack of political correctness that encompasses rewarding good and punishing the not so good. I am happy to say that chocolate letters and assorted other (small) goodies will be found in shoes this year - no coal.....this year.