want to get away…

Um, yes, yes I do. I’m back into writing again after a couple of weeks of not much production due to holiday happenings. The break, it seems, has been really good for me as I’ve been able to brush off a few thousand words in only a couple of days. I really need to finish with this rough draft so I can set it aside, let it simmer a bit in my brain before I start revising this little piece of me I’ve managed to put onto paper.

Who knows what will happen… certainly not me. I’ve given up trying to imagine life as a writer and I’ve decided, as Carolyn See says in Making a Literary Life, to just go ahead and pretend I am a writer and call myself as such. Why I think I will do just that. Lovely idea.

So the word count is at 76K+. That’s something I never thought would do. But, I wish I could have a little writing retreat and write for and entire weekend and just get it done. Time. Space. Quietness. Not easy to come by with three kiddos.

But I’m pressing on. Hoping for good things– and certainly good things have already come of it. I’ve embraced the process of doing something a little bit at a time instead of trying to quickly get a project done so I can move on to the next (my normal M.O.). And I think I’ve actually grown as a writer through the process–good as well. I’m also paying attention more to speech, and people (beware, you could end up a character in a book some day!) All very good things– so I shouldn’t complain just because I’m two months behind my self-imposed deadline.

Okay, so here I go trying to pound this out before 2012 comes along. So no more blogging until it’s done. I hope you all have a splendid 2012. I will be seeing 2012 before most of my readers finish their dinner and then watching the apple drop over my morning coffee. Such is life on the other side of the world.

celebrities and Merry Christmas

This week we got to stand inches away from some serious celebrities. Now, there was a thick piece of glass separating us from them, but they did wave and it was fun to be part of the excitement of seeing people that make women squeal and fans flood a mall just to catch a glimpse of these larger-than-life actors.

We just happened to be eating at our favorite American restaurant here. At exactly the right time. Pretty lucky I’d say, especially since I wasn’t sure how the evening was going to go after a certain three-year-old got carsick from all the stop-and-go traffic. Let’s just say I’m glad the laws are flexible about kids being in car-seats, otherwise we we couldn’t have put hers in the trunk and out of range after the yogurt she just ate revisited us.

But I digress.

So this week has been a potpourri of happenings. It’s been busy for sure, but not with the usual running around we would be doing back home. Food has been prepared and shared. Gifts have been given, that much is the same. Church will be attended–twice in less than twenty-four hours. Christmas looks different here on the outside and sometimes I feel a sense of sadness because we are away from loved ones–that is a difference I am not used to yet. But on the whole, this year has been much better than last. Possibly because I know what to expect and what not to expect and learning to be content with the present.

So Merry Christmas. It’s been an interesting year and we still have one week left of 2011. I’m hoping it’s a restful end to what I can’t exactly call a restful year. But a good year none-the-less.

who’s afraid of Advent?

For many years the mere mention of the word “Advent” made me nervous. I never grew up hearing this word and had no idea what it meant to have an Advent calendar or observe it. I figured it was just one more thing that I didn’t know about because even though I grew up going to church, we never talked about things like Advent, listened to Christian music (not sure I even knew it existed until high school) or prayed over meals.

So for the last few years I have been intrigued by this thing called Advent. Intrigued and intimidated. Was it something I had to do? What’s the time commitment? With all the busyness at Christmastime, did I really want one more commitment? These were questions I asked myself without really ever getting down to discovering what the season of Advent was actually all about.

So this year, while still very intimidated by the whole thing, I decided it also sounded like something that could be very beautiful and meaningful to our family. I wanted us to have a deeper connection to Christmas this year– one that involved more than just tinsel, presents and homemade fudge. So I read up on it–wow, what a concept!

Advent simply means “coming” and the season begins four Sundays before Christmas. In one sense it’s waiting with expectation for Christmas; in another it’s a reminder that He is coming again!

This year I jumped into Advent (a few days late mind you) and I’m glad I did. I don’t have a calendar or anything fancy, but we read an Advent devotional every night then make a paper ornament to stick on a cut-out tree the kids have on their door. The last thing will be the star at the top of the tree. There is glue and glitter involved, so the three-year old approves as well.

Since we have had children we have lived away from family (oh the irony!) and have never set any firm traditions because often we were traveling at Christmastime. But I hope this will be a tradition from now on–Advent season and the reminder that we are to wait expectantly and eagerly to celebrate the gift that arrived on Christmas two thousand years ago and that will be coming again in the future.

a little empathy

Today I’m grateful for a couple of things. First is our tree. For one glorious day it was lovely. Until I forgot to plug the lights into the converter the next day and they blew out within minutes. However, all is not lost. We have more lights coming, so I am encouraged that I have not, in fact, ruined Christmas.

Secondly, I have to mention the conversation I just had with our oldest. At seven, he can sometimes get a little cheeky and whiny about having to anything that isn’t entertaining. Like today, when I told him to practice his lines for his part in the church Christmas play coming up and I got a whole lot of whining.

But later on, he surprised me.

While I was in the kitchen doing dishes and trying to tidy up after having dinner guests last night, he came in with tears in his eyes and hugged me around the waist. He told me he felt bad that I had to clean all the time while he and everyone else just got to play or rest. He didn’t think it was fair and wanted to know what he could do to help.

I smiled on the inside and outside. Then I quickly gave him a job of rinsing dishes, which he did gladly. He also helped me hang out the laundry with a servant attitude and no sass. What a great kid!

I told him that I hope he is always like that– a soft heart that looks to meet the needs of others. Kids (and adults) need to experience empathy. I think any time this idea can be fostered, parents need to do so. I need to do so and there are plenty of opportunities.

It reminds me of the passage in Mark 12 where Jesus says to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God. Love others. It’s that simple and yet so difficult. I hope that, if I teach them nothing else, all of our children grow up to do those two things well. And I’m encouraged by moments like today that give me a glimpse into a little hearts. That maybe, in spite of all my parental failures, some things are getting through and will stick for the rest of their lives. At least I hope so.