Confusing title? Lemme ‘splain. Food has an expiration date, when it ceases to be safe to consume. People have an expiration date in a different sense, when their bodies stop functioning, and we call them dead. But rather than an “expiration” date, which refers to the end of usefulness, God grants each of us “respiration” dates, when we cease to be useless, and find purpose and meaning in how He puts us to His uses.
In another sense, my wife and I have been on several “respiration dates” unexpectedly this month. We went on a date twice when our lifegroup cancelled, once when my wonderful Mother-in-law babysat the kids, and one more comes tonight when my parents watch the kids so we can celebrate our anniversary. I call them “respiration” dates because they give us a chance to catch our breath and feel human again. We have largely avoided panic, time pressure, and feeling overwhelmed during Christmas this year, and I give credit to God and our parents for allowed my wife and I to go out together so frequently in the middle of a very busy season. It helps so much.
I love how creative my wife has become. She has ideas for everything, especially when there’s a theme for the season. Our kids have jumped in to every craft and gift idea my wife has come up with, and they have some creative gusto we hadn’t seen before. My daughter is quite the meticulous artist with frosting, especially on cookies. My sons have very definite plans for their colors and cookies, so don’t get in the way. You’ll get egg yolk on your grubby t-shirt; at least, that’s what happens to them.
Today, we made sugar cookies to decorate with egg yolk-food coloring paint, and mexican chocolate cookies flavored with orange and cinnamon. Boy, are they good. Last night, my wife and I wrapped presents for the second time, and our daughter is wrapping some today. We usually have each child buy a $1 gift for each other sibling, but how much dollar store junk does a child need? So this year, we drew names and each child bought $5 worth of gifts for one of their siblings, and I think the quality of the gifts went up as the quantity went down. Win-win! Dollar General is the way to go. We found much more for much less than even Wal-Mart. And of course, it’s less crowded, too.
Best Photo Shoot ever! Thank you, Ana Ester Osborn! She met us at the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore yesterday to take some family pictures for Christmas, and it was so much fun. She would take a couple of shots, and then off we would go, up and down hills and stairs, and in and out of courtyards and doorways. She took shots of me and Amy, shots of just the kids, shots of us and the kids, one of us with one child, and every other combo possible. She made it so creative, relaxed, and natural. Thanks again. Anyone in the Tulsa area who wants awesome family photos without the headaches should contact her.
Christmas Break, when tools and time converge with gumption and creativity to fix all that’s broken in the home…hopefully. I put in a new threshold for our front door, and it works well. I had to keep our front door open to install it, and it happened to be snowing at the time, but I told the kids to go get their blankets, and they were watching Ice Age at the time, so maybe they didn’t notice. I also (finally!) finished the floor of the lower shelf in the hall closet, and organized the kids’ games on the top shelf at the same time. Now we have a place to put all the little bits of multi-colored junk we find when we clean in the corners. Or we could just throw them away…like we have done before. I also repositioned and re-attached my towel bar in our bathroom, although I had to cut some of it off in order to attach both ends to studs. My wife laughed at the little short towel bar, and actually refolded my towel in thirds to make it look better. She is so not me; decor really seems to matter to her, for some reason.
Our ducks and chickens have handled the cold pretty well, spending the evenings in their shelter, and they have kept at least one of the three drinking containers free of ice each night. Every other body of liquid in our yard froze about a week ago, and hasn’t melted since. Even the top layer of wood shavings, straw, and duck dung from the Quack Shack was all frozen, so I removed it with a pitchfork (my wife’s idea) and put down some new shavings. I put the old layer in our two compost bins to marinate for spring gardening. I love how God uses the rotten, stinking waste products of animals and our meals to make plants grow better and feed us again. Even entropy and digestion can be used for redemption. That’s the God we serve.
I continue to trim trees off of our hill in preparation for a barn, hopefully in the next 5 years. But the basement is the next project. It needs rewiring and lighting, a wood-furnace and new ductwork, a new door, an inner wall and doors, a toilet, a couch, and reorganizing. It will take time, but God is showing me that I will have all the time I need if I will just start, plan, and take advantage of opportunities. My tendency is to wait until the planets align just right and I have a month of free time to devote without any sacrifices to other activities, but that set of circumstances is kinda rare (!) so I’m trying to learn God’s style.
In my circle of family and friends on Facebook, I have read several wonderful anniversary messages from husbands to wives and wives to husbands, seen several adorable new babies and one on the way in May (yay, Maria!), and read many a witty and profound statement that has made me wiser and laughier (sp?), so here’s a big THANK YOU to all of you for blessing my life in so many ways. I hope this post is a blessing to you.
Mighty Christmas! And a Blessed, Creative, Growth-filled New Year! Our God reigns; Easter is coming…and so is He.