Advent Blog Hop: My Relationship with Mary

Beth Anne's Advent Blog Hop

Did you know that Mary is my homegirl?

Wait… Jen, aren’t you Lutheran? Doesn’t that mean that you forgo Marian devotion?!?!?!?

Kind of sort of yes. Prayers like the Hail Mary in its post-Trent form (when the “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” was added) and the Hail Holy Queen make me a bit nervous but it doesn’t mean that I don’t like Mary. Heck, I’m chill with her as the Theotokos (that would be the “God-bearer” as the Orthodox refer to her) and I started understanding her a bit more six years ago while pregnant with my son Daniel.

Do tell.

I shall!

Six years ago (for those counting on fingers and toes, that would be 2008), I was ~3 months pregnant with Daniel. We had just had our first ultrasound with him and gotten to see him being adorable and waving his little limb buds at us. We were living in northern Montana at the time and being December in Montana, we went into the annual tradition of several weeks of -20F weather (not counting wind chill — with wind chill, it was more like -40F). For those not familiar with how to live in such a climate, cars do not start well in cold like that so many people have block heaters on their engines and even if you do, you still have to start your car about 10-15 minutes before you plan to drive it. I remember waking up, tossing boots on, tossing my parka and a scarf on (to cover my nose and mouth — bare skin is a no-no in cold like that), starting my car, and going back into the house to get ready while the car warmed up. For whatever reason, the cold made my hands ache like nothing else. I would have knitted gloves on, insulated mittens over the gloves, and then socks over the mittens but my hands would still ache for most of my 60 mile commute each way to and from work.

One particularly hard day, I was having a pity party for myself and it occurred to me that I could understand some of what Mary felt in having to journey the 103 miles to Bethlehem from Nazareth while pregnant. Having lived in a Mediterranean climate (a.k.a. northern California), I can tell you from experience that while it’s relatively warm during the day, it gets pretty cold at night with temperatures close to 40F on average. Imagine having to travel that distance on a donkey while 9 months pregnant and freezing your tail off. Imagine arriving and finding out that there was no room at the inn and you’d be forced to give birth in a cave where the animals were kept. While my birth experience with Daniel 4 months later was pretty traumatic, it pales in comparison to the conditions in which Mary would be giving birth.

As I pondered these things more and more, I came to the realization that I also could understand some of the fear she had when visited by the Angel Gabriel and told that she would be bearing God’s son. I had feelings of both joy and complete terror two months earlier upon discovering that I was pregnant. (For some of my favorite settings of Mary’s song, the Magnificat, click here.) I also realized that I was understanding the verse about Mary “treasur[ing] these things and ponder[ing] them in her heart” because I was doing similarly.

4 months later, I would give birth to Daniel and start understanding how Mary must have felt seeing her Son up on the Cross, a feeling I would experience again 2 years later. It took me a fairly long time to understand that in looking to Mary and how she handled all of this, I would have a model in how to deal with what God was throwing at me; but when I did, I started understanding the love that my Catholic friends had for her.

It is still pretty weird for me to consider saying some of the Marian prayers but I feel like a connection was made with her that cold day in December.

7 Quick Takes: Highs and Lows

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Low: I had a screaming fit at Daniel’s school district on Monday. Their idiot special ed person was not communicating with me and I finally called up the chain of command and made sure that the superintendent and the assistant superintendent knew exactly what was happening. The assistant superintendent kicked the special ed person off of Daniel’s case and has found me someone who is being pro-active about working with me.

— 2 —

High: I got all the ornaments crocheted and starched for Daniel’s support people. This is the pattern I used and this is how I starched them.

— 3 —

Low: We had the family memorial service for Edda (my black cat) and placed her memorial stone in the garden. It’s been a month and we’re pretty sure that she isn’t coming back. Tuesday (the day we placed the stone) was pretty hard for me and I think I cried more than I have in a long time. Edda was a really special little girl to me.

— 4 —

High: I got to go sing portions of the Christmas section of the “Messiah” on Wednesday. We’re doing it as the Christmas Eve cantata. I am in music geek heaven. I spent last Thursday pounding out my parts on the piano and it made this Wednesday a lot easier because I could hold my own while practicing the choruses.

— 5 —

Low: Some malware got on my computer. Symantec worked for an hour and couldn’t get it off so I was grumping about having to take it to a tech. I was talking to my mom who suggested googling the problem and seeing what I could find. Google had something and I was able to get the bad stuff off. I unfortunately lost all my bookmarks on my Chrome but oh well.

— 6 —

High: I got to bake cookies this morning. I have a cookie exchange for church on Sunday night and I also have people to whom I have to give presents. The baking went really quickly and I can focus on Christmas cards now.

— 7 —

High: We’re getting rain right now in California. Northern California got smacked with the storm and we’re getting hit pretty hard today down in Claremont.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

What I Wore on Sunday: Second Sunday of Advent 2014

I haven’t linked up here for a while, mostly because I frequently forget to take pictures of what I wear. Today, I changed back into church clothes midway through the afternoon because I was escorting my father-in-law to a concert of the Pomona College Choir so I took pictures when I got back. I needed a prop and as I’m singing the Christmas section of Handel’s “Messiah” with my church choir in a few weeks, I thought my copy of the work might be a good one.

Here I am pondering those lovely sixteenth note runs in the “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” chorus:

Me looking over the sixteenth note runs in the 'For Unto Us A Child Is Born'.

My mother-in-law was taking the pictures and this one was where she told me to look happy to see the piece without looking too manic. I ended up laughing and the picture turned out well.

My mother-in-law making me laugh while I was singing one of the solos for pictures.

And here is one of me from head to toe. I’ve lost enough weight that the pants are baggy on me right now!

Me from head to toe.

Cardigan: Kohl’s
Shirt: Old Navy (I love their “perfect tees”.)
Pants: Kohl’s
Shoes: Payless Shoe Source

Go show the other pretty ladies some love.

7 Quick Takes: Zero to Car in 4 Minutes

7 Quick Takes

OK… these are actually hosted by the incredibly awesome Kelly of This Ain’t The Lyceum but she doesn’t have a super cool picture yet for this meme so we’re sticking with the old one. Got it? Good.

These takes are inspired by a remark my mother-in-law made last Christmas visit about how I can go from “zero to car in 4 minutes”. It’s not usually *THAT* fast (though I can totally do it) but I thought I’d share my tips for getting out of the house quickly in the mornings, especially with kids.

— 1 —

I shower at night. I find that it works better for getting out of the house in the morning if I shower the night before. My hair actually looks better after I have slept on it. Not showering when I get up cuts down on time in the mornings, not to mention it eliminates the possibility of my hair freezing solid if I happen to be living in colder climates. (Not that this happened…)

— 2 —

I have a hairstyle that doesn’t require a lot of work. My hair is very fine and usually at a length somewhere between chin-length and shoulder-length. All it generally takes in the morning is a wet comb to make it presentable.

— 3 —

I generally have some idea of what I plan to wear ahead of time. I live in jeans and t-shirts — those are easy. If it’s a formal occasion (i.e. church or a concert), I have a section of my closet for that and I’ve usually made sure that whatever I plan to wear is clean and pressed.

— 4 —

My shoes are always in a condition where I can just slip them on and go. I finally tossed my Old Navy flip-flops last week but those were my go-to shoes for a good chunk of this year. (I live in southern California so I can get away with that.) Unfortunately, I’m constantly on my feet chasing Daniel so I started having problems with my right foot. Switching to running shoes helped that (as did athletic tape) and my running shoes are always tied in such a way that I can just slip them on and go. My flats are also easy to slip on for more formal occasions. (I seriously own maybe 5 pairs of shoes total.)

— 5 —

My purse/keys/phone are always in the same place. Not having to search for my stuff means that I can focus my time on getting Daniel ready to go (if he is coming with me) and making sure I have everything I need.

— 6 —

Daniel goes in the car barefoot. Again, I live in California and we’re in the middle of a drought so it’s not like I’m asking him to venture out barefoot in snow or any kind of inclement weather. Socks and shoes can theoretically wait until we get to our destination and usually by that time, he’s jonesing to GET OUT OF THE CAR AND GO (!!!!!) so he doesn’t dawdle in getting them on.

— 7 —

I prep all of Daniel’s stuff the night before. His school has a uniform (more or less) so that part is easy. We lay clothes out the night before and he knows how to dress himself. (The issue is usually him farting around instead of getting dressed.) If food needs to be taken, I will have prepped it and/or packed it the night before so we can grab it and go. He has a couple “car cups” and I will take one or more of those and stock them with juice ahead of time. If there is paperwork, I make sure it is filled out the night before and put it in/next to my purse.

— Bonus —

I have a “go bag” in the car that has spare clothes for Daniel, training pants, wipes, snacks, etc. I go through it regularly to make sure the clothes still fit, the snacks haven’t hit their expiry date, and that I have enough training pants. Keeping it in the car means that I always have access to it on the go and I don’t have to worry about what to stuff in my purse. (My purse is actually pretty small for the simple reason that it keeps me from acquiring junk.)

For more Quick Takes, go love up Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: December 2, 2014

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY December 2, 2014

Outside my window… dark. It’s about 1:30 a.m. right now and between the fibro and the PMS, I’m not sleeping well.

I am thinking… about the sermon I heard on Sunday regarding the sitch in Ferguson — very well-articulated. balanced, and thought-provoking.

I am thankful… to be back home in Claremont. Also thankful for the rain we’re supposed to be getting today.

In the kitchen… cleaned up but I did baked potatoes for dinner — quick and easy comfort food.

I am wearing… grey v-neck shirt and black capri sweats.

I am praying for… a call for Jon, healing for my father-in-law whose cancer numbers have doubled, and some special intentions.

I am going… to sleep once I get this posted.

I am wondering… why the St. Louis police feels they have any business trying to punish the St. Louis Rams for the “don’t shoot” posture. There is no crime against free speech.

I am reading… Dyer Consequences by Maggie Sefton. I finished A Killer Stitch on my long drive on Sunday in addition to reading all of The Long Way Home by Louise Penny. It was, as are all her books, haunting in a literary chiaroscuro way. (“Chiaroscuro” is honestly the best word to describe them.)

I am hoping… to be able to put together my Christmas cards this week and send them out.

I am looking forward to… choir on Wednesday and working on Handel’s “Messiah”.

I am hearing… what I think is traffic in the distance.

Around the house… silence. I am the only one up.

A favorite quote for today… “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

One of my favorite things… rain. We’re supposed to have a massive world-ending storm in a few hours.

A few plans for the rest of the week: errands whenever they pop up, choir on Wednesday, possibly a concert later in the week.

Hosted by The Simple Woman.

7 Quick Takes: Things for Which I Am Thankful

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

I am thankful that I am not in the ER with Daniel. Let’s just say that Thanksgiving 2011 really stunk and leave it at that.

— 2 —

I am thankful for getting to spend some time with my brother and sister-in-law. They are down from Tacoma for the holiday weekend and it has been good to see them for the first time in 6 months. Jeanette (my SIL) and I worked on making the various sides today and she has been a FABULOUS aunt for Daniel.

— 3 —

I am thankful for my in-laws. When I mention that we’re living with in-laws currently, people usually eye me suspiciously and ask how it’s going. The answer: we’re making it work. They’ve been my other set of parents for 14 years (12 of them legally) and I’m not sure I could share a house with anyone else. It takes LOTS of communication and apparently my mother-in-law and I are wired so similarly that people have a hard time believing that we’re not related by blood.

— 4 —

I am thankful for the adorable child sandwiched between Jon and I in the guest bed. He’s a miniature hot water bottle for me and he is a cuddlebug.

— 5 —

I’m thankful that I didn’t engage in any trash-talking with my extended family before the San Francisco-Seattle game today. I think the 49’ers sent in a junior high team against the Seahawks. It was pretty brutal. The next big sporting event for my family is on Saturday when the UW Huskies (my parents’ alma mater) take on the WSU Cougars (where my cousin Sarah goes to school and is in the marching band). It should be… interesting.

— 6 —

I am thankful that I am not homeschooling Daniel this year. I have all the tools to do it, not to mention a mother-in-law who homeschooled both kids from K-12. However, I really don’t have the patience to do it — my personality is like the one of a drill sergeant. When I want Daniel to do things, I want them done correctly the first time and I want immediate obedience. However, 5 year olds do not do well with this approach, especially Daniel. I am more than happy to leave the main part of his education to the professionals.

— 7 —

I am thankful to be done with this entry so I can go to sleep./strong> Good night, y’all!

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at ConversionDiary.Com.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: November 23, 2014

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY November 23, 2014

Outside my window… dark. It was maybe in the 60’s today. I’m actually blogging earlier than usual as I’m trying to get Daniel to go to sleep (without breaking out the Samuel L. Jackson book) and he won’t go to sleep unless one of us is present. *sigh*

I am thinking… about how much I love the liturgical year and about today being Christ the King Sunday for me as a Lutheran. I’m kind of bummed I missed church this morning because some of my favorite hymns were being sung. (I was having a fibro flare and as Jon had a wedding this afternoon, I needed to rest to have my A game on for Daniel.)

I am thankful… for Gabapentin which helps with the pain. (It’s nerve pain so painkillers like Tylenol and Aleve are useless. And yes, I get asked that frequently.)

In the kitchen… Daniel’s dishes to toss in the dishwasher. I haven’t had dinner yet — I’ll make it after Jon finishes cat chores and takes over putting Daniel down. (We’re in hour 2 of “put-Daniel-to-bed”.)

I am wearing… light gray v-neck shirt and jeans.

I am praying for… closure about Edda (still missing after almost 2 weeks), for finances, for a call for Jon, and for various special intentions regarding family members.

I am going… to go to IKEA with Daniel sometime in the next two days. I haven’t been in 4 years and it would be something to do other than the worksheets that his teacher sent home for this week. Also, I’m puzzling over the fact that she said that she wouldn’t send homework home like that if the parents didn’t want it. Seriously, we could probably get all of them done in about an hour… and that’s with my child who has no attention span. It’s not like this is putting us out at all and I remember always having stuff like that over vacation even in kindergarten. What is with parents these days?!?!?!? (I’m under the assumption that her statement is because parents have complained about actually having to do something with their kid… like read to them.)

I am wondering… what happened to Edda. I miss my lovey little house panther very much.

I am reading… Skein of the Crime by Maggie Sefton. It’s another in the series of murder mysteries about a woman in Colorado. I also read all of The Chocolate Clown Corpse by Joanna Carl and part of French Pastry Murder by Leslie Meier before I put the latter down due to it failing to keep my attention.

I am hoping… to get the two Christmas stockings done by the time we leave San Jose on Sunday.

I am looking forward to… seeing my family on Wednesday.

I am hearing… Jon feeding cats.

Around the house… cat chores being done and laundry to be folded once Daniel is down and I’ve had a chance to shower.

A favorite quote for today… “I quit church, stopped reading my Bible, gave up on any real semblance of a prayer life — and you know what? He was big enough to take it. His feelings weren’t hurt when I spoke words of doubt instead of faith. He didn’t mind when I cried rather than worshipped. He is God enough to handle this human heart of mine. He didn’t scold me; He didn’t heap “shoulds” or shame on me; He didn’t tell me to let go and let Him. He just sat in The Great Sadness with me.” — Alece Ronzino over at Deeper Story. (Read the rest of it here. HT: Rachel Held Evans.)

One of my favorite things… In-n-Out cheeseburgers with spread and pickles only, fries, and a Coke.

A few plans for the rest of the week: IKEA trip with Daniel, errands, crocheting, driving up to San Jose on Wednesday, and bonding with my family.

A peek into my day… Instead of a picture, I’m going to share an interesting link that I got from Rachel Held Evans.

Gate A-4

Hosted by The Simple Woman.