Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!!!! Let Go!

It's that time of year again. We're saying good-bye to the old year and ringing in the New Year!

2015 was a year of challenges and blessings. 

  • PWM continued to teach high school and middle school math. 
  • We decided to close The Knitting Nest this summer. 
  • My headaches have stayed about the same.
  • Rosie Girl is still in college studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music with  Minor in Religious Studies.
  • Wild Man is senior in high school.
  • My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party that my brother and I threw for them in Florida over Thanksgiving!
  • We welcomed Ashley, a Chinese exchange student into our home for the rest of the school year.
So, what's up for 2016? The plan is for Wild Man to graduate high school. Other than that, I just don't know!

I've decided that my phrase for this year is "Let Go". I've found over the last few years that my life is easier when I just let life happen and quit trying to have control over every last detail. My goal this year is to control only the things that I need to control and let the rest of it go. I imagine this will require lots of prayer along with my meds and healthy lifestyle. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't plan to neglect anything. This is part of my multi-year goal of pursuing peace. Last year, I worked on focus. As part of that, I gave away a lot of "stuff". We closed The Knitting Nest and gave away or sold the physical assets of the business (except the building). I also gave away the majority of our books that we don't need. This year's phrase of "Let Go" is the next step. I've been gradually getting rid of physical things. This year's phrase reminds me to let go of the emotional and spiritual baggage that I don't need.

Here are some scripture passages that reflect my phrase of the year:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015


It's the most wonderful time of the year!! Christmas time! I have always loved Christmas, although my depression and bad memories have sabotaged my favorite season too often over the last fifteen years. But, why do we celebrate?

Yes, we need some kind of celebration to break up the short days of winter (although I didn't understand this when I lived in South Florida). And, yes, we need to celebrate something when it is so cold (although it's only chilly this year and I also didn't understand this when I lived in South Florida). And, yes, Christianity has basically appropriated pagan holidays to celebrate the birth of Jesus in December.

Let's face it. The evidence is that Jesus was born in the springtime. I assume that the Church appropriated pagan holidays in solidifying their hold over the culture. So, Christians celebrate Jesus' birth in the winter. And we know that Easter was in the spring, so the two holidays don't conflict and the church calendar (for more liturgical types) works out really well.

So, approximately 2015 years after the fact (give or take a few years), we celebrate the fact that a woman who was pregnant, but apparently still a virgin, was traveling with her husband, when they arrived in a small town for the census. In this small town, she gave birth in the corner of a barn or a communal room. 

What? The God of the universe thought this was a good plan to save humanity from our sin? He starts out as a baby in a small town in Judea in a family headed by a carpenter. This does not really sound like a stellar start for the Son of God. 

Luke tells us that angels appeared to shepherds out in the fields. Again, shepherds? My dad tells us that it is likely that these shepherds were watching the sheep that were likely to be used as offering in Jerusalem at the temple. This is really symbolic if you know the whole Christian narrative. Still. Shepherds. 

Matthew at least tells us that Magi (wise men, magicians) from the East came to visit Jesus. That's a bit more like it. And the brought gifts! Of course, when they told Herod about a new king, Herod got all paranoid and ordered all baby boys killed. Which totally makes sense because extrabiblical sources also tell us that Herod was a homocidal maniac.

Given the above evidence, it would appear that Christians, like me, are crazy! But, I don't think so. (Obviously) Yes, God sent Jesus into the world in the most unlikely way, using several miracles - I'm not going to try to explain the virgin birth or angels appearing in the sky. Miracles. Jesus is a miracle. And his life, death and resurrection defy explanation, but that's how God works sometimes.

I believe in God's love. And God's love for humanity involved plenty of miracles. Believing that and loving God back is what gives my life meaning. God's not crazy, just into miracles for you and me.

Christmas 2015

Christmas!!! What a wonderful time of year! I've been very fortunate this year to not be downed by depression. I've had a good combination of medications and activities to keep my mood up.

And, we had a wonderful Christmas present this year! Her name is Ashley, and she is an exchange student from Shanghai. Her current placement wasn't working, so her placement agency wanted to get her moved soon. She came to our home a week after we volunteered our home, which was about 2 weeks ago! Ashley and Wild Man are already friends because they are in classes together in school and hang out together. She and Rosie Girl get along great because they have many of the same interests. We seem to be working out as a family really well.

We're spreading our Christmas celebration out over several days in order to minimize the impact of my headaches. We went to church on Christmas Eve. We opened presents and played with toys on Christmas Day. My parents arrived on the 26th and we goofed off some more that day. And we're having Christmas dinner today. 

I called my neurologist on Monday for steroids because my migraine had been going on for two weeks and I was having trouble hanging on. My headaches are better, but now I have steroid jitters! And the headache came back today, probably because of the winter storm on the way. In any case, Mom is cooking dinner.

Our other fun Christmas thing is that we're making a gingerbread church. The pieces were kind of warped, but we got the main structure together. Tomorrow's winter storm will be a great time to finish the last bit of construction and do the decoration. Ashley and Rosie Girl are pretty excited about the project.

At some point this week, Grams is going to take the kids to see Star Wars. PWM and I may join them, depending on how I feel.

Somehow, in the middle of all of this, I get a chance to sit and remember why we celebrate.  And it's all good. I pray you are having a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Fragility of Christmas

First, go read Have Yourself A Melancholy Christmas by Tyler Huckabee. It's excellent and is a great jumping off point for what I've been thinking.

Why do so many of us struggle with depression during this time of year? Christmas should be a happy time! There are lights and Christmas carols and Christmas trees and Nativity scenes. Why should we be sad?

We should be sad because it's winter. Christmas Day is only four days after the shortest day of the year. I grew up in South Florida, so I never understood the reality of Seasonal Affective Disorder. After 19 years in Wisconsin, I certain get the reality of the shorter days and the colder weather.

And, from a faith perspective, we are in Advent, not yet Christmas. We are still in the waiting time. We are waiting for the Messiah. It's night and we're waiting for dawn.

But, it's also a hard time personally. My depression gets worse because of the dark, but also because it's hard to get enough exercise. There are also several unpleasant anniversary events that occur during later November and December. I've lost several good friends, had difficult work events, and other hard personal situations happen over the last fifteen years. All that to the extra social events and expectations of the season, my mood can drop fast.

I'm taking a higher dose of antidepressant this year. I'm not trying to run a yarn shop. I have fewer things on my to-do list. Even with the headaches, I'm enjoying the season this year, much more than I have in a long time.

Yes, Christmas can be fragile. We expect to be joyful during this season, but there are lots of reasons why we don't.

That's OK. God isn't expecting us to be all smiles and happy because it's December. He's expecting us to love each other. Whatever it takes, love. Do less if you need to. Hold the holidays with care, as if they are a fragile ornament that will break.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Gun Control

So, it's happening yet again. 

Another mass shooting. The 352nd so far this year. 

I've been a good Republican. Parroting back the words. "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." 

It's not enough, though. Those people killing people are using guns.

"But, making guns illegal won't stop criminals from getting them." No, it won't. But, it will likely decrease the number of guns circulating in society. Maybe it will make it more difficult for even the criminals to get them.

Maybe gun control isn't the whole answer.

But, can we afford to sit here and do nothing?! 14 people died today, maybe more. Over 300 have died in 2015. We must do more.