Sunday, December 21, 2014

4th Sunday of Advent

painting by William Congdon

Luke 1:26-38

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Little Rebellions

"My abuse taught me that my thoughts, beliefs, feelings and experiences were invalid. Just feeling something wasn’t acceptable; I had to justify how I felt." -- Christina Enevoldson

I totally agree with this. For years I needed someone else, preferably someone in authority, to validate my beliefs, feelings, and experiences. My father, my husband, a minister, someone I deemed more intellectual than I. It's taken years and years to learn to consistently validate my own feelings, and I still have days when I need a cheerleader.

Something else resonated with me in that quote, though. The other day I had a conversation with an acquaintance. He asked if "my offenders" were still alive. I felt my body clinch when I read that line. It wasn't the "offenders" that bothered me, it was the "my". I don't apply possessive pronouns to anything related to the abuse. They are not MY offenders. It is not MY abuse. For years my parents were referred to as THE parents. I told the writer I don't use possessive pronouns in this scenario, that it's my little rebellion. 

I made a joke of it at the time, but I've been thinking about it, mulling it over in the back of my mind. It's not just a little rebellion. It's an important distinction to me. By applying a possessive pronoun as an identifier or descriptor to the offenders or the abuse, I take ownership of them. I take responsibility for the actions and the people, and I've been fighting against that my whole life.

It was not, is not, and never will be my fault that I was abused. So they are not MY abusers and it is not MY abuse. I didn't have a choice or ownership in any of it. Words are important to me. I'm a reader, a librarian, a writer. Words have meanings, and those meanings carry a lot of weight.

Maybe it's not such a little rebellion after all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Worst Christmas Gift Ever?

My father-in-law was an interesting man. Highly intelligent, but a bit quirky.

Early in my marriage to his son, I learned this lesson. Normally my mother-in-law did the shopping, but one year, for reasons unknown to me, he took it upon himself to go out and buy additional gifts for everyone. Of course he decided to do this late on Christmas Eve once all the "real" stores had closed. There was a discount store near their house called Zayre. They sold cheap stuff, not Wal-Mart cheap, think cheaper. 

So he did his Christmas shopping and came home and wrapped all his goodies. Using is regular technique this meant no bows and our names written in black Sharpie on all the packages. 

On Christmas morning, we arrived at the house and amid much flinging of paper, I was handed a large, squishy package clearly from my father-in-law, although marked as "From Santa". When I opened it, there sat before me a 12-pack of Zayre brand toilet paper. I kid you not. 

My husband and I had been married 1 or 2 years at this point, and I was still unsure of my place in his family. And to be perfectly honest, his father scared me a bit. Not in the "he's going to haul off and hit me" way, but in the "he's so smart, clearly I'm missing something here" way. 

I stood with my package of toilet tissue, trying to determine if there was a hidden message here, finally stuttering out a thank you. His response was, "I figure you can never have too much tp".

As I watched others open their gifts from him, I felt a bit better. My brother-in-law had received windshield wipers that didn't fit his car. 

I never knew what happened that year and I don't remember another gift from that Christmas. What I do know is that by the next year, my mother-in-law was dead, killed in a car accident. And all the women in the family and extended friends, got diamond and sapphire tennis bracelets. 

Yep, that was my father-in-law in a nutshell.

linking up with Writer's Workshop

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . December 16, 2014

Outside my window . . . it is gray and cloudy. We are sitting around 45 degrees. That's the kind of December it's been so far. Everyone is a little sleepy, preferring to hunker down in our homes.

I am thinking . . . about how plans can shift so drastically. I had planned for lots of peace and quiet and order, with a new Advent devotion. Things haven't played out that way at all. The good news is I've been able to roll with it, and not beat up on myself.

I am thankful . . . that my husband is finally beginning to feel better. I can't remember the last time he was this sick.

In the kitchen . . . it's been quiet in the kitchen since we were out of town last week/weekend. I made spaghetti Sunday night, but I have no idea about tonight. Maybe soup and grilled cheese?

I am wearing . . . my usual attire -- cotton gown and flannel robe with my blue faux Crocs. 

I am creating . . . continuing to work on my afghan using this pattern from Attic 24, and a lovely set of DK yarn from Stylecraft. This past week hasn't been conducive to crocheting with all the driving and caring for a sick husband. Only up to 72 rows.

I am going . . . therapy and to run some errands. I realized I haven't done stocking gifts yet, so I need to get going on those.

I am wondering . . . how to be a cheerleader for my husband when he needs one. He is usually so upbeat and full of energy, but this sinus infection has been hard on him.

I am reading . . . i finished Ghost Story by Peter Straub. My expectations may have been a bit high, but it was very good. Now I'm reading The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling). I'm just getting started, but it's quite interesting. The BBC has picked it up to do a TV show based on the main character.

I am looking forward to . . . a mani/pedi, haircut, and massage this week!

I am hearing . . . my son getting ready for his day.

Around the house . . . things are a mixture of Christmas decor, wrapping paper, and laundry to be folded. I guess it's pretty normal!

I am praying . . . for a friend who got bad news yesterday. She's was diagnosed with brain cancer 2 years ago and has been doing well on medicine therapy. Yesterday she had a "regular" check-up and they discovered one of the tumors had grown by 4 times in the past 4 months. They are reeling from the news while having to make immediate decisions concerning more aggressive treatment. Please pray with me.

One of my favorite things . . . hedgehogs. I acquired several news one over the past couple of weeks.
Hazel and Herbert
and the twins, Honey and Sonny

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . fairly usual -- therapy, chiropractor, housework, errands, yoga, shopping, and all those lovely self-care treats!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . .

hot chocolate in the Santa mug

linking up with The Simple Woman

Monday, December 15, 2014

The One about the Fairy . . .

Last week I posted a picture of my Christmas Sugarplum Fairy. All of you seemed interested in her story, so here's what I can tell you.

Last year my sister-in-law gave me this decorative sugarplum fairy, but I didn't get to use it until this year. 

That's the story. Not very exciting, I'll grant you, but that's about it.

Now why would my sister-in-law give me a fairy for Christmas? That's probably a better story.

Many years ago I developed a liking for fairies, especially those drawn by Cicely Mary Barker.  I couldn't really explain it, I just knew that their images made me happy and filled me with peace. My family accepted this and periodically bought me little fairy-themed items.

Over time I've come to understand that the fairies represented safety and protection to my child-mind. I had "memories" of fairies coming to me and helping me during some of the episodes of abuse. In particular, there is an episode involving the barn where I envisioned fairies watching over and protecting me until the abuse was over.

I used to be embarrassed by this affinity for fairies. I assume what I saw at that time was dragonflies flying over the hay, perhaps even in and out of the barn as the abuse took place, but in my child-mind they became fairies. Fairies sent there to care for me. To offer comfort, peace, and joy, and perhaps, distraction.

I have a lot of fairies in my house. In my bedroom, the bathroom, randomly placed around other rooms. And I have lots of dragonflies now as well. It's a way of honoring my status as a survivor, and a way to banish that unnecessary embarrassment that hounded me for years. We all find ways to survive the bad things.

There are worse ways than fairies.