Monday, November 30, 2009

Trimming the Tree

Kathy and Evie got to cuddle on the couch while Aud and I strung the tree with lights. At first she thought they were live candles and kept trying to blow them out, "ffffffff."

She was obsessed with the "baby" glass Christmas balls until I turned her on to a plastic set which I found in an old shoe box. She piled them in and out of an old gauze bag for the rest of the evening.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I love this movie

There is no such thing as a holiday weekend without a good movie... This weekend I had the great good fortune of watching the movie UP for the third time… It’s now out on video and it is one of my favorites of the year.

I love the unlikely cast of characters – the elderly Mr. Frederickson, an overweight Mexican boy named Russell, an endangered bird, and a dopey dog who talks. But most of all I love the unexpectedness of the tale which plays upon real life themes to redefine the meaning of adventure…

The story opens with a touching vignette of Mr. Fredrickson’s life with his wife, Ellie, who always dreamed of visiting the fictitious South American landmark, Paradise Falls. When they were children, Mr. Frederickson promised he would take Ellie to Paradise Falls; but the mishaps of married life prevented them from ever making the trip.

For the brunt of the movie, Mr. Frederickson is - like me, like so many of us - preoccupied with his self-prescribed destination (Paradise Falls) rather than the process of getting there. “Now if you’ll assist me,” he says to Russell, “I am going to Paradise Falls if it kills me!”

But at a certain point Mr. Frederickson must choose whether to hold onto the past, and his fixed idea of what his adventure should look like, or embrace the present, and the unexpected people with whom he has the opportunity to experience it.

The story proves that getting where you want to go is rendered meaningless if you sacrifice everything important – namely, people – to get there. It also challenged me to remember that life will never be what I expect: my idea of "paradise" (in this life anyway) is illusory and bound to "fall;" my far-off heroes may in fact be villains; and most importantly, my “adventure” is most likely to be bound up in life’s simplest, most seemingly mundane and “boring” pleasures, like car rides, walks in the park, quiet moments of reflection, and picnics with the one(s) I love.

Friday, November 27, 2009

family feast

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What I am Grateful For

Dear Dutch,

Remember this picture?

I don't recall taking it - but I must have - for I remember the moment well. We had been married two weeks; we were on our way to North Carolina; and the car had run out of gas in New Mexico, underneath a silver, cloud-patched sky. It truly was the best of times and the worst of times... as you and I know better than anyone. But I love this picture, I treasure it in fact, because it typifies the kind of person you are - the kind of person you will always be, I wager, if, as your father would say, "history is any indicator"... You are not, as you said when you saw it lying on the counter, "the kind of guy who would run out of gas," but one who perseveres when presented with an obstacle - one who will apply his energy and intellect toward solving the problem; and persisting even when it seems the problem cannot and will not be solved...

One thing you have taught me in the seven years since we married is that the obstacles in themselves are unimportant; or rather that they are important only so far as they teach us to depend on God. It truly isn't success or failure that matters; it is trust in Him. A very hard lesson for someone like me, who was always accustomed to measuring her value based on the perceived outcome she was able to achieve...

"Consider it all joy, my brothers," says James, "when you face trials of many kinds for the testing of your faith produces endurance...And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." To be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Now if that isn't a description of everything I long for I don't know what is... and contrary to my intuition, James tells me that I will gain perfection by first gaining endurance; and that I gain endurance by having my faith tested through various trials...

I have watched you in the face of trials, one after another, for years; we continue daily to face our own trials, jointly and separately. You are always telling me to swing for the fence. No matter what the stakes are, no matter how bad the odds, just keep showing up at the plate and giving it my best, paradoxically trusting that God will get me where He wants me to go no matter how hard or short I fall. And that is what I have watched you do, morning to night, every day since the day we wed. In the early years, just getting through the day was tough. But you did. And I can't help but think of Revelation when it says: "to him who overcomes will receive the crown of life."

We have been blessed far beyond what we deserve. And yet I know that we have many more trials to face together... but I am so grateful, on this Thanksgiving, that God given me you to face them with.

a few more from bisbee

Favorite Bisbee moment: At five years old Ella ventured into the grown-up world by addressing the waitress all by herself and putting in an order: "I'll have the Sea Ass," she said politely, "and a plate of sgabetti on the side."

It was delicious.

**Family photo courtesy of MammaLove Photography**

Sunday, November 22, 2009