My kids have been outside every day in shorts and sandals. We’re having 60 and 70 degree weather in December. It’s a bit of a shock since two years ago I remember being stuck in our house for days due to ice and snow. When we finally ventured out, stir crazy from being locked in with four kids, we skidded down Legacy, finally coming to a complete stop as cars in front of us slid off the road. It was the first time we decided leaving the house might not have been a good idea.
But right now the sky is a clear blue, the temperature comfortable. As long as the back yard is accessible, everyone is fairly content. It’s a change.
I’m finding that about these somewhat peaceful seasons; they pop up out of nowhere. They’re not always free of struggles either. We still have to wait for the thermometer to get past fifty before everyone spills out the door. On occasion the wind still feels strong enough to knock us down. But the sun is bright, and the focus on that is what makes everything feel different.
We’ve been focusing on the Son a lot this month, as we try to do every day. With Advent here, I committed to moving through this Christmas/birthday season slowly, consciously. That in itself has helped me reframe some of our struggles. Wren is heading back to the GI tomorrow, on her birthday. That’s not the best news, but we have insurance and doctors to help. Sammy still sometimes struggles with the middle-child-only-boy blues, but it’s happening less and less. The twins are, well, two. Some days are good. Other days, like last Tuesday, D comes home and I escape out the back door after telling him in barely coherent English, “I do not want to talk to or see or hear any of the people in this house. Can’t do it. Shutting down.” I went to the library where quiet is real and beautiful.
After a four-and-half-year fight with insurance companies, I’m finally getting gene tested for the Celiac genes to see if I also carry the link. It happens Friday. That means I spent yesterday making three long phone calls with children underfoot while I worked out the specifics. Six months ago there is no way that could have happened. All of my kids need food, or to poop, or to talk out big feelings the minute I pick up the phone. It felt like a small miracle that these phone calls happened, and it was.
After over a decade of not being published due to not submitting any work, two pieces I wrote were published this fall. More than anything, I’m enjoying writing again, making time for it, seeing it as worth my time even with all the other demands. The novel will be finished in the next six months. Progress. (Check out published work here and here.)
D and I have also found some community. We knew with four young kids that being embedded in community was going to be hard. It has been. But lately the Lord has just been delivering people to us, wonderful gifts. For the first time in years we are having friends over for New Year’s Eve. All our kids will run freely and we’ll attempt to chat with other adults. D and I are also going on our first date in almost two years this weekend. I’m thankful.
I know there is a trend about picking a word for the year around January 1st. I haven’t ever done it, but I like the idea. Instead of waiting until January 1st, I decided to choose one a couple of weeks ago when we were in what felt like the throes of never ending madness. Gratitude. Being grateful. Even as things were crazy and I was feeling overwhelmed, I knew I should be grateful. So I slowed down. I made some intentional changes to our day. I started trying to give myself grace knowing that is the only way I can give it to others. And pretty soon, it felt like things changed.
That’s not to say every day is good and everything is easy. After retrieving Wren’s Celiac blood work for the last three years before her test tomorrow, I then had a mild panic attack trying to make myself look at the pages, so angry am I still about this remission mess. It’s just that now I’m trying to recognize those times and call them out, still finding ways to be grateful to God.
I know dark days are inevitable. The cold will come back and will sometimes feel impossible to bare. During this season of waiting on the anniversary of the birth of the Christ Child, waiting for the return of Christ, I’m also storing up gratefulness, making it a habit I will carry with me when the seasons change. And I’m enjoying the now, the crisp days and the sunlight on my back.