Sunday, December 20, 2015

What I Recall From My Week

"You haven't been posting, Mom." 

When a 16-year-old notices and mentions this, I take it seriously. It means she reads my blog and takes note of a pause in posts.  That age is hard to impress and unfailingly honest about what they think.

So, definitely time to type.

"But," I said, "I don't know what's been happening in my life."

She thought that was silly.  "You're LIVING your life.  You know what's happening!"

Oh Sweetie, you have no idea.

I can be busy all day and that evening I have a hard time recalling anything I did.

But let me try to recall a few incidents in the last week.

1. I had half an hour of heart-in-my-throat fear.

Last Sunday Ben and Emily took off for Thailand to visit Amy.  But first I packed a suitcase and a half with stuff for Amy such as peanut butter, vitamins, Party Mix ingredients, and gifts.  Then Ben and Emily filled in the rest of it with their things, so the final proportions for the two big bags were approximately:
75% stuff for Amy
20% Ben's clothes
5%  Emily's clothes

Emily is a minimalist.

Paul had found tickets for them that were quite reasonable, as overseas tickets go, if they took off from Vancouver, BC, and flew China Eastern Airways.

So the plan was to drive to Vancouver--about 8 hours I think--fly to Shanghai, China, then to Kunming, China, then to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I checked my email a few times, hoping they'd drop me a line en route, but nothing showed up.  Oh well.

On Tuesday morning I was gradually awakened to the sound of a phone ringing.

It was Amy.

She had gone to the airport to pick up Ben and Emily, and they never showed up.  Their flight arrived just fine, but they weren't on it.

And she hadn't heard a word from them either.

Oh, Reader, there is no describing what flies through your mind in a very short time when you hear such news, and how very very far away China seems at such a moment, and how utterly silent the world seems when there is No Word and No Contact and No Explanation.

Our conversation roused Paul.  He decided to call China Eastern after I located a phone number and he found the kids' itinerary.

He was still on hold when I got a message from Amy to check Emily's blog.  Hallelujah!  Words!  From the kids!  There for us to see!!

One flight was delayed, making them miss the flight to Chiang Mai, and China has a nasty way of blocking all the normal Internet means of communication.

They got there a day later, and Emily wrote about the experience, and others that followed, which you can go read.  
Right here.
Nothing else here will be as exciting as that, so you don't have to come back here if you don't want to.

2.  I had an incident that made me think of my mom and wonder if she was sending sympathy vibes from Heaven.

Mom was a very hard worker but she wasn't the most tidy and organized housewife ever, and her family didn't make it any easier for her, and she had an absolute horror of visitors seeing our house in its normal state.

Company coming required a major onslaught of cleaning, putting away, and tidying.

She had an especial horror of a big vanload of Amish relatives showing up unannounced, as the Amish were wont to do back before anyone had cell phones and most Amish would at some point hire a driver and take a Western Trip which might take them through the Midwest and our house.

The Pa. Dutch term was "gonzy loat psooch," inadequately translated a "whole load of guests," and the idea was so fearful to Mom that she would have dreams about a gonzy loat psooch showing up when the house was a mess and she was in the middle of canning applesauce or something.

Well, let's just say that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Paul and I were gone for three days last week, (see #3) and as soon as we got back I focused on getting those suitcases all packed for Amy, so the new week dawned and things sort of stayed chaotic all week.

Jenny decided to decorate for Christmas, since I wasn't getting it done.  By Thursday evening there was a basket of laundry in the living room along with 3 big bins of Christmas stuff and also leaning stacks of files and papers all around Paul's recliner,  I was making Party Mix and Puppy Chow, I had half the table covered in Christmas cards in various piles, and I had just started the dishwasher but had many dishes left to wash.....
there was a knock on the door and there were our young friends Justin and Esta.  They came breezing in with a plate of cookies.
Oh.  They were out delivering Christmas cookies....??
I said, "Ummm, can you...stay a while?"
Esta said, "Oh! Did you forget that you said the missions committee can meet here tonight?"
I screamed.  I had typed up the notes for the meeting myself, and included that I had offered to host the meeting.
But I had totally forgotten, and here I was in unwashed hair and a flannel shirt with food smears, in a disastrous house.
Justin hauled bins upstairs and vacuumed.
I handed Esta a broom and went to comb my hair.
Justin put the supper leftovers in a Tupperware container.
I called Paul and said he should come home instead of visiting his mom.
Jenny said she'd watch the Party Mix in the oven.
We survived.

I asked Jesus to take away any lingering shame I felt from that Gonzy Loat Psooch moment straight out of Mom's nightmares, because He is good at that, and it really was a moment to make a Mennonite minister's wife feel like a Complete Failure.

3. I got to see and hear the Messiah.

I missed the only local performance because like Esau I chose the temporal over the eternal, in this case a Sunday afternoon nap rather than going with Ben and Jenny and our weekend guest Kayla to a concert, which I later learned included part of the Messiah, and, again like Esau, I "found no place of repentance, though [I] sought it carefully with tears."

My nice husband had been saying for some weeks that we needed to get away by ourselves for a few days, so we did some hunting online, found a Messiah performance that fit our schedule, and went to Portland for three days.

And on a rainy night we found the First Baptist Church in downtown Portland, found our seats, and took it all in.

There's nothing quite like Handel's Messiah, and to have it performed live, by an excellent orchestra and choir, and in the most beautiful old church you ever saw...well, I felt like Esau would have felt if he had received the blessing after all.

4. We went to various programs, concerts, and services locally.

Christmas isn't Christmas unless you see a pageant with little kids in it, all dressed up like sheep or angels or Mary or whatever.

And, this is the interesting thing about such things: you want choirs to be impeccable and professional.  You want big kids and adults to be polished and well-rehearsed.

But oh how you want little kids to mess up because little kids acting out the Christmas story and forgetting lines and losing their way and whispering cues to each other and pushing shepherd headpieces out of their eyes and dropping stuff and utterly messing up--that is JUST SO CUTE.

At one program, the littlest angel was all intrigued with her white robe, essentially one long piece of fabric with a hole for her head and a belt holding it together.  She grabbed the flap in front and pulled it up, laughed, flapped it around....and then her gold-tinsel halo slipped she yanked it back into place, and then while the teacher gestured and her parents telegraphed parentish looks and the other angels sang dutifully, she bent forward and deliberately let the halo fall off her head, and grinned with delight.

It was naughty and distracting and unprofessional, but it was the cutest thing I'd seen in a long time.

It made the Christmas season feel complete.

I hope your Christmas season is complete most of all with lots of Jesus and all of the grace and hope and mercy He brings.

Quote of the Day:
"I just love the Christmas season! Janane and I are doing so much stuff, it makes me feel like we almost have lives! Friday we went to the Fairview pageant, Saturday we went to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Sunday we went to Kaitlyn's concert, today we're caroling, Wednesday we're in our school play together, and Sunday we're doing something with our Sunday school class for the program! I mean, we're almost Sarah Bething!!"
--Jenny a.k.a. Miss Hyper Energy 2015
[Sarah Beth is a high-energy friend with more friends and ministry at age 18 than most of us have accumulated by age 50]


  1. That is a fabulous picture of Emily in the red hat! She needs to frame it. Thank you for sending the link to her blog. I loved reading the update about her and Ben's travels through China to Thailand. Also, no wonder you were frightened when you didn't hear from them and no wonder you were relieved when you did!

  2. Wonderful they were fine! I would have been terrified also. I love your writing & hope the rest of your Christmas season is lovely!!