Cool it with the Christmas

I have been trying to figure out a formula or structure to my blog to make it easier to maintain and update each day of the week (I have already decided it is good if I take a break on the weekends). 

I thought of headlines for each day, and a preliminary setup looks like this:

Monday-Music/Movie Monday-where I review a recent movie or music that I am currently experiencing.
Tuesday-Talkback or Top Ten Tuesday-I rant about a current issue, or I give you a top ten list!
Wednesday-Whimsy Wednesday-(we have Bible Study on Wednesday nights, so realistically I know all you’re gonna get is a funny youtube video/link or a good quote. Something “whimsical” get it?
Thursday-Theological Thursday-I attempt to get deep.
Friday-Photo Friday-Some of my favorite photos from the week.
I make no promises to stick to this. For example, next week on the 16th, Eleonore turns one. Next week is going to be devoted to Eleonore Bay, without apology and exception. Get ready for some gushing.
But today I am sticking with it, and it’s Talkback Tuesday. Which is essentially an excuse for me to be unapologetically sassy, and NOT an underhanded attempt to engage in sassy confrontational comment threads, getting more comments on my blog. . .I think.
It’s Christmastime. Right?
Wrong.
I will get back to this in a minute. 
On Facebook, around media outlets in general and in public, I keep seeing this thing.
People posting comments, or pictures, or links, or saying things that have to do with it being OK to say Merry Christmas.
The overall sentiment seems to be 
“F-You, I can say Merry Christmas if I want to. Get out of my F-ing way. I WILL offend you. Intentionally. Thinking intentionally, I might offend you, and I’m gonna like it, so I’m gonna do it.”
Some of the people I see this from are Christians, and some are not. Both kill me. Really. But I’m not going to “talkback” to those who don’t claim to be Christians. 
I’m going to “talkback” to the Christians.
One was shared that said:
“It’s okay to say “Merry Christmas & God Bless America”
Absolutely. It is okay. And I know there are those who want to say those things because they believe they bring joy, or they really do want God to Bless America, I in fact share these same sentiments.
And Hippy Dippy alert: I want God to Bless THE WHOLE WORLD. I warned you, so you can’t get mad.
But there is the majority, which are the sassy ones/people, demanding justice for our “rights” as Christians. 
That idea our “Christian Rights” is another post, for another time. 
And it is with those, and that school of thought that I take issue.
So, back to how I started.
It isn’t Christmastime. 
Not according to Church History, and not according to the Church Calendar. 
It’s Advent.
You may not have ever heard of it, and that’s our (Christians) fault, including me. 
Here is the definition from dictionary.com:

ad·vent

  [ad-vent]  Show IPA

noun

1.

a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of theholiday season.
2.

usually initial capital letter the coming of Christ into theworld.
3.

initial capital letter the period beginning four Sundaysbefore Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.
4.

usually initial capital letter Second Coming.
Origin: 
1125–75; Middle English  < Latin adventus  arrival, approach,equivalent to ad- ad-  + ven-  (stem of venīre  to come) + -tus suffix of verbal action


1.  onset, beginning, commencement, start. 

And of Christmas:

Christ·mas

  [kris-muhs]  Show IPA

noun

1.

the annual festival of the Christian church commemoratingthe birth of Jesus: celebrated on December 25 and nowgenerally observed as a legal holiday and an occasion forexchanging gifts.
And just for kicks, Christmastide as well:

Christ·mas·tide

  [kris-muhs-tahyd]  Show IPA

noun

1.

the festival season from Christmas  to after New Year’sDay.
2.

the period from Christmas Eve  to Epiphany, especially in England.
Origin: 
1620–30; Christmas  + tide1

OK. A lot to deal with there. Mainly what I want to point out is that Christmas doesn’t start until Christmas Day. Up to that point we are in the season of Advent, of waiting for Christ to come into the world.
Of waiting, patiently, in anticipation and excitement. 
So what if, instead of exercising our “right” to say Merry Christmas, 
we exercise our “right” to WAIT?
Wait and patiently exude the hope that we have because this has happened:

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:10-12

If you believe the best way to share this hope and love and your faith is to say Merry Christmas at all costs, after looking deep down and into your soul, then that is between you and Christ, and I have to respect that. 
What if instead, Christians claimed the season of Christmas. . .how out of the ordinary that would be. How outrageous, to say Merry Christmas after the commercial hoopla is done, and the presents are opened and the belly’s are stuffed, and we are in the midst of returning the sweater we didn’t want, or the earrings that are downright ugly. 
What would that look like? 
A little crazy. A little off kilter. And then someone might ask “What do you mean?”
And then we might have to “be prepared to give a reason for the hope we have within us”.
If we’re honest, its easier to say Merry Christmas when the rest of the world is saying Happy Holidays. When it’s socially acceptable  celebrate Christmas. 
We get to bask in the glow of comfortable Christianity as the rest of the world acknowledges that it is “Christmastime”.
What I am going to try to adopt is this school of thought. 
That my Lord and Savior saw fit to come to us humbly, as a vulnerable baby. And in doing that he was still so enigmatic, and so awe inspiring that the Angels came to sing, and the Shepherds came to bow. 
It radiated through his humbleness. 
I don’t think with that kind of Glory He is concerned with Christians exercising their “right” to say Merry Christmas. 
But just for the heck of it,
Happy Advent one and all!

peace to you,
meredith

an apology and a promise.

Dear Blog Readers,
I must apologize to you, for my unexpected absence over the past week, and for letting you down.
I would like to say that I won’t let it happen again.
But in all actuality, I kind of hope it will.
In relationships we always let one another down at some time or other.
And I hope your reading and my writing becomes a relationship.
What I can promise is that I will try with all my might to not have any pre-meditated any absences or let downs.
I wish I had something important as an excuse for why I was gone for this past week of blogging, but I don’t. Everyday life was trudging along at what felt like breakneck speed. And by the time I would get to thinking I needed to blog, I just couldn’t bring myself to muster the energy to do a post worthy of you all.
The week was filled with great joys, including Eleonore’s first Thanksgiving, and my Grandmother Molloy’s 81st Birthday (more on both of these later in the week).
I don’t have much energy right now either if I am honest with all of you. My bundle of bubbly energy is going to turn one soon, and all her developmental advances are causing sleep patterns to be WACKY!
 I will leave you with a few photos that were taken while celebrating Thanksgiving with part of Nate’s family!
 It is so good to be back in the blogging saddle, and I look forward to sharing more exciting and (hopefully) insightful posts with you on a regular basis.
peace to you,
meredith

                                  

                                       

Wedding Week Day 5-"Theology" of a Marriage

After six years if there is one thing I have learned, it is that you cannot label your marriage, and you can’t define it.

You might have an understanding of your Faith, that there are non-negotiables, and the rest is up for discussion. I think Marriage (as we are told it should be) when modeled after our relationship with God has to look like that.

When we were married we had our good friend Miles (also the man who hired us both that fateful first summer at East Bay, pretty integral person!) read an excerpt from who else? Madeleine L’Engle!

This was it:
“Ultimately there comes a time when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created. To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling.”


We still aspire to this vision of a marriage today, EVERY day. It’s a choice. The choice isn’t always easy, the choice isn’t always fun. But you choose, because you have made a commitment before God to that other person. And when you don’t make the right decision, you look to that person, and are amazed when they have the strength to give you the grace you don’t deserve, and equally amazed when you have grace to give to them. There is so much freedom, as Madeleine says, in those choices. 


For freedom Christ has set us free. 


Such a responsibility in this freedom. And not just in the confines of a marriage or romantic relationship. In each friendship, each family member, each stranger, each enemy. 


It’s exhausting, but we are called to be in community for a reason.
Because it’s still going to be exhausting, but when others can help hold up our hands it makes it easier to love others as we start to get tired.

I love you Nathanial Ryan Hopping, and look forward to six-TY more years of holding each others hands up to love each other and the world around us.

peace to you,
meredith












Did I give birth to Mike Tyson’s Vampire Spawn?

It happened.

Eleonore bit someone.

REALLY hard.

And she drew blood.

And it was traumatizing.

Probably the most for me.

I knew it was coming. Like a snarky little shadow that lingers a few feet behind Eleonore and I wherever we go, tiptoeing along is “The Possibility My Child Will Do Something Out of MY Control That Can Upset and/or Hurt Someone Else”.

If you aren’t familiar with the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE (pronounced tee-pee-mick-wood-soom-mic-tic-wah-o-see) Monster, thank your lucky stars. It is a nasty little booger, and it will get you when you least expect it.

Perhaps I was getting too prideful. Eleonore loves other people. She loves to smile at them, and wave, and brighten their days. She is quite adorable, biased or not, it’s true.

But. . .

there are these teeth that most of her peers don’t have yet, or if they do, not as many.

A woman from my father’s church said it was a sign of intelligence that she has so many teeth, probably COMPLETELY false, but at the same time, like all of you Mother’s and Father’s out there, I decided in my head, “well yeah, probably, makes sense. makes sense to me”. It’s just what you do when someone validates what you think about your child, you decide it’s true. 


In retrospect, if the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster feeds on pride and a puffed up Mother’s chest like I think it does, it was getting to be a chubby TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster, and had more than enough energy built up to attack.

It had taken a little trial run a week ago, when Eleonore bit my good friend Kelly’s baby Kinley. Luckily no blood was drawn, and Kelly and Kinley both took it in stride.

The next time it went full fledged and it was poor Wolfie as Eleonore got her first taste of blood. With a little “milkies”, his blankie, and some snuggles with his Mama Deb, he was up and playing with Eleonore once again.

Deb was EXTREMELY gracious. It didn’t phase her at all. I was in awe, and shocked that I wasn’t getting yelled at, or cursed at, or thrown out by my collar.

Wolfie was fine, Eleonore was fine, Deb was fine.

I wasn’t.

I felt completely, and utterly, powerless.

Seeking others advice on the matter for the most part made it worse, and I went to bed feeling like my baby had major psychological issues that I had spurned on by some sort of majorly inadequate parenting technique that had been put into place by my “style” of parenting.

I didn’t sleep a lot. Visions of being “the biters” Mom kept dancing through my dreams.

The next morning, Nate, Eleonore and I were sitting on the couch laughing and playing. Nate was tickling Eleonore and we were all giggling, then he started to nibble on her ear. . .
he looked up and we had both made the connection at the same time.

He nibbles on Eleonore’s ear when they are playing, she equates this with happiness, and love, so she OBVIOUSLY WANTS TO BITE EVERYONE’S EAR.

I felt such a sense of freedom in that moment, but at the same time my heart was filled with an extreme weight of responsibility.We learn how to love. There is no question. We can’t know how to love, unless we see how to love. It’s pretty straightforward and simple.If we learn to love from those who love abusively, we abuse, if gracefully, then gracefully, if passively then passively, and the list goes on and on.

This time it will be a relatively easy fix and the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster will be thwarted by no more ear nibbles for Dad! It is not always so easy, for many children, the way they have learned to love has done irrevocable damage to themselves, and to the world around them. The vicious cycle continues, because no one gave them grace. Because no one thought fit to name them, like I talk about in this previous post.

I myself am learning to live with the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster. They are always there, and always will be. I invite the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster to walk alongside me. I am not afraid. I will learn to handle each situation they throw at me with grace. Grace is what slays TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monsters, didn’t you know?

It gets most of the other Monsters out there too.

Try it, and you’ll see.

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.



peace to you,
meredith