Disappointment & Hope at Christmastime

The family and I ventured out of sunny and warm California this week to come to the midwest. When our¬†plane touched down, C looked out the window and exclaimed, “There’s no snow!!”

Oops. ūüôĀ

The trip we had been planning for months so we could¬†visit our relatives and play with snow was not turning out the way we had expected. Both E and C were (and still are) very disappointed in the sunny and warm (according to the natives here) 40 degree F weather and lack of white, fluffy stuff. Even I’m disappointed, especially since I found a great¬†deal on snow pants (thank you Target!) and managed to squeeze four pairs of them (along with gifts and all of our other clothing)¬†into the¬†luggages.

Although our bubbles have been bursted by this non-white Christmas, I know our disappointment is minor compared to the unexpected circumstances of the very first Christmas. Can you imagine being pregnant and having to travel miles and miles only to reach your destination and discover there was no place for you to stay? And what about having to give birth to your first child and having nowhere to place him but in a feeding trough for animals?

Talk about disappointments.

You’ve gotta hand it to Mary and Joseph for persevering through the obstacles and setbacks they faced. I can only imagine how surprised and frustrated and exhausted they must have felt¬†as newlyweds and soon-to-be new parents. But through it all, something kept them going. I think that something was hope.

Hope that¬†what the angel Gabriel told them would come true. Hope that the baby in Mary’s womb was the long-awaited Savior of the world.

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/freedigitalphotos.net

It was that hope that inspired Mary to sing this song (from Luke 1:47-55):

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. 

From now on all generations will call me blessed¬†for the Mighty One has done great things for me‚ÄĒholy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 

He has helped his servant Israel,¬†remembering to be merciful¬†to Abraham and his descendants forever,¬†just as he promised our ancestors.‚ÄĚ

Yes, in this world we will face many disappointments of all shapes and sizes and throughout each season of life, even at Christmastime. But we also, like Mary, have so many reasons to persevere and to hope.

Hope that each new morning¬†brings with it new opportunities. Hope that¬†we can¬†make each day more meaningful than the last. Hope in¬†the love of family and friends to sustain us.¬†Most of all, hope in God’s promise¬†to give¬†everlasting hope to each one of us through Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.

That certainly makes up for a snowless day any day. ūüôā

So here’s wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Take a listen to this beautifully sung song, “Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix.

What are you hopeful about on this Christmas day?

Movie Quotes & Marriage

Have you ever considered how much movie lines stick in your head long after you’ve watched a¬†film? Let me throw out a few to get your gears turning.

“I love you. You complete me.”

‚ÄúDon‚Äôt forget I‚Äôm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.‚Ä̬†

‚ÄúAs you wish.‚ÄĚ

“I’m not a smart man … but I know what love is.”

And my favorite (sarcasm intended) …

“I’ll never let go, Jack, I’ll never let go.”¬†(Says Rose right before she promptly lets go of Jack’s hand and watches him sink into the cold, dark abyss of the sea.) ūüėČ

Sigh, so many romantic movies with so many romantic quotes. Don’t you feel the warm fuzzies just thinking about them?

Well, this past weekend I had one movie quote¬†running through my mind¬†as we were having lunch at Five Guys Burgers & Fries (our default pick because we forgot Chick-fil-A was closed on Sunday – sniff!). The munchkins and I were sitting at a¬†table while hubby ordered our meal. When he brought the food back to our table, he set down two large brown paper bags. After he had emptied the first bag with all¬†four of our burgers, I asked him, “What’s in the second bag?”

He stuck his hand in the second bag and replied, “Oh wow, this is a lot,” and proceeded to pull out a 20 ounce paper cup full of fries. Then with a sheepish smile, he said, “There’s another one in the bag. I didn’t know they were so big.”

Aiya. Dear hubby had ordered two large size fries,¬†and I knew for a fact (call it¬†woman’s intuition) that we were not going to be able to finish the first 20 ounce cup, let alone touch the second one.

Did I mention that each order of fries cost over $5.00? And that a ton of potatoes (straight from Idaho as a white board¬†on the restaurant’s wall proclaimed) had sacrificed their tuber-rific lives to fill up those 40 ounces?

A lot of thoughts were running through my frugal mind at that point. Thoughts which would be better left unspoken, especially considering¬†the regretful look on hubby’s face when he realized he had ordered way too much.

But another thought, actually a line from a movie, also ran through my mind as I stared at our bounty of spuds. It was this:

Image courtesy of pinterest

Image courtesy of pinterest

 

Yup, that’s Thumper there from the movie¬†Bambi.¬†And he sure has some good¬†relationship¬†advice. It’s true. If I didn’t have anything good to say to hubby about the fries, then it was better that I say nothing at all.

Zip. Nada. Zilch.

So¬†I kept my mouth occupied with bites of my burger and decided to¬†let it go¬†(thank you, Elsa). Moreover, I chose to be thankful. Thankful that hubby is way more generous than I am and would rather err on the side of having too much than not enough. And especially thankful that after 13 years of marriage, I’m finally learning how to put love into action, even if it’s being silent.

Here’s an appropriate song for this post, Alison Krauss’¬†When You Say Nothing At All.

What’s your favorite movie quote?

What to Do When Your Creative Juices Run Dry

It’s been wet, wet, wet here on the west coast! I’m talking about non-stop rain the whole¬†day yesterday, from morning till noon till night. School closures all around the Bay Area, which is something I have never witnessed (or ever had the pleasure of partaking in when I was a kid!). Lots of big puddles that the munchkins had a blast jumping and sloshing around in yesterday when we ventured out for lunch. And about 2-5 inches of total rainfall, depending on where you live. It was not exactly the #stormageddon or #stormpocalypse that the weather channels¬†had been predicting, but there was a whole lotta water pouring down from the skies.

Yes, we Californians have a sense of humor.

Yes, we Californians have a sense of humor.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if our creative juices could flow just¬†as freely and heavily¬†as¬†rain? That ideas – and not just ideas, but brilliant ideas – would pop into our heads as soon as we picked up a paintbrush, placed our fingers on an instrument, sat down in front of a keyboard, took a look into the refrigerator or peered into a microscope? Wouldn’t it be great¬†if¬†those brilliant ideas would then turn into a beautiful¬†painting, a moving song, a breathtaking story, a scrumptious meal or a cool¬†scientific discovery?

It wouldn’t be great, it would be awesome.

Like water, creative juices have a tendency to ebb and flow. Sometimes creativity comes like a downpour, other times like a trickle. Every once in a while, however, our creative juices¬†just run dry. I’m talking about cracked, sun-scorched, no-liquid-in-sight kind of dry. Something like this picture here:

Image courtesy of numanzaa/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of numanzaa/freedigitalphotos.net

When I saw this image, the first thing that popped into my head was, Was that tree photoshopped in? How could any living thing grow out of and survive in such dry earth?

Thanks to the power of Google, I found out the impossible can be possible. According to this article¬†from USA Today, plants that live¬†in the Sahara (the world’s largest hot desert) do so thanks to their extensive root systems. Their roots have the ability to¬†suck water up from deep under the ground, to¬†as far as¬†150 feet below the dry surface. Talk about ingenuity! (God thinks of everything. :D)

This got me thinking that plants in the Sahara know a thing or two about thriving. Since¬†water won’t come to them, they find a way to get to the water.

So how does this apply to us as people? Well, when our creative juices run dry, instead of waiting for inspiration to strike us, we need to go out and search for it.

The best sources of inspiration that I’ve found are¬†other people. People who are creative in the areas that you excel in and enjoy, as well as people who are creatively different from you. Because when it all comes down to it, creativity comes from a need¬†to explore and invent. If you look around, you’ll find countless people in your life who have that same need. Allow their work and enthusiasm to tug at your heart, tickle your creative bone and move¬†you to tears or laughter, so you want to start dreaming¬†again.

Although it’s been raining in California, I’ve been experiencing a creative drought (aka. writer’s block). This dry spell had me feeling¬†constipated¬†(artistically speaking!) and shriveled up like a prune for days. But thanks to a good conversation with a creative friend and some episodes of The Voice, I got inspired again to write. And I’m happy to announce I’m working on my second novella and am finally making good progress on it. God willing, I’ll be publishing it during the spring of¬†2015.

Here’s one song that tugged at my¬†creative heartstrings recently. I love the different take that Damien (one of The¬†Voice contestants) puts on¬†Paula Cole’s song, “I Don’t Want to Wait”. (Any fellow Dawson’s Creek fans out there? :P)

Who inspires you in your creative quests? Do share, so we can be inspired together!

Out of the Mouths of Babes: #$@&!

I learned two important parenting lessons this week. The first was this: Always expect the unexpected. Especially around 3:07pm when you are picking up your kid from school.

Case in point …

The other day I had just kissed E’s¬†soft cheek as he sat down in the car when he announced, “I learned a new bad word at school.”

I immediately thought,¬†Oo-kay.¬†Well, it can’t be that bad.¬†

After all, the bad word the munchkins discovered last year was stupid (yes, we are a sheltered family), and the bad word they heard last week was dummy (which I found out wasn’t so bad because¬†they were actually referring to¬†a wooden puppet).

So I really wasn’t feeling one bit worried when I asked, “What is it?”

“#$@&!” E answered in his oh-so-sweet-and-innocent 8 year old voice.

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

O.M.G. As soon as I heard the word, my eyebrows shot up and a whole chorus of bells, whistles and alarms went off in my body. This was NOT the word I had been expecting. Far, far, FAR from it. Like a billion, KAZILLION miles away from it.

Since this word does¬†not¬†bear repeating, I will give you a hint as to what came out of my dear son’s mouth. It sounds like duck (which was exactly what I wanted to do at that point – duck and cover!) and rhymes with luck (which I had certainly run out of in that moment).

AIYA.

As I relayed the whole conversation to¬†hubby later that night, I demanded (in a whisper so as not to let the kids hear us), “Why do I¬†always get stuck with these crazy¬†questions?!”

Hubby replied with a hint of a smile, “Because God knows you’re better at answering them than me.”

Grrr. Um, thanks?

The good thing though about having experience dealing with¬†deep theology questions, sweat-inducing birds-and-the-bees questions and now, wild profanity-laced questions is that I’ve become quite good at putting on a poker face. And keeping an even tone of voice. You’d almost think¬†I was talking about the weather instead of a four-letter swear word with my second grader.

Sigh.

So how did my conversation with E turn out? Something like this (from what my traumatized brain can remember):

Me: Which friend said that? Does your friend know what it means?

E: N said it when we were eating lunch. P heard it before. K didn’t know it. They spelled the word out. Someone wanted to tell the teacher but he didn’t. The teacher almost heard it cause she was standing really close. Do you say it to someone? N said, “I am not a #$@&!.” (Thank you dear son for saying the word AGAIN.)

Me: Oh, I don’t think he knows what it means. But yeah, it’s something you say to someone when you are upset, but we don’t ever want to say it. It’s okay to know about the word, but both kids and adults should not¬†say it.

C (who was listening to our conversation the whole time!): But then why did someone make up the word if it’s bad?

Good question, my dear baby of the family (whom¬†at age 5 has heard the #$@&! word TWICE now). I actually didn’t have an answer for that. Cause in all honesty, words are words, but it’s their meanings which lead¬†people to smile or faint. And thank God my munchkins know more words of the former kind than the latter.

Phew. AIYA. (As you can imagine, I’m still recovering from this incident.)

As I mentioned earlier, I learned two parenting lessons this week. So, what was the¬†second lesson? It’s this: Relationship over comfort. As much as I dislike having¬†to address these “interesting” topics with my munchkins, I value¬†every cringeworthy moment. Why? Because I’m¬†glad¬†I’m available to listen to¬†their questions, even if¬†I don’t have all of the answers. But,¬†most of all, I am thankful¬†they¬†feel comfortable and safe enough to have these crazy conversations with¬†their mama.

Sigh. Let’s just hope my poker face holds up during¬†their teenage years. ūüėČ

What better song to go with this post than Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”? LOL. Here’s a nice instrumental (piano) version of it.

What crazy conversations do you remember having with your parents or have you had with your kids?