just because

We made the drive to school in the grey, cold light of dawn. There was a cow moose along the road a mile from home, her coat nearly black against the white snow.  The field of the elk had at least 20 feeding in it.  I guess they’re digging down through two feet of snow to find the alfalfa.

The 7 of us together and our little neighbor boy were packed into the tan suburban. They clutched lunch boxes and homework, their hair happily rooster tailing or frizzing under what Canadians call toques, otherwise known as stocking caps. Or beanies maybe?  I think toque is French. I remember my Wisconsin students looking at me like I was crazy when I used that word for the first time with them.  But it’s SO fitting.

The children sat quietly.  They fought too.  Bryant whistled.  Alec behind the wheel glared about the noise.  I told him that he might have a wife someday who likes to whistle and what is he going to do when it gets on his nerves.

The constant bickering of these six makes me furious sometimes.  This morning the fury was mingled with so much love.  They will get through this stage of life and someday be friends–great, loyal friends.  I’m just sure of it.  If that doesn’t happen, I will want to curl up and die.

I stopped for tea at my sister’s little trailer on the way home from school. We talked about things and ate fruitcake. Life really isn’t fair. Her husband has poured his life into teaching school pretty much ever since they were married and money is still a struggle for them. And he works HARD.  Linda’s house is the best place to have tea. It’s cozy and cute and always clean.  Her little Christmas village twinkles and her sewing machine is sitting there, ready to whip together gorgeous stuff.  She had cinnamon rolls rising at 9 a.m.

Then I came home and put away tuna from frenzied sandwich making before school.  The house was in its usual disorganized state.  I hear these words about myself, “She’s kind of a poor manager.”

I am. And that’s the sad truth.  I just can’t keep it all together.  There’s still a wheat bouquet where the Christmas greenery should be.  We are out of strawberry jam–and life can’t go on very long like that around here.  The freezers need to be defrosted.  I have bought exactly two Christmas presents and done no special baking.  The Christmas pictures for the Christmas letters have not been ordered. Life gallops along, fast and hard.  I fumble along in the dust behind it, doing what has to be done.

But it’s okay.  It has to be.  Because it’s just where it’s at.

And instead of making jam and decorating for Christmas, I decided to blog while Liesl naps. Tonight we’ll get out the decorating stuff and go to it.  I’m making hamburger corn soup and fresh bread for supper.

As much as I don’t like the cold weather we’re having, there’s a magic in it.  I already wrote about it on facebook today, but not all of you read my facebook, so I’ll tell you about a cold so crisp and dry that it takes your breath away.  And the sun shines on bright white snow and every branch and blade of grass is covered in frost.  And you’re touched way down in the silent places of your soul and the North grips you with a love that you can’t shake off, even though you fight it. It’s a jealous love, one that won’t be shared with another.  It’s only love till the block heater goes out on your car or the furnace quits on a frigid night.  You meet your neighbors at the general store and you talk about the weather and shake your heads and laugh at how ludicrous it is to live here.  In town everyone lets their vehicles running while they do their shopping.  There’s a camaraderie you share, exhaust fumes billowing frozenly to the heavens, toques pulled down low, scarves wound up tight.

It’s like so many other things in life, ugly mixed with so much beautiful.

I was going to write about our trip to Montana last weekend, but I kind of spoiled that by talking about it on facebook already too.  I do that a lot.  I really want to write, but I’m afraid I won’t have time to blog, so I spill about stuff on facebook.  And then who wants to hear it again? Any good lines I might have had are used up already. 🙂

I do have several observations about that trip.  Dan went to have weekend meetings with a church near Great Falls that was also having a minister ordination that weekend.  Conservative Mennonites choose laymen for their leaders, usually by taking votes from the congregation and sometimes using the lot method for hearing from the Lord if there are two or more men sharing a similar number of votes. We haven’t been to a lot of ordinations and I tell you–I had a stomach ache most of the weekend from the tension of it all.  And I hardly knew the people involved. But I know that when God’s people are seeking Him with everything they have, He will not disappoint them.

It was a good weekend.  In one place (ok.  Facebook.) I said it was lovely.  And afterwards I knew that was kind of a lie.  It was lovely in spots. It was also exhausting.  Four services at church in close succession and having the sole care of three squirmy little bodies was hard. Liesl has a new deal where she clears her throat every five seconds and she developed that on the trip.

I got to meet Sarah Carper and Lisa Troyer at a wonderful little coffee shop in Great Falls.  They’re two friends I learned to know quite a while ago when we blogged on Xanga. I loved them both. Life is really so much fun and people are so intriguing.

We hit a blizzard in southern Alberta and stayed a day longer than planned with my parents who live there.  Liesl couldn’t get to sleep that night because her “throat was tickly and her teeth were itchy.”

I read The Silence of the North to Dan as we traveled. It’s an amazing book about one woman’s fight for survival in the Canadian wilderness of the 1920s-1940s.  Wow.  The courage of those people of the past is Just Incredible.

Edit: Tonight we put up a few merry lights and some tinsel.  The nativity scene was lovingly placed on the sill of the big window.  A few tacky little decorations made some happy little people.

I made a batch of jam with frozen strawberries while supper cooked.

I’d like to put up some pretty pictures here.

I’d like to inspire your day and make you think of Jesus.

But now it’s time to go to bed.

Inspiration is gone.  I’m not even sure where I meant to go with this post.

I’ll say goodbye with a few quotes from Donald Miller.

“In the end, none of us will be respected for what we forced to make happen. God makes life happen through free kindness.”

“If you flatter somebody it will go to their heads. If you love them it will go to their hearts.”

The little one has a tickly cough again tonight.  Sleep may be farther away than I hoped.

Tomorrow I will tackle the house.  Maybe we will begin our tradition of cookie baking.  Each child picks one favorite and we make it together.  And that’s that.

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22 thoughts on “just because

  1. Jealous of your coffee date with Lisa and Sarah!
    What IS it with kids and bickering?! Drives me crazy, and I only have 2 of them to listen to. Of course, when I am on the phone, they are sure to increase the volume and intensity, and I truly spend so little time on the phone!

  2. I love your writing! Your thoughts come out so poetic, and it makes the world seem a better place! As for the “poor manager” thoughts – I say, just give yourself a break.:) You are mothering and loving PEOPLE, so who cares if the wheat still stands and the house isn’t perfect? Not them. And certainly not God. But I know those thoughts – we are our own worst critic.
    Happy day to you! And I’m off to try to exchange pumpkins for Christmas pine. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Clarita! Things always look better when some of the clutter is cleared and there is a nice spot to sit and think again. I really am blessed. I just need reminders really often. 🙂

  3. I like your new place to blog. And I enjoyed this post greatly. Don’t ever take for granted how good it is to be able to stop by your talented sisters house for coffee. I dream of there being a day like that for me! 🙂 And the cold north sounds miserable but awesome….and I mean awesome how it’s meant to be used. (not the overused meaning of the word.)

    1. I pray that sisters for neighbors happens for you, too, Amy. Linda & I had almost given up hope of it ever happening. But then it miraculously did! 🙂

  4. Luci, I so enjoy your blogging and posts. Yeah, you may not have a perfectly decorated, spotless house, but you know what’s important and that’s family! Your own children, your husband, your parents, siblings, friends, church family! This is what is important: to love, to nurture, teach and just enjoy as each day comes. When you reach heaven, God isn’t going to ask you how perfectly you kept your house, but how you loved the people he put in your life. Your priorities are right and I think God is smiling!

    1. That is really sweet of you, Teckla. I need encouragement because I get so bogged down…and words from a wise older woman mean a lot. I’m so glad we’ve “met”.

  5. You say, “I’d like to inspire your day and make you think of Jesus.” Well, guess what. You did! Just by your candor and by the way you live in grace with yourself and others, you did. Just had to let you know, Luci dear! ❤

  6. Don’t be so hard on yourself, I’m sure your children will not remember if the house was always spic and span, but rather what you did with them and for them. 🙂 And speaking of talents, you have many. Writing is just one of them!

  7. I can appreciate the magic of the bitter cold north from your writing, and still sit here with two inches of ice on the ground and be thankful it’s all we have, and it won’t last long. I think I would not last long in your area! 😀
    Although, it would have been fun to sit with your family and have hamburger soup and homemade bread!

    1. And I would like to drink that hot cocoa you posted with you and yours, Beth. You would last longer than you think here. The air is dry and it’s actually better than humidity and ice and the kind of cold that creeps right into you, if you know what I mean.

  8. When I see you posted, I know it’s gonna be a good read! I like how you described the magic of the cold north. Thanks, but no thanks. It’s cold in Tx – oddly colder right now than my family is Pa has it. And that does not seem right.
    Happy Christmas season to you. I hope y’all can sit back in the business of life and just enjoy each other – even more than being a good manager 🙂

    1. I would SO love to be organized and know I could improve in lots of ways…but I’m trying hard to be ok with my limitations. Thanks for stopping here. Now I know you live in Texas. 🙂 Will you go to PA for Christmas?

  9. Wow. I hear you. I like you. I’d love to have coffee in your kitchen; it sounds a lot like mine. I have eight children of my own. Life is full, and I know that I’m not always a good manager. I like what you said:”but it’s okay. It has to be. Because it’s just where it’s at.” Sometimes I’m good at remembering that, and sometimes not. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. The paragraph about the children and bickering… For what it’s worth, my mom had serious doubts that her children even liked each other some days. But we did. We were best pals and worst enemies all mixed up. And now that we are all grown, we are each other’s best friends. I am with you… it will happen. I need to believe this for my own lively crew. 🙂

  11. ah, yes.. the toque! i remember the first time i heard it i was like, “a wha…?” 😉

    how fun you got to meet up with lisa for coffee. she’s such a kind, wise soul~

    and what jolynn said… when i see you’ve posted i know it’s gonna be a good read. yes!

    happy new year, luci!!

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