Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are you okay with changing times?

A quiet corner in the living room
It's the quiet morning after the party.

Last year I could not bear the thought of "interrupting" my writing with Christmas. I took two days off to prep the feast and celebrate with our family; then it was back to work. Everything else was off the calendar.

This year I began to anticipate Christmas festivities in October. I could hardly wait for USA Thanksgiving to be over so we could put up the tree and decorate the house. The guys hauled up 11 bins of ornaments, garlands, and lights from the basement. I had fun sorting and giving away the ones I didn't treasure. (6 bins full!)

A peek through the sliding windows
to the conservatory
It took a week to get Christmas-y things settled throughout the living room, dining room, and kitchen.

My husband and sons moved the LR sofas to the conservatory in preparation for our annual faculty and friends party. (Hmmm. I overheard our married sons telling their wives how wonderful they are because the gals leave their furniture in place, unlike I do.)

This was the best week of all. Out went everyday necessities from countertops and windowsills. In came the festive tablecloths from the guest room closet. In came the bin of ornaments reserved for table decor. In came the Christmas dishes and serving pieces. In came the tasting cups and cake plates.

Tables are set for company
As usual, there were a few hiccups. Breathe in. Move forward.

Sunday, our son and daughter-in-law got the stomach flu so wild-baby-mover-and-shaker slept at our house overnight. Good Opa went to pick BabyK up while her parents suffered in peace. W got up a few times Sunday night to check on her while Oma slept with earplugs and a clear conscience. This rested Oma went to an early exercise class, cooked the meat stuffing, and when BabyK woke, added her to my party prep. BabyK played in her bath with her light-up duckies and Tupperware measuring cups after the brined and stuffed turkey left the big kitchen sink for the oven. Good Auntie Kirsten returned our granddaughter to her parents after lunch. A family effort and unexpected fun!

Appetizers: ranch dressing topped with
salty and savory

Once the turkey was baking, the counters cleaned, and the baby toys were put away, I relaxed by putting appetizers into tasting cups. Beautiful things feed my soul: ordering the food, colors, and rhythm of cups on glass trays energized me rather than feeling like "work."

We love having our guests here. We had some first-time guests this year, but some have attended every one of the last 25 parties. We've cancelled only two times in 27 years: the first to move into this house and the second to write my dissertation. Several old friends have sat at our table in little rentals before we moved into this home 18 years ago.

Those gifted for hospitality know it's not the size of the place but the intentions of the heart that call company to our homes. We also learn when it's time to play and time to do other things.

Glass cake servers re-purposed as
appetizer trays
Whether you are a carer, a pastor, a host, a server, or an administrator in a season of "Can't this year!" please don't worry. Your gifting will be renewed in due season. The God who made us soothes us and settles our hearts in changing times. Whether grief, loss, or other obligations overtake you, WHO you are will reemerge when things settle down.

This year if you're in the chaos of crisis, rest in God's goodness. He is enough. False guilt over others' expectations cannot help us move through busy times, stress, or unplanned challenges.

Candy canes hung on a painted
Royal Doulton vase
You'll be all the happier when you once again can "play" at what is most natural and satisfying to you.

I'm feeling utterly rested, utterly content this morning. Thanks, dear friends, for coming over to create another great memory with W and me! (And a special thanks to our whole family who work together to make such pleasures possible.)

Read more:
*Job answered the Lord: “See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.” Job 40:3,4

*The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2 NIV

*Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12 NIV

*Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

Moravian Prayer: Gracious God, at times we feel unable and unworthy to speak on your behalf. We feel ashamed or afraid. Instead, Lord, fill us with your words and your power and strength and we will speak. Amen.

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