Monday, December 21, 2009


{Note: I wrote the bulk of this post a few days before Christmas but decided not to publish it right away because I was feeling pretty crappy and wanted to make sure I wasn't coming across as too whiny or negative}

It's been a rough couple weeks. Two weeks ago I came down with a nasty gastrointestinal flu (my third in a year, if you can believe it). Over a week ago I caught a cold that refuses to go away. I've had laryngitis for the past three days. It's been very discouraging: I haven't been able to visit with my in-laws (we've been in Louisiana since Saturday), and communicating at all has been a chore. I haven't been able to talk to my newly returned sister on the phone or sing Christmas carols. I know three days doesn't sound like a lot, but try going even one day without talking, especially when visiting family.

This morning (laryngitis, day 3) when I woke up, coughing and still completely aphonic, I was overcome by a feeling of despair. My voice was worse than ever. I couldn't keep the negative thoughts away: what if it doesn't get better until after Christmas? What if I'm not able to sing with my sisters when I get home? I felt helpless and hopeless. Matters didn't improve much when I looked in the mirror and saw the beginnings of two (two!) cold sores on my lower lip.

Despite my best efforts (involving copious amounts of ointment and several prayers), those two cold sores have swelled my lip to a size even Angelina Jolie would be jealous of. Anyway, a little later, as I looked at my caricature-like lips in the mirror, I had to smile (though it looked more like a grimace) in spite of myself. And, later still, when I was mostly done wallowing in self-pity, I started thinking about Mary.

I felt out of control and helpless in the face of, let's be honest, a mild illness a couple days before Christmas.

Mary, no matter how faithful and chosen and amazing she was, must have felt somewhat out of control and truly helpless when her labor started as she rode on a donkey far from home. That feeling must have mounted as she and Joseph reached Bethlehem--finally!--only to find that there was no room for them to stay, no place for her to deliver her child. And then, as her contractions intensified, realizing that she would give birth in a dirty stable, surrounded by animals. Talk about helpless and out of control.

I would imagine she had a few moments of despair; perhaps she even snapped at Joseph. But I also imagine she buckled down, made the best of a bad situation, and ultimately chose to trust the Lord. I imagine she handled the situation with grace.

I wish I could say that I handle sickness and trials with grace; I don't. Generally. (Though every once in a while I do surprise myself). So here's one more resolution for the 2010 list: Be a little more like Mary--"be it unto me according to thy word."

{Post-Note: I started getting my voice back the next day. Though it was still dry and somewhat scratchy, the planets aligned and miracles occurred and I sang with my sisters at my sister Sara's homecoming. Just one more ounce of proof that I need a couple more mustard seeds-worth of faith that God is mindful of me.}

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Addition

Well, we spontaneously decided it was about time to add to our little family:

Meet Lucy.

She's about four months old and as cute as they come. We found her near Jay's grandma's house out in the country. For a feral cat, she sure warmed up to us fast. When it was time for us to go back home, I didn't want to leave her. Jay was surprisingly amenable (he later told me he'd been planning on getting me a kitten for Christmas), and we packed her up in the car and drove the seven hours back to San Antonio as she slept peacefully in our laps.

Lucy is fun. She's a mix of spastic and extremely good-natured. She loves the Christmas tree... a little too much. We quickly had to move all the ornaments from the bottom half of the tree, and as you can see, the lights from the lower branches are on the floor.

She's loving and playful and soft. She curls up next to us on the couch and runs to greet us when we walk through the door. I've been lavishing all of my pent-up maternal instincts on her (poor cat!).

Of course, most of the time she looks like this:

And after her bath, she looked like this (note that she's hiding and glaring):

We love our kitty!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rum Pum Pum Pum

I've never liked "The Little Drummer Boy." It's not that the tune is bad--I find the redundant melody rather soothing. I think a lot of it has to do with the lame attempt at onomatopoeia in the "rum pum pums" and, of course, the following jarringly off-key "ching ching" of a triangle or finger cymbals (I would personally like to punch the face of whoever decided the triangle was acceptable punctuation for symphonies and orchestras).

And then there's the lyrics: the story of the kid who plays a drum for baby Jesus. I remember my mom once skeptically questioned the idea that an infant, even the precocious infant Jesus, could volitionally smile at someone. I always envisioned this little boy with a snare drum strapped to his chest a la marching band. Rat-a-tat-a-tat-tat. Let's face it: drums are just not solo instruments. But even if he was lugging timpanis (the classy member of the drum family, in my opinion) to the stable, the resultant sound would still be a far cry short of a lullaby. What a joke. A drum solo for baby Jesus; honestly.

But then I thought about how little any of us have to offer the Savior; about how my small offerings--three steps forward, two steps back, and held in my tightly clenched fists--are really nothing more than pitiful noise in the vast scheme of things. So maybe my attempt at living a Christlike life is at times grating or useless--rat-a-tat-a-tat-tat--but it is earnest. And, really, it's all I have to offer.

And, thankfully, it is enough.