Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing:
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
-Grace Noll Crowell

Cookies don't tell the story, however lovingly sugared and wrapped. Presents don't either. Lights, guests, travels and carols don't even come close. The true magic of Christmas is a heart thing, a realization that sinks to your core before swirling around your heart and surging to your senses. It's knowing that God could love someone like you... someone like me... deeply enough to show us. To come down here - here with our death and sickness and heartbreak and struggles - and offer up Himself... His love... in the most spectacular way. Cards, trees and egg nog don't tell that story. Reindeer and tinsel don't either.

God came down... God came close... and love, finally, had a name: Jesus.

Hoping that - whatever else may be lost, doubted, mourned, feared, or unrealized - you will join me in holding close this shining thing, this blessed Christmas day, until we feel the surge of that childlike faith again.

Happy, happy Christmas, dear one. -Brin

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Taking the Steps...

I don't suppose I'm unlike other girls out there... grappling with things life has dealt me, wrestling with pain people (mostly men) have introduced, struggling with questions that don't have answers. I have days when I look in the mirror and am struck by my nobody-ness, days when I feel the weight of rejection and failure in my bones. Then I have days when I look in the mirror and am struck by the realization that I was specially created in God's very image, days when I feel the wholeness of Jesus' love and acceptance cover me like skin.

Sunday night I got an email from my friend Scott who was, in his words, "deeply disturbed" by the Painting post. Do you not realize the price that was paid for you? he wrote. I do. He knows I do. And as a Christian with an audience, myself and others feel it's my duty to ensure my writing reflects that. Only some days I'm discouraged. Hurt. Angry. Careless. If, like Scott, you were horrified or disappointed by that, my apologies. This is a messy, thrilling life you're following.

So we take the steps slowly as we endeavor to get to a higher place. Some days we fly up the steps two-at-a-time. Some days we sit down on the steps and take a rest. Other days the climb seems too much... too steep... and we stumble down a few stairs before remembering where we're headed, then we put one foot in front of the other and start climbing again....

At least I do. At least that's how I'm taking the steps.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Painting

In my dream you were there. But she was, too. I woke up tangled in sheets, my pillow wet with tears.

I decide to go shopping. Still have so much to buy before Christmas. I drive to Jefferson, snatches of my dream sailing by like the cold, foggy scenery outside the window. I park the car. I'm careful to stamp my feet on the mat. Bells jingle as I lean into the shop door. No, not looking for anything in particular. I'll know when I see it. Thanks though.

In a dark stall by the back door I spot it, leaning against an old chair... dusty, forgotten. A painting. A mother and her child. My breath leaves me. The chair creaks as I sink down. I stare, seeing snatches of dream, hearing words in your voice. How long do I sit? When I stand up, my mittens are heavy and damp with tears.

It's only a few dollars. The painting. It wasn't special... or wanted. Just like me. It's meant to be. I drive it home and hang it on the wall.

At home, I gaze up at her and the baby in her arms. I muse until it's dark outside and the wine bottle is empty. I realize: I had such hope. I had such faith. I prayed wrong would fail and right prevail and in the end, I'd have you. You'd have me. And we... we'd have a family.

Instead I have a painting.

From the little that's left of me to all that lives with you, Merry Christmas. That's all I have to give.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

At Christmas play and make good cheer,
for Christmas comes but once a year.
-Thomas Tusser

Tiny sweaters, stiched from felt scraps and embellished with thread, buttons, scrap fabric yo-yos, and string. Could anything be more simple, inexpensive, and of good cheer?

I got the idea from Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle, a book Carla snatched out of my Amazon book shop in a Christmas Eve minute. (Thanks, Carla! Here's one of the projects I loved from the book....) The pattern for these sweaters is small and the teeny sleeves can be hard to fiddle with, but a cold winter evening under a blanket with fiddly handstitching spells ultimate comfort to me. Thus, my Small Sweater Garland was born.

Originally I'd intended to hang these individually from a small tinsel tree, but settled on stringing them from this string for now and hanging them from my dresser. (They have the string at Michael's, too.) The more I think of it, the more I think I will make enough for ornaments and a garland. Wouldn't this make a sweetly treasured heirloom for a special little girl you know? I thought so.

So I intend to add more as the month wears on: snowflake sweaters, embroidered sweaters, maybe even a polka dot sweater. Christmas time is here, after all. Time to play and make good cheer....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brin's Bargain Books

Okay. Strange time for this picture, I know, considering it was taken last summer as I lazily napped and read alongside the Dolores River in Colorado. Not Christmasy at all.

But here's the thing: while this little house is warm and Christmasy, the boxes of books scattered around are not. This little place is woefully short on space! So I've decided to fill my little book shop powered by Amazon with some titles I've lovingly read from the past few years at Freeman House. Some books were ones I've read and am ready to send along. Others were gifts or duplicate copies. Others were craft or cook books that I learned from and think someone else should get to as well....

If you're so inclined, hop on over to the book shop and grab something for yourself or a friend. (Click the link above... or the "my book shop" icon on the sidebar.) And please note that some of the books have my inscriptions or scribbling in them (where indicated only), or that if you'd like me to inscribe the book or write a special message, I'd be glad to do that, too. I even have some Freeman House cards left, the others destined for the history books...

Wishing you a cozy afternoon. -Brin