Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Christmas Cards

Christmas CardsIt’s that time of year, a time when I aspire to share a greeting with everyone in my heart.  The perfectionist in me declares this should include a summary of the past year (or more if I didn’t get cards out the year before…or the year before that), a picture of my family (of course, dated and labeled with names and ages of each person), and a Christmas card that fits the person I’m sending it to in some way (or at least myself or our relationship).

I imagine a snowy, quiet day in which I would carefully select the fountain pen from my collection that has just the right nib size, barrel thickness, and color to fit my mood and size of my handwriting needed for the card.  I’d choose cardinal red, gemstone green, or perhaps cocoa for ink, and let my heart-felt words of thankfulness for our friendship and best wishes for the coming year flow onto the page while my favorite Christmas music played in the background and a peppermint candle flickered.  I could happily pass a day – or more – in such occupation, and there were days in the past when I did just that.

Today was a day with the perfect, gently falling snow.  A peaceful Saturday.  A day with no outside obligations.  Perhaps I could…

But, it was also a normal day with my sweet Four, the five-year-old singing loudly and dancing haphazardly, the toddler crying (for milk, for help opening the baby gate, for justice when big sisters are mean…), the three-year-old unable to nap and needing help with every single paint jar lid when the rest of the house was quiet, and the baby apparently not being satisfied to play alone on the floor nearby.

A couple of years ago, I would have probably felt frustration and loss, perhaps even a sense of being cheated out of something that I delight in.  Today, I knew it was important for me to share some of my words with a few beloved family members that were on my heart.  I hoped to finish six cards (instead of the close to one hundred I’d love to prepare and send)  – without the year’s summary or thoughtfully selected card.  I traded the bliss of my fountain pens for a ballpoint to avoid the fear of an accidental spill and to save the time I’d spend deliberating on a choice.

I finished only two, but didn’t feel cheated.  I think that’s two more than last year.    And, there’s tomorrow to try for another one or two…  Right?

As I remember Christmas seasons past, my heart fills with joy in reliving days with such special people – family, school mates, college friends, roommates, lab mates, church friends, band friends, and new friends.  I long to share with them how I treasure our time together and how dear they still are to me, despite the distance of geography and time.  I sincerely hope I’ll be intentional and focused enough to send some words to many, even if it’s after Christmas.

But, today, I was telling dear ones how much they are loved.  I did so as I read Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs for the third time.  I did so as I admired her painting and served hot chocolate with whipped cream to my sweet, quiet three-year-old daughter while the other three slept.  I snuggled the thumb-sucking, blond-haired two-year-old after her nap.  I rocked my baby, singing Christmas carols to lull him to sleep.  I washed laundry, cleaned dishes, cooked a meal, and watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with my kids, all things that I didn’t do when I had the time to spend all day with a stack of beautiful cards and my fountain pen.

So, for those of you who are dear to me (I hope you know who you are.), please be patient.  This season of life is demanding and hard and RICH.  Please don’t take my negligence as a personal slight.  As I hear at the grocery store (whether with two kids or with four) on nearly every outing, I’ve got my hands full, and I haven’t yet learned to write with my toes.

And, if someday in the future, you receive a card like I imagine sending, please give me a call, because though I may be delighting in the writing I couldn’t do when the children were small, it will mean that they’re not small anymore, and I, well, I just have a feeling that I’ll be missing these days of slobbery kisses, a full lap, and perhaps even the loud chaos and sticky messes, and I’ll need a hug.

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The Dinner Parties are Back!

I have happy memories of hosting dinner parties during my single days in Nebraska.  These dinners gave me a chance to really cook (Cooking a big meal for just myself is not so fun.  I ate a lot of frozen pizza.  YUM!) and the times of fellowship were rich!

I can think of a dinner party here and there that we’ve hosted since I left Nebraska, but not the spontaneous kind.  How can I have a spontaneous dinner party, you may ask?  I plan the food and then start inviting people, somewhat “randomly” (Spirit-led) until I have enough people accept to fill the available chairs.  If someone already has plans, that’s fine.  I keep asking.  🙂

I remember one dear young woman in Lincoln, a freshman at UNL at the time, who stayed after church to help pick up bulletins.  We’d never met before that.  I invited her to join us at my apartment for lunch.  She got to know some of the older gals I’d invited that day.  She later said that invitation made an impression on her, and she quickly got connected at the Chapel.   (Yea, God!)

Well, I think those days may finally be back!  Last night, we were blessed to have one of my friends from my old job come to dinner with her husband.  I cooked Salisbury steaks, mashed potatoes, carrots, crescent rolls, and a Jell-O salad.  YUM!  (Maybe even better than pizza?)   I baked a homemade pumpkin pie earlier in the day for our dessert.  Nothing was rushed or stressful, and we had a really nice time visiting with our friends.  (Praise the Lord!  This was the first pie crust rolling experience that I didn’t want to scream and throw the dough out the window!  Maybe I’m getting the hang of pie-baking?  But, the evening wasn’t about the pie.  That was just my afternoon victory.)

I’ve had good intentions about having friends and acquaintances over for dinner since we came to this city three years ago, but I haven’t made it happen often enough.  I had been tired after working and too stressed to even think about planning something even as simple as a Sunday lunch menu.

Here’s hoping that the dinner parties really are back and that the Lord will use our home to bless others!  The fellowship is certainly a blessing to me!

~Dana

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When Everything Changes…

The last week has been emotional for me.  A dear friend of mine gave birth at 25 weeks gestation to a little boy, 1 lb. 11 oz., on Saturday.  I felt such joy for this couple as they met their much-loved, long-awaited, very special son!  Everything seemed to be going well for him when I received the news, and I looked forward to the months ahead when they would bring him home, when we would get to meet him, and when our children would play together.

On Monday, this dear child had some serious medical setbacks, and Tuesday night, he passed “from (their) arms to His” (from the headstone of another friend’s dear child).

In a whirlwind, their whole world changed as they saw their son enter the world about 12 weeks before they planned.  He was here!  “I’m a mother!” my friend said, in a joyful, but tired voice Saturday evening when she called to share the news.

And in just three days, sweet little David was gone.

I have not walked that road with the heartache and grief that I know must be greater than I can possibly imagine, but I want to be a good friend in this time of need.  My prayers are constant for this amazing couple but also include supplication that God would give me wisdom to find the right words (if any) and the best practical ways we can help these friends who have served and loved us in so many ways.

The funeral is Saturday.  Please keep this dear family in your prayers.

~Dana

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