Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thoughts on a tree

So you may remember a post from last December and early January where I talked about our tree situation in this house. To boil it down, Jeff likes a real tree, I don't mind it but I don't like the mess. (So weird for me right?) Last year our real tree died early so we ended up with a fake tree for Christmas. While technically I won the battle (and contest of wills) Jeff was really sad and I certainly didn't feel like a winner. The compromise was that going forward we would use the fake tree in another room to have the "perfect Martha Stewart" tree and then we would get a real tree for the front room to put up our mish mosh collection of ornaments from our childhood. Last Sunday everything changed. I went to church and the bulletin said that the church was looking for a Christmas tree for the new campus we are opening in Millard. They wanted burgundy and gold ornaments and lights if anyone had some to donate. That is when God spoke to me.

I didn't hear his voice but I knew as plain as day that I was supposed to give church my "Martha" tree. I pushed the thought aside because I was really looking forward to my "Martha" tree. When I got home Jeff and I split up to run errands and when I came home Jeff had bought a real tree. He showed great restraint this year and did not buy one that was too big or too fat. It really was the perfect tree. When I got out my Christmas decorations I pulled out the stuff I bought for my "Martha" tree and noticed that the ornaments were burgundy and gold - just what the church was looking for - and that is when I knew I had to give them that tree.

You see that tree was a symbol of vengefulness and stubbornness and disobedience. For those of you that have known me for a while you know I struggle with the Biblical concept of wives submitting to their husbands. What I finally realized was that it wasn't about not having a backbone or about being weak as an individual or about being a slave. It is about being a strong unit that works out compromise but when you can not work out compromise someone has to be "right" for lack of a better word and it is to be the husband. In our seven years of marriage we have never not been able to work out a compromise on anything - except the Christmas tree. (Crazy huh?) The fact that I can't let go of my tree is me being disobedient to him, to God and to my own heart. I am a pretty strong woman and I believe that God made me that way. I don't think the idea of submission in any way takes away from that - on the contrary, the ability to put aside my own will and stand in God's will for me takes strength of character and discipline. (I don't always have a ton of those two things but God has given me more of that lately too.)

The other reason I knew I had to give up that tree is because of what the whole concept of the "Martha" tree represented to me. See some people grew up with those kind of trees or like my best friend make them in to works of art. I was trying to be something I am not so that people would come in to my home and see my quaint little country tree and my sophisticated polished perfect tree and think I was all of those things. I certainly am more sophisticated than my family was growing up mostly because I lived in LA and was a victim of the keeping up with the Jones' culture but in my heart I am the sum total of my parents and I am proud of that. Most of the ornaments on my tree are handmade by my mom or Jeff's parents or in some cases Jeff himself and I love them. My mom and dad gave me an ornament every year while I was growing up and it usually represented something from that year. I have a pair of ice skates from the year I learned to skate. I have an Aladdin ball from the year I was obsessed with that movie. I have an engagement ring in a box from the year I got engaged. As I put all of those ornaments on the tree it is like walking through my past and remembering each year of my life. That is what my Christmas tree is all about - not perfection. I will confess I do stare longingly at the trees in department stores because their tidyness and symmetry are so appealing, but I love my tree and I will no longer be ashamed of my homespun tree.

When I took all of my still-in-the-box ornaments and my pre-lit tree in to the church office they were so thankful and thought it was so beautiful. Now hundreds of people can appreciate that tree and I can appreciate my country tree in all its splendor. (My camera batteries are dead but I will post pics of my tree soon.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Woman

I feel like a new woman this week. I am finally over the morning sickness, I think and I have some energy which is so exciting.

Okay let me back up and fill in the last three weeks' details.

Colorado was great. It was nice to see family and I felt a particular increase in my bond with Nancy - my step mom. Emelia really took to her because she was the only one who really let Emelia come to her. News flash, little kids do not like to have people force a relationship. It is tough because I really want her to just run up and hug everyone but she doesn't and I know that is a good thing but people have expectations so it is a little nerve wracking for us parents. It really is a tricky situation. Emelia was great in the car but tested her boundaries a few times while we were there. There was a lot going on, six adults surrounding her at all times plus trips to the zoo and the rock garden etc. I tried to give her a little leeway but I also was not about to let her freak out because she wasn't getting her way which she did a couple of times. All in all I needed a vacation from my vacation. : )

I came back and spent most of last week preparing to talk at our women's retreat for church. The theme was Walking by Faith - different shoes for different seasons. I was one of six speakers speaking about trying times in our lives that God pulled us through. For me that was the year that my mom died. Her death was terrible, the grief was overwhelming but I basically buried all of that under work, alcohol and shopping, with a dose of overeating thrown in for good measure. By the grace of God my loving husband stuck by me but finally on new year's eve of 2005 I just told God I couldn't take it any more and he took it for me. So anyway, I was nervous about speaking and really just wanted my story to help someone else in some way and wanted it to glorify God. The speech went well, the retreat was awesome and man was I exhausted. I spent most of Sunday and Monday trying to catch up on sleep and get some energy. I decided since I was feeling so much better I would try to take my regular prenatal vitamin since I have been taking a regular multi with a folic acid supplement. Bad idea, man was I sick. On Monday I spent all day throwing up and feeling miserable. Tuesday was much better and Wednesday was better still.

So that brings us to today when I can report that I think I have begun to nest. Yes I vacuumed out the light fixtures and dusted the fireplace after cleaning out the toy box and organizing the closets. Most women don't start to nest until the third trimester but I think my natural anal tendencies combined with the extra hormones get me going a little early : ) Okay, gotta go, I am off to clean the refrigerator coils!