February 8, 2001 was the first time my husband and I went to bed mad.
Are you wondering what the HECK kind of record keeper I am?
We had been given the age-old marriage advice, “never go to bed mad” and having been married nearly 2 years, this was the first time I laid my head on a pillow in silent treatment furor and thought, are we really doing this? they say not to do this… but we are.
Morning came, and Brian was awake early to take his dad to the airport. He left silently before I knew any different.
My alarm went off and I was soon showering to get ready for work. The phone was ringing but I didn’t hear. It rang again as I was toweling off. I answered and it was Brian.
“Umm. Did I leave my wallet on my nightstand?”
I looked across the room. “Yes, it’s here.”
“Okay. umm… I need you to bring it to me… I was in an accident and the police need my license.”
He was talking to me so I assumed all was well, but I wondered out loud… “Are… the other people okay?”
“I don’t know… I really hope so.” The way he said it was most compassionate.
He doesn’t KNOW? Did he not exchange insurance information and look the cars over? … My brain went to near mush. There were others. He doesn’t know how they are. Wallet. Dry yourself. Hair Gel. Brush Teeth. Clothes on. GO. The whole drive there was shaky and surreal, like when you end up somewhere but you forget how.
He told me he was with a police officer to the side of the road at the bottom of the north side of the bridge. I needed to get it right because these were the days before cell phones. ”You’ll see me” he said. Okay. I was going to look for a police officer. He was probably getting a ticket, or completing a report…my thoughts were stuck on the fact that he said he didn’t know if the others were okay.
I noticed there weren’t many cars coming over from the north side of the bridge. I crested the top of the bridge just after sunrise and nearly lost all feeling in my limbs when I saw what was before me. I was prepared to look for a police officer off to the right side of the road chatting it up with my husband. What I saw instead was a sea of mostly red & white and some blue lights.
I slowed down. I began to physically shake and I gripped the steering wheel tighter for leverage and control.
My eyes scanned the scene, and I saw where a wreck had occurred. As I descended the bridge, my eyes caught a vehicle laying sideways just off road. The top was filleted open; something I had never seen before… and then I realized it was my father in laws vehicle. And I remembered that Brian was driving it that morning as he took him to the airport for an early flight.
I pulled onto the grassy median and coasted past the cars I had been following. I saw Brian standing there on the side of the road. I couldn’t feel my feet much less stand to walk, but I threw my car in park and somehow made my way to him, and he to me.
“I’m okay” he said, “I’m okay.”
“The others?” I asked?
“Life Flight took them a while ago.” I studied the scene in front of us knowing nothing of how this had happened.
A fence was bent, a light down, a truck bent in a V shape, and his dads brand new SUV was literally a flip top can as the entire top was laying across the sidewalk, cut by the ‘Jaws’ used to remove Brian from the vehicle.
We just stood there on the sidewalk, watching as they turned the Explorer from its side to its tires, as the top flapped and the car bounced. With tiny shards of glass on his face, he asked me to take him home and help him get the glass out of his clothes and off of him.
He gave the officer his license, thanked them for the help and we began to walk away to my car. It was surreal. Was that it? Do we just turn and walk away from here?
“Ma’am…” I heard. I turned around.
A female officer was smiling from ear to ear. Wide eyed she said, “Ma’am, I’ve just got to tell ya, you should’ve seen your husband. He was sitting there sideways in the car all that time and there was this space all around him… it was like someone was holding him there in his seat.” Her hand was cupping the air as she described it to me.
I was partially appalled at her excitement, but also appreciative that she had just described a picture to me, so vivid, I would grasp hold of it for years to come. “Officer, I believe YOU saw the hand of God holding him this morning.” I am so thankful she called out to me on the sidewalk and described something that Brian could not.
What he did describe to me was the sound of the car crunching all around him like a can as he rolled, the helicopter landing nearby and later the car being cut open to release him. His glasses had fallen off his face and landed on the street. He could see them, but they were out of reach. When later retrieved, they were unscratched. Pretty incredible. He described the kindness and concern and efficiency of all of the emergency workers. And he told me he was sorry we went to bed mad. We went home and I took the glass out of his forehead, his eyebrows, his neck and waist where it had settled. I was amazed how a huge sheet of glass could just turn so fine and sliver-like.
I arrived at church where I was a receptionist, later that morning to work, and soon called my mom. She was audibly shaken as she described how our friend Todd, who worked with my mom, was on his way to work that morning and came upon the scene of a terrible accident. As he passed, he said he felt so much compassion for the man hanging in the vehicle and he could just pray for him. Then I told her that man was Brian.
When I hear emergency vehicles, I feel like I am being signaled to pray. Someone, somewhere is waiting on help. And in the meanwhile, before they arrive, I ask the Lord to be near to them as specifically as they stand in need of it, just like when He held Brian, suspended sideways in the vehicle as the others were attended to. When he recounts the story of the accident every once in a blue moon, you can hear the helplessness in his voice, but we were so thankful to know the other 2 passengers did recover from their injuries.
The year ahead was undoubtedly one of our most difficult, as he was in a great deal of physical pain and mental & emotional frustration over it. The beauty of that year though, had already been rolled into action as he was invited to participate in a book club of sorts with a group of men he looked up to and admired. He will tell you it was a foundational year in his walk with Christ and as a man and husband. And when the year ended, he was a new father, too.
A year or so ago, I heard there was a spiritual parallel to the “12 Days of Christmas” song… it’s a bit of an odd song, and often when I hear it, I have an internal sigh of we’re gonna be here a while with this silliness… I began researching, and as I did, I fell in love with it, discovering that each of the ‘days’ was to mirror a religious belief or ‘item’ if you will.
I’m very much a visual person, and also quite literal at times. I felt that theming a Christmas tree after the song would be a great way for me to commit it to memory and heart, and hopefully be fun for my family. I began researching birds… partridge, turtle doves, calling birds, hens… and doodling away with notes on each of the days.
My friend Emily and I were out to lunch this fall when she asked what I was up to lately. I smiled and said, “I’ve been designing a new Christmas tree… I just love when things point back to Jesus…” Her eyes grew bigger as I described it. Her excitement encouraged me beyond words, and she told me, “You HAVE to do this. You have to.”
So here is a bit of my slightly eccentric, visual-meets-literal side. The idea was planted a while back, and I am so happy to have brought it to the finish line in our family reading room.
A few notes on the meanings of each “day” and also some crafty info…
Partridge in a Pear Tree: The partridge represents Jesus Christ.
A partridge will give its life for its young – I cried when I read that. At the top of our tree, is a moss & natural fiber cross. On the right of it is mounted a bird (it’s not a partridge, but it is my favorite bird that I’ve had for years. Yes, I have random stuff like that). A banner drapes over it which reads “our one True Love”. I attached rice lights to reinforce the shape of the cross when the room is dark.
Two Turtle Doves: Old & New Testament
I had a hard time shopping for turtle doves. A lot of searches kept me coming up with white wedding doves, which were not what I was going for. One day, i went to the range to shoot a while and the sign declared that dove decoys were on sale. I laughed so hard – of course! My desire was to put a turtle shell on their backs. It didn’t happen this year – next year, they’ll have turtle shell backpacks, which I will likely paper mache / decoupage and attach. Also, their beautiful scarves are ribbon from artwork packaging I bought locally. I wrapped them as scarves around their necks and attached small identifiers, one “Old Testament” and the other “New Testament”.
Three French Hens: Faith, Hope, Love
Ahh, the world of taxidermy hens – very fascinating. The smallest hen on the tree is sporting a barbie size french beret. This hen was purchased on etsy and when I saw it, I had to have it – such cute curly feathers – they are real feathers. The other two are styrofoam hens with artificial feathers. This is great because they are so lightweight in the tree. This is the other unfinished portion for this year, as my vision was for one to have a satchel with paint brushes and watercolor set, and the other with french bread under its wing. They each wear sashes of ribbon stating “Faith”, “hope” and “love”.
Four Calling (also, Colley) Birds: The 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John
These are blackbirds, and I found them in various sizes. They represent the four gospels, and so to identify them, I made a ‘hello my name is (insert name)’ “sticker” and attached it to their chest.
Five Gold Rings: The Pentateuch – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy
These are styrofoam rings from the $1 store, which I spray painted gold and attached a starry gold wire garland of sorts to. The rings are identified by a banner with their given name and pinned into the foam. These were awkward to place in the tree because they can not be manipulated without breaking.
Six Geese a Laying: Six days of Creation
These sweet little geese are sitting in a moss topped natural fiber nest, and you guessed it, the nest is full of eggs.
Seven Swans a Swimming: Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
This is a mint condition Barbie pool from 1976! I bought it on etsy and could not have been more excited – when the pool arrived, I knew this tree was going to happen! Seven swans ‘float’ in the pool on rafts & inner tubes, and yes, there are a couple miniature ‘rubber ducky’s’. Go ahead, ask me what I do all day! Details, baby. The swans represent prophecy, leadership, ministry, teaching, exhortation, compassion & giving, which is listed on the “pool sign”.
Eight Maids a Milking: The Beatitudes
The maids ware as crafty as I got here… These are clothespin dolls. My dad drilled holes for the arm wires, my daughter sew’d the skirts… They were a little time consuming, but I think they are pretty special. I found these beautiful wooden buckets on etsy and was able to wind them into the hands of the dolls before I wrapped their arm, ensuring that the bucket will not be lost or detached. Each maid has a banner that reads one of the beatitudes. It may be attached to her hand or her bucket.
Nine Ladies Dancing: Fruits of the Spirit
Some days you just have to say you have nothing crafty left to give, and go buy what you need. These 9 pretty little ballerinas were waiting for me at Hobby Lobby and now have a fruit of the spirit attached to each of their backs.
Ten Lords a Leaping: Ten Commandments
I love the $1 store and one day I discovered that they have he-man style fighter dudes in there. I tossed 10 in my basket, positioned them in “leap” mode and gave them the Midas touch of gold spray paint! I glued some of their joints in place and made each a banner with one of the commandments on it. Some are over their heads, some out in front.
Eleven Pipers Piping: Eleven Faithful Apostles
Eleven disciples (Judas is not included) are represented with a wooden flute. One name is attached to each flute and they are positioned throughout the tree.
Twelve Drummers Drumming: Twelve Points of Belief in the Apostles Creed
Eleven drums and a cymbal create the base of the tree, wrapping all around it. I remember buying the first drum kit and thinking “My husband might think I’m crazy!” but nothing topped the look of disbelief on my best friend’s face when she went in my storage room and saw all the drums stacked and asked what they were for. Hysterical! …They do take up a good bit of room but they are worth every square inch!
Regarding the structure of the tree:
This is an old tree where the branches are placed one by one. I knew it would be perfect because I could shape it the way I wanted to. Because the drums took up so much space at the bottom, some of the lowest branches are placed higher and to support the swimming pool!
Lots of love to my husband who, when we married, did not know Christmas trees go up in the fall. I asked him recently if he thought I was eccentric about anything, and he smiled and said, “Yes, Christmas.” I’m so thankful he is a creative who understands the messy process of creating be it in time, attention, or with spray paint, hot glue or putting hairdo’s on clothespins… this tree could have been the tackiest thing I ever put in his home, and it may well be, but his encouragement for me to keep creating and finish what I started is part of both the sweetness & accountability of which I am so thankful in our relationship.
“You LOOK ridiculous.”
“These parts of your house are PLAIN.”
“She will think you are the weirdest lady EVER.”
In the past 48 hours, each of these things has echoed in my mind. Echoed… like, stays there… for a while. Gets said again. Doesn’t go away…
The enemy loves to do this. A loud whisper that continues to reverberate in my brain. It numbs me some moments. Some mornings. Some days.
But yesterday after I went up and down my stairs a handful of times looking for shoes, a scarf, a jacket, another scarf, different shoes… something to cover up the ‘ridiculous’, I decided that I was not going to be stunned by it anymore. I grabbed my keys and arrived to Bible study 20 minutes late. But I went because it is better to hear the actual truth than the lies that attempted to keep you from it that day.
And today as I thought about the “plain” of my house and the decorating holes my friends may see, and I decided that I’d rather it were really clean. Clean is something I can be pleased with, so I got to scrubbing. I don’t even have skin on 3 of my knuckles after all of it… and the happiness I feel after a hard days work overrides whatever plain spaces are around me right now. I will be exceedingly happy to fill it with friends this weekend.
I may well be the weirdest lady ever, but I was compelled to share some of my things with a new friend the day before yesterday. The offer rolled off my tongue and was as genuine as I get. And then I heard how weird that must be. But the multiple texts of thanks erased the accusers whisper of what I worry about entirely too much. And I was so glad that I was, in fact, authentically me. Loving others is never weird.
This week, I’m kicking the enemy in the teeth by going anyway, working and stewarding harder, and sharing when prompted. When I remember that he is under my feet, the echoes are cut off, and I am free.
Yesterday morning, I overslept.
Yesterday morning, when I was running carpool, needing to vacuum the living room before I left, put bread in the oven to bring somewhere, and have my face painted on and be dressed in something halfway presentable…so I could attend a parenting workshop because boy do I need it… by 7:15 a.m…. I overslept.
I was silently, most unkind to myself before my feet ever hit the ground.
I fumbled around to make lunches, sipping coffee that was 90 minutes on the burner already. Eyes half open and in the light of the refrigerator looking for something my daughters would like, and hopefully, I trust, eat… I dreamed that it were hot lunch day. Some people dream of exotic vacations, I just dream it’s hot lunch day. I checked the calendar and promptly unpacked the lunches I had just half finished. Aha! I’m ahead of you Friday. We have Thursday hot lunch.
I pulled on sweats and wiped yesterdays eye makeup from my tired reflection. Gripping my coffee I headed to the car. I was so very frustrated with myself. I wanted to go to this parenting workshop. I wanted to hear what the speaker had to share tailored to moms of girls. I need it. I need encouragement right now. Some days I wonder which of us won’t be making it out of middle school, because there are many moments that I think it’s me.
I pulled through drop off line. My friend was up ahead of me and she pulled over. Assuming she was slowly merging into traffic, I waited behind but she motioned me over. We sat, engines running, windows down, talking car to car. friend to friend. mom to mom. and then, heart to heart.
I could have gone to the workshop. I intended to until the previous 2 hours had imploded, yet the Lord had fresh mercy for me.
No doubt He heard the conversation from myself to myself lacking in anything positive or uplifting while my head was still on the pillow, after I’d made eye contact with the clock.
No question, He knows the tears I’ve cried recently and the encouragement I so desperately was seeking. He knows how flat out depleted I am; so much so that I can not even get it together to get up on time.
Yet in spite of myself, He allowed my path to cross with another mom, who encouraged me so very specifically. We sat there, cars side by side for almost an hour.
I totally got ministered to in the campus parking lot yesterday morning. I pulled away to leave feeling ready to embrace the day with a good deal more resolve than the last. Tears brimmed my eyes, but they were rooted in motivation to love my girls well and better. They weren’t the ones speckled with the sadness & shear exhaustion that I drove in with.
I am reminded that even when I mess up and my life needs realignment…. when I miss a great opportunity… it’s not a one-shot deal. When He wants to speak to me, He will. He will make a way.
I know wonderful things were shared in the workshop. What I really needed yesterday, though, I got - in the parking lot, wearing my sweats & day old makeup while clutching my coffee mug- I got it through the words of a friend telling me things only the Lord knew I needed to hear. Praise Him. He is near & sees & knows.
If my eyes do not deceive me, its been over 5 years since I posted a recipe on this site. I’m coming back swinging with something Brian and I had for dinner tonight. Finally – a salad that doesn’t leave us rummaging the refrigerator for a 2nd dinner meal by 8:15 in the evening… I call this the “Kitchen Sink Salad” … because literally, you might think we threw everything but the kitchen sink in it…
I was inspired when I saw this on pinterest a month or so ago… beautiful food photography always catches my eye and holds my attention. It looked amazing and I was very curious what it would be like. I do not have margin in my life right now for making homemade fries and blue cheese butter and all… perhaps those days will return to me, but for now I shortcut it and this is what we got.
And what we didn’t get? Hungry.
Here is my shortcut version of the gorgeous salad linked above:
Sweet potato waffle fries (from frozen, baked 1/2 hour and then cracked with salt & pepper) ($4)
Flank Steak, grilled and cut into bite size pieces ($15)
Hard boiled eggs (I like 3 eggs per salad, quartered or sixth’d)
Add these to:
mixed field greens ($3)
chopped avocado ($1.50)
blue cheese crumbles
candied pecans or walnuts ($2)
chopped, fresh basil leaves
Toss with Newman’s Creamy Balsamic dressing…
Top to bottom, this meal takes 1/2 an hour prep to finish… put the fries in the oven, throw the steak on the grill, chop some veggies, basil & eggs and throw it all together while it waits expectantly for meat, potatoes & dressing to arrive… It was around $28 to feed my family of 4 very generously this evening. We could have easily fed 2 more adults and everyone been satisfied.
What I love so much about this salad is mixing different flavors in different bites… Steak & eggs. Sweet potatoes & blue cheese. Basil & eggs. Avocado and nuts. Blue cheese & nuts, tomato and basil … every bite is different with a bit of lettuce for crunch.