Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Christmas lasts about one week here in The Gilgers Compound. Along with the rest of the world, we do the Christmas morning thing with the kids and the presents. Topped off with a fantastic ham, mashed potatoes, green beans and pecan pie kinda meal, Christmas Day is nothing short of typical and wonderfully relaxing. Especially this year when I can’t do anything and must rely on my mother and Andy to do all the work. Then, we have the Gilger version of Christmas when the Canadians descend and we have another round of gift giving and whirlwind eating. This year was weirder than last, you’ll have to ask me later what I mean by that, but it became painfully obvious that the elder generation in this family is really starting to lose touch with their children. As dementia and stress set in, Andy’s parents seem to be trying harder and harder to please us with their gifts, and can’t seem to figure out who we are and what we’d like anymore. It is melancholy and sad. It is now truly the thought that counts.

New Year’s Eve is now upon us. This will be the biggest meal of the year. Our traditional Chinese Hot Pot. I know there are those of you that are on the waiting list for this meal. Let this be our practice run, and then we’ll have you over. If we were in Hong Kong, it is possible we would be eating outdoors. I remember as a child eating at makeshift outdoor restaurants. Strings of bare lightbulbs surrounding dozens of round tables with bubbling woks in the center. We’d wear our coats and eat this two hour meal outside.

New Year’s also calls for resolutions, I suppose. I don’t make them because I never keep them, but it’s a nice idea. If I was to resolve something this year, it would be to live more simply than I do now. Not that I want to change my lifestyle, but maybe my thinking in some ways. I will never be all that plain, but it wouldn’t hurt me to simplify. I’ll start with throwing out (or freestyling) all the stuff I haven’t used in the past year. I’ve got a few weeks worth of time on my hands.

Check with me in a month or so to see how I did.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Reflections on Christmas

Christmas is only about three days away now. My kids are really antsy, anticipating the fun of Christmas morning and opening presents. They were well prepared ahead of time that this year we would be doing things a little differently now that Mommy will be lying on the couch, recliner or in bed most of the time. But, they still are so excited that it's almost making them irritable.

We each year want so badly for Christmas celebrations to focus on the joyous birth of Christ and the coming of salvation through Him. We find we must remind ourselves that the holiday is about the virigin birth and not about gifts and eating cookies. As Christians we act almost pious when we say that we are "focusing more on the true meaning of Christmas" instead of the hustle and bustle of the holiday. But there is absolutely no way, short of going to live in a yurt in Mongolia for a month, that we can separate the secular traditions of winter holidays around the world with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Do you think that God REALLY cares? Do you think that when Christ was born quietly and humbly in a stable with only a few very smart men and lucky shepherds at his you think God was hoping that someday someone would decide we should have this big party and ceremony to celebrate this quiet birth? Do you think he intended for it to be a big deal? I don't. I don't think He intended for ceremony to get in the way of what it's all about. And now, there is no great distinction between the Santa Claus version of Christmas (which is also based on some facts) and the Bible version of Christmas (which is also based in facts.)

However, I sometimes think that God is exceedingly happy that we use Christ's birth as an excuse for getting together with friends and family. As an excuse for exchanging gifts, putting aside differences, for eating a great big fat meal together. As an excuse to decorate our homes for winter and bring cheer to the bleak winter landscape with our holly and ivy! I don't think he cares too much that we go overboard on spending for our children (if we can) and spoil each other a little. I don't think he's keeping track. After all....Jesus Christ was born to bring LOVE back into the world. If he can do that by giving two "non believers" a reason to go to a party and exchange gifts with each other, then GREAT! If he brought LOVE back by reconciling a daughter with her family over turkey dinner, then, that's what he wanted to do, right? If a kiss under the mistletoe is what makes my heart full of love for once, then Jesus came for that, didn't he? I personally think St. Nicholas was a really awesome guy! He had the right idea. He loved people.

I want my children to celebrate the birth of Christ right along with me. But, I don't want to exhaust myself trying to explain what advent is or make myself feel guilt over having a really fun time with the holiday either. I love shopping, baking cookies and wrapping presents. I love bringing greens inside and decorating a tree with silly little sentimental trinkets. I love mistletoe and egg nog and sleigh rides and jingle bells. And I am pretty sure that Christ doesn't care that I like all that stuff. I think he's having fun trying to keep up with my swirling thoughts. I think we should have this great winter holiday and call it just that. A "winter holiday" and keep it as wild and crazy and flamboyant as possible.

Then, I think we should solemnly and quietly celebrate the birth of Christ. We should have candlelight services with carols and scripture and prophesy read. We should shout "hallelujah" just as I am sure the angels did. Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth. Then, bring ourselves as gifts to the altar before the Christ. We should talk about nothing else but the birth of Christ around our dinner tables and read the scripture stories over and over to our children for a week. The one from the Bible, not Jotham's Journey or the story as viewed by the mouse under the hay. Teaching them, and teaching eachother, how great LOVE entered the world that day. How from that humble cry, that nursing baby, came light and hope and love everlasting. That without that baby boy, we would have no reason to live. Pour out our hearts to our kids about the love we know and how we have come to know it. No fluff, no fuss, no gifts, no trees, just celebration in it's rawest form. Then we should be done and begin to look towards Easter with anticipation.

And I think we should do that in March or some other equally quiet month when no other holidays clutter the calendar! Then, and only then, might it really mean what it should.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Month to Ponder Life

So, tomorrow I trust the doctors with my body while I sleep through a fairly violent surgery I think. Apparently I need a cardiothoracic surgeon to help out my neurosurgeon since there are too many major blood vessels to contend with on the way to my spine! Thank God for insurance, since this is likely a $100,000 morning without a doubt.

I am terrified. Not of the surgery, I know that'll be great, but of the recovery. After coming home I have to be so very very careful not to screw up everything that the good doctors have tried to fix. No lifting, driving, bending, carrying, turning or pulling anything incorrectly for at least a month. So that means, I need a babysitter for myself and I am at the mercy of anyone that loves me enough to get me out of the house.

I am NOT a good sit-down kinda person. I won't be able to work for a month, which besides the financial strain that will place on us, will likely make me totally insane!

Oh, will also fix the pain I have been in for over 13 years now and that will all be worth it. I just wish my kids weren't so worried.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Back To School!

So, I am finally taking the plunge back into school. It has only taken me fifteen years and a lot of avoidance to finally get off my tuckus and figure out what it is that God has been calling me to. I have loved my nursing profession but it is just not what my whole life is about. I love the job I have now in sales (yes, Jon, I do) and I don't want to ever not do that. In fact, I think I'd have a pretty good head for business given half a chance and would love it. I like making money and working and all those things and I am not ashamed to say it. I could be content to work in the business world forever.

However, in my personal life, God has been whacking me over the head very very firmly for a few months. I have shared before about my relentless pursuit of my God and how much I want to know him and serve him and live under his covenant and grace. So....I am headed back to school to pursue a degree in Religious Studies with the idea of some day doing some chaplaincy work. Maybe on a volunteer basis. Maybe getting the classes to just deepen my own faith and stretch my soggy brain a bit. I really don't know what the final picture holds. I just know that it's now or never, said He, and so here I go.

There! I have said it out loud, so now I must follow through! I will be doing this online through Regent University, which is not my first choice for schools, by all means, but is the only one that offers what I want completely online. I'd like to get enough under my belt that I can then perhaps attend class in a classroom locally, there just isn't much around.

So....since so little actually happens in my life, here's one more thing to add to my list!

Pray for me please. I may or may not make it through this with the patience that I need without prayer support (and offers of babysitting on occasion!) I'll be working full time, being a mommy, daughter, wife, friend, and student. No problem!!! AAARRRRGGHHH! But, if you know me at all, you know that I thrive on a little chaos.

I'll keep you posted. This starts in January.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Bible Is A Lie (And other things your kids hear)

My daughter's friend was here yesterday for hours. In fact, she's a neighbor of ours, and about 3 years older than Erin. Erin is 7.

Each day I pray with my children before they leave for school. I tell them constantly how magnificent God is. How REAL he is. How he is responsible for every breath that they take and that any minute now he's going to ruffle their hair. I am forever telling them that He can do Anything they ask of Him in faith and that He will always do what is best, even if they don't think so at the time. My goal in life is to leave a legacy of faith and amazing reliance on the Grace of Jesus that my children will want nothing more in their lives.

But, my daughter's friend told her yesterday that God "isn't real" and that "the Bible is a lie."

When I asked Erin what her response was, she said:

"I was drawing a picture of the Bible. I told her that God was real and that all you have to do is look out the window to know that!"



As a young Anabaptist wife I am in a unique position of being married to a veteran of the US Army. I am also the daughter-in-law and sister-in-law of veterans. Andy's Dad served proudly in WWII on board a ship as a radio man.

Veteran's Day this past weekend went by quietly for the most part. In our home, the men spent the day watching old war movies like Torah, Torah, Torah!! and documentaries about the Japanese and American air battles over the seas of Japan and Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal and wherever else. (I admit that my grasp on the history of war in this country is limited as to chronology. ) There is a sense of pride and honor displayed in my husband when he talks about the military and his time there. The uniform, the ribbons, medals and other formal outward shows of valor mean a lot to him. (And, I admit to being very thankful that he learned how to iron so well).

There has always been a struggle in our home between the idea of being members of a peace loving congregation and the fact that my husband's family is rife with military personnel. That is the one and only thing about the Mennonite Church that Andy has not ever been able to reconcile with his own personal beliefs regarding war. Steeped in tradition and the culture of his life is military pride and steeped in mine is the idea that war is evil and wrong and totally against God.

Listening to Titus speak on the effects of land mines and cluster bombs years after the war was a grim reminder to me of something in my childhood that frightened me very much. Living in Hong Kong in the 70s and 80s, there were still many remnants of Japanese occupation of the city during WWII. A commercial on tv warned of the dangers of picking up unexploded bombs and landmines. I remember the commercial...a group of people hiking in the hills and find something interesting laying in the grass. Someone picks it up, only to have it explode in their arms and then there is just blood everywhere. As a child, that commercial terrified me and I was always worried about stepping on something like that when we would go hiking to the old battlegrounds in the hills.

I wish to applaude the efforts of Brian in our services over a few Sundays to recognize the men of the US Army that are fighting in Iraq along with the Iraqi people that are suffering. While I personally believe that violence only begets violence and that Jesus would be the first to campaign for peace without arms, we cannot deny the human toll this will have on our country as well as others. The American servicemen are no less human than their Iraqi counterparts, yet we vilify them for being involved in a war. We have somehow concluded that the only suffering in war happens to the innocent civilian victims of the war and don't have much sympathy for the suffering of the soldiers on either side. Let's keep remembering that there are mothers and sisters and wives and daughters on all fronts that are heart broken, hurting and need our prayers and support. These are the families that we will run into every day in our communities...we need to be prepared to love them and help them. We need to be ready to honor the sacrifices that they have made in their lives as human beings. We must be careful not to hurt them more by condemning their actions as evil and ungodly. We must be careful, oh so careful, not to judge.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Side of Motherhood

Being a mom is just the hardest thing I have ever done in my life! It tries the very edge of patience nearly each day, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am writing a book called "My Side of Motherhood" and I hope one day it will be published. I think there might be people who would enjoy it, if not.....oh well.

It is a book designed for the real mom. Y'know the ones who have real issues. All glory is given to God for giving me a sense of humor when there are Cheerios permanently embedded in my beautiful kitchen tile and ketchup is a vegetable at my table! But, I find myself so often reading books about how wonderful motherhood is always and that's just not true! Flip little devotionals designed to get you through the day..yeah right! No offense to those writers and the readers who read them, I really like those books, but I think it's about time for a mother who hides in the bathroom to get away from the noise to step up and speak!

I do love my children, and without them, I just can't imagine. Here are a couple of exerpts from the book that are more serious. Let me know what you think.

I wake up and try my smile on.
It doesn’t fit yet.
Sleep calls me back under the warmth
But a cry calls me out.
Somehow morning came again and I am not ready.
The little feet and mouths
That follow me all day and demand of me
Make me tired.
Whose idea was this anyway? To have these little ones.
Was it mine? Was it his? Or did we just not think it out?
My plans are undone while little bodies get dressed.
My desires are pushed back while little bellies get fed.
My books go unread while silly games are played.
My God gets ignored while I wipe sleep from my eyes.
In each eye I see trust.
What did I do to deserve that? Why do I want that?
On each tongue I hear love proclaimed.
How will I ever protect that?
Can I return it the way they need?
I tuck them in. Tuck tuck tuck tuck tuck and a kiss.
Back out the door.
Turn out the light. Finally, rest.
For me.
But, I can’t. They’ll stop breathing if I’m not watching.
They’ll be taken in the middle of the night and I’ll never
See them again.
They’ll get cold if I don’t check.
They’ll be lonely. Scared. Afraid of the monster under the bed.
Each heartbeat depends on mine.
I fall asleep with the start of a smile
And a tear waiting just on the edge of my lid.


As I tucked my ten-year-old son in to bed last night, he did a weird thing. With closed eyes and sleepy limbs he seemed to wave his hands over his stomach and chest before he pulled the covers up. There was something very deliberate about it though and it took me a minute to figure out what he was doing. I stood and stared for a minute before I asked him, "Do you do that every night?"
"Yes," he replied. "I always do that. It helps me feel safe."
It seems that my most profound moments with this child are when he is half asleep. This is the same boy who sat and talked to God at the foot of his bed when he was yet in diapers. And last night, he did something so simple yet so subconsciously that I wondered how often and how long he had been doing it. It is apparently part of his bedtime ritual, performed with the fog of sleep closing in, yet so meaningful to him.
He was crossing himself. Making the sign of the cross over his body to protect him from harm and notify the world that he is the child of God.
When will I be so entrenched in my relationship with my relationship with Jesus, that even in my sleep I invite him to be with me? When will it be second nature to me to call out to him, rather than a last resort when all my attempts otherwise fail?
When will I ever learn?

Unashamed Desire!

Unashamed Desire

I have fallen in love many times in my life. At least, I think so. The heart fluttering, sweaty palms kind of nausea that we come to recognize as falling hard. I have never been a man, but I imagine these feelings are similar for them. I have watched otherwise normal men I know get really foolish in the presence of women and can only imagine they are ready to buckle any minute. It’s great! If only it could be bottled and sprayed on every morning, the aroma of that kind of fresh new love would sustain us all through each crazy moment!

I remember the night I met my husband, I didn’t actual fall in love….I jumped feet first towards it and landed hard! And then I pursued this man. I called him all the time. I sent him balloons. I worked night shift and would stay up all day if it meant I’d get to hang out with him for a while. I memorized his voice, the way he walked, and I couldn’t get the thought of him out of my head. The first time he held me I nearly fainted, I felt so safe. He’d say things to me and I’d believe everything he told me about myself. He told me I was pretty, I was fun and one day that he loved me. I was relentless about wanting to be with him in every imaginable way. Nothing else in my agenda mattered if the promise of his time was there. I wanted to get to know everything about him. To learn his likes, his dislikes and what his dreams were. Every day I was excited to learn something new and I couldn’t wait to build a future with him!

I have begun to feel that unabashed, unembarrassed, anxious, impatient desire again. This time though,not with any man, but with my God. Jeremiah 1 says that before I was even a thought in a woman’s mind, He knew me. It doesn’t say that I was an afterthought or that I was someone He’d like to get to know, but that He already KNEW me! Wahoo! He has always known me, now I want to know him. He wants that too, and has made it really simple for me to do. In my hands, I hold His words and thoughts. He has written me a love letter and each morning I read another page. I have begun to read His Word as though it was written just for me. Each letter penned with love and a passionate desire for me to learn to know Him and everything He dreams of. I want to immerse myself in Him. Not only to hide His words in my heart in order to stay blameless, but to turn to his Word for everything. My first answer to any question should come from His heart, not my own. I want to drown in his love, to breathe out everything that I breathe in from his letter to me. Each night as I lay down, I tell Him that I can’t wait to talk with Him again in the morning, and the excitement I get when He wakes me is awesome! It’s that fresh new love, sweaty palms, crazy excited feeling again. I can’t wait to hear what fantastic thing He’ll teach me about my life and his desires today.

I have found in Him my perfect friend, wholly sovereign authority in my life and the lover of my soul. In the words of Moses to the Lord, “You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pure Joy in All Things

I met an amazing kid a few months ago. He is eight years old and one of the smallest eight year olds I know. He doesn't have a lot of coordination, his speech is sometimes a little hard to understand and he isn't all that great at the game of basketball. That's where I met him, when I was helping to coach my son's basketball team. This young man was one of our seven players.

Like I said, basketball isn't his thing, and I am not sure that any sport will be. His shots were "granny shots" to say the least, and he had a hard time dribbling without the ball getting ahead of him and then landing on the court, knees first. But he had FUN and didn't give up! When one of his shots made it through the net, the smile on his face just lit up the room! When he got the ball in hand, his determination was something we could all use! He just kept going and going and going.

Most of the other boys were going for fancy three pointers and under the leg dribbling during practice, but this little one just plodded along. He improved a little by the end of the season, not a lot, and didn't make any amazing plays or dunk shots.

He did, however, change my life a little.

If I could for just one moment, be that joyful in my life, I would give my weight in lollipops to know what that feels like. His joy, even when he was frustrated, he had a joy that eminated out of him. Life is really simple...just give it all you've got and have fun with it!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Pain is a Pain

I have no idea how much longer I can put up with the physical pain my body is in. The only time I really feel good is when I am doing something physical/mental at the same time. Otherwise, the past few days, this pain has gotten intensely worse.

I am now told that I have to have surgery. Financially, emotionally and physically, that is the absolute last thing I want to do! But, after putting this off for 13 years now, it is time. I only wish I could wait until summer was over, but I don't know if I can.

I am also pretty sure that unless I go back to school for four years, I will not be able to function as a nurse in this county any longer. The only jobs open at the moment for LPNs are those in long term care or doctor's offices. I cannot physically do the work of a long term care nurse, nor do I want to, that isn't my strong suit. I would love to work at the doctor's office full time, but wouldn't be happy there for the next 30 years either. These are my dilemmas.

So, a career change is in the wind. Something else that I have always wanted to do besides write. I already know how to sell things, so maybe a sales career. I'd enjoy that immensely. Something to help pay the bills, and something I'd love doing at the same time.

Who knows? I only hope that my God sees fit to make the way clear with the greatest of ease. I could really use a break!