28 January 2010

we interrupt this regularly scheduled program...

There are those moments in life when reality rears its ugly head and interrupts my happy little existence. Hearing about the devastation in Haiti was one of those moments. Today was one of those moments, too. As I sat in therapy listening to my son talk matter of factly about the death of his mother, I was overwhelmed with a sense of how screwed up the world really is. Kids shouldn't have a personal story that involves death and fear and pain. And they definitely shouldn't tell the story as if they were talking about their day at school.

I'm not having a new revelation. It's just something that's easy to lose sight of as I make dinner and pick kids up at school and supervise the daily chaos. I don't look at my kids on a daily basis and ponder the pain they've experienced in their short lives. I look at them and think that I wish they would obey the first time I ask or that they look funny in the red clown wig. I think about how blessed I am to be their mom. What I can quickly forget is that my blessing came at a terrible price: a mother who didn't live to see her kids grow up, a father who had to make an unbelievably difficult decision, kids whose lives have been turned upside down and now need to be pieced back together.

By the time it was my turn to hold my sweet boy and tell him how I felt about what he said today, I couldn't hold back the tears. I told him that it made me so sad to know that he was probably scared when his Liberian ma died. I told him that it made me so sad to know that she didn't have the chance to see her kids grow up. I told him it made me happy to know that his Liberian pa wanted to take care of him so much that now I get to have 3 beautiful kids.

I felt like a baby for crying all over my son, but it was actually good. His reaction to my tears took us to a new level, and now we know what we need to work on in our next session. And as much as it hurts, it's good for me to remember that life is hard and the world is a disaster and I know the only one who can look at the mess and make sense of it.

20 January 2010

Honoring Christmas: reflections

I don't know why I haven't been able to get my act together and post my thoughts about our Christmas celebration. It's probably that my mind has been going in so many different directions since the holidays, and I wanted to give Christmas some focused reflection as I consider what happened and what we might do differently next year.

Overall, I was very happy with the way we honored Christmas in 2009. Life in December ended up being a bit more crazy than I envisioned because I was mildly ill for a while and Peter's grandmother spent most of the month in the hospital. However, life would have been out of control if those 2 things had happened and our December calendar had been full. Having plenty of space built into our schedule gave us the ability to absorb the extra chaos without losing too much sleep or forgetting what the month was about. I'm thankful for Simple Mom's 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas. It was a useful tool for preparing holiday details even if I didn't complete it 100%, and it definitely contributed to my sanity in December. (And my sanity helps translate into peace and happiness for the rest of the family as well.)

The kids really enjoyed lighting our advent candles at dinner each night. Joshua initiated several conversations about hope in relation to advent. We all looked forward to reading our Christmas cards and praying for the family and friends who sent them.

We all liked our Jesse Tree as well. I loved using the ornaments from The Glorious Coming, but we were disappointed by the accompanying devotionals. Most were far too complicated for our kids. Instead Peter read the scriptures, and I paraphrased helpful reflections from the devotional. (The link says that the devotionals are being rewritten. I wonder whether they'll be more kid friendly.) Our only other problem is that being out a few evenings left us playing catch up. I think next year we will plan ahead to skip a few selected passages here and there so we don't fall behind.

Peter and I weren't very faithful doing evening prayers, so I can't really comment on whether we liked Phyllis Tickle's arrangements. We'll have to try again next year.

We loved thinking more about gift giving and considering what and how we give. We gave and received some very cool gifts and had fun in the process. It was very fun to be involved in an alternative gift market.

I'm especially glad we decided to choose birthday gifts for Jesus. We will definitely do it again but try to start earlier in December so we have time to wrap the gifts and have them under the tree. Talking with the kids about what kind of gifts would make Jesus happy led to our first discussion about homelessness and a more in depth discussion of HIV. We let each person vote on the gift they wanted to give. In the end, we had 2 winners and gave 2 smaller gifts. Joshua was certain Jesus would want a picture more than anything, so he drew this picture of himself helping someone with HIV who needed help in a storm.

As we head now into the new year, we will be considering how our experience will shape our lives apart from Christmas. Peter and I are talking about taking the kids to serve at one of the homeless shelters in town, as they really struggled to comprehend what it means to be homeless. I'm continuing to think about gift giving and all the great ideas I received from some of you over the past 2 months. As I process the ideas, I'll try to share them here from time to time. I'd love to hear your post Christmas reflections as well.

Previous Posts
Honoring Christmas: a series
Honoring Christmas: the hard work
Honoring Christmas: advent
Honoring Christmas: giving better gifts
Honoring Christmas: the cards are coming
Honoring Christmas: a baby is born
Honoring Christmas: gifts for the birthday boy

19 January 2010


I just updated our current reading list on the sidebar. I, who hate reading more than one book at a time, just finished a novel and am in the middle of 4 other books with several others that I'm anxious to start. I'll admit that I'm not making much progress, but it's fun to be reading at least occasionally. I missed it. Peter's been up late reading several nights recently, but he jumps back and forth between reading and remodeling.

My Honoring Christmas recap will be up by tomorrow morning. I should definitely win some kind of award for blogging so consistently.

13 January 2010


I must confess that I've become so desensitized to pain and suffering and natural disasters that I really wasn't even upset when I first heard last night that there was an earthquake in Haiti. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it's true. Today, however, as I listened to the news on the radio, I was overwhelmed by the tragedy of it. The loss of life. The devastation to a country already experiencing great poverty. The need for more help than I can imagine. The fact that I have friends here in Norristown who are Haitian and likely are still waiting for word from their families back home. What happened in Haiti is horrific, and it's not OK for me to ignore it.

I think Scot McKnight said it perfectly today:

I make no claim to know what God is doing in Haiti, but I do know that God's intent is to reconcile all things to himself and so, in prayer, in giving, and in mobilizing humans to help the suffering of Haiti, we commit ourselves to enter now into the work of binding up the brokenhearted and healing the wounded.

May we crawl, with God, into this rubble and be the presence of God, bring the presence of God, and lead Haiti into the healing presence of God.

12 January 2010

redefining faith

I haven't been very communicative so far this month because life is full. It's mostly the good kind of full. We're dreaming some new and exciting and a little bit scary dreams. Maybe I'll get to share some of them with you sometime soon. We're at another one of those points in the journey where God is stretching us just a bit, and we're waiting to see what he wants to do. I like that feeling even when it scares me. Then I read about Katie, and I have a new definition of living by faith. I feel challenged to dream bigger and expect more. It's a pretty overwhelming feeling. Peter might get home from volleyball and regret that he left me home alone to dream for 3.5 hours. Thanks, Alanna, for introducing me to Katie. I had seen the Amazima badge on friends' blogs before, but I never knew the amazing story behind it.

06 January 2010

I found it!

On Tuesday morning we realized my engagement ring was missing, and a desperate hunt began. I had several logical theories regarding its disappearance, but we weren't having any success with the search. I was giving up hope of ever seeing it again, and I've been struggling with the fact that it's just material stuff and shouldn't be the most important thing to me... but it's my engagement ring!

A few minutes ago I was hanging up the picture Joshua drew in children's church on Sun. I had taught about Jesus' miracle at the wedding in Cana, and we talked about how God still does miracles, both big and small. Each student drew a picture of a miracle that could happen today and wrote, "God's miracles surprise us." As I hung the picture on the fridge, I told God that I'd really appreciate a miracle, even if my ring isn't the most important thing in the world.

It couldn't have been more than 3 minutes later that I found my ring! It was nowhere near where I left it with my wedding band and was likely relocated by one of our cats. Now, you could say that the ring was there all along just waiting to be found. There's nothing miraculous about it at all. I, however, will chose to believe that God does miracles every day, and it's up to us to pay attention and acknowledge them.

Water for Christmas all year long

Several of you got excited about giving the gift of water after my first gift post back on November 13. Others bought yummy Christmas goodies from me and donated the cost to water or came to the alternative gift market in December and bought water gifts. While I do not intend to turn our family blog into an advertising campaign for all my favorite charities, I wanted to mention an opportunity for those of you who are excited about the simplicity of making a difference through giving water. We've been doing it for the past year, and I just signed up to do it again this year. It's so easy. Water for Christmas, a movement through charity: water, has a monthly recurring giving option. $20 gives clean water to one person for 20 years. That means $20 per month for 12 months changes the lives of 12 people forever. (What makes me especially excited is that it changes the lives of 12 Liberian people, and you know that we're big fans of Liberians.) I could tell you how enthusiastic I am about this simple opportunity, but I'd rather let you hear the enthusiasm from the woman who started the Water for Christmas movement in November 2008. Click over and read her dream of changing the desperate situation in Liberia 12 people at a time. Then consider whether you should be a voice for water starting today. If you want to join us, it takes about a minute (2 if you're slow) to do it with a PayPal account. If you don't have an account, you can make monthly donations by credit card or check.

05 January 2010

Christmas pictures

A full report on our Christmas celebrations will have to wait a bit longer, so I'm hoping that lots of pictures of our 3 day Christmas marathon will suffice for another few days. Stay tuned for pictures from the New Year-ish celebrations soon.

04 January 2010

simple but important things

We now have hot water and heat for the first time in 74 hours, and I just took a wonderful hot shower! As I hear the news about the "code blue" here in Norristown and Philadelphia and the efforts to get homeless people indoors during these frigid days, I am reminded how blessed we are that our chilly few days were only a temporary inconvenience while others a few blocks from here are in danger.

01 January 2010

happy new year from the Bowersoxes

We've been very busy visiting and celebrating for over a week, and the fun doesn't end until tomorrow evening. I just wanted to check in long enough to say Happy New Year to all of you. I'll be back to blogging after the weekend with lots of pictures from our holiday festivities and a report on how our plans to honor Christmas worked out this year.