Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Seder Meal

photo credit
For the first time, Phil and I participated in a traditional Seder meal together on Maundy Thursday with a handful of friends from church. A Seder meal marks the beginning of the Jewish Passover (the meal Jesus ate in the upper room with his disciples the night he was arrested), but you certainly don't have to be Jewish to participate in it.

We ate what Jesus and His disciples ate. We said what Jesus and His disciples would have said. We did what people for over two centuries have done on that night. And it made Easter weekend so much more meditative and meaningful. I could (should?) write for a long time about my experience that night, but for now, here are a few highlights:

Savoring. Since the food eaten is small-portioned and symbolic, a seder meal is slow and purposeful. I particularly enjoyed tasting each bite and drink, thinking on it with the intensity and alertness of a food critic because I'm usually scarfing down whatever is quick and easy.

Remembering. The slow pace clears space for reflection and remembering, which is one of my favorite themes throughout the Bible. Remembering takes time and conscious effort and, yes, slowing down. For this I-don't-even-have-time-to-eat mama, the slowing was not just my favorite part; it was the most essential.

Experiencing the senses. The seder meal engages all the senses. Obviously, taste is used most, with the specific foods and wine to drink, but beyond that, the sight of the table set, candles lit, and friends gathered, the smell of lamb, the feel of breaking bread, and the sounds of singing and corporate readings elevate this meal to something extraordinary.

It's a family thing. The meal was intended for entire families to enjoy together, and parts of the meal are specifically designed for children, having them look around the house to find hidden objects and recite parts of the readings. I love this. I love that young children were trained in the traditions of their fathers and that families sat down to meals together.

Historical. People have eaten this meal and said these things for over two centuries. It's humbling to be a part of something that started long before I was alive and will finish when Jesus returns. Makes me feel appropriately small and simultaneously significant.

Bitter-sweet. The meal is a combination of sweet and bitter foods--a tangible reminder that life is a combination of sweet and bitter moments--moments that Jesus himself experienced. I like that this meal acknowledges the reality that tears and joy reside together this side of heaven.

Jesus symbolism everywhere. You can't miss the symbolism. The most poignant example for me: throughout the meal, guests each have four cups of wine, standing for freedom, deliverance, redemption, and thanksgiving. The one Jesus raised when he said, "Drink from this all of you"? The third one. And before that night, no one ever actually drank that cup, they just acknowledged it. Can you imagine how shocking Jesus' words were that night? Just wow.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Noodle turns 6 months!

We've made it half a year, folks, and that's no small feat.

I should have named this girl "Light" because that's what she is wherever she goes. Her whole face smiles.
She's in that wonderful, fleeting stage where Phil and I are her favorite people and she kicks and squeals and smiles and laughs every time she sees us, even if it's four in the morning. That is a serious mood-booster.

She absolutely loves her brother and looks around for him if she hears him in another room and wants him to give her all kinds of attention. She likes to be around people, but can chill by herself for a while, and she's still sensitive, but toughening up a little, thanks to a certain rambunctious brother of hers. She's close to sitting up on her own, loves stroller and car rides, prefers to be outside, and has the most irresistible cheeks and thighs you've ever seen. Oh. My. Goodness.
While I've had my fair share of cry-praying face-down on the floor of her room while she battles reflux and we both battle sleep deprivation, I'm starting to see the light (no pun intended) at the end of the sleep-issues tunnel. Last night, for the first time in two months, I slept longer than 4 hours at a time. It was glorious!

I'm holding her long these days, taking in the sweet, squishy goodness of her, and praying for many, many more months and years in each other's arms.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Back in the saddle

For a while there I wasn't writing because I was just surviving. Like trying to sleep and eat enough in a day kind of surviving. The last couple of weeks I haven't been writing because I've been living again.

Got my hair cut (it had been 6 months).
Got a massage (thank you, Groupon and husband!)
Had dinner with my sweet cousin who's a JAG officer and about to move to Japan for three years.
Went on a day date with Phil where we went hiking followed by steaks at Outback.
Read a book.
Made a bunch of new recipes (and liked most of them).

But I may have overestimated my new-found energy because I also found myself signing up for a 5K and signing up to teach preschool VBS again this year. Wha???

Just to be clear, I haven't trained at all for the 5K and it's two weeks away. Honestly, I'm pretty out of shape. Remember those months of survival? Yeah, they didn't include working out. But my friends can get me to do just about anything if they say the magic words "I really need someone to do this with me," so here I am, showing up as a friend. Okay, okay, it's not just being a friend, although running with a buddy is definitely more fun. I actually kind of want to run. It's a good goal. A good cause. And I keep telling myself that as long as I go slow enough, I can run the whole thing. I'll let you know how that theory works out once I actually start training. Tomorrow, I think, sounds like a good day to run. Maybe.

I'd like to think this is how I'll look:

But let's be honest. It'll probably be a lot more like this guy:

It's cool, though. I get a free T-shirt of out of it and can say things like, "I can't do that on Saturday morning. I have to run a 5K." (For our purposes, we'll use the term "run" to mean anything from being carried to walking to jogging.)

Coming up soon:
  • Noodle turns 6 months
  • Moo's hilarious moments
  • Easter reflections

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Things Thursday

I know it's been a while. Like kind of a long while since I last wrote here, and today isn't going to be some well-written, deep-thoughts kind of post. It'll be more like catching up with a friend you haven't seen in a year--just the highlights. So, here's what's kept me away the past two weeks:

Thing One: Oral boards
Phil has been studying since January for his oral boards, which he took Monday and feels good about, although he won't find out official results until May 19. Let's just say that it's amazing from my end not to feel like a single mom anymore! The kids and I headed to my parents' house for six days while Phil did a review course for and took his boards, so that helped us finish this marathon I hope never to run again!

Thing Two: Serious lack of sleep
Noodle has pretty severe reflux so she hasn't been sleeping well and is still sleeping in a moving swing for naps and a Rock-n-play at night. I do what I've gotta do for us all to get some sleep around here. And yeah, I know what the books say. Fist punch to the books. If you'd been up 4-5 times a night for weeks that turned into months, you'd break the rules too. Translation: her taking 1-2 hours to go down at night = no time/energy to write. I also got mastitis for the FIFTH time in five months. Good gracious alive it's like the plague over here. So thankful for modern medicine.

Thing Three: I'm reading again!
I'm reading my first full book since Noodle was born: John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Really, really good. It's an easy read but doesn't compromise composition, character development, and style to make it an easy read. Highly recommend. I'm about 3/4 of the way through.

That's about it. Soon to come: pictures of the kiddos, deep thoughts, silly stories, recipes, and some more quality writing than this.