The thing I will remember about the last few moments of 2009 was the sunset! How lovely. It makes me long to be an artist or a photographer when I see sunsets like that. The sky is always the thing that gets me most about Texas. I came here from places with mountains, and since there are few to speak of in Texas, the sky just goes on forever and the sunsets are often fabulous. But tonight’s rivals many I have seen. The purples and roses layering together like a rumpled quilt in a fantastically comfortable bed. It reminds me, of course, of a poem by William Butler Yeats:

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

One thing I will remember about 2009 as a whole is the theme “Immanuel.” The idea of “God with us” has been mulling around in my head all year. And I am astounded at the complexity of that simple phrase. It is the stirring together of the ordinary with the extraordinary; the natural with the supernatural; us and God; (“together at last” as an old commercial noted about caramel and chocolate with the cookie crunch!)and it is fantastic, because it is the mark of the God who loves us. He is not a flash in the pan, dramatic God who likes to make a scene or put on a show for brief moments here and there. He is a real God who likes to sneak into the audience as our life plays out and show Himself strong on our behalf when our hearts are for Him! Then he sticks around for the ordinary everyday parts of our lives and deeply enjoys sharing each moment with us as He transforms us into the people we were always meant to be.

For Christmas, a dear friend of mine gave me an ornament that had the word “HOPE” on the front and on the back the inscription

“God with us.”
“AND his name WILL BE
the hope
MATTHEW 1:23; 12:21

I have a feeling that the theme of 2010 will be Hope! How fun that we are always moving from glory to glory, that we continue to grow and learn as each new year comes!

May each of you have a Happy New Year! May you find the Hope that does not disappoint, and may you be surprised by Joy around every corner!

Somehow my mom could tell if something had been knocked over or spilled or in some way disturbed even if my brother and I painstakingly removed stains, straightened, or righted all our wrongs. My dad called her inspector 12. She actually inherited her ability to see irregularities from my grandmother, who carried out every task with perfection and an eagle eye.

Once, though, my mom and my grandma and the US Air Force housing inspectors all missed something. Jonathan and I had what I will call a sticky hand for lack of a better term. It was a stretchy toy made of sticky, gooey material with a long arm and a hand shaped end. The object of the toy was to throw out the hand while holding tightly to the arm. It would stick to whatever object it came in contact with; and if that object were small or light enough, the hand would snap back to the holder with the object attached.

I think I was 12 when Jonathan and I were playing excitedly with this toy. The house we lived in had a high sloped ceiling in the living room with a long white beam across the high side of the slope. I don’t remember who dared who and who threw the hand at the beam, but the hand stuck and the arm was accidentally released. So there, dangling from 15 feet above, hung our sticky hand. We were terrified of my mom’s reaction, so we ran to find the yard stick and a chair. We successfully removed the sticky hand, but it left a smudge on the beam.

We didn’t have a ladder and so the smudge stayed. Jonathan and I awaited our sure doom when my mom saw the smudge. We could imagine her saying loudly, “How am I supposed to clean that up!?!” and shuddered to think of the consequences she would dream up for us having been so irresponsible. The doom never came, though. To our amazement, she just never looked up. We thought for sure our grandma would see it on one of her visits, but she also never looked up! For three years, Jonathan and I smirked at each other in amazement over the sticky hand escapade.

Finally, when it was time for us to move, we were sure we would hear it! When a military family leaves a base house, it has to be cleaned to inspection standard. This is such an area of stress for most military families that cleaning people who know how to clean for a military inspection make a killing, and people gladly pay to have them take care of that part of the moving process. We never once heard anyone—cleaning people, housing inspectors, anyone—remark about the smudge! When we had passed inspection, we went into our house for one last goodbye, and there Jonathan and I looked up at the beam to see the smudge STILL THERE!

We laughed then and never said a word (good brothers and sisters stick together!), and today, between that and a certain rotten potato incident from my early twenties, I am convinced that people don’t look up unless they are trained to. So as we prepare our little first home for putting it on the market in the New Year, repainting the ceilings is last on my priority list!