The (Perfectly) Imperfect Christmas

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The grands got matching jammies for Christmas.
So, naturally, we wanted a photo of them sitting together on the couch.
But Emma looked away and Abel was a blur.

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So we tried it again but Ruby looked at Emma and Eli was losing control of Abel.

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So we called Opa over to make funny faces.
Emma looked at her cousins and Anna’s hand got in the pic.

Sometimes Christmas is like that. You try to make it all perfect and then you realize perfect isn’t much fun. Life is better with a little blur and a hand in the corner and whatever happens when you get nine kids under six years old in one house for 48 hours. It’s perfectly imperfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Ella wanted to put on the nativity costumes, so we set about staging the scene. Except Ruby was taking a much needed nap and Abel was dead set against putting on a sheep hat. So we didn’t force anything and went with the big five and two littles.

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Evie made for a very proud mama Mary. Eli stuck out his tongue — it’s possible Joseph did the same at some point that holy night. Ella was a slightly sneaky looking angel. Charlie wore his angel costume backwards, but it didn’t matter at all. Hudson was a shepherd with his eyes on baby Jesus. Emma sat where we told her to sit and posed for the camera. And Ember had her one big chance to take the leading role, not easy with eight older cousins. She played the part magnificently — smiling and cooing and blessing us all.

Perfectly imperfect.

I also contributed to this year’s theme.

 The Overlien Family Calendar for 2019.

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I’m just off by a year.

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Reprints are on the way.

“Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it!
It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person
to perfect some very imperfect people.”
Hebrews 10:14, The Message

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
1 Cor. 9:15 

The Seed House

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I grew up on a farm that raised seed corn. Across the road from our house there was a large building where the dried corn was sorted, bagged and stored. We called it “The Seed House”. On late fall evenings, my dad would go over there and bag corn. He would set a bag on the scale, open the shoot and let those golden kernels pour in, then sew the bag shut. Over and over and over.

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Sometimes I went to the Seed House with my dad. I would watch him for a while, sitting on the ever growing stack of seed corn bags. Eventually, I would wander away to pretend that the warehouse was my castle, or my theater, or my business office. No matter where I went in my imagination, it always smelled of fresh corn and aged wood and good country air.

I don’t live on a farm in the country anymore.
I don’t plant seeds in fertile fields or harvest a corn crop.
I don’t bag kernels or stack bags or fill a warehouse.

But I have a Seed House.

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Years ago, I wistfully mentioned to PB that someday I’d like to have a tiny cabin in the woods. Nothing fancy — just a place to sit with my thoughts, put those thoughts into words and put those words onto paper.

PB doesn’t forget things like that.
He’s the kind of guy who loves to take a dream and make it come true.
He’s been making my dreams come true for years,
but he really outdid himself this time.

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I hope the seed of an idea will germinate in my little cabin in the woods.

Like a good farmer, I will give that precious seed a safe place to land, cultivate it, make sure it has time to grow and hopefully, bring forth fruit.

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“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer.” 2 Corinthians 9:10

My Three Moms

I used to dread Mother’s Day.

While most girls my age were making cards and picking flowers to give to their moms, I was visiting a cemetery. I only had a mom for thirteen years and then, she was gone. For the next ten years, Mother’s Day only reminded me of what I had lost.

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Becoming a mother at age 23 provided welcome relief when May rolled around. I could focus on the wonder and joy of having a sweet baby girl who called me “momma”. By the time my nest was full of boys and girls, time had brought some healing. I didn’t dread Mother’s Day anymore.

Watching my own girls enter the world of motherhood has been a dream come true. All four of my daughters are grace-filled, loving mothers. They are my new role models, my kindred spirits, my best friends. Mother’s Day is now a celebration of life.

Today, I salute three other women who stepped into the dual roles of sister and mother years ago on my behalf. Fortunately I wasn’t left to navigate grief, dating and growing up all alone. Although they were dealing with their own feelings of loss, I was grounded by the love and care of my sister and two sisters-in-law.

I spent hours at Peggy’s house. She always had a project going that interested me and served as a good distraction. Sewing, making jam, planting a garden. I could walk across the road and find an inviting household that comforted me and lightened my loneliness.

Robin eased the pressure I suddenly felt of cooking meals and doing household chores. She brought over Mom’s sweet rolls and Mom’s apple slices and Mom’s Christmas cookies. She took me on a girl’s weekend to shop and talk about boys. Her influence kept me on the right track.

Barbie helped me find joy. She had a way of injecting fun into the mundane and taught me how to belch. She also gave me a Living Bible with verses marked that she knew I would need. Her prayers lifted me up.

My sisters filled the gap.
I so am grateful for this trio of sisters/moms/friends.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Two Beautiful Ladies

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Two beautiful ladies met today.

They are the bookends on either end of the family line.

Ninety years separate them.

Love fills in the space between matriarch and babe.

Great-Grandma peered in and marveled.

Ember wiggled and hiccuped.

Delightful.

It doesn’t matter that Ember is GiGi’s 21st great-grandchild.

It doesn’t matter that Ember slept through their first meeting.

They are two beautiful ladies.

Meet Ember Blake

Introducing the newest twig on the family tree: Ember Blake!

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She was born on April 24, 2018 at 4:57 a.m.

She weighed in at 2 pounds 5 ounces.

This is what her sweet mamma wrote:

She was born 12 weeks early and came into this world kicking and screaming, surprising the heck out of medical staff, but not her parents.

Ember, may you continue to be fierce and hard to extinguish. May you believe in the fire that is within you and always rely on your creator to stoke and kindle that flame. May you always be a light in the darkness. ☀️  

“God is within her, she will not fall, God will help her at break of day” -Psalm 46:5

That verse.

“God is within her, she will not fall – Psalm 46” came up on my Instagram feed at 3:00 a.m. So I walked the hospital halls repeating that phrase, agreeing with the words, making them my prayer. Not long after that my daughter sent me a song that popped up as she opened her music app. “Psalm 46” by Shane and Shane. Such powerful words. At 4:30 a.m. the decision was made to have a c-section. I went into the waiting room and read the rest of Psalm 46:5 — “God will help her at break of day.”

As day broke, Ember offered the first praise from her tiny lips.
And we took her lead.
I have a feeling this spitfire of a girl will be leading us for years to come.

PB is pretty proud that she carries his name.
What an honor.

Ember Blake

Blessings on you, little Ember-girl.
Grow strong in the power of His might.
I can’t wait to tell you the story of your birth.

Grand Lineup

This is my lineup.
They’ve committed no crime, other than being cuter than allowed by law.
They are arranged alphabetically, which is tricky when we get to the “E”s.

Here we go!

#1 – Abel
The youngest and probably the happiest grand in the bunch.
Smiles all day, every day.
Doesn’t mind big sister mauling him with kisses.

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#2 – Charlie
Refuses to smile for the camera.
Kind-hearted and thoughtful of others.
Doesn’t like being left alone in the basement.

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#3 – Eli
A charmer who knows how to wink and uses it effectively.
Has excellent eye-hand coordination, thanks to Mario Brothers.
Still loves Lightning McQueen.

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#4 – Ella
When excited, she talks fast and her voice gets really high.
Capable of putting on one-woman shows that are truly entertaining.
Writes and colors with precision.

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#5 – Emma
A little shy but warms up quickly.
Doesn’t like it when her mommy leaves the room.
Giggles are rare, but so worth the wait.

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#6 – Evie
A spirited girl who likes to be where the action is.
Most used phrase: “You be the baby and I’ll be the mommy.”
Has been known to go out in the snow in high heels.

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#7 – Hudson
The oldest grand; just turned 6 years old.
Can carry a fascinating conversation and uses words I don’t know.
Is a good leader who never loses a Nerf gun war.

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#8 – Ruby
Expert hide-and-seek player.
Keeps up with big brothers and talks sweetly to little sister.
Has adorable chipped tooth that makes her smile irresistible.

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question

#9 coming in July!
Team Boy or Team Girl?

Do-Over

Do-over: a new attempt or opportunity to do something after a previous attempt has been unsuccessful or unsatisfactory.

Can we just start 2018 over again, please?

I wasn’t ready.

I stumbled and bumbled into the new year.

Then, half of January disappeared into the oblivion of Influenza A.

It was my most miserable 10 days in recent history,

but I did lose 7 pounds,

which happens when you don’t eat anything but

watermelon sherbet

for a week and a half.

So, I’m calling a do-over.

Let’s try this again.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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