Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Only the Sweetestest Mama Will Do

I am sitting at Starbucks this evening for my weekly night of “escape”. Mostly, I enter our receipts into and analyze our budget, and if I’m lucky, have some time to blog or look at my planner, and generally zone into whatever realm I choose, none of which ever includes “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama…” One might also call this my night of mental health.

This night, I’m more than glad to be here. The “escape” was welcome. Our poor little Emet is cutting 4 molars at once, and in addition to the pain he is no doubt feeling from the teeth, he has had a fever, a constantly runny nose (and rear end), and the general fussiness of teething. To my simultaneous chagrin and delight, often times “only Mama will do”. Papa is a second best, but often when he sees me, he reaches out, face wrinkled in frustration and tears and wants his Mama. This has been going on for almost a week now. I remember only a day or two with Caleb where he was in near constant need of being held and catered to by Mama. My favorite part of Emet needing me is how he nuzzles his little head against me. If someone talks to him when he is in my arms, he tilts his head towards my chest and looks at them from the protection of Mama. He toddles up to me and holds his little arms up, with his characteristic “Mmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm” (He does this for just about anything he is wanting, from more food, more to drink, some of what you are having, wanting to be picked up, get out of the high chair, etc. He is definitely not yet doing the signs for “more”, “all finished”, “milk”, “drink”, “eat”, “hurt”, “get out”, “please”, and “thank you”. We are looking forward to that stage and moving beyond the “Mmms”! ) Emet is definitely coming up with a few words, though they are still difficult to understand, and probably near impossible for anyone else outside of Jason, Caleb, or I. We think he is saying “Grey-ah” (Greta), and possibly “Grandma” (can’t remember how it sounded – but it was very probably Grandma – hasn’t said it since). “Doon” (Down) still means up and down. “Dat” (That), which he uses to ask about something when we are reading through books – an item he is learning to bring us more and more often. He has discovered sitting on Mama’s lap, and as soon as I sit down on the ground, frequently in front of the woodstove, he immediately goes over to the bookshelf, pulls off a book (often from the very bottom of a stack), and toddles it over to me – turning around and moving towards me awkwardly in order to land on my lap, which I still help him to do. When Caleb is around, both boys sit on my lap at once. Emet is getting more and more patient with books. We can now read through several pages without him trying to rip it from our hands and shove it aside. More often, he is beginning to point to things on the pages and say, “Dat.”

Caleb is so full of being 3 these days. He surprises me each and every day with his ever expanding horizon of understanding. Caleb has made a new little friend in the nursery on Wednesday, when I go to my women’s Bible study. His name is Blake. Now, Caleb has interacted with several little boys and girls – sons and daughters and our friends, and others in the nursery. I have always thought Caleb a little different from the other children. I’m not sure if it is that I am his mother….or if it is that he doesn’t watch television….or he is not in day care….or whatever else it could be. As rambunctious and “all boy” as he seems to be, he has a tender little spirit. For instance, when leaving a Christmas party, he tried to say goodbye to the other children, and give one of the kids a hug goodbye. He was looked at with oddity, and shoved away by the kid who he tried to hug. Where are the manners? And where is the love, I’m wondering? What are people teaching / not teaching their children? In any case, a few weeks back, when I went to pick Caleb up from the nursery, the nursery worker told me that Caleb had made a new friend and they played and interacted very well together. From the first time I met Blake – just that day – I could tell that indeed, he was very much like Caleb. When they went to say goodbye to each other , they both reached out to give each other a hug, then politely but excitedly said, “Goodbye, Blake”, and “Goodbye, Caleb”…..”See you next time.” I was thrilled. From that day on, Caleb has asked frequently about Blake, gets excited each week to go see him, and mentions missing him throughout the week. Blake seems equally anxious to see Caleb. I haven’t yet met his mother as his Aunt is the one that brings him to Bible study, and she doesn’t attend that church – only the Women’s Bible study there. I’m not sure how you approach getting together in a situation like that – but perhaps over time I can figure it out for Caleb’s sake.

Our neighbor’s barn caught on fire today. It is about 30 feet away from our furthest outbuilding, which then proceed to cascade like dominos towards our house. I called 9-1-1 after a passerby stopped to tell us our barn was on fire. (Everyone thinks it is our barn due to its proximity to our house. We wish it were, as it and the land its on would make our home much more valuable!) In any case, the fire department came out, and the truck parked at our house. Caleb watched with excitement from our sliding glass door – watching them get into their gear, get the hoses out, and go into the black smoke. After the fire was put out, he and I went outside to watch them and look at the fire truck, he , clad in his yellow, black, and red fireman’s raincoat and rain boots. He waved at the firemen, and one of them, Joe, asked him if he would like a helmet and some stickers. Of course, he did. He also got to get inside the fire truck and look around, which he did bravely, if a bit shyly. After they left, however, he wanted his new fire helmet on several times. When I asked him to go out to the outbuilding to get out Greta, he wanted to put on his Fire coat and Helmet, “so that Greta will be safe”, he said.

Today, Caleb was snuggled next to me on our leather chair reading stories before naptime. He reached his little arm around me from behind and said, “I love you Mama. You’re the sweetestest Mama.” That made my day, and likely many, many days to come. In fact, this may be one of those moments I remember long after my children have left home and have children of their own. It may well make my day then, too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still Letting Go

It has been one week and one day since I stopped nursing my baby Emet. Oh, how my mother’s heart aches and longs to nurse him, holding him close as he nurses innocently at my breast. It was but a year ago that he nursed for primary nutrition – yet most recently, it was only for his nighttime comfort.

My milk hasn’t dried up as quickly as I had imagined it would. I don’t remember it taking this long, or being such a process with Caleb, but perhaps it was – and time has faded the memory. I have momentary panics and bouts of sadness, when I realize that I am fully capable of nursing him still, comforting his cries, quenching his longing and mine as the evening’s busy playing and activities render his growing little body ready for the evening’s rest. What can I do but stand sadly aside, pushing my feelings away, continuing to let go, even though it is the last thing in the world I want to do?

I imagine what it will be like someday, sending my children off to college, the military, or some other such pursuit, realizing that never again will life be the same. Never again will they live permanently under my roof. Never again will the years of family time be the same. That time will have passed, a new stage beginning. Oh, that God had not created me to be such a contemplative soul.! Yet, somehow I cherish my tendency to reflect, to try to draw meaning and wisdom from each of these tender moments.

I knew the time would have to end, even soon, but letting go is such a hard thing to do sometimes. I often wonder at the immense responsibility and gift God gives to parents. We are in charge of the development and nurturing of little lives. And yet, they must shape us even more than we could ever shape them. They transform us from the inside out…..heart first.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saying Goobye to Another Last

Well, it's done. My body is finally all mine again - the 15 month marker for Emet is here and he nursed for the last time on Tuesday night. One might think that is something to celebrate, and it is! Yet, part of me feels so sad. The author Karen Kingsbury commented once that in life, we commonly celebrate firsts (first birthday, first tooth, first ride on a tricycle / bike....etc.), but we don't often celebrate lasts because we don't know when they are occuring. The last time your child colors you a picture, the last time they sit on your lap and want to cuddle. Hence, I wanted to somehow commemorate this little last, as sad as it makes me to celebrate Emet's "right of passage" into true toddlerdom and to give voice to my grieving Mama's heart.

With Caleb, I can remember his last day nursing like it was yesterday. His last nursing time was in the morning when he first woke up. A friend had shared that with her daughter, she simply kept the routine of cuddling in bed, she just turned her the other way. So, I, in all of my wisdom, decided to do the same thing. I snuck out of bed before waking up Caleb, got a bottle full of milk, and brought it into my room. Then, I went to his room and brought him in my bed as usual. I sat him up with his little bottle and gave it to him, thinking this would be an easy solution. He drank a sip or two, then sadly put the bottle down, looking at me with big, woeful blue eyes, and signed the "more" sign - pointing at my chest. I felt as if a knife had stabbed me right in the heart. Tears instantly welled up and I grabbed Caleb and flew out of bed to the rocking chair before I lost my resolve, where he and I both clung to each other and cried - bottle of milk forgotten. Knowing that I still could nurse him was almost more than I could bear. But, I did it - and a few weeks later, I was happy to experience a bit of freedom and to see him continue to develop more and more into a toddler from his baby stage.

Well, as Emet's time has been drawing near, his faithful Papa claims for both boys that he separated them from their Mama at birth by cutting the cord, and he will separate them from their Mama at the end of nursing time by gently but persistently reminding me that the time is here. Earlier this month, I woke one day with the resolve to drop his morning feeding and just did it. I got dressed and ready, then woke the boys and took them downstairs for breakfast. I sat with Emet and a sippy cup of milk in the big leather chair, and this seemed to do the trick. Now, a couple of weeks later, I don't even need to do this anymore.

Wednesday night of this past week was my Quicken night - the night Jason watches the boys, while I pile up my laptop and planner and head off to Starbucks for an evening of "Mama time", which typically includes updating our budget and maybe a few small things of my own such as writing notes, updating the blog, and mercifully - just being alone! (or at least not surrounded by little ones). Jason puts the boys to bed these nights and I wake Emet to nurse when I get home. This particular night, however - I thought that perhaps it would be a good night just to end it and let him sleep. That way, I wouldn't have had to "gear up" for what I knew would be the last nursing session. Tuesday night, as we nursed in the leather chair - Papa shushing Caleb so as to not distract his brother, Emet happily nursing between turning his head from me back to see Papa and Caleb over on the new couch - He or I never would have known it was my last time. Perhaps that is better.

Thursday was hard, however, for little Emet got a flu bug and threw up for the first time. The poor little guy was so sick and lethargic, and when I didn't nurse him as usual on Thursday, it sent him into a bit of a panic. Jason tried to take over the holding and care of Emet as he screamed and screamed, so that it wouldn't weigh too heavily on Emet or I. Finally, we were able to coax him to sleep by Papa rocking him in the blue chair upstairs as I sang to him from the bed. Upon hearing my singing, he instantly seemed to go into a relaxed trance and soon fell asleep against his Papa's chest. This, in its own way, helped to assuage my soul.

Today is Saturday, and I'm doing alright - though each night when I go to bed, I am reminded of what still could be, what I could still turn back, only if for a few more days. Knowing that I am telling my body "no more", when it still wants to and is ready to feed my baby makes me a little sad, a little guilty. But as Jason says, it's time for him to grow up and be a big boy like Caleb. It's a right of passage. Perhaps it is a right of passage for me too - getting to grow and learn from all of these little goodbyes and farewells while simultaneously experiencing new joys and growths from my boys: Emet now waving with his little hand versus his whole arm; Emet clapping his hands, wagging his head, and bouncing from his knees when Caleb turns on the Veggie Tale music on his stereo upstairs; Emet babbling up a storm and beginning to "say things" (most of which we still cannot understand - outside of "doon"[down], which he uses for both up and down); Emet collecting various books and objects, bringing them to Mama and Papa with purpose; Emet handing us his shoe and holding up his little foot to help us put it on; Caleb feeling so grown up and independent with his new battery operated stereo from Grandma and Grandpa B (3rd birthday), which he now operates by himself, knowing even how to turn it on and off to save the batteries. He is so cute as he turns it on, then goes to sit in his puffy blue Thomas the Train chair, which sits right next to Emet's in their room. Most precious of all, is both my boys - sitting side by side in their chairs, listening to Veggie Tales (Caleb quietly and pensively, perhaps singing; Emet rocking side to side, or front to back).

Yes - there is joy in goodbyes - but definitely lessons to be learned as well. Lord, may I always seek them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Growing Up

I took the boys in today for their 1 year and 3 year exams and shots. (Yes, I do realize I'm 3 months behind!) My last well-child visit with Caleb was when he was 2 years old. Today, I once again realized that he is now a little boy, and not a baby. We discussed the visit in advance, the "poke" he would receive that would feel much like the sting of falling down. When I asked if he would get his "poke" first to show baby Emet that there was nothing to be afraid of, he agreed.

It wasn't until we arrived though that I realized what a polite, grown up little person he is becoming. He quietly obeyed all of the nurse's and doctor's instructions, asking little questions every now and then such as "Where's it?" when the doctor told he she saw a blue lady bug in his ear, and "Why?" when the nurse said he might not get his blood pressure taken (because the tool was broken). He embarrased me when he decided to answer "opposite" on all of the doctor's questions.....Doctor: "Do you ride a tricycle?"; Caleb: "No" (with a sneaky smile). Doctor: "Do you wear a helmet when you ride your tricycle?" - Caleb: "No" (of course he does...half the time he wears a helmet just to play outside! - his own choice, of course, so that he always has the option to hop on the bike or tricycle).

His big eyes were both shy and inquisitive during each little thing the doctor did. When it came time for the big "poke", the nurse asked if he would like to sit on my lap or on the table. He chose my lap, but bravely crawled up there and bared his tears or expressed fears at all. (I'm glad he chose my lap though.) We briefly disctracted him by having him show the nurse the fork lift on his shirt, and as soon as he jerked his head to see the poke -she was done! My brave little boy hopped down and acknowledged that it wasn't so bad. Last time we had shots, 18 months I believe, it was much more like having a toddler in the office, crying from the stings and pains. This year, it was a little boy who sat bravely to get his "poke".

Poor Emet then proceeded to have 5 shots, compared to Caleb's one. Poor little guy. He didn't fare so well and definitely let us know. However, within 1/2 hour of the visit, he was charging around the pharmacy area - giggling and happy to have freedom to roam and explore....another little boy in the making. I used to dread bringing Caleb to the pharmacy, once he was too big to carry (ie last year's visit). Today, he sat calmly and without complaint on the chair, while I let Emet roam around and get the medicine. When I came back, he said, "May I please get down now?"

When we got back to the car, I told the boys that we would be celebrating the doctor visit with a trip to McDonalds for cheeseburgers. Within a minute he was fussing that we couldn't have cheeseburgers back to being the irrate 3 year old.....but I guess what I did have today was a glimpse into the future - and a little saying goodbye to the past.

Friday, January 9, 2009

January 8, 2009: Sweet Baby Faces

I was looking at Emet today, so full of life and promise. His little profile is still so sweet and round – pink, plump lips, almost always parted just slightly, ready for a babble, squeal, laugh, or a kiss; big round blue eyes; long, soft eyelashes, dark at the base, light from the middle to the tips; pale eyebrows constantly in an arch of inquiry, flirtation, or delight; pudgy, round cheeks, very kissable......ah what a face. Caleb, too, had such a face at this age, and his face does call to me still with its adorable, little boy innocence, always wearing his little heart right on his sleeve. Oh, how the heart of a mother aches – with joy, with pain, with every possible emotion, all stemming from the love for her children. I’m sure this never ends. It likely just moves from one stage to another, but a mother’s love will continue on.

I recently heard a story of a lady whose son was serving a life sentence in prison on the other side of the country. Every year, her and her husband would pack their bags into their car and take the journey out to California to visit their son with the only vacation time and money they had. For ten days each year, they would stay in his town, showing up daily for visiting hours and making it known to him they were there. Some days he would show up, others he wouldn’t. One year, he never came to see them at all. At the end of the visit, they packed their bags and headed back home.

Can you imagine this pain? Can you imagine what but love would drive people to love and give so selflessly of their own time and money? I can only imagine that it stems from that bond developed early on, in the moments looking at his baby face, sweet and round, so full of life and promise.........

On the move...
Emet is on the move! It took him a long time, from his first tentative step, to move into the world of the walking, but one day in mid December, I looked over, and there he was – arms to the front (Frankenstein style), flapping slightly as he trudged forward step after step. The farther he went, the wider his mouth got as he realized his accomplishment. I dared not say a word, for each time before, he only sat right down with praise. When he finally arrived to his destination, I cheered and he squealed with delight. Hmm...he must have taken 10 or so steps, and that was the defining moment – ever since then, walking has been the preferred method of transportation. It is interesting to parallel the observation of this somewhat rapid human development to any other area of growth in life. As an observer, you watch as this little child lays, then rolls over, sits, then crawls, one day standing and tentatively stepping forward. Once they start, they quickly get past the awkward arm flapping in a matter of days, each day moving more quickly and with ease, relying on their old methods (crawling) less and less. Once day – they’ll run. Each area of our lives are like this! Yet, we can see it so clearly in such a short period of time when watching a child. It is amazing!

One of our fun stages with Emet right now is watching him dance. He started this about a week or so ago, and gets his little “boom box” (a leapfrog learning box of some sort with letters, numbers, and a few little songs and beats), presses the buttons, then sets it down and starts bouncing up and down and wagging his head. There is no end of enjoyment in this for us! I think we could watch him for hours. Of course, then Caleb also starts giggling and dancing. I can’t imagine greater joy than this...the kind that comes from your very soul.

Emet is full of continual sounds, many of which are motor noises and gear shifting. (He is learning these from Papa and Caleb.) He also has a limited vocabulary of, “Oh”, “Go”, and a single word which can clearly be “Mama?”, “Papa?”, or sound like “Baba?” or “Wahwah?”. We haven’t yet determined how he is referring to Caleb or Greta (the dog). Samson (the outdoor cat) stays out of the way enough that Emet hasn’t likely noticed him.

Emet has just recently shown any interest in books. Caleb was much more of a book worm from early on, willingly sitting in your lap each night before bed, reading story after story. Emet doesn’t want to sit on your lap with a book unless he is completely in control of the book! (Not at all conducive to actually reading J). However, he has lately been headed over to the bookshelf, pulling books off to sit down and look at. Before when he headed to the bookshelf, it was a never ending “clump clump” until all of the books were on the floor. Caleb always joined him in this act with glee, that is until he found that Mama would make him put them all back. Now he too says, “Emet, no no. We only take one book at a time!” Each day before nap, the boys and I read a few stories. Caleb always picks his book(s) out in advance and heads over to the couch. Emet has recently started going to pick out a book as well and brining it over to Caleb and I on the couch....holding it out to me with outstretched arms. Given his newfound love of music and rhythm, I noticed that the early Dr. Seuss and Al Perkins books, such as Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, and The Foot Book, etc. are starting to be fun for him to listen to and see (so long as I read with rhythm!)

We haven’t really seen Emet do many signs, though very occasionally he’ll sort of do the sign for “all finished” or “get out”, but it is with extreme caution that he even approaches these, and for the most part would rather we do the signs – then he just makes his gear shift sound, which we have determined means “yes” in all cases.

The final note for Emet is that as he approaches his 15 month birthday this month, he will be ending a special time of bonding with Mama. We are down now (as of last week) to nursing once each day, right before bed. He seemed to transition away from having a morning feeding quite well. Funny, never in my life would I have thought that I – Ann Ordway – would have trouble in giving up nursing. I had approached the theory so pragmatically at first. I remember saying, “As soon as they are one years old, the very next day they won’t nurse anymore.” Now it is me that struggles with giving up this special bonding time....the last time my baby will receive nourishment from his mother’s body – something that started at conception in the womb.

Caleb is changing quickly as well, but these are changes you notice much more gradually over time. One day you’ll realize, “Hey – he doesn’t do that anymore!” He is such a wonderful little boy, and as he grows older and has more chances to interact with other adults and children, we are starting to get feedback from unbiased others as well. His most recent accomplishment of the past two months is that he is now potty trained – fully during the day, and wearing pull-ups at night, though most nights he emerges dry. We had been struggling with this for months, always dangling the “You’ll get to go to Sunday School only when you are 3 years old AND potty trained” carrot in front of him. That in addition to the “earning stickers towards ice cream” approach. However, nothing seemed to be consistent or a big enough draw to entice Caleb. With economic times getting tougher, we finally told Caleb that we needed him to help contribute to the family by not wearing expensive pull-ups and diapers anymore. He had been dry all day that day, so we changed him into a pair of “big boys” and there really hasn’t been any turning back since! There have been a few accidents, especially early on, but less and less as time progresses. Two weeks later, on the weekend following Thanksgiving, Caleb went to Sunday school for the first time and has been looking forward to it every week.

Caleb has been wanting to color lately and has started forming some shapes, still hardly recognizable, but he will say, “Mama, I’m going to draw a square”, or “....a letter”. Prior, he would draw something and most always say it was a dump truck. However unrecognizable it was, he would always show me the front, the back and the steering wheel! Now, when I ask him what he drew, he may screw up his face in contemplation and say something such as, “’s kind of like a sticker...” – shrug, shrug... J Funny, I wonder just how many of his facial expressions and shrugs he has inherited from us. Every now and then I’ll catch myself doing something that I recognize from Caleb.

Caleb also seems to be processing feelings, emotions, and information at a more mature level than even a few short months ago. He seems to be able to better control his temper, and drawn out temper tantrums are no longer a normal occurrence. You can reason with him quite a bit more, and explain actions and consequences. I guess he is just growing up. Nothing in the world makes him happier than going outside to “voomp” with Papa in the yard, and many a weekend hour he spends by Papas side. Papa will work wood or do other yard tasks, and Caleb is right there with him – wagon and dump truck hauling things from place to place. It will be interesting to see how Caleb views that in the future – whether all he remembers is Papa playing outside with him....or if he remembers doing “hard voomp” with Papa. In either case, I can’t imagine a better father than Jason – I feel so blessed to have him as my boys’ father, and they will become great men because of that.

November 22, 2008: Thankful for the Harvest

This late summer was filled with canning and baking – mostly apples baked into cakes, canned for pie filling, and made into apple sauce, but also peaches prepped and frozen for pie, grapes made into juice, and the final produce from the garden. In early October, the frosty weather began and I decided to pull the grapes from the vine and throw them into the juicer. Caleb has a book called The Secrets of the Vine for Little Ones, in which Bruce Wilkinson walks the little reader through Jesus’ words in John 15, where he compares himself to a vine and us to his branches. This particular day, I found it a wonderful opportunity to teach this story to Caleb while he and I harvested the grapes from our vines. (To be completely honest, I went out during his naptime and got most of them, then brought him out for the low hanging fruit!) On this chilly day, we were treated to occasional downpours of rain, most of which we missed by being sheltered by the old vine and leaves under which we took cover. He took such joy in this task of filling up his little wicker basket with grapes and then the final zucchinis, yellow squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. All the while, I took even more joy in watching him squish around in his rain boots and coat, pointing with animation and excitement “OH – Mama, Look – another cherry! (cherry tomato)” and hopping off to collect his treasures.

Time seemed to stand still that afternoon as I watched my little boy drink in the small pleasures of life with such exuberance. I was filled with such joy and thankfulness. Thankful for that moment – for the small things – for the big things, for life and the chance to live it. I guess I was in awe of creation, of life. It is these times that I want to hold on to. Let me never lose the joy of those moments. Let me always bask in their beauty and take refuge in their memory.

When, God, do we change? When do we lose this childlike innocence, this joyful abandon? When does our spirit become hardened and calloused? When do we begin to force ourselves to take even a moment of respite – a moment to stop and smell the roses or pick grapes from a vine or apples from a tree? Out here in the country, old apple tree after tree is filled with enough apples to feed an army, yet though wait eagerly to be picked on the branches, eventually they let go of hope and fall to the ground where they rot, useless to all but bees and worms. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if those very apple tree owners buy apples at the grocery store to fill their fruit bowl.

Is it the small choices we make each day that harden us over time? Jesus calls us time and again to be like children. Why do we allow ourselves to lose that childlike innocence in the first place? So easily led astray from the promised land, we are. So quickly we wander out of Eden. God, you show us the clear and simple path, calling us to take shelter in you, to take refuge. Yet, we choose to stand in the rain, be weathered by the storm. No wonder we are referred to as sheep! One of the dumbest animals in the kingdom, constantly being led astray, wandering off repeatedly in the same wrong direction. In this instance, I feel called to thank You for loving us anyway.

The economic outlook is bleak right now. This is likely the first time in my lifetime that financial times have been quite so hard, as we experience a worldwide economic recession. If it was tough before, I hadn’t noticed – practically speaking anyways. Now, we work for a small company tied very tightly to the residential construction industry, which has for all practical purposes, come to a screeching halt. We have had several rounds of layoffs and now with eight employees, we are all tightening our belts with a 20% pay cut and a significant increase in the amount of medical insurance we are covering. I sat down to do the budget last night for about six hours. At times it felt like I was trying to squeeze milk out of a dry old cow, as time and time again I scrutinized each budget category to figure out where we could nip and tuck. (Thank goodness for Quicken, so that there can be actual data and realistic assumptions to support scrutiny! I’ve been using it for about 3 years now, so I can see some pretty good trend and averages.)

What’s funny in all of this though, is both Jason and I seem to be approaching this new challenge with somewhat of an anticipation, excited to see if we can do it. It is an opportunity to force ourselves into modest and humble living, stretching every penny to the max. Perhaps in this we can learn new boundaries, so that we are not always wondering where the money went so quickly with often nothing exciting or new to show. Perhaps in this time of darkness around, with many losing jobs and struggling, our lights can shine brighter. We may not always be able to serve steak, but we can and will always welcome anyone to our home for food and fellowship.