Archives for November 2011

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Open doors

I’m so excited that Emily has extended the invitation to unwrap more gifts on a Tuesday. I don’t know about you, but I need to be more purposeful in my thanks giving, and Tuesdays Unwrapped is the perfect opportunity to do that. Join us?

PS If you are new here, the following post makes more sense if you know that I am an American expat living in Europe. Otherwise, I sound like a crazy person. Because only crazy people take German lessons and get a turkey from a butcher unless, of course, they live in Switzerland.

I managed to procure the turkey. I am happy to report that at no time did I imitate a turkey by gobbling or resort to hand drawn bird cartoons during my two visits to the butcher. It wasn’t without a little drama and some embarrassment on my part, but the bird was purchased, cooked, and eaten with delight.

Around the holidays, we try to make the experience feel as authentic as possible, but it’s never quite the same. For one, there is no indulging the tryptophanic stupor when Thanksgiving falls on a regular school day. There isn’t Mom’s Cornbread Dressing or Aunt Carol’s Apple Pie to run off the next morning. And there are no familiar hugs and how are you’s. There is thanksgiving sandwiched between everyday and life.

On Friday, my German tutor asked me about it. She wondered how we fit the bird in our (not much bigger than an easy bake) oven, and if I could find all the fixings at the supermarket. Then she told me about a few of her family Christmas traditions; the advent wreath, the Christmas goose, and Grandfather trimming the tree on Christmas eve while the children wait expectantly in the next room. She showed me a photograph of her mother’s dog called Lia, and one of her nephew who is two and best babysat during nap time.

My eyes watered a little, and the photos blurred.

As we talked, I realized that the consistent feeling of being on the outside looking in, was starting to shift. As if the front door had been opened without my having to knock, and someone had called my name to invite me in. I felt like I’d been given a gift, an invitation to know and be known by another. And if all I can do is say ‘Hello, my name is Frau Coyle’ after four hours of lessons, then I’m still coming away having learned far more than how to make an introduction.

I’m not sure if she realized the difference she’d made, but that night I gave thanks for the gift, for the open door, the invitation and the chance to find something lovely sandwiched between everyday and life.

The Holiday Season

For when the clouds cast shadows. 
For when you’re feeling a little lost or far from home.
For when the cookies burn and the tree sits crooked.  
For when little people don’t understand the word affirmation and big people forget.
For when love fails and loneliness wins.
A reminder:
‘…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’ 
~Ephesians 3:17-19


This year, I refused to order the turkey. My plan was to pass off a turkey purchased from the frozen section at the supermarket as a fresh one. Unfortunately, my husband, chief preparer and cooker of said bird, caught on to me before I could follow through. He must have sensed that after the Great Turkey Debacle of 2010, I wasn’t ready to tackle the butcher’s counter anytime soon….
I’m hanging out with Deidra at Jumping Tandem for more talk on turkey and feasting on grace. Join me there?

Hello, my name is Kimberly.

Before our children were born, my husband and I gave a lot of thought as to what they were to be called. We thought not only of the name they answer to when it’s time for dinner, but the meaning behind those names, the words by which they are known. One is called ‘Lamb’, one is known as ‘Strength’, and the littlest is ‘Wisdom and Grace’. I don’t call them that on a daily basis, but some nights once they’re tucked and cozy beneath the blankets, I remind them of who they are and what they are called.

You, son, are Strength. You are strong and courageous in spirit.

You, daughter, are my Lamb. Precious in our Shepherd’s eyes.

You, little one, are Wisdom and Grace. Your name is your blessing.

My hope is that when I speak those names over them, the truth will bury itself deep in their spirit. My prayer is that they will become what they are called, that their name will be their gift and their blessing to others.

Last week my German tutor corrected me when I introduced myself as Kimberly. She said that the Swiss never give their first name in an introduction. Here, I am Frau Coyle. Your name is something you give to a dear friend, not a co-worker, acquaintance or even a neighbor. Your name is a gift.

I’ve been turning this idea over and over again. Your name is a gift. Who you are and what you are called, is a gift. This idea might be harder to grasp for those of us with names that don’t really mean much of anything, but I believe that God gives us names too. He was in the habit of renaming people in the Bible, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul. I believe that He has a name for me, and that He wants to whisper the truth of what I am called if I will be still enough to listen.

Have you heard His whisper? Do you know who and what you are called?

Five Minute Friday: Grow

It’s time for Five Minute Friday with The Gypsy Mama. You know the rules: 5 minutes, no editing, just for the joy of it. Join us?

Prompt: GROW

It feels unnatural that it should hurt so much. Personal growth is hard enough, but to live it three times over in my children? Excruciating. Pain seems to be wrapped up in the DNA of growth. I wonder if it was meant to be this way, if the pain of growth is a sign that it’s happening. A sign of something bigger and better ahead. I hope they grow to be giants; giants of faith and love in action.

It will cost them, in tears and heart hurts, but I see their potential. I know that God sees it too, and I try to rest in the fact that He will help carry the burden of growth. He knows what He made them for, and some day they’ll know it too.

He made them to be giants. My job is to tend the seed, water and feed their souls, and pray for grace in the growth. His is to prune. Theirs is to learn trust in the process, even in the pain.