It’s been a weird few days.  I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a tailspin… two sick children and our own schedules feel set aside.  I have tried the past few days to “do” Christmas — we even succeeded in getting our first batch of sugar-press cookies made in the midst of making our very favorite stew recipe of all times.  But it was not easy… poor little Ian, who has had bronchitis and high fevers for four days now — he just wants to be held!  He has resisted his medicine, despite our best attempts… Finally today he ate a bit and swallowed most of his medicine.

I feel like I should be doing so much, when in reality my children have just needed me to be – to be with them.  The last few nights have not held enough sleep — a child burning with fever;  another with a racking cough;  our little boy plagued with nightmares who finally finds comfort by snuggling in our small bed and having us pray together into the cold night.

This evening, with a heave and a sigh as all the kids were nestled into bed, I plopped on the couch and pulled out my “Watch for the Light” Advent readings.  The pieces of these last few days that have felt like mis-matched jigsaw puzzles to my tired mind begin to make more sense.  The days don’t need to fit together in a tidy way.  Certainly the first Christmas did not.  But Mary was willing for the unknownness, the terror that must have accompanied those early days.  She said ok to being THAT mom.  Despite all of the messiness that it entailed.

“Jesus observed, ‘without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  Yet we act, for the most part, as though without us God can do nothing.  We think we have to make Christmas come, which is to say we think we have to bring about the redemption of the universe on our own.  When all God needs is a willing womb, a place of safety, nourishment, and love…. What if, instead of doing something, we were to be something special?  Be a womb. Be a dwelling for God.  Be surprised.”  (Loretta Ross-Gotta).

Here’s a great stew recipe… add a few extra minutes if you’re holding a child while peeling the carrots and potatoes.

Beef Stew
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut 1 ½” cubes
2 T butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 med. Onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 T salt
1 t sugar
½ t paprika
¼ t pepper
dash allspice or cloves
6 carrots, pared and quartered
4 potatoes, pared and quartered
1 lb. small white onions
3 T flour
Brown meat in butter.  Add 2 C hot water and spices.  Cover, simmer 1 ½ hrs.  Remove bay leaves and garlic.  Add vegetables.  Cover and cook 30-45 minutes till veg tender.
Slowly blend 1/3 C cold water into 3 T flour.  Stir slowly into hot stew.  Cook till bubbly.  Cook and stir 3 minutes longer.
Makes 6-8 servings.



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