Tag Archives: holidays

Being Merry and Bright


Since I have finished my semester, I have been able to fully embrace Christmastime. I am not sure what will happen when I am no longer finishing exams and papers right before Christmas. I think when I am working as a Nurse Practitioner in the grown-up world, I will expect everything to come to a halt around December 14 so that I can focus on decking the halls and strolling the malls. I’m pretty sure that won’t happen though so I better enjoy it while it lasts.Here are a few photos of the merry-making around here.

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We bought our very first married people Christmas tree. It is very small. But spirited. The little guy is already loaded with ornamental memories.

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We lit up our little cottage with all kinds of festive things scrounged from Dad’s garage over Thanksgiving….

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The Aussie toured his first Honolulu City Lights. I LOVE the City Lights.

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I’m practically a Dremel spokesperson these days.

We are obviously having a very Merry Driftwood Christmas. ‘Round about the day after Halloween when I began to get the holiday gleam in my eyes when I passed anything tinsel in the stores, I saw Roger get nervous. So I  promised him I wouldn’t buy a single Christmas decoration. All those long walks on the North Shore in the fall yielded some pretty great driftwood hauls.

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Roger even did some decorating of his own.

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And we, of course, hosted a White Elephant gift exchange party. This little tradition is something Roger sort of married into. I believe I have hosted one every year for about 6 years now and this Christmas was the first time I stopped and asked myself if I was the only one who liked these things. The answer was maybe and I did it anyway. Every year there is a good story. There was 2009 when Darren proposed to Stel with an engagement ring wrapped in the last present (It took skills to organize that one). Then there was 2010 when a certain unitard was received…and fought over…and tried on by some very merry men. Then of course, I can’t leave out 2007, the year in which I received Joseph Zephaniah the Beta Fish and best friend Lindsey and I began a year-long saga of beta replacements. So, the White Elephant tradition will continue.

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We also decked the dogs with ribbons and bells. That little guy is Bear. Jasper’s only dog-friend here on Oahu. He’s a bit of a grinch when it comes to making friends.

I hope you are all making merry, loving your friends and family, and worshiping the Savior who is constantly merry over his children!

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Remember the Rush


So, as I’ve mentioned before,  I am darn near crazy about holidays. Love them. The older I get though, the more I realize why adults get stressed over the winter months and for some it is a crazy time of laboring under expectations and fighting for joy.  The more I see this trend, the harder I try to buck it. And to do that, we have to be brave.

I know it may not naturally be the hap-hap-happiest time of the year, but it should be merry and free. After all, these holidays are all about freedom: we are free to worship and not worship as we please thanks to the voyaging of the founding fathers. And we have the ultimate freedom through what happened on that night in Bethlehem when God pierced this hurt-filled world with the most thrilling hope ever. That piercing, freeing, miraculous, rush of a night. But round ’bout this time, complicating factors steal the rush.

The Aussie has been on the Big Island for work this week and I go over in a couple days for Thanksgiving week. He took the Porky Terrier with him so that the whole family, dogs included, would be together for Thanksgiving. So, missing my little family, I went and spent a few nights with friends Zan and Matt and their massive hound Harley.

There is something about spending a night or two away that simplifies your life. I think that is why I love hotels so much (well, also the puffy robes and room service with the metal covers on the plates). I like the fact that I can get by with two sets of clothes, a toothbrush, a few books, and my laptop. I am more productive with studying (as evidenced by this blog entry) and I’m not surrounded by half-finished projects and distracting tasks like laundry and dishes. It’s been refreshing to sit and study over cups of coffee with Zan and take breaks to listen to her sage marriage advice or dream about the rural health clinic we will open one day.

These few days have made me look forward to joining the whole family with a simplified mindset for the first round of holiday cheer. It is undeniably a season requiring bravery. It is only our second round of holidays without Mom. And we have elected to spend them at home instead of in a memory-less vacation house. I know a lot of you are steeling yourselves for a fresh wave of grief in the coming months. But remember, these holidays are about new life and freedom. So be free to grieve. Don’t steel yourself against it. Just make sure you have people who love you close at hand and keep it simple. If we don’t belabor the minutia, keep from emphasizing expectations, and focus on a free and purpose-filled future, it can and will be a hap-hap-happy time.

Let’s all buck the trend and remember the rush.

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The Barley Family Does Christmas.


It was epic, it was quick, and it was messy. But we did it.

First, we all played a part in hosting 1,500 people at the Living Stones Christmas Eve service. Some of us played big parts and some small parts. Ryan just did all the music and worship and Dad just preached a rocking sermon. The rest of us had big jobs but I’ve forgotten what they were.

Next, we ate a lot of delicious food on Christmas Eve because I couldn’t stop cooking all week.

Then, on Christmas morning Dad, Megan, Sam and I drove to sister Sara and family’s house and did the fastest Christmas morning you’ve ever seen. It was a flurry of wrapping paper, “thanks, I love it so much”s, toys, treasures, and “Get in the car!”s. We were out the door and heading for the airport, Home Alone style, by 9:00 am. Kauai bound! Dad had planned the whole thing and even got us great rolly carry-on bags for Christmas. Yes, I do feel very cool rolling it. It’s silver and awesome.

And we didn't forget a single person.

Flying with the nieces was perfect. No time to worry about turbulence.

We spent an unforgettable four days on Kauai going to beaches, relaxing at a blessed and beautiful vacation house, playing games and enjoying the family. I have also discovered why all outdoor movies seem to be filmed there.

I could live here.

Or here.

Candlelit dinners on the lanai were my favorite.

Waimea canyon was a once-in-lifetime experience. So I’ve had my one time and I won’t be driving that car sick wonderland route again. It’s breath taking, so go at least once. And if you enjoy puke-inducing mountain roads, drive it again and again.

We were the two happiest people to be done driving.

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Well, the parents might have been happy the drive was over too.

We also went bike riding for the first time since 1993 and got a kick out of ourselves. We certainly rode in the same order as before: Stand-up Pedal Adventuress Sara blazed the way, I Can Too! Megan followed close behind, and Wait, I Can’t Make Right Turns on This Thing Erin brought up the rear.


But we ALL looked cool.

Even this kid.

It was a successful Christmas. We missed Mom. We celebrated Jesus. We had fun. Well done, family.

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The Eve


The eve of most big events is marked with some sense of excitement and preparation but there are only two Eves that seem to have merited Capitalization. However, I would like to propose a few more Capital Eves.

Thanksgiving Eve: This one is crucial. There is no other Eve that requires as much work as this one. Pie fillings, potato peeling, last minute run to the store for curly onion fried topping, turkey brining, football scheduling. We need this Eve.

Easter Eve: This would be a great one. There’s not really much work to be done (unless you make outrageously awesome Easter baskets which my mom typically enjoyed doing) but getting up for a sunrise Easter service requires a leisurely day in which to rest up, cook some breakfast ahead of time, and contemplate the glorious reason that we get up at the crack of dawn to celebrate.

Wedding Eve: I don’t have direct bride experience but I do have sister and friend experience. This Eve is huge. There are bags to be packed, last minute seating charts to adjust, transportation to arrange. I’m going to stop the list here because it is making me realize that June 1 is going to be hectic for little sister. But happy. It needs a Hallmark card for sure. Happy Wedding Eve to the happy hectic couple.

And finally, Birthday Eve: We celebrate New Year’s Eve with a countdown for the world, why not give everyone their own personal new year countdown? The eve of another year older is a good day. It’s the day to look back on what you’ve accomplished in one age and think about your plans for the next age. Every year, we get better, wiser, and closer to who we are meant to be. It’s true, get excited.

If you are like me, you may be teetering on the edge of holiday emotion today. It’s the Eve of a big day with lots of memories and lots of pressure. But guess what? Today is just another day to face fears, rest in God’s goodness, celebrate his faithfulnes, and live bravely.

We are on the Eve of something great…every day. Let’s live like it.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

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What are you waiting for?


These are a few of the things that kept me busy this week:

Foam and wood block!

With all the hip blogs out there, I still find the best ideas in Living Magazine. Hard copy baby.

Sister's engagement party!

 

They're so great.


Last week I kept myself busy with all kinds of crafts and baking and even threw an engagement party for sister. Being a stay-at-home mom without a husband or kids is super easy! But then on Wednesday, I baby-sat my two-year-old niece. Zoe is awesome. She didn’t pitch fits, cry, or get injured. But I still once again stare at my twin sister in hero-worship awe and pray that one day I will be able to brush my teeth and take care of children.

During these un-busy transition seasons in life, I sometimes get cranky waiting to figure out my next step: where do I live, where do I do my next clinical location…but if I didn’t have to wait, when would I listen to God? When would I exercise my faith? It’s in the wait that the process happens. It’s in the wait, that I sit down on the inside and trust my good God.

Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’ birth and didn’t see the fulfillment in his lifetime. Anna and Simeon waited in the temple of Jerusalem until almost the very end of their lives before they saw the Messiah-child. But they all waited and they all believed because it was going to be EPIC. God still has epic plans in the works and my little life weaves into that somehow. Totally worth waiting for.

If you are waiting for something, maybe something that didn’t happen for you this year, keep your head up. Your life weaves into God’s epic plan too. Stay busy but sit down on the inside and trust our good God.

 

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For the birds.


The Christmas season has been going well. They say the first year of grief is the hardest because you go through each “first” with your new big empty space. I say whatever. Maybe it’s true. But that is about as helpful as the grief books I still haven’t read. Grief isn’t an emotion. I didn’t wake up yesterday feeling grieved. Grief is a giant magnifying glass for the normal feelings.

Yesterday I woke up mad. And since Mom isn’t here, I woke up furious. I swam for a mile in the ocean with my friend Carol and that slightly improved matters. But then I hit a too-slow pigeon with my 30 mph Cavalier. I realized when I burst into tears after parking that it probably wasn’t the pigeon death that started the tears. It was probably the fact that every day I decide to be happy about Christmas and that means I have to make a lot of little choices. Turn the radio station to a different channel when Amy Grant starts. Don’t hang that ornament. Buy a new tree topper. Don’t light that cinnamon candle, light the pine candle. Don’t make the spritz cookies, make the gingerbread men. Every day I decide what part of Christmas I can do and what part will turn me into a mascara mess. We pulled out just the right amount of decorations so that we weren’t a Bah Humbug house but not so much that every end-table told a story of a past Christmas. And it has been working. We are enjoying the season. But the wrenching sobs over a pigeon reminded me that it is a bit tenuous.

So, yesterday, I did the only thing to be done when the tear ducts go rebel, I went to the movies with sisters and girlfriends. We went to see New Years Eve featuring just about every star in Hollywood between the ages of 20 and 70. Let me tell you, they got their money’s worth out of me. Every sappy line, every broken heart, every reunited family got me. The sisters vote cheesy. I vote heartwarming. See it for yourself.

As Megan and I drove back up to the house, we spotted a Christmas-presenty looking thing by the door. We may be 24 and 28 but we might have gotten a little excited still. Turns out it was only a cracker box but it was tweeting. Dad had trimmed the palm tree and had trimmed two baby pigeons right out of their nest. Dad’s a tender guy so he left them on the ground for a few hours hoping the mother bird/cat would find them. But finally he made a box nest and gifted them to his daughters. I’ve done the baby bird thing before so I knew what I was in for. But this time I resented it a little less since I had just killed a member of the species a few hours earlier.

Each time I have fed the little helpless things, I’ve thought how completely dependent they are on a caregiver. They eat until their eyes close and they sleep little pigeony sleep. And I remember how fragile I am in God’s hands and how carefully he takes care of me. A bird-lover friend is coming to pick them up this afternoon so the analogy ends there. God’s got me for keeps…from my first Christmas to my last.


 

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Autumn Anonymous


Autumn got to me again this weekend. Grocery store marketing is made for suckers like me. I’ve walked by the fake corn and baby gourds a few times this season. And I’ve resisted. But yesterday, I bought the baby pumpkins piled high at the front of the Safeway produce department because it’s fall, gosh darnit, and these things need to be done.

Piled high on the kitchen counter, looking cute.

Then I bought the bag of caramels placed strategically beside the shiny Fuji apples. Again, it’s fall and there are children that need to be fed (caramel apples).

Neither niece had ever had a caramel apple (don't start thinking deprivation thoughts...these kids know sugar). So they now think that all caramel apples come on chopsticks.

And finally, the newest issue of Cooking Light lured me back to the grocery store today to purchase everything I needed for four awesome meals this week. This was the first one. Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash. For the record, Gruyere cheese is stinking expensive and really delicious. This turned out creamy, nutty, and totally autumn.

You can tell this is not a food blog because if it was, the photos would be way better.

My name is Erin and I am an Autumn sucker. But I don’t regret any of the choices above.

Be brave. Buy the pumpkins.

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A Lot of Good


There’s been a lot of good this week. Fall has begun. We are easing into the holiday season and I have a feeling that baby steps are best.

I bought a few candles and I’m ignoring anything red and green. Not because I don’t like early Christmas (Merry Halloween is my motto) but because I have a sneaking suspicion that I will not be as emotionally teflon as I had hoped when I start to hear those holiday melodies. The Macy’s homeware section is already off-limits.

Brother came over from Oahu for his 20th birthday and brought the sweet and lovely Jen with him. Games were played, movies were watched, and Oreo dirt cake was eaten. We passed another bittersweet milestone as we celebrated the second family birthday since Mom died. Megan found something a few weeks ago that we knew would bust the tears out but we did it anyway. It was just too good.

She’s been reading through Mom’s journals and mining the treasure trove of thoughts and prayers Mom recorded. Okay, it’s not all profound. There are a lot of grocery lists, corny jokes, and half-written recipes. I haven’t been ready to dive into it yet but I’m grateful for the gems Megan has discovered. Several weeks ago she happened upon an entry written on October 4, 2001. Sam’s tenth birthday. The pages recorded his party and his presents and what his little ten-year-old self was like. And then she started praying.

“For the man he would be in ten years, on his twentieth birthday.”

She praised God for her son, this gift. She asked that he grow in strength of character and wisdom. She trusted he would be a man of God as he entered his twenties. Sam read it out loud as long as he could. Then Dad gave his best effort. We all cried the good, shared kind of tears. God knew we needed it. And Sam will have those words to treasure the rest of his life.

Then we all ate a lot of chocolate pudding with crushed cookies. Because we have dirt every October 4th.

On Friday, I ran somewhere between 5 and 6 miles with some marathon trainers. Those women are beasts. The really sweet, beautiful, kick my butt at running kind of beasts. But I will keep going back for more because the trail was along the coast and nothing gets your mind off of burning pain like paradise to the right of you.

My precious ex-roommate Karisa and her new and improved roommate Husband Shaun came for a whirlwind Kona trip. We woke up ridiculously early on Saturday to see people begin a ridiculously long race – the 2011 Ironman. Every year this town expands by five or six thousand people for two weeks in October. Two thousand of those people are wearing spandex and riding bikes most of the time. Driving is hazardous and shopping is nuts. But it’s good for the economy so three cheers for triathletes.

Waking up at 5 to see the start was hard enough...actually doing the race? Yikes.

On Sunday, we baptized 40 people after church. Baptisms always get me choked up. It’s such a tangible representation of lives changed and mission fulfilled. I always flash back to being 12 and hearing Mom and Dad talk about the Great Adventure we were embarking on as we moved to Hawaii. When I see people of all ages and ethnicities emerge from the bay to the south of our church, I see the fruit of a hard fought great adventure fulfilling the greatest commission ever given. And I know that God does work all things together for good.

So, there’s been a lot of good this week and I am a grateful girl. Brother entered the twenties, thousands of triathletes will start exiting our little Kona roads, forty people entered a new season of Jesus-following.

And I ran 5 miles.

 

 

 

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