Tuesday, October 30, 2007

not something I ever wanted to be able to say

So we found out yesterday that a mole my husband had biopsied had melanoma in it. "My husband had cancer" is not something I ever wanted to be able to say. Though "my husband had cancer" is better than "my husband HAS cancer", although at this point I don't know which statement is true. One of them is, but it's going to take a visit to a specialist to find out which one.

At first I thought "just skin cancer" because I've had friends who've had skin cancer "scares", and it hasn't been a big deal. But this is not a scare, it's the real thing, and it's melanoma, which is the worst kind, the kind that kills 1 out of 7 people who get it.

Hopefully, we caught it early. If we did, the survival rate is about 99%. And I think we caught it early. But we don't know yet, and I ask for your prayers that we caught it very early, and that Adam will be just fine.

But, again, "my husband has had cancer" is not what I ever wanted to be able to say.

Adam got his test results while he was at work, and he, knowing me, knew I'd have trouble not worrying, so he told me to make sure I listened to some good music before he got home.

I didn't want to, but I knew he was right, so I looked for my favorite cd of hymns. But I couldn't find it. So I put on a Christmas cd, one of those really good cds where the whole album holds together as one piece of art, rather than a collection of individual songs.

And that's where I found the words I did want to say, that I've always wanted to say, that I always will want to say, words like "Glory to God in the highest!" and "God has come to walk among us" and "Emmanuel, our God is with us now." Those words have been true since the incarnation of Christ, and they are true even though my husband has had (has?) cancer.

It's funny, because I tend to think of comfort as people being close and sweet and tender, but what was comforting yesterday was something majestic and huge and over-awing. What was comforting wasn't what wasn't any human-sized reassurance, but rather an assurance bigger than the universe, that God is great and good, always has been, and always will be.

And I learned that really good Christmas music is good any time of year, because really good Christmas music is about the incarnation and the glory of God, and that is true in October, in May, in March - whenever. Not just December. And it's true in the face of cancer.

God is bigger than this. And I am glad.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now THAT would be homemaking through the church year!

Did you realize that Easter is really, really, REALLY early this year? As in, there is only exactly ONE month of Epiphany, and Lent starts on February 6? Do you know what that means? It means that Easter Sunday is March 23rd. And do you know what THAT means? It means I could have this baby on Easter Sunday!

I don't know how I feel about that. I would HATE to miss the Queen of Feasts - Easter is my favorite holiday of the whole year, is there anything more glorious than the gold and bells and alleluias and joy of the Lord's ressurection?

On the other hand, could a child have a better birthday?

So, here's my new fantasy: I go to church on Easter morning, worship the Lord in the company of my fellow parishioners, and just as I'm on the church porch, saying goodbye to friends before heading off to Easter dinner, my water breaks, my contractions start, and it's off to the hospital with a baby six or seven hours later (which would be a real miracle, given how long my previous labors were).

Yep, that'd be pretty cool. :)

And the moral of the story is: never assume you're having a Lenten baby until you actually check the calandar.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. My actual due date is Maundy Thursday, but I think my doctor's wrong and I'm actually due on Friday of Bright Week. So . . . Easter Sunday would be right in the middle there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

out and about

Sorry that posts have been light; we've been out and about, and exciting things have been happening.

One exciting thing: we went on vacation! Adam and I realized that aside from a weekend spent camping, we hadn't gotten away for a summer vacation this year. And since his job is pretty generous with paid vacation time, it seemed a shame not to use some of it. So we decided to have a fall vacation, and discovered, to our delight, that lodging rates in the little mountain town we wanted to visit are much cheaper in the fall than they are either in the summer (mountain biking season) or in the winter (skiing season). So we went up to the mountains, to the same place we'd honeymooned, and went hiking and canoeing, and introduced the kiddoes to the joys of throwing rocks into a lake. One other really cool thing was that on the last day of four vacation, my folks came up and babysat the kids for a few hours so that Adam and I could go off on our own. All in all, it was a splendid time. It was kind of funny being back at our honeymoon locale for the first time since our honeymoon, and having three (one in utero) kids with us.

The second very exciting thing is that I sold another article, this time to a magazine that I've read and loved for years. I'll give you more information when it's closer to actually being published; right now I'm in the revision process. Which is pretty amazing too, because the editor I'm working with is so good at his job. I'm learning a lot about the craft of writing just reading his suggestions and requests for revisions.

And I'm starting to feel huge. Last I checked, I hadn't gained a ton of weight (only about 10 lbs., and I'm close to halfway through), but I look very, very pregnant now. It's fun. Especially when my daughter looks at my belly and says, "baby!" and gives my belly a kiss. And then when my son (who at 1 1/2 has no idea what's going on) imitates her and says, "baby!" and makes a kissing noise too.

But, anyway, vacation's over, and life's getting back to normal, but it feels like a better normal for having that time away with my family. Being with Adam all day, instead of just early mornings and the evenings, was such a blessing. Being with him twenty-four hours a day gave me so many opportunities to notice how well our marriage works and how glad I am to be married to this particular man. There were so many times this last week when I thought, "with anyone else, this wouldn't be fun. With anyone else, this would be so much harder. With anyone else, I would be so frustrated. But with you, this is wonderful." It was a blessing to have the time and space to see how blessed I am in my marriage, if that makes sense. I am so grateful for this man, and theses children. Praise the Lord, who created them, and gave us all to each other!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. the work on learning the saint's song continues apace! Brie has begun to ask for "the song we're learning for all Saint's Day" at bedtime; and all the fun of getting ready for Nov. 1 is reminding me of how much I'm looking forward to Advent.

Monday, October 8, 2007

St. Michael and All Angels (plus All Saint's Day)

So . . . I missed Michaelmas. I've been so into this Ordinary Time thing that I've gotten out of the habit of looking for feasts. But I'm beginning to think about All Saint's Day, which is (I think) the next big feast day coming up. (Um, that is, not forgetting the feast days of St. Luke, St. James, St. Simon and St. Jude.)

I don't celebrate the weird American perversion that is Halloween, but I am very interested in finding out what the older, better traditions surrounding All Hallow's Day are, so that I can celebrate them with my children. I like the idea of having a day where we talk all about the people who really, really loved Jesus (this, I think, is the best way to define "saints" to a one year old and a three year old).

My best idea so far is to collect some good picture books about the saints (we already have a few), and to spend the week of All Saint's Day reading them daily. Also, there's a great children's hymn called "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" that I'd love to teach my kids. Bess, at least, is good at picking up song lyrics, and I think if we sang it every day this next month, that she'd learn it. I especially like how the end of each verse says, "and I mean to be one too" (a saint, that is).

And I've heard that in some places in the world, it's traditional to make pretzels on All Saints' Day. I admit that I don't quite understand why.

So, does anyone else have any great ideas about how to celebrate All Saints' with kids?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, October 5, 2007

judge not

I've been (very, very slowly) reading through "The Illumined Heart" by Frederica Mathewes-Green. Very, very slowly because it's my purse book - a tiny book that fits in my purse, that I pull out and read on those rare occasions when I'm sitting somewhere, waiting, and don't have children with me. So, like, doctor's offices, basically. :)

Anyway, I recently read in there these words:

"How can we evaluate another's deeds and respond to them, perhaps even bring about correction and justice, and yet not judge them? To answer that question, picture a courtroom. See where the judge sits? Don't sit there. That's God's seat, and he will judge on the last day."

She goes on to say:

"Until that day, we linger in the courtroom as the dear friend of the accused."

I was very struck by that image, and wondered what it would look like. Well, pretty soon after reading that, I heard a real life example of what it might look like.

I was listening to Dave Ramsey's podcast. Dave Ramsey is a financial guru, very sensible, and he podcasts his call-in radio show. He was talking to one guy (and I'm going from memory here, so forgive any mistakes) and it turned out that this fellow hadn't filed his tax returns. Dave gave him advice on his other problems, and then his voice turned very urgent as he addressed the tax problem. He told him, basically, "You have to do this. You have to file YESTERDAY. Not filing and paying is breaking the law, and you're going to be in huge trouble. Fix it now, so you don't get in huge trouble."

And I thought, "wow, that's what Frederica Mathewes-Green is talking about." It felt like an exact example of the attitude she was urging us to have towards our fellow sinners. The radio host didn't say, "I condemn you for your unlawful actions" he said, "you messed up - fix it while there is still time."

And that's how we're supposed to help one another, when we see sin in each other's lives. Not "well, there's no hope for you" but "hey, you're in trouble, and you'll be in worse trouble soon. Quick! Fix it while there's still time!"

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

a submissive wife

Though I'm still sick, I'm getting better (at least, in my world, not having a headache every day counts as "better") and I'm trying to reclaim that second-trimester energy I was feeling a couple weeks ago.

To that end, I have gotten on the ball with the writing thing, and have submitted two queries to two different magazines in the past three days. I have two more planned before the end of the week (here's hoping!). Submitting a query is, always, a long-odds thing - your odds of being accepted are never terribly high, and your likely rejection rates are. But, here's what I keep telling myself: "Bad as the submission odds are, my chances of my queried article being accepted are much, much better than my chances of my UNqueried articles being accepted." :D Yeah, I think the chances of an unsubmitted article being accepted are zero, and so the ratio of queried chances to unqueried chances works out to infinity. I think. (English's my thing, not math.)

Anyway, I was talking to my husband, excitedly, about my article submissions ('cause, well, after the first-trimester+being-sick slump, being productive, even of queries, feels SO GOOD) and he laughed, and said, "Ah, you're such a submissive wife."

okay, and on that bad pun, I will leave you. G'night!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell