Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell, 2009

I'm ready for a new year. For our family, these past 12 months will unfortunately be remembered as a time of loss. To top it all off, last night we learned that hubby's sister has been diagnosed with MS. She is a pastor's wife (of a start-up church, no less) and they could really use our prayers right now. Those with MS also have a high risk of becoming depressed (an issue with pretty much any debilitating illness), and unfortunately many of the medications currently being used to treat MS further increase the risk. It's currently affecting one leg and her vision, and they're working to treat those symptoms, but she'll never be back to 100%. Please pray for wisdom for her and her husband as they decide which course of treatment to pursue as well as for the doctors, and that the entire family would find rest in our Lord.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
For his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD...
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men

Lamentations 3:21-26, 31-33

Some great thoughts - and a reminder that each and EVERY day is new - over at Praise & Coffee

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Almost there...

Can you believe tomorrow is Christmas? Today has been interesting... You see, it also happens to be my birthday. The big 3-5. For some reason this one felt like more of a milestone than 30 did. Not quite sure why - perhaps it's because I get to have my very first oh-so-fun-womanly-squash-me-all-flat test next month (just to establish a baseline), or maybe it's because if we were to have another baby I'd now be considered high risk (and no, I'm not hinting at ANYTHING with that statement!) Anyhoo, I'm definitely getting older!

So what did we do today? Well, I traditionally celebrate with lot of dairy product: spinach cheese pie for dinner, and then luscious coconut cheesecake rather than a plain ol' birthday cake. I popped the cheesecake in the oven this morning and hubby pulled it out while I was taking care of other stuff. Went about our day, and I made an early dinner so we could get to church for Christmas Eve service. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite according to plan. When I pulled the spinach cheese pie out of the oven, the center was still all runny and the crust wasn't even beginning to brown - and well, we just didn't have time to bake it any more. So it went into the fridge (we'll have it tomorrow instead) and we stopped cruised through McD's on the way to church. Definitely not the start of a new tradition! Had a very nice service, but as we were doing the last "candlelit" portion, my candle wouldn't stay lit... then as I was debating about getting another candle, our son laid down across the seats and announced that his stomach hurt. I touched his forehead, and he was waaay too hot. So we packed up and headed out, rather than standing around chatting as we normally would. Came home to enjoy my birthday "cake" - and as I cut into it, I knew we had a problem. Yep, it wasn't fully cooked either. Ate a bit of the edge, though, and it was quite tasty :)

So what's the point of this rambling account? Well, it simply didn't matter. I was surrounded by my family (and lots of friends at church, too) and was focusing on the miracle of Christmas rather than all the silly other stuff happening.

Because seriously, just think about it. God came to US. Chose to leave the glory of heaven and make his entrance here as a squalling infant in less than sanitary conditions. Walked among the fallen creation, teaching and offering an example, then making the ultimate sacrifice so that He could offer redemption to those who had repeatedly scorned Him. Wow.

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
- -
Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
~Charles Wesley
May you have a blessed CHRISTmas - I pray that each of you truly understands what an amazing gift we've all received.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sharing Some Christmas Cheer

Caught this clip last night, as our little one was singing part of the song that her class performed on Sunday. We had read a book we'd gotten from the library (Little One, We Knew You'd Come) and she started singing as she was looking at the pictures. Of course when I got the camera out, she started playing shy (which is why you'll hear me humming a bit at the beginning)

Jesus was born on Christmas day
Mary laid him in the hay
So little boys and girls could pray
"Jesus, Jesus"
Baby Jesus, we love You!

On a side note, I know that we all already have a ton of things going on, but I thought there were some neat ideas HERE to celebrate Winter Solstice (which is Sunday). Don't know how much we'll manage to squeeze in, but we can definitely dine by candlelight!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December (so far!)

Bundled Up Dual Spinning Craft Time All Dressed Up Singing Cheesing It Up Onstage Tree Festive basket A bit of greenery Manger scene my FIL made Railing Decorated Windows Treats Good Smells A bit of snow Cardinal Tree close-up
So far we've bundled up for the holiday parade. spun like mad on the computer chair, done crafts at the Birthday Party for Jesus, posed in holiday finery, sung, decorated, baked a few things, made a pomander at MOPS, and admired the beauty of winter.
(You can click here to go to the photo group)

Monday, December 8, 2008


It's finally beginning to look a bit like Christmas around here! We purchased an artificial, pre-lit tree after Christmas last year, and while I must admit that I miss the pine scent, I did *NOT* miss the search for "the tree that looks OK but isn't ridiculously expensive," nor the quest to get it in the stand, immediately followed by the epic husband-wife "is it straight yet?" debate, nor the untangling of lights. And I definitely won't miss crawling underneath to add water (inevitably scratching my forehead and soaking the tree skirt in the process), or finding needles for the next 3 months. Yep, this is seeming like a pretty good idea. Now to get some ornaments on it!

On a side note, I'm finding I'm getting rather sentimental about things these days. It's our last Christmas in this house, so I want to decorate it up right. This will be our last cold winter for awhile... have I taken enough pictures of the kids with their red noses and stocking hats? Yesterday we had a potluck after church, and I couldn't help but look around and wonder if we'd be able to make it to another one. Those of you who've made major moves, can you tell me if this is normal?! I'm afraid that my poor husband may soon suffer permanent damage to his eye sockets, as my schmoopy statements of "This will be the last time that..." are often met with an eye roll :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Funny

A Politically Correct Christmas Story

And Joseph went up from Galilee to Bethlehem with Mary, his espoused wife, who was great with child. And she brought forth a Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

And the angel of the Lord spoke to the shepherds and said; "I bring you tidings of great joy. Unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

"There's a problem with the angel," said a Pharisee, who happened to be strolling by. As he explained to Joseph, angels are widely regarded as religious symbols, and the stable was on public property, where such symbols were not allowed to land, or even hover.

"And I have to tell you, this whole thing looks to me very much like a Nativity scene," he said sadly. "That's a no-no, too."

Joseph had a bright idea "What if I put a couple of reindeer over there near the ox and the donkey?" he said, eager to avoid sectarian strife.

"That would definitely help, said the Pharisee, who knew as well as anyone that whenever a savior appeared, judges usually liked to be on the safe side and surround it with deer or woodland creatures of some sort.

"Just to clinch it, throw in a candy cane and a couple of elves and snowmen, too." he said. "No court can resist that!"

Mary asked, "What does my son's birth have to do with snowmen?"

"Snowpersons," cried a young woman, changing the subject before it veered dangerously toward religion.

Off to the side of the crowd, a Philistine was painting the Nativity scene.

Mary complained that she and Joseph looked too tattered and worn in the picture.

"Artistic license," he said. "I've got to show the plight of the haggard homeless in a greedy, uncaring society in winter," he quipped.

"We're not haggard or homeless, the inn was just full," said Mary.

"Whatever," said the painter.

Two women began to argue fiercely. One said she objected to Jesus' birth "Because it privileged motherhood." The other scoffed at virgin births, but said that if they encouraged more attention to diversity in family forms and the rights of single mothers, well, then, she was all for them.

"I'm not a single mother-" Mary started to say, but she was cut off by a third woman who insisted that swaddling clothes are a form of child abuse, since they restrict the natural movement of babies.

With the arrival of 10 child advocates, all trained to spot infant abuse and manger rash, Mary and Joseph were pushed to the edge of the crowd, where arguments were breaking out over how many reindeer (or what mix of reindeer and seasonal sprites) had to be installed to compensate for the infant's unfortunate religious character.

An older man bustled up, bowling over two merchants, who had been busy debating whether an elf is the same as a fairy and whether the elf/fairy should be shaking hands with Jesus in the crib or merely standing to the side, jumping around like a sports mascot.

"I'd hold off on the reindeer," the man said, explaining that the use of donkeys and oxen as picturesque backdrops for Nativity scenes carries the subliminal message of human dominance.

He passed out two leaflets, one denouncing manger births as invasions of animal space, the other arguing that stables are penned environments where animals are incarcerated against their will. He had no opinion about elves or candy canes.

Signs declaring "Free the Bethlehem 2" began to appear, referring to the obviously exploited ox and donkey. Someone said the halo on Jesus' head was elitist.

Mary was exasperated. "And what about you?" she said sharply to an elderly woman. "Are you here to attack the shepherds as prison guards for excluded species, maybe to complain that singing in Latin identifies us as Roman oppressors, or just to say that I should have skipped patriarchal religiosity and joined some dumb new-age goddess religion?"

"None of the above," said the woman, "I just wanted to tell you that the Magi are here."

Sure enough, the three wise men rode up. The crowd gasped!

"They're all male!"

And, "Not very multicultural!"

"Balthasar here is black," said one of the Magi.

"Yes, but how many of you are gay or disabled?" someone shouted.

A committee was quickly formed to find an impoverished lesbian wiseperson among the lame of Bethlehem.

A calm voice said, "Be of good cheer, Mary, you have done well and your son will change the world."

At last, a sane person, Mary thought. She turned to see a radiant and confident female face.

The woman spoke again, "There is one thing, though, Religious holidays are important, but can't we learn to celebrate them in ways that unite, not divide? For instance, instead of all this business about 'Gloria in excelsis Deo,' why not just 'Season's Greetings'?"

Mary said, "You mean my son has entered human history to deliver the message, 'Hello, it's winter?'"

"That's harsh, Mary," said the woman. "Remember, your son could make it big in mid-winter festivals, if he doesn't push the religious thing too far. Centuries from now, in nations yet unborn, people will give each other pricey gifts and have big office parties on his birthday. And that's not chopped liver!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Santa or not to Santa, that is the question...

I stopped by the thrift store yesterday and scored a couple books and games. As I was checking out, the cashier leaned over the counter and asked A (our almost 4 YO daughter) whether she'd written a letter to Santa yet. I replied that we really don't "do" Santa at our house - the kids know who he is and that it's a fun thing that some people do over Christmas, but that he is not real. The poor lady looked a bit stunned by this statement, and I then said, "Yeah, we focus more on Jesus." Her response: "Well, that's not so bad."


I wasn't really sure how to repond to that one. I said something like, "We still exchange gifts and have a lot of fun together, but we want to focus on what's truly important." She just nodded, handed me my bag, and thanked me for stopping by.

So how do you handle stuff like this? Just let it go, or offer your opinion? I certainly am not trying to turn anyone into the Santa Police (we've also told our son that other kids do believe in Santa and that he shouldn't tell them differently - I really don't want one of his school friends coming in from recess crying from the revelation!) but I happen to feel pretty strongly about this issue. Some good thoughts here and here, plus here's a book we read each year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The holidays are upon us!

Can you believe it's December already?!? As always, there's a bunch of stuff happening at our house - and now it has a lovely holiday soundtrack :) Some random ramblings:
  • Our son was running a fever starting Saturday night, which meant that I missed church for the second week in a row. That stinks! It wasn't any better yesterday, so he missed his first day of school. He woke up fine this morning, and rather wired (which I'm attributing to all that rest yesterday), so I was quite happy to send him off this morning :)
  • I do love seeing homes decorated up with lights and such, but dislike those big inflatable thingees, particularly when people have multiples up. Blech. And on a side note, I also find it amusing when people have some huge Disney display in their yard, then a tiny little manger scene off in the corner. Not quite sure what message they're going for...
  • Oh, how I adore Christmas music. Casting Crowns and Sara Groves both released albums, and they both get an enthusiastic "thumbs up" from me!
  • Coffeemate Caramel Apple creamer is delish. It's out for a limited time, but someone told me that it can be frozen; I'm seriously thinking about stashing a bottle in the back of my freezer.
  • Our tree isn't up yet (pout, pout). The situation will be remedied by the end of the weekend.
  • We are done shopping for the kiddos. Hooray! I scored some fabulous deals on eBay back in October. I also found a special ornament for each of them - a little tradition we have that somehow reflects something about them from the past year, but I sometimes have a hard time finding something.
  • My hubby is wonderful. A few months ago, he told me that he wanted to get me an iPod for Christmas. And as part of my gift, he would get my huge music collection into iTunes. Now we're talking nearly 1,000 CDs here (yes, I know I have issues). Anyway, the CDs are nearly done, and the iPod should be delivered this week. I'm now working on putting the CDs in storage envelopes and organized in special storage boxes. Anyone need a few hundred jewel cases?

And finally, a praise/prayer request for our family. As many of you know, there was a good possibility that we were going to be relocating as part of my husband's job. Well, it's now official: we'll be moving to south Texas in '09. Don't know the exact timeline, but it will be by July (so we have some time to settle in before school starts). We'll be in the Brownsville area, and hubby will actually be working in Mexico several days a week. It will be blessing for us in many ways, but I also know the next several months will be stressful. The company will take care of the packing and moving, but first we need to get our house ready to go on the market (gulp!) And then there's simply the fact that I've never dealt with a "real" move before (went from my parent's house to college, then got married and lived in an apt for 11 months before moving into this house). Organization is not something that comes easily for me (stop laughing, will ya?!) but will need to hone those skills in the months ahead. So anyway, bottom line is that I'm asking that you'll pray that we use our time and resources wisely (deciding what's worth fixing around here, being able to let go of things that simply aren't worth moving, etc.) Will keep y'all* posted!

*See, I'm already getting ready! :)