Monday, December 29, 2008
shopped for an Angel family...
hung our decorations...decorated cookie cut outs...
lit our advent candle...
read Christmas stories...
ate lots of food...
introduced our children to some classic Christmas movies (which I'm sure will become a new tradition!)... had a Christmas Eve candle light dinner at home...just the 5 of us...
went to candle light service,gave gifts, received gifts, ate more food, visited with family who are close to our hearts but live miles away, ate even more food, said good bye to loved ones traveling home, played with new toys, stayed up late, slept in late and are working on re-discovering our living room floor.
We were able to enjoy both Christmas Eve and Christmas day at home just the five of us.
It was relaxing, peaceful and pretty close to Rockwell perfection.
The kids were impressed with the Christmas Eve candle light dinner....The Boy even said, "These are the kind of moments we're going to remember forever" PERFECT! That's just what I was hoping for.
Now it's time to clean up the mess, put away the decorations pay the bills and balance the checking account (EEK!!) and get ready for a new year.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
2. I was attracted to Chad the first time I saw him. Chad and I "met" through a mutual friend almost 14 years ago. The three of us shared a class my sophomore year of college. Chad walked in, kicked his friend's chair (who was sitting next to me) and said, "Hey Dumb ass....thanks for saving me a seat!" We were dating a month later.
3. I worked for a TV station for 7 years and LOVED IT. I was good at what I did, I felt important and had worked hard to keep "moving up" At the time it was my dream job. That lifestyle and the choices I made almost cost me my precious family. I no longer recognize the person I was then.
4. Deciding to stay home with our children has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I was not a good wife or mom when I worked (some women are and can be, I am not one of those women) I never thought I would love being a wife and mom as much as I do.
5. I love that I have all boys. It would bother me when people would ask if I was having another baby to try to get a girl. I knew when I was in the delivery room with Lucas that I wanted at least one more baby and it had NOTHING to do with "trying for a girl" I just had a heart for more children.
6. If it wasn't so hard for me, I might want one more baby. But I am so grateful to have the 3 loves that I do have. The struggles I had have made me appreciate my children, my body and the process of conception in a way I might not have before.
7. I'm very proud that I went back to college after having Matthew and got my degree. It's something no one can ever take away from me.
8. I have discovered that I have a heart for youth ministry and missions
9. I love food. I love to cook new things. I love to cook for other people. It makes me feel good when people actually enjoy what I cook. I love to go to restaurants. I will eat or try most anything. I'm amazed I don't weigh 500 pounds.
10. If you touch or tickle my feet I can not be held responsible for what harm I may do to you. I HATE being bare foot. If I come to your house and forget to take my shoes off it's not because I'm being rude or trying to track in yuck into your home....I'm just so use to always having something more than socks on my feet.
11. I love music. The past several years I've been listening to Contemporary Christian music. But I also really enjoy Classic Rock, Disco, Cheesy music that reminds me of my Jr. high/high school days, Broadway musicals and lots of other stuff.....I have little respect for most of the music that is mainstream these days.
12. My favorite time of the day is when everyone comes home at the end of their days.
13. I love taking vacations with my husband and children. I will spend money on a vacation over just about ANYTHING else. I think that the memories and the precious time spent together is priceless and will be cherished much more by everyone than by a bigger house or a newer car.
14. I love sleep. It's really a recreation for me....I'm seriously one of those people who NEEDS more than 8 hours to function. But who gets that??? So I usually treat myself to one or two naps a week to make up for that...usually the weekends.
15. Coffee is my morning fuel. And it needs to be SWEET. LOTS OF CREAMER. I wish Coffee mate made Peppermint Mocha ALL YEAR LONG!!!!
16. In 2009 I will be beginning the candidacy process for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. My tentative plan is to begin seminary in 2012 (when Samuel starts kindergarten) There are lots of steps to do prior (during and after!!!!) to that so I'm starting now.
If you're reading this consider yourself tagged!!!!! :)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.
I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.
Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old.
For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."
I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.
All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.
Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.
As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.
So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.
Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.
Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.
As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".
The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".
Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.
A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.
In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities..
For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"
And, I believe, He still is.
Amazed in His presence... .humbled by His love.
Again, HAVE A BLESSED HOLIDAY SEASON.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Advent is the season of waiting. With each candle we light on the Advent wreath we are reminded of what is to come. Christmas: The time of year in which we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We all know the story of birth of Jesus. There were no rooms for Joseph and Mary. They were grateful for the space that was given to them. Jesus was born in a manager among animals. A very humble beginning for The One sent to be our King, don’t you think? Somewhere along the way we have transitioned from the humble beginnings of Christ to this…
(WWJB movie Intro)
***NOTE: I don't have a clip of this movie to share....sorry, it was REALLY AWESOME!!!****
Now don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. My husband jokes that Christmas is the only time I decorate the house. But the reasons for my love of Christmas has changed over the years, especially since I’ve become a Christian. The Reverend Billy said, “You don’t have to buy a gift to give a gift.” I don’t think we need to get the latest greatest gadget to show our love to someone. I think the most valuable gift we can give is our time. Maybe it’s time spent making someone a batch of their favorite cookies, maybe it’s time spent out to lunch talking, maybe it’s time spent doing something fun with a child. When I think of the way we spend Advent and Christmas in our home, I hope my boys will remember the time we spent together decorating cookies, doing Advent devotions and spending time together more than any one gift they ever receive.
The point behind the movie, “What Would Jesus Buy” wasn’t to look closer at our spending just during Christmas, but to look closer at our spending all year round so that we can live a more simple life. Not only was Jesus born in humble surroundings but he teaches over and over again how we are to live or lives focused on God and not possessions. In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not to store up treasures here on earth but rather in heaven. He said that, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both God and money. In Matthew 19 a young rich man wants to know what he needs to do to have eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and then he will have treasure in heaven. The young rich man turned and walked away very sad because he had many possessions that he was not willing to part with. Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” In Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of the rich man who had so many crops that he didn’t have enough barns to store it all. So he decided to tear them down and build bigger ones so that he’d have enough room to store away food for years to come. The man died before he could use what he had stored up. Jesus ended this parable by saying, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God
It is easy to be tempted by all of the “things” we can buy and spend our money on. I’m sure all of us have our areas of weakness which could use some re-analyzing. I have a weakness for $5 fancy coffees from Starbucks. I don’t have them all the time, but if I could, I probably would! It doesn’t take too long to realize that’s A LOT of money to spend on coffee! For years now my husband and I have been dreaming of a new home. In years past we just couldn’t afford what was out there but now that we have become a little more stable financially, we have felt like we could afford something bigger and better. This past summer we found a house that we were interested in purchasing. It was a restored turn of the century farm house. It had 3000 square feet, 3 acres and several out buildings. It was our idea of a “dream home”. We said we would continue to pursue this house as long as God didn’t shut any doors. As the process continued to move forward and the dream began to seem like a reality. We put together our offer contract with the realtor and I began to mentally place my furniture and other belongings in that house, making a mental list of items to purchase and things to do, and I was envisioning our children’s graduation parties in the big, beautiful yard. We went to bed one night knowing that the owners were ready to sign the contract bright and early the next morning and feeling confident that the house was ours. Bright and early the next morning, a phone call came. But instead of hearing, the words, “it’s yours” the words were that of a counter offer that we just couldn’t agree to. God had closed the door. I cried and I was bitter because I felt that we had been so patient for so long and worked really hard in our lives to get to this point. I truly felt that THIS was going to be our time for the new house we’d been wanting for so long.
But do you know what I realized? I realized how much work would have come into our lives with that house. The maintenance of all the space both inside the house and out would have drained our time and our wallets. We probably wouldn’t have had the money to take our children on the vacations that we always look forward to, it would have been harder to keep up with the bills, the little bit of extra money we enjoy using to serve and give to others just wouldn’t have been available anymore. I slowly began to realize that it’s not the extravagance of a new house that creates a home. I realized that although the house we live in now is lacking space, it is the house that each of our children took their first steps in and celebrated their first birthdays in; it’s the house where we’ve laughed and made memories together as a family; it’s not the house that makes a home but rather the memories and the love that fill the walls in between.
The extravagance isn’t just limited to our houses but to the cars we drive, the clothes, shoes and purses that may fill our closets, the electronic devices we use for entertainment, the latest gadgets that are suppose to make life easier and the countless other “things and stuff” that clutter our shelves, attics, and garages. We live in a culture where bigger, faster and newer equal better; where the things we have and the things we spend money on is an outward display of our “success” Our consumption of stuff and desire for things has gotten out of control. The economy is suffering because people have gotten in over their heads. And what a sad thought it is that there is a family who will be missing their loved one this Christmas because he was trampled to death by people rushing get their “stuff” as he opened the doors in a New York Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Things have gotten out of control.
In our New Testament reading, Jesus tells us if we want to live our lives trying to get all the “stuff” that there is to get then it’s going to cost us our soul. Jesus wasn’t the first to warn about this. In our Old Testament reading today we heard the words of Moses telling the Israelites not to forget God especially when after their lives become full and prosperous. There are stories after stories in Old Testament of the Israelites forgetting what God did for them. I think it is safe to assume that these stories are continuing in our world today. It isn’t the house we live in, the car we drive the clothes we wear that matter here or in eternity. The ONLY thing that matters is where we are in our relationship with God. God created each one of us….God has blessed each one of us…..God has an awesome plan for each one of us…. He has given us so much….but we are still guilty people who have forgoten God when we fail to see His blessings and to hear His voice. How can we do what God is calling each of us to do when our lives and our time are consumed with things that please us rather than what pleases God?
Now please don’t think that I’m trying to tell you to sell all of your things and possessions and give up on your collections and hobbies and activities and live your lives as monks. That’s not what I’m saying. I think life is short and we do need to enjoy some of the perks that our hard work has earned us. But when we are spending more than we are giving and serving, we aren’t doing what God has called us to do. We all need to find that balance between our needs for our survival and make wiser choices about our wants. In my middle school Sunday School class I asked the kids to make a list of wants and needs and you know what??? They were pretty much right on! With the exception of one student saying they “needed” a new charger for the hand held video game. But I was so proud of them for having the understanding between what we really need and the things that we want, especially at their age in a culture that is very want centered.
One thing I enjoy, which may seem extravagant, besides my expensive coffee habit, is I LOVE vacations with my family. I choose to spend money, going somewhere, learning something new and having fun, with my husband and children then go out and buy a new clothes or a new car. I also have made the choice to spend a little more money on cleaning supplies that are better for our environment and health and food that is healthier for our bodies.
We all need to find our own balance in life between what our priorities are and how God is calling each of us to live. That is something that needs to be between each of you and God. But here are a few things to keep in mind: Before you throw something away, ask yourself if there is a way you can either recycle or reuse that item. If not, decide if it is in decent enough shape to donate rather than throwing it into the garbage. Before you purchase something, ask yourself these three questions: Do I really need this? Do I have something like it? and, Where am I going to store it? When we consume less, we will be using the things that we already have and that’s called active recycling!! The money and time we save in the long run will be priceless. Especially if we take that money and time we’ve saved and use it to serve and give to others who are in need.
As this season of Advent continues and we move ever closer to lighting the candle in the middle of the wreath, let us remember what that candle represents: Christ as the center of our lives sent to deliver us from the sin that consumes us so that we may have eternal life. THAT is the BEST gift you have ever and will ever receive. Celebrate that gift all year through your actions not your purchases. Remember the way in which Jesus was born: In simple, humble surroundings. Remember His beginnings, remember His teachings, remember His life and use it as a reference point as to how to live your life…..if you make the choice to live life more simply, then you will be making it possible for others to simply live. Amen.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Well, this has been my littlest brother's life for the past week now. He tripped running up the stairs at home and fell down. Somewhere along the way he hit his head. No one really knows where or how. Dad was there just around the corner. The took him to the hospital, had a CAT scan (it was clear!) and were told he had a concussion. He was able to identify mom and dad but when he was asked who his siblings were, he was unable to come up with our names. Home they went figuring he'd wake up the next day just fine. Dad stayed home with him and realized as the day went on that my brother was suffering from memory loss. They went to see a neurologist and had an MRI (which was also clear!).
Basically there is no current explanation as to why my brother is suffering from amnesia other than the brain can do weird things sometimes. He's frustrated and scared and can get overwhelmed easily when they are out and about doing things. THANK GOD the CAT and MRI were clear and it wasn't something more serious. But how sad that he is going through this.
I had the chance to go visit him on Sunday. We basically just sat and watched a movie, watched Little Dude play and had dinner with mom and dad. We exchanged some small talk, but not much. As we were watching the movie I just told myself that he's my brother no matter what he can remember (which right now isn't much of anything) and that brought me a sense of comfort. I would take amnesia over a more serious head injury anyday.
After we left he told mom and dad that something seemed familiar about us and just assumed that I was his sister (we never did introductions.) He asked if the other two boys were mine too, which I think was him connecting the dots rather than remembering. Spending time with him made me feel better. He sounds the same, talks to the dog the same, and is healthy. He just has no memories of anything from before his fall. Some small, random things have been coming back to him. Nothing significant, but at least it's something and we are grasping hold of the hope that these small things are a begining. I think in time, he will heal completely.
I've definitely seen God working in all of this, especially looking in from the outside. It has warmed this sister heart to see all the messages from prayering friends on his Facebook page. The administrative folks at his school are being very sympathetic and helpful in the process of helping mom and dad figure out the best way to handle the end of this semester, which he obviously won't be able to finish. His neurologist is a good friend of one of my old high school friends. Although Dad doesn't know quite how to handle this, he has really enjoyed the time that the two of them have spent together lately; a charactistic that is very unlike my brother. I know that prayers are being answered and I know that he is being bathed in prayer from friends, family and strangers and I KNOW that he will be OK.
Tomorrow I'm going to be with him so that both mom and dad can go to work. I'm looking forward to just being with him and pray it will help him to feel more comfortable with me and maybe remember a little something more.