Thursday, December 30, 2010

We weren't supposed to be exchanging "real" gifts...

But, after all the presents in the stockings were opened on Christmas morning (there were 16 opened one at a time), I was handed a letter.  It was addressed, "To our dearest Mom, Mommy, Nana, our best friend."

I was in tears before I even read past that.  And I cried through the whole letter.  The kind of letter that I can't post because then I would seem really egotistical.  But, it went straight to my heart and will stay there forever.

When I finished reading, this beautiful antique chandelier was brought in.  I couldn't believe it!  I had admired it in a local shop, thought it would look wonderful in our entry, but knew I couldn't buy it, so didn't think about it anymore.  And here it is in its perfect chippy state sitting in my living room!

Of course, when the girls came over to hug me, I started the ugly cry.

Thank you, Daja, Sarah-Kate, and Serena!  You are the absolute best daughters! 
And BFF's!

(I miss you, Serena.)

Hopefully, it will be put up real soon.  (Now looking for a ceiling medallion.)  I'll post before and after photos.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I don't have a Christmas tree...

I have a forest of them!

Our Christmas theme this year was "Winter Lodge." So, we needed a forest.  :-)  I hope to take some pictures of our decor and post them here, but as busy as this season is, it may be after Christmas.  I wanted to make sure I wished you all a Merry Christmas, though, so I'm taking the opportunity now.  Even if I don't get around to taking pictures.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Many people enjoy collecting angels. They have figurines of angels, jewelry with angels, and pictures of angels. Year ‘round. But, angels really abound during the Christmas season. They are everywhere. On tops of Christmas trees, angel-decorated ornaments, knick-knacks of angels, and angels on Christmas cards.

That’s because angels abound in the Christmas story. There was a great deal of angelic activity throughout the story of the birth of Christ. First, an angel brought Mary the news that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Then an angel came and comforted Joseph about the whole predicament. An angel proclaimed Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, and then a great multitude of angels joined in, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Angels were definitely an integral part of the Christmas story.

I am sure that the angels were following their God’s commandment in everything they did, but I think they were so very glad to be a part of this whole history-making event! They were familiar with all the prophecies telling of the coming Messiah. They understood the grand plan of God. They knew the implications this story would have on the world. With all of this, can you imagine the excitement the angels themselves were feeling? I’m sure they were singing with gusto. It truly was JOY TO THE WORLD…and to the angels, too!

This is one of my little "angels" in her church's Christmas presentation. 
She's the one in the blue that the camera is centered on.
Beautiful, isn't she?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Third Sunday of Advent

It interests me that God used such a variety of characters in what we call the Christmas Story.  Rich, kingly wise men, glorious angels, a young innocent girl, a godly young man, wicked rulers, and lowly shepherds.

I can think of lots of reasons why God would pick the shepherds to announce the birth of our Savior. There are so many analogies that could be made regarding sheep and shepherds. And each one has a lesson for us to learn.

We often hear that term I used above – lowly shepherds. It wasn’t just that they were humble. It was because they were despised. In first-century Palestine, shepherds were of the lowest class possible. They were not allowed to observe ceremonial law because they were unclean. They weren’t allowed in the temple or synagogues. Shepherds were considered unreliable and not even allowed to give testimony in court! Why would God pick them?

Have you ever wondered why God picked you?

When the shepherds heard about Jesus, they ran to go see Him. After seeing Him, they told everyone they could find all about Him. Then they returned to their sheep, still praising God for all the things that had happened that night. They did not complain that they had work to do, that they weren’t good enough, or that someone else would be better equipped.

When God picks you – whether it is to give birth (like Mary), be faithful (like Joseph), sing praise (like the angels), give gifts (like the wise men), spread the good news of Jesus (like the shepherds), or just worship Him (like they all did) – remember, it’s because you fit God’s criteria. Even if you feel unclean, don’t have a good reputation, don’t feel you have the skills, or just plain don’t fit in, the fact that Jesus came changes all that. He came to be your Savior, which is good news of great joy. He came to make you clean and to bring you into his family, where you will always fit in.

And the angels made sure to announce that this good news is for all people – even me. Even you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Second Sunday of Advent

The Israelites had just returned from exile to Jerusalem, only to find their city in ruins and the temple destroyed.  Under their governor, Zerubbabel, they excitedly started to rebuild it.  However, they barely got started before opposition set in.  So much so, that nothing happened for years.  Zerubbabel felt like a failure.  His dream had failed. 

But then one day the prophet Zechariah brought a message from God.  Zechariah 4:6-7 says, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.  Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.  What are you, O mighty mountain?  Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground.  Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it!  God bless it!'  The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple, his hands will also complete it."

Zerubbabel knew now that with God's help, he would finish the temple.  The time had come.  God will complete the work He has started in us, too.  But, let us remember that He was also there in the beginning.  Verse 10 continues, "Do not despise the day of small things.  Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel." 

He was there at the beginning and He will be there at the end.  There will be a time of rejoicing if we stick it out to the end.

What small thing have you despised in your life?  Are you going through a time of discouragement?  Does it seem like the opposition will never end?  Does it seem like you or your project will always be small?  That it will never be finished?

On this, the Second Sunday of advent, remember it was in the little town of Bethlehem that Christ was born.  Christ doesn't need all your accomplishments, all your smarts, all your talents, all your successess, all your "bigness".  He's asking you to be faithful in what He called you to do.  He was there in the small beginning; He will be there in the end.  There will be rejoicing and the blessings of God will be evident.

By My Spirit
Lyrics by Alameda Herrick

Is there a mountain in your way?
Do doubts and fears abound?
Press on, oh, hear the Spirit say,
This mountain shall come down.

Is there a river in your path,
A river deep and wide?
Step in, the waters will roll back,
You'll reach the other side.

Is there a fiery furnace trial
Far more than you can bear?
Behold the blessed Son of God,
Is walking with you there.

Then trust alone the mighty God,
He speaks the winds obey.
Take courage, then, oh fainting heart
For you He'll make a way.

Not by might; Not by power;
By my Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts
Not by might; Not by power;
By my Spirit saith the Lord;
This mountain shall be removed;
This mountain shall be removed.
This mountain shall be removed,
By my Spirit saith the Lord.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Generational Piano Recital

Diego started piano lessons in July.  He's just zooming along.

If you watch the video below, you'll see/hear him singing while he's playing. 
Too sweet.
(You'll also hear Papa whispering to Donovan.)

Sarah-Kate started her lessons in August.  She's a zoomer, too.

I had a video of Sarah-Kate playing a duet with her teacher.  I think it was too long to upload.  Sorry, Sarah.

Teacher and students.  Small class. 
(Took us longer to make the trip than it did to have the recital, sing some carols, and have refreshments!)

And yes, I'm very proud.

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