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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

"Look!  The virgin will conceive a child! 
She will give birth to a son,
and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us)." 
Matthew 1:23

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
His Name is called Emmanuel
God with us
Revealed in us
His Name is called Emmanuel
(lyrics by Bob McGee)

How glorious this is! 
Because He is with us, we do not have to be afraid.
Because He is with us, He will aways protect us.
Because He is with us, we can rest securely.
Because He is with us, we are never alone.
Because He is with us, His help is always available.
Because He is with us, we always have Someone Who will listen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Downtown Lighting

Tonight as darkness fell, the community gathered to light up our city park and acknowledge the beginning of the Christmas season.

I love living in small town America where we don't have a problem gathering together and singing the whole songbook of Christmas carols and songs.  Seriously, we sang 14 (!) of them by candlelight.

By the end I felt a bit frozen, but happy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks, Day Twenty-Five

Thanksgiving Day, Itself.

What better reason to feast -- gratitude!

"Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness,
which causeth through us thanksgiving to God." 
2 Corinthians 9:11 (King James Version)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks, Day Twenty-Four

Evenings at home.

I love the end of the day.

I love putting my jammies on early.

  I love spending the evening just relaxing and winding down. 

I love evenings spent sequestered away in the comfort of my home
and in the company of my family. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks, Day Twenty-Three

My dishwasher!

 Though this isn't my kitchen, my dishwasher looks just like this one. 

I know that there are those who just love washing dishes by hand.  I know that there are those who don't believe that dishwashers are good for the environment because of their water usage (depends on how you hand wash, of course) and the detergent used.  However, I feel that having a dishwasher is one of my most bountiful blessings!

I do not like dishes sitting in the sink.  With a dishwasher, they can hide until time to be washed. 

I like knowing when I'm cooking that it is okay if I use an extra utensil or bowl because it isn't making "extra" work. 

I really dislike paper plates even for larger parties, so I am so glad I don't have to wash ALL those dishes. 

I like the idea of my dishes being sanitized.

I love the sparkle of cut glass and crystal straight from the dishwasher.

One last reason.  Because as much as my husband loves me and is such a fantastic man and does so many things for me, this has never happened:

Edited to add:  He most definitely has helped with the dishes.  I just cannot imagine the above scenario!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks, Day Twenty-One

Dedicating Our Children to God

What a privilege!  Yesterday, Joel and Sarah-Kate dedicated their newest children to the Lord.  It is something that we take seriously and is not just a routine, ritual, or formality.  Joel and Sarah read vows to their children and Pastor/Papa blessed them.  Pastor/Papa charged their parents, their brothers, the godparents, the grandparents, and the congregation.  He gave Deonte and Rhema a little Bible and charged Joel with reading and teaching the Word to them. 

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." 
Psalm 127:3

Of course, we also had a great reception/celebration/party afterwards.  We are so thrilled to have Deonte and Rhema in our family! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving Thanks, Day Twenty

School Thanksgiving Programs

I haven't been to one in a few years.  If this photographer had held the camera a bit more secure, she would have cute videos to bore you with share, too, but she doesn't think you want to see the camera zoom in and out of focus.  So much so that it would make you dizzy.  But, they did sing the cutest songs about obedience and gratefulness.  I'm sure most of you have been to such programs and so know just what you're missing.  :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Giving Thanks, Day Nineteen


What would I do without you?  You, my friends, my family, my inspiration, my motivation, my buddies!

I wish I could invite you all over for a big ol' piece of gingerbread cake that just came out of the oven.  We could laugh and talk and just get to know each other a bit more than we might already.  If you live far away, I wish you didn't.  If I've never met you, I wish we would.  If you live close, let's find a way to get together.  If I know you well and we haven't seen each other in awhile, then I expect we'd better see each other soon! 

Whoever you are, thank you for coming by and reading.  You bless me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Giving Thanks, Day Eighteen


I was perusing pictures on my laptop and thought of two wonderful things to be thankful for today: 

1) that we can actually have all these wonderful pictures stored and able to be viewed at just a push of a button, and

2) that so much cuteness abides in my family!  To make my point, here are just a few pieces of evidence from my 2005 folder:

See, I told you! 

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