Sunday, December 26, 2010


the birth of our Savior! These Christmas memories mean so much to me. What a beautiful, wonderful week!
John 1:14
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grace at the mall

I used to love the mall. When I was an adolescent is was my favorite place to hang out. And even as a wife and young Mom I loved it. I loved to stroll through the stores with little Jack naming colors and things and hearing him repeat them. When we thought he might have Asperger's I took him to the mall every week for two years to teach him to make eye contact. There is never a loss for human faces at the mall and he would look at each one, hold their gaze, and state his name and a shy "Good morning". It was part of his therapy. And it was part of my therapy, too. My I'm-a-new-Mom-and-I-desperately-need-human-contact therapy. I'm sure we looked crazy. He talking to strangers, and me by his side playing the role of swollen, pregnant cheerleader. As it turns out, he doesn't have Asperger's. His developmental delays are a thing of the past and now he is just a sweet, funny, well-loved ten year old. In fact, he is my most polite, quick-to-make-friends child in the bunch. But I digress.

Back to the mall. Somewhere between the therapy and adding child number two, I began to really loathe that place! Even on a rare shopping trip alone, it just didn't sit well with me. It seemed to showcase the most spoiled, materialistic, and rude among us. Or maybe that is just my experience around the holidays. Today was no different.

We decided to take a trip to see Santa. We are not opposed to the idea of Santa, but have chosen to not dwell on him. When we celebrate Christmas at home, all of the artwork, books, lessons, and carols are those that celebrate Jesus' birth. Of course they see Santa everywhere, so they have been influenced. And when they ask me about him I have always said, "Isn't it fun to pretend??" But whether they get the truth or not, they just continue to play along- all three- even the 10 year old. So I just nod and continue saying, "It sure is fun to pretend." And they continue to anticipate what Santa will bring. Lydie has begged to talk with Santa at the mall. I told her point blank he was just a man dressing up, but she insisted it would be fun. So today, December 23rd, 2 days before Christmas, I decide to go.

We stood in line 1 hour with the mobs to see Santa. Lydie was smiling from ear to ear and loved the whole experience. The boys had to use every ounce of self-control not to cry and pitch a fit. They learned to give of their time for the four year old who has different likes and wants and stand and take it like little men. And they did so very well. And we all laughed as I insisted that my snapshot with my camera was just fine, in order to save $22.95 for a 5x7. The "Santa helpers" "highly encourage" you to order at least the smallest package ($22.95). But I held my ground. Bah-humbug.

Several hours later we have just returned home with a happy little girl and two exhausted brothers. The younger brother declares that "Wii time" is the only thing that will make up for that awful trip. The older brother seems genuinely content to see his sister so happy. And I am here wondering how we all got so far, far away from the meaning of Christmas. As I scroll through the mental pictures I saw today of yelling, shoving, and buying in such excess it makes me very sad. And it makes me wonder why it seems so very difficult to keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus and his miraculous birth. I mean the fantasy of Santa is a fun one, but the beautiful reality of the birth, life, death, and purpose of Jesus Christ is amazing. Why isn't that enough?

Maybe I can look at it a different way and chalk this up to another daily experience that makes me marvel at the grace of God in saving sinners like us. Maybe I can use this experience to deepen my sense of worship that a perfect, holy God chose to send his Son to become human to secure my salvation. By giving me a vision of exactly what I don't want to be, our trip to the mall has indeed pointed me to Christ.

"How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?"
Proverbs 1:22

Monday, December 20, 2010

A child again

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories

and love of kindred,
and we are better throughout the year

for having, in spirit, become a child again

at Christmas time."
~Laura Ingalls Wilder
*Pictures from a weekend at our house with our family.*
Feasting~Christmas-themed Pictionary~Presents~Sleepover~Worship~Playtime~

Friday, December 17, 2010

My idea of a great day

In the kitchen with good music and a whole morning set aside for cooking and baking

in my uniform: pjs, slippers, apron

while the kids played happily with their new toys.

And then in the evening, having our best friends over for dinner and our annual gingerbread house building contest.

*We made a lighthouse and sailboat. They made the Empire State building.*
What a fun day!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The baby

My girl just keeps growing. There is something painfully nostalgic about the baby of the family. She's four. FOUR. And every time I see her do something significant I get emotional. I can't stop myself from thinking about how we will never experience that event again. Andy actually tried to console me today with the fact that we'll have grandchildren one day. Seriously? I am thirty five. Grandchildren aren't coming any time even remotely soon. And he was serious about it, too. I cry a lot in public because of these tender moments. Today, for example, I sobbed like a baby during her preschool Christmas music program. The really funny thing is, she is only in the three year old class. There is another year before "big school". But once I realized it, there was no turning back. I cried because of the little girl on the end that hid her face and cried on stage. Poor baby. She reminded me of my Jack at that age. Then I cried because of the vivacious, blond boy that waved at his Mommy the entire time. Isn't it great to be some one's hero? I especially cried, hard sobs, at the Grand mom in the row ahead of me that waved frantically and proudly during her baby's performance. "It is one song per class, for Pete's sake.", Jack reminded me. "I know, I'm a basket case. Isn't it embarrassing?", I replied. Because it is, there's no denying it. But, there's just something about a little child singing
and dancing (pictures from Lydie's ballet Christmas party)
that touches a soft spot. Especially when that child is my baby.

"...parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids."~Bill Cosby

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Prayer

Loving Father,
help us to remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children,
and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus' sake. Amen!
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday madness

Three parties, three days...

We had a fun party with our home school group on Friday. A simple craft and cookie decorating left plenty of time for the kids to play and the Moms to chat. We had a great time and came home just in time to pack and hit the road for weekend parties out-of-town.

I find that I don't do well when we travel this many weekends in a row. This weekend was our third away. By the time we were half way to Alabama, I was ready to come home. It's a proven fact- I am a homebody. But we love our family, so we kept on going and were blessed for it. The parties were wonderful, and as always, we were glad we attended. (There was Josh's blood sugar nose-dive, Lydie's melt down (see bottom picture), and the spilled drink at the late-night Saturday party. All sure signs that the kids were beyond their breaking points. But all's well that ends well.)

Some time between one party and the next we saw Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We all agreed that it was a wonderful movie! If you love The Chronicles of Narnia, it's a must-see. I am so thankful for the memories...and so thankful that now I get to play host for a while.

Pajama/brunch with my parents and brother's family

My Aunt and Uncle's party

This weekend was our last time to travel for the holidays. We had two great family parties. Now we will be preparing to host a couple of things at our house this weekend. I can not wait to bake and wrap and enjoy the prep time! We might even get some snow!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


When I look back on this past year I can see a distinct growth pattern in my life. But along the same line, I can see much more distinctly a sin pattern. I have often been scared and truly lacking peace. (Which is a shame, because it was my word this year.) This morning the kids and I read Matthew 8 in our advent devotion. It's the story of Jesus and the disciples in the storm out on the boat. My heart felt a hit when Jesus described the fear of his friends as "ye of little faith". I have been facing big, faith-testing storms this year too. And certainly, he would describe me as one of little faith as well. I have done everything but run in the opposite direction of where God is leading, and many times have chosen to doubt the Lord's good hand in my life. What a heart breaking realization. C. S. Lewis' describes sin this way:
"We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instruments. We caricature the self-portrait He would paint. Hence all sin, whatever else it is, is sacrilege."
This fully surrendered life is one of courage and risks. It hurts deeply to set down idols at the foot of the cross, trusting him to bless us when we risk failure and security. Up until recent years, my life as a Christian has generally been fairly safe and predictable. But for what he calls me to do now, intention, planning, and security are not part of the task. No, now it is time for risks, big faith, and boldness- courage that I do not possess, even worse- I lack. So those fearful, panicked disciples in that boat struck a chord with me. "Yes, yes, I know how they feel!", I said to my boys. And we all marveled together at how He, the One we follow, calmed it all with his words. Even the water and wind obeyed. When we asked ourselves what this scripture teaches us about Jesus, we noted "He is powerful and trustworthy and strong. He is in charge. He wants us to trust Him, wait on Him, and follow Him without fear. There is no need to panic." Isaiah says, "I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born." I can trust the One who puts the storms to rest. His name says it all- "Immanuel- God with us." What a promise!

**Artwork above by my Joshua

Monday, December 06, 2010

It's beginning to look...

a lot like Christmas around here. We finished putting up our wreaths on Thursday. And with that, the house was decorated inside and out. I love the way the Christmas tree and the outdoor lights illuminate the family room, especially when we are using the fireplace. Besides the fun decorating, we have had many Christmas celebrations already. Last week we were very excited to start our Advent devotions and crafts.
We were supposed to tour the "Walk Through Bethlehem" up the road last Friday. But we realized we were a day early, so we opted to drive around and look at lights and eat these:
My friend and I were in charge of decorations for our Women's Ministry Christmas event on Saturday. We decided to go with a simple, traditional theme and used phrases from carols propped on sprigs of holly as place tags, along with simple floral arrangements and polka-dotted fabric for the center pieces. After this party we headed to Birmingham for our first family party. We have a beautiful family. This is our second Christmas without Grandmom and Granddad, and it's still hard to get used to because they LOVED Christmas, but it was a good time together!

And today we went to the Nutcracker ballet with our homeschool group. It was a wonderful performance, followed by a long lunch with our friends. I feel incredibly blessed with this full life of ours. I am committed to not allowing myself to feel unappreciative of our bursting-at-the-seams-calendar. My desire is to focus on this beautiful season, probably our last one here in Georgia, with our amazing friends and family. I hope my mind will be fully atuned to my surroundings, and my heart fully focused on the life of Jesus. I want to really, truly enjoy!!

"He brought peace on earth and wants to bring it also into your soul-that peace which the world cannot give. He is the One who would save His people from their sins."~Corrie ten Boom