Saturday, December 27, 2008

Special Moments

Well, Christmas is over for most people, but due to sickness in my family, we were unable to travel to Alabama for Christmas Day. So, we are going to have Christmas on New Year's! We'll just pretend it's Christmas Day. Do you think it will be the same?

Since we didn't go to Bama, we went to John's Aunt's for dinner and his Dad's for a late Christmas dinner and to open presents. It is so very different in a divorced family. John's step-siblings are great and we always have a great time with them. Still, I am so thankful that my parents stayed together. There is so much we were spared from as children and beyond by them sticking it out. I know they probably had some hard times, but they were faithful through it all.

Last night (Christmas night), John and the two eldest camped out in the living room! We took the bathtub box and fashioned it into a little "tent" of sorts and they slept under it. I don't think they made it all night, though, because Gracie snuck in the bed with me and I found John and Elijah in Elijah's bed. Hehe...I guess the floor got a little hard.

Sorry, this picture is a little blurry and grainy. Probably cause I zoomed.

I've been procrastinating (ahem, Moni), and still haven't got the gifts wrapped for the trip (yikes!). But it will all work out. Besides that, we've been pretty productive around here this weekend. I cleaned out my van. It was ATROCIOUS!! I took all the seats out and vacuumed and wiped them down. I hate going on a trip in a dirty vehicle. Over at the Homespun Heart, she had some really cute ideas for road trip entertaining. If only I had the time.....sigh. We also cleaned off our front porch. It no longer looks like Home Depot blew up and all the pieces landed on our porch.

That's been something on my mind lately--it seems like I clean, clean, clean and have no fun time with my younguns. New Year's Resolution: more balance! More coloring, more games, more ice cream (well, at least for them), more trips to the
"wiewary" (library) :0).

Elijah and I had some really sweet snuggle time today while it was thundering (he's scared to death of "unner"). He whispered, "There's a terrible lizard (blizzard) outside, Mama." And then he wrapped his arms around my neck and said, "You're my main man, Mama." And later, "My Daddy is really big and strong and he loves me", so seriously. My heart just melted like butter. I love these moments. Have you had any special moments with your little sweet peas lately?

Well, it is 9:17, and I have lots to do before I hit the hay. Clean the kitchen, sweep the floors, assemble the casserole (Mexican Lasagna, mmm) for tomorrow's church lunch and iron hubby's clothes for church. Looks like it's going to be a late one for me. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Christmas Means To Me

My friends, I have recently experienced a major lack of interest in blogging. I guess it's the rush of the holidays--I'm just too busy to get creative :). So I thought I would repost this from last Christmas, to have something up here. We are having our family Christmas tomorrow, so maybe that will inspire to get back to the keyboard :).

I have struggled with whether or not I should blog about this, because I do not want to cause undue strife or hurt to people I know and care about. I want my blog to be something that lifts up and encourages, not the opposite. This has been burning in my heart and mind for about a week now, even more so since some conversations have taken place, and a comment was left on my post about our family Christmas. I was not offended or angered by this comment; on the contrary, it has caused me to look at my view of Christmas with more scrutiny and make sure I have all things in the right perspective and especially what I am teaching my children about this holiday.

Every family has their own take on Christmas, creating their own traditions and deciding where to put the most emphasis--Santa Clause or the birth of Jesus. Some families have decided not to include a Christmas tree, or anything that resembles the traditional Christmas celebration. Their convictions on this stem from the fact that the Christmas tree is pagan in origin.

Jeremiah 10:1-4
1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

I know people who would not accept a picture of our children because there was a Christmas tree in the background. I have some friends who do not put up a Christmas tree, but instead hang ornaments and put gifts around a snow-man figure. My pastor, who was my pastor from birth until I got married and moved away, did not put up a Christmas tree, but instead put up a manger and put their gifts under and around it. These families all have their own way of coming up with creative ways to fit the holiday around what they believe. This is good. We should not do things blindly because they have always been done that way, but we should know why we are observing and/or participating in a specific tradition.

I must admit that as a child, the most exciting thing about Christmas was the opening of the presents. My parents did not have a lot to spend on my brothers and I, but they always made the part about Christmas morning exciting and fun, because it was a time for us to all be together, participating in giving something to one another. As an adult, I can say that the Christmas tree is nothing more to me than a decoration, like a wreath on a door or a picture on the wall. It is a decoration that ushers in the celebration of a period of time that we acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I cannot ignore the fact that it is pagan in origin, but this begs the question, what things do we partake in on a daily basis that are pagan or ungodly in origin? There are things that have evolved with the culture and are now thought of as the norm, and would never be put away or ceased from practicing because that would be termed fanatical or legalistic by today's church world.

Makeup, for instance, red lipstick in particular, was originally worn only by prostitutes or women of the lowest repute. The only woman of the Bible who was mentioned to wear paint on her face was cursed by God and eaten by dogs. Let me clarify--am I saying you are wicked or calling you a prostitute because you wear makeup? No. I am just drawing attention to where it came from.
Also, the practice of women cutting their hair began in France in the early 1900s when women there began to openly practice homosexuality. Women began wearing bluejeans during World War I when all the men went off to war and the women stepped into their places as the breadwinners and providers for the family. They had to do men's work, so they donned men's attire. But when the men returned, they decided they liked their newfound role and refused to give it back to its rightful owner, their husbands. Thus began the feminist movement, and women began to seek careers over homemaking. I know this because this was the topic I chose for a research paper my senior year of high school. Now do you think people today would give up these things because of how they originated? I think not.

Yes, Christmas has been overly commercialized and cheapened by the department stores and their advertisements. Parents feel their kids have to have the best and then there are all the Christmas parties to bring gifts to and people find themselves racking up senseless debt to meet the demands of the season. It would be better to take this money and put it where it is needed in the name of Christ, no doubt. But what about the other debt that we build up the other 11 months of the year? We eat out too much, we buy large vehicles that guzzle gas, we go on expensive vacations, and then there's the cable bill and the internet bill and so forth. Why don't we refrain from those things and give that money to missions instead? Ouch.

It has been suggested that too much emphasis is put on the baby Jesus at this time(!). After all, we don't celebrate a child's birthday on the very day he is born, we wait until he turns one. This is on the verge of being offending to me, as a Christian and one who Jesus is my all. How can we not put emphasis on him as the Christ child? No, we do not celebrate the birth of other babies because their births were not of miraculous conception, their mothers were not virgins, and their birth was not the fulfillment of hundreds of years of prophecy, foretold and foreshadowed throughout the entire Old Testament. The fact that that little baby is there in that nativity scene showed me the great love Jesus has for His children. He was willing to give up the splendors of heaven to come and be born in a dirty, dark, smelly stable surrounded by filthy animals so that He may one day die a cruel and brutal death. He traded his immortality for this itchy, sweaty, weak flesh and gave up Paradise for the harsh elemants of earth. That baby is my hope, my joy, my salvation. Celebrating his birth is not taking away from His life, His death, or His resurrection. I worship Jesus Christ from beginning to end, every part of Him, and I wish to know more about the parts I lack in knowledge and experience.

I once taught a Sunday School class of teenage girls, and on one Christmas Sunday I was teaching about this very thing. A comment was made about how Joseph was not Jesus' biological Father, but he took on the responsiblity of this child anyway, because of his faith in God's Word. A girl spoke up emphatically, "Yes, he was Jesus' father!" I then explained that because of the miraculous conception and virgin birth, Jesus and Joseph were in no way blood related. I could not BELIEVE that this girl, 13 years of age, whose grandfather was a minister, in whose home she was raised, had missed this basic fundamental of the Christian faith!!! What in the world?? Let us not be guilty of letting ignorance on such an important fact be found in the lives of our children.

Let us search the Word and pray for wisdom and discernment for all the things of this world, and to what extent we let them into our lives. Too much one way or the other will cause a dangerous imbalance and confuse our children. And whatever we choose to believe and practice, let us be respectful of one another's decisions, and not seek to tear down what another family deems acceptable and right for theirs (unless it is in direct opposition to God's Word, but that's another blog, another day).


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Trial and Error!

There are times when issues arise in our children and we know something has got to be done about it, this just has to stop, because we know these bad habits and/or attitudes will lead to bigger problems in the future. With my children, it is usually a matter of their strong wills, where it is a stand-off between me and them. And they can be oh so persistent, holding fast when I would think they would have been exhausted and given up long ago. This is where we as parents must stand the strongest. That moment, when you see them submitting to your authority and learning that lesson, is confirmation that you have conducted your training wisely and efficiently. Ole sloofoot (sp?) will come along and whisper in your ear that you are being too hard, expecting too much of your child. But in the end, when not only the action is changed, but the attitude, you know you acted upon the wisdom give to you by God himself. Isn't it sweet and rewarding?

For about a year, eldest child has made our mealtimes absolutely miserable. He has refused to eat anything that was put in front of him, even foods I know he liked, gagging and shuddering and crying as if he were being fed mud (or worse). We have consistently applied negative consequences to this behaviour, whether being sent to bed early without anything to eat, sitting in the corner, or, when the magnitude of his bad attitude called for it, a sound switching. In the back of my head, I wonder what we could have done to shorten the length of this ordeal (an entire year), obviously I need to read up on the Pearl's material a little more. Nevertheless, we have finally turned a corner and it is amazing how changed his attitude is. He will say, "Watcha cooking Mama?" And I will tell him and he will say, "Oh, I like that. I want some!". I about fell out the first time this happened. Last night, we had red beans and rice for supper. He was excited to put a big bite in his mouth, but then his expression changed and he made a face and spit it out. I did not make him eat this, because his attitude was indeed receptive and he made an attempt to eat it willingly. I fixed him some rice with butter and salt and he ate the entire bowl without complaint (if only you knew how glad this makes me).

The issue with Middle Child is that she has been hair-twirling, to the point that she has broke her hair off extremely bad. She twirls her hair while sucking her thumb, it's like an automatic reaction, suck thumb, twirl hair. She knots it up so bad that I have had to cut pieces out. I have spatted her little hand until it is red, and just got plain tired of it. So, I started braiding her hair in two french braids and she loves it! Plus it keeps her hands out of it. She still twirls it when she is going to sleep, so I know I have not solved the problem. Any advice here would be welcome and appreciated!

Emma has begun waking up 2-3 times a night lately, when she was sleeping until 4:00 a.m. or so and then waking up at 7:00. She seems to not be satisfied with my milk, so I started her on cereal/babyfood. She will have none of it! After three weeks of trying, and watching her gag and shudder, and spit it all out, I have about decided I jumped the gun and she is not ready for it. I am desperate to begin getting more sleep. Help! :)

One battle won, two to go. Please, you wise, experienced Moms out there, give some helpful advice and direction to a young, learning-as-I-go mother.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All About Christmas (a conglomeration)

Conglomeration? Yep. Get ready! It's time to catch up on missed blogging time. OK, so maybe you are wondering why there has been no activity on this blog lately. Well, after my husband preached a very inspiring message last Sunday night about really knowing Jesus, I felt challenged to go on a little fast from the ole puter. So this week I cut back drastically from my computer usage, only checking my email and getting on to do some Christmas shopping, and tried to apply that time in more important areas--mainly spiritual and familial. It made a huge difference and helped me to put things in the right perspective. Yes, I'm afraid I was spending too much time in front of this screen. Blogging, and the reading thereof can be rather addictive if one is not careful.

I completed my Christmas shopping this week, which included some much-needed church clothes for Grace. And you know what that means--I had to make her some new hairbows, too ;). So I have been up late a couple of nights doing what I love. It's like a creative outlet for me. One of these days I am going to learn to sew and LOOK OUT :0). Here are a couple of my creations:

We will be in Alabama on Christmas day and the weekend following, so we decided to have our family Christmas today. Last night, after the kiddos went to bed, John and I thought we would sneak and exchange our gifts for each other. We were all giddy and excited until...EGAD we could not find my present! I knew I had just seen it on a shelf (not put under the tree yet), but alas it was not there! You can imagine, we turned the house upside down trying to find it--we looked in closets, cabinets, the pantry, the kids' toys present. I was about to get upset, and finally, we found it--in an empty diaper box???? We got a good laugh out of it. My hubby got me a really nice new Bible in a very cute Bible case:

Here are the kiddos waiting for the "go ahead" (isn't that piece of sheet rock in the background lovely?). They were so excited!

Well, at least Grace and Elijah were. Emma looks a little bored :).

And the girls were sorta dressed alike for the event. Aren't they cute?

To wrap things up, Daddy read the Christmas story to us. I had explained to the kiddos earlier in the week that they were getting three presents because on Jesus' birthday, He received three presents from the wise men. This is a tradition we started last year and plan to apply every Christmas. We do not bring Santa Clause into the equation, and I think it's because our focus is truly on celebrating the birth of Christ, and what does a fat old man dressed in red have to do with that?

I love this picture of my Big Man.

My Emma Rae is rolling over, fighting sleep like a pro, sucking both thumbs (!!) and getting cuter by the day! She wants to sit up and/or be stood up all the time, and is too big for her little britches :). We are all deeply in love with her.

Today was a good day. I cannot convey how wonderful it felt to have a day with my husband and family all together, centered on us and the true meaning of Christmas. It is going to be very hard when John goes back to school after the break, after getting used to him being here with us. He started working on the master bathroom remodel today, building the frame for our gigantic whirlpool garden tub. Very exciting. Can't wait to immerse my ample self in its warm, relaxing depths, complete with candle light an incense. One can dream, can't one?

I must now away, to fulfill the never-ending duties of my mom/wifehoodness, albeit with a heart of joy and contentment. How could I not be (joyful and content), when my Lord was born, as a precious, innocent babe, just to die for me, so that I might have Abundantly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Few Of My Favorite Things...

We finally had our picture day today.......this is how Grace "cheeses" for her pictures. Do you have any idea how hard it was to get a picture of her without this expression on her face? I must have taken ten pictures of her alone trying to get another look from her! :) What I love about my children (just a few of the many things).....

How Grace is so girly and sassy and prissy. She doesn't just want a tricycle for Christmas, she wants a pink tricycle for Christmas.
I love how Emma smiles so big at me every time I come to pick her up from her nap. And how she leans her cheek over to my face for sugar.
I love how Elijah is so tenderhearted, and how he is so the eldest child--making sure everyone does what they are supposed to, when they are supposed to, just how they are supposed to.

I love how Gracie runs to the front of the church to sing in the booster band before it's even time she stands up there all by herself like, what are we waiting for? So eager to participate in her praise and worship time....
I love how Emma kicks her legs and waves her arms like a wound-up toy when she sees her Daddy first thing in the morning......

I love how Elijah makes up his own words/names for things tucked deep in his imagination....doze, tangle, wassum....

And most of all, I love how they are MINE!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Our pastor has been encouraging our little flock to be more passionate about soul-winning. To get a burden and start our own ministries to the people around us. I've been pondering in my mind, "What can I do? I rarely venture away from our home unless it's to go to Wal-Mart or church. I have three babies to drag along anywhere I go. It's not the best situation for door-to-door ministry or things like that." I mean, I know I can pray, and that is the most important thing, but how can I put feet on my prayers? The Word says He knows our needs before we even ask them, and I know He knows our thoughts before we ever even present them to Him in prayer. Well, the Lord has answered these questions this week in some interesting ways, and He is showing me that if I will just open my eyes, I will see the opportunities He is giving me.

Opportunity #1:

Wednesday we went grocery shopping, and though I usually go at night when John gets home from class or when a sitter can stay with them, I took them all with me this time (we've had sitters twice this week, and I didn't want to burn people out). Well, as usual, people stopped to ooh and aah over the kids, and to ask the usual questions: "Are they all yours? How old are they?" and remark, "Wow! You've got your hands full!" That one is a classic. One lady pursed her lips and said, "Mmm, Girl! You got it goin' on! I don't know how you do it, but you got it goin' on!" lol....I like those kind :). Anyway, (forgive me, I am going down rabbit trails) one lady about my age with a little boy started talking to me about how precious Emma was and she said, "You're Pentecostal aren't you?" and I said "Yes". She said, "I was raised that way." This opened the door for me to tell her about our church and invite her. She said that was just what she'd been looking for, and so I gave her directions to the church. Don't know if she'll come, but you never know. It hit me later that God can use the fact that I have three adorable attention-getter kids to give me opportunities to witness!!!! Isn't that awesome?

Opportunity #2:

A couple of weeks ago, on a day when it was nice out, we all bundled up in hats and coats and went for a walk through our neighborhood. I noticed an elderly man who lives a couple of houses down was out raking his yard. I've noticed that he lives alone and never seems to have company. God laid this little man on my heart, and every day since then I have thought about him. So yesterday I baked another batch of pumpkin bread and today John and I walked over and took him some. He turned out to be very sweet and seemed touched by our visit. I believe we just made a new friend and am excited about it.

I am not sharing this to paint roses on myself, but to give testimony to the fact that there is always some way to reach out outside of our little confined world, if we want to bad enough. It does not seem like I even got a chance to really get down and pray about it, but just thinking about it and pondering it in my heart, and all of a sudden, the answers were there! This is the busiest season of the year, and the loneliest for many people. Let's show Jesus to someone who needs Him!

I will leave you with some "Get the camera!" moments from today:

In preparation for John's company Christmas party, I took a shower (yeah!), leaving John in charge of our precious little angels. This is what I found when I came out of the bathroom--your guess is as good as mine?

And, lastly, the joyful quartet that brings peace and happiness to my life (did I say peace?).

Monday, December 1, 2008

My $20 Christmas Tree!!

On Friday, we retrieved our Christmas Tree from storage. Unfortunately, all of our ornaments are in storage in another place, so I went to the Dollar Tree with $20 and bought some stuff for the tree. I was amazed at how far that $20 went. Excluding a topper, my tree is completely decorated! Here are some pictures of the den, before we rearranged, added blinds and curtains, and put up the Christmas tree:

Elijah helping Daddy hang the blinds:

The proud decorators in front of their tree! (please forgive Grace's lack of feminine attire).

The finished product--new blinds, new curtains, and Christmas Tree.

And below, sisters playing babies together!