Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Highlights

Wow! Looking back at my Christmas, it seem it was all somewhat of a blur! Know what I mean? Don't get me wrong, it was great, but to tell you the truth, I'm glad it won't come around again for another year. I caught myself thinking, "Why can't this be simpler? Why are we all running around like chickens with our heads cut off?"

This Christmas Eve, I got to go to my maternal grandparent's get-together, which I haven't been to in about 3 years. My mother's side of the family is, well, the word eccentric comes to mind. And loud. Loud and eccentric. And large. That fits. After about an hour in their presence, stick a fork in me, I'm done. It's like when you're in a hot, stuffy, room and you just need some fresh air. The noise, the chaos, the attempting to have a conversation in the midst of it all is suffocating. Seriously, my Mom is the only sane one of the bunch. Hehe...if any of my aunties are reading know I love you :).

Christmas eve night, my son made a blanket tent in the middle of the living room and excitedly declared that he was going to sleep there all night and wait for Santa. Now, we've had the Santa talk--Santa is not real. Although it is fun to pretend about Santa at Christmas, he is just a made-up person that does not exist. Mom & Dad buy your presents and put them under the tree. The real reason for Christmas is celebrating Jesus' birthday, and why He came (abbreviated version). But I guess Gran-Gran and he were having a little fun 'pretending', so I let it go and played along. I really didn't think he would do it, but he did! He slept there, on the floor (on a blanket) all night. I think each of us got up and checked on him at some point in the night, and someone covered him up with an extra blanket. The next morning, he as so excited, thinking Santa had came in and covered him up while he was asleep. Isn't that cute?

Christmas morning, my Mom fixed an awesome breakfast for us. One of our traditions is to have sparkling grape juice served in wine glasses for breakfast. None of us drink, so it makes us feel fancy, I guess. After breakfast, it's a mad scramble to get everyone dressed and Christmas dinner started. The more kids we have, the madder this scramble becomes. Which brings me back to the previously mentioned 'simplicity'. Or should I say the absence of it. From there on out, we are rushing, plowing through the day, so we can get the dinner perfectly cooked and on the table. Sometimes I wish we could just have a small, simple meal that does not require such stress. Or maybe I'm the only one feeling the stress?

Aahh...I could really dig into this breakfast right now. Suddenly my oatmeal doesn't look so good!

When my brother and his family arrives, we open presents. This is a wonderful, chaotic time of ripping paper and exclamation. I just said wonderful and chaotic in the same sentence. We started a new tradition this year--starting with the oldest child, the grandchildren will take turns reading the Christmas story each year. My 7 year old nephew read it this year, having been practicing for a few weeks, and he did a great job! Next year, it will be my oldest son reading it. Wow! Hard to believe.

The madness and mayhem:

I got some awesome gifts from my family--a new "flat" wallet from my Mom with (the best part) some cold, hard, cash tucked inside. And from my dear sis-in-law--THIS.

AWESOME! I've just recently discovered the Pioneer Woman's blog, so I was tickled to get her awesome cookbook! But I said awesome already, didn't I? Thank you, Monica!!!

Saturday, we left at lunchtime to meet up with John's sister and her family, who live about 2 hours from my parents. We went to the mall, where I shopped a little and Gracie got to go bunjee jumping! Well, you know, the scaled-down version they have in the mall. She's my little daredevil. Loved it! Elijah got to ride a train, too! Thank you, Wendi, for a great time! And the great pics.

Wendi & Ben adopted three children from Columbia, three years ago and are in the process of bringing another little sister home! If you'd like to read about their journey and donate to their adoption fund, go to

That about wraps it up! Exciting weekend, huh? It's good to be home!

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Christmas Means To Me--A Reposted

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).

Monday, December 14, 2009

When Understanding Sneaks In

Christmas! I love everything about it! Oh, the memories! The happy, the bittersweet! The sights--the lights, decorations, fake snow :). The smells--cookies baking, fresh cedar boughs (even if it's from a candle, instead of a real, live tree), smoke from a fireplace, crisp, cold air. And the sounds--paper ripping from gifts, the laughter of family and children, and the music of it all (not to mention the Christmas songs). It truly is a wonderful season!!

The thing that "makes" the season for me, is the presence, tucked deep in my heart, of that Christ-child, walking with me each moment of each day. I think I may have a little idea of how Mary felt when she held her babe close to her heart--her Savior--because He lives in mine. He came to that dirty, smelly stable, for me! Just a little nobody housewife! As I was dwelt on this today, it struck me! Who did the angels visit, and invite to come worship the baby? The shepherds! Poor, lowly, common laborers...nobodies.
Well, to the world at least. But the angels told them, "Unto YOU is born this day, a Savior..."
The Christ-child desired them to be in His presence, and a band of angels came to issue the invitation. What an event to attend!

Then, you have the three wise men. Yes, I know they weren't present in the stable that night, they came two years later. But what a contrast they are to the shepherds! These were educated, wealthy men, with good social standing. Astronomers! Important men, most assuredly recognized by society. Yet, they, too, were invited to meet this special child. He was their Savior too. See? God is no respecter of persons! He's mine, He's yours!

And He is still extending the invitation to "come". Come, bow. Come, wonder. Come, sit in His presence. See what He wants to speak to your heart.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Don't know if that's was a word before, but it is now :).

Have you been Christmas-ing? I've been doing a little here and there. I now have all of my gifts bought! Hip, Hip, Hooray! Now, to wrap it all...not so hip. No, really, I love to wrap gifts. Especially after seeing the Nester's post about it. She's too cool!

Last week, we made gingerbread men out of sugar cookie dough, but I cheated and didn't decorate them. The kids were still tickled pink about it, but I didn't think it quite picture-taking worthy. I would love to make these cinnamon rolls before the holidays end. Just not quite sure how much more my skin can stretch. 'Cause sure it'll be stretching after eating those babies!

Today, we made some homemade Christmas cards for two of our dear lady neighbors.
Mrs. Patsy, across the street, loves to dote on the kids. She's forever bringing them candy and toys and loving on them. Mrs. Janice, across the street and one house over, is a special lady who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her 40s. She is in her 50s now and is an advanced stage. She is like a sweet, innocent, child and loves to watch the kids play. So we made her one too.

We cut some Christmasy clippings from some magazines and had a good time with Elmer's glue sticks and constructions paper:

Grace's expression and posture in this picture cracks me up!

I am pleased to report that my baby girl is feeling much better. She is not completely over her bout with bronchialitis, but is much improved. She went from this:

To this: (I attempted to upload a video of her dancing to Mariah Carey's "Jesus, O What A Wonderful Child", but it would not work. Maybe I'll try again later on a separate post.)

We also bought a new deep freeze this weekend, you know, to hold all the meat my deer-slaying husband is bringing home. The kids were thrilled! They got a new gigantic cardboard box to play with! Who needs presents now?? They had a ball making a "playhouse" with it on the back porch.

By the way, it's just killing me that I don't have any Christmas pics of my kids to show off. I think everything has to be perfect before I can do them. You know, coordinating Christmas outfits and the tree perfect, etc. And our budget has not allowed for the outfits, thus no pics. Total bummer.

Hope your Christmas holidays are Christmasy as can be!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Unwrapping Awareness

Today I spent 3 hours in the Pediatrician's office. My 15 month old has been sick for a week, showing no sign of improvement, so I thought it time to get her checked out. Good thing I did. Her diagnosis: bronchialitis, which is one stage away from pneumonia. Who knows how bad it would have been if I would've waited another day or two.

It is so amazing to me the instincts our God programmed into us Mothers. The instinct that woke me up, suddenly, out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night, and told me something was wrong with my baby. Leaning over the crib, I heard the pop/crackle in her chest and felt the heat of her fever. I knew this was something more than a bad cold. When my husband said, "Ah, she'll be all right", I didn't agree.

Then there are the times when my eldest two are playing outside, and I just know, all at once, that it's time to check on them. Oh the injuries that have been spared because of I caught them just in time!

I like to think that this internal radar was placed in us as an inheritance from our Heavenly Father, and a reminder that He watches over us, His children, with the same caution and care. He hears the faintest cry, sees the wrinkled worry in our brow, feels the irregular heartbeat of our panic. And He is always there, holding, calming, and healing.

I pray that He will give me the gift of discernment, to be aware of the things going on around me, and the judgment to react wisely. Not just with my children, but with a dear sister in the Lord who is fighting discouragement, or a neighbor across the street who is hungry for salvation but doesn't know how to get there. Or a husband who is burdened with the responsibilities of life and needs some extra love and attention to wipe away the cares of the day.

And to be aware of the goodness of our Savior through each moment of the day.

Get on over to Chatting At The Sky to read more about unwrapping your Tuesday :).