Saturday, December 30, 2006

PRAISE!

Hi everyone. I just had to share. God is so good...

I don't know if any of you keep up with Amy Wilhoite's blog. She is a phenomenal young wife and mother who has been in a fight for her life. Anyway, she was given news today that her leukemia is in remission. She still needs prayer for continued healing and of course, prayer that the cancer will not return, but for her intitial report after her bone marrow transplant, this is great news.

Also, my dear friend Debbie from college is also in remission after her battle with breast cancer this past year. She is currently undergoing reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy, and she just had her final surgery this past week. She's doing wonderfully. Her hair is growing back, and she looks wonderful. She too is a young wife and mom and it's been amazing following her journey through the many emails she's shared with her friends and family.

I looked at my post from yesterday and suddenly it seemed so incredibly ridiculous. A rant about being slightly inconvenienced at Costco? I mean, really. In light of these two women...their courage, their faith, and their strength...what in the world does that post have to do with anything that means ANYTHING? These phenomenal moms deserve a post in my blog, not to mention their husbands and children who have had a very difficult 2006 and who are embarking upon a very hopeful 2007. This, my dear friends, is why I blog....not to rant about Costco!

Blessings to you all for a wonderful 2007. May your lives be filled with the knowledge that God is always good, always loving, and always faithful.


Friday, December 29, 2006

RANT: COSTCOnian Madness

I used to work in retail, so I know that this time of the year is a rough time to be working. However, I was always told, and continue to believe, that the customer comes FIRST. I know that the customer is not always right (even though your manager might tell you otherwise), but the customer does need to come first and needs to be respected. This brings me to my latest rant.

I love Costco. Costco is the coolest place on earth. You can get everything you need in once place and I did much of my Christmas shopping there this year. I love their food (particularly their produce and their meat) and they have so many wonderful things that you can't get anywhere else. (For example, yesterday hubby stumbled upon the coolest over the sink cutting board with a basket. I used it last night and I was in heaven. It saved counterspace and made cutting and cleaning veggies a breeze.)

Anyway, normally I am very satisfied with my Costco shopping experience. Until yesterday.

About two months ago, I bought Cody a Power Rangers sweatsuit in a size five which he's just now starting to fit into. At the first washing, however, it completely shrunk. Like go and dig clams out of an ocean kind of shrinkage. Knowing that Costco has a great return policy, I decided to take it back. I realize I chose a busy week to return it, but that was my choice. I'm the customer.

The store was crowded and the line long, but the woman helping me was very nice. She was having a hard time finding the purchase in the computer, so she told me to start shopping and check back with her when we were ready to check out.

When I did go back to follow up with her, a very curt woman met my request with this c0mment. "WELL. She's on her break. I don't know anything about this!" I sort of looked at her, waiting for her to finish. But she didn't say anything. So I said, "Can we find her and ask her about it, or wait...here's my membership card. Maybe you can look it up." She opened up her mouth and out came, "You'll have to go into the break room and find her to talk to her about this. Do you know where that is (woman wildly gesturing to the OTHER SIDE of the Costco store)...what was she wearing, do you remember? Oh...red. Oh yeah. Her name is Patti. Go talk to Patti." And on her heel she turned, leaving me incredulous....looking in the general direction of the break room.

If you have ever been to Costco, you know that a trek to the other side of the store is like a ten minute walk because the place is so huge...not to mention the fact that the CUSTOMER should not have to be the one to track down an employee!!!!!!!

Anyway...

Patti was in the break room, eating her lunch no less. I felt so stupid walking in there asking for her. She gave me instructions on what to tell the yahoos up front and apologized that she didn't get to help me earlier. Of course, I forgave her. After all, she did her job!

Back to the front of the store I walked with the information needed to get me my $17.98 refund.

Curt lady was there. As I approached her, I kindly said, "Patti told me to tell you that the information you need is on the shelf by the register. "

Snarl. Snort. "UGH!!!" "I don't know what I'M supposed to do about it!"

Patiently, I tried explaining (AGAIN) our plight with the sweatsuit that went wrong in the wash. (nice calm Happi is beginning to lose her cool...)

Scuffle. Snort some more. Stomping on the inside, I'm sure. Curt lady finally finds the information she needs, processes the information and hands me my refund.

"Thank you," says me. "You're welcome," says her.

Back to the registers I go where family is waiting for me, wondering what in the heck happened to me in the twenty minutes it took me to get my measly refund.

On the way out, I knew I had to say something.

Nice Patti was off her break now and kindly asked,"Did you get it taken care of?"

Increasingly annoyed Happi snaps.

"Listen, you were so nice, but you need to know. I was told to come and find you in the break room to resolve this issue. I was sent across the store to track down something that was there the whole time and more than that, this woman was rude to me. I just wanted you to know."

Nice Patti responded, "That's the STUPIDEST thing I've ever heard!!!! I can't believe they sent you to come find me! I'm so sorry!"

"I agree. That's why I finally am saying something. Please let someone know about it."

Now, I'm sure I'll be going back to Costco. I have been known to pull my patronage from places I used to eat at/shop at for the same type of behavior. But, this was a first at Costco. I will give them another shot. I love Costco. I'm not going to stop shopping there just because of one bad experience. You know me. I just needed to vent. And I really, REALLY can't stand poor customer service. I was right. She was wrong. No question. And now you know how I really feel. Aren't you glad you visited my blog???

And please. Don't stop shopping at Costco (right Lori?).





Wednesday, December 27, 2006

'Twas the Night before Christmas....

and all through the house
the mommy and children were sick....
But Santa came anyhow!
We hope you all had a holly, jolly Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

December 25th: Merry Christmas!

It's been a while since my last post...and for good reason. I have mastitis!!! It has not been a very fun couple of days. I was supposed to sing in church this morning and couldn't. We had friends coming over Christmas morning and had to cancel because I am barely functioning. I have many people praying for me and I'm really looking forward to feeling better...in the meantime, it's making for a very low-key Christmas.

On the flipside, it's forcing me to slow down. I am sure Christmas will be a very special time with just the four of us. I can't wait to read the Christmas story, pray together, and see the smiles on everyone's faces when we open presents.

Tonight, Cody put the baby Jesus in our nativity scene. He did it so gently, so carefully. It made the tears spring to my eyes!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas....from our home to yours!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

December 22nd: Christmas Tour of my Home

Boo Mama is hosting the spectacular Christmas tour of Homes...and I've been wanting to participate but haven't found the time lately! Anyway, here it is...the long awaited tour. I hope you can sip a peppermint cocoa and take a moment to enter into my world for a minute or two. Make yourself at home!

First, before you enter our house, you'll be welcomed by a wreath hanging on the door.

When you enter, you'll see our Christmas tree. I am a fan of simple...glass, white, red and green ornaments (with lots of doves and one that tops the tree) with white lights and white ribbon.

On the back of our front door is our Advent calendar which we enjoy adding to each day.

I wrote a post on December 1st about our Nativity Set...but in case you missed it, here it is again.


My voice/piano studio is decorated as well...I love this room. That's a good thing since I spend quite a bit of time in it!



Finally, our Advent wreath. It's one of my favorite decorations and a focal point for us as a family each year. I keep it on the dining room table so we can see it every time we eat together. I often light the middle candle...just because!

A few of my favorite things to do during the season:

  • Advent readings
  • Opening a new window on the Advent Calendar with Cody
  • Hearing Cody recite the Christmas Story
  • Baking and decorating Christmas cookies
  • Setting up the Nativity Scene (and hopefully adding to it each year!)
  • Making peanut clusters
  • Making my mom's sour cream coffee cake recipe (and this year, banana bread!)
  • Decorating the outside of the house
  • Reading all the Christmas cards/letters/pictures that arrive before Christmas
  • Reading Christmas books to Cody
  • Driving around and seeing lights
  • Drinking Starbuck's Peppermint Cocoa!
  • Playing Christmas music
  • Going to Christmas Eve services together ('tho we're usually singing in them!)

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into our home and what we enjoy doing together as a family. May you be blessed!

December 21st: See the twinkling lights...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
In Him was life, and the life was t
he Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not
comprehend it.



John 1:1-5



Last night, Jerry and I had rehearsal for our church's Christmas Eve service. We are singing in a 10 person mixed ensemble as well as doing a duet called, "Mary, Sweet Mary" by Selah. Afterwards, we decided to drive around and look at Christmas lights in our town...but not before we drove through McDonald's and ordered ice cream cones!

We saw some beautifully decorated houses (and a few that were a bit tacky!) and we enjoyed the time together in the car, taking in the display! Cody particularly enjoyed one house that had a big Grinch displayed on their front porch. Jerry and I liked all the houses that were decorated tastefully with wreaths, garland, white lights, and red bows...and of course icicle lights. (Stay tuned later on for a "real time" picture of our home all lit up!)

I also have to put in a plug for one of my new winter favorites...

...which my hubby brought home for me this afternoon after yet another jaunt to the grocery store for yet another ingredient I forgot while making coffee cake and banana bread...

...Starbucks Peppermint Cocoa.



Let me just say...yummy! I'm not a fan of coffee (I don't know how that happened since everyone in my family loves coffee), but this cocoa is the bomb! If you haven't tried it, it's a must. Put on some Christmas music, wrap a couple of gifts, drink a sip and enjoy!

I truly hope you are enjoying these last few days before Christmas. I am loving having my family together since Jerry's home on winter break. We're having so much fun together. I wish the same for you. Don't forget to slow down, be still, and reflect upon the joys of the season. It's truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

December 20th: The Best Gift of All



If you're reading this and you have children, you know that Christmas is so precious through the eyes of your little ones. Nothing compares to your own childhood experience UNTIL you have kids of your own. I have never been more thankful for my guys (all 3 of them) than this year. Celebrating Caden's first Christmas with us as a family of four is so special, and this year in particular, I am so very grateful for the blessings God has bestowed upon us. He has been so faithful and so very good to us this year.

Today, Cody had his Christmas program at pre-school, and it was precious. Imagine, if you will, a class of twenty 4 and 5 year-olds re-enacting the Christmas story. There were angels, shepherds, Mary and and Joseph.

There were many sheep and of course, the three wise men.


Cody brought the baby frankincense. He was the first one to walk down the aisle of the little church (where he attends pre-school) carrying his gift for the King. He wore a robe and crown and he presented his gift and laid it by the manger as "Silent Night" played in the background. How can a mother not be moved to tears by this beautiful story, with her own child playing a part?

After the children finished their little play and sang some songs for us, we went downstairs and were presented with gifts our children had made for us. They had even hand-stamped the wrapping paper themselves! He handed me his gift and said, "I love you mama." Once again, the tears fell down my cheeks as I saw what he had made.

This, my dear friends, is what Christmas is all about. The giving and receiving of gifts, especially the one we celebrate year-round...our precious Savior Jesus and our families. These are truly the best gifts of all.

It reads:

"Let the little children come to me..." Matthew 19:13

"Here my handprints are done

For everyone to view

I had so much fun

Doing this for you.

So look upon this handprint

Hanging on your wall

and memories will come back of me

when I was small."


Monday, December 18, 2006

December 18th: Celebrate the Symbolism


Did you know most Christmas decorations have meaning behind them? Share with your children the origins and meanings of special decorations that point to Christ.

Here are just a few examples:
  • Greenery symbolizes God's everlasting love shown through the birth of Christ.

  • Holly's pointy edges symbolize the thorns that Christ wore as a crown, and its berries the drops of blood that He shed.

  • Lights remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.

  • The tree points heavenward and reminds us of the cross where Jesus died.

  • The candy cane has red stripes reminding us of the blood Jesus shed for us. The white stands for Jesus our Savior, sinless and pure. The shape, a J, symbolizes Jesus. Turn it around and it will look like a staff, reminding us that Jesus is our good shepherd.

  • The wreath is in the shape of a circle, standing for Christ's divine, eternal nature.

Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come...

"Song of Songs 2:12


Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 17th: Light the Third Candle

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:40


Have you completed most of your Christmas shopping? Are the presents wrapped, waiting under the tree for Christmas morning? Whatever you do, don't forget a birthday present for Jesus. Your family can give Christ a gift from the heart. One of the best ways to do this is to reach out to others who need it most.
In the above verse, Jesus represents the King. He has told us that when we extend kindness to someone, it is the same as doing it for Him.


Today you can light the third purple advent candle. It represents the angels that proclaimed Jesus was a king. As you sit together, talk to your family and think of ways that you can give the King a gift. Remember, the best birthday gift for Jesus is the love you show to someone else.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

December 15th: Happy Birthday Cody!



I can't believe it! My little man is five years old today. At 12:27 a.m. my first little baby boy was finally in my arms. It was a wonderful pregnancy, a smooth and relatively easy delivery, and for the most part, my recovery was pretty quick. He was an easy, laid back, contented baby. I remember many nights, nursing him, rocking him, and always singing to him. Twila Paris often played in the background, and so often I would listen to her music and just cry out of pure joy...I couldn't believe the miracle I was holding in my arms! As I look back on these last five years, I truly cherish them. Must be why I always cry on his birthday...

Since his birth, Cody has grown into a sweet, caring, compassionate, sensitive kid. He's an awesome big brother, a great son and a boy I am deeply proud of. This past year, he has grown quite a bit spiritually. He asked Jesus into his heart one night (not even with us by his side!) and he is learning to hide God's word in his heart. It's so amazing to think that he has come so far in five short years! He went from a totally dependent newborn baby, to a walking, talking, independent little boy. Wow! It went so fast!

When I was pregnant with Cody, I couldn't have imagined what kind of love I would feel for this little creature that was growing inside me. Everyone tried to tell me it was a phenomenal love between a parent and child, but I had to live it to believe it. Now that I have, I deeply appreciate the special connection I have with my boys. They are my joy, and I thank God every day that God gave them to me (on loan, of course!).


Cody, you have filled my heart with love, hope, and wonder. You have made the road a little easier to walk, my load a little lighter (on days when it felt so heavy to carry!), and you've given me unspeakable happiness by being your mommy. I thank God for you, sweetie, and I'm so proud of you. I love you, bud! Happy Birthday!

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him."

Psalm 127:3

December 14th: Make Glass Ornaments


My side of the family does Christmas on New Years Eve. We all have a slumber party at my mom's dance studio and the kids play and dance together. We open presents, eat, laugh, catch up on life, and everyone has a great time. Last year we even dug out old family photos and we laughed (and cried) as we remembered the past. There is a Christmas tree up at the studio, but it is missing something when we get there...the glass ornaments with all of our names on them. Part of our Christmas tradition is finding ours and hanging them on the tree as families. There are also ornaments to remember those that have passed away and are no longer with us. It's something I really enjoy doing and know we'll continue to do for years to come.

These ornaments are very simple. All you need are some glass ball ornaments (sometimes you can find the irridescent kind which are very pretty). You can also do the solid colors as well, depending on the color scheme/theme of your particular tree. Use acrylic paint or glue and glitter to make the individual names for each family member. Try using makeup brushes or cotton swabs to make the application easier.

It's a simple thing, but it will be something you and your family will look forward to each year. It's also a wonderful way to honor those you love who are no longer with you and keep them close at Christmastime. This year, that will be especially important for our family.

As Christmas quickly approaches, I wish you all a blessed time with those you love and cherish and the quiet moments to slow down and reflect upon the tiny baby in the manger...God's most precious gift to us.

The shepherds said to one another, let us now go even unto Bethlehem,


and see this thing which has come to pass,


which the Lord hath made known unto us.


And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph


and the babe lying a manger.


~Luke 2:15-16





Wednesday, December 13, 2006

December 13th: Story Time

One of my favorite things to do with Cody, even when it's not Christmastime, is reading. But during the month of December, we pull out all the Christmas books and read at least one before going to bed. I wanted to share some of our favorite ones here. Most of them tell the Christmas story in one way or another, making them a great teaching tool. They are all beautifully illustrated, telling the story in pictures as well as words. A couple of the books I listed are just plain fun! From our family to yours....happy reading!


A Shepherd's Gift by Mary Calhoun





Born in Bethlehem (a lift-the-flap book)




The First Christmas by Carol Heyer





The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado (with Jenna, Andrea, and Sara Lucado)






Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz


Monday, December 11, 2006

December 11-12: See a Concert, Sing Along

This past weekend, our church had its big Christmas program. It was Cody's debut singing with the children. I sang in the choir (under my husband's direction) and also participated in a women's ensemble. There's something so special about being with other people and listening to (or singing!) good music that just puts a person in the Christmas spirit! And of course, when you can worship the Lord...it's even better!

If you can, try to take in a school or community concert, a church program, or an all-sing of a big choral work like Handel's Messiah. This is the perfect thing to do if you need a spiritual or mental boost. I don't know about you, but as we near the middle of the month, I start wondering...am I going to get it all done? My list is still so long and I wanted to be further ahead than this! Or, in my situation since last Thursday....I don't have TIME to be sick! I have too much to do!

And then....that small voice. "Be still and know that I am God."

Okay, Lord. I will.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

December 10th: Light the Second Candle


During the Christmas season we sing special songs about the birth of Jesus. Today, you can light the second candle, sometimes called the Bethlehem candle. Sing the carol "O, Little Town of Bethlehem" as you light the candle that reminds us of the little town where Jesus was born. It's purple color (a symbol of royalty) reminds us that our King was born in a humble stable.

What must Mary have been feeling as they made that trip to Bethlehem? As a mother who has been pregnant with two full-term babies, I can only imagine what a toll that journey must have taken on her tired body. And how Joseph, her betrothed, must have worried for her! Here she was, very late into her pregnancy, ready to deliver at any time, and there was no place for them to stay! But God had a perfect plan. This little baby was to come and save the world...and God had thought of everything. He would be born in a stable and placed in a manger filled with hay. I love to think that the animals helped Mary keep her baby warm. What a beautiful picture that is!

The birth of my two children, however different they may have been, were the most miraculous events I've ever experienced. Can you imagine how the heavens literally declared the glory of the Lord when Jesus was born? The angels rejoiced, and people came from far and near to see this Chosen One. What an experience that must have been for all those who were able to witness it!

Today, when you light the second candle, read Luke 2:1-7 together as a family. Discuss Mary and Joseph's journey and try to imagine what it might have been like for them. Give thanks to God for His perfect plan...for sending a little baby into the world to save His people from their sins.

"...there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Check this out!

Hear Santa and his reindeer sing "White Christmas." Click on this link: http://badaboo.free.fr/merryxmas.swf. Your kids will love it and so will you!

Friday, December 08, 2006

December 9th: Make Star Ornaments


One of the things I love about Christmas is going out in the cold to pick out the perfect tree. We are not artificial tree people...but we probably should be. With two young children, two cats, and a dog, a real tree is not preferable. But I grew up on real trees. I love how they look, feel, and smell.

One of my favorite ideas (and I gave them as gifts last year) is to make star ornaments. They can be simple...using only construction paper, glitter, markers, a hole punch and ribbon. Or...you can go buy plain ceramic stars and write on them with ceramic markers or paint. (I believe Hobby Lobby had the plain white ceramic stars last year). I've also seen the kind that are frames. You can put something on the inside of these as well. These ornaments are a wonderful witnessing tool and you can make them as a family and reflect upon the Lord while you make them. Why not make an entire set and hang them on your tree?

The thing that makes these significant is that you write the names of God on each ornament. You may choose one or two of His names that are the most signficant to you personally, or maybe just pick the ones you know people are the most familiar with. On one side, write the name and on the opposite side, the meaning. Here are some names to get you started:

Emmanuel
GOD WITH US
El Roi
THE GOD WHO SEES
El Shaddai
THE ALL-SUFFICIENT ONE
Adonai
THE LORD
Jehovah
THE SELF-EXISTENT ONE
Jehovah-jirah
THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
Jehovah-rophe
THE LORD WHO HEALS
Jehovah-nissi
THE LORD IS MY BANNER
Jehovah shalom
THE LORD OUR PEACE
Jehovah-rohi
THE LORD MY SHEPHERD
Jehovah-tsidkenu
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
Jehovah-shammah
THE LORD IS THERE

Doing this project will draw you closer to our great God, who is all of the above and more, and it will bless those you give to as well.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

December 7th: Giving the Jacket off your Back


Sitting over dinner last night, my husband told me about a conversation he'd had with his sister on the way home from work. She opened up the conversation by saying, "Did you hear what Bob did?" (Bob is my husband's younger brother.) She went on to share that Bob had been driving home from work where he saw a homeless man walking along the road. Apparently, he sees this man quite often on his commute, but on this particular day, he decided to pull over and talk with him. He asked the man if he was cold. When the man replied that yes, he was, Bob literally gave him the jacket off his back.

We were all touched by this kind gesture that Bob made to a total stranger. Jerry said, "Cody...that's the love of Jesus working in Uncle Bob's life. That's what we are supposed to do for other people."

It didn't end there for Bob. Apparently he's going to keep a couple extra coats in his vehicle just in case he sees anyone else who might be cold this winter.

At this time of the year, there is an abundance of giving, especially to those less fortunate. Have you found a family, an individual, or a cause to give to this season? Have you thought about opening your home to someone you know this Christmas who might otherwise be alone? Maybe someone you know is going through a divorce or has experienced a significant loss this year. There are endless ways to reach out to those around you who may be hurting. It's also a profound way to teach our children the love of Jesus in action. We are to be His hands and feet...even when it means we may be asked to literally give someone the jacket off our backs.


...We must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

Acts 20:35


Thursday, December 07, 2006

December 6th: Baking Cookies Together

One of my favorite Christmas traditions, ever since childhood, is baking Christmas cookies. Last year, my friend Diane invited me over to share in this tradition, and she taught me HOW to not only bake great cookies but also how to decorate them. We use piping, royal icing, glaze, and all kinds of fun decorative touches to make the perfect cookie. (She's amazing. Thanks, Diane!)
Today we got together to continue the tradition. Sometimes we play Christmas music. We always talk and catch up on life, and most of all, we enjoy one another's company. I love the common bond we have in Christ. The kids love to play with one another and join in on the fun, stirring up their creativity and the batter.
This year, when you make your cookies, talk about what the shapes symbolize. Talk again about the meaning of Christmas, and share what's on your heart with your children. It will be a fun time that you spend together and a tradition they too will enjoy for years to come.
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December 6th: The Jesus Gift Box

Now that Advent Season has begun, take the time to sit down together as a family and make a "Jesus Gift Box." You can use a shoe box or a tissue box...any small box will work. Wrap it up like a present and cut a small slit in the top of the box. During this month, take time to pray about what you want to give Jesus in honor of His birth. Throughout the month, jot down your gifts on a small piece of paper and place them inside the box. Every family member should participate (unless they are too little to understand, of course!). On Christmas Eve, place the box under the tree and wait to open it on Christmas morning. Before you open your gifts, spend time reading the Christmas story, praying and thanking God for the gift of His Son and then take turns reaching into the gift box to share what the Lord has laid on your hearts to give Jesus this Christmas. A gift to Him might be a promise not to be disrespectful to parents, a dedication to attend church more regularly, repentance toward unspoken sin, or maybe just a note of thanks, expressing a grateful heart for the ways He has blessed you this past year. Whatever it is, give it to Jesus as an offering from your heart. He will be honored, and your family will be blessed.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." ~ Ephesians 5:1-2

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

ABC Meme

Okay everyone. I've never done a "meme" before but I was tagged by Barbie (thanks, friend!) and I thought it sounded like fun. So...here goes.

A - Available or Single? I like what Barbie said. "I'm available to one man. My husband!"
B - Best Friend? Jerry (a.k.a. Jerimus, Joe, Jer-Bear, Honey...should I go on?)
C - Cake or Pie? Baskin Robbins Turtle Pie (Yum!)
D - Drink of Choice? I'm ashamed to say...Coca-Cola (Classic or Cherry) I can't live without it.
E - Essential Item you use every day? (Does Cherry Coke count?) moisturizer and make-up
F - Favorite Color(s)? I'm going to do a color scheme instead...Cranberry, Sage, and Gold
G - Gummy Bears or Worms? Bears
H - Hometown? It's a toss-up...Valparaiso, IN or Omaha, NE
I - Indulgence? I have several...computer time, bubble baths, and "Grey's Anatomy"
J - January or February? February (the month my grandpa was born)
K - Kids and Names? Cody (5 on the 15th) and Caden (9 months on the 9th)
L - Life is Incomplete Without? My Savior and my family (immediate and extended)
M - Marriage Date? March 26, 2000
N - Number of Siblings? Two sisters...Kari (older) and Darci (younger)...I'm a middle kid
O - Oranges or Apples? Apples (especially in the fall...I love 'em!)
P - Phobias or Fears? Sickness, Flying in an airplane, something happening to hubby or kids
Q - Fave Quote? I don't really have one! I love to quote scripture, I guess!
R - Reason to Smile? The love of Jesus and awesome family and friends
S - Season? Spring!!!!
T - Tag Three people... Lori, Steph, and Jaime
U - Unknown fact about me? While most people think I'm an extrovert, it takes me a while to feel comfortable around people I don't know. Inside, I'm very much an introvert. Weird, I know.
V - Vegetable you don't like? Lima Beans!
W - Worst Habit? Biting off more than I can chew...to my own detriment
X - Xtremely BIG Husker Fan? YOU BET!
Y - Your fave food? I have many, but I really like GOOD Chinese food
Z - Zodiac Sign? Well, I'm a Scorpio, but I put no stock in that whatsoever.

"Now you know too much about me...next time won't you put a sock in me." ha!

P.S. I will be posting December 6th (in celebration of Advent) soon. Stay tuned...





Monday, December 04, 2006

December 5th: A different kind of tree...Your family's

This picture was taken outside the home of Don Meyer, my grandfather, the day we were packing up his house after he passed away. He planted this pin oak tree in his front yard when it was just a sapling. It's so big, I couldn't properly capture it on film. One can only imagine how deep the roots run underground to support such a tree. And it got me thinking....
Even yesterday, I was chatting online with my friend Kari, and we started talking about the idea of leaving behind a legacy for our children and our children's children. It again made me think of my grandfather who, at the ripe age of 95, went home to be with the Lord this past May. I said to her, "now there's a legacy!"

In the first chapter of Matthew, Jesus' geneology is listed, proving he was truly born a king. There's a reason we call Him the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

This is a wonderful time of the year to share your family's heritage with your children. Tell them stories about their grandparents and great grandparents. If they are still alive, take the time to "interview" them on camera. That video will be a timeless classic for generations to come. I sat down with my grandfather several years ago to interview him on camera, and let me tell you, it will be something we'll all treasure for the rest of our lives and hopefully something my children and their children will love watching for years to come.

When you have an opportunity, make a family tree and fill in the names of your family members. Dig out pictures and share stories. Many baby books have a place for you to fill in your tree. Make sure you do this for your children. Your children will love knowing how they are connected to the family. This is one tangible way they can truly learn their identity!

It's amazing. With the passing of my grandfather came a renewed appreciation for my ancestors and the stories I hear the rest of the family sharing about them. This is how we keep our memories alive. This is how we truly honor our heritage.
The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke:
"One of your own descendents I will place on your throne..."
Psalm 132:11
How deep are your roots? How connected are you, not only to your earthly family but to your heavenly Father? This is a wonderful time of year to get reconnected. May the Lord bless you and your family as you share stories and memories with those you love.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

December 4th: In Prayer there is Power


It is a wonderful thing to go to your mailbox every day and pull out the Christmas letters and cards from those with whom you are close...including good friends and close family members. My mom always kept the cards in a basket and to this day, I still love going through her cards every year! I now keep mine in a basket by the front door so that my husband can go through them and read them when he has time.

Why not take a moment as a family this year to pray for these well-wishers? Maybe you might lift them up to the Lord at dinner time or perhaps when you do your Advent readings. Choose a couple of friends or family members each day and petition the Lord on their behalf. Every single card or letter that comes to you also carries prayer requests...some you know and some you don't. Ask the Lord to show you how to pray for each family or friend and allow Him to do the rest. Not only will you give those you care about the gift of your prayers, but you will also teach your children a fundamental lesson: There is power in prayer.

"For where two or three have gathered in My name,
I am there in their midst."
~Matthew 18:20

Saturday, December 02, 2006

December 3: Light the first candle

Christmas and the season of Advent are a time when we anticipate the coming of the promised King. As we look forward to Christmas, we remember God's faithfulness in sending His Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

If you have made an Advent wreath, today you can light the first candle. This candle is traditionally called the prophecy candle, reminding us the Jesus' coming was prophesied hundreds of years before he was born. Sit down with your family and read Isaiah 9:1-7 to learn about the fortelling of Jesus' birth. Make this a special time where you pray together as a family or sing a familiar carol. You will all be blessed!

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." ~John 8:12

December 2: It is more blessed to give than to receive


....Lord Jesus himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35


During this season we need to become more aware of those in need. Not everyone has food, shelter, or gifts under a Christmas tree to unwrap Christmas morning. More importantly, many don't know about Christ. During this busy season, make an effort to share what you have with others. Maybe you have already done something...perhaps participated in Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree, or served at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. But there are many ways your family can serve someone less fortunate than you. Here are just a few ideas:


1. Adopt a family in need and tell them your family would like to be a blessing to them this Christmas. Call your church or a local church for names. You might be surprised how many people are in a desperate situation. (We are adopting a family this year, and the father replied, "I was so worried that there wasn't going to be anything under the tree for my daughter to open.")

2. Collect toys for the Salvation Army or local toy drives (i.e. toys for tots).


3. Bake cookies for a neighbor, your local police and fire departments, or an elderly person.



4. Give an anonymous gift of money to someone you know is struggling financially.



5. Call a local nursing home and ask if you can bring your family over to sing some Christmas carols. Most will jump at the opportunity! Make something small to share with them that shares the good news of Christ.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

December 1st: Celebrate Advent


Today as we celebrate this first day of December, the Christmas season has officially begun for me. The shoppping, baking and decorating have begun, but today is the day when we, as a family, begin to observe Advent. We do this in many different ways. We have a wreath that we keep on our dining table with one large pillar candle in the center and four tapers on the outside, and we light one each Sunday of the month and read Scripture together. When I pulled it out from the bin as I was decorating last weekend, Cody said, "Mommy! We get to light the candles again!"

We also have an Advent calendar with doors to open each day of the month. Last year, we did it before Cody went to bed and each day he would recite the day's reading and the ones from the days and weeks prior. By Christmas, he had the whole story down...word for word and in order! It was something I looked forward to every evening.

This year, my sister Kari gave us a bag with wrapped items. Each one has a dated card so we know when to open them. She said for us to consider it a different kind of Advent calendar. I placed all the items in a basket, and Cody can't wait to find today's date and open the first one. (Thanks, Sis!)

Every day, in honor of this Advent season, I am going to post an idea for you and your family for the entire month of December. I hope that you will take a moment to read the idea and maybe even make it part of your own Advent celebration and tradition.

May you and yours be richly blessed this Christmas season.

December 1st: The Nativity

Do you have a manger scene in your home? If you don't, think about investing in one. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive, and it only needs three pieces to make it complete: Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. When you begin to decorate, start first with the Nativity. Invite your children to help you take the pieces out of their boxes and decide where to place them. Your children will be excited to put the baby Jesus in the scene, but don't let them. Tell them that the youngest family member will have the honor of putting the baby in the manger on Christmas Day, his birthday! All month, when your family looks at the nativity scene, you will all be reminded that Someone very important is missing. It will be a tangible way to anticipate His birth and the real reason we celebrate.

Before you open your presents Christmas morning, sit down together as a family. Allow your youngest child to place Jesus in the manger scene. And then read the Christmas story together. You will all be blessed.


"And she brought forth her firstborn son,

and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,

and laid him in a manger,

because there was no room for them in the inn."

Luke 2:7
P.S. I just looked at Lori's blog over at Glass Half Full, and I noticed she tagged me to share something regarding our Christmas decorations. Well, you got it! The Nativity scene is from my home. I started it two years ago and every year, my husband gives me another piece to add to it. It is made by Precious Moments and I love getting it out every year. Our decorations would not be complete without this manger scene. I keep it in a central location so that we can always look at it. Thanks Lori, and your tree looks mahvelous, darling!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wordless Wednesday


Mommy loves me
this I know
for she always tells me so
When she hugs me
I can see
In her heart
I'll always be...

Monday, November 27, 2006

As I stated in an earlier post this month, I am working hard to have as much "Christmas stuff" done by the end of November so that I can enjoy the month of December with my family. I know it will be busy, but I don't want it to be frantic. So when we got home on Friday night, I decided I would devote the entire day on Saturday to decorating the house so that all we would have to do this coming weekend is just the tree.

When I woke up, I must admit I was dreading the task. I just felt, well, melancholy.

I have decided it's because this year has been full of ups and downs. We've experienced a new life coming into the world, but we've also felt the deep loss of several people we love dearly.

After sitting on the couch and having a good cry, my wise husband knew I needed a change of scenery and suggested we get out of the house for a while. The bins and boxes were becoming overwhelming and I definitely needed a midday break from it all.

When we returned, I was able to finish decorating the inside of the house. Tonight, we put the finishing touches on the lights outside and I must say, it looks very pretty.

I know Christmas is about so much more than the gift giving, lights and decorations. But this year my heart is heavy. I miss my grandpa. I miss Glen. I hurt for my family members. But I know my Savior has them all in His care, and I will rest in that this Christmas season.

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child,
and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is,
God with us."
Matthew 1:23


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nanna and Her Babies


Each year at Thanksgiving, my entire family spends time together in Brown County, IN. We have relatives in the Nasville, TN area and we discovered this was the mid-point where we could all meet. The hotel has a nice Thanksgiving meal...therefore, no one has to cook, clean up, or fuss about dinner. We can simply focus on spending time together.

Getting pictures of all the children together is an annual tradition. It's a miracle if all of them will actually SIT for a photo (forget about asking them all to smile). This year, my mom really wanted a group photo of her with all the grandkids. Look mom! Mission accomplished!


From left to right: (back row) Papa Dean, Chloe, Nanna, and Cassidy
(front row) Cody, Alaina, Caden, and Mackenzie

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wordless Wednesday


Have you ever seen anything so cute? Alright, I'm sure you have. Most of you reading this are the mothers of your own sweet smelling, soft-skinned, beautiful little babies. Aren't we thankful? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 20, 2006

He's really....dramatic!



"He's really....dramatic," said Cody's teacher. "Yes, I know," I replied. "I can't imagine where he gets it!" She went on to explain that Cody could not wait to put on his "costume" for the pre-school Thanksgiving program this afternoon. He did a great job. Last year, he sort of looked on from the side...doing a little, but NOT if I was watching. This year, he was having a ball...making SURE I was watching. At the end of the program, his teacher let him try on the Indian head dress she wore. Of course, he was thrilled.

One other thing I have to share. There is this little boy in Cody's class. He doesn't have any siblings yet, and he absolutely LOVES Caden. Today he came up to me and said, "Um...Mrs. Cody's mom....I was thinking...well, wondering...if...well...next time you come here...do you think you could bring me a map so I can come to your house to see your baby?"

I think I'll be calling his mom to schedule a play date soon. Too cute!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Seriously, who's sick of TomKat?


This is an odd thing for me to be posting about. I'm really not into celebrity hype, but I had to rant. In light of the fact that there are so many other truly important things going on in the world to deem "newsworthy," why is the ticker at the bottom of every major news network and my home page, where I get my news, talking about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' nuptials? I was just wondering...does anyone else think this is sad? Does anyone really care? On my internet homepage, I get the top four news stories and photos throughout the day, and the Cruise/Holmes wedding has been there for the last week, at least. I am just tired of it. The above photo is the latest and greatest thing to come across the news tonight.


Okay, my rant is done. Thank you for listening.
P.S. I realize all I'm doing is adding to all the hype by even talking about this. It is a waste of energy. I realize this. But ranting makes ME feel better.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy Birthday, Jesus!


Yes, I know it's a bit early, but I was going through some old pictures today and found this one of Cody a couple years ago after we had worked hard to make our very first Happy Birthday Jesus cake.
This year, I intend on having my shopping and decorating done early so that I can help my family focus on the true meaning of the season. Last year, we made a comittment to sitting down as a family every Sunday during advent. It was a really special time and it's one of the things that stands out in my mind about how we celebrated last year (well, and us going to cut down our own Christmas tree in several feet of snow!!!). I also have an Advent book with practical ideas on how to make Christmas about Christ, and we enjoyed doing several of those things as well.
I post this today, because I hope to encourage everyone who reads this to do the same. As Christmas rapidly approaches, let's commit to keeping our eyes on the One from whom we've received the greatest gift.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King,
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing.
~Isaac Watts, 1719

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wordless...um...Thursday


What??? Do I have something on my face???

Thankful for Mom


Hi everyone! I was talking to my mom today and she commented that she'd looked at my blog today and saw that I hadn't updated in a while. We've been having camera issues, and I really wanted to include some pictures with this post.

It was a very busy week last week as we prepared for Caden's baby dedication, our party, singing at church, and all the normal, everyday things that consume a mom's time. But it was a wonderful weekend.

I already told her this the other day, but I'm so thankful for my mom. She and her wonderful hubby, Dean, came to town a day early so they could help us. We had work to do, but it was fun working side-by-side, spending time together, and just celebrating together. She was a great help and I loved having her here. So mom...I know you're reading...thanks so much again. I love you!!!!

Most of our family was here to celebrate and we ended up with a total of 57 friends and family coming through our home for the party. I didn't know we could FIT that many people in our house at once, but we did and it was a blast. (Thanks to all who came....it was so great having you all here).

Unfortunately, as I went through the pictures, we didn't end up with ANY on our digital camera from the church (though I know my brother-in-law Gregg did), but we had a few here at the house. I'll post more as I get them. But the one I posted here is what our living room looked like at one of the "peak" moments of the party in terms of attendance. I told you it was crowded!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Priorities

I was just over at Steph's site, and I loved what she posted today from Erma Bombeck. It reminded me of something I experienced just last night.

We are dedicating Caden at our church this weekend, and we're celebrating Cody's birthday a little early since all of our family and friends from church will be together. I am hosting a big party at our house and I've been running non-stop this week in an effort to get everything done. My "to do" list is still a mile long, but slowly I've been crossing things off (anyone else a list-maker?).

But yesterday, Cody woke up with a slight fever, cold, and cough that landed us in the doctor's office. Of course, it's viral, nothing they can do for him, but he was still feeling pretty miserable as his fever rose and his cough worsened. Although I didn't say it aloud, I was thinking, "Oh Lord, I have so much to get done....I don't NEED this today!"

In honor of Caden's dedication, Jerry and I are singing the special music at our church this weekend and our rehearsal with the band was last night. It should have been a no-brainer. Son is sick, stay home and take care of him. But I was wrestling with the decision. It didn't take long for the Lord to make it clear....I felt in my spirit He was saying, "My precious daughter, remember your priorities."

It's so easy to get caught up in the seemingly important things. (Haven't I posted about this before? Clearly, I'm a slow learner!) But the reason I blog about it today is because my little boy and I had such a precious time together last night after Caden went to bed...just the two of us. We were curled up on the couch, spending time with each other and the Lord. We talked about heaven (he innocently asked me, out of the blue, "Mommy, when are you going to die?"), about Jesus being our shepherd, and about God having a plan for each of our lives. We went through his book, "God's Little Boy," talking about the character of a godly boy, reading the verses for each attribute, and then praying together. I have been praying that he would be more comfortable praying aloud...this is something he's been slow to warm up to...but last night, he did it! He prayed this prayer, by himself, from his book:
"Dear God above, for this I pray
to be a godly man someday.
Make me a man who loves you true,
A man of wisdom who pleases you.
Amen."
I don't need to tell you how my heart was blessed, hearing my little one praying aloud, eyes closed, hands folded. It was precious.
Needless to say, I'm so thankful I didn't go to rehearsal. I wouldn't have traded that moment with him for the world.