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, time you come 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

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 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


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.
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.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Some of you may have noticed I've been MIA lately. My apologies. I've been remodeling.

My husband went to a men's retreat this weekend, and on Saturday morning, even though I had to teach a couple voice lessons, I caught the remodeling bug. Somewhere between 6 a.m. when I woke up and 10:30 a.m. it overtook me, and I began digging through the basement for paint supplies. Unfortunately, my husband is the keeper of all things home improvement, so I didn't know where anything was. But that didn't stop me.

I had a friend here and she offered to help me...with the painting, the kids, whatever. How could I resist? A free day to work AND help? Done! (Thank you, Charity!)

I should probably explain what I'm remodeling NOW. Some of you know we bought a 90 year-old house two years ago. Since then, there has always been some room in progress, some wall that needs painting or toilet fixing. But I love my house. It's humble, but it's home. Anyway, this past Thursday morning at my Building Hearts and Homes class for moms, our pastor's wife spoke about making the home a haven. She spoke about every room of the house, but spent some significant time talking about the room you share with your husband. Well, we've spent lots of time on the rest of the house, but ZIP on our room. So...that takes me back to the bug that bit this weekend.

I thought it would be nice to work on our room this weekend and surprise Jerry when he got home from his retreat. Oh, he was surprised alright. Surprised that I began this great big undertaking (I should mention no project is a SMALL one in this house), and surprised that I tackled it on my own. But NOT surprised to find there was something he could do to help me! The poor guy is always trying to work down the "honey do" list, but it never seems to shorten! But his attitude was fantastic: "Wow, honey. Good for you!" "My wife is awesome!" "I'd be happy to help you....tomorrow!"

So together, with paint brushes and rollers in hand, we tackled our bedroom yesterday. We plastered, sanded, primed and painted our room. In a weekend. We won't win an award for the best-looking-wall-contest, but we've taken some significant steps toward making it a place WE like to be.

So this is why I've been MIA. I'm sure you understand!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Confession: This week I've found myself grumbling. Grumbling about the baby not sleeping. Complaining that the housework and laundry have once again piled up and that I can't seem to catch up...again. Missing the days when life was simple...just me to take care of! Getting angry when my husband didn't come home for dinner last night because he was out doing ministry. Selfish thoughts, I know. I'm ashamed of my attitude. Especially in light of what Jerry was doing this morning.

This morning, my husband sang for a funeral...of the father of one of his students. He was only 46, and he had three girls. He was a devoted father and husband who recently lost his five-month battle to pancreatic cancer. His girls wrote him letters that were enclosed in the program of the funeral service. One of them wrote, "Even though you were ill, you wanted to have the basement redone for us before you went up to heaven." Another wrote, "I will always remember that you came to the first homecoming game I cheered at. Even though it was very cold and rainy, you sat in the bleachers wearing Grampa's hat. Even though you weren't feeling good, you did it to make me happy. I appreciated that." On and on their letters went, full of memories of the love and devotion their father had shown them through the years of their short lives.

I can't imagine what this family is feeling tonight, or the overwhelming thoughts they might be having. I really can't imagine. But I grieve for them. I grieve for his wife who is missing her husband. I cry for his girls who will desperately miss their daddy.

And so tonight I thank God for my baby who won't sleep through the night. I commit to honor my role as wife and mom and do my daily housework with joy, acknowledging it is the Lord I serve everytime I pour myself out for my family. And I will be grateful for a husband who leads the choir at our church with the gifts and abilities the Lord has given him. Above all, I will remember that God poured out his blessing on me when he brought Jerry into my life all those years ago and for our beautiful boys who bring me such delight and joy.

May we all be challenged to have some perspective. Every day is a precious, precious gift.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Check out my boys! I just had to share these. View them as a slide show. Have a blessed day!