Friday, December 21, 2007

See Ya Next Year!

I'm going to sign off for a while to focus on celebrating the wonder of the Savior's birth with my family. Before I go, here's a summary of the year at our house:
2007 by the Numbers
7 states driven to (or through) on several trips to visit family and the beach
4 Build-A-Bears M. now owns, lovingly caring for each of them
56 (minimum) diapers per week before A. was potty trained
28 diapers per week after A. was potty trained
100 approx. milk gallons consumed
322 est. hours my Sweetie spent in Atlanta traffic (and he works from home 2 days per week!)
20 books on CD he listened to while in the car
11 weeks spent coping with a 2-year-old in a cast after A. broke his leg in February
90 unforgettable minutes it took for the pain to subside after S. was stung by a stingray on his 13th birthday - minor surgery removed the barb embedded in his big toe and he remains a lover of marine animals
3 grades learning in our home school this year, 7th, 5th, and 3rd
?thousands? of legos scattered all over our house!
5 (and counting) ways C. can jump off a swing (any
guesses who will have the next broken bone...?)
15 (and counting) understandable (to us, anyway) words
K. can speak - our favorite is "pitt-tee" (pretty)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
"Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sisters are Great!

I love my sister! We've been close all our lives and I often think of how blessed I am to have her in my life. God was so good to give me a sister. She is a friend, confidante, and spiritual advisor.

Do you know what my sweet sister did this weekend? In the midst of her own pre-Christmas busy-ness, she drove 275 miles for a surprise visit! She knew that M. would be thrilled to have Aunt Michelle at her ballet recital, so she packed herself (who is 20 weeks pregnant, by the way) and her 23-month-old daughter and made the trek. We had so much fun at the recital, hanging out, and shopping together. Thanks, Sis, for such a selfless gift!

What I'm really moved by as I ponder the gift of a sister is this: not only do I have a great sister, but my daughters will have each other - and so will Michelle's ... she just found out last week that baby #2 is a girl!

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Though there is always someone (or a several someones!) talking around here, my tired brain can only call to mind a couple of moments to share.

(while driving around the parking lot of the grocery store) A (3 yo) says to Mom, "Is today Christmas?"
Mom (paying more attention to finding a parking spot than a conversation) "No, it's not."
A "Why not?"
Mom (still circling) "Uhh...."
A "Because it's grocery day?"
Mom "Yes, A, because it's grocery day!"
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One day S (13 yo) was making pancakes for the family breakfast. He patiently stood there cooking all the pancakes, while others began to eat. When he had the last batch off the griddle, he sat down to eat and proclaimed, "Now I can have the fruits of my labor!"
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M (8 yo) had her Christmas ballet recital last Friday night. Little K (19 months) stood on my lap to see the dancers. Apparently she's added a new word to her vocabulary, because every time a new set of dancers came out and a song began, she bounced in my lap, pointed, and exclaimed, "Wook!" (tr. "look")

Head over to Mary's place for more Tiny Talk!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Jesus Was Never Busy"

Those words are the title of an essay in Elisabeth Elliot's book The Music of His Promises. I've been feeling overwhelmed lately with the busy-ness of December - in spite of all my efforts to keep it un-busy. This entry I read during my quiet time really struck me. Elisabeth says...
To be busy is to be engaged in an occupation which makes it inconvenient to be disturbed. [Jesus] was at the disposal of His Father at all times and therefore at the disposal of all whom the Father sent to Him. There was never a sign of moodiness, selfishness, offense, boredom, or busyness...We can learn to see every minute of our day as His, not ours...Knowing where we come from and to Whom we are going relieves us of the anxiety that makes us so fussy and so hard to live with.
(The Music of His Promises (2000 edition), pp 158-159)
I have been very fussy and hard to live with these last few days. My mind is full of all the things I have to do to prepare for Christmas. Mind you, nearly all the things I have to do are for my family. And yet, I fell put out if any of those same family members interrupt me! I feel the pressure of trying to do all the shopping, baking, cleaning, and hosting (not to mention applying the proper spiritual emphasis or attending recitals, pageants, etc.) while managing the studies of three students and training two very intense toddlers. Sometimes it feels like my whole day is nothing but a string of interruptions!
I heard another great comment recently by Dr. Richard Swenson, author of the book, Margin. He said that you never see Jesus rushing in the Bible. He always had time for the people around him. He was never "busy." December is such an easy time to lose the "margin" in our time, energy, and emotional reserves.
Lord forgive me for not submitting every minute of my day to You, as belonging to You. Forgive me for placing my own agenda each day above Yours. Help me to place my own plans aside, even if it means my "to do list" doesn't get done. Help me to rest in the knowledge that whatever interruptions come, "This is the day that the Lord has made."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Memorial

Eleven years ago today my youngest brother, Andy, went home to Heaven. He was 16 years old. The week before his death he had shared in chapel that his only real ambition in life was to go to Heaven. The day before his death he was sharing the gospel in the ice cream store where he worked.

Don't get me wrong, he was aslo a real stinker! The baby of four kids, Andy was a little spoiled and sometimes a lot annoying! But he had a heart of gold and loved my kids (just two tiny boys at the time) - he was so proud to be an uncle!

So today we especially thank the Lord for the gift of the Incarnation, for without it we would have no Son of God made Man; no perfect sacrifice; no Atonement; no eternal life with the Father for those who believe. Therefore we have confidence that Andy is enjoying his Eternal Rest. Yes, losing a loved one at Christmas sometimes makes it a difficult time, but it also makes the Truth of what we celebrate all the richer! Glory to God in the Highest!

You can also read about him (and see a funny picture) here at my Dad's blog.

Pitiful

Here's what happens when you're baby #5, sick, and your Mommy is busy addressing Christmas cards......you fall asleep on the floor, listening to "Baby Santa's Music Box" while waiting for Mommy to come put you in the bed for a nap! Poor thing!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

St. Nicholas Day

Today is the day to remember the man who inspired the Santa myth. The real St. Nicholas was a 4th century bishop who was known for his compassion and zeal for the gospel. Dr. George Grant (a good friend of my father) illuminates the history of this great man here.

In our house we put chocolate coins in the kids' shoes before they got up, and also gave them a new Veggie Tales Christmas video -just for fun. We have a great book on St. Nicholas we'll read at our lunchtime devotions - I want my kids to know the real "St. Nick," who is way more interesting than the jolly dude in the furry suit!


Monday, December 3, 2007

The Story of Us

We put up our tree this weekend and I was struck by how the whole process has evolved through the years. In the beginning it was a quietly joyful ritual performed by a young newly married couple, madly in love, looking forward to growing a family and establishing their own traditions. Fast forward 15 years and five kids. The scene now seems like chaos at first glance. Yet there is the same couple, still madly in love, with their growing children all around, following the family traditions.

As "A Very Veggie Christmas" plays in the background, we open the boxes of ornaments that tell our story. We sing along with the corny songs, laugh, drink hot chocolate, and share memories attached to all our favorite ornaments...

"Oh! That was the year we went to DisneyWorld! Do you remember how excited M. was when she finally got to meet Belle?!"

"When Mommy and I first got married, we couldn't afford Christmas ornaments. So we bought a few red ribbons at KMart to make our tree pretty. We've always saved this one to remember...""Mom, look! Here's the one from when I was a baby!"
There were dozens of such moments. Remembering Daddy's favorite team...

...or the time S. was so into Nascar and J*ff G*rdon.

We laughed and reflected as we took out each ornament and placed it on the tree. One for each new baby through the years, one for commemorating M's first year of ballet lessons, one to remind us of the ups and downs of raising the "BLT" (Busy Little Toddler - A's former nickname.) Look at that mischievous little face!

The last ornament put on the tree was one of the newest: a gilded Aspen leaf from our recent anniversary trip to Colorado. A symbol of our union as a couple; 15 fruitful and blessed years; and Lord-willing many more years to come.
As I look at the finished tree in all its splendor, I again notice how it has changed through the years. From a simple tree with elegant white lights...to a hodge podge with childlike color - and boughs decked by a 1- and 3-year-old that look like this:
But it is our tree - our story - and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Now, if I can only get motivated to take all of this...
...and make the rest of the house just as festive!