26 December 2011

On the Second Day of Christmas

The past few days have been so enjoyable for me, and i am still enjoying!
  • Thursday: my husband and i kissed the kids good-bye, got in the car and headed down the road on a two-hour drive out to the town where my daughter & son-in-law manage a coffee shop and bed & breakfast; they had given us a night's stay as an anniversary gift!
  • Friday: our 23rd Anniversary!  We had a great breakfast prepared by our daughter, and spent the day with her perusing the shops.  Then we had lunch with our son-in-law, said our good-byes, and headed home.  I gave my husband 23 kisses & hugs (the chocolate variety; i gave him the others as well, but i didn't keep count!); i printed out "I love you" in 23 different languages, and i made a playlist with 23 songs from the year we married.  Then we watched "Big" with the kids, because it came out that year.
  • Christmas Eve: we set up the tree.  Our oldest daughter and our second daughter & husband came.  We went to church, where my husband and youngest son played guitar while my youngest daughter sang a song which my husband wrote.  We had a late supper of tortellini, spaghetti, and meatballs as well as assorted cookies for dessert.  We put up lights and decorated the tree.  I prepped the breakfast casserole and went to bed.
  • Christmas Morning:  it was so wonderful to come downstairs and see the lights!  I got up around 4 and had a wonderful prayer time by twinkle-light, then began peeling, chopping, mixing, and cooking our traditional Christmas brunch; this is my gift to my family.  The kids started getting up and saying, "Merry Christmas."  Everyone was awake by about 8, so stockings were opened (again); a few gifts and hugs were exchanged; i read the Christmas story from the Bible; my husband prayed, and we all dug into the food.  We had orange danish rolls, egg-cheese-chorizo casserole, cranberry-apple-pear crisp, potatoes with li'l smokies, assorted fresh fruits, crackers & hummus. Then my daughter and her husband left to have Christmas with his folks.
  • Christmas Afternoon:  my husband and two boys went to see a movie, while the four girls and i napped and had an impromptu jam session with guitar and voices.
  • Christmas Evening: we munched on leftovers and watched "Polar Express."  Then my oldest daughter went back to her apartment, taking my 17 year-old to spend the night with her.
  • Today: the shepherds have left, but the animals are still worshiping the baby Jesus in the manger, and the wise men have begun their journey, following the star.  We have enough leftovers to get us through the day.  My husband has the day off and is honouring some of the Christmas coupons he gave to the kids, spending some 1-on-1 time out with the 14 year-old this morning, the 12 year-old this afternoon, and the 15 year-old tonight.  I am sipping a gingerbread latte, listening to my Christmas CDs,  typing by twinkle-light, thoroughly enjoying this Christmas Season, which has only just begun!

Linking up here

And here

And here

20 December 2011

A Daybook for the final week of Advent

This morning i am...
bare fruit trees silhouetted against the fainest tinges of colour in the eastern sky

"instrumental Christmas music" radio on Spotify

the slight lavender and citrus scent of the left-over wedding candles i am using in the Advent wreath this year

tea with milk & sugar and a toasted english muffin

This week i am...
decorating ~
Mary and Joseph are anticipating the arrival of the infant Christ
the angel choir are waiting in the wings
the shepherds will come out on Christmas Eve
the Wise Men will begin following the star Christmas night
the Advent wreath will move to the front door on Christmas morning
the tree will go up on the 23rd or 24th
we haven't yet put up an outside lights, and i don't know if we will; oh, well

giving ~
The Storehouse Food Pantry ~ take a box tomorrow
Pregnancy Aid ~ take a box tomorrow
trying to figure out what to give my wonderful husband for our anniversary

listening ~

A Christmas Carol  ~ aloud
St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas  ~ which i bought myself at Half Price Books!

a little get away for my husband & i to celebrate our 23rd anniversary
Christmas Eve & Day menus
ideas to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany (Three Kings)

pondering ~  

the O Antiphons & Magnificat with my prayer beads during my morning quiet time
for a peaceful week, focusing on The Greatest Gift Ever Given

05 December 2011

Advent Poetry

Today is Christina Rossetti's birthday.  I always want to read Rossetti in December, probably because she was born and died in December (the 29th).  She also wrote two of my favourite poems of the season, which were both set to music to become two beautiful hymns.

In the Bleak Midwinter:

Love Came Down at Christmas:

We also enjoy reading Christmas in the Stable.
This is a collection of poems, each written from the point of view of an animal or about the animals in the stable where the Christ Child lay asleep.

And this year I just may order this one for myself if one of my loved ones graces me with an Amazon gift card:  O Holy Night!: Masterworks of Christmas Poetry

04 December 2011

Humility at Advent

Today i sat in church, my non-denominational church, that doesn't do Advent, or sing Advent (or Christmas) songs, except at the Christmas Eve service, whose worship team i don't particularly enjoy, with a new-ish pastor whose preaching isn't particularly my style; i sat there grudgingly, thinking all of these things, and more.

we sang
I'm giving You my heart, all that is within
I lay it all down, for the sake of You my King

I'm giving You my dreams, laying down my rights
I'm giving up my pride, for the promise of new life

And I surrender all to You, all to You
And I surrender all to You, all to You 
(Surrender by Justin McRoberts)
she asked
Do we really mean it?
And He whispered
I want your heart.

Jesus humbled Himself to come to earth and live, work, walk, and die among us
Mary was humble
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her...
And Mary said:
      “ My soul magnifies the Lord,
       And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
       For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
      For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
~Luke 1:38, 46-48
Joseph, too
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
~Matthew 1:24-25
The King of kings was wrapped in humble cloth and laid in a humble manger
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
~Luke 2:6-7
My heart was the Bethlehem Inn, and there was no room for Him, because it was overcrowded with my convention on what His Advent should look like, sound like, feel like, be.  

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom i am the foremost.

~1 Timothy 1:15
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus;
There is room in my heart for Thee!

linking up to

Keeping Advent ~ Week Two

Want to read about how other families are keeping Advent?
Visit the Nativity Carnival over at A Ten O'Clock Scholar. 

Sunday, 4 December:
2nd Sunday in Advent; light the candle of Peace
decorate our Saint Nicholas stockings
visit Main Street Bethlehem
special dessert: gingerbread

Monday, 5 December: 
hang our stockings 

Tuesday, 6 December:
celebrate Saint Nicholas Day
Gracious and good Lord, we bless you on this feast of St. Nicholas, your servant, who is an example to us of a life of charity and love. May we see in his life an invitation to imitate his good deeds. Make us always mindful of the needs of others and help us rejoice in the abundance of your goodness around us. Through Jesus our Lord.  ~Amen
have a special breakfast and open our stockings

Wednesday, 7 December:
choose gifts for Emmanuel & Benjamin (the boys we sponsor through a friend's ministry)

Thursday, 8 December:
read one of our Christmas books

Friday, 9 December:
bake cookies for the neighbours

Saturday, 10 December:
take a donation box to the food bank

to see all of my Advent posts click on the banner:

click for my Advent playlist:

01 December 2011

December First

The end of November birthdays have been celebrated, and it is time to put away the autumn decor and fully embrace this season of Advent.

This arrived last night:
~an early anniversary gift from my wonderful husband.

So, here are my plans for today and through the weekend:

Thursday, 1 December:
set up the Advent calendar and box containing ornaments:
begin daily readings

Friday, 2 December:
make Christmas cards to send to troops:

Saturday, 3 December:
put up the lights 
watch It's A Wonderful Life (NBC)

Sunday, 4 December:
2nd Sunday in Advent; light the candle of Peace
decorate Saint Nicholas stockings
special dessert: gingerbread 

to see all of my Advent posts click on the banner:

click for my Advent playlist:

30 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 30
  • a son ~ born on this day fourteen years ago, after four daughters
  • his hugs ~ when he was little he used to sit on my lap and reach his arms backward, up and around my neck and squeeeeeeeeeeeeze; now he has to reach down to hug me, but he still does
  • his eyes ~ big and blue, like his uncle from whom he got his middle name and his grandmother whom he never knew on his dad's side, and his grandfather and uncle on my side ~ and his blonde curls, which i couldn't bear to cut off for about the first five years, until he got tired of people thinking he was a girl and insisted!
  • his wit ~ sometimes he says things that just take me by surprise
  • his talents ~ writing, playing the guitar, figuring out how things work, problem-solving; he is quite brilliant
Happy Birthday, Joshua; i am so very glad you were born!

Oh, he is also a huge Johnny Cash fan, so this is in honour of him:

29 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 29
  • the dear friend of my mother's after whom I was named; yesterday was her birthday.  she is an amazing lady, and I would love to be able to live up to her example
  • my past (Romans 8:28)
  • my present (Psalm 118:24)
  • my future (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • everything He has given me (James 1:17)

28 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 28
  • Advent
  • hope
  • two sons both born during this season of the year
  • cool, crisp days and chilly nights
  • "The people who walked in darkness
       have seen a great light;
    those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
       on them has light shined." ~Isaiah 9:2

27 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 27

We Thank Thee
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

Keeping Advent ~ week 1

Please visit the Nativity Carnival over at A Ten O'Clock Scholar.

Our wreath is all ready to go this evening.  

We have green and purple candles, because I am using leftovers from my daughter's June wedding.  The wreath was given to me by my oldest daughter; it will go on the door Christmas morning when the tree has replaced it on the table.  I stole borrowed Kerry's idea and placed some gold, purple, and clear "gems" I had on the cake plate around the candles.  I also have four little brass angels that I bought at the thrift store several years ago that stand between the candles.  The only thing I had to purchase was the Christ candle for the center; my 15yo daughter and I decided to use a gold one this year.

The rest of our Advent-keeping will not begin until December 1st, because my son's birthday is November 30th.  

Last year I found these beautiful Jesse Tree ornaments, but not in time to use:
We will be using them this year.  

Each day we will open our little Advent box, take out the ornament and read the scripture passage.  Inside the box there will also be a little treat and, on certain days, a card with a special activity for that day written on it.

Advent Begins


26 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 25 & 26
  • a wonderful feast with our daughter and her husband and his extended family out on the huge deck of the coffee shop
  • my son had a great time with his birthday bow & arrow and the target that my son-in-law made
  • a good night's sleep at a lovely inn courtesy of son-in-law's grandparents
  • a delicious complimentary breakfast at the inn
  • a very relaxing day Friday spent hanging about the coffee shop with my daughter while her husband was off shopping with his family
  • listening to Christmas music in the car with my youngest two
  • being home again
  • a rainy morning
  • leftovers for lunch
  • a nice teatime with my 15yo daughter today

24 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 24

12 years ago my second son was born, and I am so very very thankful for him!
  • he is easy-going and a joy to be around
  • he is considerate, kind, and helpful
  • he is humble
  • he has a great laugh
  • he gives wonderful hugs and snuggles
Happy Birthday, Luke; i am so glad i get to be your mama!

23 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 23
  • a successful morning of baking
  • a fun full day for the two younger kids as Austin's Park & Pizza
  • son's birthday present aquired
  • a nice Thanksgiving Day weather forecast
  • spending Thanksgiving/son's birthday with my daughter and son-in-law in the small town in the hill country where they are managing a coffee shop, and my son-in-law's family will be with us as well

22 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 22
  • my grocery shopping was done by noon
  • my cranberry sauce is chilling
  • i think i have a workable plan for tomorrow
  • i still have some money for birthday presents 
  • my 9yo daughter wrote a lovely poem:
"I am thankful for...
A house to live in,
A family that cares,
A mama who helps me brush my hair,
Halloween treats and things that are sweet,
And all the friends that I may meet."

21 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 21
  • a really good day at History Quest
  • rain
  • the engine light in my car turned off again ~ now, if i can just get my inspection done
  • a short work week
  • my husband makes the bed every morning

20 November 2011

Advent Prayer

I am joining with Kerry over at A Ten O'Clock Scholar for her Nativity Carnival.

It is hard for me to fathom that the first Sunday of Advent is a mere 7 days away!

I plan to pick up candles for our Advent Wreath tomorrow or Tuesday, and I will get that set up to go next Sunday.  

We will be praying this prayer as we light the candle(s) each night:

Advent Prayer

Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"  Amen.

Because my son's birthday is on the 30th, the wreath is the only special thing we will be doing for Advent until the first day of December.  I will be writing a separate post about the rest of our plans.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 20
"Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise."
~George Herbert

19 November 2011

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Day 19

This is a very difficult one for me to write; I have been wrestling with it all day.  You see, today is my mother's birthday; she is 81.  She is also in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, and we live halfway across the country from one another.  I guess I am struggling with writing this because I feel guilty.  I am so thankful for my mother, but I wasn't always.  We clashed a lot when I was growing up, and I didn't appreciate her.  I know that is true of many mothers and daughters, but it doesn't make it any less shameful.  When I grew up we got on much better and genuinely liked as well as respected each other, but I still don't think I truly appreciated her.  When my dad died I worried that he had been the glue that held us together; he loved both of us so much, and we both adored him.  We saw each other through it though.  Then she began slipping away and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  

I realize now what a precious gift of God she is and how blessed I am to be her child.
  • she suffered a lot in her life, and her steadfast faith and trust in God was a shining example
  • she was a prayer warrior
  • she gave me a love for reading and learning
  • she loved and respected my father
  • she taught me how to knit and read music and make jam
~ Happy Birthday, Mama, and thank you!

    18 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 18
    • yet another beautiful sunrise ~ i never tire of them
    • a good play day for my daughter and her friend
    • my children throwing the football around outside and laughing and having fun together
    • my husband's smile
    • an amazing sunset

    17 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 17
    • that my husband gets to work from home
    • that my youngest won't go to to bed until daddy & mama have prayed for her
    • for my home
    • for my bed ~ it is so comfy, a pillowtop given to us by a friend ~ my daughter and i call it "the cloud"
    • that God's mercies are new every morning

    16 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 16

    I am so very grateful for my daddy.  Today would be his 85th birthday, but he is celebrating it with Jesus.  
    • He was first and foremost a man of God.  He read his Bible and prayed faithfully, and he walked humbly with God.  He was a deacon and the church treasurer and an all-around-mister-fix-it; he even served as the music director for a time in our very small church.  
    • He loved my mama.  I remember once when she and I were in the kitchen arguing, and I was being downright rude to her.  My normally gentle daddy came flying in from the living room, grabbed me, and yelled "You may not speak to her that way; she is my wife!"
    • He loved me, and I never doubted that love; it was unconditional.
    • He was an artist and an engineer, and he loved music; he was always singing or humming or whistling.
    • He had a subtle sense of humour and many expressions that seemed unique to him.  I have since realized that most of these were not original, but rather regional and generational.  Things like: "forty-leven dozen", "fair to middlin' ", "the good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise", "no thanks; just had a bar of soap", and if we said, "Daddy, you know what?"  He would reply, "No, but I know his brother which." 

    ~ Happy Birthday, Daddy; i miss you!

    15 November 2011

    Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent ~ Advent Playlist

    Kerry is hosting a Nativity Carnival over at her blog, A Ten O'Clock Scholar.

    Kerry has some great thoughts and observations in her post, so please go read it.

    My contribution this week is my Advent playlist.  I hope it will be a blessing to somebody.

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 14 & 15
    • vaporizers
    • medicine
    • tea
    • comfy couches
    • sleeping children
    • new neighbours
    • old neighbours
    • a nice visit with a friend of hubby's from high school after they reconnected on the book of faces
    • pay day
    • november

    12 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 12
    • flip-flops
    • skirts
    • thrift stores
    • frozen grapes
    • the ability to read & learn

    11 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 11 ~ Veterans Day
    • Thankful to God for the men and women who have served and are serving
    • Thankful to the members of our armed forces for their service
    • Thankful to the mothers & fathers, wives & husbands, sons & daughters, brothers & sisters who have sent their loved ones off to serve and count the days until they return
    • Thankful for the freedom that their service & sacrifice has bought & preserved
    • Thankful that God promises us peace

    A Prayer for Veterans Day

    Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield:
    we give you thanks for the devotion and courage
    of all those who have offered military service for this country:

    For those who have fought for freedom; 
    for those who laid down their lives for others;
    for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body;
    for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.  
    On our behalf they have entered into danger,
    endured separation from those they love,
    labored long hours, and borne hardship in war and in peacetime.

    Lift up by your mighty Presence those who are now at war;

    encourage and heal those in hospitals
    or mending their wounds at home;
    guard those in any need or trouble;
    hold safely in your hands all military families;
    and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion
    and tranquil life at home;

    Give to us, your people, grateful hearts

    and a united will to honor these men and women
    and hold them always in our love and our prayers;
    until your world is perfected in peace

    through Jesus Christ our Savior.

    10 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 10
    • my mistakes
    • the gift of confession & repentance
    • God's mercy & forgiveness
    • my weakness
    • His strength

    09 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Days 8 & 9
    • electricity
    • indoor plumbing
    • clean water
    • grocery stores
    • the internet
    • my computer
    • healthy eyes
    • healthy ears
    • healthy legs
    • to be alive right here & right now

    07 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 7
    Rejoice always;
    Pray without ceasing;
    Give thanks in all circumstances;
    for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

    Today I feel led to offer thanks for some of the circumstances of my life that I am not happy about.
    • the engine light is on in my car, and my inspection is this month, and I haven't finished paying off last year's repairs
    • we still live in Texas in the suburbs, not in the country in the Northwest
    • we are in debt, and I have to work
    • two of my children are not following God at this point in their lives
    • our church situation is ambiguous
    Rejoice in the Lord always; 
    again I will say, rejoice!  
    Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. 
    The Lord is near.  
    Be anxious for nothing, 
    but in everything by prayer and supplication, 
    with thanksgiving, 
    let your requests be made known to God.  
    And the peace of God, 
    which surpasses all comprehension, 
    will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    ~Philippians 4:4-7 

    06 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 6
    • being back on "God's time" as my grandmother called it
    • my first morning walk in probably close to a month
    • RAIN! just a little, but there is more in the forecast
    • meeting someone new at church
    • a mostly restful day of rest

    05 November 2011

    Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

    Day 5
    • having my daughter and son-in-law about the house this weekend
    • my daughter and son-in-law including my youngest son and daughter in their day with their friends
    • the Godly and good example my daughter and son-in-law and friends are to my younger children
    • a fun day together at the Texas Science and Engineering Festival for my husband and my other son and daughter
    • a nice big family brunch to start our day