My FAVORITE of all holidays (and holy days), rich with symbolism and meaning. It is not only deeply spiritual, but full of meaning I get to publicly share during the season, my best witnessing days each year!
Well, must have been because New Year’s Day = a Walking Dead marathon and that is happening right here at my house. Some sounds are not good for a recovering-sickie and that show has lots of those. Ick…
“Readers are Leaders” – my dad told me that
But he didn’t tell me that until I was married with a houseful of children (with no time to read) because when I was a little girl he worried that something was wrong with me because all I did was read and he wanted me out skipping rocks or something. I had actually been trying to curb my reading appetite. Haha. Nobody reads more than he does now that he is retired, for sure!
I am doing the whole #emptyshelf challenge via Jon Acuff, so until I get my official backstage pass to the shared Pinterest board (I was late), I’ll post my progress here. Most people cleared off a shelf in their houses to put the books they read this year, but since my Kindle Reader has almost 50 books in it now (several only partially read…hehe), I will probably be doing mostly digital (which is so weird to me)…or not. But in any case, I decided to make a chart for myself for the updates.
And though it is true, I have never once actually completed reading 52 books in a one year period, I have probably read parts of 200 or more in that time frame. So, that’s something, isn’t it? With all the Kindle books to choose from, plus, you know, like thousands I own…and then the library audio downloads I have just started getting into, well, it could happen!
Something new I am going to try this year
Donald Miller’sStoryline Productivity Planner. I like it because it is pen on paper, low-tech. Is it ok if I step away from technology and use paper in a notebook? Please, just for this one little area? Ok, then. You should check it out. Just google it “donald miller storyline productivity planner” and you’ll see a PDF link right at the top. If you wanna.
On the first day of a brand new year and the 7th day of Christmas, here is what I know for sure:
He is real, Jesus is real. And that makes everything that is about to happen, in 2014 and beyond, the adventure of a lifetime, tears, pain, love and joy – all of it. And anything that ultimately brings Him glory – it’s gonna be worth it.
This blew me away – shut off your phone for 15 minutes…watch
Happy New Year, people I love, and people I will love if ever I get the chance. :)
Um, I’m wondering – is it wrong of me to add this book to my reading list???
I just KNOW there were literal handfuls of you who were wondering where I’d gone, haha!
It was? I don’t know what it was? It was like Thanksgiving went straight into wild Christmas prep and baby countdown into marketing a production into Baking Day which led straight (and I mean straight) into having a baby which led into tech-week for the play and the amazing production that was Jesus, Mary and Joseph! which threw me headlong into a final shopping frenzy for Christmas and then a wonderful, sweeeeeeeet Christmas with my family which morphed straight into 3 crazy-fun and super-exhausting days with the most delightful grandbebes in the known universe and then suddenly, feeling a little bleh on Sunday (which was my rest day) to full-fledged fever-achy-miserable-moaning-and-groaning-shivering poor-me sickness of some sort.
Better today. How about YOU!?? Are you and your familias staying healthy?
Six Things I am thinking about on the 6th Day of Christmas (after all – this is my *thought – collage*)
Dave got me the Shauna Niequist book, Bread and Wine – A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. I had borrowed it from the library and could not quit talking about it and now I have a copy I can read again and again and write notes in and underline for emphasis. It’s full of great quotes about the family table, eating together and food and it is just…delicious. Even as just a book, it heightens all my senses because of the words… And as I have written about food and meals together around convivial tables many times here at this very blog, always struggling to find the right/perfect words, it makes me happy that some one else has captured what I have experienced and felt and yet challenged me to embrace and pursue more of it – of the life around the table. She writes so beautifully, I wholeheartedly recommend it!
“My true SOUL FOOD belief – breaking bread, enjoying even the humblest meal at a convivial table filled with love and laughter: The best meal you will ever eat. And may you have many of those in your lifetime!”
Dave and I are in a bit of a Christmas compromise. There is a big cast-party at our house this weekend and while it is bright and sunny and a fresh New Year almost is here, I would love the feeling of packing Christmas away for all fresh clean surfaces and new beginnings. Yet he, Mr Christmas, well, he would leave it all up until truly, the 12th Day of Christmas (Epiphany, January 6). In my post-sick weakened state, I figured I’d have to give in and let everything remain, but he got downstairs before me this morning and packed away the Christmas art work and Santa collection and most of the Nativity sets and the kid’s Christmas books and games and cleared surfaces and made room and though the outside lights will remain lit until Epiphany and two gorgeous trees and a greenery-laden bannister remain, things still look fresh and clean and I didn’t even have to do a thing. How sweet is that?
Anne Graham Lotzposted a blog yesterday called “2014: The Year of God’s Presence,” and that has just hit my heart with a breath of joyous, forward-leaning possibility.
2013 was a year of such stripping away. I am not really one of those people who can seem to comprehend that God loves him/her just because He is love, gives love and not because of what she/he does to earn it. Even though I know technically we are saved by grace and not our works, I still have the old “consider the ant and don’t be a sluggard” mantra playing in my mind at all times. Also that scary picture of Jesus cursing the tree that didn’t bear figs. I have always struggled with working my ever-loving behind off trying to force the fruit so I don’t get kicked out (or cursed for eternity, as it were). But the truth is, fruit comes cyclically, in seasons, and then the tree has to go dormant to prepare for the next season.
I asked God, somewhere near the beginning fo 2013, to give me a symbol of my life, some sort of motif that would help me understand the purpose of my very existence and He gave me the tree. A tree. A tree planted by the waters. And at the time it didn’t seem particularly exciting, but later in the year, when I found a note I had written to some one else at a time of despair in their life, I was encouraged by this passage from Job 14.7-9 that I had shared for them:
“At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.”
And I can tell you that trying to remove a tree from your yard is hard work. I tried this summer with several seedlings that had self-planted and it was an ongoing battle. And that is how the devil should see me. At the scent of water…
God can make all things new. He can redeem any situation.Anything! What the enemy means for evil, God uses for good to accomplish His plan and His purpose. His ways are mysterious and too wonderful for me to comprehend. I don’t know how He will fix all the broken pieces or heal the bloody parts in the messiest parts of our lives, my life, but we have this hope –
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53.4-6 NKJV
My dog is old, going blind, losing her hearing and pretty arthritic, but when I give her the tiniest bit of attention, pet her and love on her, she leaps and twirls and wags her tail, acting just like a young pup. That is what a little time showing love can do – for anybody, really. We should all do it more for the people and pets in our lives, shouldn’t we?
I leave you with this, today’s verse-of-the-day from Bible Gateway (because it is so perfectly perfect):
This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NIV
Good-bye, 2013. Thanks for the stripping away, for the renewal and growth of our familia – for the 3 beautiful new grandbebes, and for the time with my love. And now – for the new thing to spring up… :)
Some very GRAND-bebes introduced us to these super-fun videos on YouTube and even if this one isn’t the funniest of them all, it is so very appropriate for the season.
On the 4th Day of Christmas – Four really amazing things Jesus went around doing:
“Go and tell John how the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the Good News is preached. Blessed is he who has no doubts about me.” (Luke 7)
The Christmas story didn’t stop in a stable, but marches on through eternity. Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world. I love that it is not just some big, lofty whole-group kind of love and saving, but that for each of us, personally, salvation is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.
Keep opening our blinded eyes to see what You see, to see how You see, Lord. And open our deaf ears that we may hear Your voice and the songs of heaven. Raise our dead dreams and broken bones to life and let us be carriers and couriers of the Good News as we represent You day to day all the way to the end of our days. In Your Name!
“If what it takes for you this year to be present in this sacred, thin place, to feel the breath and presence of a Holy God, is to forgo the cookies and the cards and the rushing and the lists, then we’ll be all right with cookies from the store and a few less gifts. It would be a great loss for you to miss this season, the soul of it, because you’re too busy pushing and rushing. And it would be a great loss if the people in your life receive your perfectly wrapped gifts, but not your love or your full attention or your spirit. This is my prayer for us, that we would give and receive the most important gifts this season—the palpable presence of a Holy God, the kindness of well-chosen words, the generosity of spirit and soul.My prayer is that what you’ve lost, and what I’ve lost this year, will fade a little bit in the beauty of this season, that for a few moments at least, what is right and good and worth believing will outshine all the darkness, within us and around us. And I hope that someone who loves you gives you a really cute scarf. Merry Christmas.”
-Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way
Some one who loves me did give me a really cute scarf. How *merry* is that?
On the 3rd day of Christmas, Dave and his cast are striking the set following the outrageously successful run of “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Stephanie and Tristan are celebrating their anniversary and we get the kids. All 9 nine grandbebes were here yesterday for a while and I woke up to 6 of them this morning. Candy and gum wrappers are everywhere (I have no idea how they got ahold of that stuff), a little fur-ball we call Tuppy-the-Puppy guarding my house with ferocious yipping and hair brushes and bows and sparkly little girl make-up and perfume filling the air. Hunter went to take his morning shower and commented, “That whole bathroom is full of little girls’ pants…ies. They are everywhere!” Yep, we are heavy on the grand-girls.
My niece, Rhonda, is moving to Colorado! She just posted that the truck is packed and she is hitting the road from Oklahoma. Everyone just back off and let her get here! :)
A solid truth for the third day of Christmas? I know you are just waiting for these everyday, aren’t you?
Jesus did not come to be served, but He came to serve and give His life as a ransom payment for us. This blows my mind. He tried to help the disciples understand that His Kingdom is upside down, but I think we still, even in the family-of-God, seem to run the whole show like we aren’t people of the Light.
Jesus told His peeps, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.”** Jesus is the greatest. And He came to serve. He paid your debt. Enjoy and receive His generous gifts and help in the time of need.
Rocky is our silliest
**Makes me think the next time we see some great ministry personality onstage, wow-ing the crowds and getting applause, we should look for the people who set up the chairs and vacuum afterwards or run the book table – the anonymous servant nobody seems to notice. They probably have more insight from heaven than the face everyone wants to “friend.”
Today is the celebration of 12 years of married love for Tristan and Stephanie!
They left us with three of the cutest kids yesterday and one small Tuppy-the-Puppy and it’s like we’re living in a sit-com over here…and it is only going to get MORE exciting when the rest of the grandbebes arrive over the next few hours for some fun after-Christmas fun.
Steph posted a snapshot after they got checked in for their romantic get-away
So have a wonderful celebration and fun, Steph and Tris because we are here (with your dog and the cutest K-kids!)! :)
So – a house-full of grandbebes
And the weirdest thing is – I am sitting here watching my 11 1/2 month-old grand-boy, Kai, scroll through my iPhone camera roll sometimes with his forefinger, or more relaxed when he kicks back and thumbs through and I want to know HOW. ON. EARTH. this is possible? I swear he was editing red-eye. Ohmygosh! :)
Here is a truth you can count on from the second day of Christmas and everyday since Christ came:
Jesus came into the world to save sinners and you can think you are the worst of the lot of them or really be the worst, but either way, your sin is no match for Jesus, our Savior. See? This is SUCH good news! (1 Timothy 1.15)…No wonder the angels made so much noise in the sky when He was born!
On the second day of Christmas…or is it the first day of Christmas since Christmas actually ends on January 6th, the Day of Epiphany? Hmmmm…
Yesterday was lovely. No snow this year, but generous, billowing thoughtfulness drifted down from heaven right up to the house and pushed us in close as a merry and bright winter day settled in around us. Presents big and small brought oohs and aahs and thank-yous and hugs and kisses.
One especially amazing thing was having three brand new babies here with us, enjoying their very first Christmases. If our family continues to grow at this rate, we shall be forced to rent a Ski Chalet to house us all! We are now 22. Twenty-two! There are lots of us.
Steph took pics of my little tomatoes…LOVE!
The other day I posted a Kenny Rogers song for my Advent-take-a-deep-breath-and-enjoy-the-season-with-a-song project, and it reminded me how much I love my old Kenny Rogers Christmas music. Because…
Kids, kids, Christmas is for kids
Look around and you will see kids from one to ninety-three
Laughin’, lovin’ life and bein’ kids
Kids kids, Christmas is for kids
Kids like you and little brother, aunts and uncles, dads and mothers
Grandma, grandpa an’ all the other kids
Our first Christmas
Kenny Rogers released his album, perfectly named “Christmas” in 1981 and the local radio stations in Kokomo, Indiana were playing selections from it. The one I most remember hearing was the one I used the other day, “Christmas is My Favorite Time of the Year.” And because that was and is true, I was thrilled when Dave brought the cassette tape home for me a couple of days before Christmas. I listened and listened to it.
And it was then I discovered his song, “Kids.” I mean, there I was 22 with a little girl, a handsome husband and another baby on the way. I was making a home, I was building a family and memories and traditions. I was trying to figure out how to be a Proverbs 31 wife. And this song would come on and I would get misty-eyed because I would think of my family of origin and how we all fit…
Daddy runs the ‘lectric train
While all the children wait in vain
To take their turn at playin’ engineer
Grandpa kisses grandma’s cheek
And all the family sneaks a peak
And suddenly their wrinkles disappear
And, *sniff*sniff…I would think about how Christmas was one of the few days of the year I would see my dad just get on the floor and play with toys and not be working so hard. And I’d recall watching the love between my Grandma and Grandpa Allison, so much affection and so much love shared at Christmas.
Take a look at Betty Joe underneath the mistletoe
Pretending that she doesn’t know it’s there
Then these words…oh my. I was Betty Jo, and my brothers were teasing me and I could recall it like it was yesterday. That would SO have been me! :)
Yes, as a newlywed, I listened to this song and I recalled the Christmases of my childhood and my sweet parents and my grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles and I so wanted, so-so-so-longed to begin to create the same memories for my family, without even knowing what it would look like.
So the other day, I listened to this song again and wow – now WE are the grandparents in the song. Uncle Rocky antagonizes the kids with their toys and Guini and Averi might watch for mistletoe and pretend not to see it…
The times and faces have changed. But the love and joy of Christmas remains.
Here is a song for the 1st day of Christmas. First. I’ve decided.
And now it’s when the fun begins
This time of year we all turn into kids
1st Day TRUTH: Jesus’s birth opened eternal doors for our salvation and I just know God was in heaven feeling so pleased with His gift knowing it would change everything for all times. We receive Him again and again, the greatest Gift we’ll ever know! Glory to God in the Highest! What a Merry, Merry Christmas! :)
I actually posted a very short peek at Evangeline the other day and I decided I wanted to use the whole song by The Isaacs, “Messiah Lullaby.” So, today’s song for Advent:
This is just footage Tredessa has texted to us during Eva’s first few days home (she is one week old today!). Tre sent me higher quality versions, but I like these. I love these peeks into the dim lighting and mommy and baby getting acquainted.
And the song is so sweet, too. I am a big fan of The Isaacs. In the middle, their mom sings in Hebrew, I think.
Anyway – I have loved Advent. Now we are on the brink – we’ll commemorate the birth of the Savior of the World! Almost time for the rejoicing to begin.
But just before that, the hush, as we remember how Mary, the one who said “Yes, Lord – be it unto me as You have said” gives birth and holds in her arms the very King of Kings…
Evangeline being born just before Christmas this year has made it all so much more easy to imagine.
We welcome Christmas Eva.
And Jesus – we welcome You again and again into our lives!