Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas is for Kids

Grandbebe’s annual Christmas PJ Party with Nonna and Poppa~

1.7 seconds after they got through the front door, this is what I saw.

The PJ party included, but was not limited to cookies for baking and Toys R Us for shopping and Good Times for eating and food playing.  There was hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream and popcorn and movies and 7up and cookies and cousins and the-best-way-to-spread-Christmas-cheer-is-singing-LOUD-for-all-to-hear and the Christmas story and  making ornaments for Nonna’s tree and the annual reindeer-head print using little-but-growing hands and feet and paint (what the heck am I thinking!??) and watching  Gilligan’s Island, of all things and sleepy little heads nodding off anywhere from between 9 pm and 2 in the morning (Guini and Hunter are almost always the hold-outs).  And somehow they still wake up at the butt-crack of dawn no matter how late the festivities and little monkeys jumping on beds and o-my-goodness: I was born for this!

I snapped these while talking to my mom on the phone while the kids ate breakfast with Grandpa.

The employees at Toys R Us did not seem nearly as joyously enchanted with our little monkeys as we were.  It was merry mischief.


Merry Christmas from us and our grandbebes.

With flash, with no flash.  Cameras!  grrrrr….


Greetings you who are highly favored

mary. she said yes.

FAVOR @ Christmas :: The LORD is with you.

From Luke 1, NIV

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Rhoades family Christmas card 2008, front

Three things catch my eye, no, four…


Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.

Though Gabriel does not show up at our doors daily, or probably even ever, today my prayer is, for those of you who read (yes, YOU!):  Psalm 90.17 AMP “And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands–yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it.”


The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

What I notice is that Gabriel came with the plan.  But when she asked, most certainly, I would imagine, with trepidation, “How will this be?…”  He explained how it would happen – meaning the Lord was giving Mary a chance to receive the promise.  God doesn’t just bull-doze us.  He waits for us to receive and obey.   Makes me wonder what the next few days were like for her as she anticipated such an incredible work of God within her?


No word from God will ever fail.

This was really about Elizabeth as an example.  Regardless of the time we have waited or how absolutely impossible something seems in light of our circumstances, these 7 words – wow!  No word from God will ever fail.  Besides the ones he has spoken to my heart personally over the years, He has given us His amazing life-giving words in the scriptures.  And not one will ever fail.


May your word to me be fulfilled.

What a great example Mary was.  I think I’d have kept the angel arguing for awhile.  I probably would have been zooming through endless what-if scenarios.  Pretty sure I’d have been more troublesome.  The old King James Version quotes Mary, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”  I think God is hoping to hear that a lot more from me this next year.  I may have to make myself a graphic to hang on my cubicle wall.  Haha.

Rhoades family Christmas card 2008, back

Pondering a Mary Christmas…

…Oh – AND:  the wedding photographer posted on their blog http://www.chronosimages.com/blog/?p=250

A Savior @ Christmas!

The scene outside my patio this morning: chilly, crisp, foggy and a sweet frosty coating on the world

Sometimes a name is just a name, and
sometimes a name captures someone perfectly. The ancients inclined to choose
names carefully, so as to make a lifelong statement about a person’s identity.
“Jesus” is a name so familiar to us, that we easily forget that it was a name
with an extraordinary significance. The name an angel announced should be given
to Mary and Joseph’s new child. And what a name! “Jesus” means “the Lord

He does indeed.

Call him Jesus, the angel said, “because he will save people from their
sins.” None of us can save ourselves anymore than a person sinking in a rowboat
can save himself by pulling up on the side of the boat. We need a savior, and
not just a theoretical savior, but one who really has the power of God to
separate us from the tyranny and the guilt of sin.  ~Mel Lawrenz (from a www.BibleGateway.com Christmas Joy devotional)

Jesus saves.  I love that.  I need it.  He saves.

In other Christmas news…

The chalkboard…not exactly what I was hoping for.  I dipped regular kid-style sidewalk chalk in water to intensify the color and made my own “liquid chalk” for the color red (a teaspoon of water, a teaspoon of corn starch and a quarter- teaspoon of red food coloring).  I would re-do it, but I don’t have anything else in mind, anyway.  Got the idea off Etsy.com …any chalkboard artists out there??


Candi B. and Amy Jo were at my house the other night while I was away (rehearsing for The Christmas Party) and thankfully, I got home in time to see them.  But just in case, they left me “love notes.”  So sweet!

Oops, Candi’s is blurry.  My photography, I fear…

Gemma May’s pre-schooling takes on a decidedly Christmas-y flair

Pink tutus are our school uniform.

I think she decided to ampersand the “and”…at 4!

So thankful today for a Savior, able to save me from {Satan’s snares} and even from {maybe, especially from} myself.

Refuse the Scrooge Spirit by Jack Hayford

This is the link to an article by one of my all-time favorites in the Kingdom, Pastor Jack Hayford.  I love his {always} gracious message.  I especially embrace Jack Hayford’s teachings on Christmas and every year he imparts new understanding to me.  So I wanted to share it.  Please click on the link below and read it!

Refusing the Scrooge Spirit {click here}, www.jackhayford.com


In his usual gracious and wise way, Jack Hayford looks at some of the reasons we are tempted to withdraw from the celebration of Christmas in these days and times and presents some awesome reasons to “let the fresh joy of the season infuse” our spirits, renewing us in our worship and welcome of the Lord during our happy, holy days!  You just cannot help being inspired by Jack Hayford when he encourages you to not only be joyful in the season but to be like the Wise Men, who, having travelled many miles over lots of months, found Jesus and “rejoiced with exceedingly great joy!”  That is the kind of joy I am after in my worship during Christmas!

He ends the short article with this prayer that yes, I am praying!

“Lord, I’m not only here to worship You, but I want to depart from this season different from the way I entered it.”

I am all the way over-my-head in, because my friends and familia – Jesus is not only the reason for the season, Jesus is the reason for celebrating the season with great gusto, gratitude and wholehearted devotion!  So thankful for a Savior, so happy to share Him this Christmas!



Good Morning, Snowflakes!


It’s snowing.  Now re-read that like Alvin said it to Dave on the classic Chipmunks’ Christmas album.  {Look, Dave – it’s snowing!}  Did you insert you very own Chipmunk voice there?  I hope so!

The morning snow delights and surprises.  Yes, even though they told us on the news it was coming.

I come downstairs to a fresh pot of coffee and Bedford Falls glowing softly, ready to thrill the grandbebes for Christmas.  Snow is falling with white, fluffy enthusiasm and the timing is perfect as now (after all the wedding excitement) we can begin to fully embrace this most joyous of seasons and do our decorating.  This is the weekend for it.

Today is our first “official” day in the office for future ministry stuff (to be announced shortly).  Meeting our new and most-amazing intern, Emilee, there too.  She could not be dissuaded from driving down from Fort Collins even for snow.  We will be working on The Christmas Party* (PLEASE COME! admission is canned goods for families in Joplin still struggling to rebuild their lives after the tornado in May).  And looking ahead with anticipation.

Then home to unveil the Santa collection, I hope, and perhaps start putting up the family-tree, the one with handmade ornaments and bits and pieces of an enduring family life.

Naturally, Dean is in my head.


*The Christmas Party~

Professional photographers will be on hand to snap family photos  and the variety of artists and talents represented is the best show in town!  Put it on your calendar and plan to be there!

On the 12th Day of Christmas I shared my – 12 Favorite Things!

The Twelfth (and final, *sniff) Day of Christmas ~ Epiphany! 

Christmas is not over until Epiphany (January 6, today), the day commemorating the Wise Men, having followed the star, finally finding and gifting the baby Jesus, so let’s just get that straight right now.  That said, I could keep blogging Christmas because there was just so much (I wasn’t finished!), but I won’t…for at least 10 or 11 months.


My 12 Favorite Things about Christmas 2010

No.  Not really.  I can’t be bound.  There were more than 12, but I will try-try-try to edit as much as is humanly possible.  Please don’t box me in.


I wonder sometimes, how I have any friends at all because I am not great at friendship.  But God gives them to me anyway.   Denise just gave me a gift bag full of Tetra pens.  She found an ebay.com source for these discontinued writing utensils (I’d written a mournful blog about them here), once made in France and available everywhere, my pen-love, my passion, and she just got them for me.  Who deserves that?  I know I don’t.   

Then, my 3rd Thursdays ~ we meet once a month.   They are my go-to prayer partners, busy, amazing women, but time.  They gave me time.  And we met at The Olive Garden and laughed and talked and thoroughly enjoyed steak gorgonzola alfredo, no dainty appetites or feigning diets: we eat, we are merry, together we spread joy. 


And the young “Ww/God” group?  Show up at my house on a December night and let me dispense advice and cheer them on.  I was just in my 20s like 5 minutes ago, right?  I feel lucky to be surrounded, I am letting their youth and exuberance rub off on me. 

Cards from long-ago friends, sweet letters and notes, catching up over miles and years.  At Christmas, I thank God for the friends that decorate my life.

Presents with a Past

Our family enjoys the search for treasure and aren’t afraid to gift something used.  The girls have become masters at finding things I or some one else once loved and would love to have again.  Daughters Stephanie and Stormie run a very successful business selling hip, vintage wares (www.maydae.com) so it is no surprise.  But guess what surprised me the most? Pencils!  Anderson-Erickson Dairy pencils! My dad was a milkman when I was little, at an amazing dairy in Des Moines, Iowa.  He did his bookwork with these lightweight, narrow pencils and always had one tucked in his ear.  I spent hours and hours writing and drawing with them as a little girl.  I mentioned how I missed those pencils and Tara contacted the company and they sent some out.  I LOVE them!  I never use pencils, but now, I shall.

I got old issues of my fav late 80s/early 90s mag, Victoria.  There are the cool retro 70s TV trays, and some crazy-awesome orange 70s pottery!


Gifts from the heart

My creative family is so fun.  Besides the usual gifts and odds and ends you buy at all the fav stores, everybody throws themselves into love-projects and makes things for one another.  I got THE CUTEST stud earrings from Little Bits and Giggles (Jovan’s business), bright turquoisy-blue and Jeanie green.  She also made me an iPod cover (very cute!).  Stormie embroidered me a perpetual calendar (she embroidered a picture of Steph and Tristan for them and a unicorn for Guini, too…and Tre embroidered old-fashioned kitchen towels for Stormie – what a bunch of loves!).  So many cute gifts, handmade with love (CLICK HERE TO SEE SOME).

Oh-oh-oh: platform boots!  AND the James Taylor/Carole King Troubadour Reunion Tour DVD/CD set (since I didn’t get to see them live…next best thing).


One fun project was that we all painted Stephanie red-haired-girl portraits.  She has an entire art collection now – of images inspired by her likeness! CLICK HERE

Plus other gifts –  like my favorite Jack Hayford sermon ever from Tredessa, worship music from Dave and Tara.  There is this awesome travel mug and a Starbucks certificate.  Jewlery and clothes and books and music (and my husband still is insisting on getting me a new phone (iPhone – because I adore my iPod Touch so), but I haven’t let him yet.  We’ll see.  Too many wonderful gifts, from so many wonderful, thoughtful people.

My Christmas card.

I just love how it turned out and how I got to preach it up on the card.  I HOPE some one read it and was encouraged!  Yeah for sweet, longsuffering grandbebes and their ever-enduring parents.  Cheers-bells-and-love to Stef and Wrex for the use of the farm and animals (and baby Sawyer to play Baby Jesus!)!  Thank-you, Tredessa for snapping madly over the course of the fastest 7 minutes in the world.  And thanks to Stormiekins for putting the card together and somehow fitting all my words on there.  My Christmas card makes me ever-so-happy!



Gavin & Hunter wrote and performed their worship song at the pj party.  The kids made presents for their parents.

Dinners and craft sessions, thrift store shopping and ice skating.  Christmas movies and Christmas concerts and Dave starring in the community theater – with family, all the more delightful.  Grandbebes everywhere, pj parties and pancakes.  We got to borrow the Phipps’ on Christmas since their families are far away.  Dana came for a visit from Indiana early in the month.  And right after Christmas, Elise-the-Niece and her little sister Christiana from Aberdeen came for a week to hang out.  “God sets the lonely in families…” Psalm 68.6a



Elise with Stormie; Christiana with the kids on move-in day at Tara’s

Christmas morning

I am so blessed.  My grown kids still love the magic of a Christmas morning at our house.  How cool is that?  So, at about 9 am, they begin trailing in and we meet in the living room until everyone arrives.  Then the grandbebess line up waiting to go see their “big” unwrapped gifts from Nonna and Poppa.  The chaotic joy begins!


9:30 am  While the kiddos enjoy the first of the gifts (o, there are more) and the contents of their stockings, breakfast is served.  The grown-up-kids are very particular about breakfast and have determined very specific food they must have so I let them.  Cinnamon and orange rolls.  Little Smokies.  Mini-bagels and cream cheese, juices and good, strong coffee – right next to the Hot-Cocoa-Makin’-Station.  Eggs and whatever else.  We eat, the little ones play. 

10:00 am  My husband gathered everyone.  He read scripture and exhorted the family.  He prayed over us all..  Then we dive in to gifts!

10:15 am  Paper flies, laughing, loudness.  Squeals of “Oh-look!”  and “Thank-you, I wanted this.”  You hear “I am opening a gift from you,” so no one will miss an important reveal.  Paper fills bag after bag, is mounded high.  The kids are on overload.  Your face gets tired from smiling.  I sit is a nice chair and sigh with satisfaction at all the thought and generosity that is shared among siblings on Christmas morning.  We open gifts for over 3 solid hours, alternately trying to go just a few people at a time and just everyone tearing in with zeal.

1:30 pm  We look at everything and take pictures and smile and play with our new toys.  We reveal secrets that almost didn’t make it to Christmas and how we hid things from one another all season long.  We exchange gift receipts for wrong sizes and the little ones love the family gift-wrap wars (balling up used gift wrap and declaring a battle with some one lse – usually Uncle Rocky!).


4:00 pm  The Phipps’ arrive and there are piles more presents all around.  Then a big family Mexican meal and Christmas movies on the big screen until we are so tired we nearly drop.

10:00 pm Silent night.  Holy, peaceful night.  Thank-you for this blessed day, Father.

These are a few of the things, my favorites, that made this past Christmas season so warm and sweet.  Seasons come and go, times change and things may be different in the years to come.  So, I hold these days close and thank God for them.  It was a Merry Christmas, not pain free, not perfect, nor idyllic, but in its zaniness and realness, it was merry.  Hope yours was, too.