Friday, December 26, 2008

She's Got Talent

My friend Bethany at Beyond This Moment made these adorable little animals. I have never seen anything so cute in my life...she is so talented. I wish I could crochet....

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Repeat the Sounding Joy!

It's a close race, but I think that Joy to the World is my all time favorite Christmas hymn. The lyrics "repeat the sounding joy!" give me chills every time I hear them, because this is the very call of discipleship. We are called to repeat the sounding joy of the gospel. Not just at Christmas, but all year long. We are called to joyfully proclaim the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, and to let the message of the gospel fill our very souls so that we overflow with gratitude and thankfulness to our sovereign God who orchestrates all things. He is come...He is risen...He is LORD!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods,
rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I do not have a memory of Christmas that did not include the reading of Luke 2 on Christmas Eve. Whether it was the beautiful voice of my great-grandfather, the younger voice of my uncle, the familiar sound of my father or my own husband, the story has been read aloud to me for 36 years. It's probably my favorite part of Christmas.

As I listen to the words read lovingly by Christian men, I let my mind wander to the first night in Bethlehem. I imagine the feel of the swaddling clothes under my fingers and the look of amazement on the faces of the shepherds. My mind wanders back through the years of Christmases past, as we gathered each year to reverently pay homage to the Child King in our hearts. Not just family, but a group of like-minded Christians praising the Lord Most High for loving us in spite of our depravity.

Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope that when you hear the story tonight you will hide the words in your heart...

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 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.
Glory in the Highest
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, n angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

As We Reflect On the Cradle

....let's remember the cross. God's grace was sent to us in the form of a fragile, infant boy who would one day bear our sins for all time. The miracle of the Incarnation is transformed into something that is almost unspeakably awesome when viewed in the light of the price He paid for us. God could just as easily become man to enslave and break mankind forever, but He didn't. He came knowing that He would die a horrible death, and yet He still came. His love for us knows no bounds.

So as we celebrate His birth by reading from Luke 2, consider flipping over to Isaiah 53. I promise you will be blessed.

1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fabulous Addictions

I had a nice surprise from Linda this afternoon. She passed on the "Your Blog is Fabulous" award to me, and now I need to list 5 fabulous addictions for your viewing pleasure.
Hmmm. Five fabulous addictions. Let's see, I don't know if any of these count as fabulous per se, but here they are:
  1. My husband. That might sound a little corny, but I can't wait to see him at night and my heart still does a little flip-flop when I hear his voice on the phone. We've been married almost 12 years, and I hope those things never change.

  2. Books written about Queen Elizabeth I of England. I love the non-fiction and historical fiction alike. I have quite a collection going, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

  3. Chips and salsa. Seriously. I have never been able to turn them down. I will go to a restaurant that is not Mexican and order chips and salsa for an appetizer if they are available. The icing on the cake is if they have some really good queso to go along with it.

  4. Reading in bed. It's my favorite place to read, hands down. There is nothing like curling up in my little nest, snuggling down under the covers and cracking open a good book. It's my favorite way to fall asleep, and I will crawl into bed in the middle of the day just to read.

  5. Christmas music. I usually start listening to Christmas music sometime in mid-August, and will continue well into January (or until Trevor cuts me off--this is an addiction after all).

So now I have to pass this award on to 5 blogs that I think are fabulous. There are so many to choose from, but I think I'm going to choose:

  1. Karen at Over the Backyard Fence

  2. Kate at Small Scribbles

  3. Alana at A Kiss A Hug and a Squeeze

  4. Jill at Busygirls

  5. Crystal at Life Is Nothing Without Him

As an aside, receiving this award in no way obligates you to list 5 fabulous addictions or to even pass it on to five other people. I just wanted you guys to know how much I love reading about your lives, and how fabulous I think you are!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

I have been wanting to sit down and post something appropriately Christmas-y, but Christmas seems to have gotten in the way. There is always something else to be doing or planning, and by the time I sit down at night I don't really feel like getting on the computer. I just want to sit back and watch The Office or old episodes of Smallville.

Yesterday I spent 7 hours in the kitchen doing my Christmas baking. I made:

  • pumpkin bread

  • banana nut bread

  • lemon pecan cookies

  • peanut butter/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies (Colossal cookies)

  • snickerdoodles

  • peanut butter fudge

  • Texas trash (our spicy version of Chex mix)

  • dill-ranch crackers

  • spiced tea mix

I filled bags with goodies and delivered them to our neighbors, and then collapsed on the sofa for a few hours. All of the tasty goodness that was leftover was put in containers to be consumed over the next week and then finally culminating as part of a Christmas Eve buffet.

It just wouldn't seem like Christmas without some of these goodies, and although it takes time and effort, I love making all of them. I love the way the house smells when there is bread baking in the oven, and cookies cooling on the counter. I estimated that I used 4 lbs of sugar and 2 lbs of butter, not to mention plenty of cinnamon and spice!

I think the gym and I are going to be very close friends in the coming months.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Booked For the Holidays

Linda is giving away more books this week! This is the next to last giveaway, so head over to Mocha With Linda and sign up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I had been promising the kids that we would decorate gingerbread men for about a week, and so I decided that we would do it yesterday. So, Friday night I made the cookie dough before we went out for dinner, and when we got home I pulled it out of the refrigerator and baked the cookies. I wanted to have them all ready to go Saturday for the decorating extravaganza.

Gracie woke me Saturday morning asking of she could have gingerbread men for breakfast. We finally compromised with eggs and toast, with the promise that we would decorate the men soon. I whipped together the royal icing, and put all of the candy decorations in bowls. I gave a quick lesson on how to pipe the icing without having it squish out of the wrong end. (Wasted time, my friends..wasted time).

Then I left them to it. I reined in my desire to hover, point out mistakes and help them "do it right". Sadly, I have to rein myself in frequently while doing projects with the kids. Like when Gracie covered the face of one of her men with sixlets. Isn't the point of decorating the cookies to make them look like people? I don't know anyone with 9 eyes, and I was hard pressed to leave that one alone. I contented myself with the thought that although her little man looked like an alien, she was exercising her imagination.

After the mess from the cookie decorating was cleaned up, the kids and I were looking at the ornaments on the tree. Our tree is a hodge-podge of ornaments ranging from hand-painted salt dough to beautiful crystal. I still have the salt dough ornaments that I painted when I was 4 years old, and the stuffed felt dove that I carefully sewed together in 5th grade. I have a blue glass ball that was on my parent's first Christmas tree when they were newly married. The delicate snowflakes that my grandmother crocheted for me sway gently in the boughs. Ornaments from Italy, Pensacola, Alexandria and Comfort. Each one has a story, and each one is dear to me.

The kids seemed particularly interested in the salt dough ornaments that I made as a child, so I decided to make a batch for us to paint. While Gracie was taking her nap, I baked them and then Nathan and I put a base coat of paint on each one. When Gracie woke up, we had the best time painting together! She was all about using every, single color of paint that I had and using generous amounts of each one. Nathan carefully thought out what he wanted to do, and then executed it with artistry.

As we sat there painting and laughing together, I took a snapshot in my mind. I know that in years to come, when they are no longer here to help me decorate, I can pull it out and remember how we spent one sweet afternoon in December. And they will be decorating their trees with the old, hand-made ornaments and telling the story to their children. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire them to bake a new batch and continue the tradition.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Welcome to Texas

You may remember my excitement about the recent snow in my area.


It was 70 today and the kids played outside in shorts.

Welcome to Texas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things I've Learned in the Last 12 Hours

1. Snow is nothing more than frozen water, which in turn makes it very wet when it melts.

2. You can't sit in snow without getting wet. (see item 1)

3. We are ill-equipped here in Southeast Texas for playing in the snow. That wetness I mentioned? It goes right through the jeans.

4. I am glad that this is not the norm for our winter weather. Just putting the clothes on the kids to go outside and play (almost) takes all the fun out of it! I can't imagine having to don snow suits and boots for 4 months or longer.

5. When the sun comes out, the snow melts. This was not surprising. But the constant dripping and running off the roof was a little unexpected. I forgot that the water had to go somewhere. It sounds like it's raining out there.

6. If I lived in a climate where this was ordinary weather, I would need an industrial sized clothes dryer to keep all the mittens, hats and coats dry. How do you guys do it?

7. Waking up to fresh fallen snow will be one of my favorite memories ever.

8. Never, ever try to "wipe" the snow off your vehicle without some sort of hand covering. You may, or may not get the feeling back in your fingers.

9. Never, ever turn your defroster on high and leave it there. My poor windshield couldn't take the heat and now I have a crack the size of Nebraska running right across the bottom.

10. It's fun taking a day off from school and work to play. I had so much fun with the kids this morning.

11. Snow is heavy. Who knew that rolling a growing ball of snow through the yard could be so much work?!

12. Hot chocolate never tasted better than after a morning spent building snowmen!

Winter Wonderland

You didn't really think that I was going to be able to limit this to one post, did you?? The schools are open today, but I kept the kids home. This is literally a once in a lifetime experience for them as children as long as they live here. I remember it snowing a few times when I was a child, but nothing like this. I didn't want them to miss a minute of it.

All you smarty-pants in the north cut me a little slack today, and I won't make fun of you when you complain about the heat when it hits 90. My final measurement of the snow was about 4 inches...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Early Christmas Present

No matter how old I get, I wish for a white Christmas. To date, I've had exactly zero. Well, we had flurries on Christmas Eve 4 years ago, but it was all gone by the next morning. But this evening, I got an early Christmas wish...snow! And not the if-I-squint-really-hard-and-avert-my-eyes-from-looking-directly-at-it-I-might-see-a-flake-or-two kind of snow that we usually get down here. It has been for true, real-live fluffy flakes that cause accumulation on the ground.

Can you tell that I am excited?

Gracie was in the bathtub when it started, and I pulled her out and wrapped her in a blanket warmed by the fireplace so she could see it. It didn't take the kids long to change into warm clothes so they could heft snowballs at one another! I know this sort of behaviour sounds ludicrous to those of you who live up north, but this NEVER happens here! See! I'm! Using! Lots! Of! Exclamation! Points!

So, here are a few pictures of the snow that is STILL falling outside.

I think we might get a snow day tomorrow....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Booked For the Holidays

Linda is giving away more books this week! My selfish side almost won this time...I seriously considered not posting this so my chances would be better because I love this author so much. But, my conscience won in the end, and now you too can be a winner!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gulf Shores 2008

I finally got all of the pictures edited and in a slide show! I know the family may have been a little annoyed at times with all the picture taking, but I'm glad I did because I'd forgotten some of things I captured and it's only been a week!

As soon as we arrived and got everything unloaded and unpacked, we took the kids out to the beach. It didn't take Nathan long to get soaking wet, in spite of our instructions to the contrary. At first I was upset...he didn't obey, it was cold, he might get sick...but it didn't take me long to settle in to the "vacation mindset". We still maintained order and discipline, but the normal rules ceased to exist.

Nathan and Grace got filthy dirty and wet at the beach, and mom and dad didn't fuss. Cousins stayed up way past their bedtimes and the adults just smiled. Normal meals were replaced with snacking. Board games replaced the television and muscles remained sore from all the walking and digging in the sand. Children were loud inside, and the grannies laughed indulgently.

It was marvelous!

Thanksgiving afternoon, Trevor and I were walking on the beach and reached up to hug him and said that this was the best Thanksgiving ever. If I had my way, we would do this every year. Of course we can't, but it will be something to which we can look forward in the coming years. I think we were all agreed that we should do it again.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Just a Friendly Little Game

We had so much fun on our trip to Gulf Shores. We spent hours at the beach, and equal amounts of time visiting and playing games. One of the highlights of the long weekend came on Saturday, when Nathan decided that he wanted to learn how to play Scrabble. He had been watching (and sometimes helping) the adults play, and felt like he could participate.

We set the board up for play and went through the rules with him. There were a few tense moments when his desire to rush ahead overcame his ability to listen and accept help, but overall it was a great game. His final score was 91, and we took a picture of his first completed board. I'm looking forward to many more games at the kitchen table...

I haven't forgotten to post pictures of the trip, I am just having a really hard time deciding which ones I want to share. We took well over 400.
Yeah. I know.

Then Sings My Soul Saturday

Rose Of Bethlehem

I love Christmas, particularly the music associated with this time of year. What began as a love for the traditional hymns and carols has expanded to include the secular as well. I start listening to Christmas music sometime in mid-August. Many of you are shaking your heads much like my husband. I know. But in my defense, I don't subject anyone else to my sickness...I only listen to it in the privacy of my own car.


Anyway, the song I'm posting about today embodies the entire point of Christmas. I love having a special time set aside to celebrate the incarnation of our God, and to redirect my mind to that lowly stall where He was born amidst cattle and put in a feeding trough to sleep. The fear that must have consumed Mary as she waited for His birth and the incredible joy she felt as she held Him in her arms. The absolute miracle that God would send His son to live and breath among us and to show us the way back to Him.

But just as Easter is meaningless without the incarnation, Christmas means nothing without the cross, and our praise and joy for the birth of our Savior should be seen through it's shadow. This song captures the very essence of why we are able to come before the throne of God.

There's a Rose in Bethlehem
With a beauty quite divine
Perfect in this world of sin
On this silent holy night

There's a fragrance much like hope
That it sends upon the wind
Reaching out to every soul
From a lowly manger's crib

Oh, Rose of Bethlehem
How lovely, pure, and sweet
Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me

There's a Rose in Bethlehem
Colored red like mercy's blood
'Tis the flower of our faith
'Tis the blossom of God's love

Though its bloom is fresh with youth
Surely what will be He knows
For a tear of morning dew
Is rolling down the Rose

Oh, Rose of Bethlehem
How lovely, pure, and sweet
Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me

There's a Rose in Bethlehem
With a beauty quite divine
Perfect in this world of sin
On this silent holy night

Thursday, December 4, 2008

400th Post

I just realized that my Happy Thanksgiving post was number 400! Wow. I didn't think that I would ever have that much to say, but there it is. I can' t deny the numbers.

What started as a way to record the ups and downs of my family has become a source of friendship and joy in my life. So here's a big thank you to all my friends out there. I love each and every one of you dearly!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Those Sneaky Sharks

On the way home from Alabama, it was about time for Gracie's nap. I turned around in my seat and told her that she needed to try and shut her eyes for a few minutes and get some rest. She looked at me and said:

I sleep like a shark...with my eyes open.

Where does she come up with this stuff??

It's Time to Leave the Blogosphere

I've decided that none of you are axe-murderers, posing as well mannered Christian women. A huge relief to each of you, I'm sure. When I first started blogging, I had heard so many horror stories about online dating, and cyber-stalking that I was oh-so-careful about revealing personal details that could be used to hunt me down. I felt sure that if I wasn't careful, I would come home from work someday to find rabbits boiling on the stove.

But as time has passed, and I've gotten to know each of you (and meet a few), I realized that my fears were unfounded. I'm still careful about my last name and where exactly I live, but I'm not nearly so paranoid these days.

At any rate, I have a request of my blogosphere friends. If you feel comfortable doing so, I would love for you to email me your full name and address. As I was sending out Christmas cards last week, I kept thinking how cool it would be to send them out to all of my friends. I sometimes know more about some of you than I do my own family! Wouldn't it be fun to receive a real, for true card in the mail every once in a while?

Anyway, if you don't mind getting a few extra pieces of mail each year, send me your name and address at I look forward to hearing from all of you!