Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here She Comes!

2008 has pulled up her anchor and is slowly sailing out of our sights. I've emptied her cargo of memories to keep in my heart and will thank her tomorrow evening for being a good year.

While I was watching a Hallmark movie with our wisdom-teeth-less(as of this morning) daughter , my husband was beginning plans for Alaska...emailing this person, brainstorming, and dreaming. I've been thinking of Alaska 2009, too, as well as other things I want to do and accomplish in this brand new year.

I can't say that I love January, but I do love a brand new anything...including a new year. And as my squinting eyes are seeing 2008 disappear over the horizon, I see 2009 -- all bright and shiny -- sailing my way.

So with that said, here's a crack at some things I'd love to accomplish in 2009. Call them resolutions if you want,
but I think every new year deserves some new thinking.

In no random order, some things I'd like to do in 2009...

-read at least one book (start to finish!) each month
-stop what I'm doing and look at my children when they're talking to me
-nourish the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) by daily soaking in the Word
-stop wasting food
-help our eccentric neighbor more
-shop less
-pray more
-designate a laundry day (so I'm not doing laundry all week)
-put away folded clothes (instead of moving them from our bed to floor to bed...)
-have coffee or lunch with an old friend once a month
-maintain a dreadmill routine again
-play the piano more
-eat healthier
-make my dentist appointment
-get up earlier
-serve a meal at a homeless shelter with my family
-help a friend in need anonymously
-entertain family or friends once a month
-ask God, regularly and sincerely, what He wants us to do in Alaska this year
-Listen to God
-be grateful more
-visit my Dad in Florida
-organize cds and dvds in new organizing system
-give away stuff I don't absolutely love
-visit family in Nebraska
-incorporate new things at work
-love Jesus more today than I did yesterday
-lay out boys' church clothes the night before (no surprises upon arrival!)
-remind my mother-in-law how much I love her son
-call my Dad once a week (on laundry day!)
-make an appointment for my mammogram
-take our daughter out -- just she and I -- once a month
-remember no matter how big my kids grow, they're still little

Resolutions. Some big. Some little. All do-able.

Hello 2009 -- it's so good to meet you!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Laughing All The Way

I have a mirror hanging over our kitchen sink (mirrors in smaller homes are a wonderful thing), and as I was doing dishes on Christmas Eve I noticed that I am getting (ok, have) some serious puppet wrinkles/laugh lines around my mouth. But after a moment of "aw, man, this stinks" thinking, I decided I wouldn't trade them for anything.

If I only had one word to describe this Christmas? Laughter. My family is funny. Very funny. And I'm so glad that laughter is a permanent guest whenever we gather. Trouble? Didn't even knock this year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Spring and a Smile

The Sunday before Christmas...I hope you have a spring in your step...

And a smile on your face...

As you anticipate celebrating the birth of Christ!

*Beautiful children brought to you by Nicole and Brandon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This and That...

I'm most certainly a goose girl. Not to be confused with the kind of goose girl in Shannon Hale's fantabulous book (The Goose Girl). I found this pretty thing (she weighs a ton) at an eclectic shop for 10 bucks (!). She used to be gawdy with her bright blue feathers, but a new outfit of cream paint and she's the lady of the house now. I think she likes her Christmas berry garland, too!

Once upon a time there was a beautiful cream bedspread with burgundy needlework that lived on my parents' bed when I was a child. Several years ago, no one wanted it because it was in need of repair. Ever the sentimentalist in the family, I took it...and had it made into Christmas stockings!

McMaster and Storm (http://mcmasterandstorm.com) ribbon which was nestled in with my ordered treasures a few months back. I love it on our tree and if I ever win the lottery, no fancy-schmancy cars or boats for me. Just a monthly trip to this "petite department store".

The Christmas view from the front door.

How do I love Home Goods? Let me count the ways...1) this beautiful vintage-looking St. Nicholas box. And the surprise? It's an ornament holder! The inside (two compartmentalized layers!) looks handmade with beautiful vintagy paper. Be still my beating heart.

I made this card for my husband's secretary. Inside I wrote "A basket for Cindy with warm Christmas greetings." And the next photo shows the finished basket...a huge loaf of French bread, a Panera gift card, a jar of homemade caramel apple butter (by a friend who has her own jam company), an evergreen "door charm" (on clearance at the grocery), and holding it all is a thrift store metal tray!

Thanks for stopping by and catching up on some this-and-that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sacred Ground

They were singing on sacred ground yesterday. Our daughter and a dozen or so hand-selected members of her choir. They had been hired to sing Christmas carols at two different homes. They've done this many times in the past few weeks as a way to help with the expenses of taking a 40-member high school choir to Europe next summer.

But these two gigs were different. Inside each of these homes lay a dying man and a wife who loves him. And someone who loves them understands that music is healing and so these dozen kids, whose lives are bursting with sunshine, agreed to walk alongside some people who are walking in the shadow of death.

No corporate holiday party with fancy dress and catered food. No Christmas tree lighting for politicians. Just two ordinary houses where the scents of sickness overwhelm the scent of pine.

I was stirring rice when she came in, looking graceful and beautiful in her choir dress. A woman standing before me, no longer my little girl. She told me she was glad she went even though it was terribly sad. An immature boy made a comment about the smells which made her angry. One of the wives requested a particular Christmas carol the kids didn't know. Our daughter couldn't recall the name, but said the woman told them it is a song about giving up all hope but then remembering that God lives. And God provides Hope.

I guessed the carol to be "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." And indeed, that was the song. I stopped stirring the rice and explained the lyrics and the songwriter's frame of mind when he wrote it. And then my grown-up little girl and I stood in the kitchen and cried.

No, God is not dead, He doth not sleep...peace on earth, goodwill to men.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Thank you, Lord, for Christmas.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, December 13, 2008

13 on the 13th

December 13, 1995. The day we met our first son. Those were magical days after coming home from the hospital. Days I vividly recall rocking him in the middle of the night while listening to softly playing Christmas carols. My eyes would leave his beautiful face only to gaze through frosty window panes at our neighbor's twinkling Christmas tree. I felt a special kinship to Mary that year as I rocked my baby in the night quietness. All was calm. All was bright.

Tonight we will celebrate by treating him to a professional hockey game. We gave him the choice of who to take with him as we bought four tickets. Of course, Dad goes because he's the driver...but typical of our son, he chose his little brother and me for the other two tics. And here's the most touching part (as if that weren't touching enough), he is most excited about surprising his little brother who thinks (because his brother told him) we're going to a Christmas activity at church. Big brother is hiding their hockey jerseys in the back of the van so that when we pull up to the arena, they can don their jerseys.

Last night he won $25 playing poker at a friend's house (each boy brought 5 bucks to the party), and tonight he gets to watch hockey while eating his hot dog and popcorn dinner. Turning 13 on the 13th has been pretty sweet so far.

And beginning in 1995, December 13 is one of my favorite days of the year, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shallow (but exciting) Post Ahead

Is it a secret code? Is it some set of computer commands, you ask? It's neither of those, but it's message is so important that after I finish typing this I'm putting this piece of paper in our fireproof lockbox. Hmmm. I should have you all guess. Are you thinking? Ok, here's a hint...the code was written by my hairdresser, Karla. I made her write it down in front of me. Then I made her read it to me. When I asked about the safety of where she keeps her client cards, she made a copy for me. I love Karla.

Alright, here it is.

The secret code is the recipe for my hair color. No, I am not kidding.

You see, I have been feeling frumpy and schlumpy...counting good hair days these past few years on one hand. But yesterday the clouds parted as Karla mixed, stirred, and then slathered my head with her wondrous gunk.

I'm telling you when she turned that chair around, I felt like I was on some kind of makeover show.

Now I know this is all quite shallow. And truly, I am fairly low maintenance when it comes to my outer appearance. (Recall Alaska posts and no running water?) But heavens-to-Betsy my spirits soared when I caught a glimpse of myself in that mirror. And the horror of going back in a few months and having Karla say "hmmm, I can't remember what we did last time" was just too frightening.

So there you have it. The Colonial has his secret recipe and now I have mine. I think instead of locking it up, I might frame it instead.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Room to Breathe

I'm not sure what it is that makes me want SIMPLE this year when it comes to feathering our nest for Christmas. Is it the fact that I'm getting older? (I no longer laugh at the thought of my grandma pulling a sheet off of her living room Christmas tree each Thanksgiving...I'm now giving her props.) Perhaps I crave simple because I'm being inspired by the calming creams and whites on others' decorating blogs. I think both these reasons are valid. But I'm wondering today if there isn't another reason. A more basic, instinctual reason I want room to breathe.

Nothing hung on the walls of the cave where Jesus was born. No frasier-fur-scented candles burned in a corner. No choo-choo train made a clanging, circular journey around a decorated pine tree.

I think God is calling me back to the simplicity of that first Christmas. And reminding me that Jesus is more than enough.

Simply. Divine.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Preparing for Christmas in the house.
Preparing for Christmas in our hearts.
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