Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Celestial Show Outside Tonight

A learning opportunity is going on outside your door right now! You can view, without a telescope, Venus just below the Crescent Moon. The sky is nice and clear tonight in Michigan and it is beautiful. The kids and I have enjoyed having a cup of hot chocolate and looking at the sky tonight.

For more information, read this article from Yahoo News.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Stress: A Reader Question

I recently received an email from a reader asking about enjoying Christmas when you have to spend it with unsaved crabby people who like to verbally abuse you as their own special Christmas tradition. I am not sure if what I wrote helps, but as a fellow momma in a similar boat, I shared a few things the Lord had taught me.

Edit: after I wrote this, I read an article at Focus on the Family's which addresses a similar but somewhat different situation (mostly from the perspective of singles coming home for Christmas). I feel the author also has some helpful food for thought in her article!

I love Christmas, but to be honest, I hate family gatherings because my unsaved family is very against some of our family's lifestyle choices, and they want to spend every moment with me picking apart my life. I wish I could just be a better person than that and let them treat me as they do knowing they aren't Christians, but as the day approaches I feel more and more defensive and irritable.

There was more to the email than that...but this is the gist of it.

I read your email last night, and my husband and I both smiled to each other at the familiarity of the story, because as much as I LOVE Christmas, I find this awful pit in my stomach at the thought of family gatherings, being criticized by those who think they are being helpful by pointing out all the ways you don't measure up over Christmas dinner.

Like you, I love Christmas. I dread family gatherings.

I know what holidays are supposed to be, and I know how holidays are when extended family is not involved, and I know how holidays are when my extended family on both sides are involved. I admit...I wish I had way more grace for extended family, and I pray for it often, especially this time of year.

There are a few tactics that help. I wish I could tell you something That would "Work" and make them stop being rude to you and your family. I have not yet found that magical formula to transform a grouchy, critical mother in law into a saint, other than her getting saved (though bringing up the reason for the season around mine makes her jack up the ugliness factor 10x). But I have found some things that help our attitudes.

1. Pray.
Don't walk into the situation without some prayer time before hand. Take time from the Christmas busy-ness and spend time on your knees or standing at your kitchen sink crying out to God. Ask Him to put a love in your heart for them, and the grace to overlook their meanness. Ideally, pray all year long :-)

2. Let your husband run interference with his parents.
This is a little more complex, because you can't control your husband any more than you can control his mommy. Some guys have a hard time standing up to their parents, even to defend their wives.

The thing is, he knows how she is. He grew up with her. He can deal with her easier than you can and may not be interpreting the situation the same way you are. However, good communication in ways that he understands (don't use the phrases "she always", "I never...", etc. Those don't compute for most guys) to help him see how this hurts you, may help him to see how this is affecting you, and help him to know what he can do about it. Be specific. As my honey always tells me, "I don't read minds!" We ladies seem to like to infer things and hope our men connect the dots from point A to point B...they don't often think that way, so be specific.

3. Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:1-4)
In short, don't dwell on the rude ramblings of grouchy people. Dwell on God's goodness to you, all the things He's done this year (if you have a blessing book, then use it to remind yourself of the good things God has done). Fill your mind with Scripture. This time of year, fill your mind with godly Christmas carols. Have a song in your heart (Col. 3:16).

4. Remind yourself about the facts
What are the facts? The facts are you are a child of God, and they sound like they are miserable, empty people who need to tear others down to make themselves feel better. If anything people like this are to be pitied.

5. Walk Away
There is a Bible principle that I learned while praying about this several years ago. In Proverbs, in a few verses it talks about going from the presence of a foolish person, and not making friendships with angry people. When someone gets ugly, walk away. If they follow you, be nice, but say something like, "I came here to celebrate Christmas, not to be treated rudely, even if it is 'in jest'. When you are ready to talk nicely to me or be silent, I'll come back in the room.".

A caveat: less is best when doing this. Don't be so overly sensitive that you are throwing, essentially, a temper tantrum whenever someone says something stupid that hurts your feelings. I have politely and calmly asked various offenders to be nicer, or let them know that it hurt my feelings, but if it escalates to all out verbal abuse and meanness (and it has), I have walked away. Sometimes I have driven away even when it was at my own house!

6. Don't "answer a fool according to his folly" (Proverbs 26:4)
Don't respond back in kind. Don't answer a snarky comment with an even snarkier comment. Don't repay evil, rude treatment with equally evil and rude treatment. You're better than that. If you are tempted, walk away. Take a breather. Step out on the porch and enjoy the fresh air. Go play with your kids. Help them put together some insanely complicated toy. Resist the urge to snap back if that is your tendency, as this will only make it escalate.

7. Check Your Expectations
There are two kinds of expectations that can be bad in these situations.

The first is expecting a Norman Rockwell Christmas Card sort of Christmas. This tends to lead to disappointment when it doesn't happen. Don't build up expectations to the point where you are going to come crashing down when they don't happen just the way you dreamed about it. Real life is not like those Currier and Ives postcards, though it would be nice, wouldn't it?

The second is anticipating negativity and being stressed and anxious before you even arrive at your destination. Don't expect to walk away with more baggage and bad memories. If you or I walk into our in-laws houses tomorrow, defensive and expecting the worst, our attitude may evoke a similar response in those we are visiting, and, shall we say, "get the party started" in a negative way.

8. The Day is not What's Important
If you have to spend the 24th and the 25th with the extended family, you can still observe Christmas your way on the 23rd or the 26th, or any other day for that matter. Even if you have to observe the incarnation with people who use His name as a profanity multitple times per hour, doesn't mean you can't still spend time (sometime during this season) reflecting on the miracle of the time when Jesus "...was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14).

Have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What is your FAVORITE Christmas Tradition?

I'm curious to know, what sort of traditions do you have at your happy household that make this time of year extra special?

Some of ours include the Advent calendar idea I mentioned a few weeks ago, as well as our cute advent wreath we keep on the table. The kids like progressively seeing more and more candles lit each week, as we get ready for Christmas.

We love Christmas music...a little too much in fact. I had to make a rule that there was no Christmas music allowed until after my Birthday (October 29)...we also love to learn some Christmas music for the piano to play in church (our church has music matter the prelude Christmas music every Wednesday during December), and for grandma when she comes. This year, with my cell phone having MP3 capabilities, I uploaded all of my Christmas music to it, and I plug it into a pair of speakers, so that we can all enjoy it. :-). I set it to shuffle the music, and the mp3 player says we have over 1 day of music in the Christmas playlist. Whoa. that's a lot of Christmas music!

As the kids get older we also talk more about the Christmas story and asking them what the Lord is showing them through it. This is very exciting to hear how God is touching their hearts!! Sometimes we also talk about Christmas carols and the stories behind them or the message communicated in them. Much food for thought there. Many of those Christmas carols are powerful songs of worship. I remember the the Christmas after I got saved...listening to O Holy Night and just being BLOWN AWAY by the words...why hadn't I noticed that before?

We like to bake Christmas cookies of course. We really love Gingerbread, but we also like some sugar cookies. We also make some Gingerbread houses (pictures at this post) and gingerbread people. Going to be doing that today (While listening to some Christmas music of course).

This year I've had to slow things down quite a bit more than usual, because of my shoulder. The MRI came back "normal" (PTL) but the x-ray is still a concern, so I have to see a surgeon. That's scary to me. Some days it feels good...and then I do too much...and then it hurts again. So, by my husband's orders, I'm sitting here from my command post wondering what everyone else is doing for Christmas. :-)).

So, what's your family's favorite thing to do around Christmas to make it special? What's your favorite Christmas carol, and why? I posted about mine last year in this post.

The Perils of being a Good Samaritan

I was again playing around at today, icing my shoulder, and this video caught my attention. : The title is "Can a Good Samaritan be sued?"

When I was in high school, I took lifeguard classes, and I also spent some time working as a life guard at a few different public pools. I also had my first aid card (and have, sadly, had to use my first aid training a few times). I don't like having to use my first aid or lifeguarding training, but when I have needed it, I am thankful to have it. I am especially thankful to have taken Infant-Child CPR (I think every mom should).

I was thankful to be able to help others in a knowledgeable way. I am thankful for my Red Cross training (though now expired....note to self, take a refresher course), as it helped me to learn how to assess a situation, and how to help others properly. I know how to rescue a drowning child (or adult)...and have done so. I know what to do when someone is cut, or not breathing, having a heart attack, or in some other emergency situation. It's good training to have.

This video I am linking to is about a man who rescued a co-worker in a car accident, and the co-worker was left paralyzed, and is suing him.

I have mixed feeling about this.

On the one hand, because of my training, I know that there is a right way and a wrong way to get an injured person out of a car (and there is even such a thing as doing nothing when the situation dictates simply sitting with the person until EMTs get there). I don't know all the particulars of this exact case, so who knows just how negligent this guy might have been? You can't just do it like they do on TV (don't even get me started on shows that show lifeguards jumping in as a first response--that's a big no no).

On the other hand, It's a scary precedent to set. I think that the human response, the compassionate response is to help. Who's going to help if they are afraid of being sued? What sort of world will this be if people just stand around worried about a lawsuit when someone is, say, bleeding to death, or when someone's toddler is drowning? I pulled a toddler out of the lake two summers ago. The mom freaked out that I ran and grabbed her child until I flipped the baby over and she vomited lake water everywhere (the lifeguard response doesn't go away even after 20 years...I don't find beaches or swimming pools, especially ones full of kids, at all relaxing). What if that lady sued me?

What do you think? Do you think people will be less likely to help if they worry about being sued? Do you think this will make more people get training to know how to properly respond in emergency situations?

My heart totally goes out to the woman who is left paralyzed, but it also goes out to the guy who thought he was doing the right thing, trying to help, thinking he was saving her life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ode to Tolerance

Well, my computer is finally on the road to recovery, thanks in part to a reader and her husband, and the Ultimate Boot CD. I now have to reinstall everything back on that computer to get it fully functioning, but thankfully it's working again.

Today, I was reading the news, and this small, barely-reported story caught my attention (it was not even under "news" but under "religious news"). Two things stood out: one, that it didn't make headlines that someone poured flammable stuff around the entrances of Gov. Palin's church and lit it on fire while people were inside, or that no one thinks this is a hate crime. I guess it's only a hate crime if it is some politically correct minority.

Kudos to the Wasilla Bible church for the grace with which they've handled this situation.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unreal and Beyond Absurd

I have avoided the news for the last 6 months only because it seems to make me feel worse. You too?

Well, I feel like we the people do need to rise up in revolt over this whole bailout scheme. A news report today reported that bailed out failures Goldman Sachs and AIG (Among others)are paying Christmas bonuses with your tax dollars. Did YOU or anyone in your family get a bonus this year? Our company told my dh that they didn't have any money this year...and hasn't for the last 8 years in fact (unless you were of the same upper management that ran the company into the ground with bad business which case you do deserve a bonus!). It's time they stop giving OUR money to overpaid losers at these companies, or in congress for that matter.

Goldman Sachs and AIG (Among others) are saying that this was necessary to keep their top talent. TALENT? Oh, you mean the PEOPLE WHO RAN YOUR COMPANY INTO THE GROUND IN THE FIRST PLACE?? Yeah, I could see why you would want to keep them. (NOT!) There are also reports that they are still flying around in corporate jets, you know, suffering through this hard time like everyone else.

Oh, wait, I don't have a corporate jet, nor do any of my neighbors who are having genuine rough times, but no bail out.

I am not at all against making money, being rich, or successful at all. I think it is a great thing if God enables you to be a success. Hey, if you earned that private jet, enjoy it. I would love to have one myself!!...I am against people who are poorly managing money, resources, time, and talents, and ignoring warning signs of danger ahead (whether they be "rich" or "poor") who then steal out of my wallet via a taxpayer funded bailout of any size...The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but they just went on, business as usual, tooling around in their private jets with their hands out asking for money, and threatening financial ruin for our country if we don't play ball on this. I am all for helping someone who gets into a lurch...but I am not for rewarding ineptitude without any oversight or rules.

It's like loaning money to that one relative who you know needs it for some need...but who is so without self control they are going to blow it on whatever grabs their attention the second it is burning a hole in their pocket. It's the friend who never has any money, but always has toys, and a hand out. Note to execs (and other classes of mooches): if you have run your company into the ground, you could sell us all that sympathy thing a little more effectively if you took the public transit system.

In addition, as predicted (in my heated and unpopular discussions on this topic with relatives over the holidays), when you bail out one industry (banks) and then another (autos), you will soon find that EVERY industry has their hand out. Is it not so? Everyone wants a slice of the proverbial pie (of YOUR money, as a US taxpayer!! YOUR MONEY AND MINE). [to be fair....the auto industry just wants a loan, which they asked for after flying THEIR private jets to washington to cry poverty].

Now "adult industry" mogul Larry Flynt (I am using that term in quotes, and very loosely as I think it is an insult to adults....but if I use the other word for that industry, most filters will block my blog) now says that HIS industry also needs a bailout. *sigh*. Hopefully congress has enough good sense not to touch that one, but with the idiotic policies they've passed through as of late, I am not really hopeful at all....

...thankfully I trust in the God who owns a cattle on a thousand hills to be my provider, not the US Government. I'd be in despair right now were it not for my faith in the Lord!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Viruses--anyone help?

If you're wondering why I have been rather silent lately, it's because of some nasty virus problems on my computer. I am so frustrated I could scream (and have). I am resorting to working on a much older, slower, computer right now. I crave prayer. All of this is happening while I am still struggling with my badly injured and very painful shoulder.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a driver for my video camera (with the permission of two different virus scan softwares!) , and shortly after that I had a problem with someone hijacking my web browser and Windows Explorer (opening all sorts of new windows all over my computer), and later my computer freezing up. I couldn't ctr+alt+del or even power down (I had to physically remove the battery to shut off the computer!). The amount of damage this Trojan is able to do seems to be progressively growing and advancing, to my disappointment.

Long story short, though my virus and malware scanning software keeps finding and removing the programs, they keep coming back over and over again. No matter what I do, it comes back.

We tried to do a system restore, and we ran the Dell Diagnostics to no effect. The tech people we called at Dell were clueless as to what to do too. Windows finally stopped working so we are booting up off of the CD Rom now. We tried to reinstall Windows XP but that won't work either.

So, if anyone has any suggestions, post a comment. :-) We have been told I simply need a new computer...but that is no good as I have clients waiting for graphic work that I can't do on this older computer (the programs won't run), and we can't get a Windows Vista computer as my graphics programs won't work with Vista either.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Training Little Helpers into Big Ones

My recent post about my helpful children in light of my shoulder injury had a few friends and readers asking me the question in person or by email, "How do you train your children to be helpful?" Most agree that, when you have a younger child or children, it's way easier to do it yourself (and it is!)...however, you will reap good fruit if you invest now even though it's a little frustrating.

Just some random, somewhat incoherent thoughts (keeping in mind I am on prescription meds LOL just in case this makes no sense):

1. As soon as a child is able to dump the toys from the toybox, they can be playfully taught that the flow of toys can go both ways...both out of and into the toy box. You don't have to be a drill Sergent about it. In fact, it's probably better if you aren't. Just show them that the same toys that went sprawling over the floor can now jump back in now that they are done.

On that note too, less is more with toys. This is not easy to enforce when you have enthusiastic grandparents buying toys, but you can pack up some toys seasonally and rotate them so that there is less of an overwhelming feeling regarding all of those toys, and it becomes easier to clean the room.

2. This desire to help that a young child or toddler has needs to be harnessed now. If you wait until they are of an age to be really helpful to your standards, then you will find them less willing to be your helper. A 2 year old doesn't do a perfect job setting a table, but she loves to help and will be encouraged if you help her and also, over time, show her how to do it right.

3. Toddlers/Preschoolers can do things like this:

  • Hold the dustpan for you while you sweep (and empty it into the trash)

  • Put their own toys away (maybe with help)

  • Put silverware around, and napkins, when setting a table

  • Follow you around as your "helper"...for example when I've made bread, I would knead it well, and then let my younger ones knead for a while. Of course the bread didn't need to be kneaded any further. However, talk about thankful! I can't knead bread right now at all with this shoulder, but I have five someone's who can!

  • Make their dirty laundry hit the laundry hamper, and put their pj's under thier pillow in the morning

  • Maybe even make their bed somewhat, with help

  • Dig around in the garden with you, help plant plants or seeds, and do some weeding after being instructed which ones to pull (with supervision!).

...all with heaps of praise!!! It's little things like this that will help them as they grow.

4. "Chores" is not sticking a chore chart on the wall and expecting them to do it even with the promise of a sticker or some other treat. Until they are about 8-9, and maybe even after that, they need to be reminded, encouraged, shown, taught, trained, and directed as to what to do, so that when they are 15 they can look around the house and say, "Oh, I should sweep the mess up in the kitchen even though it's not on the chart."

Having worked lots of odd jobs over the years before having children, especially as a night-manager of a donut shop, and one of the assistant managers of a restaurant, I want to point out that the ability to look around and see what needs to be done without being told is a skill that very few people enter adulthood with. I'll even admit that I didn't really learn this skill until I was left in charge of a restaurant one day when my boss had an emergency. I didn't want to disappoint, s I wanted the kitchen to look as good as when he had to run out of there to the hospital, and I suddenly realized how annoying it is to have people look at you and ask "I washed this pan over here. What should I do now?" (uh....dry it, put it away, and wash the other pans!!!!) when it should have been obvious. I had instant sympathy for my boss. Some direction giving is necessary, of course, but sometimes it is frustrating when you have adults who can't see that, if one dirty pan needs to be washed that perhaps all of them do.

My husband once was hired for a job because, while waiting for his interview, he fixed something that was malfunctioning in the shop without asking for any remuneration. His volunteering to do this showed a prospective boss that he was a go-getter and hard worker.

Younger children need you to be guiding and directing them, so that being able to know what to do soon becomes second nature, a habit developed (I appreciate Charlotte Mason's philosophy on training children in good habits from a young age). You can't, for example, say "Clean the kitchen" to a younger or untrained child or group of children. You will be more effective if you show them, multiple times, what it means to clean the kitchen, start to finish. Now when I say to one of my older kids, "Could you please clean the kitchen?" they know what I mean (mostly ;)). Sometimes they'll ask, "A deep clean or just picking up?" because my daughter knows that I don't always mean to empty out all of the cupboards and wipe down shelves. Some of them are still learning. I just had a training moment with my two younger daughters who were cleaning the kitchen up and thought it better to start from the floor and work up (We went back over the whole idea of cleaning top to bottom, and doing the floor last, and they saw why when they saw how bad the floor looked after cleaning off the counter where we were baking).

To sum up this point, training children how to work when they are younger is more valuable to you, long term, than the help they are providing, because at this training level they are taking way more time than it would cost you to just do it yourself, and I'll's easier to just do it yourself many times. I have been tempted to do it, and I have done it many times. However, the more you work with them, especially when you are not in a time crunch, the better it is long term.

5. A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down. Yes, we watched too much Mary Poppins when Ruth was a toddler. However, the principle works well. If you are showing them that cleaning and work is something to begrudgingly tolerate until it's time to have fun, then don't expect them to be cheerful about helping. You are not just training them to work, but you are also training an attitude about work. This is hard if we were trained with a not so great attitude about work, and maybe view it as punishment.

Many times I have found child training and raising (and even marriage for that matter!) to be like sandpaper rubbing off my rough edges, and the parts of me that needed to change. Nothing convicts you more than looking into the face of one of your kids and seeing one of your negative traits reflecting back. Ouch. The Bible says that as iron sharpens iron, we sharpen each other (paraphrase of Proverbs 27:17). Specifically, Proverbs refers to our friends in this verse, but I think it is even more true within the context of our homes and families who see the good, bad and ugly on a daily basis.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Commands and Licenses

I was just reading an interesting article on the web, about an article in Newsweek about the "religious case" for Same Sex Marriage. My reaction? At first I was angry about it, and found it upsetting, but then I found the Lord impress on my heart a question as I prayed: "Who causes two people to be married to each other? The state? Or ME?" No it wasn't an audible voice for heaven, but more like one of those divine impressions on my heart that I knew didn't come from me.

I realized this was true. God ordained it from the Garden, did He not? God ordained it throughout the Bible in fact. But, where did the concept of state-issued marriage "licenses" come from, I wondered?

A quick Google search later, I learned something new.

Marriage licenses in the USA originated in the mid 1800s because people were against what they referred to as "interracial marriage" (Because I believe there is only one race, that being the HUMAN RACE, I don't like the word "race" when referring to the level of melatonin in our skin...but that's another sermon). Essentially they were intermarriage licenses, which later evolved into licensing all marriage.

In 1923, the Federal Government established the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act and by 1929, every state in the Union had adopted marriage license laws (From, which takes some radical views on this issue)

I am not about to go have my marriage annulled and I am not really sure how I feel about avoiding licenses altogether at this point (what's done is done). But let's think about this for a minute.

What benefit is there to being "legally" married with a marriage "license" (license is defined, by the way, as a government giving us PERMISSION to do something! We need their PERMISSION to enter into a God-ordained union?!?!)? Well, the benefits tend to be financial. There are tax breaks for married couples. There's the whole health insurance and "benefits packages" that are only available for legally married couples, and in essence it is mostly economic, isn't it? (unless you are on the edge of poverty, in which case being, for example, a single mom, will get you more social service benefits).

Why do homosexuals wish to marry? Most of the arguments are economic, relating to getting benefits, and being legally recognized for something that is going on anyway. To the state, void of God, this sort of thing seems logical and to exclude them seems like a violation of "rights", which these days is like the unpardonable sin in our selfish, secular society. We are reaping the bitter fruits of allowing the state to license marriage in the first place.

By "selling" something that is only God's to give (the right to marriage) even to believers who allow this for the financial benefits of having a legal marriage or so that racists could hinder "interracial" couples from marrying, we have opened the door to where it is the STATE and not GOD who makes the decisions about marriage. And, sadly, the STATE at this point could give a hoot what the Bible says about anything.

There are two things about the whole Prop 8 thing that have really gotten me fired up.

The first has been the absolutely inflammatory way in which people of faith have been portrayed, with the rather scary, fascist mob mentality that the gay rights advocates have been walking in since election day. Just to mention a few I've read about: mobbing a group of Christians in downtown San Fran, shoving and shouting down a grandma for having a cross, and invading a church in Lansing MI during Sunday worship with the purpose of intimidating and disrupting the service. (Who's intolerant?)

The second is really a sadness in me over the time, energy, and cash that the average Christian has given to this sort of thing INSTEAD OF doing what we were COMMANDED to do by our Lord and Savior, Jesus. What were we commanded to do? It's not as Newsweek preaches (being tolerant and inclusive) but it also isn't taking to the streets and demanding our rights, and whining about being persecuted because of some bad press or angry people expressing their hateful's about making His last command our FIRST priority (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20)

If I were in a voting booth, making a choice, I would vote against same sex marriage without a doubt. I pray for our country, and then I do the only thing I can do...the only thing He commanded me to do about it...the only way to really make a CHANGE, a LASTING CHANGE, is in doing things the way Christ told us to in the first place. Preach the Gospel (Which changes lives), disciple those new believers (teaching them how to live the Christian life, and how to tell others about Christ's love), and then do it some more, until everyone in the world has HEARD. They still have to make a choice, and are free to do so, but they at least need to be told the good news.

The Bible tells us homosexuality is a sin, and that marriage is between one man and one woman, but it does not tell us to take that message to the highways and byways. Instead, we are commanded to tell others that Christ died for our sins (all of them, not just some), that that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16).

Before I got saved, I heard the first message a lot but don't remember hearing the second! How sad is that? It was like a drink of living water to hear that God provided a Savior for me as I traveled in what was then Czechoslovakia.

Only the gospel changes lives permanently. Laws change, politicians change, governments rise and fall as do nations. Ours sadly seems to be in decline, and whether America lives to see another century, or whether it goes the way of the once-great civilizations before it (all of which fell due to a focus on hedonism), God will be glorified. The best thing we can do is to preach a message that truly changes lives, protects traditional marriage, and glorifies God: that

"God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).

To Ponder: Think about the last month. How many people have you told about the saving power of the Gospel of Christ? how much time have you spent telling others His Good News? Got that number in your head? Now think... how much time have you spent talking about, reading about, fretting about politics? Now, make this into a math problem. What is the ratio of minutes spent talking about what Christ did for you and can do for others versus the minutes spent on the latter? How much money did you invest in evangelism, missions, and in the lives of those you have a ministry with, vs the amount of money you have thrown to a political cause? This could be why America is in decline. If we want to change the World we need to do it His way!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Some Good Fruit on a not so good day

I'm having a bad day.

I have been in pain for the last 6 months, but last week it became unbearable, and so I finally went to the doctor, only to be told that I need surgery on my shoulder and having seen my x-rays it hurts even more now LOL I have been feeling pretty stiff and having a hard time using my hands.

But I was blessed today by some good fruit from seeds sown years ago.

I hate medical situations and such because I don't really have too many people around me that I can call on in an emergency, and those that I can call on are also busy mommies that I would rather not add my burden onto their busy lives. I tend to be a do-it-yourselfer, for better or worse.

Well, this morning, I woke up a little later than usual (having been given some serious drugs last night, and being unable to sleep because of hospital-related nightmares ;)) only to find out that life goes on without me. ;) My 10 year old daughter was making French Toast. My coffee was brewed, poured, and handed to me. Another child directed me to a chair with a heating pad hook up. Today, they did their schoolwork, shoveled the snow, washed and folded laundry, cooked dinner (venison steaks!), and cleaned the house cheerfully, amid giving me hugs and well wishes.

I love having older children.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

...and that's what Christmas is all about...

I was recently reading another blog where they posted this clip (below) from a Charlie Brown Christmas. I hadn't watched that movie since I was a kid, and so I guess I never noticed this scene before, but it sure blessed me:

Friday, December 05, 2008

My Christmas Wish List

Today, I'm going to get a little bit silly. This post is more of a fun one.

It seems like various persons in my family struggle with what to get me for Christmas and yet I have stated that Gift Certificates to (or any Bookstore), or an iTunes gift card (of any amount) would make me super happy, and thus these have been the only two items on my list for the last 6 years...there's really not a lot of mystery in what to get me for Christmas or my birthday because my request stays the same from year to year...This post is really a response to a discussion I was told about by my children in which adult family members (you know who you are) were murmuring about how hard it is to get me a "real gift" because they hate giving gift cards...which also makes me wonder if they hate the fact that I get them gift cards...hmmmm...doesn't everyone love gift cards? :-)

Well, here is my "real gift" wish list....and it may inspire you for those hard to buy for people in your life too ;)...though I think that a gift card to Amazon may be easier and cheaper. Group gift maybe? I figure I can post this here since most of them now read my blog and then I don't feel so much like I'm asking. Hi mom! :-)

1. Clocky
At the top of the list, we have a Clocky. This gift was MADE for me. Clocky is an alarm clock which you need to chase around the bedroom before you can turn it is robotic and has mountain bike wheels on it. This is perfect, as I am able to both hit the snooze, turn on my coffee pot, and hit the switch to download email to my phone each morning without even waking up (my husband has observed this and finds this to be my most annoying trait). This would make a nice group gift.

Check out this video of a Clocky in action.

2. Replacement bowls for my dinner set (Gibson: Fruit), because most of my bowls are broken after 17 years of marriage...oddly the plates are all okay and I don't know why that is. Strange, huh? (Ruth, my 15 year old daughter, interjects: "It's because we eat a lot of soup and salad in our house"). This is one of those gifts that family members will say is a "household gift" and therefore should not count as a Christmas present. Still, it would make me super happy.

3. I was going to ask for an upgrade on memory for my cell phone but I just learned that my sweet children pooled their resources and bought me one for Christmas. Thanks, kids. :-)). Out of all of the things in the Tiger Direct catalog, they knew just what mommy wanted, and they have my skill of finding things like this on sale...woo hoo.

4. I need the air conditioning compressor in the van fixed but I am pretty sure everyone would tell me "that's not a Christmas present". Still, it bears mentioning. It's probably more important than a clocky, unless you are frustrated by my inability to get up in the morning.

5. I already got my request filled from the Lord....snow and lots of it. Thank you, Jesus. I love it, it's perfect, even if everyone else is grumbling about it. And thanks for the snow tires too. You always know just what I need. :-)

If all of this seems way too complicated, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and iTunes all have gift cards. Any amount. I'm easy to please. :-)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gingerbread House Party

A few days ago, with our mother's group, we had a Gingerbread House Building Party. Look at these marvelous works out art!

Recipes and instructions are in Joyful Momma's Guide to Christmas Gingerbread and Other Holiday Treats

Monday, December 01, 2008

Our first day of Advent

Today we opened our first "bag" on our "Advent Calendar"! This part of Christmas is always the kids' favorite thing in the world. Normally, I use paper bags, but this year, I sewed some nicer bags from some pretty Christmas cloth, as you can see below!

I also made some tags for the bags that I wrote the numbers on. I printed these on business card stock, and laminated them.

We put our "Advent Calendar" up the staircase, and fill it with different goodies each day, usually some little, inexpensive craft or candy. Today, the children were delighted to find Candy Canes in it.

What special Christmas traditions do you have? How to do share Christ's love with others, including your children, during this season of the year?

We find that Advent is a great way to remind ourselves of the real REASON for the SEASON...the incarnation of Christ! God was made flesh, and He dwelt among us! Just the thought, if you meditate on it for any length of time will just blow your mind.

This is one of the reasons why I put together my Advent ebook, Advent: Preparing for the Coming of the Lord. It's a 4 week long devotional for families to help us to focus on the Lord, His first coming, and His imminent return during a season of year full of the gimmes. If you buy the Advent ebook before December 21st, you'll get a free Gingerbread book.