Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The End of '08

It's hard for me to believe that we're just a few hours away from closing out 2008. I remember way back when I started school, thinking about how amazing it would be in the year 2000, yet here we are, about to begin the final year of the "aughts." Pretty incredible stuff.

Tonight we'll be staying up and celebrating in the usual manner -- watching movies & eating wings! Deborah is still the only one old enough to stay up all night (James can join us next year -- 3rd grade is when kids are allowed to stay up til midnight). Last year I ended up falling asleep on the couch while we watched Harry Potter movies -- here's hoping I'll be able to make it to midnight this time!

I always get nostalgic on New Year's Eve, and this year is no different. I'm thankful for all of the challenges and joys that the year has presented us. Even during the difficulty of Jason's time without a job, we were still tremendously blessed, both with emotional support and with an element of supernatural provision. This year saw us send our last little one out the door to school and gave me my first taste of "empty nest" (even if it is just for a few hours every day!). It saw us say good-bye to my grandfather. I am glad to live in a country where we can democratically elect a leader (and yes, I'd feel that way even if "my guy" hadn't won). I am lucky to have some amazing friends, both in real life and in the virtual world. I have an amazing family, both those who live in this house, and my extended family. I am blessed to attend a growing, vibrant church.

I pray that as the year draws to a close that you are with those you love and who love you. May you be exceedingly blessed in the new year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Okay, so since it's a day later, I expect that makes it Happy Boxing Day! Woohoo!

Anyway, we had a really nice Christmas around here. We don't have tons of loot under the tree, but we got to spend time with family, we enjoyed a nice dinner, we watched a funny movie and we played a family game. Overall, it was a good holiday.

It's been nice having the kids home. We've had opportunities to do some baking and some cleaning. Today, after we went shopping, we played a few games. Faith loves to play Crazy 8's, so we played that, then we played Uno, then we played a new game we just got called Uno Stacko. It's a cross between Uno & Jenga and is very fun. I love getting to play games again.

In the job front, things have ended with DHL. West is looking for some more opportunities, so please pray that they'll get another long-term contract. They have a few temporary things lined up right now, so I'm sure I'll have something going in the next week, but I'll feel better if I have something more permanent in my future.

I'm going to go Wii Bowl with Jason. Be blessed!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Drive-by Posting

I haven't written in forever, but I wanted to drop in for a second to say hello and let any readers know that I haven't quit blogging or anything like that. We've just had a busy week. With Christmas just around the corner, we've all been working hard to get the house in order. And in the off moments, I've been busy working on getting Christmas presents bought and wrapped. I generally like to have them purchased WAY before now, but this year just completely got away from me and I didn't get anything ahead of time. But I think I've got just about everything now, so we should be ready to go. I've got a couple more things to make, but nothing that I can't finish up this week once the kids are home. Of course, today the kids came up with one more gift that they'd like. Read on!

We did a deep clean of the kitchen today. Cleaned behind things that haven't been pulled out in YEARS kind of cleaning. Hands and knees scrubbing the floor cleaning. Finding the table under 347 half-finished craft projects cleaning. It was big time. I am NOT a good housekeeper (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that before!), but somehow, I ended up with a predominantly white kitchen. The walls are white, the cabinets are white, the floor is white, the appliances are white -- it's all white. At least, underneath the grime it's all white. Of course, with it being white, it shows every single drip of coffee or splash of milk. The cabinets in particular were looking pretty dingy today, so I gave all of the kids Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to wipe them down. Something to try to cut through the dirt. Well, that is one of my most favorite cleaning tools because it really does work. And the kids thought it was just amazing. They kept asking for other places to wipe down so they could see how awesome it was to watch something go from dirty to clean right before their eyes. Anyway, when the last of the magic erasers was starting to fall apart, Faith said that she wanted some more for Christmas!

So there ya' go Santa. We have an order in for cleaning products.

Clearly they've been visiting with my sister lately!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Musical Monday

This is a bit of a last minute change. I had another Christmas song planned for today, but yesterday when we were decorating for Christmas, we put in Reliant K's "Let it Snow Baby...Let it Reindeer" and I knew that my song selection had to change.

Normally Reliant K is one of those novelty bands. Very high energy, and very entertaining. Their version of the 12 Days of Christmas had us all singing along (or trying to sing along) at the top of our lungs. We cranked it up and laughed. It was great.

And then, out of nowhere, there is an absolutely gorgeous Christmas worship song. But in the midst of the joy and hilarity of the cd, it doesn't feel like it was an afterthought at all. I absolutely love that. Certainly there has been a secularization of Christmas and those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus need to be mindful of that. However, I think sometimes in our quest to "keep Christ in Christmas" we forget the sheer joy of the celebration. We don't treat it like a birthday party. At birthday parties, we certainly take time to celebrate the person whose birth we're celebrating, but we still generally manage to take time simply to enjoy the company of one another and to have a more general celebration of life and friendship. Don't misread me -- I do recognize that there are some culture wars and I do think that we need to remember the main purpose of the seaon, but I do think that sometimes in our zeal to "beat" secularism, we simply become a part of it by choosing to engage in the war.

Anyway, this song really did touch me. The humility it would take to leave Heaven to become human is just unimaginable to me. Though honestly, my primary message today is that while we do remember that we have a Savior who came to change the world, we can also take a minute to laugh and enjoy that world. Here is "I Celebrate the Day" by Reliant K.

And with this Christmas wish is missed
The point I could convey
If only I could find the words to say
To let You know how much You've touched my life
Because ...

Here is where You're finding me
In the exact same place as New Year's Eve
And from a lack of my persistency
We're less than half as close as I want to be

And the first time that You opened Your eyes
Did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever
And the first time that You opened Your eyes
Did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever

And so this Christmas I'll compare
The things I felt in prior years
To what this midnight made so clear
That You have come to meet me here
[musical bridge]

To look back and think that
This Baby would one day save me
In the hope that what You did
That you were born so I might really live
To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me

And the first time that You opened Your eyes
Did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever
And the first time that You opened Your eyes
Did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever

And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life
Pray for You to save my life
Pray for You to save my life

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I didn't forget!!!

I am absolutely terrible about forgetting my mom's birthday. Every year I remember that it's her birthday as soon as I wake up, and think, "I can't call her at 6am. I'll call her later." I then promptly forget and then remember again around 11pm, well past when it would be appropriate to call.

So, for the record, I have remembered her birthday today. I tried to call, and got an answering machine. I intend to call again in a while, but I have to take the kids to a rehearsal for AWANA, the Steelers are playing, and I'm just not good at remembering, so there's a good chance she won't get a second call. But I DID call. I didn't forget.

Anyway, we've had a good day here. We did some cleaning in the living room and got all of the Christmas decorations up. We're going ultra simple on the decorating this year, since Fang is still a puppy and will likely just chew up anything that we hang from the Christmas tree or any garland that we wrap around the banister. So we've pretty much just got a tree with twinkle lights this year, our Advent wreath, and some little candle-y things that we've received as gifts over the years.

The house is very peaceful at the moment. The kids are working on some gifts for grandparents. Jason is watching the game. The dogs are content on the floor chewing on some rawhides. The living room smells like I've been baking (I have not, but the candles make it smell like I have!). In a few minutes, we'll be back to chaos as we get everyone into coats and shoes and herd everyone into the car to go to AWANA, but right now, I'm going to enjoy the peace. Be blessed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My foot

So I don't want anyone to miss out on the bruised glory that is my right foot! Jason helped me take these pictures earlier today. I think this is as bad as the bruising is going to get. I think the stuff on the top of my foot is particularly impressive. It looks much better in real life, but I think this at least gives some idea. Not quite Paul Sheldon, but still impressive.

I will say that I LOVE hearing all of the "ankle stories" that I've been privy to over the past few days. It's amazing how many people have busted their ankles up. I don't think any have been as lame as my "couldn't carry pizza" story, but it's certainly been entertaining! If you haven't told me your broken/sprained ankle story yet, you'd better get to sharing! I don't want to miss out on any!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Musical Monday

Before I'm late again, I figured I'd best get my Musical Monday done! On with the Christmas theme!

This week, I'm doing one of my favorite Advent songs. One of my absolute favorite Christmas cds to pull out every year is Stephen Curtis Chapman's "The Music of Christmas." And on that, he retooled an old Advent song that I never really cared for that much and made it one of my favorites.

One of the things I think we forget about Advent is the absolute longing that is expressed in the season. For centuries people were waiting for their Savior. In a world where nearly everything is instant and we want what we want NOW, it's hard to imagine being in a near perpetual state of desire. Certainly that's not how most of us live now. If I'm able to have all of the stuff I want, there's no real urgency to the waiting for Christ's return. Yet the ancient hymn "O Come, o come, Emmanuel" has managed to capture an element of the desire that lived within so many before Christ's birth.

I think I didn't like it for a long time because I didn't like the gloomy picture that it paints. But honestly, without Jesus, there is an element of darkness that exists. We are certainly blessed to have the Holy Spirit with us now, but I think we would probably all do well to take a moment to reflect during this Advent season and see what we can do to increase our desire for the nearness of Jesus.

1. Oh, come, Oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

2. Oh, come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

3. Oh, come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

4. Oh, come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home:
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


...but only the movie version where Kathy Bates as Annie smashes James Caan as Paul's ankle with the sledge hammer. And this time, I was Paul, and the sledge hammer was a curb and cute shoe combo that didn't work together.

After one of my best friends broke her ribs playing with a cat, I was inspired to have a ridiculous injury of my own. So last night, while picking up pizza for supper from Little Ceasar's, I went ahead and fulfilled that dream. I stepped off the curb in my new black shoes that are a little too big, slipped and twisted the hell out of my ankle. The pizzas went flying, I was lying on the pavement, panting and trying not to puke. A very nice woman (thank you, nice lady!!!) helped me to my car, where I sat, trying not to let myself hyperventilate (doula training came in handy then). I then drove myself home and hobbled into the house. I thought that I had just twisted it and that I could walk it off, but after about 30 minutes and an increasing amount of swelling and the beginnings of bruises forming along with pain shooting all around my leg, Jason decided that I really needed to be seen by a doctor.

Another very dear friend agreed to watch the three youngest kids (Deborah spent the night at my in-laws'), we went to the emergent care facility. They x-rayed my foot to verify that I didn't break anything (I didn't feel anything moving around), gave me some pain meds (but not the good stuff -- I guess I was too chipper), told me to ice it and bandage it, and sent me on my way. I can't walk for anything -- just limp around the house. I'm going to hole up in the bedroom with Jason's laptop and some books today and just watch hulu and read. I'm just hoping that by Monday, when I have to drive the kids to school, I'll be feeling a bit better because today, the thought of driving on this ankle again makes me cringe!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mini Brag

I'm sorry, I have to do it. My kid had an accomplishment and I have to share it with everyone!

A couple of days ago, the middle school offered the test for math field day. The kids got their results back yesterday and Deborah scored the highest in her "set" of classes (there are 3 classes that rotate between the teachers and eat lunch together and have gym together and stuff like that). She had the only perfect paper in those 60+ kids.

I'm just really excited for her! First, as a mom because I'm just proud of her doing her best and working to her potential. But I'm also proud as a woman. It's very exciting to me to see women excel in more "masculine" pursuits like math and science. It's not at all that I want to see boys not succeed (having two of those as well makes it hard to want that!), but it just makes me happy when a girl doesn't recognize that she's "supposed to" be bad at math and science. In fact, Faith just the other day was telling me that she wants science stuff for Christmas and she has brought her science book home every chance she gets.

Anyway, I'll try to hold off on brags for a little bit, but I really wanted to share that.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stomping on Poverty

Last night, my oldest daughter and I were at church, practicing for an upcoming KidSTUFF program. My rehearsal finished a bit ahead of hers, so I went up to the room to knit and to wait for her to finish.

It turned out that the girls had already finished their dance practice, and the leader was talking to them about Nuru International, a group that involves many of our church's college students and leaders. The primary objective of this organization is to bring an end to extreme poverty in the world. As an aside few weeks ago, the middle & high schoolers at our church had weekend conference. Many of them participated in the 30 hour famine and they all were able to listen to people speak about hunger and poverty in the world and even here in America.

Anyway, last night Becca was having the girls make cards to send to people in Kenya. But she asked some of the girls who were at the conference to share what they knew about Nuru and about poverty in general. I was absolutely blown away by some of the answers that these kids gave. One after another spoke about how we are so blessed here and have so much. They spoke about how we need to have an attitude of thanksgiving for all that we've been blessed with and how we need to do more to help those less fortunate. These girls were passionate and engaged when talking about these things and it just blew my mind.

I think sometimes I get it in my brain that there's just so little I can do about such a big problem. Last night I was reminded of that childlike faith that Christ calls us to have, and it was a huge inspiration. Those Stomp dancers just danced all over my heart and left it, I hope, a bit softer and more pliable. Well done, ladies.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Musical Monday

Belated again, I know. Such is life. I still wanted to make sure I did one every week this month, as I'm one of those freaks who actually really likes Christmas music, and I wanted to dedicate December's musical Mondays to either Advent or Christmas or general "wintertime" music.

Today is in the last category. Yesterday was a pretty miserable day. Cold, wet, windy. Nothing pleasant about it at all. And it looks like we're going to have another day like it today. Cold and blustery, but nothing to show for it.

When Jason was home for lunch, he commented, "I wish it would just snow already!"

So my song today is "Let it Snow" sung by the venerable Frank Sinatra. I know it's a cheesy little song, but there is something internally warming knowing that you're loved. I hope you have someone to cuddle up with to keep you warm in these colder months (and if you're somewhere that it's warm, you can still cuddle up with your loved one!).

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And I've bought some corn for popping,
The lights are turned way down low,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
But if you'll really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we're still good-bying,
But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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