Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14
I love this verse! And this year, I feel like verse 16 is so true for where my family and I are.
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16
Last Sunday, Pastor Jon preached on why we can rejoice at Christmas. I haven't struggled with celebrating and rejoicing this year. My family is healthy. I haven't lost anyone dear to me this year. We are excitedly preparing for the birth of Timothy. Curtis has graduated and is looking at moving up in his career. Life is great for us right now!
But what if it wasn't? What if one of my children were horribly ill? What if I, like some of my friends, had lost a parent this year? What if Curtis didn't have a job? What if we had faced the loss of a pregnancy, like several of our friends? Could I still rejoice?
YES! Because even in the midst of all things shifting, God is faithful. And as Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy:15, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst."
This Christmas, I am rejoicing. Not in family, jobs, the finishing of a degree, or the birth of a baby. But in my salvation. This Christmas I've been reminded that Jesus came to save sinners. He came to save me.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
I enjoy this book because it's geared for adults AND children. Each Day, it lists the symbol (which is the ornament) for the day, the memory verse, and possible songs. There are Scripture references to tell the story of each ornament, along with two summarized versions of the story (one for adults, one for children).
My goal was to use the Jesse Tree as our Advent worship time. However, with Curtis missing a lot of that time at home, it's just become an activity that we do in the mornings in addition to our regular family worship time. I chose to wrap each ornament to add to the fun and excitement. Since I started a little late, the first day we opened three ornaments rather than just one. I found that this was probably going to be the best idea for this year. As a result, we do our Jesse Tree time every three days or so.
For more info on the Jesse Tree, it's history, and all the different symbols and stories, see the link in the Christmas post below.
We've enjoyed doing the Jesse Tree and look forward to it becoming a regular part of our Advent celebration!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
For the past three weeks, Curtis would leave the house in the morning and go to work. Occasionally he would come home from work for lunch. After he was done with work at 5pm, he would stay up at work to work on his master's project, usually till midnight or 1am. This master's project took the place of a written thesis.
Yesterday, Curtis presented his master's project. This project was months of work and his graduation depended on the successful completion and presentation of this project. And if that stress wasn't enough, he also had a final for the class (which, by the way was a PhD level class) and hour after his presentation.
I was anticipating a phone call around 7pm saying that he was done, and heading home (which to make things even more fun, is an hour drive!). He called at 7:30, and said the final was over, but it had been tough. But it was OVER!
The kids made signs, I hung them on the front door, and we waited.
Once Curtis got home, we headed out with hot chocolate, and looked at Christmas lights. It was such a fun evening!! The kids were thrilled that Daddy was done with school, and we really enjoyed having Curtis back in the minivan with us. It was only the second time since Thanksgiving that Curtis had been in the van with us.
We are now gearing up for graduation. At first, Curtis wasn't planning on walking. But the more involved our entire family became in the process, we decided that it would be a great family celebration! Curtis' Dad and step mom are coming in on Friday to help celebrate. Graduation is Saturday afternoon. Afterwards, we'll be having a small celebration at our house.
This hasn't been an easy semester, or year, for our family. It's been quite an effort, and we are thrilled that it's over!! I'm so proud of Curtis, and for all the work that he's put into this accomplishment.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Nothing has changed on the Santa front this year. Though Elizabeth seems to have a very clear understanding of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and the reality of Jesus versus the fantasy of Santa, the boys aren't there yet.
When I asked Micah what Christmas was about, he excitedly proclaimed, "It's about GIVING!!!" At first glance, this is a great response. I don't ever want my children to get to the point where they think Christmas is about getting gifts. However, when I heard his response, I realized the secular impact that this answer held. All the Christmas specials (and I'm think about Dora and Strawberry Shortcake) out there are sending a message to my children. "Christmas is not about getting, it's about giving!" And while this is true, that is NOT what I want my children to think Christmas is about. I was longing to hear my son say, "It's about Jesus! He was born so that he could die to save us from our sins and make a way to Heaven!"
Have I been talking with the kids about Jesus? Of course!! Have we been working through a Christmas devotional as a family? Absolutely!! Am I still taking my children to church so that they can hear from the pulpit the message of Jesus' birth? You bet!! But I'm still being drowned out by the secular message that this world is sending to my children.
Aside from turning the TV off completely, and not letting my children watch any TV during this time of the year (which would be a suicide mission for me at this point), what can I do to undo and drown out the secular noise that is bombarding my family?
Enter the Jesse Tree My parent's church encourages the families of the church to do a Jesse Tree, along with the devotions that go with it. My Mom secured a Jesse tree for my family last year, along with all the ornaments. We've used the Jesse Tree as a tool in teaching our children the REAL meaning of Christmas.
Each ornament placed on the Jesse tree tells the story of God's covenants faithfulness in the centuries leading up to the Promised One's birth. The devotional for Day One deals with God creating the world. My kids smiled, nodded, but there was no new info here! This was the attitude that I saw through the first several days. Creation. Know it! Fall of man. Bad, got it! Noah and the Ark. Yep, there was a rainbow symbolizing God's promise.
But as we've gotten further into the devotionals, we've started hitting some less familiar stories. Like Canann, the Promised Land of Blessings; Ruth and Boaz; Josiah finds the Law. As we move through these stories, I'm seeing a new understanding in my children. I'm finding great joy in sharing these stories with my children, and pointing them towards Jesus. Being able to show them how Jesus is in EVERY part of the Bible, and how even the most well known stories can be shown in a new way has been a delight. The story of Christmas doesn't start in Luke, or even in Isaiah. It starts in Genesis, when man falls and needs a savior. Being able to walk my children through the Christmas story, starting in Genesis, and trace God's promises has been wonderful!
Granted, they probably still hear more secular views on Christmas. But I am trusting that the seeds that are being planted in their hearts will take root and grow into faith.
And I'm finding that spending so much time focusing on the story of salvation leaves very little time for Santa. I am hoping to be able to focus on the historical figure of St. Nick at some point. I think part of Christmas is teaching my children to be cheerful givers, and the story of St. Nicholas can aid in doing that. But I'd rather get lost with my children in the stories of the Bible that point them to the Nativity than the history of a good man.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
the kids' windows, which are on the front of the house
The lights I already had. The snowflakes came from the Dollar Tree (6 for $1). There's also a felt decorations that says, "Let it snow". The kids helped me, and I was amazed and how far some tape will go!
Monday, December 07, 2009
It was the second night in a row that we had been outside enjoying the chilly winter air! I think I was more cold on Saturday than during the Lights of Love on Friday! And poor Elizabeth was our frozen ballerina.
On the video, when the girls first come out, Elizabeth is the second from the left. Watch her, because things get a little confused when the sound people couldn't find the right song. The girls ended up dancing to a song that wasn't theirs, and I think they did a great job!
And thanks to Michael for taking the video! It was nice to have my hands free to take pictures that didn't turn out because of how dark it was. :-)
Elizabeth was thrilled when her best friend, Alexis came to watch her dance.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
The girls, also ready to go!
Friday, December 04, 2009
While we were in Kansas for Thanksgiving, Micah started stirring up trouble with his sister. I asked him, "Micah, what is Elizabeth?" I was hoping to hear, "My special gift from God!" so that seize the moment and encourage both of them to be kinder towards each other. However, I didn't get my desired response. When I asked Micah, "What is Elizabeth?" he quickly relied with, "A sinner!!!"
Thursday, December 03, 2009
First there was the purchasing of the tree. I ended up going to 4 different stores before I found one. 4 stores, all by myself, and the three kids.
Once we pick out our tree, I had to get it home and set up. It was quite easy to set up! I was starting to think that I liked this whole fake tree thing. Then some of the lights didn't work. I read the directions, did what it said, and no luck. And the most I looked at the tree, the more it started to resemble a Charlie Brown tree.
Thankfully, yesterday morning Curtis was able to fiddle with the lights a little more, and got them working. I did some fluffing, and was pleased with how the tree was shaping up.
Yesterday, all day long, all I heard about was decorating the tree. After nap time, I pulled out some ornaments, and told the kids they could go ahead and start decorating. I turned to the bucket, and when I turned around again all the ornaments I had set out were one the tree! We got those ornaments up in record time! There were ornaments flyin'!!
In 30 minutes, we went from a naked tree, to a beautifully decorated (and re-decorating :-)) tree and had pictures to prove it! What a whirl wind!
So my first solo Christmas tree has turned out well. We sure did miss Curtis though. He's been staying up at work finishing his masters' project. On December 14th, he'll present his project to his committee. On the 15th, he has a final. On the 16th, we're going out on a date!! Graduation will be the 19th. The finish line is in sight, but I think we're all feeling the exhaustion of coming to the end of a long, hard, race. Almost there!!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
The kids and I just bought a Christmas tree. A FAKE Christmas tree!
There is something very wrong with buying a Christmas tree at Target. Our house won't smell good.... unless I go buy a candle. Rather than going to our traditional tent, we'll just have to get our tree out of a box. A BOX!!!
But, there also won't be pine-needles-all-over-the-living room mess! I won't have to worry about trying to fit my six month pregnant self under the tree to water it and there won't be the "Who watered the tree?!?" conversations. My allergies will not attack, making me feel snotty and itchy for the holiday season. Curtis and I won't have to bicker about whether or not the tree is straight. And best of all, I won't have to fuss at him when he does the lights wrong.
The kids and I are hoping to put our tree up this evening.
If I can figure out how to get it out of the box and put it together.