This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Bloggy-versary to Me! With Grains of Gratitude

One year of blogging today. I am a little amazed and somewhat amused that I managed to stick with something for quite so long. If the truth be told I’m easily sidetracked and aside from my husband and my children nothing has held my attention for very long. That could account for my number of hobbies. I jump into something and get consumed. But after awhile the glow wears off and I pursue something else for a while.

Writing was a hobby for me a long time ago and did not seem to fit into the earliest years of motherhood. But this must have been the year, for I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had attempted blogging in a different format and considered it a very poor attempt. I don’t think I was very aware of what blogging really was. Not that I am any expert now. But I will tell you that during the first blogging attempt I did not have a laptop. A laptop helps…or enables you and makes you more addicted. It’s hard to tell the difference.

My first post was either this or that, depending on how you view things. The second was actually my original profile--I was remain a little wordy. I got hooked on reading blogs somewhere in the late fall of 2006. I remember the typical thoughts running through my head, thoughts that I think many bloggers are familiar with, “Why am I doing this?” “Will someone really read anything that I have to say?” “Who should I tell about this?” I remember the trepidation when I hit the first “Publish” button.

In the end I think my why has evolved & grown with my writing. I’ve blogged for several different reasons. I’ve blogged to chronicle a year in our life. I’ve search throughout the year for the joy in life. The pursuit of joy has been very rewarding in what has had to have been one of my more difficult years. People have read and responded and shared and it is a tremendously interesting cyber-community that blogs.

Who did I end up telling? Who in my “real” life is aware that I blog? My children know and find it a very cool thing—they would tell everyone Mommy has a blog if I would let them. My husband knows about it and has let me plague him with the details, but has kept a somewhat wide distance from my blog. And my sister knows about it because she’s been mentioned and I used some of her photos. She doesn’t read it, and still is of the belief that I write, “Dear BlogDiary, Today I did laundry and fed the boys and got through school and drove to ballet.” Well maybe I did write about laundry—once. I guess I’ve talked about feeding the boys. Okay, I talked about driving to ballet. But hopefully, I’ve come a ways from the twelve-year-old me who had a pink diary with a lock and pages with dates on. Hopefully I may have grown up just a bit. But then again

I will say my computer and internet skills have improved and increased. I can talk a little geek if I have to, mostly repeating what the husband and the sister tell me. They could have a lot of fun at my expense with that.

I learned what a Stat Counter is and highly recommend using one for any new blogger. I’ve joined book challenges and blog carnivals and even managed to have some new books sent my way. How cool is that?

The biggest surprise was the blogging friends & acquaintances who’ve blessed my life this year. To everyone who took the time and left comments, and to those who just lurked thanks so much for the boost that your presence brings.

I like that my “bloggy-versary” or “bloggy birthday” is at the end of 2007 and lines up with my thoughts for the New Year. I have some different things I want to pursue for my blog in 2008 and some things that I am content with and want to keep. I’ve got a lot of housekeeping and some loose ends that need tied up so be warned that those posts will be appearing. They are mostly for me and record-keeping, so I can compare some things down road. Feel free to just click the red X and move on to more exciting reading. Although it can't be much worse than this post.

I was grateful to find Christine at Brady's Bunch and latched on to her Grains of Gratitude meme. I am grateful for all of the bloggers that have touched my heart in so many ways. I am grateful that my husband and my boys allow me to spend precious time pecking away at my computer. Sounds like I should probably thank the "academy" next...

This one year mark caught me a bit unprepared. The boys and I are traveling and so I just wrote this rambling thing. Hopefully the next blogging year will find me a bit more prepared and not scrambling.

Any suggestions for my blogging future?? Hopefully no one will say, "Hang it up, kid!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

Not very creative, but I'm thinking in terms of wrapping up the year, so these are the best of what I read:

Thirteen good books read in 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

The Morland Dynasty (20 of the 30 in the series read, but we’ll just count it as one ) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Kingdom Wars 1: A Hideous Beauty by Jack Cavanaugh

My Sister's Keeper--Jodi Picoult

The Open Door-Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Lord Foul’s Bane: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

The Sovereign’s Daughter by Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs

Destination Void by Frank Herbert

Healing ADD by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

The TT Hub!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. What do you do? Write Thirteen things about yourself, summarize your week in one entry, make it easy for other bloggers to get to know you on a weekly basis. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

Merry Christmas to everyone! God bless us one and all!

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

Words: Henry J. van Dyke
Music: Ode to Joy, from the 9th Sym­pho­ny, Ludwig van Beethoven

Watch and listen to Steve Green on YouTube

A less traditional version that might give Beethoven pause from Sister Act

Technorati tags:

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Authors' Blog Tour

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Love

God's Gift of Love
by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Love. It seems as though everyone these days is either in desperate avoidance of it, in the heart wrenching process of losing it, or in the giddy throes of finding it. Some have given up on it while others believe they will know it when they see it. All of us hope when it’s our turn, the love we get - and give - will be unconditional.

But can flawed humans really offer unconditional love?

Oh, we try. If you’re a parent you know the depth of love you felt the first moment you saw that precious baby of yours. Then there’s the feelings you carried up the aisle to join your beloved at the altar. Or perhaps love to you is counted by the nights spent at a parent’s bedside. The thread of love winds through each of these, and yet it is the rare parent, spouse, or child who would admit to having loved perfectly. We are human and sadly flawed, even when we act with the best of intentions.

There is only one unconditional love that never fails. Only one love that never turns a blind eye, says the wrong thing, or procrastinates rather than acts. The love of the Father, our Heavenly Father, is perfect in every way. Not only is His love unconditional, but He also loves us in spite of who we are and not for what we are. How wonderful to know that the God of the universe loves us.

Not just love in the way we see it, the stars-in-our-eyes crazy-about-my-baby love, but a depth of feeling exponentially more than anything our flawed but well intentioned hearts could imagine.

So today, when you’re reminded of that tiny baby, Jesus Christ the Creator-made-flesh, think of the love it took to accomplish this holy miracle of unconditional love. To put on the fingers and toes of an infant and come to us as Savior was the beginning of a love story that has no end.

Kathleen Y’Barbo Kathleen Y'Barbo is the author of Beloved Castaway and countless other books. For more information visit

Monday, December 24, 2007

Blessed by the Best Ideas—Blessed by the Best Gift

Christmas Eve Day
To all my friends:

May Peace, Joy, Love, Mercy and Grace fill your homes. Hug your familes, enjoy your church services, eat all the wonderful goodies, listen to some uplifting music...and most of all...
Remember to rest in His love.

The "Reason for the Season" is there, just like always--waiting for you to receive your gift, the best gift of all. How are you doing to remember to focus on HIM?

So many other bloggers have blessed me so much and helped me slow down. Their posts that have brought me so much joy during these days leading up to Christmas. Take some time with a warm mug of your favorite holiday beverage & visit them. Leave them a lovely comment--because you know for bloggers, the comments are just like chocolate!

Please let me know if you have something you would like to share with everyone!! There is still plenty of time.

This post begain almost forty days ago and it started with this:

I've been thinking about what I want my family to focus on this year and thought I would share some links to bloggers that have blessed my heart with their ideas. Will you share your traditions with me? I will be keeping this post near the top (with a link at the very top) and adding as long as someone has blessings & joy to share. If you have an idea on December 24th I'd like to know. Or even on January 24th, although we might be letting the post sink to the bottom by then.

So...Do your Christmas holidays begin the day after Thanksgiving? We know in the retail world they now begin the day after Halloween! (Or sooner.) So when does the season begin at your house? Do you start on December 1st and count down the days until the 25th? Do you do the Twelve Days of Christmas? Do you include the Feast of St. Nicholas? Does Christmas last until Epiphany at your home? (Of course some of us leave the tree up until almost February--but that wasn't because of celebrations.)

Some bloggers have started preparing for and remembering Christ's birth already. For forty days prior to the holiday they are getting their hearts prepared. And the ways are wonderful.

Debbi at Deb on the Run is at the beginning of a different forty day journey to Christmas, to Christ. Only she is not filling it with goodies and baking--at least until the Feast of the Nativity. Right now the Eastern Orthodox Church is celebrating the Nativity Fast. This post also contains a link to some wonderful Scripture boxes to be used in the celebration. She shows some of the process here and also talks about some planting they are including in their preparations. I spent the beginning of last year celebrating Divine Liturgy with an Orthodox Church that I loved. The beauty & richness of their celebrations leave me grasping for words. It truly touches every sense. Updated to add: Deb is getting ready for the Feast of St. Nicholas and shows us some "coins" that her family will be using.

This year Liza at Liza's Eye View is on a forty day journey to Christmas. She is doing the John 3:16 Devotional by Max Lucado: 40 Days with the Son. I will be following this with interest. I had already picked out different book to follow. But next year??

So what book did I have planned? This year I will be using the book Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr. I ran across it at the Christian bookstore that I like to shop at.

With the boys I will be reading Child of the Promise by Stormie Omartian. This is a perennial favorite of ours. I will be going into more detail on this book soon.

Some other bloggers have some wonderful children's book suggestions! Renee at 2 Peas in Pod linked to the Holidays Near and Far booklist and Leah at South Breeze Farm has some wonderful choices that journey to Bethlehem!! I know that memories that last a lifetime come from sharing a good book with a child. Be sure to visit these ladies and find these titles.

Kim at mom-musings shares with us a book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, that sounds like something I know my family will enjoy. Take a look!

Maybe you start your holiday on December 1st. Some do a Jesse Tree. Some do Advent calendars and some do Advent Wreaths (links here and there).

Last year before I started blogging, I began reading several blogs. One of my favorites was another homeschool mom. She blessed me and without knowing gave me a nudge in the keister to improve my holidays. I am talking about Jeana at Days to Come . She shared last year about an Advent tradition involving a wreath and a box to open. It started with this post and followed with many Advent posts throughout last December. Of course, as always, her posts are filled with humor and the realities of family and fun, showing we can still have fun and be merry while making the holidays more memorable.NOTE: Jeana is doing a sequel to last year. Sure to be as memorable!

A wonderful Advent project post I was thrilled to find was from Ann at More questions than answers. The supplies are simple, and the Scriptures are wonderful. This would be so great for families where younger children are present, but the olders will enjoy and relate too. I was so glad Ann let me share this.

How do you include your family in your holiday? Maria at Free to Fly shares some holiday memories where she learned about incorporating her husband's and son's wishes for decorating. She also posted about what delights her about the holidays!! She is uplifting as always.

Barbara H of Stray Thoughts shared two beautiful posts: 1st Corinthians 13 Applied to Christmas and Ten Free Gifts for Christmas. I think these are so awesome! Thank you Barbara. Edited to add: Barbara has graciously shared some more posts, her own post with links to many lovely Christmas devotionals, this favorite of mine, a story of a goose, oh my word--some funnies that will make you laugh, some quotes--I love quotes, a poem and a hymn, and a way to bless missionaries during the holidays. I thought it might be to late for this year, but good to keep in mind and work on for 2008.

Kathleen Marie from The Open Window shares on Faith Lifts a devotional about the origins and interpretations of The Twelve Days of Christmas. You know, the boys and I have a set of ornaments that list these Scripture references and they get so excited when we put them on their tree. This gives so much more meaning to an old familiar song and is a wonderful post to check out!

Do you find that one of your ways to bless your family for the holidays is to cook fabulous food? Do you look for handmade & homemade ways to share gifts.

Jess at Sassy Pants has joined in to share a handmade memory and an idea for continuing the tradition. I really love to make gifts, visit her to read her sweet story.

Renee at Two Peas in Pod is sharing recipes and crafts and lots of links to other bloggers at her holiday blog Holiday Creations. She has holidays throughout the year listed on there. She has a lot of Thanksgiving going now. I can wait to see more of her warm and happy Christmas ideas.

Edited to add: Renee has some wonderful holiday thoughts here and a free book recommendation here, that I will be looking at right away. Thanks Renee!

Mrs. Pear, possibly the most organized homemaking blogger has a lovely post about passing on a traditional family recipe to Miss Pear. Lovely memories come from times like that!

All the way from Alaska, Michelle at Scribbit is hosting a Winter Bazaar with great ideas from other bloggers with crafty and fun ideas for the holidays. I think Alaska is sure to have a "White Christmas," don't you? Check it out.

A post of a different sort blessed my heart. Coach Jenny at A Coach for Life shares what "knowledge" without love gets one for the holidays. There is nothing new under the sun. It is just wrapped a little differently sometimes. This is a can't miss post. Edited to add: Jenny posted a "can't miss" link today. It isn't just for Christmas. It is for everyday. It reminds us what it is all about.

Something I think most of us are aware of , but don't often address, is the possibility for a holiday, any holiday to cause as much pain as it does joy. Heidi at God's Grace in Practice has a post titled "Blue Christmas" that really spoke to my heart. Her lovely commenters had some good thoughts to share too.

Sheryl at Taking the Challenge, hostess of Faith Lift Fridays shares a special post reminding us of the things I think we all have in common when we thing of sweet Christmas memories. Visit Sheryl for her Faith Lift Fridays for a lovely way to start the weekend.

Many thanks to those who have joined in so far. Other bloggers have agreed to join us and will let me know when their posts are up. I will be adding to this post as we go along.

Do you have some ideas for making the holidays a blessing, for remembering why we really do this? I know you do. Feel free to leave me a note in the comments or e-mail me. I would love to hear and it is a great way to share some holiday joy.
Looking forward to a holy holiday! May your Christmas be blessed and full of joy.

Technorati tags: A Reason for the Season,

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The bless├Ęd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Words by Edmund Sears
Music by Richard S. Willis

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Authors' Blog Tour

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....
The Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas

God's Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas
by Cyndy Salzmann

It was enough to curl my toes. And a quick glance at the other mother’s in the audience told me I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

So what horrendous experience caused such a reaction from a room full of moms? A violent or s3xually explicit movie? A challenge from Doctor Phil to “get real” and ‘fess up about our parenting faux pas? Or a pan of the audience spotlighting a really bad hair day?

Actually, the event that caused such a panic among this audience of mothers occurred during the Christmas program at my daughter’s school.

Things started innocently enough when the girls marched out onto the stage swinging colorful shopping bags. Of course, they were adorable and the apples of their mothers’ eyes. The trouble began when the girls opened their mouths and sang…

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Scurry! Scurry! Scurry!

Worry! Worry! Worry!

Christmastime is here!

As I said, it was enough to curl my toes. Just the thought of all that hurrying, scurrying and worrying to prepare for Christmas gave me a full-blown a hot flash. No wonder depression peaks during the holidays. Faced with all that stress , I wouldn’t want to get out of bed either.

Once my hot flash ceded, I began to realize that this is just where Satan wants us – dreading the celebration of the most precious gifts to mankind – the birth of Jesus Christ. And frankly, it made my blood boil – almost bringing on another hot flash. I decided right then that he wasn’t going to get away with it.

We have a choice on how much hurrying, scurrying and worrying we do. And this year I hope you’ll make a commitment to join me in uncluttering your Christmas by jumping off the treadmill and keeping your eyes on the true reason for the season.

Cyndy Salzmann is the author of Crime & Clutter, book two in the highly acclaimed Friday Afternoon Mystery series published by Howard Books. As America’s Clutter Coach, Cyndy is a popular national speaker and radio personality. Cyndy, her husband and three children, live in Omaha, Nebraska. For more information visit