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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm.....

Really?....


ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

Well maybe...but what about this one and that one?

I'll Take That




You Are Easter



You are an optimistic, hopeful, and genuinely sweet person.

Sensitive and affectionate, you are easily touched.

You love nature, animals, and anything cute or cuddly.

For you, every day is a new chance - no matter what happened yesterday.



What makes you celebrate: Almost anything. You love most holidays and celebrations.



At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The peacemaker. You can prevent any squabbles that might break out.



On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Remember to include everyone

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wow!



Two years, 618 published posts, I won't tell you how many unpublished drafts and countless ideas and questions scribbled on scraps of paper. And I almost missed it, myself even though I had the little button on the sidebar. But one sweet comment reminded me what today was.

So, I'm still a bit winded and addle-pated. I couldn't think of anything exciting. I'll bake a cake tomorrow and you can all come visit. Right? What time should I expect you? Coffee or tea?

Thank you to everyone who has left a comment or e-mailed me. This bloggy thing is really pretty neat. It's been a wonderful two years. I've learned so much from all of you. Looking forward to more.

In Him,

Julie

Winter Reading Challenge

Robin of My Two Blessings is hostessing the Winter Reading Challenge. I'm hoping that it's not too late to join in. I'm just now feeling the fog start to lift and am ready to read again.

Robin's challenge is easy for someone to participate in.

"The rules are very flexible:

1) Choose any number of books you would like to read and post them on your blog.

2) They can be fiction and/or nonfiction including e-books and audiobooks

3) They can overlap with other challenges.

4) Sign up on Mr. Linky. I'm still trying to figure out Mr. Linky so will let you guys post your links yourselves when you have your lists ready.

5) In a few days, I set up a link where you can post links to your book reviews"


I think I can handle that!!

The books I've put on my list for this winter are:

1....And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santemeyer I've read this book more than once before, but it is one of my favorites and it has been a few years. I'm looking forward to revisiting the wonderful ladies of Waynesboro.

2. A Light in the Window by Jan Karon Apparently I have a lot of catching up to do in Mitford! I loved getting to know these people.

3. Grim Tuesday (Keys to the Kingdom, Book 2) by Garth Nix I didn't think I would read the second installation after the first, but have changed my mind. This is a Young Adult book.

4. I Am Mordred: A Tale of Camelot by Nancy Springer Another Young Adult selection that I'm checking out to see if it is something I would like my oldest to read.

5. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin I really enjoyed A Wizard of Earthsea and have started this already.

6. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon It's been a long time since I visited Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser. It's time to go back.

7. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller I've read this before and wanted to read it again for the Fall Into Reading Challenge, but didn't fit it in. I think it will be a good way to start the year.

8. When Mothers Pray by Cheri Fuller What more needs to be said?

9. The Fire Within by Chris D'Lacey My oldest has read this series and started to read it outloud to his brother (I was eavesdropping.) I think I'll check into it further.

10. The Restless Sea (Morland Dynasty) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles It's been a while since I've picked up a Morland Dynasty book. This is book number 27 of 31 (so far). This has been a fabulous series. I highly recommend it.

11. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë My neice is receiving this for Christmas from us, I read it eons ago, I'd like to read it again.

12. Eragon by Christopher Paolini I've had best of intentions to read this book for quite a while, quite a while, actually. And since two sequels are out now would be a good time.

13. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper Always wanted to read this. Wish me luck.

14. I am already editing!! I forgot that I received Magi by Daniel L. Gilbert from a sweet friend and am going to be reading that right away. I was so surprised by this gift--it came with perfect timing.

I'll post updates here on Joyful Days, but will post full reviews on my Reviews & Recipes blog.

Visit Robin and see who else is reading in the Winter Reading Challenge.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Ever the encourager, Kim at mom-musings gifted me with a Christmas award:


Thanks, Kim! Sorry it's taken me so long to post this, but I'm finally feeling a little better tonight so I thought while the boys (all three of them! LOL!) are occupied, since there is no company (I was blessed by visits from both my father and my sister and her children) and since we have nowhere to go, I could visit my much neglected blog and hopefully my bloggy friends.

So, what are the rules?

The rules:
The rules for this meme are very simple. Good manners dictate thanking (and linking to) the person who gave you the award. Then simply list five things you love about Christmas and pay the meme forward by tagging as many people as you'd like to. To keep the Christmas spirit flowing, be a good sport and tag at least one person.


Five things I love about Christmas? This Christmas, I will have to say, did not turn out how I had envisioned in my rose-colored imagination. No one plans on being sick before, let alone on a holiday--especially when that "one" is the Mommy-person. I got a slow start in the first place and then kicked up the pace a little and went on a decorating binge. But (she says with quite a whiny whine) I had soooooooooo much more planned to do, so much more to bake, special menus to make, cards to send, books to read, songs to sing, people to see, places to go, blog friends to visit, posts to post, sigh ...

And I don't think those all where what God had in mind. I'm not saying He made me have pneumonia, but He can use everything for His glory. And a few days ago I had to come to terms with what was essential for this particular Christmas. And that helped narrow down the choices. So five things that I've loved about this very different Christmas? They are:

1. God. Sounds kind of cliché and trite, but it is true. He met me in everything I purposed to Him. Everywhere I made an effort to seek Him, He was there. Whether I was in church, with my family, exhausted and lying in bed--He was there. Christmas is about God and His great love for us. Let the commercialism and retailers and those who would deny Him protest--it won't change the truth: Christmas is about God, YHVH, the Great I AM's love for His wayward children.

2. My family. My guys make it all fun. My husband really took over so much for me this year. My boys just love anything anyone does to make things more festive. Spending time with my father and my sister and her children just blessed me and reminded me that to slow down and enjoy the moments.

3. Church. No matter your denomination, I bet you love to go to church during Christmas to sing and praise the LORD with other believers--other members of Our Father's vast and diverse family. I bet you love to hear the Gospel message of how the Father sent His Only Son to our world as a tiny infant, a child born not it a palace, but a smelly stable. I bet you love to hear the message of LOVE. I know I do.

The one thing I had asked for this year was to go to Midnight Mass again, just like last year (probably not what the doctor ordered--but my heart was crying for it). We went and it was wonderful. I am always amazed at how moved I am to hear the Christmas hymns, to hear the Word, to come to worship the One.

4. Surprises. Christmas is always about surprises. From the first surprise that God would send His Son as an infant, to the surprises of today. Maybe a family member got to come home, maybe you got something you really wanted, maybe it was the surprise of giving a gift to someone and you could tell you had blessed them and they were thrilled.

I had so many surprises this year--really good and sweet surprises. I have to tell you I ended up crying quite a lot--happy tears mind you. But crying leads to coughing, so I coughed a lot too. But the surprises were worth it. Someone gifted my children in an unexpected way. Someone delivered a beautiful dinner on a night I had company and hadn't had the energy to put anything together. Surprises are a wonderful part of Christmas.

5. Lights. I'm trying to imagine Christmas without light. If you didn't notice in my decorating--I like lights. I'm not sure that it always works, but I hope that with the lights we remember the Light of the World.

Now I am supposed to pass this on, and so to everyone who commented on my posts through Advent to Christmas (and if you comment on this one too!), I'd like to share this award with you. I wasn't sure where Christmas this year was going, and your sweet comments, e-mails and encouragement blessed me more than you will know.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your days have been merry and your families blessed with joy.

Julie

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas! Welcome LORD Jesus!





Lyrics and music by Chris Rice

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting

Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence

Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas




You Can Say "Merry Christmas" in 12 Languages



You can say "Merry Christmas" in:


English
Spanish
Japanese
French
German
Italian
Swedish
Portuguese
Greek
Hawaiian
Latin
Esperanto

Always something...

Sorry I've not visited much or posted. Decided the thing that would make my Christmas complete was pneumonia. Yesterday was spent at the doctor's and getting a chest x-ray. I have a few scheduled posts in the queue, had so many more ideas. Hopefully I will be back to "normal" soon.

Many prayers for a peace-filled, joyful holiday.

Love in Christ,

Julie

Friday, December 19, 2008

If I'm Going to Do Something...

I'm going to do it!
I finally did get the decorating done.
Thank goodness my sister is doing the baking because I'm tired!!


Welcome! This is the view from the front door.


At the top of the stairs .


Just to the left.


The window with the ever attractive t.v. tray decorating motif.
(Barbara, can you guess where my three "stray hooks" from previous dwellers are hidden?)



With a little light so you can see the ornaments.


We could not put a tree in the boys room this year. So I have two, yes two, in the living room. The "colorful tree" has a message in the branches. Can you see it above?

Below is the view of both trees and into the kitchen aka classroom.


The "fancy tree."


The nativity with some unusual additions.


The view from the hallway just off the boys room.


Cardinals have been favorites of mine for ages. I started adding them to my decorations about five years ago. They remind me of someone very special.


The snowmen are older than my boys--in fact they've been mine since college.


Two snowmen that were Mom's.


Hope your day is "Merry and Bright" and full of the True Light of the World.

Blessings,

Julie

How to Make a Big Mess...

...and please two boys in the doing.

First haul out as much chaos into the rest of the house as possible.

Next cover everything else in plastic--note the dirty beige walls.

Pile stuff on the bed...

Frustrate the dog. She was very upset about the whole thing!


and paint...




and say a few choice words...




Dump the darkest paint you have on the carpet.




More than once.




Fall into the wet wall...




and question your sanity...




What were you thinking anyway?????




Oooooooooooooohhhh....That's more like it!
We started with one brown bookshelf in the room and took that out and replaced it with two black bookshelves.

We hung the guitars on the wall and did something else I said I would never do.


The light blue wall and the wall that turned out more salmon than sand.

The dog was back in her "cave."
She's always slept in the boys' room.
We replaced the futon with a smaller loveseat.

Went vertical with storage of toys and "stuffies."

Decorated the window for the holidays.

Ambiance!


It's not 100% but they're pretty happy to have their new digs.

I think if you are so inclined you can click on a photo to enlarge.

Fall into Reading 2008 Wrap-Up

I didn't think I was overly ambitions selecting thirteen books for the three months reading of the Fall into Reading Challenge. But I have a bad habit of getting distracted with my reading. No surprise there.

This time around I did finish thirteen books and am in the process of reading two more, sequels to two of the books on my list.

I didn't finish five books on my list. Truly, I think the largest factor for not reading three of the books was that they were library books and I went on a "return everything I am not reading at the moment" binge. I have a bad habit of checking out more books than I can handle at one time and then they go back before I've read them. So I decided to work through the books I had on hand and then never got back to checking out the three on my list again. They are still of interest to me and I will pursue reading them in 2009.

I poked through one and have decided it is more a devotional instead of a "read through book" and will likely use it in 2009 as a devotional. The other, one that is mine, just got moved to the back of the stack since it would be a re-read for me.

Books I didn't read were:
But Who Do You Say I Am? by Bishop John A. Marshall (This is the book that I will be using as a devotional.) This book has pearls of wisdom, but just didn't lend itself to being digested in large sittings. I was already using a couple devotionals, so chose to set this aside for the time being.

The Solution by Laurel Mellin--a weight loss book, I found to be interesting in theory. I took it back to the library before digging in.

Hold On to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, M.D.--I definitely want to read this book. Again a library book that got set aside temporarily.

The Bias Against Guns by John R. Lott, Jr.--I will be reading this. It is a subject that I have personal interest in.

Sabbath, Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller (This is the book that I would be re-reading.)

Books I read from my list were:

Category 7 by Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson--This was a pretty good book (a full review is in the link). I think it would make the bones for an excellent movie. Could this have been a motivator for the writers?

A Bride So Fair by Carol Cox--This was a sweet read, a stand alone story in a set of three books by Carol Cox. I highly recommend this book of good morals and finding family.

Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix--One of a series of seven, based on the seven deadly sins, I found this to be unusual, but somewhat "lacking" something to grab me. My oldest wanted to read this. I found it to be acceptable for his age, reading level and maturity. I'll see what he says.

Little Britches/Wild Country by Ralph Moody--What a great book!! This has been added to my all time favorite list. I would recommend this book for all ages, either as a read aloud or an individual read. Set in the early 1900s it is the account of the authors childhood years. I laughed loudly and shed many tears with this book.

A Wizard of Earthsea
by Ursula Le Guin--Well done treasure, in very small packaging. This was well worth the read. Le Guin offers a lot of story in very few pages. I'm off reading the sequel, The Tombs of Atuan.

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton--A techno-thriller from 1969, but still very relevant for today. Crichton is the master of detail in this story of bio-threat from an unknown source. Not a story for every reader, but certainly well done.

At Home in Mitford
by Jan Karon--I'm such a goober! This book has been around forever and I am just now reading it! A true delight and much needed read. If you've not read the Mitford series, what are you waiting for? I am reading the second Mitford story--A Light in the Window.

Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr.--a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ-child. Wangerin offers a fresh look at those who we assume we know all about--those who were at that first Christmas. I highly recommend this book.

The two books I am reading that are sequels are:

A Light in the Window by Jan Karon--the fun and adventure of Father Tim in Mitford continues. I love this series. It is really like family.

The Tombs of Atuan
by Ursula Le Guin--I wanted to continue with Ged, but I am finding myself attached to Tenar/Arha. I am looking forward to Ged's entrance.


Books I read not on the original list included:

Beloved Madeleine L'Engle book A Wrinkle in Time--Oh this was a great read. I should have read it years ago. I read it while Roo was reading it. We both loved it. Looking forward to reading the books that L'Engle wrote to follow up "Wrinkle."

Christmas Out of the Advent Box by Benjamin R. Husted--Somehow I got it in my head that this book was on my FIR list. It wasn't, but I am glad I read through this. I don't agree with all of Husted's theology, but he didn't write it as a book to change someone's denomination. It was written as a help to make Christmas more meaningful. And I think it was well done. I will be incorporating some of his and his family's ideas next year.

Twilight series: Twilight, Eclipse, New Moon, Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer--I read, no flew, through these books with some fascination. These are seductive, well targeted books. I gave a long review of these. I will just say again, here, I do not recommend these books for the under fifteen age group, I would say seventeen would be a good age for these. And I highly, highly recommend parental involvement for young readers.


Full reviews can be found for most books I read via the links at my Joyful Days Reviews and Recipes blog.

Fall Into Reading was courtesy of Katrina at Callapidder Days. Fall Into Reading Participants, Fall Into Reading Reviews, Fall Into Reading Final Particiapants' Posts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christ Be Our Light



Christ Be Our Light

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Refrain
Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.


Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Refrain

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.

Refrain

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

Refrain

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.

Refrain

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Russian Trepak

by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Gift of Hope


Child of wonder, close Your eyes
Rest here in my arms tonight
Someday You will save the world
But tonight I'll hold You, right here in my arms

Precious miracle of life, child of love
Gift of hope, the gift of light
From the Father above
And You were made for all mankind
But You will always be mine, child of love

Gabriel's promise has come true
God has blessed this world with You
And as I humbly hold You now
In my heart I know I'm holding heaven's child

Precious miracle of life, child of love
Gift of hope, the gift of light
From the Father above
And You were made for all mankind
But You will always be mine, child of love

Precious miracle of life, child of love
Gift of hope, the gift of light
From the Father above
And You were made for all mankind
But You will always be mine, child of love

Child of wonder, close Your eyes...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ready or Not...

Christmas comes whether we are prepared or not.

For a woman often referred to by friends and family, alike as “Miss Merry Ho-Ho”, for a person who has almost always decorated the day after Thanksgiving (sometimes earlier), for someone who has loved Christmas even when things were bad…for this holiday junkie, Christmas almost didn’t make it to my house this year.

Oh…not the real Christmas, not the real Reason of the Season, Advent has been especially helpful to me this year. The sights and sounds may have looked “normal” around here, but the heavy waiting of Advent has been preparing my heart. The two books I have been reading are great helps, I highly recommend Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr. and Christmas out of the Advent Box by Benjamin Husted and his family.

But the “Holly Jolly” Burl Ives, Bing Crosby “Silver Bells” Christmas wasn’t appearing.

And I was okay with that. In fact I was really ready to crawl into a hole and pretend that it all was not happening. I’ve told some of you this already, but last Christmas I put so much work into making it special and at the same time normal for everyone, that I think I was too busy to notice how hollow I was.

This year, however…I ran out of steam. And it became glaringly obvious.

I am pretty confident the painting project wasn’t my best and brightest planning. The outcome is great (photos to come), but the timing….Ehhhhhhh…hmmmmmmm…

The Nutcracker the boys participate in doesn’t help much, I am sure. Much as they love it, as I love it, as wonderful as the opportunity of performing with a professional company is, the rehearsal schedule combined with the class schedule of two is grueling. We were at the school seven days a week from mid-October to the week after Thanksgiving. The week after Thanksgiving was dress rehearsals, sometimes lasting until past 10 p.m. The easy part is when it’s performance time. People look at me like we are nuts (and I am sure we are) but the boys are in ten of the twenty shows the company does. But we are done with classes and so the performing is the “fun” part.

There has always been a fear in the back of my mind that we would get too caught up in it and forget that Nutcracker is not synonymous with Christmas—it is a cultural icon, a lovely tradition, but it is not the real reason.

Because of celebrating and participating in Advent this year, I think our focus readjusted a bit, I know it was lifesaving for my focus. Next year I plan to really have a lot more prepared so that we might open our hearts more to the Babe in the manger who becomes the Savior on the Cross of Calvary. But I am learning that if my focus is off, the family follows quickly.

Blogging has taken a back seat this year. Last year I posted often starting with this and ending with that and a lot in between. I had so much I wanted to share this year…but so often felt God’s hand on mine saying, “Don’t touch that keyboard.” So I listened most often. I’m sure not well enough, but I tried.

Early on I thought I would participate in Boo Mama’s Tour of Homes. I had a wonderful time with that last year. But there was no way I was going to make the start of it on the 15th. I didn’t start putting up decorations until Saturday.

And I finally finished today. At about 5 p.m. (those photos also forthcoming--and it makes last year look simple).

For me there was a lot of emotional baggage involved with decorating. I inherited so many of my mother’s, countless ornaments, I can recall a memory associated with almost every one. Some remind me of people I’m missing who have died, relationships that have lost their bloom, bitty babies that have grown to large and active boys. There also is a lot of soul searching about whether my decorating is the best use of my time and if someone would see Christ in my Christmas. Lots of praying.

Shopping this year has been odd. I picked up some things in September and October, little odds and ends. I had my sister’s family done…but my own family? I just was not “feeling it.” Doesn't that sound awful? It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give gifts to my sons. I have no problem with giving (although I have great issue with commercialism). I just didn’t feel like shopping.

So my dear, sweet husband has done almost all of the Christmas shopping for me. As I said, I had some small items squirreled away, but he braved the masses and the throngs so that I didn't have to do that. And to be really honest, I don't know that I could have. He must have seen the look on my face when I told him I really didn't feel like I care about much right now.

My boys are full of hugs and help, offering to do chores outside their assigned and checking on me to see how I am.

And right now I am okay.

This wasn’t one of my most cheery posts, but sometimes honesty is the best policy. I've dealt with depression on and off most of my adult life and have found that when I confront it head on and call it what it is, I am able to ask for help more and most important pray more during the dry times.

Sometimes the pray is little more than, "LORD, please..." or "Oh, Father..." and I run out of words, but He knows what needs to be said. It is times like these that I turn to the prayers that I learned as a child or the wisdom of those who have walked before and I cling to their words.

I’ve found that I actually have been able to focus and pray for others more this year. Know that if I’ve promised to pray for you or a family member I’ve been doing just that. While this is a season of wonder and rejoicing it doesn’t mean that there still aren’t many needs out there.

One of my younger friends, a still “new” mommy, has shared that she too is having a hard time with all of the “stuff” that her family associates with Christmas. She’s been asking me if she’s “odd.” I’ve told her I think her heart is just right and that it sounds like God is wanting to make big changes in her life. I think she’s a little scared of that.

I know I am. I feel like I am headed for changes to. Changes aren’t comfortable—even the good ones sometimes are full of growing pains. I just pray that I am ready to say “Yes LORD!”

I think my wrapping of heaviness is starting to come off slowly. I’m hoping my next posts are more fun and uplifting. Hopefully I won’t be regaling you with my “rogue” taco sauce woes—but if that is what shows up, so be it.

Praying you are feeling anticipation for the coming of the Christ.

Offer Him your gift,

Julie

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ambushed

Taco Sauce...

Waiting...

Patiently...waiting...

For unsuspecting person to open the b00by trapped fridge.

Taco Sauce...

Ambush...

Explosion...

Of Taco Sauce.

Covered in taco sauce from armpit to sweat socks. Darling husband cleans kitchen.

Ambushee showers, finds sauce inside clothes, obviously on clothes...

Heavy sigh...

Will try blogging tomorrow when the coast is clear.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Kind of Sweater Are You?




You Are a Cardigan



You are traditional, old-fashioned, and even a little conservative.

More than anything else, you are a creature of habit. You haven't changed much over the years.

You shy away from flashy ideas, people, fashion, and foods.

You have simple tastes. You go for established quality and longevity every time.



Or I don't like to shop and go with the simple, tried and true, don't have to think about it kind of clothes. I wasn't really surprised about my results.

What kind of sweater are you?

A Rant and a Bigger Rant

Alternatively: Not Very Spiritual and Very Self-Involved

Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!
Hickory Dickory Dock.

Hickory Dickory Dock,
The bird looked at the clock,
The clock struck two 2,
Away she flew,
Hickory Dickory Dock........


Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?

The mice are back and they were running, not up the clock, but up in the wall behind my bed in the wee hours of this morning. Ugh. Gross.Yuck. Have I mentioned before that I do not like mice?? I take personal offense that they would enter my home, uninvited and unwelcome, stay and multiply. Ugh. Gross. Yuck.

Sleep was elusive with the pitter patter of little feet scurrying and sharp teeth chewing. When I did sleep I was bombarded with nightmares that we filled with—you guessed it—mice.

Actually the worst dream started with mice sized mice and developed into guinea pig sized mice (or maybe they were guinea pigs) and morphed into capybaras!! The holes they were coming from got increasingly larger and larger.



I’m sure the fact that The Nutcracker has the King Mouse and the army of mice/rats who fight the nutcracker and surround Clara hasn’t helped because the soundtrack for my dream was Tchaikovsky’s score.

On another, more paranoid, note, I am allowing myself to be stressed out by people who surely have no ulterior motives or sinister meanings to their questions—but it seems everyone is asking the boys how much school they have, or how’s school going, or lots of homework right now??? And then they look at us as if we are slackers when they find out we are in very low gear at home.

What? No overloaded school schedule to top off Nutcracker nuttiness?? How dare we? Yeah…I’m pretty sure I’m overreacting. But the looks when told we did school in July and August (Boo was even doing school in June) so we are able to relax a little in December border on disbelief.

As we’ve entered the fourth year of the Sugar Plump Fairy drives to dance I’ve found some truths I hold evident: (cue the world’s smallest violins playing “My Heart Bleeds for You.”)

First, driving seven days a week for near two months to the same place looses its shine by about week three (or sooner).

Second, while I’m very appreciative for the socialization aspect (mine as much as the boys) sometimes I really would just love to curl up and not talk to anyone. There’s been little time to read, craft or do any of the activities I thought I might be able to. But I don’t want to go sit in the car and be anti-social, either. A couple people I only get to see this time of year.

Third, when I hit overload I can only take so much. (Insert proper whining tone here.) I’ve found the week after dress rehearsals is when I collapse. I try very hard to keep the boys from getting overwhelmed and strive to make sure sleep and eating well and smart are priorities for them, but sometimes forget myself. Or eat stupid and the hormones are in control of my sleep so there either not enough or too much—a vicious cycle, indeed.

So, here I sit stewing. I am sure no one is trying to upset me, but I wonder about the socialization of adults who don’t know how to talk to children about anything more than, “Are you getting all of your homework done?” My children aren’t allowed to roll their eyes at anyone (I’m sure they have behind my back—I’m not that naïve) but I’m about ready to start rolling my eyes!! No wonder we hear kids think grownups are clueless.

I actually find that the grownups most worried about my child’s schooling situation have no children of their own. What is up with that? I’m sure they are well intentioned—they just haven’t been socialized for actual real conversations with children. (And obviously aren’t aware of some of the perks and benefits of homeschooling!)

Asking kids about homework is akin to asking, “How are you?” Does the asker really want to know? Are they going to get panicked if we really tell them how we are?

What would I propose as good alternative questions? Since I’m complaining I should have thought out a solution. Well as a matter of fact I can think of several:

“Are you reading a good book right now?”
“Have you learned a new Christmas song?”
“Do you have any recitals to perform in?”
“Are you getting enough rest? How are you feeling?”
“How ‘bout them Chiefs?” (Never mind...they’re still losing.)
If one must ask about school the question could be, “Do you have a favorite subject?”

Children can be just as fun, sometimes more so, to connect with than adults. I’ve really enjoyed the students that I’ve come in contact with this year and have learned some really neat things, founds some interesting book ideas, or heard about all the family traditions they share with their family. Sometimes they have to be drawn out just a little bit.

Whew…that was a bit spewy…I’m sure it applies to no one who reads this. Just overflowing today.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Grains of Gratitude

An eleven day old baby.

I got to hold one this week.

A precious, sweet new soul—tiny and fresh and a gift from God. She joined a family as the sixth and joyfully welcomed child. Her oldest brother smiled when he told me about her. Both parents have that air of contented love about them. I was grateful her sweet mama let me hold her for a while and I was grateful to listen to her mother talk about their trust that the LORD will provide for each child the things that will help them grow to what He wants them to be. What a blessing.

A one-year-old’s birthday party.

My goddaughter’s birthday party.

Family and friends, food and fun, loud and joyful Celebrating the gift of a child’s milestone of one year. She sat on my lap for a bit, allowing me to hold her as long as I didn’t squish too tight or snuggle to close. We played with a pink stuffed dog and a brown stuffed horse. She delighted in playing, “watch the grown-ups dive for the toys when I throw them on the floor.” My sons had a great time and I got to sit and enjoy good company. All celebrating a child’s life.

Can you imagine over 2000 years ago Jesus was a baby, tiny and fresh from God? Stretching in His sleep, relying totally on the care of his parents. Can you imagine that He grew the first year and just like our children, reached milestones—rolling over, sitting up, crawling, striving to walk, talk…just like our children, just like us.

I am so grateful for a Savior who felt all of our feelings, experienced all of our experiences. In this busy time of year, during this time of run here, drive there, it is easy to feel disconnected from the true meaning of the holiday that is coming. My house still isn’t ready for Christmas, but this week I was given gifts to prepare my heart.

It’s beginning to look feel a lot more like Christmas.

What are you grateful for?

Grains of Gratitude is from Christine at Brady's Bunch.

The King Shall Come


Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Friend, unto you the Lord says, “Surely I am coming soon!” (Rev. 22:20).

And what do you say to that promise? Do you by your unconscious behavior utter doubt? Does and earthbound vision deny the possibility? Are you scared to consider an end to the world?

“Can’t be.”

“Prove it.”

Sadly, the sign of our mistrust shall be
the doubt itself, together with all the anxieties and suspicions and loneliness which doubt engenders. And these will last until we come to trust, or else until his coming comes to pass.

Jesus says, “I am coming soon!”

And how do you respond? Oh, let it be as a bride responds to the promise of the bridegroom, adorning yourself for his return, joyfully shouting with the Spirit, “Come!” (Rev. 21:2, 9;22:17). Then your joy, your present beauty, your complete sense of assurance and belonging—
these shall be signs of the Lord’s trustworthiness and of our turst, signs of his love until he comes in glory.

“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

The King Shall Come when Morning Dawns

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light triumphant breaks;
When beauty gilds the eastern hills,
And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child
To bear, and fight, and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky.

O brighter than the rising morn
When He, victorious, rose,
And left the lonesome place of death,
Despite the rage of foes.

O brighter than that glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ, our King, in beauty comes,
And we His face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And earth’s dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
The day that aye shall last.

And let the endless bliss begin,
By weary saints foretold,
When right shall triumph over wrong,
And truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
Come quickly, King of kings.


Set to the tune: Morning Song/Kentucky Harmony

This is the tune, the words in the video are to Nunc Dimittis


Also set to Morning Song/Kentucky Harmony

Awake, Awake to Love and Work

Awake, awake to love and work!
The lark is in the sky;
The fields are wet with diamond dew;
The worlds awake to cry
Their blessings on the Lord of life,
As He goes meekly by.

Come, let thy voice be one with theirs,
Shout with their shout of praise;
See how the giant sun soars up,
Great lord of years and days!
So let the love of Jesus come
And set thy soul ablaze.

To give and give, and give again,
What God hath given thee;
To spend thyself nor count the cost;
To serve right gloriously
The God Who gave all worlds that are,
And all that are to be.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Six Things that Make Me Happy

Esther has tagged me for Six Things that Make Me Happy. And her timing was good!! I need to stop and think of six things that make me happy six times a day (at least)!! I have been so blessed.

1. My God. The closer I draw to Him the happier, more joyful I am. I may look very odd to the world, but we are called to be a peculiar people.

2. My guys. My husband and my sons. Again, we may look very odd, but maybe that is because we enjoy each others' company.

3. My friends--both IRL and bloggy. You challenge me to new and better things. You keep me fresh!

4. Being backstage with the guys and hearing The Nutcracker Overture. Here we go again!!

5. Good books & good coffee--together!

6. My pillow.

And now I am supposed to tag six people so they will share their happy things.

Okay...

1. Sheryl at Taking the Challenge

2. Barbara at Stray Thoughts

3. Renee at 2 Peas in a Pod (when she feels better)

4. Do You Weary Like I Do?

5. Kim at mom-musings

6. and YOU!!

Advent Links

I'm really slow and out of it this morning. Rehearsal ran until 10:15, which meant we left the theater at 10:30, which meant we didn't get home until near 11 and then winding down was hard for the boys and me.

So thankful for those school days in July!! Taking the day off of school. We fly to rehearsal early today--3:30!! Home early!!

Here are some advent links to make us think:

Conversion Diary: Musings of a Former Atheist

Soul Pockets

Thoughts from a Soldier's Wife

Happy Hearts at Home

Christ's Rose

Danielle Bean

The World Is About to Turn

"The word Advent is derived from the Latin adventtus, which means "the approach" or "the arrival." The verb is advenio: "I arrive. I come. I am coming."
Who is coming? From Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr.


"Centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God was planning for the great event of His birth. In the eighth century before Christ, Isaiah prophesied about the coming of Christ to establish a kingdom of peace--eight hundred years before it happened!" From Christmas Out of the Advent Box by Benjamin R. Husted



Advent, Day Four

It is December 3rd and I am not prepared. I already feel behind.

Behind what?

Good question.

I am behind the world's standards of retail Christmas. I have not decorated, I haven't got my music in the CD player, I am still in my jammies. I am behind the times with my "dated" beliefs, according to some. I am behind.

And yet, when I pause, I realize I am not behind. God knew I would be here. And when I pause and if I listen very carefully I can hear Him. I can and am preparing my heart for Him.

Is 25:6-10a

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.


There is no work I can do that will outdo the work of the LORD. There is no holiday I can decorate for and prepare food for that will outshine the feast that is planned for us.

Come, LORD Jesus, Come!!

Canticle of the Turning
by Rory Cooney

My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on the servant's plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?

Antiphon: My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of you justice burn. Wipe away all the tears, For the dawn draw near, And the world is about to turn.

Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be.Your very name puts the proud to shame, and to those who would for you yearn, You will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.

Antiphon

From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone. Let the king beware for your justice tears ev'ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn;
These are tables spread, ev'ry mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.

Antiphon

Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast:
God's mercy must deliver us from the conqueror's crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard is the promise which holds us bound, 'Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.

The music is uplifting--to listen, click.

The world is about to turn! One day the world will quit operating on "me" time, on retail time, on sinful time. One day we will be operating on God's time.

What a joyful day that will be.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grains of Gratitude

I'm grateful the painting is done. I'll be even more grateful when we get everything put in place. You know how it goes, you move this and then you have to find a home for that and then someone has a bright idea to move all this stuff downstairs and then move some other stuff upstairs and wouldn't the room look better if we added two bookshelves and....well you see how it goes.

And then the boys and I went out of town for three days to see my dad. And I am grateful we did that. But my husband couldn't go, so I always felt a piece of me was missing. But it was a good, safe and fun trip. Dad made a large wood frame for me to create a project I cooked up. One more thing to add to the room.

I am grateful for all of your prayers for Roo. His knee is much improved. For now the prognosis is "growing pains" added to new and more strenuous movement. A couple very knowledgeable, caring teachers are keeping a close eye on him. He hates being conspicuous but I was an obnoxious mom and shared my concerns anyway.

I'm grateful that Boo has been having a great time again during rehearsals. Apparently some of the older girls have been paying him a little extra attention. I was informed today that he received a marriage proposal. I told him he may have to wait a few weeks and get a little better acquainted. A---hem...I am really going to be in trouble with this one.

The mice seem to have left for more friendly dwellings. I am sooooooooooooooo grateful! The cat has been useless and the dog was of no help. The cat, Sid, is 17--half blind and half deaf, so him I understand. In his day he was a champion mouser, but now he just curls up in his little box and sleeps a lot. Miss Libby, the pooch, seemed to think they were just new pets we had acquired.

I am grateful for the time we spent schooling in the summer because I am about out of steam. We are in coast mode for a bit. We will be tying up loose ends and taking a long holiday break. Nutcracker rehearsals move into the theater this week and then the shows begin!!

Advent starts today. We pause, we take time and prepare our hearts and minds for the joyful feast to come--for the Emmanuel--God with us. I am grateful for the rhythm of the liturgical year. In the hustle and bustle of the commercial world we live in I need something to refocus me on the One reason for the real season. Father's homily today talked about how sometimes we are so intent on wondering when Christ will return that we miss Jesus in our daily life--how the sorrows of this world make us ready to give it up and get to heaven and we miss the opportunity to share the LORD with a soul in need of His love today. He said it better than I did...but I'm grateful for the reminder to live in the now.

I'll be sharing a few Advent posts through December. Not everyday, but once in a while. I've got some books I'm excited about reading and some songs that have been on my heart.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Advent, Day One

Isaiah 63:16b-17,19b;64:2-7

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?

Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.

No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.

Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!

Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.

There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.

Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.




Wonderful Advent posts and links:

The Anchoress

Momopoly

Praying for Grace

My Domestic Church

O Night Divine

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!



May your day be happy, blessed, safe & most of all filled with the joy of the LORD!

Many Blessings!

Julie

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yeah...I'm a Bookworm

Renee at 2 Peas in a Pod awarded me with the Bookworm Award. Well, gee...where did she get the idea that I liked books??? Thanks, Renee!! This is just one of the things we have in common.

The meme rules:

Pass this on to 5 blogging friends.
Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or the most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.
Write the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that.

The book: ..And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santemeyer

The dormitory hall was empty; she let slip her dignity and sped up the stairs in a swish of silken skirts, flashed around the balustrade and down the corridor. She half-expected to find that Minna and her roommate had gone out, but she could at any rate leave a note of greeting; and so when her knock at Minna's door went unanswered, she opened it, uninvited, and paused on the threshold. Before she could move further, she was caught off balance and knocked to one side by a....

Well I guess you'd just have to read the book, heh?

This books spans 1868-1932 in Ohio. The women who make up the "Club" start out as young women freshly graduated. How will they continue to develop their minds, their hearts, their lives?

You want an American history lesson? It's here. Would you like a book about women with dignity and courage--yep this is it. You want to laugh and cry and feel a connection to characters--read this. Worth each page. Be warned--it is huge and it is heavy. You have to slowly wade into it. It is not a thriller. It won't yank you in. But it is worth the time it takes. It left footprints on my heart.

I have a short list of books that I read over and over. This is one of them. On my list for 2009.

I'm going to pass on passing this along unless you want to play--yes you, and you and you too! Let me know and I'll come visit.

Check out Renee's blog(s) for good friends, good food, good reads--great heart!! (()) Renee!

Cross-posting this on my Joyful Days Reviews and Recipes blog.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grains of Gratitude

Still painting! This is taking longer than I envisioned, but more has happened than I planned. Who'd'a'thunk it???

This week I am grateful for a husband who went out and ordered a washer and dryer for me!! Ones that work and everything. I am not an old fashioned girl. A washboard is NOT in my future. Laundromats have their purpose, but I am spoiled. They aren't fancy, not lots of bells and whistles, but they WORK. Yippee!!

Mousetraps. (I will elaborate later, but I bet you can guess why.)

A husband who EMPTIES mousetraps!!!

Neat, sweet and very patient people who work with my children (and hundreds of other children.)

Good friends for my boys.

Good boys.

Never being bored. There is never "nothing" to do. I am very grateful for my life.

What are you grateful for?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Are You Approachable?

No the painting's not done? Why do you ask--oh, I told you to. Well the taping and covering with plastic is started. I did 500lbs of laundry yesterday at the laundromat.

Did you know it is possible to read for two hours and not be interrupted except to move the loads from the washer to the dryer? No? I didn't either. It was a really cool experience. Except that it kept me from my plan.

The husband was home working. The boys stayed with him doing schoolwork. I went off, free as a lark to do laundry. Who knew it could be fun? Who knew?

Thanks for your prayers for Roo. He's still a little sore. We're cautiously watching. Parenting is oooooooooooooh so hard. I often question God and wonder why He trusted me with such precious gifts. I need to pray more.

So for a few minutes before I go make a terrible mess, I'll offer my odd thoughts and a quiz.

Blogthings is almost always entertaining. Often they have some quiz that hits a nerve or a funny bone. This particular one coincided with a post that has been rumbling around in my head for a while. The idea first:

I was thinking, if someone used their five senses individually how would I appear?

Touch--I feel like: a pillow for my kids

Hearing--I sound like: my mother, my sister, a broken record

Smell--I smell like: hopefully you won’t smell me unless you are very close and then it will be a little lavender and a trace of perfume

Taste--I taste like: I don’t know, but the dog licks me occasionally and so does the cat—wait, they also forage in the trash—that might not be good…bad one.

Sight--This was the sense that got me started thinking the most because...

I must look like: a store employee--people will often come up to me in a store and ask me if I know where a certain item can be found, or if I have tried Product X and did I like it, or what is my opinion on a certain item, or do I do beadwork and how would I recommend getting started?

Aisle 6, yes I like it, haven't used it, and I'd say don't start because it's addictive and there is no such thing as having enough beads. Oooops...

I obviously look like: a tall person who can reach the top shelf. This particular one blessed me because I have had people in wheelchairs and older people ask me to reach things for them. They chose me when I wasn't the only one in the aisle. That blessed me. I also had a mom who was considerably shorter than I was ask me and enjoyed helping her too. She said she thought they'd get mad if she started climbing the shelving or let her children.

And, even before children I must have looked like: a mommy, I've had lost children come up to me, one sibling approached me because her sister was stuck in the basket-type swing at a park, at my sons' activity I've helped with hair and lost items and entertainment--I used to keep a large variety of card games in my bag. This has always blessed me too, that children aren't afraid to come up to me.

And for all of my crotchety-ness I must look like: someone who will listen. People have told me startling things about their lives in what started as conversations meant to pass the time. Most recently I've heard about the loss of a parent and the loss of a son. This bothers me sometimes because I never know what the right things are to say. So I pray a lot, but never enough, I am sure.

I wondered about posting this. I was afraid it could be construed as more than it was--a look at my reflection in the mirror of others. Most often I feel like I come up lacking. More times than not I'm sure I've been a poor example of Christian love. But the times I've actually been able to provide something for someone else have always and undoubtedly blessed me more than anyone I might have helped.

Which leads to the quiz:

Are You Approachable?




You Are Very Approachable



You can talk to anyone, and it shows. People are eager to start conversations with you.

You are open and friendly. You are willing to connect with almost anyone.

While it's great to be approachable, there is such a thing as too approachable.

Eventually someone will try to take advantage of you. Don't be afraid to say no or end an awkward conversation.



So, are you approachable? And, if you are so inclined--how do others perceive you if they use their five senses?

Off to paint. Replacements for the dryer and washer are showing up on Saturday. Guess what I got for Christmas?