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

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.