Tuesday, December 27

Prayer Board

A favorite time-waster among (mostly) females is Pinterest...a website to "pin" various pictures and links onto theme-related "boards"...like a board of all home design, favorite books, food items to cook, fashion, etc...

Anyhow, last week, I found myself thinking about several people, life events, and other areas of concern in my life and realized that what I would love is a prayer board.

A board that I can hang in my bedroom, on which I can add pictures, emails, words, logos, Scripture, or anything else that would help me remember to pray for those things that weigh on my heart; those special topics that I want to intercede for.

So I went to Michael's craft store and bought a 11x14 cork board, some scrapbooking letter stickers and some pushpins. Then I went home, took a frame that I love, popped out the glass and backing and popped in the cork board. Perfect fit.

As soon as I started dreaming about this prayer board, I wanted to have a little phrase or verse on it to summarize the wish and focus of my prayers...so I choose the lyric "Have Thine own way, Lord."

Slowly, I'm collecting those pieces that will cue my prayers. And am delighting in this little project. I'm excited to see how God will answer these prayers while also working in my own heart.

Thursday, December 22

Kids explaining the Christmas story

You really should watch this...it contains all kinds of hilarity and cuteness!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20

My books...well, most of them...

Needed: Strong people to move these boxes.
Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, December 19

Not much time left

This week finds me busy.
Okay, who isn't busy this week, right??
I don't know about you but I am officially in list mode.
Making a list, checking it twice.

I'm moving places and while I knew that packing was going to envelop my Christmas season, I did not anticipate to be moving just down the street. I haven't told you all yet, have I? I'm not moving cross-country. Nothing is changing in my life, at this time...a statement I'm learning to accept, as I continually focus on trusting God.

Anyhow, despite not leaving the area, I still have to move because my sister and I let up our apartment (in anticipation of me moving cross-country) and she signed a lease with a friend, at another apartment complex. As for me, I am going to be renting a bedroom from a lady who goes to my church. It will be a completely different living arrangement than what I've had, thus far, but I think it will be good.

So each day, I find myself analyzing my nights, trying to figure out what to pack next, as well as mulling over my needed Christmas shopping (groceries and presents), Christmas baking that I still want to do, and the handful of activities (skype calls, church services, work schedules, coffee dates) that are scattered through the the next week.

Speaking of which, I just took a half hour break to write down the groceries that were flooding my mind. Whew! In Bible college, I took a homiletics (sermon-making) class, which I enjoyed. One of our assignments that lasted the entire semester was keep a WIDOLIF journal...a journal of quotes, analogies, thoughts, or anything that may be useful for a sermon one day. WIDOLIF means "write it down or lose it forever"...cute, isn't it? Anyhow, that's kind of where I am.

My mom called me Friday night, I think, and asked about the plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, for myself, my younger sister, and brother. (My older sister is flying to Arizona to have Christmas with the parents.) I told her that honestly, I haven't thought that far. I know what we are more-or-less having for Christmas dinner. I know there's church both days. I know that I'll be pretty much alone Christmas Eve night. But as for a Christmas Day schedule...an agreed plan between us remaining three...we haven't really talked about it. I suppose we should get on that. :) I've coerced my brother into helping me move some stuff tomorrow night...he and I can chat then.

Okay...this is getting a bit random, I think, so I'd better call it a day.
Happy planning to you all! Trusting that everything will get done, for you and for me, in its time!

Friday, December 16

A Forever Moment: the Nativity

There's a set of commercials being aired on the radio and TV, from Ben Bridge Jewelers, that feature the tagline: Turn a special moment into a forever moment. In the TV commercials you see someone being given a piece of jewelry and the moment they open it, time temporarily freezes in joy and delight. A pretty clever piece of advertisement, I think.

Anyhow, I was reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ yesterday, on my drive home, and realised that His very birth turned a special moment, because what birth isn't special, into a forever moment, the intersection of time and eternity, starting in a lowly stable and culminating at the cross, for the salvation of mankind.

Picture the scene with me...

The roman soldiers arrive to Nazareth, declaring that everyone must, by order of Caesar, return to their family's land, to be counted (and very likely taxed). Immediately the people of Nazareth are in an uproar, including Joseph. Joseph had an established business, a home, a Betrothed, friends, and a community of God-worshippers. He had everything he wanted, at home, in Nazareth, and now some distant money-hungry Caesar is forcing him to leave it all behind to go to Bethlehem. Except Mary, that is. She'd go with him but the baby!! The baby was due at any time. However Mary was adamant that she would go with him. So they leave.

They make the journey to a town 80 miles away, walking with many many other people who leave or join the group at different points. There's a constant noise of grumbling upset Israelites, wondering at how much this Caesar will end up taxing them, and frustrated with the unexpected journey. There's the constant sound of animals and the chatter of kids. Normally, to have such company would be a welcome to Joseph but his concern, his only concern, is the welfare of his cherished yet uncomfortable, swollen, pregnant wife. Because of her, he walks much slower and with greater care, than he would on any trip to worship in Jerusalem. He's always looking forward for the easier path and looking back to watch his wife, and the crowds pass them by.

They walk through Jerusalem, a noisy, bustling city but don't stop. They need to get to Bethlehem. Mary tries to hide her pain but Joseph sees that her discomfort is getting worse. The baby will arrive soon. Too soon! A day later, they arrive in what is normally a sleepy little hamlet to find that it too is bursting at the seams. People are everywhere. Today was the day. Mary told him that the babe is coming and has begun to moan. Joseph can't walk without having people bump into him at every side. Grabbing tightly on the donkey's bridle, he plunges into the crowd to find a place to stay. He stops at the first place...No Room! Everyone seems to be equally urgently trying to find a place. Next place...No Room! Mary gasps out in pain. Panicked, Joseph goes the next inn...No Room! Please, he shouts, my wife! But the door has been shut. He walks to the next inn, all while praying that Yahweh would provide once again for Mary and the babe...they don't need a fancy place, just somewhere beside the busy noisy street! His plan is to take Mary to a field, outside the gates, if this next place is also too full. He knocks...No Room! Wait, please, my wife is going to have a baby. Have mercy...anything will do, he pleads! The tired, very busy innkeeper pauses then says the only thing he can offer is his stable. They're welcomed to use it, if they'd like.

Joseph leads his donkey over to the stable, scoops up Mary and lays her on the hay. Just as the little town and the inn were filled to the max, so too was the stable. The people of Bethlehem was a constant noise in the background. But the stable had its own cacophony of sound: mooing, braying, baaing, (no oinking because this was a good Jewish inn), and clucking. While the stalls all contained a few animals each, there were still some that walked around Joseph and Mary, and had to be shooed away. Mary intently focused on her breathing and pain. Joseph wanted to help but not sure how after all, surely Yahweh knew that men simply don't help in any way with the birth of children. But Yahweh knew was He was doing and Joseph continued to trust.

And in the midst of town noise, the stable noise, Mary's pain, and Joseph's week-long stress, I can't help but imagine that, like those Ben Bridge commercials, time must have seemed to freeze the moment the baby boy emerged. The animals quieted, Joseph's stress disappeared, Mary felt relief and peace, the town stilled the moment the Almighty Infinite God became a weak, time-restricted human. The kind of moment that takes your breath away and leaves you with goosebumps.

Because after that moment, the Heavenly Choir burst out in song, the stars twinkled their very brightest, and the visitors started to appear to celebrate the long-awaited birth date of a Babe, who came to take away the sin of the world.

A holy night, indeed.

Sunday morning memories

For many many years, certainly most of my teenage years and maybe even in early college years, my family had an 8-track player. Ahhhh, the days of the 8 track player.

Today, on my way to work, I had a flashback to those Sunday mornings when my dad, in an attempt to get us kids up and moving for church, would pop in an 8-track tape of Marching Band music. And then he'd turn up the volume and open our bedroom doors.

Before we knew what hit us, the upbeat marching music, full of drums and horns and cymbals, would fill our ears and we could not escape the sound, even if we tried to bury our heads in our pillow or blankets. We'd finally roll out of bed, grumbling at our loud intrusive dad, but before we knew it, our feet and hands would be moving faster and faster, until the beat of the drums was conducting our movements. And by the time it was time to go to church, there was usually a good attitude and smile on our faces.

My dad knew what he was doing.
He's kind of smart like that!

Thursday, December 15

Goodnight bird, goodnight clock

Yesterday was a sad day.

I packed up my German cuckoo clock, tucking it safely away in my large 45 gallon tote.

I don't anticipate bringing him back out while at my next residence.
So for an indefinite amount of time, I say auf wiedersehen.

Tuesday, December 13

A musical treat!

A beautiful rendition of the Wexford Carol by Allison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma.

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Friday, December 9

Anna Grace

When my parents were pregnant with me, child #2, the girl name that my mom wanted was Anna Grace, my great-grandmother's name. However, my dad vetoed that name and I was named after some random waitress whose name my dad liked and suggested to my mom. Great story, huh?

Anyways, when my parents were expecting child #4, my dad conceded. The girl could be given the long-awaited name of Anna Grace. However, my parents were instead given a long-awaited son, who received another family name.

Anyhow, one book I read this year was One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and from reading that book, a recent thought came into my head, which spurred me to go online. So earlier this week, I looked up the name Anna and discovered, like I had guessed, that it means Gracious.

That child would have had a redundant name.
This amuses me.
That's all for today, folks!

Thursday, December 8

Coffee chuckle

I am a person of coffee rituals. I get very specific drinks from different locations. Occasionally I vary...but not often.

So, when I go to Starbucks, I get a Tall Extra-Hot Skinny Vanilla Latte and like any good Washingtonian, I rattle that off without hesitation or much thought, which I did yesterday when I stopped there.

When I pulled up to the drive-through window, the girl asked..."you ordered the grande skinny vanilla right?" Nope, I assured her, I ordered a tall.

After I paid, she informed me that I was being given a grande but only charged for a tall, for which I thanked her. But I had to stiffle a chuckle when she then gave me permission to not finish my latte, if I didn't want to.

Umm...gee, thanks.

Sunday, December 4

Weekend snippets

I asked my sister if she was saving up for a pillow.

Coffee with baileys...ending the weekend.

My mom makes these candies every Christmas. She mailed us some this year. I think my mom mailed me some when I spent a Christmas in Germany. I have a kind momma.
And these are soooo good!

We call them bon-bons...they contain coconut, pecans, and sugar, dipped in chocolate.
I made them in Germany with my kiddos. I'll share that story soon.

Saturday, December 3

My cave of Adullam

Speak to me, speak to me in my cave of Adullam.
Reach to me, reach to me, no one cares for my soul.
I thought I saw your kingdom,
but it's not going to happen like I thought it would happen.

This song, by Sara Groves (one of my favorite artists), is inspired from the life and story of David, shepherd boy, giant slayer, King of Israel and ancestor of Jesus Messiah. At a young age, this simple shepherd boy was selected out by God and the prophet Samuel, to be anointed as King of Israel.

A brief interaction between God and man, placing a calling on the boy's head and life. And yet, he then spends the next decade or so waiting for this calling to be fulfilled. During that time, he spends most of his time running. Fleeing and hiding from the one who could have been a mentor but was instead a jealous enraged king; a king who wanted to kill.

Remind me, remind me of the vision you gave me.
Remind me, remind me what anointing oil is for.
I need to know you're near me.
I need to know you are holding me just as closely...

The cave of Adullam was one of David's hiding places. He and his men hid in this seemingly great cave, hiding from the King and his pursuant army. Here he was, away from home and his family, with a death warrant hanging over his head, wondering how, if and when he would finally see the fulfillment of that long ago anointing.

I wonder if he questioned whether or not he understood the call clearly. I wonder if he was ready to abandon the call, just to have his simple shepherding life back. I wonder if his faith wavered as this dream seemed always just out of reach. After all, he was the one hiding in a cave.

...as the day you took my life and gave me a vision,
As the day you poured the oil and gave me a dream.
I can't believe this is happening.
How does a shepherd become a king?

What we do know is that David saw the fulfillment of God's promise. He witnessed God's faithfulness during the years of frustration and longing; the years when the call must have seemed like only a mirage in the desert sun. He endured, continued to cling to God, and repeatedly spoke of God's goodness.

He ran the race, despite the cost, and finished well. A man after God's own heart.
To this day, his achievements, life, and calling, has given enduring glory to God.
And after all, shouldn't that be the goal?

For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay
Habakkuk 2:3