Thursday, December 31, 2009

I don't like New Years Resolutions

I have a few pet peeves. I hate to even write them because I think that by making them known it alienates others and leaves them uneasy in interactions with me. Of course, I'm sure I'm thinking too highly of myself here and now one CARES what I think about them, they aren't going to change because I don't like a particular word or mannerism.

Of course, I DO care and if I know you hate nuts or the certain words or actions, I'll be painstakingly sure I'll never be offensive in those ways around you. It's a horrible trait: To be a people pleaser.

There are some things I don't like, and I KNOW that most people do them and aren't going to stop because I don't like it! One is the twitter-speak/text abbreviations. I don't mind certain things like IDK, FWIW, IMO, that type of thing. I dislike the "How r u doin hope ur doin ok" type of thing. It just bugs me! Misspellings bug me and I KNOW I also mistype and misspell words and I know that not everyone spells perfectly and it means nothing. I'd rather have a friend send me an email filled with misspellings and even text-speak than not at all. I'm just sayin' that I do find in less preferable.

I can't believe I admitted it.

One thing that I dislike and I have to deal with every year at this time is New Years Resolutions. It's a universally accepted thing to personally and publicly make goals and I suppose I'm a person that doesn't like setting goals because I don't like to fail.

It's interesting because I'm married to a guy that has goals and keeps them. He has short term, 5 year and 10 year goals... and he fulfills them. The things he sets his mind to he accomplishes. I love that about him and yet feel like he's special. People like me aren't like that.

Lately I've been reading some good blogs and they somehow lately have been addressing topics I don't wish to think about. Goals, life, not wasting life, experience, adventure, making life meaningful and rich and with no regrets.

So I ask you, what would it mean to live a life with no regrets? Is it possible? Will you look back at some point of your life wishing you'd done more? Risked more? Participated more?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gabriel The Elf

It has come to my attention that not everyone has their own personal elf.

Last year, a sweet, cute, perpetually jolly elf came to join us in creating a new family tradition. It came in a package with an elf reminiscent of an older era, and a book that explains how Santa knows if all the boys and girls are being naughty or nice. Santa's secret weapon? Spies. Little elf spies.

Of course, my kids don't view Gabriel as a spy; he's a trusted friend. They eagerly await his arrival and we read the book about Gabriel. In the book it is explained that families have elves that watch over us and then at night report back to Santa. He can relay messages, so my kids all go up to Gabriel and excitedly tell him "The List" of what they want. I'm not sure I'm a fan of this because it enables my kids to change their minds on what they want Santa to get them. It all worked out this year.

There are a few elf rules: He can't talk, but we can talk to him. No one can touch him or he'll lose his magic, and he leaves on Christmas Eve and will not come back again until Dec. 1st of the following year.

The best part of the elf? Every morning, after he reports to Santa, he flys to a new part of the house to observe. My kids love to get up and hunt for the elf. The laughter can be heard every morning as they are delighted with some of Gabriel's hiding places!

This Christmas has been absolutely magical on so many levels. My kids received gifts they wanted but did not expect. I have a 5 and a 6 year old in the house and it's the sweetest, cutest thing ever! The delight in the tree, the lights, setting out cookies and milk for Santa, carrots for his reindeer.... it was just amazingly cute.

I've much more to say but wanted to say that I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! In the words of Charles Dickens,

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Simple Act

Christmas is touted as a season of giving. We're always supposed to be "giving" and I know that; but there's something special about Christmas. My family tries to be generous of our time and money at Christmas. Sometimes I think I do "more" stuff like that just because I have kids to be an example to. (I know, not a great motivation!) So, when there are opportunities I like to engage in them.

Yesterday was one of them.

My church gathered a small group of mostly kids to go to a nursing home and sing Christmas Carols to the residents. When I was in jr. high my church would also do such things and I do remember that it touched them so much! Some of these people won't see their family and don't see many kids. I knew it would be a blessing to them.

I set aside one of Katie's best Christmas dresses, a red old-fashioned one with smocking and a bow in back. I paired it with white stockings and shiny black patent leather mary jane shoes. For her hair, I tightly banded two little pigtails, topped with HUGE bows. I personally prefer medium sized bows; these were really big! (texas-sized a friend of mine jokes) But they were white and matched and she looked really cute. She easily could've been a child from the 1920's or 1930'. Or anytime. She was classic.

It was all deliberate; I wanted to dress her up. I thought the old men and ladies would appreciate it. I also wanted to attend this event because people love little kids and Katie is little. I knew she's not be able to read the verses to all the songs. Perhaps her sole "worth" was just her smile and being cute.

She WAS cute! I love my kids. My boys were singing and looking at their songsheet. They were focused. Katie was unencumbered by a paper with words so she looked out to the audience, sang her heart out to them. At least the songs she knew. If she did not know the song, she jingled her bells, put her hands high in the air, danced a bit, and did a large amount of jumping up and down!

Not perfect, conformed behaviour? It was priceless. It was worthwhile. It was joyful!

The residents loved the carols, loved the kids. Afterwards some of the older kids that weren't too afraid went out to the audience and touched them, held their hands, said Merry Christmas. A small gesture of kindness but it meant so much to these precious people! Katie received so many hugs and she wasn't afraid of them. It made me happy, seeing her interact with others. The joy on their faces, the laughter, it was all indescribable. I was happy to share my little girl with them and happy that she was so comfortable.

Later we went to some rooms of those that couldn't move around to go to the meeting room to hear the carols. Many of these folks had trakes and were hooked up to various machines. One wanted Katie to draw nearer and she did, but later told me she was afraid of the noise. (of the machines) My wise friend Kim lovingly, gently explained to her that the noises were a good thing and that the machines were working and helping the person in the bed.

At the end, I could tell that my kids were tired. (for Katie I'm sure it had to do with all the jumping up and down she did in the songs!) It was all greatly rewarded to her, not just in the joy of helping bring joy to others (which is the proper reason we adults do things) but because she was given cookies and juice at the end. (2 cookies!) It was a highlight. I know when she's older seeing and knowing the joy she gave to others will be important but right now I'm happy for this little exposure to life and how well and comfortable she was. It brought tears to my eyes, seeing what an impact my church kids were to them.. Not just Katie or my other kids but ALL the kids!

I will definitely make it a point to go back next year. It was so simple; just taking time out to sing a few carols. In a different setting I'd probably be trying to calm Katie down, telling her not to jump around, stand up straight, etc. but it was in her natural kid demeanor that made her so endearing to the audience. Had she not been herself, it wouldn't have been as precious as it was. (it also helps that she's just 5)

I know this is s rambling post but I just wanted to express my happiness that my church invited all who wanted to attend to be a part of this. It was worthwhile and was a meaningful addition to Christmas for my family. I'm just so thankful I was there, and my kids were a part of it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Discovering Christmas

Already, this has been a really wonderful Christmas, and a huge part of it has been the excitement and wonder. Even before December (and how can it be that it is already December 17th?) I began reading quite a few books about Christmas and the birth of Christ. One was a compilation by various authors, O Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. In it are a selections from a few favorite authors, including Timothy Keller. Many of the contributions were meaningful to me, but one that I read first really made me think in a way I hadn't before. It was written by Martin Luther.

As you know, Martin Luther is credited for starting the Protestant Reformation. He protested the status quo of the Roman Catholic church when he nailed the 95 theses to the door. (Okay, I have to say here that I'm fascinated by Luther, the Reformation and the entire early history of the church)

In the past I've only read about him; I've never read his writings. Martin Luther is amazing! I loved reading his chapter in this book. It was on Mary. Growing up non-denominational protestant, I'd never thought much about Mary. The emphasis was always on Christ. Jesus was revered, not Mary. Luther wasn't saying otherwise but he painted a beautiful picture of the Maiden Mary, slightly speculative, but compelling and beautiful at the same time. I guess I'd expected something dry, something concrete and though he did provide that, this concrete truth came with the nuances of a story, speculating Mary's thoughts. I found that his writings were a joy to read.

In this chapter I read he ended with, "Truly it is marvelous in our eyes that God should place a little child in the lap of a virgin and that all our blessedness should lie in him. And this Child belongs to all mankind. God feeds the world through a Babe nursing at Mary's breast. This must be out daily exercise: to be transformed into Christ, being nourished by this food. Then will the heart be suffused with all joy and will be strong and confident against every assault. "

Monday, December 7, 2009

To The Hills

I'm really enjoying a new album I recently purchased. The band is Leeland, and my friend Tracey recommended their album, Opposite Way, several months ago but I failed to pursue it. Last week their new album, Love Is On The Move was on sale via MP3 download through Amazon for 5 dollars and I bought it...... I love it. Really, love it and now I have to get Opposite Way too!

The funny thing is that there's a part of me that loves art in most forms. I've never been an artist but I appreciate it. I love experimenting with my camera but I've never claimed that as "art"..... just playing. I've spent about 13 years either in symphonic bands, ensembles or private lessons playing flute. I love music. (can't sing at all though!) The other day I was at a friends house and she had music note flash cards. I could correctly finger the note on flute before I could verbalize the actual name of the note...... it's just so ingrained in my mind. I almost miss it, yet in the past 10 years I've deemed art as not that important.

So imagine my surprise that I'm being so touched lately by art! I see things more clearly; truth hits me harder through artistic mediums of creative stories, music and poetry. Here's the lyrics to Leeland's song Lift Your Eyes Up. Love the words; such a great reminder.

Lift Your Eyes Up

Feels like your world's crashing down and solid ground is hard to be felt
It feels like the walls are closing
And then night has fallen and the sun is gone
Your heart is dry, you need sometime to find God

Come on, come on, lift your eyes up
Lift your eyes up to the hills

Even in the testing fire God supplies every need in your life
And He'll come like the morning star and wipe away your hurts, fears
And the dark will fall and the light will shine
It's all alright with God here

Come on, come on, lift your eyes up
Lift your eyes up to the hills
Come on, come on, lift your eyes up
Lift your eyes up to the hills

Here the sun it will shine, it's a holiday

It's a brighter day for you
The sun it will shine, it's a holiday
It's a brighter day for you

Come on, come on, lift your eyes up

Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Come on, come on, yeah

Come on, come on, lift your eyes up
Lift your eyes up to the hills
Come on, come on, lift your eyes up
Lift your eyes up to the hills

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Theology of Santa

Santa came to my church today. I wish I had my real camera! He was instantly recognizable; everyone knows what St. Nicholas looks like! And he did; he was! Kind yet penetrating blue eyes, white beard, red shirt, old fashioned glasses. He was indeed Santa and he was at MY church!

Katie was the first child to see him. All by herself she timidly went up to him, told him all she wanted. Then she went and got her brother and her friends to shyly show him Santa.

My 10 year old, Conor, has only stopped believing 2 years ago. He's "figured it out" that it's not true yet is true in other ways. He also went and spoke to Santa. He says he's a firm believer. He believes yet he knows it's not true. (at least I'm pretty sure he knows it's not true!) In the car today he asked why rich kids get better presents than other kids.

Reid is 6 and a skeptic... he has a lot of questions, all quite logical. How can Santa make all that toys? How can a sleigh fly with reindeer? How can Santa go to EVERY house? How can he fit down the chimney? Yet, seeing Santa this morning, he went right up and told him his (rather lengthy) list. He wants to believe. Sometimes does but then goes through all the reasons he can't. (BTW, Reid's the baby crying in both the photos)

I bring this up because I wonder.... when it come to Creation.... what is true and what is "right" for a Christian to believe? I don't want to "know" it's not true but believe anyways. That seems so wrong.

For me, If I don't believe that the Creation story is real, then why should I believe that everything else the Bible says is real too?

It's a hard one. To say that the creation story is true doesn't seem to be credible in this day and age where science casts so much doubt, yet to admit that the creation story is not credible opens the door to if the whole Bible is credible.

I know that faith is believing even when we can't make sense or see something, and yet, I don't want to be a person that knows that it may be untrue but believing anyways because I'm supposed to or because that is what faith is. There's a wonderful line in Miracle on 34th street that I recall. It states " Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to."

Sometimes I wonder if others view my faith in Christ as shallow as they do faith in something like Santa or the tooth fairy. We claim the Bible as our authority and yet doesn't that hinge on it's being true?

What do you think? About Santa? About Creation? About truth and faith?

Saturday, December 5, 2009


It's December.... it's not even the first week quite yet and I already feel behind! Today I want to the Women's Christmas Luncheon. It was a very nicely planned event. This is just the beginning of a very busy month. I'll go to my inlaws tonight, next week Katie has a Daisy Scout community outreach singing to Senior Citizens somewhere. Then the Christmas Run at my inlaws again, a Christmas party with my side of the family, several more Christmas parties.... it's a lot.

Did I mention I've barely gotten any presents yet? I haven't even taken a photo yet for my Christmas cards.

How about you? Are you busy and swamped or joyfully, fully embracing this wonderful time of anticipation?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Impossible Union

Men’s curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint -
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime’s death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood is
Here the impossible union
Of spheres of existence is actual,
Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled.
-T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets (1943)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Favorites

I've nothing to say so I thought this would be a fun time to ask you what your favorite Christmas songs are and if you have a favorite artist or version.
What's your favorite Christmas Movies?

Personally, I've not listened to much Christmas music this year yet but I know I adore Downhere's How Many Kings.
I've a soft spot of O Come All Ye Faithful and O Holy Night, but I like several Christmas Hymns/carols.

For Movies, It's A Wonderful Life is DEFINITELY my favorite but I like many of the "old" Christmas movies. I'll have to see them again before I list them though!

How about you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Little Things

Things are quite different this year than last. I'm not sure it's a good or a bad thing. Last year and in years prior, I'd have purchased new outfits for Thanksgiving for my kids weeks in advance. They'd coordinate nicely and I'd have laid them out days before the big day. This year I'd no idea what my kids would wear until that morning! They did not coordinate. Katie wore a simple skirt and shirt, that was adorable but something that she's had in the closet for months.

The day after Thanksgiving is my day. My inlaws bring out the tree and boxes of decorations. My kids delight in decorating the tree. Normally, I do spend quite a bit of thought in what my kids will be wearing for this event; inasmuch as they love to decorate the tree, to me it's all about the photo opportunity.

Yet, once again, I'd not planned this. I "allowed" Katie to choose her own dress and she chose one at the very back of her closet that still had tags attached. It was a 3T. She now wears a 5, sometimes a 4. Not a 3. I tried it on her. It was short. I liked it short. She decided she was a "Peppermint Fairy" since the white tulle dress had a cranberry red sash. I said yes, indeed, she was a peppermint fairy. She then wanted to wear her tap shoes. Sure, we were only going to the grandparents house.

Normally, I'm a bit set about what I wish my child to wear but it was fun saying "yes". (besides, I had a feeling the too-small white dress would photograph well)

In the past I bought my little girl way too many clothes. I spent way too much money on her. The past several months I've spent nothing. (I haven't needed to; she still has way too many clothes)

I feel freedom. Freedom to not feel I "have" to have buy the latest beautiful dress for my child. Freedom to see that she's beautiful no matter what she wears. Freedom to allow her to choose her outfits and feel good about her choosing her outfits. It was just a wonderful experience.

The pictures are beautiful too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


It's December 1st!

What Christmas traditions do you value to celebrate this beautiful time of year?

I'd love to know!