Giving Thanks (inspired by)

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

too much christmas?

After a hard day of "work," Marcus loosened his tie and relaxed....

I hope everyone else finds time to take it easy like this!
Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

For the Grandparents....

For those of you who cannot make the kids first Christmas program- here is a taste of it! Really this gives you a front row seat to what I am sure will be a much more lively performance than the actual program in front of ALL those people! They are starting to get nervous- and I would not be surprised if Lorraine gets another canker sore about it! And Seth, though he likes to sing with the girls, was too shy even for my camera at home- I really don't see him getting up front at church!

Still a few quirks to work out- keep practicing kiddos!


What a busy week!
Friday we had some of our friends stay after the moms group and for lunch- what fun! By the way, eight kids sure feels like a lot when you're not used to it! Feeding them lunch sure was a feat! Perhaps this is how "normal" people feel when they watch all four of my kids!?

Lorraine, Agnes and Seth are busy practicing for the Christmas Eve children's service. Performing seems intuitive to them- during one of their "rehearsals" in the girls bedroom they took all the robes off of the coat hanger and used it as a microphone stand!

I am so glad to be done with my baking marathon- most of the treats have been delivered! Of course I got done just in time to spend a day sitting under sick kids- today was one of those days! Lorraine threw up in the morning, and the others were whiney and off all day today- I think they are fighting it too. Marcus was CRAZY hyper, so I was very thankful for "Aunt Mary Anne" who took him to play at her house all day long!

We are all getting so very excited for Christmas! We can't wait to experience our first "White Creek" Christmas services. My family will be down for the weekend, and Josh's next week- weather permitting of course! My mom said it was so bad in MI this week they had to call the plows off the roads! Weird to think of all that snow when we can still see the grass here. And it is supposed to be 53 this weekend! Maybe I should ask my mom to bring a bag of snow in a cooler just so the kids don't forget what it looks like!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Speaking of dissonance

This is my favorite hymn this Christmas.

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the king,

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;

Haste, haste to bring him laud,

The babe, the son of Mary!

Have you ever heard the second verse to this song?

Why lies he is such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear; for sinners here

The silent word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce him through,

The cross he borne for me, for you;

Hail, hail the word made flesh,

The babe, the son of Mary!

Those violent and dark images completely interrupt our cuddly mental pictures of baby Jesus...

Or is it the light of Jesus that interrupts the darkness?

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh;

Come, peasant, king, to own him.

The King of kings salvation brings;

Let loving hearts enthrone him.

Raise, raise the song on high,

The virgin sings her lullaby;

Joy, joy, for Christ is born,

The babe, the son of Mary!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Dissonance

As I am writing this, the kids are jamming to Christmas carols in the bedroom. Lorraine has vowed to wear the Santa hat I bought her all day long. She is still excited from our Christmas shopping extravaganza last week. We skipped in and out of 5 stores buying gifts and baking supplies, just the two of us. Her wide-eyed excitement is absolutely contagious!

As we pulled into the parking lot of Hobby Lobby (our most favorite store,) I got a call from Josh who was at home with the other kids. Apparently Aggie had a seizure while climbing on the bunk bed and fell straight back from the top. She was still having the seizure after she fell, so for several minutes she just laid there unaware of any pain at all. Both of the little boys knew this was NOT normal and were making a huge fuss about it. It took her about a half hour to really notice her aches and pains, and she spent the rest of the night snuggling daddy on the couch. As Josh and I talked about this, the familiar ache in my heart for Aggie returned, and the laundry list of worries I have for her future began to replay in my head. (She was a little bruised but otherwise just fine the next day.)

I slowly closed the phone and looked at the giddy toddler sitting next to me. “OH mommy I see more Christmas lights in Hobby Lobby! Are you ready? Let's go let's go let's go!”

How does one jump from that phone call back into the joy of Christmas shopping? I was startled by the dissonance I felt, the conflict between the joy of Christmas preparation and the pain that cast dark shadows over it all.

I suspect most adults feel this tension during the holidays. We sense the dissonance between the apparent holiday joy and bliss in every store and every Christmas song, and the feelings of fear, grief, or sadness that we wrestle with in our secret hearts. The festivities of this time of year can make the sorrows seem even deeper, the loneliness even more lonely.

Glitter and bells are out of place, and sometimes downright annoying when paraded in front of our pain. How can we be expected to sparkle with JOY when we all we can see is the huge hole where a loved one used to be? How do we hold on to HOPE when we see sickness in the sunken eyes of our own child?

Christians have always been people acquainted with grief, people whose hearts are sometimes torn with this conflict, yet the church has stubbornly and enthusiastically celebrated Christmas in the darkness year after year. God gave us His very own Son, and we see the nearness of God even in this place of pain. Our God does not stand far away, merely cheering us on through the darkness, He comes to dwell with us right in the middle of it.

This time of year, we are surrounded with tangible reminders of the hope we have because God is with us. Candles flicker and we sing praises to the Light that has come into the world. Bells ring with joy as we remember promises made and fulfilled in Jesus. Glitter sparkles on angel wings and we look forward to the blessings to come when our Lord returns.

We dwell in darkness, but the love of Him who sent His Son shines brightly. And so this year, like every other year, God's children gather together in the night, lift up their heads, light candles, and sing songs at the top of their voices, testifying to the world that God is indeed with us, and the darkness is passing away.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Thoughts from Pastor Dan

Pastor Dan has been sending out weekly devotions for some time now. I found this one to be especially thought-provoking.

2 Peter 3: 9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

I remember Christmas as a child. The four candles on the Advent wreath defined eternity for me. I thought that the four weeks of Advent would last forever and that Christmas would never come. Looking forward to something wonderful can make time stand still. As we wait for the coming of the Lord, our anticipation of eternal life with our Lord may have a similar effect. Our sins are forgiven by Jesus through His death on the cross. We have nothing to fear in eternity, only God’s joy to receive in full measure. With this as our future, it is easy to become impatient for God’s promise to be fulfilled today. But, because of God’s Word I have a different perspective. In a sense, God waited for me, as did His church. When I was baptized my Savior gave me His Holy Spirit and His Saints in light rejoiced along with my congregation, and my parents. And so, it is now my joy to wait with my Savior and with His church for all those who are still to come. This last Saturday I baptized a little girl. My Lord was waiting for her. And as I saw her receive God’s promise in baptism, time has begun to move again, and all too quickly. For, I long with my Lord for all to reach repentance. I can wait for others, for my Lord and His people waited for me. May God’s patient love inspire your faithful witness to Jesus throughout the Advent season. For the blessings that God has given to us, are blessing that he intends for all nations. Pastor Dan Johnson (St. Paul's Hillsdale)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Does anyone have....

Does anyone out there (local) happen to have a bunch of old-fashioned clothes pins laying around or know where I can get some? I have this great craft project to do with the kids but I just can't find them in the stores! I'm looking for the kind with the round tops and no spring (not the alligator looking kind!)

Please email or post if you can help!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent begins!

The countdown has started- I just LOVE this time of year! This year we are picking one 'ornament' off our little tree each day until Christmas day. The ornament is a little Scripture verse which we read during devotions, then glue on a train car and post in the kitchen. Yes, I do have a tendency to make things complicated.... (you should see my list of Christmas crafts to do with the kids!) but so far we are having fun with it!

I must say it especially fun to have toddlers this time of year. Especially Lorraine, who shares in the BLISS of every little holiday memory with me. The day after we put up the tree, Lorraine got up before everyone else, got some books about Christmas, and sat by the tree to read them by only the lights of the tree (it was still very dark out.) Yesterday before she came home from school I made sure to turn on every Christmas light in the house AND play Christmas music. When she got home, we made hot chocolate and cuddled on the couch to listen to the lovely music.

In the meantime, Marcus loves stealing ornaments off the tree. So far nobody has eaten any Christmas lights, though Marcus did try to eat a Christmas bulb. Seth loves all the chocolate in the house all the time, and Agnes is a huge fan of rainbow candy canes. Today we finger painted with fake spray snow (I had to mop the floors anyway, so why not?) I do hope we get SOME real snow here in Indiana- the blizzard that came as we were leaving Michigan on monday sure did make everything beautiful up there!

Advent is a time of excitement and anticipation- and toddlers sure know how to live with excitement! Praying everyone reading this gets a taste of this kind of JOY and excitement during this busy season!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reasons to Give Thanks

Thanks for the great weekend Mom and Dad!
We loved our surprise birthday party!!!!!