Monday, December 30, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Here's a little re-cap of our Christmas Eve, for posterity's sake: 

1. An early morning "Saint Nick" secret delivery to some poor families in our area.  Loved watching Jude learn about joyful giving! A repeat tradition next year! 

 2. Finishing up those peanut butter balls that have been on my to-do list all month.  Worth the effort!

3. Christmas Eve dinner at home.  Our usual menu: David's mother's meatball recipe and mashed potatoes! 

4. A sweet, sweet friend called to say she had a Christmas surprise for the boys.  FIVE FISH.  That's right, we got fish for Christmas.  And we couldn't be happier.  Love these precious friends God has given us.  

5. "Drawing" the Christmas story with Daddy at our little Christmas Eve Bible lesson.     

6. And now...the stockings are hung by the fire with care, and we're all settling in for a loong winter's nap.  

Merry Christmas Eve! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

brokenness & the baby

It is Christmas time.  The celebration of a little baby, born to save the world.

Advent, the time to particularly remember that babe, has been sweeter than usual to me this year. I think it has a little to do with the past few months.  There have been rougher waters than usual around here.

I've been giving thanks a lot in this season for my boys.  My wild, sweet, adventurous boys.  I've also been thinking about what it would look like if that precious little one we lost were still growing warm and strong inside of me.

I wish he were.

But this is a broken world, and death and pain are inescapable parts of that brokenness. The brokenness that is all around us.  The lady I saw today, literally lying in the middle of the road.  The half dozen beggars that knocked on my window this morning as we drove through the city.  The swollen bellies of children not that far away.

Into that brokenness, came a little babe bathed in light.  A babe born to grow strong and healthy, who would give himself willingly over to pain, sorrow, death.

He became flesh and dwelt among us. God became flesh and dwelt among us.

This is what moves me at Christmas time most. That reality that perfection broke into this fallen world and took on the ordinary joys and pains of life here.  Jesus born in a manger, not in a castle.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Rejoice, friends, rejoice.

He has come.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holly Jolly

A few of our holiday happenings, in random order:

1. I'll let you guess who's spent most of December ripping things off the tree and shouting "ball" as ornaments roll across the floor. 

2. Put a big check beside sugar cookie baking.  

3. Introducing our neighborhood best friend to The Grinch cartoon.  It's pretty much been on repeat all month.  We love Dr. Seuss. 

4. Mom's pick for bedtime story reading is The Golden Book Classic: The Animals' Christmas Eve. 

Up next, we have a visit to the Gingerbread House, peanut butter ball rolling, and a wild adventure at a local "Snow World" park.  We're ready for Christmas....even over here on the far side.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Vacation

Most of you know that Jude spends his mornings at preschool.  He goes for about 2.5 hours every day while I stumble through my language classes. Tomorrow is his last day before Christmas vacation though and we are all ready for a little break from the usual. His two week break will be followed by a very sunny vacation to a little island off the coast.  Bring it on!

I took a few minutes this afternoon to wade through the masses of craft blogs out there.  I admit, I don't do it just plain overwhelms me.  My eyes start to glaze over after about 20 minutes. I did come away with some success though.

Here are a few fresh ideas that I stumbled across that I hope we'll do during Christmas vacation:

Three Wise Men Handprint Craft (At Simply Cindy)

Manger Footprint (From The Yummy Factory)

Potato Print Frosty Cards (From The Crafty Crow

All Kings Will Bow (Coloring page at Christian Preschoolers)

Christmas Tree Farm (At Joyfully Weary)

Q-Tip Tree Painting and Felt Tree Project (At SchoolTimeSnippets)

Snow Car Ramp -  compliments of Grammar's bag of snow (At Buggy and Buddy)

TP Roll Christmas Prints (From Sun Hats & Wellie Boots)

Link up any ideas you have for holiday fun as well. 

Here's to a Merry Christmas Vacation! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sunday Lunch

This is the land of late eating.  Most of the restaurants in our neck of the woods won't even serve us until after 1pm. The closest "fast food" is a 30 minute drive away.  It's been a Sunday dilemma for 2 years. We get out of church at 11am and the boys are usually napping by 1pm. So this weekend, we tried a new asian breakfast place in lieu of our usual leftovers at home.  Our $2 bill for dosas and poori was definitely a least with the parents!

Maybe it's not quite the Backyard Burger we were used to, but it's progress! Here's to Idli, Dosa & Me! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Recently, I was able to put a word to what I have been feeling for the past month or so.  Naming seasons helps me.  It brings life a little more into the light so I can look at it, assess it, and move forward.


I find myself in a season that feels like an almost constant state of resistance. There are a number of factors that are pushing into this massive force that sometimes seems as if it will knock me over.  Here are a few that I have identified.

I live in what I would call an "aggressive" culture.  If I want to pay for my groceries, I probably need to push in line a bit, stick my hand in front of someone else's, or wedge my body in between someone and myself.  That is the way things are done here.  If I want to drive from point A to point B, I need to drive defensively, aggressively the entire time. Hands on the wheel, focus the attention, and push against the 9 million other people in the city who seem to be resisting my route choice.  The aggression is compounded by a massive population. The best way I know to describe the impact on my life is to say that I feel like I am in a constant state of resistance.

Please don't misunderstand this next factor.  I love my children.  I like my children.  I have fun with them.  They are ever in my mind and I am so glad I am their mom.  But they are in an age of resistance.  I do not think it would be a grand exaggeration to say that I am usually pulling one child and chasing the other.  Their movement toward a healthy independence is, at this phase of life, resistant to authority.  They are learning.  But there's still a lot of resistance.  I really do usually wake up sore in the mornings...not from a work out, but from chasing and wrangling my boys.

Another area of resistance that we find particularly powerful at this time of the year, when Christ's birth is forefront, is in the spiritual realm.  In a country where over 330 million gods are regularly worshipped, monotheism is very obviously not the norm.  Swirling around our adoration of the One who proclaimed Himself to be the way, truth and life, is, very frankly, a lot of resistance.  There is at times almost a haze from the battle of unseen forces. And it is every bit as real as the other more tangible factors.

So what do I do with these areas that are at times crushing me in their resisting power? To be very honest, sometimes I get really angry.  I've been angry more in the past two years that I remember being ever for an extended period of time.  The follow up on that is a very deep rooted weariness, the kind that gets in your bones and is hard to recover.  I am still working out what it looks like to meet this season of resistance in a healthy way.

One very basic, and very helpful word for me though has become acceptance. This is my life. This is the world I live in. For every angle of resistance, there are ten more angles of beauty, power and true joy.  It all comes in together.  And I have to meet it that way.

Faith looks not at what is seen, not at what seems to crush and conquer...but at God, who is able and abundant.  God, who is omnipotent yet gentle.  God, who is completely sovereign and yet gives us freedom.

God, who is not resisting us.  He is giving to us.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cows & Cake

Saw this at a birthday party recently and loved it.  The theme was farm animals and it was all super cute.  

I might be stealing the idea for Silas in a couple of months...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekend Review

Here're a few tidbits from our little house.

1. One of the highlights of our weekend was definitely the children's Christmas program at our church. The boys loved it. (Not, of course, enough to want to be in it:) I felt a bit nostalgic. The first time we went to our church was 2 years ago this December. We happened in upon their Christmas program, loved it, and have gone there ever since. Grateful.

2. I think I've told you before, but let me repeat myself: Silas is crazy. This morning, my sweet hubs was taking the boys out to give me a little quiet. He ran back inside to grab something, and when he went back out in the hallway, Silas was gone. Gone. Jude, the responsible elder brother, was sitting in the stroller. David ran up and down the stairwells. No Silas. He ran down to our guards. No Silas. They were all looking. Shouting. Running. Jude was still sitting in the stroller calling for Silas. David was heading up the stairwell again in case he missed him. Silas likes the stairs. The guards starting shouting again. Silas landed on the first floor in the elevator. He was with a man who had ridden down with him from fourteen. Yes, floor 14. He had taken the elevator to 14 alone, ridden down with a very confused neighbor and was perfectly happy. Does this give you an inkling about what we're dealing with here:)

3. Jude loved our craft for the weekend: Strawberry Santas! How cute are these?

Happy Monday! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

a man of courage

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.  
Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

great aunt louella

My sister called me late last night to tell me the news that our Great Aunt Louella had died. She was 98 years old and still lived alone in a tiny white box house where the road bends through the Tennessee hills.

Her backyard is the pasture I adored as a girl, where my cousins and I ran our summers away in the way of an almost forgotten age. We pulled into her driveway in the Easters of my childhood because her flowers were always in fullest bloom. Purple and pink phlox poured out of her beds like they were spilling into the countryside.

Her yard was impeccably neat, even in the solitary years since her husband's death. I don't think I ever even went inside her house. The view from her porch was enough to merit a chair, and diminish the necessity of the indoors. It was built in the time when houses were a shelter, meant only to keep you from the elements, not lure you away from open skies and canopy of trees.

She was well known in that tiny community for her strawberry cake. It was the high point for me of church socials, held at the same brick structure my grandfather helped build with his own hands. She worshipped every Sunday for these last years of widowhood, beside my own dear grandmother. Her white hair was "set" in the bluish and puffed fashion of that generation.

She was something of a landmark to me. A symbol of an unchanging world that still exists in rural America, where "development" is hardly the rage.

I have been turning that corner in my mind all day, watching for her on the porch and remembering the mighty tree in her yard. Thinking of the time my cousin was shooting his bb gun at unsuspecting cars, until Aunt Louella found out the matter. We were not close, but she was always very kind. Our communication limited to family gatherings and potlucks. I don't suppose I had ever really considered her an important landmark in my life, the way I sometimes fail to notice a very ordinary structure, until it begins to fall away.

But as I sat on my couch last night, in a land very far from that bend in the Tennessee hills, my cheeks were wet with tears. Her life was quiet and common. Her days were spent, for the most part, in a tiny corner of this world's terrain, in such a limited way that my modern mind cannot comprehend. But she mattered. Her steadfast faithfulness to live day after day, to do her portion in an unglamorous and self forgetful way are lessons to me in this, the age of the spectacular. She was a beautiful person.

I will remember her. I wanted you to know of her too.

And when, in an unknown future's moment, I turn that bend in the road, I will miss her.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Had a friend's husband take some pics this weekend. Oh. I. LoVe.these guys.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Miscellany

1. We put up our tree this weekend and we have some very excited little boys on our hands! Probably on the top of my list for "sights" this year: Jude stumbling out of bed in his footie pajamas each morning to go turn his tree on.  He is lovin' the festivities this year! 

2.  A very sweet friend ordered Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift for me as an Advent devotional.  I can already see ways that it is helping me refocus and wait in stillness.  I'm lighting candles this year...long after the wee ones are in that I can really be still and wait and drink in the hope. 

"He gave up the heavens that were not even large enough to contain Him and lets Himself be held in a hand.  The mystery so large becomes the Baby so small, and infinite God becomes infant.  The Giver becomes the Gift, this quiet offering."  A.V. 

3. This podcast with Phil Vishner on Focus on the Family was so helpful for me in thinking through how to teach the kids about Christmas in light of current cultural trends.  Listen in if you have a chance!

4. Hubs will be in and out this week on business...and my wild monkeys are acting like, well, like wild monkeys.  Love the reminder of how much I lean on that sweet man.  He is a gift. As are the wild monkeys, just for the record! 
5. Silas is obsessed with the nativity set.  He carries it around the house by the little handle and puts those Bible characters in some precarious situations.  Today I found Joseph in the trunk of the elephant that shoots out balls. He got stuck on his staff before going airborne. 
Happy Monday!