Saturday, December 29, 2007

Post Christmas Puniness

Is that a word? Or is it "Puniosity?" "Puni-esque?" "Puni-ose?"

When I was a little girl and I wasn't feeling well, my Nana would ask me, "Are you feeling puny?" If she were here today to ask me that, I would have to say yes!

We had a wonderful pre-Christmas weekend. I had everything bought, wrapped, arranged, cooked, prepared, packaged, and tied-with-a-bow. Christmas Eve day the kids made beautiful gingerbread cookies for Santa before we went over to my father-in-law's house. We had our usual fun time at his house on Christmas Eve, complete with a Santa sighting (and Santa tripped the trap and got away, like he does every year... he's very sneaky!) Christmas morning we had a wonderful time here at home as a family seeing what Santa brought and opening our gifts, enjoying our traditional breakfast of sausage balls and muffins. Then we headed over to my parents' home where Mom had outdone herself preparing a beautiful Christmas lunch of turkey and all the trimmings. We went from there over to Luke's mom's where we enjoyed time around her HUGE tree with all of the siblings and cousins. It's always so much fun! But... BOY was I tired! In addition, my throat was beginning to hurt, bad. And I had a toothache. Always a fun combination.

The next day, I woke up feeling not-so-good, so I purposed that I would spend the day in my flannel PJ's, staying in and staying warm, taking it easy while the kids had time to finally stay in one place and enjoy their presents. I had put a lot of energy into the preceding days and I decided I needed a break. I had nothing on the schedule. I had it all planned out... and then the phone rang. It was my dentist's office. They had a cancellation and would I like to come in and let him get started on my root canal? There I sat in my comfy PJ's with my hair all up in a ponytail, thinking to myself, "You know, when I got up this morning with a sore throat, tired from our Christmas Tour 2007 (and looking oh-so-good I might add) I thought to myself how much I would love to go have a root canal today!"

So, of course I went. Not only was my tooth hurting, it really helped to go while it could go on our 2007 insurance. Meanwhile, the rest of the family began coughing and sniffling. I knew by the next day that I had a sinus infection for sure, and I have decided that a sinus infection with a side of root canal is NOT a fun way to spend one's anniversary (which we celebrated Thursday.) I wasn't feeling all that cute, but my sweet husband looked at me like I was anyway. I was reminded that that's one of the hundreds of reasons I married him. :)

And here we are. Everyone's taking their medicines and I am so hopped up on cold medicine and Darvo*cet that the kids are keeping track on a little tablet in the kitchen when they take medicine, so I don't OD someone.

Happy New Year, indeed! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Welcome to Our Home

Welcome! I'm so glad you stopped by! Not much has changed (decorating-wise) around here since last year but I've taken some new shots from some new angles... Having this on my blog actually helped me this year when I couldn't remember how I had arranged some things. I just got on the internet and checked! (This year I didn't do a slide show, since I know those are difficult for my friends with dial-up.) I'm sorry if the smell of my Yankee Christmas Cookie candle faked you out... I haven't had time to bake cookies yet today. But I do have some great coffee...
Anyway, without further ado, welcome to our home!

This is my grandmother's foil tree that she always had in her home and then in her little apartment. I inherited it and it is such a treasure to me. It sits on the glass table in my entry way with the lights under it. Someday maybe I'll get a color wheel!

Here's the tree. From the looks of it I'd better log off my computer and get to shopping and wrapping!

This is one of my favorite new decorations, a gift from a friend. I love plugging it in each morning while the house is still dark.

Here's our big mantle. It covers one whole wall in our family room and every year this intimidates me! For years I did 33 candles of various sizes (one for each year of Jesus' eartly life.) This year I just did greenery and lights.

This is a rug I picked up this year. Everywhere I see the word "Joy" and it's catching my eye more than ever, as we have pretty much decided that will be our new daughter's middle name. I love seeing this rug with the little African chairs on either side.
Here is my little Christmas village on my cookbook shelf in the kitchen. I just love Dollar Tree!

Here are our gingerbread houses in the china cabinet, where they live each year. We learned our lesson one year when our dog helped himself...

I haven't collected the whole Willow Tree set yet, but I found this stained glass Bethlehem last year and I think it looks great with the pieces I do have.

My daughter's tree

My son's tree

The view from upstairs. Notice the sleeping Dachshund curled up on the couch cushion. It's his birthday today!

Each new candle brings us one week closer to Christmas Day! I just love this time of year.

Thanks so much for stopping by our home, and thanks, Boomama , for hosting us.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Catching Up

Have you had a good week? I hope so!

We've been caught up in the Christmas busy-ness around here, so I thought I would get "caught up" on my blog as well.

I made a decision recently to focus more on relationships, especially during the month of December. It has been a wonderful, "relational" week or so for us. As a result, I've had to play "catch up" on some housework and I'm a bit behind on my Christmas shopping (!!) but I believe God will bless my efforts to focus more on... people.

Last Friday we spent the day at a friend's house just being together. I can't think of when we've done that. It's been just forever. Our boys soaked up time running around outside together and our girls enjoyed chatting, making crafts and... more chatting. That's just what the moms were doing (minus the crafts!) I realized that day that I needed to spend more time just being with people.

Saturday Bethany and I headed over to my niece's "princess party." We both wore our tiaras and had a fantastic time being with all the other princesses. It was so fun to get caught up with my brother and his sweet family. The kids are all growing so fast.

We started our week "back to business" with school, after our busier-than-usual Awana night the night before. Tuesday as we were starting our day, my daughter said in her usually bright sing-songy voice, "Hey! Christmas is two weeks from toDAY!!" Well, oh my word. That got me going. We hadn't bought any presents! So after some reading that morning, we did the only thing I knew to do. Went shopping. (We ended up getting all of the gifts for my nieces and nephews, and one thing for my cute husband!)

While we were out, we saw some dear friends and we stopped and... just talked. There we stood with our shopping carts amid the shoppers whirring all around us, talking about our adoption, the mission opportunities that are on our hearts, what our kids are up to, good books, fun memories... The blur of holiday busy-ness and buying was interrupted by... relationship.

Before I could even get the packages to the car, my cell phone rang and it was my cute husband asking if I thought we could make it to an adoption meeting that night. He really felt it was one we should go to, and since my prayer each day is that he'll be directing us in this area I said, "Sure!" (while glancing at my watch, wondering how I'd get the gifts and groceries home in time to meet him.) Our kids enjoyed going to their Grandma's house and decorating her (HUGE) tree with their cousin and aunts, laughing, eating and enjoying... relationship. Luke and I enjoyed a wonderfully informative meeting, forging ahead in our adoption process. We stopped for soup afterward on the way to pick up our kids and enjoyed some precious time together alone to "compare notes" about what we're each thinking. I love time like that with my husband! I just love our relationship.

Thursday we went over to my mom and dad's house and helped "deck the halls." We had a great time looking at all of her pretty Christmas decorations and finding creative ways to display the many beautiful things she has collected over the years. The kids jumped right in helping Gram get out boxes and arrange things. My dad has a spur-of-the-moment business trip to Korea next week, so we listened as he was making his plans and learned all about what he'll be doing. He was in Korea for a year when he was in the army before I was born, so the kids listened to some of his stories and some of the Korean phrases he remembers. I'm so glad we got to see them before he leaves. And their house looks beautiful, if I do say so myself!

This morning we went to our church where they were having a Christmas shop for some of the economically disadvantaged people in our community. There were wonderful new gifts that parents could come and buy with vouchers (that they had received, based on their situations). We enjoyed talking to the people who came to shop and we gift-wrapped their presents for them and invited them to our Christmas Eve services. It was a wonderful time of being with friends and enjoying blessing others in our community. As I was wrapping Dora the Explorers, new tennis shoes, and bottles of perfume, I was praying for the givers as well as the recipients of those gifts. It was a wonderful time! The coordinators of the Christmas shop treated us all to Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for lunch and we got to enjoy chatting with friends we haven't seen in awhile. Such fun relationships!

As I type this I can hear the chatter coming from my daughter's room... Her sweet friends who are "missionary kids" in China are staying with us for the weekend. What a treat! I can hear laughter, expressive conversation, and the strumming of a guitar. Across the room from me, my son and husband are playing a fun game of Yahtzee. The sounds of relationship are all around me and I just love it!

We've been lighting our advent candle each night and enjoying focusing on the most important relationship of all, and the One who makes all of these other relationships possible.

Isn't this a wonderful season?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Menu Monday

Well, it's Monday again! I haven't posted since last Monday, when my mind was too full of our adoption news to post anything else... including our menu. And I haven't posted anything in a week because we've been happily busy with all the stuff of the season. I say "happily"... but let me share with you the verse that hit me square between the eyes this morning:

"Be hospitable to one another without complaint."
1 Peter 4:9

We hosted our annual Awana Leader Christmas Dinner last night, and had the Christmas party for the leaders' kids who are school-aged. I spent last week gathering goody-bag goodies, craft materials, etc. for the kids party and door prizes and decorations for the "grown-up" party. We ended up with close to 150 adults and about 80 kids. That's a lot of folks! And, I have to admit... I was a bit stressed. And yesterday when we had to leave the house and miss yet another Cowboy game, on a cold and semi-rainy afternoon when it would've been so much more comfy to stay in and stay warm, I have to admit... I complained. Maybe not with words but in my stressed-out attitude. I don't know if anyone (besides my family) could tell, but that doesn't matter. God knew. He would know no matter how I behaved outwardly, for He hears the unspoken complaints of the heart.

Why did I share this today, on "Menu Plan Monday?" Because menus involve serving those who share your table, whether or not they live in your home, and whether or not that table is in your home. And serving food, whether at home, taking something to a potluck, delivering Christmas goodies to a school party, or having a large catered dinner, involves hospitality. And showing hospitality, I'm finding, is a privilege. It's a chance to receive others in Jesus' name, and to show Christ's love to others, thereby showing love to Christ Himself. I've been convicted today of how I sometimes treat hospitality as a chore, and I don't want to do that. That was a good reminder for me this morning as we are smack in the middle of the Christmas season. By His grace, there are still plenty more opportunities for me to cheerfully be hospitable in the coming weeks!

For our menu for this week, we're having a Geography dinner catch-up (which is SO not a problem for me since we're in the south... it's how we eat anyway!)

Monday: Chicken and dumplings (Mississippi)
Tuesday: Roast with all the fixin's, peach cobbler (Georgia)
Wednesday: Hoppin' John (Tennessee)
Thursday: Taco Soup
Friday: Leftovers

Visit Laura for more menus, and have a great week!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Some Fun News

There are a couple of pictures I neglected to post from our Thanksgiving camping trip, but now I think it's time...

This is a picture of one of the most memorable things we did. Here we are, filling out the paperwork to begin the process to adopt a little girl from Africa!!!!!

Our kids are so, so excited. Our son watched his Dad fill out the papers, and as we were driving home a couple of days later he was at the table reading and re-reading them!

We've spent the past week telling our family, our praying friends (who knew this was something we were moving toward), and this weekend we told our Sunday School class. I was wondering when I should post it on my blog, and this morning when I saw the People Group of the Day (in my sidebar), I took it as a "sign" that it was time to tell the news to my dear blogging friends!

This is something we have been praying about for some time. I can't say we always knew we would adopt, or even that it is something we have always wanted. This is just one example of all the ways God has been working in our family over the years, transforming us by His grace. I looked it up in my daily Bible over the weekend and the first time I noted in my Bible that we were praying seriously about adopting was January 12, 2004.

I've got so many more thoughts swirling around in my head and heart... I go back and forth between wanting to tell everyone I know and talk about it with whoever will listen, and just wanting to "ponder these things in my heart." I've got so much to share about what lead us to this point and the unique ways God has confirmed that it was His will for our family, including which country. But, I've got lots of months of waiting that I can spend blogging about those things... For now I just wanted to share our JOYous news with you, and humbly ask you to be praying with us, whatever God puts on your heart to pray. As I mentioned during our most recent trip to China, the prayers of my blogging friends have been a lifeline to me. God is so good.

Have a blessed, blessed day!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent with Preschoolers

It's the first Sunday of Advent! I'm so excited!

A couple of people asked in the comments a couple of posts ago about what I suggest for celebrating Advent with preschoolers. There are so many great ideas out there in blogland and all over the web, and while I don't have any earth-shattering new ideas, I have written a post on my homeschool blog about what we used to do.

Celebrating Advent with Preschoolers

Oh, how I pray that today begins a blessed season for your family!

Come, thou long expected Jesus....

Asking Questions

Elisabeth Elliot, in her book Secure in the Everlasting Arms writes:

"One often hears people say, "the first question I'm going to ask God when I get to heaven is..." During His final discourse with the disciples before He went to the cross they were asking Him many questions. Jesus said to them, "Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything" (John 16:22-23). The King James Version says, "You will ask me no question." May not the sight of Jesus Himself in His glory make all our questions seem redundant, if not simply foolish?"

That's a great point. I, too, have imagined myself arriving in heaven someday with a long list of questions for God... Questions, that if I'm honest with myself, call into question His judgement or sovereignty in certain situations. "Why did You allow that?" "What was I supposed to do about that?" "What possible good was this situation?" Even Biblical questions. I have a list of scriptures that I just. don't. understand. and I picture myself plopping a Bible in front of Him and asking Him "WHAT does this MEAN???" But, the reality is, when I finally see Jesus, the Word Himself, I won't have those questions because at that moment I will be beholding the very fulfillment of Scripture.

She continues:
"There are not many new questions in our very human hearts. When I examine my own heart and find that I am tempted to say to the Lord, "Yes, but--" or "What about--" or "How can I possibly--?" I find that He has questions for me:

Are you willing to understand?

To rearrange your life?

To be healed?

To lose your life for My sake?

Do you want solutions or holiness?

Answers or orders?

The light of Christ or your own logic?"

What got me today was this quote from Evelyn Underhill..."It is only disguised pride that makes us fret over what we can't understand." Ouch. Disguised pride. I must continually check for pride- disguised or not- in my life. And even in my questions.

A final quote from Ms. Elliot: "God will see to it that we understand as much truth as we are willing to obey."

On this foggy Sunday morning reading these words has brought one of my favorite hymns to mind:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Sure, I will continue to have questions. But if I hold them up to the "light of His glory and grace" they will be put in their proper perspective, and quite likely disappear altogether. And in that moment I will have just the tiniest glimpse of heaven.