Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers! I’m sorry this greeting is late. The power cord to my computer was broken until today but I‘m pretty sure that Jesus’ birth isn’t meant to be celebrated on just December 25th.

I love the Christmas hymn, “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”. Immanuel means God with us. God-with-us. God did not stay in heaven, unattainable. He came to be with us.

Cruising through Pandora’s Christmas stations, I heard this song and it’s my favorite of the season.  

Now my night has turned to day

An empty manger, empty grave

Baby born so I could say

Now my night has turned to day

Thank you, Jesus, for coming an being with us.

Seems almost wrong to write this after that but if you LOVE that song, follow this link to Amazon for the song and 4 awesome others.

Friday, December 23, 2011


That’s right- we saw an Alaska license plate!

Wednesday. Late afternoon. Near the Ames Ice Rink. He was pulling out. We were pulling in.  He was on his happy merry way. We were screaming ALASKA with our faces plastered against the glass.

We’re down to 5- D.C., Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Vermont Smile

New here and wondering what in the blazes I’m talking about? Read here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Are You Ready For Mutiny?

That’s right! We’re talking take over the ship, manning the wheel, blasting to smithereens some lies being fed to us by our comfy Christian culture! After being stirred by Kisses From Katie, haunted by Happy Day projects, I am now ready to swab the poop decks of my life with “7”. Arrr you with me?

Okay, after some wiki-searching, poop decks aren’t really for poop. It’s like the top deck at the back of a ship or something.

Anyway… Tally-Ho!

Really, truly, those two things, along with a handful of other things, have sort of rocked my boat this fall. Funny thing is, I wasn’t exactly seeking out this kind of treasure, or at least this wasn’t the trail I expected to take.

I’m gonna get right to the big red X that I don’t want you to miss out on. (Plus, I might be running out of pirate-isms. It’s been a while since I watched Jack Sparrow.)

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

Because you might think I’m totally losing it (I did tell you I was on the brink of insanity on Sunday , Friday.), you are just going to have to read part of it for yourself. Click on this link to take you to the publisher’s site where you can download the intro and first chapter to read. It’s not a hard read, I promise you.

Once you’re done, head over to Amazon to pre-buy. Pre-buying books on Amazon are the way to go! You purchase it at a discounted price but as a really nice perk, Amazon will reimburse you the difference if the book price drops from your original purchase price but they won’t charge you more if it goes up.

If you’ve read Crazy Love by Francis Chan, Kisses From Katie, The Hole in Our Gospel, Radical, etc. and are waiting for the next something, this just might be it. Please note, this might not. I’ve only read the intro and first chapter- I might have been at sea too long, a little salt exchanged for brain matter.

Or maybe I’m just getting my sea legs.

I talk of Jen Hatmaker like she and I are high school friends. We’re not. We’re only FB friends and she friends everyone. No one asked me to write this. I’m not getting a complimentary copy, etc. I just wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Day-te

Today, I got the best gift: Bill surprised me by staying home and being with me all day!! He’s been so busy serving me and my family, saving the world from sandpaper shortages and building amazing boxes that hang on walls, that our “just us” time just hasn’t happened in a long time. Yesterday, I think I was at the brink of insanity- no wait, that was Friday. So for him to say today that he was staying home just to be with me, well, I felt really, really loved.

So what did we do? Caught a 10:35 am showing of the new Sherlock Holmes movie. We went to the movie theater in the morning!! On a Monday!! I’ve never done that before. There were four other people there. Then we got some lunch and ran a few errands before the kids came home from school. (After 16 years, we no longer consider going to Lowe’s a date, but inevitably we still stop there regularly on our dates.)

And that was my day-te with Bill.

He is the best!

Day 19 At the Movies

{I’m doing a December Daily- taking at least 1 picture a day for the month of December- and editing them with a new app, Pixl-o-matic, hence the post-processing on the picture. This is my Day 19.}

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Moment Caught Seeing

 I had cruised through the back alley to the parking lot of one craft store and then zipped down to the other end, my hunt proving unfruitful at both places. As I walked back to my car, I saw a man and a sign.

I didn’t need my perfect vision to see the writing.

I was prepared.

In my car for the last month has sat gallon sized bags eager to be given away. I assembled them out of the bounty of my own drawers- it practically cost me nothing to make them.

I was eager then but a month later they remained still un-given. I had even recently thought how pathetic of a life I had that I didn’t cross paths with someone needing one. None of my daily errands took me to places where lives were lived in the out. I wondered if my community was taking such good care of them that they didn’t need cardboard and a marker.

But today I saw.

And I sat in my car for more than a moment contemplating what to do.

How do I give it? What do I say? Do I get out of my car? There’s nothing in here but a few barely enough essentials. Will that even help him at all?

It is amazing how much a Ziploc bag can say in its silence.

You can’t make up some blessing bags, tote them in your car and then not give them.

I asked if my offering would be helpful.

He said Merry Christmas to me.

Our eyes met but mine fell away first, my welling up ready to overflow.

I was sad for his pain.

But, oh, I was ashamed. For not dying to myself faster. For my good, Christian charity which really meant my piety. For thinking I was thankful for him just so I could give away one of my  bags!

I drove away, humbled.

God had wanted my “yes”. He wanted me to practice. To see.

Today was a moment caught seeing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It’s Concert Season, Part 2

Last night was Ben’s turn for the Christmas Concert season. Though he doesn’t love music, he’s still a good sport about the whole thing.

Classic Ben.

Ben's Not Thrilled

Side Hat Ben.

Ben's Side Hat

Reading Ben. (He read his lines very slowly and clearly- yay!)

Ben Reading

I got lucky with the song I decided to record; it’s adorable and the kids sang it really well.

Once the concert was over, Ben was hoping he’d get to stay for the boys basketball game that was going on at the same time but he had to go home. Only I got to stay since I had concession stand duties. (I’m an expert in adding two pops, 1 candy bar, 1 nachos grande and 1 popcorn now. $9)

p.s.- I also finally fixed Luke’s concert video so you can watch it. Sorry Grandma and Aunt Densie.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

While I’m At It…

I didn’t want to do this. Well, I sort of did, but I was putting it off, thinking the whole things would go away. I figured everyone has seen it circulate on Facebook and that’s well enough. My thoughts are my thoughts and I’ll just keep them to myself. I know what you could be thinking, “Great! Finally! For once!”

Well, today’s not that day. Smile

Today is a blog hopping, link clicking day related to giving gifts at Christmastime. These are other’s thoughts feeding into mine. So while I’m in the middle of it all, I thought you might want to join in.

Start here with Jen Hatmaker’s latest blog installment- A Christmas Conundrum. (psst… you can’t really get the rest of my blog post if you don’t read it.)

See what I mean? I was actually glad she wrote it all. It says to the world “Hey, we ARE doing this! We know, we look weird, we’re okay with that. Want to join us?” I do. I really, really do!

So last night the kids made out some wish lists. I tried the idea on them, gently, nonchalantly. My kids have a high sensitivity to their mom’s crazy ideas, so I had to act cool. Something you want, something you need, something to give, something to read. All went well until the something to give- mostly, I think because they aren’t quite sure how to think about it. Questions came popping up like “Do we all have to give towards the same thing?” “Why do we have to buy an animal or whatever? Can’t we just give money to the organization?” I didn’t have answers for them (except the last because, really, what organization is going to refuse money?). Their questions are a part of the thinking through process. And it’s also a part of the wrestling with selfishness process.

But you know how when God wants to get your attention He just sort of puts reminders in front of you time and time again? Yeah- so today’s mail contained Aunt Denise’s December prayer letter. Turkeys are a means to the gospel in Africa. I waved the little card to them from the couch. “This could be it!”

Popping in on a favorite blog, I was stopped in my tracks. So head over to Ann’s blog for When Christmas Gets Radical. Be sure to read it all. Then follow the links she has at the bottom. (Since I don’t want you to miss them, here they are: The Rich Family in Church and this one is a 10 minute video clip- The Gospel Demands Radical Giving.)

Wow! Bold statements! Radical thoughts!

So whatcha gonna do? I don’t know but I did read through the comments left on Jen’s blog and one person asked what she should do. She said she was full in the whole thing- could she jump ship mid-stream? Jen’s response encouraged her to start in some way and go from there. She said her own family’s process has been four years in the overhaul. For Ann’s it has been ten years in the making. You don’t get there overnight.

I’m not even sure what it’s going to end up looking like in our own family. It will undergo many changes, I’m sure. But while I’m at it, won’t you join me?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Books

I love a well written children’s book. A really good one can hold not only a child’s attention but also an adult’s. They can be read over and over, tasted, savored, swallowed to leave you satisfied, yet ready for more if the reader’s voice can last that long.

Here are three of my favorite picture books to add to your Christmas books.

Christmas Books

Let’s start with Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed. Yes, he’s the same guy for the Opus cartoons. He said he simply put pictures onto paper the story his dad told him every Christmas eve. Uh huh. That really isn’t the point of this book. A sour-puss boy with a Christmas wish crosses paths with an old man looking peculiarly like Santa. That’s right. I said Santa. That’s not the point of this book, though. It even has a little elvery, magic and lying in it. That’s right. I said lying. That’s not the point of this book, though. It’s a wonderful story that had my 9 year old scanning every picture, my uninterested 6 year old quiet from playing with his hot wheel cars, and my 13 year old… well, my 13 year old that evening didn’t want to enjoy it then. She’ll come around, though.

I first heard The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski one Sunday morning read to Audrey and her class by her teacher, Tori Haverkamp. It was beautiful and haunted my memory until I got it for myself. A little boy and his mother have just moved into a new town. They ask a very grumpy woodcarver, Jonathan Toomey, to carve for them a new nativity scene because theirs was lost. And now I can’t go on because I will start crying. It’s a tear-jerker, for certain, but a beautiful tear-jerker. You will want to have some tissues handy and also your 13 year old so she can finish reading it for you.

I think a big fear many people have about the previous two books and books like them is that if you read them only fiction, they will never know the truth and here the subject being the truth of Christmas- the birth of Christ. We don’t condone lying in our house (but remember, that wasn’t the point). We don’t teach that Santa is real. But a good story is one that masterfully weaves truths into a delightful scene so that if you look for them, you will find them and then the savoring will be all that much sweeter. And so I’m going to take a stab at a sore point- many Christian books fail. Oh, they’ve got truth all right, but it’s so numbed, it leaves little room for imagination. For a child (or adult) to enter into the story and see themselves as a character and how they could respond to such situations, that is the real power of good story-telling.

All that being said, I believe One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham hits the telling of the Christmas story right on. It starts with a boy getting lost in a snow storm, only to find shelter in a warm cabin which an old family friend lives in. She takes the opportunity to share the Christmas story with him while the storm passes. But she doesn’t just start with an angel appearing before Mary and Joseph. No, she takes it back to the beginning- creation- and from there she shares with him many key stories to show him why, not just how, the birth of Christ came to be. But the story isn’t over at the manger scene; the woman completes it. If you think the point of Christmas is Jesus being born, just to remain a babe, then you must read the end of this book. This book will take you several nights to finish reading but I don’t think you’ll mind. The illustrations alone are memorable. If you were going to add one to your library this year, I’d pick this one first.

I know my opinion here on books is very strong. You can think differently. After all, it is my opinion, not the gospel truth.   

Happy Christmas reading, friends!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It’s Concert Season, Part 1

That’s right everyone. It’s Christmas concert time. So settle back and enjoy the entire Pre-K, K concert.

Just kidding.

Classic Luke.


Normal Luke.


Clock Luke.


With his first school concert done, Luke’s impression was that it went good and bad. Good because everyone clapped for them when they were done singing. Bad because they forgot to leave to go back to their classroom and the teacher had to tell them to leave. Classic Luke.

Friday, December 2, 2011

When Valor Comes to Play

The oldest cousin is in charge of bottle time.

Oldest with Youngest

There’s a stare-off contest. (Ben looks ominous, but he’s really a big softie when it comes to babies.)


And someone get’s to prove his mama wrong and “An Minny” got clean up duty twice in less than an hour! (Beth said he’s a twice a day pooper and he’d already met his quota. Really?! Could have fooled me!)

Under Valor

I know, hard to believe this sweet dumplin’ is capable of such things! Smile