Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christ in Christmas?

It's one of those things we hear everywhere this time of year.  "Keep Christ in Christmas" or remember the "Reason of the Season".  But how do you do that?  I mean really, how DO you?  Just like other sayings it kinda goes in one ear and out the other.  Does it mean that we make sure we read the Christmas story before everyone digs into the presents?  Does it mean we think of those less fortunate than ourselves?   Or maybe it's making sure we have nothing "santa-ish" sitting around. I would love to hear what you guys think...

My brother Jim and his wife playing Joseph & Mary
The past few years Christmas didn't really "feel" like Christmas.  2 years ago we were on our honeymoon.  Last year we were in Florida.  This year I've been so busy with substituting at school and getting everything else done.  It seems like we've been running ever since Thanksgiving.  With organizing the parade and then our church's Nativity the weekend after that, Christmas dinners, and working at my other job on Saturdays, and getting the shopping done... it's been crazy.

So then I think to myself,  "what is Christmas supposed to "feel" like"?  For me, I guess it's different things.  I think mostly to how it was when I was living at home.  Things like making cookies, having the whole family over to do chocolates, the kids coming for a sleepover, rearranging the presents mom had wrapped and driving her crazy, and just spending time with family.

We still do that now but it's different when you're married!  There are more responsibilities and other things to think about.  Like now when there are family get togethers you don't just show up, you're in charge to bring something too!  Life changes and you make new traditions.

I don't know if you've thought about the music playing as you go shopping and do your errands.  Sure, you hear all kinds of songs but what amazes me is the "Christian" songs being played everywhere.  Brad and I went to Red Lobster for our anniversary.  While we were feasting on shrimp and lobster I told Brad to stop and listen.  "Go Tell it on the Mountain" was coming from the speakers.  Did people even hear?  Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is LORD.  I wonder, with all this politically correct mumble jumble going on, how long will songs like that be played?  For some reason at Christmas, stations that wouldn't even mention Jesus, now play songs telling of his birth and life.  I think we as Christians should celebrate that.  Sure it's just at Christmas time but my prayer is that someone would hear the song and the message in it.  Let's pray that as those songs get played on rock and country stations all over, that someone would hear the song in a whole new way!!! 
This year I again made trays of cookies to take to the neighbors.  We have 2 close neighbors and they are the ones we took cookies to this year.  When we knocked on the door of the neighbor beside us the dear lady said "I guess you heard my husband passed away".  Brad and I were both shocked.  We had no idea!  Here our neighbor had passed away back in September and we had no clue.  No clue that just next door a family had been reeling from the news that their husband/father had cancer and a few short weeks later he was gone.  We stayed and chatted awhile and she told us all about his final days and how things have been since then.  It was a huge eye opener to me to seriously pay attention to those right around us. 

Each year I ask the Lord to show me something new in the Christmas story.  You know how when you hear the same things over and over again you kinda forget about the "story".  It seems every year, something hits me all over again.  With being so involved in the Nativity, there are oppurtunities everywhere to just let the Christmas story sink in.  

This year, it was Joseph.  I don't know exactly when it hit me or when I really thought about it.  He was the daddy to Jesus.  The DADDY to JESUS.  Seriously how would you do that?  A few years ago I thought of Mary and the HUGE calling on her life to be the MOTHER of JESUS but this year I thought of Joseph.  Maybe it was sometime in hearing my brother as he played the character of Joseph.  One of the lines he said was something like "How,  HOW, am I supposed to be a Father to the SON OF GOD?"  Jim did such a good job acting the part and it made me really think.  I wonder what all Joseph went through.  Mary???...yeah I'm sure things were amazing for her too but Jesus was in her womb.  Joseph???  He just had to fill the part.  Jesus was not his flesh and yet he took on the role of his earthly father.  What an amazing man Joseph must have been.  I picture him as this humble man, not easily riled up, confident in who he was and who he was called to be.  He must have loved his wife soo so deeply.  He had to, to not give a rip about what people were fussing about.  I'm sure he was Mary's rock when she got stressed out from the gossip flying all around her and even when she got those moments of "freaking out" about the calling on their lives.

In the stable, in the last scene in the nativity we do,Joseph sings a song called "How Could it Be".  One of the verses in the song goes like this..."Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours.  How can a MAN be FATHER to the SON OF GOD.  Lord for all my life I've been a simple carpenter.  How can I raise a KING."  I've just been letting that soak in.  Joseph took on that responsibility.  I can not imagine how he must've felt.

So back to my question.  How do you make sure that amidst all the hustle and bustle of getting the right gift for the right person, attending parties and get togethers, and do you keep your focus where it should be?  I think for me it's simply asking God to bring things to mind.  Sit down and let your imagination run wild.  How must've it been when Jesus was born.  Teaching first grade is the perfect place to let that happen!  One morning for devotions we talked about that.  Imagine what it was like.  The things they came up with were just precious.  It would be "scary" to be a shepherd and all of a sudden there are angels everywhere etc.!  But that's what does it for me.  Letting my mind go and imagine, and meditating on HIM.

It still baffles me though how ALL of God and who he is fit into one tiny, infant, helpless baby.   That the great and mighty LORD of the earth would humble himself and come down to earth just blows my mind!  And on top of that yet, that poor, little ole me may call him Father and he claims ME as his child...

To me....that is the REASON for the season.
Merry Christmas everyone and don't forget to Keep Christ in your Christmas this year!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Time's A comin

"Christmas Time's a Comin'...Christmas Times a Comin'...."  My mom used to always sing that song around this time of year and now it's ringing in my head too! 

I know there are lots of people who hate the way that Christmas is pushed before Thanksgiving even rolls around, but I guess I don't really feel that way.  I love having the house all Christmasy and cozy for the holidays.  We only get a few weeks till Christmas is over so I like to make good use of it! 
My hubby is one of the "scroogy" types!  He thinks it's ridiculous that Christmas starts so early.  He did give me "permission" though to decorate after Thanksgiving but not a moment before!.  Well....I got him persuaded to let me start Thanksgiving eve.  Neither of us had to work the next day and were able to sleep in.  We had to go to the barn to get a load of stuff out of there and when we got home we were both still feeling energetic.  Soooo we went to Sheetz around midnight and got us some grub and then got all the Christmas boxes out and ready to go.  We had a blast working into the wee hours of the morning to make our house "Christmasy".  That's the kind of thing that makes memories!

The first Christmas that we were married we were on our honeymoon so we didn't have any decor up.  When we got back from our honeymoon we bought all kinds of stuff on clearance for our Christmases to come including our tree.  I think we got it for like $20.00!  The regular price was over $80.00.  The ornament above we got at Hallmark to celebrate our marriage.  "For love, for life, for keeps, for real"

Brad knew I love Willow Tree and I had mentioned that someday I would love the Nativity set.  Last year around Thanksgiving he said he has my gift.  Should he give it to me now?  Sure why not!  It was the Joseph & Mary, baby Jesus part of the Nativity set.  And then he said that he was going to give me a part to add to it every  year.  I said, Aw, thanks hon!   Then he says "Well, should I just give it to you now?  I have the rest in my truck!"  LOL So,  the depressing part is that I have my gift for the next 3 years.  GROAN.  But it is nice to have all the pieces up and something tells me I'll be getting gifts anyway! ; )

This dear ornamnet was handpainted by my hubby when he was just a young'un.
I didn't buy too much extra this year other than a few auction finds for a dollar or 2!  The candle lamp above I got for $3.00.  The shutter below was Free.  It was pink and I repainted it.  The angel in the scene below that was also a cheap buy.

And then comes cookie day.  OH MY!  Believe it or not, this is the first year that we women got together to make Christmas cookies.  I wanted to try an icing cookie this year so we got together and made it a blast!  Mommie and the preschoolers joined in for some of it too.  There is something so beautiful about generations together.

Now it's the week of Christmas and I am finally getting my Christmas cards in the mail.  The "letter" was typed out about a month ago and then things got crazy and cards got put on the back burner. I thought for sure I'd have them out in good time this year but I stayed true to my procrastinating self!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Parade and Personal Problems!

We are on the committee for our church's annual LIVE NATIVITY.  Oh my is sooo much work but it is also so rewarding.  The month of December finds us running hither and thither.  Of course if some of us didn't procrastinate like we do, things would not be as crazy!  But that's so me.  Always has been, maybe always will be.  The weird thing is though that I'm ok with it.  I think!  I work better "under pressure" and something within me loves the crunch time.  It IS something I am trying to do better in though!

This year, we as a committee, decided to also do a float in a Christmas parade in a town near here.  Brad and I were in charge of organizing it all.  Because of me and my procrastinating dining room and laundry room became painting areas.  It was way to cold to do it out in the garage but had I not procrastinated and done it this fall or even summer *gasp* my house would've been unscarred.  Hey, nothing a good cleaning can't take care of.  I bought some old sheets from Goodwill and just painted the words on there.  We plan to get vinyl banners made to use in years to come.

This is how my kitchen looked almost every day and even for a couple of days in a row.  Shocking I know and embarrassing, but, it's life.  Should I admit something else?  This wasn't even one of the worst days!  Let's just say my poor hubby was very patient through it all and even survived on eggs or sandwiches for supper a few nights in a row. 

The big sign got painted in the laundry room.  I'm still wiping green spray paint off of weird places!!  It got so old walking around this thing too.  And the laundry kept piling up. 

On to the parade.  It was a cold, cold day but the float riders braved it all.  This was our first year in this parade and things were soooo unorganized.  We got shuttled to the wrong place and I had to hike it back the 25 or so miles...ok ok that was a stretch.  Probably more like a mile or 1/2 a mile but it felt like so much more!  We pretty much ended up back where we had gotten shuttled from.  Meanwhile the rest of the group found a bus to ride back on.  All in all it was a fun day and we even tied for 3rd place.  Our prize was $200.00!!!  We were so thrilled.  Click HERE to view the parade.  You have to fast forward it to about 124 to see us! The angels were singing but you can't hear them.  Hopefully we'll have mics next year.

Brad made the stable out of wood from the old barn we took down.  And the sheep (in the picture below)  seriously stole the show.  We think they are the reason we got 3rd.  Next year we hope to put a donkey on the float and get 1st prize!!

Brad got us all started and on our way and then hightailed it out of there to finish up the barn.  So while I was waving to everyone on the parade route, he and a few helpers managed to get it all done!  It now looks like this...

Our garage?  Well that's a different story.  About 2 of the 3 bays are FULL of wood and doors and other barny stuff!  We're in the process of listing some of it for sale and some of it we are keeping for projects.  Projects that could take a year or 2 if we put it off long enough.

I need to wrap this up and get ready to head out the door to our first night of Nativity!  This will be a busy weekend for sure!  Come on out and see us and experience Christmas in a whole new way!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lazy Sundays and Old Barns!

It's Sunday and for the first time in a looooonng time, we stayed home for the WHOLE day!  Last night while laying in bed we decided to turn off our phones, and alarm clocks and sleep as late as we want too.  We BOTH got up around 10:00!  For my husband especially, that is so rare.  We felt a teeny tiny little bit guilty about not going to church!  I especially enjoy my Sunday School class and didn't really want to miss it, but we decided to just take a day today.  Normally, Sunday mornings are anything but relaxing because we leave early to set up the sound system at church and practice for worship.  We got out of our responsibilities at church for a few weeks so we decided to take advantage of our first Sunday off!  I guess it's ok as long as we don't make it a habit!

Part of the reason we were exhausted by today was this...

About a week ago, we found an old barn advertised on Craigslist for free.  We thought it would be a fun project and hopefully we could make some money by selling the wood and doors etc.  We're hoping to use the money to go on an anniversary trip in January or February!  I wouldn't say I'm totally regretting the decision to do this BUT.....oh my goodness, I am feeling muscles I never knew I had!  Brad and I were both so sore this morning and last night. 

Guess it's not something everyone would like to do, but Brad and I both love to get our hands dirty and the creative side of me sees all kinds of things I want him to do and make with all of this old wood!  Yesterday, when I finally sat to take a break, I asked Brad if he thinks we'll regret doing this.  It seemed like it was going to take forever and I'm the type to second guess myself pretty quickly.  I was thinking "Oh my...we're sore and achy and who knows if we will even make any money from this thing"!  Without missing a beat he said "I don't regret it at all....I'm having a blast"!  I have a feeling if I would ask him that today he would say the same thing, even though he wasn't feeling 16 anymore! : )

After reading the book "Wild at Heart" a few years thing that always stayed with me is "be part of your husbands adventure".  It makes him feel so loved when I'm right there by his side pounding nails out and "ripping down barns".  There were many other things I could've done yesterday, but I wouldn't have missed being there beside him.  Sore and achy as I am.."I don't regret it!  Not one bit!!!"

Kevin & Joy!!

A few weeks ago, the last of Brad's single siblings got married.  Kevin & Joy met online on a Christian dating site.  It's honestly amazing to me how God brings people together.  She is from waaayyyy over the "pond", Kenya, Africa, and he hails from the teeny little town of Ephrata.

My friends and I used to argue about the question "Does God have 1 perfect person in mind for you to marrry?"  Brad and I still discuss it.  He says there is not a doubt in his mind that I am the one and only for him.  I agree and know he is "the one" for me too. 

It makes any love story amazing.  Brad and I lived within miles of each other all of our lives even though it took a while to find each other!  Kevin & Joy know they were meant for each other and I think it's so neat that no matter how far apart geographically people are, God can still bring them together! 

Saturday, October 23, 2010


It's within all of us.  The desire to run when things get tough.  We just want to disappear and hope life is better because we ran.  But is it?  Does running make things better?  I'm not only talking about running physically, but running emotionally.

I don't know how you've found it, but in my experience, running never fixes anything.  Maybe temporarily, and for a little bit, but not long term.  There will always be something else to run from.  Hard situations, difficult people, emotional devastation, empty cribs, etc.  Our choosing not to deal with things, or "shoving them under the rug" IS, in a sense, running...

Yesterday the girl we had living with us ran.  Ran from frustrations, from people who loved her, from herself even, but most of all from GOD.  Yesterday was a very emotional day of me asking myself all kinds of "What if's".  What if we had done this or that, or if other people had done this or that...But the answer was clear...She would've found SOMETHING to run from.  Things got so scary to her and so she did the only thing she knew how to do...RUN. 

I know the stuff going through my head yesterday was all lies that the devil was filling my head with, but it was real to me.  That was one of T's frustrations...people telling her not to listen to the lies.  But to her they were very real.  I feel for her in a whole new way.  The lies ARE real to me.  Yes, I know they are lies...but that doesn't change the fact that they are in my mind.  Just like we were trying to help her...I hear my words echoing back to me..."Fill the spots those lies took with truth"  So that's what I'm doing...taking my own advice! : ) The truth that I did exactly what I needed to at the time, the truth that it is out of my control...only GOD can work in her life. 

That doesn't make it any easier that there is an empty guest room in my house.  I prayed for her as I packed her stuff into boxes.  Prayed that God would meet her and show himself to her in a whole new way.  We will miss her.  Yes, it had it's adjustments and challenges but it was also so rewarding to walk through this journey with her and be there for the good parts.  I think of all the progress she made and hope things keep replaying in her mind as she RUNS.

I think more than anything it has been such a picture of Christ's love for me and for us, his Creation.  Choice is a beautiful thing and yet so so scary.  It makes ME so, so sad to think of the choices she is making and to think of her running right back to the scary things she ran FROM, but how much more love her PARENTS have for her and even more so her heavenly FATHER.  How his daddy heart must be breaking right now to see her turn her back on HIM once again.  The beauty of choice is that HE will be waiting with his arms wide open when she gets tired of running.  Just simply waiting to erase all the choices she made and give her a clean slate. 

It makes me want to thank HIM all over again for HIS LOVE for ME.  It also makes me so thankful to be part of HIS family.  We have felt so many prayers over these past few weeks.  I honestly hate to think of how different today could've been for Brad and I if people hadn't been praying for us.  Today has been a much better day.  Yes, still things to work on, and lies to erase,  but GOD is here.

Monday, October 4, 2010


It's late...

It doesn't happen too often that I am up this late anymore.  Guess it's the age in me coming out!  The weekend is almost over and the week ahead looks long.  Wonder what all it holds?

I sit here listening to the sounds around me. 
     It's raining again
     My husband softly snores beside me....sometimes not so softly! : )
My fingers fly across the keys but I am using the backspace more than I should.  Writing a line....erasing it....wondering how much I want to put out there for all the world to see.  Blogging is an incredibly vulnerable thing for me.  It exposes all parts of us.  The silly, the bored, the tired, the social, the pained, the sad, the joyful...But I love to look back on things that happened and be able to see God's faithfulness in everything.

It happened again today.  The red flow that tells me my womb is empty.  I was so hoping it would be holding life this month.  Guess not.  Instead the week looks long...filled with constant reminders that I am not yet a mommy, and Brad is not yet a father.  Filled with the empty feeling that now is not God's time for our family to start.  Will it ever be time?  I refuse to give in to the fear that my womb may never house life for 9 months.  Refuse to give in to the fear that my arms will never hold my own child. 

Fear..I command you to leave and I choose to replace it with trust.  Trust that I serve a God who knows best for my life.  Trust that no matter what my future God is ALREADY there.

He was there 3 weeks ago when we chose to open our home to a young lady who was tired of running.  He's been there in the 3 weeks of adjustment and changes.  Huge changes.  Frustrating times.  Times of misunderstanding and yet seeing her choose to turn her life around has been so worth it.

Maybe it's best that she is here right now.  I can't really grieve.  You see, I have to be the strong one for her.  The one who is helping her to see that God loves her and has a plan for her, even though  my heart wants to doubt that he does for me.  Maybe it's best that I can't wear my emotions on my sleeve right now.  Instead I wait till the house is still and then I let my emotions go.

Raw, raw pain and fear.  My tears won't stop...

I sing on the worship team at church.  Sometimes it's the hardest thing to do especially when you feel empty and feel like you have nothing to give, and even harder when you don't "feel" like worshiping.  Music ministers to me more than anything else.  So instead of holding in the tears this morning, I finally left them fall....

"Blessed be your name when I'm found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness, Blessed be your name.  You give and take away, you give and take away.  My heart will choose to say...LORD blessed be your name."

"Precious Jesus, I am ready, to surrender every care.  Take my hand now, lead me closer, Lord I need to meet you there."

These songs aren't the easiest to sing when your mind is full of hurting people and the pain of loss in your own life.  Our pastor closed the service by asking everyone to raise clenched hands to the Lord.  Tightly clenched hands raised up all over the church.  Then he told us to open our hands to the Father when we were ready to surrender whatever we were holding onto to HIM.  I stood there with my hands tightly clenched before my GOD.  Holding onto frustrating situations with the girl living with us right now, holding onto the dream of having a baby when I knew the blood was flowing as we sang...And then I left it go....I opened my hands to my Father God and gave it to him.  I could physically feel the difference.  It felt freeing.....I stood there drained and vulnerable....

It still hurts.  I'm still scared.  But in spite of it all, I choose LIFE.  I choose to TRUST in a God whose plan is so So SO much bigger than my own.

Yes, I will cry.  Yes, I will mourn the life that's not there like we were hoping it would be.  But I will move on.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beach 2010

So I know that our family vacation was over a month ago, but it's been one of those blogs spinning around in my head.  One of the main reasons I blog is so that I can look back on those memories or times in my life.  Family vacation is most certainly something I want to archive!

For years now, my family has been going to the beach for our summer vacation.  We started out camping, and then when the grandkids started coming along, we found that getting a house was just a lot easier.  I think we finally found a house now that will accomodate us in years to come.  Each family/couple/single person has their own bedroom and the closets are big enough to be a bedroom so the children slept in closets in their parents rooms!

I loved every minute of this vacation.  Ok, almost every minute.  There was the 15 minutes that Gracie was lost.  I didn't like that so much.  It was absolutely terrifying.  We had been at the beach about 15 minutes and realized Gracie was no where around us.  We scattered, looking for her.  Jim told the lifeguards and they messaged her name and age down the line using their little orange flag thingys.  Some ladies found her and brought her to me.  When I found her she was 4 or 5 lifeguard stands down.  That was the longest walk in my life.  We were all crying when she was safely in her momma's arms.  We talked about it a few times over the week about how different our vaction and lives would've been if things would've been different.  It definitely gave me more of a heart for missing children and for what their families must go through.

Last year over vacation I had just had surgery after my miscarriage and was an emotional wreck!  I couldn't go in the water so sitting on the beach wasn't very fun for me.  I remember thinking last year, that maybe I would have a baby by next vacation.  Little did I know that I would have another miscarriage before next vacation.  The thing I loved the most about vacation was having my man around 24/7!  We even took an evening and went out on a date...just the 2 of us...and ice cream, with sprinkles thank you very much!

One thing I love about our family vacation is how we are each on our own and yet do everything together.  We usually all drive out to the beach separate and whoever gets out first finds a spot big enough for all of us.  Some of us stay on the beach all day, some for an hour or so.  We often hit the pool when we got back and then it was naps and games while the children slept!

Babies ate the sand, the rest of us played in it.  The waves were perfect so we spent a lot of time in the water.  There is nothing like some sun and sand and water and family. 

I am so blessed...