In our family, Christmas brings with it many memories and reminders. The reminder that our saviour has come and that we are missing a few members of our family. Our first son Jonah would be 5 1/2 years old this Christmas. I made our family stockings when my oldest was a baby, each year I would add the new member of the family. Naturally, I made Jonah a stocking the first Christmas we had without him. I am so glad I did. Every year we bring it out and remember. We write him a little note each year and place it in his stocking. My 7 year old gets them out each year and reads them....they are a treasured part of our Christmas.
I also purchased an ornament for him. Every year our children pick a new ornament for the tree. It seemed only fitting to get one for Jonah the first year after he left us. We also have purchased tiny little stockings for the two babies we lost to miscarriage at 12 weeks. The kids really wanted to do this and honestly so did I. We purchased an ornament for each the first Christmas after their loss. Each year we put the babies ornaments on the tree last as a way to honor them.
I can imagine others may think this is a form of torture......I can totally understand that thought. It isn't though. I miss my son and the dream of the two little ones with Jesus. I also love to remember the gift they were and that they are with Jesus and waiting. Though it does bring grief to the surface, it comes as a gift and treasure not a burden.
Merry Christmas in heaven little ones. See you soon!
Everything, everyday in life is about the gospel. This is a hard one for me to keep at the forefront of my thoughts as I fly through my day. Is the gospel enough for this moment and in this situation?
Yesterday morning I was headed to the dentist for my four year old, a pediatric dentist at that. We crawled in the car pretty much on time with not much room for error. I started the car to warm it......it ran for a minutes and then slowly died. I tried to restart it and nothing. My natural response went like this, "Can you believe this? Could there be worse timing? I don't want to deal with this....my husband is out of town.......blah blah blah." You get the idea. Then the verbal rant began in front of my children. Is was a grand example of lack of faith, excessive complaining, anger, ungratefulness...you get the picture. Then, by the grace of God I caught myself. I was able to ask myself "How does the gospel apply right now to this moment?" I asked my children to forgive me for my sin, confessed to God. I ask my seven year old to pray for God to help us. She asked God to start the car. I turned the key and it started like there was nothing wrong with it and off we went. Both my children were encouraged. My son said "Can Jesus fix things that break mama?" My seven year old was beaming ear to ear. She was impressed with God in that moment. Their faith was built in a small moment of life.
Now, my temptation would be to think that my repentance or momentary "good" choice brought about that faith building moment. Ha....that is laughable. God in his perfect plan chose to do as he pleased to build their faith, show me my sin (see the list above) and reveal his gospel in a normal everyday moment of life. You might be thinking how would God be glorified had it not gone your way :o) Great thought! It didn't go my desired route because I had great faith but because He has great plans. If the car had not started and we missed the dentist (considering what they told me it might have been more pleasant to miss it) then there would have been a a purposed, loving, for my good plan in it. So much of my daily frustrations are found in not believing God truly is in control of even the tiniest moments of my day. He is purposed in each moment for my good and his own glory. If only I could remember that in each moment......but then again it won't be held against me because of mercy. A win-win situation for me!
Now pray for me to apply all this to the dental bill!
I have been thinking lately about why I started to blog. The main reason is because I enjoy writing. The second reason, I have a desire to see doctrine become a more normal part of my everyday daily life and the lives of other women. Do dirty diapers, laundry and dishes have anything to do with doctrine? How do I bring the gospel to bare on the seeming mundane task of life and it's circumstances? How does the gospel apply in all those moments of life that seem so pointless?
One of my first post on this is here. I have a desire to refocus my blog. I have thought of having more then one blog. One for homeschool and family and then another for areas of doctrine & growth. I have decided against it, the very place I want to apply doctrine better is in the educating of my kids, marriage and everyday family life. Separating them would work against what I am trying to accomplish. Though I hope my musings of this happening in my life effects others, truly it is for me. I find writing out the ways I am growing in this make them more real. It sets what I am learning into my understanding in ways only thinking about them cannot.
This weekend was our church Christmas play. We send out fliers and invited our community as an outreach. It was a simple but beautiful retelling of the Christmas story. This year my husband was a solo singing shepherd. My daughter a cutie little singing angel. It was fun because our little girl sang with her father. My husband can sing, but it's not his comfort zone to do it in front of tons of people with a microphone. He did a great job. Here's a sneak peek.
He is on the far right.
Ain't she cute!
Most all these little angels are homeschooled. We as a family are so blessed to have a church and homeschool community like we do.
Are you in need if your own choices created your lack? Are you in need if you have basics like food and shelter but no extras. If you've been the recipient of much help in the past does that disqualify you for more help? What is real need? From a gospel point of view our greatest need is being saved from God's wrath. If you are a believer then your greatest need has been met in the cross of Christ. I think we can get caught up in what we don't have and forget this very important truth. On the other hand by God's mercy, we will all roll out of bed tomorrow and face whatever circumstances God has allowed. You may find yourself not wanting anything monetarily. Maybe you have just what you need or maybe you are wondering how to pay your bills and buy some groceries. The last six years or so has been a time where we lost much, needed lots of help and wondered many times where some basic needs would come from.
Our story is one of provision. God's provision of comfort, mercy and grace during the loss of our son Jonah who would be 5 1/2 right now. God cared for us during the next two losses in 2005 and 2007. He provided hope, peace and a place for my three babies to live forever, sinless and satisfied. I am so grateful for that.
During the last six years those have not been our only needs. The week after Jonah died my husband miraculously passed his examines and started to look for work. He was unemployed for many months. He found a job unrelated to all the time, effort and money he took to get his education. Grateful for that job he took it....though it didn't pay the bills. It has been like this till recently. My husband just six months ago started a job in his field that will hopefully grow to support us adequately. He still works two jobs and I now have one part-time job myself. We still struggle to pay the bills.
Why am I telling you all this? Like I said before, ours is a story of provision. As I look around my living room there are maybe two items that I purchased myself....the rest given to us...God's provision. The car in our driveway...God's provision. My children's mattress' and bed frames....God's provision. Did we work for those things....No! Do we deserve those things....No! Again this year we are being blessed by people to help us through Christmas. Do my children need nice presents besides underwear and a new set of PJ's under the tree....no. Is it wrong to receive a blessing when you really could survive without it? The beauty of all this, is that God's provision comes through the body of Christ. He has laid his life down on the cross to meet my greatest need. In following that example, my church family has sacrificed for us to meet practical needs. Because of this we are okay and have what we need through God's perfect provision.....people. I long to be the giver. I know there are more ways to give then with resources and we strife to do that as a family but I long for the joy of being able to care in this way for others. It isn't a pay back....that's not possible. It is out of gratitude.
On the flip side I have seen pride in my heart. Part of my motivation to give comes from longing to be out of my circumstances. It's kinda selfish. I have also experienced judgement in this area. What constitutes a need? Do you or I determine where someone needs to be in order to be in need? In our culture there is this underlying deception that if we can sustain ourselves and stand completely independent of others, we are okay and maybe worth more. My experience has taught me just the opposite. Depending brings with it blessings untold. Depending on God and each other no matter how uncomfortable it might be at times. We are blessed this Christmas by God's perfect provision in his son, born in a humble stable, as well as, by those sinners he came to save.
My new passion (maybe to strong of a word) is grocery shopping at six-ish in the morning. This morning I rolled out of bed a little before six, threw on some clothes and took off. Everyone in my house still sound asleep. The stores have all gone 24 hours due to Christmas. I wondered the aisles rarely seeing another person.....it was bliss. Trying to navigate the pasta aisle mid-day or evening is reminiscent of a nightmare for me. I have a friend (you know who you are) who grocery shops early Saturday morning......I've always thought she was crazy. I get it know. To top that off, I got a great deal on some things. Makes for one happy homemaker. Quiet peaceful large birth aisles and more money in my pocket. I feel all warm and fuzzy :o) I will miss when the stores go back to normal hours. I've always wanted to go shopping at 2am but never actually done it. Maybe this will be the year.
Melanie tagged me for this Meme. Consider yourself tagged if you are reading this and haven't been tagged by someone else :o). Let me know in the comments so I can take a look.
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both.....I think I like the well wrapped gift the most
2. Real tree or artificial? Real....we like to bundle up and go to a U-cut farm.
3. When do you put up your tree? The first weekend in December.
4. When do you take the tree down? Right after Christmas if we are home....if not by New Year.
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes....I really like eggnog! I'd like some right now.
6. Favourite gift received as a child? I can't really recall one.
7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes
8. Hardest person to buy for? Me...I never know what I want :o)
9. Easiest person to buy for? The kids
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A really ugly sweater one year.
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail...I like the in your hand kind of greeting.
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Probably White Christmas....the sisters number is my favorite.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The end of November usually.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Don't think so.
15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes plus apple pie.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear...the red colored lights always look pink to me and I am not into pink on my Christmas tree LOL!
17. Favorite Christmas song? White Christmas, Away in a Manger and I like Harry Connick JR. Christmas music.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Prefer to stay home but the only family member that lives far away.....we usually travel at some point. This year we are staying home Christmas Day. I am excited.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? No :o)
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning but we do open one gift before bed.....it's always new PJ's for the kids, a little family tradition.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Well with out being scrooge....that Santa is the focus. I feel bad for the real Saint Nicholas who had a real life that most don't know about because of the flying red chubby guy. I also don't care for how grumpy people get in the Christmas rush. Close to Christmas I shop at 5-6 am or 10-12 midnight. Love those 24 hour stores.
23. What is the "corniest" family tradition you do, or miss doing? Can't think of one.
24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? Those blow up yard decorations.
25. Which looks the best, theme trees or homey trees? Homey trees for us, there is a story behind every ornament.
26. What does Christmas mean to you? It is ultimately a fresh reminder that God can down and humbled himself to save us from our sins. I also so enjoy the baking and hanging with my family. The warmth of the fire with a good cup-a something hot.
I had my bi-annual personal retreat a few weeks ago. I came away with a few things that need to be worked on, some spiritual and some practical. One area I am working on is a last few eating habits. I am working toward moving even more processed pre-prepared food out of our house. The big ones to still overcome are store bought granola bars, boxed mac and cheese and certain sauce mixes. I have never enjoyed cooking much until this year. I have tried to see it as more of an experiment then a chore:o) it has helped. Making things from scratch taste so much better too. Over time I have coverted my family to whole wheat pasta. I have also been searching for a granola bar recipe that had the right ingredients and consistency. I have finally found one. It calls for a cup of sugar but I simply don't use that much. Each time I have made it, I have reduced the sugar. The great thing about this easy to make bar is the consistency. If I want crunchy granola bars I cook it 30 minutes. If I want soft & chewy I bake for only 10-15 minutes. I don't have to change any of the ingredients. We call these granola bars "The Eaton Bar". This is the last name of the person who gave me the recipe (Thanks M!) and the kids think it's funny to call them "The Eat'n Bar" because we eat them. Doesn't take much to amuse my kiddos.
The Eaton Bar
2 1/2 cups whole grain oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (I drop this)
1/2 cup flour (I use W.W.)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
chocolate chips to taste :o)
Mix wet and dry separate, then mix well together
Spread evenly in 9x12 pan
Bake @ 325F for 10-20 minutes
(depending on consistency desired)
It doesn't get any easier. I am thinking about cooking down some cranberries and adding those for a little pizazz. I attempted a homemade Mac and Cheese but it didn't go over well....partly because I made it too saucy. I have had fun finding my own sauces to whip up. I recently found a great Lemon Stir Fry sauce I loved. I am always looking for recipes so bring on the Mac and Cheese and sauces:o)
I just found out that someone opened fire on the Youth With a Mission Base (YWAM) in Denver. This is the base where I served for three years. My husband and I meet and got marriage on that very property, the base director married us. It is a place dear to our hearts. Two staff members were killed and two more wounded. Please pray for their families and for the two wounded to recover. You can read local coverage here if you so desire.
This week in history we visited the Vikings or Norseman. We made Viking boats as our activity. Little did I know the creative play it would provide. These little Viking ships are the perfect size for playmobile men (and women). We threw a blue sheet over the couch and ventured into the open sea in search of a place to raid or land to discover. We then encountered a huge orange sea monster that attempted to eat us alive (a.k.a. crabby, our stuffed crab). We barely escaped with our lives and then landed on an island with fire breathing dragons (not so much Viking history:o). We got away just in time, to then set sail again on a new adventure. The Vikings are now tucked away at camp till the sun rises tomorrow. Though we know they did not have digital cameras in the time of Eric the Red and his son....we thought you might enjoy a pictoral walk through our Viking day. Please disregard the very Roman soldiers on our dragon island.....we don't have any playmobile Vikings.
I stood at the kitchen window watching the snow fall, my children building snowmen. Bing singing White Christmas in the back ground; while I sip my first cup of eggnog. The kettle whistling, preparing for cold hands to wrap around a warm cup of cocoa.....it really felt like Christmas this weekend.
On December 1st we started down the road anticipating the baby, who would come to save use from our sins. Each year we use a Jesse Tree to learn about the coming of Jesus weaved all through out the Old Testament...leading up to the birth of Christ. The kids color symbols that represent what we are reading and discussing. They attach it to the pocket each night before bed (gotta love Velcro). It is a beautiful thing to hear my seven year old reading about the coming of her savior.