Not In The Stores

Here we are days away from Christmas.  Some have their shopping done, presents wrapped, shipped and waiting under the tree.  Others thrive on the last minute.  Dashing in and out of the stores, fighting traffic, waiting in line and then finding out the very thing you wanted is sold out, really never existed or just can't be found in the store. 

And doesn't that just about sum it up?  The very thing we need can not be found in any big box store.  Trust me when I say that, I mean it, remember?  Husband Jared is employed by such a store and as much as we rely on consumers for our income, the present is not to be found there. 

Yet we still love to give gifts.  I do.  I might even go so far to say it is my love language.  Said it here before, I know.  It is an opportunity to be intentional.  To spend time reflecting on the one receiving the gift.  All this showing that you care, you thought purposefully about the other.  Sometimes sacrificing in order to do so. 

Today I am asking that you pause and consider making a small gift, a sacrifice if you will allow me to say so.  I am confident that the ultimate gift is Jesus' incarnation, Gods' love come down at Christmas.  God giving us His son.  So could we maybe share some of that love with others?  Compassion has some pretty amazing options for those gifts.  Click on the link and browse their catalog.  See something?  Click on it and follow the directions.  If just 10 of you wonderful people that read this blog and visit with me here could each give $10 that would be $100 to help give Christmas to children living in poverty.  All in Jesus' name.  All for His glory. 

As a side note here, let me break that down for you.  $10 is 2 coffees at Starbucks.  One movie ticket and some change.  Lunch for one at Chipotle.  You get where I'm going with this, right?  A small sacrifice.  When you give to Compassion your dollars are stretched beyond their value.  Our child, Oswaldo, whom I've mentioned before, sent us a picture of what he was able to purchase with his birthday gift of $25.  Three new pairs of shoes, bottles of juice and chicken meat for his family, collared shirt for church and not to mention a few other snack items.  While this catalog giving is a bit different, a small gift to you and me is a big gift for Compassion.  We could do it.  Will you help me give?  Please.

And it wouldn't be the Christmas that you and I are bombarded with this time of year.  This is the ChristmasJesus followers doing as He commanded while He was here in the flesh.  Giving.   Give because you have the  joy of knowing Jesus.  Give because someone gave to you when you were in need.  Give

Thankful Thursday #116

working on a science project...DNA strand
2003. lights twinkling outside
2004. garland on the mantle
2005. homemade presents waiting to be delivered
2006. girls in the kitchen baking
2007. Face Time
2008. only 3 more sleeps
2009. only 7 more sleeps
2010. unexpected presents 
2011. the Word
2012. scripture memory

A Little of This, A Little of That

Since my Thanksgiving post I haven't said much here pertaining to the happenings in this household.  I did share Thing 4's birthday party but in between that and the visit from the grandparents so much has taken place. 
There was a baptism.   All three girl Things were baptized at our church here during the Thanksgiving service. 
Here they are sporting their "unashamed" t-shirts before entering the baptismal font
The three of them were not too keen on having their testimonies videotaped and it being shown to the entire congregation but oh my this Mama did so appreciate hearing their sweet words.  Their confident words.  Their commitment and more importantly their love for our Jesus.  I had to push down my pride more than once.  The evening was pure joy, a true gift.  Now these three are not only my daughters but my sisters in Christ.  Amen and Amen!
Thing 3 also had another big moment recently, maybe not as defining but something to celebrate nonetheless.  She has been taking an acting class with a conservatory here and to end the first semester she performed her very first monologue on stage.  To say she was flawless would be an understatement.  I may be bias but big sister isn't and her compliments made Thing 3 grin from ear to ear.  Take a look at her; calm, cool and collected on stage.  Pulling the audience in with her emotion and bringing them to tears, OK maybe that was just me.  Like I said, I'm bias. 
Excerpt from "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams
Yes, she read the entire play to better understand the context and nature of her character
Beyond these events there have been several Christmas related appointments.  Dinner with football carpool families, impromptu dinners with friends of Things, family sledding outing, a concert and of course baking and jelly making.  Here are photos of each.
 Thing 2, Thing 3 and a sweet friend, together for our
2nd annual cinnamon roll making party
 MN Adult and Teen Challenge Christmas Concert at Grace Church
 Family Sledding at Staring Lake after our
first official snow storm experience
Thing 3 and Thing 1 weren't much for the sledding,
 but they sure did have fun in the snow with Polo
All the kiddos waiting to dig in to the homemade lasagna, scrumptious! 
Sadly, there are no photos of the jelly making, Husband Jared was just too efficient this year.  The jelly was made and the kitchen cleaned in the time it took me to write this post. Or at least the second batch was.  He rocks! 
For now I do believe you are caught up.  Or at least somewhat.  Christmas music is playing non stop, the candles are lit, twinkly lights shining brightly and we are trying to spread Christmas love however and whenever we can while we patiently await the arrival of Poppi, Nani, Uncle Jason, Aunt Corynn and Gianna! 

Thankful Thursday #115

1093. advent challenges
1094. tears cried together
1095. sweet phone calls
1096. 9 more days
1097. joy, unspeakable joy
1098. projects completed
1099. first snow storm
2000. squeals of sheer thrill sledding down the hill
2001. writing assignment
2002. Christmas cards arriving in the mail

It's All About Giving

And isn't it really?  The Christmas season in it's entirety,  centered solely around giving.  God the Father giving His only Son, himself in flesh, to the human race so that we may have eternal life with Him.  Redeemed.  Yes, I do believe so.  And I do so love giving and since that is what we are called to do I feel a list stating simply exactly what I do love about giving appropriate for this season. 

1.the look on the receiver's face
2.spending time choosing just right
3. surprising
4. random presents revealed in different manners
5. twinkly lights as the backdrop for all this giving
6. sharing time
7. sweets baked with love and out of love
8. making a difference
9. not store bought
10. impactful shopping
11. the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing
12. did I mention surprises?
13. thoughtfulness
14. sacrificial giving
15. sharing resources
16. pretty paper tied up with bows
17. full heart
18. generosity
19. body of Christ
20. smiles

So there's a top 20 for you.  Just a beginning really.  Much to list, much to be grateful for.  Maybe during this season of Advent, preparation for the best gift, the gift that means love came down, you just might be inspired to give in a way you never have before.  If you are I encourage  you to follow this link, gift catalog, to a different sort of giving.  Compassion's way of giving.  A reminder that it truly is all about giving. 

Then if you feel so inclined, leave a comment and share how you are giving this season, or what giving means to you, or just maybe your favorite gift idea from this gift catalog.  I'm all ears, waiting with my coffee, steam rising and hands cupped around the mug.  To this season and all that it brings. 

Thankful Thursday #114

*abandoned train car, Franklin, TN
1083. quiet mornings to myself
1084. seeing Thing 2 rise to the occasion
1085. deep heart sadness
1086. a community that rallies and prays
1087. having him know without having to say any words
1088. sweet hugs from Things
1089. room full of girls holding one another up
1090. late night laughter from the family
1091. sisters
1092. brothers

Wild Ride

Thing 4's birthday happens to coincide quite closely with Christmas.  The day after actually, Boxing Day.  It also happens to be his year for a party and his choice was Nick Universe, so we planned ahead to celebrate early.  That meant a trip to Mall of America, a few of  his buddies and some roller coasters!  We began with cake at the house, presents and then we were off.

I think he might have been singing to himself here?
 The boys had mapped out their strategy, were pumped full of sugar and ready to scream and holler to their hearts' content.  And that they did.  They raced through the theme park and conquered some fears.  Some one's first time upside down, another boy's first time on a big roller coaster.  So much fun.  And even more enjoyable to witness from the park bench where I sat and waited for four energy packed boys to race towards me, spilling all the details of each and every curve,
hill and downward spiral. 

We did manage a quick break for dinner at Johnny Rocket's, burgers and shakes of course.  A short stop to check out some impressive Lego sculptures and then more talking and boy antics around the table.  Dinner was inhaled and then it was back to the park for this lot.  Thankfully no food was lost during this outing and I must say these four knew what they were doing,
 more like experts in this arena. 

What was more memorable for me though was the car ride home in which a lively game of "Would you rather" was played.  Questions such as, "would you rather lick the floor of Wal-Mart or the road?" and then one of my personal favorites, "would you rather kiss Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez?".  Oh yes, that happened.  While I was a participant in the game I chose to pass on that one.  These boys were pure joy and such a treat to listen to and chaperon.  

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas

Once our house guests had left us last weekend and we all had time to catch our breath I began pining for the Christmas tree to be in the house.  Get it.  I know so punny.  I just can't help myself, it's like non stop laughs around here.  So Husband Jared and Thing 4 obliged and rescued our Christmas containers from storage and we, meaning I, set about filling the house with festive music, a little movie called Elf and one rather plump artificial tree.  Due to our highly active social calendar, insert laugh here, see what I mean?  I mean our Things' social calendar, we waited to decorate said tree until the next day.  And decorate they did.  I sat back and watched the four Things open their ornament boxes and ooh and aah and show me as if I had never seen them before.  Then they would ask why this one or why that one and what the significance was.  And then lo and behold Thing 4 melted my heart.  He looked at me as he was decorating and asked what would Dad and I do when they were all gone.  Excuse me.  Is someone leaving?  He went on to explain that when him and sisters were grown and maybe had families of their own who would decorate the tree and with what because they would have all their ornaments.  What about the angel, will you let our kids put the angel on when their big enough?  Um, what does a sentimental sap like myself say to that blue eyed boy?  Yes of course, through sniffles and tears.  If God intends for you to have a family I hope we can carry on these traditions.  I think, or maybe that's what I wanted to say but my lips wouldn't open.  I don't mean to be dramatic about this, ok maybe I do a little, but with Thing 1 a sophomore already and Thing 2 right behind her there is much talk about the future happening around here.  Sometimes this Mama just wants to close her eyes and make it all stop.  Then alas, I come to my senses, or so I tell myself and open my eyes to see this.
 and this
and this Thing almost tall enough to reach the top of the tree

and these crazy four Things that never fail to make me laugh