Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Most in need of Him

The Christmas season brings us closer together which means that sin, that universal human condition is present in multiple ways even among the gift exchanging, feasting, games and fun. When your sin or another's threatens to discourage celebrating the holidays with joy and contentment, allow this discord to act as a reminder that this sin is why Jesus came and may you, like me, see how much we need Him right then and every moment after that one.

 Christ took our nature on him, not that he
   'Bove all things loved it, for the purity:
 No, but he dressed him with our human trim,
   Because our flesh stood most in need of him.  
   ~Robert Harrick (1591-1647) from Christmas Spirit by George Grant and Gregory Wilbur 

I quoted the following words in part two Christmas seasons ago, but today I quote it in full.
The holiday season is upon us. 
And along with our many celebrations comes a higher concentration of human beings in limited spaces.
Homes that usually house one family, will receive extra visitors.  
Grandparents will join their children and grandchildren for meals and games.  
Uncles and aunts and cousins will arrive from far-away places.  
Bedrooms will swell with overnight guests.  
Showers will require more hot water than is available.  
Dishes will pile up.  
Toilets will plug.  
Diapers will stink.  
Toddlers will make watching a good movie almost impossible.  
Glasses will break.  
Toys will become tug-of-war victims. 
Along with all the laughter, memories, jokes, conversations, and good food, offenses will come. 
Patience will run short.  
Fatigue will settle in.  
Someone will most likely get sick.  
Loud crying will echo throughout the house. 
There will be spankings and rumors of spankings.  
And then the end will come. 
We tend to anticipate the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas, without remembering the tensions that accompany sinners wherever we go.  
Our celebrations always bring with them difficulties, because we by nature are difficult to get along with.  
So, how shall we then live, given our own weaknesses and failures? 
By faith. 
By faith we must trust that our mixed-bag celebrations are the context God is using to grow strong sons and grandsons.  
By faith we must trust that these sorts of tensions are fashioning our daughters and granddaughters into beautiful palatial pillars.  
By faith we must believe God is re-making us into his own image through our flawed efforts to please him.  
And that is exactly what we are endeavoring to do here this morning.  
We are trusting he will change us as we seek to please him.  
How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. 
Let us therefore worship the Triune God.

~ Curt Bakker, Christ Covenant Church, Call to Worship, taken from Lift Up Your Hearts

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas celebration, my dear friends and family!  I am so thankful to rejoice with you in the birth of God's Son.
O ye heights of heaven adore him!
     Angel hosts, his praises sing!
All dominions bow before him,
     And extol your God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
     Every voice in concert ring Evermore and evermore.
  quoted by George Grant  

Monday, December 10, 2012

top bunk

Over the weekend while doing some Christmas shopping for the kids, we found a nice pine bunkbed set for Seth and Shane surprised him by putting it together while he was away at a friend's house.  He is very excited about sleeping way up there although I'm less excited about having to climb up there to change the sheets, but I enjoyed a bunk bed when I was his age so I understand the fun of it all.  

Christmas treats redux

It's that time of year again!  I'm buying candy and saving paper rolls to make some of these for my Sunday school children.  There's just something about assembling treats with bright paper and ribbon, candies and handstamped cards that makes me so happy to celebrate the little people in my life. Two years ago I posted a tutorial, not because it's hard but because it makes such pretty pictures!  Click here to find it.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

dear diary

I wrote over here this week to help me keep track of the days as they sail by. It's just a short account of various homemaking and holiday moments from recent weeks with some blurry photos and diary writing.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Advent titles

Handel's Messiah read together, the other two are for me.

buying gifts and creative play

This past year, as I have cleaned and organized various areas of our home, I have been quite bothered and dare I say, convicted of buying toys and gifts for our children for Christmas and their birthdays that have left us with a glut of barely used toys, all the while I thought I was being wise and discerning, much to my chagrin.

Our home is little compared to most families', but as I have learned in the five years living here with three young children, it's smallness forces me to keep only things we truly need and like best. So books are found nearly in every room and I constantly assess the kids' toys to only keep those that are truly worth their time and energy. In a way, I have begun to dread buying gifts for them, other than books and clothes of course, because the playthings found in most brick-and-mortar stores offers nothing that they really need to expand their imaginations and be creative in their play.

Several years ago I began to make homemade greeting cards for whatever occasion arose for friends and family. I invested in stamps and inks and stickers and paper, not really knowing what I would do with all of it. It has become a labor of love as I attempt to create a card that reflects my relationship to them and something that is unique as they are. I truly enjoy the creative moment and would say that it is a form of play for me as I design and arrange the cards just so.

A quick trip this past Saturday morning, to a large toy store left me quite disappointed as there was not a single item, save a bike, that I would have felt satisfied purchasing for our kids.  Nothing.
We already have all the good stuff and I am still weeding out all the not-so-good stuff accumulated over the years.

In less than two week, Kate turns five and although she is not developmentally five, she enjoys many of the same play items that a typical five year old would play with: dolls and strollers, pretend kitchen sets, dress-up clothes, etc. But we have all those items, so this year I expanded by search to more lasting play toys, like wooden tree blocks and a wooden clothesline stand from Montessori Services. The shipment didn't make it to my parents' home in time for them to bring it, but I know the items are ready for us after Christmas so in the meantime, I need something small for her actual birthday in two weekends.

We have enough items in our home, treasured from my childhood and Shane's, that I know our children can enjoy, older or handmade toys just as much as the newer items. And looking back as an adult now, I treasure those items passed on down from one generation to the next. Many toys made today are not worth the next generation's time, nor are they made to endure for that long. I know this, because every week or so I am super-gluing some cheap plastic back together and lamenting the money on poorly constructed playthings.

I would love to know your thoughts on this as well, so please share anything you like.


Some of my closest friends are not on Facebook so I thought I would share some of my recent posts from there on here as well as a video and photos of Kate from this morning, entitled Kate the Hairdresser.  :)

A Facebook update from Friday afternoon:
Seth and I were finishing up our All About Spelling Lesson which has brightly colored phonogram magnetic tiles when Laura came down from her nap and snuggled in my lap while we continued to work. After watching Seth and I manipulate the letter tiles for the lesson work, she looked very sweetly up at me and said, "When I grow up...(and at this point I was totally convinced that she was going to say, "I'm going to learn with this stuff too" or something similar since she has done that before, but no, she had something different in mind this time, very different)...I'm going to have bumps on my face like you, Mama!" Oh, the honesty and innocence of children! My face fell and I said fervently, "I hope not, Laura, I hope not." On the bright side, I am thankful that she overlooks my ongoing beauty blemishes and loves me nonetheless.

Another one from Satuday afternoon:
Oh dear, it was one those parenting moments where you wish you could disappear into the floor. Before I could stop her, Kate leaned over from our Michael's shopping cart and reached into an elderly woman's purse nestled in her cart. I instantly grabbed Kate's hand back, scolded her and apologized profusely to the non-smiling lady who was now carefully and firmly zipping her handbag closed. I don't think she ever even looked at Kate to see who she was dealing with. LOL

Daddy's photo

Fun in the snow, Seth and Laura