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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from all the Smiths
Andrew, Lisa, Julia, Alyssa, Hunter and Palmer
"But (in the midst of judgment there is the promise and the certainty of the Lord's deliverance and) there shall be no gloom for her who was in anguish...For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given;...and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:1 & 6

Friday, December 21, 2007

Parties, Performances & Pageants



We've been to parties, parties and more parties.

We've watched each child perform spreading Christmas cheer.

The girls celebrated Spanish style at school.

Alyssa was a sea turtle in the twelve days of Christmas...It was a different version.



I love watching her on stage. Each time she's on stage she finds a way to wave at me. Even if I am the only one who notices it, she waves and mouths the word "Mommy." This is one of those things that makes me so proud to be her mom. Our special thing.

I loved watching her double over belly laughing when the curtain started closing and some of the students forgot to move back and got tangled up in the curtain. She had so much fun laughing at her friends getting wrapped up in the royal red curtain like hot dogs. Funny!

Julia performed her special dance with the teacher in her beautiful costume. I love to watch her come alive in the spotlight. She never misses a step or a beat. She performs just like she waltzes through life to the beat of the music! She is oblivious to everyone around her yet at the same time she knows every eye is on her. Love that little girl!



Julia's second grade class also performed their own unique version of Hannah Montana. Bilingual people have "The Best of Both Worlds." It was cute and creative.

Hunter was the cutest shepherd ever!

He stopped the entire pageant procession to smile for my camera on the way to the stage.





When all the other shepherds went to the manger to bow down and worship Baby Jesus, he posed for my camera by the angel, with his staff and on center stage.







When I asked him why he wasn't worshipping with the other shepherds, he said, "Because you were taking my picture!" as he waved his hands wildly and placed his hands on his hips for emphasis. Little boys!

My little boy!
When he was done performing and I told him how proud I was of him, his response was, "Whew! That made me tired! I need a cold drink." So cute!






I loved watching these precious four-year-olds tell the story of The Very Special Baby. How sweet, innocent and appropriate to focus on that first Christmas and that perfect Baby Boy through the eyes of the children.






Now that the parties are winding down and performances all performed, take time to focus on the Precious One whose birth brought us full joy...forever!






And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky] in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night.

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened.
But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.

For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find [after searching] a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Then suddenly there appeared with the angel an army of the troops of heaven (a heavenly knighthood), praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor].

Luke 2:8-14

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rocket Red




How does the Smith family celebrate all leaving the house disease free?



By going to a Rockets game.



This weekend we squeezed into the limo along with Gramma and Grampa and set out for Houston.





We ate dinner at Fajita Jack's (a.k.a. Crazy Willie's).



What an evening we had.



Palmer learned the word "ba-ba-baaah" (basketball) and entertained us all with his antics, gestures and screams of delight over Christmas lights.



The long limousine ride gave us time to cuddle, snuggle and catch up on conversation (and sleep).



Before the game there was face painting for everyone but Alyssa who was diligently working on a poster sized masterpiece drawing of Clutch. Of course, the animal angel loves the teddy bear mascot. Clutch is her favorite thing about the Rockets. When she's gone to games or Rocket's functions before and hasn't seen Clutch, she's cried all the way home!



We had a great time even if we lost to the ponies from Dallas...



Go Rockets!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Presents

In order to wish everyone a merry Christmas and remind you to enjoy your holiday season, I am posting one of my favorite posts from last year.

Remember to take time for those you love in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Enjoy their presence!





Christmas Presence


"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23



This Christmas I have been telling myself, on a daily basis, that it is all about presence...not presents.



I, naturally, want to bless all the people I love and who are important to me with gifts, lots and lots of gifts...especially my children. What parent doesn't want to bless their children abundantly?



But due to the constraints of life...mainly, time and money...this is just not possible on as grand of a scale as I would love. Don't get me wrong, my kids will get gifts and gifts and gifts...more gifts than they need. I'm not saying they won't get much. I'm saying I won't get to buy as much as I'd like.



I love to shop and I love to give.



It is a wonderful combination when the budget is large!



But, when it's not as large as I'd like I have to remind myself...Christmas is all about presence.



Presence of family.



Presence of friends.



And, most importantly, Christmas is about Presence.



Presence of the One I long to be with and can't go on living without...the One I love.



I have to constantly remind myself the presents are not as important as the presence when what I long to bless people with is not even close to the gift I end up actually giving.



If money were no object, what fun I would have buying each loved one the perfect gift.



Unfortunately, I am restricted to spending only the money in my pocket, using only the time that comes in each day and happen to be very thankful that Christmas is about presence not presents.



I remind myself of this when I am busily crafting Christmas presents (presents that looked much cuter and craftier in my mind).



I remind myself of this when I rush out at the last minute to get the one I forgot. I remind myself of this when I end up settling because I didn't leave enough time to figure out what the perfect gift would be.



Today, I did my Christmas shopping...virtually all of it except for the two errands I ran yesterday and the one last week.



We went to place after place after place. The crowds were big, the traffic was slow, my heart was racing. In the hustle and bustle of one afternoon, the completing of just one list, I was pressed to forget about the presence of the One we celebrate this season.



As we ran from store to store to store to find the perfect little gifts for everyone, Julia and I had so much fun...yes, she helped to purchase one of her own gifts and she will look so fashionista fabuloso in her fun-fur scarf, hat and gloves on Christmas Eve because I couldn't resist it!



When we had to search three stores for the one certain play-doh-pick-up-stick-tool that Alyssa so desperately wanted and ended up at Super Walmart the evening of December 23rd in the pouring, freezing rain, we laughed. We couldn't even get our cart down the aisles it was so crowded, we lost our car in the parking lot and got separated no less than a hundred times! But, we were together.



Rare, precious time for me to be with only one of my girls...we had presence.



I pray I will have the gift of presence with each of the ones I love this Christmas holiday.



I pray you will have the gift of presence with each of the ones you love too.I also pray we will all make time for the One whose presence we can't live without...Presence.



What a good lesson for my kids to learn, what a good reminder for me...Christmas is all about Presence.



Immanuel...God with us.



Wouldn't you agree, Christmas Presence is the perfect Christmas present?



I long to experience Christmas Presence...God's presence all year long.



I pray you experience His presence all year long too.



Let's celebrate with Christmas Presence each day of the year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mary's Revolution


I love the Christmas story.


I read it and reread it each year at Christmas time.


I ask God to reveal something new to me each year. Something to meditate on. Something to find new wonder about. Some amazing new revelation to put me in great awe of God each Christmas.


He doesn't have to give me new revelation but he does.


Each time I ask, I receive.


Amazing!


I love that about God.


This year I had to teach the Christmas story to my international friends. In preparation, I read the Christmas story as if I'd never heard any of it before in my life. Ever.


When I finished, my first thought was...Cra-zy!


A virgin gets pregnant by the Holy Spirit (who's he anyway) and gives birth to God in the form of a baby boy. Her son is Jesus, God's very son, sent to save the world from a life of sin, a world with no hope.


Again, cra-zy!


Once I got past the mysteriousness of the basic story, I don't see how anyone can accept this without receiving supernatural revelation from the Holy Spirit, I looked at Mary and Joseph.


How did they recognize God's voice. How did they know the angel was Gabriel? Where did they get the strength to obey? Why didn't they ask more questions? Did they ever really get used to hearing from God via dreams and visions?


The questioning thing stuck out to me this time.


This is what I know.


The Jewish people were waiting for their Messiah.


Each mother was dreaming her daughter would be chosen to birth the Christ, the Son of God.


Each time they told of God's prophecies, passing them down through the generations, most likely, they added their own interpretation to them. Even if the element of humanism wasn't spoken it had to be alive and well in their hearts.


We pray with expectations today as well. We tell God how to solve our problems all the time. We pray that we'd get a certain job, a certain promotion, a certain grade or a certain something. We do. We are human.


So, of course, they thought Jesus would be born into greatness. After all, he would king of the world. He would establish a kingdom that would reign forever. He would be God incarnate.
Little did they know...


Mary got a visit from an angel.


This is where I got stuck several weeks ago. This is still where I'm at.


"But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean." Luke 1:29


"Revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean." She tossed around what the angel said about her. She examined it. Did she believe it? Was this a crisis of belief for Mary?


Let's look at what the angel said about her, what God said about her. After all, angels are God's messengers, God's mouthpieces.


"And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women!" Luke 1:28


Did she believe she was favored? Blessed before all other women? Endued with grace?


Well, the angel sure meant it because there are exclamation points after every sentence here. He had come from the very presence of God in heaven to communicate to Mary who she was and why she was favored.


Why was she favored? The Bible calls her righteous. She obviously knows God's Word as her responses to the Lord are filled with the Psalms. Her conversations in the gospels are filled with God's own words from the Scriptures.


But, why was she chosen?


God chose her.


Just as he's chosen each one of us.


To be part of his family, to receive the precious gift of salvation through Jesus and to have access to his throne of grace in a personal relationship.


It seems to me that once Mary accepts who she is, she has little difficulty in believing who she is becoming, the mother of the Savior.


After the angel tells her she is with child by the Holy Spirit, her response is submission and acceptance.


"Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her.
And at that time Mary arose and went with haste... " Luke 1:38-39


Mary accepted it in her heart and her feet followed hastily, quickly, immediately. She had a spirit of true obedience and ultimately, of love.


This Christmas let's let our minds revolve around what Jesus did and who that makes us.


"For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!" Romans 8:14-16


This Christmas season let's cry out in bliss to the One who's birth we celebrate as we remember...

"The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

As we live fully surrendered to who we are called to be, let us fully submit to what we are called to do giving him who has called us all glory, honor and praise.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Little Boy Who Saved Christmas

The Grinch came to our house this year in the form of chicken pox.

Remember the Wonder Twins? They could activate their super powers in different forms. One would be fire and the other water or something like that.

This year the Grinch morphed into the chicken pox and tried to spoil our Christmas.

Saturday was to be the official start of the Smith family's holiday celebrating.

We were going to dress in coordinating Christmas outfits for the first time in years and take a cute little picture before we started our day.

We would then pile into the limo with the rest of The Smith Team and head to Houston.

We would play our fun white elephant gift exchange game on the way while watching Christmas movies and spreading holiday cheer.

We would stop along the way at a fine dining establishment and enjoy ourselves while filling our tummies with some yummy cuisine.

And end our evening in the Heights in downtown Houston for Lights in the Heights. This is a fun night, a tradition for our family. Andrew's brother and sister-in-law live in the Heights. Each year their neighborhood has a fun celebration where the city closes down the streets and every single house decorates the outside of their house.

No grinches here!

Lots have live music and entertainment on their porches and parties and refreshments inside. Serious Christmas cheer.

Just what I have been needing to get into the holiday spirit.

Lights in the Heights along with a couple of Red Bulls could probably get my tree up in no time!

"Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

Just like many other carefully laid plans this year's Christmas got off to a different start.

Really, it was okay that Hunter got the chicken pox on Friday because our Christmassy coordinating clothes would have been a little too warm for Saturday night.

Anyway, Saturday afternoon as Andrew was preparing the limo to leave sans us, Hunter comes up to me and whispers in my ear, "Did I ruin Christmas?"

Awww...poor baby!

I tenderly reassure him, "No, Christmas can't be ruined."

He says, "By getting chicken pox?"

I reassure him using even more tenderness, affection and sympathy, "Baby, Christmas is about Jesus. Nobody can ruin that. We'll go see the lights next year."

Words can't really convince a four-year-old of the truth. At times those eyes only see this world's injustices.

We watched Christmas movies, played Go Fish and cuddled lots Saturday night.

But, we didn't really have as much fun as we thought we were going to have in Houston. No lying here. Everyone tried to brave a great attitude. Nobody blamed anyone.

It was just a bummer.

Hunter was sad.

Once more Sunday morning, Super Daddy came to the rescue.

He took Hunter out of the house letting him skip out on quarantine in order to save Christmas!

They went to the Christmas tree lot.

They bought the biggest, prettiest, tallest tree they could find. It's tall, fat, full and flocked. It fills up our window and the star brushes the ceiling.


Little Hunter got to save Christmas by choosing the best Christmas tree ever.

Here he is with his tree.

Beautiful!



I was reminded of another Father who used another little boy to be the Savior of the world.

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

So this Christmas as you celebrate, remember why that baby boy is so important. Take some time to reflect on the significance of the first Christmas tree.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Free Gourmet Grinds








Do you love Starbucks?




The most delicious, extravagant, ritzy, in-style, vogue and downright expensive cup of coffee in town?




Mmmmmm.



Is it a luxury?



Something you enjoy only when you can justify a $5 cup of coffee when there are starving children all over the world and you can buy a pound of coffee for that at HEB?



Here's your chance.


Don't throw out your monthly Smith Team newsletter!


That's right...


Open it, read it, follow the directions and...




Presto!


Free Starbucks...


Coming your way.

On us...


Compliments of The Smith Team.


We had a big boo-boo, a computer programming no-no, we went uh-oh


and then...


we invented a game, a contest with a freebie, a really cool, hip, fun prize for fifty people.

All you have to do is read your December issue of The Smith Team newsletter and go to our blog with the correct number of punctuation errors on the front page (due to a computer program compatibility issue). Leave your first and last name and we'll mail you a gift card for a free cup of Starbucks.


Easy as pie, which you could purchase to eat with your cup of java when you get your FREE Starbucks gift card.


If you don't get the newsletter, email me your address and we'll hook you up.


Cool and stylish people who like to have that Starbucks cup as a trendy accessory will all be rushing to our blog so email me quickly to get added to our list. We'd like to have ALL our friends on it. This way when you get added to our mailing list you get something free out of it!

Free Starbucks.


Seriously.


Grab it!


'Tis the season for peppermint mocha!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Meet Pocahontas






This is Pocahontas.


She was responsible for giving a presentation at school yesterday complete with historically accurate costume, props and information.


She was awesome!


She was dedicated.


I'll bet there were no other second grade Indians up past ten o'clock on Thursday night practicing their presentations in full costume.


We worked on it all week but still did not have enough time to polish it until Thursday night.


We had to drive all over town collecting an Indian dress, a deer hide and a basket. We had to gather nuts, berries, corn, potatoes and squash because Pocahontas helped the colonists in Jamestown from starving by giving them food. We had to wrap baby Thomas in the deerskin to keep him warm. We had to create a treasure chest to hold the gifts the settlers gave to Pocahontas in return for her kindness...copper bowls, spoons, even a crown.


Then we had to learn what an outline is and why it's useful in public speaking. We had to practice standing still, tall and confident. We had to learn what projecting our voice was and how to use your voice to generate excitement in others. We had to talk about eye contact and how important it is. We had to discuss which friends we could make eye contact with and which ones would make us giggle and lower our grade!


It was fun.


It was hard.


It was stressful.


It was tiring.


It was successful.


I realized we go overboard in all things.


Even a second grade Indian project.


Overboard.


I mean really, they should have had a little longer to prepare this thing.



She's been exhausted lately. Coming home headachey, feverish and totally drained.



I honestly had no idea that this could be related to the "mosquito bites" on her face and in her hair that just wouldn't go away and itched like the dickens.



So when she got home from school yesterday I got in the sunlight and examined all the places on her face. They've all healed now. Sure enough, they bear absolutely no resemblance to the mosquito bite scars on her legs. They're pock marks.



We're just realizing that we've got the chicken pox.



She's been at school infecting one and all. I feel terrible.



Honestly.



No idea.



Pocahontas with chicken pox.



I think Pocahontas died from a disease...maybe it was chicken pox.



That should certainly have earned her extra credit!


Like I said, overboard.



She's been going to the nurse's office every day at school to rest. This is the child that cannot miss school for any reason. She has to have perfect attendance and get the best award at all costs.


The homework this year is making our lives a little more strenuous and focused.


I seriously don't know how we'll handle next year.


I mean, homework these days involves everyone in the house.


This week it was working, searching, shopping for authentic ancient artifacts.


Every week it is studying for spelling tests, reading tests, vocabulary tests, math tests.


Alyssa has a minimum of three tests each week.


In first grade.


Crazy!


She has a Spanish spelling test, Spanish vocabulary test and an English spelling test. In addition she has extended vocabulary tests in both languages every six weeks.


She usually aces two and bombs one.



We usually study two lots and lots and we accidentally overlook one.



This week was no exception.


Evidence that three is too many.


Incidentally, last week for the first time she aced all three tests.


Maybe we've reached a benchmark in public school.


I've had to revisit my beliefs on grades, report cards and honor rolls.


I was a good student.


Practically perfect.


Straight A's.


The model student.


The teacher's pet.


That was me.


About a month ago, Alyssa learned her Spanish words. She knew them. She was confident and ready for the test.


She brought it home.


She had misspelled every word due to learning the wrong consonant blend.


Either Andrew or I read it wrong or the teacher wrote it wrong.


We still don't know. It may have something to do with the fact that the words were in a language we don't speak at all. Who knows...


Alyssa was crying.


Hysterical really.


Scared we would be upset, disappointed with her.


I asked her, "What is the correct spelling of these words?"


She told me.


The words that poured forth from my mouth were, "A grade is only a number. You mastered the content. You learned the lesson. You are successful."


Wow.


Now we talk to our children frequently about things such as...


Are you learning at school?


Is this paper better than the last one?


What will you do differently next time?


Did you do your best?


Have you been honest, diligent, hard working, respectful and obedient in doing your school work?


Were you responsible?


You get the idea.


As long as we're progressing, learning, getting better and our character is developing appropriately...


The pressure is off...


A grade is only a number.


When your kids start school, you feel like you start school.


On report card day, you get a little nervous, antsy to see your grade!


Spelling test failures are our failures.


Pocahontas successes are our successes.


I can't wait to see my grades today.


I will remember that a grade is only a number.


By the way, they did great.


Straight hundreds with extra credit on some.


My children are brilliant!

Friday, December 07, 2007

It is


Chicken pox that is.

Hunter is officially infected.

Quarantine is in session at the Smith home.

Fourteen days...

rest...

not going...

being still...

unless someone else becomes spotted.
*sigh*

I guess I finally found time to put up the tree.

What does a little boy with chicken pox do these days?

Besides break out in spots?

It's only been about forty-five minutes since he was diagnosed and already...

He runs through the house chasing his brother with a toy gun.

He lays on the couch begging for candy.

When that doesn't work he begins begging for Sprite.

We settled on Gatorade.

He uses the Spiderman web blaster when the dart gun loses effectiveness.

Oh, and he also gels his own hair (see above photo) and stands in front of the bathroom mirror singing like a rockstar!

A rockstar with red spots on his face.

Do Your Ears Hang Low?


Babies and ear infections.

If you are a parent, you just cringed.

They don't go together at all.
I've been concerned about a couple of my kids because they've had allergies lingering a little too long.

We've had a crazy week.

Crazy.

Holiday celebrations mingled with everyday responsibilities makes for very busy family life.

Our team had a newsletter crisis at about 5:00 last night. (More on this later.) The whole family in addition to the whole team was helping out in a huge time crunch.
Julia has this huge oral presentation to give today dressed as Pocahontas complete with historically accurate costume, props and information. This report had to be totally memorized and in first person. (More on it later.)

Around 10:00 last night when Andrew and I were visiting with Pocahontas in our living room, I hear the earth shattering screaming that means I am very sick or I am very hurt.


I jump up and run to Hunter.

Always the first response, "Are you hurt?"

More screaming, sobbing and general hysteria.

Always second, "Did you throw up?"

I have a thing with throw up.

A personal vendetta.

Every time a child throws up and I have to clean it up, I throw up too.

The last time this happened was this summer. It was over a hundred degrees outside. Alyssa leaned over the third seat and lost her stomach all over Palmer, his car seat and Julia.

Just gross.

Plain gross.

You see why I ask it.

I need preparation if I'm having to clean it up!
I cautiously approach the subject of throw up and avoid it by sprinting to the bathroom like an Olympic marathon runner with my heavy gold medal in the form of a screaming child held high in the air, far away from my body.

No throw up.

Thank the Lord!

But, ears were hurting.

Both ears.

Bright red.

Ouch!

I had started thinking we might have a small problem Wednesday evening when I noticed red dots on his face.

Mosquitoes I reasoned.

Then yesterday when they spread to his ears, I suspiciously asked, "Did you play outside yesterday afternoon?"

When he got up last night, Pocahontas exclaimed, "Hunter has chicken pox."
I don't think so.

We'll see.

We're on our way to the doctor.

Verdict is still out.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's Moving Day!

"Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things..." Psalm 98:1

How can we sing a new song if we don't experience new things, new triumphs, new victories, new places, new friendships, new life?

How can we sing a new song if we live the same old life, the same old way, everything looking exactly the same, everyday, all the time?

How can something predictable and ordinary be marvelous enough to cause us to create words and music...a new song?

My friend Kathryn just wrote a post about moving the furniture.

She has always rearranged the furniture in her home as a sort of therapy. When she had problems or got stressed, it was therapy to her. Then...she got furniture she couldn't move. That's when her issue came out. She realized she did this in her life as well. Instead of dealing with her "stuff" head on, she rearranged it
making it look fresh, different, better.

Same old struggles, problems, issues and sin...just a brand new look.

This got me to thinking.

I don't really like to rearrange the furniture.

I like things to be steady and predictable. I like the sameness of a perfect fit, a perfect arrangement, a feeling of accomplishment each time I look at my room. When I rearrange, which is rarely, I adjust and tinker with everything for days until it pleases my eye. Once it pleases, I've done something. No reason to mess with perfection, I say.

I sit in each room of my house for hours trying to figure out how the furniture should be arranged.

Then I arrange it.

Fix it.

Perfect it.

Leave it.

For a long, long time.

As long as possible, really.

I leave it until it doesn't work anymore.

Until we've outgrown the current arrangement or situation.

I leave it until we've added so many pieces, knick knacks and art, I have to rearrange it.

I leave it until it breaks or my children outgrow it.

I like something finished. Rearranging takes days to perfect and finish. The lull between start and finish stresses me. I lay in bed at night thinking it over in my head until I have the perfect solution. Once my eye is pleased, it is pleased. It remains pleased until I can ignore imperfection no more.

I leave it that same way until the need becomes so great that I have to change things because I have a specific purpose or need that is not being met.

For example, I fixed up the cutest nursery ever nine years ago before Julia was born. Although I had to move it to a different room, it's still the same nursery.

Although it has certainly seen better days, I still have the same nursery.

Still.

It is a faded, mismatched room with many parts missing that I once considered essential to raising a baby.

Many missing parts such as a mobile, fluffy teddy bears on the shelves, sweet memorable baby outfits on pegs and sadly enough, even a baby bed!

We've lived in our house ten years. The arrangement in our living room has changed very little.


We've added a little, replaced a little, grown a lot but our couch is in the same place. Our TV is in the same place.


Point made.


I think just like Kathyrn, this represents my life. I like to spend time analyzing each issue I see in my life.


I seek God, seek his word, seek wise counsel, fix the problem...and then don't expect to do anything else about it for as long as possible. It's true that each problem, character issue or sin in our life is built on others. Once we begin untangling the mess, it seems that it will never end...Although, thankfully the Bible says it will end on the day Christ returns.


I am a very yes or no, black or white, all or nothing, forever kind of girl.


I have a hard time with change.


Slightly.


Okay, very hard time.


Change is the primary reason I took a blogging sabbatical a couple of months ago.


So, in honor of Jesus, and Kathryn and the encouragement to embrace the new that comes with our friendship, I'll be rearranging the furniture in the living room this month.


Does putting up the Christmas tree count?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Magic Energy Potion

My husband drinks Red Bull. Says he just likes the taste.

My sister-in-law drinks Red Bull. Says it's like drinking five cups of coffee in that little bitty can.

Me, I like coffee.

I tried Red Bull once when it was first introduced. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. It kind of tasted like a cross between strawberry soda and bubblegum. I didn't really like it. I didn't feel more focused, energetic or hip.

That was that. One fad I could do without...

Until yesterday.

You see, I've been kind of tired lately. Exhausted...fatigued...sluggish...and, well irritable.

Last week moving was difficult. I had no other symptoms except that I could hardly hold my eyes open or concentrate on anything. I had a case of mind funk and body fog. I felt like I was trying to run a marathon...under water! Last Monday I even called Andrew at 4:30 and asked him if he could come home so I could sleep. He did. I slept for over twelve hours without waking up once. It was incredible. Amazing actually. Apparently the children thought of all sorts of interesting tidbits they needed to share with me during those twelve hours. They shared, according to Andrew and I slept.

When I woke up I was still tired, weak, numb in the head. All week life was hard. Exerting energy on any task was difficult. Cleaning, a near impossibility. Talking, too much work. All week my gestures were poor and my words were short. I was desperately trying to overcome this funky, sluggish state and miserably failing.

I tried to make myself drink more coffee. But it just didn't really taste good. I was too tired to drink it!

Yesterday I got fed up with being tired.

I decided to fight the foggy mind mush...with caffeine. I was actually feeling a little more peppy in the morning by by 3:00 I needed a Diet Coke. We didn't have any. But, alas, we had Red Bull.

I drank one.

I cleaned the house. I began the kids homework. My brain function was returning. So I drank another. I made it through the night triumphantly. I stayed up long enough to complete the evening routine and visit with Andrew a little bit.

This afternoon at 2:00 I stopped to measure my day's performance so far. It was fair. I had washed and folded six loads of clothes but none were put away. I had vacuumed the floor but not mopped. I definitely needed a Red Bull. After all, all four kids had been at school all day. My day was only about to begin! I indulged.

I picked up the boys, headed to HEB, picked up the girls, got three kids haircuts, fixed snacks, put the groceries away, put the clothes away, checked my email, bathed the kids, helped the girls clean their rooms, I mean really clean and it was only 6:15! I had time to listen to Alyssa read her home reader and help Julia with her report on Pocahontas...All while sipping on another Red Bull.

I love this marvelous little can of magic potion.

Pure energy in a cute little can.

Amazing, miraculous and awesome! It has cured my tiredness. It has cleaned my house. I am now thinking of putting up the Christmas tree...tomorrow. Even the outside lights that have seemed so daunting sound like fun. I love Red Bull! My family loves Red Bull too. They love having me back in action!

I know what this little can of super power is doing for my house (and I love it).

But, what's it doing to my body?

Anybody know?

Monday, December 03, 2007

December's Debut


I haven't made a December debut here because, well, I felt obligated to come up with something "Christmassy". And, well, I got nothin'.
Nothing.

I mean, I love Christmas.

It's my most favorite time of the year.

This year, however, I can't believe it's here.

I started digging my heels into the horribly hot, humidified ground back in October when I went into a couple of stores for football season and tailgating supplies and found Christmas decorations.

Christmas decorations...
In October!
Something inside of me was agitated, horrified to see Christmas and Halloween in the same stores...Because it was October, Halloween got the better location...Heinous!

Yes, Hobby Lobby and Academy.

This completely over commercialized aspect of Christmas could totally take away from its specialness to us if we let it.

Let me explain.

I have a beautiful nativity set. It's Willow Tree. It's magical. It's magnificent. I love it!

I love taking it out of the box.

I love gasping with delight as I see it for the first time each Christmas.

I love the children's squeals as they see it for the first time each Christmas.

I hate wrapping it up and putting it away when I feel like I just got it out to enjoy.

So, one year, I left it out all year.

I didn't put it in the Christmas box.

It didn't get wrapped in tissue after only a couple of weeks on display.

No attic for the nativity set that year.

For a couple of weeks I awed a little as I walked by it.

Then oohed a little as I dusted it.

But, by the next Christmas it was covered in dust with the rest of my Willow Tree treasures as I scurried about preparing for the Christmas season.

If the truth be told, it was covered in dust long before Christmas rolled around again. (But, this story is not about my battle with recurrent dust. This post is about my beef with commercializing Christmas beginning in October.)

The point is that by Christmas time the nativity set was ordinary at best. It was something I saw every single day and consequently, almost quit looking at.

Don't get me wrong. I totally felt the same awe over the Christmas story itself. I just lost the awe that comes with taking my sweet holy family out of the box that year.

I missed reverently setting it up on my kitchen shelf.

I missed asking each character what they were feeling as they first beheld our Savior as a beautiful, sweet, tiny, helpless baby.

I missed pondering with Mary.
I missed protecting my Savior with Joseph.
I missed thinking how totally surrendered to God these parents must have been...Raising our Savior...Just think.

I missed giving my gifts with the Wise Men.
I missed worshipping with the shepherds.

I missed part of my Christmas tradition.

Now, I don't just set it out, I wait for the kids to come home from school. That way, we can all ooh and aah and squeal with delight over each tiny, exquisite figurine as it is lovingly set up just perfectly.

We sit down and read the Christmas story together for the first time of the Christmas season. The kids tell me what they think each participant in Jesus' birth thought.

We even cover the animals. They were happy, crowded, curious, hungry and warm to name a few of the animals' emotions.

I hope this tradition grows with our family.

I will be sure to post pictures of this blessed event.

I have been delaying putting up our decorations because I was already tired of looking at commercial trees by the beginning of November!

Help keep Christmas to one month and retain its specialness...Please!