Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Rememberances

It is Christmas Eve, mid-day, and I am sitting in the corner blue chair which is almost too broken to use, but I love it because it is a gift from my friend Debbie, and somehow I just want to be in it because she gave it to me. I love gifts from her. I am still in my p.j.'s, ahh the blessing of vacation. I am sipping hot tea, and sharing my bagel with Anna who is half sitting on my shoulder and half on the arm of the chair, feeling the silky part of her beena (blankie) and sucking on her paci. We are warm and snuggly in the blanket that was Joel's when he was little, and I am hoping that nothing peaks her interest for awhile so we can stay this way for as long as possible. We share each morning like this when I read my Bible and I love it. Isaac is vacuuming, Abby is finishing up the breakfast dishes, Caleb and Nathan are half-cleaning and half telling me what they each would like for their next birthday. It is a day filled with the blessing of ordinary things, which in reality are extra-ordinary gifts to us from God.

10 years ago this morning I went out for a very special breakfast. A nervously handsome young man drove me to Jumers, a Castle looking hotel and resturant, with his parents accompaning. The bagel wasn't toasted, the orange juice never came, the eggs were over easy and not scrambled with cheese, and who could forget the high-back booth seat that leaned forward or backward whenever the person on the opposite side leaned forward to take a bite! Ahh the memories. Then it was a stroll through the castle, to a red velvet couch in a cold drafty lobby, in front of a fireplace with, unfortunately no fire in it. It was dim yet we could see the Hotel Maid as she came and had us lift our feet while on the couch as she vacuumed under them! Romantic? Very. No one I ever knew had gotten engaged over breakfast. Ever. Well there's a first time for everything.

Because I like to have some things that are just for my enjoyment and memory I will not tell you each and every detail. I WILL tell you that what transacted in that lobby was a solemn committment. It was the beginning of a life-long adventure, one that still keeps us laughing, praying, loving and enjoying every crazy minute of it. The imperfect surroundings remind us that we too are imperfect, yet you can make the best of any situation, and you can bring out the best in an imperfect person, faithfully loving them day after day for 10 years solid.

I would say yes to Him a thousand times again, and in a very real way I do each and every day. I did today, "Yes I will be your wife," I will take care of your little hoolagins who keep me hopping, spanking, loving, and praying. I will make your home a haven, a place like none on this earth where we can come and hide from the whole world. I will make your favorite meal more than once a year, and set the table like your Mother always did so that we can have sweet times around the dinner table like you had when you were growing up. I have not forgotten what I meant in that power-packed word, "yes."

Thank you for asking me. I still say "yes.""Us" enjoying some entertainment "grandpa" style

Self portrait of us at Christmas Eve Service, ten years ago.
She is still beautiful and fun!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our New House!!!

Yes we have waited 10 long years for this moment........the day we would build a new house for our family. We have put our sweat and tears into this, we have given it all we've got, and we are now proud to share the fruit of our labors with you.............

Wait for it..........

Wait for it............

Tada!!!!! Well at this point in our lives ANY new house is exciting! This is the first year we have ever made a gingerbread house. Perhaps they have been too expensive to buy in the past, perhaps we have seen some of Uncle Jason's previous houses.......either way we have finally discovered how fun they are to put together.

1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Ne 4:6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
Ps 128:3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Ps 90:17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

This was 100x's better than fighting Walmart crowds for last minute Christmas gifts. What a SWEET time we had together. I am thankful for my "large" family, and I would rather be home with them than with anyone, anywhere in the world.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Earl Grey with cream

If you are like me, which in some ways I hope you are not! :-) But if in SOME cases you are, you find such peace and warmth and comfort in the old familiar things. The worn comfy slippers you cannot bring yourself to throw away, a good book that you have memorized, a throw that someone made for you that you use everyday when you sit in your favorite old chair and have your time with the Lord. In the old we find a sweet coziness that reminds us of things we have forgotten, of things we wish we could do again, of moments we wish we could squeeze all the joy out of and carry a little bit of it with us throughout our lives, and in a sense, these old things do that for us.

Earl Grey with cream goes back a ways for me. It goes back to my Pastor's wife's Sunday School class, where I sat, at a folding table, half in the kitchen of an old Real Estate building. I loved watching my teacher sip her tea and peruse through her Bible with it's worn homemade cover and tell me things I needed to know. I remember thinking how Motherly she looked to me, looking for acceptance, in her lilac dress with freshly curled black hair. Love this picture. Tea was matronly and feminine.

Then I would enjoy a cup of this tea sneaking sips from hers as she drove me to school with her kiddos. These memories are filled with van breakdowns, prayers to coast into the gas station, and combing our pockets and seats for change to contribute to the "get us all to school and back fund." I loved all the excitement and remember watching the Lord take care of us. Each time we had a difficulty no one was in a panic. There were smiles and tea and I remember these moments fondly. Tea was comforting.

Tea was always a way I could feel at home in a far away place, like college. And meeting my Husband to be, whom just happened to enjoy tea, brought a smile to my face. Here and there I would find Earl Grey, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I began to REALLY enjoy it and look for it, and feel like I HAD to have a cup.

The smell, that so familiar fruit-loop smell, just takes me back. It reminds me that someone invested in me, that someone treated me as their own, gave me their tea to enjoy, brought me reassurance that I still enjoy today. I make my cup while with a group of Ladies who look at me half-cocked and turn their nose up when I add the cream. I smile. I am re-living a bit of the past. I have memories attached to this cup of tea that they will never know. I sip and grin and am content to enjoy this all to myself. I like the fact that they do not know how good this tea is, nor care to know. I want to savor it and save it for my kiddos to enjoy and laugh as I tell them all of the memories I have attached to it.

The kettle is whistling..... Thank you W family, for everything.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Lesson from the Twelve

The shepherds, the wise men, the kings.......this time of year we are centering-in on biblical figures. We think about them, put up images of them standing or kneeling beside Jesus, and we even send cards with pictures of them on it. But today I am thinking of a different group of individuals. Today I am thinking about the disciples.

While reading my Bible I began to notice some things about them and I would write them on a slip of green paper and keep it to mark where I was reading to gather more "finds" about them as I read. Hmmmmmm........interesting. Now we all know that the LORD chose these men, each and every one of them. He called them out of various professions, each with varied personalities and amounts of smarts too. We all at one time or another, in Christian service, have taken note of these men and after looking at their stature realize that we too can be of use when called by God Himself. These were not perfect men by any means as we are not, but were greatly used, as we too can be.

So let's take note of 4 things I have recently learned from the 12 whom God chose:

1. Sometimes they were afraid to ask Jesus something when they didn't understand. Mark 9:32-"But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him."

Wow. Ever been there? Knowing all you know about the nature of God, have you ever not understood Him, and His ways, yet been afraid to ask Him something?

2. Sometimes they struggled with pride. Mark 9:34- "But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest."

Hmmm....ever been THERE? Pride welling up inside over a job well-done, seeking some praise or recognition for it????

3. Sometimes they actually turned people AWAY from the Lord! Mark 10 13- " And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them."

How often has our attitude been wrong in front of others, and we discourage someone from coming to the Lord??

4. Sometimes they lacked needed compassion for others....even wishing them harm. Luke 9:54- "And they did not receive him, because his face was as thought he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

Shocking, isn't it... that those closest to Jesus, who walked, talked, gleaned from Him daily would be thus? Or is it??? We walk and talk with Him. We glean from His teachings just as they did, and many times we find ourselves spiteful at people looking past their souls to the very sin they struggle with. This Christmas season don't mumble under your breath when the cashier tells you "Happy Holidays," instead of "Merry Christmas." She sees your button that blinks "Keep Christ in Christmas." Let that be a testimony to her and let your sweet spirit be the icing on the cake. Stop bumbling through crowds of people only wondering if they took the last sweater or gift YOU were looking for, and for pitty's sake don't turn your nose up at the bell ringers at Walmart because they are not our "Stripe." Shame on us. Learn from the disciples, they made mistakes just like we do.....daily.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear??

Recently, in the hustle and bustle of getting last minute things ready for the wedding of all weddings next Friday, keeping my family free of the roaming stomach bug (no Diana it really isn't a BUG persay...), and dashing around like a mad woman determined to get all my Christmas shopping finished the beginning of December instead of my usual 3 days before Christmas.....(hey Mom I said I was sorry for the spatula I gave you last year, listen that was all Kohl's had left!!) the business of all of this the Lord has graciously reminded me through a sweet listener that HE is talking. God is speaking through the Holy Spirit to us. Everyday. All day. Are you hearing what I have been hearing?

The other day Hubby asked me the yearly question...."Honey, what would you like for Christmas?" And usually he has something sneaky and terrific in mind, but he asks away anyways. So I replied with something for the kitchen that I really needed.....a chef's knife. You know the one, the one that is thick and perfect for chopping veggies for soup. The one that makes you for one second feel like you are on the Food Network.....THAT one. My knives are 10 year old wedding presents and well, let's just say that my veggies groan when I try to cut them and if, perchance someone did break in my house for some really strange reason.... and I grabbed a knife to try to fend him off...the um, assailant would um, be laughing so hard at my knife he would ah probably give me time to call the authorities and have him taken away. You get the overall idea, don't you??

No one knew what I had asked him for except him. I originally thought that in the back of his mind, knowing him, that he already had something else planned and maybe he could pass my request on to my MIL for an idea, tho the more I stewed on that, the more I was uncomfortable with receiving a knife, a very sharp one from my Mother-in-law. ( teasing here!!!) So, a week or so later a special offering was taken up for a man who is a friend of our church who had extensive medical bills from a recent surgery. You know the likes.......when you squirm in your seat and try to tell yourself that you cannot "squeeze blood from a turnip," if you catch my drift. There I was, Hubby was sitting on the platform so it was just me and the chain of kids stretching endlessly into the left wing.....and then it was there. The voice. Shame on me, it had been a little while since I had heard him speaking. He told me to give that money in my wallet that someone had given us. All of it. Now. So I him-haud around and finally got it in time to put in the plate. And then a strange thing happened. I asked God to give me that money back. NO NOT RIGHT THEN, and I have done some pretty crazy things in my lifetime, but I did NOT, I repeat did NOT chase the usher, jump on his back and snag my money back. (Too many childhood adventure movies...) I asked God to give me the money back somehow, somewhere, just so I knew it was from HIM, and it was given back to me. I told the Lord it could be food on my table, health, anything. I just wanted to KNOW that it was given back to me.

Fast forward a few days to an answering machine message. I need to interject here that Hubby changed our answering machine to Spanish....we don't speak it, but this machine now does. Not our message to those calling, but every other instruction to US is in it, making it nigh impossible to change it back to English!!!!!! A cruel joke. I digress..... After the mumbo jumbo I finally heard my message. Someone wanted to give Joel and I something special at the next service. I thought that was sweet and seriously never thought of it again. Maybe the Spanish distracted me.......JOEL please switch it back!!! I get hungy for nachos everytime I hear that thing!

The next service rolled around and this person took us out for hot chocolate and french fries, a mighty good combination if I do say so myself, and then presented us with his "gift." Yep, you guessed it, a knife. Four knives to be exact. And in a nice wooden knife holder, AND not just any knives....Wolfgang Puck knives. I was just dumbstruck. I just looked at him and said, "How did you know I asked for a knife?" And he didn't. He told me that he was told to give this to me by none other than the Holy Spirit. There He is again speaking to more people. That night was such a night for me. He, the benefactor, told me how sometimes we just get too busy to hear the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us......but He is speaking. I just sat silent for a while and told him I would do better at listening for Him. I wanted to be a blessing to someone like he had been to me, meeting a need or want at just the right time. When we got home I set my new knife set on my baker's rack and went to brush my teeth. While brushing my teeth again the Holy Spirit spoke reminding me of what I had given to a man in need, and what I had asked of the Lord. Now, I am not out of my mind here, and if you haven't had the Holy Spirit speakin' you might think me so, but this is what He told me to do..... He kept telling me to go and see if God had not given me back what I had given to that man. Go! He kept telling me. "Yes you are curious. Go and satisfy your curosity about this!" So to the computer I went. A few clicks and there was the Holy Spirit again saying, "Look there. I have given you Double what you gave to help someone else. And who better to know even the slightest desire of your heart, than me?" Almost double to the "T" financially what I had given.

He is speaking. Are you listening??? Someone needs a you hear what I hear?