Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas with the Family

On Christmas day we took a trip to a "Mystery Destination" to enjoy Christmas dinner and exchange presents. A sweet couple in our church literally asked MIL and FIL if they could host the whole fam Christmas Day. MIL and FIL packed us all into cars and we were surprised when we pulled into their drive! They have a be-u-ti-ful huge house (okay so it's a mansion.......seriously.) and we sure enjoyed pretending like it was our home for the night. In fact, we felt so at home it DID feel like our own home. It.Was.Wonderful.

We ate a fantastic dinner...

Sang together with the whole family....

Watched FIL blow the Shofar... Ha ha ha ha ha

Played a few games...

And plum enjoyed being together! Here's the sibling/spouse line up:
Joel and I

Jason and Melody

Bret and Beka

Chris and Diana. Okay so I forgot to get a pic of Josh....Here he is in the pic of the whole gang...

This is literally a Christmas miracle! 13 Kiddos all happy and everyone smiling....Perfect!

And almost all of the above picture began with these two here. MIL and FIL. Gotta love 'em.

A good time was had by all!

Christmas card photo shoot

Here we are posing for Missionary Dan Canavan who was gracious enough to get us all smiling after a long day. He has the same camera that I have recently aquired and even gave some helpful tips!

Isaac-9, Abigail-8, Caleb-5, Nathan-4, Anna-2

The blue-green paci really makes the pic, wouldn't you say?

Okay this table shot looked better through the lense of the camera, but it was worth a shot.....

And cuddos to Hubby who was a very cheerful prop man...

Alayna Ruth- a whopping 6 months old already!

This was NOT my idea, it was Joel's, but I was glad to help with the staging of it! A quote comes to mind, "The best gift parents can give their children is a happy marriage."

Amen to that.

No, that is not mistletoe, it's holly and notice the kids faces that Joel got them to make....

This so should have gone on the Christmas cards!

Monday, December 21, 2009

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

It's coming on Christmas and this year, the first year in, well


I have NOT wanted a gift of any kind or shape. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Stop looking at me like that...I am serious. Not even food items. Nope. For some reason I just do not want anything at all. And so as the day draws closer and sweet kiddos and Hubby find something to wrap for me even though I told them I had need of nothing, I am reminded of a couple who gave and was reminded myself of what I am giving everyday.

By this time you surely have heard preaching, teaching, and even songs regarding Mary and Joseph. Sometimes we skim over them and listen halfheartedly letting our minds wander to what is important. You know, like picking up that extra tub of cool whip for tomorrow's dessert.

We are just so shallow these days.

And well, while I was half listening to a story about Mary and Joseph the Holy Spirit broke into my invisible shopping list in my mind and halted everything. According to the Bible, Mary and Joseph brought an offering to the temple when presenting Jesus 8 days after his birth.

Remember what it was???

(Final Jeopardy music..........Do do do do do do do, do do do do, DO, do do do do do..)

Still guessing????

2 Turtle doves. (refrain from now adding to this statement....And a Partridge in a Pear Tree...)

2 Turtle doves. The Poor man's offering. Over and over again in Scripture the Bible uses the base things. 1Co 1:28 "And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:" Things that are less than the status quo, or up to the world's standards.

1Co 1:27 " But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

He uses these things to "confound" or to "dishonor" or "shame" the things that are "mighty." In seemingly simple things throughout the Bible He gains glory. I for one just love this idea. I have always rooted for the underdog, and sought to look "outside the box" at things. I like finding joy, humor and beauty in the things that the world passes by. This may be why I have recently found such enjoyment in photography.

Everyone can photograph say, a house. But not everyone photographs the steps, let's say. Not everyone zeros in on the pile of shoes littering the back porch steps which speak volumes in regards to the liveliness of the home, the character of the one's residing in it.

So me in my deep thinking look at Mary and Joseph again and their two Turtle doves. The Poor man's offering.

And I zero in on my own life. Is their small Christmas offering shaming mine?

In the world in which we who read this blog live we cannot honestly say we are poor. We have, the lot of us, fallen sadly into the category mentioned in Revelation when it reads:

Re 3:17 "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:"

And then it hit me.

I am the one this Christmas who is rich, increased with goods and have need of....nothing.

Take a moment, friend of mine and ask yourself what you truly have NEED of. Go ahead. I'll be here when you are done.

Did you come to the same conclusion as I??

We scramble to find something to fill the kids stockings and fret when we have only 4 presents per child. We search the stores for that one unique thing made no doubt in China for goodness sake, to grace the Grandparents wall or table just to have something to "Wow" them because it IS Christmas after all! We rack our brains trying to think of something Witty and brilliant to give to our parents or friends or spouse and search the Internet for ideas, books and even begin to think that the silly t.v. infomercials actually look good because we must have SOMETHING to wrap.

When was the last time you met a NEED? You cannot even remember, can you?? As Americans our proverbial stocking is bursting at the seams, spilling over with a boatload of junk. Yes I said junk.

We have need of nothing. And I think we break God's heart because He is the only one who knows how truly poor we are.

And to make matters worse we come to God with our million dollar smile and bring Him our offering.....

Two Turtle doves.

We are the richest nation on Earth and yet we bring God, the Creator of everything, the poorest offering we can give.


Doesn't God, our heavenly Father deserve the rich man's offering??? Does He not deserve every single solitary thing we have to offer?

He doesn't want your three second prayer over peanut butter an jelly with the kids because you have other important things to do while they eat. He doesn't want your time reading His word out of guilt because you have been so busy these days. He doesn't want your half-hearted singing at the Christmas Eve service as you eye the crowd wondering if anyone notices you and your nice looking family.

He doesn't want your two Turtle doves.

He doesn't want your spare change. He isn't the salvation army man ringing His bell to get your attention to remember to throw Him just a little something.

He just sadly waits.

He waits for you and I to take a moment like I did tonight and confess that we have need of nothing.

He wants us to remember the story of the woman in 2 Kings 4 who was sent out to fetch vessels for oil. Remember with me that she had a debt to pay. God, through the prophet Elijah, told her to borrow vessels and not a few. She was instructed to take them into her house, close the door and begin pouring out. The Bible says that:

2Ki 4:6 "And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed."

That last part is the key..."and the oil stayed." Somewhere in her pot gathering she looked at her pile and said to herself, "These are enough." She was satisfied with what she had gathered, yet God's blessing was only hindered by her faith in not gathering more pots.

She did not NEED anymore.

Have you enough of God to suit you?

In this sinful world we need reminded that we are poor, miserable wretched and blind and naked......

without God.

We put Him on the shelf next to our Nativity scene and carry on with out shopping for more things only to realize that the most important thing in our lives is Him, and we will only have as much of Him as vessels we borrow.

He will pour into our lives as long as we want Him to. The trouble is that most often we are so increased with goods that we let the sweet oil of the Holy Spirit "stay," when we should be offering Him another vessel in our lives to fill.

God wants the offering of our lives. The greatest offering we can lift to Him to use. And the time to be used is now, when so many around us are possibly the closest to finding Him than ever. Christmas.

Forget the gifts. This Christmas hold an empty pot heavenward and once it is filled, let some of it spill over onto your neighbors and co-workers, store workers, mailman, to everyone who needs the Gift Christ came to be to them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have Yourself and Merry Little Meltdown....

Yes it's THAT time of year again folks.

When you hear shouts like, "I'm gonna suff-a-kate you!" coming from behind closed doors and yet you do absolutely nothing about it.

You see way back yonder in November you decided, quite vehemently I might add.... that you would NOT fall prey to the Holiday financial fiasco.

Nay....... you sat and sipped your Pumpkin Spice Latte while visions of girls matching cranberry corduroy dresses danced in your head. You were going to have a "Homespun" Christmas this year you retorted. We have taken out Santa, but we will add SO.MUCH.FAMILY-NESS that the children will smile at Wal mart when confronted with the question, "What is Santa bringing you this year?" and say, "Santa??? Santa who?" and then proceed to pontificate how THEY have kept CHRIST in Christmas this year. Christmas is in their heart, and they celebrate it all year long. They will then burst into some somber Christmas carol amidst falling prey to workers begging, "What must I do to be saved???"

And then after you spend way more in Jo-Ann fabrics than you would if you had bought the silly plastic toys, after you care for sick kiddos day in and day out, miss one too many date nights, serve spaghetti again for yet another dinner, realize that you do NOT have any more black thread because someone conveniently vacuumed it ALL UP and thoughtfully left you the spool,

You realize that the plans you once had are now like the froth on the top of that latte............FULL.OF.FLUFF.

You turn into someone you do not even recognize and check your licence one, two, three times a day to just make sure it does not read: Martha Stewart.

You pour over the sewing machine, wiping the tears off of it every so often, try to convince your 2 year old that we will sing when it is Jesus' birthday and not anytime before then. Singing happy birthday to Him now only reminds you of how many fewer days there are to get a LOT.OF.THINGS done. You sometimes find yourself in some have comatose state singing old familiar Christmas carols yet substituting the words with words like, "Fray check," and "seam ripper."

You spend countless hours sweeping the house to find that Jo-Ann 20% off coupon that you KNOW you JUST HAD like the woman in the Bible, and find that the house fills itself with more "demons" in the form of craft projects that you stuffed under the bed that you forgot you wanted so badly to do with the kids. You peek to the left and right. No kids watching. You then proceed to SHOVE them BACK under the bed. You sigh, you smile. In fact besides that pint of cookies and cream ice cream a night or two ago you have not felt this good IN WEEKS.

You tell yourself that you are going to get up earlier, stay up later. UTILIZE This time. You lie. You spend the evening in bed early covered in magazines with titles like, "The Bible Cure for Anxiety," and mumble something about homemade granola to your Husband. You wish you had "Just a minute," tattooed on your forehead which is presently now sporting another gray hair.

You become...........


Your sweet husband trying to add some humor to your life cuts the boys hair in a Mohawk and leaves it like that just for a few moments so you can see it and laugh. You don't. There is nary a bit of humor left in you.......

Or is there? :)

Date night is tomorrow. Hope is on the horizon. We could all convert to Judaism just to give us Hanukkah which would, in turn, allow us to just spread Christmas all the way until January 5th.

Or not.

Merry Meltdown to all and to all...... a good night.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Peanut Butter Jar...... and me

Forgive me, I am back again today in a real writing spurt apparently, and I am going to throw out some marriage mush......... so this is your warning. You can stop now and go get a snack, take a walk, or sit and not begrudge me a little chat on true love here on Haywood.

You stayin' or gettin' outta here??

Well Ok then. :) A little mush never hurt anyone.

My husband like YOUR husband has his quirks: Singing to a song playing on a CD in the car when he for sure does not remember more than the first line for instance. Now one would think we would stop there and let others enjoy the song since those who recorded it DO obviously know the words and we can learn them from them....


We continue singing anywhoo, throwing in words that SOUND like the real words being used.


"I long to see your face" becomes "I long" Now I would not entirely include this when arguments arise regarding the issue of "speaking in tongues," but it is a close second.

How about parking in a DO NOT PARK zone for "just a sec" to run into a store to apparently do something important, leaving......... you guessed it...ME in the front seat to wave and smile at those who care to show me by facial expressions what they think of my decision to sit my car where it should not be as they drive past.

Yeah, I hear your wheels are thinking of your own husband's quirks too aren't ya??

Well last night set me up for this post. Isaac was finishing up making the lunches for school today and got to the end of the peanut butter jar. Now I must insert that in normal homes this scenario would be followed by the peanut butter jar making a short trip to the garbage, end of story.

Nay my friends. Not here on Haywood.

Sooner than you can say "Rumplesnort," my Husband instructed Isaac to be sure to put the jar in the sink to be washed.

Yes you heard that right. W-A-S-H-E-D.

And no, Aldi's peanut butter jars have not suddenly become collector's items. We wash them to keep them because you just never know when you will need one of them to put nails, or other things into. Or so Hubby tells me.

So today I got the jar open and commenced scrubbing. Not only do your hands get all greasy from the peanut oil, but the wrapper begins to peel off so you just can't leave it half on and half off, SO THEN you have to scratch it with your nail to get the rest off, followed by a tidal wave of soap and hot water (because it has to be near scalding to get the smell and oil out of it) hitting your shirt as you plunge your washcloth into it to scrub it.

In the time it takes to clean out a peanut butter jar I KNOW I can consume a lot of something smothered in caramel.

For sure on that.

So WHY on earth do I scrub the nasty peanut butter jar??

I am glad you asked.

I scrub the peanut butter jar because I love my husband. I scrub the peanut butter jar because it makes him happy. I scrub the peanut butter jar because I prefer my husband over myself.

Php 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Finding something to smother with caramel takes no effort on my part. Scrubbing the peanut butter jar does.

Doing something that I like to do for my own benefit takes no act of my will to do it. Scrubbing the peanut butter jar does.

You gettin' it?

When I said "I Do." Inadvertently I was also saying "I will." I will love you enough to pick up your socks. I will love you enough to chase your hoodlums around the house til 4:30, when I will have dinner hot and ready and on the table like you like it.

Jeanette Oake has nothin' on me here on Haywood. You can read all the "Love Comes Swift, Soft, Sullen" or WHATEVER you like, and you will still never touch what we have goin' on here on Haywood friends.

Real love is choosing to scrub the peanut butter jar. I Corinthians 13 tells us that love "seeketh not her own," and "beareth all things." For Pete's sake that has to include the peanut butter jar.

Now don't get me wrong, I am a die hard romantic. Just ask my friend Tammy. :) But I am a practical romantic. Love is doing things to help the one you love for no other reason but to help them. And you know I don't really even need a reason or explanation to scrub the peanut butter jar. I need to do it because of the love I have for my husband.

Laugh if you will, but the truth is that love comes in many different acts of kindness towards your spouse. Remember will you that love is an action and to Jeanette Oake's chagrin not a feeling. If I had "fallen into love," when the peanut butter jar arrived, I would have fallen into a bowl of ice cream with caramel sauce instead. I decided to love my husband and so I decided to clean yet another peanut butter jar.

And if you are ever in the area and have a handful of nails.......we got ya covered.

Picture Post

Enjoy some pictures from our latest photo shoot with me, of course, pretending to be a good photographer...... well at least I am affordable. :) Looking over these again to upload them I am reminded what cuties God has blessed me with. A little biased yes I know. :)

Ps 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Divine Appointments

It is late, I am ti-red, but I HAVE to jot this evening down for you all to hear about before I turn in for the night. Tonight was A-MA-ZING.......amazing, simple as that. And it all started with me choosing Isaac to go late night grocery shopping with me.

I had meant to get out earlier in the day, but you know how it goes....... with a Dr.'s appointment for your 5 month old who now has acquired pink eye, 2 of the rest of your chillins needing extra attention and you deciding mid-day that today you are going to do the "Once a Month" cooking thing and not only have to plan your menu according to what is on sale, but you have to also total up ALL of the bazillion ingredients that you need to prepare all 30 meals at the same time.... when you eventually DO get around to shopping! The day just whistles by and you know you have to get out and get the shopping done but you just don't want to. But alas, I peeled myself out of the blue chair....which by the way is on it's last spring, leg, whatever. Anyone want to start a "Lazy boy fund" for little ole' me raise your hand......

I chose Isaac for many reasons. 1. He is a hard, good worker. 2. Ok, so maybe I just chose him for one reason alone. When you do take Isaac anywhere for anything for any length of time you must be prepared to listen and listen and listen and then listen some more. Yes he is like me in that regard and yes I have called and thanked my own Mother for loving me even though I could talk the hind leg off a mule. So talk he did and listen I did, interjecting when possible the scripture in Proverbs which reminds us that wise people and people worth listening to are like a deep well. I look at Isaac to make sure this is sinking in and tell him that people who spill words everywhere usually don't really have much wisdom or much to listen to. It is those whom you have to draw words out of that are worth the listening. We create a "code" amongst ourselves. An action that I can do when around him to remind him to zip the lip without him being embarrassed by some less kind person asking him to "for goodness sake stop talking." No I refuse to describe to you what action it is that we covenanted together on. Besides, if I told you then I would have to kill you anyway. Back to the shopping trip....

We first high tail it out to Rulli Bros. which is a really neat and cheap meat and produce market. We have fun here trying to see how fast we can shop and consequently how far we can slide on the freshly waxed floor pushing the buggy. He wins. On our way out of the store a black lady remarks on what a help Isaac must be to me. I smile my usual smile at that kind of remark and give Isaac the usual "you know I love ya" pat on the shoulder for just such an occasion. After my things are loaded in the van Isaac takes it upon himself to help this woman with her things and then takes her cart back for her. This woman was SO excited by this gesture that she gave him a dollar, which we tried ample times to refuse. It was no use, this woman had some serious zeal and would not be disparaged the blessing of blessing us....and loudly at that. She kept yelling to me in the van how glad she was that I was training Isaac to be a man and teaching him that if he wanted money he had to earn it...and so on and so forth. The BEST part was upon us driving off. As we waved "Goodbye" she yelled to me,

"You are doin' such a good job you should......should just kiss yourself on the arm!"

And just so I would know persactly what she meant.....she showed me and kissed her own arm.

Man I love my life.

Isaac and I had never laughed so hard for so long, and we laugh a LOT so that is really saying something. On our way to the next store Isaac said something to me about how nice that lady was and how he will probably never meet someone that nice again. Our conversation then went something like this:

Me: Oh I bet we will meet someone again like that. The world is full of them.

Isaac: Yeah, but we will probably be too busy to run into them and talk to them.

Me: Well, the neat thing is that God has divine appointments for us. If it is His will, He will put people in our path to speak to or encourage in some way.

So on we went to Aldi's next which was just about to close. With me doing this "Once a Month" cooking thing our cart was a sight to behold. Both of us still had trouble maneuvering it and were almost giggling when we checked-out. We ended up being the last customer because we let a lady go ahead of our "leaning tower of canned goods," and so two checkers and us began to talk.

At first it was about nothing really. Then they began to open up to us and even weep over some real trials they were having. I just could not stand it. I encouraged them as the spirit would prompt and then I just threw tact out the window and bear hugged this perfect stranger while she held the drawer full of money to put away. I hugged her until she knew I really cared. We had such a wonderful time talking that I didn't want to leave. I wanted to press them about their salvation but did not have peace to do so. I left them a bit of God's wonderful love and feel led to go and see them again in a few days. Pray for that next meeting, would you?

THEN, we went to Wal-mart. We were just reveling in the fact that God had filled our night with amazing and funny stories when we pulled in the parking lot. As I parked I asked Isaac if he would pray that God would let us speak to someone else here, and so he prayed. We "Amened" and jumped out hoping to see a lady named "Shirley" who is a greeter whom we have basically adopted as family. I have been working with her, sowing seeds of God's love and mercy and cannot wait until we see a little sprout. We are close. We didn't see her on the way in, but we saw her on the way out. We talked and laughed and I hugged her and told her that we loved her, and I do. Isaac in his Motherly cornball way said, "We Surely love you Shirley!" And we left thanking God for yet another appointment right AFTER we treated ourselves to a candy bar via the nice black woman. :)

As we pushed the cart out I looked Isaac square in the eye and asked him to remember something long after I am gone. I told him "Everyone needs love. Some a little and some a lot, but everyone needs it." He nodded and told me he would remember.

Then our last stop was Walgreens to pick up some things to help Dad and his terrible sore throat. While in the isle a hilarious Spanish Christmas song came on. Well that is the only way I can describe it! Isaac and I looked at each other and simultaneously broke out in what we call "Anna's jig." It involves sticking your tongue out a little and clasping your hands almost like you are praying and bobbing up and down.........yeah I can't explain it.....take my word for it, IT IS A HOOT. Whenever Anna feels the need to do her jig, she goes in my room and hides to do it and we all die laughing when we find her!!!!!!! So jig we did right there in the cold and flu isle.

I love my crazy life.

And I love the fact that Isaac and I are so much alike that we can "tag team talk" telling Dad all about the evening's episodes while unpacking groceries, each one picking up where the other left off!

Thank you God for our many divine appointments tonight!!! Isaac kissed me goodnight and said,

" Tuesday then??" with a cute raised eyebrow.