Sunday, December 28, 2008

Special Prayers Needed

Directly after church this morning, we were devastated to find out that a colleague of the family business who has also become a dear family friend, had to take his wife to the ICU early today. "L" has a pulmonary disorder and apparently the nebulizer treatment she did last night was ineffective. Her husband "B" found her in a coma this morning as she had virtually asphyxiated. She had been without oxygen for such a lengthy period of time, they are gravely concerned that if she awakes she will have extensive brain damage. Currently, she remains in the ICU in a coma.

"L" and "B" have four grown sons, a daughter-in-law and a 2 year old grandson. Please place this family in your prayers. We are of course praying for a miracle, but certainly for the peaceful will of God.

Thank you for your added prayers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sweet Essence of Christmas

Christmas was magnificent this year. The stockings were hung, the cookies left out, the Hambone snoring sweetly and wrapping paper covering the floor. It was simply delightful.

This was the best Christmas I can remember in years. Hambone is old enough now to really get into things like Santa and Jesus's Birthday. He kept singing Happy Birthday Jesus and it warmed my heart in so many ways. So often we are unable to celebrate the holidays with those we love, but this year was different. We were surrounded by so much love and joy and hope that it is impossible to measure the wonder of this holiday season. The only way it would be better is if we had those we have lost back with us...of course, they are with us anyway if you really think about it.

The next three weeks are going to be a bit crazy. I have two weeks to read, write and prepare for my next class which is a one week intensive course in Kansas City starting the 12th. I'll get home in time to have one day to pack up my family and then we're heading to Hawaii for two whole weeks. I'm absolutely psyched. Hubs, Hambone and I will be joining my parents as well as my brother and his girlfriend for this once in a lifetime trip. I'll be writing about it while I'm there as well as posting photos so you'll have to stay tuned as that approaches.

Anyway, I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you how wonderful our Christmas was and that I hope yours was just as perfect. I also wanted to do something that is a little hard for me and that is to ask for prayers. Hubs and I had a terribly hard time conceiving Hambone because I have PCOS/PCOD. It took us two and a half years to conceive and went through hell on earth in the process...but we got our miracle. We have been seriously considering trying for another one and so we are. I am pumped full of fertility meds, hormones and vitamins. We're praying that we conceive soon and have another beautiful and healthy miracle. Of course, we know it won't be possible without your prayers. If you think about it, please add us to your prayer list. Of course, I am always more than happy to return the favor of prayer any time.

Happy Holidays everyone! And God Bless you always!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I'm an outcast. "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." - John 15:19

Outcast. The Oxford American Dictionary defines this word as:
noun - a person who has been rejected by society or a social group.
adjective - rejected or cast out. Made to feel outcast and inadequate.

If you look Outcast up in the thesaurus, you'll find the following words used: pariah, reject, black sheep, outsider and leper.
As humans, we can all identify with the plight of being an outcast. No one is ever fully accepted all the time. So, everyone suffers rejection. Some rejection just comes with life. For example, not getting the job you wanted and applied for. Or not getting in to the college program you desired, not making the football team...

Life is full of rejection. And rejection is painful. No one wakes up in the morning and desires to be the outcast. Being an outcast is a negative thing that no one really wants. You don't want to be the loner, the outcast or the throw away person. But, sometimes, you just are. And when you're there, you question why. What did you do to deserve being treated this way? And ultimately, you start to question your worth.

I picked this shirt because the word Outcast identifies in some ways, to how I'm feeling right now. It's something that other people have made me because I don't fit their mold. You see, I've been asked to do some things that takes guts, strength, ambition and leadership. Often times, when you're a leader and asked to swim up stream and do something different than the norm or outside the box, you find confrontation. Many people don't like different. They don't want what they have always known to be challenged. And, many people find it hard to think there might just be more to God, than the little bubble they have placed the Lord in.

Those of you who have been readers for awhile, will know that Jeremiah is my favorite prophet. He had the inner strength and the guts to stand up for what he felt was right and for what God was calling him to do, irregardless of the scorn he would receive from others. He challenged the status quo; the robotic set of beliefs of those around him. He was willing to redefine the parameters of God abilities by questioning the validity of social construct. I'm not saying that I come anywhere close to Jeremiah, but I'd like to strive to be that way. To be willing to stand up for what I believe in even if it means there is a painful cost.

I see this kind of determination in our Savior Jesus. He was willing to be unpopular, disliked, an outcast. He was willing to walk alone. He was willing to suffer in many ways so that the truth and the light could be revealed and salvation received. Jeremiah and Jesus, were not the only ones to have done this up stream swimming. What about Martin Luther King? Can you think of some others who might have been willing to stir the pot on the hope of social justice?

Then I wonder what is wrong with us and people who have all suffered from rejection and being made outcast. What is wrong with those of us who know the pain, to turn around and cause or inflict the same pain on other people? At what point did you find yourself so prideful as to think that you are better than someone else? That you are anointed to outcast others in your hateful judgement and ignorance? We often don't even realize the damage we do to others before its too late. We ignore people that we don't think are worthy of are time. We mistreat people, even as Christians, who we don't think are good enough...and yet do we ever take a moment to stop and think that that was never the role God gave us? He told us to love others not hate them and yet we act out in hate on a daily basis.

It's appalling really and then we wonder why our children treat others with such disregard for respect and common courtesy.

I want to stress though, that there is always hope. As an outcast, I know that I'm not alone. I know that the things God has called me to do are not going to be easy. I know they are going to take an extreme level of inner strength and peace. Don't be afraid of being in the world, be cautious of being of it. If God has called you to do something, don't walk away from it. Embrace it. God is not going to ask you to do something that you know is going to be challenging and then leave you alone. It's so easy to feel like following God will make you an outcast. It will. You will have to live to a different standard, one that many won't understand and further mock. You'll be teased and made fun of, misunderstood and rejected. But...if you are diligent and put your faith in God, he will heal all of that.

I have found since following my calling, that friends I once had, I have no longer. Not because they are bad people, but because they don't understand my love for Christ because they don't have it. More often than not, I find that these people don't want to be around me anymore, because doing so makes them feel badly about themselves and how they live their lives. So the rejection is of me but is not my fault. However, I have also made new friends. Wonderful, loving and supportive friends. Some of my family has rejected me and some have become closer. During the time that I tried to run from God, my marriage suffered. Now, for the first time in five years, my marriage is better than it has ever been.

No, its not easy being an Outcast, but its not necessarily permanent either. You can't make everyone like you no matter how hard you try. What you can do is make sure you like yourself. Find your worth not in the world or what the world thinks of you, but in God and what God thinks of you. If you have a calling from God, whatever it may be, follow it. Don't hold back out of fear of rejection from those who love you. Rejection will always be there...but so will God. Don't let the world keep you from doing God's work in whatever capacity God is asking you to do it. Plus, if there is one thing I have learned, it is that God is persistent. If God's calling you today, you can ignore him, but he'll call you again and again and again and again. Eventually you're going to have to answer. Put your faith in the one thing that has never abandoned you and that is not the world. Be brave and willing to be an outcast for a little bit. God will take care of you and things will always get better. And lastly, when things do get tough and you feel the world is crashing in on you, that's when you need to be the strongest and refuse to give up. Brighter days are ahead.

When God called Mary to do carry and give birth to Jesus, she became an outcast. When Joseph stayed with Mary when she told him she was pregnant, he became an outcast. Can you imagine if Joseph and Mary would have listened to the people around them rather than the voice of God? What if Jeremiah had ignored God and followed the rulers of the land? What if Moses would have refused God's call? Or John? Or Isaiah? Or Abraham? Or Daniel? Or Hosea? Or Ruth? What if your pastor had said no to the call of God? Or your Sunday School teachers? What if you would have said no when you were called to claim Christ as your Savior?

Sometimes the biggest price is paid when we choose to take the "easy" way and say no to God, rather than to face the road less traveled and say yes. Just look in your Bible. God has called a lot of impractical people to do impossible things. God asked people to do things that were so outrageous they are hard for us to fathom even today. What about the wise men? Did you know that they were endangering their lives to follow that star to bring gifts to the baby Jesus? They were in great danger. But they were willing to follow that star in order to be with God.

Are you willing to follow that star to be in the presence of Christ?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Footprints in the Snow

"Footprints in the Snow" by Jerald and Sandra Knode

I had a dream one wintry night
As the moon was full and bright
The snow fell softly on a tree

That stood alone just like me
Then I saw Jesus walking by
His caring look caught my eye
He put a bow upon that tree
A symbol of his love for me
I woke up thinking of what I'd dreamed
Amazed at just how real it seemed
Then through my window I saw the bow
Crimson red on the pure white snow
With the ribbons flowing down the tree
Just like his blood he shed for me
I was in awe of the beautiful bow
Then I saw his footprints in the snow

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dental Surgery Update

I survived round one. After 2 1/2 hours (much longer than predicted), I stumbled out of the doctor's office, hubs holding me up and helping me not to fall on the ice. The surgery wasn't too painful until the shots started to wear off...then it got a bit uncomfortable. The great news, is that the dentist did some contouring to my gums while she was working on me, so I have bigger, prettier looking teeth now. The bad news, is that she only did the upper part of my mouth. I will be going back on Monday to get the lower half done.

So, minus the fact I kinda look like I've been in a fight with Mike Tyson and my mouth hurts pretty bad right now...all went really well. Thanks for the prayers and well wishes.

Heavens to Betsy - I'm a Little Terrified

I'm shivering. Not necessarily from the bitter cold lurking outside my door, but from the impending doom of my afternoon. This afternoon, in roughly two hours from now, I will be admiring life through laughing gas. Which, as a side note, may I just say how funny the term laughing gas is? My inner seven year old can't stop giggling just thinking about it.

Anyway, I'm going in for dental surgery. ACK!!!! Dental surgery makes me squirm and shiver uncomfortably worse than this horrid cold front. First of all, I am NOT pain tolerant. I'm a big baby, really...ask anyone who has ever had to deal with me post op. It's not that I can't handle the recovery. I think I'm a pretty tough cookie when it comes to pushing myself to get better, its just I hate pain. Not a pleasant thing, you know?

I'm a little nervous because I've never had dental "surgery" before and I'm not sure what to expect or prepare myself for, so of course, I hope for the best but prepare for the worst. They are going to be removing a bunch of excess gum tissue. Yeah man...super yikes!!! My grandmother, aunt and mother have all had this done so genetics mixed with some current medications I'm on, has caused my gums to be extra puffy. This is also a problem because I wear braces. In order for my teeth to finish the next couple of months as they are supposed to, my gums need to be less puffy...or so I'm told. The only way to fix this is with surgery. Luckily though, they will be treating me with a laser rather than a scalpel so I'm not supposed to have the bruising, bleeding or level of pain associated with the scalpel method.

I had really hoped it would never come to this, but I'm not sure what else could have been done to prevent it. I use a way too expensive toothbrush and now have a pricey Hydra Flosser, which is AWESOME by the way. This thing flosses your teeth with more regular floss ever. No more turning your fingers into sausage links or spending an hour in front of the mirror lacing the floss through each bracket of your braces. And...this thing comes with four different heads so your whole family can use it. WAY worth it if you can budget it. But where I was going with this is that I have super healthy teeth and great dental hygiene. I have worked very hard at that since I was a kid. I never wanted my teeth to be gross or fall out because I didn't take care of them. Oddly, one thing I found attractive about Hubs is that he has great teeth.

I guess you never really can prevent everything. You can take care of your body, your hair, your car, your house, your kids, your pets, your money...but ultimately, the control is never in your hands. Things, well, things happen. You can't always predict them and you certainly can't always stop them. can survive. I don't want this dental bill or this surgery, but I know it's important and its a must. Sometimes responsibility has to trump desire. Maybe that's a good little anecdote for today. You can spend all the time in the world trying to prevent disaster or bad things, but you really have no control over it. What you can do is prepare yourself to know how to deal with things when they happen and then not fear them because you know God is with you always. This bill is going to hurt a bit, but I have faith that we'll see through to another day and we'll be okay. So keep brushing your teeth, running, paying your mortgage, walking your pets and be hopeful that all will be alright. But also know that in times of struggle, its not the end of the world.

So today, as I prepare to sit in that chair and be lasered for an hour and a half, that's what I will be thinking. This is not the end of the world. I will survive this. It's really not that big of deal...and certainly...I've made it through worse.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas at Our Home

As part of the Internet Cafe Devotions Holiday celebrations, they invited everyone to post photos of their homes during this season as party of a Holiday Tour of Homes. Well...I should have done this last Thursday, but I've really had my mind all over the place these days, so, it's a little late, but here is my home at Christmas time.

My Home - the lights are a little wind blown, but what can you do?

I'm a big toe sock kinda gal. In fact, I collect crazy socks. Weird, but its one of the eccentricities about me. I've been a crazy sock chic since childhood and it tells more about my personality than I think anything else. Practical yet funky! Anyway, I put these socks on this morning to put me in a festive mood as I took pictures to show you. Plus, I had to pick up my grandmother from the airport and it was quite fun getting reactions from kids and adults alike when I had to take off my Ugg's at security.

Yup, I'm a Broncos fan. Even this season. *grin* I spent most of my life thus far in Colorado. I moved there as a toddler and was raised on orange and blue. In fact, I still believe that God is a Bronco's fan. I mean...have you looked at a sunset?

My new favorite Christmas decoration. My son made this ornament for me at the church's Advent Festival this year. Yes, the same festival I slaved over for weeks. And YES...that is one of the 150 Popsicle star ornaments I glue gunned together...and I still have the scars to show it. :)

Hambone was watching Frosty the Snowman. I had to catch a glimpse of him for ya.

Our Christmas tree. The photo doesn't do it justice. I love my Christmas tree and there isn't an ornament on it that doesn't have a special meaning and a story. I have always loved Christmas tree's, but I wanted my tree, when I was old enough to have one of my own, to be able to tell stories. I didn't want it to be a boring or stuffy old tree with decorations that meant nothing. I wanted people to look at the ornaments and see a reflection of my family on it...and I think it does. I hate putting it away.

My OU Sooners Snowmen. I collect Snowmen and these were found just a week ago at the mall and I couldn't resist. Too cute. Hubs found the decanter in the back ground with the small white glittery snowballs inside. It's so pretty with the tree lights shinning on it. is my shameless addiction...Hallmark singing Snowmen. Yup...I have every one since they start making them. I can't get enough of them, but I don't know what I'm going to do if they keep making more because I'm running out of room for them. Anyway, I love them.

The painting in the background is Thomas Kincade. I love the snowman and the snow and the Christmas lights so much that I leave this painting up all year long. Plus, its pretty special to me for other reasons. Below it is my Nativity set that my mother got for me. It's also by Thomas Kincade.

More Nativity pieces.
And the last of the Nativity scene.
My entry way.
Boomer Sooner!
My grandmother hand painted the ceramic carolers.

Lastly...the wrapping room. Where all the magic happens.

I hope you will post a tour of your holiday spiced home and let us know so we can come and admire your festivities. Merry Christmas and HO, HO, HO!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"It's Not About Me"

It's Christmas time. We can tell because of the increased traffic, the slammed malls (even in this time of economic turmoil), the Christmas lights adorning neighborhoods, even the occasional church sign that mentions Advent. We know its Christmas because every jewelry store, toy store and car dealership are working overtime and drying up their marketing budgets with advertisements. Yes, it's the special time of year that can be so intoxicating that it makes you forget, quite often really, what Christmas is all about. Heck, it even makes you forget how much money is the bank or frankly, how much money you make, thus causing you to spend exceedingly and abundantly more than you need.

If you're brave enough to face the crowds and the holiday parking Grinch's at the mall, then you have probably run across a child or two. I have one attached at my hip, so I am always blessed with his attitudes; good and bad. As a mother who is working incredibly hard this Christmas to instill certain ideas in my son, I pick up on the other kids saying things I'm trying to keep mine from saying...but am not always successful at. For example, this is the best time of year for MErry Christmas spirit. This is not the true spirit of Christmas, but the spirit of ME. It's all about me. It's about what I want, what toys I "need", what clothes I don't want, I, I, I, me, me, me...I need it, I want it, I must have it...and of course the predictable temper tantrum as you leave the story without the item your child screamed he could not live without. At two and a half, my son has started saying things like I need that and I can see some of these very natural selfish "me" tendencies. But you know, its not just kids I see and hear this from.

I was at the mall the other day and I was looking at purses, as I so love to do. I enjoy looking at the pretty and expensive ones though I never buy them. You know, mortgage or a purse...hmmm. Anyway, there was this woman there with her significant other, not sure if they were married or not, and they had to be in their early 40s. This woman grabbed an amazingly pretty Coach purse up off the table, galloped over to her man and started saying, rather loudly I might add, "Oh honey, I've just got to have this. Isn't it perfect. Look, it even makes my face look thinner. I must have this. Can I have this?" To this of course, her man looks at her and says, "you cannot be serious. $400 for a purse? Sorry, but no, we can't afford it." To this she replied, "Fine." Then she throws it on the table and tells him if he stopped loving her, he should have just told her instead of making a big scene of it in public.

No...I'm not kidding. That really did happen. I don't want you to be judgemental of the woman though. I have no idea the dynamics of their relationship, nor the whole story. What I do know, is that people of all ages, suffer from MEism. We think things are all about me. Our children have to live their lives the way I want them to or I won't love them as much. My spouse has to act ideally as I'd like or I'll leave them because I just can't be miserable. I must have that purse even though I can't pay my bills. What about me? Why didn't you buy me anything? Why don't you love me? Why didn't I get what I asked for under the tree?

Catch my drift? It's like that in so many ways for all of us. We can think of people who can only see what's right in front of their face, rather than the bigger picture. There are people who physically cannot be happy for someone unless that person does everything exactly as they'd like them to. People will advance themselves in their career's no matter the cost: to family, friends, co-workers...even to self. People do mission work, but they don't do it for the people they help, they do it or give money to charity so that they can be photographed handing over a big check or painting a building. How many celebrity photos do we see of them spending time with the poor in other countries? I've seen a lot...but how much of their money goes to those same children? People around the world are hungry tonight, cold tonight, homeless and alone and yet...our malls are packed, our credit cards maxed out, our houses double and triple mortgaged, our cars one missed payment away from repo and we still think we NEED that new Coach purse. We don't even give to God, tithing or otherwise, like we used to. Our tithes are down, are savings accounts empty, our churches closing and what do we have to show for? Hungry, poor, homeless, lonely, sick...I could keep going. We have become so intent on completely destroying ourselves, our families, our friendships, our lives, just so that we can satisfy that ME craving.

The Seven Deadly ME Sins:
Lust - all about ME desires.
Gluttony - all about ME consumption.
Greed - all about the ME wants.
Sloth - all about the ME apathy.
Wrath - all about ME anger.
Envy - all about ME jealousy.
Pride - all about ME vanity.

Now look back over those sins. You can't have any one of those without a ME centered attitude. And you can't be giving the love to neighbor, God and self as Christ asked us to, if we have this ME centered attitude.

The bottom line, is that Christmas, just like life, is not about ME or YOU or US or THEY, but it's always been and always will be about HIM. It's all about Jesus. Be intentional both personally and with those you know, to not just celebrate the merriment of the holiday's, but also celebrate the reason. At my home, we enjoy Snowmen and Santa and Reindeer and so much more, but we do Advent activities and we talk about how it's Jesus' birthday that we're celebrating and in fact, we practice singing Happy Birthday Jesus! As long as we can all remember as we're standing in line at the store, putting through miserable mall traffic, trying not to strangle your child screaming "mine"...that's its all about HIM. We can't afford to take our eyes off of HIM. Be intentional, be compassionate, be the spirit of CHRISTmas rather than the MErry Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Giveaway Winner!!!

Thank you all for your response to the Holiday Giveaway. We had a lot of people participate and I'm thrilled to have had so many of you stop by and share your Christmas memories. If you haven't already, stop by my first blog on the Holiday Giveaway and read these amazing stories.

Each participant was given a number and I picked a number from a hat. The winner is Erin from Ben + Erin = Samantha & Ryan. CONGRATULATIONS Erin and thank you for entering! Stop by Erin's blog if you get a chance. It's really great!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Envelope of Treasures

The following is a story that was sent to me by my grandmother. It is truly a beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. I do not know if this is a true story or not and I do not know who the author is, but I hope you can find Christ in the words.
- Woman on a Mission


It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas --oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma --the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against another team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition --one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Twelve Days of Scrapmas!!!!

A little something from me to my fellow scrapbookers!

The Twelve Days of Christmas Scrapbooking

By Bert C. Reynolds

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
seven pretty punches
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
seven permanent pens
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
eight elegant photo frames
seven permanent pens
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
nine nifty rubber stamps
eight elegant photo frames
seven permanent pens
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
ten dandy diecuts
nine nifty rubber stamps
eight elegant photo frames
seven permanent pens
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
eleven sheets of designer paper
ten dandy diecuts
nine nifty rubber stamps
eight elegant photo frames
seven permanent pens
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one awesome scrapbook under a spruce tree

On the twelve day of Christmas my true love gave to me
twelve sparkling stickers
eleven sheets of designer paper
ten dandy diecuts
nine nifty rubber stamps
eight elegant photo frames
seven permanent pens
six snazzy software CD's
five beautiful scrapbooking books
four fantastic templates
three magnificent memory magazines
two sensational scissors
and one AWESOME scrapbook under a spruce tree!

"Divine Intervention"

"This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." - 1 John 4:9

Christmas is a time of celebration for the greatest gift of all time. Though it would be some years later when the extent of this gift would be realized, we see this small package of wonderment and we are still in awe.

I remember what it was like to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. I remember the excitement of Santa Claus. Was there much more fun to be had than in the anticipation of the coming of the big guy in red?

Our family has historically held our big dinner, get-together, gift exchange on Christmas eve. Often, Christmas eve, because of the size of our family, would last well into Christmas morning. Needless to say, it was a big night. It was also a little bit of torture for a child. You see, we would spend an hour getting all gussied up to go and sit at the Christmas Eve service for an hour. Then we would come home and wait for the dinner to be set out on the table. Then we would have this big meal that took at least another hour. I remember sitting at the dinner table almost as if my chair was on fire just trying to scarf down the food as quickly as possible because as soon as the meal was was GIFT time. And what child doesn't love gift time?

I never did understand why my family seemed to be the world's slowest eaters when it came to Christmas Eve. I mean, adults not care about the presents? Eat already...we've got gifts to open people and I've been waiting all year for this!!!!

While the adults, let me rephrase that, the women, cleared the dishes, the children were assigned to gift distribution duty. Each family member was assigned a special seat and our job (the kids) was to take every present out from under the tree and place them in the seat of the recipient. Of course, we were so eager to find the gifts with our names on them. We would shake them, weigh them with our hands and try and guess what they were...which inadvertently made the process take longer. Then, it was the anticipation of opening the gifts. We would start with the youngest kiddo and go to the oldest and each person would open one gift at a time and we would keep this circle going. took hours, but we all wanted to see what others received and played with each other's toys, share stories and laughter. But then...

Oh then it was time for Santa to come. We would race into our Christmas PJ's, make sure the goodies were out for Santa, and then try as hard as we could to actually fall asleep. Of course, we would each be determined to stay awake and catch Santa. Much to our disgust...we never quite made it. It didn't really matter though because we knew he was coming and we couldn't wait to see what he brought us. Christmas morning would be the one morning of the year when we would actually get out of made in a hurry and without a fight and run downstairs. We couldn't wait to get up on Christmas morning, find the gifts and play in great joy and celebration.

As an adult, I now feel this way about Jesus. Do we stay awake on Christmas Eve eager to see the gift God is bringing us? And of all things, he gives us a baby. A little tiny soul with no words, no physical abilities like walking, no sign of skills of healing...just a beautiful angelic baby boy. Did they really know then how great that gift was? For me, Christ is the gift I received long ago that I continue to realize the extent of. This gift is not fully revealed to me yet. The wonderment that is Christ becomes more and more enlightened as my wisdom of him and love for him continues to swell up my heart.

This Christmas, realize how blessed you are for the Divine Intervention that is the gift we received in Christ. A gift that would one day suffer and die for our sins. Is there any better gift? NO WAY! This is the best gift ever! So open your heart as you open this gift from God. Unwrap the divine love, wear excited merriment on your face and go forth like that child who just got the gift they've been "waiting their whole life" for. This is a gift with no need for return or exchange...take care of it and don't be afraid to take it to show and tell. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Faith: Not Seeing Is Believing"

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1

Faith, not seeing, is believing. Trusting, not knowing, is believing.
Powerful stuff!

When I think of faith, trust, in this way and especially around this time of year, I think greatly upon Mary and especially Joseph.

Can you imagine what it might have been like to be Mary? So vulnerable and young and unmarried and now pregnant?

I wonder how it felt to be told by an angel that your whole life was about to be turned upside down. Most teenage girls I know would have completely short circuited. But not Mary. She humbly moved forward in faith; trusting. I can honestly say that I know as a teenager, I would not have been able to have done what Mary did, though I imagine there would have been a lot of weight placed in the words of the angel. But, can you imagine telling your parents you're pregnant and that no, you really didn't do anything with Joseph? Seriously, how many of us would buy that from our daughters if that's the line they gave us? But she trudged forward faithfully.

And then there is Joseph. In love with a woman who becomes pregnant...but not by him. He faces similar social agony as Mary does. He REALLY, REALLY has to trust her and God. But he doesn't at first. Out of his love for her, he plans on dismissing her quietly from their engagement. Read on:

"But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'" - Matthew 1:20

Can you just imagine being this young guy in love with a pregnant woman and then being told by an angel that she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit? If I had been Joseph, I probably would have completely lost my mind. It's so far out in left field that it's almost inconceivable (funny choice of words) to fathom.

This time of year is a bit like that for many people, even believers. We come to this point where we start to doubt the things that we believe in and question our sanity. We sometimes wonder if we've completely lost it. I can remember being a child and having that terrible aching feeling in my stomach when I found out that Santa wasn't really Santa. It was a loss of innocence.

Christmas means so very much more to me now though. Once I was able to put the idea of Santa aside, I was truly able to embrace the idea of Jesus. I knew of the real Christmas story, but it wasn't as fun, commercial or exciting to a child as Santa was. But when I was able to stop believing in Santa and really start believing in Jesus, the real magic came alive. Though I stopped believing that I needed to leave the cookies and carrots out on Christmas Eve, the lessons I learned from the big guy in the suit have helped me to really believe in the baby in the manger. It's all so interconnected. Learning to believe in something, even Santa, helps us understand what it means to believe in something we do not see. Santa is a much easier concept for children. However, that lesson in believing is never lost...not really.

As a mother, Christmas is completely different for me now in many ways, but one stands out today. Hambone is 2 1/2 and right now he is starting to see Christmas come alive. I see the magic in his eyes, the awe in his words, the joy in his singing. He believes in Santa, believes in magic, spirit, Christmas. He knows this is Jesus's birthday and that's what everyone is celebrating...even Santa. The really great thing is that I get to watch him filled with all of this magic at the same time as looking forward to watching him some day filled with the awe, joy, spirit and magic of the real star of the show...Jesus.

This makes me think of the movie the Polar Express. Hambone is in love with this movie mainly because of the train but also because of Santa. I'm in love with this movie for many reasons, but one is I can feel the love of Jesus inside of it. I can see Jesus throughout it. Without my faith, I couldn't believe the things I do. Believing makes faith even more amazing. So whether the real 'big guy' wears a red suit or not, doesn't matter. I know that I believe in something much bigger than I am that brings hope and love and joy all over the world and those things don't come in wrapped packages...but they come wrapped in believing.

Merry Christmas...all you have to do is believe!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Giveaway - Celebrate Good Times Come On!!!


In honor of the Internet Cafe Devotions Holiday Giveaway Expo, I'm giving away a stocking stuffer trio of popular products I've been selling from Avon. 1) Jeweled lip gloss key chain which comes with the lip gloss shown, 2) Select one lip gloss from the six shown to go with the key chain (this means you'll get 2 different colors), 3) Select one holiday lotion and, 4) Select one holiday chapstick. Also, as an added gift from me to you, you'll receive the decorative snowman soap dispenser.

A random drawing will be done on Friday, December 12th. To enter, post a comment and tell me what your favorite holiday memory is. If you win, I will contact you for your shipping address. There is no cost to you. You'll have from now through Saturday to win. Good luck!

Also, be sure to click HERE and enter numerous other holiday giveaways sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions. You won't want to miss this!!!!

This is a great giveaway for my awesome male readers as well. There is no better way to get a brand new and totally fabulous gift for the classy beauty in your life and to get it for FREE.'s one less gift you have to hit the mall for!

"Have Faith"

Have Faith
As small as a mustard seed.

"For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." - Matthew 17:20

How shall I count the ways I have been told and have told others to have faith? And when we hear the words, have faith, it feels and appears to be such an impossibly large and often unattainable asset. Have faith...two words than can be more daunting than comforting.

I can recall several times in my life where hearing those words were the last thing I longed for. Yet I knew that I would hear them over and over again. When you're down and out and feel like you're all alone in this ginormous world, that's when people seem to want to tell you to have faith. When you are suffering with great loss, whether a person, a place, a job, a dream...we are to have faith.

There was a time or two that the words, have faith, actually angered me. Just because I'm human and just because I have to suffer like everyone else with different plights, doesn't mean I don't have faith. It just means I'm a little beat up by the winds of the storm. It also doesn't mean I've given up or stopped trying to survive...but sometimes I just need comfort. Sometimes, people just need a hug, love, validation, compassion, empathy and someone to listen. Sometimes, there is no need for words. For me, I know I'm not ever completely alone. This is comfort to me. Being told I need to have faith makes me doubt the one thing that is constant and that is my faith. If I'm being told to have faith, than it must mean that it seems to others that I am without faith and then I've lost something for which their is no measurable value because it exceeds all limitations of worth.

Most people, if not all people, mean only good when using those words. They mean to be transporters of hope. I think we have misunderstood what it really means to have faith. To have something is to possess it or hold it. But what is faith? Is it a strong believe in God? Absolutely. But what else? For me, more than anything else, faith means unyielding and unmitigated trust in God.

I have found this kind of faith to be that enormous unreachable goal. How can I ever have an infallible trust in someone or something? I've been around long enough to know that people let you down. But God, has God ever really let me down? I mean, really? I don't think so.

So faith as a mustard seed? What a character this God! To take something so big like faith and compare it to something so small like a mustard seed. It's hard to wrap your head around the juxtaposition of qualifiers. Then I found the following scripture:

"He put before them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.'" - Matthew 13:31-32
“Mustard Seed” by Kazakhstani artist Nelly Bube

Now this, this is something substantive. Christ knew too the oddness of size, but he explained it in such a way that he truly put forth the idea that this thing, this faith, so small and tiny, is yet so powerful it transcends any size or measurement the human mind can compute. So you see, Jesus wasn't telling us we had to have this magnificent Mother Teresa like faith right away. He was telling us to start small. To plant this tiny seed in our hearts and then over time, this seed of faith will grow and grow and reach the heavens. And in this time, the visible faith that has become us will be so amazing that it can feed others just from its existence.

Maybe instead of telling people to have faith, we should tell them to tend their mustard seed. I believe we all inherently possess faith. And I believe we all want to trust beyond our own comprehension of the word. So it really isn't about having faith, that we have. What we don't yet have is the faith that feeds or moves mountains. And when times are tough, think of the vast array of seeds that have been planted in you by the people that God has blessed your life with. They weren't planted for no reason. Tend to your mustard seed, be strengthened and trust always that God will provide. After all, isn't that what we celebrate during this time of year? The ultimate provision of trust?


A Poem by Annie Johnson Flint

I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.

I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.

I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and perfect peace I knew.

I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.

Annie Johnson Flint

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Sin Stinks"

Sin Stinks.
It Wasn't Me!

Is there any question in the minds of men and women that there is a dichotomy of right and wrong? Good and evil? Is there any question that there is the existence of a sin irregardless if you call it by a different name?

This concept exists within but it extends outside of religious sects and to the broader community of beings. There has long been institutional rules, boundaries, laws and guidelines. Religious or not, we are held to standards of expected behavior and we know that rebellion against such boundaries results in consequences...and who wants punishments, know...time out? No One.

"Be sure your sin will find you out." - Numbers 32:23

Oh boy, you mean I can't just do whatever I want to do without consequences? Are we seeing here a little bit of Biblical "what goes around comes around"? Quite possibly we are realizing that people in general haven't changed much in our psychology in thousands and thousands of years. Children, after doing something wrong, often are found looking around to see if they have been caught. Many adults dislike the accountability of Christianity because they don't like that feeling that if they do something wrong, their going to be caught. You can hear the teenager now..."why can't you just leave me alone."

"For the wages of sin is death." - Romans 6:23

Romans 6 is a chapter that focuses on the ideology and concept that a life in Christ requires obedience. Thus, when it says in verse 23 that "the wages of sin is death", we see this thought come full circle to tell us that if we are not obedient, there is also a response to that...death. BUT...and here's the good news, it finishes by saying that we have been relieved of that ultimate punishment because of Christ.

"If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin." - 1 John 1:7

So, yes, sin does stink. It stinks for the people you sin against, it stinks for the God you sin against, but it also really stinks for the person who sins. And because the consequences for sin are so unpleasant, we become like children again and have knee jerk responses to being caught like, "it wasn't me." "I didn't do it" or "she made me do it" or "he did it first" are soon to follow.

The great news is that though we all sin, God's love for us, like a parents to a child, doesn't stop just because we disobey. But also like a parent, God wants us to learn from our mistakes, to grow, to say your sorry and not repeat the sin. Above this important concept, what I would like to share with you is the concept of sin as the stinky spray of the skunk on the shirt above. You may only direct your sin to one place or on one person, but what lingers from your sin touches many. It's not just about you. What a friend we have in Jesus to be forgiven these sins through him.

Bless you this day my stinky friends. It's not about if you sin, but when, and when you sin, take ownership, face the consequences and learn so you don't make the same mistake in the future.

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