Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lanning's First Christmas

There is nothing like a child's first Christmas, especially when they have just learned to crawl and pull up to furniture. Lanning was quite the little explorer. He wanted to touch and taste everything. There was a sparkle that appeared in his bright blue eyes each time a new object was found to be within his grasp. It was great! His whole world has opened up to him. He tasted everything from Polly Pocket clothing to Christmas tree ornaments and even got a taste of sweet potatoes, cool whip and cranberry sauce. (Grandma helped with the food stuff).

This little guy will be up and running when our next Christmas rolls around. By then he can reach even more bright sparkling things from the tree! Maybe even sit at the "little kids table" with his cousins.

Stay little while you can, little man. Growing up comes way too fast.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Eve Pie Making

I started a tradition with my grandchildren of making pies the night before Thanksgiving as well as on Christmas Eve when Caitlyn was just 3. This special project has grown to include Kylie and Haley now and next year will include Corey and John.These pies are not perfect but the care with which they are prepared is unbeatable. Yum! Yum! We serve the pie for dessert at our Christmas dinner and the girls are quite proud of their accomplishments. Enjoy the pics.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2 More Days and the Fun Begins!

Angie and Jeremy and the kids arrive in just 2 more days. Andrew and Crystal and their kids will come on Friday after work and spend the night too. I can't wait! This time together always wears me out but it is soooo worth it! Little boys playing ninja warrior with the swords, giggling little girls in the tub full of bubbles, laughter coming from upstairs where a wild game of cards is going on, snacks by the ton, all of us gathered around the table for meals. There is nothing like it.

God has blessed me with a week of calm before the excitement begins. It has given me a lot of time to think about Christmas. Not just the incredible time we will have with family, but of the Christ who came. I can't think of another living being that is celebrated and yet forgotten more than Christ. It is sad really. We celebrate his birth. The miraculous virgin birth of God made flesh. We spend weeks planning for this one special time. Food, family, friends, gifts, programs, parties. But how much time do we spend preparing our heart for Christmas? In the hustle and bustle of the season we forget about the baby. Makes me think of the saying "throwing the baby out with the bath water". But that is what we tend to do.

I encourage you to meditate on the gift of life that was given to all of us. Jesus Christ came to earth to be born a man and yet God. He lived a sinless life with no regrets. In the prime of His life, was crucified and paid the final penalty for our sins. All of them. For everyone. Because He loves us. He rose from the dead and has made a place for us those who give their lives to Him in heaven.

When the family leaves I want to remember my time with the Lord. My meditations on Him. When the gifts are all put away this is one gift I want to remember after Christmas. Enjoy the time with family, but remember Jesus in the midst of it. It will change your Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Measure, Stir, Bake, Cool, Wrap and Repeat

One of my favorite gifts to give is something homemade from my kitchen. I have been accused of having "a need to feed". Others say I have the spiritual gift of 'feeding'. ( not a scriptural spiritual gift, of course). I know it seems odd but I get great pleasure in feeding people.

The last two weeks before Christmas I make something each night after work. Banana Bread, Pumpkin Bread, Cookies, Chex Mix, Candies, Fudge, Dipped Pretzels. All the special things I don't make during the year. A few days before Christmas I box them up and give them away. I love it! Each staff member gets a box of goodies for the car trip to relatives or a variety of things they can use to entertain their family and friends who are coming to their house for Christmas.

The hardest part is keeping Mark out of the supply. He says everything must be taste tested. I have learned that the quicker it hits the freezer, the more I can save. Don't worry... he and all my children get their fair share when our family is all together. A tremendous amount of food goes through our kitchen in a short span of time. It is down right shameful!

It is the gift from the hands and heart that thrill me most. No store can begin to compare to the love in a hand made gift. It is a piece of yourself. A sacrifice. Not a huge present, but something small. This also describes Christ. He was handmade by God himself. Given from a love for sinful man. A true sacrifice. Not a full grown man but a small baby. What an amazing God we serve! The ultimate gift giver.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All That Really Matters

People volunteer for all kinds of things. Sometimes we volunteer and we don't really mean to. Other times we sign up to help with an event and have no idea what we just signed on for. There is truth in the saying "Look before you leap". When scribbling your name on the line, do we ever stop and think about what our attitude is before the pen touches the paper? I know I don't always think about what might be involved. I just plunge head long into it and sign my 'john hancock'.
I ran into this very problem this past weekend. Not with myself but with several others. This season is full of hectic days and frayed attitudes. A few friends signed up to help with a project at church. When the time came, they showed up someone had already been jumping on their last nerve. Their 'servant heart' was no where to be seen. Upon the arrival of the first person the tongue lost all control. The complaints began to flow as if someone had opened the flood gates on the dam. Everything from the chairperson to the decorations, music and food was up for critical review. I could not escape the rounds of ammo that hit my heart. You would have thought there was a sign on my chest that read "Complaint Box." Needless to say, it nearly ruined the evening for me. I knew that the entire event had been planned with care and love for the Lord. It was intended to be a time of worship as well as a clear explanation of the gospel for those who have not yet believed.
I found myself in the back room, tears flowing, heart broken. The attitude of the heart of sinners always takes me by surprise. I forget that those whom I worship with on Sunday are sinners just as I am. We are only kind because of the grace of God. It is His righteousness that allows us to do anything good. It certainly is not a product of our sin nature.
The second night of the event I took precautions. I spent a few quiet minutes with the Lord asking Him to make this evening what he wanted it to be. To help me to focus on Him and the part that I would play in this witness of His birth. "Make me gracious and understanding. Patient and loving" was my plea. And He was faithful.
The night was a precious time of praise to the Lord. Oh there were still complaining hearts, but He was worshiped. And that is all that really matters.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stop This Merry go round, I Want Off!

'Tis the season for hectic schedules and ours is crazy. We are having our annual Christmas Celebration at church and since I work there I am in the midst of the preparations. Not to mention Mark, Andrea and I all sing in the choir. This week's schedule is:
Monday - put up the trees and begin to decorate.
Tuesday - finish decorating the house and clean up.
Wednesday - Mark teaches Awana, I go to the grocery and cook dinner for a friend.
Thursday - Set up for the program followed by Ensemble practice and Choir practice.
Friday - Dress rehearsal for the concert.
Saturday - 15 college students from church for Christmas Brunch at our house followed by the first performance of The Christmas Celebration.
Sunday - first service our church, second service at Andrew and Crystal's church for Lanning's Dedication then back to our church at 5:30 for the second performance of the Christmas Celebration.

Sometimes it is like riding a merry-go-round that is spinning out of control and it makes me want to yell "Stop this thing and let me off!" I just need to catch my breath.

We get so busy at this time of year that we often forget why we do what we do. Why do we buy presents? Why do we celebrate Christmas? Why do we have family over? Why do we attend Christmas events?

Because Christ came to earth to provide for our salvation. If we miss the reason for the celebration, then we miss the whole purpose. I try each day to take a deep breath, clear my mind of all the hustle and bustle and think about Christ. Why He came. Who He is. How can I praise and glorify Him more. It keeps me grounded.