December 31, 2013

honey badgers and his seventeenth...

On this very last day of 2013, I am still in my pajamas mid-morning.  I have two cakes in the oven for tonight, and a to-do list spinning in my head...but I can't seem to motivated beyond the cake.  I made a cake yesterday, too...

Yesterday my baby boy {I know I shouldn't call him that}turned seventeen.  If I think too long about it I might cry.  {Did I say that last year about him turning 16?  Yes.}  We spent the day together and laughing, which is just what a birthday should be.  And then there was... cake.

Our visit to the zoo was fantastic... I love watching my Mom interact with the people and get so excited about "her" giraffes.  It is also such fun to hear Laura's chatter about this zoo and her school zoo!  Cam was most excited to be at the honey badger keeper talk.  They are his current favorite animal and it was really fun to see the three run around and interact.

And just before we left... the lioness started roaring {loudly and with her whole body!}, surely wishing Camden a very happy birthday!

p.s...and next year?  when he turns 18?  i really am going to cry. 

December 30, 2013

the days of december...

I have passed and failed December... caught the moments and and enjoyed savoring them, but have failed to share them, or document them with words.  As I look back through the beautiful days of this month, the memories come back, fresh to my soul.  December may come humble, but oh she sparkles with glory as the days are filled with light!

I hope to go back and tell some stories... relive some of the beautiful.
There is so much stored in this heart.


December 19, 2013

what remains...

I was almost out the door when I felt one of those nudges... so I turned back, gathered up a small gift, and headed back out.  It seemed funny to be going to the doctor for a physical, when I had been there every week for almost three months for bronchitis.  I was glad she knew I was coming for a well visit though, and when I was standing on the scale, she walked by, tapped my arm and smiled.  I am so thankful for this doctor who takes time, who listens, and even laughs along with me {because oh laughter is so much better than tears!}

Before we got too far into the appointment, I passed her the little drawstring bag and shyly wished her a Merry Christmas.  Surprised and smiling, she asked if she could open it...

Carefully, she untied the bow, and tumbled out the first few pieces.  Her mouth made an "O" and she began lining them up, one by one.  As she drew out each remaining piece she squealed with delight and her eyes filled with tears.  My kids will love this, it will be part of our family tradition!  She confessed to having several other sets, each one so loved... and I know, because I have, perhaps, too many of my own to count.

When each piece of this little nativity was lined across the counter, she shared that she really wanted her kids to know that this is what Christmas is all about.  I'm glad this truth is growing, because when the magic of Santa has faded, Jesus is still shining bright, and Christmas is still a celebration of love and life.

I love Santa.  I love, and believe in, the spirit of Santa... the giving and the surprises and the traditions.  This year we will once again set out cookies and milk... because I want my too-grown-kids to hold on to the believing.  And who couldn't use a bit of magic in this season?  But this story... this baby who came to save the world, He is the focus of our days, our waiting...

She picked up that little baby Jesus again for one more look before tucking her small treasures away, and it made me smile.  I was thankful for not second-guessing that God-nudge.  Thankful, for passing along a piece of my heart... the part that shines and loves like Jesus.

**and while I am really posting this for the story and what it meant to me, there are a few sets left...**


December 17, 2013

surely the presence...

Last Thursday we crossed the finish line of a marathon week.  Extra band practices. A parade. Work. Weary. Laura on her way home by bus. And a band concert.  I was thankful that my parents agreed to get Laura, especially when we found out the bus was late.  When I finally put my feet up after the concert, I took a breath, thankful for the weekend, and only four more work days until Christmas vacation.  And then I noticed a beautiful box under the undecorated Christmas tree. Cam reported that it had just been outside when he got home... and that it was twelve days of Christmas, for us.

The past few years I have been quietly delivering advent gifts to friends.  The very first year I was so touched by the reaction of my friend... she said it carried her through the season.  The next year I tied up little packages for Ann, because... well, I think I knew.  And last year, I tried to surprise Suz, but she knew the gifts were from me almost before they were dropped off.  Though I've been stashing little gifts all year for this December, God laid something different on my heart.  As a family, we chose two other families to surprise... one who especially needs the love and care this year.  It has been a joy to do this together, so much fun to see the excitement on my own kids faces as they leap back in the car so we can make a quick get-a-way!

Once I opened the beautiful box under the tree, I had to correct Cam.  It was for me.  And isn't it just like my sweet friend to out-do me at my own game!!!  Everything is tied up in beautiful ribbon, and her cards make me laugh out loud... just as if we were sitting across the table from each other.  Today I even spotted a bonus in the bottom of the box... and that she labeled it such?  More laughter...

I know Christmas is not really about the presents... but when they are given in love, sweetly and unselfishly, the presence of God draws near.  It wraps around our hearts, stirs our spirit, and prompts us to keep on giving.

Today when we dropped off one of our secret gifts, to this family that is aching like I cannot fathom, there was a gift waiting for us.  The card simply said you have touched our hearts.  I am thanking God for the gentle nudge to follow through... to share just a little bit of Him in this season of Love.

December 16, 2013

it is all coming together...

We finally put ornaments on the tree yesterday.  After church, and between a late birthday lunch, a nap and a trip to Outdoor World.  When Eric went out to get the boxes, and asked what else?  I said that's it.  I hoped that the stockings were in the top of one of the ornament boxes, and was relieved when they were. Just for fun, he dug down into the next box, to see if there was something easy to bring out... and he pulled out our tree top angel.  I thanked  God for the easy find, and was reminded that He takes care of even the smallest details.

I accomplished much this weekend.  Some organizing of gifts, wrapping, and creating the short list of things left to do.  Laundry, picking up around the house... and we even had time for family fun.  I feel like the to-do's of Christmas are all coming together, and I'm thankful to not be racing or stressing.  Because I just want the beautiful...

I've been preparing my heart for this season for months instead of weeks... and it feels right.  The video devotions we watched with our youth group introduced me to Joseph and Mary in a different light, and when I hear a song about them, { here, and here } my heart aches and opens in a whole new, wonderful way. Sitting by candlelight and reading The Greatest Gift, I find myself gasping and nodding... pieces coming together to create this beautiful portrait of all this season and this life is about.  And even in the sanctuary, running through the Sunday School dress rehearsal again,  where everything is loud and kids are rolling on the floor and rounding up their neighboring shepherd with a crook, the smile sneaks in...

It is the story I love, and long to hear, again and again.  Messy. Marvelous.  And so full of Wonder.  Still.

December 12, 2013

by the light

December comes humbly, last in the line of twelve.  Her days are short of daylight and heavy on weary.  It has been a long year.  And yet... we have waited on her, anticipated her, and we are counting on her joy to carry us through.

We string the twinkle lights, decorating each corner, stretching them as far and high as we can reach.  Their glow seems to possess a magical power, bringing warmth and love to the cold and the dark.  As I stumble into the living room in the wee hours of the morning, my first stop is to light the tree, and weary turns towards joy.

My tree may still be bare of ornaments, but the lights are enough for now, and even just-right for a few minutes of morning reading.  Also enough?  A few nativities here and there, that I moved from one place to another.  The only other decorating I've done is to rearrange the piano top, setting out my nativity hurricanes.  Only... I can't seem to recall where I stowed the nativity rings last year.  But coming home to flickering candles (electric, on a timer) has brought a smile to my face, even without the shepherds praising and the wise men approaching.  Maybe this weekend there will be more...

Oh, December, you may be last, but maybe it is a true case of saving the best for last.  My house may not be decked out and ready, but my heart is open and already full of Christmas joy.  Christmas joy and light.

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.
-William Shakespeare

December 02, 2013

capturing december

It seems elusive... rushing along while you are trying to savor every moment.  Even as you are counting down the days, you sneak in a wish for one more hour, one more week.  But when the to-do's are finally done, and you think you might be ready to rest, the days are short and this month of hope has all but passed.   I have lost October, and most all of November... but I am hoping to capture December.  I want to celebrate the small, drink in the joy, and worship the King.

For once in my life, I planned ahead. Friday night, before our trek north, I laid out my plan.  To come home to it yesterday was a breath of relief, a promise not to just let this pass.  I've actually been planning since September... celebrating Advent with our youth group through October and November.  Because sometimes even church just becomes to busy to take time to wander through the wonder of Advent. And now, I feel ready... open to receive Him.  Truth be told, the story has already drawn me in, captured my heart, perhaps in a whole new way.
: :
If you want to peek in on something so special... click over to the Skit Guys and their First Christmas series. I'm not a video kind of girl, but this series of six short monologues drew me close and brought me to tears. Joseph standing in awe of Mary.  Elizabeth filled with wonder and joy.  Mary, just a girl from Nazareth.  An unlikely hero in the Innkeeper.  The chosen Shepherd, and the Wise Men, listening... seeking the signs, a star.  You can click over and watch each story {only Mary's is longer than 3 minutes!}... and I promise, you will be blessed.

December 01, 2013

the first of december

We had walked in once before... before she was settled, before she had made it her home away from home. We were timid and searching, but the arches that reached to the heavens took us in, reminded us of our first family church home.   On this morning, the first of December, the arches were graced with evergreen, banners and candles sang out of this waiting season, and the altar was covered in hope. Advent.  It filled me in a way I have not felt in months.  Filled me to overflowing.

Maybe it was the way the liturgies wrapped around my soul, a long lost memory that reached the surface and felt like home.  It could have been recognizing her voice among the others in the choir... that sweet high voice that I know by heart.  If I close my eyes I can still hear her small vibrato in the notes... and it almost does me in.  It is still a balancing act, having her there and here, and knowing she belongs in both places.

There are many that have helped her carve out her place... offering rides and lunches, knitting lessons and friendships... all the while just loving like Jesus.  It is no small thing to wrap someone's child into your heart, as if she were you own... and it was so special to reach out and thank them today.  It made the trip worth every mile.  
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