Saturday, December 31, 2011

Endurance for 2012

Resolutions have been flying these past couple of days.


At lunch today, some of what we settled on for 2012 is as follows:

Jack:  more reading
Candace:  earlier rising
Anna Grace: more responsibility
Zeke: better eating
Asher:  pooping and peeing in the potty

It's an exciting proposition- the thought of a new year with nothing but blank, fresh days to fill with intentionality and love and great effort.  

Looking back, one of my great accomplishments of 2011 was reading through the Bible again with my Kathy.  It took us a little longer this time- 90 days became something more like 200- but it was interesting because we always seemed to be right on time.  

As we read through Revelation in December, one of the themes that stuck out to me especially for the coming year was the call for patient endurance as in Revelation 14:12.

I make no mistake in remembering that I live a very blessed and privileged life.  I am keenly aware of my brothers and sisters in Christ that are living out a far more dangerous reality than me.  My endurance looks different than their endurance (at least for now), but nevertheless, if you are living in obedience to the Lord, then there will be some sort of opposition to that and some sort of cost involved that requires endurance.  Whether that means giving your time or your money or your heart or your life or your anything else, all of it requires endurance.

When Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall, he and his buddies built with one hand and held a weapon in the other (Nehemiah 4:17).  The job required a defensive guard and sweaty fortitude as they obeyed the call of God.

I don't know what the year holds for our family- only the Lord knows- but we're wrapping our minds around the persevering defensive and offensive spirit we need to get the job done in 2012.  

Happy New Year! 

Here's to patient endurance in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On usefulness


If you have little boys, chances are you will- at some point- get pretty well acquainted with a certain bright blue engine named Thomas.  And my boys love Thomas.  Wooden tracks and magnetic coal cars have been strewn across our den's floor for the past four days.  The pieces are assembled and zoomed with appropriate boy noises and great gusto.  And sometimes, like this morning, I grant a enthusiastic request to watch Thomas and his friends on Netflix.  

Apart from the very frequent use of the word "daft," the interesting thing about Thomas the Tank Engine videos is that being useful as a character trait is the highest ideal to which a tank engine can aspire. I mean, Thomas LOVES to be useful.  "You're a very useful engine!" are the words that our cheerful little blue hero longs to hear the most.  

It's interesting because being useful is not necessarily a highly valued character trait of our culture.  Being successful is certainly touted, but being useful is different than being successful.  Useful implies service to others but successful- in the world's eyes- implies being served.

How (and to whom) am I being useful?

Good question, Thomas. 

"If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for his purpose.  Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work."  2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT)

Herding cats, aka "Let's take a picture with Memaw!"



 Hysterical.
But we do so love you Memaw and I'm so glad we made the East Texas trip today.

xxoo,

your crazy crew

Monday, December 26, 2011

A nook sequestered


The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(this one's for you, mom) 

Christmas 2011


Surprise! 

 I tried this recipe for a new take on green bean casserole.  Two thumbs up!



 Christmas bread:  my labor of love.

Visions of sugar plums.




He walked around the house saying "hoo! hoo!"  It was so amusing.


We missed our aunt KiKi and Uncle Patrick and we missed Jack who was sick in bed for much of this year's festivities, but overall, we are supremely grateful for all our blessings not the least of which is our Savior's birth.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wow!

When a 19-month-old baby walks up to a bush lit by hundreds of Christmas lights at eye level and says in a whisper, "WOW," you pay attention.

You smile.  You try and enter into that moment with him.  You are kinda like, "Yeah... that IS really cool."  You say "WOW," too.  And you really kind of mean it.

That's what I'm kind of hoping for this Christmas.  I'm hoping that the incarnation really grips my heart and all of our hearts as we celebrate Jesus' birth.

It's light in the darkness.

It's immense.  It's amazing.

It's WOW.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."  John 1:14

Wow. 




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas


I, much like the rest of America, spent some of  this afternoon at the grocery store.  In Shreveport, our grocery stores still have the guys who take your groceries to the car for you, so an older gentleman well into his sixties with a mild form of cerebral palsy and I took a walk with my Christmas bread ingredients across the hustling and bustling parking lot. He told me, without complaining, about his nine hour shift and about how he was tired, but also about how he was looking forward to a good paycheck.  He thanked me for helping him load up, and as he turned to leave  I managed to get out a "Merry Christmas!" before we parted ways.  

People are saying it to each other left and right in these few days before Christmas, but it struck me differently today.  It wasn't an "aloha!" or a "cheers!" but a "take heart... our Savior has been born!"  It was a "we have hope that things won't always be this way- the Messiah has come!"  It was "Emmanuel... God is with us!"

At least it was for me.

Out of all the Christmas song lyrics I've listened to this year, the one that is really sticking with me is "O Holy Night's"  proclamation that "in His name, all oppression shall cease."

It won't always be hard.  We won't always be striving and tired and broken.  He has come and He will come.  The implications of Jesus' birth are as far reaching as anything ever.  

The man in the parking lot who loaded my car with the use of only one good arm can find salvation and true hope in the face of the One who was born in Bethlehem that first Christmas.  Those who mourn will be comforted.  Those who endure all kind of pain now will receive reward- and all of this because of what happened when God came to Earth and was born of a woman.  

I wish I could say "Merry Christmas" every day.  I wish this sentiment lingered on through the dreariness of January.  I wish Easter was preceded with as much gusto and emphasis.  

Because it's really spectacular news. The Messiah has come.  The Word has been made flesh.  It is profound and true and incredible and can never be trite because of its centrality to the Gospel.  

So Merry Christmas, friends.  

Happy Tidings, Great Joy, Good News, Glad Hope.  

HE IS BORN.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Taking matters into her own hands


A true Texan beauty

 I had the great privilege of shooting my very first bridal portrait yesterday with one super sweet Texas bride. 
her something blue
 She was all kinds of gorgeous with her perfect eyebrows and beautiful heart and handmade bouquet.  Of course, I won't post her in her dress in the unlikely case the groom stumbles across these pics.  We would NOT want to ruin that breathtaking moment in which he catches his first glimpse of his bride in all her glory.  That, I think, is one of the most amazing moments of life. 

But trust me, she was stunning. 
After we were done, in true Texas fashion, she pulled on her boots and got in her pick up truck to direct me to her home where she showed me and Jack some true hospitality.  Like I said, she is one super sweet Texas bride. 

Thank you, Chesley, for a great experience!  It was a first for us both and I'm glad we were in it together!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A few of my favorite things

tooth twins!

bokeh


Southern Maid deliciousness

our new fire pit... ah!

my Christmas babies

candid moments

families

brotherly love

squishy, beautiful babies in Christmas pj's

laughter


Monday, December 19, 2011

Sinking deep

Last night's "Angels Aware" production was wonderful and hysterical and profound all rolled up into one little heavenly bundle. 
 Of course, I was so proud of my Gabriel. 

 There was A LOT of action going on up on that stage.  One angel decided to disrobe, one angel had a little yelling episode with his mother, and the microphone seemed edible to at least one little angel.

 It was memorable to say the least. 

But overall, it was profound.  To have your children ponder the angelic proclaimation of Jesus' birth- what it must have been like for the angelic host to experience the Word being made flesh- is nothing short of profoundity.  They rattled off scripture like it was their job.  I have to think that some of that is sinking deep. 

My little angels soak in all manner of things- I'm so thankful that this Christmas, heaven's perspective on the Messiah's birth was one of them.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Singing to our King

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."  Acts 2:42

At 9:15 every Sunday we start filling up our drab little room with talk of college football or parenting mishaps or jokes about the little quirky things we know about each other.  We move from small talk to deep things of the heart in a matter of minutes as we transition from announcements to what is on our hearts to lift up to the Lord in prayer as a group.  We pray.  Then, we spend the next half hour to 45 minutes studying scripture, discussing it, or in this week's case unpacking the Messianic story by comparing Charles Wesley's "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" to biblical proclamations of Jesus.  

 And this week, we sang.  
We worship together.  We pray for each other.  We help each other.  We eat together (often). We know each other.  We serve together.  We love each other.  Our community is not just confined to one hour on Sunday morning- it is the context in which we live.  

Jack teaches, Eric plays, Heather directs, Jamie sings, Jennifer organizes and the list goes on and on and on.

And this morning, as we sang praises to Jesus our Emmanuel, it was that much easier to know that God is with us, among us, working in and through us.

Hark, the {YAT class of FBC Shreveport} sings,
"Glory to the newborn King!"  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The true light

"The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and thought the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him."  John 1:9-10

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Richly decked

My Bradford pear tree is showing off.

 I like to think she's decking herself out in red and green (and the occasional yellow) to announce cheerful Christmas tidings.

My very own Christmas tree. 

 O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree!  O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!


An attempt

Homemaking does not come easily for me.  The learning curve has been steep and long in part because I don't love to cook and I don't love to organize things and I don't love to decorate and I for sure don't love all the little, mundane things that go along with it.  What I DO love, however, is a good home.

So I home-make.

And, of course, it's worth it.

My latest home-making endeavor has been to have a premeditated and pre-made Sunday lunch because if you have small children, you know that they turn into ravenous crazy people directly following a church service.  My mother, who raised four pretty awesome kids and was an excellent, hard-working homemaker, was always proficient and on top of this dilemma.  When we didn't have the Sunday roast, carrots, and potatoes, we had creamy chicken casserole and it was always ready when we got home.

Inspiring.

So I've been trying to follow suit and get my crock pot on or in this past Sunday's case, my casserole-in-the-oven on so that we could come home and eat a peaceful and easy Sabbath lunch.

But- and this is where I fell off the learning curve again-

for the love of all that is good and right in the world, 

if you try this yourself,

make sure you tell your husband that the oven needs to remain on when you leave for church.

With one unsuspecting beep of our oven's button, my plans were foiled and we came home to a cold chicken swimming in crunchy rice and cream of chicken soup.

Ah, next time...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Mother of All Christmas Mixes

the little man staying warm with his Nana
Jack has created the Christmas mix to end all Christmas mixes.  And while I won't list all 118 songs here (although you can join Spotify and find them there), I am going to highlight some of my favorites. Here goes:

What Child is This? - by Sarah McLachlan

O Come all Ye Faithful- by Weezer (this may not be your thing if you didn't rock out to Say it Ain't So in college with your bestie, but it sure is fun for me to bring that same angst to adoring Jesus)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing- by Amy Grant

at our trip to the Rose Center on Saturday night
The Little Drummer Boy- by Stevie Wonder
three very excited wise men at our school's Christmas play

We Three Kings- by The Beach Boys (I know... the Beach Boys... but it's really a good rendition)

Go Tell It on the Mountain- by David Crowder Band  (Asher loves to rock out to this one.  Understandably 'cause it's awesome, but so is the rest of the whole album)






Jingle Bell Rock - by Randy Travis (I love Randy's voice and the twang is a shout out to my mister's Texan side)
Friday night's Christmas sweater winner

Merry Texas Christmas You All- by Micheal Martin Murphy  ( I kind of feel like this is a classic since I've been subjected to acquainted with this one since I was little)






Jingle Bells- by Booker T & the MG's Soul Christmas (This one is just like the organ or something and it is totally fun.)

Zydeco Christmas- by CJ Chenier (of course)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen- by the Barenaked Ladies (again, surprising, but they bring on the comfort and joy like nobody's business)
 
The Christmas Guest- by Johnny Cash (more of a story than a song, a bit trite, but still good, good, goodness)

Good King Wenseschlas- by Bing Crosby
Of course, Jack has loaded up on versions of O Holy Night which is my favorite- everything from Wynonna Judd to Nat King Cole to Tracy Chapman, but it's David Crowder's version that gets me every time.  All of the versions make my heart soar and ache, but this one makes me cry. 

So whether you catch me driving or cleaning the kitchen or cooking dinner or even running, I'm probably singing along to the "Mother of All Christmas Mixes" this holiday season.

Because it is stinkin' awesome.

Get yourself on Spotify and consider it Jack's Christmas gift to you.