Sunday, December 30, 2012

True Story

Almost exactly forty years ago in November of 1972, a couple of newlyweds flew from Northwest Louisiana to Colorado Springs to visit an uncle and while they were at it, take in some of the sights. Spontaneous as they were, they didn't exactly come prepared for the chill and while standing outside for a few moments was difficult, skiing was absolutely out of the question. It was then that the young man promised his bride that one day, they would come back prepared to ski the Rockies.

But their first baby came only a couple of years later followed by another and another and- surprise- another. Their Colorado aspirations were pushed to the back burner while diapers and music lessons and college tuitions took their place.

They grew older, their love deepened, but their trip never came.

And on this side of heaven, their trip never would happen because of a tragic car accident which cut the young man's life to 56 years.

Even so, the young lady still got to go to Colorado and ski even if it was forty years later and even if it was without her first love by her side. Perhaps her children and her grandchildren's presence was as consoling as the breathtaking scenery. Perhaps it fulfilled her dream- if only in part.

To my partner on this grand adventure of life

"Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith 'A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God, see all, nor be
afraid!"

from "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Photo credit: Amber Dent (budding photographer extraordinaire!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

AmazinG

There is a really neat reason we decided to take a snow skiing trip this year, but I'll save that post for next time. For now, I'm remembering this day that began with MUCH frustration and tears (my own- just because of many logistical hurdles) and ended with two trips down the big mountain with Anna Grace, my sister, my nephew, and my patient brother-in-law who picked AG up every time she fell. I had so much fun and I was so proud of my girl who gave such a strong showing of perseverance and heart. That AG is
amazing.

And now that I think about it, our day didn't end with snow, it ended with a hilarious game of Poser. But that might be for another post, too...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Bon voyage!

We're embarking on a great Christmas adventure and already the Lord has blessed is with the gift of sleep. Hallelujah!!!

Two pics of my three kids asleep posted within one week. I guess I just find it to be a beautiful thing!

The good news of Christmas

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Peace! Peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save
Calls you one and calls you all
To gain His everlasting hall
Christ was born to save
Christ was born to save

Glory to God in the highest!

In case you missed it

From our crazy family to yours...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nestled

ISO 2500, 1/15 sec, f2

These three were overcome with Christmas spirit tonight.  They piled their excitement and their pajama-ed bodies into Anna Grace's bed, I read them my favorite Christmas book ("Great Joy" by Kate DiCamillo which makes me cry every single time), and then I left them with a prayer and a kiss.  There they remained all tucked in- one, two, three- snug as bugs in rugs.  This was the scene when I checked on them a little later.

How I love these little people- one, two, three!

Truly, my cup overflows.  

Tidings of comfort and joy

my November-blooming hibiscus wearing red and green to usher in Christmas
New found appreciation for a an old Christmas hymn seems to hit me every year. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is this year's winner.  The first line has always thrown me off because I don't use words like "ye" and "merry" and because I'm not a gentlemen.  All I picture is a group of Ebenezer Scrooge types being all 1800s and then I'm lost- not attentive to the rest of what this song really heralds.  But as I've really listened this year (mostly on runs while listening to The Mother of all Christmas Mixes by Jack Chaney), I've been greatly moved by its message:

"...let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas Day, to save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray, oh oh tidings of comfort and joy..."

All these years I've sung these beautiful words dense with theology and hope and yet I've missed it.  Not any more ye merry gentlemen- whoever you are.  This year, I'll be belting out tidings of comfort and joy with a new appreciation for ye  old tune.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas Bread!


My mom started it- this family obsession with this delicacy called Christmas bread.  It's such an obsession that I can't even consider NOT making it at Christmas time even though I absolutely hate the chore.  Because it makes such a huge mess and because my small kitchen just is not up to the task and because let's face it- I'm just not all that proficient in the kitchen, I dread this labor of love every year.

Until this year when I had an absolute stroke of genius (ok so maybe it was the Holy Spirit, but still).

My idea?  I would turn this thing that I dread into a fun event with someone I love.  Someone who actually likes to bake and someone who has great taste in music and someone who has a double oven.

Korrie Freakin' Harper.

Like I said, genius.

The First Annual Korrie-Candace Christmas Bread Bonanza of 2012 rose higher than any amount of yeast could have carried it.

We soared with laughs and personal trivia on the wings of Ella Fitzgerald's "White Christmas" and Third Day's "O Holy Night."



It was a mess, but it was a glorious, glorious mess ending with 24 beautiful loaves.







Korrie's thought was that the way you feel actually affects the food you prepare.  If that's true, then there will be no more angry, stressed, resentful Christmas bread this year- only happy and truly grateful loaves.

So here's to the Bread Bonanza and the celebration of the birth of the Bread of Life!

Merry Christmas bread!


For Kathy


A place I've come to love


It's where I stand with on Friday mornings (when I can make it to chapel) with Anna Grace and listen to her sing about the Creator God.  I sing really softly so that I can mostly listen to her.

It's where I kneel with her and pray the Lord's prayer.

It's where I stood with my sister-in-law as she vowed to love and to cherish her Patrick all the days of her life.

It's where Zeke has boldly stood up front with his friends to sing carols and songs.

It's where my husband sang the Magnificat in boy's choir as a child.

It's where the Lord grounded Jack in the truth, pointing him on a path of righteousness.

It's a beautiful place that feels holy.

This picture just doesn't begin to do it justice- this place I've come to love, St. Mark's Cathedral of Shreveport.

Photography by Zeke


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sometimes you just gotta stop and watch the ladybugs


This ladybug, Tom was what we called him, entertained us for well over an hour yesterday.  There were lots of other things to be done, but I'm glad we had that moment.


Asher thought he needed a chip.


So thanks, Tom, for slowing us down a bit and helping us appreciate the little things.


Monday, December 17, 2012

AMB at FBC


This very awesome thing happened at my church tonight.  It involved a family of six grown kids with their dad playing everything from a harp to a mandolin-  Annie Moses Band.


It really was great.




Besides a great performance, they also presented a powerful message of loving Jesus, specifically by caring for orphans around the world.


Annie also spoke about the musical legacy of her family, tracing it back to her great-grandmother.  She put to words the desire of my heart for my kids- that they would have deep roots in the knowledge of and love for God but also have an "artistic palate" by which they could express that knowledge and love.

I'm inspired.

And it's a good thing.  Lord willing, I've got years of music lessons and recitals ahead of me.

Even so, watching this family tonight play together reminds me that it's totally worth it.




Play on, sister....

Not be overcome

My kids are still oblivious to the Connecticut shootings (as I hope they remain), but I would be lying if I told you I wasn't the least bit anxious about dropping my kids off at school this morning.  Even though they're only a couple of blocks away in a church building with better security than my own home, it's still difficult not to let fear creep its way into my heart.  

But this I know:  I am not to fear.  

I read Psalm 91 over my children this morning and reminded myself of the truth of Christmas:  "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:5


We will continue to press on in this hope as we pray for comfort and love to envelope the families who experienced such great loss.

I'm not sure from which devotions my friend Lois posted this this morning, but it is great truth:

"A Christian’s life is a window through which others can see Jesus.
We are called to be people who defiantly live in expectation of the one who is coming to bring us joy, even in our world utterly devastated by sorrow."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Whispers from my Father

 I haven't been as consistent as I could be lately, but this past week when I have tuned in, I've heard great whispers of hope and love from my Father.

A few examples:

1.  The day I potty-trained (which for my method involves a urinating doll from the 1970s), my devotional for the morning reminded me of His presence "even in the most menial of tasks" (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling).  Potty training is menial and tedious, but even then, He is with us.






 He's with us- even when, and maybe especially when, we struggle and fail.

2.  Speaking of struggling, I've had a hard time this year more than other years with our parenting decision not to involve Santa or elves in our family's celebration of Christmas.  I have felt like I've been swimming against the cultural Christmas current and it has left me tired.  But out of the blue, I felt encouraged by a reminder that above all else, we are to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).  I know many of you will disagree with me on this, but I cannot in good conscious tell my children to believe in Santa and then tell them a few years later that yes, it was just a game, but I wasn't kidding about Jesus.  I want to- I must- ground them in the reality of who Jesus is and our decision to keep Christmas simple and centered on the AMAZING, AWESOME celebration of Jesus' birth is a way for me to guard the hearts of my children.  The miracle of the incarnation is just that important.

Jack and Zeke on the Christmas train
And even without the big man in a suit game, I think they still love and enjoy Christmas just as much as the next kid.

3.  Yesterday morning, we were three for three.  One kid started our day with vomit and the other two were... let's just say, less than agreeable.  It was just one of those days.  But as the boys and I watched a huge flock of blackbirds come and stay for just a short moment in the trees surrounding our house before flapping away, I was reminded that these are fleeting moments.  If I can cherish even the puking moments, I will do well.  The good news and the bad news is that like my mom always says, this, too, shall pass.






And then the perspective-shifting news came in.

4.   That morning, I happened to be in the crucifixion part of the gospels when I sent up a little prayer that the Lord would open my eyes to something that would center me this Christmas.  Then I read this:

"...Jesus answered, 'You are right in saying that I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."  (John 18:37, emphasis added)

For this reason he was born.

When I got the news later that day, that reason for which He was born was highlighted even more.  As Christians, especially in a world in which we get horrifying news of murdered children, we MUST testify to the truth:

Jesus is the Messiah.  The Savior of the world.  And he is our King to which me must throw every ounce of our hope.  For this reason, he was born.

He will not leave this world to remain broken and dark and horrific forever, but Christmas came as the the first part of the fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 3:15, when everything went wrong and the world began its downward spiral.

He died to atone for the sins of all who would believe in Him.  He was resurrected in power as the first fruits of our hope of eternal life. He will be with us as the gospel goes forth and until He comes to make all things new.

As Anna Grace heralded at our recent Christmas play, "God is WITH us, God is FOR us, Join the chorus as we sing.  The gift of Christmas is God with us, Emmanuel our King."





There are not words that can adequately console the mourning that will linger in our hearts for those families who have experienced such unfathomable devastation.  But even in our mourning, we wait and we hope and Christmas becomes an even greater reality in our hearts.

He came at Christmas and laid down his life for us and He will come again to set this world right again.

As disparate as potty training may be from the attacks in Connecticut, these are the whispers I've heard from Him and it has made all the difference.

May He whisper hope and love into the hearts of us all this Christmas.

We- all of us- so desperately need it.