Saturday

I Love New Year's!!

For me, Christmas is always a time to reflect -- what were we doing last year at this time, memories of Christmas' past, ways that our lives are different this year -- and New Year's is a time to look forward. If you notice how I said I like to approach puzzles -- lots of preparation towards work, little actual work -- you can imagine why New Year's is a lot of fun for me. Brand new calendar, brand new year, tons of potential for productivity. I love the idea of a fresh start, new plans.

As a general rule, I don't make resolutions. I do frequently make goals. One of my many goals this year is to learn to speak Spanish. Not necessarily fluently -- I realize that my age makes new languages a challenge! -- but anything beyond "grande nachos" would be better than my vocabulary now.

Many New Years' have come when I was SO hungry for a new start, anything to take away the hurt, misery, or challenges of the previous year. And the next set of hurts, miseries, and challenges reminded me that the calendar doesn't make everything new. Some dear people are spending the dawn of 2006 in the hospital with children who are fighting for their lives. Just a reminder to them that the calendar won't take the nightmare of 2005 away. I just can't imagine -- but I can pray.

Please lift up Jack and Baby Ira frequently in prayer -- and for both sets of parents and siblings.

Friday

Favorite Christmas Memories, 2005

  • Helping 2nd graders build snowmen out of styrofoam balls at Mrs. Moser's Christmas party
  • Helping 4th graders cover pretzels with chocolate and sprinkles
  • Both of those parties being OVER!
  • Lunch with lots of precious friends and their families a few days before Christmas
  • Riley helping me make the cranberry salad
  • Christmas day -- every minute of it: opening gifts with family, church with my church family, lunch at friends, staying ALL day, more friends coming over, collapsing when it was over.
  • The hug Ashley gave me after painting her room ALL day Tuesday.
  • My family coming in shifts from Louisiana
  • Family time, cousin time
  • Time to simply sit and enjoy it all
  • Time to sit and do nothing at all!

Monday

Puzzling

I've always loved to study human nature. I remember in high school, I wanted to do a study on whether your personality type determined whether you dipped your french fries in ketchup or poured ketchup over your fries. Now, as I observe my family tackling a jigsaw puzzle, I wonder the same things.

I have always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, but generally don't have the tenacity (patience?) to finish a big one. Riley has ALWAYS loved puzzles. Every year we graduate to a more difficult level with his puzzles, and now he has surpassed what I'm willing to tackle. Ashley and Troy don't have much use for puzzles. Around Christmas we always get a new puzzle for something to work on while the kids are out of school. I also like having one set up as family comes in and they can help as they like -- or not!

Today we started our new puzzle. Poor Troy -- he cracked the whip and cleaned the glass and swept the floor in anticipation of family arriving. So, as soon as he went to the gym to work out, I set up a card table in the middle of it all to work the puzzle. We got all the pieces dumped out.

I spend A LOT of time getting ready to put pieces together. First, I have to flip them all over right side up. Then, we need to separate edge pieces from interior pieces. Then, the remaining interior pieces need to be grouped by what part of the puzzle they seem to have on them. Lots of preparation, not much actual work. Riley finds the first piece he sees that resembles something you can make out. In this case, a box of shotgun shells (a hunting dog puzzle). He immediately sits down to dig through all the pieces only for any piece that will go with that one item. He stays hyper-focused on that until he has it mostly completed -- then he moves on to the next thing. Ashley will walk by every once in a while and pick up one piece and search and search and search for where it goes. Generally, she'll eventually lay that one piece down and walk away. Troy will occasionally wander by with his hands in his pockets and glance at the progress. About 3 times in a 1,000 piece puzzle he will walk by, notice the piece in my hand that I have been trying for 30 minutes to place and say, "That piece goes right there." Another set of eyes are always good.

I love that the puzzle gets put together in bits and pieces, everyone doing their own thing in their own way, using their gifts or knowing what their gifts are not.

Stay tuned for puzzle updates -- and painting updates. Tomorrow we start painting Ashley's walls! Christmas/birthday present!

Sunday

Merry Christmas!!


Praying that, like our family, numbering your blessings this Christmas day is like trying to sweep up the pine needles -- there are simply too many, starting with the birth of our Savior all the way to the precious people that surround me today.

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10,11

Saturday

Christmas Eve

I think I like Christmas Eve even better than the actual day. Especially today, since Troy doesn't have to work at all. We're all here, MOST of the preparations have been done (making cranberry jell-o salad and wrapping a bajillion gifts constitute "not much left"), the kids are united in their goal of making time pass quickly, and everyone has to stop by the tree on ocassion to shake a gift with their name on it. Tomorrow will prove to be a great day, too, but today just makes me think of how much I love this day. Time with family, time to be together and have fun together.

Have a blessed Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day!

Thursday

Quote for the Day

I haven't forgotten you, blog-friends, I just have not much to say about too much going on. You're all there, I'm sure. I have a 4th grade Christmas party behind me (Tuesday) where all 100 4th-graders cycled through and chocolate covered pretzels AND me, I have finally finished my work Christmas cards (Wednesday) all 225 of them! I think I am through at the grocery story (today) -- at least until Monday right before family comes in. Today I gave blood, right after I dropped a weight on my toe at the gym. Be looking for Sarah-missing-half-of-her-toenail right around sandal season.

If you are physically able, go give blood. It's not a big deal, you get a free t-shirt, juice, and cookies -- and you just might save a life. Consider it a Christmas gift you can give completely anonymously -- and you can give 6 times in a year so it could be a Christmas gift to 6 different people!

If you have a few minutes, read Mike Cope's post "The Quarter of Remembrance".

Quote for the day:

"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O!'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments."

-- Benjamin Franklin

Sunday

Just Desserts

No, no actual desserts will be discussed here. Remember when I griped about Abilene drivers not using their turn signals? Something is wrong with my left rear turn signal. Thought the bulb was burned out, changed the bulb -- still nothing. And, my mechanic that I love so very much -- don't worry, Troy loves him probably more than I do -- is swamped and then out of town until after Christmas. So, it appears to all Abilene drivers that I am driving along and simply slam on my brakes like all of those annoying Abilene drivers. Be careful who/what you gripe about.

About my meeting entry -- no actual meeting was represented, it was simply a fictional conglomeration of all of them. Actual events were represented, but not necessarily all of them happened at the same meeting. If you recognize yourself in any of this entry, check your fly and your buttons, email it when you can, and keep it brief when you can't.

Friday

Typical Day Without Drama

7:15 a.m. -- Shoot!! Overslept! That means I'll skip washing a load of clothes and my Bible study time; Try to wake kids up; shower, dress, breakfast, deal with some work on the computer
8:10 a.m. -- kids to school (LATE)
8:20 a.m. -- work to make copies, office not open yet, sit in the parking lot and put my make-up on
8:40 a.m. -- 4th Grade Room Mothers' meeting (LATE)
9:15 a.m. -- Cool! Meeting out earlier than planned! Make phone calls for 4th grade party next week
9:45 a.m. -- 2nd Grade Christmas Party. Man the Snowman-Constructing-Station. Truly, thanks to 2nd Grade Christmas Party Mastermind Kendra Durrington, this is the most peaceful time of my day.
11:00 a.m. -- work at the Food Bank with PALs from Abilene High. REALLY wish the Food Bank had heat.
12:15 p.m. -- local elementary school to interview kids
1:15 p.m. -- home to start dinner, put in Crock-Pot
1:30 p.m. -- "quick trip" to grocery store; too many items for Express, in line behind woman buying all of her meat products for the winter; kid falls out of basket and thuds on the floor at my feet
2:00 p.m. -- work; turn in some applications I've collected; report possible abuse situation
3:15 p.m. -- pick up kids from school
3:30 p.m. -- deal more with work on home computer, catch up on emails and blogs
4:00 p.m. -- finish working on dinner and cleaning kitchen from similar day yesterday, put laundry away
5:15 p.m. -- Leave for Ashley's first basketball game of the season!! work on Christmas cards for work waiting for game to begin
7:25 p.m. -- dinner from Crock-Pot
8:00 p.m. -- clean kitchen, make another batch of toffee for teacher gifts
8:30 p.m. -- put on PJ's, collapse on couch and think of all the things I should be doing:
--iron a shirt
--wrapping gifts
--planning menus for next week
--making more phone calls
--working on Christmas cards for work
--working on Christmas cards for home
Instead -- watch a 'Gilmore Girls' episode from the DVR.
9:45 p.m. -- finally iron shirt, get coffee ready for tomorrow's wake-up call, put out work-out clothes and work clothes for tomorrow
10:15 p.m. -- wander around trying to remember what all I've forgotten and what all I need to do in the morning, eventually fall in bed.

Wednesday

Stream Of Consciousness

(my thoughts in any meeting I am required to be in after 5:30 p.m. - and several that I attend earlier in the day):

Awesome, an agenda. Oh, Jee-hosephat, there are 4 things on here. They've never heard of email? These guys must really love meeting. Newsflash, fellas -- I don't NEED to see your face that badly, and I doubt you need to see mine.

Yes, yes, new committee member. Poor guy. What line did they feed you to twist your arm to get in here: the Lord's will that you join us, this is your spiritual gift, or just plain handwriting on the wall? So, seriously, you've seen a mirror today and you're okay with your hair that way? Alllll-righty. . . Oh, bless him, wonder if he realizes that his button on his shirt -- right at his hairy navel!!-- is unbuttoned. Don't look, Sarah. Those things happen to you, too, you know -- either quit staring or tell the poor -- ewww! ewww!! hairy navel, hairy navel!

Well, that takes care of MY dinner appetite! Wonder if the kids will be hungry. Wonder if Troy would feed them for me. Nah, he'll just drive by Whataburger. What could I make from the pantry? How many times this week have they already had nachos?

Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me. We are beating the dead horse that is THIS agenda item? How many times do we have to discuss this? Shall we poll people on the street to see if they agree with us -- we all still agree on that. Puh-leeeeze move along. . .

"I still think it's a great idea!"

Okay, we're supposed to be out of here by 7. If I really shoot out of here I could be home by 7:08. I could probably get my clothes off before I make it in from the garage. Should I start the water boiling for my tea before or after I put on my pajamas? I simply can't wait to put on my pajamas. I love them so very much. Wonder if anyone would mind if I came to the next meeting IN my pajamas? I would be so much happier -- but not necessarily any more awake. When is the next day I can really sleep in? Is Troy going hunting again on Saturday? Wonder if I need to get gasoline on the way home? I hope not -- that would definitely slow down the whole pajama plan.

Yesssss! Last agenda item. Yes, yes, whatever your plan is must be a fabulous one. Way to chair a committee, chairperson! He really should get the hair on his ears trimmed. That's gotta itch. Wonder if it bothers his wife. I haven't seen her in a while. Didn't she get a new job? Yes, I think she's working at. . . well, somewhere and I know I've heard where. I wonder if Troy will know.

Here it is. Nope I have absolutely no more comments or plans. I am SO good with all that has been discussed here. Get me outta here, get me outta here, get me outta here. . .

"I thought it was a good meeting, too. Thanks for organizing it for us!"

Holy, Please -- Hold the Adventure

by Sarah Stirman
on heartlight

Our church has a precious tradition on "Senior Sunday." On the day that we honor our graduating high school seniors, we also commission our first-graders. The elders present the little guys with a Bible all of their own. The year my now-10-year-old was in first grade, she happened to receive an "Adventure Bible." A regular Bible, but geared towards kids with insights into the "adventures" of following God.

This year, she decided she had outgrown that Bible. "I need a new Bible, Mom." "What's wrong with your Bible?" "I want a 'Holy' one, not the 'Adventure' one."

I hope she understood my huge smile and suppressed laughter to be joy at her interest in reading God's Word. As I repeated the story often, I realized that most of us really want our relationship with God to be like that.

I dearly love my worship times — worship in the Sunday morning assembly, with my family of believers, praising and worshiping together as well as worship alone with my Bible and my God as I recount all of the ways He has blessed me. I do love the Holy moments with God.

I could really do without all the adventures — the adventure of dangling on a ledge wondering if the Lord will rescue me, the adventure of careening into blackness wondering how much further I could possibly fall, the adventure of being alone in a crowd of people that don't understand why I possibly worship a God that demands so much of me.

However, experience tells me I can't REALLY have one without the other. A safe, blissful faith is a faith unchallenged and unchanged. My own adventures on my faith walk have shown me that they aren't just for adventures' sake — not at all like a crazy roller coaster ride where you just end up back where you started, only a little shaken. No, adventures at the foot of His throne are Holy adventures, stretching, molding, and forming me into His more perfect instrument, while constantly reminding me of His faithfulness through it all.

I would probably pass.In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul recounts some grand adventures he experienced:

Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27 NLT)
If this were on the Christianity recruiting poster, I would probably pass.

What do you think that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:16-30) thought as they marched up to the furnace while the soldiers around them were dropping dead from the heat? I'm sure they thought that wasn't exactly the adventure they had in mind when they awoke that morning. Can you imagine Daniel's thoughts as he was led to the lion's den? (Daniel 6:10-28) Daniel could probably have done without quite so much adventure himself. Yet his testimony of faith rings true with both the holy and the adventure! "Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of hurt was found upon him, because he had trusted in his God." (Daniel 6:23 RSV)

So, when I want to say to God, as my precious daughter said to me, "I want the holy life, not the adventure life!" He will gently reply, "Child, the holiness is IN the adventure. Trust in Me. I promise you the adventure of a lifetime!"

Tuesday

My Christmas Angel

An angel lives at my house. Actually, I'm sure a few live here, but appear at various times.

I've talked about Ashley here -- my sweet almost-10-year-old who gets so little press here because she goes on her way, following each rule religiously. When she was little she had a wild blob of golden curls all over her head. She did look like an angel. A little bossy on occasion, but an angel. I wish I had a picture here of the wild, curly, angel hair.

This year she started in Abilene's ALPS program. I have no idea what ALPS stands for, but it's the off-campus gifted program for 3rd-5th graders in Abilene. One day a week, the ALPS kids leave their home campus and go to an ALPS class on a different campus. Early in the school year, Ashley talked about how annoying a boy I'll call "Jeff" was. We talked about that sometimes annoying people are annoying because they need friends, and just try to be extra patient with him. Several weeks ago, the ALPS teacher told the class that Jeff's dad was real sick and he was going through a tough time at home and try to be kind. Again, we discussed that you never know what people are going through, so still be extra patient with Jeff.

Last week, the teacher (with the family's permission) told the ALPS class that Jeff had just learned that his father was going to die. Ashley told me this on the way home from school. IMMEDIATELY after she got in the car. We talked about how awful it would be to be in 4th grade and know that your Daddy was going to die. She sat quietly for not very long and asked, "Would it be all right if I gave some toffee and peanut brittle (our standard teacher Christmas gifts) to Jeff?" You betcha -- extra toffee and peanut brittle, coming up!

Monday was Riley's PTO Christmas program. I didn't make the connection until Monday morning, but the kid was SICK all day Sunday. Finally, when he woke up Monday morning, he cried that he didn't want to go to school. He didn't want to be embarassed! (We're probably going to have to re-think the whole comedian thing) Between wandering to his room laying down ultimatims for him to get out of bed and then get dressed, I told Ashley not to say ANYTHING about the program to him. She didn't say anything to me or anyone else, but very quietly set about making his breakfast, even pouring his orange juice. Bless her punkin' heart. Then, as I was scrambling to catch up on my morning, she started talking to him about how she felt when she did her program. I came back in the room and they were laughing it up about the program. She made him breakfast, then talked him out of his tree! I never would have been able to, but the sweet thing did it!

This morning was the last ALPS class before Christmas. When we were all eating breakfast together (all _4_ of us -- that NEVER happens; a Christmas miracle in itself!!) Ashley was writing a letter to Jeff to go with his toffee and peanut brittle. She never showed it to me, and it very well may have all those things that you shouldn't say to hurting people, but the heart behind it was pure gold. The first line read, "I'm so sorry your dad is sick." That's all I saw, and that is plenty. What a precious, precious heart that angel has.

If you see my Christmas angel, you'll recognize her right off: she rarely brushes her hair, she enjoys wearing mis-matched socks, and frequently is wearing her lunch on her shirt. But if you look really closely, you can see her halo.

Monday

Holiday Conundrum

I have been "strongly encouraged" to send out Christmas cards at work. I really wish that the front-office-powers-that-be would have strongly encouraged me before today, but there you have it. So I set about to include some snappy greeting in the card. Hmmmm. . .most of my contacts are Christians, but not all. So, Happy Holidays should make everyone happy. Well, it did until James Dobson decided I would be attacking Christmas to wish everyone a Happy Holidays. So if I simply wish everyone Happy Holidays, some Christian-on-the-Dobson-bandwagon is going to chew me out for attacking Christmas. Yeeeshks. Listen up -- no one loves Jesus OR Christmas more than I do. So if I don't happen to know FOR SURE what religion you are, don't jump down my throat for wishing you a generic, all-encompassing "Happy Holidays"! All right? All right!

That said, Merry Kwanzaa to all and to all a Happy Ramadan/ Hannukah/ New Year-ish-type time.

Friday

Observation

If every flat surface of my home is covered in such a manner that one would not be able to set a glass down if the need arose, I don't think we could possibly need one more thing to come into this home for Christmas.

Why is it that the less you are in your house, the messier it becomes? Is it just me?

Wednesday

Observations, Ponderings, Instructions

Saw a sticker on the back of a car today: "Praise the Lowered." I don't get it.

Almost finished with my interviews for work -- about 2 months after I should have been. One 5th grade girl today: lives, basically, with her step-mother who is very kind and nurturing and taking good care of her. Dad sometimes lives there, but is alcoholic (and sounds like a drug user, as well) and comes and goes. She doesn't know where Mom is. She reports that her uncle molested her (as well as other children) but is in prison for it now. My co-worker that conducted the interview asked me if our agency needed to take any action because of the report of abuse and potential neglect. These words came out of my mouth: "I don't think so, because she's in the best possible situation she could be in." Makes you want to weep, doesn't it?

19* is useless unless it comes with snow and therefore shuts the city down.

Notice to Abilene motorists: There is a lever on the left side of the steering column. It is a turn signal. Please use it. I'm really tired so my mind-reading powers are a little fuzzy. When you slam on your brakes in the middle of the street for no apparent reason my SUV just might end up in the back seat of your car. I avoided that 3 times today. My luck or defensive driving skills are bound to wear out at some point!

Tuesday

I've Got Nothin'. . .

No deep insights, no ponderings on life. Just getting really cranked and into the Christmas shopping/ decorating season, as well as basketball season (Ashley). Okay, does everyone except for me just pick up dinner when you have basketball practice from 6-7 or from 5:30 -6:30? We can't do that for several reasons (okay, one reason is we can't, the others are we choose not to).
1) Eating out is a luxury for us.
2) Between basketball practice and Wednesday night church, we have Tues., Wed., and Thurs. when we have to be somewhere by 5:30 or 6 p.m. Who wants to eat out 3 nights in a row? Who can afford to?
3) Eating out is a luxury, so I would like it to actually be a luxury. I choose to spend any money I spend on restaurants (I don't ever spell that word right) at a place that is GOOD that I have time to enjoy.

However, I'm sure the basketball-practice-and-church-meeting-powers-that-be would appreciate it if we would splurge for them. We're rarely on time to anything in the evening for that reason. And it doesn't matter WHAT the recipe says -- dinner takes me an hour to make. Period. Don't know why or how to change it, but one hour, start to table. And I DO NOT feel like starting dinner the instant I get home.

Since I'm short on words and insights, I'll leave you with cute. From Scott Meyer's blog:

Monday

I Corinthians 13, Christmas Version

My sister-in-law sent this to me last Christmas via email. I know have it framed and put away with my Christmas decorations. Enjoy:

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, prparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.
But giving the gift of love will endure.
---Author Unknown
I Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Sunday

Vann's Thought for the Day

Vann Conwell, our connecting minister, sends out a "Thought for the Day". I really liked Friday's:

Something tells me the town that inspired U2's song "Where the Streets Have No Name" was also the impetus for "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

Saturday

Ouch! You're Stepping on My Toes

by Sarah Stirman
heartlight

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:13-17 NIV)

I looked up these verses in James 4 to laugh at myself about my week that, by Friday, did not AT ALL look like I thought it would on Monday morning. A day of puttering around the house finishing up some work assignments, punctuated with holiday baking and a leisurely trip to the gym turned into all morning at the doctor's office getting a 9 year old wrist x-rayed, an afternoon of chasing paperwork, and an evening of basketball practice with a grand finale of my 8 year old son and me pushing my disabled SUV out of the middle of the road. My day and week did NOT go as I had planned.

I turned to these verses to remind me that two thousand years ago, James said, "I told you so!" But, I didn't exactly get a warm fuzzy laugh from all of these words. I did laugh at the American Standard Version of verse 15: "For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that." What a nice reminder that not only are we not guaranteed to do what we want on this earth, we aren't even guaranteed to be breathing! Remember, only if the Lord wills it, you will BOTH live AND do what you plan. A double blessing I rarely acknowledge.

Verses 16 and 17 are what really get me, though: "As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil." My natural reaction is to argue — my parents will tell you that it should not be shocking that I will even argue with scripture: "I am NOT boasting! I'm just planning. I like to be prepared. I like to have my day planned!" But that little voice — that I believe to be the Holy Spirit — whispers to me: "There is no room in your plans for God's will. You have filled your schedule entirely too full to listen to His bidding. Do you really think that YOU are in charge of your schedule? That's boasting."

Verse 17 — what's THAT about? Why is it right there in Scripture? "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." Ouch. It's probably right there because God's bidding, that I am too busy to hear or see, is the good that I ought to do and don't take time to do. People cross my mind that I should visit and with whom I should pray, phone calls I should make go unmade, errands for others that I know need to be done are left not done. The good I know I ought to do hasn't been done. This is a bad idea, no doubt, but a sin? Yes, a sin. I must confess.

I looked up this Scripture to smile at God's majesty. He stepped on my toes!


Father, forgive my boasting as if I have control of my day, life, and schedule.
Gently lead me to daily lay my life at your throne and listen to Your direction.
And, Lord, forgive my heart that is intent on my busy-ness, and too distracted
to see the hurting around me. I have become a religious leader on the road to
Samaria, skirting the wounded souls in my path so that I may be about my own
business. Continue to lead me in Your way, simplify my life, and open my eyes to
Your will and Your children.

Friday

Christmas Past

We moved to Abilene on Halloween, 2001. We weren't able to get into this house and were put in a house between N. 7th and N. 8th off of Grape street in Abilene. If you're from Abilene this brings to mind drive-by shootings and drug deals. You've got the right place. There were 2 drive-by shootings across the street from us and a meth lab blew up not far from us. Good times. We were only supposed to be there until November 30. November 30, we went to close on this house and found it would be closer to January before we could get in our house.

I was SO depressed. I had no friends in this town, two small children that I wanted to love their new home, and no Christmas decorations, no extra blankets when there was snow on the ground and the heat went out. Everything was in storage. I was not happy.

I took the money that we would have spent on a tree -- yes, we still do real -- and went to Hobby Lobby. I got each child their own 2 foot Christmas tree, a strand of lights, and some things to hang on the tree. I stacked some of the boxes in our house and draped Christmas fabric over them (blankets were in storage, my sewing machine and fabric were with me. Go figure!) to put the trees on top of. Those tiny little trees shone out of the window of our sad little home in our crack-infested neighborhood.

The kids absolutely loved having their own tree. We would go drive around looking at Christmas lights. The kids, 3 and 5 at the time, would say, "How sad!! Those people only have ONE Christmas tree. I bet they wish they had 2 like us." They didn't even notice that the one Christmas tree was a 12-foot tree in the foyer of their mansion in a neighborhood that did not seem to have a meth lab in it.

We made a gingerbread house. From a box. In the past I believed you had to do it all from hand. We slapped together those pre-made walls and stuck some candy on it -- and they were so proud and simply loved it.

I would love to tell you that was my favorite Christmas ever. Nope. I still hate that we were in a horrible house provided by a horrible person who we were still legal wrangling with on December 21 when we moved into this house. I still hate that I had to cover my children with newspapers and towels more than once when the heat went out. But I still remember and appreciate the lesson I learned. The "picturebook Christmas" is rarely worth the hassle, and a happy family together and healthy at Christmas is more valuable than any trinkets I can place in my home.

Put on the hot chocolate and sing your favorite Christmas carol!
 
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