Sunday, December 31, 2006


Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
[Langston Hughes]

The end of one year... the start of the next.

Hard to believe that the year has flown by. Changes abound in my personal life, in our family's adventures, and in the ways that God uses and speaks to us. I had some goals that I dreamed might come to pass. And they did. Then there were things I dreamed I might do. And they fell by the wayside. I'm not about to list them all out here. (I mean I could, but who would care, unless they had insomnia and needed something to put them to sleep??)

I've been pondering the reasons why things have happened as they did, and the means that changed or fulfilled these dreams over the last year. There's no real pattern. Most of them were "good" ideas, many of them were just things I wanted to do or experience. I wrote in my journal a year ago:
"Lord, there's so much that I am thinking and dreaming and planning. Please let everything happen in Your Time, in Your Space. I don't want to be disappointed, or go off in the wrong direction... but I'd also like to think that this year counts for something."

I think it has 'counted for something' -- I pray it has... I believe God's promise to us as a people. He has great things ahead. And He has hard times too. But He will be in them all...

"In the Last Days," God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams. When the time comes, I'll pour out my Spirit On those who serve me, men and women both, and they'll prophesy." [Acts 2:17-18, The Message]

May you keep dreaming God's "big picture" dreams for your life... (you can't go wrong that way!)

From our home to yours...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

All Is Well

All is well; all is well.
Angels and men rejoice.
For tonight darkness fell
Into the dawn of Love's light!
Sing alle,
Sing alleluia!

All is well; all is well.
Let there be peace on earth.
Christ is come go and tell
That He is in the manger.
Sing alle,
Sing alleluia!

All is well; all is well.
Lift up your voice and sing.
Born is now Emmanuel;
Born is our Lord and Savior!
Sing alleluia,
Sing alleluia!

All is well; Emmanuel,
Born is our Lord and Savior!
Sing alleluia!
Sing alleluia!
All is well...
[Michael W. Smith]

May you truly know this Christmas that all IS well...

Love from Above - and from our home to yours...


Friday, December 22, 2006

Games of Biblical Proportions...

I am speechless...

I just read this article about an Iowa State University professor's study on "religious" board games and toys... You will NOT believe it! Take a look!

WHO KNEW that there was a market (and a multi-million one, I might add) for "Catholic-opoly", "KosherLand" and "Race to the Kabah"?? What's next? "You Bet Your Caste?" "Name That Mantra?"

And in case you weren't sure about the possibilities, besides the "Jesus Action Figure" (dark or light skinned tones available!) there's the Job Action Figure too! Rags and boils included...

With stuff this weird, you know I'm not making it up... and it truly is no wonder that people who are not Christ-followers wonder at our beliefs...

From my perplexed and slightly amazed and "what's-this-world-coming-to?" home to yours...


Just Desserts

As promised!! Two family favorites, which take lots of time but are enjoyed by all!

(named by the kids)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1 bag Hershey's kisses, unwrapped
  • additional confectioner's sugar for rolling.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. At low speed, slowly add in flour and nuts until well combined. Dough will be soft but not sticky.

Shape with (clean) hands into balls around the kisses. Completely cover the kiss and compact dough so that it forms a smooth ball. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes. Cookies should be set, but not browned.

Cool slightly on pan until you can pick them up in your fingers. Roll in powered sugar. Set to cool on cooling racks. When completely cool, you can roll them again.

Yield: about 40 cookies, give or take for sampling and hungry elves!

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 pound peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioner's sugar
  • 1 large brick (2-4 pounds) dipping chocolate
(NOTE: These weights are in pounds, not cups. You will need a kitchen scale.)

Mix butter, peanut butter and confectioner's sugar well. Roll into 1" balls. Place on waxed paper lined cookie sheets and set in fridge to harden. (Takes about an hour.)

Melt dipping chocolate in a double boiler or you can melt small quantities in a micro-wave safe bowl. Use candy-dipping sticks or toothpicks to spear the peanut butter balls. Leave a section of the ball uncovered by chocolate to make the "buckeye". Allow extra chocolate to drain. Set on wax-paper lined sheets to harden. (May need to put in fridge if kitchen is overly warm from baking cookies.)

Keeps best when stored in fridge or in a cool place.

Yield: unknown. I've never gotten an accurate count because of "quality control checkers" in my kitchen!

Enjoy! They are not fat-free or calorie-free -- but they ARE good!

From our home to yours-

Festive Foods Friday Five


From the RevGalBlogPals: Well friends, we've covered advent, music, and movies/TV--but we here at F5 HQ would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that quintessential holiday topic... fooooooooood.

1. Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas.

  • Chocolate Sugar Bombs as named by my family for the way I make the traditional "Russian Tea Cakes" (with a Hershey's kiss in the middle)! (Recipe in next post!)
  • BUCKEYES candies - homemade - yummy - chocolate and peanut butter. YUM!
2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?) I will be curious to read the RGBP take on this one. WHO has time for a big dinner on Christmas Eve? Usually it's a fast meal, more of a "large snack" to tide us over until the after-service drop-in Christmas party at someone's home! Dinner is usually mid-day-ish on Christmas Day. Ham and other things which can bake on a timer in the oven, plus the afore-mentioned cookies! This year we dine with BBS's mom and our kids. Later in the week we will spend time with my family.

3. Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.
  • Hot chocolate: What's not to like! YUM!
  • Wassail: Not bad (if you've never had it, one could say it compares to the gluwein at the German Christkindlesmarkts during Advent, except gluwein is usually served hot.
  • Egnogg: Yummy in coffee. I have been good and only bought the "low fat" this year (which is only 1,000 calories per sip instead of 5,000.) If brandy falls in your eggnog, so much the better!
4. Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?
I am apparently living a sheltered life! Candy canes come in other flavors? EW.

5. Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?
Yes I have and no it is not that good. I think they just needed another verse to drink more wassail.

Edited to add: Well, I am APPALLED with myself that I forgot to include a question about the crown prince of holiday foods--the fruitcake. Feel free to add your thoughts on this most polarizing holiday confection.

Ah, the fruitcake. I hear that people actually eat them from the box. My family's recipe is to open the tin, take out the fruitcake, wrap it in cheesecloth, pour a bottle of brandy over it (it absorbs it quickly), put back in the tin and stick it in the freezer until next year. Then it was sliced and passed around and generally ignored on the plate (except for surreptitious snorts of the brandy fumes...) We usually end up with Claxton Fruitcakes and they are folks who take their fruitcakes seriously... but NOT as seriously as the folks at "The Society for Protection and Preservation of Fruitcakes." (I mean, they must be either serious or seriously crazy! They bought their own domain name????)

God's peace and blessed Christmas to all of you -
From our cookie-saturated home to yours...


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Elf Yourself!

Oh this was just too much fun!! I also made Harpy Girl and Reedy Girl into elves too... But theirs are not mine to share. At any rate, if you are in the mood, you can see me boogie down HERE!

Total silliness... yes, I know...

If your inner elf dances, let me know! :)

From our home to yours...

P.S. I have a photo editor and I know how to use it... hee hee...

P.P.S. As of January something, I must say PHOOEY! The "inner elf" site has gone away for the season. Ah well...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Letter of the Alphabet - "M"

Cathy introduced me to this meme. The idea is to list ten things I love beginning with an assigned letter. Cathy has assigned me "M":

MOM: I have a great one! She's been a wonderful role model and support to me in this journey of life. Her encouragement in my seminary studies means the world to me.

MARRIAGE: I am blessed with a patient, occasionally long-suffering husband AKA "BBS" or "Beloved Bearded Spouse". He's an introvert; I'm... not. He leans toward the mystical; I... don't. He's philosophical; I'm... not. We balance each other, challenge each other, and celebrate each other. Twenty years next April - I love you!

MOTHERHOOD: Not the same as MOM, mind you. What a gift my daughters are to me. I have learned more about God and about His character and attributes through the "job" of motherhood.

MUSIC: The main way that my heart spills over to God.

MUSING: The second way my soul finds its voice - which is why this blog is so active lately. Guess I've had a lot on my mind!

MARSHES: Especially the ones near our family beach place in South Carolina... Peace. Beauty. Quiet. God's voice. Love it!

MEOWS! from the feline children of the house! (they just reminded me! "Time for GRrrrrrrrrrrEENIES!")

MASTERS: I've started on my second one. TLOK (The Lord Only Knows) if I will finish it! But I am really loving my studies. As a friend said to me this week, "you are just meant to do this!" Well hurray!!

MIDDLE NAME: Growing up I hated it. As a young adult I just ignored it. When I got married, I decided to keep it. It reflects a great gift in my life: "Grace".

MY FATHER'S WORLD: But in this case, the MOUNTAINS: If I can't get to the beach to hear God's voice, I know I will hear it in the mountains. Of late, we have enjoyed the wilds of Dolly Sods, WV. Hawks. Wind. Rocks. Trees.

This was fun! Do you want to play? Let me know in the comments and I'll give you a letter to re-post on your blog. (I promise - no X's, Z's or Q's -- unless you want them!)

From our home to yours...


Wait... where's my theological dictionary?

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with

"You're not a heretic." (Well that's a relief!) Now I need to go and look up some of those "-isms" that I've never heard of...

from our theologically compliant home to yours...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Life sucks... and then eventually you get past it

I had a chat with a friend last week about depression and the holidays. We have mutual friends who are so down on life right now that they can not find anything to be grateful about. Nothing. Nada. Not even a parking space!

It's not that I don't understand where these folks are right now. I do identify with them. I have lived through some lousy holidays. The Christmas we ALL got the flu (serially - stretching out over 2 weeks. Nice!) or strep throat. The season that my father-in-law was terminally ill with lung cancer. The time when I was out of regular work and temping for various companies and money was beyond tight. The year that the guy I thought I was marrying broke our engagement. The months that followed after I resigned from a church ministry position and felt like an utter and total failure because I did not "fit the mold" that was wanted. Not to mention some really sucky moments in high school and college...

My friend asked me, "well what do you do or say when someone IS depressed and tells you all about it during the holidays? Do you just say - 'life sucks and sometimes you get past it?' "

Good question. I think it would be more honest to say, "Life sucks and EVENTUALLY you get past it." I worry less about the verbally expressive, and more about the one who looks like they are scraping along by the bottom of life. At least the person who tells me he or she is depressed can muster up enough energy to express anger. Or sadness. Or worry. Or discouragement. But the last thing I do is tell them to "CHEER UP!"

I try to remember what it felt like to be in "that place" and how hard it was to be aware of God's goodness when everything was so... sad.

What helped me? Genuine caring hugs. Doing something for someone else (the best way I found to struggle out of the funk of the broken engagement was helping each month at a soup kitchen.) Crying out to God and pouring out my heart in my music and my writing. Avoiding the things which gave me the most pain (for instance, one church I attended asked all of the "singles" to babysit during the "family" Christmas Eve service. I only did it once... and refused after serving one year. I saw all these couples come to pick up their kids... and they were younger than I was! That just truly hurt too much.)

I made it through some pretty difficult days. Sometimes I didn't have the energy to shop. Or to bake. Or to go to parties.
Sometimes my heart was too sore for feeling joy. Or for feeling anything, for that matter. Sometimes I felt like the problems were all because of me. Mea culpa...

And then, sometimes, I realized that it was not me -- it was life. In all of its imperfections, inconsistencies, and sin. People with their own problems, challenges and downright meanness. Many times it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with simple "bad timing." Eventually, and in my own time, I moved past the pain.

I saw beauty crop up in the raw places of my heart... in the hard places of my life... in fact, I found joy in the places that one does not expect to find it. I saw order in seeming crazy disorder. I found peace in total chaos and fruitfulness in complete barrenness. But none of this was my doing. It was all God's.

Out of more guilt than desire, I kept reading my Bible. One of those dark December days, the words from Deuteronomy took on new meaning...

Israel, the LORD discovered you in a barren desert
filled with howling winds.
God became your fortress, protecting you
as though you were His own eyes.
The LORD was like an eagle teaching its young to fly,
always ready to swoop down and catch them on its back.
Israel, the LORD led you, and without the aid
of a foreign god, He helped you capture the land.
Your fields were rich with grain.
Olive trees grew in your stony soil,
and honey was found among the rocks.
[Deut. 32:10-13]

Life in those rocky times - ones of "stony soil" and "honey from the rocks" - those difficult times in my life made it clearer than ever that God's love for me went past my pain, my failures or achievements, my relationships or lack of them... I was just - completely and totally - loved!

I've never forgotten it. Hard times come and go. People disappoint. Physical bodies do strange and painful things... God remains constant. And that's all that I can tell anyone who knows the truth of "life sucks... and then eventually you get past it."

Often I stand on the edge of the light, afraid to believe, afraid to act, afraid that this story is too good to be true. But then in my better moments, when I listen closely to the story, move closer to the light, my fears seem to evaporate like an early morning mist, and I can believe again. I can believe that God who made all that is became clothed in our human flesh so that we might become clothed in God. I can believe that God claims me as a beloved child. I can believe that my days are in God's strong and tender hands. I can believe that life is good, beautiful, and eternal. I can believe that not only my days but all days are in God's good and able hands. I can believe, rejoice, and wait trustingly and expectantly for the unfolding of God's promise given so many ways and most clearly in the Advent story. Thanks be to God!
[-- Reuben P. Job in A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God]

From our home to yours...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent: Names of God (week three)

Week Three of Advent - Closer to the celebration, and yet so far...

We started this week with worship in the morning, a concert and party in the evening, and Harpy Girl off with friends to the "sing-a-long" MESSIAH at the Kennedy Center. (Yes, there is some parental envy on that one!) We'll also be seeing the National Christmas Tree on the Mall, and spending time with friends later...

Here's this week's "Names of God" for your encouragement and heart's feeding...

From our home to yours...

========= =========== ===========

December 17
Name of God: "My Savior"
Scripture: Luke 1:47; 2:11; John 4:42

December 18
Name of God: "Alpha and Omega"
Scripture: Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13

December 19
Name of God: "Light"
Scripture: John 8:12

December 20
Name of God: "A Mighty Fortress"
Scripture: Psalm 18:2

December 21
Name of God: "King"
Scripture: Psalm 145:1; Revelation 17:14; 19:16

December 22
Name of God: "My Comfort and Shelter"
Scripture: Psalm 61

December 23
Name of God: "All-Consuming Fire"
Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:23-24; Hebrews 12:28-29

December 24
Name of God: "Emmanuel"
Scripture: Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23

December 25
Name of God: "Messiah"
Scripture: John 1:41; 4:25

Friday, December 15, 2006


In emails with my family in Ohio, I found out that they have their last day of school TODAY (December 15th) with a nice long 2 week break. Of course, here in suburbia and in the land of the perpetual classroom, we only have a week... Which is OK, I guess, if one can believe that any "education" will occur next week. Harpy Girl does have a test and project due, but not at the end of the week, more towards the middle. Such is life - I try not to gripe too much. Teaching is an underpaid and unappreciated profession, and I try to support my kids' teachers as much as I can.

And then I get this email from Reedy Girl's middle school PTA:
Volunteers are needed for an "Educational Movie Day" on December 22. The entire school will watch Akeela and the Bee and parents are needed to assist with popcorn and water distribution. If you are available to help from 11-12:30 on Friday, December 22 please e-mail NAME DELETED at EMAIL DELETED.

Thank you!

The premise for this "educational movie day" is the fact that parents pull their kids out of school to (HORRORS!!!!) travel and see (GASP!!) family... Others take their kids away on a vacation, so that they can prepare for the next semester of powerhouse test prep. The kids have said for years that nothing happens the week before vacation. Few tests, little homework. Everyone is just marking time. Yet the days are on the calendar so that we fulfill the holy quotient of Ye State of Marylande.

Harrumph!!!!! (I think I'll just yell.)

For this we pay disgustingly high taxes...


Tacky Christmas lights

The Germans do it right. Whole towns, cities and villages are decorated for Christmas. Genteely. Softly. Beautifully. Electric "arches" in the windows cause a soft glow to fall on the snow and streets. The photo doesn't do it justice...

While the House of V is decorated (internally and externally) for Christmas, I would like to think we are remotely tasteful, if not boring. Yes, the 'net' lights I bought after Christmas are all white. And so are the ones in the garland around the door. They are still pretty. They don't blink. And they don't "race" or strobe, either. There's no blow-up figures or an electric Jesus on our lawn. (You can have one if you want, just don't make me. Please.)

After reading "Skipping Christmas" by John Grisham, we've been seeing the uber-decorated homes with new eyes. A yard with an electric snowman or Santa-stuck-in-a-globe causes someone in the car to yell "FREE FROSTY!" It seems to be easier than ever to be tacky. There are several overly decorated houses in our area. I saw one when I was out on errands last weekend. The house. The yard. The trees. Even a junker car was COVERED in lights!!! There were Blow-up figures. Icicle lights. Mini-lights. Big blinking lights. Unlike this house, no music was playing. But it had traffic backed up for a mile...

I'm not the only one seeing the tacky stuff everywhere. Just because I felt I bombed at the Friday Five this week, I offer instead the "Five Best Sites for Tacky Lights" for your surfing pleasure: (trust me, there are more...)

  1. Anti Yawn's Guide on how to be truly tacky with holiday decorating (in case people need help? Yikes.)
  2. Holly's Guide to Tacky Christmas Lights - a local wonderland outside Your Nation's Capitol! Complete with a map. I'm thinking this is not an honor...
  3. This site proves that the USA doesn't hold the corner or tacky lights...
  4. A great Tacky Light Tour! - and one of the first websites to catalogue the illuminated excesses...
  5. Finally, in what is probably the greatest disservice to the Christ Child, is this display which features a prominent reminder of the supposed "Reason" why people do this in the first place... Lord Have Mercy...
OK, Martha Stewart doesn't live at my house, but I promise to never, ever try to get on one of these lists...

From our home to yours...

Friday Five: Yuletide Favorites

The RevGalBlogPals had a retro feel this week. I confess I am not a big Christmas movie fan. (Hope you still love me anyway...) Oh well - - here goes!

For this mid-December Friday Five, let's explore some Yuletide favorites.

It's a Wonderful Life--Is it? Do you remember seeing it for the first time?
Um... believe it or not, I've never sat through the whole thing without falling asleep.

2) Miracle on 34th Street--
old version or new?
Well, I've read the book...

3) Do you have a
favorite incarnation of Mr. Scrooge?
Mr. Spaceley from The Jetsons.

4) Why should it be a problem for an elf to be a dentist? I've been watching
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for years now, and I still don't get it.
I suppose it's as certain a career as being a mortician... (everyone has teeth and everyone dies...) But if you think about it, being an elf is seasonal work and then you can take long vacations. What's not to like? (And let's be honest, who really likes going to the dentist???)

5) Who's the scariest character in Christmas specials/movies?

My nomination: Any of them that are blue and talk in squeaky voices... YICK and EEK!!!!

(I will spare you all of the Smurf jokes...)

I will redeem myself with my next post... I promise!

From our home to yours...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Nativity Story That Got Away...

From the
HoneyBeez mothering and breastfeeding list...

Went to Abigail's school Christmas concert (no "proper" Nativity this year). Each class did a little something followed by a song or 2. Anyway, Ab's class did a Nativity scene, with Ab as Mary. How proud was I?). A few mins into their bit Ab promptly lifted her dress & shoved baby Jesus up it. The script then wandered away from what they'd learnt & goes as follows....

Joseph: "What are you doing?"
Mary: "I'm feeding our baby"
Shepherd: "Have you got a bottle up there then?"
Mary: "Don't be silly he's having milk from my booby"
Joseph: "That's disgusting"
Mary: "No, that baby milk they have in Tescos is disgusting. My baby's having proper milk"
Shepherd: "What's a booby?"
Mary: "Those sticky out bits ladies have"
Shepherd: "They're not boobies, they're nipples"
Mary: "No they're not, they're boobies"
Joseph: "So why can't Jesus have milk from a bottle then?"
Mary: "Because I haven't got a breast pump with me - you forgot to put it on the donkey"
Shepherd: "Can't you ask the teacher for a bottle to feed Jesus with?"
Mary: "No because this is the best way to feed Jesus. Anyway bottles haven't been invented yet & even if they were I've just had a baby so if you think I'm faffing about round Tescos to buy baby milk when I make proper milk in my boobies you can think again"

I felt a teeny bit sorry for their class teacher - she did try her best to steer them back towards their proper lines but she was laughing so much she didn't really stand a chance. The line about Joseph forgetting the breast pump finished her off - she slid to the floor & couldn't get up for laughing....



To reflect on this story a bit... Recent conversations on an attachment parenting list I'm on (Parenting as Ministry) have led me beyond my usual ruminations of the Incarnation. Though I don't particularly like "In the Bleak Midwinter" (dreary tune by Gustav Holst and biblical inaccuracies aside) I had to go back and re-read a couple of the verses as posted by one of the group members...

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

I was pregnant twice during Christmas - both girls were summer babies, so I wasn't "great with child", more like "great with morningsickness". But I remember during those pregnancies being in awe of the Incarnation. How was it that it was true - Eternal in the womb of temporal, of the Divine heart beating under His mother's? Mary's pregnancy led me to deep joy and thanksgiving for the Gift of the Christ Child.

Somehow, I never connected the dots and thought much about Mary's experience as a "mother" of a newborn - swaddling, changing, nursing and kissing the face of her Son.

Pretty amazing... isn't it?

From our home to yours...


P.S. Hat tip to Tot Rocket for the graphic!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hemming and Hawing

Harpy Girl has to have her orchestra dress hemmed and ready Wednesday for a group picture. Said dress arrived home Monday night (and of course we were busy and had no time to hang the hem.) Tonight after Reedy Girl's oboe lesson we headed to do some shopping at the mall.

(They must be getting older, or I am growing in grace, because it was really fun shopping at the mall together. Of course, as Harpy Girl pointed out, I did not make her try on any clothes -- a fate worse than death -- so what was not to like?)

But, arriving home at 8:30 on Tuesday night, with said dress still unhemmed... ah well... here I am resting my fingers, rubbing my eyes and stretching my back... it is still not done! Sit. Stitch. Fold. Check. It's fiddly polyester knit too. Every stitch that is a smidge too big shows. Black dress. Black thread. At night. With bifocals. sigh... My kingdom for a nice broadcloth...

But as I work my way around the hem, I think of all of the skirts, dresses and gowns that were hemmed for me (often at the last moment) by my mom. Some were huge flowing skirts, very full. Some were fabrics that must have made her groan. A couple of times my grandmother, who sewed the tiniest stitches helped with the handwork. They were all gifts of love.

That's why I'm willing doing this. I'm sure I'll do it again. I'm just grateful that the semester is ended and that I don't have a paper to finish ON TOP of the hem. Time flies. Hems don't wait... which is why I have to get back to the task at hand. Here's hoping they don't find me asleep on the dress in the morning... ...and yards to go before I sleep and yards to go before I sleep...

Before I forget -- thanks, Mom!

From our home to yours...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Advent: Names of God (week two)

Week Two of Advent. No less busy than the first, and the rehearsals, concerts and parties are appearing on the calendar fast and furious. The coming celebration of Christmas is now, and not yet (in more ways than one!) Here's this week's snippets to think on as you run your errands, sit in traffic, and yes, find time to remember God in the mix!

From our home to yours -

December 10
Name of God: "My Refuge"
Scripture: Psalm 9:9, 46:1

December 11th
Name of God: "Shepherd"
Scripture: John 10:14; Psalm 23

December 12th
Name of God: "Son of God"
Scripture: Matthew 14:33; Luke 1:35; Revelation 2:18

December 13th
Name of God: "I AM"
Scripture: Exodus 3:14

December 14th
Name of God: "Mighty God"
Scripture: Genesis 49:24; Job 36:5; Isaiah 9:6

December 15th
Name of God: "Holy One"
Scripture: Psalm 16:10; 89:18; Proverbs 9:10; Isaiah 29:19

December 16th
Name of God: "The Lamb"
Scripture: John 1:29, 36; Revelation 7:10

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five

From the RevGalBlogPals:
Those of you who read my blog know I have a love-hate relationship with the 24/7 Christmas music we're
subjected treated to in stores and radio (in the U.S. at least). It gets too sentimentally sticky-sweet sometimes, yet I find myself unable to resist it. Nothing says "it's Christmas" to me like John Denver and Rolf the Dog singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So...

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
White Christmas -- only because I love the movie!

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better)
Mary Did You Know? ...just gets me... no logic, I know.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
Hands down, the song that makes me want to say "gag-me-with-a-candy-cane" is the Carpenter's "Merry Christmas Darling" -- WHY does it still get airtime??? YEEEIIICK!!! (Then there's always "Christmas Shoes" which is... ugh... never mind...)

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.
Sure. Re-write the words HERE! At least you can practice your parts of speech painlessly...

5. A favorite Christmas album
Hard one... so many cheesy ones that get eliminated from the start! I'm going to go traditional with our CD of Handel's "Messiah" performed by Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields...

Now, I'm off to sing "Deck the Halls" as re-written by Walt Kelly of Pogo fame. (A song we used to sing and drive my parents CRAZY!!!!

Wally-wally-wash-and-Kalamazoo to U!


Thursday, December 07, 2006


Need a Snow Day?
Create a snowflake! Or twenty! The more flakes that are created, the more money that Popular Front will donate to the Salvation Army for their programs and outreach ministries at the end of the year. You also get to do a shout out to friends and family too...

All it takes is a random click and drag of the mouse! Try it! See the snowflake I made for the RevGalBlogPals HERE! And for friends and fam - look HERE!

From our flake-y home to yours-

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Meme

It's a Christmas Meme - just some fun things to share about your Christmastime traditions...

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate? Chocolate all the way... with whipped cream on top!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa doesn't do squat. I have to wrap them.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White - I know, I know, that's boring... but it's a long story... they were on sale, see... and...

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No... no particular reason... I just don't.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Whenever I can after Thanksgiving but before December 24th... There's no set time. It helps if it isn't freezing cold (like today!)

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Well, I never! There are holiday dishes that AREN'T desserts??

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Being with my whole family - grandparents, parents, sibs, and the happy madhouse of it all.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? There's a secret? What did he do?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Nope. Usually I am still wrapping!

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Oh, it is a Ralph Lauren designer tree. Completely color-coordinated with computer programmed lights, plaid bows, matching ornaments and it rotates on a stand like one of those department store trees. ...NOT!! It has lights of many colors, lots of ornaments - some homemade, some gifts, some I just wanted for ME. It has silver 'beads' because one of the girls saw them one year and thought that they were pretty. It has a plug in star on the top from my family's tree.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Neither - I just deal with it. When it falls - shovel it. Drive carefully and play as much as I can.

12. Can you ice skate? I CAN... but DO I? Not any more - these knees are too old.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Don't know as I have one. I have been given many lovely things.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Time with family, worship and probably sleeping in.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Definitely those tea cakes covered in powdered sugar... yummmmm!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Watching the kids enjoy the lights the first time the tree is decorated and turned on. And Christmas Eve when we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.

17. What tops your tree? A star with lights. Hopefully not the cats!

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
The Cradle Hymn. (The traditional melody is a Kentucky folk tune. You can find the music here! )

20. Candy canes: yuck or yum? Real peppermint ones? YUM. The ones that are red and white striped and taste like soap? YUCK.

21. Favorite Christmas movie? Charlie Brown

22. What do you leave for Santa? The credit card bills... he never takes them!

Your turn - re-post as "Christmas Meme!"

From our home to yours-


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Making a list, Checking it twice...

Mine BBS (Beloved Bearded Spouse) is getting anxious. I can not seem to come up with a list of things for him to shop from... and this is not good. If I don't do something soon, I will get things HE thinks maybe I'll like. His batting average is so-so... And when he has an imaginative idea, it's a dangerous thing. It's his heart I love anyway, not his shopping clairvoyance factor.

The problem is, I don't know what to tell him. The stuff I'd really like I don't want to ask for because it's, well, really considered something like conspicuous consumption. (It would only replace what I have that works fine or looks nice, I just want a newer/better/zippier/higher octane one...) The stuff I'd prefer is boring, or requires him to do something he doesn't want to do or would cost a lot to pay someone to do it. I don't really need more nice pens (I lose them) or desk accesories (I like what I have.) I'm not a jewelry freak. Poor guy! I need to help him out here... it's just a wee dilemma. Do I tell him what I really want???

Can I dream big? I could ask for...
- a cleaning service. I CAN clean my own home. I just wish I didn't have to... or that he has to deal with it when I am too wheezy to do it.
- getting the upstairs painted (it's been 10 years... geesh!)
- new carpeting in our bedroom
- a kitchen make-over - floors, cabinets and definitely a paint job

Or do I go practical? For instance, I need to add to my commentaries... yeah, right. That'll fly. I do need a new pair of slippers since the pair I have contributed to a rather ungraceful fall down the steps... and I could think of many things electronic and in the kilobuck category...

How about philosophical? Not just world peace, but JOY for those I know who are so depressed, or angry, or living the results of acting stupid. UNDERSTANDING for those who are struggling to see the meaning of the life. HEALING for the sick and COMFORT for the hurting...

SOoo... I am still stuck. I'm content with the blessings I see around me when I look at the faces at the dinner table, or read little notes on my desk... I'm aware of how much I have been given... Can I just get cards from Amazon and B&N?

dang it, he still wants that list...

I may just write down "World Peace" anyway. If "Miss Congeniality" can want it, then I can too!

From our home to yours...

Tolkien, Quail and Mercy

A bit of writing from an assignment... My Old Testament Survey class had an on-line discussion about the "Old Testament God" of wrath vs. the "New Testament God" of mercy.

It seems to me that our “Old Testament God” has always showed mercy, extended beyond what one would have expected. He disciplined the people of the desert, yes. He spoke through the judges, and He refined with the Refiner’s fire those who were exiled. He gave The Children of Israel word pictures, prophetic dreams and promises of His mercy. And He gave them every opportunity to be fully restored in fellowship with Him. He brought His people back to the Land after the exile, and gave them security enough to rebuild. And “in the fullness of time" as Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4, He sent the Messiah as that final, amazing and all-encompassing act of mercy. Absolutely no one in history deserves that much mercy!

One of my favorite reminders of God’s mercy to the undeserving was the way He provided for the people in the desert as they left Egypt (Exodus 13). He could have easily let them live on bread and water. Instead He sent quail. Beyond what the whining, grumbling children of Israel needed, He gave them quail! I think I might have been mad at God, had I been Moses. I might have wanted God to just give them manna, and make it taste stale, or at least a little bland! Instead of tasting like dusty cardboard, it tasted like coriander (what we call cilantro) and honey!

Simon Peter, that impulsive fisherman-turned-disciple, wrote the most amazing words: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” [1 Peter 2:9-10] The disciple who denied His Lord understood first-hand the blessing of mercy, of covenant love, of forgiveness of transgressions!

To put it in a secular vein, another picture of this kind of mercy (perhaps because I am a lover of Professor Tolkien’s writings,) is the conversation that Frodo has with Gandalf when he finds out the Gollum was not killed by Bilbo, his uncle, when Gollum’s deceitfulness was first discovered. Instead, his life was spared by Frodo and the elves. Gandalf tried to get Frodo to see that this is the only honest and righteous way to have acted.

“But this is terrible!” cried Frodo. “…What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!”

[Gandalf] “Pity? It was pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and mercy: not to strike without need.”

“I am sorry,” said Frodo. “…I can’t understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.”

[Gandalf] “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends….” [The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 2].

In this quote from the Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien gives us a picture of “mercy” – one that shows the “undeserved” nature of it for Gollum, the traitorous hobbit forever changed by the evils he committed. Gandalf reminds Frodo that even Gollum deserves mercy, despite how ludicrous it seems to them as onlookers. “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life.”

That does not seem too far off to me when I look at the world around me today. And that is the message, the Gospel of Mercy, which we are called to preach, yes, but also to show by our response to the needs we see around us.

Just an end-of-semester muse...

From our home to yours-

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Advent: Names of God (week one)

Life gets busy in December. Like you, I have more than enough to fill my calendar, let alone finding some of that rare commodity called "free time"! I don't want to turn around twice and discover that Christmas has come and I barely stopped to think about the Advent of the Christ Child. One of the things I have done in year's past is to keep just a small phrase in my mind related to one of Names of God found in the Bible. It has been moderately successful -- simple things for simple minds! I'll post them a week at a time (at least that's the plan!) and hope that they encourage and bring you close to God, too.

From our home to yours...


December 3
Name of God: "Bread of Life"
Scripture: John 6:48

December 4
Name of God: "Bright Morning Star"
Scripture: Rev. 22:16

December 5
Name of God: "Faithful"
Scripture: I Cor. 10:13

December 6
Name of God: "Friend"
Scripture: John 15:15

December 7
Name of God: "My Provider"
Scripture: Genesis 22:14

December 8
Name of God: "Ancient of Days"
Scripture: Daniel 7:13-14

December 9
Name of God: "The Potter"
Scripture: Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, December 02, 2006

And behold, a great stink arose...

And it came to pass that the Beloved Bearded Spouse (who shall also be known as BBS) spake unto his family: "I shall maketh a brew or two and all shall be completed before another day passeth. For mine storehouse is but empty of all but the most expensive brews."

And his family, though great with patience, sayeth, "please, no!" and "why must it be when we are home?" and "but mine friends are coming over they will like it not!" And the beloved of BBS sayeth, "but hath thou not promised to bring down today a Christmas tree for a time unto decoration?" However, the calendar appointment prevailed, and the BBS went forth and brewed.

And behold, a great stink arose. And the neighbors and those who came to the place where it brewed sayeth, "What is this smell that we have come upon, for it hurteth our nostrils?"

And in the steeping of the grain there was great consternation, for the stove caused it to runneth over. And in the stewing of the malt, there was an aroma not unlike the downwind side of the Brew-wiser plant. And in the pitching of the yeast and the adding of oxygen and the casting of sugar, there came much foam.

And the family sigheth, "surely, it shall not continue forever." For they were very tired.

Now behold, a new day cometh. And with the airlock and the keg, there was much bubbling. The contents of barrels doth bubble and make noise in the house. And there was a smell like unto a wild yeast in the air. And they looked at one another and sayeth, "when shall it make an end?"

And the BBS said, "when it is finished!"

So they went on their way and prayeth for a quick work of the sugars to be done, so that it would be potable. For verily, the beloved of the BBS said that yea, it had, when it was not well contained, tasteth like unto the straining of bad brew through dirty socks. And only the slugs in the garden drank it, for the humans could not.

And of the washing and putting away of equipment there was some. And of the piling of the rest unwashed there was much. And they still loveth one another any way...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Five: Adventually

From RevGalBlogPals: Although it comes as late as it can this year, Advent is upon us. Some of us grew up observing it, while to others (including this childhood Baptist) it was even more foreign than Lent! Over the past twenty years, I have grown to love Advent as a season of preparation, although as a pastor I find it harder to practice it at home than at church, even when the church might prefer I make it the other way 'round.

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:

1) Do you observe Advent in your church?

NOoooooooooooo... but we are located near an Adventist Hospital... does that count? ;)

2) How about at home?
Not really. I do have an Advent wreath and we light an increasing number of candles each week... And we talk about it. And we read Scripture. But if you mean, do we sit around and hold hands and sing plainsong in Latin, and read the BCP, that would be NO.

3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?
Actually, I have several. But because you want STRICTLY Advent, not Christmas, I have to say that I like one that's in German: Macht Hoch die Tür. (Open the Gates). If you mean favorite but un-singable my Joe and Josie Congregant, than hands down it's "Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted" from Handel's Messiah!

4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.)
Well, it was purple last year but I left it on the dashboard of my car in the hot summer sun (don't ask and please don't tell FlyLady!) and all of its color faded. Good thing I left it in the wrapper because it would have stuck the dash and been an even stranger shape (the cellophane kinda kept it looking cylindrical with only one flat side...)

5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen?
Hard one... probably a paper pop-up one that looked like the animal kingdom in bathrobes with towels tied on their heads... I know it was supposed to be a nativity scene, but...

I actually have some stuff to put up for Advent on my blog. Just have to get it done... papers and quizzes first...

From our home to yours...