Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdsays--My favorite posts from 2007

I was using my blog to try to re-create the year for H&H's journals, and I found some posts I should probably read again...and again :)From most recent to oldest, here they are:

10. mom, I need my own light
9. Sherpa mom
8. Cleaning windows
7. When God says no
6. What's my title?
5. Ever wanted God to talk to you in an audible voice?
4. The waiting place
3.Breaking down the walls
2. Saying grace, part 1
1. How does your garden grow?

What's on your top 10 posts for 2007 list?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I need my own light

Tonight the Henry, Harmony and I biked, triked and walked to the place where I had my oil changed to pick up my car, about a half mile away. It was after dinner, so I brought a flashlight. I shone (shined? what's the grammar here?) it ahead of the kids, but Henry tended to ride faster than my lightbeam, and at one point he yelled back,

"Mom, I need my own light. Yours isn't bright enough."

So I gave him the flashlight, and he figured out a way to hold it and ride.

About a block from our destination, one of his training wheels fell off. Henry has had the bike since he turned four, and has constantly had issues with the training wheels--one of them tends to slide down, and he ends up with a trainer bike instead of a training bike. We tried taking them off after his 5th birthday, but despite his highly skilled riding, he was scared and wanted them back on, so we obliged. But now, the training wheels are worn out--it's not that a screw came loose, the hole in the wheel has worn so big that the bolt no longer holds it to the frame of the bike. So one way or another, we're done with training wheels.

It was a spiritually revealing trip. First, my light isn't going to shine bright enough to equip either of my children to find their way--they need the light themselves. Second, it's time to start taking the spiritual training wheels off for Henry. While Henry and Harmony both enjoy hearing Bible stories and have memorized various Bible verses, and Henry in particular has confessed faith in a very Henry way ("I wanna be on God's team!" and all kinds of variations), it's time for us to make a more concerted effort at writing God's word in their hearts and applying it to their lives, so they can have their own light and use it to walk with Jesus. Tonight Henry was excited when I talked about working together to memorize Bible verses in the new year, and we'll be adding a daily devotional for kids to our nightly routine.

So any suggestion for a set of Bible verses to start with? Or a fun but relevant devotional for kids?

Thankful Thursday meets Melodic Monday

I was working on the kids' journals last night. Unfortunately I'm six months behind, so I have to rely upon my calendar, picture files (some of which have the wrong dates), blog, and rusty memory to try and reconstruct what they were doing in July. (One of my resolutions is to get caught up and stay that way!)

It was fun going back through the year, and all I could do is marvel at what God has been doing in all of our lives. It made me appreciate just how huge, yet how intimate our God is--not only does he weave together the minor intricacies of our lives, like providing daily bread, but He also has a picture of how it all fits together.

It made me think of one of my favorite Justin Roberts songs, Where were you? and the related passages in Job (Chapters 38-41):

Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations,
Where were you when I set the stars in place and they all sang together
and they all sang together up in space

Where were you when I filled the seas and oceans
Where were you when I locked them in the land
And the all sang together
And they all sang together on the sand

Where were you when I formed the ancient atoms (as a chemist, my fave line)
Where were you when I fashioned life a home
and it all sang together
And it all sang together on the foam

Where were you when I set the leopard running
Where were you when I taught the birds their songs
And they all sang together
And the yall sang together in that bright and brilliant dawn

Allelu, allelu, alleluia (x3)
Where were you

So God, today I'm in awe of you--that you know the intimate details of each and every hair on my head, yet see the larger picture of how it all works together. You brought me to the beginning of Job last March, and now you've brought me to the end of it (with some study in between). And all I can do in response is say how awesome you are, and join with the chorus of everything else you've made in singing your praise--Allelu, allelu, alleluia!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where angels fear tread...

...our living room floor! Between the legos, Playmobil pieces, army (well, police) guys, dinosaurs, polly pockets, and game pieces from the Mickey game set, bare feet are in trouble at our house....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Melodic Mondays/favorite Christmas memories

I sang in choir all four years of college. The Christmas Concert was a huge production--four choirs plus the orchestra, everything from memory, exact choreography for choirs moving from in the audience to up front and changing places; four home concerts and two in another city. It was (and still is) recorded and played around the country on a PBS station near you. We were highly trained, and if you fell out of line, Gordon would come and tell you never to touch your face again :)

My senior year I was in the Concert choir--one of the last one picked, but in it nonetheless. The Concert Choir started on stage---everyone else was stationed around the perimeter (my first year I passed out standing in the aisle waiting to start...another story :)). The other choirs processed to the front during the first congregational hymn, Oh come, all ye faithful. That is also when they let the latecomers come in.

At the early (5:30) on-the-road show, they opened the doors for the latecomers as we hit the chorus: it was as if they had heard us beckoning them to come and adore him. I still get choked up every time we sing the song:

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of angels;

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God, Light of Light;
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin's womb:
Very God, Begotten, not created;


Sing, choirs of angels;
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God in the highest;


Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning:
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Late in flesh appearing;


Saturday, December 22, 2007

1 Corinthians 13 for Christmas

A friend sent me this, and it's so awesome that I had to share. She found it at original is published on December 23, 2004 on this thread.

1 Corinthians 13 for Christmas
by Sharon Jaynes

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,
preparing 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 a 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 the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love does not envy another's home
that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way,
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love does not give only to those who are able
to give in return; but rejoices in giving
to those who cannot.

Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things, and 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.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Funny

Overhead conversation about birthday presents:
Henry: I know what I'm getting you for your birthday.
Harmony: What?
Henry: A music box, like at Grandmas. Except when you open it, it TOOTS. And it stinks, just like your toots.
(Hysterical laughing from both children--Harmony toots a lot, and it tends to be loud...and stinky!)

Christmas cards

Christmas cards from friends have been rolling in--most have pictures, and a few have letters. I sent out round 1 (don't think anything bad if you weren't in round 1--I brought a very short list with me to the funeral!) last week--there was a picture, but no letter. Here's the picture Patrick picked from three possibilities I showed him:

What I love about this picture is that it's so representative of our year. While we all have smiling faces, my sunglasses hide my eyes (and much of what's happened mentally in the last year). And we were being attacked by a swarm of flying, biting ants, so we were all saying "hurry up and take the picture so we can get back in the car!"

So I wonder, what's really happening in the lives of all the smiling, wearing their Christmas best families that we see in the pictures?

God's Christmas letter tells it pretty straight--a pregnancy before marriage, the hushed and hurried wedding that probably happened before the birth, a long trip on a donkey, a birth in a stinky barn, with a bunch of probably stinkier shepherds as visitors. Yet Mary pondered these things in her heart, and proclaimed the majesty of her God who ministers to the poor and lowly.

Lord, I thank you for the blessing of friends, and I pray for the things unseen and the stories not told in their Christmas letters. Thanks that you came not to the rich and mighty, but to the poor and lowly, and that you promise great things to the hungry, meek, and poor in spirit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thankful Thursday, part 2

I've got a lot to be thankful for!! I'd like to share how God has provided in just awesome ways this week...

--Yesterday I was at "what in the world can I make for dinner with broccoli, bbq sauce, stale bread and old evaporated milk" when a package arrived from my uncle...which was an abundance of goodies, including a ham! H&H LOVE ham, so we had quite the feast!

--Today I was thinking that I need to call my GI doctor and try to reschedule my appointment, because I'll be out of town the day I'm scheduled for. I had to reschedule my July appt, and the first available slot was this one, six months later, so I had some trepidation about this. Instead, I got a call from the nurse that my appt had been moved up a week, which worked out absolutely perfect.

So thanks, God, that you know my fridge and my calendar!

Thankful Thursday

I have been out of town for the last two Thankful Thursdays, and I definitely missed them!!! Lysa TerKeurst had a great devotional at the other day on Daniel and how to get out of the pit of self pity--thanksgiving. She said it better than I, so please go and read it...and sign up for the devotionals to be delivered to your mailbox while you're at it!

Today I am thankful for:

--Mary's joyful obedience. The promise of pregnancy outside of wedlock was definitely not on Mary's "things I have planned for my life" yet her response was "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said." Wow. I have a hard time being willing to do much smaller things. And she didn't even do it grudgingly, she did it with great joy--her song in Luke 1:46-55 is one of my favorites--we sang an arrangement in my college choir that was just amazing (track eight).

--Emmanuel, God is with us. He didn't come as a king to lord over us, but as a tiny baby to dwell with us. And now, he's not only with us, he is IN us, as promised in Colossians 1:27. He's closer than our very breath, we just have to slow down enough to listen.

--All the times that God (or an angel) tells people "Do not be afraid"--and then makes a great promise. In just the Christmas story, Joseph, Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds all heard the promise. And I love the reasons to not be afraid--it's the Holy Spirit, your prayers have been heard, you have found favor with God, and there is great news for everyone. What great reasons to not be afraid!

And thanks to Lynn for hosting Thankful Thursday this week! What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Top Ten things that we need after coming back from vacation

10. Clean laundry
9. Groceries
8. Sidewalk and driveway shoveled (we did get that done)
7. Snacks to share at preschool tomorrow
6. Draft of lab manual for next semester
5. Decorations up, or at least located
4. A cat who isn't acting like static cling, sitting on my arms while I type
3. Christmas cards to write themselves
2. A lab elf to run my experiment during a meeting tomorrow
1. A little Christmas spirit!

Yes, we're back...and I'm completely overwhelmed. The good news is that our house WAS cleaned by our fairy godmother--I forgot that I scheduled Matilde to come today, and she was patiently sorting through the disaster we left on Wednesday! Ahh, there is nothing like coming home to a clean house...

What's on your top ten list?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Melodic Monday: His Eye is on the sparrow

This one's for Grandma, it's been in my head all week:

His Eye is on the Sparrow by Civilla D. Martin, 1905

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

"Let not your heart be troubled," His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wordless Wednesday--Nativity scene done by preschoolers

Mail crossing

I sent my grandmother a care package of Christmas cookies and candy last week--she didn't get it before she passed away. Meanwhile, she mailed us a check to shop for Christmas presents for ourselves--it arrived yesterday. I want to get the kids something they can keep to remember her. Any suggestions? I was thinking of a locket or cross necklace for Harmony, but I don't have any ideas for Henry...

Top Ten Tuesdays

The Top Ten things I love about my children:

10. How Harmony has learned to say "spoon" instead of "boon" and "scrape" instead of "grape"
9. Henry will play with his knights with rapt attention and great detail.
8. That they both like to crawl in and snuggle with us in the morning...even though it's sardines in our bed
7. Harmony uses BIG gestures and facial expressions when she talks.
6. Henry would eat an apple...or three...every day.
5. Harmony loves to play beautiful princess, complete with jewelry and makeup, even though I wear neither.
4. Henry likes to have his nail polished too...but just his toenails, so his buddies won't see it.
3. Harmony brings books to bed with her every night--they're one of her favorite things.
2. The little rituals they've created, like counting before we pray and the seatbelt song, that are unique to our family.
1. My kids have shown me such great things about God, prayer, love, grace, reaching others, and so many other things...

What's on your top ten list this week?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Home coming

Sorry for falling off of the blogosphere--we were on vacation in Chicago and didn't have internet. We had a great time, but a fuller description will need to wait. Coming home means a pile of laundry, no groceries, and lots of errands!

While we were there, my grandma had another kind of home coming. Mona Mae Holm went to be with her savior on Friday. She was 92 years old, and was talking about going home the last time I saw her. While I'm glad for her life and that she's with Jesus, we'll also miss her, and I'm sad that my kids won't get to know what a wonderful Christian woman she was. So I'll probably be dropping off the blogosphere again at the end of this week!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays--Reasons to read your Bible

10. To know your King and Savior
9. To grow (1 Peter 2:2)
8. So you can claim the promises that are yours in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20)
7. To see some awesome examples of faith (see Hebrews 11 for a start)
6. To be rooted and grounded in Him (Colossians 2:6-7)
5. So you can stand firm in the trials of life (lots of references!)
4. To know your marching orders
3. To avoid pitfalls
2. For more powerful prayer--what better thing is there to pray than God's own word?
1. Who doesn't love a good, well awesome, love letter?

What's on your top 10 this week?

Melodic Monday--Make me your instrument

Di Lehman from the Champaign Vineyard gave an awesome sermon at church this Sunday on escaping busy-ness. She didn't give a self-help book or five ways to be less busy, instead she pointed out the key to being "More than Conquerers" over all the things that bring us down is the mystery/secret that is revealed in Colossians 1:27--Christ is in you, the hope of glory!

I had forgotten how much I love Colossians. Before we went to New York on sabbatical, I was in a study on it, but I think I either quit or we moved before we even finished chapter two. I'm definitely picking that back up.

Back to Melodic Mondays--the Christ in You theme has had me singing this song by The Ragamuffin Band (Rich Mullin's band after he died):

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace:
where there's hatred, let me sow love;
and where there is injury, pardon;
and where there is doubt, then faith;
and where there's despair, then hope.
It's in dying that I will be born,
and in giving that I will receive,
it's in loving that I will be loved,
this is my faith: it is what I believe.
Lord, make me an instrument.
Make me an instrument.
Lord, I am a stranger traveling
in a brutal yet wondrous land,
far from the promise of home,
on a journey, led by Your hand
to where the lion lies down with the lamb. Father, grant that I'd never seek
to be comforted as to console;
let the blood of Your Son cover me,
touching my spirit, seizing my soul,
Lord, make me an instrument.
Lord, make me an instrument.
Lord make me YOUR instrument.
Let Your divine mystery guide my heart:
it's in dying that I will be born,
and in giving that I will receive,
it's in loving that I will be loved;
this is my faith: it is what I believe.

Christ within me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ above me,
Christ beneath me, to my left and my right,
Christ where I lie and where I arise,
Christ in the hearts of all who think of me,
Christ on the lips of all who speak of me,
Christ in the eyes of all who see me---

make me Your instrument, Lord!
Make me Your instrument, Lord!
Make me Your instrument, Lord!
Make me Your instrument, Lord!
Make me Your instrument.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Santa clause

On Saturday, Henry was telling his friend Emma something about Santa, and Emma point blank told him there was no Santa...and Henry argued for him.

We haven't talked about Santa at all, and don't watch Santa movies. But he hears about it from his friends at school. We have done stockings on Christmas morning, but the big gifts are from family members.

So what's a Christian parent to do about Santa?

I don't want to lie to my children, but I want to encourage generosity and the story of the original St. Nicholas.

ETA: I love playing Santa. Even when I was old enough to know about Santa and my parents stopped putting stuff in our stockings, I continued to fill them. I just enjoy blessing others through little (and sometimes big) gifts--not just at Christmas, but all year. Guess it's not surprising that giving is one of my (and Patrick's) spiritual gifts, and in some ways, I see Santa as a way to teach that to my children. For example, this year I plan to take the kiddos shopping and ask them to "play Santa" with me and buy stocking stuffers for Jubilee Christmas. I don't think that "ruins" Santa, but perpetuates what it is that I like about the whole concept--spontaneous, undeserved gifts, just like the Father gives us.

So what do you do about Santa?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Advent activities

I found this list buried in my computer--I saved it when Henry was two! The kids are probably old enough for it this year, and it sounds like a fun approach! The key is every day you put a small object in a special box, then talk about it and how it relates to Jesus and Christmas. I think I got it from but I don't see it there now...if anyone knows who to give credit to, please let me know, because this is awesome!

1. Quarter
2. Grape
3. Smiley sticker
4. gummy fish
5. birthday candle
6. Bell
7. fish crackers
8. Cotton balls
9. piece of a map
10. Soap
11. Heart sticker
12. Cross
13. Packet of salt
14. Sand
15. Flowers(silk)
16. Raisins
17. Seeds
18. Christmas carol
19. Small rock
20. Crumpled foil
21. Mustard seed
22. Dove
23. Small scrap of woolly material
24. Blue marble
25. Picture of a baby.
December 1 - A quarter! That equals 25 cents. But 25 also stands for the number of days till Christmas, when God gave us His best present. Jesus told about one woman's gift and the way she gave it. Read: Mark 12:41-44
December 2 - Grape Gum! Grapes make jelly and juice, raisins and wine. But Jesus didn't need grapes to perform His first miracle. Read: John 2:1-10
December 3 - Here's a smile! A smile usually expresses happiness. Jesus gave us many instructions to keep us happy. Read: Matthew 5:1-12.
December 4 - Fish! Well, if you were surprised to find these fish, wait till you read the story today! Others were surprised to find fish, too. Read: Luke 5:4-7
December 5 - A birthday candle? As you know, we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birthday. However, Jesus talked about something else that is related to this candle. Light! Read: Matthew 5:14-16
December 6 - You could make some noise with this. But it would not have bothered a certain man--until he met Jesus. Read: Mark 7:31-37
December 7 - These would not go very far if you were really hungry! But Jesus could make much out of little. Surely He knew how to multiply! Read: Matthew 14:13-21
December 8 - These cotton balls would be helpful in a thunder storm, wouldn't they? We could use them for ear plugs to muffle the loud noises that thunder makes. But we know someone who doesn't need cotton. Jesus can control the weather. Read: Matthew 8:23-27
December 9 - People needing to use the other parts of this map are in trouble! Don't you get lost today! Read: John 14:1-6
December 10 - It's soap. Do you like to wash? Behind your ears? Washing turned out to be a happy time for a man who met Jesus. Read: John 9:1-7
December 11 - Hearts. Wordlessly, they speak of love, don't they? Jesus spoke some commands about love. Read: Matthew 25:17-41
December 12 - We use the cross as a symbol, representing Jesus. Do you know why? Read: Phillipians 2:1-11
December 13 - Ordinary salt. Yes, Jesus related salt to us and our behavior. He also gave us some advice. Read: Matthew 5:14 and Colossians 4:6. (Notice that He doesn't recommend pepper!).
December 14 - Don't try to eat this! It's sand. It reminds us that Jesus knows something about architecture, about buildings--and building lives. See His instructions: Matthew 7:24-29.
December 15 - Flowers are pretty, aren't they? Jesus used flowers to teach us a reassuring lesson. Read: Matthew 6:28-34.
December 16 - Raisins! Many children are given raisins instead of candy for a snack. That's because they are a health-promoting and delicious fruit. Jesus told us how we can produce good fruit. Read: John 15:1-5.
December 17 - Jesus told a story about seeds that man planted. Then He explained it, revealing its deep meaning. Read: Matthew 13:3-8 and Matthew 13:18-23.
December 18 -Christmas is just about a week away. And here is an appropriate song. Sing it loudly! Read: Psalms 100.
December 19 - A hard stone! Can you change this stone into a piece of bread? Do you think Jesus could? Jesus was asked to do just that. Do know how He handled it? Read: Matthew 4:1-4.
December 20 - Try to smooth out this piece of aluminum foil and use it as a mirror. It's hard to see your reflection plainly, isn't it? Many circumstances are hard to understand, but someday everything will be clear. Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12.
December 21 - The mustard seed is the smallest there is! When it sprouts, it grows into one of the largest plants! See what Jesus said. Read: Matthew 17:20.
December 22 - We've learned that the cross represents Christ, but do you know what the dove stands for? Read: Matthew 3:13-17.
December 23 - The threads that compose this fabric came from the wool of a sheep. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know who His sheep are? Read: John 10:7-18.
December 24 - A marble! Do you know what is sometimes called the "Big Blue Marble"? The world. God made the world for us. What does God continue doing to the world? And who is the world? Read: John 3:16.
December 25 - Isn't this baby cute? When he was born, he made a whole family happy. Jesus was born a baby, too. He came to make the whole world happy. Read: Luke 2:1-20. Enjoy your celebration today. Continue to learn about Jesus--and love Him forever!