Romans 12:1-2

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2

Saturday, December 31, 2011

On The Home Front - Last One for 2011

A peek through my window…. Over 70 degrees on the last day of 2011! And I wasn’t home to enjoy it. It was too windy for much walking anyway.

What’s going on this week… The tree must come down, drama for L. (planned kind – one he is in at church), and I start subbing kinder.

What “the boys” are doing… M just decided to make buffalo something or other – I can hear pans in the kitchen. Levi played in two indoor soccer games today.

On my mind… End of the year/beginning of the year. I’ve read lots of great end of year blog posts and while I’ve had lots of great end of year thoughts, I haven’t wanted to write anything.

On my bedside table… Billy Graham Nearing Home is actually right here on my desk. I need to finish it so I can review it – planned to do it for the end of the year and it didn’t happen. I started The Prayer Life of Agnes Sparrow on my Hubby's kindle.

I am richly blessed… to have enjoyed Saturday with my family – grocery shopping, soccer games, dinner, the mall and watching Courageous. Glad Aunt was along (we walked at a park between games – I almost got blown off the path, literally).

I’m praying for… several health issues for friends (near, far, and bloggy friends). Also praying for friendships in general.

Our home… groceries need to be put away. Can wait til tomorrow when football will be on all. day. long.

Menu planning… Leftovers. I know that’s not a good Jan. 1 meal, but it’s quick after church on Sunday and frugal.  I'll make some vegetable soup on Monday and something else of course.

A photo or two
This is what Hubby and L did this morning.  The yellow plane is L's Scout leader.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hot Now (or I Love Free)

I must confess, I absolutely love free things.  After doctors appts., shopping, and dinner tonight, Hubby, the boys and I went by Krispy Kreme.  We were slightly disappointed to see that on Nov. 1 they stopped offering free donuts when the light was on.  I understand the cost thing and I was only disappointed that I didn't get my chocolate milk.  See, whenever they gave me a free donut, I always felt obligated to buy milk.  Now, that I paid the 89 cents, I just got water.

Anyway, the donut was still good.  I still enjoyed being with my family.  M and I headed home while Hubby and L stayed in the city for soccer practice.  On the way home we saw the donut billboard for Quick Trip - they're only 79 cents there.  M informed me that the QT donuts are bigger and they taste just the same.  Uh, no - they do not taste just the same.

Before going home, I stopped at Walgreen's to get my FREE photos (25 free through Dec. 31).  Did I mention that I love free things?  I actually got two copies of each photo I ordered because someone made a mistake.  I love it when they pass the extra photos on to me instead of trashing them. 

Speaking of free, I'm also loving this website that Aunt help me discover.  Whenever there is a free kindle book I download it.  There are so many that I even get to be choosy and really, I already have about 10 free books there that I haven't read yet.  If you check out the site and want a book, get it right away.  I've gotten a book free and looked again a few days later and it's 9.99 or 12.99.  I love free so much more!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas Eve Eve, the boys and Aunt went to look at lights while Hubby and I went out and then wrapped presents.

Christmas Eve Service
Went to the "Castle" where every blow-up Christmas decoration known in existence was on display.

See the goat in the manger?  Hubby had great discussion with L. about Baby Jesus in the manger.  Seeing these goats helped us picture what the first Christmas may have been like.

L on Christmas Eve.  Have a great one of M. too and I can't get it to post horizontally!

Outside the Castle
The boys and Aunt made candles.
Beautiful drive-tru display.  Definitely worth the time it took.

Gingerbread hot cocoa is amazing!

Opening stockings.  The boys took turns reading the Christmas story from Luke before we opened presents.

M was excited to get his Kindle

L thought it was funny he got bath gel instead of a Kindle (his came later).

I love this picture of Aunt!

Part way through opening gifts, J. crawled up on Hubby's lap...and stayed there a long time.

Making Christmas breakfast.

A walk after dinner.

Discussing the best route

My aunt & uncle, uncle and cousins from NC.  I made a traditional German dish - cabbage rolls for dinner.  The last of our Christmas 2011 celebrations.

One Thousand Gifts - December 26

1017 Fresh smell in the air when you walk by houses where people are doing laundry

1018 Fun Christmas oven mitt and trivet

1019 Space to breathe

1020 Looking at lights with Hubby

1021 Praying with Hubby for a new acquaintance

1022 A surprise manicure

1023 All the presents wrapped

1024 A flashing elf light from Christmas past

1025 Redoing a light and potpourri Christmas craft

1026 Expressions of concern and love from family

1027 Good dr. reports for family member

1028 Wonderful acknowledgments of a family member

1029 A Nativity set from when the boys were young

1030 Planning ahead

1031 The sweetest Hubby ever!

1032 A very relaxed Christmas day

1033 The “schedule” how ever we want it

1034 Asparagus

1035 A new tradition for opening gifts

1036 A walk after dinner

1037 Skyping family in Texas

1038 Playing with the baby goats on Christmas Eve

1039 Thoughtfulness

1040 The realness of the 1st Christmas after seeing a manger

1041 Gingerbread hot cocoa

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Eve "On The Home Front"

A peek through my window…. Had to shut the blinds so J. would stop barking at all the Christmas Eve games of football going on outside. It is so beautiful out!

What’s going on this week… Hubby is home from work this week. We have some days planned of cleaning out the office, closets, etc. On Monday night my cousin and his family are coming over. They are in from North Carolina.

What “the boys” are doing… watching football upstairs, questioning all the specifics about Christmas plans, L is now playing monopoly with Aunt.

On my mind… taking the time to just be. Slowing down this week. Looking ahead to the new year. I’m also thinking of Isaac’s stocking (see link) and that if we had planned to go to Albuquerque this year we may not have made it because of weather.

On my bedside table… I read Hannah’s Hope by Karen Kingsbury sitting by the fire the other night while I was waiting for Hubby and the boys to come home. It was very predictable, but a nice Christmas read.

I am richly blessed… to have such a giving husband. Besides all the ways he's given to others this season, he surprised me with a manicure when M & L were getting their hair cut yesterday. We were also blessed with a wonderful date night of shopping, dinner and looking at lights. Really enjoyed having so much time to talk. I love being with my best friend!

I’m praying for… several who are hurting this Christmas season.

Our home… pretty tidy right now – ready for “the big day”. Right now our home smells like cinnamon as I’ve got all the Christmas candles going.

Menu planning… Chili tonight, ham for Christmas dinner, and cabbage rolls for family on Monday – a family recipe and German tradition that my grandmother and Mom used to make.

A photo or two…

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Different Christmas

Two Christmases ago was different, we celebrated early with Oklahoma family and went to Albuquerque.  It was the first time all four cousins were together on Christmas.  Last Christmas was different, we celebrated early again and this time took Aunt with us to Albuquerque.

This year is really different.  It is the first year that both Mom and Dad aren't with us.  I don't remember the grief being this heavy the Christmas after Mom died.  But for the past two weeks, I haven't wanted to do anything Christmasy - or anything for that matter.  Do you know the feeling when just putting a load of clothes in the washer takes all the energy you've got?  Last Sunday at church God overwhelmed me with the sermon and reminded me that Christmas was all about Him coming to be with me. 

Emmanuel - God is with me and my spirit lifted some and some joy returned.  This week I've gotten emails from family that have reminded me..Emmanuel - God is with me and my spirit lifted some and some joy returned.  On Wednesday, I took a walk in the park letting the cold air numb my cheeks.  I have missed the walks that I don't take when I sub regularly.  My walks are where my heart prays and my soul breathes.  I came home just as the sky was starting to turn purple with the sun setting and I was reminded that Emmanuel - God is with me and my spirit lifted some and some joy returned.

Another day this week, I read this in a post at inCourage "Every year Emmanuel means something different. Life peels back more layers and we’re left standing raw until they heal. But God coming down to this gritty, dusty, land of the dying makes every difference in our hope for living. He is with us. He is in us. He is here."  The full post was called "When Everything is Different" and was very fitting to me.  I linked it for you to read if this Christmas is different for you.

Each year God speaks to me a new word (one of His names) that He is going to be for me in the coming year. (I know He is always all of His names, this is just a particularly meaningful one for the year).  2011 was Grace.  Normally, I know the name part way through January.  Could it be that this is the name already for 2012?  Emmanuel.  I think so - God is Emmanuel not only during the Christmas season, but always.

So, I think I'm ready now.  Yes, it will still be different, but I'm ready now to celebrate and enjoy and watch my children enjoy. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Better Late Than Never

I don't consider myself to be crafty, but every now and then I do something that I'm pleased with.  I made an ornament for a friend's wedding.  Actually someone at soccer mentioned seeing it on Pinterest.  I didn't look - I refuse to let myself be sucked in by Pinterest, though I'm sure it would be wonderful and fun.  I just don't have time to go there.  I showed the ornament I made to a friend. She loved and it and said it should have a blog post.  I am just now (first day of Christmas break) getting around to it.

Anyway - this is a great idea for a personal gift for someone getting married in November or December (well anytime really, but you'll only be able to find the fun box seasonally).  I bought the box, clear glass ornaments and ribbon (in a color to match the wedding) at Hobby Lobby.  I chose square ornaments - I liked that they weren't ordinary.  I cut the wedding invitation in strips (tiny - not measured, just "eyeballed") and wrapped them around a pencil to curl them.  Then I tucked them inside the bulb (almost didn't make it because the opening was smaller than I expected!) .  I used the unsharpened pencil to help arrange them.  The ribbon I used was shimmery - I made the loop for hanging long and did a regular bow on top.  Super easy, but in my opinion beautiful!

I used paper shred I already had, put the ornament in the box along with a personal note and a Target gift card.  Viola! Wedding present.  By the way, the wedding was at the Rancho de Corrales Event Center and was one of the most beautiful that I've ever attended.

One Thousand Gifts - December 21

I finally decided I needed to consistently call these posts One Thousand Gifts and not Multitude on Mondays because I rarely make it on Monday anymore!  Several friends celebrated with me and commented when I reached 1000 and thanks to a friend's encouragement I will keep posting.

1001 Starting another 1000

1002 Being at Colonial Days

1003 The feeling of Christmas break

1004 Blessing another family

1005 Rockin Robin #2011 at the diner

1006 M feeling well enough to go to the lock-in

1007 Shopping with Aunt on Sunday

1008 Helping at Toys for Tots

1009 Hubby making me laugh

1010 Laughing as a family to Home Alone 3

1011 Unexpected Gifts

1012 Immanuel God is with me

1013 A sermon and an email from a family member speaking truth to me.

1014 My hope is in the Lord

1015 A morning to sit down and write, read and reflect

1016 Sweet nourishment for my soul

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!!!!

Early January some of our dear friends came to visit and both our families went to the Toby Mac concert. We had a wonderful weekend. Shortly after that however, we found out my Dad had cancer. He passed away exactly two weeks later. In July, D (Hubby) had a near miss in his airplane; I did not keep my full-time teaching job due to low enrollment; and we have spent the past three months helping M deal with/make it through two concussions. It has not exactly been a banner year for us and I have sat down many times to write this letter, but have struggled with being real and risk a “downer” Christmas letter or making everything sound “rosy”.

Now, that you know we are a very real family with very real life happening, I can put it into perspective. This was the sermon text at church today” Galatians 4:4 (I’ve included through verse 7 here) But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!" Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you're also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

So my perspective is the Incarnation – God is with us! He walks with us through each valley and mountain peak and daily pours out His blessing in our lives. We enjoyed traveling this year and seeing so many of our family members – I’ve included some highlights here (minus pictures of Aunt because the ones from Toys for Tots with her in them are still on her camera! The boys get to enjoy many wonderful times with her since she is so close).

Currently – M is starting to feel better. He just finished a semester long project for science and is first chair in band (trumpet). L started competitive soccer this year and is playing indoor 3 v 3 while he is between fall and spring season. I just finished subbing in fourth grade for two weeks and after the break will be in Kinder for six weeks. We are looking forward to having Hubby at home (not at work) from the day before Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day.

We hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and that you daily walk in the miracle of Immanuel - God is with us!

February first we got two feet of snow and a week later got 18 inches more.  We had fun being out of school two weeks and playing all day!

We made two trips to Dallas this year.  This was for a Stars game.
New Mexico fromt he air.  Hubby flew the boys there to start their summer with a two week visit.
Aunt and I spent the first week of our summer cleaning out Dad's house.  Shortly after we had his side of the family over for a mini-reunion.  It was fun meeting 2nd and 3rd cousins for the first time!

This was from the 2nd visit to Dallas for the 4th of July - enjoyed a baseball game together and then later I stayed a few days with a friend while the boys spent more time with their cousin.

Also in July we visited family in Denver and the  boys and I accompanied Hubby to a conference in Colorado Springs.  Loved, loved, loved seeing Focus on the Family, the Olympic Training Center and The Air Force Academy.
The boys would definitely say cruising with extended family was the highlight of their year.  This is the four of us in Puerto Rico.

First day of 7th grade for M and 5th grade for L

Toys for Tots pictures - We have served as a family for three years now. 

You can see some of our ornaments in both pics.  This is the first year that I've had several ornaments from my parents' tree.  I love looking at all our ornaments and remembering.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On The Home Front - December 17

A peek through my window…. I’ve already been out to do errands and it’s cold! The sun in shining though so the frost on the ground is gone and it looks beautiful out! S – 57 M – 48 T – 44 W – 46 Th – 50.

What’s going on this week… Last two days before Christmas break so school is going to be crazy! My last two days of subbing in fourth grade (2 ½ weeks – I sub in Kinder for 6 weeks after the break) . I am so excited though, I get to take Monday afternoon off to be at L’s Colonial Days. We’ll have the end of the week to finish up our family’s Christmas plans.

What “the boys” are doing… showering and probably bemoaning the fact that they have to do their Saturday chores BEFORE we leave for Toys for Tots.

M has not played his instrument for three weeks because of his headaches. This week he had to play for his semester test and he tied for first chair! That success has him reconsidering staying in band for next year. I hope he does.

On my mind… having to go to the Post Office before we got help at Toys for Tots. I was there about 8:30 this morning and they don’t open until 10 am on Saturday! That’s just crazy.

On my bedside table… I finished the Christmas novel on my Hubby's Kindle earlier this week. It was called O Little Town. It was written by one of the Stattler Brothers (old Country music group for those who might not know) – don’t have it right here and I can think of his name right now.

I am richly blessed… I completed 1000 on my list of 1000 Gifts!

I’m praying for… an unspoken request.

Our home… is extremely messy right now.

Menu planning… Nada. At some point this weekend we will eat the spicy pork that I made yesterday in the crockpot.

A photo or two
Don't even ask!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Completed, But Not Finished

It's not Monday (I know this isn't surprising because often I post late...), but I have completed my list of 1,000 gifts.  Completed, but not finished.  I started October 2010 - here and completed the written list in a bubble bath last night.  Not finished, because I'll keep listing (I haven't decided if I'll keep posting, but my purple journal has lots more pages left in it!)

It has been a "trying" year.  I keep sitting down to write my Christmas letter, but I don't want it to sound negative.... Anyway - this whole year, it's this list that has helped me keep perspective and choose contentment and joy regardless of circumstances.  Here are #s 970 -1000

970 Excitement of a mission project

971 The whistle of the kettle

972 Visits with two friends

973 Hubby loves me!

974 Surprise flowers

975 A book from a friend

976 Christmas music from friend

977 Making cookies together

978 Time

979 Hubby came home early to help

980 Sweet children

981 A heartfelt note

982 God’s ways are higher than mine

983 Posts to remind me

984 I can hold a lot together even when I don’t want to!

985 Soccer practice time to read

986 A finished science project

987 Fun activities at school and L telling me about them

988 Every meaning behind every ornament

989 Lights on the tree

990 Asleep in front of the fire

991 Understanding friends

992 Cheap bubblebath

993 Almost 1,000 thank yous

994 The way it has changed me

995 Hope

996 A Christmas card from Dad

997 L

998 M

999 Hubby

1000 My Savior and Lord

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Special Christmas Card

Last year as we received Christmas cards I put them in a basket near the fireplace so I could go back through and look at them, etc.  As the year went on, that's where the sympathy cards in February and three sets of birthday cards in April went too.  I cleaned out the basket last week so it'd be ready for a new set of cards.  Unfortunately, "clean out" meant "piled on my desk".

Today I really went through the cards so I could recycle the fronts of them.  Some I blindly tore and some I re-read.  I got to the last card and paused instead of tearing and read the inside "Love, Dad"  I wondered who it could possibly be from since I knew it wasn't Dad's handwriting.  Then I remembered, I got the card in the mail from the Veteran's Center last year and it really was from Dad - he just had a little help - signing the card, remembering, and sending it.  It is my last Christmas card from Dad.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Multitutudes on Monday - December 5

These are numbers 947-969. I write in Word and copy and paste to blogger. The number changes happen a lot, but I can usually try again and it turns out right. Lately though, I'm having to leave it numbered wrong. Anyone with suggestions to why this happening?

708 Subbing for 2 weeks
709 A great children’s book
710 Quick referrals
711 Fireplace and warmth on my back
712 Taking the boys to school
713 L being quick to help out with science notebook
714 Being reminded of something forgotten
715 Knowing Christ a little more fuller today than I did yesterday
716 A blessing spoken
717 Welcome and help
718 Ways to get rid of M’s headaches
719 Lost glove found!
720 Not raining in the morning and mild weather to walk
721 Sun peeking behind the clouds
722 Good time out Christmas shopping
723 $ off
724 Indoor 3v3 soccer fun to watch
725 Company for dinner
726 Christmas movies
727 Starting something new
728 Snow going east of us so no bad roads here
729 Celebrating with hot chocolate
730 Remembering all the words for a test

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On the Home Front - December 3

A peek through my window… I expected it to be raining when I woke up, but was pleasantly surprised to see some sun and have pretty mild temps. I got about a 40 min. walk in. By the time I got in the shower around 11 though it had started raining and rained most of the day. Aunt heard that our forecast is for 2 – 20” of snow! I’ve never heard a forecast like that! Someone is covering all the bases I guess. The temp still looks pretty warm for much of a storm. S – 44 M – 35 T – 38 W – 39.

What’s going on this week… Ladies Christmas party at church and baking for a small party at our house next Sunday. I’m looking forward to both.

What “the boys” are doing… Watching bedlam. The OSU/OU game is on – most everyone when we were out today had either orange or red on.

On my mind… Subbing the next two weeks – have lots of names to remember. I’m thinking about that and about M. He is still having headaches even though he got medicine from the neurologist.

On my bedside table… Forgotten God by Frances Chan. I was so happy to see it in the box we brought home from Albuquerque.

I am richly blessed… I’m thinking about writing this year’s Christmas letter and I know that it has been a particularly hard year. However, I am getting close to reaching 1000 on my list of 1000 Gifts. Every time I read back over the list I know that even in hard times God has lavished us with His grace and His beauty can be found in so many seemingly small things. If you have not taken the challenge to record 1000 gifts, I highly recommend it – I have complained less and been more content since starting the regular practice.

I’m praying for… M and for a friend’s kids who have been sick a lot. One has something potentially serious going on. Her health and peace for the family have been in my prayers a lot today.

Our home… is decorated for Christmas. There are some things I didn’t get out – like Christmas dishes and some things that didn’t work – like the lights on the mantle garland, but that’s okay. I still love each and every special ornament on the tree (that’s really the only deco. I need. Everything else is bonus and I have my Nativity sets out all year).

Menu planning… Roast for dinner after church tomorrow. I grocery shopped two nights ago and got the ingredients for taco soup. The forecast makes me think this will be a perfect week for it.

A photo or two…

Hubby (on the left) and a dear friend - We attended his wedding

while in Albuquerque for Thanksgiving.