Saturday, December 13, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 13, 2008

"On the thirteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... new friends."

We didn't exactly make the new friends today, but it just resonated in my heart again today about a new friendship I am enjoying and looking forward to watching it continue to grow. As a married couple with children it's always a rare treasure when you meet another married with children couple that you enjoy, and everyone likes each other, husbands like husbands, wives like wives and husband 1 likes wife 2, and wife 2 likes husband 1 and so forth.

It's exciting, and I think the closest thing you get after marriage to the excitement of dating someone new in your single days. (At least it better be the closest thing you experience to dating someone new, if you get what I'm saying.)

Neal and I have met the neatest couple at our church and we were talking tonight how we were just both drawn to wanting to get to know them better. We've been trying (all 4 of us) for months to get together and hang out, and only really managed it once so far, but you can just tell when you "click" with people and it is a great feeling. We're having fun and looking forward to continuing to build our new friendship, and the fact that the husband gave us the "deal of a lifetime" on our CHRISTmas tree today, is just icing on the cake! (And thanks to him the whole process of getting our tree this year is the best we've had in 17 years of marriage - so much so we even skipped the annual argument over the tree stand. Some traditions are better to let die.)

Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 12, 2008

"On the twelfth day of CHRISTmas my true love gave to me... the kindness of a stranger."

Today was a full day. It kicked off with bad news as I updated our accounts through Quicken (which I love by the way.) A "new" transaction came up for "Miscellaneous Adjustment" deducting several hundred dollars from our account. This was right before I left to take the little kids to school. So I called the bank on the speaker phone on the way there and long story short they have no record of a check I know absolutely positively deposited in the ATM. It's not an "I think," I KNOW that I KNOW I did. So they can "take a claim on that" and will get back to me within a few weeks and they MIGHT give me a temporary return of the money within 10 days. Really doesn't do much for my mortgage payment that's due Monday... good thing I didn't get to the bank this week on that one!

It just sort of set the whole day in motion, set a pace. I went to see Ethan get his award, and my camera wouldn't work on demand yet again. I had to run to Wal-mart, picked up a few things for Jason (above left) and gift cards for each of the kids to take to birthday parties they attended this evening. Scuttled off to work where there was a pile of miscellaneous messes and such and before I knew it it was time to head back to school to take Victoria's class the birthday cupcakes my dad had made for them. I hopped on the freeway thinking it would be moving ok before 2 pm, and I was wrong. I hustled through traffic and got there just in time. When we were done I had too much time to just wait around so I decided to take the extra cupcakes home.

As I was sitting at a stoplight I suddenly realized I had written the wrong name on the gift card I bought for Ethan to give as a gift. I pulled it out and was fiddling with it and apparently I wasn't focused and had let my foot off the break. I wasn't looking forward and I SLAMMED into the car in front of me. Slammed is a relative term because I didn't actually accelerate but I hit her hard, it was loud, it jarred me and I pushed her car into the truck in front of her.

We all hopped out of our cars. The truck in front had no damage, the little blue car in front of me had no damage in her front. My car was OK, but her back bumper had some definite scratches in it. it was like the outline of my licence plate. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I just kept saying it. "How could I do this? At CHRISTmas? I'm so sorry."

She wanted to check her trunk, make sure it opened ok. The man from the front wanted to make sure WE were ok. Her trunk opened fine. I told her I thought maybe it would buff out, but I wasn't sure, I would give her my info. She said, "No, it's OK, that's why we have cars." Honestly I have no idea exactly what she meant, I mean clearly she didn't mean we have cars so I could rear end her on the road while she sat peacefully at a red light, but I think she just meant as long as all the people were OK, nothing else mattered. She didn't want my info, I offered my phone number in case she reconsidered, she said no, it was fine and she stood there and hugged me and told me it was all alright, right there in the middle of La Palma.

She was a kind woman when I needed a little kindness, and I hope God will bless her for her grace and mercy... and I pray those scratches will buff out!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 11, 2008

Have you ever felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? (Suddenly I am flashing back to the 1980's and I can see Sarah Jessica Parker in her virginal days with big thick glasses and a goofy, chubby friend and the song is going through my head... "Square pegs, square pegs... Square!... PEGS!""

I often feel that way in practically every area of my life, family, friends, church, amid my children's activities. Square peg, round hole. It can be disheartening, sometimes it can be down right depressing. It is always challenging.

"On the eleventh day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the power to choose."

The power of choice, it's a wonderful gift. Honestly it's a gift often misused, or foolishly unused, but it's a gift just the same. I'm not sure I know how to use it right now. I have a lot of things hurting and frustrating me and I am grateful that I have the power to choose, even if the gift has to stay on the shelf I am grateful that it's there.

I have the power to choose my attitude about things, I have the power to choose my words, or the lack of them as I see fit. I have the power to choose to trust God one more day, even when it seems like there is really no hope, I have the power to choose to put my hope in Christ and His promises to me anyway.

It's a wonderful, wonderful gift, and right in this moment it is a gift I am placing on my spiritual shelf in and about a lot of things, but I can choose to use it when the time comes and choose to pray and wait upon the Lord in the meantime.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 10, 2008

This is a busy week for me. It's CHRISTmas Tea week at my church, and I joyfully participate and serve in the Raffle Ticket ministry. Relax, it isn't really gambling since all the money goes to outreach ministries. It's a fun week, but a long and busy one, coming home, trying to get homework out of the way for Neal. It also happens to be the week before my daughter's birthday, so there is planning for that. There's still dinners to be made, lunches to be packed. Next week are school CHRISTmas parties, which I apparently volunteered for the one in 1st grade back on Back to School Night and I completely forgot... I know I thought, well it's near Tori's birthday so that will be easy... Uh, hello? But it's fun, and it is what it is, CHRISTmas, birthday, Tea, Raffles, it's December!(Don't I still have a lot of shopping to do? And wrapping? And we don't even have a CHRISTmas tree yet!)

"On the tenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the men in my life."

I am so blessed to have a husband who last night I left with a messy house and came home to one far more picked up. Tonight I came home to him washing the dishes for tomorrow night's tea where I will hostess a table and attend rather than sell raffle tickets.

And I am blessed to have a dad who is willing to make cupcakes tomorrow night while he babysits my children while Neal plays waiter at the tea so Victoria can have a birthday snack with her friends at school on Friday afternoon.

I love these two men, who love and bless me and totally help me out of a bind!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 9, 2008

Straight to the point...

"On the ninth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me.... girlfriends."

They are sisters in the Lord, to laugh with, to cry with (to laugh till you cry with.) They are friends who love you when you're scattered or naughty, who'll maybe even be a little naughty with you. It is a gift from the Lord.

You know who you are, and I love and appreciate you, I can be me and know you love and accept me "warts and all." I can be real, and you will be real, there is nothing else like the security of knowing someone gets you, understands your shortcomings, listens to your frustrations, stops you when you've gone on too long or said too much.

These are the people who can quote you the scripture, "wounds of a friend," and you know it's true. These are the ones who stand in the gap (and stand in the crap) with you and for you.

Thank You Lord, for my girlfriends. And by the way, after the holidays, we totally need to plan a "Girl's Night Out!" (Or in!)

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 8, 2008

The Lord was swift with my gift today. The moment I received it, there was no doubt it was going to be the best gift of my day.

"On the eighth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the gift of the still small voice."

I am relatively certain that my sensitivity to the voice of the Lord today was helped by the fact that I got up this morning and spent time with Him first. I have to be honest, I have really been struggling with a devotional program. The struggle is that I don't have one. And when I look at this giant book of possibilities and I don't know where or how to begin, my decision is more often than not to retreat and not begin at all.

This morning was no different in that I didn't know where to begin, but the determination to begin anyway was a bit stronger. First I looked up an old archived Beth Moore devotional. I think it's unfortunate that they are no longer continuing, but since I never consistently used them anyway, there is the wealth of the archive to be found for me. I ran across one on the second chapter of Luke and went with it since it seems to be a bit of a theme for me lately. It spoke of the things Mary pondered in her heart in the manger.

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:16-19

Beth talked about the possible things Mary had pondered in that moment, the visit of the angel, the doubt of Joseph, the suspicions of her family, the moment when Joseph believed the truth that she was carrying the Christ child, everything coming to fulfillment in that moment as the shepherds drew near at the call of the angels, what a wonderful full hearted moment it must have been, to know God had spoken.

Now I have spoken of far loftier things than I experienced later on this morning. I got out of the kids school rather quickly, and Neal informed me he was going to run an errand on his lunch hour. I made what I intended to be a quick stop at the grocery store for a few lighter snacks, because I am realizing (yet again) I need desperately to do something about my weight.

My intention of being quick was quickly thwarted by both the slow moving woman in front of me and her rather full cart, which she chose to empty onto the conveyor at a very leisurely pace. The all to chatty cashier of this only open line was no help either, as she was chatting at the man in line in front of the slow paced woman in front of me... and he was behind a woman who also stepped to the beat of her very own slow tempo'd drum, going entirely through her purse before walking away from the line. Sigh, SIGH - that was me. It was the chatted at man too, I say chatted at because he didn't respond as the cashier picked at him about being grumpy. He was an employee apparently on his break and he simply wanted his banana rung up. (Did you catch all that?)

Just in the moment when I was really about to let myself get fully riled to the point of irritability that's when I felt the little supernatural poke. Psst, is that the CHRISTmas spirit you've been looking for? The CHRISTmas spirit you have proclaimed ot have found?? The Holy Spirit pricked my spirit and changed my attitude. I was able to shake it off in an instant. It was miraculous.

By the time I got to the front I was transformed into P&P, the Pleasant and Polite. The cashier noted the pin on my sweater, like the tab here on my page; it says, "It's OK to say Merry Christmas."

"I like you pin," she said, "I need to get one like it." I was carrying more than half a dozen in my pocket for just such s moment as this... "Here," I said, "merry CHRISTmas." Her reply was "Praise the Lord!"

Yes indeed, praise the Lord for His faithfulness and pricking that enabled me to brighten someones day instead of rain upon it.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 7, 2008

Well, my house isn't decorated, we have no tree yet, and the lights aren't all up outside and I don't have a single indoor decoration on display. My shopping is far from done, and nothing I have bought is wrapped yet, but it is official, I am filled with the Christmas Spirit.

I'm all focused, my heart is where it's supposed to be, Jesus is the Reason, and the focus of this season. And it's wonderful. Today was a busy day, but it was a wonderful one. It's sort of appropriate that it's the seventh day, which I believe stands for the number of completion, or perfection, either would apply, because somehow despite all that isn't quite done, I feel perfectly complete.

"On the seventh day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the joy in worship."

I've shared in the past my struggles in worship, I am easily distracted, unable to focus, but it wasn't like that this morning. Worship services started with the CHRISTMas carol, Angels We Have Heard on High and my heart was captured up into God's presence as we sang the chorus, "gloria in excelsis Deo," which means "glory to God in the highest." In the bible, second chapter of Luke it says,

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

It is the truth of CHRISTmas. I thought I would share here with you a clip from the CHRISTmas musical Victoria was in this past week, this is from Wednesday night's performance, and it captures the heart of CHRISTmas, of worship, of the Light of the world, the one of Whom we sing, "Gloria, in excelsis deo; glory to God in the highest!"

Merry CHRISTmas!