Saturday, December 20, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 20, 2008

"On the twentieth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the gift of fun."

Did you know that fun is not only something you can make, but it's also something you can choose to have, and while we're at it, it's something you can choose not to let other people spoil.

Today was a fun day. I had to choose in advance that it was going to be, because if I didn't CHRISTmas shopping 5 days before CHRISTmas at Mervyn's where EVERYTHING is now 70% off as they are closing for good, as well as at Wal-Mart, the most crowded place on the planet, was surely a recipe for one very un-fun day.

I chose to enjoy it. I chose to have fun when the people in line were hostile and rude. I chose to have fun when the lines were long... really long. When the old lady yelled at me because I was talking to my dad as I got in my car to go shopping and forgot to switch to speaker phone when I pulled out of my parking place. I still had fun, but she looked like she was making herself miserable flailing her arms at me and telling me to "get off the phone!" I even had fun when I pulled up along side her and nicely (truly) wished her a Merry CHRISTmas. She wished it back, but then I think she realized she had just yelled at me and rethought it. Even that was a little fun.

I even had fun when I stood in line forever at See's candies. (Who in their right mind goes there the Saturday before CHRISTmas??) I even had fun when I took inventory of all the kids gifts and realized I have more shopping to do because of unequal distribution of wealth. (It was so much easier when I had one child to buy for - quantity does matter.)

Tonight was easier fun. I had fun hanging with my daughter and taking her to a Cheetah Girls concert that I impulsively bought tickets to months ago. Fun, it's a wonderful gift, it's free and you can create it anytime, anywhere, and there is always more to be had and plenty to share. Thank you Lord for fun!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 19, 2008

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

Well, I hit a lull today. I'm not sure what to say here. It was a strange day. The little kids had pajama day and it was only a half day at school. That meant this morning I didn't have to get them dressed or make them a lunch. You would think that meant I would have a light and easy morning, but instead it meant I got caught up in too many non-essential things and got myself behind.

I went to work for a brief time and got very little done other than wrapping the gifts for my nieces and nephew in Virginia. They've been at the office for a couple weeks and I waited till today to package them to ship. Nothing like higher shipping charges. But they're worth it.

I went to the little kids' school and horned in on the last few minutes of Ethan's class party... it was TOTAL chaos, but they were having fun. Ethan's teacher even seemed more relaxed than she did even at the Thanksgiving event, I think she's finding her groove. I took the kids home and we rested for a little while. And then we picked up the very messy house because the repairman was coming over.

Jake got home, I took a phone call from the hospital about Neal's surgery on Monday. They have arbitrarily moved it back to another hour later but still want us there at the same time. We talked through my annoyance on that one. (Translation, I told her I didn't like it, she told me it didn't matter.)

The repairman came, and Tuesday I get to spend about $600 to get some heating pipes replaced because the vent at the roof is cracking and when it rains, it comes inside my house where it doesn't belong. Then I got to tell Neal how much money we're spending on something neither of us will get great pleasure out of using, but neither of us can afford to do without. I also had to remind him that we deal with one of the few honest heating and air companies in the OC and if he says $600, it's undoubtedly a fair price.

Neal still gets riled about these things a little, I have come to the conclusion we will always be in debt. (Remember we are still paying for his summer hospital stay and now get to add Monday's surgery to the mix.) Debt is apparently our lot in life, and yes, we tithe.

Today is my mom's birthday and because I was stranded at home dealing with household issues, she had to come here to get her gift. That was much appreciated. The kids and I bought her a CHRISTmas cookie jar, it looks like a gingerbread house. This is one of those gifts you buy for the people who have everything.

Neal went out and picked up barbecue for dinner because the 4 leftover ribs my dad gave him yesterday weren't enough to satisfy Neal, Victoria and me. (YES, it's me and not I, take out the other names and it confirms the grammar.)

Aha... I got it...

"On the nineteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the ability to go with the flow."

It's a rare and exceptional gift for a recovering control freak like myself, so I will appreciate that I am not freaking out about the $600 bill, or the surgery on Monday, or the bill that will flow that, or the $3500 bill from summer that is now still $3450 after all my payments... Deep breath, I think I'll stop there before I lose my flow.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 18, 2008

Well, the weather was a little more bearable today, it was dry, that was a good start, but the cold is still a bit much, but even that has improved. The only really bad battle I had with the cold today was when I was standing outside after I dropped the kids off at school waiting for the Auto Club to show up because my battery was dead when I tried to leave. As a side note for you AAA members, if you ever need to replace a battery, do it through them. They come right to you and the battery comes with a 6 year warranty, the first 3 years of which is a "total replacement" warranty. And if they ever have to come out for your battery in those 6 years, it doesn't count against your 4 service calls per year. It was a really good way to take care of a problem I would have preferred NOT to have had, but if I had to have it, it couldn't have been smoother, and all for right around $120. Enough said.

As pleasant as that crisis went (in the relativity of pleasantness and crises) I do not choose that for my gift today. (Though it might be considered like a stocking stuffer from God.) And yes, OK, maybe crisis is too strong a word, but I can't think of a better one at the moment.

"On the eighteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... CHRISTmas caroling with my family."

Tonight was the little kids' CHRISTmas program at their school. It's been several years since we had a nighttime CHRISTmas program in our lives. When the kids were at Creekside it was always during the school day. Jake put on a couple great plays actually, but it didn't have quite the same feel. So tonight we experienced the new school's version of celebrating CHRISTmas.

The play itself was kind of.. um... different. All I can say is I would describe it as Dr. Seuss meets the Book of Luke. The nativity never rhymed quite like that before, so it was an interesting experience. But what I really enjoyed was what happened at the end of the program.

Rewind just a touch. When we got to the auditorium (sanctuary) to be seated they handed us candles. That seemed odd to me. After the program was over a small worship ensemble came up and we sang three of my favorite CHRISTmas carols, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night. As we were singing people started lighting their candles and passing the light on to one another, it was a really incredible experience, very worshipful. The children sitting up in their sections in the front had glow sticks and they were singing and waving their arms. I looked over to my left and saw my son and my father singing robustly, it was awesome, three generations of my family singing praises to Jesus.

I hear people talk about having their families all sit together and sing CHRISTmas carols at a piano, or even actually going out and caroling, and I've never had that experience, but tonight I think it felt pretty close.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 17, 2008

"On the seventeenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... Candyland and CHRISTmas cookies under the CHRISTmas tree."

It is cold in California! I realize cold is a relative term, and many (including my Minnesota readers) may consider me a lightweight, but this born and bred California girl doesn't do weather in the 40's.

Today was cold all day, and rainy. Not drizzle rain, the sideways kind of wind blowing rain that shoots straight at you and makes using an umbrella sort of a moot point. It was cold and rainy when I got up early to drive Jake to school. It was cold and rainy when I took the little kids to school, and when I stopped for coffee and to pick up a sandwich for lunch on the way to work. When I headed over to the little kids' school for Victoria's cookie party, it was really cold and rainy and windy. All the time I spent in and out of the rain today brought a cold in my bones that I just couldn't shake.

So I broke one of my self-inflicted rules tonight, the "never miss a church service" rule, because I just couldn't take one more trip out into the rain and cold. My intention was to keep both of the little kids home with me. Neal had to go, he was playing drums for worship tonight and Jacob hates to miss youth group so my intention was to hang out with E & V, but E wanted to go to church too.

Victoria agreed to stay home, I think she'd had her fill of the chill too. So I spent the evening with my daughter playing Candyland and eating CHRISTmas cookies on the floor beneath our newly decorated tree. Even in the house it has been chilly, but the time with my girl at least warmed my heart. These days are fleeting, and it's really rare that I get one on one low key time with any of my children, so I really enjoyed it. We played like nine games I think and she won like six to my three (the darn gingerbread man was my demise) but it was fun.

Merry CHRTISTmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 16, 2008

On the sixteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the opportunity to witness the faith and kindness of children."

Today I am putting a care package together for my friend Jason (pictured top left) who is serving our country in Iraq (click on his picture to read more about him). I baked some things, bought some goodies and a small necessity he mentioned needing. I really enjoyed doing it for him. They are simple little things I can do that will hopefully brighten his day just a little as he puts his life on the line for our nation.

I decided to ask Ethan's teacher if maybe the class could do something for me to send along to bless and encourage him. They decided to make pop-up CHRISTmas cards and write notes inside. I took the time to read through them before I added them to the package tonight and they were just precious. Sweet, kind words from innocent young children, just sharing their love for Jesus and a little CHRISTmas cheer.

I really hope the package and the cards bless Jason, I know the process of putting it together and reading what those kids had to say really blessed me.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 15, 2008

OK, I'm going to be really honest here and just tell you, I am not feeling it right now. The CHRISTmas spirit, the joy, the anticipation, none of it. What I am feeling is a great deal of frustration with a healthy dose of anger at my first born son who did an absolute bonehead thing that got him a zero on a 300 point assignment taking an A+ grade and making it a low B.

Now, I try my best not to expect perfection from my children (since I am so often disappointed anyway) but there is a huge difference, HUGE difference between trying and failing and being a bonehead. And it is the "boneheadedness" of youth (I think I will coin that phrase) that I have absolutely zero tolerance for. His zero and my zero, well, it makes for some great unpleasantness on the old homestead. Enough said.

So as I sit here in my frustration and restrain myself from stringing him up by the nape of his neck, I had to ask myself, what gift do I feel like I have today (because at this moment, motherhood isn't it.)

So I thought for but a moment when I realized...

"On the fifteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me.... blogging."

Being able to come in here and vent on days like today, or rejoice in the good ones is a gift to me. I love to write, hence the URL of this website. I know that I'm good at writing. I can say that because it isn't some talent I have worked hard to hone or perfect, it's something that the Lord just enabled me to do. I come from a family full of artists, they can all paint or draw beautiful pictures, and I don't have the knack for it. I could improve my skill if I really worked at it, I mean I can doodle well enough but it's just not my thing.

On the other hand my mom has always said my palette is words, I can paint you a beautiful picture with them, or at least a vivid one, of the world, feeling, life. Again, it's not to say I am some brilliant writer, but I can hold my own. I struggle often with finding my place in the world, my ministry in which to serve, how I can reach out. Last year at a woman's retreat I was really struggling with a lot of the frustrations I feel in those areas and I felt like the Lord said, "write." It is a ministry and one that has no limits or bounds, I can write whenever I feel like it and about whatever I choose, and by having this blog, I have the joy of knowing someone might just stop by and read it, and if I'm lucky they might leave with a laugh or a chortle, perhaps some grain of truth or hope, maybe just a little encouragement, an it blesses me that it might just work out that way!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 14, 2008

So I'm taking a momentary break from trying to put CHRISTmas lights on the CHRISTmas tree, and I have failing bulbs, which always makes for an interesting experience. I am thankful for the gift of being able to walk away and take a breath and count to ten. But today is a really special day in our family, so I don't want to make that my 14th day of CHRISTmas gift.

"On the fourteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the joy of celebrating my daughter's life."

Today my precious Victoria celebrates her seventh birthday. That little joy came into the world with an attitude and she was always a challenge in the beginning. I think sometimes I enjoy her so much and love her so dearly because I had to work so hard to have her be a happy child. But from the day she was born she was always my girl, and she has always loved her mama. Few people in my life always think as highly of me as my little girl does, and it's not because I bribed her or manipulated her, for some reason she just loves me, bunches.

She was the daughter God promised me, long before I had any of my children. His promise of her was the only time in my life I heard God speak so clearly in my heart I thought I heard it with my ears. Her name comes from two scriptures the Lord gave me to hold to while I waited 10 years for God to fulfill His promise.

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—£our faith." I John 5:4

"For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! for the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.”
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
Galatians 4:27-28

I have so enjoyed being the mother of a precious little princess for the last seven years. I adore my sons too, but there is something different about having a daughter, there is a deep bond being the one who will lead her and teach her (hopefully) to be a woman of God. I look forward to the years ahead and hope we remain close and she always thinks I'm special, and always knows I think she's exceptional and special too.

Happy Birthday Victoria.

Merry CHRISTmas!