Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back to "normal"

Well, here we are - its two days after Christmas - we are back in Virginia after a fun drive up I-85 along with 7 trillion others who had to be back at work today. My tree, unlit, is still standing in front of the window - all of a sudden I realize it is a bit tilted... surely it wasn't tilted the whole season! I am sure it is just tired! After all, it has been standing there for a month now... (will it stay another month?? maybe..) The manger scene is still above the fireplace, frozen in time. The presents are strewn about the living room and kitchen and bedroom where we either left them the night before traveling to Alabama, or where we dropped them when we returned last night around 11:00. I am snuggled on the couch, afraid to move too far or else my head might explode - for ya see - I have a niece, she is 19 months old and ABSOLUTELY adorable.

I got to spend a good bit of time with her this weekend - many times she offered to feed me the cheerios or chex cereal that she was eating, how could I resist??? Unfortunately, along with the dry cereal, she seems to have given me that little cold she had. On me though, it seems to not be a "little cold." It is a full blown deal... throat, head, eyes, nose, ears... the works. Due to this, there is no set date on when the house may return to normal!
We did have a wonderful Christmas. My first Christmas with my husband - and it was one to be remembered. He got that gun that I asked people for help about back a few months ago... I got a shiny necklace with diamonds and all that jazz... then the clothes, gift cards, electronics, and accesories filled the rest of our car to the brim as we were headed home.

We also had an emotional Christmas, with my little brother fighting the war away from the family. As mentioned the other day - the fact that he wasn't there left a tear on each face at different times of the day. The reality hit us all as we walked into the living room to see one stocking still hanging, and not filled to the brim with gifts.

His was left to be filled when he gets home. It hit again as mom opened a gift from Jen including pics of all of her kids and our families. Then, as Brantley opened her earrings sent from him... they were so beautiful - And as dad opened the gift from brantley - a flag picture frame with Jonathans picture in it - on the frame it said "Under God's protection." The tears took turns falling down each face. The magic of Christmas was ever present, but somehow dampened as we remember our brother who just five days earlier had missed an IED by 6 cars. We spent a great deal of time talking to him over the internet - and passed the phone around for 90 minutes on Christmas morning... Thank you to whoever sent him that card!

We are moving towards his return date now. We don't know when that will be - there are rumors, but I think we all fear getting too excited about rumors...
So, on to "normal" whatever that is. Back to work, back to cleaning... I leave you with one of my favorite lines from a Christmas song by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra - "If you want to arrange it, this world you can change it - if we could somehow make this Christmas thing last. By helping a neighbor, or even a stranger... to find who needs help, you need only to ask."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Through the years...

We all will be together - if the Lord allows.

That is my theme for Christmas this year. It has been so wonderful to be with my family. I love them so much! I forget how much I miss them until I am here with them, hours from leaving and then it hits... the tears threaten to run over... again. (Don't get me wrong, I love my husband, I love my life in VA..... but I love my family too.)

next year Jon will be here for Christmas - So, I am counting on us all being together at some point during the season.... schedules change from year to year ya know.... but at SOME point - we will all be together next year.

I am currently loading pics and video to a jump drive to send to Jon - the laughter, the insanity that only our family could understand, the loudness, its all on a video to send to my little brother - but how do ya put in a box the hugs, the smiles, the watching from the sidelines - We are tryin to do that for ya bro.... but its hard to do. We missed you!

Tomorrow we all go back to the real world... life goes on - Christmas is past and we all have new stuff to show off. I love the Christmas season... I am always sad though, to see the end of the day - because the anticipation is over. I really love this time of year... But, for now, we wait for 11 months for the season to start again. We start looking forward to changing things in the year - I will get into goals and stuff for the new year in a later post this week... but for these last few hours, I am celebrating Christmas... the life of my Savior... the joy, love and peace only He can bring... the forgiveness, grace and mercy that can only come from Him... that is the celebration for this evening...

Well, I think I have rambled enough now.... I am really just writing so Jon has something to read when he gets a break.. I will return probably on Thursday...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blog break

Well, due to the insanity of the season.... (ours has been ridiculous) - I am going to have to break from blogging for a few days. Hopefully next week will be back to normal - I still have to get a few of my Christmas characters described... But for now.

We will be at a trans-siberian orchestra concert (thanks for the tickets Jon... I love you - am praying for you - and will be thinking about ya tonight! Looking forward to going to the concert WITH you next year:))

We will be at Ronnie's great-grandmother's funeral.... She is a believer - she was in pain... we will miss her - but we are thankful that she is better now! We love you Oma!

We will do family Christmas with both families... early in VA - on Christmas day in AL... LOVING that 8 hour drive:)

Our first Christmas season together has been one of extreme emotions - but God is good - and we keep going forward...

Stay in touch - Love you guys! come back and visit after Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Last week, I walked into the local mall and this was the music that I heard. You probably will recognize it.

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our heavenly Father the blessed angel came
And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same
That in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

IN THE MALL!!!! The story of salvation was ringing through the sound system in a MALL! Does this seem strange to you? Well, at first it didn't to me. It actually wasn't until I got back in my car still humming the tune that I realized (for the first time??) the clarity of the message of that song!
Do you find that the message of Christmas carols seems to be lost in the season? What other time of year would a message so clear be playing in a public location without SEVERE backlash from the secular world? What a wonderful opportunity for those of us that are Christians to step up... to find out who it is around us that does not clearly understand the story of Christ... and to CLARIFY for them... Just a thought.

Anyway - I had a great weekend with my Wings friends... two of the girls stayed with us at our house. I have an interesting story about locking myself out of my house the day before they arrived - however, since it include detailed directions on how I broke into my house - I cannot (for safety reasons) give the story on the internet.. just picture me having to climb through TWO sets of windows... over a washing machine - onto the kitchen counter... etc etc etc - thats enough.

My echo is all better and back at home... pics soon!

Friday, December 14, 2007

short update

Ok... I promsie next week I will get back to the Christmas updates....

I can't write much today - - cleaning cleaning cleaning...

Had a great time at a friends house last night... 3 of the newly wed couple in the church got together and really just had a great time!

Got friends from Wings coming to town tomorrow.... two are staying at my house and I am SO excited! But have been cleaning for EVER!!!

Goin on a date with my man tonight.... CANT WAIT!

More later.... Probably Monday when all the excitement has faded.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The crashes Echo is being restored

I know so many of you are sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out the final report on my Echo after that deer incident.

Well yesterday morning, we took the crushed little echo to the "car hospital" for her plastic reconstructive surgery. So, for the next few days I am driving a rental - a silver PT Cruiser - also a cool car (even though its a Chrysler).

This is what the echo looked like when we took her in -

I will post pics when we get her back. They said it would take at least 3 days - so, maybe Friday I will have the new, improved, Echo.

Last year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Echo had a nose job done because of the remnant of a blowout from an 18-wheeler as I was driving to ATL on I-20... this year, it is because of a deer... hmm.. I REALLY don't want this to become a yearly thing for me!

Our puppy was not amused by me bringing the PT Cruiser home. She got so mad she growled at me the whole morning, and refused to chew on my shoe as I walked to the car (well, maybe that wasn't so bad... I tend to like to keep my Clarke's with as little doggy slobber as possible). She is such a creature of habit - she just refuses to accept change - Lord forbid if we ever move! She may go into full depression!


I said that wrong... I do want to move eventually - I do want an oven and a stove one day - I do want a house that is grounded properly so we don't lose at least 4 electrical things every time it lightenings.... and maybe even a dishwasher??? But we may need counseling for our dog when this move occurs:)

Anyway, I should be running today - I am not doing that as well as I wanted to - and in this comfortable (too warm to be December) weather - I really should be doing my exercises - it will be too cold soon.
Well - the writers block is continuing - hence the good sleeping material I have done today - but I will keep writing until something comes out that makes sense. Maybe I will see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I got nuthin'....

blank screen.

I have nothing to offer today - but wanted to write anyway - so here goes.

I have had a few emails lately saying how cool my writing was - or other stuff like that... ummm.. i think that has put a damper on my writing. I think my "creative" side gets shy sometimes. That has been the last few days (Since the post that I thought was WONDERFUL on Saturday...) - PS... yeah, I am just over confident like that. So, now I have nothing to offer, nothing to give, no creative thoughts to write down, no new stories to tell.... I can't even come up with a good new Christmas character ( I know the main three are still out there... but those are being saved for next week!) Ronnie and i ate a pomegranate last night. I wonder sometimes when I eat things like that - whose bright idea was it to peel open something that looks so strange and EAT what is inside? Who did it first? I am thankful they did, but does anyone else ever wonder those things? Anyway, it was a good pomegranate - not that I am an expert on the quality of pomegranates or anything like that... I honestly don't think Ronnie liked it much, but he ate it so that I would be happy I think. :) It was more about the experience! Umm... other than the pomegranate, going shopping with a friend yesterday, and having a couple of Wings members come to stay with me this weekend - life is fairly normal... and my creativity has flown south for the winter. Thank you - come back soon and maybe I will have a new story or pictures or something!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"I'm gonna be late getting home" Christmas Symbol 3

A young boy, around the age of 16 is out on a hillside doing his job. He is watching sheep. It's not the coolest job in the world. Sheep aren't very smart, they just lay down... eat... drink... he was bored!

On this night, the sky was so clear, he thought the stars even looked a bit brighter! he was laying back, just resting when all of a sudden - this flash appeared in the sky! He thought at first it was just lightening, but then, a man was standing there. He had on armor, was holding a shield. The fear that struck this young shepherd was so deep he had never felt it before. He had faced dangers as a shepherd before while protecting his sheep, but this.... this was supernatural!

The first words that the armored man said were "Do not be afraid."

Yeah right

The man went on to describe a child that had been born about 30 minutes away. This child, he said would be the Savior of the world! The man told the boy and the other shepherds to go to see this child. He was telling this as if this child might be that Savior that Isaiah had told about in the Scriptures. The young boy had grown up in a Jewish family. He knew the prophecies said that a Savior would come. But why did the angel decide to tell these poor shepherds?

As soon as the announcement was made, the story became even more incredible! The sky was FILLED with thousands of angels, and with the most beautiful voices he had ever heard proclaiming to the world "Glory to God in the highest! and on earth, peace, good will towards men!"

When it all faded, the young boy looked to his fellow shepherds for some verification that this had not been a dream. They all seemed to have the same speechless look on their faces. He jumped up, grabbed his staff and started running.... sprinting... towards the glow of the city below him. How would he know when he found the right stable? Well, he wasn't sure - but he knew that the other shepherds were right on his tracks running down the hillside. He expected to see the people in the city going crazy when he arrived. The angels were so beautiful and bright, how could the townspeople below have not heard their wonderful voices? How could they have not seen the sky lit up!

But the people in the town seemed to be sleeping still. To this young shepherd, this was the most amazing night of his life! How could they sleep through it?

They ran, checking in every stable when finally, they came upon one that had the light of a small torch burning. They passed the few stalls where the guests of the inn had left their horses and donkeys for the evening, and then, the light got brighter as they turned the corner to see a young girl, not more than 15 years old, and a man, who was not much older than the shepherd boy. The couple had a look of amazement and wonder on their faces as they looked at the child, and seemed to be just as surprised to look up and see a group of shepherds watching them. The silence was overwhelming!

The girl had tears in her eyes as the shepherds slowly began to describe how they had found the child. She knew her boy was special, but this announcement to the shepherds was too much to comprehend this night.

After each shepherd took a turn looking into the eyes of their Savior, they turned to go back to their hill, where the sheep were still grazing. Each one wondering in their own heart how they could ever sit and watch sheep again. Their life had been changed. They had seen the Savior of the world - the Messiah they had been waiting for. They did not know what impact he would have in changing the world, they only knew that their entire world had been changed that night.

Years later - this young shepherd boy - while telling his children of the story that had changed his life... of the angels, the run to town, and the stable - would hear the news that this man was being crucified. The questions that had been in his heart since that night 33 years ago, would echo more resoundly! How is it that this child, whose birth was announced by angels, could be killed at the hands of man? My life was changed because of this man - what will come next?

As we get further and further into the Christmas season, and the business that comes with it. The buying, the wrapping, the giving and receiving.... Ask yourself, when you first met your Savior, did your life change? Did He impact you in such a way that years later - when people talk about Him, you remember that first meeting?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Neither Heights nor depths

I need to take a day away from my characters of the Nativity talk...

I was practicing piano (I dont do that too often any more - but I did it today) and in one of the songs I was playing are these lyrics... Please read slowly - I have heard this one several times lately, but today - it hit

"neither life nor death, nor powers unseen, not the fears about tomorrow
neither height nor depth, can ever separate us from Emmanuel - He's the miracle with us..."

"In the light of your redeeming love, by the power of your name Lord Jesus, I will scream it from the mountaintop, I'm a child of God..."

When the wrappings, bows, lights, and trees are gone - the truth above remains - I am a child of God - nothing can separate us from our God when we are His children -

That is all for today - coming soon.... The Shepherd - "I am gonna be late getting home!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mary's Mom - The forgotten Symbol

I am not a mother - and it will be a while before I am, but this morning, as I re-read the Christmas story in Luke 2, it crossed my mind that Mary was a young girl, and until this whole marriage thing, still lived (I guess) with her family. We don't know anything about this relationship - but just for a minute, please allow me the freedom to consider what Mary's mom might have been going through. I will write this in a first person - as if I am Mary's mom.

"8 months earlier, my daughter had gotten pregnant and had become the ridicule of the area. The man she was supposed to marry had decided to marry her anyway, but why? She obviously had not been faithful to him. She claimed the angel had talked to her - I know my Jewish history, and angels have talked to people before, but never was there a story where an angel, had told someone they would have a BABY! My daughter is a normal girl. There is nothing amazing about her - there is no reason God would choose HER to carry His Son. I cannot remember that she ever lied to me before, however, I cannot bring myself to believe her completely. My grandson? A Savior?
Now, as she is about to have this child, Joseph had to take her to Bethlehem. They are on a donkey - this cannot be good for such a pregnant girl. Who will help her deliver this baby? Joseph? Does he know anything about delivering a baby? Does he really believe her? The city people wanted her ot be put to death for this - will Joseph protect my baby as she becomes a mother? When will I see my child again?
A few months later I have not heard anything from Mary or Joseph. I hear rumors that the baby boys are being killed. Please Father protect my girl... "

I wonder sometimes when it was that Mary's mom saw her again. I know that throughout my life I have gone months without my mother - but thanks to technology, email, cell phones etc... She has never really been more than a phone call away. I also know that when the time comes for me to be a scared new mother, my mother will be there to help me learn to take care of my baby. Who was there for Mary? Her mother was so far away? Who was there for her mother, to help her learn to believe that Jesus was the Son of God? When did she finally come to understand?

Just a thought... Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Symbol #1 - The bad wrap

Symbol of Christmas number 1 for me.... the innkeeper.

The Bible doesn't tell us much about this man. Simply that there was no room in the inn for the couple. Now, first I want to think through the fact that this man has gone down in history as the man that offered only a BARN for the King of Kings to be born in... but think about this. Was this the first place Mary and Joseph had tried to stop? I doubt it. This was simply the only place that offered a second chance. In addition to that, for anyone that owns a business - if you think about it, the inkeeper did much more than was required of him. He couldn't have known what amazing event was about to happen that night. He only knew that his inn was already full. He couldn't take the other paying customers out of a room for this young couple. He had no more room.... that is all. He didn't necessarily have a bad attitude about it - he simply had a full inn... but the stable was empty. I am sure that Joseph presented the urgency of the matter to him, but how could he have completely understood that baby would be His Savior! So, the best he had..... was the fulfillment of prophecy in the Old Testament. How wonderful!!
Can you imagine the next morning, finding a stable full of shepherds that say that angels were there to tell them about this birth? He, like the lady with two cents later in Jesus' ministry - gave all he had to the Savior. He didn't have much to give - but he gave it.
And so, throughout history the innkeeper has had what I feel is a bit of a bad wrap, for having no room.... It was not his choice, he did at least offer the little that he had... and that one move fulfilled prophecy.
Anyone have any thoughts about the innkeeper? Are there times in your life in which you have also "played the role" of the innkeeper when dealing with Christ in your life?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Symbols of Christmas

I will begin by saying that Ronnie and I had a wonderful weekend of Christmas preparations. We made ALL KINDS of candy on Saturday afternoon, went to the parade in town, and enjoyed the general spirit of Christmas.

Last night, the children's drama team at church did a play called "Symbols of Christmas." It was written by a lady in our church and was WONDERFUL! I think she should have it published... but that is another story. The idea centered around the multiple symbols of Christmas. Santa, snowflakes, Rudolph and a bunch of elves all competed for the title for "National Symbol of Christmas." All were beaten though, when a humble couple walked out of the back of the church. The young man with a staff in his hands, the young lady walking slowly looking a bit nervous.... they got to the front and the judges for the competition heard the true story of Christmas. The reason for the season. Mary and Joseph then went and knelt by the manger - the angels came and the celebration of the birth of Christ started.

I just heard on the news - as I was typing this - that some athiests are looking for a symbol for Christmas that doesn;t represent Christ. The news reporter's response was "if you don't believe in anything, how do you have a symbol for nothing?" I think this is a sad day. First of all - can we remember how to spell CHRIST-mas? Christ is all over it. Second, if Christ had not been born, we wouldn't have a celebration! I know that Christ wasn't born in December, but it is a time to REMEMBER the birth of Christ, whether or not it is the EXACT day of his birth. There are so many other symbols of Christmas that may or may not have Biblical backgrounds in their origin. Most simply have a back story of people giving and helping people in need.

My family loves Christmas movies - I was introducing Ronnie to the George C. Scott version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" last night. During the "ghost of Christmas present" portion of the story - Bob Cratchet has this to say.... "Tim gets so thoughtful while he is at church - He told me on the way home, that he hoped the people saw him... and that they would be reminded about the one who makes lame beggars walk, and blind men see."

As my friend Jeff posted on his blog - Linus has a very clear description to Charlie Brown of what Christmas is all about. - It starts like this... "And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. And Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the Angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy to all people, for unto you is born this day in teh city of David - a Savior which is Christ the Lord...."

I want to use this Christmas season to think through how it must have felt to be different people in the time of the birth of my Lord.... So, stay with me throughout the season - as we review not only the symbols of Christmas, but also the people who were part of that original Christmas story.