Friday, December 29, 2006

Grace Upon Grace

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1: 16, 17

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The "W" in Christmas

...and you know how much I love "W!"

Here's a little forward I received. Don't know if it's true, but I hope it is:

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.

Those in the front row -center stage- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

And, I believe, He still is.

Amazed in His presence... humbled by His love.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Personal Church Shopper

Now, there's an idea.

Terry discovered The Sacred Sandwich site a few weeks ago and I just read their article on the family that hired the personal shopper to help them with their church shopping. Here are a couple choice tidbits from the article:

Growing bored with the outdated programs at their present church, the Henman family of Peoria, IL, recently hired Lucy Ditmer, a personal shopper, to find them a new church home to meet their spiritual needs. “Between my boy’s hockey games and my girl’s dance classes, I really don’t have the time to go church shopping,” said Helen Henman. “It’s a great relief to know that Lucy can take care of all that. The last thing Phil and I want to do right now is spend every Sunday morning going to strange churches just to see if they have cushioned seating and a proper food court.”

And it concludes:

As for the Henman family, they are anxious to see what Lucy finds for them. “Being without a church home these past few weeks has really taken a toll on our family,” Mrs. Henman admitted. “Just the other day Phil was dealing with a lot of stress at work and he needed a pastor to show him how Jesus dealt with project deadlines. If Lucy doesn’t hurry up and find us a church soon, we may be forced to open a Bible and look for the answer ourselves.”

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Cards and Christmas Clutter

I love Christmas.

Besides the obvious "reason for the season", I love all the extra stuff that goes with Christmas.

I love the music. Even the cheesy music.

I love getting together with people.

I love making and eating all the goodies.

I love buying presents for people and wrapping them. (Isn't wired ribbon a fun and wonderful invention?)

I love all the traditions our family has...MOA shopping day, the "girl's" Christmas Brunch (held yesterday), the shopping, the wrapping, the cards, driving by the Mount Normandale houses at midnight on Christmas Eve to see all the luminaries on the way home from Mom's listening to the Superamerica Christmas Collection that Terry bought 25 years ago, the Christmas tree pineapple upside down cake that we have every Christmas morning which our neighbors have faithfully delivered for 22 years (and they moved away 12 years ago so aren't our neighbors anymore!), the Christmas crackers that pop and have a toy, a riddle, a joke, and a crown in them that we all put on for the Christmas picture.

Right now, the basement is entirely covered with wrapping paper, ribbon, packages, shopping bags and tissue paper. It's great.

We watched "A Christmas Story" last night. And, I'm hoping to watch "Elf" sometime again this week.

The agenda today was the cards. From start to finish, we did it.

We have found that making an adventure out of life's chores is the way to go. So, today we had an adventure. It started out with the adventure of figuring out why my Applework's address book had a major glitch. We never figured out why that happened, but we did manage to get it good enough to print out the labels.

Then it was off to Terry's office to print the return address on the envelopes. Of course, we have had the envelopes for a few days, but, again, if you are looking for an adventure, you don't do things ahead of time. Terry got the envelopes printing and I slapped together a Christmas letter. It's not the most interesting letter ever, but it's written!

Then, it was off to Southdale to pick up Beth (she had been shopping with Katie and Tim). K and T went to a movie (Eragon) and Beth came with us to Kinkos to print the letter and then to Starbuck's at the Galleria where for the last several years, Terry and I have settled in and folded, stuffed, labeled, stamped, and sealed the Christmas cards.

Having Beth to help made for quick work and we were done in less than 2 hours. On the way home we "swung" by the airport, dropped them in the mail, and headed home. A productive day.

I hope there are no typos on the letter. A person, (for the sake of this blog post we shall call her "Diane") told me tonight that they had all their letters printed and her husband (for the sake of this blog post we shall call him "Steve") did one final proof of the letter. They had done some "tweaking" and wound up with a sentence that said something like, "Diane continues coordinating the Lord..." So, last minute tweaking is not always a good thing.

I really hope our letter is okay, because it is mailed.

And, that is the end of my blog post for today.

Tomorrow it's cleaning and cookies.

Friday, December 15, 2006

If John Piper did it, it must be okay!

If you go to this link, you can hear JP answering some questions that some High School students asked him about how he met his wife. It's kind of sweet. He has the unique gift of being direct and classy at the same time.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

World's Best Cup of Coffee

I love the movie Elf.
Here's a little clip for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Welcome Does End

Thanks Lark News for this oldie, but goodie.

Friends not friends forever, even if the Lord's the Lord of them, former pals say SALEM, Mass. — Two former "best buddies" from Saratoga Nazarene Church say they learned the hard way that a lifetime is too long to live as friends, despite the claims of a popular Christian song.
Theresa and Dalia, both 13, became best friends the day they met in third grade. They soon realized they were the only serious Christians in the school, and both had major crushes on Michael W. Smith.

"We used to bounce on my bed using hairbrushes as microphones and singing 'Friends' to each other," says Theresa. "I'd sing Amy Grant's part and she'd sing Michael W. Smith's part. Then we'd laugh and roll around. We knew our friendship was forever, like the song said."
But at the end of eighth grade, things hit a rough patch. Dalia quit wearing her Amy Grant Hearts in Motion Concert Tour T-shirt to school on Fridays, as she and Theresa had done for years.
"That felt like betrayal," Theresa said. "I was totally alone."
Then both girls developed a crush on the same boy, Brad Loudermilk, the only decent-looking Christian in the school. Out of spite, Dalia switched her crush to a non-Christian guy, and the friendship with Theresa was effectively severed.
Theresa went home after school and ripped the Michael W. Smith poster from her wall, then crumpled onto her bed and sobbed.
"I guess friends will say never and the welcome does end," she said bitterly. •

I Like You, I'm Sorry, Chill Out


Bothered by something you said or did?

Or, are you just uptight today?

Go here.

Thanks, Mikey!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Note to Self

This Luther quote has been on my mind lately.

I'm posting it on my blog as a reminder to me.

"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.

"Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point."

- Martin Luther

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Really Cool and Lots of Fun

Thanks for teaching the kids how to do this, Jeremy. We have been having all kinds of fun folding and refolding t-shirts.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Excommunicated from my society...hmmmm...

Which Star Wars Character Are You?
Your Result: Jar Jar Binks

"You are SOOO annoying!" I bet that you get told that a lot. Your flighty attitude is charming at first but tends to get you in a lot of trouble and gets excommunicated from your society. Be more careful!

Luke SkyWalker
Princess Leia
Han Solo
Boba Fett
Darth Vader
Jabba the Hutt
Which Star Wars Character Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz