Monday, November 29, 2010

no tree??

We put the Christmas decorations up this weekend.  I love Christmas decorations.  It is always fun for the house to be decked out with symbols of the joy we feel because God came to be with us.  But guess what?  We didn't put up our tree this year.  I know, I know...that qualifies me as some sort of a scrooge.   We have reasons.  Traveling schedules, hubby's back issues, and mostly a desire to simplify--all played into our decision.

Plus, I have an ornament thing.  I LOVE Christmas ornaments.  Many of ours are gifts from loved ones or attached to memories of each year.  We have ornaments to remember vacations, every Disney trip, babies, new homes, our dog, and other family milestones.  We have precious homemade ornaments from the kids.  We have special ornaments in honor of the special babies that live in heaven:  Earl (Dave's sister's firstborn-1992), Aidan (our little guy-1999) and Sadie (my sister's sweet girl--2009).  We also have many ornaments that point us to Christ's birth that are special to us.  Almost all of our ornaments are packed away with care in their own wrapping, many in their original boxes.  I even have written the dates and the gift givers on most of the boxes as well.    {OK, maybe I'm a little uptight about the ornament boxes...} And we have tons.  We can't even get them all on the tree anymore.  But I love our full, eclectic, tree.

our tree last year
We watched a decorating special this weekend, and I am sure our tree breaks many of the holiday decorating rules...but who cares?  It's ours, it's special to us, and we love it.

And we didn't put it up this year.  In our {my?} desire to simplify our holiday season a bit--it was the thing if we eliminated would have the greatest impact on our time and on our energy.  As you can imagine, all that ornament abundance makes for a time consuming endeavor.  Especially on the put-away end of things.  And somehow, no one is as excited about that part...

Christmas isn't a tree, right?  I'm ALL about traditions, but am trying to learn not to put them ahead of sanity, peace and health.  I can get a little perfectionistic in my expectations.  My desire to simplify this season comes from a desire to leave space for some other traditions...celebrating advent with story and togetherness and peaceful waiting.  Those things get crowded out pretty easily when I am busy with all the have-tos and all the make-it-wonderfuls.

I'm sure none of you are scroogy-tree-skippers like me, but I love to hear creative ideas on making the season more than just a bunch of to-dos, enjoyable as they might be.  So, are any of you trying to simplify this year?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Our family of four each made a list of 20 or so things we are thankful for as we watched the Macy's parade this morning.  I typed them into and came up with this word cloud to represent our hearts today.

Our blessings number more than we can even list, and it's hard to put into words the deep appreciation we have for God's Goodness in our lives.  Because God is a Redeemer, we can even be thankful for the cruddy things...because we know He can make Good out of bad.

I hope today finds you and yours giving thanks with a grateful heart.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

fighting for it...

Hubby and I got a few days away this last week!  We celebrated our 20th in May, and had a generous gift given us to use specifically for some time away together.  Schedules, busyness, back pain, indecision--all contributed to us not making it happen over these last months.  We finally found a weekend that seemed to work...and decided on a resort in Vail to visit for a few days.  It wasn't ideal timing...there was a baby dedication at church that Sunday and, as Children's Ministry Director, I normally help facilitate.  But my dear Pastor believed in the need to get away as much as we did...and happily gave me permission to not be there.

It was finally coming together!  Then the battle began.  Dave's back got pretty bad, causing him to miss work.  We misplaced the gift certificate we were hoping to use for part of the expense.  Snowy forecasts on both of our driving days made us leary about driving the mountain roads...especially when the driving could fall to me due to Dave's back.  (I have very limited driving-on-mountain-roads-in-snow experience.)  And we learned (how did I not know this?) that our sweet niece Maisie would be one of the babies being dedicated on Sunday...couldn't miss that!

So we almost gave up on the whole thing.

BUT, God was on our side and gave me a simple idea.  Change our plans.  We could go a day early and return before Sunday.  We could change our plans to downtown Denver--closer to home and no mountains to conquer.  We decided the hotel room was the destination rather than a beautiful spot we searched the internet for a hotel with really nice rooms.  We decided on the Ritz-Carlton and were not disappointed.

we tried several times unsuccessfully to get both of us and the whole Ritz sign in the pic...

We had a large room, an incredibly comfortable bed, and no need to sight-see or do anything in particular.  No plans or schedule, or agenda.  We order room service for breakfast and stayed in our hotel robes until noon.  It was fantastic.

our bed turned down for the evening
We found that by eliminating distractions, and the need to be anywhere or do anything at any particular time, allowed us to really connect.  It made me aware of how often important conversations are cut short or don't even happen in our day to day lives--cause our brains are always moving on to the "next thing".  It's hard to connect in a significant way at that pace.

And, even 20 years later (or probably even moreso 20 years later) we need to connect.  The long, intimate conversations we shared were priceless.  I'm so glad we fought for this time, and I'm celebrating it with emily at Chatting at the Sky today.

Sunday, November 7, 2010



That's what my four year old nephew said when I told him how I old I was on this birthday.  I kinda feel that way too--44--whoa.

Yup, Saturday was my birthday.  But I started celebrating on Friday with a birthday lunch with my mom, my sis and my baby niece.  We had a nice time chatting and eating yumminess.  I decided that weightwatchers would have to wait 'til Monday.  :0)
maisie jane.  
Saturday brought an early morning as hubby and I attended "Love and War"--a half-day marriage conference held live here in CO, but simulcast across the country.   The speakers were John and Stasi Eldredge, and it was really good.  I took tons of notes and will need to process all I learned for a good while.

Saturday night we celebrated Bubba's and my birthday with the family--my sister's family and my parents.  We went out for vietnamese food (my choice--yum!) and then returned to our home for gifts and peanut butter cup ice cream cake.  Ohmy.  However-many weightwatchers points that slice was worth--it was worth every. single. one!!

me and my new slanket!
birthday boy
Then Sunday morning I received a lovely surprise at church.  The kids and teachers on my team surprised me with beautiful flowers, a 12 pack of diet coke, and a calligraphy of one of my favorite verses.  They sang to me, too.  Can't ask for more than that...
my birthday presents from the teachers and kids at church
isn't this beautiful?  Thanks Tamara!
The best moment of the morning, however, was getting to pray with a few kiddos who decided to follow Jesus for the first time today.  What a privilege.  Oh happy day!
praying with the kids
I guess turning 44 has been pretty cool.  Except for the part where I remember how old I am.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm marveling...

Bubba is ten today.  Double-digits!  It's easy for warm reflections to fill my mind.  I am sentimental looking back at the way God used this tiny boy as a balm of healing to my wounded heart.  Smiles cross my face as I remember the cute little tike he was.  I suppose it could be bittersweet to realize how grown up my youngest is.

(Indulge me as I share three of my favorite little-bubba pics--I can't resist.)

 a decade ago
riding shotgun in poppop's rv

ring-bearer extraordinaire

However, today I want to celebrate who God has made Bubba to be.  With each year, his unique make-up, his gifts and talents, his personality, are revealed with a bit more clarity.  We marvel at God's workmanship in creating this boy.

We got another glimpse of Bubba through the eyes of his teachers last week at his parent-teacher conference.  His teachers used these words to describe him:

a joy
enthusiastic learner
sees God in life easily
a strong faith--he "gets it" 
a careful communicator 
a deep thinker
hard worker
quick to serve
bold to share his faith verbally

We did talk briefly about some of his academic challenges, but the conference focused on qualities that will exist well-past his 4th grade academic achievements.

My heart swells.  Not with pride (well, maybe a little) but with gratitude.  Gratitude for teachers who take the time to really know my son.  Gratitude for their willingness to share their observations with us, rather than just focusing on reading and math.  Gratitude for this marvelous boy that God has given us the privilege of parenting.

October 2010
Unwrapping the gifts of my son and of special teachers today with emily at chatting at the sky.

Monday, November 1, 2010

weekend pics

I'm usually a Halloweenie.  In other words, not really into Halloween.  I don't do scary.  Hate it.  Fun costumes and candy I like--but bloody and scary and freaky not so much.  Our neighborhood really embraces the scary...and it's creepy around these parts on October 31.

I'm always glad for November 1st.

However, we decided our alternative halloween celebrations were not very neighborly, and decided to participate this year.  We decided to do a food drive as part of our trick or treating, and to serve hot cider to the parents who came by.  We enjoyed ourselves--and got to see lots of cuties come by--dressed in all manner of costumes. 

The one that got the biggest chuckle out of me last night was a teenaged guy who came by dressed as a large gift box--complete with pink wrapping and fancy bows.  On his box was a gift tag that read:  "To:  Ladies  From:  God"  That guy needs to work on his self-esteem huh?

Our weekend also included having friends and family help us lug Bubba's heavy new loft bed up to his room, as well as Bubba's last soccer game of the season--complete with team party afterwards.  We also got to attend a Harvest Party at a friends farm that was great fun.

Here are some pics of our full but fun weekend.

Bubba's soccer team party. 
Bubba as a Chilean Miner--ready for a halloween party at a friend's.

Pickle as a greek goddess--ready for the party too.

Pickle finds a kitten in our friends' barn during the party.

Pumpkin carving contest--first encounter of Bubba's with the pulp.  blech!

Pickle getting creative.
The finished product--can you tell it's a fish bowl?

Hubby manning our trick or treat station on Halloween--candy for kids, hot cider for parents and a food drive.

A little ladybug stopped by--sweet Maisie!

My sis Kerry and her sweet ladybug.

Ladybug's big brother as a race car driver.

Pickle's friend joined she, Bubba and Caleb for trick or treating and food collection.

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