Tuesday, December 27, 2011


For Christmas I gave my husband a surprise date with me to the movie, Courageous. We both thought it was outstanding.

This movie is for everyone, but especially for men. It encourages men to be men instead of making fun of their incompetencies, belittling them, or implying they should be more like women. Beyond that, Courageous shows the importance of the father's role in the family, it shows why this role is so important, and it shows examples of what being a good father actually looks like.

If you haven't seen this wonderful movie yet, go see it!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Advent: Truth in the Tinsel

This Advent season has been a wonderful time in our home as we've turned our hearts to the Christmas story through Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands.

Ezekiel looked forward to opening the Advent box each morning and finding a little gift inside.
This year, along with a small gift, he got a clue (the green piece of paper with a picture on it). 

We taped the clues to our Advent calendar, and counted the number of days until Christmas. 

The clue (for example, "Mary") was the word of the day. It was in the daily Scripture reading, and it was the basis for a homemade ornament, discussion, and fun activity.

Here are the ornaments we made.

Day 1 - Candle

Day 2 - Kingdom

Day 3 - Zechariah

Day 4 - Gabriel

Day 5 - Mary

Day 6 - Mary/Elizabeth

Day 7 - Song

Day 8 - Sun

Day 9 - Joseph

Day 10 - Dream

Day 11 - Jesus' Name

Day 12 - Census

Day 13 - Bethlehem

Day 14 - Stable

Day 15 - Manger

Day 16 - Cloths

Day 17 - Sheep

Day 18 - Angels

Day 19 - Shepherds

Day 20 - Temple

Day 21 - Star

Day 22 - Wise Men

Day 23 - Gifts

Day 24 - Cross

Children older than three, and girls, would probably appreciate art projects more than a three-year-old boy. Zeke really enjoyed the Do More Together section because they were more active activities (jumping, flashlights, acting things out, etc). But he still thought the crafts were neat and enjoyed them.

The best part is that it kept us so focused on the true meaning of Christmas this year! You can opt to do a shortened version of Truth in the Tinsel if it works better for you, but we did the whole thing and really made it the main priority of our Christmas preparation. It was a great find and I highly recommend it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Go Tell It On the Mountain

I love the part of the story where the shepherds are just minding their business, and suddenly angels are flying around telling them to go see a baby who was born to be the King of Peace for the whole world.

I love how they run to find the baby, and then go off telling everyone what they saw.

Shepherds were common and lowly, but God chose to use them as missionaries because they traveled a lot with their sheep. I can imagine them just bursting with excitement and wonder.

Peace has come to the world.

Love came down.

Royalty of Heaven became a man and slept in dirt. For us!!

Let's tell everyone how amazing this is!

Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Having a major sweet tooth, it's hard to resist baking lots of yummy Christmas cookies. But these days I really need to limit my sugar intake to prevent migraine attacks. I still ended up baking sugary sweets this year, because I really enjoy giving them away. My logic: Someone needs to be eating these, even if it's not me! My goal is to give away 95 percent of everything I made. The other five percent I will save for my boys. :)

This is the one time of year I don't feel like I'm missing out by not going outside. It's nice to be in when it's cold, listening to Christmas music and mixing up a batch of something. Then when it's all done, you get to deliver gifts you made yourself.

This year we did oatmeal cookies, Oreo balls, toffee, minty cream cheese cut-outs, peanut butter star cookies, and peppermint meringues.

Giving cookies. Doesn't really compare to God giving his Son. But we do what we can.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Shane and I have been reflecting on all the stability we have lost over the past four years. Financial stability, career stability, health stability, child care stability, family stability, relationship stability... and control in general. :) We just watch in astonishment and helplessness as each thing we have long depended on gets tossed out the window.

Hear me right: We are abundantly rich and blessed compared to the rest of the world. But the ground beneath us has been shaking, so to speak, and we have been unsure where to put our feet.

As Christians we speak of trusting "fully" in God and giving our whole hearts to him. But let's be honest. Most of us don't have to trust God alone until our worldly stabilities are taken away and we have no where else to turn. Not till our foundations shake and fall down. It usually isn't until we're faced with some practical reality of destitution, and we become completely helpless in some way, that we come running to our God for stability and security.

Until then, we take care of ourselves.

But when there is nothing left to stand on, that's when we stand on the promise of God.

Look at any elderly person faced with having to live in a nursing home. No one goes into a nursing home happily; they wait until they have no where else to turn. No family member can or will take care of them. Or they are simply all alone.

Not until we get desperately needy do we give up our lives into someone else's care.

"The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position." James 1:9

Why does James call humble circumstances – or poverty – a high position?

Poverty comes in many forms, and we will all face its reality again and again in our lives. Every loss of control, every broken relationship, every death of a parent. Every cancer cell. Every time we get fired. Every abuse. Every injustice. For some of us this will happen more times than others, and that is precisely because...

...we are blessed.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

That kingdom of heaven is becoming more valuable to me everyday. The more the rugs are pulled out from under me, the more I need God. Not want God, need him. Desperately need him to come through for me, because I don't have answers or solutions or medicines or money or help or direction. The fact of the matter is, I have never felt so helpless in all my livin' days.

But that's the glorious point!

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge."

Psalm 62:5-8

God wants to be our sole stability, and if he allows us the horrible experience of getting knocked down over and over, glory be to him. When we come to, and look up from the dirt, only he will remain. And we will look into that face of pure love and know that he alone is enough.

Joseph and Mary, they were poor, and desperate for a place to give birth. But then God provided a tiny shack that just happened to be called a stable

When you have nothing much, a stable is stable enough.

For they had the promise of God.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Customer Service People

I just want to thank all the customer service people out there who:
  • Smile.
  • Look me in the eye.
  • Respond.
  • Respond kindly.
  • Ask intelligent questions.
  • Are dedicated to finding a solution.
  • Know that I (the customer) am not always right, but still treat me politely.
  • Are friendly.
  • Respond to my child when he speaks to them. 
  • Cast their cares upon the Lord instead of taking out their anger on me.
  • Actually enjoy serving.
  • Communicate in complete sentences what they are doing, instead of just mumbling "Hold on."
  • Don't walk away while I am talking to them.
  • Say "please" and "thank you."
  • Say "ma'am" and "sir."
  • Lead me to a product instead of waving their finger in a general direction and saying "somewhere around those aisles over there, I think."
  • Don't pretend to ignore me and run away when I am obviously coming to ask for help.
  • After helping me, ask "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
  • Apologize for their mistakes. Without making excuses.
  • Apologize for their company's mistakes.
  • Apologize when I have had to wait for service.
  • Apologize for not carrying the product or service I need.
  • Apologize when they are unable to help me for any reason.
Decent customer service is so rare nowadays. It's downright disgusting. I don't know if it's Big Corporate taking over the world, or technology replacing face-to-face communication, or your mama just didn't love you right. Or maybe you were just never taught.

In any case, thanks to those few servant-hearted people out there who still believe customers matter.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Being under the weather so much of the fall/winter has made for lots of cuddle time in this house. Every single bedtime and naptime, my son requests, "I need you to WAY wit me, Mommy. Just for a widdo bit."

We try to stay strong. We discipline when he gets out of bed or when he keeps yelling for us. But I confess I have lied with him until he's fallen asleep a lot lately. I go in reluctantly, but every time, I end up lying there thinking, "What in the world could be wrong about this?"

His skin is still soft like a baby and he curls into me and his eyelashes are so long and at three years old he still does that suckling sound to get himself to sleep. So content, so peaceful. And I think, There is no where else I'd rather be right now.

He won't want me to lie with him forever. These moments are fleeting. I want to soak in all the fullness of this moment while it is here.

I pray for him while we are still. For his heart to become soft to Jesus, for his heart to become strong like Jesus'. I whisper to him that God is always with him, taking care of him, even when Daddy and Mommy aren't. He says, "Mm-hmm" and keeps on suckling.

And usually he says something random, like, "Baby Jesus didn't even have a Bear and Elmo." Or, "The Snow Monster was really scary but then he wanted to be friends with Rudolph." Or, "Mommy is going to ride a horse and Zekie is going to ride a sled and Daddy is going to ride a pony."

And then I burst out laughing at these three-year-old thoughts, and then he bursts out laughing because I'm laughing, and we are definitely not sleeping.

But these are the moments God gives us. Don't miss these moments with your children. They seem small, but they make up the relationships that are the foundations for their life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Praising Through the Pain

A few years ago I was sitting at my desk in a mission office in Minneapolis, happily editing and designing a little book by Paul Lindell. The book was entitled, The Mystery of Pain. Pain is indeed a great mystery.

I'm convinced the purpose of pain is distraction.

Some pain drives us to our knees in prayer. Other pain – felt physical pain – can become so intense that it is impossible to pray. We are distracted to the point we can't think straight, muchless utter a prayer.

But God's Spirit is always praying through us.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." - Romans 8:26

How awesome it is to be filled with God's Spirit. I am constantly connected to him, always praying in my spirit through His Spirit. Even when pain takes over my body and mind.

However, there is power in agreeing with our minds with what the Spirit of God is doing. Agreeing in conscious prayer. Satan knows this power and it makes him tremble. It makes him tremble when we shout praises to our God, or when speak the promises of God in prayer. Prayer and praise defeat our enemy. That's why, I am convinced that his great tactic is to cripple us in pain.

I have recognized this and through recent migraine pain, I began to will my focus to God. I praise him in my pain. I say, "Thank you, Father, for allowing this pain. Because in my suffering, you make me like your Son. This is the highest purpose you could give me, and I am privileged to bear it."

This is not easy, while being tortured by pain, to praise my God who could easily take it away. But the truth is: He is gentle and kind, and if there was a better way to my healing and sanctification, my God would surely do it. His heart beats for me.

Stephen knew the love of God. People threw rocks at him until he died (ouch). But he stayed connected, and he went down in prayer.

"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'" Acts 7:59

God did not cause my pain. But for some reason, he allows it. One day soon, he will take it away completely and forever. His Kingdom is coming; I have seen it coming.

Try this next time you're in pain. If you don't know what to say, if your husband doesn't know what to say, speak any Scripture you can think of. Or just tell him you love him and will keep praising him no matter what. If it hurts to talk, just whisper. Speak it between contractions. Speak it before you throw up.

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..." Hebrews 4:12a

Sometimes it's impossible. But when it is possible, will you join me in praising through the pain?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meat Loaf for the Boys

Squishing your hands in freezing cold raw meat is not the best thing to do when you have a migraine.

I am making meat loaf.

Come to think of it, there are not really any activities that are good to do while having a migraine. Except sleeping. And you can't do that with a little one running around. So you must do something.

I usually try to opt for the least bothersome activity at this stage in a migraine. Something that won't put my body into shock. Usually that means dim lighting and sitting still, trying to smile and respond to my child. I am definitely not able to chop onions right now. But I can look at this computer screen for short periods. There are other phases in the disease where you literally can't do anything (except breathe, and even that can become difficult). If I chopped onions right now, that would likely put me over the edge and I would not be functioning for a while. But I took a chance with the freezing cold meat. Hopefully it won't do me in.

This meat has been thawing two days already, waiting for the migraine to subside. And the boys have to eat.

I'm reminded more and more lately that I have two "boys" on my hands now. Just this morning, Shane was traipsing around the house trying to get breakfast made, get himself and Ezekiel dressed, clean up the kitchen... while I sat in a daze with my coffee trying to wake up, as usual. Zeke following close behind Daddy, trying to keep up. They come marching down the stairs, first the mammoth one, then the mini one, Zeke announcing, "Here come the boys! Here come the boys!"

He loves that he is a boy, like his daddy. Toys, games, books are all on the backburner for now. All he wants to do is wrestle. "Would you like to wrestle me now, Dad?" is the constant question. And if they're not wrestling they're playing catch, or the living room golf ball game.

So I made it through the meat loaf. God so helped me. They will be happy boys tonight.