Thursday, December 31, 2009

TIme for turning over a new leaf--


Here's wishing you and those you love a wonderful start to a wonderful year--God Bless You!


We have spent the evening cleaning kids' rooms and playing Wii Resort Sports--they even got ME in on the action a little.


I am most thrilled that the rooms are clean, though. Now on to figure out those resolutions--er-- GOALS for 2010!


Blessings!

-april

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking for the Lovely--

It's kind of ironic to me that we intentionally "took off" the months of November and December from our structured schooling in order to have "more" time to work on holiday projects--making paper things, sewing, pursuing new crafty interests, baking, blogging . . .and I did LESS this year than in other years. For some reason I just wasn't into it so much, and that has been frustrating.

The housekeeping never goes away--even in Ornament-Land!
I love this solemn little gal with her broom. She has RESOLVE.
Add to that frustration the wild side of children with no structure to their days; the normal holiday stress of shopping and shopping and running out for last-minute craft supplies, and shopping online and preparing dinner ten times a week(sometimes it seems like this!)PLUS lunches, breakfast and snacks, and grocery shopping; add the sibling bickering and general craziness of kids so excited that they cannot-- LITERALLY CANNOT-- sit still OR quit "bothering" each other . . . . I was more ready than ever for that Christmas cruise that I threaten every year about two weeks before Christmas. . . .it will never happen, of course!
I guess it's all kind of sad, really. Why is it so hard to slow down and BREATHE during December? I honestly think I enjoyed thinking about and planning for, making things and preparing my SOUL for Christmas MORE in September this year than I have in the last eight weeks--which have flown by as quickly as those snowflakes MELTED in the Louisiana humidity a few weeks ago . . . .

Yet Christmas, by its very nature, should be a time of great joy. We are not celebrating beautiful baked goods or hot-cocoa parties, picture-perfectly-wrapped gifts or sleepovers with friends; we are celebrating the birth of the baby who grew into the man who sacrificed Himself for the dead-in-our-sins rest of us who couldn't be helped any other way--even if we had WANTED to be helped. Aren't the best gifts the ones you couldn't possibly expect OR attain on your own? Wow.

So in light of that eternal-best Gift, I am trying not to let the frustration set in. Realizing that the kids' need of structure is MY problem. Reconciling myself to the lack of PLANNED "fun" activities we managed and seeking to enjoy the spontaneous times more--never DID get those little strips of paper in the countdown calendar! Enjoying answering the questions my 6-year-old is asking about Jesus being born "the first time"--though my brain is TIRED. . .trying to give up the hopes of beautiful moments in a freshly-cleaned kitchen baking cookies peacefully with my never-cross-or-know-it-all three daughters. Relishing the glimpses of the favorite decorations amongst the STUFF of everyday life--one day the counter will again be clean and the toys will be all put away. Not now. They are IN USE. Perspective is good.

And hey, my brother was home with his beautiful wife and their yet-unmet but already much-loved baby boy . . . we haven't had Coleman home in two years thanks to the Army. We got to see them on Christmas day, to walk in the woods and play with their puppies. We even had a game of Scrabble--turns out Katy is a pro(she was MEANT for this family!). We will treasure the moments because we KNOW they're precious, and they are all the more because of the time of year. Somehow the celebration of that marvelous birth gives its light to everything else that surrounds this time of year--isn't that why Jesus came? To light the darkness.

Thought I would share a few pics of some of our decor this year. My fave thing I decorate every year is my chandelier--I hang my grandmother's Shiny Brite ornaments and sparkly snowflakes on it. It looks like an over-decorated winter wedding cake with all the ribbons and beads, but I just love it.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is going down to Mawmaw's house one Sunday during December(every year) with my Mom and watching the OLD "A Christmas Carol" on TV while we decorated Mawmaw's little tree with all those old Woolworth's ornaments and the big, chunky lights. Usually the tree was a small cedar Dad and I had tromped through the woods to find, and I always thought those little pinecone Santas and Mrs. Santas were a bit odd, but the few I own now are treasures. I have a little gold lamb ornament that was hers, and then of course the wintry blue and pink, red and silver single-color Shiny Brites. I love those, never even now being able to pass up a cheap box of them at a garage sale or Goodwill--but I keep Mawmaw's separate. THEY are special, even if less embellished than some of my independent finds.


A tiny gold lamb that was my Mawmaw's, and a cute postcard from
a local shop. I just loved that all the girls were holding their dolls--
I have kind of a special place in my heart for girls and dolls! Imagine that!
Speaking of girls and dolls--The Redhead took Kit with her on the carousel
at the Mall of Louisiana on their picture night a few weeks ago. We did
portraits for grandparent gifts this year. We hadn't had portraits in four years!


J and the Boy had fun on the carousel too. I was glad J would ride.
She will be "too big" in her opinion, like her big sister, before too long.
They grow up too quickly!

Our Christmas tree is COVERED this year, being smaller than usual. I didn't get out anything close to all of the ornaments. We had to pick and choose, but the kids hang all of theirs every year. I keep threatening to put up two big trees, but I am afraid that my husband would kill me if the "taking down" in January DIDN'T. haha. He puts up with my decorating/rearranging/daydreaming . . . remarkably well.
So I settle for a few other "not so big"(and not so little, either!)trees, Like the white tree, decorated with vintage glass and my tiny teapot collection. I like it as much as the big tree, for sure.


Or this little "feather" tree for the kitchen--it is decorated with the little vintage wooden ornaments. They are so whimsical.
I am truly blessed.
I hope you all had a very wonderful Christmas celebration.

May your new year be blessed, too! 2010 is on its way!
~april

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Primal A quest for the lost soul of Christianity

In Primal, Mark Batterson invites the reader along on a journey of self-examination to seek the key elements of living as a follower of Christ. This journey takes the reader to the day of his or her conversion, when the fires of faith likely burned most brightly, all the way back to the early days of the Church, and even beyond then to the words of Jesus in Mark 12. When He was asked what is the most important commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The book is divided into sections dealing with just what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He talks about comfort and how detrimental it is to really living for God, how each of us has a personal responsibility to stretch ourselves and to develop in ALL four areas in order to fully grow up in faith. He goes beyond the theoretical concepts into very inspiring illustrations of how people’s lives have been changed by grasping these principles. The point of the book is VERY practical. Don’t just say it, think it, or feel it, but DO it. Love is an action. We hear that phrase all the time, but in loving God, as He showed us by sending Christ to live and walk and minister and die here among us, we have to DO something. Batterson even gives some solid examples of how this can work.

Pretty simple. I liked that it was an admonishment to self-examine. I liked that he talked about “God ideas” and how we need to grab hold of those and seek Him to help us develop them—a different look at taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ. The key there is obedience. That is, of course, the hardest part. Sometimes obedience is uncomfortable, but it is the most basic lesson we learn as young children!

This book really would be a good read for January—an opportunity to do some soul-searching and direction setting in the new year. I hope to sit back down and take it a small piece at a time, with some journaling and prayer worked through the pages. The message of the book is worth taking the time to read and absorb deeply.

It is available for purchase at www.RandomHouse.com

Friday, December 4, 2009

should be dreaming . . .of a white Christmas

We have had a busy week. The three girls' Christmas Concert was tonight, and they had practice two nights this week for it. All that road-running in the evenings makes for a stressful time. Add to that the pile(ok, mountain!)of Christmas decoration boxes piled nearly to the ceiling in my family room and the "winter storm" weather conditions prior to the concert tonight, and there's a ball of stress in my shoulder that won't let go anytime soon!

The concert was great. This may be the best year yet for the Chorus at Christmas. They really sounded wonderful. It's always such a blessing to hear children sing, and these children are so well-rehearsed it's amazing. That's what the propaganda says about LPCC--"You will be amazed." They're right. Watch the video and remember my camera can't properly represent the SOUND. Wow.
video
Well, we got home to a crock pot of yummy soup(that may actually HAVE a writable recipe!!!!!) which everyone ATE(no small thing). Then the hubby says "according to the radar it SHOULD be snowing here by now. . . . "
That did it. We checked the windows, and sure enough, it was flurrying on down a bit. We zipped up coats and slid into the first yard-worthy shoes we could find, and we were OUT--all except hubby who is a true Louisiana boy and can't tolerate the cold OR understand why his wife who is normally fairly sensible would (1.) allow the kids out in the snow in their PAJAMAS, and (2.) want to go out in that sticky wet stuff AT NIGHT. He watched through the front window. The kids and I went out and had a ball because it REALLY started coming down!!!!



Never mind that The Boy is on antibiotics for a sinus infection or that no one had on socks. . .
They made a memory.
That stress ball is GONE.
Pretty cool stuff. ;-)
~april