Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Christmas Letter

I generally like to include a letter with our Christmas card, but alas, this year, it did not appear to be "in the cards." Instead we included the address of this blog on the face of our picture cards, figuring that this might be the best way to communicate what is and has been happening with our family. And it is probably the most thorough, just take that sidebar back to the beginning of 2008 and work your way forward!

If I had to be honest, I let my schedule move towards overload and saw a short cut. I will tell you, "4 kids under the age of 7, of course I'm a busy mom." True as this is, in my mind, it is still an excuse and /or reason. If you happen to be a busy person too and don't want to read all of my posts from the last year, never fear, I'll give you the cliff notes here instead. and bonus: I don't have to shrink my font to a 8.5 pt size to make it fit on my cute Christmas themed paper.

As I read the annual letter from other friends, especially the one from my Uncle Bob, I realized how much I enjoyed hearing others recounting the past year. And I wanted to recounting it for myself as well, and so here, I will share it with you.

Greetings of the Season of Christ, the Lord of Creation - Heaven and Earth!

I hope that this Christmas has found you to be well. It is hard to believe that 2008 in more or less already in the books. As would be expected, our family rarely slows down.

Last winter we began to adjust to life as a slightly larger family. Maggy was growing and we were in the throws of infancy once again. But it was a different type of baby-life than we had seen before. Albeit, every child, with their own personality will affect a family differently, but Maggy seemed to come in with joyful exclamation marks! Something about having her with us brought us a joy and contentment. She has probably been our most difficult baby, especially in terms of sleeping, but the joy and smiles help to strengthen us for those moments.

The end of January brought us to one of the most challenging and difficult decisions in our marriage. We left our church home after almost 10 years. As it is with most difficulties, we were forced to grown and change. We truly felt the Holy Spirit guiding us to this decision and through the process of finding a new church home. Ultimately He used this time to draw us closer to Him. We tried several other local churches and was impressed to find some wonderful teachers and communities. We prayerfully decided that Westport Church would be a place worth investing ourselves and our time in. Since then we have jumped right in, made a ton of new friends and started leading a weekly community group. We still occasionally find our hearts torn at how the decision has tested and challenged old friendships, but we continue to trust that the Lord will bring all things right in time.

This spring, Noah played T-ball and Shane helped to coach. The rest of us made every effort to get out to those fields 1-2 times a week, despite typical Oregon spring weather (which is generally anything BUT typical). After several heat waves in May, we put up a
great big pool
in our
*itty-bitty-tiny* back yard.


All of the kids have become quite fish like, with Noah and Hannah swimming confidently under the water from one side to the other.

Shane continues to work for Ensequence, testing their interactive software on various TV and internet platforms. This was his 3 year on the MLB Mosaic project which was nominated for an Emmy! Although the MLB project required quite a bit of overtime, he was often able to work from home.

As summer rolled in, I attempted to make our small property produce a garden. Unfortunately the combination of less than ideal landscape and an unusually cool Oregon summer, it was less than productive, but the experience was, never the less a great lesson, for both me and the kids! We purchased our very first tent trailer off of craigslist, just in time for a wonderful camping trip with some folks from Westport Church.

The first week of August was spent in the North East, visiting my family. A crazy, "Dedrick-style" itinerary swept us from RI to NH, NH to Western NY State, from Western NY to CT and back again through RI, in barely a week. It was fabulous catching up with Aunts and Uncles, but everyone's favorite part was visiting Canadaiguia. My brother's son, Jack, celebrated his 1st birthday. He's just a doll and we loved getting to visit Bob and his wife Mandy too! Next time, we will likely opt to parachute into Dad's back yard and sit there. We drove over 1000 miles in 6 days!

As September rolled in we attempted to establish a firm homeschool schedule that would make our family roll on like a well oiled machine. And whereas that exact and strict schedule fizzled within a few weeks, it did help to establish more of what would work for the Vertner School. While still a work in progress, I think we are coming closer to deciding on a holistic method of learning with a few subject-specific curriculums supplimenting. It feels very natural and every experience we have is an opportunity for learning. I also prefer to keep our family together as much as possible, doing things together. Individual interests are important and will be given the opportunity to grow, but we will all be companions for each other, even in that.

Noah is a very strategic thinker and does very well with Math and Science. He loves games. He is drawn towards audio books, and should be reading proficently on his own in the next few months. I am hopeful that the two combined will give him a love to read and a love to learn. He lost 4 teeth this year, all in the front, making consumption of corn on the cob quite humorous.

Hannah is eager to learn and eager to please. Although she is only 4, most days she would like to get right into the middle of our school work. We will start the reading program with Hannah in the next few months. She is often found quietly coloring or doodling in a corner and seems to have a real gift of artistic creativity. She is also a fantastic sister, a little mommy, and is everyone's play buddy.

Zak is a sharp kid who is anxious to do what the big kids do. He is very content to create spaceships and airplanes out of legos all day long. He's funny and oh, so love-able. He is a fluent speaker now and amazes us as grown up sounding thoughts and statements come from his mouth. Even since he was a baby, he's been a strong communicator and still knows how to use the "grins and eyebrows" speak.

Maggy has been a great help with school, as she is content to sit with her own pile of books on the floor near the kitchen table and keep herself entertained while I work with the older kids. Now that she is walking, she can follow the other kids around easier and finds much delight in doing so.

We spent much of October and November learning about the Powatan Indians, Pocohontas and the Jamestown Colony. In late November we picked up and started learning about Ancient Egypt. I am personally learning right along with the kids and finding things that I don't remember learning, or don't remember being so exciting when a student myself.

Family additions for this year are as follows: 3 new tree frogs - Homer, Bart and Lisa, a plycochotumus fish(unnamed) and a 11 month old black lab mix named Dex. The frogs came to us from Grandma and Grandpa's house in Dallas, Oregon. Dex joined us in the beginning of November after being rescued by a friend of a friend. We couldn't hope for a better dog. She loves staying where ever we are but is crate trained; she is so gentle with the kids, especially Maggy; entertains the whole family when she plays with her toys, and has the perfect mix of energy and downtime. We really love her.

I still find time to scrapbook and sew occasionally. I love to create things in the kitchen, which is a hobby I get to indulge because it generally means the family is fed at the same time. Shane enjoys World of Warcraft several nights a week, an online game where he gets to connect with friends and strategize against other players and computer controlled challenges.

This Christmas was marked by the intense snow storm that hit our area 10 days before Christmas. Generally the Portland area closes down with any sort of below freezing weather, but it also generally only lasts 1-2 days. Many in our neighborhood have been homebound, ourselves included, since that first storm, as the roads were quite messy and not being plowed. We were very thankful to have Liz and Chris make it here on December 22, although it was not an easy trip because of the weather. Dad made it in on December 25 with much less difficulty.

We certainly feel that God has blessed us, but not of any doing of our own. We praise Him first for the gift that he gave in Jesus, showing us what it means to really give of ourselves.

Thank you for stopping in to see us and Merry CHRISTmas to you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Where'd she go?!

I know...



....I was so frequent and then...



BOOM!



Where'd she go!?

I'm no where near my computer as my Dad is staying with us for two weeks and I'm loving every minute of it. Additionally, my sister Liz and her boyfriend Chris are bouncing back and forth between Beaverton and Woodburn, where his family lives - they are here until Saturday. So we are enjoying our time together, cuddles with the kids, playing with new and old toys, Wii, Apples to Apples, Wise and Otherwise, 10,000 , Euchre, Scrabble, too much great food and sweets, wine and whiskey sours, lazy days in PJs till noon or later, homemade lattes and hot tea, Dad's buttermilk pancakes, left overs for lunch, walks through the neighborhood, the same Power Ranger movie AGAIN, but mostly - sweet faces I need to see more of!

I'm going to try to back log a few fun posts and find some time to get some deeper stuff up too, but stick with me for a bit, I'll be back on track in a week or two.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Heralds?

I am not a theologian by any means. I may have this completely wrong.


For some reason, this year's reciting of the traditional Christmas Carols is affecting me in a way that is more than sentimental.



I don't think I'd ever given much thought to heralds of angels, or more specifically, the angels that sang in worship over Jesus' birth.
Luke 2:13-14

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.

I have recently wondered, did these angels come of their own accord? They were in Heaven with God the Father AND the son from before the dawn of creation. They knew God, they know God, in His fullness. I have heard before that angels do not have free will, but I don't know if that is biblical or not. I imagine, it would not require a mandate from authority to bring them to a place of praise. What a wonderful eternity, to know God in His fullness, aware of who He is and is Mercy and Grace. They would know of his purpose to come as the savior of the world, but also likely knew of the sacrifice that would be required of the Savior, just that we, pittiful sinners, would know the Almighty God.

Sing praise today to God, think on this. That if you knew all that the angels had known and will know, you would find magnificent and wonderful ways to worship Him.

Merry CHRIST-mas to you.







Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Jammies

Remember when I said that I wanted to start working on next year's Halloween costumes in August? That means next year's Christmas PJs should start in September. I would love to have them to the kids by the weekend after Thanksgiving. I'm a natural procrastinator, but hey - you've got to have goals!




This years PJ's were made from a red cotton with reindeer and stars print. We started with 12 yards, but there is about 1 1/2 yards left over.



And the finished product!










End note: I was asked after the post about the Halloween costumes if it was truly cost effective to sew my own, versus buying pre-made. Generally, unless I plan really well, it works out to be about the same. I enjoy the sewing: I enjoy thinking about the person I am making the clothing for as I am constructing it, I enjoy watching the pieces come together, I enjoy experimenting with patterns - veering away from the instructions (I'm a rebel!), and I enjoy seeing the finished product. For the Halloween costumes, I doubt that I would have been able to purchase the same quality as I was able to produce - most store bought costumes are pretty flimsy. The costumes cost me between $20-30 to make, not including my labor. For these PJ pants, I shopped online at Hancock Fabrics on Thanksgiving day. The cost per pant is less than $4, not including my labor. I like to keep an eye out for deals on fabric, or other things that can be used for fabric such as sheets or curtains (just like Sound of Music!). I also have a closet full of fabric that my mom collected, to which I incured no cost. I need to be better about finding a way to use what I have instead of getting an idea and then trying to find the right fabric.

Snow Bound

We are not going anywhere today - again!
Our back porch. I got the ruler as far down as I could, but there is a layer of ice below it

The snow fell yesterday from the time I woke up (around 7) until after the kids were in bed last night (9:30 pm). Total was about 8 inches.



Then we had a dose of freezing rain, which put a firm crust atop all this beautiful snow.



Some cars are moving through the neighborhood, but we won't be. The Mazda does have 4WD, and Shane and Noah made it out during the day yesterday to do some shopping.



Our bedroom window, this is the snow piled ontop of the garage

Late last night, the news began reporting that all roads in the Portland Metro area required traction devices. We had assumed that we'd be in good shape, as we had picked up some chains at a garage sale a few summers ago, that should have fit on the van. Well, the chains do not fit on either of our vehicles.

From the Office window - There are sunlights in the sunroom roof that are not letting any sunlight in

That's ok though, we don't need to go anywhere.


The sunroom is staying closed, the windows are very frosty and condensation has frozen, icicles inside!

Until tomorrow afternoon when my sister and Chris WILL arrive (thinking positive!).


And cold? Yes, it is cold! About 22 degrees in Beaverton right now. We are not expecting to get above freezing until at least tomorrow and will continue to see freezing rain / snow mix up until Christmas.


And our sweet little humming birds are surviving. I was blessed to find him perched on the lights hanging off the porch this morning. I have been warming the syrup every morning to make sure that he has something to eat. I was impressed with the fuzziness of his feathers, he has built a winter coat! If it wasn't for that needle beak, I would have thought it a finch!


It is beautiful and incredible. I love watching it from this side of the window. Not a huge fan of being out in it (that's one reason I prefer Oregon... this is not normal!). Praying all the friends and loved ones traveling through this will be safe.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Potty Talk

WARNING - this is not a pleasant subject. If you are not a mother familiar and comfortable with diaper discussions, you may want to navigate away from this page at this time.

Maggy has a diaper rash.

Maggy has had the same diaper rash since at least August.

I have tried everything under the sun to treat it.

I am at my wits end and to the point of tears several times this week, knowing that she is in pain and I can not fix it.

We have gone to the doctor twice to address this rash. Initially, she tested negative for strep and we were told that it appeared to be a yeast rash. Treat with Clortimizole and even the stronger Tinactin. Balmex. Desitin. Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Arbonne Baby Care. Triple Paste. Bag Balm. Aquaphor. Acidopholous. Yogurt. Baking Soda Baths. Naked bootie pooping on the carpet. EVERYTHING I can think of, we have tried.

The second trip to the doctor - yesterday - we were told, "it doesn't look like strep or yeast, it just looks like the skin has been burned from the acidic poop". The only new suggestion - hydracortizone cream - a steriod to reduce swelling. And then I was told to "change her right after she poops, lots of barrier cream and often, give her a chance to air out, lots of baths and make sure she isn't eating a lot of fruit.

Insanity (def) - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

DUH!! I've already been doing that!

I'm really feeling as if the doctors have failed me, failed my child. There is something else going on, and we are not getting to the root of the issue.

The root - she has a minimum of 4 BMs a day. She continues to be prolific pooper, even when gets little to no fruit or fruit juice or fiber. Her skin will never have the opportunity to heal like it needs to. The doctor did take a sample for testing but mostly because I brought it in and mentioned that the dog had been diagnosed with a parasite. We have only had the dog for 6 weeks and Maggy has had this problem for at least 5 months.

I wonder if she could have Candida (Leaky Gut), or maybe a hidden food allergy. After the holidays I will be looking for a natureopath to see if we can get a fresh perspective. The doctor thinks that her digestive system is normal. Is it normal to deny a child fruit, which is supposed to be part of the normal FDA approved diet?! She also has had a much harder time than any of my other children when it comes to settling for bed time. This was also written off by the doctor as normal. Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe the two have something to do with each other, maybe not.

I am putting this out there to ask for advice, if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear about them.

Regardless, this experience has also brought me to a place of new trusting in the Lord. I want to fix it, and I want to control it. I forget that these children have been loaned to me, but they belong to the Lord. And I must put my trust in Him to help my daughter in this. I am doing what I can with the here and now, but starting yesterday, I am petitioning to God for her healing. If you have a moment to lift her up, please pray.

Anticipation - delays

I just got a call from Liz. She thinks I may have jinxed them. The flight through Chicago was canceled. We should see them sometime on Monday.

Boo hoo!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Anticipation

I am simply counting the hours....



My BEAUTIFUL sister, Liz and her FANTASTIC boyfriend, Chris, will arrive in Portland around 1 am on Monday morning. I'm not worried about staying awake to meet them at the airport, I'll be too excited to sleep. I am a wee bit concerned that we'll be under a foot of snow (and I know that doesn't sound like much, but in Beaverton, it really is a LOT!) which maybe covered with ice....

pray for safe travels, gentle flights and clear roads at 1 am.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

For the Birds

I grew up with hummingbirds that lived in the tree in the side yard. All summer long, we could hear the buzz of their wings as they zipped through the air near the front porch on their way to the feeder.

I long to see these beautiful creatures come and enjoy the sweet snack that I put out for them. But alas, the feeder went out in early spring and by late summer had not needed to be refilled. No one was interested in my sweet snack.

My hanging purple and white fuchsia made a resurgence in September with new blooms. It was at that time that I noticed the twitter and hum that I remember from my childhood. The hummingbirds were eating from the fuchsia! I grabbed the feeder and cleaning it out, providing a fresh syrup. Since then, I have enjoyed seeing this little bit of creation every day, 2 hummingbirds. With this recent "arctic blast" I have begun to worry that they might not make it, especially if the syrup in the feeder freezes! So each morning, I bring it into the kitchen and warm it up. I did see both hummingbirds the last two days, looking quite plump in fact. (I wish I could get a picture of them but they are just too quick!)

And while thinking of the birds and their needs during this weeks freeze, I let the kids create pine cone feeders, which are now hanging in various places in our yard.




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow days

When it snows, my heart wells with the image of a steaming cup of hot chocolate, a roaring fire, looking out over frosted window panes to a snow covered ground. Nothing to do but stay in and relax. Don't worry about the errands that need to be run, there is no use in going on the roads on a day like today, so just relax.


HA!

I would also like to admit that because I have nothing pressing to be accomplished outside of my home that the inside of my home is neat and orderly and all of my projects are complete.

HA! HA!

I think I am simply wired to be a procrastinator. My accomplishments, regardless of the amount, complexity or duration, will always spread to fit into the time allowed by my schedule. So, we wake to snow. Husband's company tells him to work from home and avoid driving. I get excited about how much we will accomplish... and yet...at 11 am I am just stepping out of my PJs into the shower. I should be able to take advantage of this sequester and invite a sweet neighbor over for coffee, as it has been over 4 months since we have had the chance to just chat. But I simply have too much to get done. Piles of unaddressed Christmas Cards, treats not made and sewing projects that are getting closer to their deadline (Christmas Eve) with every passing moment - all reasons to keep pressing forward.

But then I remember my goal. Presence, not more presents. Sharing more of myself and less stuff.

I will get my to-do's accomplished, I almost always do. I work better under pressure and massive amounts of caffine.

And I will call Carol for coffee, giving her some of myself and my time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Unusual

Many of my fellow bloggers in the Pacific North West are sharing this same subject, and it is mostly because this is such an unusual occurrence!

Rarely does this part of Oregon get "wintry"weather. This week's forecast is probably more wintry than any we have experience in the 10 years that I have lived here. We have had storms, some snow, but usually water-dense snow that melts quickly, or just ice storms. Yesterday dropped dry, dusty flakes most of the day, resulting in about 3 inches.


video
The temperature has dipped as low as single digits and is holding at about 15 degrees now. BRRRR!!

Kids, being kids, feel the need to take advantage of the opportunity while it is available.


Unfortunately, the snow is a little too dry to build with and the wind is a little too sharp. So adventures out require more time preparing than the actual event.

Forecast is calling for continued cold, more white stuff, and maybe an ice storm next Sunday. Its beginning to look like we will be staying close to home this week. I'm glad for the change in my thinking about Christmas, I have little left to do that will require doing things in stores! :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

God's rest



I heard the BNL and Sarah Mclachlan version of "God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen" yesterday, and for the first time was struck by the power of the lyrics. Isn't it funny how you can know a song, virtually your whole life, and sing it, and know the lyrics,never taking in the meaning? Maybe I'm the only one who does that.

Just consider our current state of economic turmoil. The lack of certainty in jobs, homes, even in the value of the US dollar. Yet, "Let nothing you dismay!" God allowed Jesus to be born to "save us from Satan's power" which will tempt and try to lead us astray. God give us His almighty "Comfort and Joy". Joy only comes from God. Comfort to our souls can only be found in the person of Christ. Enjoy this song in a new way, I have.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day;
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

From God our heavenly Father
This blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

O, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to that perfect light.

Born a king on Bethlehem's plain;
Gold I bring to crown Him again;
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

O, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to that perfect light.

Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Worship Him, God Most High.

O, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to that perfect light.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
God rest ye merry, gentlemen...


Saturday, December 13, 2008

My show and tell - LIGHTS

I'd like to share with you the decorations visible from the exterior of our home.

I really enjoy the icicle lights, and on our porch they are hung with green pine garlands. I would have liked to add another string on the garage, to cover both the doors. I have had a hard time matching the "warm white" LED bulbs to what is available on the shelves.

The picture doesn't really do justice to our colorful snow flakes that line the walk to the front door. I am making an effort to switch over to LED and energy efficent decorations. The snowflakes I purchased at Costco for $36. Normally I would say this is very steep for decorations, but these are special! They are LED / Solar Hybrid lights. There is a solar pad, that absorbs energy from the sun light during the day and is connected to the house for back up power. Since they cost very little to run, I consider them an investment that will pay for itself. You may notice that the string of icicles hanging over the garage are a slightly different hue from the rest of the icicles. These are also LED lights. At $12 a string, versus the $4 a string for the less energy efficent bulbs. Again, I assume that as we move to replace the other strings over the next few years, I am assuming the cost will be a steal considering how much we'll save with PGE. I LOVE Christmas lights, I LOVE lighting up my house. I usually HATE seeing the PGE bill that arrives in January. :-(

Here are some of the "non-electric" decorations.

Living in an area that rarely sees consistent snow during the Christmas season, I very much appreciate the lights helping to be a reminder, keeping Joy, Delight and Thankfulness in my heart.


See some other's decorations at the CWO Open House

Friday, December 12, 2008

Decor Changes for the Holidays

Earlier in the fall, we shared the changes made to the decor of our homes that help us to remember that it was, in fact, fall.

As I grow older and *hopefully* more graceful, I am learning that decorating for Christmas is more than just a tree and a string of lights on the front porch. I continue to insist that decorating is not a talent I possess. Yet, I make an attempt regardless.


Same standard candle and candle holder - the colors work for both seasons! I love these little figurines. My mother in law gave them to me one of our first Christmases together. I have always struggled to find the right place for them, trying to keep them from blending into the hodgepodge mix. I think the bathroom sink is a great place to showcase them.


Here are the interior decorations that serve as a reminder to smile, love and give with every turn.
Most of the Christmas Village was collected for my by my Dad, also, shortly after moving to Oregon. My favorite- the hardware store! (My Dad owned a hardware store when I was growing up and it was where I had my first job) About 2 years ago, I was needing a way to store more of my serving ware, so was shopping for a buffet /sideboard, but one qualification was that it would give me a place to put out the houses. The snow globe in the upper right was a wedding gift (we were married in October 99) and has a banner that reads "Welcome 2000". Noah and Hannah have been taking turns every other day, rearranging the snow, train, brick fence, stop light, etc. So the village may change orientation before the holiday is through...


I transplanted my little Christmas Cactus into a red holly planter. There are a few other nick-knacks that I like to have out each year. The wooden Santa, made by my sister's boyfriend's Dad, well, I think it's really neat. The little girl in red is actually a bell and it was part of my "Grandma" Julie's collection, so that makes it special too. I have attempted to create a family Christmas album with just pictures of our Christmas gatherings, it generally sits on the piano, open and someone will turn a page or two every couple of days.
How does your house change for Christmas? Leave a comment and share!

Tomorrow - Lights and gadgets!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

giving and getting JOY

So, the goal is less presents and more presence. And you may ask, how are we doing at that, approximately 2 weeks from the big day?

I will not lie.

Christmas is fun.

Part of the fun part of Christmas is the search for the "perfect" gift and spending time focusing and thinking about the recipient, imaging that the will enjoy what I give as much as I am enjoying getting it or making it for them.

Just to clarify - my hope was not to ward off all spending completely. Nor do I think that was what was being suggested by the Advent Conspiracy.

My goal was to change my thinking, and I expect that this change will produce different fruit. I am proud that I am doing much more thoughtful giving this year and I don't feel a compulsion to fulfill every need of every person on my list, which I have tried to do in years past.

But, the thing that I am most proud of is how my children are responding to these changes. In years past, I would buy gifts for certain people, my husband, Dad, In Laws, and have the kids sit with me while I wrapped them and told them "Ok, you are going to give Daddy this shirt. Do you like this? Do you think Daddy will like this? Do you want to give it to him?" For our children, this was essentially empty and meaningless.

This year, they are thinking for themselves.

They have been given a small budget which can be spent on anyone they'd like to give a gift to. They are generating their own list of who they are shopping for and they are picking out things that want to give. Noah and Hannah have really gotten into it. They have also essentially learned to wrap the presents by themselves. I don't know that I've heard them really talk much about what they want for Christmas. Occasionally, I will hear a worry that they forget to get something for a certain person, so we start thinking about the best type of gift for that person.

I can see JOY in their eyes as they consider giving.

I feel an overwhelming JOY knowing that they are really getting it.

3 John 1:4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My own private Zoo

We went to the Zoo yesterday morning. It was cold, only in the 40s the entire time we were there, but it was $2 Tuesday and kids under 3 are free, and we were over due for a visit.


We met Jackie and her two younger daughters, Olivia and Amelia there.

Some of the animals were more visible than they usually are, others - completely unavailable. We had hoped to see the "keeper talk" in the frog exhibit, which was scheduled for 10, but apparently was put off until the afternoon because they are staying open later than usual for the Zoo Lights.

For those who are not familiar with the Oregon Zoo, Zoo Lights is a special evening program where the entire zoo is lit up with thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights.

Maybe it was the busyness of December, or simply the chill in the air, but there were very few other spectators at the zoo. We felt much like it was our own private zoo.

Although, had that been the case, we could have scheduled the keeper talk with the frog people at a time that would have been convenient for all of us.

Despite the childrens' whining about cold hands and tired legs, it was a wonderful day and I feel so much better for getting the opportunity to enjoy this treasure, practically in our own back yard.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Philadelphia Meter

I want to share with you some of my notes from this morning's sermon at Westport Church.

The Series is called STUCK. Everyone can get stuck in life. God's prescription for our stuck-ness is found in the verse 2 Peter 1:3-8

3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control 7 with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection and godliness with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


This week's focus was on "Brotherly Kindness"

Maybe you already know that the city of Philadelphia is known as the "City of Brotherly Love"

I don't know much about Greek, but have learned that "Phileo" is a type of love that has to do with attitude (versus and "Agape" love which has to do with action). So literally, philadelphia has to do with showing love to my brother. As a Christian, because of the sacrifice of Christ being done for all, I have gained all of humanity as my brother in the eyes of God.

God has called us to show kindness. It is one of the things that will "..keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful..."

1. The Godly life is relational.
2. The Godly life is NOT preferential (discriminatory)
3. The Godly life shows hospitality

Romans 10:10-12 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

We want our Philadelphia Meter to read full. In this season, our thoughts are drawn towards giving and caring of others. Yet we will never find success in these three areas on our own. It only comes through putting Christ in our hearts, it is his work that causes the kindness to flow through us.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Traditions - Storytime

A few weeks ago at our GALS get-together we shared some of the traditions practiced in our homes, now or in our own childhood. My sweet friend Lisa, who is also a mom of four, shared a holiday practice that I thought was just fantastic.

She will start the holiday season, the weekend after Thanksgiving, as the decorations are going up by taking all of her Christmas books and wrapping them as "special gifts" under the tree. Every night, the children will come together, select and open a package, and then have family story time. She has at least 30 Christmas themed books. What a wonderful gift to give your children. This is a great way to give less presents and more presence.



So I started keeping my eye out for Christmas books where ever I was. I am getting a late start, but we will join in this new tradition for two weeks before Christmas. Our books range to all ends of the spectrum, but I am looking forward to this time and memories with our children.