Category Archives: Christmas Countdown

How it ended and began….the annual holiday recap <3

So here we go with what is basically like you came over and I set up the projector and showed you pictures of our Christmas Vacation…only I have edited it down.

Probably not enough and for those that don’t like pictures…I will see you tomorrow but here we go…

the Reader’s Digest Version of how it went down.

We squeezed Christmas lunch/brunch, stockings, gifts and such in between Sarah playing the Christmas Eve services that went on All.Day.

There were poppers and crowns….

for everyone…

of all ages….

Rocco got a new chew toy…

and made a new BFF

Uncle John learned how to put mittens on a two year old.

Hint: you lower your expectations by a thumb….and then….

schooled the nephews at snow ball fighting.

We got him back by harassing him with a saxophone playing stuffed snowman which he managed to hide…

in all kinds of creative places…

We passed on Mario and Luigi to a new generation…

and learned some new games on our phones that we hope didn’t give Russia access to our data…

We read stories….

took selfies…

made banana bread….

visited our favorite Missouri resident….

ate a fantabulous lunch…

Hosted an overnight for the wild bunch while these two kids attended a New Years Eve wedding….

and we have officially welcomed in 2018…

Whew….now we need a nap.

Here’s to the 364 days left of this year’s journey…can’t wait to walk it out together <3

Perspective and how a little distance changes things <3

I was going to do a “well that was Christmas 2017” wrap up post today…but we aren’t quite finished with all that was this year so we can look forward to that on Tuesday.

Get some rest.

But I just couldn’t end the week without one last check in, although it doesn’t feel like the end of the week.

With Christmas Eve on Sunday and Christmas Day on Monday and people having days off and going back to work and then having another day off, it feels like we have had about a month’s worth of weekends in the past 7 days….however…it is Friday and we are headed into New Years-palooza….so….

I am disciplining my mind this morning to write something that is vaguely contemplative.

Last night Russ and I attended a holiday basketball tournament and watched a few local teams play a few not-so-far-away teams and it is always interesting to go to a sporting event where you have no dog in the race, so to speak.

Sitting in the stands amongst passionate parents and students who are somewhat paying attention to the game; but really more taking selfies and checking out the other team’s student section is interesting, to say the least.

Especially for a people-watching, over-analyzing student of human behavior such as myself.

I remember well back when the game mattered way more than it should have in the grand scheme of eternity so I can’t be overly critical of the gal who screamed some embarrassing things at the ref when she thought he could do a better job.

It’s easy to take a breath and put the whole high school gym into perspective when you have walked a few miles down the road past those years.

Makes me look at the things that are getting me all worked up now and wonder if I need to step back a bit and look at it all as if it were in my rear view mirror.

What will matter five or ten years from now in the way I react to the wins and the losses of today?

Something to think about as we tuck the last of 2017 into our memories and move into the new year.

Sending out hugs and prayers for a safe and healthy and happy celebration this weekend and I look forward to seeing you in 2018 <3

 

Tell me why….<3

PC/Rachel Maxwell <3
Russ and I just waved the last bird out of the driveway to head back to his home and job and life three big states away.

We have enjoyed having time with family and especially having John home for a little longer than he usually is able to stay.

Goes without saying…it was nice having some young ones rambling around these four walls for a bit.

Tuesday morning Russ had left for work and John was sleeping. I was sitting at the desk in the office reading when I heard an odd thunk coming from the kitchen. Immediately my mind tried to figure out what it could be.

I mentally went over appliances eliminating all possibilities including the ice maker. Nothing would have produced that sound so my mind moved to the stack of dishes drying wondering if something had shifted.

No. That would have been more of a clink or a crash. This was a definite thud of something hitting metal and then I remembered.

When Russ left that morning I had pulled John’s car in the garage to warm it up a bit and I had brought a cup that had the frozen remains of a couple of inches of coffee in the bottom left over from the long drive several days before.

Knowing it would thaw and possibly leak in our garbage, I had turned the cup upside down to melt and drain.

The sound I heard was the perfect match for a chunk of ice dropping into our stainless steel sink as it loosened from the sides.

It made sense.

I could move on with my morning devotions knowing what the cause of the interruption had been.

We just naturally look for a reason for things that disrupt our every day life, don’t we?

It’s like if we know why or how something happened we can deal with it and move on.

But sometimes…no…actually quite often…the bumps that startle us do not make sense.

There are things that change the course of our trajectory and while we flounder for some reason that would have caused it, we realize it doesn’t matter what the catalyst was.

It doesn’t matter why the cells mutated or the driver ran the stop sign or the company we invested in failed.

Knowing why and how doesn’t change what.

What we will do to move forward into our new normal.

We simply must go on.

And that is where faith is tested and tried and nurtured.

2017 left most of us shaking our heads at some point and asking God to help us understand why this or that awful thing happened.

Maybe you got an answer or two. Some insight gleaned from the asking.

But most of the times I have asked those questions, the answers I got back included phrases about trust and waiting and hope deferred, but never answers to my why.

I got assurances of a God who knows and understands and identifies with my sorrow and my loss and my pain but who does not owe me anything in regard to an explanation.

Because His answers always are about Who.

Who He is and who He says we are.

In the midst of my questions, He reminds me His ways are higher than mine and that I am not to rely on my need to understand things.

He promises to heal our broken hearts and He binds our wounds in His love.

This world is not our home.

We are sojourners here.

Fellow travelers who are sharing the journey.

Making our way Home together.

Our God is faithful.

His patience is infinite while we ask our questions as if we could make sense of it all.

And He waits for us to simply know Him as His children.

One day all of this will pass away and you and I will be so busy worshipping and praising we will have no thought nor voice to ask why.

Hold fast to the Hope that is in you.

Even as you seek answers, seek wisdom and guidance in how to proceed as you lean ever harder into your Savior.

No matter what the circumstances are as we watch 2017 draw to a close, remember….

You are loved.

You are precious in His sight and your tears and your fears, your doubts and your questions, your surrender and your worship matter.

I look forward to continuing the journey with you in the coming year.

It is good and kind of God to give us each other so we don’t have to travel alone <3

That place between Christmas and the New Year <3

Good morning to you <3

I am in that fuzzy, sugar fueled place where the presents are slowly being absorbed into the norm of our life and we are getting just a wee bit tired of the leftovers.

That place where the charm of seeing a sign pointing the way to the Santa House in Central Park has waned and yet the glow of the candles from the Christmas Even service still flickers on my heart.

The emails have shifted from “You still have time to order” and fill in the blank with any and every possible item that had you really needed would already be wrapped and under the tree.

Now they are advertising the end of year sales with extra savings on all the same merchandise that it wasn’t too late to buy four days ago.

And fitness equipment.

And storage/organizer gadgets.

Because we will all want to be in shape and tidy when they roll out the Spring Line in a week or two.

And that is the rhythm of this culture, isn’t it?

Go big or go home.

Grab the gusto…as much as you can…and then let’s hurry along to the next thing.

But I think when we truly seek the Christ of Christmas from the first lighting of the Advent Candle, we are not in a rush to leave His story.

So let’s linger in that awe and wonder that is the story of Immanuel.

God with us.

Let’s not throw out the Baby with the wrappings and trappings of all that was Christmas 2017.

May God’s people carry the message that Christ has come into the last days of this year and tell the story through our lives in all the days that follow <3

 

Merry Christmas Eve <3

 

I lit the fourth candle this morning.

The house has a couple extra people and a big old dog running around.

All the presents that will be wrapped are under the tree and the stockings have been stuffed.

Russ and Sarah are getting ready to make the first run to church and the crowd up north is dressed and breakfasting and will be headed down to hear Tia play at the 9:00 with the others who will lead us in worship on this blessed Christmas Eve of 2017.

I woke this morning wondering if I had prepared my heart well this Advent Season. I thought of the hit and miss I had with my original plan of devotionals. One I read fairly regularly….poor Max Lucado got left in the hubbub.

And then I remembered meeting you all here and I thanked God for the journey we shared this year.

Our last hymn/carol is one that never fails to spark deep reverence and worship…Oh Holy Night.

I looked it up this morning to see who wrote it and wanted to share this interesting tidbit.

In 1843 in the parish of Roquemaure France, the priest asked a wine merchant and poet named Placide Cappeau to write a song for the newly refurbished organ to play on Christmas Eve.

According to the website I read, he was not considered a devoted believer..and yet I think he most assuredly was.

Translated to English…and filled in with swelling chords that lift the heart in adoration and worship…these beautiful words of truth echo across time and space and speak our hearts this morning….

Long lay the world in sin and error pining…till He appeared…and the soul felt its worth….the thrill of hope…a weary world rejoices….for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…       Oh Holy Night/Midnight, Christians   Placide Caapeau

The worth of our souls is that God loves us and redeems us <3

Oh yes…

fall on your knees…

truly this year.

Listen well and hear the angel chorus…as we celebrate by remembering the Holy Night that God came to dwell among us.

I pray that you and yours have a blessed Christmas Eve and Day.

I pray that the Christ of Christmas is worshipped in all that we do.

From our home to yours…

Merry Merry Christmas <3