Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

So I got to see my little bro in the Nutcracker this weekend. He was awesome! It's so amazing how talented that kid truly is! I tried to take pictures, but it didn't work out so well for me. I'll try to have my camera figured out by the next performance. Here is one of him just being his cute little self:

The 23rd of December is kind of a funny day. The anticipation is there, but Christmas still kind of seems far away.

I had the day off today so I got to do some of those final things before Christmas. I wrapped a gift, baked some bread, and finished some shopping. Tonight, I hope to read the Christmas story. It kind of helps me center the season on what's important.

Christmas is just one of those things that immediately transports me to my youth. Right now, I am watching "Babes in Toyland" with Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reaves. It's one of those movies we almost ruined on VHS because we watched so many times. (Remember how VHS's could be ruined with use?) We also had the same predicament with the Care Bear's version of the Nutcracker. Same goes for Mickey's Christmas Carol. We were big Christmas movie-watching kids. Although we aren't going to watch any of those movies when I get home, I am still looking forward to spending some time with my siblings and family for Christmas.

I am working tomorrow so I will get to Christmas Eve services a little late, but I know that I will get there in time for my favorite part. For as long as my dad has been a pastor, the very last part of Christmas Eve services has remained the same. It's so special to me. We pass out the flimsy candles and sing, in candle light, "Silent Night."

Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is Bright
Round Yon Virgin,
Mother and Child
Holy Infant,
So tender and Mild
Sleep in Heavenly Peace
Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Silent night,
holy night,
Son of God,
Love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

I just love reflecting on the importance of that quiet, still, cave-dwelling (most likely anyway) moment. Even as a baby, Jesus was Lord. And his purpose, although not yet realized, was to save us with redeming grace. How powerful. Birth is always powerful. I can't even imagine at this point, how powerful it will be when I go through that process and meet my child. But for our savior, his birth was such a blessing for all of us. I don't remember every day. I don't even recognize hima quarter of the time that I should. But on this one day a year, we all get a day to remember the one who redeemed us. Who saved us. Who bought us even though we were worth nothing. Wow.

May this Christmas time be a time of remembrance, redemption, family, and tradition for all of us.

Here's to Christmas. And to Silent Nights. Merry Christmas and May 2009 be blessed!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I wrote On Monday and Forgot to Post So Here it is...

Monday is always an interesting day. It seems like, no matter what happened last week, you never know what you will get on Monday. This Monday has been a little odd. We had a weird occurrence last night that interrupted our sleep. Thanks to that, I am exhausted but caffeinated today. Thank God for a husband who works in a coffee shop. Today is also the youngest Walter’s birthday. He is 21 and, from what I can tell from our texting, loving it. Congrats, Mark.
This weekend was really pretty great. I traveled Saturday to see my parents. First, I saw my mom at church. For 26 years, she has been directing children’s choir performances. That is true dedication. I watched the latest group sing, dance, and goof off. It reminded me of my childhood and made me realize how young I was. It also reminded me that I may, in fact, be the bossiest person alive. I walked straight into a group of stranger children and started giving directions. Wowee zowee. I have no scruples. I keep praying for God to teach me to keep my mouth shut. It is a slow lesson. Mom laughed it off and we grabbed lunch, hit Wal-Mart, and I finished my Christmas cards.
The real reason I came home was to see my dad. He and I have spent many a Christmas season ringing bells outside Wal-Mart. When he signed up to do it this year, he asked me to tag along. I have to say there are few joys as great as ringing bells during the Christmas season. Sure, it’s freezing. And some people avoid eye contact like the plague. But most of the time, it’s heartwarming. People teaching their children to give to others. Strangers wishing you a Merry Christmas. Friends stopping to chat about their shopping trip. OK, I don’t have any friends in Salem, but my dad’s friends stopped to chat. The neatest part is that, even in these times of economic turmoil, people who look like they don’t have much to give fill the bucket. Families with lots of children who pour out of an old car will hand you a five, or a little old lady who can barely walk into the store will stop with a few bucks. Even people that look like they could possibly be on the receiving end of such charities seem to find anything they have to give. It’s so inspiring. I know not everyone who gives believes in the true meaning of Christmas, but to watch the generosity of people who have no incentive to give reinforces to me that there is a God. One young man even stopped to pray for the recipients of the donations. I was truly humbled by my experience this year. If you have never taken the time to ring the Salvation Army bell, I encourage you to volunteer. Those will be two hours of your life that you will never regret.
May the Lord bless you and keep you during this Christmas season. May you remember, as I am learning each day, that every gift comes from above. And may you begin this January, a new year, as a new beginning.
I hope to blog again before Christmas, but if it doesn’t happen, Merry Christmas to all.
Here’s to Christmas blessings.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Little Brother

Happy Birthday to Marky Thomas. He is 21 today. From the day he was born, he was MY baby. And today, he is my grown up friend. I love you, Mark! Have a great birthday and I will see you on Friday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Biting Winter Cometh

Being back in CoMO is a great thing, but I got here right in time to usher in winter. We had our first big snow in Missouri while we were at the MU/kU game. Yes, that's right, while we were there. We got snowed on. Dumped on. And then we lost. What a day!

On the positive side, Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful. We got to go around the table and tell what we were most thankful for this year. I have to say, I had a hard time coming up with just one thing. I feel like 2008 has been such an incredibly blessed year. I feel like I have grown in my faith, my job, and my marriage. I love my family, and I have shared a great year with each member. It's incredibly humbling to know that everything I have has been given to me, not on merit, but just by God's blessing. And, in the same manner, everything could be taken away. Today alone, over 15,000 people will lose their jobs. Everything we have is fragile. Our lifestyle, our lifes themselves. I can't help but be thankful for my current circumstances. Life truly is good. And, without all the blessings, life would still be good, but different.

So I bought --gasp-- the new Britney CD yesterday. Yes, it's true. I'm not perfect. Honestly, it's not bad. In other pop culture news, I saw Twilight on Tuesday, and I loved it! My reward when I finish the GRE will be to be able to read the book series.
We are going to get our Christmas card photos done this week. I will try to post when they are complete.
Here's to winter!