Thursday, December 31, 2009

All's Well That Ends Well

The year ends in typical fashion. Projects on the dining room table. Handy man on the job. (Hooray for the brand new porcelain!) Reorganizing bedrooms with overflow in the living room. Unexpected food delivered for lunch. (Stir fry rice noodles from neighbor). My parents stopping by just in time to share the good food. Running errands in town. Baking team in kitchen. (Husband and daughter making chocolate kiss pretzels). Lots of happy noise. Spending New Year's Eve with family and friends. All's well that ends well.

Happy New Year to us all!

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1 ESV

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Second Printing

Where did my master copy go? Oh well. I can print another one and ask the family to sign it. Again. And make another trip to the copy shop. Twenty five miles away. But at the copy shop I found a water spot on my new master. Ruining the family photo. But wait. Is there any chance I left my first master at the copy shop? Sure enough. We're good to print. The second batch of our Christmas letter coming right up.

a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; Ecclesiastes 3:6 ESV

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cookie Love

It was a bake-off. My husband made gingerbread cookies. He used a Family Fun recipe that turned out great. Even with a midnight run for more molasses. I made Pennsylvania Dutch light ginger cookies. I like my recipe because you don't have to chill the dough. I mixed up frosting of different colors and bought candies. And we had cookies to decorate at Christmas with my husband's family and with my sister and three little girls. Next time we'll include some sugar cookies.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV

Monday, December 28, 2009

Enjoy!

My daughter writes "Enjoy!" on her notes and gifts. She pooled resources with my husband and bought me a new, as in brand new, food processor. I will enjoy it. And savor the memory of an excited nine-year-old who couldn't wait to surprise me on Christmas Eve.

I think God has the same idea. He gives us good gifts and waits for us to open them and enjoy. Family. Friendships. Our beautiful world. A relationship with His Son.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 ESV

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Three Days Full

We packed a lot in three days. Spent Christmas and the day after with my husband's family. Then traveled up to my sister's farm and spent the night. Joined them for a special Christmas and communion service at their church. Good family times and safe travels. Doesn't get much better than that.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hot and Cold

We alternated hot and cold. Roasted chestnuts on an open fire last night. Literally. Came in and warmed up in my brother-in-law's home. This morning some of the family went to the "windy place," otherwise known as Crown Point in Portland. Three out of five siblings and a delegation met up for coffee. Should have done that after we had frozen yogurt at Yo Cream. Good family times.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3 NIV

Friday, December 25, 2009

First Recipients

Who would be first? Sometimes it's the person at the copy shop. If that person seems interested. Or the first friend I run into. This year the first recipient of our family newsletter, hot off the press, was my daughter's guitar teacher. Followed shortly by a friend with sons getting piano lessons. Now to print labels and stuff envelopes. And buy stamps.

It's interesting to think about the first recipients of the news of Jesus' birth. Shepherds working the night shift. The Creator of the Universe cares about the ordinary person just doing his or her job. And I'm grateful that He cares enough about me to send His Son. Merry Christmas to us all!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:8-10 NIV

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Light Candles Together

I'm glad we took the time to go. There's something special about joining other families for a candlelight Christmas Eve service. Filling the pews. Lighting candles together.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 ESV

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day In Day Out

I talked to one today. One yesterday. Caregivers. Those who lovingly care for someone. Day in. Day out. A husband faithfully caring for his wife with Parkinson's disease. Learning how to communicate with simple yes or no questions. A woman making room for her mother-in-law. Responsible for remembering everything her mother-in-law can't anymore.

That's just two examples. There are many more around us. I pray a special blessing on the caregivers.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Whittled

How do you select just a couple pictures for the Christmas letter? You do it in stages. Whittle it down. Take input. Move some in, and some out. This one didn't make the cut. But it's one of my favorites.

Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. Proverbs 23:25 ESV

Monday, December 21, 2009

Family Times

I sound like my dad. I remember how he always said, "I just like having the family together." In fact, he still says that.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sign Me Up

I have favorite bits and pieces. But I don't understand how the whole book goes together. Today the pastor shared some of the familiar Isaiah 7 passage with the prophecy of Jesus' birth. It makes me look forward to next year's Bible Study Fellowship. They are adding a yearlong study of the book of Isaiah. Sign me up.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 ESV

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bring on the Grace

If I know anything about parenting it's this: I don't have all the answers. I was just getting used to being the parent of three teenagers. Plus a toddler. Now I'm the parent of three adults. And a grade schooler. When did that happen? But God is good and He provides the grace we all need.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Program

One year ago we had to cancel. But tonight we just had rain. No snow. So the school Christmas program went on as scheduled. The kindergarteners were so cute in their shepherd costumes. The grade schoolers and middle schoolers sang with gusto. The instrumentalists were all students. And they all quoted whole passages of Scripture by memory. Another great Christmas program put on by our local Christian school.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:14 ESV

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Wheels

There is no magic formula. I can't make it happen by wishing or positive thinking. But if I pray and seek God's provision, He will take care of our needs in His perfect timing. I didn't know how or when my husband would find more reliable transportation. But this week we saw a pickup for sale locally and worked out the details. It's a beautiful blue Ford Ranger pickup with two extra jump seats. It's a '94 but has low miles. Automatic, so anyone can drive it. And starts every time.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wash Up

No more scrounging quarters. Although I will say that those super capacity washers hold a lot of dirty clothes. The repair man came today. But he didn't need to. Our front load washer thawed out and healed itself. Praise the Lord! And let's switch the loads.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 ESV

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Home Decorating

It helps to know a caterer. One of the moms from my husband's first grade class offered to bake gingerbread houses and make frosting. Others contributed candy and edible supplies like pretzels. The first graders went to town decorating their houses. As a bonus my daughters were given a house to decorate too.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sand Together

We can't help every needy child in our community. But we can team up with others in our small group Bible study to build five bed frames to go with donated mattresses. What a great way for a father and daughter to spend a Saturday morning.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 ESV

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Supper

It's a good plan. If I start soon enough. It's nice to have something going for Sunday supper. This afternoon I put chicken, salsa, tomatoes, black beans and corn in the slow cooker. Only it wasn't done when I got up from my nap. So I transferred it to the stove top and made quick work of it. Sunday slow cooker suppers it is.

She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. Proverbs 31:14 ESV

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not Me

I don't remember it being this difficult. How many do overs does it take to get it right? For all six of us. But we will keep drawing names until no one has their own name. Now to remember our final pick. And find the perfect gift for our person.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 ESV

Friday, December 11, 2009

Could Be Worse

It's time for another round of, "It Could be Worse." The washing machine malfunction could have flooded the house, instead of the garage. The pipes could be frozen instead of just the puddle on the garage floor. The dryer works, so we can use it after we haul our clothes somewhere to wash. My husband and I added a memory for the "Remember When" game. We can look back to the time we worked side by side scooping water in the freezing cold garage. And now back to the "Wait and See" game. Will our front-loader latch work after it warms up?

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 ESV

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Cheer

Now that's Christmas cheer. The fourth and fifth graders at my daughter's school sang at a nursing home today. They sang the songs they are rehearsing for the Christmas program. And took requests for favorite carols. But my favorite part was when the students went around and shook hands with the residents and wished them a merry Christmas.

And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:10-12 ESV

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Remember Why

I'm just going to stop. Stop thinking about how I could do better. It's too late to plan ahead for this Christmas season. We're here. Now. I want to make the most of what I do have. Enjoy the time. Make it meaningful. Remember why we celebrate this time of year. God loves me so much He sent His Son.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 ESV

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bring it By

She made good on her offer. My friend said she had the perfect wrap and coat to go with my new black dress. And strappy black heels that are my size. She dropped them off on my porch while I was gone yesterday. Too bad it was too cold to think about wearing a dress on my date with my husband last night. But I love how she thought of me. And took the time to bring it by.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 ESV

Monday, December 07, 2009

Twenty-Four and Counting

We counted them up. We've lived in ten homes. That's counting house-sitting gigs, apartments, rental homes, and the house my husband built. We had four children born in three cities. We've hosted six open houses. One when we moved into our new home, one for my husband's completion of his Masters in Teaching degree, my 40th birthday, and three high school graduations. We've packed a lot in to 24 years of marriage. Happy Anniversary to us!

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33 ESV

Sunday, December 06, 2009

GOOD JOB

The custom license plate said GOODJOB. Was the car a reward for a job well done? Or is the driver known for letting people know what they do well? I try to do that. I acknowledge good service at grocery stores and restaurants. I can take it a step further and write more thank you notes.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Non-Fat Mary Who?

The manager asked me what my last name is. They only know me as Mary. Or Non-fat Mary. As in, the kind of milk I put in my coffee. Turns out they drew my card in the new weekly give-away. I won a free bagel sandwich of my choice. If I redeemed it on a Sunday I could get a free cup of coffee to go with it.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV

Friday, December 04, 2009

Dressed Up

Too bad my daughter wasn't here to do my make-up. All the rest came together. I found two black retro polyester dresses at a rummage sale a couple months ago. Fifty cents each. One dress fit perfectly. The other didn't work but had two diamond-studded balls at the neck. Perfect for earrings. My crafty friend made quick work of that. All I needed was somewhere to go. Then a friend invited me to the women's Christmas dinner at church. I dressed up and had a great time with the ladies.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tis the Season

We're heading into that season. There are whispers of snow in the forecast. We need to corral the winter gear before there is a mad dash. And stock up on hot chocolate.

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. Proverbs 31:21 ESV

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Always Learning

I am learning a lot. From my youngest. I don't remember studying so much about plants and birds in fourth grade. And I know I have gaps in American history from being transplanted to a British primary school in Hong Kong. Now I can learn what I missed.

Pictured: A history lesson with Grandma on Thanksgiving

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Add Our Prayers

Our little town has flags at half-mast in honor of the four slain police officers. One of them attended our high school. Our nine-year-old doesn't need to watch the news. We can share current events with her. And pray together.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 ESV