This is the Dog

Do her eyes seem to be sorrowful?
That's because they are.
Regretful and remorseful, downcast and dismal, melancholy and mournful because
 this is the dog that broke the camera.
This is the dog who jumped on her owner who had on pajama pants to go 
with the boots that are just right for snow. 
This is the dog whose foot caught in the strap that was NOT around the 
neck of the foolish woman who ran out to take pictures 
of fat, luscious flakes of newly falling snow.
This is the dog who escaped the boot furiously flung from the foot of the 
angry woman who knew in her heart that her camera was broken for good.


Tart Pants

Some evil being has slipped into my closet and switched my well-fitting jeans with 
very similar ones that are  just a little too tight ...
Is this happening to anyone else out there? 
I guess it could be the Chocolate Raspberry Tart
The one with the most tasty graham cracker crust EVER.
This is my specialty dessert this Christmas! If you invite us over for the holiday, 
I'll be whipping one up to bring along.

But maybe I should decline to have any myself. 
And certainly I should insist you keep any leftovers.


Hand Holding

When we go out to a Christmas Event, we don't have to hold their hands anymore.
There are no visits to a freezing zoo bathroom to mop up a loaded diaper. 
No one has a snot-slinging meltdown in anticipation of the zebra being 
ridden by another kid in the carousel line.
Negotiations are not held over division of cold chicken strips and french fries.
We hold each other's hand while they look over our shoulders.
Or they hold the hand of a Special Friend.
OK, I still slip into denial sometimes - that's what I called them for a long time.
Our two older sons have GirlFriends, whose hands they'd much rather clasp than ours.
We are thankful that the young ladies they've chosen to spend time with are Godly Girls
who seem to be growing in grace and truth. And while it is proving to be an adjustment for 
our Youngest, who is clinging to the ways of Christmases Past, we are always glad to 
have them join us for Holiday Fun and Games.

*Please consider all the extra capital letters in this post a tiny gift to you from me! *


Two Ton

Do you ever read over the third or even the fourth verses to the old Christmas hymns?
There is some two-ton theology in those verses we hardly ever sing!
(Could that be why we skip those verses?)
But so many are blessedly, sweetly, painfully, relevant
I love that! 
I need that!

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

I know I'm not alone in the constant breathing of prayers for the bereaved in Connecticut.
Doesn't this seem like an appropriate Christmas hymn to add to our prayers?


Merry Mary

My December eyes need a quiet place to rest sometimes - do yours?
Some spot that is unadorned with red trim, green glitter or sparkling bows.
There might be a little too much MERRY around here ...
 and not enough MARY.
"And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord:
let it be to me according to your word." Luke 1:38
She gave up every plan she had up to that point in her life
and embraced the plan of the Lord instead.
Later, her cousin Elizabeth said of her "... blessed is she who believed that there
would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." v. 45

There's enough of MARY to ponder for the whole Christmas season. 
So pardon me while I turn my eyes back outside, for a little while each day, at least,
 in search of some  plain things.
Somewhere to rest my gaze while I examine my heart and ask the Lord to 
make it more MARY than MERRY this season.


Holiday Sounds

In the Christmas season, every opening of our front door is accompanied by the jingle of bells.
A leather strap of bells, I don't remember where it came from, is dug from the boxes of Holiday This and That and hung on the door handle, as soon as it gets all Christmasy around here. 
They fall to the floor often, which aggravates the Men and the Almost-Men 
of the house. I heard one of them grumble last week, 
"Why do we have these on the door anyway???"
Because I like them! 
The sound can be heard almost anywhere you might be in the house,
announcing someone's coming or going, which seem like holiday sounds, to me. 
I didn't try to explain that, though; I just pretended not to hear.
 I find it best to use words somewhat sparingly around here. 
Now if they had really wanted to know ... I would've explained. 

Sometime in the (far) future, as the boys establish their own households, 
we'd like to gift them each with a set of Christmas bells for their own entry doors.
I wonder if they'll still grumble?


Ungrateful (Fish)

It seemed like a good idea.
Sort of a rescue purchase.
Such luxurious teal blue fins cooped up in a tiny, tiny plastic pet store container -
hardly any room at all to swirl! and twirl!
Since becoming a member of our family, he lives in a summertime flower vase with 
rocks from a sidewalk filling the bottom.
I felt like a rescuing hero, a beneficent provider.
He didn't turn out to be a grateful sort of fish, though. 
He spends alot of time hanging out suspended from the surface of the water, 
that's right, as if very dead.
The Guys go by, peer into the vase and declare him'dead' at least once a day.
If he's not playing dead at the top, 
he's lying on the rocks at the bottom, also looking very dead. 
I haven't had much fish experience, but am pretty sure they aren't supposed to 
LAY around?



These Christmas stockings were made for the boys as they were born. 
By me. (!)
I don't know much that is more soothing than following kit instructions. 
Making the stocking come together is so satisfying. 
A wonderful, intricate puzzle of felt, floss and sequins.

Over time, various bits of the stockings (doves, chickens, carrots) were pulled loose for 
closer examination, to make a trip to Grandma's
in a pajama pocket, or because the dog may have wanted a sniff/lick. 
No problem - all the bits sew back. 
Chocolate melting in the second stocking was alarming for a few minutes and actually 
'left a mark' that lends character

The stockings remain empty until sometime in the wee hours of Christmas morning, when we, bleary-eyed and full of our cut of stocking candy, stuff them and move them away
from the fire. Once we forgot that last part ... and someone's candy melted. Right.

Husband and I have stockings of our own that hang in our room (which I did not make). 
We follow our own stocking traditions which involve much anticipation, taunting and delight  - like any good marriage tradition. We drop items in the other's stocking, at least a week ahead. No peeking, but squeezing, guessing, and mocking is encouraged. It's fun, and the boys like to come check our stockings, too. 
They actually LOOK though, and taunt us also. 


Balloons and More

We went to Cincinnati's Mirror Lake in Eden Park to see these -
But we also saw other interesting things.
There's alot to look at in a crowd that size, especially in the heart of a city like Cincinnati.
So many different kinds of people! It is always amazing to me.
For example, I don't think I've ever seen anyone wear red and white checks as
well as this guy. The woman in purple is admiring him, too. 
The Big Boy is just noticing the most adorable baby -
- and he bends over the stroller to get a better look. 
He probably wanted to just say hello to the little tyke. 
I wonder how that went? 
I know how that would've gone if it had been one of my kids in the stroller.
terror / horror
panic / screaming / possible spitting 

 Here's another casual attender of the festivities.
How'd you like to have him bend over the stroller?
Guaranteed ruined Holiday Event and at least three sleepless nights
 spent trying to calm your nightmare plagued child.
 But as far as I could tell, he kept his nutcrackers out of the strollers.

Linking to Flower Patch Farmgirl and Lowercase Letters.
Visit them too!


Tightly and Lightly

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had been in the service of the Lord their whole lives. 
You might cast them today as Pastor and Wife, and former missionary kids, but you'd have to know that they were the among the very humblest, joyful, obedient, wise and giving. 

6. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statues of the Lord. 
All this, but they had no children. Elizabeth called her barrenness "a reproach". No one to receive the gift of their Godly heritage. No son to bring into the brotherhood of priests. No one to care for them in their latter years. And now they were in their latter years. Did it ever become easier to bear, I wonder, or was the cry of their hearts still for a child, even after so many years?

While Zechariah was waiting on the Lord, burning incense in an inner chamber, an angel appeared right there with him. History seems to indicate that heaven had kept its gates closed for about four hundred years. Israel was in a bad place, occupied by Romans - times were very hard. But what do you think the angel, (Gabriel, no less) chose to speak to Zechariah about? 

13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Isn't it amazing that the Lord sent a messenger to burst into Earth's atmosphere, and the immediate subject is the prayer, the very old prayer, that the man had been offering for so many, many years? I love that after 'do not be afraid' comes 'your prayer has been heard'.

And not only will his wife bear a son, but she will bear A SON! If Zechariah and Elizabeth had written a description of the son they longed for, I'll bet it would be pretty similar to this one. Is it even possible that the angel is proclaiming aloud the hopes their hearts had only whispered to the Lord? Who knows, but I'm sure this father-to-be was buoyed higher and higher as he heard what was to come. His son, HIS SON would be:

15-17 "...he will be great before the Lord....he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb ...he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord...in the spirit and power of Elijah...turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."

If the OB tucked your newborn into your arms and made such a declaration - can you imagine? The child's future would construct itself right there in front of you, glowing and grand, bright and beautiful - much much much more than you would have ever dared hope for!

ALL of what Gabriel declared did come true - of course it did, what else? But there's no way that it looked like what these two parents imagined. Absolutely No Way. In their golden vision of their future son, I'll bet there was no camelhair clothing or diet of bugs and honey. I feel pretty sure they did not imagine, no way did they envision their boy as a man living in the wilderness, instead of with them, denouncing the religious leaders, their own business associates, as it were: "You brood of vipers!" Do you believe that those young parents conceived a dream for their long-awaited son that included dungeons or his head on a platter?

I wonder if the Lord intended His words to be repeated to Zechariah and Elizabeth as they sifted  through the shards of their hopes, all that was left of their boy as Herod prepared to finish his time here on earth. Was He sending the comfort of truth to these disillusioned and distraught parents?

"Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist." Matthew 11:11

Our dreams, our visions and our hopes for our children - no parent can deny that we all build them. How we think it will be, what we imagine it will look like, what paths they will take and how wonderful it will be! As you read this, do you sense the Spirit whisper encouragement to let those dreams go and to cling tightly to the Father instead? Let us hold lightly the dreams we spin for our children!
And rejoice over what He's going to do!

Luke 1:6-17


Sharing the View

I guess I'm a nosy sort.
OK, I am. 
But do you ever wonder what other people see every day outside their windows?
My window views are very, very familiar to me. Window gazing, especially in these months, can be a
 major distraction from the list of things I SHOULD be doing. (Those annoying SHOULDS!)
In the spirit of sharing, then, here is the window view from our tiny downstairs half-bath.
It looks out into the greenhouse, and when I say tiny, I'm talking about 16" x 30". The window, that is. The bathroom itself is 3' x 5'. It's a great reminder to keep my weight under control.
* You have someplace convenient (the sink) to rest your head, if you need to, while 'using' the facilities.
* Clean-up time can be less than 5 minutes.
* It's easy to open the window, reach out there, grab a shovel, and scare away thieving raccoons.
(Husband is saying right now, "Easy for you, since you'd coaching from the bed while I do that!"   Sorry, MWH!)
* As stated before, major weight deterrent.
* No laying in the floor, in case of stomach virus. (sorry - yuk!)
* Very difficult to paint.
* Not much room for privacy when wedging self into jeans that may be a teensy bit too tight. 
Which links back to a pro ...
* Odds are much, much greater that your phone will drop into the toilet in such a small space.

ANYway --- all that is a big long side note!
What I really wanted you to see is the stained glass hummingbird hanging out there! Found him at a sale this summer, and got him for a dime. A dime!His sunlit colors against frosted greenhouse glass are causing me to spend even more time window-gazing!


The Joyful Incidentals

As we go along, I'm surprised by the things that my boys keep as 'special' about
the Holidays. 
*Now by 'the Holidays', I mean the Big Three - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.*
And, as you might guess, it's not the things we intentionally set out to make  memorable.
Seems like, it's the incidentals that make the "I love it when ..." list.
I have a list like that, and you probably do too. 
I was recalling to my mom last night, 
"Remember when you used to make a pan of fudge when something really special was happening? I remember peeking in the fridge to see if it was cool yet, being so excited  waiting for that fudge!"
She was silent for just a second, then she said, "Did I do that?"
The oddest things get caught and stick on the lint screen of our memories.
Here's some of mine:
- At holiday time, there used to always be a bowl of nuts with metal nutcrackers and picks on the table. 
- Shopping in downtown Cincinnati was a big event. Entering the thickly perfumed atmosphere of the department stores at street level (perfume, gloves, purses...) was almost as wonderful as going up and up those narrow Shillito's escalators. The anticipation of going to a new floor and the gripping dread of getting caught in those ever-opening and closing stairs. I vaguely remember that Santa was there on the toy floor, but don't remember sitting on his lap. And the beautiful fruity embellishments on the Gidding-Jenny building! No wonder I was always tripping along - - - I was usually gawking up!
- Dad used to pop popcorn in a great big pan, then salt and butter it just for us.
- My favorite decorations to put out were the felt elves and the character shaped candles.
- Mom would snip and sew a special dress for me to wear on Christmas Sunday. I didn't get to see it until she was finished with it, and that moment seemed like a great unveiling TAH-DA! I was always filled with a sort of awed pride that she could make something so beautiful with her own hands.

Pondering this list myself, I see that every one of these is a memory of a moment when there was joy, or excitement - events that only happened once a year and which were accompanied by wide, shared grins or lovingly clasped hands. I wouldn't be surprised if my parents don't even recall many of these things, or that they would probably consider them to have been only incidentals. 

And that's what I try to remember with my own sons. We can be intentional in creating Holiday memories and traditions, and we've certainly thrown our best efforts into the ring. But what they'll probably take away on their Most Loved List will be Joyful Incidentals. It's all in the Lord's hand as He builds the reminiscences He will use in their lives, letting what's un-useful pass out of memory and causing what He considers to be the profitable bits  to catch.

I'm glad that I can trust Him with that, too.