Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Merry Christmas 2016

 This is my scrapbook page of our 2016 Christmas. It will be mostly just pictures: out of order, random captioning, plus gaps. So many things of which I have no pictures.
We had ten days of holiday doings with parts of the family. The men worked days. We played evenings. We had two days where we were all on hand. It was fun, relaxing, sometimes wild, and always a blessing of richness to our whole family. Here are the girls with our new Thai fabric skirts. I had this epiphany/idea of how to bring home a pretty, useful gift to each of the girls while pushing our way through that crazy fabric place at Market with Lisl back in Thailand. Satisfaction.
    Of course, I love this picture. We have such nice times. I love these women! They love Jesus and their families and their life work. They laugh and cry in the right places for the right reasons. They're completely human: both weak and strong and by turns. They struggle with wakeful babies and naughty toddlers and smart first graders and funny or ornery customers. They deeply love the children given into their care and spend their days in training and teaching and "savoring the moments with" them. They keep pretty homes and clean their dirty houses. Those married are loyal wives: loving and fussing by turns there, too, because that's life. Good job, girls!

 One of our young moms decided to put in a few candles/pretties at the church for over Christmas. Loveliness that we all got to enjoy. Another young lady provided the chalkboard art.
We at Grace Bible Church had some blessed worship times of singing this Christmas. I think we sang our hearts out this year of Christmas songs for three Sundays in a row.

 One set of singers I wish I had a picture of to show you was of Clark, Adam, Dru, and Gabe singing for us on New Years morning at church. "Yes Lord, Yes!"
    Ten years ago they sang this song with the same gusto and then found wives, jobs, had children, and worked their individual ministries.And now they know a little more what is was they were singing back then. They sang it again with dedication and a deepened earnestness. Godly men, pressing toward the mark. God has been so good to all of us.

 We had a bit of Christmas-ing here at the Stone House before the rest of the family came home.  Traditional gift wrapping, giving and receiving.
   Elv and I got a new log bed from where I work. And a new wood rack for the living room fireplace. And we all received most of what we'd had on our lists. We have few needs and fewer wishes, I guess. Happy times. 

And sparkling grapejuice.
 I think the snow play is probably some of the best memories for these children. Some of them came from Thailand where they never have snow, so playing in the snow was extra special for them.

 Clark's have a big, new room where a large family can meet to spend time visiting and playing games and eating. They had it ready for us in time as they hoped and it was perfect. We literally spend hours there.
Very nicely done, Clarks.
Another thing I noticed this year was that our oldest grandchildren are reading, playing table games and piecing puzzles along with the adults. Not babies anymore.

 Charlotte and Clark both have a knack for making it cozy without too much busy-ness. So her little touches of pretty were lovely.

 There was room for coloring, and puzzle piecing, and board games, and children play all at once.
There were soft chairs for naps and baby rocking.
Clark had the stove "lit" for coziness.

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.

 Lunch with my munchkins on a sewing day. I love parties with them. I read the Boxcar Children aloud to them this year.
   Children provide the wonder that makes any Christmas or family gathering complete. It's all new and miraculous and amazing to them. Actually, they are the happy miracle that keeps our lives normal and hopeful.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

This Year I Will

 Sunday morning dawned a new year. In church, our eldest grandchild chose to slip in and sit between Elv and I. The cold winter outside the rows of windows flanking our quiet, waiting congregation was a beautiful back drop for our small gathering of smiling hearts.
    Jube nudged me and looking up with his twinkling blue-eyed smile mouthed, "Rabbit, Marmee!"
   "You got me, Sunshine!" I elbowed him back.
    Loving this child and the rest of our family is my first and foremost New Year's resolution.
   I used to believe that once the children were grown, I'd have time and think space to reach beyond my family to minister. What a laugh! This year I'm going to dig in and just BE for them and our church family as they come and go in our lives. Perhaps if I should simply BE for them, they will do the reaching beyond, richer and more effectively anyway.
     To keep a tidier entry and a cleaner bathroom are also part of what I want to do better this year. This one, every year!

 To read that fat tome that Lisl despaired of touching for now. The one that is preparatory to GTO's six week orientation. It's a fascinating book and I am enjoying it despite the intimidation of size and small print and pictures only of the contributing authors. It makes me feel grown-up just for a few seconds to even want to read it. Maybe it's not a page-turner, action story, and it's not a chocolate-treat Jan Karon, but there are the thoughts and testimonies from folks who have made it their business to teach and share the gospel. And I want to know. (Someone tucked it out of sight over Christmas vacation and I can't find it just now. If any of you kids knows where it is, please, I want it back.)
   To read through the Bible. This is astounding to me. I have never done that deliberately and in one setting, I mean, in one year. Ok, I did it, all you guys hiding behind the curtains. I admitted it, so now you can all come out, too. It's really okay. I am 50 plus years old and this year will be my first...if I make it through, that is.
And I am hoping to continue to keep a pretty cottage where the doors are always open for those who need a coffee break or a place to rest.
   If we are out when you arrive, come in and put wood on the fire and wash the dishes. Find a snack, leave a note.
   If we are here, plan on joining in on our ordinary lives: chores, a meal, and the living room hash.
   This year the garden is going to get a new lease on some old hay and tender loving care. Vegetables and flowers.  I need to have one, huge, overshadowing, funny-looking, nutrient eating, old, oak tree removed.
   This year's projects and goals shall be kept to short weekend visits to out-of-state family. Not remodeling, not world traveling, we hope, although that was great for last year and God blessed us wonderfully.
   This year, let's play more at the cabin. Let's go canoeing on Saturday evening. Let's take the boys fishing. Let's have garden teas and Sunday afternoon walks.
   Most of all, let's keep hope.
Hebrews 6:18 ...that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 
Hebrews 7:19 ...for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Best Christmas Ever

We are having a best Christmastime ever, I think. Here's why. It has been nine years since our whole family is with us during Christmastime. Dru's are here to complete our circle this year.
Another difference is that through the miracle of nuclear medicine my personal world view is quite improved. Stale story. But still it counts. And my thoughtful spots are much more comfortable than they've been at Christmastime for a long, long time. I'm praising Him.
The work scene is much slower this year. Slower to the point of an almost complete stop. I have two weeks of no work at the store which provides day after day of home time. The quietness is cozy and restful.
I beat Elv at Scrabble the other Sunday afternoon. That's amazing, too. For all of my reading and interest in writing; I can not get as smart as Elv. I never will, I guess. I'm glad about this, to be honest. Can't imagine knowing more than the man in my life. That would be just awkward. He places the board between us so that it faces me right side up. He plays it upside down! And wins, every single time. Except this once! No, he won't let me turn it. "It messes me up." He says.

 Lisl keeps making these decadent cheese cakes and bringing them over to our house. We are going to become positively rolling fat soon. We savor these days of having her family pop in at any moment.  It sure beats the fuzzy images and sketchy voices we get to visit with over the net all the other Christmases they've been in Thailand. Perhaps this is one of the more important reasons that Christmas this year is nigh perfection.
    There are so many lovely things to anticipate. (Yes, another list, daughter Amy.)

~ Hot chocolate parties with grandchildren.
~ Read aloud times. Right now we're reading The Boxcar Children.
~Gossips over coffee, dishwashing, and food prep with the girls.
~ Endless Rook games for the guys.
~ Sledding parties. Maybe some skating. (Elv is all excited about clearing some lake ice for the grandchildren.)
~ Conversation: serious and low, loud and silly, everything between.

 Elv brought me this perfect, puzzle table and set it up in the library next to the fireplace. Yes, it's perfect! Thanks, my dear.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A White Christmas

Winter arrived full-fledged and frigidly cold ... before Christmas. We have snow and sub-zero temps at night.
This is perfect weather for catching a few snowflakes with a lens. I tried to cut a regular looking six-sided paper snowflake this morning. I have never known how to do this. All of mine to date have been eight sided. Do you have that trouble?
No doubt someone reading this knows how to fold the paper correctly or cut it just so or something.
Why are all snowflakes six-sided? Or are they? What is the math behind a snowflake? Every one that I can distinguish here is six-sided. Google says that due to the inter-molecular force of hydrogen bonding, all snowflakes are six-sided. Now do you know? No? Nor do I. But, so be it. God uses the number six for snowflakes and "no two are alike", so says further lore. I'm good with enjoying their beauty on a day like today.
    On a day like today when the forecast is calling for a winter storm. We're supposed to get up to ten inches of snow followed directly by bitterly cold temperatures.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Scribbling in December

 December is commencing with the proper amount of Christmas events and plans. I love it. Decorating and cleaning and Cookie Day. I like this, too.
    Today one of the young moms from church texted me to get an opinion about an idea for decorating at the church. I am reminded of our earthly way of limited celebration compared to the lavish gift of His Son. Dare we compare? I think our attempts to celebrate are feeble and wanting no matter how beautiful the greenery and bright the candle. Yet we continue to try. I continue to try. I want to remind everyone in my world that at this house we celebrate.So we clean and decorate and bake.  And plan gatherings of family. We celebrate His birth, His life, His resurrection, and anticipate His Second Coming.
   We prepare for days ahead for family in-gatherings. Where will we seat everyone? Where will we sleep everyone? What food? What entertainments? What games?What gifts? What about getting a family portrait. This should remind us of the preparation that is going on for Jesus' Second Coming when the whole family of God gathers in at home in Heaven.  Jesus said that He would be preparing mansions for us. Then He will return to fetch us. Do the plans that you are making for your family gatherings remind you have that future reunion?

                               Cookie Day

~ We spend this one December day to do a once a year project TOGETHER. It's noisy and crowded and messy and fun.
~ The children get to help and sample. They get to play for hours inside and outside in new snow. Memories in the making.
~ Somehow at the end of the day everyone gets to take numerous plates of cookies home. It's amazing how many plates that are left here. I tried to explain to the family that evening what synergy is. Elv wasn't impressed with the idea of synergy; but he certainly is with so many Buck Eyes in the freezer!
~ Neighbors all over the community will get to enjoy some of our cookies, for at Christmastime, we share.
~ There will be cookies to send along for caroling cookie plates.
~ There will be cookies and coffee while we open the daily batch of Christmas greetings from loved ones.
~ There will be cookies left for the living room circle of game players during the evenings of family times.
~ At last toward the end of Christmas week, I'll gather up the fragments and hand them off to the children who love to "dunk". Not that they didn't "dunk" them the whole month long. But by the end of December dunking will be the only way to eat them ... dried and tasteless morsels.