Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
For some people, Christmas serves as a constant reminder of a lost loved one and grief seems like their only companion. At a loss on how to help, we can conveniently forget this population around us. My brother's birthday falls just a few days before Christmas, so the season can be bittersweet. We celebrate, yet we feel grief at the same time. Most people would tell you that no amount of material comfort or presents make them feel better. So, what can we do?
How can we help those grieving around us this Christmas?
Remember something about their loved one--a funny story, a certain thing they liked, something you liked about that person, a story or fact they told you about them.
Losing someone close to you can be devastating, the pain can feel overwhelming. One of your biggest concerns is that they will be forgotten. No one will remember them. When they are remembered, even mentioned it means more to that person than you will ever know.
Invite them to share stories or memories. Often those who've been grieving for a while, feel awkward about talking about the one(s) they've lost. They don't want to upset anyone or start to feel like people don't want to hear them talk about that person any more. You may start with a memory of your own to get the ball rolling.
Then, genuinely LISTEN to them. Cry with them if you need to or just be there.
Pray for those around you that are grieving this Christmas. Pray that the Lord would surround them with comfort and peace. Pray for ways you can minister to them. If you don't know how to pray specifically, just bring their name to the Lord and ask that He help them. It can be as simple as that!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
After being in bed for almost 2 whole days, I'm on the road to recovery. We're watching tons of movies, getting restless, tired and lacking appetites. We're so tired of crackers. Today's lunch was inspired by the Bible video we were watching...buttered tortillas fried in the skillet. No one complained at all. Tera did get some bread in the bread machine and I've got potato soup on the stove simmering. I think I'm done for the day....energy wise.
We've skipped days on all our advent activities, but you know, life is like that. We were supposed to serve today filling Christmas baskets, but instead we are home resting. We miss seeing our friends and having energy to do the things we enjoy. Sometimes, you get all the trimmings and other times you get the bare necessities. It's imperfect.
The first Christmas was imperfect by the world's standards.
Being pregnant on a long journey.
No room in the inn.
Giving birth in a stable and putting your newborn in rags in a feeding trough.
Stinking strangers coming to see you after His birth.
Other strangers bringing odd gifts and a King out to kill your baby.
Seems kinda far from perfect!
Yet from all the imperfection of the situation came the perfect gift of all time--the Savior of the world!
Sunday, December 14, 2014
It happened last year right around this same time.
Right on schedule, here we are again in the middle of a stomach bug before Christmas.
Michael started us off on this grand new tradition at 2 AM Friday morning. He had me literally running from the computer to the couch every 15-30 minutes for 7 hours.
He has completely recovered, so we're on round #2. Tera and JP woke up sick this morning. I ran to the store to get sick supplies before it hits me. I've been queasy/nauseous since Friday. I hope that's all I get this time around. Daniel is well, so far. Last year, he waited until everyone was well and got sick three days later.
I'm praying he and I can withstand. I'm wiping down things with Clorox wipes, but I fear we've been exposed already.
I think we'll just cancel all our plans this week and stay home to recover. Our big service day is on Wednesday, but I think the best service we can do for others is to keep our sickness to ourselves as much as possible.
I'm still thankful for the little things...the bucket system (everyone has a bucket just in case they don't make it to the bathroom). Yes, this works!!! It has saved me so much clean-up. The money to buy the things we need for comfort. That all my Christmas shopping is done. And the biggest things---prayers from our friends and family.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Wow, it's been a blur of Christmas fun!
Last Friday, we had our annual small town tree lighting ceremony. Tera and I sang "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and Daniel performed Greensleeves (What Child is This?) on the flute. Some friends joined us and made it even more special!
A while back, Tera and Daniel were a part of a chess team that took 2nd place in a tournament. Since our club is an affiliate of the library, they displayed the trophy!
We met up with some friends we haven't seen in a while on Monday to visit the county courthouse for their Festival of Trees. Then headed to Dunkin Donuts for hot chocolate and treats. (They still do not compare to Krispy Kreme...sorry) :)
Yesterday, all three kids got great reports from the dentist. We visited the Blount County Historical Museum and did a scavenger hunt. Then, we headed to our writer's group and left from there to visit some friends.
It's Thursday and we all know what that means...chess club. My kids did a great job cleaning up the house this morning!
I'm getting ready to start a turkey noodle soup from the stock I made last night.
And the winner of my Lingering Christmas EP- drawn by Tera from a cowboy hat!
Saturday, December 6, 2014
We've been the new kids on the block plenty of times in our married life. We came to our present area in 2007 with no friends, no contacts, nothing. Boy, were we lonely!
I was thinking today about all the people we've ended up meeting in the small town we call home. Our family has been able to meet such a wide variety of people all through the same way---volunteering to serve.
I'm not here to trumpet our good deeds, but it struck me that so many doors opened to us when we gave of our time, energy and resources to those around us. We met people outside our comfort zone. People that we'd never have gotten to know had we not volunteered together.
I encourage you if you are new to your community (and even if you are not), looking around to see where you fit in, find a place to volunteer. Give of yourself to others and open doors for positive relationships.
Need some ideas?
1. Meals on Wheels
Did you know that you can volunteer to make favors
for drivers to deliver with the meals?
You don't need a background check for that. Call your local Meals on Wheels director and ask to be put in contact with your local driver. Favors can be cards, crafts, pictures your children have drawn or anything else. Grab some friends and make things together. You can bring such joy to home bound seniors!
2. Local ministries
Check with your church or community leaders about what they do to minister to your own community. Our small town has a community involvement group that supplies toys and food baskets to the needy at Christmas. They work all year fundraising to purchase the needed items. This group also decorates the town and hosts the tree lighting ceremony every year.
Look for a ministry/group that welcomes your children to work alongside you. I've been so impressed with how valued my children are within the group. They are looked upon as necessary helpers and their opinions are heard on all kinds of occasions.
3. Nursing Homes/Assisted Living Facilities
Do you sing? Play an instrument? Paint fingernails? Love to talk to older folks? Think about spending some time gleaning wisdom from the senior population.
We have several friends that volunteer at local animal shelters or with therapeutic horse riding facilities. If your family loves animals, this could be the volunteer opportunity for you!
5. Food Banks
Can you stock shelves? Donate food?
There are food banks all over the country that would love to have excited people volunteer to help with their needs. How to volunteer
6. Interest-based volunteering
Try to find opportunities that match the interests of your family. Love to read? Volunteer at the library to shelve books or do a story hour. Tutor kids, teach someone how to do a skill you love, take a meal to a neighbor in need, offer to babysit a single mom's kids. You get the idea!
New in your community? Want to get to know people?
Invest some time and come away with so much more.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
I've been a fan of Karla Adolphe for a long time. My family was introduced to Karla's music through Enter the Worship Circle. I went on to purchase Chair and Microphone and Honeycomb Tombs. I fell in love with her soulful, heartfelt voice and lyrics that poetically leave you feeling more than you thought you could.
When I heard Karla was recording a Christmas album, I couldn't wait! I admit I was nervous. "What if I didn't like it? What if she changed her style or the songs beyond recognition, just to be "unique"? What if she recorded ten to twelve songs of lower quality just to fill the album space?"
Then I listened...and fell in love with the music-all over again.
I couldn't believe it when I saw the selections for this album. It was like she picked all my favorite Christmas hymns.
Lingering contains 5 tracks:
We Three Kings
Do You Hear What I Hear?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
All Your Glory
In the Bleak Midwinter
"I love that Karla stays true to spirit of these Christmas hymns while infusing her own unique style to create a new masterpiece."
I love that Karla stays true to spirit of these Christmas hymns while infusing her own unique style to create a new masterpiece. If you've ever tried to sing We Three Kings, you'll know it has a very plodding rhythm, but Karla's version has an energy that I just can't describe. Do you Hear What I Hear? and O Come, O Come Emmanuel come across so genuine and sincere. I was so pleasantly surprised to see In the Bleak Midwinter. A poem by Christina Rossetti turned into this hauntingly beautiful hymn has always been a favorite of mine. Karla captures the mood perfectly! All Your Glory is an original piece by Karla. It's one of those songs that has you singing along before you even know all the words. All Your Glory "leaves you feeling more than you thought you could."
What's even more remarkable? Karla was the "sole instrumentalist and main creative voice in the studio." How awesome is that?!
To say, "I love this Christmas album" really is an understatement.
To hear a sample, visit soundcloud.
How to purchase:
Buy Now for $6
You can purchase a digital download of Lingering as well as download code cards that would be great for those music lovers in your family!
More about Karla Adolphe:
Download Honeycomb Tombs
Winner: Lynn E.
Winner: Lynn E.
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Karla Adolphe for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
I've kinda missed posting my thoughts/thanks of the day here. Monday was the concert and it went so well. All those horrible things I had almost convinced myself would/could happen didn't. I didn't miss my entrance, I didn't trip, I didn't fall off the stage, you know, those kind of thoughts. I received so many encouraging words from friends beforehand and strangers in the audience afterwards. It's been a long time and it felt good to sing classically again.
Tuesday, we got up and pushed through our volunteer shopping. It was an all-day experience.
Today, I'm feeling the let down. The back-to-routine, clean-the-house, fuss-at-the-children, fulfill-obligations let-down. Normal everyday life. Couple that with lack of sleep, stress, Christmas stuff and I'm feeling not quite up to par today.
Enough of that...
I made this cute ornament for Michael using mod podge, bottle caps and ribbon. He really likes Ninja Turtles this year.
Advent is underway as we await the "coming". We are enjoying our daily devotions, counting down, hanging Jesse Tree ornaments and all things Christmas.