Monday, December 29, 2008

Snowy Scenes

For those of you who are not happy to see the snow go away, I have many, many pictures of it on my Flikr site:
Just so you know, many of the captions only make sense if you look at the pictures backwards. -I'm not sure how that happened... :)

By the way, if anyone knows how I can get the link to show up on the side of my blog, I would very much like to know!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Never Too Big...

Yesterday, we went to my sister’s house for our Christmas visit with her family. I always have a delightful time with my nephew and nieces, and yesterday was no exception. My younger niece amazed us all with her newfound ambulatory abilities, while my older niece flitted from one activity to the next, chattering all the while. She is a very good hostess, and very kindly shared her “cheese-string” and “dumgrops” (aka string cheese and gumdrops) with us. : )

At one point, my nephew, who is now seven years old, went over to where his Granddad was standing and asked to be lifted up. Granddad halfheartedly protested, and my sister told my pleading nephew that he was getting too big for Granddad to lift. My nephew then exclaimed, “I’ll never be too big for Granddad!” whereupon Granddad did pick him up, after all. : )

Now, as my nephew grows up, there will be a time when he is too heavy for his Granddad, but right now that seems inconceivable to him. His confidence in his Granddad is seemingly boundless, and in his eyes Granddad can do anything.

What a good reminder of what faith in God is to look like lived out! Our faith is supposed to be like the simple confidence of a child. There will never be a time when we find that our burdens are too heavy for God, and when others doubt that God can do what we ask of Him, we can respond similarly, “There won’t ever be anything too big for God!”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Without...

“A Christmas without.” I thought with a sigh
As I wandered alone through the wintry wild
“It’s unthinkable!” was my quiet cry
To the world around me with snowdrifts piled.

“A Christmas without. –What would Christmas be,
After all, without guests to cheer our home,
Merrily gathered ‘round the Christmas tree?”
-Thus I thought as I continued to roam.

“A Christmas without all the things that seem
To make all our Christmases Christmassy?
No church, no caroling, no soft, bright gleam
Of Advent candles, -how can it be?

“A Christmas without…” Then I looked to the sky
And the sparkling stars reminded me
Of the star which brought the wisemen nigh
To the child who was born to set us all free.

“A Christmas without…” I began to ponder,
Remembering why Christ came to earth.
In the snowy stillness I ceased to wander
Stopping to think on my Savior’s birth.

“A Christmas without.” -now I ceased to pout,
For the baby born in that wintry wild
Long, long ago had “a Christmas without”
-Only shepherds came to see the small child.

“A Christmas without –Yes, now I see!”
I said, to the snowflakes beginning to fall
Yet again, “A Christmas without just might be
The best and most blessed Christmas of all!”

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chistmas Joy or Christmas "Oy"?

Mommy and Daddy went out this afternoon to post this year’s batch of Christmas cards, and I think I have finally gotten the taste of envelope adhesive out of my mouth. (Yuck!) I don’t know which is worse, the bitter taste of the glue itself, or the sweet taste of whatever they put in the glue to make it taste better! Nasty stuff. Anyway, with the Christmas cards done and only one person left to buy a present for, there’s only the many, many batches of cookies left to bake and the last-minute cleaning to try to get done before it’s the last minute. : ) So, while I wait for a pan of fudge to cool, I am going to take a break to finally write the post that’s been running around my thoughts all day.

Every year when we put up our Christmas tree, I look forward to opening my box of ornaments and pulling out the familiar collection of sparkly odds and ends to put on the tree. There are the very odd ornaments, (such as a “genuine leather” tag that we hung on the tree last year because it seemed funny at the time) and get thrown out after a year or two of staying in my box during Christmas. Then there are the pretty ones, like the beautiful glass nativity scene which my Grandma gave me last year. And then there are the “Sunday school” ornaments, only put on the tree because they have been there for so long, (such as the juice can lid with my picture on it that I made when I was four.) The ornament that I most fondly look for every year belongs to this category. It is a star, made of popsicle sticks, with pipe cleaners glued on in the shape of letters. The letters used to spell “Joy”, but somewhere along the line, the J fell off, and now the poor thing says only “oy”.

Sadly, that is what happens to many people at Christmastime. Christmas is indeed a time of great joy, but all too often in the midst of the stress and busyness of the holiday we forget to be joyful. The week of Christmas is usually “crunch time” for many people who, like my family, tend to put everything off until then. Thus, stores are crowded, lines are long, time runs short, and from many hearts the exhausted cry goes out: “oy!” where once a song of joy was heard. Grumbling rises up to take the place of “Merry Christmas!” on one’s lips, and, while joy is often quite contagious, a bad mood is doubly so.

So how may one avoid the dreadful Christmas “oy”? It is very simple. Take the time to remember why we celebrate. Despite what every “holiday special” on T.V. would try to tell you, Christmas is not about presents or dreams or loved ones or (gasp!) even cookies. : ) Nor is it solely about peace, joy, hope, or love. As wonderful as those things are, Christmas is not about food, friendship, or feelings, it is about a Person.

Christmas is about Jesus. Without Him, there would be no Christmas to celebrate. It is Jesus who is the source of everything lovely that accompanies Christmas. He is the only one who can truly give peace, joy, and hope, and in Him is found the highest and truest love –the love that caused Christ to lay down the glory and splendor of Heaven to be born, a helpless baby, to a poor family. He left the sinless perfection of heaven to live sinlessly among sinful humans so that He could give His life for us, taking all our sin upon Himself and dying on the cross. The precious little baby in the manger causes us to remember the reason He was born – to lay down His life for us, paying the penalty for our sin that we might be reconciled with God.

Christmas, indeed is the season which celebrates the greatest joy of all – the joy of salvation!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stop and Look...

Mommy and I went for a walk in our favorite park yesterday.

The sun was shining, making the snow sparkle like diamonds. The winds the night before had blown the snow into graceful drifts, leaving little left on the branches of the tall trees. The wind was blowing less that afternoon, but now and then a gust would come up, sending stinging bits of icy snow blasting against our faces. The snow had turned into ice in places, so we had to walk very carefully. I of course forgot this often as I looked around, enjoying the scene, and after Mommy and I had both slid a little several times, we decided that we should be careful to "stop before we look". : ) So as we cautiously picked our way around the park, we would look up often and when there was something especially pretty, we would stop to look at it.

As we walked, I began to think about the benefits of stopping to look. The park was so beautiful, we stopped often, and having to stop and look made us appreciate the smaller details of the scenery. Instead of taking one glance as we walked by, we paused to enjoy it before moving on. We both exclaimed at times, "I never noticed that before!" as we took the time to really look at what was around us.

The snow was very dry that day and gave a satisfying crunch with each step. Our crunching was very loud, however, drowning out all the lovely sounds around us. Once, when we stopped longer than usual so Mommy could take a picture, I noticed a bird, singing in a tree nearby. I stood quietly, and soon I noticed a whole chorus of birdsongs, that I would not have heard otherwise. It made me realize the things I miss the most about not walking to "work" anymore. I used to love to walk those ten blocks early in the morning during any season, but especially in the winter. Something about the winter makes everything seem still and quiet -except the birds. The birds sing no matter what the weather, and often as I would be bundled up against the cold, stinging rain and blustery winds, I would be cheered by a robin sitting on a branch overhead, singing his song so happily!

-But that's another post for another day.

As I thought more about it, I realized that stopping to look is sometimes helpful, not just in walking in the snow, but in walking with the Lord as well. Christmas is an especially busy time of year for many people. It is easy in the rush of cooking, cleaning, planning, and buying or making presents, to forget to take time to stop and think. Perhaps this snowstorm is meant to give those of us affected by it some time to "stop and look".

Having just finished a very challenging term of school, I am very thankful for the extra time I have during Christmas break, but I'm so used to doing homework every spare moment, I'm not quite sure what to do with my time now. I was ready to jump into anything and everything Christmas, filling up all my time again as I had this fall, but then the snow hit, and everything was cancelled, at least for a while, and I was left without quite as much to do. I have been forced to stop and learn again to enjoy the details along the way. Not having specific things to do each day has given me time to really think about what I read in God's word each morning, instead of rushing through it as it is tempting to do when I am busy. I have time to enjoy the view out the kitchen window as I wash dishes each morning. -I am even beginning to learn to enjoy grocery shopping by seeing it as extra time with whoever is driving there and back with me! And now that I am more or less resolved to the idea of the snow's prolonged presence, I am beginning to enjoy that, too... a little.

I am also hearing afresh the beautiful sounds around me as I pause and let the noise of life's busyness die down. The soft, wet thud of snowflakes against my window, the sound of the birds' trilling songs outside, a distant train's low and mournful whistle, Mommy humming as she works in the kitchen -All of which I would have never heard had I not taken the time to stop and listen.

It is the same with that still, small, voice that God often uses to speak to His children. One cannot hear if one does not listen! It is very important, therefore, to take time to "stop and look".

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Cold Outside!

This morning, I went outside to take some pictures of our yard with the sun shining on the snow. I was only outside for a few minutes, but when I came in again, my hands were numb, even though I had been wearing gloves. I don’t remember it ever being this cold out, but Daddy tells me that before I was born, there were several winters when it was colder for long periods of time. Thankfully, we have a brand new heating system and two wood stoves, so our house has been quite warm.

In our backyard, there is a four or five inch layer of snow, crusted over with ice. Unfortunately, it’s too powdery to make snowballs or snowmen. Somehow, our neighbors managed to get their snow to compact enough to build an igloo. It’s pretty impressive. Really, the only thing this kind of snow is good for is sledding. (Too bad we don’t have a good place to sled here.) As I was doing dishes this morning, I noticed that two of the kids from across the street had brought their little sled over and were trying to sled down our driveway. It must not have worked very well, because they each tried it once, and then went away. It was fun to watch, though.

It is so nice to be done with school and able to help around the house again! I baked the first two batches of Christmas cookies today, which made my brother very happy. –I think they are almost half gone. : ) We don’t have a mixer that works right now, so I spent some quality time with a mixing bowl and my favorite wooden spoon. I shall have very strong arms by the time Christmas is over!

My family went for a walk in the little park near our house yesterday. We took lots of pictures, until the camera ran out of batteries. At one point, while we were waiting for Mommy to finish taking a picture, Tristan (my brother) came over to where I was standing, quite innocently, staring off into space. Tristan reached over and deftly shook the little tree I was standing under, neatly dusting me with snow. Later on, I tried to retaliate by throwing a snowball at him, but it fell apart mid-air so he barely felt it. –Oh the helplessness of being the youngest! : )

The wind blew so hard last night, even the woodbox doors rattled! Between the cold and the wind, we discovered that our house can make some very odd noises. : ) But none of our huge trees fell over, for which we are very thankful. (Being squished like a bug doesn’t seem like it would be very pleasant.)

The snow is very pretty, and is especially beautiful on all the trees we have in our yard, but I do wish it would go away. Snow is nice for a day or two, but here it inevitably turns to ice, which shuts everything down. I shouldn’t complain, though, because the storm saved me from having to play an offertory that wasn’t quite ready. : )
Perhaps snow can be useful, after all!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Last Tuesday, I found myself dreading having to teach. I don’t know why. I love teaching, but sometimes I wake up in a funny mood as my heart tries to fool my mind into making me think I’m tired of being a teacher. I know that there is only one thing in the whole world I would prefer to teaching, but once in a while, I just don’t feel like doing it any longer. It is on those days that God always gives me something wonderful to encourage me and to help me remember that I really do love teaching.

I was explaining an assignment to my last student of the day, and the metaphor I usually use to describe it was not helping her at all. Suddenly, a better one came to mind, and when I explained it using that one, my student’s eyes lit up, and she said “Oooh! Now I get it!” –That is music to my ears! (No pun intended) : )

It is those moments that really encourage me. As I was thinking about how delighted I was to hear my little student say that, it occurred to me how delighted God must be to have His children finally get what He is teaching them. Having had several “Oh!” moments recently myself, it was nice to think that God does not meet them with an impatient “Finally! It took you so long!”, but with an exclamation of “Yes! Now, let’s take it further.” I am so thankful that God is a perfect and patient teacher!

~ “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”James 1:5