December 31, 2005

Newsboys for the New Year

This song kind of represents what I feel the New Year should be about. Fresh starts, new attitudes, laying down the grudges and guilt and get on with it! =)

The video to this song shows the Newsboys group riding in baskets, similar to the ones on hot air balloons, but then you see the hot air balloon is an elephant shape….a beast of burden. They are being held to the ground by people walking on the street like the Thanksgiving Day parade, holding those ropes so the balloons don’t fly away….only these balloons were meant to fly away….to carry your burden away. At the end, the people with the ropes let go and the Newsboys go flying up into the atmosphere in the elephant balloons. Watch a clip here:,,473158,00.html

Million Pieces (Kissin' Your Cares Goodbye)
By the Newsboys

They all fall
Like a million raindrops
Falling from a blue sky
Kissin' your cares goodbye
They all fall
Like a million pieces
A tickertape parade high
And now you're free to fly

Carryin' a millstone malaise
It's been pulling down your gaze
You pound the pavement
It don't give or care
This weight ain't yours to bear

Why you holdin' grudges in old jars?
Why you wanna show off all your scars?
What's it gonna take to lay a few burdens down?
It's a beautiful sound
When that muffled sigh
Says you're barely getting by
Cut your burdens loose and just simplify

This is not your floor
You're going higher than before
Drop the weight now
Wait for the lookout guide
Look outside
You've gotta lay that burden down
You've gotta lay that burden down
It's time to leave your burdens in a pyre
Set a bonfire

'Cause when you lay your burdens down
When you lay your burdens down
When you drop them burdens
What a free-fall
What a thrill
Bury them all
In a landfill

December 28, 2005

After Christmas peace and quiet...and brand new Oklahoma babies!

We are in Oklahoma this week, visiting my husband's family. We have 2 little additions to the family. Charles' sister and her husband are brand new parents. They have adopted 2 newborn babies this fall. One is 3 months old, the other is 6 weeks younger! They have their hands well as their hearts. =)

Hope you have a great week, enjoying the after Christmas peace and quiet!


December 23, 2005

Pleased as man with men to dwell....

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

The words by Charles Wesley, music by Felix Mendelssohn, this is also a new favorite of mine in the past two years. The phrase that caught my attention anew, “Pleased as man with men to dwell.” We have no idea what wonders await us in Heaven, in His presence. But Jesus knew…and He left it to dwell with us….and was just as pleased as we are to live here (since it is all we know), laying His glory aside.

Go ahead and read through these lyrics and feel the inexpressible greatness of the Incarnation.

1. Hark! The Herald Angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise.
Join the triumph of the skies.
With th' Angelic Hosts proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King."

2. Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting lord
Late in time behold him come,
Off-spring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail, the incarnate deity
Pleased as Man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

3. Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His Wings.
Now He lays His Glory by,
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

4. Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

5. Adam's likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

Holiday blues

Charlie Brown: I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.

Linus Van Pelt: Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy's right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest.

Silly Charlie Brown....he just needs to focus on the meaning of Christmas...

Charlie Brown: [shouting in desperation] Isn't there anyone out there who can tell me what Christmas is all about?
Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you. Lights, please.

[a spotlight shines on Linus]
Linus Van Pelt: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'".

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie brown.

We all need a Linus in our lives about now.....=)

King and God and Sacrifice

The past few years I’ve been really getting into the deeper lyrics of old Christmas carols. Back in the days when people didn’t have all the modern distractions that we have, they had deep thoughts, and they wrote wonderful, rich lyrics. I’ll post another tomorrow, but today is We Three Kings, written by John H. Hopkins Jr. in 1857 for a Christmas pageant at the General Theological Seminary in New York City.

The words that struck me as I listened to our adult choir sing Christmas songs last Sunday was the phrase, “King and God and Sacrifice…” See, I am not one to really pay attention to detail, so it’s taken me….uh, well, a lot of years….to really hear the meanings of some of these songs. I love how this song includes the forthcoming reason for Christ’s coming….his sacrificial death.

(This picture, by the way, looks exactly like the Judean Wilderness when we saw it on our Israel trip. The guide told us people would travel, just like this picture, in the crevasses between the harsh hills of desert.)

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.


Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.


Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.


Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.

December 20, 2005

A Walk Through Bethlehem

We went to Phoenix on Friday and Saturday for our family Christmas party with the desert relatives. It was a really nice time, highlighted by a trip to a Bethlehem village. I was picturing a live nativity scene, but A Walk Through Bethlehem was a huge surprise and blessing to us. It was put on by Crossroads Nazarene Church in Chandler, AZ and they went all out on their production. My niece Bobbie had gone to get the tickets that afternoon, they are free tickets, but they encourage a canned food donation in exchange. She received registration forms for each family and a paper ticket and a plastic golden coin for each person.

As we started the tour, we came out into the night air and were greeted by shepherds, warming themselves by their fire. They invited us to get warm and visited with us about being shepherds. I took a picture with flash of some shepherd children who were tending some live sheep and turned around to find a woman who was part of the production staring at me with her huge eyes and asked me what kind of magic was this that I could capture their souls. Yikes, I’m sorry! LOL She acted suspicious of me the whole rest of the tour and kept giving me the eye as she walked along with our group. Suddenly (really!) the angels appeared on the roof of the church with a glow of light and smoky haze, announcing the Savior’s birth and entreating us to go and find Him. The shepherds were amazed (of course) and we all went to the gates of Bethlehem to enter the city.

The Roman guards at the gate were gruff and loud…informing us we should have our registration papers ready and that there was a tax to be paid as we entered. My brother in law, who has a habit of making little comments under his breath, said he wasn’t going to pay any taxes. Well he was just kidding, but he was promptly pointed out (by his loving family…heehee) and whisked off by the rough guards, who made an example out of him not to mock them. The rest of us entered the city, handed in our census registration papers, which will be used by the church for outreach purposes, we paid our taxes which were ogled over by Roman soldiers, and were all of a sudden in the middle of an old Bethlehem village recreation. There were ladies doing a Middle Eastern dance with scarves (Maggie and cousin Eleanor were invited to join in), there were people baking unleavened bread in stone ovens over an open fire (there were samples and it was good), there was a man playing an old game with some children in an alcove, there was a woman spinning fuzzy wool into smooth yarn and there were people selling fish….stinnnnnky fish (they offered samples too, but didn’t have many takers). It was all so well done and planned out.

Next we were hurried into a narrow city street where women were excitedly talking from window to window above our heads. They were discussing the angels coming to announce to the shepherds about a Savior’s birth. Maggie caught one woman’s attention because she was wearing a Christmas headband with a gold halo that hung over her forehead. This woman shocked the wits out of Maggie, as she loudly and excitedly asked her if SHE was one of the angels who talked to the shepherds. It took her a minute to compose herself and answer….it was so funny. Then the women told us to come back and please let them know if we found the Savior…..all of this happening while we craned our necks up to watch them. LOL

Through the street, then into the city synagogue, where the priests opened scrolls and read ancient prophecies about Messiah’s birth and life. Then we went out to a quiet manger set where we sat on bails of hay and watched Mary and Joseph taking care of the Baby (a real baby) in the still, dark night, surrounded by donkeys and sheep. One of the pastors of the church gave an evangelistic talk about how everyone is searching for something in their life to give it meaning and fulfillment, not realizing that it is only found through a humble, servant Savior. He then offered a sample prayer of giving your life to Christ and said there were counselors in tents behind us to pray with us or answer any questions we had about it all, adding that the tents had heaters for extra incentive. =) As we headed to the parking lot, there was a petting zoo and kind church members offering assistance to people.

It was wonderful to see a church that put so much effort into a community outreach! This production must have taken hours upon hours of preparation, hard work, practice and planning to pull off. I would drive down to Phoenix every year to see this awesome tour through Bethlehem….many thanks to the Crossroads Nazarene Church!

December 15, 2005

Christmas with family....

Oooo, don't we look all 80's? heehee I found this old pic of me and 2 of the sisters on my computer. That is Becky, me and Julie on vacation in 1986.

I mentioned a few entries ago that my inbox was full of my sisters trying to organize an early Christmas weekend get together. One sister came forward and got us organized with wisdom, skill and wit. My sister, Julie, got tired of the 20 emails a day in her inbox, as I did, with sister talk just going round and round without actually planning one thing. LOL So she wrote a very commanding email advising us what we would each bring and do for the weekend fun.

My other 2 sisters and 1 grown niece probably had the same reaction that I did upon receiving ‘orders’. Julie thought we’d feel bossed around and apologized for taking charge. But I just stared in sheer amazement that one of MY sisters could take those dozens of emails, with all the lists and food and entertainment possibilities and come up with orders for each person, gleaning from all of our chaos and turning it into a plan.

We all thanked her and are in awe of her skill. Then we got this email, which I am using with her permission, explaining the whole weekend in hilarious detail. You might have to know some of these relatives to really get giddy laughter going, but I think you’ll see the humor in it without further explanation….after all, you all have relatives I’ll bet!

Without further adieu….heeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Julie!

After several requests from dazed and confused family members, here is the schedule for Christmas as best as I could guess:

Friday Dec 16

2:00-ish pm - Julie will bring Mom, Dad and Eleanor to Becky's house and hopefully Christie and family will arrive by then as well. At some point, we may heat up some appetizers to snack on (Mom will provide).

4:30 - Jodi leaves work and picks up Steve at home. They drive to Becky's having pleasant conversation and enjoying the carpool lane.

4:30 - Bobbie leaves work and picks up tickets for Bethlehem tour for 12 (including herself) with many cans of food, which she has secured ahead of time. She gets the latest tickets possible and then comes to Becky's house.

6:00 - we eat Becky's food and Christie's salad. We may play a game or so. We will have birthday cake and ice cream. Some may choose to sing "Happy Birthday."

7:30-ish - everyone leaves Becky's house for either home in Glendale or Bethlehem tour. Many will return to Becky's house for the night and may require hot chocolate.

Saturday Dec 17

8 am? - Steve will leave Becky's house for freeway opening party. He will try to talk Eleanor and Maggie into coming along. They may or may not be convinced.

9 am? - The Lords and the Adams' will leave for Glendale, someone will give Julie and maybe Eleanor a ride, since Steve will have the van.

10 am - Lots of people and commotion will descend on a small house in Glendale. We will have activities that are sticky and require frosting and candies. We will divide baked goods and other homemade treats. At some point, Steve will rejoin the crowd.

Noonish - we will eat deli meats on bread, dips and chips. We will feel a little sick from all the sugary treats.

1-ish - we will give and receive gifts with the Lords and the Jimenez'. Paper will fly. Someone will stick a bow on their head. Many thank-you's will be heard.

2:30-ish - the Lords will have to leave to get back to Williams before dark. On the drive, they will regret that Maggie wanted a Rescue Pet...

….uh, it’s me again….We’ll be following orders starting tomorrow…see you all after the weekend!

December 13, 2005

Scared of Santa

Take a look at The Scared of Santa Gallery ….I knew there was a reason for not taking my kids to sit on Santa’s lap all those years. They will thank me when they see this!

Seriously though, we have some Santa ornaments around, we watch the Miracle on 34th Street and Rudolph, but from day one, I let my children know that Santa was just a make believe game some parents play with their kids, along with telling them why the legend began. I don’t think they suffered at all from it…although I have been chewed out before by Christians who thought I was mean not to let them have a little fun believing in Santa. My kids have never thought it was mean and grew up to be perfectly normal (some may even say above average…ok, well that may just be me) and also to be truth seekers, each with a deep faith in God. I’d rather teach them to have faith about things that are real, rather than possibly confuse them or lose their trust in my truthfulness.

This is not meant to be cynical at all. I respect those who play the game and tell my kids not to ruin the game for other kids. (after all, I grew up slightly normal after believing in Santa) But I did want to let those who might wonder how this approach turned out in case they’re afraid to be mean….er, truthful. ;)

December 12, 2005

Christmas ideas!

I’ve been gleaning ideas from TV cooking shows and magazines!

From Rachel Ray’s Christmas cooking show....2 recipes:

Snowball macaroons

2 egg whites, beat til thick
1/3 c sugar, beat til stiff peaks form

Fold in gently:
1 1/2 c sweetened coconut (start with half, then add rest)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 T flour
1 tsp almond extract

Use an ice cream scoop for good sized cookie piles onto parchment paper lined pan. Bake for 12 minutes at 350. Cool on wire rack and decorate with melted chocolate chips and candies.

Italian bread pudding

Half a loaf of pantone (or sweet bread or cake) cut in cubes, put in large mixing bowl.

Whisk together:
3 eggs + 3 yolks
2 cups half and half
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Pour over bread cubes in mixing bowl. Let sit for a few minutes. Scoop into greased muffin tins. Place muffin tin into larger baking dish with an inch of water in it under the muffin tin. Bake til lightly browned on top. The water underneath keeps the puddings moist.

I didn’t hear how long to cook these (she got to the bake time when I was away helping Maggie turn off the water in the shower), so I’m just going to wing it, but they sound wonderful!

I saw Martha Stewart on a morning show and she did this:

Dip rim of holiday coffee cups into melted white chocolate, then into crushed peppermints. Fill with eggnog or hot cocoa! (I think you could use it for coffee too.)

crickl's scalloped potatoes:

4-6 large russet potatoes
1/4-1/2 sweet onion
Coarse salt, cracked pepper
Dried or fresh rosemary
Garlic cloves (1-3), crushed
1 cup milk

Grease a 9x13 baking dish (a stone dish really makes crispy edges!). Use a slicing plain set on thin setting or hand slice potatoes as thin as you can. Do this also with the onion…long, thin slices, not in chunks. Melt butter (amount is up to you) and put the crushed garlic in the butter. Layer potatoes and onions in dish, sprinkling each layer with spices and melted garlic butter. When top layer is in place, pour milk around the edges. (It will be soaked up by the end of baking.) Cover with foil and bake at 375 for an hour. Take foil off and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the top is crispy and browned.

This is really good with ham or meatloaf. If you add cheese into the layers, it is almost a meal in itself with a salad or asparagus. 

December 11, 2005

Reminder for moms at Christmas

For the sake of time and my family, I will just be posting some fun or devotional types of things I have collected on Christmas or on contentment as I find them. With all the obligations and extra activities of the season, I want to share encouraging things, yet have the time to put more into our family life here.

This is an email from my friend, Sue, at church. It is a dear reminder of how we can get sidetracked, sometimes by good things, and neglect the ones closest to us! I wish the author was listed, but on these email forwards, it usually is not. 1 Corinthians 13 has long been a chapter of the Word that I study and try to use often… is so basic…so fundamental in how we treat each other…….so read on this for a few minutes and then meditate on the real thing. 

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure!

December 6, 2005

Bustling about

December is a crazy, wonderful month. I love all the festivities and busyness of the season, buying people gifts and celebrating. We are trying to spend most evenings at home and enjoy our family more this year. It has to be a conscious effort for us because there are so many things to do! I hope to have no regrets about how I spent the season of the Incarnation celebration. ;)

Things that I’m spending time on lately:

My inbox: My email box has been FULL almost every day the past couple of weeks…not from lots of people….but from 4 people who are driving me crazy! My 3 sisters and my grown up neice! We write these group emails when we’re planning something (currently our family Christmas weekend the 16-17th) and everyone has to ‘reply all’ to all of them. By the time the day is over, I could have up to 15-20 emails….each one growing longer because no one erases all the other replies! It’s crazy….but then it wouldn’t be us if it wasn’t crazy….at least it wouldn’t be them if it wasn’t crazy! LOL

Cooking: I am hosting my daughters and their teenaged friends for gingerbread guy decorating on Saturday. Click here to see last year's creations. We had pirate guys, island guys, guys in tuxedoes (Nate Sallie), santa guys, a creature from the Black Lagoon guy, Spiderman guy, and lots of other cute cookies including a gingerbread girl in a swimsuit, ankle bracelet and lei from Hawaii. I will post pics when we're done of the surviving gingerbread guys and girls. (Some don't survive until picture time, losing limbs and heads, eventually succumbing to cannibalistic teenaged girls.)

Taxi service: Mom's taxi service is roaring with business lately! I'm glad the girls have so many fun and wholesome activities, but I can't wait til my 15 year old gets her license and can run some errands for me! (January 25 she turns 16!) The big attraction lately? Our town has just finished an outdoor ice skating rink downtown! I hope to have pics of this soon too.

Shopping: can't tell! *wink wink, nudge nudge* =)

Projects: Working on a project for my parents for Christmas….I can tell you because they do not know how to look at a computer screen! My sister has been telling my Mom about my blog for a while now and she was all sad because she ‘can’t’ read it…I will clarify so you don’t think I have an illiterate mother. She thinks it’s too hard to learn to use the internet. Silly people. So I am making a notebook with all my blog posts from this last year. Converting it to Word and adding and resizing all the pictures took hours. It is 178 pages long on Word! It is also taking hours upon hours to print because our main computer, which is connected to the printerrrrrrrrr, keeps crashing….right now, it’s about every 25 pages. It ain’t fun people. I may have a permanent twitch developing.

I also need to finish my youngest daughter’s Christmas stocking. I made each of my 3 older daughters these nice counted cross-stitch stockings that hang proudly each year, displaying intricate counting and stitching abilities and the love of a Mom who had the time to go through all that work for them. I had each of their stockings finished and hanging up by their second Christmases. Maggie’s is still in process…and she is 8 years old. You cannot imagine the guilt I feel when we decorate the house each year and she has a store-bought red fuzzy stocking, while the other sisters all have cute homemade stockings. =(

Homeschooling: We are trying to catch up from the time I was gone to Israel and the time we have goofed off doing Christmas things.

Focus: We are focusing on gratitude in our devotional times. It has been wonderful. I am so unorganized that this November devotional idea came a month late. Good (or God?) timing though! It's a perfect thing to focus on in December. Our main theme is from an article in the November issue of HomeLife magazine. Contentment is acheived from a heart that focuses on gratitude for what we have...instead of focusing on what we do not have. More later on this!