Saturday, December 31, 2011


Seems like it was yesterday that the thought of stepping into another year brought a stomach-full of butterflies.*  After a long December, we were singing with the counting crows: maybe this year will be better than the last.  But...if not, I asked the Lord to open my eyes, awaken my heart to joy.  Not happy-'cuz-life-is-good or happy-when-my-kids-behave.  Not happiness-found-in-escaping-to-anywhere-but-here or happy-from-a-pat-on-the-back. 
Joy that springs from a well deeper than circumstance. 
The joy that only He can give.  
Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 
~ Psalm 90.14
2011 came, 
and this is just a snapshot.  
{There is so much left out...memories we hold in our hearts but don't have on disk - lovely faces that grace our days, precious family, priceless friendships, warm exchanges in the hall, honest conversations, laughter and tears shared.}    

we hugged hard good-byes to loved ones...


we embraced hellos...

we shared our lives, our hearts, our journeys, our gluten-free cakes......

we faced our fears, cheering each other on in the process...

{below: before...}
we moved, gathered, celebrated...

{above: after!!!}
we discovered the wonder in the here, beauty in the now...

You know what I see looking back on this year?
He has given joy!

We often don’t enjoy the experience at hand because we’re so caught 
up with reaching out for the next one…The secret to awakening joy 
is being present with whatever part of life we’re tasting right now.
~ James Baraz & Shoshana Alexander

More to come, as we ring in the New Year tonight with some of our favorites.
Wishing you a Happy New Year, filled with joy that only He can give! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rejoice, o weary world!

I don’t know how this Christmas finds you.  A house filled with loved ones, or longing to hold the hand of a love that's passed…all your wishes under the tree, or wondering how you’ll make ends meet…peace in your home, or greed- gripped hearts stirring fights...crossing off your favorite to-do’s, or swapping out the fun for cleaning up vomit and washing mounds of soiled laundry…reflecting on the graces of a year past and the hope of a year to come, or far from home unsure of what tomorrow holds...

This time of year is funny like that.
We listen to the carols Have a holly, jolly Christmas and It's the most wonderful time of the year.  Yet, for some, that is so very far from reality.
Can a Christmas still be merry? 
You may have nothing to unwrap, and yet everything to receive and embrace.  OR, you may have everything you wished for, yet settling to delight in the gift rather than the Giver.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices!
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born…
Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother. 
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name!
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Have you ever thought about those words...truly, let them sink down deep?
We have so much to celebrate!  
Even when this time is not what we would have planned.  
It’s not about what is happening around us.  
But the Hope beyond this, the Joy within.  His joy, my strength.

*This* is how a Christmas can still be merry.  God is WITH us.
Wherever you are.  However you are, He is near those who call on His name.

    I am overcome with joy because of Your unfailing love,
for You have seen my troubles,
and You care about the anguish of my soul.
Psalm 31.7

May this Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace be as near and dear to you as you are to Him.

Wishing you a very merry celebration of the greatest Gift!
With care, Andy.Sara.Miles.Jack.Jude

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

silver stars

Ok.  So Monday morning came around, dad was on his way out the door, and a moment of panic may have washed over me, wondering if I can do this.  Deep breath.  Self-talk...something about you can do this, sure there's 3 of them and 1 of you, but the days may come when being home on a Christmas break is the last place they want to be, so make this count.  Consult the chalkboard {our list-full of ideas for break}.  Ah, yes...  

Salt dough.  2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt.  Mix with enough warm water (about a cup) to the consistency of play-doh.  Roll.  Cut.  Bake at 250 for 2 hours.  Follow it up with coffee and catching up with a dear friend.  And, we're off to a wonderful start!

I don't know what tomorrow holds.  But I know His mercies are new.  And, I'm gonna count them.  Because He is so gracious...
~ the dear faces who have graced our days and blessed our hearts
~ this gingerbread I have made 3 days in a row {substituting GF flour for regular, oil for butter, and adding 3/4 t. xanthan gum}
~ large pieces of paper that make even learning cursive fun
~ little eyes that light up when I squeeze their shoulders and kiss their forehead
~ this song cannot get enough of it, turned up all the way
~ holiday trail mix
~ family game night
~ planning an 11 year celebration with my love next week!!!
~ boys delivering moose munch to our kind neighbors (which is all of them :)
~ Miles telling me when he's married, he's gonna stay up until 11 with his wife and play bey-blades (now I know what to buy for a wedding present :)
~ Jack in tears tonight over the presents he has under the tree and the kids who don't know when their next meal will be
~ Jude's little winks, and his smile, and his hugs...always his hugs
~ wrapping up the last of our house projects...and consequently wrapping gifts in caulk boxes with painter's tape
~ this on my mind:
I am the Light of the world.  
If you follow Me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, 
because you will have the Light that leads to life!
~ Jesus, John 8.12 {NLT}

I pray this is the Light that captures our attention this Christmas.  
That our hearts prepare Him room...that He may shine bright in our lives!