Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This year, we spent Christmas at home, after a great deal of recent more travel days left! I missed being with family but thank goodness for skype! On Christmas Eve, Don made his traditional braided bread and we delivered it to the neighbors. We finally got to know the neighbors' names and even met a couple exactly our age who are also starting their family.

Then we went to see the Winterhaven Festival of Lights (an entire historic neighborhood in Tucson that decorates their homes for Christmas). We stopped at Starbucks to get hot chocolate...the "light" thing was very spontaneous...but they were closed, so we settled for good 'ol Circle K. It was a very festive night and after we got home, I read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to Nate, we set out the Santa cookie and milk (and even a carrot for the reindeer) and got the Natester off to bed. Then we chilled on the sofa for awhile before assembling the Santa gift (A Disney Cars garage).

Today, we were surprised by one of the neighbors, to whom we had delivered bread, stop by to drop off some homemade cookies and doggie treats! The funny thing, is that this was one of the neighbors who we thought didn't like us very much. ha! He ended up staying for nearly an hour shooting the breeze with us. God does amazing things through the spirit of giving.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)

6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas and 4 yrs

This year at Christmas has been fun with the Natester! Several "firsts"...first Christmas concert from his preschool, first time to smile with Santa, first letter to Santa, first time to make gingerbread cookies almost all by himself! Here's some photos for you:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Capers

So, the other day, I showed Nate the advent calendar...which is a wooden bird house with little wooden doors. We were late getting started and I had put chocolate santas from Day 7 to Christmas. He opened Day 7 and was excited to find a very tasty surprise in there. Then I said.."Now we only open one day at a time until Christmas and you might find another surprise!", thinking I was so clever and all.

Three days later, I put Nate to bed and realized we had skipped some days, so, I decided I would "make-up" for the last 3 days and help myself to some chocolates. I opened Door #10 and chocolate. Hmmm....maybe I accidentally missed that door. So I opened Door chocolates!! By this time I'm truly baffled. So I opened up every door left on the calendar and.........NO CHOCOLATES!!!.....except one! WHAT?!

Don was out of town so I called to talk and asked him, "Did you eat those chocolates before you left?" "What? No!", was his reply. And then it dawned on me.

So that's why Nate hasn't been hungry the last 3 days....
And that's why Nate's been complaining that his tummy hurts....
And that explains his Jekyll and Hyde attitude!!!!

So the next morning, I said to Nate, "Hey! We haven't opened our calendar in a few days. Let's go see what surprise is in there!" He just looks at me with a "should I be excited or not?" type of look. I open the empty doors and pretend to be shocked. Then I ask him,

"Nate, do you know where the chocolates are?"


"Nate, I know dad didn't eat them, and I didn't eat them, so don't lie to me. Did you eat those chocolates?" *eyes looking side to side...silence...and then....*

*Shakes his head "yes"*

"Did you eat them or hide them somewhere?"

"I ate them"
(A few days later I discovered the empty chocolate wrappers stuffed in the bottom of the bathroom trash can.)

So, from that day on, he opened the door to find advent calendar broccoli and carrots....and mom is one year wiser.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas is coming....

Nate's 4 yr school photo

......and I'm determined NOT to pack on the pounds! Wow, I am seriously behind in my blog. It has been a whirlwind since we had our Mexico Mission trip back in Oct. First Mexico, then grandparents in for a week, then Israel, then swamped with artwork, then Disneyland, then more art while Don was preaching in Michigan, 2 sick guys on top of all that.....and here we are today. I'm looking at the Christmas packages sitting under our tree, waiting to be mailed. Thinking it might be a gift card type of year. ha! Haven't even got the Christmas lights up yet. At least we managed to do the tree.

I'm thinking back on everything...Israel was amazing. What a great perspective to have, seeing all the different places that Jesus ministered and King David walked. People celebrate Christmas for different reasons but all we can think about, is the great gift that God gave us all. The gift of friendship, leadership, grace, and love through Jesus and his sacrifice. I wasn't sure what to expect from Israel and thought it would be another historical place to see. Surprisingly, I felt a much deeper connection there. It's as if I met a long lost relative, in fact, part of me regretted leaving. It wasn't like a spiritual "high" or any "wow" factor. Just a longing for that part of my beliefs that stayed with me after we returned home.

One of the highlights that stuck with me was when we visited the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee....where Jesus recruited his disciples. Our guide spoke of forgiveness and each of us picked up a large stone, prayed for God to help us let go of our anger or frustration toward a person(s) and threw that burden out into the sea. I'm not really a groupie when it comes to this stuff. (I felt like I was in group therapy for a moment)...but casting that worry out into the water and knowing this was where Jesus performed so many miracles....well, I admit it was therapeutic, in a way.

I remember being in a tiny circular chapel in Bethlehem, singing Silent Night. A group of Astonians were sitting behind us and they joined their native tongue! Two groups of people singing the same tune in two different languages. How awesome is that!?

I was amazed at the massive amounts of tourists there. At first it was annoying...crowded...pushing to get into the historic places to get a decent photo. But then I stopped and realized, "Wow, we are all here for the same reason. A pilgrimage to Israel to see the places where Jesus walked, lived & breathed." Can't get much better than that.

I was proud of my man, leading a communion service in a VERY tiny chapel at the Garden Tomb. What better place to remember Jesus and have communion with everyone we'd traveled with?

Jerusalem was amazing. So many conflicts much history. Sometimes I'd stand on the ancient streets and stones and wonder about Jerusalem's past and future. I didn't realize how close the Mt. of Olives was to Jerusalem. It's literally just up on a hill overlooking the city. Kind of like being in Tucson, up on A-Mountain, looking down on the city...or up on Camelback Mtn in Phoenix overlooking the city. Definitely an experience I will never forget.

Well, I have to get back to being productive. I love Christmas...the magic I remember as a kid, being with family (sadly, not this year. *sniff*), people thinking about other's needs, and remembering the miracle of our Savior's birth and the best gift ever! I have Israel's memories to help me not take that gift for granted and remember it every day... not just Christmas Day.

Shalom Aleichem (peace be with you).