Tuesday, December 28, 2010

so this Christmas

will be...a very Merry Christmas, indeed!

I have endeavored to spend time (and money!) celebrating this Christmas! Especially since the last several have been sad and bleak in our family. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, I went over to Sarah's garage and pulled out 13 tubs of decorations (not all Christmas) and hauled them over to Mom's house to sit in her living room while I spent a week sorting and throwing away and getting out what I wanted to use.

As I unpacked, I decorated. The house turned out soooo beautiful!!! Just like I envisioned...all Christmassy and bright and cheery. I set up three nativities (creches), two trees (a 7-ft. live Douglas fir in the family room, and our "Charlie Brown" tree on Mom's German music box in the front rooms on the dining room buffet. Then an arrangement of angels on one piano, garlands and lights and tinsel over many doors, triple candles in the front windows, and a lighted wreath on the door.

Our celebrations began with Tricia's birthday on the 10th. We all went out to see Narnia's "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" in 3-D that night. It was so beautiful. It made me think of Daddy in heaven, especially as Reepicheep paddles his boat up the waterfall into Aslan's country right at the end. And it reminded me why I always abhorred cousin Eustace n the books. And as always, I got out the book to read again. :-)

On Friday the 17th, I met up with Cori & Brian and the babes for their Christmas portrait shoot. They turned out so cute!!! Mama Jones says that there is nothing static about Corrie Lynn. She was so expressive and spontaneous.

That evening, I treated the four of us (Mom, Trish, Sarah & I) to Pensacola Little Theatre's production of "Madeline's Christmas." It was simple but very cute. The main character reminded me of Mary Kate as a little girl! :-) The program's synopsis: "In PLT’s production, Kylie Branch plays Madeline, who lives with eleven other girls at a Parisian boarding school. When her classmates and teacher catch colds, it’s up to Madeline to nurse them back to health. They recover just before Christmas, but it will take a miracle to get them all home for the holidays."

On Saturday after our last wedding cake (for the year!!!), we four spent a little time clothes shopping at Cato and Payless. I wanted to get Sarah several new outfits for her birthday, but give it to her early so that she could wear them over the holidays and to Bob's wedding on the 30th. We found some fabulous things! But I still can't find boots that I like. :-(

I didn't have to work the bakery this year (my first one off in twelve years!!!), so I spent my week grocery shopping (Winn Dixie's ham and turkey was so succulent and delicious!), shopping with Mom (got some new pj's at Sears, baby DVD's & CD's at Family Bookstore), printing pictures at Walmart (August-present), picking up the nieces portraits, hauling out the last tubs, setting up the dining room table for dinner, and a Christmas Eve trip to Let's Play for last minute dolly bottles and wind-up mouse for Corrie Lynn and a Peter Rabbit for Juliana. Then I cooked and cooked.

First I made a big pot of mashed potatoes and a sweet potato casserole with marshmallows for the annual Christmas Eve dinner at Aunt Rosie and Uncle Greg's. And I began to thaw our ham and turkey; I felt like a turkey! I had forgotten to thaw it before! Annie & Baylen are now living in the upstairs of the Touart home. It was a fun evening, observing CL in a social atmosphere and catching up with our friends and family. After the party and presents time was over, we hung out down in the downstairs apartment with AR & UG and little Baylen (he's five now, so cute!), sipping hot tea and gabbing. It was so humorous to listen to the Santa reminders, having not grown up with it as youngsters.

The meats thawed very nicely in a sink of water overnight (thanks, Aunt Rosie!!!). Woop-woop! I was up Christmas morning cooking and cleaning and wrapping presents well into the day. Sarah had gotten sick, and she and Tricia were absolutely exhausted. I played Christmas music all day to liven the mood (I was stressed out by then!). Everyone else started to arrive after 3. It was a delightful evening. Cori even mentioned that my tree (decorated this year in white and gold with all my cross ornaments) was beautiful, and Trish tells me thanks for decorating the house almost every day. ;-) It makes me feel special that we have all enjoyed it so much! We all posed for family pics...

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for blessing our family. Without Your birth, our life would be meaningless. Bless Mama with good health and continued clarity and strength. Save our brother and heal his heart and life. Bless our nieces and draw them to Your salvation early in life. Prepare and bring Godly husbands for the three of us girls. And tell Daddy that we miss and love him dearly!

the third day of Christmas

This being the third day of Christmas (Gregorian calendar), I wanted to remind myself of the import of the 12 days of Christmas once again. One evening earlier in the month, while decorating our tree, I happened to watch a program on television that chronicled the evolution of Christmas as it is today in American culture. I had no idea some of the traditions were so consumer and sales gimmick-based!

I am celebrating the 12 days of Christmas seriously this year. It reminds me of the true spiritual basis of our celebration of Jesus' miraculous birth and the beginning of my own soul's salvation story. And so I wish you all Happy 3rd Day of Christmas! Faith, Hope and Love...and the greatest of these is LOVE! <3

This list of the 12 days of Christmas is from Dennis Bratcher's website: http://www.crivoice.org/cy12days.html
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 1, Christmas Day, December 25
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 2, December 26
Two Turtle Doves
The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.
On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 3, December 27
Three French Hens
The Three Theological Virtues:  1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 4, December 28
Four Calling Birds
The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.
On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 5, December 29
Five Gold Rings
The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:  1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.
On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 6, December 30
Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).
On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 7, December 31
Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 8, January 1
Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)
On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 9, January 2
Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,
6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control.  (Galatians 5:22)
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 10, January 3
Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 11, January 4
Eleven Pipers Piping
The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James.  (Luke 6:14-16).  The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 12, January 5
Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.
Epiphany, January 6
An Epiphany Devotional, January 6

an Advent hymn

 This is a less-known advent hymn...the words are so rich and full of truth.
Sing it to the tune of "For the Beauty of the Earth."

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!
Words by William C. Dix
Borrowed from Mary Jo @ http://www.covenanthomemaking.com/
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