Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of an Era

I realized just recently that this is not only the end of the year, but also the end of a decade, and not just any decade, but the first decade of a new millennium. Kind of weird, huh? We have never been party people on New Year's Eve, as a matter of fact even on this momentous year we will probably not stay up until midnight. However, I could not let this day pass by without taking some time to note some of the most dramatic events of the past decade (for me). In no particular order, other than how my disorganized mind remembers them, I give you happenings of the first decade of the 21st century:

1. I graduated from high school. I remember receiving my diploma and thinking that was a lot of work for one little piece of paper!
2. I worked my first "real" job. Doing stock at the Buckle led to great things-like a real appreciation for the minimum wage employee.
3. I learned how to drive. At the tender age of 18 (and a half) I triumphantly received my driver's license. It only took me twice as long as the average teen.
4. I obtained my associates degree. I still fondly remember college and it was a sweet enough experience to motivate me to continue working towards my bachelor's. Maybe in the next decade...
5. I fell in love-need I say more?
6. I moved away from home. Probably more than anyone realizes this helped me to learn to depend on the Lord.
7. I got married! Hard to believe in February it will be seven years...
8. Joel joined the Army. I never expected to be married to a military man-much less one in the Army!
9. We endured two deployments. Conquered them through the grace of God and we thrived.
10. We had two beautiful babies. I wouldn't change that for the world.
11. I moved 7 times-several of them by myself.
12. We bought our first new car together.
13. I learned how to text and use Craigslist-more important than you may realize.
14. I found a love for blogging.
15. I met God in a whole new way...

Some important, some not so much, but it is hard to sum up ten years of living in a few sentences. I am slightly melancholy to see this year end, but I know tomorrow I will wake up knowing that what the Lord has in store for 2010 will be greater than anything I can comprehend. Because that's just how He is... I leave you with my verses for 2009 and my life verse:

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.For in just a very little while,

"He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him."
But we are not of those who shrink back
and are destroyed,
but of those who believe and are saved."
Hebrews 10:35-39 (NIV)

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Manifesto for 2010

I took our Christmas tree down today. It was a little harder than usual, since Joel decided to name our tree this year. Goodbye, Firbert, you were the noblest of noble firs. However, even saying farewell to our tree that seemed to have a personality didn't make me too sad. I love, love, love taking down the Christmas decorations. I pretty much prefer putting them away to putting them up!:) I know that sounds funny, but I love the openess of all that space. I like the empty areas it leaves behind.

Probably, that is why I love the new year. It is like a big, blank space. I can fill it up, or leave it empty. The fewer things I put in a space the easier it is to keep clean. That also holds true of the new year. I think that the fewer frivilous commitments I make the easier it will be to keep my important priorities in order. I know that is a lot easier to write than do.

Towards the end of this year I have focused on eliminating clutter. I have been turning a critical eye towards pretty much everything in the house. If we don't use it (often!) and I don't love it, I have been selling it on Craigslist, donating it to Goodwill or just tossing it in the trash! I have been amazed by how many things I have considered "must haves" that I haven't used in years. I have run across things that I realized are really useful but I have been too lazy to put them into service (like the great do-it-yourself cookbook my mom gave me that I am absolutely loving). Or the things that I keep just because I have always had them. We are getting ready to part with a few pieces of our living room furniture. That is actually a big deal, because if you have ever been to my house, you know I don't have a lot!

I plan on doing that with my schedule. There are things that I will always need to do. There are definitely things I want to do.There are things that I have opportunity to do but have just not taken the time to do them. But I have also begun to realize that there are plenty of things that I do just because I have always done them. Or things I do just because I think "everybody" expects me to do them. Those time-wasters are clutter I can afford to be rid of!

The hope and promise of a new year, "fresh, with no mistakes in it" as Anne of Green Gables would say, has always been highly alluring to me. The same is true of this coming year. I am looking forward to 2010, but not because I am disappointed with the results of '09. Rather, buoyed by its successes, I look forward to making even greater strides in the new year. Here's to abolition of clutter, both in my home and on my calendar! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Case for (After) Christmas (Deals)!

So, as everyone probably knows, much of what I know about being thrifty I learned from my mom. When I read this article today(see it here) it made me laugh out loud. It is all about shopping the after Christmas sales for more than just Christmas decor and gift wrap.My mom has been doing this for years! And it forgets to mention all the other things that will be on sale like, the special "two for one" or free sample sets of cleaning supplies, hand soap and razor sets that will be on sale. Especially if you have the patience to keep checking back after the new year. I have long purchased many health and beauty items at after Christmas sales. Last year I got Swiffer dusters for such a great deal that I paid to ship them home to myself and still saved money.

And the article's author really didn't give enough attention to the great prices on clothes this time of year. That has more to do with the fact that everyone is dragging out their spring attire, but here in good ol' CO we have at least three more months of winter-if not more! I have paid 97 cents for sweaters and shirts in the end of January. And still had plenty of time to wear them, not even considering that I will still be the same size next year! I don't even waste my time usually shopping when things are only 50% off.

This year, I have to agree with the article on this point, it looks like stores were more prudent with their stock. I don't know that I will have the success with 90% off like I did last year. We purchased an artificial tree for $1.92 then! I also got plain, red, green and even white bows at Hobby Lobby for 19 cents for three, too. Last week, I bought a few things there at half-off and it was slim pickings. However, I have to say that I am holding out, I already told Joel that if it isn't at least 75% off then we won't buy it... and I am thinking I am not the only one!

All this to say, if you have only been shopping the after Christmas sales for gift wrap with snowmen on it, tree lights and ornaments, then you are missing out on some of the best deals out there. January is the best time of year for many things, clothes, toys, household supplies, paper goods, and health and beauty items. So get out of the seasonal item aisle and grab some deals! Thanks for the good advice, mom.:)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Giving Up on Christmas

It's Christmas. We celebrate it every year, taking notice of it with parades, shows, songs, gifts, food and invoking holiday spirit with everything from napkins to socks. Some years, to be honest, I enjoy it more than others. Christmas spirit is very much dependent on what is happening elsewhere in "real" life. This year has been a better year in some ways than others. However, no matter how excited (or ambivalent) I am feeling concerning the hoopla that surrounds the holiday I never fail to be arrested by the real reason for the season. This year is no different in that regard. It seems every year that I am struck by some new facet of that miraculous story, feeling in tune with a particular character. I have my parents to thank for that, from a young age they encouraged us to find a player in that wonderful Story and put ourselves in their shows.

I have often thought fondly of the shepherds, those bottom-of-the-social ladder characters. I also have tried to see how upstanding, rule-following Joseph handled things. I investigated the inn keeper-such a tiny, but oh-so-important, role. Last year, Christ Himself a tiny, fragile, Babe, captured my attention (see that post here). This year though, it has been His mother.

Many songs and stories have been written about the Mother of our Lord. I am fascinated by her youth, her obedience and the suffering she must have endured. I have searched the Scriptures to see what set her apart. She was defintely obedient, her response to truly incredible news was:

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her." Luke 1:38 NIV

But to most of us that is old hat. We have heard her obedience lauded (as it should be) since childhood. But I don't think her amazing obedience was restricted to carrying the Christ-Child. I think that she was chosen for another special reason as well: she knew when to let go.

I apologize if that does not hit you straight between the eyes as it did for me. God knew that Mary had to have a perfect blend of holding on and letting go. You see, she knew the Scriptures. She knew that, one way or another, she would not get to hold onto this Child. He wasn't her's. I suspect that in that tiny stable in Bethlehem she started holding Jesus with open hands. She had to have the strength to love Him with all her heart (and probably in an even different way than you or I, after all she was His mother!) but also the strength to let Him become the Man He was meant to be.

Don't think for a second that Mary could have stood in the way of God's plan for Jesus. But also don't be fooled that she was given superhuman abilities to not care that her Baby was born to die. She could have tried to protect Him, she could have tried to stand in God's way. I can promise you that would have only resulted in pain, albeit a different kind than what I am sure she felt. She could have wrestled with God, begged Him for her Son's life. But I don't think she did. She was not honored above all women because she always got what she wanted. Her heralded character traits were not persistence and doggedness.

I think the reason that this astounded me was because I have always seen Mary as somewhat super-spiritual. But I think her release of Christ to fulfill His Father's plan was a deliberate choice. I mean, I knew that she loved Jesus, I know that she was pained by His death. But then I began to see hints of her open hands in the Word:

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:18

Right after the arrival of the shepherds, Mary began thinking about all these things that were happening. She pondered over how this Baby was like no other. And she realized He wasn't hers. That God's ways are not our ways. That the visit from the lowly herdsmen was one of the first indications that He belonged to everyone.

I am always trying to hold on. My obedience does not extend to giving up, to letting go. I think I have had this mistake conception that obedience meant hanging on, digging in, always persisting. But sometimes the greatest obedience comes in letting God be God. In not trying to insist on your own way, in not even insisting that God explain His ways to you.

Imagine the tears that fell as Mary acknowledged that her Baby wasn't her's. Imagine the pain as she looked down that road and couldn't see the end. Her surprise that the King of Kings got the same treatment as an animal! But she didn't fret and she didn't fight. She treasured all these things...She looked up and she let go...

My Christmas wish is that I would learn to let go. Give my children, my husband, my money to God. Be obedient to His call to forsake all and follow Him. To learn that obeying sometimes means that letting go is more important than holding on. Isn't it all His anyways?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


So, ever since I discovered the "bloggy" tradition of having a special "100 things about me" as your 100th blog post I have been somewhat looking forward to it. I say somewhat because there probably isn't 100 things you want to (or already didn't) know about me. However, 100 posts is a big milestone. I had hoped to reach it by the end of November, but due to our family emergency it didn't work out. So, (drumroll please)here it is:

1. Least favorite chore: dishes.
2. Most favorite chore: bathrooms.
3. I have read the Bible through at least 5 times
4. My favorite Christmas carol is "The Carol of the Bells" especially Trans-Siberian Orchestra's version
5. I re-read "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder almost every winter because my mom always loved it and she said it made her feel thankful. I find it does the same for me!
6. I like to fold laundry
7. but I hate putting it away.
8. I hate hot tea and will not drink it!
9. I have a coffee pot and filters in my house but no coffee. We don't drink at it home so I only have it for company.
10. I have one of those little decorative flag-posts and I love changing the flag every month.
11. I have never owned a bottle of perfume.
12. I would rather read a book than watch television.(And I love television!)
13. I love that Carson says "bebes" like he is French, instead of "babies".
14. I prefer summer over winter
15. but I prefer winter clothes over summer clothes.Too much exposed skin!
16. If I had my druthers I would never leave the house without a necklace-I love costume jewelry.
17. I almost never take a gift to a child's party in a bag.I always use gift wrap because the kids like it so much better.
18. I hate taking a bath!
19. Literally, the last time I took a bath was when I was 16 and sick. Only showers for me.
20. I love a box of candy. I like to take a bite out of a bunch of different pieces and then put them back in the box.:)
21. I love being at home with my kids and I cry if I think about what it would be like to be apart from them every day.
22. I hate uneven numbers. It really bugs me that my birthday is on the 11th.
23. That is also why I was married on the 22nd.
24. I love wearing a scarf and gloves.
25. I always have gloves in my coat pocket.
26. I like lip gloss but I hate lipstick. I wore lip gloss in my wedding.
27. Clothes are my preferred gift. I like to give them, I love to recieve them.
28. Or a gift card.
29. My favorite toy growing up was my dollhouse. That is probably why Jocelyn has 4.
30. If I had a choice between going to the beach or a museum I would pick the museum. Every time!
31. I have always wanted to live in one of the pretend houses in Ikea. You know, the really little ones? I think it would be fun!
32. I don't like crackers. Especially not in my soup.
33. I rarely read a book or watch a movie twice. I have to love it to be willing to read it or see it again.
34. I usually like a black and white photo (or sepia) better than a colored one.
35. I have always wanted to celebrate Hanukah. I love the tradition (and the colors)!
36. I always wanted to marry a taller man. And I did!
37.I would rather have tile, hardwood or even cement than carpet.
38. I have never been able to get past level two of Super Mario Brothers.
39.I like pens with caps better than ones that click.
40. I have a clock in literally every room of my home (some have as many as three!) and I am still late!
41. I prefer reuseable bags over plastic ones. I even take my own bag to Kohl's.
42. All of my shirts are hung by color, sleeve length and whether or not they have a collar.
43. I make amazing Rice Krispy treats.
44. I have never broken any bones.
45. I have only stayed overnight in the hospital for the birth of my children.
46. When I was younger I was going to name my kids Olivia and Octavius. I only like one of those names now...guess which one?
47. My favorite band of all time is the Newsboys.
48. My favorite group for right now is Relient K.
49. I have never taken a formal exercise class.
50. I have never been a member of a gym.
51. All my curtains are valances, I don't have any drapes.
52. I keep my wedding dress under my bed.
53. I hate chocolate with fruit.
54. If you wanted to torture me you could feed me chocolate covered cherries.
55. I hate a movie with a sad ending. I won't watch most of them and the ones I do I don't like!
56. I think all hot chocolate should include marshmallows.
57. I have never dyed my hair.
58. I think I have the best kids in the whole world.
59. My favorite photos of Joel and me are the kissing ones.:)
60. I don't do Santa decor.
61. I wish my birthday was in the summer.
62. Because I always wanted to have a pool party.
63. Which is weird because I don't swim!
64. One of my most treasured possessions is an old, beat-up lunch box my grandpa used.
65. I cried when they changed Herbal Essences shampoo. I used the green one for years.
66. My favorite thing to do at the zoo is feed the giraffes.
67. I want a pond.
68. I always wanted my eyes to be brown when I was growing up.
69. Now, I think it is really cool that my kids have blue eyes.
70. I've never had crutches.
71. Probably, in part, because I have never broken a bone.
72. I always choose chocolate over vanilla.
73. My favorite "eat-out" dessert is the Maple Nut Blondie at Applebee's,
74. I always said I would have white lights on my Christmas tree when I grew up.
75. Now I have colored ones because my husband and kids like them better.
76. I am fascinated by mummies.
77. And I found out this summer, also by cemeteries.
78. One of the highlights of my trip was seeing the crypts in New Orleans
79. and visiting a cemetery in Mexico.Does that make me macabre?
80. I have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories.
81. I love to people-watch with Joel.
82. Actually, I like to do pretty much anything (or nothing) with him!
83. I have never had acrylic nails applied professionally.
84. I love a pedicure
85. and a massage!
86. My sister did my hair for my wedding.
87. I do all my own mending.
88. I am not afraid of mice. I don't like them, but I am not afraid of them.
89. I play pretty mean bass on "Rock Band".
90. I never light candles.
91. I hate the post office and avoid it at all costs.
92. I hate getting up before 7:00 am.
93. I prefer to be in bed no later than 10:30 pm.
94. I like my sleep!
95. Mexican food is my favorite
96. unless I am having a steak, salad and baked potato
97. or a big burger and fries!
98. I hate things with missing pieces: puzzles, toys, anything!
99. My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11.
100. I hope I never have to write 100 things about myself again!

If you have read all of these you deserve a medal! Or a nice, long nap from being bored to death...:)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Status Update

I'm listening to: "Let it Snow, Baby... Let it Reindeer" by Relient K. Always late to catch on but this is probably my most favorite Christmas album. I always cry over "I Celebrate the Day" but I also love "Merry Christmas, Here's to Many More" and "In Like a Lion (Always Winter). Thanks, Kate, for introducing me!

I'm watching: Criminal Minds (anyone else totally crabby over the end of last week's episode? ugh!) and also "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" which is completely making me want to re-read the whole amazing Chronicles of Narnia series!

I'm reading: "Courting Trouble" by Deeane Gist. Well, I haven't actually started it yet but I will soon and I am really looking forward to it.

I'm putting off: cleaning my laundry room. I trashed it pulling out the Christmas decor but it has needed a major overhaul for a while. My sister informed me the last time she was here that I should keep the door shut...

I want to: address my Christmas cards (hope to do that today) and make candy! I have picked out four different kinds of truffles that I want to make and I am really eager to get started. I also have a cookie exchange coming up and I am looking forward to getting some new recipes.

I'm excited about: Jocelyn singing in church next Sunday. This will be her first "performance" as part of the preschool choir. I am already charging the video camera! I am sure it will be adorable. I am also excited about Christmas Eve-our tradition is to attend the service and then do dinner out. It will be a great family time.

I'm thankful that: it is snowing outside, but warm inside. Also, that we have almost all our Christmas presents purchased (I don't have anything for Joel but he won't take long-everything he wants is so expensive!) Also, that our Savior came in the form of a precious, sweet, innocent Baby to live to die for my sins...

What's up with you?:)


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