Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: 
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. 
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. 
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart bestill:What need our little life Our human life to know,If God hath comprehension? In all the dizzy strife Of things both high and low, God hideth His intention.
God knows. His willIs best. The stretch of years Which wind ahead, so dimTo our imperfect vision, Are clear to God. Our fears Are premature; In Him, All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until God moves to lift the veil From our impatient eyes,When, as the sweeter features Of Life’s stern face we hail, Fair beyond all surmise God’s thought around His creatures Our mind shall fill."
~M.L. Haskins~

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oh yeah, and then there was that time we had an infestation of fleas and had to vaccumn the entire house... twice, in one day.  And then I had to wash anything (laundry-wise) that was out and that cats may have sat on (or walked near), including stuffed animals.
The upside was, we got the floors, chairs, couches, etc. all cleaned.
I'm tired.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Decembruary Ramblings

Merry Christmas Everyone!
It was a great day yesterday.  Jim and I spoke to each of our siblings.  My sister surprised us by coming to the Christmas day worship service.  It's a surprise because she lives 3,000 miles away!  She was in our state to see a few of her kids.  She'll go back tomorrow.  We then spent the afternoon with my brother and his family and, as always, were spoiled by their generosity (and good food!).
Today is a relax day after the rushing around of Christmas.  It's actually my favorite day of the year!  The kids are "playing" with their new "toys".  I'm learning how to use my new Kindle.  Jim (as he always does) is cleaning, organizing and enjoying a day off from work... a day to just be with family. 
So, I have some thoughts rattling around in my head... here are a few of them.
Some gifts you know you really want and drop hints about them.  Others, (like my Kindle) you didn't know you wanted 'til you got it! These gifts come from people who know you so well, they know just what will "tickle your fancy".  Sometimes you get things you aren't too thrilled about initially (I didn't get any of those) but realize later how perfect they are for you.  I was thinking of this when we watched "The Lion and The Witch and The Wardrobe" the other night.  Peter, Susan and Lucy got gifts they weren't expecting and wouldn't have necessarily asked for but sure needed.   Not all gifts are tangible.  There's love, grace, comfort, work, (jobs), family, responsibilities, intelligence, talent, experiences, even suffering.  They all help us become who we are.  God is the giver of every good and perfect gift.  His gifts express His love, intimate knowledge of us and perfect wisdom in the selection of His gifts.
Last year I chose a word for the year... "restoration".  Sad to say, what I "expected" from that didn't really happen.  2011 was a good year and all, just didn't have all the things in it that I'd hoped.  Still, we saw God's love and grace throughout the year... not to mention His faithfulness.  I didn't like some of what happened in 2011 but trust that God, who is Sovereign is also GOOD.
This year I'm thinking my word just might be "contentment".  In thinking about my life, I'm not usually (ever?) happy with who I am or my circumstances.  Circumstances can change and I know that there are certainly changes that I can make in my life, but some things I cannot change.  I can't change the fact that I am aging!  I'm in my low 50's (okay, well, closer to mid-50's) and don't like what I see in the mirror.  I see more and more white hairs.  I see wrinkles.  When I look at pictures of myself I see an older woman.  When did this happen?  On the inside looking out I think I'm 20-something!  I want to learn to be content with who I am, and where I am.  I tend to spend too much time thinking ahead to what's coming OR looking back at what has been (and find myself wallowing in bitterness and regret mixed with happiness.).
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."  I Timothy 1:6
I think this just might be my goal for this year.... Godliness with contentment. Yep, that's gonna be it.
This is the name my kids gave to this week between Christmas and New Year's Day.  It's a nebulous kind of week where we just relax, eat too much, play with toys, watch movies, and think about next year.   It's the much needed break between the two worlds of Fall and Winter.  Once we hit 2012 we will hit the ground running and won't stop until April.  By that time we'll need the break that comes with Easter.  That's still a long ways off.  I won't think about that yet. 
I'm enjoying today.  I just had lunch with my family.  I'm listening to my son's new "Switchfoot" CD and drinking Hazlenut coffee while eating a "Sno-Ball" cookie.  Ah... this is good.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There is a Time for Everything

This is a portion of our Christmas letter for 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
School is out for a few weeks and we are in the rush of Christmas preparation.  We’re shopping, baking and enjoying treasured family time together!   

As we come to the close of another year the words from Ecclesiastes ring true.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven;
a time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to week, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace."

In our family this year we have had deaths and weddings, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing… we are seeking to keep some things and cast some other things away.  We have planted and taken down what had been planted.  We have learned that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent.  We can’t think of a time to refrain from embracing and never want to let an opportunity to say “I love you” pass by.  Life is too short to forgo either of those! 
Above all, we seek to love and to trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness.  
We are thankful for our dear friends and family!  For those of you far away… we miss you and wish we could be together!
God bless you all as we enter 2012,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Global "Sleeping"

Take a listen/look at this! Eric Whitaker is an amazing composer. He composed this piece then set up a "virtual choir" with (I'm guessing) thousands of voices from all over the world then put it all together. I love his music. We've done a few of his pieces at the school where I work. It's beautiful! I'm thinking we may have to give this one a try as well.
Enjoy the beauty of this choral experience!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Practicing, practicing all the day
Christmas songs I'm learning.
Fingering, fingering I must play
for correctly learning.
Learn these songs so patiently,
Learn to play them joyfully,
Plinking, playing, 
Christmas songs I'm learning."
(to the tune of "Caroling, Caroling")

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Of Times and Seasons

Here it is, Christmas again.   "It's the most wonderful time of the year"... 
It really is kinda strange, trying to keep perspective on "the reason for the season" but at the same time there's the crazy "shopping, parties, concerts, school finals, etc" that happen and distract us.
For some people this is the worst time of the year.  It's hard to "be happy" when you're facing "the happiest time of the year" without a loved one. 
Today is 10 years since my mom passed away.  That was a really tough Christmas.  She died 2 weeks before Christmas, when everyone else is happy.  The world just kept going on and we were stopped in grief and loss.
My dad has been gone 2 years.  This year my nephew is not here.  He's been gone 8 1/2 months.  How do you face jolly times in the midst of grief except for the realization that Christmas is not all about "all that." 
Jesus came as a baby, born in humble circumstances in order to live a perfect life and then die in our place... for our sins.  He came because the world really is a messy place.  He came because people sin, they lie and cheat and steal, they murder, they gossip, they betray.  He came because people are depressed and lonely... because things are hard.  People are homeless, jobless, helpless and hopeless.  He came to give hope, life, purpose.  He came to save and redeem us.   He came to live and die so that we can have a home with Him someday. 
At the right time Christ came.  At just the right time!  He will come again, at just the right time.  In that day, those He has redeemed will be finally home.  There will be no more sin, no more pain, no more death. 

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild 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 newborn King!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On December 8, 1990 - I married Jim Newman! 
Happy anniversary to us!!!  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

We saw "Hugo" tonight - Great movie!  So many things in the movie that struck a chord with me.  I particularly loved this quote:
"I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason too."
We all have a purpose!  Nobody is an "extra part"!  So many good things in the movie  - broken things repaired, orphans becoming sons, dreams restored.  All the things we needed.  
I highly recommend this film!   

Friday, December 2, 2011

Love Even When Stepped On

I have this little stuffed animal that sits on my bed.  My husband gave it to me.  It's a little bear with a heart that, if you press, says, "I love you!" then makes a kissing sound.  It's cute. 
The other day I was putting things away in my bedroom and didn't see it on the floor.  I stepped on it, and it said, "I love you!"  You would think I would learn my lesson and pick it up but didn't and stepped on it a few more times.  Each time it would say the same thing, "I love you!".  I laughed at the silly little bear, then thought of my husband.  So many times I do stupid things... and accidentally hurt him.  But each time he says, "I love you!".  That's true love!