Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Teapot Kind of Christmas

Saturday I helped my dad clean out his garage to get ready for a yard sale. My dad is getting married soon and we will either be moving into his house or he will be renting it out. One reason we went through the garage was so that I could pick out things I wanted to keep. My mom had sooooo many things. It basically boiled down to teapots, cookie jars, and Christmas stuff. The teapots I gave away at Christmas to my cousins this year barely scratched the surface of her collection. It was difficult to do, mostly in deciding not to keep everything. Each thing she had had a story or she wouldn't have kept it. I was proud of myself though for all that I chose not to keep. Of course all the things I kept I couldn't get into my car so I will be going back to get the rest later. I spent most of Sunday afternoon finding places to put my mom's things that I wanted to keep. I even kept a few teapots.
One mother's day I wrote my mom a poem for Mother's Day, since I never had much money.
It seems appropriate to share it here now...

Teapots and Teacups

Teapots and teacups,
Mothers and daughters.
Creating warmth,
At times steaming,
Other times cool.
Pouring in and filling up.
Cherished moments.
Drinking in nourishment.
Sometimes bitter.
Sometimes sweet.
Always permeated with love.
Refreshing, relaxing.
Giving comfort and encouragement.
Sharing secrets.
Celebrating life,
In big and small ways.
Treasuring memories.
Embracing the spirit.
Renewing the soul.

This has been a teapot kind of Christmas for me, from the gifts I gave and received to the memories we made and savored. I hope it was for you as well.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holiday Confessions

Okay, some of you are going to be shocked, and to tell the truth I am really ashamed of myself for doing what I did very early this morning. My neighbors were having a very loud outdoor party last night. Loud music was blaring. Two Christmases ago these same neighbors partied loudly until 3am then started back up at 5am. We gave it until ten o'clock, then we called the police. The volume went down for a bit, then it went back up around midnight. We called the police again. Finally at one in the morning it was louder than ever and accompanied by drunken whoops and hollers. We had to get up early this morning to drive to be with family. I had enough. I felt like the rest of the neighborhood filled with small children who were supposed to be snug in their beds needed a champion. So far those who were supposed to serve and protect weren't making any headway. Without really thinking through the consequences(never a good idea) I decided to take action! I went into my backyard pulled the hose to the fence and turned it on. I pointed the hose skyward to create a late night rain on a parade that should have ended many hours before. While I did this my husband called the police again. I proceed to have some angry words with party goers over my fence while they threw various objects at me including a cup full of beer. My adrenaline was threw the roof and I was shaking uncontrollably. Now you must understand I try to avoid conflict whenever I can,almost to a fault. About 20 minutes later there was a knock on our door, it was a policeman. We explained ourselves and he let us know that the first two phone calls we had made never resulted in a officer visit to the party.The dispatcher didn't give the officers enough information to find the party, although we had provided it. So now I felt horrible. Of course the neighbors were being inconsiderate, but I should never have taken that kind of action. I would not have wanted to be treated like that. Granted I wouldn't be having a loud party that late, but still.. So I ended up not falling asleep until 3 anyway and waking up every five minutes afraid someone was going to try to retaliate.

So I confess my bad holiday behavior to you. Guess I should get coal in my stocking eh? Good thing Santa already gave me my gifts, hope he doesn't ask for them back.
On a happier note, the kids had a great Christmas and we got to visit some more with my family.
My mom was an avid teapot collector and had a huge collection. Before she passed away we discussed that if she died(which she thought was going to be a long time away) that I would give part of her collection to her nieces(my cousins). So this Christmas I did just that. Everyone really loved their teapots which I hand selected for each one of them from Mom's collection. She would have enjoyed seeing it. I had to work hard to keep from blubbering all over the place.
Included in this holiday offering of how not to treat your neighbors are some holiday photos. Most are black and white just because I like that sort of thing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

School Photos

We just got the school photos of the boys in. They turned out really good. Of course these are pictures of the pictures so the real ones don't have any of this glare on them. I wish my school photos had turned out this well! Of course maybe the boys are just better looking than I was in school...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Today is the big day

Today is the day of my father-in-law's heart surgery. Actually, yesterday was. I am adding to a post that I started yesterday but I am just now getting back to. So far he has come through everything well, but had add some complications. He has had to go back into surgery once to stop bleeding that occurred probably as a result of his aspirin therapy previous to this surgery.
After his first surgery he was unable to take morphine for pain because it caused such a drop in his blood pressure. Since the second surgery the drop has not been occurring and he has been able to stand the morphine. This is excellent. He was in a lot of pain last night. Anyone who reads this, please keep him and the family in prayer.
On a happier note... Because of the surgery, our family got together and had an early Christmas.
The photo here is of my boys and their boy cousins, my husband, and his mom and dad(the one who has just had heart surgery). It was a fun day for them all at the local children's museum.
Though this has not been one of the most traditionally happy Christmas seasons for this family, I think it has been a joyful one nonetheless as we have had a chance to truly examine what is important and that God is truly in control and at the heart(pun intended) of this season.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back to Elijah

I'd like to share more about what I have been learning in I Kings, specifically in I Kings 16:30 through 18:17. The key verse I want to discuss today is

I Kings 17:7
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

God took Elijah to the desert and provided for him, until one day the brook dried up. Did it dry up all at once, or could Elijah see the water level decreasing day by day? Did he perhaps measure the evaporation rate and try to predict the exact time when the precious resource would run out? The bible doesn't tell us that. If Elijah had been a modern man, that is exactly what we would have expected him to do, to utilize our scientific knowledge to tell us how bad things are, not necessarily how to fix them, but at least we'll know exactly when to panic and give up hope. Thank you science! It probably would have been considered foolish not to take such measures. Taking stock of your resources is a very practical thing to do right?
Perhaps the bible doesn't tell us if he did these things simply because he didn't. Maybe he lived by faith and not by sight. What a foreign concept that is to our culture today. Even in the church, success is mostly measured by the bank statement, membership roster, and full pews. Which is interesting, because I have seen some of the dinkiest little churches and Christian missions accomplish much more than a ten thousand member church ever dreamed of.
Of course I can judge no one else in this area for I am just as guilty as the guiltiest among us.

I will add more on this later.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

An ah-ha moment!

I plan to go into more detail about what I've been studying in I Kings in another blog, but I was just so exited about a correlation I found today that I had to write about it.
At the Sunday school class at my church we have been studying I Corinthians. We have specifically been studying the spiritual gifts.
Last week we discussed Chapter 13 v. 1- 3.
" If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but have not love, I gain nothing.

Very simply put, without love I give nothing, I am nothing, and I gain nothing.

We can substitute the name of Christ here for love, so without Christ, I give nothing, I am nothing, and I gain nothing.

Let me flip over now to I Kings CH. 17:2-24.

Here we find Elijah in the desert near a brook that dries up. Then he is sent to a widow with nothing to share with him. Then the widows son dies. Of course, God intervenes in each event, but without God,
Elijah would have had nothing but a dried up brook, the widow would have had nothing to share, and the young man would've been dead.
This applies to us as well,
without God we are nothing, we have nothing to offer or share, and we are dead.

The hopeful part of this a-ha moment of course is for those of us who know Christ, we are something(children of God), we can do and give something (all things through Christ who strengthens us) and we gain something (eternal life).

It is always fun to see how the bible is so interwoven between the Old and the New Testament and how it directs us to Christ when we are willing to take the directions.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Answer to an old question

At this time of year we see a lot of angels. Mostly we see them in Christmas decorations or in TV shows or in the movies. They may also be all around us. What I'd like to discuss today however is this statement, that if you are a parent have said countless times. "They look like little angels when they sleep." How quickly we forget the little devils they were when they were awake, but here is my answer to this age old pondering.

The reason children
look so angelic
when they sleep
is that God hoped
we might
be able to catch
one glimpse
of the beauty of heaven
He has waiting for us.
He also hopes
that we might
begin to understand
He sees us.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Better isn't neccessarily better...

I am currently studying I Kings. It was a few chapters ago that I read about something totally amazing to me. It wasn't really a new concept for me, but some reason, it just really struck me that day. It was the description of the Temple of Solomon. In essence and purpose it was similar to the Tabernacle but it was much more ornate and complicated. It wasn't much bigger than the tabernacle and not very big at all really, but every inch of it there was, was grandiose in the extreme. One could argue that such splendor would be nothing compared to the glory of the presence of God, and that would be true. Part of that argument may imply that God is deserved and worthy of such splendor and infinitely more so. Again they would be correct. The conflict arises however when we start to so overdo things that the things become the focus and we lose our focus on God. The Tabernacle had no windows, it depended solely upon the light of God for its illumination. The temple had windows. Such a subtle difference and yet, it was so significant. Baby step though it was, it was still a baby step in a direction away from reliance upon God to reliance on man's ingenuity. It was a baby step down the path that seems right to a man but is not God's path for the man. Of course this was not the only "improvement" Solomon added. Teh list is very long. In all of the temple's splendor, complexity, beauty, luxury and refinement, it was not an improvement on the tabernacle, which for all intents and purposes was really just a tent. The temple in fact was a downgrade. As the temple got more complicated the people became more focused on ritual, ceremony, and all the accoutrements that go along with them. It is so interesting to ponder this in light of our current culture. We are constantly seeking to improve, upgrade, or refurbish, to expand or add-on to our homes, churches, buildings, schools, social lives, bank accounts, and to our lives in general. But, I ask, is better always better? One of my family's favorite shows is Extreme Makeover Home Edition, but maybe we are need of a different kind of extreme makeover though...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Anything and Everything

There are so many things I think about writing here, but then I think I should keep it to one topic per post and then I can't get around to editing what I had to say in the first place. So I'll just ramble. Forgive me if I bore or confuse you. My head has been in a weird place lately. I am dealing with my dad's impending nuptuals(for those who I hadn't told, my dad is getting married to a very nice lady). I am also dealing with missing my mom, the possibility of moving(since Dad is getting married the house will be empty and it is not sellable in the current real estate market so we may have to take it over), general Christmas and homeschool stuff, absolutely no energy, my tutoring job and my art class. I also have my spiritual life in the mix to think about somewhere in there.
Overall I am so blessed, but I tend to let too many little things overwhelm me emotionally. Getting the focus off myself for a moment, my father in law is facing open heart surgery and my mother in law is dealing with her mom in the final stages of Parkinson's disease. She is currently unresponsive and the only thing keeping her in this world is her feeding tube. Lots of big family stuff going on.
It is around this time when I feel like I am being overtaken by a tornado of tumult when I have to take a deep breath and ask God to carry me, since my legs are giving way. Of course, He always does, even though it may not feel like it. The seat belt, car and rails of the roller coaster really don't do much to prevent the feelings the ride produces, but what would happen to us if
they weren't there? I personally don't enjoy the idea of hurtling off into the atmosphere unprotected only to be reclaimed by the undeniable force of gravity and its inevitable consequences. For that matter, I don't personally enjoy riding roller coasters. I do appreciate the design in them though, how they both defy the laws of physics and yet work in some mystical harmony with them at the same time, all to produce this thrilling exhilaration, or nausea induced vomiting, depending on your constitution. All that to say that in the midst of the rough ride, I feel an indescribable peace and security. Some of you out there know exactly what I am talking about. If you don't, then I'd love to tell you more about it.
On a mostly unrelated note, it is very easy to get caught up in the whole Christmas and stuff thing. I got really upset with Taylor today when I overheard him tell Ryan "If you'd never been born, all of my transformers wouldn't have gotten broken." Taylor didn't really understand the undertones of this comment. I explained it to him, thank you very much. Of course, after that I felt like I have not been the parent I should have been if my kid is saying this. It is so important for us to remember that we are our brother's keeper and not just the keeper of our stuff. At Christmas, and the rest of the year it's people who matter and not the stuff.
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