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Monday, November 29, 2010

Finally Christmas Favorites

Today is the day that Christmas goes up at our house, finally!  Todd is in charge of the tree, he sets it up, we put the lights and garland on together and then he and the kids put everything on it while I watch from the couch.  I'm in charge of the rest.  I used to fill every nook and cranny of our house with whatever Christmas things I could find.  I also used to be sick by the time real Christmas I've made some changes.  In the area of decorating - it has to be manageable in one day and it has to be things I LOVE.  So today was that day, and as I unpacked and sorted I ran across a few of my favorites.  Here's to Christmas grins.

This is my favorite Christmas mug.  I have three of them now since I sadly broke one last year.  The set of four was a gift one year during our Open House.  These are one of those unexplainable favorites.  I just love them and don't feel like it's really Christmas time until I have my first cup of khaki coffee from one of them....which I had this afternoon (happy sigh).

My favorite grown-up Christmas book.  This book by Lisa Whelchel is the bestest at striking a wonderful balance on the topic of Christmas traditions.  I find myself both breathing a big sigh of relief and getting inspired to try something new every time I read it, which is the start of every Christmas season for me since I found it a few years ago. 

This is Nerfurter, and he really is my favorite Christmas decoration.  As I began decorating for our very first Christmas together in 1994 I discovered that there was no mantle or fireplace in our little parsonage.  Todd built me this wonderful little green shelf with stocking hooks.  We hung two stockings and mine started slowly and mysteriously filling with little presents.  When Todd found out that I peeked every day when he was gone, Nerfurter appeared to guard my stocking.  It worked, I could never pull the little elf out to look in.  He sits in my stocking every year......this will be number 17.

This ornament was a wedding gift and I've never seen anything quite like it.  It's a sweet little nativity inside a glass globe.  To me, nothing captures the true meaning of Christmas as well as this ornament....."For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son......."  Just love it so much.

I love nativity scenes and have several.  My first one is a little ceramic set we bought in Marlow, Oklahoma visiting my Grandma King one year.  However, the one in the picture is my very favorite.  I love the colors and the intimacy in the faces.  I love that every piece has Scripture carved into it that is the Christmas journey for that character. It was a really big splurge for me given as a gift when we left our church in OKC.  They gave me a very generous gift card that I used to buy every single available piece of this set.  I think of that precious church and the people who loved us so much every year when I set this up.  It's usually the first thing I get out.

This angel was a gift from my mom and another one of those unexplainable favorites, I just love her and can't wait to see her every year when I start unpacking.  Wish I could play the trumpet.

So there are lots more and so many wonderful memories that go with them.  Since one of my rules is that nothing goes up if it isn't greatly loved - it's been a good day full of lots of grins and gratitude....Finally Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Psalm 131 Thanksgiving Moment

Today was our Baby Girl's Thanksgiving Program at her Mother's Day Out Class.  Isn't she goofy and adorable?  This is our true girl, funny and smart - you'll see why this little disclaimer is important in a minute. 

I showed up early with my camera ready to take pictures.  All the little turkeys marched into the room.
She was ready for action - a cute little hat wearing giggling turkey.

But somewhere along the way, she got nervous about what was happening and started to cry......loudly.  So I went to her and tried to encourage her to hang in there and sing the turkey songs she'd been practicing.  The only thing she could say is, "I want you."  Sweet and lovely when it's time to go home, but irritating when she's supposed to be doing something else.  We talked a little bit and she let me walk her up to the stage.
Talking it over while her friends are on stage.
Our friend Shannon bribed her with chocolate and she made it. I sat on the floor right in front of all the three-year-olds.  She never even looked my way as she sang her heart out.  Her Daddy took a bajillion pictures (93 to be exact) and we all smiled and laughed. 
See how happy she is?  (follow the yellow arrow)  Little kids are just made for programs like these, I luuuuve them.  When she was doing what she had prepared to do and had been instructed to do she was happy and confident.

Right after she sang with her class.

As we drove home after an especially yummy Thanksgiving Dinner Preschool Style, I began to think about my girl's reaction to my presence there.  It wasn't enough for her that I was in the room watching.  This time she wanted to be right with me, on top of me in my lap.  The only reason she could give for her fear was that "I want you."  Doesn't really make sense from my point of view, because the whole reason I came is to see her and support her; to take pictures of her and clap ridiculously and even dance a little jig when she sang her turkey songs. 

God reminded me of this passage, one of my favorites:

Psalm 131 ESV

 1O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
   my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
  too great and too marvelous for me.

2But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child is my soul within me. 

 3O Israel, hope in the LORD
   from this time forth and forevermore.

I love this little three verse chapter because it reminds me that God gives me hope and comfort and security for my future.  I love it more because it reminds me that there will be times when I don't get what I want.  Times when just knowing Him and the fact that He is the One looking toward my future and equipping me to live well today is enough.

I think about how many times I prepare for something He has called and instructed me to do (like Baby Girl's turkey songs) and let fear hold me back just as I take the stage.  I may be saying, "I just want you" to God, but that's not really it, I'm afraid. God has no great stake in my singing turkey songs, but He does want to teach me to walk without fear knowing that He is always with me because He knows that a life lived that way is the most powerful testimony.  He may be taking pictures from the front row sometimes instead of holding me on His Heavenly Hip, but He is there and He is intentional about the things He allows into my life to help me grow up. 

So sing those turkey songs,
and enjoy the miracle it is to share life with your Creator.
Happy Thankgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Soldier's Coat

This is a true story written several years ago when my now 13 year old son was a little boy. 
If you were at our church Sunday you heard Major Andy Taylor reference this story at the end of his sermon. 
This was one of those "treasure in my heart" momma kind of moments.

The Soldier’s Coat

Last night I watched my son begin to see a soldier.  This soldier is a man the child’s known all his life.  In fact this gentle, energetic man was there when he was born.  You see, this soldier is the unusually matched, shepherd-hearted, kindred spirit of this boy’s father.  These two men have loved each other and walked beside each other for many years as pastors and friends.  Each one has been a mentor to the other at times, a brother always.  This child has often been the receiver of friendly blessings, loud jokes of praise, and heartfelt interest from this dear pastor friend.

And now, this friend has become a soldier.  He’s a soldier’s pastor, not following behind to help soldiers in need; but leading them with a courageous heart.  Proving to them by his willingness to walk alongside them that he’s worthy of being followed in the things of God, because he’s worthy of being followed in the things of warriors. 

I believe young boys respond to the passion of the men they admire.  If it is sports, they become athletes; if it is music, they learn to hear it for themselves; if it is the acquisition of wealth, they become greedy; if it is pleasure, they become gluttonous; if it is their Creator, they become curious about the invisible. 

Tonight this child heard the passion of a man who loves God, family, and country; and it stirred him in ways he won’t understand for many years.  I watched his eyes as he sat next to our friend in a restaurant.  The place usually reserved for his adored father given to this interesting, yet familiar soldier.  As he began to ask about the medals and stripes on the man’s green military coat, his eyes continued to grow and shine.  Then the soldier jokingly asked if he really cared, thinking the child bored and confused with military lingo and the child shrugged as all seven-year-olds do when something they know to be important seems just beyond their grasp.  He slowly moved closer and closer to the soldier and eventually whispered, thinking his hand was shielding his question from anyone else, “Can I use your coat as a blanket tonight?” 

We laughed at the question, and continued with the renewal of a deep friendship, but the question reverberated through my heart all night.  As I tucked my children into a warm bed in a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood and read a newspaper full of many Americans’ differing views on life and politics; I began to be truly thankful for soldiers.  Perhaps I would describe it as patriotic if the word weren’t so overused that it tends to dilute the true meaning. 

What if as Americans, as mothers and sons sleeping under many flags, we could recognize that indeed we all use the American soldier’s coat as a blanket tonight?

The letter Zach wrote after that special day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Forever Family Day

This week we celebrated Family Day.  This is the anniversary of the finalization of our youngest daughter's adoption.  This tradition started (as is my manner) with a complicated idea that I have since simplified to be something my family actually enjoys.  We go out to eat somewhere nice and talk about family over the last year then have dessert together at home.  Part of our tradition is taking a family picture using the timer on the camera - which always yields funny results.  Dad and Baby Girl got to be the "focus models" before the real picture.........she loved the sound of the camera clicking on its own.

 How cute are these........she looks like an adorable cartoon. 

Fisher Family Day 2010

I would encourage you to choose a day to celebrate Family apart from your usual birthday and holiday celebrations.  Maybe it could be the anniversary of Mom and Dad's first date, or a special time when you know a miracle happened in your family - maybe a special accomplishment or gift that shaped your family. 

Each year our family picture goes into a little album that starts like this:

On this day every year we will celebrate what it means to be a family.  There are five of us.  Two of us chose one another to be the start of a family.  Then two were born into the Fisher home.  After that one was miraculously given to us to make our family complete.  And on November 8, 2007 her adoption was finalized.  On that day we became a Forever Family of Five.  And so each year we will celebrate the gift it is from God to have one another and to share our lives together.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (and in the Fisher Family) throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. 
Ephesians 3:20-21

And so we add a picture and a bunch of memories, lessons, stories, and goals to this book each year.  For us, adoption is a family miracle.  As one of my close friends who is also an adoptive mom said recently, "it fills me up to the top".  Yes ma'am!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cheater, Cheater Pumpkin Eater Pound Cake

Our Fall Break camping trip got rained out and somehow I found myself in the mall at Williams Sonoma instead.  Forgot how much I love that store!  Todd bought me this cornucopia cake was half price and still probably too expensive, but I really love it!  I tried it with one of my favorite EASY Cake Mix recipes.  This is so versatile.....I like to type "versatile", somehow it adds credibility to any nonsense I write.  But this cake is seriously wonderful, no nonsense included!

Cheater Cheater Pound Cake
1 cake mix
1 small box of instant pudding
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon extract or flavoring
Mix well, bake for 40 minutes in a well greased Bundt pan at 350 degrees.

For the Pumpkin Pound cake I used a yellow cake mix, pumpkin spice pudding mix and vanilla extract.  I made an easy glaze with powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. 

You see that the possibilities are endless...........happy sigh.