Monday, December 31, 2007
...the "Pop Princess". That's my husband's new nickname for me because he says I'm light and happy just like the feel good, cheesy pop music I adore.
I do hope that all of you find 2008 to be your best year yet...filled with joyful laughter, new friendships, strengthened relationships, and an amazing awareness of God's incredible love for you.
BTW, this song talks about the end of 1989. Where were you back then? I was living in Swaziland, Africa as a single, big-haired journeyman missionary with the Southern Baptists. My husband was a "mature" college student and a green beret.
Leave me a comment telling where the end of 1989 found you and I'll enter you in a drawing for a prize. Don't know what it is yet, but it'll be good! More details to follow when the kids aren't clamoring for New Year's Eve FUN! :D
Its New Year's Day...the kids have been well fed and are quietly either playing, watching BALTO, doing chores, or laying on the floor near the toilet because of stomach virus...so now I can post more details.
OHH-H-H-HHHH!!!!!!!!!!! MY BABY JUST GOT SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't post more details now. Back later. UGH.....
Back again. Super Hubby and I just finished tag teaming it as we cleaned up the nasty results of the stomach bug and bathed the baby hobbit. Actually, we're leaving her in the tub for a good long while in case she gets sick again.
ANYWAY...enough nasty details. On to some fun contest details.
Leave a comment telling where you were and what you were doing the end of 1989. That will give you one entry into the drawing. THEN, if you post a link at your blog to this drawing, leave ANOTHER SEPARATE comment alerting me to that action and you'll get another entry. I'll need to limit the prize to folks living in the U.S. Sorry.
And the prize? One of the GRACE WORKS handcrafted bracelets that my friend Rhonda, my 2 oldest daughters, and I have been making to pay for our ministry trip to Swaziland. We've got several styles and colors so I'll let the winner pick the colors and design details. To see some of the ones we've made and sold in the past, you can follow this link: http://elysasmusingsfromgraceland.blogspot.com/2007/10/grace-works-giveaway.html
The contest will end 1/7/08 and I'll draw for the winner the next day.
Thanks for entering and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Yep, fellow mom and home educator Tricia at LIFE ON THE HILLTOP is giving away two Susan May Warren books plus a $10 Amazon gift card this week. Just follow the link to read the rules and be entered for this great drawing! What a terrific way to start out a new year....free BOOKS!!!!!!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
My sister-in-law, brother, and their kids. They've had sickness hitting them left and right over the last several weeks and its really gotten nasty this week. Nothing life threatening...just enough gross virus mess to mean they've had to stay in quarantine and away from the rest of the family during the Christmas gatherings. Please pray that they will ALL get well SOON! We want to enjoy the season with them...it just won't be the same if we can't.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS NEWSLETTER
Here's the Christmas letter that I FINALLY wrote and sent out today:
2007 has been an amazing year for our family. What started out as a fairly normal year, well, normal for us, quickly became something new & exciting by the time the summer months rolled around.
On Elysa’s 41st birthday, the older ones in our family went to see the movie, AMAZING GRACE which is about William Wilberforce & his fight to end slavery. This was the start of a shake up. God showed us that we had been in a time of rest and healing..a very comfortable place. It was time for us to wake up and get back in the fight.
As William Wilberforce & his fellow abolitionists fought to end slavery in the 1700's & into the 1800's, God started speaking to us that He wanted us involved in helping to set the captives free. He wanted us active in helping break the chains that hold so many in bondage today...poverty, addiction, disease, abuse, exploitation, & spiritual darkness.
But what would that look like for us?
During the spring & early summer two books played a crucial role in steps our family would take on this journey. Lisa Samson’s QUAKER SUMMER & Shane Claiborne’s IRRESISTIBLE REVOLUTION. We realized that not only had we been in a safe place of healing & rest, but we had also become lazy & self-centered. We had shut ourselves off from the very ones Jesus had told us to love.
We are still praying to know what God’s will for the future of our family is going to look like, but we do know one area that He has for us to walk into now.
In January, Elysa along with daughters A & B, will be going to Swaziland, Southern Africa for 10 days to minister to orphans & widows thru Children’s HopeChest. Elysa served in S’land 2 years as a missionary in her single days. Over the summer, thru her new relationship with author Lisa Samson & being introduced to the ministry of Children's HopeChest, she became aware of the horrific conditions going on in her beloved African country. Over 1/3 of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS & over 1/10 of the population is comprised of orphans. Disease combined with years of drought have wreaked havoc on the nation. Elysa’s heart has been breaking over the situation in Swaziland so she & the girls are very excited about the opportunity that God has given them to go over there & love on those precious ones. We also know it will be a life changing experience, especially for A & B.
In other news, J still works as the dam safety engineer for the state & is a regional representative on a national board for dam safety officials. Elysa leads a local homeschool group & they both teach children’s church as well as lead a church cell group. 14 year old A & 12 year old B are active in the church youth group, are assistant children's church teachers, & are members of the homeschool group’s teen book club. Both girls are bloggers along with their mom, B clog dances with a local group, & A is learning to skateboard. 10 year old D & 9 year old P are both cubscouts and love Lego’s & video games. 6 year old LG is still a little princess & loves art. 4 year old son T & 2 year old daughter M enjoy playing with the farm cats, giving lots of cuddles, & making the family laugh.
On a sad note, we had two close family members pass on this year. Elysa's mom's husband Roy and J's mom's husband Vers both died in August. That was a tough month for us. If you think about it, please pray for all of us as we face our first Christmas season without them.
We’re sorry this is so late in arriving this holiday season. Life is always a bit crazy around here, but getting things done for the African trip has meant an extra bit of craziness added to the mix.
Those of you who we’ve heard from, thanks so much! I'm sorry I've not sent out any cards. I'm still hoping to before its too very late. To those we’ve not heard from in a while, we’d love to hear news from your neck of the woods. We have learned over & over again that truly our friends & family are some of the very best blessings we have in life & we value those relationships highly. We don't want to lose touch with y'all despite how terribly busy things can get.
Love and peace this Christmas season and may 2008 be your best year ever.
VERY QUICK UPDATE!
I gotta keep this snappy as we're having bad thunderstorms come thru. The tv station never called back for whatever reason. Who knows why. I know we had a breaking local news story that was taking up a lot of media energy so that might have been it. Thanks anyway to all of you who prayed and sent sweet emails or left comments.
I won't be much online today due to the weather but hope y'all have a wonderful Thursday and truly enjoy your last few days of the Christmas season.
Before I get offline, let me leave you a nugget of grace:
"How are we to think of the incarnation? The New Testament does not encourage us to puzzle our heads over the physical and psychological problems that it raises, but to worship God for the love that was shown in it. For it was a great act of condescension and self humbling. 'He, Who had always been God by nature' writes Paul, 'did not cling to His prerogatives as God's equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave to nature and being born as mortal man. And having become man, He humbled Himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death He died was the death of a common criminal. And all this was for our salvation."
J I Packer, Knowing God
I need to keep that in mind right now. THAT is something worth celebrating.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
YiKeS or WOW!?! PLEASE PRAY!!!!!!
I might be interviewed this afternoon by a local TV show about, of all subjects, sex ed! When the news gal called to ask me if I would, I just had to laugh! ME!!!! The mom of SEVEN children and old fashioned prude being interviewed about SEX ED and how we are teaching our children about this subject and dealing with the over sexed culture we live in.
Okay...so part of me is scared I'll sound like an idiot (plus, I HATE my voice when I hear it on videos or tapes) or look like a DORK...but the other part of me thinks its really fun and funny and yes, exciting. Its not everyday this down home country gal has a tv crew show up on her doorstep.
But I do want to present a positive message...the message that God's way works. Its not just about abstaining so bad things don't happen, its about abstaining so that beautiful things can happen more easily in life. Its that when we follow God's plan life is sure easier and makes a wonderful, forever marriage so much easier to have one day.
Please pray for me, okay? The kids are pretty excited but we're pretty sure we're going to make them do the interview OUTSIDE!
(Who needs to go and roll her hair!!!!!)
P.S. Oldest dd says I need to tell them that one way I'm teaching them about abstinence is by taking her and 2nd dd to Swaziland where they have the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world. I guess if that doesn't give clear evidence for the importance of abstinence outside of marriage, nothing does!
P.S.P.S. They wanted to interview me in our living room but when I balked at that they said we could do the yard. Sigh...I hate feeling so insecure about my house, my looks, etc. I'm usually a pretty confident person but this kind of thing really brings out all my petty insecurities. We're still cleaning the living room as best as we can just in case, but I'm thinking the yard is a much better option.
UPDATE: Its now about an hour and a half after the tv station initially phoned. They were supposed to call back and verify things but I've not heard back so far. Might end up being much ado about nothing. Que sera...just don't know if I'm relieved or disappointed.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As I was looking for the Wiggle's Christmas video, my darling 4 year old T came in and asked me to let him watch "Forever and Ever" or also known around here as the "squirrel" video. As I was setting it up, he said "prepare to laugh. The squirrel wobot is the funniest part". Gotta love that little guy.
We thought y'all's kids (and hubbies, too) would like to have some nutty fun with the David Crowder Band.
If you liked that video but even if you didn't and wonder WHY IN THE WORLD did they do a SqUiRrEl video....here's your answer via another video:
David Crowder is such a NUT! Pun intended. That's probably one of the reasons I like him so much. ;)
SUCH A TEENAGER
My daughter has a HUGE scab on her knee thanks to some innocent rough housing perpetrated at youth group. Today she told me---
"Its turning green. I don't like green skin. I don't look good in green."
Don't worry, I'm not posting pic!
My little ones love The Wiggles...and the older ones deny it, but this morning some of them have really been having fun dancing to tunes from YULE BE WIGGLING. They will of course tell you that they are strictly doing it to entertain the little ones, but this mama knows the truth. ;)
This video is one of the Wiggles' slower Christmas tunes but I hope it brings some good cheer your way today as you struggle NOT to get stressed out over the fact that Christmas Day is in one week! I know I had to make myself stop and go dance and laugh for a while with my children. After all, one of the reasons He came was so that we could laugh and love...He came to give us abundant life!
Monday, December 17, 2007
I'm seriously praising God here that the calendar I TRIED to do TWICE last night is done and will soon be shipped...and this time it worked fine and dandy. Since I had LOTS of practice doing it last night, I had the entire thing created and ordered in about half an hour. But believe me, the entire time I was as nervous as a cat at a coon hunt. I just kept waiting for it to freeze up or not upload or my precious toddler hobbit to press some crucially WRONG key but it all went smoothly. And its a good thing...I don't think my fragile psyche could have handled another mess up tonight. I'm plum wore out!
I've spent the majority of the day packing up packages to mail, running errands, and fixing my special Christmas snack mix. Its a variation of the traditional Chex mix. I usually make a regular one for those little'ns in my families with less than adventurous palates. And I do a spicy, Cajun mix for those of us who want our taste buds to stand up and do some zydeco dancing! Today I threw in some cute little bunny shaped crackers and renamed it Br'er Rabbit Snack Mix. I ate a HUGE mugful for lunch and I'm still full from that yum-o crunch lunch.
As said earlier, I'm pretty spent. I walked in at around 6:00 from my trip into town and changed straight into my pj's. I fixed a simple supper of potato soup and oldest daughter A fixed Jif cornbread muffins. Then it was on to the computer to create the now infamous calendar.
And now here I am....using up my last few specks of energy before Super Hubby herds me off to blissful rest in my monkey jungle beach bed.
Hope all of y'all have nights filled with good sleep and visions of chocolates dance through your heads.
P.S. I just have to add a new bit to this comedy of errors. When I hit the button to view my blog and new post I realized it had accidently gotten posted on my DAUGHTER'S blog! YIKES! Needless to say, she would NOT be happy if my happy homemaker post got left on her edgy, rocker girl blog so I got to spend even MORE of my last few remaining specks of energy fixing things. I'm tired. I'm going to bed! I don't even NEED Super Hubby to make me get up and go now. YAA-A-A-AAAWN........
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, my pal Lisa Samson (http://lisasamson.typepad.com/blog/) blogged about a great online "radio station", ACCURADIO. I love Christmas and one of my favorite things about this glorious season is the music. ACCURADIO is not only free (gotta love FREE!) but it has a wide selection of varieties to choose from...old fashioned, Celtic, rock, jazz, Broadway, classical, R&B, country, and inspirational are just a few of the choices.
I'm presently listening to Bing Crosby croon DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR on the OLD FASHIONED station. Love, love, LOVE Bing at Christmas.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Back in the dark ages of the 1980's, missionaries had to actually write letters and postcards to keep in touch with people back home. There weren't blogs or emails, and phone calls were a fortune...about a buck a minute! As a single missionary, I spent large amounts of time writing to friends and family back home and also sending out a newsletter on a regular basis. The first Christmas I was there, I sent out a newsletter with the above illustration. This is what I said:
I'm afraid that's pretty hard to read so I'll try to transcribe it later. But what struck me is that nearly 20 years ago I was missing the folks back home...and this Christmas, I'm with the folks "back home", but I'm missing Swaziland. I'm afraid I'll always feel like I'm torn between the two.
1 cup Bisquick (or Bisquick-like mix)
1 can cheddar cheese soup
Mix all together and bake @ 350 degrees in miniature muffin pans.
The ones Drewe Llyn brought were some from a 5x batch she had made the day before. She used 5 lbs Great Value Pork Sausage, 5 cups store brand biscuit mix, 3 cans nacho cheese soup, and 2 cans cheddar cheese soup. The 5x batch made approximately 168 muffins! Drewe Llyn says, "Don't try baking them in regular size muffin tins; they'll be raw in the middle". Definitely don't want that! YUM-O would instead be NAST-O!
A couple of years ago I came across an incredibly delish recipe for meatballs but it was time intensive because of making the meatballs from scratch. I loved the flavor but as a mom of 7 kids who doesn't organize her time very well, I needed something easier. Drawing on my "creative cooking" skills inherited from my Grandma Harvey, I came up with my own version. These are really YUM-O in my ever humble opinion. These maybe just a wee bit less delicioso than the completely "from scratch" version, but the ease and quickness of it more than makes up for any discrepancies in taste.
CRAZY EASY CRANBERRY MEATBALLS
2 bags of frozen meatballs (original flavor...not "Italian")
1 can of crushed pineapple
1 can of "jellied" cranberry sauce
Cook the meatballs in a skillet over medium with just a bit of oil and occasionally turning them til they are browned. While they are cooking, mix together the pineapple (undrained) and cranberry sauce. Put half of it in the bottom of a crock pot. Put the meatballs in the crock pot. Pour the rest of the pineapple/salsa mixture over the meatballs and stir GENTLY til all the balls have some sauce on them. Cook the meatballs on low or high heat til the sauce is hot and bubbly then turn to warm until ready to serve.
Eat them by themselves or they can be served over rice or pasta. If going the rice/pasta route, double the "sauce" so that you'll have plenty of it to flavor the rice/pasta.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I love Christmas and even though I'm WAY behind on my shopping, card writing, and goody making---all of which we enjoy---we've still been having fun with other seasonal activities.
Monday night, the moms from our homeschool group had our annual Christmas party. It was good to just kick back, catch up on life, and laugh a whole bunch!
Friday at lunch, the homeschool group had its annual party for the kids (and parents, too). We ate lots of delish food and the 60 of us stuffed 76 stockings for the Salvation Army.
Yesterday, hubby and I took the kids to a local Christmas tree farm. This place is so fun for the kids...not only do they get to pick out their own tree and ride in a "sleigh" behind a tractor, but there's also a petting zoo. That was the first stop and the kids (big and little) got a real kick out the the pigs, goats, and sheep. And I was able to remind the younger ones about how sheep give us wool for clothes to wear just like we read about in our Five in a Row Christmas book, A NEW COAT FOR ANNA.
After getting the tree, we popped home to unload the tree and eat a quick lunch before heading out to go shopping. We needed to buy some Christmas goody fixings plus buy gifts and food for P's bday which is today. After getting thru Wal-Mart and Kroger as quickly as possible, we dropped B off for a clogging performance at a retirement home and the rest of us headed home for naps and to start getting ready for tree decorating.
Once B was home, we ate a yummy supper of chicken spaghetti (inspired by family friend's Chris Blackburn's family recipe) then it was time to light up the tree and get on with the decorating...dressing up that big ole green tree with ornaments almost all tied to memories and getting out our 2 nativity sets (a traditional one and a nonbreakable Playmobile one). I love hearing the kids tell about the stories related to special ornaments and the first time we turn on the Christmas tree lights with the room lights off is always wondrous...though Baby M didn't think so. For some reason the tree all lit up scared her just a bit. Who can fathom the mind of a toddler. Oh! And 4 year old T had the honor of helping put the star on top this year.
I'll post some more corresponding photos later. For now I best be getting as hubby just got home from taking the two "oldies" up to church and we need to take a walk.
Bye for now!
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
DON'T FORGET THE COFFEE!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I was trying to think about what to blog about today, and I thought a Christmas meme might be fun. I didn't know of one that was exactly like I wanted...the only one I'd seen asked about Christmas memories and would require a lot of thinking and typing...so I decided to come up with on of my own. I'll go ahead and tag a few people to hopefully get the ball rolling, but even if I don't tag you specifically, feel free to use it anyway. Also, feel free to delete or add any questions. This is all about being in the merry Christmas mode...NOT about stressing out!
So here goes:
- Favorite traditional Christmas song: Carol of the Bells
- Favorite contemporary or modern Christmas song: Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant
- Christmas song that makes you cry: All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman
- Real or artificial tree: REAL!
- Favorite Christmas edible treat: Chex Mix and sausage-cheese balls (though Drewe Llyn's sausage-cheese mini-muffins were just as YUM-O!)
- White lights or multi-colored: BOTH!
- How many Christmas parties will you go to this year? 3.5
- Favorite act of kindness to perform during this season? Packing shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse and their Operation Christmas Child
- Favorite sounds of Christmas: Christmas music, children's excited voices, Salvation Army bells ringing
- Favorite things to wear: Lots of red and black plus my silver snowflake and angel bracelet and earring set I bought a few years back at Target.
- Favorite Christmas movie/TV special: I can't name just one but ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE, MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS WITH THE CRANKS, ELF, THE CHRISTMAS CHILD, and THE NATIVITY STORY are among my favorite.
- Eggnog or hot chocolate: Hot Chocolate!!! Oh yeah! Marshmallows OR whipped cream! YUM-O!
- Favorite Christmas book: Again, can't limit myself to just one but I really like MORTIMER'S CHRISTMAS MANGER, BEAR STAYS UP FOR CHRISMAS, THE CHRISTMAS DOLL, SKIPPING CHRISTMAS, MIRACLE IN THE SHOEBOX, MR. WILLOWBY'S CHRISTMAS TREE, THE CLOWN OF GOD, and of course, the BIBLE
- Christmas books on my "to read" list: @ HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, THE GIFT by Richard Paul Evans, THE CHRISTMS BLESSING (sequel to THE CHRISTMAS SHOES)
- Peppermint or cinnamon: Peppermint
- What's on the top of your tree? Has been many different things over the years...handmade wire star, yellow posterboard star...who knows this year.
- Traditional Christmas meal growing up: Fried quail, cornbread, butter beans, rice and gravy all cooked by my Grandma McElhaney
- Online shopping or traditional "go to the store" shopping: Definitely will do both!
- Something you rec'd as a Christmas gift as a child that you still have: Baby Tender Love doll
- How many Christmas cards you have mailed so far: NONE :(
- Favorite source for Christmas ideas: Five in a Row holiday board http://www.fiarhq.com/~gbprnhrz/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=37
- Coordinated/themed or hodge-podge tree decorations: DEFINITELY hodge-podge
- What's on the top of YOUR Christmas wishlist: Steven Curtis Chapman's new cd and a cute apron
- Roles you've played in Christmas plays/programs: Narrator in kindegarten and Mary in college church musical
Now I'm tagging:
Kelly Legg http://laughingalwayshelps.blogspot.com/
Rhonda Roberts http://rhondajeanne.blogspot.com/
My 12 year old daughter: http://dreamsraindrop.blogspot.com/
Drewe Llyn http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/DreweLlyn
OH! And if you play along, don't forget to let the folks you tag know they are now "it"! :)
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
SHE GAVE HERSELF TO GOD
"(Consider) Mary's response to the angel. The angel has come to Mary and says: Mary, you are going to give birth to the long-promised Messiah. This was a unique promise, and unrepeatable. There is something totally unique here: the birth of the eternal second Person of the Trinity into this world. What was her response.She could have rejected the idea and said, 'I do not want it: I want to withdraw; I want to run'.she could have said, 'I now have the promises, so I will exert my force, my character, and my energy, to bring forth the promised thing'. But (what she did say) is beautiful, it is wonderful. She says: 'Behold, the bondmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy Word.' There is an active passivity here. She took her own body, by choice, and put it into the hands of God to do the thing that he said he would do and Jesus was born. She gave herself to God.This is a beautiful, exciting, personal expression of a relationship between a finite person and the God she loves."
Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The photos here are just a small taste of the huge impact that 5 for 50 is having. Every time we secure food for a child, we reduce the risk that they will sell their bodies and trade sex for food. Thank you. Also, 5 for 50 is funding 12 Christmas projects for orphans in 12 different countries. The first country we're helping is Ethiopia.
We've already received $12,000 toward this project through 5 for 50--that's $1,000 for each project. I want to at least double this amount and increase the impact of blessing orphans this Christmas.
GIVE: Click here to give toward the 12 days of Christmas project: https://secure.pursuantgroup.net/pursuant4/hopechest/chcselect/donation.asp .Your gifts will be combined and shared with orphan ministry around the world.
GET: Pass this on to your friends and networks. Post it on your blog. Get five people to give. Be an advocate for orphans.
I want to see 1,000 people give a gift of $12 toward this project...it only takes a minute to pass it on. Check back here to see this project photos and reports live. You'll be able to see the impact of your money immediately by just checking in here when we post an update.
"This Christmas, 5 for 50 is going around the world, giving away $1,000 a day to 12 different orphan care outreaches around the globe. We’re doing this because 5 for 50 has been an enormous success. Our first shipment of food has already arrived in Swaziland, another is on the way. We’re ready to roll out a global Christmas party for orphans through 5 for 50 and we want you to come along.
Here’s a look at where we’re going this Christmas…
3) South Africa
Through our network of orphan care partners, we’re helping support special Christmas outreaches to orphans around the globe. We hope to reach over 1,000 orphans with the true message of God’s love during Christmas.
Some of what we’ll do includes:
*Supporting Christian concerts and outreaches
*Providing special meals and celebrations
*Honoring a child with a Christmas gift
*Providing orphans with the blessing of family
I’ll be posting stories from each country as well as reports and pictures when they come in. Along the way, I’ll provide you and your family with special ways to pray for orphans and incorporate them into your holiday celebrations.
If you want to support the twelve days of Christmas, make a $12 gift today (please put “12 days of Christmas” in your note) at https://secure.pursuantgroup.net/pursuant4/hopechest/chcselect/donation.asp . We already have $12,000 for this project, anything that you add will make an even greater impact in the life of an orphan."
Monday, December 03, 2007
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Camy Tang, fun and up and coming fiction author, is blessing the blog world with a literary Christmas gift this year, THE 12 AUTHORS OF CHRISTMAS. She'll be doing special interviews of writers along with giving away lots of books...which is pretty normal for this generous gal. PLUS, she's teaming up with two other authors, Rachel Hauck and Tricia Goyer, who will be doing the same type of literary line-up at their blogs.
Check it out and be prepared to discover a whole slew of new books just waiting to be read!
Camy's Loft: The 12 Authors of Christmas
Friday, November 30, 2007
7 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME
My digitally gifted SIL Stephanie has tagged me with her first meme. If you've never been over to her blogs, you should check them out:
So here goes with my random facts:
- I listen on a daily basis to both National Public Radio AND Rush Limbaugh...now there's a paradox for you!
- My favorite recording artist is Steven Curtis Chapman and I've told my kids that at least one of them MUST marry one of his kids. Can you imagine the music at THAT ceremony?
- I still keep in contact with my first grade teacher Miss Ine Phillips and one of my best buddies from elementary school, Darlene. Friends are one of my favorite blessings!
- I was chosen as "Most Disrespectful Pledge" while pledging the Troubadour Social Club at Mississippi University for Women. Can you imagine that?!?
- My dream career when I was in high school was to be a fashion journalist in NYC and work for SEVENTEEN magazine. Now I won't even let my daughters READ that magazine!
- I played MOTHER GOOSE in my kindegarten's school play and had powder in my hair to make it look gray.
- One of my all-time favorite songs is LOVE IS LIKE OXYGEN by Sweet.
Now its my turn to tag 7 people. If I tag you, please don't hate me. ;) If I DON'T tag you, please don't hate me. ;)
- Candace http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/CandaceC/
- Drewe Llyn http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/DreweLlyn
- Deidra http://deidrasheart.blogspot.com/
- Heather http://www.heatherfischer.typepad.com/
- Rhonda http://rhondajeanne.blogspot.com/
- Shauna http://shaunarumbling.blogspot.com/
- Jess http://www.trueandjust.blogspot.com/
Now here are the rules for this meme:1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Now - Readers - your challenge, go to one of the above blogs and leave a comment where you never have before!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
ITS THAT TIME OF YEAR
My dear friend Kelly has such a way with words. She often has me cracking up with her wacky stories. She can take something as everyday as mannequins at the mall and make them into an adventure into hilarity. She also has a huge heart and can use her words to not only amuse, but to teach, encourage, and in some cases, remind me of very important things. Recently, she started a blog and a recent entry fits into that latter category:
"The year was 1992. We had three small children and were living in a 800 sq. ft. 2 bedroom cottage in southern California. We were part of a small group through our church and we were hosting a Christmas Eve get together in our home after which we all planned to go to the midnight Christmas Eve service together. That morning I took my 5 month old son to the doctor. He had developed pneumonia but not a severe case where he needed to be hospitalized. We were told to keep him home. We had planned to drive down to my grandparent’s in San Diego on Christmas day. Pay day was the day after Christmas that year and I spent the remainder of our money on food for our little party since I hadn’t planned on us being home on Christmas day. However, I wasn’t worried because I thought there would be leftovers. Not a crumb was left!
We will never forget our Christmas dinner. I had helped with a breakfast at church not long before and we made these egg casseroles. I didn’t have the recipe but thought that I would be able to recreate the dish. It didn’t exactly turn out. Number one, I didn’t have all of the ingredients. Number two, the bread I used was a very healthy and dense whole wheat variety. Number three, I burned it. We literally had nothing else to eat.
We will also never forget something else from that day. The day before had been very cold but Christmas day was beautiful and sunny with temps in the 70's. Our son had really turned the corner and was doing much better. We decided to walk with the kids to a nearby park. Our girls were 2 and 3 and we had bought them a wagon and a tricycle that my husband had stayed up all night assembling. We had a wonderful time as our girls joyous squeals rang through the air. They had no expectations of what Christmas day was supposed to be like or what kind of things you were supposed to eat or where you were supposed to go. They were happy with the day exactly as it was.
Near the park was a little overpass and under the overpass were several homeless people. There was a lady in a green skirt and they had a tiny Christmas tree next to their cardboard box shelter. I did not notice them until we had been at the park for awhile. I was taken back by the sight. They seemed happy and were laughing. And I felt shame. I felt shame for the attitude I had had and for not being grateful for all the good things in my life.
There is much about Christmas and the whole Christmas season that I love. I love the decorations and the lights. I love re-connecting with family and friends. I love the music and the church services and taking the time to focus on the birth of our savior. I love all the holiday food. However, I hate the commercialism and the stress that this time of year places on families that have a hard enough time just making it the rest of the year. I hate the burden I see in some people's faces as I go about my business around town. I hate that this time of year produces the highest suicide rates.
I don't know what to do about it.
I saw a woman crying in her car yesterday. It's odd when you are just driving around town, minding your own business, and you see someone laid bare like that at a stop light. I don't know why she was crying. She could have just lost someone. She could have just been told she has cancer. She could have a sick child. I don't know. It occurred to me that she could be stressed by Christmas. Whatever the reason, I was profoundly moved."
I pray that I'll remember Kelly's words this season and not get so wrapped up in the busyness that I forget the most important things...such as loving those around me who need someone to care about them thru words, actions, prayers, gifts...showing them the love of Jesus thru tangible ways that show they are not forgotten.
Thank you, Kelly.
Kelly's blog: http://laughingalwayshelps.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
G42 children's village Nsoko Swaziland from Gary Black on Vimeo.
Gary and Lisa Black have a dream for the orphans of Nsoko, Swaziland. Would you like to be a part of making it a reality?
Donations that will change the future of these children can be made with just a few clicks at: https://www.adventures.org/give/donate.asp?giveto=staff&desc=Nsoko%20Project
Sunday, November 25, 2007
GRACE CHANGES US...and that hurts!
The Church is founded on Peter who denied Christ three times and couldn't walk on the water by himself. All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful. Priests resist it as well as others. To have the Church be what you want it to be would require the continuous miraculous meddling of God in human affairs, whereas it is our dignity that we are allowed more or less to get on with those graces that come through faith and the sacraments and which work thorugh our human nature...Human nature is so faulty that it can resist any amount of grace and most of the time it does. The Church does well to hold her own; you are asking that she show a profit. When she shows a profit you have a saint, not necessarily a canonized one.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I'm very tired this Thanksgiving night and my mom wants to get up early to go shopping for our African trip, but I just couldn't let such a significant day go by without writing something here at Graceland. My life is too full to overflowing with blessings not to take at least a few minutes to publicly thank God for all He is and all He's done in my life.
We have spent all day surrounded by family eating delicious food. The kids have had fun playing with their cousins. I've enjoyed being with my sweet husband who is feeling more rested and in fact, has been downright hyper! Well, hyper for him. I would say jumping on the trampoline with a crowd of kids to define hyper, wouldn't you? I've also gotten to have great chats with my sister-in-law Stephanie and my cousin Beth.
So I'm thankful for today, but I'm also thankful for so many, many other things. If I tried to write them all, the list would last longer than my energy, but here are a few of the things I'm most appreciative of this Thanksgiving Day 2007:
God and His amazing grace, mercy, and love!
My loving, faithful husband
Our 7 children and the joy they bring to my life
My parents, brother, in-laws, and all the rest of my family
Our church and all the folks who make it such a loving place
The Florence-Richland Homeschool Group
My Troubadour Sisters
The Bracelet Babe gals
My Five in a Row "Family"
Our upcoming trip to Swaziland & Children's HopeChest
The giving people who've provided financially for our trip
My new friends
My old friends
The Richland Public Library Staff
Our cell group at Restoration
God-inspired books that have changed my life this year
Dark chocolate M&M's
I'm about to fall asleep so before my musing gets to meandering, I'm ending it. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with a fresh awareness of the good things in your life. For every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father...the Father who is crazy about you and desires to be in a relationship with you like no other.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I know that many of you are weary today. You struggle with an exhaustion that reaches down to your very core. I pray that you'll be made aware in a very real way today of God's presence...His love, His strength, His power, His provision, His mercy, His grace. I pray that you'll receive His rest and restoration. I pray that knowing He is in the everything will help you not just make it through this day, but even have joy in this day.
To my beloved husband and my sweet friends Paige and Mair, I especially lift you three up to our precious Lord today.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Monday, November 19, 2007
My Five in a Row pal and fellow blogging homeschool mom, Shauna, is the winner of the Saint's Coffee blog giveaway. She'll be receiving a pound of St Martin de Porres Blend. Shauna is an active writer/reader as well as someone who tries to live out the love of Jesus in practical ways and this is obvious when you read through her blog postings.
SHAUNARUMBLING is Shauna's main blog. On it she features book reviews, family happenings, blogosphere giveaways, social commentary, and whatever else inspires her to blog.
The Family Quilt is a blog dedicated to helping families with children find ways to help the poor and care for those in need.
Treasure Seekers was, in Shauna's words, created "to share ideas with other homeschoolers; to encourage and empower parents to teach their children and be actively involved in their education, whether they’re homeschooled or public- or private-schooled; and to discuss current events, educational philosophies, and other education-related information."
Congratulations, Shauna, and thanks to all of you who took the time to enter, promoted the giveway at your blog, and/or popped over to the Saint's Coffee website and ordered some of the good stuff. Your efforts to shop with purpose and support companies such as Saint's Coffee will make a huge difference in the lives of so many children.
And if you've not had a chance to buy any of this excellent java yet, just head on over to http://www.saintscoffee.com/ .
They'll be glad to fill your mug!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
APPROPRIATE FOR A SUNDAY POST
"Once you have accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines should be deliberately held before you mind every day. That is why daily praying, and Scripture reading and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. If you examined one hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"
C S Lewis, Mere Christianity
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
That's right...we're adding another person to our African trip. Our 14 year old daughter A will now be going along as well.
Back when the decision was first made for me to go, we decided that I should take one of our daughter's. A was the obvious choice as the oldest but it just didn't feel right. She said she wanted to go, but it wasn't for the right reasons. She wanted to go because she wanted to get to ride in a plane and have an adventure. Her 12 year old sister B wanted to go because she has a heart for orphans and loves playing with little children.
After prayer, thought, and talking with them, we made the decision to send B to Africa with me and let A go to Nevada with her daddy to visit her grandma. Getting to fly on a plane for the first time and getting a trip with her dad while all the other siblings stayed home helped satisfy her longing for planes and adventures. She was cool with her sister going with me, was very supportive of our fundraising efforts, and was fine with being the one who'd have to really help out with the little ones while we were gone to Swaziland.
Fast forward a few weeks and hubby brings up the possibility that maybe one day ALL of us will go to Swaziland to live and minister there...as in, not just for a week or two but forever! At which point all our children start getting very, very excited and wanting to sell it all (well, almost all, not the gameboy or stuffed animals, of course) and move to Africa immediately. That is, all but our oldest daughter. She makes it very clear that its fine if WE move to Africa, but SHE doesn't want any part of it. She likes her church, has her friends, and is perfectly content with her American life. And since her daddy has said that if we go it probably wouldn't happen til he retires in 6 years, she's okay with it since she'll be gone to college by then and wouldn't have to go.
So about a month or so ago we were driving somewhere and I started talking to her about the whole situation. I told her that her daddy and I wanted to be obedient to God and do whatever He wanted us to do with our lives...whether that meant to stay put here or go to Africa. And that's what we wanted for our kids. We wanted them to love God so much that they would want His will for them more than anything else in the world. I asked her if she would please just pray about it and ask God to help her be WILLING to go. I told her that didn't mean He'd necessarily call us to go, but I wanted her to at least be willing to obey His call whatever it is for her life and for our family. She grudgingly agreed to pray about it but I could tell she was thinking "I'll pray about it but He sure better not tell me to go live in Africa!"
As y'all know, a week ago someone gave us $4000 which put us not only to our goal that we had to raise for our trip, but put us OVER our goal and gave us a surplus of between $1000 and $1500. Of course, this gave my faith a HUGE boost and reminded me that if God calls our whole family to overseas ministry, He has the provision to provide!
On Wednesday night, I was looking at the blog of a missionary family who lives in Swaziland. The Blacks have 6 kids, 4 of which are teenagers. In the family blogs they shared letters that the kids had written about their spiritual journey to Africa and the ministry that they wanted to do there. And they have a video posted of the kids now that they have been there for a few months talking about their life and how they see God working.
This had a huge impact on Anna. She said that until then, Swaziland seemed just like a dreamland that I always talked about. But seeing the Black kids and how "normal" they are, made her realize that its a real place that real teenagers like her can really go to and make a difference.
She said to me after seeing the video, "I wish I could go to Swaziland with you and B." I was amazed! I really thought she didn't want to go. I asked her about it and she said that she'd changed her mind. She had heard her daddy talking about how going over there was going to change B's life and how she viewed the world. That combined with seeing real kids just like her ministering in Africa clenched the deal for her. She was ready to go. Her heart had been changed. Now it wasn't just a fun plane ride, now it was a chance to have God change her life as she ministered to others in a world totally different than her own.
I immediately went to hubby and told him what A had said. His initial reaction was basically "no way". He's an engineer and very practical (which I need and value) so he saw all the hoops that would have to be jumped thru INCLUDING who would take care of the younger kids since we'd been counting on A to really hold down the fort while I was gone. My mom had said she'd come for a few days, but she's never kept that many all on her own since she's started having some health issues. But we ended the conversation saying we'd pray about it but God would have to make it very clear that it was His will and He'd have to prepare the way by getting my mom's okay and the okay from the man in charge of the trip.
Yesterday afternoon, while doing my walk, I prayed about it. I asked God that if it was His will that He'd speak to my husband about it. I asked God that if it wasn't His will that He'd slam the door shut soundly and we'd know it. But if He wanted her to go, that it would be abundantly obvious.
About 15 minutes later, Jim got home and the first thing he said was, "let's seriously talk about Anna going to Africa". He brought up a few practical concerns and it looked like we'd be able to deal with all of them. He would be able to take off a bunch of time from work, and with my mom coming, and friends pitching in to help some, it could work.
We spent more time praying about it with our cell group last night.
I asked for prayers from you gals, my FIAR small group, a couple of local friends, and then I called my mom.
She said "yes". She'd be willing to let A go and not be here to help her.
I called Children's HopeChest. They said "yes"!
Y'all...let me tell you, I was trembling this morning as we waited word back from Children's HopeChest. I was really feeling very strongly that God was directing this decision and wanted her to go. I had no guarantee, but the spirit was just so strong with me...it was almost overwhelming. And when we got the word that she could go, you can only imagine the hyper, happy, rejoicing that was going on in our household.
Oh, and I should add, her two younger brothers, the 10 and 8 year old, are being so sweet about the whole thing and are already talking about how they are going to really be big helpers while we're gone and make things easier for Daddy and Grandmommy.
I stand amazed at how incredible God is. NOTHING is too big for Him. NOTHING is too impractical for Him. NOTHING is too hard for Him.
He is the God of overabundance. He is the God of provision. He is the God of direction and wisdom. He is the God of who loves us so very much that He allows us to participate in His kingdom's work.
I am giddy today with thanksgiving in my heart.
What an awesome God I serve.
WOO-HOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'M GOING TO AFRICA WITH MY 2 BIG GIRLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you're interested, here's the link to the letters that the Black kids wrote about their family going to Africa:
Here's the link to their video:
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Once again my 4 year old son T has come up with something quite unique. This child has very unusual food tastes. He's the child who will eat a peanut butter and mayonaise sandwich.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I know that officially fall began several weeks ago, but here in the deep south, sometimes it takes a while for Old Man Weather to get around to acting autumnish. Now that the leaves are really changing and the temperatures are no longer sweltering, it really does feel, look, and even SMELL like fall.
A few weeks ago, I asked my kids why they like fall and here is what they had to say:
4 year old T: [I like going to the fair] and riding on the rides that go around the fair.
6 year old L: I like to jump into the leaves. And f its really cold, I can wear my new coat. And its my birthday on fall. And I get t go to the fair and Camp Dixon.
8 year old P: I like jumping in leaf piles, Fall Festival, gong to the fair, and my birthday's in it.
10 year old D: Camp Dixon...cause there's this cool ship they have there and you can play on it. They have these woods you can play in. There's a 3-mile race. And marshmallow fights. And jumping in leaves.
12 year old B: I love the briskness in the air, the cool days spent playing flag football and capture he flag, the excitement that the fair is approaching, the thought of Thanksgiving coming near, and the true beauty of it all.
14 year old A: Because the weather starts getting colder, I get to start wearing long sleeves. There's the fair, and of course, the 3rd most important holiday...my birthday.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Elysa will be away from her keyboard for the majority of Monday due to the presence of her former green beret husband who is also a government employee. We will be spending the day doing stuff together. :)
Don't forget to observe Veteran's Day today by letting the military folks in your life know that