Wednesday, December 19, 2012



It's ultrasound official.

Baby 3 is on the way!!

I've wanted to tell you for ages. It explains so much... like why I haven't posted a recipe in 3 months. I haven't eaten or cooked since October.

It goes without saying that we're delighted. We watched baby 3 dance and squirm in the ultrasound today, and my heart danced too.

The normal questions:
When are you due?
July 4 - we love our holiday babies

How are you feeling?
Better than with the girls, but that's not saying much

Will you find out boy or girl?
You betcha

Do you have names picked out yet?
Of course I do, but Tim will not even discuss names until we know gender

Are the girls excited?
Oh yes. Big one is ready to go. After all, she is already the best big sister in the whole wide world. Small one believes the baby is going to be hers. She's already telling us that no one else can hold baby.

We covet your prayers as we round out the first trimester over the holidays, especially during the long drives to and from Tennessee.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mary, full of grace

How pitiful must the mother of Jesus have looked? A teenage mother, suspected of adultery, with a crazy story about an angel and a pregnancy from the Holy Spirit. Even her fiancé didn't believe her.

Did she rest for three months with her cousin Elizabeth because she needed time with someone who believes her? Another mother with a gift from God baby who leaped and shouted from the womb: HERE HE IS!

Her song is beautiful:

My soul praises the Lord; 
my heart rejoices in God my Savior, 
because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl. 
From now on, all people will say that I am blessed, 
because the Powerful One has done great things for me. 
His name is holy.
God will show his mercy forever and ever to those who worship and serve him.
He has done mighty deeds by his power.
He has scattered the people who are proud and think great things about themselves.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones and raised up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with nothing.
He has helped his servant, the people of Israel, remembering to show them mercy as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his children forever. Luke 1:46-55 NCV

Would I pen such a verse asked to disgrace myself for the sake of God's glory? Would I count myself blessed to be labelled with a scarlet A? If everyone thought my husband was a weak pushover for marrying me and raising my bastard son? If no one believed the call on my life? Would I rejoice in God my savior?

By God's grace, she did.

And she carried his greatest grace in her arms and kissed his soft cheeks and made a bed for him where she could find one.

And all people call her blessed in verse and song, as we see, by his grace, what her disgrace gave to us all!

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon virgin, mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep In heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Big one's christmas gifts

An impromptu mommy daughter night with big one. We sit down to make a Christmas present for Daddy {which will be the next book in the series, "If you give a mouse a cookie..."}.
Once the paints were out, the masterpiece underway, she decided to make Christmas ornaments for all her friends, even their moms. We chatted about how much she loved her friends and how excited she was to give a present.

Next to her on the table sat a Christmas ornament made in 1990 by my best friend. It's hung on my Christmas tree every year since. Every year when I take it out, I think about him, really the whole family. One of those once in a lifetime finds - a kid for each of us, crafting mommas, engineering poppas. We did vacations together and sleepovers and birthdays. Life together.
We sip tea out of handmade Christmas gifts from Auntie Sarah and continue painting. She ran out of ornaments before she made one for me. Sorry, Mommy. I just guess I don't have one for you.

That's okay. The day is my gift.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Counting days, preparing hearts

We’re ten days into our Jesse Tree. The branches are filling with clip art reminders that the Promised One has arrived. I catch myself staring at it, marking all the promises that God made throughout history that spoke of the coming messiah, Immanuel, God walking with us again.

We counted advent when I was a kid. Opened windows in a serene, cobalt-tinted cardboard Bethlehem. Daddy opened the Bible and read to us with every open window. Then Christmas Eve we tied the whole story together with a full reading of the Christmas story.

But it stopped one year. Maybe we lost the calendar. More likely, we fussed about the drudgery of repeating a story we could ‘recite backwards.’ I stopped counting advent in favor of shopping days after that.

As a married couple, we haven’t done an advent calendar. It didn’t seem important before we had children. We already knew christmas was coming, just look at the tree and shopping list and endless programs and parties. Of course Christmas was right around the corner. Why advent?

But this year, the girls need to learn the true meaning of Christmas, need to learn to build the excitement in their hearts toward the birth of the savior.

As we teach, I learn what I had forgotten {and I must remember!}. The everyday shared family scripture has calmed and quieted my soul as I wait. Not for sales or meals or sharing Christmas with my family. Wait for the star to top the tree... He is here. Run to worship him. The advent tree has helped my heart maybe most of all.

We use rituals to teach the girls, to shape their worldview. That we should speak of the commandments of the Lord when we sit in our house and walk by the way and when we lie down and when we rise Deuteronomy 6:7. To pass on a legacy of faith to our children.

But ritual is just a practice, not faith. They aren’t learning from the tree. They learn from our example of faith. This story is important enough to Daddy and Momma to share it with you everyday, hang pictures to remind us of God’s faithfulness.

So what happens when they’ve learned the lesson? When they can recite the story backwards? Do we put aside these child-like traditions as tools to train a little mind?

Training our children can’t be the reason we celebrate; then we celebrate the god of godly parenting.

We celebrate Christ’s coming.

The counting, the advent plumbs the hearts of Daddy and Momma. When the girls are glib teens, we need our hearts righted more than ever. These child-like tools keep a child-like faith in parent hearts, show near-grown children that God is as important today as He was during childhood.

What do we lose as adults by forsaking the teaching tools we provide our children?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Would we follow?

“We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

A single spot of light in the sky. The most learned men in the land grabbed their gear and headed out in the night to follow it. What must that star have looked like to compel grown men with jobs and responsibilities, intellectuals, wise men to journey? Can you imagine setting out to follow a star? Would we make pot of gold and leprechaun jokes if we met them on the road?

Or would we walk too? Not knowing where the star will stop or what we will find when it does.

They obviously didn’t expect what they found. Surely the mightiest of all kings must have been born to command his own star! Who else in all history has had such a celestial birth announcement? So they journey to the palace in Jerusalem where “a star shall come out of Jacob.” Numbers 24:17 If he’s worthy of a star, he must be worthy of a palace. Surely Judah wouldn’t miss its great king.

Never did they dream the star would stop over a poor carpenter’s house, for a child of questionable parentage. Nor could they imagine that this star was for the King of Kings, the God-man. Who could imagine such a thing? Who could envision a holy God setting aside his mantle of glory for swaddling clothes and a dirt floor? 

I wonder if the wise men knew as they laid their gifts before him how inadequate their treasures were?

Do we know how inadequate our treasures are?

I wonder if the wise men knew that this boy would rescue the world, make right God’s broken world?

Do we believe he’s made all things right?

I wonder at these wise men, who didn’t know the God of Israel, who weren’t God’s chosen people, these Gentile scholars willing to walk the world in search of the King worthy of his own star.

Are we willing to walk too?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Baby rhino tree

I finished half of my Christmas shopping last week. Didn't matter. Christmas felt vague. Santa looked alien. Christmas music felt premature.

Until last night...

The tree is up, in all of its stunted, unbreakable glory.
Christmas trees are my thing, even as a little girl. I would sit in the dark on the living room floor, only the lights on the tree glowing bright. Watch the light bounce off the sequined ice skating dolls. The cracked glass owl that hung on my dad’s childhood tree. Mommy’s handmade ornaments from their broke newlywed years.

Christmas trees are story tellers, weaving two families together into a new one.
Our story tree feels brief this year. We opted for a short, live norfolk pine because it offered a heavy root ball, and I decorated with only soft, unbreakable ornaments. This is mostly small one’s doing. She denuded the front half of a friend’s tree in five minutes. Even pulled all the ornament hangers out of the top of the glass balls.

Last night as I hung the final ornament, leaving most of my favorites wrapped securely in storage, I was a little sad. Our tree isn’t ugly, exactly... No, it’s ugly, but in that baby rhino, so-ugly-it’s-cute kinda way.

And I really love beautiful, tall trees. And glass ornaments. And white lights.

But the girls have an opinion this year, so we have a short tree with colored bulbs. And they love it so much that they stopped in their tracks and stared, mouths open, hands clasped to their chests.

They reminded me that Christmas is about a family, God's family. And about sacrifice, Jesus'. He gave up the splendor of Heaven so that I could have access. How much more can I give up the beauty of a breakable tree to give my girls a tree they can touch.


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