Thursday, December 31, 2015

Each day is brand new...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Such a truly strange year. There is no way to relay to you where I've been or how it's been going with me. But, one thing I do know, hard as it was - scary, even, as it was sometimes - I am so very thankful for this past year - the good - the hard - the growth!!!

I have to confess, though, to be relieved to turn around after Christmas and to see, for the first time in ages and ages, a blank page! Oh, my goodness! I can do anything I want!! (Famous last words - I know! ;) ) So, though I don't usually hold with making resolutions, I do feel the need to come up with a direction. Haven't quite, yet, though.

and, so, there isn't any wisdom or any formed thoughts from this girly, tonight!

Just hope!! Expectancy!!

and, I thought I'd share a word that I found on Pinterest a while back...

Sophrosyne n. A healthy state of mind, characterized by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one's true self, and resulting in true happiness.

I'm laughing. Sounds like the ultimate resolution to me! :)

Wishing you all the best of New Years!!



Friday, December 25, 2015

Mild He Lays His Glory By!

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped
 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness,
and, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross."
Philippians 2:6-8 ~ the Bible

The mind boggles!

In a world where power seems to be money, opportunities, connections and military might, God had another plan....

to come to be with us, to walk with us, to relate with us, to save us...

and He came in the most ridiculously opposite way that any human would ever dream up...

in extreme frailty and vulnerability ...

because humbleness, love and truth are what God values... are what God is...

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." ~ I Corinthians 1:5

...and, in a funny little coincidence, that's how God asks us to come to Him...

Just plain and simple and real - in truth - no posturing...

He doesn't want us to come to Him when we're perfect and feel strong or extra good, but He wants us to come like children... on the most genuine and real level - with love and need!

I can do that!! Poor as I am, I can do that!!

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
a breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

~Christina Rosetti

Wishing you the happiest of Christmas celebrations!!!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twas the night before the night before Christmas....

Goodness! Here we are already! On the eve of Christmas Eve!

I'm so happy!! It's here for the shortest blip in time but precious and magic!

But I'm still keeping it all in perspective. This year's Christmas has been a sea change for me!

I have, indeed, been absent for two days of my advent challenge. This is because we had a very small and mellow gathering to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary which was on the eighteenth.

So! I suppose we could say that the word for today is definitely Love!

Could anything be more appropriate at this time of year? ;)

My parents took us out to Burdick's restaurant which was sparkling and festive. Then, the Christmas Vespers service at our church was this past Sunday evening and it was beautiful!! and, then, we had the tiny party for my parents on Tuesday. I'm so glad that I tuned my piano!! we sang carols and it was so uplifting and warm! and, then, this evening, we hosted the boy scout's Christmas party. (My husband is the troop leader.) My goodness! The belly laughter emanating from the other room, tonight.... :)

So, this evening, I'm opening up our 'family album' and showing you some pictures from Burdick's (I'm not very talented with my phone camera - sorry!) and from the party, yesterday evening. The rest of the pictures were from this beautifully foggy morning!!! (This foggy morning was the calm after the storm - both literally and figuratively, though, now the rain is pattering soothingly away outside, again!)

And, you may notice... one reason that I might possibly love Christmas so much is because my dad is Santa, himself! ;)


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tiny Tim!

This is the first year that the boys haven't done an advent calendar in the evening with me. (They're just too old, I guess.) We used to read from a darling book (translated from the German) about a little bear on a journey to follow a bright star he's seen. On the way, he meets all sorts of characters ~ he meets a blind man, a giant, a man in red, a thief, a lamb.... all finding their way, one way or another, to where the star is leading them which is, of course, the manger on Christmas Eve. Then, we would open a door in an advent calendar (This one was my favorite and we would use it almost every year.) Each door would open and we would find something very, very simple - a candy cane, a little musical instrument, a Christmas Tree, an angel - and each tiny illustration would be so exquisite and magical!! Just magical! And, here, I couldn't tell you why it was so absolutely enthralling to open those little doors but, I do know that part of the charm was with how miniature each item was.

I get that same magical feeling from my mom's miniature doll house, from snow globes and from the drawings around an illustration by Tasha Tudor. Somehow, how tiny they are holds a certain magic and amazement for me!

I was talking with a friend at church, this morning, and she's been thinking the same thing that I have... "how has it come to this?" We've been thinking about Dicken's Christmas Carol and considering how different and contained the holiday seems to have been then as opposed to now! Well, it's easy to look back on 'olden days' and think it was all simple and innocent but if we think that about Dicken's London, then, we weren't paying attention at all. But, I think that you can get what I'm driving at about a simpler, more contained Christmas

And this is the point where I wonder if anyone's visiting this blog and, if they are, are they even reading along. ;) I wonder if I sound like I'm a special basket case to be talking about 'surviving Christmas' so much? I spoke about Santa, yesterday, and the big piece of the whole experience that I left out was 'taming Santa'. It was a challenge to keep Santa in his place and the meaning of the true reason we celebrate Christmas as the main focus. In short, I had to shrink Santa! :D

(And, no! This is not the part where I talk about a special shrink gun that my husband invented.)

So, yes! The point is, I am taking out a whip and taming this Christmas thing in the one place that I can control it - my heart and my mind! I'm turning Christmas into miniature! and if you need it, I have, indeed, invented a shrink gun which I am now going to demonstrate for you!

Behold, out of proportion expectations and emotions running high over who knows what little petty issue.

Now! I turn on the shrink ray and let it warm up and, then.......



Of all the painful things happening in the world (and I've erased my list - it's too heartbreaking and you know it well!), arguing over the petty things is a crime!! But I don't want to belittle YOU or your struggles - they're real!! This is why we need help and comfort and that is why we so desperately need to celebrate...

the light that came - has come - is here in the world!

The rest is tiny in comparison, eh?

Am I getting preachy? I don't know! I'm so tired at the moment and have had a weekend that I didn't expect - with its highs and lows!

I'm going to bed and, perhaps, finally, tomorrow I'll get around to writing something light and easy about figgy pudding. (which I've never had. Is it good?)


Better watch out!

My mom tells the story of my Nana when she was little. They lived in a large gingerbread house (i.e. Victorian - not to eat! ;)) in New York, at the beginning of the last century. They had servants and, on Christmas Eve, the maid would go up into the attic and roll walnuts across the floor. Then, there would be a to-do and they would hurry my Nana to bed because they could hear Santa's reindeer up on the rooftop and Santa, you know, won't leave presents until little girls and boys are asleep in their beds!

I do tread with care, at this point! Over the years, I've had so many discussions with other moms about whether they 'do' Santa or not. It started with my first wee babbie and continues to this day. I guess parents are passionate about it because, talking with them often feels an awful lot like those golden days of yore when we discussed with fervor whether to use cloth or disposable diapers and, even more desperately importantly - to bottle or breastfeed our babies. Such heated discussions - goodness! Both sides of the issues were so sure that the others would lead to no good and, yet, here we all are! ;) Dare I say it? I think what really mattered was that we were parents who cared so much and raised our children with conviction, thought and care.

This mom felt passionate that Santa was the biggest and bestest pretend EVUH! and, thus, we waited with great anticipation in our home!! Such good times! Whenever my boys asked if he was real, I would tell them, "there is no Santa but, once upon a time, there was a beautiful man - a bishop in the days of Rome - and he was a badass Ninja Christian good guy named Nicholas...." Then, I would say, "Santa isn't real but you can believe if you want to." Their faces would cloud over for a moment, then, clear up and off they would go on their merry way - believing! Then, when that sad day finally came and they heard what I said and they saw it as an adult, I would say to them, "now, you're in on the secret! Now, it is your turn to help me with the pretend. It is a sacred duty!" And they would throw themselves into it with gusto.

Garsh! I miss having little guys!

I don't know if I have any grand thoughts about all of this. I just think about children and the wonder and amazement they feel. I can be such a grouch - so worried - so 'laden with adult cares' but I need a part of me - like, most of me - to stay trusting, innocent, unjaded - believing!

I feel a Christmas resolution coming on. ;)

I resolve to be more Childlike, this Christmas!

(I think that the reborn Ebenezer Scrooge would approve! :)

It draws near! There's nothing like the anticipation of the days leading up to Christmas!!



Friday, December 18, 2015

Make a Wish!

There's this great Irish Christmas song (i.e. modern folk) and the lyrics go something like:

If you need your silence, if you need to pray,
thinking of others that you [mumble ;)] today...
There's rain on the window, there's beer on the shelf,
We wish you the Christmas that you wish yourself!

(I think it's a Pub song! ;))

(...and I may have made a few of those lyrics up - I can never quite catch it all. ;))


I tuned my piano, this week. I finished tonight and just spent an hour playing. It's been a year since it's been even close to being playable. Tom and I were both moved - it feels like the house is coming alive again or something. Point being, we hadn't realized how much we missed it!

A week ago, when I said to a friend, "I'm never going to make it!" (To Christmas... ) They said, "what's most important to you?" Then, they made me, actually, verbally prioritize and talk it out. I had to let something go to the bottom of the pile and that was both hard and a relief. But, more than that, it was an epiphany to realize what kind of Christmas I really wish myself.

What I want for Christmas, this year, is to Pray! Love my family! Be creative! Wash the windows! (little by little... ;) ) and I really wished (though I didn't think it would happen) that I could tune my piano! This is what's important to me, this year.

To 'make my priorities' sounds so simple but, this wasn't just making the list of what I'm 'supposed' to do - it was listening to my heart and letting go of expectations! I've never quite made priorities like that before.

Thing is, it HAS made what I'm doing clearer and much more simple!

So, even though I'm decorating and cleaning and working hard (but with a will!), everything seems much simpler.
Could this be? Can one decorate and enjoy Christmas and, yet, still keep it simple?

I'll keep you posted! ;)

But, I do wonder... what do you need this Christmas? To sleep and rest? To save some money? To spend quality family time? To go to a concert? A new camera or lens? (Wait, no! That's not the kind of need I'm talking about! ;))

Well, my dear friends, I don't really need to know but I truly do wish you the Christmas that you wish yourself!!! <3

In the meantime, we're enjoying...

Kitty's First Christmas...

Both Puff and Smoke Got VERY excited when I came in to finish decorating the family room tree. It was so funny! They were like my three boys on a Christmas induced, sugar enhanced, hyper-excited fever pitch... times THREE! They raced around, went in and out of the boxes and checked out every single thing I did. They, especially, liked the part where they helped me undecorate the tree. :P

Apparently, our kitties love Christmas as much as the rest of us do!

They even helped us open and read our Christmas cards! Talk about getting into the spirit of things...

Till tomorrow! I'm going to bed!!!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ding Dong Merrily On High!

It's so warm, this year! So warm that it doesn't feel like a Vermont December - it feels just like Christmas in California, where I grew up! It's been raining, today, too, and it's funny how little things like that can spur memories and old, old feelings that we may have not thought or felt in a very long time. I was listening to a favorite CD (celtic harp) and stringing white lights on my ridiculously fat Christmas tree and felt like I was back in high school - and very cheery and light, at that!

It made me think of so many things.... especially times spent during the holidays with my mom and my sister (and Betty! :) ) It took me right back to special and very magical traditions and adventures that we would have every year.

The memory that came most strongly to me, though, was the night that our family drove home in the rain from the Christmas Eve candlelit service at our church. That year, at midnight, our local public radio station was broadcasting live the church bells pealing in Europe where it was Christmas morning. We just don't have bells like that, here, in the States. I had never ever heard anything so thrilling and joyous and heart burstingly happy. It was quite magic!!!! I had never realized before but knew, then, why there are so many carols that mention them!!
There's just something about the sound of bells - gargantuan ones or small sleigh bells - that makes a heart glad!
 So! My word for the day is JOY!

Well! The big, lone church bell that I have access to is down in town and too much bother to get to; so, instead, I took pictures of a church with a bell tower and you can imagine the rest! ;)

 One other thing! In high school, I was in a hand bell choir at my church! An amazing experience!

Do you know the Raleigh Ringers? If you're taking a break or have time or just want a little Christmas beauty, here's a Christmas concert of theirs. My favorite song is at 4:36ish. Oh! DO listen!!! Even if it's just to the beginning of 4:36ish - get a bit of ringing bells into your heart! :)

(45:15 is the other one of my absolute favorites!!! ;))


P.S. If you've never heard church bells pealing before, here's a funny little video of the Bells Of Dublin that has good sound and gives the general idea. ;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

And Mary said:

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name,
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever even as he said to our fathers."

I'm out there on a limb with my heart, today...

The Christmas Story is a story full of weakness, of complications and, quite a bit, of absolutely frightening situations. Mary and Joseph faced it with a lot of 'can do', 'make do' coping - all while knowing that they had the very Son of God - in a very tender and helpless state - in their care.

No pressure!

Not worrying about Joseph, at the moment, but thinking about Mary...

I think it is so easy, when looking at those beautiful Renaissance Madonnas and hearing about how 'Mary meekly bowed her head' and acquiesced, to receive the message that Mary was really in a perfectly peaceful, 'float through it all', 'it's no hardship at all to do good' state. I mean, whether we really think that or not - the idea is out there.

I just know that, for me, there's this little bit of fluff in the back of my mind that has been told that she was one of those 'have it all together', perfect girls. I could almost believe (from those paintings) that she was perfectly pretty and always spoke exactly the right thing in a 'saintly' voice. Not that I really think this or that it's ever led me to resent her in any way.... of course not! It's just... who is like that in reality? I know that I will never ever be that good or perfect. That's just a fairytale!

But I've been thinking recently, "Mary was real!" (I mean, I knew that already! ;) ) ...but, lately, I've been thinking about it in a fresh way.

Was she the most lady-like woman ever? I mean, did she drink her tea with her pinky up? She was a peasant!! And almost a child, herself! We see her so often depicted in royal, satin robes with the prettiest and most serene face ever and I think that is an accurate depiction of her spiritual situation and her inner heart. However, what if her face was plain? What if she had a funny, odd - even loud - laugh?

One thing I know for sure - her life was NOT perfectly easy!
And, whatever her personality type - whatever Mary was like on the outside, what we know for sure is that her quietness was a state of HEART. Her spirit was quiet because she was humble - yielded. She was chilled out because she loved God and completely trusted Him


I have been SO tongue-tied trying to get to the heart of what I really want to say here but, in a nutshell, it's this:

Quietness is a state of letting God be God and letting us be us trusting in God. It's not about us being all strong and perfect. It's about GOD being all strong and perfect.


Perspective and trust in God - that's where Mary's quiet 'okay, God!" came from. But it doesn't mean it was all easy.

Then, this dear heart burst into adoration and love for her God. She said "My soul, my very heart, my deepest depths -  magnify and praise you to the skies! I adore you with all my heart - my Lord, Father, God, Savior! and my face beams with happiness - my heart bursts with utter joy - my spirit rejoices in you, my God, whose works and ways are like no one else because you are GOD, my Savior!

I was thinking that my word for the day was 'humble' but, really, I think that it is weakness! Because it's when we're blown apart and trusting God with the 1% of strength we have left in us that we are the most humble, the strongest and the most tenderly beautiful. Weakness is beautiful!

Just look at this precious Christmas story! It's in every line!