Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Contemplating Christmas & our upcoming 32nd Anniversary

This year was a delightful and low key Christmas. It was our first year to donate money in honor of another family member instead of gifts for the family member. We wrote a note about why we chose what we did and tears abounded. It almost feels too intimate to write those details. But the emotions were deep and much more satisfying than endless gift wrapped packages purchased for the sole reason of being opened. This will definitely be a new tradition that I will look forward to each year.

Jaime made Kevin an amazing scrapbook that honored his grandparents. G'ma and G'pa had written stories for us over the years about their childhoods, marriage, family, hard times, good times, and many words of wisdom. In one story, G'pa said, "Losing everything wasn't all bad. It was during those hardest times that we saw how much our church family loved us. And we cherished friends and family so much more." I hope this scrapbook will become an heirloom to the family. Thanks, Jaime, your hard work will last for generations and the book is just stunning.

Then the girls gave us a CD of family pictures. They put the kids in Cowboy uniforms to honor Kevin. They were wonderful! I recognize that it took them a lot of effort to get all 3 families together and keep them in good spirits during all the posing and picture taking. All that was not lost on us. Girls, thank you. The pictures were wonderful and I can't wait to get our newest family picture on the wall.

Here are my 3 favorite pictures. The grandkids, the girls, and the entire family.

Looking at these pictures reminds us that these are the things that are important to us at Christmas. And these pictures make the celebration of our 32nd anniversary that much sweeter. We look at these kids and grandkids and we feel like we did a lot of things right. We see that God was faithful to give us wisdom liberally as we cried out to him as we raised our family. We serve an amazing God who has blessed us beyond anything we ever imagined.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Manger and Christmas Past

Kylene reminded me last night about a Christmas tradition in our family when the girls were growing up. I made a manger out of Popsicle sticks. Then I would fill a jar with straw and place it next to the manger. During the whole month of December you were to do something nice and ANONYMOUS for someone in the family. When you did, you could put a piece of straw in the manger. The goal was to have a manger full of straw for Jesus on Christmas morning. The idea was that each time you did something nice anonymously for someone else, you were doing it for Jesus.

I think we started the tradition when Kylene was about 4 and continued until the girls were all teenagers. Sometimes they'd groan about it but I didn't take them very seriously because it wouldn't be long before they'd start enjoying finding things to do for others. I limited it to family because, to be honest, family is often the most neglected. It's easy to do nice things for friends and even strangers at Christmastime, but not as easy to serve family.

This was a simple way to keep Jesus the focus of Christmas. In spite of all the concerts, programs, parties of the season, there was always an empty manger in the background slowly being filled with hay. It also encouraged the girls to nice things for their sisters without bragging about it. I was often privy to their sneaky good deeds. I'd watch them make each other's beds or wash dishes or put their things away and they really enjoyed it. The sneaky factor was a great draw.

I think this tradition helped keep us from getting quite so grumpy with each other during December too. It's hard to be crabby and do nice things for someone else.

So, here's to Christmas past and a manger full of hay.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Training the Beast - Click

I decided that, if I'm going to have a teeny tiny dog, she's going to be a well behaved teeny tiny dog. So we are going to obedience training classes for the next 8 weeks. This class uses the 'clicker method'. Basically, when the dog does what you want, you click your clicker and give them a treat. I'm intrigued to watch this play out. I grew up training dogs for obedience and we taught the dog the word, then the action. Here they learn the action and you add the word to it after they get the action down.

I am in a very small class. There are 2 of us plus the instructor. The other dog's name is Sadie and she's a German Shepherd puppy. She's 3 months old and could easily think of Beast as a squeakie toy. Beast is now 5 months old and just barely 2 lbs. Last night was the requisite boring introduction followed by instructions for using the clicker.

When I got home after the class, I showed Kevin what Beast and I had learned. I immediately learned that Ranger does NOT like the clicker. Ranger is already well trained. He's so good that, if he misbehaves and I tell him that he's grounded, he'll go outside by himself and stay until I let him come back in!! Maybe the clicker is an affront to his intelligence.

Beast may have a teeny tiny brain, but it works amazingly well. She's already learned that, when I call her name, she comes running to me and sits right in front of me to await further instructions (ok, to await a treat... the other will come). It's actually pretty cool to watch her come bounding in and sit quietly. Very not little doglike, but pretty impressive.

I was going to try to pull a spiritual analogy out of this, but really, I'm glad God doesn't use the clicker method on us. However, I do want to be better at coming running when He calls me and then sitting quietly at His feet.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mary and Moses

My sister-in-law, Jennifer, sent me a package the other day.  I figured it was Christmas gifts for the grandkids so I didn't open it.  I thought it'd be easier to wait until the Christmas tree was up and I could put the gifts under the tree.

Jennifer called me today to make sure I'd opened the package.  It turns out that she'd sent the g'kids a bunch of Bible time costumes!  You could mix and match them all.  She even told me that she'd made sure she had enough for our own Christmas pageant.

What a great idea!  Josh and Julia tried them on (Randall acquiesed to trying on the king costume for a few minutes) and really had a good time playing Bible dress up.  I talked with them about the costumes as we tried them on.  Julia loved the Mary costume and wanted her picture taken.  Josh decided that the costume that could've been Herod the King looked more like Moses to him.  And he didn't want to be a bad king.  He wanted to be Moses, you know, 'the guy who climbed Mount Everest'!

So here are Mary and Moses.  (Julia's nose is red because she was Rudolph in preschool this morning and didn't want it washed off).

Oh and by the way, the baby Jesus looks a lot like Baby Belle and Moses wore Skechers.

About Me

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Longview, Texas
In the autumn of my life, I am very content.