Monday, December 31, 2012

Advent: 2013 Dreams

I'll admit after catching up on my Google reader last night, I started feeling bad about not having a New Year's post up.  Monday I was too busy trying to keep my jello brain awake so I could last for the gathering with my friends.  Then, Tuesday I spent the day driving back from Texas.  So there, I have some good excuses!

I've noticed this year that everyone is going for a "word".  Not sure what that derived from, but I like it. I've been working on what mine should be.  I like the process of making goals and dreams for the year.  However, I'm not one for setting a "resolution".  It seems so definative.  And, I've learned over the last decade that you can't really expect what will happen during the year.  You  may change a job, receive devastating news. meet a new friend or pick up an old hobby.  Any one of those would send my strangely-control-freaked nature into a tail spin on its own (and has). 

So, instead I like to have a "focus".  I think this year that will be "to purge".  I know that sounds weird, but I've discovered that I'm holding on to a lot of things that I need to get rid of....literally and figuratively. 

So, I'm planning some major cleaning out and a big pick up from Big Brother/Big Sister.  But, I think i've got to reign in some of my ideas too.  I have a lot of supplies for different projects and when you downsize you realize that you can just get that stuff at the Dollar store.  And i know that may not be the most fiscally responsible, but holding on to stuff is just making for a mess.

And, I've realized in my holding on to actual items, I'm holding on to some fantasy or hope of something not there.  Not sure what that is or how I could really define that, but I just feel like when there are things around you all the time your mind stays busy tyring to keep up and instead of focusing on you and fixing you and making you better, you just stay busy.  Sounds like RELAX should be a word too!

What about you?  What are you focusing on this year?

I heard that Robin Roberts was pushing for "Serene in 2013".  I kinda like that, too!
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord , the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26: 3-4


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Advent: New Year's Eve

Ok everyone, what are your big plans for New Years?  Do you have family traditions surrounding this day? Or, do you spend it out on the town with your friends.  What about the Black Eyed Pea tales - fact or fiction?


New Year's eve is really one of those holiday's I could just give or take.  Let's be honest.  When you are single, it falls in the category of useless holiday's like Valentine's day.  If you have someone, then its super fun.

But, when I was in high school, I started spending New Year's eve with my best friend Heather and her family.  We always go to Trail Dust Steakhouse.  The kids (and adults)love to slide down the big metal slide that drops you out onto the wooden dance floor.  They used to bring in a house band each year and we did some line dancing too, but that's not the case this year. 

With a group of 18+, we usually go to dinner early and then head back to her house for games.  Last year we had to go to a movie to stay up to midnights (first of many signs that you are getting old!)Once midnight comes along, we break out the ice cream and have banana splits. 

I'm so grateful to have this second family that treats me like their own and let's me be part of their celebration.

This year I'm super excited because I have my new Country Outfitter boots to sport.  I'll make sure and take some pictures to share.

Hope you all have a safe and exciting NYE.  And, I wanna hear the different ways you celebrate!!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Advent: Christmas Scattergories

Christmas Scattergories!!!!  I love this game.  So, here are the rules.  Choose an answer for each category that starts with the second letter of your first name, you cant repeat an answer, try to go with the first thing that comes to your mind.

  • Christmas Character-
  • Family tradition-
  • Christmas Carol/Song-
  • Kids toy-
  • Stocking stuffer-
  • Something found at the North Pole-
  • Present for dad-
  • Design found on wrapping paper-
  • Activity that keeps kids busy on Christmas break-
  • Something for grandma-
  • Dream for 2013-
My answers are below.  Make sure to link up your answers.  Or, feel free to play the game with your family and let us know how it goes!

Keisha's Answers:

  • Christmas Character-Ebenezer Scrooge
  • Family tradition-exercise
  • Christmas Carol/Song- (I got nothing!)
  • Kids toy- Elmo
  • Stocking stuffer- eraser/Energizer batteries
  • Something found at the North Pole- eggnog
  • Present for dad- earphones
  • Design found on wrapping paper- eco friendly
  • Activity that keeps kids busy on Christmas break- education books
  • Something for grandma- earrings
  • Dream for 2013- edify more

  • Sister's Answers
  • Christmas Character-Alvin and the chipmunks
  • Family tradition-advent
  • Christmas Carol/Song- all I want for Christmas is you
  • Kids toy-angry birds
  • Stocking stuffer-apples
  • Something found at the North Pole- antlers
  • Present for dad-argyle sweater
  • Design found on wrapping paper-angle
  • Activity that keeps kids busy on Christmas break-art project
  • Something for grandma- apron
  • Dream for 2013- add more veggies to your diet

  • Mom's Answers
  • Christmas Character- Oscar the grouch
  • Family tradition-open presents
  • Christmas Carol/Song- O Christmas Tree
  • Kids toy- Operation (board game)
  • Stocking stuffer- oranges
  • Something found at the North Pole- old man
  • Present for dad- ostrich boots
  • Design found on wrapping paper- ovals
  • Activity that keeps kids busy on Christmas break- origami
  • Something for grandma- opera glasses
  • Dream for 2013- open your home to others

  • Dad's Answers
  • Christmas Character- Iceman
  • Family tradition- Icing cookies
  • Christmas Carol/Song- I Saw mommy kissing Santa
  • Kids toy- Ironman
  • Stocking stuffer- Icepack
  • Something found at the North Pole-Igloo
  • Present for dad- Ice Age movie
  • Design found on wrapping paper- Icicles
  • Activity that keeps kids busy on Christmas break- Ice Skating
  • Something for grandma- Insoles
  • Dream for 2013- Include more physical activity

  • What's your list?

    Monday, December 24, 2012

    Advent: Christmas Eve

    What are your Christmas Eve traditions? Do you go to a candle lighting service at your church? Do you exchange ornaments or one special gift? Do you have your family celebration or do you wait?  What makes Christmas Eve special at your house?
    We spend Christmas Eve with my mom's family.  And it is always most entertaining.  We let the little kids open their gifts and exchange stockings.  Its always fun to be together and we know for sure its a blessing to have 4 generations together in one place.  All 18 of us were together, so we worked really hard and here's the commemorative photo of the day.

    The Jones and Lewis bunch all together.

    Here are some other great shots and memories from the day.

    more carbs food that we could eat!

    craft time - it was supposed to entertain the kids, I think we enjoyed it more!

    Papa's girls

    My aunt made these awesome ornaments.  They were personalized for everyone in the family! So awesome and personalized just perfectly.


    gift time!

    Then we had to play with the gifts...and by we, I mean my sister!
    May your days be merry and bright!


    Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Advent: Gifts

    Well, Christmas eve is tomorrow.  Is there a Christmas present you are really anticipating?  Did you ask for something special that you can wait to get?  Or, is there a present wrapped under the tree that you cant wait to watch someone open?

    Once I get all my presents wrapped, I'm ready for them to be opened.  I still beg mom every year if everyone can open a gift before Christmas.  I just love the anticipation of people opening all their gifts.

    I love giving gifts.  Its one of my favorite things all year.  I love searching for just the perfect present and then watch the recipient open it. 

    I'm really bad about making a list.  I usually just throw out there gift ideas as the year goes along and forget them when it comes.  Then, I'll open a present and say "oh yeah".  Its a good gig my mom has because we totally forget what we picked out and its all a fresh surprise.

    So, tonight as I sit in front of the tree, lit with the glow of lights, I see the reflection glimmer in the wrapping.  Its kinda inviting.  I've never been the kid to want to open presents and see what's inside.  I'm pretty sure I have no poker face so I knew I couldn't pretend that I didn't know.  But, I never wanted to spoil the surprise. 

    I love waiting to see what everyone gets.  We open gifts one at a time and just draw it out as long as possible. Dad usually gets bored so we make sure to rotate an keep him interested.

    I know we are blessed and I'm so grateful to be able to give gifts and grateful to be able to have a tree wrapped with gifts.

    What about you?  Any gift you are anticipating?

    Advent Week 5: Dec 24-31

    Merry Christmas!  Is anyone else excited about this week?  I'm looking forward to spending some much needed rest with my family.

    May your week be filled with joy, hope and a fresh reminder that our Saviour's birth brings the unmeasurable grace and undeserved mercy that we have each been extended.  And, may you find a way to draw near the manger.

    24.       Christmas Eve Traditions and Christmas morning traditions - jammies, special breakfast, what are your traditions for these 2 special days?  Are you trying a new tradition this year?

    25.       Christmas Day Scattergories - make sure you check the blog for your morning prompt!

    26.       Did you have to take something back?  Did you take advantage of the after Christmas sales?  Were you on a mission to find something special? Did you have to redeem all those gift cards?

    27       Christmas is over now what?  Are you trying to learn all your new toys you got for Christmas?  What was your favorite gift? 

    28.       How long do you stay with your family?  Are you still spending time with your family or is it time to travel back?  How do you handle finding time to spend with all your family?  Do you get some extra time off this week? 

    29.       When do you take down the tree?  Are you one that likes to leave it up and enjoy it until January, or do you have to get it down on December 26? 

    30.       New Year’s Eve traditions - What are you big plans for tomorrow?

    31.       What’s your wish, dream, plan, goal for the new year?  What do you want to accomplish in 2013?  Was 2012 a big year for you or are you ready to see it go?  How will you do things different this year?  Do you make resolutions?

    Happy Advent,


    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Advent: Nativity

    Who is your favorite character at the manger? Who can you most identify with? Who do you wish you were more like? What’s your connection?
    Infant holy, Infant lowly, Christ the babe is born today.

    I love to put out my nativity scene.  Even in years I don't put up a tree, I always up my nativity scene.

    This year I got a new nativity set from Dayspring and I LOVE it.  Each "character" has a word on its cloak and I love how the word perfectly depicts where I think that person fits into the manger scene. 

    I often wonder what each of these characters were thinking while they witnessed the greatest gift of all.

    Emmanuel - God with us

    Mary - cherish
    I cannot imagine the fear in Mary's heart.  As a woman I know she must have struggled to wonder what people would think about her.  What were the women in her village saying about her behind her back? Where her parent's embarrassed (we never hear much about them).  How much pressure was it to carry the promised Messiah?  How much pressure was it to raise the Savior? I can only imagine that he was like any other little boy.  Did he have to learn hot and cold? Right and wrong? How did he interact with his siblings?  We know the pressure of a mom for being the mom of a President, or a coach, or a Business Leader.  But, her son was the King of King.  And, she had to share him knowing that his life from the beginning was a sacrifice of epic proportions.

    Joseph - love
    Only love could let you love a women when everything in your law said not to.  Only love would compel you to obedience and demand the kind of protection he had to provide his family.  Only love would drive persistence from the core of your being.  Only love would let the pressures of the world around you roll off and not cause you to stumble.Only love would let your Son follow His purpose and fulfill his full life's calling. 

    Shepherd - seek, find
    A quick definition search of "seek" leads you to - "to go in search or quest for something".  I love that the other word you find next to the shepherd is "find".  It's the purpose of seeking.  And, I love to think of the reward that the shepherds found that starry night.  Can you imagine leaving a hillside probably covered with grass and mud from the days out wandering and find yourself belly up to the manger.  To the trought that held the Messiah, the promised baby.  And, then to spend your days telling the story that few would believe.  I mean really, a bunch of blonde chicks in white fluffy robes with big wings just showed up in the sky out of no where and started singing and you listened to them and found who in a what?  But, their seeking led to finding.  A sheer sense of accomplishment in a life so marked by wander.

    Wiseman - worship, give, follow
    I talked earlier this week about my thoughts on the wisemen.  The 3 wise guys, as they are some times referred to (although there was more like an entourage), chose to follow the star.  Not just one night, but several.  They recognized that something was different about that night and did not stop until they found the baby.  They were also well enough aware to come prepared with gifts.  They showed up with something to offer.  They came prepared to worship the King; Emmanuel.

    The donkey - carry
    My dad wrote a song when I was little called "Dudley the Donkey".  Not sure why Dudley.  Its an Old English name from a root word for wood, clearing or meadow. Some even say it means "the people's field".  Maybe it is appropriate. A donkey seems about right.  It was ordinary.  Its what they could afford.  It was a useful animal and probably readily available when they knew it was time to travel. Have you ever tried to ride a donkey?  I can't say I'm an expert since I've only ridden one bareback to play a donkey basketball game.  But since all mine did was stand there, I can assure you it is nothing comfortable.  Its back bone sticks out and it makes for one bumpy experience.  I cannot imagine how Mary made that journey pregnant.  I do love that it was a donkey.  It wasn't a Clydesdale, Black Stallion, or beautiful white sleigh horse.  It was a donkey.  A grey, dirty field donkey.  Ordinary in all forms. 

    barn animals - open
    I love to think about these guys.  If you've ever been in a field or around farm animals, you know they are curious creatures.  I love how nativity scenes always depict these guys just calmly laying around.  But, I have a feeling that's not at all how it went down.  I fell very sure that Joseph got to the stables and had to rough house a couple cows, goats and sheep to find a place to put Mary.  I have a feeling he had to gather up some hay that was laying on the bottom of the stable.  Not good hay or straw that was perfectly bound in bale or wheel form, but some that had been around for a while.  I feel like there were some feed bags and other random items laying around that he built up to make a comfortable place for Mary.  This stable was home to these animals.  I'm sure they had a routine.  I'm sure they had been in the field all day and wanted to just lay down and sleep.  Instead, their home was invaded.  They were moved out of their comfortable spot and there among the screaming and the tears, a baby was born.  I can only imagine that curious little noses were pushing their way into the manger.  Their feed trough had been taken over after all.  Wonder what I would do if something like that wanted to invade my world.  Would I be grumpy or disgruntled to find an invader in my place?  Would I be curous enough to peek in? Would I just go find a new place and miss the miracle?

    angel - available
    And then, this sweet angel face.  The proclamation of "good news".  The bringer of "glad tiding".  The spreader of "great joy".  I'm sure there is not much choice when you are an angel and given an assignment.  But, I feel like it doesn't matter.  When you are in heaven,I can only believe that you want to tell everyone you can about what you are experiencing.  But, I'm challenged today to think about what my words and life proclaim.  Do I spread the news every where I go?  How would I react if given some of the challenges like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds faced?  I believe today we find angels in lots of different ways and I know that they speak truth into our lives.  May we live differently based on the knowledge of their words. 

    This great little book has really drawn me through some quiet moments of reflection and peace this holiday.  I highly recommend it as an awesome tool for advent.  "Reflections" is the perfect word.  It has challenged me to look at each piece of the Nativity puzzle and ponder it. 

    Merry Christmas!

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Advent: Ornaments

    As we keep things going with the Christmas prep, I'm guessing your tree is up by now, so today is all about Ornaments and what goes on top of that tree!

    What’s on top of your tree – angel, star, something else? Is there a person who always had to put the tree topper on, or is it just part of getting the tree decorated? Is it the last thing to go on the tree?

    Ornaments - Are your ornaments family heirlooms or do you have “pretty” ornaments

    Ornament tradition – favorite ornament, an ornament you always put on the tree, do you get a new ornament every year to represent/symbolize something during the past year? Do you have an ornament that has to be on the tree for it to feel like Christmas?

    Here are some of my favorite ornaments from recent years.  You know when your mom changes themes every year you have lots of to capture!

    We just started the last couple years getting an ornament each year.  We look for something that represents a change, an experience or somehow sums up our year.  Last year mine was a little marshmallow guy with a cell phone and it said "tweet this".  It was perfect.  I cant wait to see what's waiting to summarize this year.  I sure could use some encouraging words! 


    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

    Advent: Nostalgia

    How has Christmas changed from your nostalgic view as a kid to your view as an adult? Which one is better? What made that happen? 
    Today is a chance to reflect and think on what Christmas really means to you and if you are celebrating it the way you want to.  I'm a firm believer that bad patterns of behavior or broken visions don't have to stay just because.  I think we are totally and completely in charge of fixing things to be like we want them.
    So, my challenge today is to look at the way you celebrate Christmas.  Are there things you aren't doing and want to?
    I'm not trying to sound like a vixen for change, but I have had some hard lessons learned in trying to sit around and wait for what I want to just happen to me.  Last Christmas much about the way I view the holidays changed.  I've mentioned it several times so I don't want to sound like a stuck record winding its way around the same line of a song. 
    I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where we knew the meaning of Christmas.  Actually, we spent the 6 weeks leading up to Christmas as part of our church Christmas pageant.  Rarely were there real animals, but there were almost always angles flying!  I loved being back stage and hanging out with all the older kids.  We always had adoptive moms because my dad was usually the blind guy in the miracles scene and mom always sat on stage left with a head set on giving cues.  It was a perfect experience.  And, I can remember what it was like to stand among the ficus trees and painted stone walls watching "miracles" happen.  I don't know that I was super reflective at that point in my life, but those vivid little snapshots of experiences are something I ponder from time to time. 
    When I think about the God of this universe sending His Son for us - Sending him to a woman way to young to be a mother and to a man who had to find understanding from the bottom of his toes to go against public humiliation of taking a pregnant wife who he had not "been" with.  I think of a group of men; rugged men, young and old hanging out a random hillside with a bunch of stinky sheep being caught off guard by this random angel showing up to tell them to gather up their sheep and heard them back into the city to find this stable out behind a house with more stinky animals in it and then the were surrounded with a bunch more angels singing, praising and proclaiming peach.  And, then that group of curious wanderers would be so intrigued by this "star" in the sky that they would search high and low for the better part of 2-3 years to find what this was that was different than they had ever seen.
    When I think about all those things, I'm drawn to the fact that miracles and special moments were part of the grandiose plan from the beginning.  I love that our Savior is interested in details.  Tiny little minute things matter to him.  But, its also not about extravagance or fanfare.  Yes, most of these musicals present 3 valiant kings riding in on white horseback or lumpy camels or with exotic birds.  And, that may have all happened.  These sorcerers had some cash after all!  But, something tells me it went down a little more like this.
    "We have seen the star in the east and have come to worship him" looked more like some weary travelers going hut to hut, not necessarily gathered on a culd-a-sac in a sub-division, to find the family they had been looking for.  And, can you imagine a weary mother of an 18 month old wondering who these random guys were looking for her kid.  I can imagine that Joseph was out back in his "workshop" that may have more likely resembled a lean-to with worn out workshop supplies.  I can hear Mary as she hollars, "uhh Joseph could you come in here please".  And, then they hear we have "come to worship".  Not sing a 7/11 song or share an explicitly written liturgical responsive reading, but honor, reverence, give unadulterated attention to the boy Jesus.

    For me, the nostalgia of Christmas has worn off as I've grown older.  I think the jaded lens of the world creeps in and you know too much.  You aim to see the hurt and the bad in this time of year.  You see those without and wonder why.  You see pain and hurt and wonder why.  You see want and need skewed with have and have not.  You see the hustle and busy schedule and find yourself drained from trying to do and be.  You miss the wonder.  You overlook the met needs.  You forget to be present where you are and invest in that moment.

    My challenge over the next week will be to seek peace.  To find contentment.  To create memories and not more chaos.  To revel in treasured moments of today and not cloud them with plans for tomorrow.

    Nostalgia will come from a new lens.  A lens of intentionality.  A lens of simplicity.  A lens of being fulfilled by the little things.  A lens of being content with what I have.  A lens of quiet moments.  A lens of preparing my heart for the days ahead.