Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Can't believe we're only two days away from Christmas! And I think I've finished up all my shopping too! Yes, I'm pretty sure that all the presents have been de-pricetagged, wrapped, and placed beneath the tree. This year I decided to go with a wrapping paper theme (inspired by my friend Faith.) I found this really cool craft paper at Hobby Lobby that has excerpts of "Jingle Bells" all over it. I was kind of surprised to find something I liked since all of their gift wrap was already marked down 50%. But then when I started looking for ribbon, I was somewhat out of luck. I couldn't find ANY cranberry or even gold ribbon to match. I think (hope) the red pre-made bows I bought will be close enough to at least complement my paper. Maybe this will encourage me to buy my wrapping supplies a bit earlier next year. Maybe.

We also had some Christmas pictures taken by our friend Michael who did an amazing job. I wasn't sure how successful we would be with a toddler...especially our toddler who is Miss BusyBody right now. But, Lily gave us about a 10 minute window to get some "acceptable" shots, and thankfully, that was all Michael needed. (In Lily's defense, it was dinnertime and her friend Evan was enticing her with his ability to walk freely around the house while she was confined to Momma's lap. ;) ) Here's a few that capture the experience:
(p.s. I'm loving black and white this year)

Lily and Evan waiting for the adults to get set up

Josh looking like The Godfather

Lily enjoying her last few moments of freedom

probably my favorite shot

Lily got herself in this pose

lots of wiggling and giggling (look closely in my right hand and you can see the chocolate that I was using to bribe Lily)

enough is enough

This last picture is a lighthearted portrayal of our reality...imperfection. Sometimes there's tears in this broken world. On Thursday night, our church staff got together for our annual Christmas party. It was a night filled with good food, good conversation, laughter, prayer, and worship. Josh and I both left with an overwhelming sense of praise and gratititude to be part of such a special group. One of the things that resonated with me Thursday night was when Matt acknowledged that we are all broken people. That even as we strive to know Christ and make Him known, we are still incomplete. And we don't have to pretend that we're something other than works in progress. It was so refreshing to hear our pastor tell the staff that they are not expected to have it all together or to pretend they're something they are not. We are free to pursue Christ in a fresh, authentic way, realizing that He loves us in our incompleteness.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

psalm 23

If you've been reading our blog for awhile you may remember me mentioning an organization called the Voice of the Martyrs. Each week I receive a prayer update informing me how I can pray specifically for persecuted Christians around the world. It's really rather humbling when I haven't even heard of half of the countries where these pastors and churches are located. Today as I was praying through the update, my heart was again stirred. The final entry was about a pastor ordered to leave his native town in Turkmenistan:
'According to Forum 18 News, "Pastor Kakataevsky's visa application to remain with his wife and family was rejected by the Migration Service and he will have to leave the country. He is due to leave on a flight to Moscow on December 11." Officials have refused to explain the reason for denying the visa, Pastor Kalataevsky explained to Forum, "But of course it is linked to my activity as a believer. Everything that has happened to me since 2001 is related to that." Pastor Kalataevsky was released in November after eight months in prison. Pray for his family during this difficult time. Pray for his church as they have no pastor, Ask God to protect them.'

The scripture passage included at the end of the paragraph was Psalm 23. One that most of us have heard over and over again. I think I even started memorizing it as a child in Sunday school and have sung it in countless songs over the years. But today as I read it, I felt like the Spirit wanted me to see it through a different lens. Through the eyes of these Christians who are risking their lives to attend church or share their faith. Now I know that we all face trials and endure struggles of many kinds, and those are not to be discounted or dismissed. But many of us will never have to fear death or imprisonment because of our relationship with Christ. I feel like we have some responsibility to lift up our brothers and sisters who will face that fear. We must remember that the Church is not limited to American Christians but includes fellow believers in Laos, Azerbaijan, India, Turkmenistan, etc.

I hope this isn't coming off too "preachy", but I felt like I should continue to make known the cause of the persecuted church in my own small way. So, may I invite you to check out their website (see link above). My hope is that you will be encouraged to see how God is working and compelled to take part through prayer or however else the Spirit leads.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

sleeping beauty

Wednesday mornings are typically spent at our church for Bible study. I share my heart with nine other moms and enjoy authentic community while Lily shares toys (hopefully) and enjoys endless amounts of goldfish. Then we head home and have lunch with our friend Andrea. Soon Lily finished eating and began squirming, so, much to her delight, I plopped her on the couch to watch Elmo...her best friend right now. (sidenote: She can even sing along with me to the theme song "Elmo's World". Should I be worried? I promise I'm rationing her amount of TV time a day.) About 10 minutes go by before I realize how quiet it is in the living room. I peaked over the couch and found this:

Bless her heart. She must have been super tired to fall asleep during her favorite show.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

the tunnel

This morning Lily and I made her first tunnel. She was having so much fun going under my legs that I thought she'd get a kick out of a "real" tunnel. She got a little confused when I told her, "I've got an idea!" and proceeded to move the necessary furniture, get the bed sheet, etc. From then on she kept calling the "tunnel" the "idea" which I thought was so cute. Here is the finished product. I love that it's the simple things. I'm sure this is only the beginning of many more forts, hideaways, and tunnels to come.

oh, and this was too funny not to she is pretending to talk on her phone to Aunt ZaZa (that's what comes out for Missa)