Friday, December 31, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 215

Day 215 of Blessings, and the last day of 2010, the 7th day of Christmas . . .

End of the year musings, and extra thankfulness for these blessings that I've experienced in this last year:

1. Renewed attitude of gratitude.

2. Counting blessings has led me to see more blessings and more blessings, and more blessings. We are surrounded by blessings from God in the awesome moments and even in the rotten moments.

3. Faith-filled friendship.

4. Wise counsel from friends, family, and the Word of God.

5. My Family - each one individually, and all of them in sum total. This one could count for several dozen blessings.

6. Jesus Christ as my Savior.

7. The Lord as my creator . . . wow!

8. The Holy Spirit as my guide.

9. Writing, teaching, walking, living, loving, cooking, blogging, poetry, stories, books, and so much more.

10. Jesus makes everything glorious!!!

Scripture Blessings:

Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.
Pslam 72:19

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
Welcome 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Days 213 and 214

5th and 6th Days of Christmas

Giving Thanks for:

1. The friskiness of our Beagle as he comes in from the snow.

2. Our older Rhodesian Ridgeback's return to puppyhood to snuffle her nose in the snow, and jump into frost covered bracken, nosing around for scents.

3. Brisks walks with Biblical conversations.

4. Grocery stores . . . really, how awesome is it that we can find so much healthful variety so quickly?! In the midst of running every day/weekly errands I forget to be thankful for the abundant blessings that surround us.

5. Library visits with a trip down vacation aisle . . . err, non-fiction books on travel.

6. Books about Hawaii.

7. Planning for a trip to Hawaii! Wow!

8. My oldest daughter wants to go on a shark swim . . . I'm actually not sure I'm thankful for that, but I am glad that she is passionate about her first favorite fish. She's been into sharks since her first visit to Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's shark exhibit . . . when she was two. She's read library books, listened to shark talks, and memorized shark facts without realizing it.

9. Wonderful place names like . . . Waikiki, Malaekahana, Hanauma Bay, Maui, Big Island, Hilo, Kealakekua . . . and more . . .it all sounds so wonderful.

10. The only things I remember about my first Hawaii trip, when I was five are: the little girl who lived down the hall from my Grandpa in his condo, it rained in Hawaii and I thought it wasn't supposed to rain there, the parade in Chinatown. My parents have pictures of none of these things . . . but they are still what I remember.

11. My husband's experiences traveling to Oa'hu, and Maui with a Navy E.O.D. unit. He definitely had a different view of the islands than most travelers get.

12. Four months to anticipate, get fit (lose weight), and get even more excited.

13. One more day to prep for the New Year.

14. Looking forward to skiing on New Year's Day.

15. Having a conversation with my dad about miniature car race tracks, and radio controlled cars, planes and helicopters . . . fun stuff.

16. Reading Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George, an interesting re-telling of Cinderella.

17. Reading five books in five days . . . aah, the wonderful downtime in the week after Christmas.

18. Soft, fuzzy slippers.

19. Vanilla Chai decaf tea.

20. The Lord gives us rest and renewal.

Scripture Blessings:

"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Monday, December 27, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 212, 4th Day of Christmas

4th Day of Christmas:
"On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four calling/collie birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree."

Whether you sing this song because it is silly nonsense celebrating the 12 feast days of Christmas enjoying the imagery of a pie made with blackbirds (collie birds) and dancing milkmaids, or if you like to read religious meaning into it with the four collie birds representing the four gospel writers, I think this song is just something that fits with the 12 days of Christmas in the Western World. Can you think of 12 Days of Christmas, without thinking of this song?

There are so many versions, both serious and humorous, some tasteful, and some not. I invite you to sing it, laugh at it, ponder over it, enjoy it, let it be a reminder to fill up all 12 Days of Christmas with joy and celebration.

Blessings on the 4th Day of Christmas:

1. Reading a new book called poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge.
"For me, poetry is related to walking. Words and images fill me when I wander alone."

2. Reading my Christmas present, Ranger's Apprentice: Halt's Peril
all in one day, and thoroughly enjoying all of it. I might re-read the series again soon.

3. Having so much to read, from the library, from our recent book browse with gift cards at Borders . . . aah, books.

4. The first half of The Silver Sword by Angela Elwell Hunt.

5. Teaser Tuesday Quote from The Silver Sword by Angela Elwell Hunt: "They had not eaten since leaving Chlum, and she was as hungry as a nun on the last day of Lent. With the others, she spurred her horse into an easy canter, and watched the castle rise up before her."

6. I read C.S. Lewis' book, The Great Divorce. Although there are parts I like, I am impressed more by his essay writing and his Narnia series. I am thankful that I have had some time to do this reading now, and make decisions regarding the book-reading of my class on C.S. Lewis life, writing and faith that I plan to teach next year.

7. Finally putting the finishing touches on essay question options for my Shakespeare Class. Sometimes I think writing and researching those questions is the equivalent of writing all those essays. I'm just glad that it is done, and my 11 year old thought they sounded tough, but not too tough . . . so 13 and up teens should be able to tackle them.

8. Having days of rest, after the amazing fun-filled days of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the Day after Christmas. I loved every one of those days, but somehow I just didn't get enough sleep, and yesterday I spent the day somewhere between a book, a doze, and a daydream. I am thankful that I can have that kind of rest now and then.

9. Reading the Gospel of Luke in three different translations. I feel so blessed when I get to read the nuances of the wording.

10. God is in charge!!!

Scripture Blessings:
"At once the man stood up in front of everyone. He picked up his mat and went home, giving thanks to God. Everyone was amazed and praised God. What they saw surprised them, and they said, 'We have seen a great miracle today!'" Luke 5:25-26 CEV

"Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today.'” Luke 5:25-26 NIV

"Without a moment's hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, 'We've never seen anything like that!'" Luke 5:25-26 Message

"And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, 'We have seen amazing things today!'” Luke 5:25-26 New Living Translation

"And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day." Luke 5:25-26 King James Version

365 Days of Blessings, Days 208, 209, 210, and 211

Quadruple Blessings!!! Woohoo! I took a break from typing, but took notes about my blessings on scrap papers and in my head the last few days. Christmas celebrations are the foundation of much that I'm giving thanks and praise for today.

Scripture Blessings:
Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and parise your Father in heaven."

Christmas Eve Blessings:
1. Family at my mom's house, just next door. Aunts, and Uncle, Cousins, and Cousins once removed, or is that second cousins? all talking with one another in a cozy little house.

2. The joy of gifts being opened by a three year old cousin.

3. Making Munlies. These bread creations are sweet and wonderful, relatively easy to make even if you are gluten free, and make a good breakfast on Christmas morning, if you don't cover them in chocolate chips. Here is a recipe from another site that is close to the one my family uses (except it's regular flour and not gluten free) Munlie Recipe Of course, my family only makes a few dancing bread men . . . and then we get really creative with butterflies, hearts, chessboards, spiders, and Christmas trees. We've tweaked the tradition for the fun of it.

4. Not having the party at my house . . . I know this sounds like a repeat of number one, but really I'm highlighting the fact that I just wasn't ready to host at my house. I made some of the food for the party, but it was nice to have the party at my parents little place.

5. We mostly finished our Gingerbread version of the Dawn Treader on Christmas Eve, after finally accepting that our version might not look anything like the movie version.

6. Our church had four candlelight services on Christmas Eve. We love the Candlelight Christmas Eve services.

7. Singing Carols on Christmas Eve.

8. Lighting candles.

9. The glow of light from each candle lighting up each person's face in a darkened sanctuary.

10. Jesus is the light of the world, and He gifted us with His light, so that we can shine in the darkness too. (see Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)

Christmas Day Blessings:
1. Waking up first on Christmas Day. Young or nearly middle age, I am still the first one awake on Christmas morning. I love it.

2. Watching my daughters, my husband, and my parents open their presents on Chrismtas morning.

3. Giving the dogs and the cat their stockings full of treats. Silly, but really fun.

4. Eating our munlies with butter and jam. Yum!

5. Christmas Day worship in pajamas with wonderful, loving friends.

6. Our Pastor's amazing ability to combine his "adult" sermon with his children's message, and share one of his favorite Christmas stories with all of us. We were reminded to be like the star, and show the way to Jesus with our lives.

7. Tears of joy, and sadness as we worship on Christmas morning with Pastor Paul for the last time at Peninsula Lutheran Church.

8. A family of baptisms on Christmas morning.

9. Christmas dinner at my husband's family gathering.

10. Wrestling and tickling matches between Grandpa, our nephew, my husband, and all the cousins.

11. Corny jokes.

12. Playing together, giving each other gifts, wrapping paper wars, and pictures.

The Second Day of Christmas Sunday Blessings:
1. A reminder that there are 12 Days to Celebrate Christ's birth!

2. Another family of baptisms, so wonderful to see the joy and excitement in the kids eyes, and the calm strength in the parents eyes.

3. Singing joyful hymns that lead us to the manger, and then to the cross, never letting us lose sight of Christ's life and salvation.

4. In the Gospel reading yesterday, Matthew 2:13-23, these words stood out to me: "Get up, Out, Get Up, Go" along with the phrase, "he went." After I had underlined and written down those phrases, our Pastor then spoke about God being at work in all things, obedience, and those same phrases that stood out to me. I felt as if the pieces of a puzzle were falling into place, and part of the picture was revealed for a moment. God is at work in all things, even the scattering of our church.

5. Having an afternoon with family, and one friend from church. We played together, book browsed together (it's a family tradition to give each other gift cards to Borders books and then go browse the shelves on the 26th together), ate together, and went to our church's free family movie night together.

6. Despicable Me turned out to be a heart-warming, sweet movie where the villain turns into a hero.

7. Cleaning up after movie night. - sounds odd, but it is fun with a group of loving hard working people. There is a satisfaction in knowing that we have had a small impact on our community with free family movie nights . . . one of the baptisms in the last few days may have been the result of a seed of faith planted there . . . and knowing that outreach can be fun, simple, and wonderful.

8. We have been so blessed by the active members of our congregation, who love, and act, and encourage one another.

9. Enjoying the present moment, and yet looking forward to a new life of faith in a different setting.

10. God works through us, and in us, in all circumstances.

3rd Day of Christmas Blessings, Monday:
1. Walking the dogs, again, in the mud. Getting back into the routine feels good.

2. Conversations of depth, seeking the meaning of God's words with my mom, and discussing our reading of the gospel of Luke.

3. My kids sleeping in, after three days of excitement, family, friends, and presents.

4. Time to catch up on planning, writing, and closet cleaning before school starts next week.

5. Planning a day to ski.

6. Reading Christmas stories during the 12 Days of Christmas . . . we came to the season of Advent slowly, and now we have time to truly celebrate.

7. Planning to start eating the Gingerbead house today . . . maybe.

8-10. Gingerbread Making Pictures . . .

Making the Dough

Sketching, Planning, and Making Templates

Dragon's Head, Mask, Wings, and other pieces cooling on the racks

Candy Green Sea

Putting it together

After the Gingerbread Mast broke, we made one from a candy cane, and attached the wings and tail

Pictures of "finished" Gingerbread Dawn Treader coming soon . . . have to find that camera again.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 207

Today I’m giving thanks for:

Gingerbread Day!
Every year we attempt to make a gingerbread creation that challenges our skills and fills us with excitement for the sweetness. In past years, we’ve had a house that the wolf blew down (it collapsed), another house that fell down, then a castle, then an amazing castle that actually won us an award, and last year we made a village so everyone could decorate their own house. This year, we hoped, planned, and dreamed big, coming out of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie with hopes of building a Dawn Treader gingerbread replica.

Hmm, well, after much debate we decided we would have to make it a simplified, representative Dawn Treader. We planned, researched, dreamt, sketched, and then made the dough. We planned more, and debated. Finally, we cut out our sketched templates, placed them on rolled out dough and started cutting. OOOPS! Yikes! We re-cut all the detailed pieces, and then I scorched the dragon heads in the oven.

We waited for pieces to cool, and patience to be renewed, and then we made the “glue” icing . . .a special gingerbread icing that holds like cement, but is still edible afterwards. With some extra careful cutting we re-shaped the basic boat to fit together, glued them, and waited. Things started sliding apart. We added more glue icing, and the girls and I added a few “islands” to our ocean around the Dawn Treader, plus frosted a yellow Aslan. At 9:30p.m., after six hours of gingerbread madness, interrupted only by dinner and a few breaks, we decided to wait for the icing to dry overnight.

We decided this is the most challenging project we’ve ever tried, and yet we felt joyful for the fun of making it, the jokes about holding up the poop deck,(Oh yes, it was that kind of humor) and the icing that we cleaned up when the bowls were mostly empty.

We’re not sure the dragon heads will end up glued to the front, or if they will end up resting on the sides of the boat. We’ll find out if attaching them is possible tomorrow.

So, I count this experience as a blessing, and all the ingredients that go into it as blessings including:

1. Gingerbread Dough.
2. Gluten Free flour.
3. Sketches of dragon heads, tails, and wings.
4. Sketches of boats.
5. Figuring out this puzzle of gingerbread together as a family.
6. Having a lion cookie cutter.
7. Patience.
8. Making our own powder sugar with regular sugar and a “magic bullet” grinder.
9. Laughter at silly, silly jokes, and deciding to rejoice despite falling sides of the ship.
10. God gives us the gift of creativity.

Scripture Blessings: “Rejoice in the Lord Always. Again, I say, Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe:
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Canola harvest margarine
1 and ½ cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups gluten free flour mixture (Sorghum, Garbanzo Bean and Fava Bean)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons guar gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt

Mix brown sugar, canola margarine, molasses, and water in a mixer on medium speed.
In a separate large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, guar gum, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

Add the dry flour and spice mix slowly to the wet mixture in the mixer on low speed.
Refrigerate the dough for two hours.

While you are waiting, either design your gingerbread creation, or pick out your cookie cutters.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll dough ¼ inch thick on a floured surface. Cut out your parts for your creation, or cut with cookie cutters. Place pieces on cookie sheets.

Bake 10-18 minutes depending on your desired cookie hardness. The crispest, hardest cookies work best for castles, or other large creations. However, the softer ones are more edible. We generally find ourselves baking some harder and some softer – walls, or other structural parts get the hard cooking, and then we eat them with lots of frosting added later.

After everything has cooled, put your creation together with “glue” icing, then use regular frosting and candies to decorate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Days 205 and 206

Double Blessings Day!

Giving Thanks and Praise for:

1. Getting my poem, "Black Diamonds", published at Every Day Poets. Check it Out:
Black Diamonds

2. Meeting awesome new blogging buddies through the Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest!!! Thanks for stopping by!

3. Being just about-almost-just-that-one-present-I-forgot finished with Christmas shopping.

4. Picking out the best of the year's photos for an annual Christmas letter.

5. Bob's Sweet Stripes Candy - it's made with sugar and not corn syrup, which means everyone in our house can eat it!!!

6. Listening to Christmas music on the radio . . . I wish it would last longer, like for 12 days after Christmas day.

7. Tape.

8. Ribbons.

9. The awesome help of my daughters. They've wrapped most of the presents!!! Except their own, of course.

10. A serious family planning session for the Dawn Treader gingerbread boat, to be completed tomorrow . . . we hope. We've had three successful homemade gingerbread years. Before that, all of our houses and castles collapsed. For our plans so far, we've simplified them into a squarish boat, in the hopes that we can avoid ginger disaster. It may only be recognized as the Dawn Treader by us, and a sign in the end, but we have high hopes at this point.

I finished writing the annual Christmas letter, and I'm going to count it as blessings 11-20.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:8-12


We hope you are all enjoying a wonderful, warm-hearted Christmas season. We have had a wonderful year.

Anna (11) and Trisha (9) danced with Action Dance at four competitions and one convention, including a the Spotlight World Cup in Seaside, OR. They also danced at two parades, community events, and one paid gig. They continued homeschooling, and we are enjoying our second year at both Harbor Christian Home-school Co-op, and our Family Co-op. They skied, played, and swam. In addition to all of that, Anna moved from Children’s Choir to Middle School Youth Group at church, and Trisha sang a solo for Children’s Choir, and then a duet for the Christmas Program. Anna also sang on Wednesday Night Family Night worship with the Middle School band.

John (43)continued working hard as an supervising engineer at Tacoma City Light, teaching snowboarding on the weekends, working as a sound and media guy for our church, and producing dance videos for the dance studio. He also enjoyed both a summer and a fall softball season.

Tyrean (39) continued to teach, write, blog, and walk the dogs. She had some poetry and a story published this last year, and started a 365 Days of Blessing project on her blog. Participating in National Novel Writing Month in November, she challenged herself to write a 50,000 word rough draft of her Christian fantasy novel, The Crystal Sword. Tyrean is also enjoying teaching two classes at Co-op, Writers’ Workshop Adventure and The Shakespeare Affect.

Altogether, we had an amazing year, enjoying our winter, spring, summer and fall days playing together and learning together. We were blessed by gracious friends who hosted us in Washington D.C. over the 4th of July. They showed us the sights, gave us tips on touring our nation’s capitol that were invaluable on hot, crowded summer days. We loved every moment of our trip, and especially enjoyed our experience acting as soldiers at Williamsburg. We worshiped at the National Cathedral, one of the largest Cathedrals in the world. We were wowed by the fireworks over the Washington Monument. We toured many of the 17 buildings of the Smithsonian Museum. We finished our trip with the monuments and memorials, with the Korean memorial reminding us that Freedom is Not Free. This memorable trip of a lifetime was truly a gift to us from our wonderful friends – Thanks Wilborns!

If that wasn’t enough, we also made our annual trek to Creation Fest, where John had the privilege of filming B roll video. We all went on the Middle School Road Trip, and the Youth Ski trip at Mt. Baker. The kids went to Zoo camp again this year, adding to their knowledge of the animal kingdom. We also volunteered at the Harbor Hope Cat Rescue for our second year, and enjoyed our furry friends there. The girls both dream of working with, or saving animals, someday, when they aren’t dancing. Of course, if you see them at the store, in the library or just about anywhere, their feet are tap, tap, tapping. So, maybe someday there will be an animal and tap dancing show coming to a stage near you. All silliness aside, we’re wishing you a

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest and 365 Days of Blessings, Day 204

Merry Christmas, and Blessings to All!

Our Advent Wreath

Our First Nativity Set, Circa 2000

Ginger Snap Cookies

Our Favorite Recipe for Ginger Snap Cookies:
2 Cups GF flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 and ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup molasses
1 tablespoon water
For rolling purposes:
½ cup white sugar

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F
Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Mix all wet ingredients separately.
Then mix them all together, but do not over mix. The resulting mixture will have an unusual texture because of the oil and molasses . . . don’t worry.
Form the cookie dough into balls and roll them in the ½ cup of white sugar in a bowl. They will be very sticky.
Place each ball on an ungreased cookie sheet, and put the cookie ball/globs far apart because they will spread out during baking.
Cook for 10-14 minutes depending on size, and desired crispness.

Favorite Drink: (oops no picture) Mint Tea, or Chocolate Mint Tea with Honey and Goat Milk - in my favorite Eeyore Mug.

Tree with Lights

Merry Christmas, and Blessings to All!

Christmas Tree in the light

And Playing these Christmas Favorites: (Sorry I've had the kind of day that I can't load all these up for everyone to enjoy)
Jingle Bells, Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, We Three Kings, Little Drummer Boy, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Carol of the Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, O Come All Ye Faithful, The First Noel, Deck the Halls, Hallelujah Chorus, Here is Christmas, Sleigh Ride (Orchestral), Skaters Waltz, Nutcracker Suite, O Holy Night, Winter Wonderland, All I Want for Christmas Is You, Jingle Bell Rock, Santa Baby, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Silver Bells, Go Tell It On the Mountain, Christmas Cookies, and Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses

All these amazing bits of Christmas are huge blessings in my life today, and I'm looking forward to seeing all the pictures that you have to share too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 203

Today I'm giving thanks for these musical blessings:

1. "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

2. "Do you Hear What I Hear?"

3. "Go Tell It On The Mountain"

4. "Joy to the World"

5. "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem"

6. "Silent Night"

7. "Jingle Bells"

8. "Frosty the Snowman"

9. "Carol of the Bells"
Traditional Carol of the Bells
Trans-Siberian Orchestra Carol of the Bells with Lights

10. "Angels We Have Heard on High"

11. "We Three Kings"

12. "Mary, Did You Know?"

Scripture Blessings:

"So Joseph also went up from the twon of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Behtlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:4-7

Saturday, December 18, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 202

Giving thanks and Praise for these blessings:

1. Wet muddy weather that makes it easier to pull weeds in winter . . . although I wish it were snowing.

2. My daughters are cleaning out their closet, tiny piece by tiny piece, and finding that they don't need a lot of that stuff. (Yes, we've been working on the same closet for days.)

3. Cleaning out junk drawers.

4. Getting C.S. Lewis books at the library.

5. Reading bits of God in the Dock.

6. Reading bits of The Screwtape Letters.

7. Reading bits of The Case for Christianity.

8. Seeing hints of Narnia in all of those above books . . . C.S. Lewis had a reasoned out purpose for that series that becomes apparent as I read these more "serious" collections of essays, as well as the story of "Screwtape".

9. Having enough tacks for our tackboard . . . found them in one junk drawer.

10. God has a purpose for each of us, and loves us!

Scripture Blessings:

"because of the tender mery of our God,
by which the rising sun will come
to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
Luke 1:78-79

Friday, December 17, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Days 200 and 201

Double Blessings! Today I'm giving thanks for:

1. The joy of picking up an old book and re-reading the stories like old friends.

2. The short story, "My Princess," by Elizabeth Moon is so wonderfully detailed and rich, describing the loyalty of a horseboy to his warrior princess, who is pulled away from command and forced into a betrothal. Thanks to the loyalty of those under her command, she regains her freedom.

3. The short story, "The Little Landmaid," by Sara Young is an excellent mermaid tale that is both chilling and warming. One young mermaid must stop the ocean from overtaking the land, and killing her adopted land family, even though she loves the pull of the sea.

4. "Strays" by Megan Lindholm still makes me cry after ten years. A young girl befriends another, the queen of stray cats, and is changed by their friendship and by the other girl's courage in the face of a losing battle. Set in urban America, it's a grim, gritty story that doesn't gloss over the painful reality of living in the wrong city neighborhood. Catwoman never had this kind of depth, or poignancy.

5. Fantasy can hold truths up to a new light that sometimes enables us to see them clearly.

6. We are on our second cleaning of the girls' closets today, and we are finding even more to either give away or use for a yard sale benefiting their dance studio.

7. I love taking reading breaks like some people love taking coffee breaks. Of course, I read with a cup of tea close by my side.

8. A beautiful crisp morning with frost on the ground.

9. Walking briskly in fresh air.

10. Seeing friends on the road.

11. Greeting walkers/runners/bikers on the road with warm smiles and big hellos.

12. My cat is a super clean cat, which is wonderful. Of course, I think it's funny too, when she "must" wash after being petted.

13. Laughing at "Sonny With a Chance" with my daughters.

14. Teddy Bears.

15. A bunny stuffed animal in a Christmas dress.

16. Salt.

17. Pepper.

18. Italian seasoning in a huge jar.

19. Dried onions.

20. Immanuel.

Scripture Blessings:

Matthew 1:23
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Days 196, 197, 198, and 199

Quadruple Blessings Day! I'm giving thanks and praise for:

1. Prayers from friends and family. Thank you!

2. Friends who invited us to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in a last minute kind of way, at just the write time on a rough Saturday.

3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie. It's not exactly like the book, but it is good.

4. The young actor who played Eustace Scrubb - I'm so thankful he did a good job.

5. Seeing a movie with Christian themes in a big movie theatre, 3D, with a good bunch of people.

6. The Christmas Program was fun, and beautiful!

7. My youngest daughter sang beautifully for her duet.

8. My oldest daughter helped me with the costuming.

9. We had a craft that kept kids attention for most of the "waiting" time before the program.

10. The rythm game can be played anywhere, even by kids in costumes.

11. My kids were invited to a really fun birthday party.

12. The kids let me play laser tag with them at the birthday party. I think I had more fun than they did. :-).

13. Laughing and chasing kids, and being chased by kids, through a hazy maze, with laser guns flashing.

14. I missed a tense church meeting while playing laser tag. I know I probably shouldn't be thankful for this one, but I am. My husband was there, and let me know of the events that transpired, and I am thankful he was willing to do that.

15. A group of parents coming together with a struggling dance studio director, and deciding to keep the studio afloat through fundraisers, donations, and hard work.

16. Piano music.

17. Justin's Piano Blog

18. Santa hats.

19. Angel ornaments, glittering angels, shining angels, straw angels, teddy bear angels, and angels with halos askew.

20. Watching Fantasia with dancer commentary in the dance studio.

21. Starlight.

22. Imagination . . .

23. An ostrich on pointe.

24. Followed hippos on pointe in tiny tutus.

25. And then the elephants on pointe.

26. A crocodile and a hippo dancing together.

27. Cuddle time.

28. An 11 year old who sits in my lap . . . just like when she was 11 months old.

29. My husband and I realized today that we will reach our the 20th year anniversary of the day we met in less than a month. Weird, and wonderful. I didn't realize we were that old.

30. Light conversations.

31. Deep conversations.

32. God giving me enough courage to write a tough letter.

33. God giving me the strength and patience to turn the other cheek when someone has been rude to me over and over again.

34. God giving me time to process a bit of anger over the rudeness of that same bitter, unforgiving person to my parents. I know this person is angry with me and has been for four months, despite my apologies. However, having that same person treat my father with obvious and public rudeness just makes me boil. Thankfully, God gave me time to deal with it, and the right person to talk to about it.

35. My daughter made the best, most amazing ginger snap cookies today.

36. We had a great WNFN dinner - the last one of the year. I'm so thankful for these wonderful fellowship and worship events.

37. My youngest went to a choir Christmas party tonight.

38. My oldest went to a youth group Christmas party tonight.

39. We had a wonderful advent worship service tonight. It touched my soul in just the right spot.

40. God gives us peace, even in the toughest moments.

"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,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

Luke 1:46-55

Saturday, December 11, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Days 194 and 195

Today I'm giving thanks and praise for:

1. Orange.

2. Fir Green.

3. Sage Green.

4. Grass green.

5. Holly green.

6. Curls.

7. Halos made out of shiny tinsel.

8. Shepherd Costumes.

9. Angel wings.

10. A proud, and responsible Joseph. (Our Christmas program Mary doesn't want to hold baby Jesus, but our Christmas program Joseph is taking the job very reverently.)

11. A squirmy puppy.

12. Milk chocolate brown puppy fur.

13. Red.

14. Gold.

15. Silver.

16. Deep royal purple.

17. Bells.

18. Ornaments.

19. Cinnamon scented pine cones.

20. God gave us the rainbow. For me, that means that in the midst of a storm, we can look towards the horizon for the hint of hazy colors.

Scripture Blessings:

"I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." Genesis 9:13

Prayer Requests: Please pray for my church and my family. Our Pastor feels called away, and our Leadership Team has been having issues for several months now. Our Pastor will stay with us into the beginning of January, and we hope that our Leadership Team will honor him in this last month. We are grieving for the loss of a beloved Pastor, and what we see as the end of an era of growth and purpose at our church. My family and I are grieving deeply, and are clinging to the joy and hope of Christmas right now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 193

Giving Thanks and Praise for:

1. Seeing the Christmas program slowly coming together as shepherds, angels, sheep, news reporters (wise men in search of a story), and innkeepers prepare to tell the best story ever told, about the best gift ever given.

2. E-mails and phone conversations with dear friends.

3. Getting a batch of laundry done before breakfast.

and Poetry

4. Halfway Down
by A.A. Milne

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
Other stair
Quite like
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
I always
Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up,
And isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
It isn't really
It's something else

5. This is My Rock
by David McCord

This is my rock
And here I run
To steal the secret of the sun;

This is my rock
And here come I
Before the night has swept the sky;

This is my rock,
This is the place
I meet the evening face to face.

6. I'd Leave
by Andrew Lang

I'd leave in a hurry,
the noise and the fray
For a house full of books
and a garden of flowers.

7. A Book
by Emily Dickeneson

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any courses like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears the human soul!

8. part of Somewhere
by Walter de la Mare

Could you tell me the way to Somewhere -
Somewhere, Somewhere,
I have heard of a place called Somewhere -
But know not where it can be.
It makes no difference,
Whether or not
I go in dreams
Or trudge on foot:
Would you tell me the way to Somewhere,
The Somewhere meant for me.

9. Who's on First - a classic comedy skit.

10. The Lord gives us hope.

Scripture Blessings:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 192

Giving Thanks and Praise for these blessings today:

1. Waking up slowly.

2. Reading the Word of God with my family.

3. Reading about the life of Amy Charmichael, a missionary.

4. Reading a fantastical, and inspirational short story at Mindflights this morning.
If you like fantasy with inspirational meaning packed into it, check out Tower of Heaven, Sword of Night

5. A colorful rainbow with glitter glue dots.

6. My oldest daughter's depiction of the Trojan horse.

7. The Gospel of Mark.

8. A well-made sword. (I have a picture of one for my novel collage that just popped up on my screen as I mulled over my blessings list)

9. Our beagles likes to sit under the Christmas tree . . . I guess he thinks he is the only present we need.

10. Jesus heals us.

Scripture Blessings:
"They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, 'Do you see anything?'

He looked up and said, 'I see people; they look like trees walking around.'

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly."
Mark 8:22-25

From Amy Charmichael: A Life Abandoned to God
"Children were being rescued at the rate of one a month. The family totaled more than fifty now. Sometimes Amy laughed as she remembered her naive expectations. Never had she envisioned that instead of evangelizing, her mission would be to trim thousands of tiny toenails and fingernails."

Sometimes, we are called to the every day tasks.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 191

Giving Thanks and Praise for these Blessings today:

1. Dancing in the streets of Seattle! I didn't do this, but a wonderful young woman from our dance studio did, and it is so much fun, I thought I would share:

2. Finding this poem in my archives.
A Sonnet of Praise
So great my mind can’t hold you or conceive
Of your vast, amazing, grace-filled being
It takes my soul a moment to believe
To surrender my notions of knowing
To the great I Am, the One who is three
singing the Word in perfect harmony.
Created, directed, redeemed by love
that lights our ways like the wings of a dove
whose feathers shimmer in the morning rays,
shining for the truth, the life and the way.

3. Reading through my poetry, I've realized that I write a lot about my dogs and this strikes me as both funny, and fitting. I grew up reading Snoopy comics, and watching the Underdog and Scooby Doo. Now, I write about my Rhodesian Ridgeback and my Beagle.

4. Christmas lights.

5. Sleeping in on a home-school morning. We are so thankful for being able to sleep in when it's needed (like when someone is sick).

6. A girl with three pony tails at dance classes.

7. My oldest daughter loves glitter and sequins. She is wearing gold sequined boots, a gold sequined scarf-belt and a silver sequined neck scarf over her dance clothes tonight.

8. The Nutcracker Coloring contest at our dance studio.

9. Giggling dancers.

10. The Lord provides us with joy.

Scripture Blessings:
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
Psalm 51:12

Monday, December 6, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 190

Giving Thanks and Praise for these simple blessings today:

1. The amazing talent of my writing class.

2. One of my writing students taking a chance on publishing. He sent out his story to a prospective on-line magazine publisher just last week. I'm gladdened by his confidence and praying that his story is accepted. He is a ten year old boy who hated writing until he started taking my class. He is now writing between 2-5 pages a week, and looks forward to hearing feedback!!! I don't know if I will ever forget my favorite description in his first story. "Lime green lamborghini" is a memorable phrase.

3. My writing class has been asked to write "Dear Santa" letters for the co-op newsletter.

4. Two of my Shakespeare students are so intrigued by Macbeth that they asked me permission to read ahead . . . maybe even the whole play this week. Wow!

5. Shakespeare uses plenty of Biblical imagery in Macbeth, and it is fun to study.

6. There are students interested in taking my Writers Workshop and my C.S. Lewis classes next year at co-op.

7. My youngest daughter may be sick, but she has an active imagination.

8. My youngest has already written the sequel to Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero in her head. She knows exactly what she wants to have happen. Too bad we won't find out for six more months. I know these aren't Christian books, but we are all reading them simultaneously and then discussing them. (arguing over whose turn it is to read is a normal activity in our household)

9. Books that capture our imaginations and help us soar creatively.

10. God Came Near by Max Lucado. Gripping, descriptive, loving and thought-provoking book that lifts me up when I read it.

11. God came near, really, literally, as a baby in a manger who grew into a man who saved us from our sins.

Scripture Blessings:

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." Luke 2:1-7

From God Came Near
"Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.

This baby has overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room has been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen. And worshiping angels had been replaced with kind but bewildered shepherds.

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

Those who missed his Majesty's arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren't looking.

Little has changed in two thousand years, has it?"
by Max Lucado, in God Came Near

Sunday, December 5, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Days 188 and 189

Another double dose of blessings in one post. Tonight I'm giving God Thanks and Praise for these wonderful blessings, both big and small.

1. The Living Nativity. Praise the Lord for His Son, Jesus!

2. All the amazing volunteers who make the Living Nativity possible.

3. The Kraft Family of GoMissions. They are amazing.

4. Worship with the Kraft Family.

5. The Kids Message and the Sermon with the Kraft Family.

6. The Global Market, our church's way of having Christmas shopping and giving to people in need at the same time.

7. Making big plans, dreaming big dreams, and praying deep prayers for our faith family.

8. My husband and my kids putting up the basic Christmas tree.

9. The Mary Bridge Festival of Trees.

10. All the performers who share their talents at the Mary Bridge Festival of Trees.

11. The Jazz Swing Choir who sang and danced at the Festival of Trees this year - they took me back to high school, and wowed me.

12. "Operator, Give me Information" - an awesome jazz choir song.

13. Seeing my girls tap dance.

14. Standing on stage in front of hundreds of people, holding a bike and three jump ropes. (People actually thought I was going to do some kind of tricks with them - LOL.)

15. Wonderful good friends.

16. Sharing tears with someone who cares.

17. Trusting the Lord with our lives, and our faith.

18. A faith-filled, Christ-centered, mission-minded Pastor with a heart for families, and youth, whom we have been priveledge to know as our Pastor and our friend.

19. Teaching my youngest daughter that she can get up and move forward after making a mistake, or even two or three. (This was actually really painful today, but we made it through to the other side after a lot of tears.)

20. God leads us forth in joy.

Scripture Blessings:

"Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me;
LORD, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever."
Psalm 30:10-12

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture."
Psalm 100:1-3

Friday, December 3, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Days 186 and 187

Yesterday I didn't write. Not a single word . . . well, except for that facebook status update, but I don't think those count, not really.

For me, that makes for a bizarre day, and in the end I walked around with a small notebook and pen in my hand, planning to take a moment somewhere and just jot down a few words. I didn't do it, but having the notebook and pen made me feel better.

I guess I'm just addicted to writing. Are there Writer's Anonymous groups?

Shall I stand up and say, "Hi, my name's Tyrean, and I write every day. When I don't write, I feel lost, empty, strange, and not myself. It's been only one day since I wrote, and I don't think I'll go that long again without writing something."

When I don't write, I keep listing blessings in my head, and starting poems, thinking over characters both old and new, and mulling over just what it is that drives my writing. Some of my writing is inspired by joy, and some of it is driven by old bitterness. I have to watch that.

Yesterday, I found myself turning over moments in my life that might be useful someday to me as a writer . . . good memories, and bad ones. Someday I might have the courage to write something based on those kind of real life experiences. For now, I'm content with fiction, with some reality driven poetry in the mix. However, all that real stuff makes its way into the fictional stuff somehow, as the background experience that brings truth to the fiction.

I am thankful that God made me a writer. I know it's not an accident that I love writing the way that I do. I may not be able to claim fame as a writer, but it is who I am.

Not long ago, I read a post that differentiated writers into hobbyists and professionals. I found the post highly offensive in the marrow of my bones, the deepness of my soul, and in the way that some people find nails on a chalkboard to be aggravating. It got under my skin. After weeks of mulling it around, I think I know why. I believe a writer is someone who writes, and someone who feels passionate about writing. Writers are writers. That's it. No labels.

So, enough of my rant about writing.

Here are some of the amazing blessings that I am giving thanks for today:

1. My oldest daughter's independent hard work. She finished a number of lessons while I was sick.

2. Sisters who take care of each other, like when a big sister makes breakfast for her sick little sister. (I was in the shower, and didn't even know they were up)

3. Relief, and a sense of accomplishment from finishing National Novel Writing Month.

4. Anticipating what will happen next for my writing. Revision actually sounds fun right now. Plus, I can take moments and write on all those side ideas I had to put aside during NaNo . . . poems, short stories, devotions.

5. Friends from our Thursday Family Co-op who picked up my oldest daughter and took them with her yesterday to do a science project and have some fun.

6. My youngest daughter and I felt well enough to go to an awesome ballet last night.

7. Celebrate His Birth is the perfect intertwining of faith and ballet. A dear, wonderful friend of ours, who I admire greatly, choreographed this ballet and presents it each year with her dance company, the Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma. There is just one more showing tonight at 7:30. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend it. For more details, check out their website Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma

8. Seeing and visiting with some of our church family at the ballet last night. We have such fun, and wonderful church family.

9. Seeing and visiting with some of our Monday Homeschool Co-op family at the ballet last night. We have a great group!

10. The amazing skill and beauty of the dancers in last night's production. We are so blessed to see some of the same dancers each year, improving and deepening their performances.

11. Running into my old tap teacher, Mr. Ken, last night. He makes everyone laugh, and he has a heart for dance, and for each person he meets.

12. Memories of tap class. The fun, the laughter, and the dancers, and the tap steps too. :-)

13. Plans for my daughter's first performance of their new tap company trio routine, Bicycle, at theFestival of Trees this Sunday. Their costumes aren't in, but we are making plans to work around that, and I am excited to see them dance.

14. My daughters are going to a much anticipated birthday party tonight! (Did I say we were thankful that we are almost 100% well?)

15. My husband is gearing up for snowboarding season. He'll be going up for snowboard teacher clinics soon, and I can see the excitement that runs through him at the thought of hitting the slopes.

16. The Be Jolly By Golly blogfest! See the button on the right, and join in the festivities!

17. Bunny rabbits in the driveway, eating the bird seed we scattered last week.

18. Quinoa flakes cereal. It's a gluten free, corn free, rice free, soy free, tapioca free, oatmeal free alternative I can eat. Plus, I like it, that's good too.

19. Pink pajama pants with flowers and butterflies.

20. The Lord gives us good news!

Scripture Blessings:
"God sent the angel Gabriel to a town called Nazareth. There, he gave a message to Mary, a pure, unmarried young girl. 'Greetings, Mary! God has chosen you! You are going to have a baby boy named Jesus. He is God's only Son!'" Luke 1:26-32 (from our family advent devotional)

"Micah said, 'Out of you, little town of Bethlehem, will come the greatest of rulers, for He will be the Shepherd of all of God's people.'" Matthew 2:6 (from our family advent devotional)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

365 Days of Blessings, Day 185

Wow, Day 185. That means I'm almost halfway to my goal. This project started with a feeling of a call. The kind of call that reaches out through two Pastors and a youth director's words and sits in a person's heart and mind, gets stirred a bit with life experiences, and then coalesces with the word of God hitting that person in the right spot at the right time. Maybe that's not the best way of describing it, but that seems to fit with how the call reached me in the seat of a church pew just 180 days ago.

These phrases from three different Christian leaders stirred me:

A gift, unopened. . .

Developing an attitude of gratitude. . .

More blessings than we could count, even if we sat and counted for all eternity . . .

Then my own experiences with thought and language resonated with their words. When I have chosen to speak and think positively and thankfully about the life I have, my life has been brighter, more joyful, and more rich with meaning and good relationships.

So, I felt compelled to take my blog in this direction for a year, for a project that focuses on counting my blessings, developing and attitude of gratitude, opening and giving thanks for the gift of life that the Lord has given me.

I've tried to count unique blessings each day, and I know I haven't held to that. God's love, water, laughter, family, and tea have been mentioned many times over, and I will probably mention them again. However, I will continue to try to find new blessings to give thanks and praise for, as much as I can each day.

I hope that this project has had a positive affect on my friends and family, and I hope that your lives are blessed richly!

Day 185's blessings so far:

1. Dog treats. They make our beagle's eyes light up with instant excitement, and obedience.

2. Dog leashes that are sturdy and wide, easy to grip.

3. Walks in the woods behind my parent's house.

4. My oldest daughter is well, even though the rest of us are sick.

5. My mom and my oldest daughter working on their guitar strumming skills together, and while discussing them, our beagle is jumping up and down in time with their hands. His name is Jumper for a reason.

6. My youngest daughter is sleeping in, and this is good, since she woke in the night with a fever. I am hoping that she can sleep off most of the sickness.

7. The wonderful anticipation of advent candles. This week we light just one candle, then next week we light two, and so on until Christmas when we light our Christmas candle.

8. Advent devotions by candlelight each night as a family.

9. Advent chocolate.

10. This awesome blog post I just read at A Grace Story

11. The Lord is our Hope!

Scripture Blessings:
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.

Psalm 33:20-21