Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My New Year's Resolution

Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

~Psalm 25:4-5

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


A lot of my prayer life is spent asking God about me. You know the prayers: What is your plan for me? Help me be a better wife/mother. Financial provision. Direction for the family.

I have spent months years praying that God show me clearly how many children we should have. (Not specifically, as in - how many? - but when was the right time to stop.) Then, when it seemed He gave some direction, I spent many more months asking Him to help me feel "settled" with it.

Over the years, I cannot count the times that we have found ourselves with time left in the month and no money left in the account. Each of those times, my prayer life launched into all-day conversations with the Lord.

Basically, my prayers tend to be quite selfish in nature. Me, me, me. Answer my prayer. Show me. Tell me. Guide me. Help me. Speak to ME!

I wonder what would happen if I became selfish for God? If I asked Him what He needs, what He wants, what He's passionate about...And then I allowed His desires to be the driving force behind my prayers?

The only thing I can imagine the Holy God being "selfish" for, is us. (Another way I've heard it said is that He is jealous for us, for our affections and devotion.) He wants His people to know Him and love Him, to be in a relationship with Him. God's desire for US is so strong that He allowed the murder of His Son to make an easier way for us to know Him.

Just think on that for a moment - God is jealous for YOU.

If I look at each person I encounter in my day as someone that He is jealous for, how would that change me? Would I be cranky on the phone with the telemarketer if I were cognizant of the fact that God WANTS her? If I were reflecting on how God DESIRES him, would I step back in shame/fear/disgust/sadness at the sight of the disheveled man, smelling of alcohol, on the sidewalk downtown?

But what if I take it even deeper into my heart? What would happen if I allowed God's Spirit to fill me with His passion for people? I would WANT them to know Him. My heart's DESIRE would be for them to discover His love. Our prayers are filled with the stuff of our hearts, so it stands to reason that my prayer life would take a dramatic turn. No more me, me, me.

Lord, hear and answer the telemarketer's prayer, so that she will know You.

Father, show the homeless man Your plan for his life, so that he will find hope in You.

Holy One, tell them about Your Son.

Majesty, guide them in Your ways.

Saviour, help them live for You.

I wonder... In the grand scheme of eternity, which of my prayers would really matter?

Monday, December 29, 2008

My To Do List

I have this crazy bad habit of giving myself reams of projects to work on whenever the kids are on school holidays. I realize that this makes no sense. It would be much more sensible to work while at least a couple of them are at school - less kids means less distraction. So, I'm going to blame it all on Pat and tell you that when it's vacation time he gets motivated. I'm just going with the flow...

For the last few years, we have invited friends with kids over for New Year's Eve. This way, no one needs to get a sitter, kids can be put to bed if needed, and the basement is totally kiddo friendly. It's always a fun evening filled with board games, food, and noise. I would like to point out that NYE is Wednesday and today is Sunday Monday. The deadline for project completion looms dangerously close!

Pat suggested that we should finally refinish the kitchen cabinets. After all, we have lived here nearly three years now. And they are especially ugly. Since I am not willing to get in the way of my husband's motivation, we went for it. Pat is making the doors beautiful for me, by stapling a "frame" around the outside edges of the front. He has also (bless his heart) taken care of all the sanding. I am the painter of the house.

We would be right on track to completion before D-Day NYE, except for this pesky little thing called work. That Pat has to go to. All day today and tomorrow. Maybe even Wednesday. So here I am, major project on hand, five kids home from school, and a large social gathering in my home in just three days.

And you know what large gatherings mean, right? Cleaning, creating food trays, putting away Christmas decorations, organizing the kids' space, more cleaning, and um - of course - not having your entire kitchen cupboards strewn across the kitchen table and counters.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Randomness

First, a few questions...

How can it be possible, that no matter what time the children go to bed - whether 7:30pm or 10pm or somewhere in-between - they are fully capable of waking up just after 6am?

When did the word "holidays" become synonymous with the phrase "completely pig out until you're so full that you might throw up"?

No matter how simple I attempt to make the gift-giving aspect of Christmas for the kids, why do we end up needed to completely rearrange the house to fit their new haul?

Who knew that a completely gluten-free Christmas day could taste so good that I would "holidays"?

And now, a brief statement on my character...

For a girl who prides herself on being quite practical, I was surprised to realize that the thought of my husband buying me a brand new vacuum for Christmas wasn't all that exciting. I was relieved, overjoyed (and a bit embarrassed at seeing my true, completely non-practical side take over) when I opened my gift to find a gorgeous new family ring. Seven stones, two of them glimmery diamonds for our April babies. It's very "blingy" - I love it! Just a brief note to any men - this is a very important lesson - never. ever. buy your wife a vacuum as a gift. Seriously, don't do it! She really isn't nearly as practical as she thinks she is.

Another surprising bit of self-discovery: my vain side also made an appearance when I was holding out my hand to show off my gift (yes, if you're counting, it seems there are at least three sides to my personality). #1 - I need to get acrylic nails; my hands are ugly! #2 - It is really not attractive for a nearly 31-year-old woman to bite her nails down to the quick.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, try to sleep in a bit, and enjoy your gifts (even if there are far too many of them kicking around your house). The most important thing, though, is that you teach your kids to sleep in. Geeeeesh!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

God in the Flesh

Our family has been on a new adventure lately. Together, we are trying to listen to the nudges of the Holy Spirit and act on what we hear. It all started a while back with one (of an awesome series) on Acts...

A few weeks ago at church, our pastor told a story about a pastor friend of his. This friend was going to be preaching a message that very morning where he would ask his congregation to leave their coats on their seats when the service was over; they would be given to the large homeless population in their area.

You could sense our congregation squirming in their seats. Much to our relief, no such request was made. Much to my chagrin, before the service ended Pat told me that he felt God calling our family to leave our coats.

Pat talked to all the kids about it, prayed with them, and coats were unzipped. Shea freely and willingly passed her winter coat to Daddy. Abbey was a bit reluctant (she was wearing a special coat that she didn't want to part with). As Meg removed her fantastically puffy winter coat, she reassured Abbey, "don't worry, Abs, God will give us new coats." Together, they tossed their parkas onto the stage (the sanctuary was empty by this time). I reluctantly put my one and only ski jacket on top of theirs, and even more reluctantly unzipped Kai's red Baby Gap coat (a treasured hand-me-down from cousins). Braeden wasn't sure about all this business, and he's the kinda guy who needs to think things over, so he wore his coat home and offered it up just moments following his baptism.

During the following service, an additional 32 coats were left. All were donated to the homeless in our town.

Pat and I talked about buying them new coats, to help them see how God (sometimes) rewards us tangibly when we obey him. But we just didn't feel settled about it. God did provide, though, because when we came home and checked our closet of extra winter gear we found a coat in the right size for each of the girls and Kai. They were last year's hand-me-downs, so not the best quality as far as warmth, but they would do...

Today, our children received brand new winter coats - good, thick, puffy, top quality parkas (in matching colours, teehee)! A gift from our church, inspired by the Executive Assistant. We talked with them about their obedience a few weeks God saw that and used our church family to return what they had freely offered.

As we were walking out the doors of the church, Pat overheard Shea tell some children, "God gave me this new coat!" Yes. He sure did.

Oh, the Anticipation!

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Do You Know What Causes It?

After seeing this video over at my friend Mary's (Not Before 7), who is expecting her fourth little miracle, I absolutely had to post it.

It seems that after the third one arrives, we all encounter the lovely stranger commentary.

Don't forget to pause the music in my sidebar to hear the video.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Think Generous

Phew. I am all done doing housework. Three hours of scouring and scrubbing, spraying and wiping. Worked my buns off, and it looks great! I won't be enjoying the freshness, though, because it wasn't my house.

There's a woman in our church family struggling with post-partum depression. She and her hubby have six kids. She's maxed out. It's hard to think of how to help someone in her shoes.

Because I've been there, as have some of my friends, we knew right away. The hardest parts of coping with the day-to-day are cooking and cleaning. When you're emotionally drained, the last thing you can muster up the energy for is housekeeping.

So we rallied up a small group of gals (thanks for joining in Frieda, Lynne, and Lindsey), brought our cleaning supplies, gave the family some coupons for swimming and McDonald's, and set to work.

I don't tell you this story to "toot my own horn." I assure you, there are many opportunities I've had to bless others that I have not taken. Many friends and family whom I haven't helped in their time of need. This is just one small thing.

I tell you because it's such a small thing to make someone's life feel cope-able (I made that one up, do you like it?). As women, we see other women who are stressed out and overwhelmed all the time (sure, we often try to hide it from one another, but there comes a point when the truth starts to peek through). What do we do? How do we respond to the needs of our sisters? A ready-to-cook meal, a couple hours of babysitting, a few bags of groceries, a gift card for a meal out, a bouquet of flowers, an invitation for coffee or a play date, help with folding laundry, a big hug, a cleaning bee...just a few of the small things that hold BIG meaning.

I remember after Shea was born, Braeden came home on the school bus and his bus driver waves me over. He handed me two huge boxes. Unpacking them on my kitchen table, I found a freezer meal from each of his teachers and aides (total of five in that class) with recipes included, an adorable baby girl outfit, a stuffed toy for Braeden, and fancy hairbands for the girls. I had never before received the gift of food, and I was amazed. The way that blessed me and made life easier for me in those first weeks after a new baby - words cannot describe.

I want to be more in touch with the needs of the women around me. I want to really listen, so that I don't miss any more opportunities to make someone's day-to-day a bit easier. A little bit of my time can change the landscape of someone else's week (or month). How about you? I encourage you to try it - just once - and you'll be hooked. Come on, think generous!

The sad part of the story is, I still have to clean my own house on Monday. Sigh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keep Keepin' On

My heart is burdened...

In the past several months, I personally know at least six couples who are divorcing. In all of these couples, at least one partner is a believer; in most of them, both are Christians (a couple of them missionaries).

I feel so helpless to support and encourage them. All I want to do (and have done) is cry and pray.

I know that God's heart absolutely breaks at the very thought of divorce. I also know that sometimes a marriage is abusive in many ways and is not a safe place to be.

I only know one side of the story in most of these cases, but my understanding is that emotional and verbal abuse were rife in several of these marriages...there have been some hints of physical abuse as well...infidelity, lies, and betrayal.

The enemy is at work here. He is insidiously and systematically destroying what God has brought together. Why? Your guess is as good as mine - havoc, chaos, destruction...anything to get in the way of God's Kingdom coming here on earth (Matthew 6:10). Among the shock and sorrow that echo in my mind, one question resounds - how has the evil one infiltrated our churches? What have we done, as a Church (not my church, specifically, but the Church that is the Bride of Christ), to allow the darkness and destruction to enter?

I don't know what to do, besides weep and pray...pray and weep.

Here are some random Scriptures that I've been rolling over in my heart and mind...
Luke 21:5-36 - Yay! All this mess means Jesus is ever closer to coming back to earth.
James 1:27 - We - other women, families, the Church - need to be caring for those who are broken and bruised among us.
Ephesians 6:10-20 - The key to stopping the destruction of marriages in the Church really is prayer!

If you are in a strong, committed, Godly marriage, please take a moment to thank the Lord for that blessing. Don't take it for granted. And ask God's protection over it daily.

If you are in the broken place, where life as you've known it has fallen apart, please don't turn away form the One who loves you. He will always love you. He can restore what has been broken in your soul. He can give you so much more than what you have lost. He can restore the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:24-26). And please, don't give up on us - your friends. Sometimes we don't know what to say or how to help - don't take that to mean that we don't care. In reality, we care so much that your hurt becomes our own.

I have been in that broken place, so please know that my words are not spoken casually. Someday, with Pat's permission, I will share what God has done in our marriage...the wicked that He has redeemed and now uses for His purposes.

In the words of a very wise song from the Seeker play (if you'd like to listen to the song, click the link below the lyrics):

I'm gonna keep on prayin'. (x4)
Pray, pray, every day,
And my prayers will accomplish much!

Look out dragons 'cause you're gonna go down;
We're gonna stomp you into the ground.
Look out dragons, can't you hear that sound?
I don't think you better stick around.

Put on your running shoes,
We're here with the Good News.
Light is pushing darkness away!

The prayer of the righteous is a powerful thing.
You are fighting evil forces that you can and cannot see.
But there's strength and there's help when you call upon the King.
So be strong, keep keepin' on!

Keep on praying and don't give up.
Resist the dragons and they will run.
Shout out praises to the King of Kings.
Keep believing and keep. on. prayin'.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Losing Big Time

I tend to have a case of ADD when TV watching, so bear with the incomplete details...

I spent one hour of my time last night flipping channels back and forth between NCIS and The Biggest Loser (grand finale).

There's something about TBL that just inspires a girl! I mean, those folks made me really believe I could do it! Eat right, work out HARD, and get back down the slender 130 lbs of my dreams.

So I sat, watching a man who had been dead renew relationship with his family (NCIS) and people who had been dangerously obese gain new life (TBL), and I cried. Not just an "awwww how sweet I'm getting a little choked up" sorta cry. More like an "all out sobbing and hiccuping and snot dripping from my nose" kinda cry. The only explanation I have for this behaviour is hormones.

Seriously, who SOBS with joy seeing people lose 135 lbs in six months? Something had to be done to stop my absurd display of, well, sobbing.

So as I watched an alive-again man hug his granddaughter and a woman win $250,000 for losing nearly 50% of her body weight, I self-medicated with a most wonderful and gigantic piece of chocolate cake soaked in canned evaporated milk. (Don't knock it till you try it, people. It's sheer yummy heaven. Heaven, I tell you!)

Yeah, I'll be inspired after Christmas...

Monday, December 15, 2008

But Have Not Love...

My mom sent me this email today...

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family - It profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure

© By Sharon Jaynes

Posted by Annette Jennings

Friday, December 12, 2008

Excuse Me, I Seem to Have a Little Something in My Eye

You know what I love about Christmas? The craziness.

Yep, you heard me. I LOVE CRAZY!!! (Like you didn't already know that.)

That first weekend of December, when Pat drags out the boxes of decorations and the tree so I can "deck the halls" around this place - that is just about my favourite day of the year (it's definitely in the running, right after Christmas day, my birthday, the last day of school, and the first day of school).

There is something so deeply satisfying in taking a day (or six) of shopping and reaching the point of being able to say, "I'm done!"

I especially enjoy the anticipation in the children's eyes as they admire the wrapped gifts under the tree.

The busy-ness of running from Christmas concerts to work parties to friend's houses is a joyful kind of insane. It's even worth the tired and cranky little ones who've been allowed to stay up a wee bit late a time or two.

The best part of the craziness, though, is the family. For a couple weeks of the year I can count on everyone available to make an appearance. Weddings, funerals, and Christmas - those special times that really bring people together. If only for a couple days...

You see, my brother and sister are technically my "step" siblings. Our families merged when I was about 12 years old. This often leaves me as "odd man out" when it comes to sibling stuff. It doesn't help that I have a pack of five kids, and they are both child-free at this time in their lives. (Not only does it mean that we don't have a lot in common as far as what we do in our free time, who we hang with, etc.; I am, quite frankly, not very available for just hanging out kinda stuff.)

This divide is often just what I accept as life. Embrace what time we do get together, but try not to get hung up on the loss of my dream (you know, the Cleavers...laughter, love, connection, being the best of friends). Every now and then, though, it makes me a little sad. But this season - this month - for just a short bit of time, wipes that divide away. We're all together, crammed into small loud places, celebrating as a family. It's crazy, it's busy, but it is oh-so-beautiful.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Update, More Heavenly Partying

Relating to my post earlier today...

I planned to just leave it alone, let Braeden come to me. I didn't want to push or pressure him in any way. Baptism needs to be a decision made of your own will, with no convincing or cajoling.

I believed that God had put it on Braeden's heart to be baptised, but fear overcame obedience. Regardless of that belief, I still wasn't about to "suggest" anything.

Before climbing in the tub tonight, he told me again, "Mom, I want to get baptised. Tonight. In the bathtub." (If you know Braeden, it really sounded more like, "Mom, Ina get 'tised. 'Night. Buhtub.") I told him to get clean while Pat and I talked.

The conversation went a little like this...

In the bathtub? Really? Can we do that?

Um, well, I don't know if it's technically how it's typically done. But should we really say no?

Hmmm. Yeah. Okay. Let me look in my Bible.

Okay. Let me go scrub the tub for pictures.

Braeden's earthly Abba sharing some words from the heart of his Heavenly Daddy.

Triple yay, King Jesus!

A couple notes:
- I do not believe you need to have someone "official" to make a baptism real, true, or meaningful. (It's nice, but not necessary. I also can't find anywhere in the Bible that says it must be a Pastor/Reverend.)
- I do believe that when God tells us to act we need to do so immediately. But for those times when we let fear get in the way of our obedience (like Braeden did yesterday), He is faithful to give us another chance. Braeden told me that God TOLD him last night, "Braeden, you need to get baptised TOMORROW." Who am I to question what the Almighty Lord commanded my son to do.
- I could not be more proud of both Braeden and Abbey for taking a bold step of faith, moving forward in their walk with the Lord.

And a weird side-note... If you were wondering what the heck that thing is that Abbey was baptised in, but were too polite to ask, I'll answer (because I just realized it looks like a big metal garbage can). It's a horse trough. Our baptismal tank is under our stage and is about 4.5' deep - a fair bit deeper than most of yesterdays' baptisees are tall. Our children's pastor improvised!

There's a Party in Heaven

We have had the privilege of celebrating a couple of exciting milestones in our family this week.

#1 - Meg sang in the chorus for a play called "Seeker: The Armor of Light." The plays (and books that they're based on, and songs) are a great ministry that share the Truth of God's Love through allegory. Seeker and his friends live in the Kingdom with the King, and they are part of His army. They fight off dragons (the dragons in this particular story were Anger and Abuse) and bring people out of the darkness and into the Light, where the King gives each of them a new name.

(Meg's at the front right. I apologize for the quality of the photo - forgot my camera and don't really know how to work the camera on my Blackberry yet.)

I can't say enough great things about the plays and the songs. They minister to me, bringing home God's Truths in a new way. As their "creator," Dian Layton says, they are most definitely "divine downloads!" I think I may just need to have a giveaway relating to Seeker in the new year...

Anyway, at the end of each performance, the audience is told that there is a Real King who loves them. The Good News is shared and an invitation is offered. On Saturday, while watching the play with my parents (I was backstage helping), Shea decided that she wanted to go pray and ask Jesus into her heart! Yay, King Jesus!

#2 - Sunday afternoon was a special occasion in our Church, called the "Big Birthday Bash." The reason - celebrating new life for 16 children. Two of mine were included in the sixteen children who chose to be baptised!

Unfortunately, Braeden was intimidated by the crowds of people (there were at least 150 in attendance), and he decided not to be baptised right then. Apparently, he wants to be baptised in the bathtub tonight. If so, we'll put on some trunks and take pictures to document the special moment.

Abbey, though, pushed through her fears and acted in obedience to what God had called her to do! Double yay, King Jesus! (I should mention that all the kids being baptised were given invitations to hand out. Abbey's teacher and principal came. Man, do I ever love our school!)

(As you can see - on the left - Abbey's Daddy had the honour of assisting in the baptism. Go Pat!)

After the baptism, while we were enjoying our birthday cake, I was telling Abbey how very proud I was of her. She was giggling and grinning and bouncing up and down. She said to me, "I'm so happy, Mommy!" I told her that maybe she felt so happy because Jesus was smiling. With the confidence of a child, she replied, "Of course He is! There's a party in Heaven right now!"

(There I am crouching with the towel, clapping and cheering. You can see our family and other guests gathered behind us - Pastor Mike asked everyone who was invested in these children's lives to come up and be a witness, as well as offer their commitment to encourage each child in their walk with God.)


I ask that you pray for protection over our family during the next couple of weeks, that the children's faith decisions will settle deep within their spirits, and that the enemy will not be able to mess with God's work in them (or in our family). As a family, we have been strapping on our Armor of Light at bedtime and in the morning...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Getting Into the Spirit of Christmas

Ever struggle with your faith? With understanding how God has it all figured out? All taken care of? Worried about finances this Christmas? Read this awesome post!

The Generosity Project is celebrating advent daily. Read this post first; if you're like me you'll be unable to resist taking 10 minutes to read through the archives. Consider creating your own experiment in generosity.

Here are two scriptures shared at The Generosity Project that spoke to me:

Matthew 5:42 (NIV, UK version) Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Romans 12:13 (unknown version, perhaps her own paraphrase - but I like it) Get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Clearly, Too Much Time on my Hands

In my vast boredom (read: when I should have been folding laundry, but chose to sit on the computer instead), I decided it was time to add a playlist to my blog.

I am aware that the jury is hung as to whether the playlist is fun or annoying. Personally, it depends on my mood that day (and the time of month *wink*).

I just feel as though there are so many aspects of a person's personality that can't come through in writing. For example, knowing that I LOVE country music might completely alter your opinion of me. Maybe you'll think I'm more fun-loving than you assumed. Or wonder if I'm a bit of a dork in real life. (Both are accurate.) So here - get to know me a little better through my song picks.

If you are from the camp of "I hate stupid playlists; they are so annoying," well, the strategic placement of my playlist RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE FIRST SIDEBAR is just for you. Hitting the little pause button is oh-so-simple. You don't need to hate me or leave me forever - just pause my tunes. I don't mind, honest.

What I do want to know, though, is if this playlist thingie causes any trouble with page loading. So definitely let me know if my page has now turned into one of those that takes eeee-tern-it-eeee to load. Because, obviously, that is not a problem I want to have. (I already have enough issues going on with this silly bit of technology.)

Have fun listening! And we'll change it up a bit after Christmas...maybe some good ol' hoe-down music for ya'll.

P.S. You may notice that you cannot read the artist's names. This is due to my greed in needing two sidebars...resulting in smaller space for putting cool stuff in. If you really want to know the artist of a particular song, just let me know.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jude 17-23 (Msg)

But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: "In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts." These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!

But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!

Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Duck - There's a Snowball Coming Your Way!

I was tagged by Hope at Pink-a-Doodle-Doo for this fun Christmas post.

The rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Fill out the questions below
3. Tag 5-7 people at the end of your post.
4. Pass on the tag. Have FUN!!

1.Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Both. But only very occasionally.

2.Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He likes to fill up stockings with unwrapped gifts (such as toothbrushes and underwear), but he also usually gives one gift to the whole family that is unwrapped (last year, we got Tinkerbell - farewell, Tink).

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? This year, I finally had a bit of money to buy my own lights (rather than using my parents' cast-offs). We have blue LED lights outside, with silvery-white on our posts. Those same silvery-white (did you know you can buy lights with different shades of white?) on the tree.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but I've always thought I should. It would be great fun to make the kids go stand under the mistletoe when they're arguing.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually right around December 1st.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? I am VERY fond of stuffing...I like to mix it up with my mashed potatoes and pour gravy all over it. (Anyone still wondering why I'm having weight "issues?")

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child. We used to go to Manitoba and have Christmas with my Grandparents and Aunties and Uncles. Someone (Grandpa, I think) invented an excuse to give all the kids money - we put on a "show" and the relatives tossed dollar bills our way (I know, I'm dating myself with the dollar bill thing). One year my cousin, Nick, and I did a lip sync to Kenny Rogers' & Dolly Parton's "I'll Be There with Bells on." I can still see the tears streaming down my Grandma's face as I pulled the 14 pairs of rolled-up socks out of my shirt.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I'm sad to say that some mean kids at school ruined it for me! They were running around and blabbing about how smart they were and how dumb the rest of us were. I went home to ask my Mom, and she told me the story of Saint Nicholas. I was very relieved that she agreed to continue filling a stocking for me on his behalf.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We do - the kids always get pyjamas. Pat and I, in our early days, bought each other several gifts and would open one daily for about a week before Christmas. Not so much now.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Much to my stress, we let the kids decorate it (and I fight my inner urges all month to keep from making it more symmetrical).

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Dread it - ugh. I'm perfectly happy having a brown Christmas.

12. Can you ice skate? Not anymore, my ankles are weaker than an eighty-year-old woman's.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Honestly, I can't remember a single gift that I didn't love. I pretty much always get what I want! (I think often because the list isn't very long - this year it includes some new pots and pans. LOL.)

14. What is the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Definitely that my kids know and understand the first Christmas and why we celebrate - Jesus coming to earth to save us.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pumpkin pie. Or banana cream pie. Or raisin butter tarts. Maybe marshmallow peanut butter squares. Caramel popcorn. (Mom - you better get to baking! Mmmmmm.)

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? I enjoy a new tradition we started just a couple of years ago... Our kids each fill a shoebox for a child of the same age and gender, and they get sent off for Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan's Purse. It's the perfect way to begin the season where God gave more than we can ever imagine or understand - by giving of ourselves.

17. What tops your tree? Currently (and in years past), an angel. But I have several requests in to find a great big star for this year. I'm working on it...

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? I love giving - love planning, shopping, wrapping, and watching the gifts being opened. But I'd be lying if I said I don't enjoy the receiving as well. Opening presents is so much fun! (I especially love being surprised.)

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? I'm going to reveal my age again, my childhood favourite (and still today) is "Mary's Boy Child" as sung by Boney-M (video embedded below for your listening enjoyment).

20. Candy​ Canes​!​ Yuck or Yum? One is yum (one per year, that is).

21. What do you want for Christmas? I mentioned pots and pans earlier (all my non-stick surfaces are getting sticky). Maybe jewelry, or a purse (I've been desperately searching for a red purse that is divided into two compartments - impossible!).

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas Party? Pat's work usually has a party - this year it's dinner and a dance at the local Legion. We often have a women's ministry party, as well (which I attend and plan) - this year we'll be bowling in January.

23. Do you dress up on Christmas or wear PJs? I usually dress up slightly from my pjs - yoga pants are nice and stretchy for overeating.

24. Do you own a Santa hat? I don't, but I believe the four older kids each have one.

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with? We go over to my parents' place, and my brother and sister and their spouses come, too.

In the spirit of winter tag, imagine me tossing a snowball at each of the following bloggers (I am trying to hit people whom I've never tagged or linked to before):

Joy @ Joy in the Journey,
Stacy @ my simple walk,
Starr @ Threshold Moments,
Christy @ Life as a Mom, and
Moi @ Life as Moi (sorry, I know her real name, but I don't know if she wants everyone to know, lol).
If I haven't tagged you, but you want to play anyway - feel free! It's fun for everyone. :) (Cheesy, I know.) Just leave a comment telling me and everyone else that you're playing, too. And if you don't have a blog, go ahead and leave a super-duper long comment. (I LOVE comments!)