Saturday, December 25, 2010

Family Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas!
photography by Anthony

An Annual Family Christmas Tradition.
I saw Santa Claus last night.  

Santa visits my mother's side of the family every Christmas Eve. Without the sounds of jingle bells ringing and a lot of "ho ho ho-ing" it wouldn't be the same.  While there is lots of giggling at the kids table during dinner, there is a hushed whispering at the adult table of who will don the red suit. 
Four out of the six children still believe in Santa.  Since the children are older and would recognize anyone who would pretend to play Santa, even the women are considered to be the jolly old man.   My cousin's girlfriend volunteered.  I'd have to admit that she was possibly our most petite Santa ever.  Instead of sitting on Santa's lap this year, we pulled up an extra chair... we didn't want to have a flattened Santa!

Santa pulls a present out of his her sack and calls each person by name.  Individually we go up and get a present from Santa and a photo opportunity.  It is a fun and most memorable moment of the evening.  I can't remember a year without a Santa Claus... except for the year we were stranded on Christmas Eve at the Chicago airport.

What's your favorite family Christmas tradition?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

As of Late - December 16th, 2010

It's SOOO Fluffy!
photography by sheri

Lately, I've been a little crafty.  I needed a gift for a friend... and I decided to make her this hand knit snowman ornament.  I think she'll like it!  I know I do... and I might just have to make a couple for "my" tree!  I used the same yarn that I use for the ILG hats.  An alpaca silk by Debbie Bliss.

Lately,  I've been researching refrigerators.  Our fridge is over 15 years old and the compressor fan went out.  It would $150 to repair the fridge.  I think I am liking the french door style with the bottom freezer in a stainless steel... without water or ice on the front.  Does Santa deliver refrigerators?

Lately, I've been sitting under my sunlamp.  I had called my psychiatrist and let him know that my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was hitting pretty hard this year.  Instead of adding any additional meds, he told me to sit under my sunlamp daily.   I have noticed a difference.  My best days are when I sit under it as soon as I wake up.  SAD has to do with the production levels of serotonin and melatonin (which helps you sleep).  With less light we end up producing more melatonin than in the brighter months.  If the sun can be replicated using a sunlamp (not just a bright light, but a light with 10,000 lux), then I can trick my body into thinking it should stop producing melatonin... because it is wake time.   So, basically you should AVOID me in the mornings until I have had my cup of SUN!

Lately, I have been enjoying my Winter Bible Study small group.  What precious ladies that come to my home every Monday morning.  I so love having the routine.  And the friendship, too!

Lately, I have been present shopping.  I come home and hide the gifts and cannot find them even the next day!

Lately, I have discovered that Tassimo carries a T-disc in Twinings Chai Tea Latte.  Wow!  That is a favorite for me.  I use practically all of my 20% off coupons at Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy the T-discs.  (Anthony and I love the Tassimo because it make lattes and the best Starbucks Cappuccino!)

Lately, I have been listening to the audio books In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day and Primal by Mark Batterson.  I have read them before but they are books I want to re-read once a year.  Other books I want to read once a year are Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole and So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore.

Lately, I have taken a break from new memory verses for the month of December.  I am reviewing the ones that I have memorized throughout the year.  And I am getting prepped to jump back in the 1st of the year with the Siesta Scripture Memory Team.

Lately, I can't wait to watch Despicable Me on DVD with my new nifty goggles.  (Oops, actually that's a Christmas present... and I really should wait to watch it... but it is SOOOO FLUFFFY!)

So, what have you been up to... as of late?

Monday, December 13, 2010

My First 2011 New Year's Resolution

I've made my first resolution for 2011!  I am joining Beth Moore as she hosts another Siesta Scripture Memory Team next year.  Basically, choosing a scripture on the 1st & 15th of every month and committing it to memory.  Stop by the Living Proof Ministries Blog here for more information.  And who knows... maybe we'll meet in person in Houston in January 2012!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Keep open house;
be generous with your lives.

Coptic Church, Ethiopia, November 2010
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

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.

Matthew 5:14-15 NIV

Some people call me transparent. They find my transparency to be refreshing... inspiring... motivating.  While others would rather that I were a little more translucent or opaque. It would be a little more comfortable for them.
  • allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen
  • easy to perceive or detect
  • having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily seen
  • open to public scrutiny
  • allowing light, but not detailed images, to pass through;
  • semitransparent
  • not able to be seen through; not transparent
  • hard or impossible to understand
With transparency comes potential for rejection. Because nothing is hidden. Yet, if we are transparent, perhaps others will truly see what is "inside the package"... and be drawn to what they find there.

I try not to be only transparent in my faith in God,
but also
when I am doubtful...
when I am depressed...
when I am confused...
when I feel rejected...

So, here I am... warts and all.
Sharing the constancy I have found in the Lord.
His persistent love.
Available to all.

Here's another way to put it:
You're here to be light...
God is not a secret to be kept.

We're going public with this...
If I make you light-bearers,
you don't think I'm going to
hide you under a bucket, do you?

I'm putting you on a light stand.

Now that I've put you there on a hilltop,
on a light stand—shine!

Keep open house;
be generous with your lives.

By opening up to others,
you'll prompt people to open up with God,

this generous Father in heaven. 

Matthew 5:14-16 The Message

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He Comes Alongside...
And Then Brings Us Alongside...

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

I went to this seminar (Breakthrough:  Journey Out of Depression) a couple weeks ago on Christians and depression.  One of the things they recommended was to take this survey (Hamilton Survey for Emotional and Physical Wellness) on a regular basis to track how you are doing.  I scored a 14 when I took it on December 6th.  I plan to take the survey about every two weeks.  On the 6th and 20th of every month until I see that I have been able to maintain a 7 or below.  (You'll need to download the pdf file to read how to score the survey.)   One of my friends is going to take it on the 6th and 20th, too.  She scored a 31.  If you take the test, let me know your score, too.

This video on "How The Brain Works" is totally amazing and eye opening.  I know we all wish there was a test to check our serotonin levels, but this is real.  It is undeniable research.

I don't want you to worry about me.  But please pray for me... and my many beloved sisters who suffer with our blessed thorn of clinical depression.  I know I am blogging more about this lately but it is because God is fulfilling His promise to me. 

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!
Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! 

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, 
and before you know it, 
he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times
so that we can be there for that person 
just as God was there for us. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (MSG)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What Are You Waiting For?

Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days...
A woman in a crowd who had suffered for twelve years...
A woman appeared with a spirit that crippled her for 18 years...
A man who was blind from birth...

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and
not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

We often wonder... "How long do I have to wait?"
Until my child is healed of leukemia?
Until I get a job?
Until my marriage is healed?
Until my child learns self-control?
Until I no longer suffer with depression?
Until I get over my heart break?
Until my husband is healed of his addiction?
Indeed. How long? Let's look at the verse that precedes Jeremiah 29:11...

This is what the LORD says:
"When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will come to you and
fulfill my gracious promise
to bring you back to this place."
Jeremiah 29:10

When seventy years are completed? Huh? Do I have to wait 70 years?

Honestly, I don't know how long you will have to wait for God to fulfill a promise that He has made to you. In the New Testament we see that Jesus performed miracles for people who waited four days... twelve years... eighteen years... or their whole life.

So, I ask you... can you wait? Can you wait for God's timing? And what will you do if you choose to wait? And if you don't want to wait... what other options are there?

It's painful.
It's exhausting.
It's not easy.

But there is...
...and a Future.

"While I'm Waiting" lyrics by John Waller

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting

I will serve You

While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting

I'm waiting on You, Lord

And I am peaceful

I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it's not easy

But faithfully, I will wait

Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve You while I'm waiting

I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

John Waller - While I'm Waiting (Official Music Video) from Provident Label Group on Vimeo.

This post is part of a earlier series I wrote on Jeremiah 29:10-13.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Surviving Depression at Christmas

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Dear friend,

I know this year has been hard for you. Everyone is wishing you a MERRY Christmas or a HAPPY Holidays... and you wish that was true. That it was merry or happy.  But it is not.  You are finding no joy in Christmas this year.  Actually, you find Christmas to be stressful... anxiety-ridden... and depressing.

You are struggling to make it through Christmas.  You know friends and family mean well when they say, "it's okay... just be happy... it's Christmas." And you are trying.  Trying so hard, but you're thinking that you just want to lie back down and pull the covers over your head.

Surviving Christmas.  Sometimes... we just have to survive Christmas.  We know it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  And we are thankful for His birth.  But all the rushing... all the purchases... all the interactions with friends and family... all the EXPECTATIONS... all the unmet expectations... well, it is just so overwhelming.

And so here is my gift to you...
Dear Lord,
I pray You would be with my friend today. That You would give them rest and peace. I pray that You would give sensitivity to those they encounter. I pray that You would plant a seed of hope within them.
You say in Romans 8:11 ...if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  So I pray that You would give life to my friend. Life in their heart, soul, mind and strength.
And that You would be their strength in surviving Christmas.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
I love you, friend.

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