Just over two thousand years ago you came. You came to be one of us. To be like us. We were created in your image (though we had soiled and tarnished it beyond recognition) and now, you had taken on ours. And you came for us ... you did it all for us.
You left the throne of Heaven to be placed, on a cold dark night, into a manger. You stepped off of the streets of gold onto the sod of earth. You chose swaddling cloth over lily white, shining robes of splendor. You left the right hand of the Father to be placed into the young, inexperienced arms of a mama. You brought your perfection into our filth and your innocence into our pit of sin. You did it all for us.
On a still silent night (although, with a young girl in labor I seriously doubt it was all THAT silent) you took your first earthly breath and let out your first sweet cry. Joseph's were probably the first arms that held you. Joseph, who had listened to your angel and risked it all to stand beside Mary and claim you as his own. Joseph, who would go to great lengths to protect you. Joseph, who loved you and would let you call him daddy, knowing he was not your real Father. You probably wriggled into his arms and cried as the cold night air blew against the skin that had just been warm inside Mary's womb. And you cried a holy, human cry that flooded the night. And you did it all for us.
Then Joseph probably placed you in the arms of your mama. Mary ... sweet, YOUNG Mary. How old was she? Was she really just a young teenager? How much did she know? Did she know where your road would lead? If she had not studied the Scriptures BEFORE she conceived you, she most certainly did once she knew she was carrying the Messiah. Did she know that the child in her arms, the child she had just delivered, would be the deliverer of all who would believe? Did she know that you had been there since the beginning and had created HER long before she created you? Did she know that you did it all for us?
And the shepherds? They surely had no clue what was to come. They were just doing their job when their calm night was interrupted with a Holy light and a commanding presence of Heavenly Hosts. Angels, who were created to follow your every command, had come to announce your coming and bring your good news. They could have interrupted someone of royal blood in a warm castle and sent THEM to you, but they came to shepherds. Dirty shepherds, leading dirty sheep and caring for them ... and they were sent to YOU. The one who is the Good Shepherd. But, they followed the angels direction and brought their filth and noise and their worship to your birthplace. You came to the lowly and meek ... and you did it all for us.
You could have been born in a palace. You could have just come as a king. You could have commanded the world to fall at your feet and follow and believe. You had the power to give us no choice at all, but you had the LOVE to give us the choice anyway. You let us decide if we will follow you, believe in you, LOVE you. You knew that there would be some who chose the other. And yet, still, you did it all for us.
You came as a baby in a manger, fled that place for the safety of a foreign land as Joseph protected you, grew up in a small town, studied at the feet of those who studied the scriptures YOU had written, grew in stature and favor and became a man. A man who would take the good news as far and wide as his human frame would allow. A man who would heal the sick, give sight to the blind, voice to the mute, hearing to the deaf, legs to the lame, life to the dead and HOPE to the hopeless ... and, before you, weren't we ALL hopeless? You walked the dirty soil of our world, among the dirty souls of your people and you did all without sin or blame or guilt. And then ... then ... then you took the sin of which you were completely innocent and placed it on yourself like a worn, soiled garment and took it to the cross ... and you did it all for us.
You took our blame and our sin, the wages of which are death, and you proclaimed yourself guilty so that WE could be innocent. You died on a rugged wooden cross, they placed you in a dark cold tomb, the door to which was sealed and left you there to rot, thinking that it was the end. But, really, wasn't it just the beginning. Because then ... THEN ... then, three days later, when all hope had been lost, you burst through with the glorious light of day, breaking the greatest darkness the world had ever known and brought the greatest hope the world could ever imagine. You left behind the grave and the death it stood for and brought new life. And not just new life for YOU, you brought new life for US. For anyone who would believe, anyone who would place their trust in you, anyone who would lay their sin at your feet to be forgiven, anyone who would bring their broken lives and their certain death to you. And You would take it all ... you DID take it all ... and exchange it all for life. Life in You. Life everlasting. Life ... LIFE ... LIFE! And you did it all for us.
And so today, so many years later, we celebrate Your birthday. Some have made it a big commercial festival of lights and decorations and fat jolly men in ridiculous red suits being led around by a reindeer with an ever more ridiculous red nose - and that is all fun and good. But those that know ... those that know YOU ... know that it is so much more. Tomorrow we will open presents - but the real gift is YOU. We will spend time with the ones that we love - but the real love comes from YOU. We will eat a feast set at a beautiful table - but the bread of life is YOU. We will celebrate life - but our real life is in YOU. Tomorrow, somehow, we will make it all about us - when it should be all about YOU.
Tonight we will go to church, bow our heads, celebrate your birth and sing songs that exalt You. Tonight we will share the great joy that You bring with everyone we meet. Tonight we will feel that warmth in our heart that only comes on Christmas eve when we make it all about You. And we will do it all for You.
But, when I think of all that You have done for us, I wonder why we give you just one night. And I wonder what I can do to change that. How can I love better? How can I love more. How can I bring the hope of YOU to a lost and hurting world, so in need of all you came to give.
How can I do it all for You?
Teach me Lord Jesus, teach me how.
Let that be my birthday gift to you.
Happy Birthday Baby Jesus ... and thank You for the Gift.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Just over two thousand years ago you came. You came to be one of us. To be like us. We were created in your image (though we had soiled and tarnished it beyond recognition) and now, you had taken on ours. And you came for us ... you did it all for us.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
And, really, there is no greater news in all the world than that.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
** A few weeks ago I attended Deeper Still, a conference with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore. Beth began her lesson by reading the Christmas story in Luke 2. She read it from the Message translation (GO ... READ IT. It is some good stuff!) And then talked about what "treasured up in her heart" really means. To protect, guard, keep safe, defend. I am still processing all I learned that weekend, but as I was pondering the REAL meaning of CHRISTmas this morning, I remembered wondering, last year at this time, what it must have been like for Mary. I wrote this post then, and it still holds true today. I will have MANY questions for Mary when I get to Heaven, but the first ones may be the following ...
How many of us started our Christmas Letter in wonder at how quickly time passes by?
We look back on a year gone by and wonder how it went so FAST?
Children were born, cut teeth, turned three, started school, made the honor roll, got the lead in the school play and, eventually, graduated, got married and started families of their own.
And we were left to look back and wonder how it all happened so fast.
I wonder if is was like that for Mary.
That night, as she held her newborn son in a barn, did she - like so many of us - look forward to each passing milestone and promise to cherish each and every moment?
Like so many of us, did the normal every day start to creep in? Did the sleepless nights of life with a brand new baby turn into the craziness of toddler proofing the home? Did she one day look at her son and realize that he just was not a baby anymore?
I wonder what it was like watching her son grow up, knowing that He was also the Son of God.
I mean, she KNEW who he was - the angel had made that clear - so she HAD to know what was in store.
Were the passing moments stored and cherished or did she turn around one day and find a man where her boy had once stood?
I cannot imagine how it felt to see him getting older, stronger, wiser ... all the while knowing that each breath he took brought him closer to the road He was destined to walk...
... and the cross He was determined to bear.
She knew when He was born that His death was imminent.
That it was predetermined.
That it HAD to be.
So, when she held her son that night...
As she watched him learn to walk ...
While she taught him how to talk ...
As she raised HER son ...
Did she cherish each moment knowing that she was holding, watching, teaching and raising God?
Or, did time fly for Mary too?
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
This week over at iheartfaces the theme is "Scenic B&W". When I read that this photo shoot immediately came to my mind. It was one of my first official shoots, but it has stood out in my mind as one of my very favorites ever since.
There were three shots in this particular session that I thought of for this theme, but this one has been my favorite all along. The representation, in the railroad tracks running off into the distance ahead of them, of the world - and a happy marriage - before them is perfect for a couple starting a new life together ... the (future) bride and groom loved it too!!!
Head on over to iheartfaces to see more ... or enter one yourself! It's FUN!!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
So, lots has been happening lately and I wanna share ... really, I do. But, because of the business, sitting and writing a serious, informational and stimulatingly interesting post seems a daunting task. Which, explains why the ol blog has been ignored as of late.
Also, there is the fact that Facebook and Twitter and texting - which consist of limited space capacity, therefor requiring short, concise and to the point bullet point type statements - is just faster and easier. So, being less daunting than, ya know, paragraphs and junk, it gets more of my attention.
SO, in an effort to revive the bloggy bug, I have decided to declare today "Blog Like You're Tweetin Day"! So, the following is a day in the life of me, in Facebook/Twitter/text-like style.
(AKA: a list of the random)
**Nuthin beats waking up, stepping outta bed and landing in cat puke. NUTHIN!
**Dear Cali-Cat ... I'ma need you to CHEW your food. Work on that, will ya?
**COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!! Where is the coffee? Seriously? There must be some in this house somewhere!!!
**It's 32 degrees outside and Hattie picks today to dress like a girl. SO thankful for tights!
**Sophie is watching Monsters, Inc - mainly cause H is not here to scream and hide under the coffee table. Wee bit of a scaredy cat, that one is.
**Meanwhile, there is a road crew at work outside my front window causing my La-Z-Boy to randomly shake. It's like a roller coaster without the thrills!
**Barbie is dancing around my living room with some kinda squirrel like creature ... Note to self: GET THE KID BOY DOLLS!
**CORRECTION - it was NOT a squirrel, it was the Chick-Fil-A cow ... Note to self: GET GLASSES CHECKED!
**Will the person that created Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer please stand up? Let's all give him/her a hand, shall we?
**If I could bottle and hand out the sound of Sophie's laughter, I am fairly certain the world would be a happier place and there would be peace throughout the land.
**If I could bottle and hand out the sound of Sophie's tantrums ... well, let's just say it would not be near as pretty.
**Trying to teach a 3yr old with X.A.D. (X-treme Attitude Disorder) to live with the consequences of her own choices is heartachingly painful.
**Would not trade said 3yr old for all the coffee in the world - even if it DID come with Peppermint Mocha creamer.
**SEVENTEEN DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (that is for my twitter friends, who I will see in SEVENTEEN DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
**Dear Kitchen Fairy - I need you to step up your game. Cause when Barbie goes swimmin in the greasy water filled crockpot basin that you have yet to clean, it aint pretty. Thank You.
**I am in desperate need of the following: GRACE!!! A pedicure. MERCY!!! An eyebrow wax. FORGIVENESS!!! Guess 3 outta 5 aint too shabby. And, ya know, HE is all I really need!!!!
**But, I really do need an eyebrow wax ... (Erica Jean Kirk) ...
**Sophie went up stairs for a few minutes and came back down nekked. This happens with stunning frequency, which begs the question ... WHAT exactly goes on up there?
**Lead Me To The Cross, where Your love poured out. Bring me to my knees, Lord I lay me down. Rid me of myself, I belong to You. Oh lead me ... Lead Me To The Cross.
**Planning out the placement of outdoor Christmas decorations ... and yes, I'm drawing pictures and a map. Cause I am just that nuts.
**I've said it before and I'll say it again. Chocolate is good. All Glory to Him.
**Has anyone seen the attachments to my vacuum cleaner? The corners are startin to look a little funk-a-delic around here.
**Is it just me, or is Dora just a really loud little kid? I mean, should her mama y papa be concerned? How do you say "get that girl a hearing test already" in spanish? Anyone?
**Sophie walked away from Nick Jr and came back with the Mamma Mia DVD ... that's my girl!!!
**This peaceful moment brought to you by nap time ... Aaaahhhhh...
**Laundry ... I blame Eve.
**Celery & peanut butter for lunch. Is it wrong that I pretend it's CHOCOLATE and peanut butter? Cause, if pretending that is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
**Turnin the (faux)pod on and jumpin into Genesis. Beth Moore is ROCKIN my world with the Patriarchs right now. What the world intended for evil, God has redeemed. OH! He is so faithful!
**Watchin last week's Biggest Loser, this show makes me cry. So does laundry, but not for the same reason.
**One of my fave times of the day is watching Sophie stare out the window looking for Hattie's bus to come down the road. She can hardly stand the wait.
**Looking through the Black Friday ads ... and thanking God that I live with a forgiving man. He's gonna be gettin up EARLY that day!
**Sophie has a friend (sweet Evy) over for a playdate ... she is NOT a very gracious hostess ... gonna need to work on that one. (hanging head in shame)
**Little girls in princess dresses, spinning through my living room, singing out of tune and giggling till they fall down. This is my life and it is good.
**I am NOT a fan of the bus being late on rainy days ... my mind goes all kinds of places. More Spirit please!
**Hattie came home in clean clothes (unHEARD of this school year) and immediately spilled juice down her front. Love it.
**I asked Hattie what she did at school today ... and she answered me. She read stories. I asked if it was fun ... and she answered. She said yes. That right there, THAT is a conversation. Praise HIM!
**One girl is sleeping (baby A), two girls are watching Toy Story 2 and one girl is hiding under the coffee table. Three guesses as to which is which.
**There is a large hole in the street outside my front window. The sun has gone down. This could get ugly. I may turn out the lights, make popcorn and watch.
**Phone calls from far away friends at just the right time are just about the sweetest thing there is. So thankful for the AMAZING people He has brought to me. BLESSED!
**Hattie is now GLUED to the TV watching Toy Story 2. Go figure.
**OK, the laundry is caught up ... but then I walked in the kitchen. A VICIOUS circle is what this housework thing is.
**Do you ever go to fix dinner and, after staring blankly into every cabinet and the fridge, wonder to yourself WHY chocolate is not a food group? Wouldn't life be so much easier if it was?
Monday, November 8, 2010
Mornings here in B Manor can tend to get away from us if we let them.
The routine I LIKE to follow has me up at about 5:45, while the house is quiet and still. This is the time I spend with my Father. Just He and I while the house sleeps. Then, as Hubby stumbles out of bed, I set off on my morning run where I spend MORE time with HIM. (Trust me, MANY prayers are sent up - especially on the really cold or really hot mornings!!) My MP3 player (it's a fauxPod) pumps a steady supply of praise music (and a little soundtrack magic - Mamma Mia, Glee, Grease - don't judge!) to keep my pace up and my spirits high. Then, I come home to happy people just rising from their slumber and peacefully getting ready for the day...
(this is where the needle scratches across the record and awakes me from my daydream)
Yeah, that is the routine I LIKE to follow ... and actually have a time or two.
But, most mornings involve a wee bit more chaos than that.
THIS morning was one of THOSE mornings.
I did get my quiet time and my run in (MIRACLE!) and the people were happy when I returned. But the people were NOT dressed and ready to go as they should have been by that time (Yeah, I got up late and threw everything off).
And, so it began, the rushing and the prodding to GET DRESSED! WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES? NO - NOT SHORTS! EAT YOUR BREAKFAST! BRUSH YOUR TEETH! WELL, FIND YOUR JACKET THEN! You understand? Right?
(TELL me I am not alone!)
And, because I had to spend so much time getting Hattie ready for school, I had less time to spend getting Sophie ready to send Hattie off to school. There is the whole process of shoes, jackets and hat so that she can go out to the bus, say hello to her BFF, Bus Driver Bonnie and sweet Joseph who is always in the very front seat (though, not always awake!) and read the words printed on the stairs ... "Watch Your Step". It's a routine she cherishes.
However, Sophie is having a few attitude issues of late. Seems her favorite phrases are "no mommy, I not" or "I caaaannnn't" (read: WHINEY voice) when asked to do something. So, in an effort to help her learn to be more cooperative, we are letting her live with the consequences of NOT doing what she is asked. This is a hard process for ALL of us...
This morning was a prime example of HOW hard it is.
While we were getting ready for the bus Sophie repeatedly ignored our suggestions to put on her boots and coat. We set her up for success - placing the boots at her feet and the jacket by her side. We even warned her that it was VERY cold outside and if she did not get dressed she was NOT going out. But she chose to play instead. She drew happy faces on the frosty window ...
... which we opened to show her JUST how cold it was outside. But, even though the bus was 10 minutes late, giving her plenty of time, she did NOT get dressed.
And then the bus came. She attempted to make her way out the door, but I would not let her. Hattie and I went to the bus without her. She stood at the door screaming for me. Breaking my heart. But I stood my ground.
Then it happened, she tried to come out anyway. I had my back to the door and didn't see her there. But Bus Driver Bonnie did. And SHE yelled at Sophie to get back inside. Breaking her sweet little heart.
And, as I walked back in the house I could not help but think of the lessons my baby girl was (hopefully) learning. And how similar I am to her.
God sets me up for success - places all the tools I need in front of me. His Word, His people, His Truth ... HIMSELF. All I need to do is grasp a hold of it ... to HIM. But, instead I stand around making smiley faces in frosty windows, trying to pretend that I have it all together and am ready for the journey.
And then my surroundings cave in around me, leaving me unprotected in the cold air all alone ...
But I am NOT alone. I am NEVER alone.
HE is with me. His hand prints on my life reminding me ...
... even in the frosty glass moments of my life, that He is here. He reminds me of all He's placed before me - all I need for this journey called life. And He gives me a second chance ... and a third ... and a fourth ... all the chances I need to succeed. New chances, new MERCIES, every morning - and some days, every five minutes.
But not because MY participation in the journey is so vital.
But because, He is just that good.
And, with HIM, I can pull up my boots, cover myself in the warmth of His love and peace and make it through the harshest winter.
Because, in HIM, I have all I need.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Every year about this time, we set out to get our Christmas pictures taken.
And, every year, my husband cringes ... but goes along.
And, every year, Hattie somehow manages to let everyone within a 5 mile radius know that she is NOT a fan of the picture posin.
And, MOST years, Sophie poses happily and makes my job that much easier.
This year, the only difference was Sophie.
Now I have NOBODY in my house who likes to have their picture taken.
But, being the determined mama that I am, we ventured out anyway.
But THIS year, I had a ball. Because this year, I did not weather the storm alone. This year we did a joint photo session with my sweet friend Amanda (AKA SuperModel) and her family! She took OUR pictures and I took theirs.
My family was MUCH more cooperative with someone else behind the camera.
Here are a few shots that did NOT make the Christmas Card Cut ... (you didn't think I was gonna give the BEST shots away just yet, did ya?)
I need to get some brownie points for showin you this one ... HELLO MUFFIN TOP!
This one was actually my favorite, composition wise, but Sophie is not making the most pleasant of faces!
Lovin Sophie's curls here
Aside from a few snapshots, this was the first time that my man and I have been able to take some good pictures of just us since our wedding!
I love the way he makes me laugh!
The way he makes my heart smile!
The way he loves me!
This is my life ... and it is good!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Life has been busy here in B Manor lately. Hattie is back in full swing at school. Sophie turned three - and has the attitude to prove it. And I am now watching two sweet babies through the week - Eli is almost 7 months old and Alexis is about 3 months old. And, on top of all of that, my photography dream is coming into fruition. I have been busily taking and editing pictures for engagements, newborns, Christmas cards and birthdays, as well as family reunions and the average family photo.
So, yeah, like I said, life has been busy.
But life has been good too.
Because HE is good ... ALWAYS good.
Last month we started our fall Bible study at church. We are about halfway through Beth Moore's study on the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac & Jacob) and it is sooooooo good. And between that and the sermon series on the 10 Commandments at church, God is rocking my world.
Last week's video touched on the Inheritance that is passed down through the spiritual children of Abraham. Beth (yeah, we are on a first name basis - she is my Pbff, after all!) was discussing how the land was split twelve ways. I always thought twelve sons, twelve tribes, twelve portions, right? Nope. Joseph's portion (because he was the "favorite" son) was doubled - split between his sons - taking up two portions. And the Levites received no portion of the land because they were set apart as Holy priests over ALL of the land and were scattered amongst the other tribes to live.
But, before you think that the Levites were robbed, just think about that for a minute. No, they did not receive a portion of the land ... because GOD was their portion. GOD was the spiritual Inheritance bestowed upon the Levites. WOW!
And what is even better than that? WE, not being physical descendants of Abraham but spiritual descendants THROUGH Christ, also receive a portion. A Spiritual portion.
OUR portion, like the Levites, is God Himself.
And ... here is the kicker ... WE are HIS.
He loves us. We are created for love. Created for communion. Fellowship with HIM. We are His portion.
So, while that was blowing me away, God was preparing more...
Last year I was trying to memorize two verses a month ... I did not do very well at all. So, earlier this year, I decided that I needed to get serious about storing God's word in my heart. And I began to start over. The first verse I chose was Zephania 3:17. And I thought I had it down. But last week when I was trying to go over my verses, that was the one that I could not recall so I decided to pick it apart line by line and really study it.
And, oh.my.WORD. How He has been speaking to my heart in these words in the last week.
The Lord your God is with you ... WITH me, yes. And IN me. Because of Christ's sacrifice, I carry the Holy Spirit in me - HE is with me.
He is mighty to save ... YES! He has saved me - from my sin, from my enemies and, even - no, ESPECIALLY - from myself. Praise Him!
He will take great delight in you ... Remember, WE are His portion. He has CHOSEN us. He loves us. He saves us. PRAISE HIM!
He will quiet you with His love ... Oh, the peace to be found in Him. The joy. The love. Oh how He both stirs and quiets my soul. Oh, the privilege it is to simply rest in His love.
He will rejoice over you with singing ... THIS is the part that brought me to my knees. HE will sing over me! My very favorite part of a worship service is the singing. I LOVE to lift my voice in praise to Him. To sing of His power, might, tenderness, love and glory - oh, it is soooo powerful to me. And then to even begin to comprehend that HE chooses to sing over me. To rejoice over me. Lord, let it be. You are so good and faithful.
So, I was talking about this on Sunday and our worship pastor Aron commented that he loves this verse too. And how he loves when he (aron) sings songs over his children (Belle, 4 and Judah, 1) and they dance in joy and just LOVE it. But then he talked about how when his son is upset, he can almost always calm him with a simple song.
And THAT is how God loves us. He rejoices over us with songs that make us dance with joy, but when our souls are in turmoil, He quites us with his love ... maybe even a love song sung into our hearts and souls. I LOVE the word picture of the King of Kings cradling me in His arms singing softly "Jesus loves me, this I know ... ". Reminding me that He is, indeed, mighty to save.
Oh, He is good.
Lord, let me rest in those arms, listen for the whisper of Your song and rejoice over you as YOU rejoice over me. Let me always remember that YOU are my portion ...
... and I am Yours.
Yes, YOU are good.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
This is back to school week for Miss Hattie Grace! She is not a fan of summer breaks, so she was oh so happy to be going back. I am so proud of how well she is doing with all of her therapies AND she is even learning to read! WOW! We are hoping that this will be the year that she gets to mainstream into a traditional classroom. The plan is to start that process in Oct. or early Nov. She will be heading into Kindergarten - my mama heart is busting with pride!
On Tuesday, after a wild and crazy weekend celebrating Sophie's 3rd birthday (THAT post is coming soon!), we headed out to meet the teacher. She is in a new class within the program that she is currently in and hubby had not met that teacher yet, plus we all wanted to see her new classroom in working order!
Hattie was SO excited to be back at school!
Her new desk was ready to go and fully stocked.
We took some get-to-know-you-time with Ms Donna (she is sweet, but we are going to miss Ms Christine!)
We even checked out her very own personal locker!!
Then we came home - Hattie really wanted to stay. It was not easy to get her out of there, but a promise of tomorrow ... and a milkshake did the trick ... yeah, we bribed her.
(hanging my head in shame now...)
Finally the day came - the back pack sat packed and ready to go.
The girls ate their breakfast. Hattie's choice - poptarts (no judgment, please!)
Hattie was so happy to be going to school, she did not even mind a strikin a pose!
Sophie was gonna miss her big sis, so Hattie gave a little love!
They waited (not so) patiently for the bus to arrive. Which seemed to take forever to two anxious girls!
Finally we decided to wait outside. SOMEONE was a wee bit excited.
But someone else just saw an escape route and took off running!
My girl can rock the All Stars!
We waited so long we got a little silly ... 'Sup?!
We even fit a few posed shots in! Lovin on her daddy!
And her mama ... yeah, that's me, rockin the bed head ... I am so not proud!
Sophie just wasn't feelin the love.
Finally, the bus arrived.
She could not wait to climb aboard!
Sophie wants soooo badly to get on that bus too ...
...but she had to settle for waving through the window.
(this pic seriously melts my heart!)
And then she was gone.
How long til she gets home?