(A Very Large) Blessings these Weeks: 12.26.2014 and 12.31.14

Merry Christmas to you and yours! We were busy celebrating hope come to us and Love dwelling with us last week, so I'm playing a bit of catch up with my blessings list here... and posting on the wrong day, no less. Oh well.

 This will be a big one- we're so blessed! 


Of course, the biggest blessing came to us 2,000 years ago- Jesus Christ, Son of God, who came to humble himself, lived a sinless life, and then died so that we may have life! 


Back roads and new routes, quaint little towns


The blessings of lasting friendship, great conversations, and pizza


The best chip dip in the entire world, goofy dogs, and seeing family


Hotel hot tubs! 


Bunches of little Italian great aunts and -uncles, kisses on the cheeks, seeing cousins after many years, and too many cookies


Family history

(Picture by my aunt- thanks for posting all those pictures, Aunt Cathy!)


Stories from Grandma and Grandpa and laughing together


Some new "goldfish" to join our household- and these ones don't even need to be fed!


George Bailey, Zuzu's petals, and family traditions... and oh, the food!


Presents we couldn't wait to try out...


This fearless little girl who came to the farm to pick out a Christmas kitty... and had a lot more fun, too! -- Up at the very top of the grain leg, on the swing, and hanging out with some steers.


Our fireplace cranking out the extra heat


Deer hoof prints right outside our door


My Pandora Christmas station blaring in my office, Peppermint coffee creamer, and little tubes of lotion for dry typing hands


Celebrating new chances, new opportunities, and a New Year!

Happy New Year! It's my prayer that in 2015, we'll all be able to find more peace, live more joy, and discover blessings in unexpected places. 

Until next year!


Blessings This Week: 12.19.2014

Our fireplace is nearly finished! Just a couple of cosmetic things left to do... but that hasn't stopped us from using it (every night this week)! 


Come, Immanuel: Perfect Peace

I've often heard the phrase, "the peace that passes understanding" or "the peace that makes no sense" as part of a benediction or a prayer.

I like that idea.

Of course, in my own life, "the anxiety that makes no sense" is much more a reality. I like things to be planned and prepared. I like my lists and my schedules.

But God changes our plans pretty often, doesn't He?

Mary is a young lady who is betrothed- she's probably making wedding plans and working on preparing for her new life as a wife. She's got plans- a big wedding, marrying her Joseph, having lots of babies and living out a nice life in her little town of Nazareth.

And then she's visited by an angel. Suddenly, her plans are thrown out the window. She's now going to have a child, Joseph will probably divorce her, her family will be disappointed and hurt, her friends probably won't believe her, she's even at risk of being stoned to death for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Nothing will be the way she had hoped, the way she planned.

She responds with a question- "How will this be?" (reminding us that it's okay to ask questions from a place of belief- she knows it will be, but she doesn't understand the mechanics of it all)- and then says...

“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” 

Now that's peace.

I don't want the peace that comes from rigid planning and holding on to control. I don't want peace that's dependent on my own emotions, my own actions, or my own expectations.

I want a Mary kind of peace.

Because, you know what? Even though we won't have our plans change the same way Mary's did, God changes our human plans. A lot. And we have to trust that God knows what He's doing, and that He will work all things for our good.


{Late} Blessings This Week: 12.12.2014

... and I'm late putting out my blessings this week, but better late than never!


Christmas lights on our porch (I usually come home from work just in time to see them turn on)


Having a surprise birthday party last Saturday in our hometown, surrounded by dear family.


Toddler "Happy Birthday"/"Twinkle Twinkle" mash ups


Pretty nails and hair- and a morning of pampering with my mom-in-law


An afternoon of making cookies with my mom

... and this little sprinkle helper. 

Rearranging the living room... and Trevor's chair adjustments


Fog that freezes on tree limbs


Candles that smell like pine

What blessings have you counted this week?


Come Immanuel: Hope of a Savior

**This post contains affiliate links**

Where do you start reading when you begin the Christmas story?

I typically think of the Christmas story as beginning in Luke and going from there. It's the traditional way I've sort of "done Christmas."

This year, though, our church provided us with an Advent devotional. And the first reading was from Genesis.

Here at Camp, our youth weekend theme for the Fall season was "Epic." The kids went through a curriculum that invited them to see the full story of the Bible- that the Bible is full of epic stories, and that, in fact, the whole Bible is one enormous epic story.

Christmas is the same way. 

It's easy for me to chunk the Bible into smaller stories with neat labels-  one is "Noah and the Ark," one is labeled "Creation," one is "Christmas," one is "Easter."

But in truth, all of these stories fit together.

They all point to the same thing: that God wanted to be with us. That humanity fought and fights against Him and seeks to control and overpower and have things our own way. But God kept pursuing us, kept loving us, until finally He sent His Son to live in human skin and then to die for us so we could be with Him forever.

It's an incredible story. 

And it doesn't begin in Luke.

The hope of a Savior starts way back in Genesis. It's easy to focus on the singular event of a virgin birth, of tiny baby Jesus and stars and stables. And somehow, I think focusing on the Nativity alone takes away so much of the majesty of that moment.

This wasn't just a new, miraculous baby.

This was the long-awaited Savior. The One who was sent to be God with us, the fulfillment of God's plan to redeem humanity. All the hopes of history were born of this miraculous gift. This is the hoped for Savior.

(The whole "starting Advent in Genesis" thing isn't new, and it's also the basis behind the Jesse Tree. If you're looking for an awesome Jesse Tree resource, check out The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, or Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas- which looks like it would be great to use with kids.)

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