Friday, December 26, 2008

Timeless



The Christmas Story never gets old.

And it makes me weep with the beauty of it.

And I must go to Israel someday. God's people are there. And I must see them, be near them.

Christmas 2008 Slide Show



I will blog the details later, but sometimes, pictures say it best. Click on the photos to see the original color shots without effects.

Linus Says it Best

From the Mouths of Babes


(art by Alannah, age 5ish)

And 'Giv gloory to Gob in the hi ist' we did!!!


Happy Birthday, Jesus! Thank you for being born.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And the hits just keep coming

The snow on my deck allmost covers the top of our wrought iron patio set and it is coming down in buckets. Yeah, that ah..."Let it Snow" song? Either written by Floridians or by people who are already under the same roof. Harrrumph.

DS #1 was, indeed, at our house last night. I just saw his face!!! (miracle--a child under our roof), but he needed to do some shopping, so he has left the building. He will be back to shower, before leaving to attend pretty significant other's family Christmas, then will come back here to sleep, I think (and weather permitting).

Will dd #1 and grandson be able to make it to our home? Uncertain at this time. Snowing and blowing.

DD #2 remains stuck in California---not a bad place to be, but not so nice if you are all alone and supposed to be with your family.

DS #2 and his wife are now coming here (if they can drive in this weather) vs. going to retrieve their stranded sister at O'Hare (where hundreds of flights have been cancelled---or so I hear).

In-laws? They may not wish to get out in this mess. Our best hope is to powerfully bribe them with visions of their grandchildren around a table of food and/or to provide door to door car service (so that they do not have to trudge their 82 yer old, getting frail bodies through the snow). This we can do. There may be some guilt, however, since we do not honestly know if *any* of their grandkids will actually make it here. (blushing slightly)

DS #3 and DD #3? Poor dd has to work till 6:00 today, then will join her dad's family, then may make it over here with CollegeBoy, if she has had not already had enough Christmas-ing for one day.


Husband? Up at the cr@p of dawn (as we say in this family, when one must arise at a dark, unholy and SNOWY hour) to go to work. Ugh.


Dog is enthroned upon her pillow, chewing her recently groomed foot (gross mental image).

Me? I'm going to bake and clean and collect two last minute gifts and then don my pearls, pumps and apron to make and serve Christmas dinner for 14 (including the dog).

::cough cough:: I'm in my jammies and a fleece hoodie (a good look for this time of year) blogging, of course. Not much else I can do.
Except pray...

Dear Jesus:

Please keep our children safe as they travel hither and yon over the holidays. Please let them know we love them and desire to see their sweet faces under our roof. As parents, please let us not attach so much of our own emotions to this day, that we become filled with disappointment for the lack of Norman Rockwellness we are likely to experience. In doing such, we will miss the meaning of the day.

Help us to remember that the ONE CHILD who matters above all, has already made it here, to our home and resides in our hearts (and praise God, the hearts of each of our children).
May we honor Jesus on His birthday by loving all people and all things in His holy name and to His glory.

Now, I gotta get outta my jammies and fleece and into my pumps and pearls. (wink)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Body Count

1 husband
2 parents (in law)
6 adult offspring
1 grandson
1 daughter-in-law
1 pretty significant other
1 dog

Hey, you ask. How's your Christmas Eve shaping up? Well, I say. Let's have a look.

Husband will spend Christmas Eve (and all other eves, for that matter) here. This I know.

Parents (in law) will be here Christmas Eve (unless they fall ill, which happened on Thanksgiving).

Oldest son will be here....tonight (after midnight)! Even though we were under the impression that we would not see him until January 3rd. Hmmmmm....maybe that applied to A, the fairly significant other? But he will not be here, tomorrow night (Christmas Eve). Wait. What? Oh. He will be with one of significant other's parents. OK. Got it.

#2 son will be here tomorrow night, Christmas Eve, with his new wife, unless he is retrieving his now-stranded sis from Chicago at 7:30 PM, which means that he would not be here tomorrow night (Christmas Eve), since it is 5 hours back to our home (12:30 AM). nodding slowly and trying to take it in

Oldest dd and her son (grandson) will be here sometime tomorrow (Christmas Eve) unless we get another snowstorm. Which could happen, as snow is predicted.

DD #2 is stranded (as I type) in Palm Springs, since she cannot fly into O'Hare tonight, as there is a... ba dum dum...snowstorm! She may get into Chicago tomorrow night (Christmas Eve), but at best, not until 7:30 PM, which if her brother and sis-in-law retrieve her and drive back, will place them here...not on Christmas Eve. But, at least she will be back, right? Right!!

CollegeBoy is fairly non-communicative and is even less planful than he is communicative, but if I understand correctly he will be with his dad's family till at least 10 PM Christmas Eve, but may stop over after that. Hey, that works. Looks like we'll be up.

DD #3, known as "The Baby" will be with her brother, CollegeBoy (I think) till the same time frame. She will, however, communicate any changes in the schedule and for that reason (and many others), we kind of like her! That means she may or may not be with us on Christmas Eve, but at least we'll know in real time.

Dog will be here. Since we adopted her, we do not have any info on her birth family. She's all ours. Always with us every Christmas Eve.


So. What does Christmas Eve look like? Somewhere between 3 and 14 of us will be present. Dinner? Purchased. Served at....? Ummmm. I dunno. Table for ... 2? 4? 14? I dunno.

Inclement weather, potential illness, half/blended/step-relationships. Yeah. We got the Perfect Storm.

Stay tuned.

And then there's *this*

Remember, "Band-Aid" and their Christmas song, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" I had forgotten about Band Aid, until I heard their song on the radio yesterday. Before I begin this post, let me say that I am thankful that a group of musicians banded together to raise money to help with the famine/suffering in Africa. Great idea.

But, I strongly dislike this song. Loathe entirely, as the Grinch would say.

It's the lyrics. Perhaps, I'm missing it. Do the starving children in Africa/India/Afghanistan/Iran/pick a country?? really care if it's Christmas, or where it's snowing? Highly doubtful.

But the most morally offensive line (to me) comes from Bono (although, I do not know that he wrote the lyrics):

"Well tonight, thank God it's them, instead of you!"

Are you kidding me? I could never say that to God in a prayer. Thank Him for my abundant blessings? Absolutely. Thank Him that I live here in this land of plenty? Daily.

Tell God I am glad it's someone else, instead of me? yuck. yuck. yuck. Never. More like ask, plead, intercede that no-one suffer in such a manner? You better believe it. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth, as it is in Heaven" is more like it.

I honestly cannot believe such a sentiment made the cut. Does no-one edit the work of a pop star? Wait. Never mind. I think I may already know the answer to that one.

I recall that line startled me when I heard it back in the 80's (is that right?), when I was not even yet of the Christian persuasion. It is now enough to make me lose my cool, when the radio stations play the song. Why do they still play it?

Perhaps Bono is being sarcastic? Perhaps he is making some political comment for shock value? (shrugs)

Is Bono embarrassed that he sang that back in the wack-job 80's? Has he ever commented on this? He is known for his humanitarian work, so this lyric just doesn't line up. **I will do some checking...see below.

If a person's gonna just scream at the sky anyway, angrily shaking their fist at God, which is something I do not think God finds offensive in this context, as I believe His heart breaks with the suffering of His children; perhaps, we all need to be more outraged!!, compelled to action to help alleviate the suffering of the global population, therefore, a sentiment more along the lines of, oh say...

"Tonight, let's pray that

the wrong will fail,

the right prevail,

with peace on earth,

good will to men."

I'm just saying.

(man, what a great carol!).

______________________________________________________

from Wikipedia:

****Bono, Paul McCartney and George Michael were the only artists from the original Band Aid who had been asked back to lend their voices to Band Aid 20. There was a reported dispute over the line 'Tonight thank God it's them, instead of you', which Bono sang on the original version. Justin Hawkins, of The Darkness, laid down a version of the line, but Bono insisted on re-recording his version, which was eventually used on the record.**** So, there ya have it. I so do not get it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Of Hymns and Carols

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along
th' unbroken song
Of Peace on earth,
good will to men.

And in despair,
I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong
and mocks the song,

Of Peace on earth,
good will to men."

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound the carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearthstones of a continent,

And made forlorn,
the households born

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men."


Henry W. Longfellow wrote the lyrics of 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day' and it was first published in 1864. John B. Calkin composed its music in 1872, though it is also sung to an alternate tune that was originally composed by Joseph Mainzer in 1845.This hymn is full of despair, as it was written during the stressful times of American civil war. One can sense it clearly in the next to last stanza.
Stanzas 4 and 5 mention the battle times and are hence, often omitted from hymnals.

I heard this carol/hymn for the first time a few years ago. I loved the melody immediately, but the thing that struck me most was the bold insertion of despair---in a Christmas carol?

Huh.
I had never thought about it before, but there ain't much despair in most carols we sing at Christmas time. And why should there be? For goodness' sake, Christmas is a time of immense joy and hope. God came to us. The baby that changed everything was born. Let us rejoice in the tidings of the angels.


And yet, if we are truthful, sometimes, amidst the joy and the merrymaking, is the niggling feeling that we are ignoring the harshness of reality. The wars. The famines. The epidemics. The destruction wrought by nature in hurricanes and tsunamis. The suffering of humanity set against the quiet backdrop of the Savior's birth. What are we to do with that? The inner discord. The holy disconnect. Tough stuff.

So, I admire this man, this Mr. Longfellow that had the chutzpah to write the hymn and to include the reality of his time---the horrors of the Civil War. We think things are bad in our nation now? The messy economy, the politics, the cr@p of our modern life? All of this pales in comparison to the terrible conditions of the Civil War.


Don't believe me? Look it up. The conditions were much worse than anything we have personally lived through since. Hurricane Katrina was baaaad. Our economy is tanking. Even the horror of 9/11, as very very very bad as it was and is, does not compare.


I find it interesting that many hymnals omit the 'war' stanzas. Hmmmm...I sort of get that, but I think the hymn is strongest when it accurately reflects the writer's despair. Because, what follows? Oh, the thrill of the truth of the final stanza!!!!

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;

"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With Peace on earth, good will to men."

When I am worshiping, I find that the lyrics that quote scripture (or closely approximate it) are the ones that cause me to be transported into the throne room. I believe it is because Truth resonates within our Spirit-core. We recognize it immediately within. And it thrills us.

God is not dead, nor does He sleep. (truth)

The wrong shall fail. (truth)

The right prevail. (truth)

With Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men. (promised)

The essence of being a Christ-follower is that we believe that there is a battle going on now, this very minute, unseen, in the Heavenlies. We believe that Christ will return. His righteousness will prevail over the darkness and we will experience that which we never could on our fallen earth...

Peace on Earth.

Good Will to Men.

I'll Be Home for Christmas...


You can count on Me (says God)

Please have snow (no problem)

And mistletoe (check)

And presents on the tree (done)

Abby will arrive in Iowa on the 23rd, as originally scheduled; God willing, and the snow don't blizzard (more)!!! We are excited and thankful!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

PRAYERS PLEASE!!!




I know that this does not affect the fate of the nation or the second coming of Christ, but we have a dd, Abby, who, because of this ridunkulous weather in the Midwest, is stuck in Seattle for Christmas, all alone.

We have looked forward to her coming home for months. We have her stocking stuffed. Her presents purchased and lovingly wrapped, waiting under the tree.

Last Christmas, dd got snowed in at Chicago O'Hare and had to spend the night, by herself in a hotel and then, had to wait till the next day to see if the weather was good enough to allow family members to drive to Chicago to retrieve her.
Thankfully, it was, but it was a 12 hour round trip to and from and we all had so hoped for an uneventful trip home for Christmas this year.

As of this moment, her flights have been cancelled and we are scrambling to find her a flight back home. Since so many flights have been cancelled, postponed or delayed due to the blizzards, you can imagine how jampacked all flights are.

We are willing to drive to bring her home, but we can't get a ticket for less than $1,000.00 to an airport anywhere near us.

I am praying and praising and asking you to do the same (if you feel led).
We just want her home for Christmas, God willing.


Thank you for listening and praying. I will let you know what transpires.

PS Abby is in her third and final year with The Master's Commission. We are very proud of her and are anxious to see what the Lord has next for her life.

It just doesn't belong on this blog....

...but in the interest of honesty and transparency, I have included a Christmas story I am not particularly proud of on my other blog.

Check it out, if you want to know just how weird our family life can get.


Plus, Lisa mentioned poo on her blog today, as did Lois recently, so there *is* precedent. ha

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spirit on a Skateboard



We love the Dickens "Christmas Carol" movie. Any version. All versions.

Tonight, we watched the George C. Scott version. There are a couple of intense moments I forgot about...Jacob Marley's jaw dropping scene and the revealing of "Ignorance and Want". Yikes. Not exactly for the kiddies---better stick with the Muppet version if it's family night.

For a laugh, though, start watching at minute marker 8:37 (unless you want to start earlier cuz you just like the movie).

In what should be yet another intense moment, the mood is lightened and the tension broken (at least in our house) as the squeeaky, rusty gate sound that heralds the Spirit, who makes a left to right move across the screen, causes my husband to say (deadpan), "Spirit on a skateboard".

Every year. And I find it funny every year. Mostly because I forget. Every year.


It's just one of those things that make a marriage work. Humor and amnesia.

Merry Christmas. God bless us everyone.

Movie Review--"Bolt"

I've written a movie review for the Disney movie, "Bolt" on the other blog.

If you're in the need to know about whether or not to spend the time and money on this flick, check it out.


My little free public service. You're welcome. :~)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas-y Fun

Elfin Magic family style!

Please step forward...

You know who you are, but I can't remember who you are, because I am Aunt Clara (remember? the profile pic is *not* me; it is a representation of me; addled me). The drawing of the princess girl is also not me. Just in case their was additional confusion. Now, on to the issue at hand...

Please step forward if you are the blogger that has ruined the Carpenter's "Merry Christmas" song. I heard it this morning and sank into my happy place, listening to Karen Carpenter's velvety voice, until...

"Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire..."


Then, I remembered.

Someone had mentioned on their blog (in a comments section?) that they cannot listen to that song without cracking up at those lyrics.

And now, thankyouverymuch, neither can I.


O GrinchyScrooge? Please identify yourself. ha :~)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Because I do not know what in the heybillies I really need...

I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what I've done.
Holy father you have come,
And chosen me now to carry your son.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.

Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.

I love the Christmas song "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant.

When I first became a Christian, it was a song that really helped me imagine Mary and her holy plight. Her fear. Her burden. Her prayer. shamwow (quietly spoken)

So many great lyrics to ponder. I love the line "Pour over me Your holiness, for You are holy". Shiver-time!

To know that God would even consider doing that for mere *me*, it indescribable; to know that he would GLADLY do it, if only I asked, is beyond my comprehension. It is too wonderful for me. I often cannot bear it.

"Do You wonder, as You watch my face, if a wiser one, should have had my place?"


I wonder this, when I am aware that I am on an assignment from God. Sometimes, I am not aware that I am "on" until I am in the middle of something---witnessing to a cashier, praying for someone in the produce aisle, talking with a co-worker till 6:00 PM on a Friday night, cuz her world is spinning out of control.

Personally, I think God prefers being all "Jehovah Sneaky" with me. If I know, in advance, that He has something for me to do, well, let's just say, I have a whole lotta Peter in me sometimes (most times). Me thinks, me knowest best. ::ahem::

So, if God gives me something to do, sometimes, most times, ALL the dang time, I start to re-write His script. As though one single, solitary thing I have ever re-written for God has EVER turned out well. (holy eye roll, Batman). yeah.

So, then, I ponder this, too. Does God ever wonder about choosing me for something. Does he have holy regret? A v-8 sort of moment, where He slaps His holy forehead and groans, "Sheesh. What was I thinking?"?

Of course not. I do not believe this ever happens to God. He is never surprised by my lack, my shortcomings, my shenanigans. Can't happen. He is God. He chooses perfectly. Always. As in the original Greek, which means---always. hahaha

For me, the bigger thrill in these lyrics comes from the very idea that God would ever watch my face. My face. The one I am not so happy with. The one I wish had a smaller nose, a firmer chin and definitely less crabbypants frown lines.

Watching someone's face is intimate. Watching is active. Holy. Whisper-y. Reverent. Strangers may glance or stare (depending on how rude or disengaged they are). Only spouses, dear friends, or parents (with their children) *watch* the faces of another.

I love, love, love looking at my children's faces. I think they are magnificent works of art. I love my son's nose (he hates it), my daughter's gorgeous big eyes, both of their smiles. I watch their faces, actively, for signs of worry, fear, approachability, glee, teasing, etc.

The face is where the emotions are played out. A stranger may be fooled by a look on my child's face, but I am not. A stranger may believe my child is "fine" or "doesn't need help" or "had a good day", but I will not; not if the face and the words do not line up.

That the God of the Universe, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, would watch, actively, Mary's face...that He would watch, lovingly, *my* face...for signs of worry, glee, approachability is beyond my ability to understand. He watches my face. He is not fooled by my bravado, my fakey-church smile, my "no biggie; it's all good".

He watches my face.

He sees it as a work of art. He made it. Perfection in His eyes. He lovingly watches me sleep, just as I love, love, love watching my loved ones sleep. He is drawn in by absolute wonder of a created being that He loves, just as we are. The I-wouldn't-change-a-thing-perfection our loved ones hold in our eyes? He feels the same way about me. About you. He watches your face. shamwow (quietly spoken)

The last lyrics in this song that get me every time are these...

Help me be strong.

Help me be.(...?)<--- emphasis mine

Help me.


How many times do I start out with God, telling Him what to do? More times than I care to admit. More times than I can count (what, with math not being my strongest suit and all---it's a dang lot, that's all I know).

I always start out with God all..."Help me be strong", then I change to (and this might take weeks, months or ::exhale:: years, "Help me be.....?"

Ummm...what exactly do I want Him to help me be? Oh, I dunno. Just fill in the blank. Spin the wheel. Pick an attribute, any attribute. Any holy, godly attribute will do.

I usually end up trying many 'hats' on for size; Strength? Nope, that one didn't work...how 'bout faith? Nope. Rats. How 'bout patience? errg. No? OK then, how 'bout self-control? Agggghhhh. What do you want from me? (said while, internally, I stomping my feet, holding my breath).

Then, finally, the brokenness and humility of "Help me.", and all that prayer implies.

"Help me" says, "I don't know, but You do". "Help me," says, "I am spent, but You are endlessly capable". "Help me", says "I am needy and I recognize that You are absolutely, literally waiting, aching to hear those words", so You can swoop in, pick up Your precious child (me!/you!), wipe her face and speak love over her.

I believe that "Help me" is the sweetest prayer God ever hears. (smile)
I'll bet Mary really prayed it, too.

(The song, "Breath of Heaven" is at the bottom of the blog on my player, in case you've never heard it).

Friday, December 12, 2008

That's What He Said...


"Police Nod a Dot"

Our new favorite Christmas Carol, sung with hearty enthusiasm by our five year old grandson.

Can you figure out what he is singing? :~)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You saw the photos, now read the stories of State Dance oh 9

Lulu in her tutu

2009.


This was our third and last State Dance Tournament. My baby is going on to college next year and so, we are routinely aware that each thing we do is our 'last' one of this and such (fill in the blank). This was our last State Tournament, so we were anxious to do this one up right! We wanted trophies, we wanted photos, we wanted a cohesive team, we wanted memories, we wanted it. all.

The girls have so many team traditions they enjoy and though they may change them up a bit here and there, they remain basically intact since the inception of the team, approximately 12 years ago.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is "Dress Rehearsal". Dress Rehearsal is a big deal. The girls invite all their friends and family. Former dance team members and parents come. It's a wonderful reunion for all!

J-man, me, Lulu and M

Each routine the girls will perform at state is performed in full costume, makeup and hair, twice through. There are paparazzi and mamarazzi. It's a true media frenzy.

After Dress Rehearsal, it's off to pizza with the dancers and their families. The girls are paired each year as a Big Sis, Little Sis. At the pizza feed, the girls exchange carefully chosen and often handmade gifts. Much laughing, much eating, much giggly fun.

(Lulu (r) and her lil sis)

On Wednesday, of the Week of State, there is a slumber party at our home (yes, in the middle of the week---yawn), where the girls make tutus and messes. Yes, apparently it is a time-honored tradition for each dancer to make a tutu, the crazier the better, pair it with leggings, funky hand-embellished T-shirts and cute braided hairstyles.

The Tutus posing in the lobby the
two dancers on the rt., in the back
had had the flu for days,
thus no sleepover or tutus for them

Thursday morning the dancers arise early (yawn), leaving a tornado's worth of mess (but who cares? it's our last Slumber Party). They all head out the door, in their tutus and braids, shirts and leggings and go to breakfast at the local pancake palace.


The girls are treated with much kindness and well-wishes by the wait staff, who truly seem to welcome them (which is remarkable, really, because who wants 12 girls in your restaurant, giggly and sparkley and tutu-ed at 6:30 AM and not likely to be big tippers). But
the pancake palace is literally 2 blocks from the high school, so I suppose they are used to this sort of happy, chaotic madness.

They wear their tutus to school, a very visible show of team spirit, arriving to lockers which have been decorated by the moms. It's a fun send off day for the girls. Bag check is at the school at 4:00 SHARP and then the girls, chaperones and Coach hop the school bus and ride for two hours of fun, snacks, giggling ang dreaming.

The rest of the parents go to Des Moines before the girls, arriving with their duffles and decorations and treats to surprise the dancers. Such fun. For the moms, anyway. The dads are some of the most involved male parents I've ever known. Dedicated, often unseen and mostly un-thanked sherpas, is what they are. Beasts of burden. They ROCK. Remember, there is not an ounce of tackling, take downs or tee offs and an overabundance girly girl foreign frufru. How do those dads do it? They love their daughters, that's how.


As soon as the girls arrive at the hotel, they change into practice clothes and head to the ballroom that has been rented for them. It will be their last practice and polish of all routines. By the time practice ends, the dancers are exhausted. Frazzled. Ready for bed (a miracle, since they have been living on adreneline for a week). They open their gifts, have a bedtime snack (notice the food theme here?) and off to bed to they. The parents do the same, wisely turning in, as they know what's on deck for the next day.

The day of the State Dance Tournament begins early and ends late. As in competition for the first team is 8 AM and the last is at 9 PM. Can you believe it? There is a one hour break at lunch, but other than that, every 3 minutes a new team is announced and a new routine performed. About 240 routines, give or take. In that one arena. There is anothe venue, right next door, with a similar schedule. Oh, my aching bleacher butt. lol

This year, the Dance gods smiled upon the Dance Team, as their first performance was not until 1:00 PM. The second was around 7 PM and the last one around 8 PM. Suh-weet! Breakfast, hair, makeup, dress and over to the arena, parents trotting after, schlepping, gathering, fetching. And taking pictures all the while, with a smile.

First routine is the jazz to a song called, "I Really Want You", by James Blunt. Two pretty big bobbles had the parents holding their breath and preparing their "You can do it!" speeches. One lovely young lady, who was doing a sort of solo during the dance, danced right off the floor and onto the concrete. Big no-no (or so we thought--as this had never happened before, we were at a loss over knowing how big of a zinger this would be to the routine's score).

The other big moment? One of our dancers rolled her ankle and fell. ::gasP:: She had had surgery on the ankle the year before and it had healed and served her well, until State.
ugh

the girls waiting for their jazz music to begin

Mark (my awesome husband) is a physical therapist, so he was called upon to assess the injury and head off to purchase tape, braces, etc. to shore up the ankle for the two remaining routines. Never a dull moment at the State Dance Tournament.


The pom routine was darling, with a Monopoly theme, incorporating the music and costuming. They girls performed it FLAWLESSLY! We held our signs, we whistled and squealed. We were *those* parents.

each leo had a game pice logo on the back--how cute.

Lastly, with only an hour to undress, redress and re-makeup we waited to cheer the girls on in their favorite (by far) routine, their Mario Brothers themed hip hop routine. We all wore our fake Mario and Luigi mustaches, even the baby, a nephew of one of the dancers. We stomped and hollered and whistled and squealed.

if we smiled, the mustaches fell off, so no smiles!

And once again, our dancers performed their routine FLAWLESSLY. Perfection. No matter the outcome, the girls knew that they had done their best and they would have nothing to be ashamed of. No regrets. Even our injured girl danced her heart (and ankle) out. GAME OVER.Trophy time. One entire year worth of work and planning. Once entire year since State Dance 2008, when our girls left the tournament with no trophies. And the award ceremony seeeemed to last one year.

Results? Jazz routine? Division 1 rating. But, no trophy. OK. We knew
we had some issues with that routine. No biggie. Shake it off.
Monopoly themed pm routine? Division 1 rating. No trophy? What? How could that be? Hmm...there is that sense of being robbed, like watching an American gymnast being undercut by the former Soviet state judge.

Serious nail-biting anxiety at this point. All. that. work. All. that. sweat. All the investment.

What will the judges think of our Mario Brothers routine? It was a risk. The girls danced in work boots (the real deal), Carhart overall, long sleeved T-shirts and caps. The music was real-deal Mario music mixed with hip hop. Although the Mario routine was a *serious* crowd favorite, sometimes that seems to ::ahem:: upset the judges, versus energizing them in your favor.

The routine was named among those who scored high enough to earn a Division 1 rating. OK. But what about a trophy? 4th place.

Again, the girls felt a bit robbed/slighted/misunderstood. sigh But after some sniping and griping about judges and how they cannot be understood (a great mystery is the mind of a dance judge), the girls got into the spirit of things, posed for their pictures and went back to the hotel, hungry, happy, ready to PARTAY!!

And because this is the last State Dance Tournament, even the parents were having ummmmm... "more fun than they should have", or "more fun than their daughter's were comfortable with". ha

Bet you can figure out which caption goes with which photo...


Here's the clip of the trophy award for the Mario routine. By far the best part of the clip is the last 2 seconds, where one of our little dancers pulled a teeny tiny Faith Hill/Carrie Underwood at the CMA Awards show (the girl to watch is in a green Luigi shirt, brunette, no hat, on the far right of the screen. her "what?" reaction is as the first place team is announced). Can't blame her. We all felt that way---it's just that no-one filmed the parent's reaction (thankfully).

video

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Because I'd like to help those who come *behind*

Things I have learned about colonoscopy prep:

1). Unless you are desperate (and I was), do your homework about this procedure. I knew the physician I wanted to see; I had gathered input from friends and colleagues. But, I am learning that there are, perhaps, other 'prep' options that might have been more palatable. I would have advocated for myself better had I known how awful this part of the prep was.


2). "Don't add flavoring" might be what the guidelines say, but you better believe that by the end of my night of woe, I was adding some 7-Up and/or apple juice to the vile, salty nastiness. It increased the number of ounces I had to consume, but at least I could consume them.


3). Make jello, buy broth and clear liquids in advance!!! Do not wait until you start the...'procedure' to find out you don't have what you need. A trip to the store after you have started the.... 'procedure' would be akin to having a death wish.

4). Be kind to your behind. Yeah. Cute little pun, but an otherwise sad little bum. Purchase kooshey tp, soothing wipes, and other things your imaginations can figure out for yourselves. I know you're a creative bunch.

5). Call that 24/7 nurse. She sounded bored and unimpressed with my sad tales of nausea and miscellaneous whining, but she did offer a few helpful tips: it's legal to take a 30 minute break, if you just can't do it anymore; use a straw to help the liquid move more quickly through your mouth and the underlying, unspoken sentiment of, "Put your big girl p@nties on and deal". Perhaps she was a former Army nurse?


6). Take a nap, if at all possible before starting the ...'procedure'. It doesn't look like I'll be getting to bed any time soon. How could I? I drank the OCEAN, baby. grrrr....

Since I will be arising at 4:30 AM to leave for the hour drive to the hospital (I also hand-picked the hospital) by 5:30, for my 6:30 check-in and 7:30... 'procedure, I will be exhausted by the time I arrive back home, in the loving care of my driver, my dh, Mark.
All that to say, I'm gonna be wiped (out). haha

Good times, indeed. Good golly, good times.

The ONLY good thing is, I ain't having one for another 10 years

Oh dear, I need help.

I just took the Reglan that was offered, almost as a side bar, by the dr. to offset any possible? nausea.

How could you NOT be nauseous? I am drinking the OCEAN, Good Doctor! In 8 ounce 'shots', every 10 minutes.


Warm, thickend salt water. "Do not chill. Do not add flavoring. Do not sip."

What if I ummm....lose the liquid in a vertical, but non-traditional, non-intended manner, if you know what I mean?

Good thing that GI nurse is on call 24/7. She may be getting a call...

GoLYTELY--whatev


Yeah. Ha. Reeeal funny.

There is nothing about this evil product that is remotely reminiscent of the lovely, elegant, quirky, but endearing Holly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's".


Nothing Lyte, either, I might add. Yes, I am aware that they name of the product likely has something to do with electrolytes and such---haha very clever. This stuff is dense-ish, room temperature and salty. gag And 8 ozs. every 10 minutes, until the GALLON is consumed? Are you kidding me?

I think "GoLotsly" is more apt and far less whimsically misleading. (scowl)

Not gonna lie...***updated with new investigative reporting---ha

****updated: I just went to my local W@lgreen's to purchase my ummm...er...prep supplies for my, oh you know, my...procedure tomorrow and while waiting, I perused the boxed Christmas cards selection. I only made it through 3 of the 4 sides of the kiosk (someone wouldn't share the perusing love) and guess what? No, really, guess! Not ONE SINGLE Christian themed boxed Christmas card set. (shakes head back and forth, rapidly, causing double chin to waggle and eyes to shimmy).

Please read the article below. Then, I will share some tof my thoughts and perhaps, you will have some, too?


Fox News Story

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — A Dutch gay group said Monday it has planned a "Pink Christmas" festival for the first time in Amsterdam, featuring a manger stall with two Josephs and two Marys.

Other attractions in the 10-day festival include parties, an open-air market, gay-themed films, an ice skating rink and religious services on Dec. 25.

ProGay group chairman Frank van Dalen said Monday the event is intended to increase the choices for homosexual men and women during the Christmas holiday week.

"Right now, there's not much to do," he said.

The festival will also encourage people to think about homosexuality and religion, Van Dalen added.

Some Christian groups protested. The organization Christians for Truth said the idea "mocks the core concepts of Evangelism."

"By putting Joseph and Mary down as homosexuals, a cracked human fantasy is being tacked on to history from the Bible," the organization said in a statement urging the city and organizers to cancel the event.

The manger, with actors playing the parts of Joseph and Mary, goes on display Dec. 21.

Van Dalen said it was not intended to be offensive, but was meant as a "wink" at heterosexual assumptions.

"Christmas is about more than religion, it's also about love and families, not to mention shopping," he said."Two men or two women can form a family too these days, even one with a child."

Gay marriage was legalized in the Netherlands in 2001, and adoption rules are the same here for gay or straight couples.

Van Dalen said the Pink Christmas initiative was also intended to help promote Amsterdam as a gay capital after a decline in its reputation in recent years.

A study last month found that homophobia is an ingrained problem in the city despite the Dutch reputation for tolerance, and physical attacks on gay men are a weekly affair.<------Physical attacks? A weekly affair? Let me be clear. That is not OK. The Bible tells me so.

My thoughts:

1). I am surprised (and frankly, thankful) that this is not happening (this year) in the USA. I quite easily assumed the article was based on happenings here, in our neck of the woods.

2). As I made my way through the content of the article, I was (moderately) 'fine', till the words in italics above were scanned. Then, it all came to a screeching halt for me.

Here's how I see it. Christmas *is* about "Christ". Period.

The fact that Christmas has morphed into some twisted perversion that in no way resembles a religious-based celebration of God's gift of His only Son to the inhabitants of planet earth, it not the fault of God or Christmas.

It's been a slooow, sometimes imperceptible shift and slide into a weeks-long secular spend-a-thon, has been occurring my entire lifetime (since 1962, people). Merchants, retailers, cities, entertainment industries, manufacturers, food and spirit purveyors, parents, educators---one and all, regardless of religious persuasion (or none at all), have quietly or noisily and greedily participated. Me, too, sometimes. And what do we have? What does that leave us? Empty pockets. Empty hearts.

I'll share some of my first-hand observances. I heard a dr.'s office receptionist talking to her co-worker, complaining that her husband (meanie!) has put the kabash on using credit cards to purchase "Christmas" presents this year, because she is still paying off last year's Christmas *rgy.

On one hand, I am startled by this very public conversation and yet, on some level, I know this is how a great number of people 'do Christmas'. Is God glorified by this? I highly doubt it. Especially considering I'm betting that this woman (or others among us, myself included) would be hard pressed to recall ONE, SINGLE present we gave or received last year.

Next, an observation in the "Christmas card" aisle at my local T@rget store. I was shopping recently, looking for some cards (that I didn't even know if I *needed*, BTW---not pointing the finger outwardly here, I'm included), when it occurred to me (again, this is not the first year I have made this same observation) that there are NO cards about Jesus! I have, in the past, literally yelled in the very same card aisle, "Where are the cards with JESUS on them!", much to other people's bemusement, I suppose (and some silent or randomly vocal support).

I seriously did a quick count and there were a total of 8 cards with some sort of overtly and uniquely Christian theme (a manger, words from Scripture, etc.), out of at least 100 choices.

I did not include in my count, sayings that are rooted in Christianity and Jesus' birth, but that now have watered down secular meaning, such as "Joy", "Peace on Earth", "Hope", etc. Rather pitiful, but hey, remember T@rget kicked the Salvation Army bell ringers out a few years back, so really, what do I expect?

Back to the Fox news article. Two Marys? Two Josephs? Oh, for the love of all things I hold dear and holy. Stop it. That's not nice. That's not tolerant of what I believe. Might be funny to you. Not so much to me. One Mary, chosen by God to play her special role in history, to be the Mother of God. One Joseph, chosen by God, to be the earthly father of Jesus.

Then there's the statement that implies gay people don't have anything much to do this time of year? What does that even mean? C'mon! Gay or straight, do you like baking cookies? Hanging out with loved ones? Attending plays? Concerts? Movies? Shopping for loved ones? Decorating the house? The smell of pine trees? Building a snowman? Drinking cocoa? Gay or straight has NOTHING to do with these activities.

Party on, gay and straight. Atheist or un-churched. Black or white, Asian or Native American. These sorts of affirming and loving rituals, these time-honored traditions make life special and sweet. Indulge, by all means (my advice is not to live *beyond* your means, however). Live it. Invite me to your gathering and you may come to mine.

But know that in my home we worship Christ as the center, the One and only reason for the celebration of Christmas. Because you cannot have Christmas, by definition, without the Christ.

You can have a Winter Wonderland Carnival, a Kick-@ss Kwaanza, a Happy Holiday, a Solstice Soiree, a Gee, I Just Want a Reason to Overeat and See the People I Love Party, but you cannot have Christmas. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Christmas recognizes and celebrates the most sacred event in Christianity. As a fully holy deity, Christ came to earth, in human form; born to a poor, betrothed husband and wife, as had been prophesied for centuries. He lived among us. He taught and healed and ministered, and established His church, through relationships and miracles. He came to fulfill the plan of salvation for a lost world (us). We worship and praise the Creator of All, Father God, and His Son, Jesus and His lifework on this earth.

Our hearts sing. Our lips are moved to speak and shout with Joy! for Christ is born. O Holy Night. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. What Child is This? The First Noel. Pa rumpa pum pum. Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Hark, the Herald Angel Sings!! The First Noel. Christians cannot remain silent at Christmas. Its not possible. We will praise Him for His tidings of great joy!

So, please have the magic of Santa Claus!! Really. Hang stockings. Enjoy the fun of The Grinch and the new movie, Four Christmases. Sing "Santa, Baby" and "Run, Run Rudolph" and "Jingle Bells". Croon "White Christmas" and "Blue Christmas", too, 'cause their not really about Christmas (although they are lovely songs).

Eat red velvet cake. Bake a big ole glazed ham or a tofu turkey. Drink rum punch or sangria (we won't, but we don't mind, at all, if others do). Hug the ones you love. Take lots of photos. Get out the good china and set a gorgeous table. Fall asleep in front of the fireplace. Sit in silent wonder at the quiet beauty of freshly falling snow.

All of these things belong to all of us. They bring great joy.

But Christmas, in its purest origins, belongs to those who call Jesus Christ, Savior, Lord, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel--God With Us.

So, Merry Christmas to all believers!!

And warm, sincere Season's Greetings to all who do not.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The 'fun' before the FUN!!


Oh yeah, baby! This is the fun I was having on my 'day off', prior to going to the real FUN of the State Dance Tournament.

TMI? For me, maybe.

Not for some moms, though. Some moms make it their business to 'out' themselves for many an embarrassing encounter, child-rearing faux paus, Freudian slip of the tongue, etc.
Not gonna lie, I love reading their blogs, but am not sure I could ever go some of the places they do (in public, in writing, FOREVER!). lol

But I have been having some ummm...symptoms that needed a specialist and well, there ya have it.

Swallowing some radioactive pill, changing my diet and meds., scheduling an x-ray (to see where in the world those little markers have moved to) and then the procedure pictured above.
Good times, this week, my friends. Good times.

Now I know why all the old-timers talk about this stuff incessantly. It's because one little shift can CONSUME your life. lol

Rest assured, dear reader(s), I will keep you all informed, up-to-date and in the know on this pressing situation.

In a vague, hazy and G-rated sort of way. ha

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Last of the Great State '09 Photos

Just a few more

More State Dance '09

Slide Show first, details later

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know...been a looong time, right?

I know it's been a long time, since I last posted. Tons of things are happening around here in rapid-fire succession.

I will try to catch up in a way that makes sense (to me---I can't know what is going to make sense to you, so you'll have to bear with me). heh heh heh

The first thing I want to do, is to direct readers to the Green Family Blog, 'Never Forsaken' (yes, it's in all CAPS. that's because it's IMPORTANT!!).

If you love to read about the power of prayer, the miracles of Christmas, the blossoming of special needs children, adoption, a heartwarming family story or enjoy seeing cute kids, you will not be disappointed (
and if you are? well, then....never mind. you won't be disappointed. not possible).

Scripture tells us that God's eye is on the *sparrow*. The sparrow, people.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Luke 12:6-8

How much more is He aware of and committed to and delighted in, His precious children, one and all? Tall and small?

God loves to make His children happy. Not nearly as much as He loves to make them holy, however. And when God's securing of His children's happiness collides with their holiness?

Look. out.

That's when Miracles begin.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Raaandom Monday ***updated with addled comments



AGGGGHHHH!!!

What kind of horrific crime scene is this?

Creeeepy. Awful. (shudder)

They both died, you know.


Both of those pomegranates bit the big one.

Or the Big One bit them, I guess is more accurate. (evil grin)

*****what the hey? it is not monday, it's wednesday. this post not a topic of God or of the heart. this post belongs (and has been moved) here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Vision

I didn't grow up a Christian. Therefore, I don't know any hymns (or didn't, I should say). Even after I became a Christian, I joined a non-denominational, hip and cool contemporary church that didn't really play hymns, cuz I guess them hymns just isn't cool.

But, once I heard my first few and learned about their origins, look out!! I was HOOKED! Powerful lyrics. Biblical truths. Longevity amongst our culture of miscrowave meals in a minute.

I know that some people do not like hymns, mostly people who grew up with them and associate them with...I don't know, I guess---childhood forced church? their parents' preferences? Hard to relate to language? Whatever it is, it's not me, man. Nope, nope, nope. I love 'em.

My current crushin' hymn? Be Thou My Vision. What a hymn! The version I am playing over and over during my cruises around rural Iowa (is that redundant? yeah, it is), is by Selah.

My commute round trip is one hour. The amount of driving I may do in addition to that may be another hour. That's 2 hours of Be Thou My Vision, people. Hit replay and there you have it.
A balm to my heart. A salve to my spirit.

Breathe in. Breathe out.
Just what I need.

Vision.

For my future. For my purpose. For what's next. For my life.

The prayer of my heart.

Be Thou My Vision.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Really Want You

Bawled my head off last night at dd's dress rehearsal. Could not stop crying.

All the tension and questions and wondering and sadness over the last year or so, seemed to culminate into one song, one 3 minute dance routine.

As I watched my babyGirl leap and pirouette and whirl about, something about the lyrics just caused me to come undone.

In public. For no reason I could articulate.

Weird.
And exhausting.

It feels sort of necessary. Like draining a boil (gross--sorry). Like letting a fever run its course. Like throwing up, so you can start to feel better.

Would I prefer to bypass this step, this way point on my journey? Umm...duh, yeah. Pain is not my friend. I am a weeenie.

But I have tried this thing my way; tried to pretend and avoid and numb and deny the sadness and the pain. And that ain't working, I can just tell ya.
It ain't working.

And so, some vague remembrance of having prayed a dangerous prayer washed over me and although, I cannot say it caused me to laugh out loud, I can say, it produced a small, slow wry grin.


Who says God doesn't answer prayers? Every single one is answered.

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? Only someone who has never met Him.


(Here are the lyrics to James Blunt's song, "I Really Want You". Here is the YouTube link to his official video. It's such a haunting song).

Many prophets preach on bended knee
Many clerics wasted wine
Do the bloody sheets
On those cobbled streets mean
I have wasted time

Are there silver shores on paradise?
Can I come in from the cold?
I killed a man in a far away land
My enemy I'm told.

I really want you to really want me
But I really don't know if you can do that
I know you want to know what's right
But I know it's so hard for you to do that
And time's running out as often it does
And often dictates that you can do that
But fate can't break this feeling inside
That's burning up through my veins

I really want you
I really want you
I really want you... now

No matter what I say or do
The message isn’t getting through
And you’re listening to the sound
Of my breaking heart

I really want you
I really want you

Is a poor man rich in solitude?
Or will mother earth complain
Did the beggar pray for a sunny day but
Lady luck for rain

They say a million people bow and scrape
To an effigy of gold
I saw life begin
And the ship we're in
And history unfold


I really want you to really want me
But I really don't know if you can do that
I know you want to know what's right
But I know it's so hard for you to do that
And time's running out as often it does
And often dictates if you can do that
But fate can't break this feeling inside
That's burning up through my veins

I really want you
I really want you
I really want you... now

No matter what I say or do
The message isn't getting through
And you're listening to the sound
of my breaking heart (x2)


ouch.