Christmas Blessings

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Dear Friends,

God has blessed us in many ways this year. A new home, a new church, and best of all, a new baby girl. We pray that God will bless you in the coming year as much as He has blessed us in 2008.

Merry Christmas!

Luke, Valerie & Family

Weekend Thoughts

Oh, what a difference His presence will make,
The slumbering world now awakes…

It doesn’t feel like Jesus’ coming has changed much yet. In fact, every year longer we remain on this planet, the world’s judgment and the destruction of the god of this world is that much more deserved. So heartening, then, to think that the moment Jesus stepped into time, all was startlingly different. God gave us an unspeakable gift, and we never have to be the same again.

1 Thessalonians 5
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

[Above excerpt from the song “A Thousand Joys” by Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey]

“Sam, your shirt is inside out!”
“Yeah, because I’m playing Joseph, and Joseph didn’t have a ‘Scooby Doo’ shirt.”

“I know what Daddy really wants for Christmas is for his house to be done, and I can’t give him that…” ~Big A


How To Get A Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Dear Mother,

Whew! I very nearly became ineligible to even write a post like this, as my 15 month old’s sleepless nights were making me wonder if I knew anything on the subject. He has been sleeping better for three whole days, so I am back to suggesting, quite tentatively, these tips to help tired mothers.

1. Keep it dark. If one of our babies is up during the night, I do my best to leave lights off, or at least dimmed, so that they begin to understand this is a sleeping time and not a waking time.

2. Keep it quiet. This usually goes hand in hand with the darkness- and reinforces the point that we should be sleeping.

3. Keep a pacifier around. Almost all of my children have benefited from one of these- Gerber is one company we should have invested in when we got married.

4. Keep them comfortable. Figure out where and in what position they sleep best, and let them sleep that way. Current ‘expert’ advice on this topic can shift like the sands. Prayerfully consider what works for your child, and go with it.

5. Keep them dry. I usually change them first thing; sometimes I have gone ahead and fed/medicated/rocked/shushed, only to find out their diaper was primarily bothering them. Arrgh.

6. Keep to a routine. For me, baby’s day falls into a certain rhythm- change, feed, wake time, sleep. This loosely originates from things the Ezzos have suggested, along with others. As I do my days with baby this way, it doesn’t change at night, if they are up. This seems to work, and gets them sleeping in a dependable fashion fairly soon.

7. Keep your chin up. This part of childhood is a relatively short season, even if it lasts into toddlerhood! Find ways to cherish this time with your child, no matter how unnecessary their waking sometimes can seem. Pray. Go over memory verses. Plan your next week of meals. Make it a positive time for you both.

There you have it- 7 secrets of a highly successful, sleep-filled mom! Now watch- Baby C will be up all night tonight.:)

Thinking About The Ordinary

We’re talking about George Washington in school this week, and I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to going over the usual details (cherry tree slayer [not], war hero, president, great man, yada yada yada). As I was going through some books I got out of our library, however, I was drawn to some things that usually are not as widely talked about, like George’s affection for his older, half-brother, Lawrence, or what he might have liked to eat for breakfast. In other words, don’t we find those human, ordinary aspects of a person sometimes more interesting? It’s like getting a peek at their private journal, what reading a blog would be today. Things that make a person unique make for fascinating learning. Tomorrow we will revisit Washington’s famous winter at Valley Forge, but I hope to focus on the human aspects of such an experience, hopefully gaining a greater appreciation for what those brave (but ordinary) men accomplished through their suffering.

All these glimpses of the ordinary in George’s life get me thinking about Jesus, an infinitely greater hero. The longer I know Him, the more I want to get to know Him. Too bad the Bible didn’t include more details of His life before He went into ministry. What would have He been blogging about when His days simply involved work, family, and daily routines? What did He eat for breakfast? Those activities and habits that make Him unique would be of great interest to anybody who plans to spend eternity at His table!
Well, I gotta go make dinner. I’ll close with this favorite by Rich Mullins:

Weekend Thoughts

“If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of a light,” Ma considered. “We didn’t lack for a light when I was a girl, before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of.”
“That’s so,” said Pa. “These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves- they’re good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ’em.”
~from The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Breaking Up With Thrift Stores (For Now)

I made my regular trip to Salvation Army this morning, for their Wednesday half off sale. I found a parking place in the main lot, in one of the painted spaces of the back row. The last few times I have had to park back by the furniture store’s fence, and navigate the kids around the huge puddle/pond that collects in the corner, so I was grateful to be in a legitimate spot today. It didn’t seem any busier than normal in the store; the carts are always in high demand and the cashier lines usually stretch back into the sweater aisles on Wednesdays. As we headed out to the car, though, I discovered that someone had parked us in. Not only us, but every single car in our row was parked in from behind. I was shocked! Fortunately, the girl who had checked out before me (also parked in) came by and I gave her the license plate number, so I didn’t have to go back in the store with the kids and report this ridiculousness myself. Luckily the man came out and moved his truck from behind me in a few minutes. I had visions of being stuck there ’til he’d bought enough junk to fill his truckbed.
Some things come to mind:
1. A single (insert colorful word for a backward person here) parking in this manner I would not be too surprised to see. We are talking about a thrift store, and you get all kinds shopping there. But for seven, eight individuals to pull up the noses of their vehicles to the back ends of vehicles, whose own noses are parked behind vehicles. It isn’t like they couldn’t see that.
2. Was this an extension of the Black Friday spirit, rearing its ugly head at a thrift store? I didn’t go out this weekend much, so crowded stores and consumerism escaped my notice for the most part. The attitude of “I just have to get in that store and get the deals before anybody else, and who cares who that inconveniences” can surface at Salvation Army, apparently. That kind of thinking got a man killed Friday.
3. I don’t consider myself a snob, but the activity of thrift store shopping has become wearying to me in recent weeks. Maybe it is the additional child that makes it that much more difficult to take time out to even go. Maybe it is the fact that I am in no reasonably sized clothing right now. But even today as I was waiting to pay for some kids’ clothes I found (while the vehicle tetris game must have been going on outside), I had the thought: I’m a little tired of buying preowned clothing. Many times I do, gratefully, find just the right thing, and it may even look brand new. And who can complain about the low prices on half off day?! But almost always, I have had to slide so much crap aside to get to the creme de la creme. It is exhausting.
So, from now on I think I’ll direct my Salvation Army donations to the bell ringer in front of Wal-Mart. Right now I don’t care if I ever go in one again, mainly because I don’t want to be associated with those seven (insert colorful word) drivers! It isn’t SA’s fault, simply a demonstration of the consumer’s black heart.
Look on the bright side- all you who receive a Christmas gift from me can know it didn’t come from a thrift store.