December 23, 2011

A rare moment - sitting together with both of my brothers.  Hooray for Christmas togetherness!!!

Every Christmas my dad gets a cake.  A few years ago he wanted a cake that said, "Happy Birthday Jesus" and instead it came out "Happy Birthday, Red".  Last year he asked that "nothing" be put on the cake.  So they had a cake with "Nothing" in nice red letters.  This is what he got this year:

Dad said he wanted one word to encapsulate our Christmas this year, and this was it.

I guess it is a little chaotic, but it sure is fun.  The kids are running around like crazy, the kitchen is overflowing with good things to eat, and my brothers are keeping us entertained on piano and guitar.  

We spent a few days in the country with David's family, having Christmas with them.  It's so peaceful where they live; I took several walks around their property to soak in the quiet. 
The kids enjoyed time with their grandparents, making cookies, and checking out library books.

Zoe, accommpanied by her very musical grandmother, sang "Away in a Manger" for us.

Last week we took Carter and Grace on a field trip to court to see their grandfather in action.  We watched as he weighed evidence then made decisions as to whether young offenders had to stay in detention until their trials, or if they could go home.  I think it was sobering for C and G to see kids - some who were their ages - come shuffling in to the courtroom in shackles and handcuffs for their hearing.  It was heartbreaking to hear the proceedings for one boy who had served his time, but had a mother who said she didn't want him, and no one else who could take him.  I couldn't see his face, but I could tell from the slump of his shoulders that he felt no one cared about him.  I almost stood up and shouted, "We'll take him!" as he was taken back into detention to await a foster home.

Another field trip we were able to do recently was a tour of Savannah.  I forget that my kids haven't grown up here, and don't know all the history - the city's as well as our family's history, so we started at Bethesda, where D's family served as house parents, then went on to see our various homes over the years, and the Baptist Center, where my grandfather pastored.
The Indian chief Tomochichi's grave
Then Aunt Mary came to town, and her visit included a trip to one of our favorite places, the Tea Room.
This furlough the kids have really enjoyed taking part in children's activities at church.  Zoe was able to dance as an angel in the Christmas program, and she loved every minute of it - especially wearing a costume.
A few random photos:
Recently we saw this white sparrow - which is apparently quite rare - at my parents' bird feeder.  It made the kids miss our little canary that we left behind in Indonesia. 
Oh, the love of a grandmother, that would allow a granddaughter to go crazy with the face paints.

Today we had to stop by Wal-Mart and it was a complete zoo. I couldn't believe all the masses of people, and all the masses of stuff the masses of people were buying.  This is the part of Christmas in America that drives me crazy, and makes me yearn for our simple Christmases in Indonesia.  

But there are definitely aspects of Christmas here that we love, the first thing being family.  Other things that come to mind are cooler weather, fun Christmas activities in the community, and ready-made eggnog.  

My computer keeps crashing, and I am taking it as a sign to finish this and get to bed so I can get up early to be the first to say "Christmas Eve Gift!" (first one to say it gets a gift - so goes our family tradition).  

Merry Christmas, dear readers!  May you be blessed beyond measure this Christmas season.

December 05, 2011

A Birthday, A Race, A Tree

Last week, we celebrated Luke's birthday .  His requests were simple: dinner at Chik-fil-A, a visit to Monkey Joe's (an indoor playground with huge inflated slides), and dirt cake.  

Luke is a serious Lego builder, and spent several happy hours putting this jet together. 

Later in the week, I got sick.  It hit me quickly.  We were having coffee with some supporters, then an hour later I was standing in the Kroger check-out line, simultaneously shivering and blazing, with a basketful of meds and teas, my favorite of which is ThroatCoat tea.  If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it for sore throat.  

Anyway, once we got home I went straight to bed and stayed there for several days, feeling so incredibly bummed out.  Not just physically, but emotionally, as I had been planning to run the Savannah Bridge Run with David.  We'd been training for several weeks, and despite the fact that I am a WLE - Woman of Low Energy (thanks to a bout of mono several years ago which seriously messed up my immune system), I was ready for this race and looking forward to it.

Race day rolled around and despite my cold, I forced myself up that bridge and met my personal goal of running the whole thing and not walking.  

My dad is a runner, and has several marathons and half-marathons under his belt.  I never quite understood his fascination with running and races, for to me running has always meant pain.  

But while David and I stood at the starting line with thousands of other people, waiting for the race to begin, I got it.  I realized why Dad gets so "geeked" about it (to use his terminology).  Fun loud music was playing, and while it was cold, the crowd buzzed with energy and anticipation.  It was like a big party.  And then after the race there was more music, and snacks.  What's not to love?

And while I know a 5K race is nothing to boast about (I mean, really, do you ever see anyone put a "3.1" sticker on their car?), for me, as an aforementioned WLE, it was an accomplishment, and it's given me the confidence to shoot for a longer race next time.

We finished off the week with the decorating of the Christmas tree.  Does anything smell better than a fresh Christmas tree?  If I only had one scent to enjoy the rest of my life, it would be a Frasier fir.  

Mom still has many of the ornaments my brothers and I made as kids.  I made this Santa as a second-grader in Mrs. Graham's class.  Mrs. Graham, wherever you are, that was one of my favorite years of school.

My brother Jonathan, back when he was young and sweet.

My parents brought back purple Christmas balls from Germany when they lived their in the early '70s.  Only a few remain, and they get a special place at the top of the tree.

And now it's less than a month till we head back to Indonesia. I have mixed feelings, as I always do, about heading back.  We are ready to be settled in our new location, and ready to get back to a normal pattern of life, ready to get back to our ministry with MAF.  But I dread the goodbyes with our family, which have not gotten easier with time.  And there's the List that hangs over my head, of items to buy to take back with us. I am hoping to finish the purchasing and maybe even start the packing next week.

And hopefully we'll have time to take in some fun Christmas activities, enjoy tall, frosty glasses of eggnog, and spend some quiet moments contemplating Immanuel, God With Us.