Category Archives: Music

Creating Christmas in My Heart


As often happens when I read posts by Susan Gaddis, I start to comment and then find I’ve written an entire blog post myself. Please go check out her beautiful post: How to Celebrate Christmas When You’re Not in the Mood

The last few Christmases have been a challenge for our family, financially, and living in a city without much of our extended family nearby makes it even harder to get in the mood to celebrate Christmas. But we’re doing our best!

This year, the kids and I made a Terrific Mess cutting out paper snowflakes to paste on our windows which we’ve surrounded with blue twinkly lights. Our little one especially loves to just sit and watch as they blink off and on, coloring the snowflakes white and blue. If I focus on just the beautiful window, I can almost ignore the desert landscape beyond. In our trips around town, I keep a Christmas station going in the car, and it’s fun to hear the kids’ sweet voices stumbling through the words (Oh Holy Night has become a mish-mash of made up words, Sunday school lessons, and I think even Optimus Prime got in there at one point…). Their current favorites are the rock-opera-style Trans-Siberian Orchestra versions of Carol of the Bells and Oh Holy Night.

Soon, I’m planning on making cookies with the kids and decorating them to take downstairs to our elderly neighbors who don’t have family around. I keep reminding the kids (and myself!) that we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, not getting gifts and presents. We may not be able to afford a tree or gifts this year, but between devotionals (an Advent calendar), practical acts, and praise, we’re trying to keep Jesus the focus of our Christmas!

I’m feeling especially close to Mary, Jesus’ mother, this year… being ungainly pregnant; an impending move looming right next to my due date; the alternating joy of new life within me and the crushing terror of how the heck we’re going to care for another child with our limited resources. Years ago, as a teenager, I was inspired to create a dance to Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” and have danced it almost every Christmas for the last 10 years… so it’s a familiar song, but every time I’ve heard it this year, I’ve broken down weeping. It’s so near my heart… God what are you doing? Is this really Your best plan for my life right now? Help me be strong… help me be… help me.

But the Hope that is Advent… God encasing himself in the flesh of a helpless baby, to live like us, be one of us, so that He could save us from our pathetic existence… THIS is what excites me about Christmas. It’s what shakes me from the lethargy of my depression and causes me to turn my eyes towards the Hope of Eternity Future. This isn’t all there is to life. There is more coming. Christmas gives me a glimpse of that Joy Unspeakable.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, the-God-Who-is-with-us, is coming!

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Let’s get really real.


Guys, I’ve gotta come clean. I struggle with depression. That sounds completely melodramatic, but it’s the truth. Sadly, more often than not, depression wins, and I end up doing stupid things like eating an entire row of freshly baked brownies, ignoring my children, and crying. The tough thing is, I’m super conscious of WHAT I’m doing and WHY it’s wrong and stupid. I mean, heck, I’m a Christian. I should have the joy of the Lord as my strength, right? It’s a mind game that I go through over and over. And guess what? I’m sick of it. This is part of the reason why I haven’t blogged much lately posted any of the entries I’ve written over the last few months. My WordPress dashboard is full of almost daily entries, but when I read them through, they’re just whiney, angst-ridden rants from a person that I honestly don’t want to be.

The last few days, I’ve really gotten pissed off at the whole thing. I’m done struggling with depression. I’m gonna freakin’ rip its head off and pound it into the ground.

So. Inspiration for this post comes from the fabulous Kelle Hampton, an amazing, brave and hilarious woman who writes a beautiful blog that I’ve been following for about a year. She’s a woman who embraces life with a passion that I so deeply admire. I’m pretty sure her life isn’t perfect, but she takes the little things (the title of her blog) and celebrates each like it’s the most precious thing in the world.  I want to be like that. I don’t want my writing to be a list of my complaints, because that’s almost too easy. I want to chronicle the joy of my life, even if only to remind myself that life is wonderful. I might just have to work a little harder than most to see it that way.

And you know what? I do have a pretty amazing life! Here are the highlights of my week.

We had purchased tickets to a Giants spring training game in anticipation of some family coming out to watch it with us. But life happened, family couldn’t come, Anthony had to work, and there was no way I was going to take three kids to a spring training game all by myself (no matter if I kinda have a thing for beards

Brian Wilson – Fear the Beard!

and mullets).

Tim Lincecum – Mmm.

We couldn’t sell the tickets back and we were out a significant amount of money. So on Monday, I did a brave thing (for me). After dropping Jonathan and Hannah off with my cousin, Josh and I went to the stadium to scalp the tickets. Have we met? I’m the baby-wearing, stick-close-to-my-husband type… not exactly the scalping-tickets-on-my-own type! But there I was, shamelessly having Josh wave tickets around while asking people if they wanted tickets at a discount (a whole fifty-cents off the box-office price). Guess what? We rocked. Josh and I made $50.  

Feeling rather proud of my awesome scalping skills, I felt it was time to take on a sewing project I’ve wanted to do for awhile, but haven’t because… well, honestly? Because my mom wasn’t around to walk me through it. I know, pathetic, right? I’m 28 and I want my mommy (I love you mom!).  But I really have never done any sort of sewing without my mom close by to help me!  So I took my hard earned $50 and the kids and went to the fabric store. Jonathan and Hannah each got to pick out three fabric quarters for their very own tote bags. I spent the rest on supplies, thread and various other accoutrement required for sewing. You know what? My kids have really good taste!

Freshly washed fabric quarters

Freshly washed fabric quarters

I used this website for general direction and inspiration. She said (and I quote) “A beginning sew-er, ages 10 and up, can sew this up in an afternoon.” *Snort* I started Hannah’s bag at 10 am. It was finished at 5. Granted, I haven’t done much sewing since I was about 16 and I was learning a brand-new sewing machine (my Christmas present from my loving aunt Suzy and cousin Tanya), but still. Yikes. I’m slow. However, the results were awesome.

Pocket side of Hannah's bag

Pocket side of Hannah's bag

Non-pocket side of Hannah's bag

Non-pocket side of Hannah's bag

I don’t care that I spent all afternoon working on this. The kids had fun watching the bag come together and I was so happy that I started and finished a project in one day! I then launched whole-heartedly into making Jonathan’s after dinner. Anthony was graciously quiet about the fact that the Cheerios from breakfast had cemented to the bowls in the sink, and that there was a mountain of clean clothes on his side of the bed when he returned home. The kids loved having picnic breakfast, lunch and dinner in the living room (because sewing took over the entire kitchen table) and watching a parade of Pixar movies. There was thread and fabric scraps everywhere when I was done, but I had MADE something! Jonathan’s was finished long after the kids were in bed, but his turned out amazingly, too!

 

Alien/helicopter pocket. So cool.

Alien/helicopter pocket. So cool.

Jonathan's "chocolate" side (as he called it)

Jonathan's "chocolate" side (as he called it)

Creativity rocks. And I can be creative, and stick to something, and finish it. That’s a big deal. And the kids LOVE their tote bags. Yesterday we were out-and-about most of the morning, and Jonathan and Hannah stuffed their bags full of books and toys and took them everywhere, showing their new bags to anyone who came near. I made that happen. That’s awesome.

After all of yesterday’s running around, though, we made a pit stop at home to start dinner in the crock-pot and get the kids into their karate gis. The day had just been too much for one little ninja, though, who passed out 10 minutes before we had to get in the car.

Sweet Sleeping Ninja

Sweet Sleeping Ninja

Purple Blanket is a requirement for Hannah sleeping. In fact, we just discovered that it was left in the car that Daddy took to work, and she’s grumpily making do with a powder blue blanket.

My final highlight is from this morning, where, amongst the disaster that is the kitchen (which has been terribly abused and left dirty the last few days), Anthony and I whipped up a little morning gustatory delight, the recipe for which I must share with you.

1. Pour a generous amount of heavy whipping cream into a mixer. Add a few spoonfuls of sugar and a few capfuls of vanilla. Set the mixer on high and whip until it’s whipped cream (numerous finger-dipped samples required to ensure quality).

What's left of the home-made whipped cream

What's left of the home-made whipped cream

2. Add several scoops of ice cream to a blender

3. Pour 4 ounces of freshly brewed espresso over the ice cream and blend until smooth

4. Add a few squirts of chocolate syrup until desired chocolateyness is attained (again, finger-dipped samples are needed for this step)

Blender aftermath (abused kitchen backdrop)

Blender aftermath (abused kitchen backdrop)

5. Pour into tall glasses

6. Top with whipped cream and chocolate syrup

This is THE WAY to wake up!

Calories be damned. This is THE WAY to wake up!

So boo-ya, depression. I own you. Scalping, sewing, kids, husband, coffee & chocolate. You ain’t got nothin’ on ’em.

P.S. Readers (my dear friends): can you help me remember to just be thankful? When you hear me start to whine, would you remind me that the latté is half-full? ‘Cuz I need that. Even though I’m miles away from most of you, I still really need your encouragement. This desert isn’t as bad as it was last summer, but it’s still tough. Thanks!

Now go grab your kids, turn up your speakers, click play and shake some booty. That’s what we’re about to do!

My Favorite Song


Gold and Silver

You slipped from my arms,
I knew you had to go
Such a heavy heart, who could hope to hold
And I know where you’re going, and that’s the hardest part
No matter where tonight ends, you won’t escape your broken heart

Stay a while

Helpless for the words, and it tightens up the air
It’s not what you deserve, it’s not for lack of care
Inside of me is screaming out, I’m praying for my prayers
Distracting and unworthy of each and every burning tear
Seems insincere

Do I see God in all of this? maybe all along
It’s just that we’re so small, and simply not as strong
Strong like wings of silver, and feathers made of gold
To carry heavy hearts, to cover all our helpless souls

To cover all of us

Under wings of Gold and Silver sometimes we have to hide
For shelter from this bitter winter at least tonight

If it were mine to give I’d give you your own time
Turn it back or forward whatever you decide

Stay a while

(taken from www.stavesacre.com)

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