A Fresh Start

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post. Last year Kathy set a goal to write or post something every day, but the ‘every day, rain or shine’ nature of her commitment (which she thought I subscribed to) felt forced and contrived to me. Right at the end of the year, we got into a sort of a fight about it, because she wanted to back-date some posts that were based on pictures which had been taken on a certain day, and that seemed a little too revisionist (shades of the Ministry of Truth, from 1984) to me. It was one of those trivial-seeming, innocent differences of opinion which suddenly turned ugly, picking up baggage and momentum from other, previous arguments, growing rapidly into a major disagreement.

So both of us (somewhat bewildered) carefully backed away from posting anything on the blog, and our joy in the project was stolen. Since then, we haven’t posted anything, both licking our wounds and wondering if to resume would be to reopen the argument. Since neither of us really understood the others’ viewpoint, we both felt a little paralyzed and yet unhappy with the status quo.

It’s been six months. I know Kathy feels unhappy about not recording the major events of our life in the blog, and I admit that I miss it, too. The blog serves as a way for me to crystallize the thoughts of my heart and to reveal that to myself and the people I love. Maybe we can start again.

There's nothing quite like an early morning and a new-plowed field to make you think about fresh starts.

There’s nothing quite like an early morning and a new-plowed field to make you think about fresh starts.

Marriage seems to involve a lot of these kind of things, where two people come together again, admitting they are different and broken and sometimes wrong, and offering at least a willingness to start again, maybe this time a little kinder and gentler. After 24 years of marriage, you’d think I would have figured this out.

I’m sorry, Kathy, for trampling on your joy in the blog last year. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. I care about you and the fun we have as a family. Let’s try this again.

Tim

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Pinterest Class, Starbucks, and Thrifty Chic

This year I think we acquired new Christmas decor from three different places – Sarah’s homeschool co-op Pinterest class, Starbucks, and a local Facebook “for sale” page.

Sarah is so talented!

Sarah is so talented!

I love that our co-op offers such a diverse collection of classes. I am NOT artistic, so it’s a treat when Sarah or David can benefit from the other talented moms. Sarah made several beautiful things this past semester in her Pinterest class.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

For some reason, I decided to splurge and treat myself to several mini Starbucks ornaments this year. I had a few from previous years, and couldn’t resist buying one or two throughout the month of December. I kept them in their little box until late December – still not sure if I was keeping them for myself or giving them as gifts. Heh heh. Then I stumbled on a small golden ornament tree for sale on our local Facebook page.

Filled with ornaments!

Filled with ornaments!

There’s room for a few more ornaments. Next year??

A tree in front of a tree.

A tree in front of a tree.

I even hung them on this little tree IN their boxes. Toward the end of the month a sweet friend gave me two more ornaments I was missing, and Sarah looked at me knowingly.

“Mom, you’re not going to give these away. You think they’re too much fun. Just take them out of their boxes and enjoy the coffee tree.”

Sigh, when your kids know you so well, what can you do??

My artist - working on our chalkboard pantry door.

My artist – working on our chalkboard pantry door.

Over the month I did quite a bit of odds and ends shopping on the FB site. I picked up a tree, some garland, several ornaments, fleece pj’s, decorated mason jars for candles, and so on.

This garland was perfect over.  Took down the curtains, wound lights into the greenery and hung them in the living room.

This garland was perfect over. Took down the curtains, wound lights into the greenery and hung them in the living room.

Our master bedroom is big enough for it’s own tree. I hung all the ornaments on it that I haven’t used in years – memory ones from our first year of marriage, themed ornaments that just didn’t fit on the main tree, childhood creations. I even put lights over the window and around the room. Tim works from home several days a week. Our room became one of our favorite Christmas spots of the season.

Christmas tree decorating in process.

Christmas tree decorating in process.

Of course, putting Christmas decorations AWAY is never as much fun as taking them out – the END of the season is always bitter sweet (kids going back to college, Tim off to work, homeschooling and ministry responsibilities returning). Going through our Project 365 pictures, blogging about the big and small moments of our days, and smiling over it all, helps to keep me thankful and aware of all our abundant blessings.

Project 365 Days 341, 342 and 344 (Dec 7, 8 and 10)
Kathy

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Christmas Decorations

We LOVE a good party here at our house!

We LOVE a good party here at our house!

I think between us, Tim and I took some sort of picture every day in 2015. The one day I completely forgot, Rachel saved my bacon and sent me one she had taken. Whew.

Now, that doesn’t mean all the pictures are very good. Heh heh. One of the purposes of a Project 365 is to become a better photographer or improve general photography skills.

And sometimes it’s not about skill.

Sleigh Bells Ring

Sleigh Bells Ring

Sometimes you just need to take a picture. And check the Project 365 box.

Christmas Decorated by bathroom this year.

Christmas Decorated by bathroom this year.

I couldn’t just pack away all those pretty jewel toned Christmas decorations from the Christmas Brunch, but the rest of our Christmas things are in the traditional red and green colors. What to do? What do do? I couldn’t put them in the master bedroom because I had already hung a huge Christmas quilt in red and greens on the wall and put on our forest green down comforter.

Then it came to me, the bathroom would be perfect! We have a nice, big master bathroom in neutral colors. Gleefully, giggling to myself, I hung the bright pink, purple and turquoise snowflakes across the long mirror. I draped the ornaments atop the light bulbs and tucked the colored glass bottles on the edges of the counter.

These pretty pieces make me laugh every time I see them in our master bathroom.

These pretty pieces make me laugh every time I see them in our master bathroom.

So much of life seems to be finding joy in the little things, appreciating that which makes you smile, and being thankful for treasures big and small.

Project 365 – Day 340 (Dec 6)
Kathy

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Remembering the Christ Child

Sometimes, when we think about the Christmas story, we forget about the difficult parts. We focus on the awe and wonder that the shepherds felt, and the majesty of the King as the Magi bow before Him and offer their gifts, but we tend to gloss over some of the less palatable facts.

Rachel and Jenny oohing over some baby pajamas

Rachel and Jenny oohing over some baby pajamas

Truth is, the arrival of Jesus was a considerable difficulty for His parents. Joseph, a righteous man, likely lost his reputation (at least among those who did not believe) and may even have lost many of his customers as a carpenter. Mary would probably have been shunned by the other girls of small-town Nazareth, maybe called some pretty terrible names, especially if she was known to be particularly chaste or modest. I can imagine the glee among the unrighteous of Nazareth, to see ‘how the mighty have fallen’, to have Joseph and Mary knocked off their pedestal.

Daniel managed to find some very cute boy clothes ...

Daniel managed to find some very cute boy clothes …

For this reason, my heart turns toward pregnant moms during this season, particularly toward those who may be thinking about aborting their precious child. I think that abortion is the defining issue of our generation — the ultimate social injustice, when you think about it. As much as you might decry the oppression of the poor, or bleed for those who are mistreated because of race or ethnicity, surely the unborn have it worse. To be ripped from life by the one who should have been their loving protector, to have no friends or allies, no one to speak for them, to have no standing before the law — it doesn’t get much worse than that.

Babies and shopping -- both very dear to Sarah's heart.

Babies and shopping — both very dear to Sarah’s heart.

Yet many abort their babies in ignorance — as much as I think of abortion as morally equivalent to murder, I must admit that, when you consider our culture, it is more like manslaughter for some, since so many voices brazenly support and even revere it as a permissible ‘choice’. My heart fills with compassion for the high school girl who suddenly finds herself pregnant, without any support, because no one taught her to keep herself pure and chaste for marriage.

David found some very fun baby shirts with logos ...

David found some very fun baby shirts with logos …

This is where Care Net comes in. Situated directly across the street from one of the local high schools, Care Net offers hope for those who find themselves pregnant without support. Unlike the predatory, money-grubbing, tax-dollar-supported Planned Parenthood (which actively promotes abortion and has been so justly vilified in the news lately for the sale of baby parts), Care Net provides ultrasounds, counseling, parenting classes and material help and hope to these young women.

We ended up walking away with three large bags of clothing ... quite a haul!

We ended up walking away with three large bags of clothing … quite a haul!

One of the cool things Care Net does is offer a ‘store’ where young moms can shop for baby clothes, using ‘dollars’ they earn through attending classes. As the young moms look at the baby clothes, and the images of the ultrasound, Care Net reveals a powerful truth: this fetus is not ’tissue’ as the world would have you believe, but is rather a living person, one who in just a few months might be giggling and cooing, wearing cute baby clothes. In each of their branches, Care Net has several racks of clothing, but sometimes the baby clothes are a little shabby, mostly hand-me-downs. So I like to buy new baby clothes on sale at OshKosh and Carters, and donate the clothes for their rack. I like the idea of a young girl, maybe the same age as Mary, choosing to keep her baby because she has hope, and because she has come to think of her baby as a precious person, not as something inconvenient to be discarded.

Lunch at Red Robin was warmly approved -- we built up quite an appetite while shopping.

Lunch at Red Robin was warmly approved — we built up quite an appetite while shopping.

So I gathered the kids (plus one honorary daughter) and took them to Care Net to look at the ‘store’. Then I drove them to the outlet mall, and gave them each some money to buy baby clothes (mostly newborn and 3-6 month, as directed by the staff at Care Net). Happily the OshKosh and Carter store was having a pretty good sale, and we snapped up some bargains. Then back to our home town to eat lunch and deliver the clothes.

Delivering the clothing to Care Net's store.

Delivering the clothing to Care Net’s store.

One day the men and women of our generation will be held to account for what we did to prevent the slaughter of more than 57 million babies in the United States since Roe vs. Wade. Most of us will hang our heads in shame, knowing that we did almost nothing to prevent the genocide. But we have to start somewhere. Nationally, Care Net claims to have saved almost 400,000 babies in the past six years, and I see them as offering a credible alternative to abortion. This is one way to make a beginning to stem the tide.

Project 365, Day 362
Tim

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My Favorite Christmas Present

One of the down-sides to being a starving college student is that, well, one tends not to have a lot of excess money for Christmas presents.

As Daniel was finishing his first semester at Calvary Chapel Bible College, I received an expected phone call.

Daniel: “So, Dad, I’m ready to come home. I seem to remember that you offered to pay my gas … ”

Me: “Yes, I pay for Joshua and Rachel to fly home for Christmas and the summer, I guess I might as well pay for you. You’re bringing your car home, right?”

Daniel: “Yeah. I have another guy sharing the ride with me, so he can help with the gas.”

Me: “No problem. I’ll put the money in your account.”

Daniel: “Along those lines … I don’t really have any money for Christmas presents. What should I do?”

Me: “Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the family, but I can tell you what I would really like for Christmas.”

Daniel: “What’s that?”

Me: “I’d like a framed copy of your grades.”

There was a long pause. Then Daniel cut the conversation short, and hung up soon thereafter. I wasn’t sure how to take that. “I wonder if his grades are not-so-good?” I worried.

Daniel and I have a deal. If he gets an A in a class, I’ll pay half the tuition for next semester for that many credits, and (if he gets all A’s) I’ll make sure he gets back to school, even if I have to loan him the other half of tuition. His school has very low tuition, but I want Daniel to have some ‘skin in the game’ in terms of ownership of his education.

I’ve been praying for Daniel to do well at Calvary Chapel, and I’ve enlisted the prayers of several others as well. It seemed such an obvious answer to prayer, back in the Spring; Daniel had been floundering, without vision or purpose, and I was rapidly running out of patience. Then, suddenly, he was accepted to CCBC, and everything changed for the better. As you can imagine, I’m eager for him to be able to go back for the Spring semester, when he has grown so much in the Fall.

Everything changed, but don't worry, Daniel is still able to be goofy on demand, as in this picture.

Everything changed, but don’t worry, Daniel is still able to be goofy on demand, as in this picture.

It has been a lot of fun to hear Daniel quote from the book of James — to see that, through careful and diligent study, he has made that book his own in a special way. I am so excited to see his love for the Word of God grow, and to notice significant changes in his character.

On Christmas, I opened a number of presents, many of them very fun and interesting, but none quite so greatly enjoyed as this one:

I'm so proud of Daniel for getting A's in all his subjects!

I’m so proud of Daniel for getting A’s in all his subjects!

Project 365, Day 360
Tim

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The musings and ravings of a bloggart family