Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Annapolis tradition

So I had to hop online one last time before signing off for the Christmas holiday.
Not only am I taking a blogging break; I'm taking a *computer* break...
and oh, how the mere thought sends shivers of excitement down my spine!

Before I do however, I want to share a few more photos from our weekend in Annapolis,
a few from a very favorite spot~

This is Chick & Ruth's.

Our favorite hang-out in downtown Annapolis.

And the home of our annual challenge...
the 6-pound chocolate milkshake.
We guzzled one last year-- my crew, my folks and Chris's as well,
and this year, we vowed to do the same.
Of course, a few in our bunch wanted to tackle TWO 6-pounders,
but alas, we settled for only one. Maybe next year~

Good to the very last drop... I promise!

So should you ever find your way over to this cozy little bayside town,
be sure to hop on in...
and give me a buzz if you do.
One more chocolate milkshake *surely* has my name written all over it :)


See you next year~

and have a merry, merry Christmas!

We certainly have much to celebrate... this time of year and always~

"Arise, shine, for your light has come..."

Isaiah 60:1

Monday, December 20, 2010

1000 Gifts: Coming

And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

In anticipation, we wait. And we rejoice. And we delight.
Because the King is coming...

an afternoon for building gingerbread houses (and the many challenges that come with it :)

walls that stand and roofs that don't sag-- even crosses made of pretzel sticks

windows and doorways, shingles and sidewalks... even a marshmallow snowman with an M & M hat

my budding architects

math lessons with candy

and leisurely hours spent with friends; the school books set aside

Handel's Messiah at the Kennedy Center. Glorious... absolutely glorious.

"Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ;
and He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Hallelujah!"

the Gospel message... clear and bold... woven throughout that symphonic masterpiece

and the curiosity of my two oldest sons (not to mention the constant pleasure they provide)-- WHY would I want to drive all the way in to the Kennedy Center to see Messiah when... surely... there are plenty of You Tube videos available for free?? (I still don't think they get it :)

the first snow of the season

boots that still fit, an extra pair of snow pants, plenty of mittens, and sleds enough to share

pink noses and rosy cheeks

snowball fights and a peacetime truce


the boldness of my eldest son... who, compelled to make a difference, visited our neighbors and asked for donations to help families in the Dominican Republic... because love(is)action.


dinner with friends & laughter around the table... our men en route to the wilderness

3 days of camping (better them than me :) and mounds of gear...
all designed to keep. them. warm.

3 days with Lollipop... girl time galore.

and Christmas... the birth of our Christ and the call to celebrate every. single. day.

the waiting

this time to rejoice!

and the glory of the Lord, revealed...

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming..."

Zechariah 9:9a

and the list continues...

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Christmas Meet

The North Baltimore Aquatic Club's Annual Christmas Invitational
The United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland
December 10-12, 2010

... a highlight every year!

My littles in the window with Gramoggie~

Hot Fries... the snack food of champions :)
Didn't you know??!

A favorite funny face~

And a favorite Olympian.
And this year, he swam again.

Surreal. Utterly surreal.

As for Bub and Noh-man... they were our true champions.

Amazing. Fantastic. And overwhelmingly great.

They swam to beat the band,
they dropped almost a gazillion seconds,
and they finished as the 2nd and 4th place point-earners for their entire team.
Needless to say, their coach was just bursting with pride.
I'll leave you to guess how Chris and I felt (not to mention all 4 grandparents :)

It was an absolute blast and the perfect segueway into our Christmas vacation!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cereal boxes and hope

Cereal boxes.


Yep, I know what you're thinking~ oh, no... now she's really gone off the deep end!

But I promise you, I haven't. This is really, really cool. And potentially life-changing. I promise.

And it all starts with cereal. And our precious little ones. And their full bellies. And our desire to make a difference.

You see, in Haiti, children are orphaned every single day because their mothers cannot feed them. Because their fathers cannot provide for them. Because life in an orphanage is their ONLY chance for survival. Their only chance...

Can you imagine? Can you imagine releasing your son, your daughter to be raised by
another, simply because you didn't have the means to do so yourself... can you imagine?

I, for one, cannot. And that's why I'm so, so thankful for folks at Compassion International and World Vision who allow us-- we Americans so overwhelmingly rich as compared to the rest of the world-- to step in and bless out of our abundance. Well, here's another wonderful option... and EASY option... if you really want to make a difference. Consider it a Christmas gift to a hurting family, hundreds of miles away.

Here's the deal: when your family reaches the end of its next box of Lucky Charms, don't shred that cardboard. Don't squash it and cram it in to your recycling bin. Just flatten it and set it aside until you save another. And another. And another. And then, when you have a big box packed full of flattened, empty cereal boxes, drop it in the mail. And then pray. Give thanks. Count *your* blessings. And trust the Lord to do the rest.

Because when those cereal boxes reach Haiti, they'll be put to good use. Men and women, as part of the Apparent Project, will use those boxes-- believe it or not-- to make jewelry. Beautiful jewelry. Jewelry that provides enough money for them to raise their own children... in their own homes... with dignity and love and hope.

And a significant opportunity to change a life.
One cereal box at a time.
Will you join me??

"Then the King will say to those on His right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer Him,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The King will reply,
'Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for Me.' "

Matthew 25: 34-40

** If anyone who lives in my neck of the woods would like to participate,
I'd be happy to mail your boxes with mine...
just let me know :)

*** For whatever it's worth... I'm also saving other boxes--
ones from our Ritz Crackers, our Triscuits, our Graham Crackers--
that sort of thing.
I figure~ they're colorful, and they're no smaller than a Grape Nuts (cereal) box,
so hopefully they'll be acceptable, as well.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Hallelujah Chorus... over lunch

Oh, how I wish I could have been there... what a glorious lunch-time treat, don't you think?!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

1000 Gifts: December joy

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

~Johnson Oatman, Jr.

It's funny~ how easy it is to focus on the minutia of the day...
on the momentary "insanity"of the household...
on the seemingly important but oh-so-very-far-from-eternal...
on self.

This past week was a doozy... a doozy, in many ways, of my own making.
How thankful I am now to be on the other side.
Rejoicing in His Light, His Hope, and His Grace.

friends and family who love and encourage and remind me of Truth... who set me straight and wrap me in warmth... who care enough to drag me out of my pit-- to pray me out of my pit!-- and rejoice with me in His goodness on higher ground

Isaiah 55

His everlasting covenant with all who believe

her pink tu tu

his strong legs

their tired little bodies~ they keep chugging for more

until finally... rest

letters written in a foreign hand... with messages of life and hope and love

and return letters en route from our kitchen table to theirs... our simple offering... our chance to make a difference

Compassion International and their willingness, their desire, their success in sharing the love of Jesus

the Advent season

the attic now empty~ its treasures, its goodies... the memories unpacked

little hands and homemade decorations from years gone by

grand smiles of recognition

AND unbelief: "2002! I made this in 2002??!!!"


potty training success... and those precious 45 seconds she spends-- every single morning-- deciding which pair of panties she'll wear that day

"Pray, Mommy... pray!" ~Lollipop

the eyes of a child

Ann's Jesse Tree devotions... and our time in His Word, first thing each morning~ our countdown to Christ's birth

Christmas tree lights and candle-glow-warmth

cinnamon scented pine cones

homemade cookies

hot apple cider

chicken noodle soup


a Santa hat with Goofy ears-- a souvenir from our Disneyworld vacation, seemingly so very long ago

3 of my favorite little elves

and God's generosity... His abundance... His grace

"I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever."

Psalm 86:12

and the list continues...