Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Family Times

We have had so many fun times together with family over this Christmas season. Erica and Mary Lane are at some fun ages to make celebrating even more exciting and we all just love being together. It was also an added bonus to have a visit from my cousin, Ashley and her husband, Jonathan, as well as Bud and Vickie. Getting to spend time with family is my favorite gift any time of year!

Daniel, me and Mom on Christmas morning

Russell, Daniel, Bud and Jonathan

All of us with Bud and Vickie

Mary Lane (w/ her monkey hat), Erica and Daniel

Christmas Day family pic

In age and height order. :-)

Blevins girl cousins

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Comfort and Joy

Last Friday, a horrific tragedy took place in Newtown, Connecticut, and our country has been grieving the loss of those 27 lives. On Saturday night, our church held the first of two nights of Christmas Worship, two identical services dedicated to celebrating Christ's birth and remembering that He came as a little baby to grow up and be our Suffering Servant.

I know that the service was planned well before the tragedy in Connecticut, but the songs and the readings and the theme of the whole evening spoke into our need for comfort during sorrowful times. Even if we hadn't had that tragic occurence last week, there is much suffering in our world and many people have heavy hearts, even when they feel like they should be joyful and happy and celebrating during this time of year.

The first song was a solo and from the first line, I knew that it was providential that the song was included. Here are the lyrics to this centuries-old hymn (Words by Johannes Olearius (1671), Music by Louis Bourgeois (1551)):

Comfort, Comfort Ye My People

Comfort, comfort ye my people, speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness, mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover, and her warfare now is over.

Yea, her sins our God will pardon, blotting out each dark misdeed;
All that well deserved His anger He no more will see or heed.
She hath suffered many a day, now her griefs have passed away;
God will change her pining sadness into ever-springing gladness.

For the herald’s voice is crying in the desert far and near,
Bidding all men to repentance, since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey! Now prepare for God a way;
Let the valleys rise to meet Him, and the hills bow down to greet Him.

Make ye straight what long was crooked, make the rougher places plain;
Let your hearts be true and humble, as befits His holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord now o’er earth is shed abroad;
And all flesh shall see the token, that His word is never broken.

On Sunday night, I went to my mother's church to attend the Carol Candlelight service, which included a full choir and an orchestra, along with a handbell choir. I was glad to be there to see my mom sing in the choir and to have an opportunity to participate in a candlelight service. Toward the end of the service when the minister came forward to begin the candle lighting portion, he explained that in response to the shootings in Connecticut, we would be taking time to remember the victims by name and light a candle in their memory.

As the names were spoken, along with the ages, I began to pray for the families and friends who had lost such dear loved ones. I also began to cry and allowed myself to grieve the loss of innocent lives. In talking about the events with some friends at different times over the weekend, it seemed so evident that we all felt helpless and unsure of what to do in response to the tragedy, especially at what is supposed to be such a joyful time of year. One friend said that sometimes we just have to grieve and not fight it or suppress it. That night while hearing the names of the victims being read, I chose to grieve and to allow myself to experience the feelings that were inside of me.

Both worship services last weekend also spoke of much hope and I am thankful that because of Christ, I don't have to grieve without hope. And I don't have to suffer minor and major things on this earth without hope.

One of my favorite Christmas hymns, "Joy to the World" tells us that Jesus came to "make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found." And "He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and the wonders of His love."

As the sanctuary filled with light from the candles being shared from pew to pew, person to person, we sang:

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night,
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.
The hope that we have is in the fact that God did not leave us in darkness. He sent us His Son, the Light of the World, and in Christ, we can find comfort, joy, hope and peace. Thank you, Lord!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What did you say?

A couple of weeks ago I finally made it into the world of smart phones. I love my phone for many reasons, but one of them is that it gives me a good laugh whenever I get a voicemail.

There's this cool feature where it creates a text version of whatever message is recorded. The only thing is that it must not have paid attention in dictation class, because what it thinks someone said and what they actually said are hardly ever the same.

Here are some examples:

Text version:
"Hey matt...just that paul I'm trying to I gonna make that happen nothing was there so call me back.

What she really said:
"Hey Nanette the phone just rang twice and I picked it up and nothing was there, so call me back."

Text version:
"Hi we just want to say hi I don't know why it's brian I think so I need to on and up see how."

Real message:
"Hi! We just wanted to say hi on the way to our birthday pj party. We've got our slippers on and our pj's. See ya!"

Text version:
"Hi this is Rebecca calling from Lincoln Anthony I was calling to see if we can have the electrician there in a about 30 minutes give us a callback as soon as possible thank you."

Actual message:
"Hi, this is Rebecca calling from Lee Company . . ."

Interestingly, I had a voicemail today from Daniel and his voice must be picked up better or something because the text version was the exact wording of what he actually said. He must just have one of those "golden voices" like radio announcers have. Hey . . . there's an idea!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sister Saturday: Big Girl Bed

"Would you like to come up and see our new room, Aunt Nette?"

I think I've been asked that question about three or four times in the past couple of weeks since Mary Lane got moved out of her crib into a big girl bed. They already had the beds, but they were set up as bunk beds. Now they are set up like twin beds and Mary Lane is so excited (and Erica is too)!

Since it wasn't a good idea for me to take pictures at their actual bedtime, I got them to pose for me in their beds, and they happily agreed.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Favorites: Hot Tea

It used to be said of me that I did not drink coffee. It's still true that I don't like the taste of coffee without some sweetener and yummy creamer, but I have traveled over to the "dark side" and can enjoy a coffee beverage here and there.

But lately, I've come back to my first love of hot beverages (wait, maybe my first love was that homemade hot chocolate mix that my mom used to make). Anyway, lately I've been back on a hot tea kick. I'm not sure why, but it may have to do with the fact that I can enjoy flavored, decaffeinated tea without needing to add creamer (i.e.: calories) to make it palatable. It hasn't been very cold in Tennessee lately, but I've still been enjoying a nice mug of tea at work or in the evenings at home.

My thoughtful friend, Gwyn, shares my love for tea and likes to bring me surprises when we meet for community group. This week, she brought some decaf French Vanilla tea bags and suggested that I might want to add a little milk and honey, and it would "taste like dessert." She was right! Gwyn shared some of her tea bags (that she had to buy in bulk because she couldn't find them at the grocery store this year), so the next day I found some sugar-free vanilla creamer in the fridge at work to add and had a little morning treat with my snack.

In case you want to try something new, here are some of my other recent favorite tea flavors:  Vanilla Chai, Chai Spice, Apple Cinnamon.

My sister also made up a tea blend that rivals the tea you can get when you go to an Aveda salon. I often learn new tricks from my smart sister and this time she combined the following in her brew basket to make the tea:

1 bag licorice tea
1 bag peppermint tea
1 T. fennel seed

1 T. dried basil
Hope you can find some time to relax and enjoy a cup of hot tea (or coffee) this season, and feel free to call me to join you!