Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Thing!

This time of year causes me to be reflective of many things, particularly about how I use my time and energy.  I never feel like I'm doing my absolute best using either and, because I know both are in limited supply both today and in my vapor of a lifetime, I desperately want to be improving and honing the ways I spend both my time and energy.

I think most people either are or are not believers in New Years resolutions...I don't find much of a middle ground.  I happen to be a believer.  January 1 is always like a grand reset button for me.  As Anne Shirley says, Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it....on a large scale for a new year.

There are so many areas I want to grow in, so many things I want to get better at, so many ways I want to be making an impact.  And I feel like time is so short as I watch my girls watching me.  They don't just see the "put together" woman who makes public appearances and serves in the church Sunday school, they see the woman who lives with them day in and day out.  With everything in me I wish I was the woman I want to be for them to be watching, not this package of imperfectness struggling to love others and clawing for God's grace.

And so...I do what I can do.  I lean into God all the more, lay down more of myself at the foot of the cross, yielding my plans and bright ideas in favor of His plans and His thoughts.

This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:12-14

I found this list of thought-provoking questions.  I'm going to spend the next day or so answering them for myself and I'm sharing it here in case you'd like to do the same.  I'd love to hear your answers to one or more of them, if you'd like to share.

20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
5. Pick three words to describe 2011.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2011 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2011 (again, without asking).
8. What were the best books you read this year?
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas, Take III

Before I begin, I feel its only fair to warn you...there are a significant amount of pictures here.  BUT, when you consider that I took 331 on Christmas Day, it doesn't seem like so many.  Hey, just be grateful I am not in your family, in your face.  :)

As its been for most of the years of my life, Uncle Lee and I started Christmas morning, together.  When I was little, I would wake up super early, always well before the sun and he would tell us stories until 6 or 7 am when it was ok to wake up the other adults and get the party started.  What I didn't realize when I was six is that those story hours were not stalling time to get to the good part of Christmas, they were Christmas and are now the sweetest of memories.

Now that I'm older, we still sit with each other in the early morning hours, but now we both have a cup of coffee in hand and we both tell stories.  Good stuff.
Eventually the kids found their way down...

 They were so happy to see each other and start in on playing, no one was concerned about starting stockings.

 Speaking of stockings....we had a boys couch
 ...and a girls couch.

 After a break for a crazy-yummy brunch, we started in on presents.

 This is me trying out my new Macro lens (for close ups).  Thanks Shaun. :)

 There was a steady flow of food
 Later, we did the adult exchange.  The 16 adults pick names.  There were some fun twists this year which made for a lot of laughs.  The make-your-belly-hurt, give-you-a-headache kind.  :)

This was the wrapping paper for my gift.  My brother-in-law pulled images off of my blog and printed them onto paper.  So special!

 My cousin, Dr. Melody and Shaun had a keen time talking Statistics.  They were talking each others language and we so happy to have found a kindred spirit.  Most of the rest of us steered clear.  :)
 Later in the evening, we did our talent/variety show, which each family presenting.

 This was Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree aka Johnny.

 This song required flashlights, which the kids were thrilled about.
Shaun's brother and family came later in the evening and my on-the-go niece let me snuggle with her for a couple minutes.
I might say this every year, but this was really such a great Christmas.  The day felt like we were floating down a lazy river, meandering through the day in whatever direction it took us.  It was refreshing to be with a group of kids who were more concerned with being with cousins than what presents they were getting.

Christmas, Take II

Easily one of my favorite days of the year....Christmas Eve.  I spend the first part of the day baking and cleaning, and general getting ready for company.  Then we head to church for the annual candlelight service where we meet up with the rest of the family.

The church was beautifully decorated and, with a full house, there was a lovely Christmas buzz in the air.

 Our December family photo.  :)

 Later, we head over to my sister's house for dinner.  She always does an outstanding job with food and decorations.  This year, with the "small" group we had, all the adults were able to fit around two tables together.

After dessert, we did a $5 yankee swap, which is always good for some laughs.

 Then we go home to finish up wrapping (Shaun & Johnny) and bows (Shaun and those who traveled).

We also let the kids open one gift.  In the past its been pjs, this year it was bathrobes.  Then we stuff stockings and head to bed somewhere in the midnight range.

We worship Him
We honor Him
Jesus our Lord
And our King