Monday, December 9, 2013

Collapse at Christmas

"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him..."  Matthew 2:10-11

So far the Christmas tree has fallen three times.  Fortunately, topples one and two occurred before any ornaments made their way onto the scene.  They did happen, however, after much pulling, tugging, and holding in an attempt to get that stubborn tree to stand up proudly in the stand.  Fall number three would be described more as a “crash” than a mere tumble, complete with the sounds of shattering glass, little boys running in fear, and a mother calling out in unseasonal cheer. 

It wasn’t quite the festive afternoon of tree decorating we had planned.  We were supposed to be stringing lights, putting up the stockings, and decking the halls.  Not sweeping up broken pieces and reassuring the boys that it was okay to put another handmade decoration on the tree.  They shied away from the project and hubby and I cautiously finished while holding our breaths that it wouldn’t all plummet again.  

After all, you don’t want it all to fall apart at Christmas….and yet, how often it does.  Budgets descend as the gifts are bought, schedules collapse under the weight of another party, and spirits depress despite the season.  Somewhere under the piles of crinkled wrapping paper and the platters of sugar cookies, the love and the joy get buried. 

So perhaps rather than letting it all fall apart, we need to just fall down.  Rest in the Reason we celebrate.  Fall down at the manger.  Peer in at the Gift from Heaven.  Admire the One whose hands created the world yet takes the broken pieces of ours and makes them whole again. Take some time to breathe.  Smell the hay that holds Him humbly.  Lift up the Name of Jesus.  Fall down this Christmas.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Butter Cookie Banana Pudding

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I don’t use Vanilla Wafers in my banana pudding.  If you are a Southerner, take a few deep breaths…I promise it’ll be okay.  I add an unexpected ingredient also.  We’ll get to that soon…after you recover from the cookie revelation.  My swap out from the traditional favorite came from necessity.  After becoming a stay at home mommy, I became a deal seeker in an effort to keep my new gig.  I also had more time to fuel my love of cooking.  So when I discovered my husband’s aunt’s banana pudding recipe in her church cook book, I knew I wanted to give it a try.  It’s a staple dessert found each year at the Fourth of July cookout.  So I made my list, clipped my coupons, loaded up my munchkin and headed off to the grocery store.  I picked out a bunch of bananas, cool whip, sour cream (yep, sour cream) and rounded the corner to the cookie aisle.  Much to my dismay the “Nilla Wafers” were nearly four bucks a box! I scanned the row for a sale price, something to rescue me and my banana pudding.  That’s when this frugal momma made a dessert-altering decision.  I found the Sunday School cookies.  You know, the little round butter cookies that you can put on the end of your finger.  I tossed the package in the cart with optimism and haven’t looked back since.

Butter Cookie Banana Pudding

1 large package vanilla instant pudding
2 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces Cool Whip
4 bananas
1 package of butter or shortbread cookies

Whisk pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract for about two minutes until thickened.  Stir in sour cream and then gently fold in Cool Whip.  In a large bowl, layer cookies, bananas, and pudding mixture.  Top with crumbled cookies.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reign on Me

“The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.”   Psalm 97:1

“Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
My boys really need to go
Outside to play.”

If I’ve learned anything over the past few weeks as we’ve been soaked with rain, it’s that this family does not need to move to Seattle, England, or the Tropical Rain Forest in the foreseeable future.  These boys really don’t need to be cooped up in the house and mama really doesn’t need them to be either.  Even after surviving the pent-up energy levels, there’s the mud to deal with.  Whoever designed my kids’ shoes with all of their crevices for holding dirt, mud, and rocks, must have had enough money to hire a maid.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like the rain.  Rain that fits into the day’s plans.  Rain that doesn’t ruin a picnic or parade. There’s nothing like a nice shower to cool a hot day.  Or a steady rain when you can curl up with a blanket and a bowl of soup.  It’s the times when you’re out trying to do life and the drizzles turn into downpours that get to me.  When you’re holding a toddler’s hand, pushing a shopping cart, and attempting to load up the week’s groceries.  The times when the flat iron has made it out of the cabinet and through your hair and of course, the umbrella is no where to be found.  Or when you’ve gone out on a limb and mopped the floors and the children run through the backdoor with a vengeance (see above reference to mud.)  Rain that muddies life.

“Reign, Reign, go away
Come again another day
This girl really wants her own way.”

Then there are those times when the skies are clear and we've got it all together.  Things are nice and neat, just the way we want.  Jobs seem secure, relationships feel comfortable, someone agrees to try spinach at dinner.  Life is sunny.  Then the drip drops gently descend or the bottom falls out and life is no longer the way we’ve planned.  We stomp our feet in the puddles and demand life go the way we desire forgetting that the One who creates the rain is reigning.

“Reign, Reign, come today.
Rule my life in every way.
This girl really wants You to stay.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rotini Faith

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."     I Corinthians 10:5

“Sometimes you just have to buckle up your pasta salad.”  That’s what I thought as I strapped in a couple of really big bowls of it into my minivan.  It was enough to generously feed at least fifty.  And the last thing I wanted to happen towards the end of a busy day was to have pasta salad slipping and sliding all over the place.  Noodles going one way, veggies another, and mayo coating all else.  No, I wanted it all together in its respective bowls, safely buckled in for the ten minute drive to church.

Sometimes you just have to buckle up your thoughts as well.  Life can be going smoothly, just riding along--thoughts on the day’s blessings, even throwing in a “Thank you, Jesus” for His goodness.  It’s amazing how quickly one bump in life’s road can cause the whole thing to just fly in the air causing a big ol’ mess.  One seed of doubt creeps in and suddenly I have fears spilling out, worry pouring in, and self-doubt sliming its way all over me. These are times to not let my faith spiral, but to trust that He has me safely buckled in His grasp.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Everyday Life

"Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths."  Psalm 25:4

In a house filled with my hubby, three young boys, two goldfish, and me, whether it’s the volume, stacks of papers, tempers, or quite frankly, the potty lid, something is generally up.  While we are up and going, life somehow quickly passes by and before we know it, we’re turning the calendar up another month.

I don’t know about you, but it often feels like plenty of my days are just ordinary ones--filled with routines and ruts.  Rolling out of bed, finding the coffee, laundry, mealtimes, dishes, homework, laundry, night-time tuck-ins.  Did I mention laundry?  But it’s there, in those everydays, that I seem to learn the most.  The unplanned, run of the mill moments when life offers up a lesson needing to be learned.  I know God still does miracles and makes rainbows but more often in my life, I see His hand moving and His voice whispering while I’m busy doing the things that make up my everydays.

      It’s the times when I’m kissing a boo boo that He soothes, “I’ll heal your heart.”  It’s in the piles of laundry that He reminds me, “I can move mountains.”  It’s during the excitement of a basket scored that He exclaims, “My joy is your strength.”  It’s when the budget doesn’t balance that He declares, “I am your portion.”  It’s the times when I repeat over and over, “Don’t hit your brother!  Brush your teeth.  Do your homework.  Put the lid down! Remember I love you!”  that I hear Him calling, “Be kind.  Keep your way pure. Read my Word.  I forgive you.”  And oh, “Remember, I love you!”