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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Nasty Visitor

This week we had a nasty visitor at our home, the stomach flu! It started the day after Christmas with our son and continued to make its rounds. Although it only stayed for 24 hours (per person), they were 24 miserable, achy, messy hours. I was the second to find myself in bed instead of the mall. As I lay there, I just keep praying that my mom (who is still recovering from knee surgery) and daughter didn't catch this awful bug. It never really crossed my mind to pray for my husband because he NEVER gets sick! In 11 years of marriage, I've only seen him stay-home-from-work sick twice. Well, I guess I should have added him to the list because sure enough, he caught it on Wednesday.
Image from NY Daily News

Although he felt terrible, he kept our dinner date with my best friend and her husband who were visiting from out of town. He knew how much that day meant to me because I only see her a couple of times a year. After struggling through our meal (I still wasn't feeling well either), we called it an early night and headed home.

The next morning my husband didn't look much better. He never complains, but I could tell he still felt terrible. Although all of him wanted to crawl back under the warmth of his blankets, he turned on the shower and got ready for work, not because he wanted to, but because he knew it was a very busy day and he didn't want to let his co-workers down. Uniform on and Dayquil in hand, he came downstairs to attack his day with what very little energy he had left. Our son looked and him and asked if he was really going to work (knowing how his dad felt because he had been in the same place only three short days earlier).
"But you're sick."
"Yep, well sometimes you have to do things you don't want to or don't feel like doing, even when you're sick."

I was so proud of my man! Going to work with the flu probably wasn't the best idea. However, in that moment, he taught our son a valuable lesson in character. It's not about you. Others were counting on him and he wasn't going to let them down. He wasn't going to leave his co-workers short handed on a very busy day. If they wanted to send him home sick (which they did), that would be their call.

Having a good work ethic is a rare thing these days. It is a value that we want to instill in our children; but more than that, it's a value that the Lord commands of us.* As parents, we can talk to our children. We can tell them what is good, acceptable and expected. Yet, nothing speaks louder than a good example to follow.

*If you want more information concerning a Biblical work ethic go to

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"The Prince of Peace"

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Christmas 1997
I was 18 years old, a sophomore in college, and spending my first Christmas away from my mom. It wasn't my schooling that kept me from my mom that year, but a new relationship...with my dad. I met him for the first time at my high school graduation, only six months prior . For 18 years it had been just mom and me. She never remarried, never dated. She had devoted her entire life to raising me, giving me every opportunity she possibility could, making sacrifices I still don't fully understand. That year she sacrificed our favorite holiday to allow a man she hadn't seen in almost 20 years, the chance to spend Christmas with his only child.

Thinking back, I only remember being excited to fly from my small Ohio town to LA. I was spending Christmas in Hollywood with my dad!!! In fact, excited is probably an understatement. I honestly don't remember much about that trip. I remember attending a Christmas party, having dinner with some of Dad's friends and going to see "Titanic" at the movies. However, God opened my eyes a few days ago to how my mom spent that Christmas-alone.

As a mom myself, I can't imagine not being able to spend this special time of year with my kids, regardless how old they get. I certainly can't image spending it totally alone because someone from my past has re-entered my life, opening old wounds. Yet, despite her pain and loneliness, she gave me that Christmas, with her blessing. She never complained. She never said a negative word. She helped me pack. She drove me to the airport. She listened as I went on and on about the day's adventure. Looking back, I'm sure her heart was breaking. I'm sure she cried herself to sleep and prayed more than usual for those two weeks. What I do remember is how peaceful she handled the situation. What an amazing example of God's great peace that passes all understanding! Her actions and attitude went against everything in our human nature. She put the needs of her daughter and a father above her own. She didn't do what was fair. She didn't act on emotions. She didn't allow years of pain to dictate her decisions. She had a choice. She chose to keep the peace.

This Christmas, you may find yourself spending time with family members who have caused you pain. Perhaps you are more stressed about the amount of tension at the dinner table than about the general busyness of the season. This year I challenge you to make a choice. I challenge you to let the Prince of Peace shine through you this Christmas. It probably won't be easy (or it wouldn't be called a challenge). It may stretch you into an uncomfortable place outside your box. It's ok! That's when you rely on the One who holds the world in His mighty hands, to provide you with strength, grace and peace. It's up to you. It's your choice. Will you choose to keep the peace in your family this Christmas?

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Prefect Shot

Every year I pain-staking try to get the perfect shot for our annual Christmas cards. I normally have the kids dressed up in cute outfits they'll only wear one more time (on Christmas Eve to church). I spend more time than necessary trying to decide when, where & how the shot should look. I know, I totally over think this.

Bellagio ConservatoryWell, this year I tried my best to simplify things. I chose more casual outfits that they will wear over and over while still festive. Now for the location. Living in Las Vegas leads to a host of photo opportunities, especially at Christmas. My husband and I planned to venture down to The Strip and check out a couple beautiful hotels, Bellagio and the Venetian. The Bellagio has an amazing conservatory that they change four times a year. This Christmas, it has hundreds of red and white poinsettias, a huge polar bear of carnations, ice-skating penguins and a 55-foot Christmas tree. Talk about backdrops! Perfect!!
We set the kids in front of the penguins. No smiles (sigh). Ok, no worries. The polar bears are cute. Cheese....nothing! We have a 9 yr old who's is taking one great picture after another and a 3 yr old who wants NOTHING to do with this whole adventure! The Christmas tree...what better backdrop for a Christmas card! Yep, you guessed it. Not even a silly, goofy grin. I'm not sure she even looked at the camera. My hopes for even a "so-so" card were quickly fading.

Without any good shots, we decided to move on to the Venetian. Maybe she needed a change of scenery. On our way out, we passed a hugh planter of more red and white poinsettias. I sat Leah on the edge and had Logan stand next to her. And just like that, we had our picture! Both smiling, check; both looking at the camera, check; no weird stuff in the background, check! We did it!! We still went to the Venetian and took some pictures. But nothing was a good as that random, last-minute shot. Sometimes the best stuff isn't planned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mary, Did You Know?

What's your MOST favorite Christmas song? Mine is "Mary, Did You Know?" The lullaby brings me to tears every time.


Ginny Mariesaid...
What beautiful and meaningful words!

Here's a link to one of my favorite carols; we sing it in church every once in a while, but I first heard Sting sing it.

The Angel Gabriel
I love O Holy favorite version is Shawn McDonald's (here:

A close second is Casting Crowns- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (here:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Plate

A friend of mine once said that if your plate seems too full, then it's time to get a bigger plate. At the time, I thought it was the craziest statement. I still do.

Today, my plate feels like it's cracking, not because of the Christmas season or the busyness it entails. It wouldn't matter the time of year or the season. I don't need a bigger plate. I need a break. Not just a break because my sweet, loving husband is wonderful at giving me those whenever I need one. No. I need a vacation. Oh, and if it's not too late to ask (being that I'm in my 30s) a sibling would be nice too.

See, I'm an only child, which I have never minded. In fact, I've always kind of enjoyed not having to share my single mom with anyone else. And to be honest, I never missed having siblings. I guess I never missed what I never had. That was until now...

In August, my mom suffered a knee injury. After three months of being wheelchair bound, she was finally able to have a total knee replacement just a month ago (Nov 8). During those three months, I had to do everything for her because she was unable to drive: take her to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, pick up prescriptions, make dinner, help with insurance questions, as well as, manage my own family. Although the months were trying and long, we both saw a light at the end of the tunnel with her surgery. Even though we knew that there would still be months of physical therapy ahead (which I would have to drive her to and from 3x a week), her pain would be less, she would be able to walk and ultimately regain her independence. Motivated by the desire to be an active grandma again-playing with her grandkids, taking them to the movies, having sleepovers that usually include a trip to Chuck E Cheese and Target, she has worked tirelessly with her exercises and therapy, which made today's set back that much more disappointing.

Because of the amount of scar tissue, she isn't getting the full range of motion that she should be. So on Tuesday she goes back in for another "procedure" to break up the scar tissue and hopefully regain the ability to fully bend her knee. We both know this is necessary if she ever wants to be "back to normal". However, all we could hear the doctor saying was that it would set her progress back by 2-3 weeks and increase her pain for a few days. Although we know it's only for a short time, our silver lining had tarnished just like that.

Yet as I sit here, spewing my "woe-is-mes" I am reminded of two things:
(1) That God will NEVER leave us or forsake us~Joshua 1:5. He promises to ALWAYS be our source of strength when we have none. He tells us to "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.~I Peter 5:7.
(2) There are so many who have lost their moms far too soon. They long for just another moment with them. They would cherish the chance to make them dinner, take them to a doctor's appointment, care for them.

Time is precious. As our parents begin to age and we are called to a new role, may our sweet Heavenly Father grant us, grant me, the patience, grace,compassion and understand to juggle their needs, along with those of our families. I love the words of this old hymn:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Image Detail

Monday, December 5, 2011

Traditions ~ Lights in the Desert

Last weekend, we fulfilled one of our annual family traditions during the Christmas season, seeing the lights. Now when I was a kid, growing up in northwest Ohio, we would get all bundled up in the sub-zero temperatures, drink hot cocoa and drive around town in search of the neighborhood with the best light display. Things are a little different here in the Las Vegas desert. While there are neighborhoods with beautiful displays, the city has a couple of community options to visit. This year we chose a new one (per the recommendation of our 9 year old who had visited the display with Grandma a couple of years ago). We went to see the lighted cactus garden. (That's right, cactus garden. Yep that's how we do it in the

It was one of the prettiest displays I've seen in a long time. The evening was mild (meaning in the 50s. For us wimpy southwest residents that is still considered cold). We walked up and down the winding paths, sharing in the squeals and excitement of our kids as they saw all the colors. At the end of the path, in a high back chair, sat a jolly man in a red suit and white fluffy beard. Although our 9 year old could tell "he's not the real Santa. His beard is sooo fake.", our 3 year old was happy to share her desire for a Tangled doll with the beloved stranger. After freezing the moment with smiles and a flash, the kids were given a surgery treat and we were on our way.

It was a beautiful evening to kick off this beautiful season!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twas' the Month Before Christmas

Twas' the month before Christmas
and all through the day,
Chaos was stirring
from every which way.

Baking and parites and
shopping galore.
Toys and laundry
piled high on the floor.

No time for housework.
The cleaning will wait.
There are too many things
piled high on my plate.

Just look at this list.
There's so much to do.
"Put down that cookie
and go find your shoe."

We have to go shopping.
There's gifts left to find,
Decorations to put up,
and lights to unwind.

It's dinner at Ihop.
Kids eat there for free.
Then we'll hurry home
and put up the tree.

Our budget is tight
but we always make due.
“What! You still have not

found your shoe!”
With shoes on and
Kids bundled up tight,
We will go brave the crowds
and fight the good fight.

Parking and traffic are
out of control.
I believe all this chaos is
taking it’s toll.

I’m stressed to the max!
Where is the joy?
Isn’t Christmas about more
than just presents and toys?

It’s not about parties,
cookies or trees.
It’s not about cards
we send annually.

It’s not about carols
sung by a choir
Or couples snuggled
up by the fire.

It’s not about Rudolph,
Santa or sleighs.
It’s not about grandmas
that got in their way.

It’s not about Scrooge,
the Grinch or an Elf.
Or a man who chuckled in
spite of himself.

All these traditions are joyous
and fun.
But Christmas is only
about the birth of God’s Son.

Love sent to Earth
as a sweet, tiny babe.
He was wrapped up in cloth
and laid in the hay.

Who came down from glory
for you and for me
That we’d be forgiven
and from sin set free.

So make this Christmas different.
There‘s no time to waste.
You have the choice
to slow down the pace.

Make this Christmas special
full of the wonder and glory
That only comes from a
Christ-centered story.


May the true meaning of Christmas ring in your heart and homes this holiday season. Merry Christmas & may 2012 be Blessed Beyond Measure!


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