Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

...Oh, and since 'The Editrix' tagged me this time... :)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Goodness, I'd be happy for the gift, regardless of how it was wrapped! Oh, fine - I have to say that I do definitely prefer wrapping paper.

2. Real or fake tree? Well, we have usually used a fake tree in the past - we only used a real Christmas tree once, I think, and it was when I was quite young. But I'm willing to try a real tree again anytime! ;)

3. When do you put up a tree? Usually either Thanksgiving day, or that weekend.

4. When do you take it down? Usually sometime in January, though there have probably been a few years where it managed to stay up 'til February. ;)

5. Do you like eggnog? Hmm, I don't think so, but it's been a long time since I tasted it - then again, as it's raw egg, it doesn't sound very appetizing to me. :P

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I really do not know. Does salvation count (the gift of Jesus)?

7. Hardest person to buy for? Probably my dad - he seems to always buy what he needs before giving others a chance to buy it for him!

8. Easiest person to buy for? My siblings, in general. ;)

9. Do you have a nativity scene? 3 or 4, actually. :P

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, definitely. I love letters!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Umm....N/A? There was one year when I got a pair of tennis shoes that I picked out myself, but still; I didn't have to buy them!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Well the first Christmas movie we usually watch every year is 'The Santa Clause,' and I also enjoy 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When my schedule allows - sometimes in October or November, and sometimes (like this year) not until a couple weeks before Christmas.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Oh, I'm sure I have.

15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas FUDGE! :D And a lot of other things. :P

16. Lights on the tree? Of course!

17. Favourite Christmas song? I don't like picking favorites, "doggonit"! Let's see...O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Little Drummer Boy, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Carol of the Bells...Shall I go on?

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We've celebrated Christmas at home every year thus far, I think.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Let's see if I can: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...and Rudolph? :P I just sang the song in my head to remember them. ;)

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We don't always have a tree topper, actually - but when we do, it's usually a star.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning - stockings first (our parents hide them and we run all over the house to find them), then breakfast, and after that we open presents.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? How stressful it has become for the majority of society (and the feeling of obligation some people have about giving; giving is supposed to be such a joyful thing!) - and how commercialized it is, but that's pretty much inevitable.

23. Favourite Ornament theme or color? Couldn't decide that! Depends on the ornament.

24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? Our honey-roasted ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and whatever else is made for the meal! :)

25. Favourite Decorations? Hmm...Again, I don't have a "favorite" decoration, but I love the lighted garlands and the bows on the staircase.

26. What do you want for Christmas this year? Make that past tense, since Christmas is almost over for this year! :P There was actually almost nothing in particular that I really wanted. I was pleasantly surprised (and it's not easy to surprise me - somehow I almost always manage to find things out!). I got a nice little digital camera of my own that I can take with me wherever I go, several CDs, a book (David Copperfield), and a small notebook from my four year old sister. :)

By the way, there's something that happened last week that I just have to tell. I had just finished a piano lesson with one of my students (an 11 year old boy of the rather serious, in-charge, and sharp sort), and leaning on the back of their baby grand piano as I wrote in his assignment book I asked him, "So Joe, if you could have any one thing for Christmas, what would it be?" His answer made me look up from my writing. He said, "Well, there's nothing really that I need. But if I could have one thing, it'd probably be a thousand dollars to spend any way I want for the Sudanese victims." Wow. Talk about humbling.

My little sister has also insisted this year that we must have a birthday cake for Jesus - such a cute thought from a four year old. :)

I would love to give each and every one of you gifts - but this Christmas a hug will have to suffice. So, if you read this, consider yourself *hugged*. :)

I hope you all had a very, very Merry Christmas - a blessed and joyful one full of His love. I'm so thankful for you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Undying Love

"It is a marvel to me why God allows characters like mine to defile His Church. I can only account for it with the thought that if I ever am perfected, I shall be a great honor to His name...The time may come when those who know me now, crude, childish, incomplete, will look upon me with amazement, saying, "What hath God wrought!" If I knew such a time would never come, I should want to flee into the holes and caves of the earth." -Stepping Heavenward, by Mrs. E. Prentiss

Do you ever feel like that? Please tell me I'm not the only one. I have felt that way so many times over the past few months - I despaired of ever being who I know I should be (and can be, with the Lord's help), but the Holy Spirit reminds me of how far God has brought me already. I wanted to just give up, but the Holy Spirit always encourages me. I was lonely, but the Holy Spirit always comforts me and has shown me once again how blessed I am to have my family. I was tempted to "beat myself over the head" for one thing or another that might have caused others pain, but the Holy Spirit offers forgiveness and peace. As I sit here pondering, tears flood my eyes; probably in part just because I'm an emotional teenager, but looking back over the past few months...God has been testing me. I'm afraid I have not successfully passed His tests - I suppose only He can answer that, however. Honestly I don't know that I can tell you what the purpose of the tests are - the extremely painful and confusing trials - but I can go on, because I know that I know that I know they are for my good. Somewhere along the road, someday soon, I will stand on a hill and look down over the path He chose for me and say with a smile and joyful tears, "I see!" Someday soon, I will be shown the whole front of the tapestry He is weaving, and will stand in awe of its beauty and perfection, in a way I can't fathom right now.

I know that it's worth it - trusting Him. It is a journey. I have had to put things into His hands about which I care very much: relationships, school, my future, even the words I speak and the thoughts I entertain...And I have to keep giving them to Him. It's as if, just when I think I have released something, I realize that I'm really still holding on to it, insisting that I have control over this aspect or that. When will I realize that He loves me more than I love myself or anyone else? That He knows what will bring me joy and satisfaction; He knows me better than I know myself. He knows where I am best suited for Him, and He knows how to get me there. His ways are so much higher, His thoughts not our thoughts. A way may seem right to me, and maybe it is - or maybe He has a better path; who am I to judge it?

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees. ~Victor Hugo

My soul has been on its knees much as of late; both in pain and gratitude. He gives me so many blessings I do not deserve. When trials come, shall we focus our thoughts on the light that we know is with us? For it is only through the night that one can reach the morning, and it may be that our time in "the dark room of faith" will prove to be the moment before the light begins shining most brightly.

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand..." Romans 13:12a