Christmas continued

okay, we got the Santa photos done, now on to the rest of Christmas.

first off Christmas Eve was great.  My church does four services.

  • a 4:00 kids service (usually a drama or something that kids will love)
  • a 5:30 traditional with candle-lighting, choirs, advent wreath, etc
  • a 7:00 contemporary
  • and an 11:00 traditional.

Martin had to be available to work the 5:30 and the 11:00.  Now I knew we weren’t going to keep Ginny up till the 11:00 service, even though that one is my favorite, so we planned to go to the 5:30 with the whole family (including my parents, my niece and hopefully my brother).  It turned out to be just myself, Martin and Ginny, but we ran into some friends and ended up sitting with them.  The service was lovely, Ginny enjoyed the candle lighting very much – even though I wouldn’t let her touch the flame.

The “O Holy Night” solo was done by our assistant choir director Blair Brawner and it was gorgeous.  It wasn’t as technically perfect as some I have heard, but it was beautiful.  Even the one time her voice broke…it just made it more of a human sharing moment rather than a performance.

The real highlight for me came after the service was over.  You see I had to go up to our pastor and apologize….  For wearing a Santa hat all during the service.

??? Why was I wearing a Santa hat to a church service when I don’t believe in Santa?

Well I was wearing it initially because I was just being silly.  Martin wears his a lot, and Ginny looked so cute in hers, so I was wearing mine to fit in with my sweet, silly family.

But then, on the way into the sanctuary, I passed by one of the outer doors, the one right next to the “hats, mittens & scarves tree”  This is a 9 foot tall Christmas tree that the members of our church decorate with brand new hats, mittens and scarves all through-out the holiday season.

As I was passing that entrance a blast of cold air hit me.  Really cold air.

I turned around.

there coming in the door was a woman and three kids.

all in shirt sleeves.

I smiled and said “Hi! Welcome!”

She smiled back, glanced at my hat and then at the tree.

“Do you know how we could get a hat or a coat for my kids?”

At which point I realized that I didn’t have a clue how those hats, mittens & scarves were going to be distributed. They disappear every year after Christmas, but I had no idea where they went.  To the Co-op? To a shelter? I had no clue.

“Tell you what, I’ll find out how we can get you some of those hats and stuff.  I know just who to ask, okay?” I said.

“How will I find you?” she asked, as people jostled us apart.

without missing a beat I said “I’m probably the only person in that sanctuary wearing a Santa hat.  I won’t take it off till you find me again and I promise I’ll have an answer for you”

So I asked around, and finally the pastor told me “you just march her right up to that tree and let her have whatever she needs.”

Well thanks to the Santa hat, we re-connected after the service and as I was walking her and the kids to the tree I figured I should make conversation…so I asked

“Have you ever been here before?”

“Well no, not to a service.” she said “But we come to your Journey to Bethlehem thing every  year, so I knew you were nice people”


That was worth every weird look I got for wearing the Santa hat during the service, and every time I have had to explain to my boss why I need those days in December off every year to put up Bethlehem sets and then take them down again. Not to mention all the rehearsals.

So thank you to the people at SUMC who gave hats, mittens and scarves.  And to all the folks who work hard to make Journey a reality each year – it is worth it.  We are reaching people.  People who sometimes need hats, scarves and mittens.

and I dare say, that is a fitting way to celebrate the birth of the Savior.

Merry Christmas.


joy to the world

this year Christmas was both more, and less.

less about presents (though some how the pile for Ginny was bigger than we had planned) and more about people.

We were very deliberate about making time for certain folks and digging time out of our schedule to make certain we sent out the cards, letters and presents.

Martin did Bethlehem as always.  Deirdre got sick and had to stay home.  Which is pretty much how it has been for the last three years running.  I have got to figure out how to stay well from October through January or the Worship Director from our church is never going to forgive me.

We even made time to go see Santa.  Now before anybody gets down on me for this.  Yes, I know, I said we don’t believe in Santa and will not be teaching Ginny to believe in Santa either.  However, that does not mean that she can’t participate in the ritual of getting pictures taken with a guy dressed up as the guy from the story of Santa.

Hence the next few photos…… Of the wrestling match as we tried to get her calmed down enough to take a decent shot.  Thank goodness this particular Mr & Mrs Claus were alone in the store with no line, so we had plenty of time to work with.  Also we are grateful that they are friends of ours…..or at least, they were….before we introduced them to our screaming darling………

mama sits with Santa to try to ease into this.....

mama tried to hand Ginny to Santa. uhoh....

daddy gives it a try

daddy sings, baby calms down

you guys aren't that scary after all.....

I will post photos from the actual Christmas morning tomorrow.

for now, good night.

christmas card photos

I just realized that I have photos of Ginny that I haven’t shared on the blog yet.  What has gotten into me?  I’m neglecting Ginny’s fans! (tongue firmly in cheek here by the way)

These were mostly taken at Target for use on our Christmas cards

classic, white t-shirts, white background.

is it just me or does Ginny look like she is planning a prank here? something about that smile.......

we promised Grand Mama Altie that we would get a shot of Ginny in this chair. I just wish I had seen that her pants leg had gotten pushed up....

we took a bunch with our Christmas clothing on too, but they didn't turn out as well and Martin was having to sing the whole time to keep Ginny smiling

...which makes for some odd expressions.....

this was the final Christmas card.

So there you have it.

By the way, we are very upset that our favorite Target is closing!  It is the only one in Georgia that is closing and they just had to take MY Target !!! Life will never be the same again.

all i want for christmas….

My memory verse for these last two weeks of 2009 is this –

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.

Psalm 27:4

Not a terribly Christmas-y verse is it?

But for me, right now…it works.

See my body has this horrendous habit of getting sick right around the holidays.  Sometime in late November or early December I almost invariably come down with a cold, the cold sinks into my lungs and I spend the next two months hacking, sometimes losing my voice, but mostly sounding like I belong in a ward full of consumptives and tuberculosis patients.

This is very very frustrating for someone whose primary avenue of worship is, and has always been, song.  Singing to God is my highest joy.  Most years, when this sickness hits me I tend to get very angry and frustrated and depressed.  This year, thanks to a song and this particular bible verse I’ve got a different outlook.

There is a song on Travis Cottrell’s album “Found” that is called “Rest”  One of the verses goes like this –

Cure my heart of chasing whirlwinds

Of needing earth to quake

Of wrestling made up angels to keep myself awake

Oh bid my restless wandering heart

To find its pulse in you

In stillness know that you are God

In rest…….

You make me new.

I’ve spent a lot of time this season just letting various songs wash over me.  There is a different message that can be found when I am not spending so much time physically participating but instead participating by listening.  That seems like such a simple thing to say, but for me it has been a hard thing to learn.  In years past my silence has been that of an actively frustrated bystander. Now I choose to deliberately immerse myself in the flood of words and music.

Its kinda of the difference between swimming with the current or being a leaf that the current is moving.  The leaf puts in no effort, but is still moved.

I used to think that if I couldn’t participate in the music that I wouldn’t be moved by it.  I am learning differently this year.

ginny update, 15 months

I’ve got to keep writing this stuff down or I will lose track of what happened when.

Ginny is 15 months old now.

She is toddling everywhere and is very sure footed.  She does take some tumbles, but not nearly as many as I was expecting.  And the poor child always hits the same spot above her right eyebrow.  She is fascinated with thresholds.  She loves going in and out of doors.  Any door will do. And if she can open and close it….. all the better, that makes it a toy!

Walking backwards and turning in place are her new skills this month.  She loves to “dance” to her Praise Baby DVD while mommy does full body stretches.  Mommy needs to do this more often, as she is pretty sure that one is not supposed to get winded by doing 30 minutes of stretches….ahem.

Ginny eats everything we eat now (except for the normal restrictions – peanuts, chocolate etc..).  Loves cream of wheat, cheese toast, clam chowder (!!!!), salmon patties, green peas, carrots (this child will eat carrots any time and place), bananas, yogurt, ice cream, and Yes Missy  she likes tortilla chips dipped in queso. When we took her to Chick-fil-A the other day she ate a little bit of the chicken, nibbled on a fry before rejecting it, and then  DUG IN to the Carrot Raisin Salad!  She also loves lentils.  Wanna read that again? yes, my.  child.  enjoys .  lentils.

Spoon feeding herself has just started. She’s got the basic mechanics of it, but a lot of the time she holds the spoon so that the bowl of the spoon is upside down.   It doesn’t seem to matter much to her though.  She just licks the spoon clean and keeps trying.

She has transitioned beautifully from the bottle to the cup.  Not even a sippy cup, just an open cup.  She drinks water with great enthusiasm and milk with reluctance.  Ginny still hasn’t had any fruit juices, candy or chocolate.

Light switches, doors, drawers anything she can open and close or switch on and off are serious fun for Ginny right now.  She loves to shut the door with an adult on the other side.  Then it turns into a game of peek-a-boo.

Her happiest moment of the day is when we hold hands to pray.  We sing the meal blessing at our house and it just sets her off.  She smiles, giggles and bounces up and down in her chair.  I think she thinks we are singing to her.  Eventually she will figure out that it is about God, but for now she is certain that mealtimes involve all adults serenading her.

Ginny’s newest trick is blowing kisses. Oh my word it is sweet.  If she is in your arms and you ask for a kiss she will let you kiss her on the mouth while she says “mmmmwah!”

She is “talking” a lot more. Most of it doesn’t make sense yet, but some phrases that she uses you can almost make out what she is saying just by the rhythm of the phrase. If you know what I mean.

Glossary of Ginny’s Real English Words so far:

  • Mama – seems to mean comfort object.  Uses it mostly for myself and Martin
  • Papa – seems to be Martin, but also sometimes uses it for Deirdre
  • iss? – seems to mean “what is this?” she points to an object and says iss?
  • eyes – points to your eyes, sometimes lands her finger IN your eye
  • nose – points to your nose
  • kitty – we’ve only heard this word once or twice. But Ginny was pointing right at the cat at the time
  • uh-oh – this gets used when either she falls or she drops something.
  • ess peese – means “yes please” this has shown up once at the table.  Someone asked her if she wanted more sweet potato and she said
    “ess peese”

the most wonderful post of the year

This post is important.

It is the post that lead to a friendship.

But it is more than just simply important to me.  At this time of year there are loads of people going through depression for many reasons.  This post helps those who know God to get through it in a better frame of spirit.

There are loads of reasons people get depressed during the holidays.  I can’t speak to all of them.  But I can talk about this.  December of 2007 I was in a very bad place emotionally.  Martin and had been through lots of treatment for infertility issues, including two rounds of IVF.  All our efforts  had failed.  We had come to the end of our rope.  I was basically okay with it…at first.

then came  Christmas.

and oh boy.  all the symbolism, all the services, all the kids programs, all the holiday photos and posters, and commercials.

I felt like I was in a flood.  Being overwhelmed by the Virgin Mary and her Baby Boy.

It was so hard to take.  I sat in the balcony and cried through the children’s service.  I ended up staying home that night and not even doing the Christmas play at church that I was supposed to be in.  I knew I should have gone and fulfilled my commitment, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be around kids at that point.  I saw them not as little people, but as walking symbols of my pain.  It was a very unhealthy outlook, but I was caught up in the middle of it and couldn’t see that right then.

It hurt too much.  I was so sad and jealous and angry.  I wanted to scream out my anguish to God.  WHY was I not a mommy yet?

Then Trish pointed me to this post. Everything changed.  Something about this post just turned over my apple cart.  Put the focus back where it was supposed to be in the first place.

Read it.  No matter what your reason for depression, or if you are simply disgruntled this season, it will change how you look at your current circumstances.  I re-read it every year. And find new reasons to revel in the message.