Thriving on a love for learning – for life!

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Waiting for Santa is easy to do when you’re the Mom.  It’s 2:10AM and I’m finally calling it a night, well almost. The dog, Apollo, still stays close by, in case I decide to get food I think. I have to admit, I did take a couple nibbles off of Santa’s cookies. Surely he gets well fed this night anyway.

The excitement of our three children all day long was simply priceless.  Their story-book excitement took me deep into the memories of happy childhood Christmases.  What a gift it is to become transported to timeless memories…when our lives were as simple as the anticipation of playing with toys.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve truly remembered what this felt like. I’m thrilled to have the privilege to know this again with our children.

All day long our son asked me, “Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” At first I responded by saying skiing with him – sharing time with him was a great gift. Then he pressed on and said, “What thing do you want for Christmas?” Then I answered and said, thinking of his toys, “Legos!”  Our son smiled and said, you’ll have to get the ones for older kids.  That made me laugh a lot.

“Can you believe Jacob doesn’t believe in Santa,” our 8-year-old son said to me as we were skiing today. I thought, oh know, on Christmas Eve, we’re going to have this conversation.  I responded by saying that some people don’t believe in God either, and that people choose to believe many different things.  I fervently said, “I believe!”  Then my son said loudly as we skied down the hill, “I believe, I believe.”

Watching Santa on the “Santa Tracker” on the Internet was quite remarkable. It was also a wonderful geography lesson, as we watched and then traced his path on the world map next to the computer. As Santa headed into the U.S. from Cuba, the kids said, “he’s on his way, we need to get to bed!”  But before we tucked them in, we cuddled around the fire to read aloud “Twas the Night Before Christmas” – a book we picked up at the North Pole!

Our stockings are hung with care in hopes that St. Nicholas will soon be here.  Tonight I give thanks for this true gift of Christmas in our family. I pray for the many soldiers who are separated from their family members at this time. I pray for Thy perfect peace to be upon us.

Merry Christmas!

Peace on Earth!

 

 


Tonight we skied until they called the “last run” at 8PM.  It was a perfect skiing night – calm, warm (25-30 F.), with a layer of fresh snow to ski on. The sky was clear – even the white on the mountains around us, stood out by contrast to the dark night. The small city of Anchorage shone brightly.

While sitting in the chair lift and heading to the top of the mountain alone, I was amazed at how clear my mind was. I was stunned that with all the of the excitement of entertaining, a 7-year-old birthday coming up, and Christmas of course, while on the chair lift, I could think of nothing else but being there.  And I love it!  To be on the chair lift is to know perfect peace (okay, not with our 7-year-old who refuses to hold onto the bar) but otherwise, serendipitous.

As we begin our third year of skiing on this quaint hill, I am amazed at how powerfully the time on the chairlift eases my mind and body. When I’m sitting in the chair lift all I can think about it is how wonderful it is to be there – right in that exact moment.  It seems impossible to recall my seemingly unending to do list and “shoulds” that usually catch me – like during Yoga, and most other times in my life.

Once again, I have come to terms with calling the chair lift my place of meditation and the hill the happiest place on earth. It’s all quite simple, and yet remarkably extraordinary.  I am again, stunned at how perfect my life feels – from the chair lift. I am so happy, so excited, and so joyful – and without worry or judgement.

I love how simple life feels on the chair lift and on the hill. If only I could carry this free, joyous, excited feeling into every aspect of my life. And, isn’t that the real call to meditation and the desired outcome anyway?  Somehow, on the chairlift, everything seems possible. Those blocks seem mysteriously cleared.  As we are guided in 1 Thessalonians to be joyful always, to give thanks, and to pray continuously, I am lead to the ski hill.  For here, it is a natural state to experience such joy and thanksgiving.

Tonight the bonus came from skiing with my cousin from Arizona. She had a look of exuberance that lifted her face to a brightness I’ve never seen in her. She was absolutely radiant as we shared night skiing together for the first time.

Yes, I’m going to keep giving thanks on the chairlift and to continue praying – for all things are possible with God.  Besides, it’s a whole lot of fun.  How blessed we are to have this place we share as a family that inspires the best in us.  I am grateful.

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I love it when the same subject comes to me from different sources – “coincidentally.”  Whatever the topic is, when it’s delivered from multiple sources, it receives my utmost attention with great curiosity.  It feels like the Messenger is putting an exclamation point on it – to really call my attention to it. And the method works.

Today the word is from King David. Last night we read quite a lot on David from the Bible during our Jesse Tree devotion.  For the first time in my life, I heard the gory details of what David really did to Goliath. How could I have not known the whole story up until now?  And so the humility of learning and living continues.

This morning I am moved to spend time in Psalm 23.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” Psalm 23:6  This verse speaks to the hope we have.  Indeed it is believing in this hope that often enables us simply to endure what life is – and to look beyond our burdens, as surely we each carry them.

My favorite way to read this Psalm is to insert the words “He’s all that I want” in the first line….The Lord is my shepherd, he’s all that I want. This is a powerful meditation, especially during the Christmas season.  Last night after watching “Christmas on 34th Street” the kids asked what’s on my list for Santa. My initial reaction was one of silence, for He has truly given me what I want.

Yet, of course the truth is, my life is led by wanting all day. Usually though, my focus in on wanting more of myself….to be more capable, productive, organized, witty, fit…  As I observe our children picking up on traits in our family, I become more aware of my need to want more of God than of myself.  Today our Advent family fun activity is to share parts of Psalm 23 with others along with a candy cane. There’s not candy here, but I do pray that you will enjoy the sweetness of only wanting Him today.  “The Lord is my shepherd, He’s all that I want.”

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Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.



Living in Alaska affords us a unique experience – darkness in winter.  It’s amazing to see how our lives adapt to this extreme change. We have close to 19 hours of sunlight in Anchorage during the height of summer. Now, we have less than six hours of sunshine – or light of any kind, as we approach winter solstice.

While we continue with our lives pretty much as usual – the kids still catch the bus at 8:40AM, albeit in the dark!, there is an undeniable deeper, quieter pull on our bodies.  We all feel the need to sleep longer and to be more quiet.  There’s less energy for external play (unless it’s skiing) and a greater nesting urge.

It’s 8:52AM as I write this on December 9, 2011.  It’s pitch black. I can see nothing outside, except of few distant lights – on the mountain, like in the middle of the night.  The stars are still brightly shining, and the Christmas lights are still burning.  Inside the house we have the “happy lights on” – and all the other lights.  We hope these lights will give our bodies a dose of natural lighting that it’s missing.  We have begun to consume large quantities of vitamin D as well.

Yet the truth is, if it weren’t for the school schedule, I’d quite happily sleep into the dark morning like a bear – and let the kids do the same – it just seems natural.  As we grow nearer the darkest day of the calendar year in Alaska, I welcome the opportunity to heed its call to slow down and rest more.  My body yearns to simply be at home. To get into quiet projects, to sit by the fire and read or play games with the kids, to listen to my family make more music and simply to be still.

Indeed, winter in Alaska calls us to honor the season of winter – and there are many gifts to it.  Of course with modern conveniences it’s easier to ignore the call and stay on autopilot.  Today I pray that our children, family and community are richly blessed by the beauty of darkness and its true present.  Joy runs deeply at home.

“Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Amen

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One of our favorite things about Advent is choosing an activity each day to celebrate this special season.  The kids particularly like it when they get to choose a meal or a movie.  It’s a fun way for us to slow down, read our devotion, and put others ahead of us…as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas.

Here is our list. I print it on colored paper and cut up the activities and put them, folded up, in a small bowl.  Each day after we read our devotion, one of the children get to pick a new activity.  Then we put the slip of paper into the slot on the Advent calendar for the day.  To look at the calendar with all these little actions we’ve done during Advent, is to feel empowered in our faithfulness.

May it inspire you to add something new to your Advent Season.  As James tell us, “faith without works is dead.” Taking action – even the smallest bit of effort, has huge rewards, even for the biggest ones!  Happy Christmas Season!

ADVENT LIST:

  1. Pray for a sick person
  2. Pray for our pastors
  3. Pray for our president
  4. Play a game together
  5. Play with Legos together
  6. Bake cookies
  7. Play with the nativity scene
  8. Take a walk together
  9. Read a story together
  10. Give a meal to someone
  11. Give a gift to someone
  12. Visit a neighbor
  13. Help a neighbor
  14. Call a relative
  15. Sing Christmas carols
  16. Draw a picture
  17. Write a note
  18. Give a compliment
  19. Serve another person
  20. He picks the movie
  21. She picks the movie
  22. She picks the movie
  23. He picks the dinner
  24. She picks the dinner
  25. She picks the dinner

A Happy Birthday it is!

Gratitude and cuddles bookend my day

Abundant joy is spills out and spoils me

Thank you, dear Lord for the blessings of my heart.

 

Yes, my life is a testimony to answered prayers

Our healthy children burst in their excitement to create

Whispered plans, quiet decorations and a delicious breakfast surprise

Happy phones calls, cards and gifts from near and far celebrate!

 

A life of loving well

Of humbly learning

of passionately living

and one for giving.

 

Indeed, I am so very thankful

I honor my mother and father who created me in love

I credit those who lovingly care for me so completely each and every day.

Thank you for my birthday!

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An American Thanksgiving in Alaska

The fixings – for a very fine feast

Carved juicy turkey and ham

Six side-dishes, bread and jam

Pumpkin-themed deserts complete the banquet

Eating on an Air Force Base in Alaska

Snow falling all day long

White snow covered the light of the day

Twenty-two of us of different places

We gather to be one

Under God in prayer and thanksgiving

Rank and branch do not matter

We share the same mission

One single young Air Force soldier

One deployed married Air Force soldier

Two Air Force officers and

One Army officer

“Turkey Bowl” tag football played in the traditional parade field

Two feet of fresh snow – it was fun to fall

In silence we all suddenly stand to attention

For our nation’s call at 5PM to the national anthem

Friends of all ages playing

We share the reason for this celebration

FREEDOM!

FREEDOM!

Four families, Fourteen children, 22 people

Unified , guttural laughter – sharing games “Apples to Apples”

Guitar, piano and singing – Christmas carols and praise music

Hide and Seek for the kiddos and “Star Wars” with others

Cleaning up and saying good bye

A truly wonderful, heart-warming American Thanksgiving

In the Land of the Free

We thank Thee

Amen