Category Archives: holidays

A Good Friday Prayer

Tonight, I helped lead worship at my church’s Good Friday service, as I’ve done for the past few years. It’s a truly beautiful service, somber, quiet, slow… but not without hope. Our pastors do an incredible job of planning this evening full of dramatic lighting, powerful songs, and the last words of Jesus as he prepared to give his life, and as he hung on the cross. It’s haunting.

When I got home, I was still in the mood the service had left me in. I was lost in thought, as I had been on and off all day. Good Friday has always been a sobering day for me. But as I put my youngest son to bed, I started to sing him one of the songs we had sung in the service. It’s appropriately called “Passion Song”, written by some friends of our worship pastor. (Click that link. It will bless your soul to hear it.) It’s based on John’s view of how Jesus’s last week went down. The pastor who spoke just before the song presented it perfectly, emphasizing how Jesus was John’s very best friend, the only person who had ever known him so completely. Here are the words, so you can see the powerful emotion packed in them…

I was with Him when He rode into town
And the crowds gathered round Him like a King
Their smiling faces joined a sea of branches waving
Though they were masquerading in the end

And my heart rose in my throat
When I heard them sing
Hosanna in the highest
Oooh oooooh oh

We went upstairs broke the bread and drank the wine
From the only living vine that we would taste
And I watch them take Him up the mountainside
Where He was crucified though innocent
And they mocked Him and cursed Him with their mouths
And told Him to come down if He was God

And my heart broke in my chest
When I heard Him say
Forgive them it is finished
Oooh oooooh oh

I remember in the garden
When He sweat like drops of blood
And how He begged the Father
Just to let Him pass the cup
I can still feel the anguish
When they pierced Him in the side
And how the ground beneath us shook
Upon the very moment that He died
Oooh ooh oh oh oh

Three days later we found an empty grave
And the stone was rolled away where He had been

Tears of joy streamed down my face
When the angel said
Oh fear not He is risen
Oh fear not He is risen
Oooh ooh ooh oooh oh oh oooh

You can see how this song would be lingering in my psyche, right? So I’m singing it to my son, as I’m settling him in for bed. And when I finally wipe the (my) tears away, and get to his goodnight prayer, I began to pray like always, and for some reason, I was led to utter the words, “…and thank You for giving Your Son. I could never give my son.”

And I cried some more.

You see, the sacrifice is beyond what any one of us could do. In the Old Testament, Abraham was told to sacrifice his son. Whether he would’ve (or could’ve) actually gone through with it we’ll never know. There was a ram in the thicket, and God was preparing, even then, to give His very own son to save the world. Jesus willingly gave his life to pave the way for us to enter into fellowship with his Father. One of our pastors this evening titled it “a beautiful exchange”. His life for ours. What else could possibly be a better exchange for us?

I let her stay up late. 

I wrote this piece during the Christmas season, when things were very busy, and I just hadn’t had enough time with EK.


My daughter is like me. She’s so much like me that it’s a little bit scary. For instance, she can run pretty well on a low amount of sleep. I’ve always been that way; slumber parties, college, newborn babies’ schedules: I’ve been a champion of productivity through it all. But now, I have a few toddlers and preschoolers, and they still need sleep, but EK is a the winner. She is often her normal self, even when I know she hasn’t gotten enough sleep.

The week before Christmas, things were hectic (surprise, surprise) and I was up late doing some wrapping. EK wandered out of her room, and found me amid rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons, and tape. Instead of getting frustrated that she’d been in bed for PLENTY long enough to fall asleep, I asked if she’d like to help me. She was thrilled. Hubby was working and the boys had long been asleep, so we stayed up for almost another hour, wrapping presents, tying bows, and she even got to label them all.

At the end of the hour, we were both sleepy, but we had had so much fun just being together, working side by side on a task, and seeing a pile of nicely wrapped gifts at the end. She looked at me when we were finished and said, “Mom! It feels like the middle of the night!” And while it was only about 10:00pm, I knew it must feel that way to her. I was tired too – and I stay up that late every night.

I walked her back to her room, tucked her in, and slid in the bed next to her. She requested a carol or two, and we sang them together. We said our prayers (the second time that evening) and I left to get ready for bed. I knew that letting her stay up with me had been a special treat, a sweet memory for my daughter to latch on to throughout the busy week ahead, when the house would be full of people and I wouldn’t have much time to be with only her. The next day, she didn’t seem extra tired or even a bit grumpy. I think the one-on-one time with me might have been just as restoring as that hour of sleep she lost.

4 Simple and Inexpensive Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day can be a tough time to get good dinner reservations, and it can be an expensive flowers-and-chocolates gift day. If you’re looking for something non-traditional, or something that won’t break the bank, try these ideas for a fun date night!

1. Breakfast for Dinner. Whip up some heart-shaped pancakes, and top them with whipped cream and strawberries (if you core them, then slice them, those can be heart-shaped too), make some hot cocoa (maybe with a little raspberry liqueur if you’re feeling fancy) and enjoy it by candlelight. It’s basically a meal and dessert at the same time!

2. Backyard Star-Gazing. What could be more romantic than snuggling on a blanket in the back yard, looking at the stars? If you like to know what you’re looking at, Sky View is a neat app where you can hold it up and actually read the labels for the stars you’re seeing.

3. Have a Game Night. Whether you like playing cards, or you prefer board games, it can be fun to just chat and play games together. Fun and easy games that can be played by just two include Rummy, Speed, or Crazy Eights (card games), Phase 10 (a card game of its own), Dominos (we like the Mexican Train version!), Quiddler or Perquacky (word games) or the game of Set (this can be a solitaire game, too). Most of these can be found at Wal-Mart, Target, or on Amazon.com!

4. Reimagine a favorite date you’ve been on before. Have you had a history of wonderful dates together with your sweetie? Take an old idea, and revamp it! Cook the meal you shared at home instead of going out for it. Watch the first movie you went out to see together on DVD on your own couch. Make those fancy cocktails at home. Even if the location isn’t the same, the revisiting of a treasured memory can still be fun. If you have kids now, make it a kid-friendly experience, while sharing a little of your history with them!

What are some inexpensive dates that you’ve enjoyed with your love?

Currently: Christmas Edition and Photo Explosion!

Well, it’s time for a little Christmas update! We had so much fun hosting my family here for a few days, eating a TON of food (can you say 8lbs of prime rib?) and sweets, and giving and getting copious amounts of presents. Hubby and I spent most of Christmas Eve leading worship at three services at our church, thankful that our kids could enjoy the day with family, even if it was without us. Here is a little more about our Christmas, and what we are currently doing…

Smelling || my new candles from my brother and his girlfriend. They. Are. Magical. And no pun intended! 

Playing || dress up! In addition to a few new games and building-type toys, the big kids got several new dress up outfits, and they’ve been hamming it up big time. They both love playing dress up and pretending, so between my mom and me, we spoiled them with some new outfits. 

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Eating || this hunk of prime rib. It was so amazing I forgot to take a picture of it cooked before we ate it all! 

Enjoying || several days with family we don’t see as often. It might’ve felt chaotic with so many people and so much stuff, but I totally enjoyed it.

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Waiting || to take down our decorations and lights until New Years. I really enjoy the way my house looks when it’s this time of year, so I am rarely in a hurry to take them down.

Anticipating || seeing Moana later this week! I’m excited to go to the theatre again, and I’m hoping the kids all do as well this time as they did when we saw Finding Dory a few months ago. Snacks seems to be the best thing for maximizing their attention span.

Well, that’s pretty much it for what we’ve been up to. Here are a few more pictures that don’t really fit anywhere, but are super cute. I sure love my people.

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I want them to open their presents already!

Christmas has always been a time of year that I’ve loved. I’ve loved giving gifts and getting gifts, listening to and performing the music, putting up and enjoying the decorations, and attending the extra parties and get-togethers. When I went away from my hometown for college, I loved coming home and experiencing Christmas in my town and my church. And now that I stay in my new town (well, now I’ve been here over a decade), everyone travels to me and my family, and it’s a different kind of fun.

In between the hosting, the practicing and performing, and the unloading Christmas-y stuff from the attic, I really, really enjoy shopping for my kiddos (I mean, for everyone, but especially my kiddos) and wrapping all the presents. Sometimes, I wrap little gifts and put them all into a bigger box, which I also wrap. I get it from my mom. Anyway, I’ve been hoarding presents big and small for so long (my Christmas shopping was 90% done in early November) that my excitement has reached a point where I can hardly stand seeing the presents under the tree any longer. There have been two separate occasions where I have almost handed everyone a present just to see their little faces.

I’ve been very excited about seeing them open their presents for weeks. I know that presents aren’t the most important thing about Christmas; we’ve spent hours reading and talking about the birth of Jesus and the surrounding stories. We’ve spent a lot of time making other memories – baking, driving around to see lights, making ornaments, and watching our favorite Christmas movies. But the one thing I’m still really looking forward to is their faces on Christmas morning, and watching them open each present, look around for, me and their daddy, and the excitement we can share as we see each new thing and spend the whole day just playing.

My grandmother and I were talking on the phone recently, about her plans to come up and be with us for Christmas. She mentioned tat she knew our house was full, and she’d be happy to wait till the rush was over to come, but that Christmas just wasn’t as wonderful without the presence children. And how right is she?! As adults, we often lose some of the magic and the excitement, but children can restore the wonder and fun of Christmas, if we allow their excitement to be catching.

I know that my excitement hasn’t waned since having kids, and each year, they’re a little more in tune to what Christmas is all about, and keeping the magic going throughout the Advent season, all the way through the new year. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Kids’ 5 Favorite Tree Ornaments

I don’t know about your Christmas decorations, but there has been a lot of time, effort and money that’s been put into my Christmas tree. It’s an artificial tree that’s six years old. I’ve replaced the lights, compiled ornaments from every Christmas of my life (literally – we’ll get to that in a minute) and started getting some sweet things that represent my whole family.

This year, my kids have been carrying certain ornaments around the house and I keep having to ask them to be really careful. So I thought it might be amusing to share with you what their five favorite ornaments are… especially since none of them are handmade with pride or featuring their faces, like you might expect. 

1. The obnoxious singing cow. I’ll spare you details (aka the video of it happening) and just give you the cliff notes: it “moos” its way through “Jingle Bells” with questionable pitch.

2. My “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. It winds up and plays a song that I can get stuck in my head for days. I don’t even know what song it is. The kids have fought over it so much that it’s currently sitting on the mantle.

3. The cement truck. It’s J’s favorite because it actually rolls, but every time he plays with it, he reminds me that the cement mixer doesn’t really turn.

4. This North Pole-Christmas Eve-alert ornament. Supposedly it changes color when it’s Santa begins delivering presents (spoiler alert: I’m the one that has to switch it to change the colors). It also plays a song, and it happens to be really loud. Like REALLY LOUD. So I put it where they can’t get to it. 

5. Anything with Ariel on it. I’ve spent my whole life getting Ariel ornaments from my mom. She’s my favorite princess and it’s kind of our thing. Now, EK really loves Ariel too, and so we’ve started getting them for her as well. So our tree is covered in Ariels of all sorts, and so they’re the favorites of my daughter. So naturally, two are currently broken and several were broken in years past and are glued back together. Poor Ariel. 

 There you have it. All the favorite ornaments of my three kids under five. Do your little ones have a favorite ornament?

Currently

It’s time for another little update of what’s been going on in my life! There is mostly holiday shenanigans to report, but since it’s the first Currently of the month, I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and her guest host, Kellie from the B Hive. So, here’s what I am currently…

Doing || a lot of scheduling. December is busy for everyone, but often for musicians especially. Hubby has extra gigs, I have extra rehearsals and services, and those are in addition to parties, shopping, visiting, and actually trying to stay rested, we are doing quite a lot. We’re also hopping away to NYC next week for two days of a getaway for some fancy food, a concert, and a show! We’ve never been at Christmastime so we’re excited to see a holiday-decorated NYC.

Enjoying || the weather! I love right when the weather gets cold… it’s not freezing yet, but it’s cold enough to layer up, don my boots, and add a colorful scarf. Fall truly is my favorite season.

Cooking || a little of this and that. I’m still on soups (yeah, French Onion!) but Hubby has been hitting up some major Asian flair recently (in his genes, apparently) and he’s amazing at it. Here’s a snippet of the okonomiyaki he made for lunch today.

Wrapping || lots of presents, of course! My mom was here the past couple of days, so she helped me wrap, and I helped her wrap. My shopping and wrapping is almost complete. There are only one or two things left on my list, and I have finished J’s birthday stuff, as well! (His birthday is December 28th.) I’ve had a few wrapping papers that I haven’t opened up the last couple of Christmases simply because I hate having too many rolls to try to keep together. But I finished two this year, so I opened up two more! It’s funny how new, fun wrapping paper can add some excitement to the wrapping process for me.

Playing || with Magformers with the kiddos. They’ve always loved them, but I’m so glad they are back in a phase of playing with them all the time. They’re colorful, easy to manipulate, and great for all three of the kids’ current ages. We literally sat in the hallway outside their rooms last night and played with them for almost an hour. The only problem is that since there are typically three kids playing with them at the same time, we don’t have quite enough for them all to feel like they can make a structure as big as they want to. So I got them an expansion pack “from Santa”. Typically Santa’s gifts are for all three of them, so that his gifts aren’t as cool as Mom and Dad’s!

So there you have it! What are you currently up to?