Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas Hiatus

Merry Christmas, everyone! Don't give up on me...I'm enjoying a restful Christmas hiatus from blogging, but I'll be back after the first of the year. Hope you all have had a blessed time celebrating our Savior's birth with family/friends. Have fun ringing in the new year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Tag Party

Just for fun, a little Christmas meme from Kat...

Favorite Christmas movie:
You know, I've never gotten into Christmas movies. I don't dislike them...I've just never really made the effort to watch the classic old ones. I've never seen It's a Wonderful Life...I've seen parts of A Christmas Story, but not the whole that un-American? I remember loving Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman on TV every year when I was younger, but I haven't seen either in years.

Favorite Christmas song:
Several from this year's new CD have become fast favorites. Otherwise, I do love David Phelps' song "Joy, Joy"--his whole Christmas CD by that name is just stellar.

Favorite Christmas cookie:
Every year my family does the slice-n-bake Pillsbury sugar cookies, with lots of frosting and decorations. Completely fake--my husband rolls his eyes that all my cousins would rather have these than homemade sugar cookies--but I love them because they're a tradition with lots of memories. And they are addicting, especially the ones with lots of red hots.

Favorite Christmas gift ever received:
I have been blessed to receive many wonderful gifts over the years...the most memorable that stands out right away is the bathrobe and slippers I got from Steve and our best friend Kaleb several years ago (long before Steve and I were dating). The three of us were inseparable and decided to buy each other Christmas presents...they found out I wanted a robe and so ventured to the mall to find one. The image of my two best guy friends standing in the middle of the JCPenney sleepwear department, completely bewildered--that made it a precious gift.

Least favorite thing about Christmas:
Zooey traffic and shopping malls--all the commercialization.

Where would your perfect Christmas be:
With family (and snow falling outside).

Favorite part of Christmas:
Singing "Silent Night" by candlelight at a church Christmas Eve service--remembering WHY we're celebrating and reflecting on the miracle of the Incarnation, the God who became man to draw me to Himself.

Favorite Christmas decoration you own:
We don't really have a ton of decorations yet. I like ornaments with stories behind them. My favorite growing up was a December advent calendar with pockets for each day, and you moved a little mouse (eek! this was before my phobia began) to the next pocket each day. My brother and I always fought over who got to move it. We had to decide at the beginning that one would get even days and the other would get odd days.

When do you put up the tree?:
As soon as we get it in early December.

Do you wear "holiday" sweaters/sweatshirts/t shirts?:
You mean like with wreaths or appliques and stuff? Um, no. Yikes. Though in middle school I had a t-shirt with a Far Side cartoon on it (I just did a Google search but couldn't find it)--it had a picture of Rudolph standing in front of a wall with eight mounted reindeer heads and the caption said, "All of the other reindeer USED to laugh and call him names."

I won't tag anyone specifically, but feel free to join in and comment below if you did.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thankful Thursday, Take 15

This week I'm thanking the Lord for...
  • a husband who is an incredible servant
  • raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
  • mocha truffle cookies
  • opportunities to talk with old friends
  • opportunities to help new friends & be a blessing to them
  • stooping to our level and becoming flesh so we could know Him
  • a Savior who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses
  • opening my eyes to the truth
  • finding Christmas gifts on sale
  • the people on my list who are easy to shop for
  • His divine power which gives me everything I NEED for life and godliness
  • all of His great and precious promises

You know what to do...

Found the Perfect Gift for You (Yes, YOU!)

I'm so getting all of you this for Christmas:

(HT: Amy's Humble Musings)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Glad Tidings Not for Good People

Bob Kauflin excerpts from Mark Dever's book Promises Kept: The Message of the New Testament today:
Christmas isn't about who's been "naughty or nice."

"The news we have to declare as Christians is not fundamentally about our law-keeping or our obedience. The glad tidings we bear are not for good people.' It is 'for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly, and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers, and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers' (1 Tim. 1:9b-10a NIV). I doubt you have received many Christmas cards like that. Yet have you realized this is who the Christmas message is for? The Christmas message is not for a bunch of well-dressed, respectable people who attend church to celebrate a cultural holiday. The Christmas message is a message that brings joy to people like father-killers and slave-traders!" (p. 345-346 [of Promises Kept])

To truly find joy in Christmas, I have to acknowledge that Jesus didn't become a baby because I'm so good. He came because I'm so evil and needed a Savior. He didn't come to reward us for what we've done, but to save us from what we've done.

More here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


As I mentioned in my 100 Things, I have long been fascinated with photography and would love to become a great amateur photographer--but a Kodak EasyShare point and shoot isn't exactly conducive to that kind of thing. Yes, the photographer's eye is as important as the camera--but the lag time on a cheap camera alone is plenty frustrating. After talking to some people whose work I admire, I found the universal recommendation to be a Nikon D70. Holy really nice but expensive camera, Batman. An amateur like me does not need a camera that fantastic, fun as it might be. Thankfully, Nikon also has a D50, which, although still pricey, is cheaper than the D70 and supposed to be nearly as good--only missing highly technical features that an amateur like me wouldn't understand anyway.

Steve and I decided to splurge this year for Christmas; it won't be a regular occurrence, but by combining Christmas and birthday and saving up discretionary money until, oh, 2008, we're buying each other items that will, we hope, end up being long-term family investments (producing lots more gifts down the road). He's getting a table saw from me and my parents, and I'm getting a Nikon D50 from him and his parents. And thus begins my foray into the expensive exciting hobby of photography. I am expecting this to be a lifetime camera (it will take me at least half that long to master using it).

I actually got the camera a few weeks ago, when Steve bought it on sale, and he gave it to me early (not because I begged--I was perfectly willing to wait--but so I could figure out how to use it before going home for Christmas). Ever since then, I have been spending my walks with Hank every afternoon imagining what pictures I want to take. I think our daily ventures through our neighborhood--which happens to be the town's historic district, packed full of gorgeous old homes of every shape and size--will be a perfect time for me to practice shooting and developing my eye. We don't have kids, and you can only take so many pictures of a calm and easygoing dog like Hank, cute though he may be--but in our neighborhood, I don't think I'll run out of things to photograph anytime soon.

As I walked yesterday, mentally framing fences and windows and trees and choosing perspectives and angles, it occurred to me that pretending to take the photos, rather than actually grabbing the camera and getting started, is a lot like my writing.

I can imagine myself to be a great photographer. I can pick out what I think will be striking shots, and tell myself that with my spiffy new camera, they really will turn out that way. I can fill my Flickr account with as-yet-nonexistent but beautiful photographs I've captured, even compose creative, artistic titles for them. But the camera still sits in the box. It's as though I'm afraid to actually put the strap around my neck and start clicking the shutter button--because once I do, my illusions of greatness will dissipate like the ghosts of poems in my head, ones I'm sure would be masterpieces if I wrote them down.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thank You, Thank You

Congratulations to me! I am the Time magazine "Person of the Year"!

And congratulations to you--if you're reading this, you are, too!
The annual honor for 2006 went to each and every one of us, as Time cited the shift from institutions to individuals — citizens of the new digital democracy, as the magazine put it. The winners this year were anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web.
Wow, I've never felt so important and honored ;)

Friday, December 15, 2006


Hello my faithful readers.

I have not been feeling very inspired lately. Still burned out from NaBloPoMo? Just plain lazy? Whatever it is, I haven't felt like blogging--just not much to say, I guess. I'm glad you're still stopping by. Consider this post an open comment thread to let me know what types of posts of mine you most enjoy reading, or what sorts of topics you might be interested in hearing my thoughts on, or anything else you feel like saying today.

*let the chirping of crickets commence*

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thankful Thursday, Take 14

This week I'm thanking God for...

Your turn below...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Before and After::Living Room Fireplace

Four months after we moved in, I finally get to post my first "before and after" shots of an improvement we made! We've got lots of projects underway--but we tend to abandon a project as soon as the item is usable and move on to something else--so everything is half-finished. Such is no longer the case with the fireplace in our living room--I finally finished the last coat of paint last weekend!

When we moved in, the fireplace looked like this. It had obviously been painted at one time, then stripped--traces of paint remained in a few nooks and crannies. The wood hadn't been refinished, and it wasn't particularly nice wood anyway; in fact, the grain obscured the woodwork details. Furthermore, there were some decorative wood pieces nailed on that can be described as "frou-frou."

Steve and I are not frou-frou.

Our first night in the house, I discovered the decorative pieces were removable, and ripped them off. Better already. Besides not being particularly stylish, they were disproportionately small. Anyway, one of the side pieces of trim was crooked and needed to be fixed, but besides that, I figured all the mantel needed was a couple of coats of white paint and we'd be good to go.

What was I thinking? Of course it wouldn't be that simple. When Steve removed the mantel to make painting easier and level the trim, he discovered that it was being held to the wall by only one nail in that piece of trim. And of course the more he looked, the more flaws he saw. So a little project for me turned into extra work for him--adding and moving pieces of wood, securing anchors to the brick so it could be re-attached more sturdily, and filling all the cracks where pieces were joined together, all the while mumbling about what a shoddy job someone had done originally putting it together.

Fast forward a couple of months, and we've got a much spiffier-looking mantel! The firebox is still pretty sad looking (water stains, thanks to a leaking chimney), and we won't mention the tile (thank goodness for the low lighting in this shot) or how fake the gas logs look--but the mantel itself changes the look of the room, I think.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Laughs for a Friday

YouTube is a brilliant thing. And I am amazed at the creativity and editing skills of some people!

Just ran across this crazy video that made me laugh out loud. Someone edited clips from Mary Poppins (I love that movie!) to make it into a horror-film trailer. Check it out!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thankful Thursday, Take 13

Thanking God this week for...
  • hot chocolate
  • crockpots
  • striped scarves
  • space heaters
  • hair dryers
  • fireplaces
  • soft glow of Christmas lights
  • slippers
  • thick fleece robe
  • vegetable soup
  • the Light of the world

Your turn...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Don't Waste Your Life

I've heard this story at least three times now. Decided that meant I needed to post it here...perhaps it will be a wake-up call, a challenge to someone who reads it--as it has been to me. From John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life:
In April 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby's side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly. I asked my congregation: Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ--even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles. No, that is not a tragedy. That is a glory. These lives were not wasted. And these lives were not lost. 'Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it' (Mark 8:35).

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader's Digest, which tells about a couple who 'took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.' At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn't. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life--your one and only precious, God-given life--and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: 'Look, Lord. See my shells.' That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don't buy it. Don't waste your life.

You don't even have to spend a cent to read this book--Desiring God Ministries has made it available for free, the message is that important. You can read every chapter online here. If you prefer to have an actual printed book, it's less than $10 here. There are also related audio messages here (Piper is even better to listen to than to read, and these too are free) and here.

Hank is Not Very Photogenic

He's a wonderful dog in just about every way (except for that whole carsickness thing). And he's really a handsome dog. But he did not want to have his picture taken today. We thought it might be fun to have him in a picture with us to put in our Christmas cards...several tries this afternoon looked something like this:

He tends to be a "worrywart," as the shelter told us, and he just didn't know what was going on. Even the offer of treats wasn't tempting enough to keep him in the living room--he just wanted the heck out of there. I did get one cute picture of him with Steve (except that his eyes glow eerily when you use the flash)...

...but he wouldn't look anywhere near the direction of the camera when I was using the self-timer.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Steve and I headed to Volunteer Tree Farm to pick out our tree this year--a huge step up from the podunk place we went last year. The firs weren't big enough yet and some of the other kinds had been picked over--but we were able to find something better than a white pine, which was the major goal. The difference between last year's tree and this year's is unbelievable! I tried to put the pictures side by side in one .jpg file, but can't figure out how (I'm sure it's brain just isn't geared up this morning). You'll just have to go back to last year's post to see what I mean. Notice how you can see the ribbon on the back side of the tree, right through the branches, because it is so scraggly. (It really was seven feet tall, though, same as this one--I'm not sure why it looks so tiny in the photo.) An added bonus is that this one is more fragrant. Still no star for the top--we're working on that.

I love how it looks when houses have a candle in every window--simple and elegant--so I was determined to do that when we got our own house. To my dismay, my plans were completely thwarted. Our house is squeezed in between two others so that the side windows wouldn't really be visible to passersby, which left two windows in the front. I put candles in those windows only to find that they were completely obscured by the unruly bushes out front. Alas. I bought a few other decorations on sale after the holidays last year and picked up a few more yesterday, but haven't put them up yet. I am procrastinating a bit because I'm afraid it will be like other artistic things I try--grand delusions of plans for stunning beauty, only to find that my actual skill doesn't match my imagined ability. We'll see.

Friday, December 01, 2006


NaBloPoMo is officially over--and I survived. Forty-one posts in 30 days.

I don't have anything profound to say about the experience at this point. Hoping to win one of the prizes. Think I'll take the weekend off.