Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mega Memory Month Returns in January

It's that time of year again...Mega Memory Month!

My blog-friend Ann Kroeker is making it a January tradition by hosting another round of this memorization challenge. My first time participating was last January, when I took on the challenge of memorizing the prose gospel narrative from Milton Vincent's Gospel Primer for Christians. And what a wonderful experience that turned out to be!

During Mega Memory Month itself, I had the blessing of interacting with and being challenged/encouraged by various other women around the blogosphere as we all took on memory work. I know there's no way I could have memorized the whole narrative by January 31 if it hadn't been for the accountability and encouragement that MMM provided.

The experience of meditating on these beautiful words and imprinting them on my mind and heart was extremely valuable for me both during the month and countless times afterwards. What better means for "preaching the gospel to yourself" than having a narrative of the gospel in my mind, ready to pull out and remind myself at any moment?

And just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of using my gift of memorization to bless others. Our church held an informal Christmas celebration, and at the end of the program, I recited the gospel narrative. It was an incredibly moving experience, as the Holy Spirit caused me to truly *feel* the weight of the words and speak them with power and conviction unlike I'd ever done before--probably the highlight of the Christmas season for me. I was so thankful for the opportunity to serve my church in this way!

All that to say...I am really eager to begin another round of Mega Memory Month. I won't lie; memorization comes very easily to me. It's simply a gift of grace, and I can take no credit for the ability, only seek to use it well. But *anyone* can memorize--just start with something that's "mega" for YOU, regardless of what's "mega" for someone else. And as Ann is fond of saying, our minds can hold more than we think they can! What better way to start the new year than by working to hide God's Word in your heart?

I hope you'll join me! Check back tomorrow for Ann's official kickoff as well as various links and tips to get you started.

Coming Soon: Mega Memory Month (January 2009)
Mega Memory Month Returns (July 2009)
MMM: What to Memorize?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Multitude of Blessings: Christmas 2009

Whew! My apologies for that little blog-hiatus. We were in Ohio for Christmas, and the schedule was very full. I didn't manage to get a "Multitude Monday" post up this week, as we were driving home that day, but I scribbled several pages of gifts in my journal while we were gone. Multitudes of reasons for gratitude, indeed:

135. safe travel home and back

136. families we enjoy spending time with

137. holiday goodies--Rolo pretzel candies, Mexican wedding cakes, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, sugar cookies with red hots, honeybaked ham, etc., etc., etc...(perhaps also thankful that the battery in our bathroom scale is dead...?)

138. the generosity of our families

139. the means to give gifts

140. matching PJs on Christmas morning for Elijah and his cousin, Olivia
141. the delight of seeing Olivia in the tutu I made for her
142. my patient husband's willingness to help with the tutu
143. girl time with my two best friends from high school

144. lunch with two more high school friends

145. an afternoon catching up with my college roommate

146. dinner with a dear college friend
147. her baby boy's gummy smiles, so easy to coax :)

148. coffee with another dear college friend

149. being reminded of all the beautiful women God has placed in my life

150. John Piper's Advent poems...this year I listened to the Elijah poems and was moved nearly to tears, several times

151. movie date with my hot hubby
152. free babysitters...gotta love extended time with the grandparents

153. Elijah's enjoyment of my brother's puppy, Chief (the enjoyment was mutual)

154. grins and giggles from my little man
155. Elijah's delight in passing out gifts when we exchanged with my family

156. the ridiculous cuteness of Elijah's Christmas outfit

157. games of Ma Jiang, Settlers of Catan, Catchphrase, Telephone Pictionary
158. the God who became man to rescue us
159. Emmanuel, God WITH us
160. home sweet home after a long trip

Merry Christmas from the Kannel Family!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Multitude Monday, Take 143

Thanking God this week for...

119. His mercy in protecting my son--that the fall Elijah took Friday afternoon only resulted in a strawberry on his forehead and a tiny cut under his nose, when it could have been SO much worse...
120. snow making everything clean, white, new
121. washing my sins away, using the deep red blood of Jesus to make me clean and new and pure
122. ability to sleep soundly at night
123. Improv Everywhere
124. the metaphor of Mary's pregnancy: to be a dwelling place for God will hurt--it will stretch you; it will be work and pain and effort...but oh, it will be worth it--and Ann Voskamp's lovely blog posts that opened my eyes to see it
125. $2 pajama pants, thanks to a free $10 from JCPenney last week
126. pleasant shopping experience at Kohl's the Saturday before Christmas
127. ma jiang
128. the dear, dear friends who introduced us to ma jiang
129. Christmas lights everywhere
130. the fact that I haven't barfed, despite feeling achy and queasy yesterday and being sure I was coming down with a bug again this Christmas
131. increased awareness of blessings and sense of gratitude
132. opportunities to exercise indoors
133. the new study our church is starting for Sunday School: Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community --just the subtitle makes me excited!
134. more blessings than time to list them

Join me and the rest of the Gratitude Community in remembering and counting...

holy experience

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hope in Suffering

The Village Church announced yesterday that pastor Matt Chandler's brain tumor (which I blogged about last week--go check out that video!) was cancerous. I was shocked and saddened to read the latest update on the pastors' blog yesterday. More info and specific prayer requests can be found there.

Today I have been inspired and moved by two things--Matt's recent tweets, especially this one; and a blog post by a friend of his, JR Vassar, who writes about the difference between hope and desire:
I am praying for him and for his sweet wife Lauren, and their kiddos, and the Village. And, I am praying with this in mind: there is a difference between desire and hope.

I am praying with great desire. My desire is that God would heal Matt, hand him to Lauren and the kids to be her husband and their daddy, restore him to the pulpit, empower him to preach his heart out for the magnification of Jesus, and one day let him play with his grandkids. I think God wants me to desire those things and ask Him for them, knocking until my knuckles bleed, making it clear to God how I desire Him to respond. And, those desires are good. But those desires are different than our hope. Sometimes desires are not fulfilled. But, our hope is.
He goes on to speak of exactly what hope we have in Christ--incredibly moving. I think you'll find it to be a powerful, encouraging read, even if you have no idea who Matt Chandler is.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 12.15.09

As always, if you'd like to play along, credit goes to The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...
typical winter dreariness. Yesterday was 60 degrees and sunny, a glorious and unexpected break from last week's cold; today just feels like winter again. Winter is my least favorite season, I'm not gonna lie...but I was reminding myself the other day that if I want the beautiful death of fall, and the hopeful new life of spring, I have to take the winter that comes with it.

I am thinking...
about my sweet friend Kelly, because an email from her just popped up. Haven't seen her in well over a year, but we have plans to meet next week and catch up. I can't wait! I'm also thinking about grain mills and blenders (researching Christmas gifts).

I am thankful for...
this morning's playdate with my friend Jamie, whom I hadn't seen since the end of October; water with lime; This American Life podcasts; afternoon naps.

From the kitchen...
dinner is in the crockpot--Sloppy Lentils from Passionate Homemaking. Last time they tasted yummy, but the lentils weren't quite soft enough and it was a soupy mess. Hoping a longer cook time will solve that problem.

Over the weekend I tried a new recipe: Smitten Kitchen's chocolate toffee cookies, which were a huge hit. I also made several familiar favorites: Paula Deen's pineapple casserole (half the sugar, more cheese); pasta fagioli from A Year of Slow Cooking (half the Tabasco, 2 cans white beans instead of white + kidney...can you tell I can't leave a recipe alone?!); and a family favorite recipe for broccoli salad.

Aaaaand, Steve made breakfast Sunday morning, as is our tradition. This week, as is often the case, was Laurie's fabulous oatmeal pancakes (with all whole wheat flour--half regular whole wheat, half white whole wheat; sucanat instead of brown sugar; and olive oil).

I am wearing...
super-comfy stretchy jeans, a white tank top, a pink v-neck sweater, a brown scarf, and my favorite tan suede sneakers.

I am creating...
tons of stuff--or at least I *plan* to be creating tons of stuff this week. A DIY gift for my little niece; a few stamped cards; that wedding gift I mentioned last month but still haven't made...

I am going...
to be very frustrated if Elijah doesn't go back to sleep. Little stinker just laid down half an hour ago and I hear him talking upstairs already. He didn't take a good nap yesterday, either...and he did NOT get enough sleep over the weekend because we were so busy and out late twice.

I am reading...
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus by Nancy Guthrie (ed.); Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller; When Helping Hurts by Corbett & Fikkert. I just finished Andrew Peterson's On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness last week and have borrowed the second book in the series, North! Or Be Eaten, to enjoy over Christmas break.

I am hoping...
to connect with several old friends while we are in Ohio...that friends and family will love the gifts we choose for them...that Steve's birthday gift will arrive in the mail soon...that God will continue to open my eyes and soften my heart to the beauty of His Son and help me keep my eyes fixed on eternal things amidst the busyness of the holiday season.

I am hearing...
the white noise machine coming through the monitor, and Elijah intermittently talking/humming...aaaaand he just reached over and flipped the switch that turns the monitor and noise machine off. Lovely. *off to go try and put him back down* ...well, we'll see how long that lasts.

Around the house...
it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Lame artificial tree, unfortunately, but I love the soft glow of the lights and the memories attached to various ornaments. Not only is my pre-lit garland for the mantel not working, but the 3M hooks are not sticking to keep it hung either.

One of my favorite things...
receiving Christmas cards in the mail from friends and family--especially when they have pictures for me to put on my refrigerator.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
mostly just preparing for Christmas. Our weekly playdate is tomorrow, but I may skip it since we had a playdate today and I've got so much to do this week. Prayer meeting at church tomorrow night, which I always look forward to, and lots of online shopping to finish before shipping deadlines hit.

A picture thought I am sharing...
outtake from our family photos for Christmas cards--messing around trying to get our stubborn, uncooperative toddler to smile :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Multitude Monday, Take 142 (sort of)

Don't for a moment think that because I have missed the last two Thankful Thursdays, I am not feeling very grateful lately. Quite the heart is full to overflowing with gratitude for the gifts, great and small, that God has been pouring out into my life the last few weeks. Since I did miss Thursday again, though, this seems a perfect opportunity to switch to Mondays for gratitude lists.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ann Voskamp, has been counting gifts for years now, and she has a whole Gratitude Community over at Holy Experience. She and the other bloggers pause to count their blessings on Mondays, and so I think I'll join them, and begin each week by remembering the gifts that come from the hand of my Father, the generous, wise and loving Giver of all good gifts. I think I'll also, like Ann, begin actually counting--and start at 101, after the mega-Thanksgiving list. (Anyone know how to edit numbered list HTML code so I don't have to manually add the numbers???)

This week, I'm especially thanking Him for...
101. our church family
102. our wonderful Christmas celebration yesterday afternoon
103. the capacity to memorize
104. Milton Vincent's Gospel Primer for Christians
105. Ann Kroeker's Mega Memory Month challenge that inspired me to memorize
Vincent's gospel narrative
106. the opportunity to share these gifts with my church family
107. causing my heart to be overcome with amazement and wonder at the glorious
gospel of grace
108. last night's Christmas program at our old church and the opportunity to see "old" friends
109. Friday's dinner and movie with fun friends
110. date night with Steve and some friends on Saturday
111. the sweet girls who watched Elijah for us and were a delight to have in our home overnight Saturday/Sunday
112. 60-degree sunshine today, perfect for a walk and an hour at the playground
113. the thrill of the mailbox this time of year
114. cheap organic apples
115. not one but TWO fun playdates last week
116. girl time shopping with a friend last Thursday
117. cinnamon dolce latte
118. experiencing so much mercy and grace from Christ that I can hardly begin to recount it all

Friends, I have so much to praise God for--His temporary gifts, and above all these, His Son, given as the ultimate Gift to reconcile us to Himself. Join me and the rest of the Gratitude Community in remembering and counting?

holy experience

Monday, December 07, 2009

Testifying that Christ is All

Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, is one of my favorite preachers to listen to via podcast. So, like countless others, I was shocked and concerned to hear last week that he had a seizure on Thanksgiving Day and doctors discovered a brain tumor.

He had surgery on Friday and seems to be recovering well, praise God. But what really amazes me is his reaction to this turn of events. From the blog post he wrote before the surgery, to the video that was shown at his church yesterday, to his and his wife's Twitter updates, it has been beautiful and inspiring to see this couple (and their church) making much of Christ, even in the midst of unimaginably frightening circumstances.

It would be well worth your time to read and watch this husband, father, and man of God testifying, *before* knowing the outcome of his surgery, that Christ is the greatest treasure of his life:

NaBloPoMo Wrap-Up December Update

Where exactly did November go, anyway? It's beyond cliche to say that time flies these last two months of every year...but seriously, I was just gathering ideas for NaBloPoMo, and then I turned around and it was over and I hadn't even gotten around to 75% of them. OY.

The Christmas season feels especially zooey because of how our vacation time is falling this year. We have just three weeks between our Thanksgiving trip home and Steve's Christmas break from work--so once you cram shopping, Christmas parties, Christmas programs, and a wedding in there (never mind the usual playdates and whatnot)...well, let's just say I am not quite sure how NOT to neglect this blog. I'll do my best...and if nothing else, I'll start chipping away at that list of ideas in January.