Are YOU Ready for the Holidays??

I love the daily devotionals I get from Proverbs 31 Ministries. This latest one hit close to home, especially considering my last post and the Christmas rants I’ve been on lately :)

Are You Ready for the Holidays?
by: Van Walton

What matters is not your outer appearance… but your inner disposition.” 1 Peter 3:1 (MSG)

Devotion:

This year I am tempted to keep a close count of the number of times I hear the question, “Are you ready for the holidays?”

What does that mean exactly? If I were to guess what people mean when they ask one another if they are “ready for the holidays,” I would say most are not talking about spiritual readiness. I bet what they typically mean is, “Have you made a list of all the stuff you need to do before the 25th and have you checked it off?”

Usually the answer that follows is a long list of to-do’s before Christmas day. Baking, sending Christmas cards, buying and wrapping gifts, hiding presents from the children, or delivering them to neighbors, choir or play practice, preparing for guests, or preparing to travel. My list also often includes planning and attending parties, house cleaning, and finally – my favorite – decorating.

I wonder, if Jesus were making a holiday preparations list, what would He include? What if those who were there on Christ’s birth day could advise us on getting ready for Christmas? What would be on their list?

Joseph might recommend we listen closely to the voice of God to prepare.
Mary may suggest we ponder the miracles of heaven.
Perhaps the angels would propose we sing about the King.
The shepherds may gently guide us to follow their act of worship.
Possibly the wise men would teach us to give Jesus our most valuable gifts.
The innkeeper may suggest “Hospitality: open your heart and home.”
And Jesus’ list would likely encourage us to be a light on the hill pointing the way for others to know Him.

Comparing my to-do list to the ones above, I wonder if I lived at that time, would I have missed Christ’s birth? Would my busyness have kept me from slowing down to take time to worship in the stable? Unfortunately I have “missed” many Christmases in the here and now because I’ve not slowed down long enough to bow my knees and experience the miracle.

I want Christmas for my family to be more about an act of worship and awe than a frenzy to decorate, shop, and jump through the world’s hoops. I don’t want to miss the true reason we celebrate.

A few years ago I set out to purposefully plan the way I celebrate. As a result, my Christmases have become increasingly simpler and at the same time my heart has become increasingly more satisfied.

Are you ready for the holidays?

Father, Thank You for sending Your son to point the way to You. Please remind me that preparing my heart for You is more satisfying than any other preparations I could make. Simple and pure devotion to You is what makes this season so special. Help me balance my time and keep my focus on You this year.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

White Christmas? Almost.

I am tired.

We were so excited to get snow in Houston last Wednesday night. I mean, snowflakes were literally falling all over the car on the way home from Bible study!! Unfortunately Seth was off updating the Gulf Coast region on drill bits, so me and the dogs had to play in the snow alone.

Then, Thursday I got an upper respiratory infection and a case of pharyngitis.

Sounded pretty serious to me. I was updating the will, getting things in order…I thought I had the ultimate excuse to get of anything and everything. Until Seth was like, “So what…a cold and a sore throat?”

Stupid doctor who beefed up the medical terms.

Although, for the record, I still feel horrible. But it was my first experience with a steroid shot (let me know if I start looking beefy) and a z-pack so I was pumped.

Friday night, both Chase and Emily graduated from college. Albeit, in 2 different cities. How old are we that our LITTLE brother and sister are graduating from COLLEGE? Getting real jobs (well…we’ve yet to hear about any), and going off into the real world. Unfortunately we couldn’t be in two places at once, but both made it safely across the stage and received their diploma! Congratulations, kids!!

Today, Seth & I helped out with a Christmas party for needy children in Conroe. The family that organized this party is just amazing. They began 7 years ago, getting gifts for 35 kids in the area. Today we were able to sponsor 150 children! How cool is that?? With the help of our Young Marrieds class we were able to give 3 kids a Christmas they hopefully won’t forget.

And on that note, I will get on my Christmas soapbox. For some reason, I feel so strongly about this, especially over the last few weeks…as people are stressing out about Christmas gifts, running around like maniacs to catch last minute sales, and the like.

Let’s not forget what this holiday is actually about…deal?

This is such a fun time of year to teach your children, remind your family, and introduce complete strangers to the true meaning of CHRISTmas. And we are all guilty, including myself, of completely breezing by what this time of year was originally celebrated for. We have hyped it up so much and stress out so much for what should really be time well-spent in fellowship and worship with loved ones.

There, I said it.

Phew. And I’m still tired.

I think tonight will be an early night, folks. Gotta dope up on the meds and hope this pin-prickling sore throat is gone ASAP.

Have a great week!

The REAL Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

I received this in an email today and thought it was so interesting! I have never had the 12 Days of Christmas explained to me.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious realitywhich the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples. -

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

Butterscotch Crackles

Here’s a yummy cookie recipe to try. It’s a sugar cookie with a kick! Make them ASAP because they’re grrreat!


INGREDIENTS:

2 rolls (16.5 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
2 cups Wheaties® cereal, crushed (1 cup)
1 cup butterscotch chips (from 11-oz bag)
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature to soften slightly.

2. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir or knead in crushed cereal, butterscotch chips and coconut until well blended. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. On cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.

3. Bake 11 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Commit for Life

There are always so many people in need, especially during the holidays. Some of you may be brainstorming ways to help others during this crazy time of the year. Well, stop thinking, because I have your solution.

Commit for Life.

Giving blood is one of the easiest ways to help others – in fact, one donation can save 3 lives! It’s so easy and quick…and you can donate once a quarter.

12 lives a year.

That was easy, wasn’t it?

And perhaps it’s a good time to learn your blood type. I fall in the elite 7% of the human race* (obviously). With O- blood, I am the universal donor!

*Note: I don’t know if it is the entire human race…the US citizens…whatever. It’s cool.

That’s right. You ALL can start thanking me now!

Blood drives are happening all the time. So get your big plump veins out there and give some blood!

Anadarko Holiday in the Park

It was really “Holiday at the Hyatt”. But I admire the way they tried to make our party sound so casual. Especially considering the state of our economy.

But what do you get when you combine friends…

Me, Trisha, Courtney
An open bar…
(Matt, Trisha, Jeremy, Courtney, Me)

More Friends…

Huey Lewis & the News

Roger Creager
Flying Acrobats…Dancing Women in Snowglobes…huge buffet of food…a casino…comped hotel rooms…did a mention the open bar…free portraits (oh yes, I will scan these in at a later time), a gospel choir (not sure how that fit in?), 2 separate comedy shows, and…probably more.

Anadarko does Christmas.

I know. One of the most ridiculous yet fantastic things I’ve ever been to in my life. We had a great time! This probably won’t happen again next year, but hey, it was good while it lasted.

Besides that we had to get lots of things done this weekend…we finally got up the Christmas lights (only to have a strand burn out tonight – AGH), finished our Christmas shopping, and sorta kinda relaxed with lots of football.

I can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner! Both Emily & Chase are graduating college this weekend (what?!?!) and then it’s go-go-go until the holidays are over.

Have a fantastic week!

Ultra-Important Husband

Email from Seth:

“I am going to Lafayette, Louisiana next week to update the region on Roller Cone Technology.”

He’s updating a whole REGION! How important is he??

I don’t even really know what a roller cone is. So I googled it.

Let me know if you’d like an electronic copy of the roller cone update. It’s bound to be FASCINATING.

Thankfulness

I count my blessings everyday! Our lives have been richly blessed this past year with love, family, friendship, shelter, food, and MORE. Although this is a bit overdue, here are some people and things I am especially thankful for this year.

(and these are in no particular order)

1) My husband! Seth is my best friend, my rock, the love of my life, and my encourager. I wouldn’t be half the person I am without you! Thank you for providing for us, always having a positive attitude, and loving your Savior, your wife, your family, & dogs with all your heart.

2) Our house. I must admit, I was a little hesitant about our first “big” purchase in 2007 but am so thankful we found a great neighborhood and are able to have our first true home together.
3) My Chi Chi’s! We have all seen each other through thick and thin. These girls were my first friends upon moving to SA back in 1995 and we have continued a unique and special friendship for over 10 years!

4) My in-laws. Seth has a wonderful & caring family who always makes sure we’re taken care of!
5) My friends. My confidants. My roommates. My sisters in Christ. You are all so many things to me! I love you all! And even if your picture isn’t on here…you know who you are :)

6) Our Young Marrieds class at church. What a BLESSING! We have had a blast getting to know the 30ish couples in our group and I can truly call all of you good friends. This includes all the Bible study girls…I love the time and dessert we share on Wednesdays!
7) MY family. I am thankful for parents who raised us to the best of their abilities, always provided us with everything we needed and more, and sisters who have grown up into beautiful women! You always hold a special place in my heart. We are so thankful that you take care of us, love us, and support us in all we do!


8) My job! Moving to Anadarko was one of the better decisions I made in 2007. I have been blessed with an amazing boss, co-workers, and company that exemplifies servant leadership. APC takes care of its employees, provides fantastic benefits, and most of all, has given me a great job close to home!

9) Cherry Salsa. I know. I said “blech” too when I was first introduced to this, But oh, it is so fabulous. Especially the original one. It makes my day complete.

10) And last, but certainly not least. My children! You didn’t think I forgot, did you?? Maggie & Tucker bring so much joy into our lives, keep us fit, keep us laughing, and we would be so lonely without them. Even though their vet bills & cost of pet food might put us in the poor house one day, we still love them. Even though they sometime damage furniture and run away down the street so I have to chase them like an idiot, we still love them. I think I almost understand the unconditional love of a parent now. :)

Hope you all had a safe, fun, and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Now go finish your Christmas shopping and put that tree up!

If the Shoe Fits…

Due to my ultra-fabulous performance at work as of late, I received $100 in the form of a giftcard, to spend however my little heart desired.

My boss also instructed me this was to be a secret from my husband. Clever. However, the man I am married to does not let anything past his nose without intense scrutiny. Without the big question, “is that new?”…or…”Have I seen that before?”. Since my Christmas list was getting a little too lengthy, I decided to relieve my husband of the “NEW WORK SHOES” burden and take things into my own hands. And really, I was fully justified in buying all of these because I had a GIFTCARD.

Thank you Anadarko.

Nine West was having a fabulous sale this week! I highly recommend you all take a trip on your way to Thanksgiving dinner. TONS of shoes were marked down to $14.99 along with their “buy one, get one 50% off” sale too.

SCORE!

I seem to wear down shoes a lot. I think it’s partially because:

-I walk very quickly
-I run up/down stairs in the parking garage
-I’m not what you call “light footed”

So these should last me awhile. Let’s hope.

How super cute are these?!

My Christmas bonus!

Note #1: I know half of you are sighing, “NOT again, Mary! Brown, black, brown, where is the color?!”

I know. I tried. I was thisclose to buying pair #2 in avocado green, but nobody would answer the phone to say “yes! you can do it!!”

Note #2: Please answer the phone when I call so I don’t make any drastic shoe decisions on my own

Now you know I will spend all evening with the brown vs. avocado battle brewing in my head.

And you thought your life was intense.

Midnight Madness

I know you’re all dying to hear how the Twilight premiere went. And frankly, I’ve finally just caught up on my sleep to live to tell you about it.

Kidding.

I can safely say I’ve never had a grande Starbucks coffee and a box of milkduds at 10pm or after. But now I know why…because it keeps you up…and you can’t go to sleep even AFTER the midnight movie is long over!

But it was f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cara, Allison, and I braved the crowds of teens, tweens, and their crazy moms to fight for our 4th row seats. Lucky us. Unlucky for our necks. After waiting in the theater for 2 whole hours, Edward appears on screen…screams erupt…girls faint…Cara starts crying.

Something like that.

The screams continued everytime he made an appearance. Jacob was booed off the screen. This isn’t making much sense to those of you who haven’t read the books. But it was big time.

So glad I did it. Who says you can do wild & crazy things when you’re 25?!